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View Alupa Clarke Profile
CPC (QC)
View Alupa Clarke Profile
2019-06-12 18:20 [p.29068]
Madam Speaker, it gives me great pleasure to rise in the House. As usual, I want to say hello to all the residents of Beauport—Limoilou who are watching right now. I had the honour of meeting thousands of them last weekend at the Grand bazar du Vieux-Limoilou, where I had a booth, as the local member of Parliament. It was a fantastic outdoor party, and the weather co-operated beautifully.
Before I discuss the motion, I just want the people of Beauport—Limoilou to know that we will have plenty of opportunities to meet this summer at all the events and festivals being held in Beauport and Limoilou. As usual, I will be holding my annual summer party in August, where thousands of people come to meet me. We often eat hot dogs, chips and popcorn from Île d'Orléans together. It is a chance for me to get to know my constituents, talk about the issues affecting the riding, and share information about the services that my office can provide to Canadians dealing with the federal government.
I also want to say that this may be the last speech I give in the House during the 42nd Parliament. It was a huge honour to be here, and I hope to again have that honour after election day, October 21.
I plan to run in the upcoming election and I hope to represent my constituents for a long time to come. I am extremely proud of the work I have done over the past four years, including the work I did in my riding, on my portfolio, Canada's official languages, and during debates.
I am asking my constituents to do me a favour and put their trust in me for another four years. I will be here every day to serve them.
Today we are debating Motion No. 227, a Liberal motion to conduct a study in committee. It is commendable to do a study at the Standing Committee on Human Resources, Skills and Social Development and the Status of Persons with Disabilities. This is a very important House of Commons committee. A Liberal Party MP is proposing to conduct a study on labour shortages in the skilled trades in Canada.
As soon as I saw that I wanted to say a few words about this motion. Whether it be in Quebec City, Regina, Nanaimo, or elsewhere in Canada, there is a crisis right now. The labour shortage will affect us quite quickly.
We have heard that, a few years from now, the greater Quebec City area will need an additional 150,000 workers. This remarkable shortage will be the result of baby boomers retiring. Baby boomers, including my parents, will enjoy a well-deserved retirement. This is a very important issue, and we must address it.
I would like to remind the House that, in January, February and March, I asked the Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Labour about the serious labour shortage problem in Canada. Each time, she made a mockery of my question by saying that the Liberals had created 600,000 new jobs. Today, they say one million.
I am glad that this motion was moved, but it is more or less an exercise in virtue signalling. Actually, it is more of an exercise in public communications, although I am not questioning my colleague's sincere wish to look into the issue. In six or seven days, the 42nd Parliament will be dissolved. Well, the House will adjourn. Parliament will be dissolved in a few months, before the election.
My colleague's committee will not be able to study the motion. My colleagues and I on the Standing Committee on Official Languages are finishing our study of the modernization of the Official Languages Act. We decided that we would finalize our recommendations tomorrow at noon, to ensure that we are able to table the report from the Standing Committee on Official Languages in the House.
In essence, this is a public communications exercise, since the committee will not be able to study the issue. However, I think it would be good to talk about the labour shortages in the skilled trades with the Canadians who are watching us. What are skilled trades? We are talking about hairdressers, landscapers, cabinetmakers, electricians, machinists, mechanics, and crane or other equipment operators. Skilled trades also include painters, plumbers, welders and technicians.
I will explain why the labour shortage in the skilled trades is worrisome. When people take a good look around they soon realize that these trades are very important. Skilled tradespeople build everything around us, such as highways, overpasses, waterworks, subways, transportation systems like the future Quebec streetcar line that we have talked about a lot lately, the railroads that cross the country, skyscrapers in major cities like Montreal, Toronto and Vancouver, factories in rural areas, tractors, equipment and the canals of the St. Lawrence Seaway, which were built in the 1950s.
China, India and the United States are making huge investments in infrastructure. For example, in recent years, the U.S. government did not flinch at investing $5 billion to improve the infrastructure of the Port of New York and New Jersey, which was built by men and women in the trades. In Quebec, we are still waiting for the Liberals to approve a small $60-million envelope for the Beauport 2020 project, now called the Laurentia project, which will ensure the shipping competitiveness of the St. Lawrence for years to come.
