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View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
Lib. (MB)
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
2020-09-28 12:04 [p.155]
Madam Speaker, I listened to the opposition House leader and a major aspect is missing from his speech. In order for the House to proceed in a fashion where there is a great deal of constructive debate, we need the co-operation of opposition parties.
It does not take very much to filibuster a bill, let alone in any important message that comes out of the House of Commons. We all know that. If an opposition party wants to prevent something from taking place or cause frustration, it only takes a few members to do that. The Conservatives have demonstrated over the last five years that their priority is to make the House look dysfunctional. During the coronavirus pandemic, we are looking for a higher sense of co-operation from the Conservatives and opposition parties. We would like that higher sense of co-operation.
If it were up to the opposition House leader and he could wave his wand, when would he want this measure to pass? How many hours of debate would the member want in order to allow it to pass? Would he strive to achieve that within the next 24 hours?
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
Lib. (MB)
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
2020-09-28 12:27 [p.158]
Madam Speaker, indeed, the minister responsible has done an incredible job in terms of the amount of effort. I suspect if we were still giving out those awards, I would be nominating her for the hardest-working member of Parliament, especially over the last eight months. Virtually day in and day out, seven days a week, there has been a tremendous amount of consultation and working with Canadians.
The member made reference to the bill and that it is there to help and continue to provide the support that is absolutely essential to Canadians, which is why it is so very important that we see the legislation passed.
However, the member had concerns in regard to the manipulation of Parliament. I would ask her to provide some comment and indicate the last time the Prime Minister and the ministers made themselves available right here on the floor of the House of Commons during the months of July and August, when literally hundreds of questions were asked by opposition members and answered. I can't recall that happening in the last 30 years.
Can the member opposite tell me the last time that happened in the House of Commons and questions were put forward?
View Daniel Blaikie Profile
NDP (MB)
View Daniel Blaikie Profile
2020-09-28 12:37 [p.160]
Madam Speaker, what an honour it has been to have the opportunity to represent the people of Elmwood—Transcona throughout the course of a very challenging time in our history.
I was elected not quite a year ago with the general mandate to defend the interests of working people here in Ottawa and to try to make Parliament work for people. That has been foremost in my mind and in the work of the NDP throughout the course of this pandemic, which could not have been foreseen at the time of the last election. Nevertheless it is our responsibility as public office holders to deal with it, in the best way we possibly can.
Many things have been called into question about the way we did things before the pandemic. There are many urgent questions about how we deal with the particularities of the pandemic and the challenges it presents.
We have heard a lot from other opposition parties today about the challenge to parliamentary process. Is that the main thing that the people we represent are concerned about? It is certainly something that is important. It matters how things work here. It matters that we are able to hold the government to account, but is it the main thing that ought to preoccupy us on a day when the income support program that has been sustaining Canadian households throughout this pandemic expired yesterday at midnight? I think not.
I think it is incumbent upon us to be a little flexible in our understanding of parliamentary process at this time