There has been a lack of infrastructure investment in Canada. The Liberals like to say that their infrastructure Canada plan is historic, but only $14 billion of the $190 billion announced have actually been allocated. That is not all. Even if the Liberals were releasing the funds and making massive investments to surpass other G20 and G7 countries, the world's largest economies, they would not be able to deliver on their incredible projects without skilled labour. Consider this: even Nigeria, with a population of 200 million, is catching up with us when it comes to infrastructure investments.
It is about time that we, as legislators, dealt with this issue, but clearly that is not what the Liberals have been doing over the past few years, although I have heard some members talk about a few initiatives here and there in some provinces. The announcement of this study is late in coming.
I would also remind the House that this is a provincial jurisdiction, given that provincial regulations govern the training of skilled workers. That said, the federal government can still be helpful by implementing various measures through federal transfers, such as apprenticeship grants and loans, tax credits and job training programs. This all requires a smooth, harmonious relationship between the provinces and the federal government. Not only do the political players have to get along well, but so do the politicians themselves.
If, God forbid, the Liberals get another four-year term in office, taxes will increase dramatically, since they will want to make up for the huge deficits they racked up over the past four years. In 2016, they imposed conditions on health transfers. Then, they rushed ahead with the legalization of marijuana even though the provinces wanted more time. Then, they imposed the carbon tax on provinces like New Brunswick, which had already closed a number of coal-fired plants and significantly reduced its greenhouse gas emissions. The Liberals said that they still considered the province to be an offender and imposed the Liberal carbon tax. Finally, today, they are rushing through the study of Bill C-69, which seeks to implement regulations that are far too rigid and that will interfere with the development of natural resources in various provinces, even though six premiers have stated that this bill will stifle their local economies.
How can we hope that this government will collaborate to come to an agreement seeking to address skilled trades shortages when it has such a poor track record on intergovernmental relations?
View Alupa Clarke Profile
CPC (QC)
Mr. Speaker, this Liberal government is more centralist, paternalistic and, quite simply, arrogant than any other Liberal government in the history of our federation.
For the past four years, the government has repeatedly shown that it is out of touch with the spirit of federalism. It refuses to honour the tradition of appointing a political lieutenant for Quebec and instead made a minister from Toronto responsible for the economic development of our province. It is imposing political conditions on federal transfers. It refuses to give Quebec greater powers in the area of immigration. It refuses to respond favourably to the National Assembly's request for a single tax return, something all Quebeckers want.
I could go on and on. Following in the footsteps of founding fathers Cartier and MacDonald, we the Conservatives will continue to properly honour federalism. In 2008, we recognized that Quebeckers form a nation within a united Canada.
In 2019, when we form the government, we will respond favourably to the demands of Quebeckers and Quebec.
View Alupa Clarke Profile
CPC (QC)
Mr. Speaker, everyone remembers the huge mistake the Minister of Official Languages made two years ago when she concluded an agreement with Netflix that did not guarantee any French-language cultural production. Quebeckers and francophones across the country were so frustrated that the Prime Minister removed her from that position and she lost the heritage portfolio.
Here is what she is telling us today. She made a plan for tourism two weeks ago. It contains no guarantees, no investments for the francophone minority communities across Canada. She just made an announcement today and, once again, there is nothing for francophones.
Was this an oversight on the part of the minister or does this government just not take official languages seriously?
View Alupa Clarke Profile
CPC (QC)
View Alupa Clarke Profile
2019-05-30 14:57 [p.28342]
Mr. Speaker, in 2015, the Prime Minister, surrounded by Liberal candidates, including the member for Orléans and the Minister of National Defence, who are both veterans themselves, made a solemn promise that under his leadership, veterans would never, ever have to go to court to get their due. He broke that promise.
He also promised to restore the pension for life option in the proper way. That was another broken promise. We are not the ones saying so. It is veterans themselves, the ones who are the most affected by this affair, who are saying that the money is just not there for the pension for life option.
Why?
View Alupa Clarke Profile
CPC (QC)
View Alupa Clarke Profile
2019-05-29 14:48 [p.28261]
Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister is the head of the government. He has many roles and responsibilities, but his primary duty consists of two fundamental objectives. First of all, he must ensure our great federation is politically united. Second, he must ensure that the government is there for our military personnel, and that includes giving them the honours they deserve.
Did the Prime Minister share the profound disappointment felt by Canadians and by our troops when they learned that the families of fallen Afghanistan war soldiers were excluded from the war memorial event?
View Alupa Clarke Profile
CPC (QC)
View Alupa Clarke Profile
2019-05-28 14:55 [p.28186]
Mr. Speaker, it is inconceivable that the Liberal government, the Canadian government, did not invite the families of fallen soldiers to a memorial here in Canada.
This is highly disrespectful, not only to our fallen soldiers, but also to their families and loved ones.
The minister was there and he was aware of the event details. When did he learn that the families would not be there? He is the minister. He is the boss. He is a veteran.
Why did did he approve this completely disrespectful decision?
View Alupa Clarke Profile
CPC (QC)
View Alupa Clarke Profile
2019-05-28 17:25 [p.28203]
Mr. Speaker, it is always an honour to rise in the House. I would like to begin by saying that I will be sharing my time with my colleague from Mégantic—L'Érable.
I would also like to acknowledge the many residents of Beauport—Limoilou who are watching this afternoon's proceedings as usual. I would like to thank them for a wonderful riding week last week. I met with several hundred of my constituents, many of whom attended the 17th Beauport business network breakfast. The network is doing very well. We will soon be holding a local press conference to announce that the network is going to have its own independent board of directors. That will give Beauport's business people a strong voice for dialogue with their elected representatives. Back home, I often joke that I am getting my own opposition up and running.
All joking aside, following the three “Alupa à l'écoute” public consultations that I held, I want to tell those watching us today that I will hold a press conference in a few weeks to announce the public policy that I am going to introduce with my leader when we form the government in October. This policy will help seniors return to the labour market, if they so wish, and alleviate the labour shortage.
This evening we are debating the motion moved barely 24 hours ago by the government, which would have us sit until midnight every evening from Monday to Thursday, starting next Monday. The government feels compelled to make up for its complacency over the past few months. It was caught up in several scandals that made the headlines, such as the SNC-Lavalin scandal. It is waking up and realizing that time is passing and it only has 20 days to complete its legislative agenda. There is a sense of panic. Above all, when the session comes to an end, they do not want to be known as the government with the poor legislative track record.
I would like to quickly talk about the government's bills. My colleague from Rivière-des-Mille-Îles talked about the number of bills the government has passed so far. This time three and a half years ago, in the final weeks of the Conservative term under Mr. Harper, we had more than 82 bills that received royal assent, and five or six other bills on the Order Paper. So far, the Liberals have passed only 48 government bills that have received royal assent, and 17 are still on the agenda. They do not have very many bills on their legislative record.
For three and a half years we have heard their grand patriotic speeches and all the rhetoric that entails. During the election campaign, their slogan was “Real change”, but with so few bills on their legislative record, their slogan rings hollow. What is more, their bills are flawed. Every time their bills are referred to committee, the government has to propose dozens of amendments through its own members, something that is rarely done for government bills.
Next, let us talk about electoral partisanship. The Liberals made big promises to minority groups in Canada. Three and a half years ago, the Prime Minister boasted about wanting to advance reconciliation with indigenous peoples. However, the Liberals waited until just a month before the end of the 42nd Parliament to introduce Bill C-91, an act respecting indigenous languages, in the House. Even though the Liberals are always saying that the government's most important relationship is the one it has with first nations, they waited over three and a half years before introducing a government bill on the protection of indigenous languages. I would like to remind members that there are over 77 indigenous languages in Canada. Once again, we see that the Liberals are in a rush and stressed out. They want to placate all of the interest groups that believe in them before October.
What about the leadership of the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons? From the start, three and a half years ago, she said that her approach was the exact opposite of the previous government's, which she claimed was harmful. Nevertheless, she forced sixty-some time allocation motions on us. When it came to reforming the rules and procedures, she wanted to significantly reduce the opposition's power.
We want to stand before Canadians and ask questions and bring to light the reason why debates will go until midnight. The reason is that the Liberals were unable to properly complete their legislative agenda and move forward as they should have.
View Alupa Clarke Profile
CPC (QC)
View Alupa Clarke Profile
2019-05-27 14:32 [p.28092]
Mr. Speaker, the commemoration of the Second World War is tinged with sadness every year, and planning the event itself is stressful. Our cousins in Bernières-sur-Mer, France, where thousands of Canadians landed on June 6, 1944, including some of our very own ancestors, learned in the news that the 40 veterans would simply not be attending the event. This news came just days in advance.
Do we not believe that a more dignified and honourable approach would have been for the minister to call the mayor himself to inform him and then the veterans of the decision?
View Alupa Clarke Profile
CPC (QC)
View Alupa Clarke Profile
2019-05-16 14:43 [p.27990]
Mr. Speaker, real federalism is what we did. We recognized Quebec as a nation in 2008, something the Liberals never would have done.
Not only that, but we have seen since 2015 that they are anything but transparent. They hide tax hikes and bury objectionable provisions in huge omnibus bills. Surprise, surprise, what do we see? The Liberals refused to properly fund the Office of the Auditor General this year.
Why are they withholding that funding, which the Auditor General needs in order to perform audits to hold this government accountable to Canadians?
View Alupa Clarke Profile
CPC (QC)
View Alupa Clarke Profile
2019-05-15 17:17 [p.27900]
Mr. Speaker, I would like to say hello to the many constituents of Beauport—Limoilou who are watching. Today, it is my pleasure to debate Motion No. 170, which reads as follows:
That, in the opinion of the House, a special committee, chaired by the Speaker of the House, should be established at the beginning of each new Parliament, in order to select all Officers of Parliament.
Before I begin, I would like to recognize with all due respect that the motion was moved by the member for Hamilton Centre, who is with the NDP and has been in Parliament for quite a while, but will not seek re-election. If he is listening right now, I would like to acknowledge him and thank him for his work and decades of public service. The member for Hamilton Centre was once an MPP in Ontario, as well, and worked hard on all sorts of causes that were important to his constituents. I would like to congratulate him on his service.
Moreover, he is more than just a good parliamentarian. I remember hearing one of his speeches at the Standing Committee on Government Operations and Estimates, if I remember correctly. I took note of his delivery, because he is a fine public speaker with good rhetorical skills. I have always had a great deal of respect for my colleagues with vast parliamentary experience. I try to learn from the best.
I am sure the member for Hamilton Centre wants to leave his mark on Canadian democracy. I too want to improve Canada's Westminster-style parliamentary democracy. Our role as MPs is the cornerstone of parliamentary democracy. It is fundamental. MPs must play a leading role in the workings of Canadian democracy, which includes the selection and appointment of officers of Parliament. That is what this motion is about.
Officers of Parliament are individuals jointly appointed by the House of Commons and the Senate to look into matters on our behalf and help us carry out our duties and responsibilities. For example, Canada has a Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner, a position created by Mr. Harper and the Conservative Party.
There is also the Information Commissioner, who ensures that Canadians are able to have access to all government information so that they can get to the bottom of things. Then, there is the Commissioner of Lobbying. We heard a lot about her because of the Prime Minister's trip to the Aga Khan's island. Then there is the Commissioner of Official Languages. I am the official languages critic and I worked on the appointment of the new commissioner, Mr. Théberge. There is also the Auditor General. That position is currently vacant because the former auditor general passed away just a few months ago. God rest his soul. I send my best wishes to his family. Finally, there is the Chief Electoral Officer and the Public Sector Integrity Commissioner.
There are other officers of Parliament, but the ones I mentioned are the main commissioners who have been mandated by Parliament to conduct investigations in order to ensure proper accountability in the Canadian democratic process.
The member for Hamilton Centre wants to improve and strengthen parliamentary democracy with respect to the process for appointing commissioners and other officers of Parliament. Here is why.
During the last election campaign, the Prime Minister made some promises that he mostly did not keep. He promised to make the process for appointing commissioners more democratic. Under the Conservative government, from 2006 to 2015, the process for appointing commissioners was much more democratic from the perspective of a Westminster-style parliamentary system. It was also much more transparent than what we have seen over the past few years with the Prime Minister and the Liberal government.
When the Prime Minister chose the Official Languages Commissioner a year and a half ago, I am sure that the member for Hamilton Centre noticed, as we all did, that the process for appointing officers of Parliament was anything but open and transparent. Note that I am not in any way trying to target the individual who was selected and who currently holds that position.
This was done differently before 2015. For example, the Standing Committee on Official Languages used to send the Prime Minister of Canada a list of potential candidates for the position of Commissioner of Official Languages. The Prime Minister, with help from his advisors and cabinet, selected one of the candidates suggested. That is far more transparent and democratic than what the Prime Minister and member for Papineau is doing.
What has the Prime Minister done these past few years? Instead of having committees with oversight and the necessary skills for selecting commissioners, such as the Standing Committee on Access to Information, Privacy and Ethics or the Standing Committee on Official Languages, the Prime Minister is no longer relying on committees to send him a list of names of people or experts in the field. They are no longer able to send a list to the Prime Minister. He said to trust him, that he had set up a system involving people in his own office who send him lists of candidates with absolutely no partisan connections or any connections whatsoever to the Liberal list, candidates who were found by virtue of their expertise.
What actually happened? We saw one clearly terrible case with Ms. Meilleur. Far be it from me to badmouth her, but unfortunately, she was part of this undemocratic process. Ms. Meilleur had been a Liberal MPP in Ontario. She donated money to the Liberal Party of Canada, and less than a year later, she was nominated for the position of official languages commissioner. The Prime Minister did not send a list of candidates' names to the opposition parties. He did not start a discussion with the other party leaders to ask who they thought the best candidate was. He sent a single name to the leader of the official opposition and to the then NDP leader, saying that this was his pick and asking if they agreed.
Not only did the committees have no input under the current Liberal Prime Minister, but the Prime Minister actually only sent one name to the opposition leader.
What the member for Hamilton Centre wants to do is set up a process whereby candidates are selected by a committee, which would be chaired by you, Mr. Speaker, amazingly enough. First off, the idea suggested by my colleague, the member for Hamilton Centre, could not be implemented before the session ends. We have only a few weeks left, and I gather that an NDP member will be proposing an amendment to the motion in a few minutes. We will see what happens then.
Personally, I would say we need to go even further than the motion moved by the member for Hamilton Centre. I will speak to my colleagues about this once we are in government, as of October.
Why not be even bolder and give parliamentary committees not just the power to refer candidates to the Prime Minister for him to decide, but also the power to appoint officers of Parliament? I want to point out that I am speaking only for myself here. I began reflecting on this a year and a half ago, after what happened with Ms. Meilleur and the current commissioner.
I have been a member of the Standing Committee on Official Languages for two years now, and I humbly believe that I have learned a lot about official languages issues. I am familiar with the key players on the ground and I am beginning to understand who the real experts are, who the stakeholders are and who might make a good commissioner. I have to wonder why we would not go even further than what my colleague from Hamilton Centre is proposing, and perhaps even give the real power to the committees.
Imagine the legitimacy the process would have if parliamentary committees could one day choose officers of Parliament. These appointments should still be confirmed by both chambers, as is always the case.
Careful reflection is still needed. What is certain is that we are too close to the end of the current parliamentary session for the motion moved by the member for Hamilton Centre to become a reality. This is even less likely to happen under the current Liberal government, which made many promises to please the Canadian left, including a promise for democratic emancipation. All those promises have been broken.
I wish the hon. member for Hamilton Centre continued success.
View Alupa Clarke Profile
CPC (QC)
View Alupa Clarke Profile
2019-05-09 15:27 [p.27635]
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.27637]
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.27638]
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.27638]
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
2019-05-07 16:09 [p.27531]
Mr. Speaker, as always, I am very honoured to rise in the House today. I would like to say hello to the many people of Beauport—Limoilou who are watching. I saw them late last week at the Grand bazar du Vieux-Limoilou, the Patro Roc-Amadour community centre and the 52nd Salon de Mai craft fair, which was held at Promenades Beauport mall. Congratulations to the organizers.
I would also like to say that we are all very sad to hear that our colleague from Langley—Aldergrove is fighting a serious cancer. He just gave a powerful speech that reminded us how fragile life is. I even spoke to my wife and children to tell them that I love them. Our colleague gave a very poignant speech about that. I thank him for his years of service to Canada and to the House of Commons, and for all the future years that he will devote himself to his community.
Before I say anything about the Conservative Party motion now before us, I would like to say a quick word about what U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said yesterday. At a meeting of the Arctic Council in Finland, he had the gall to say that Canada’s claim of sovereignty over the Northwest Passage is illegitimate. He even compared us to Russia and China, referring to their behaviour and their propensity to annex territories, like Russia did in Ukraine. Personally, I find that shameful.
I would like to remind the U.S. government that we have been their allies for a long time. President Reagan and Prime Minister Mulroney reached an agreement, which both parties signed, and which stipulated that Canada indeed has sovereignty over the Northwest Passage. In the 19th century, we launched a number of expeditions and explorations supported by the British Crown, and Canadian sovereignty over the Northwest Passage and in the Arctic Archipelago is entirely legitimate.
Today we are discussing the importance of the oil industry and the importance of climate change. These two issues go hand in hand. They are key issues today and will continue to be in the future. Of course, I believe that the environment is extremely important. It is important for all Conservatives and for all Canadians. I remember collecting all sorts of bottles and cans along the roadside as a boy. I often did that with my father. He is an example for me in that respect. Throughout my life, I have always wanted to be a part of community organizations where people pick up garbage.
I am also very proud of most Canadian governments' environmental record. They have always endeavoured to meet the expectations of Canadians, for whom the environment is extremely important. Most of the time, the Liberals try to paint the Conservatives as anti-environment. I can assure my colleagues that I have never seen anything to support that in the Conservative Party. On the contrary, under Mr. Harper, we took important steps to lower greenhouse gas emissions in Canada by 2.2% between 2006 and 2015. I will come back to that later.
There are two approaches being proposed in the current debate on climate change. This applies to several western countries. I say western countries because those are the countries affected, given that our industrial era has been well established for two centuries. There are some industries that have been polluting rather significantly for a long time. We have reached a point in our history where we realize that greenhouse gas emissions from human activity are playing a very significant role in climate change.
Yes, we must act, but there are two possible approaches. One is the Liberal Party approach of taxing Canadians even more. The Liberals are asking Canadians to bear the burden of reducing greenhouse gas emissions in Canada. The approach the Conservatives prefer is not to create a new tax or to tax the fuel that Canadians put in their cars to go to work every day.
Our approach is rather to help Canadians in their everyday lives and to help the provinces implement their respective environmental plans.
For example, I always like to remind the Canadians listening to us, as well as all environmentalists, that we set up the Canada ecotrust in 2007-08. This $1.3-billion program was meant to allocate funds to the provinces so that they could deal in their own way with the major concerns associated with climate change and reduce their greenhouse gas emissions. That is a fine example of how we want to help people.
Jean Charest was premier of Quebec at the time. We provided $300 million to help Quebec implement its GHG emissions reduction plan. Mr. Harper and Mr. Charest gave a joint press conference, and even Mr. Guilbeault from Greenpeace said that the Canada ecotrust was a significant, important program.
We did the same thing for Ontario, British Columbia and all the other provinces that wanted to join the ecotrust. It is very likely that the program allowed the Government of Ontario to implement its own program and close its coal-fired power plants.
As a result, under the Harper government, GHG emissions in Canada dropped by 2.2%. It bears repeating, since that is the approach we will adopt with our current leader, the hon. member for Regina—Qu'Appelle. In a few weeks, we will announce our environmental plan, which has been keenly anticipated by all Canadians, and especially by the Liberal government. It will be a serious plan. It will include environmental targets that will allow Canada and Canadians to excel in the fight against climate change. In particular, we will maintain our sound approach, which is to help the provinces. By contrast, the government prefers to start constitutional squabbles with them by imposing taxes on Canadians, overstepping its jurisdiction in the process, since environmental matters fall under provincial jurisdiction.
I would like to use Quebec as an example, as my colleague from Louis-Saint-Laurent did this morning. I have here a report on Quebec's inventory of greenhouse gas emissions in 2016 and their evolution since 1990. It was tabled by the new CAQ government last November, and it is very interesting. In 2016, greenhouse gas emissions increased in Quebec, despite the fact that the carbon exchange made its debut in 2013. That is ironic. Despite the implementation of a fuel tax to cut down on fuel consumption and greenhouse gas emissions, emissions actually went up.
The same report also indicates that between 1990 and 2015, greenhouse gas emissions in Quebec decreased even though the carbon exchange had not been fully implemented. The conclusion explains how this happened:
The decrease in GHG emissions from 1990 to 2016 is mainly due to the industrial sector. The decrease observed in this sector resulted from technical improvements in certain processes, increased energy efficiency and the substitution of certain fuels.
That is exactly what we, the Conservatives, want to do. Instead of imposing a new tax on Canadians, we want to maintain a decentralized federal approach. We want to help the provinces adopt greener energy sources to stimulate even greener economic growth and the deindustrialization of certain sectors, create new technologies and increase innovation in the Canadian economy. That is the objective of a Conservative approach to the environment.
The objective of the Conservative approach to the environment is not to come down hard on the provinces and impose new taxes on Canadians. As we saw with Quebec, that did not have the desired effect. Our objective is to provide assistance while ensuring that our oil industry can grow in a healthy way. That is what Norway did. If I had 10 more minutes, I could talk more about that wonderful country, which has increased its oil production and exports and is one of the fairest and greenest countries in the world.
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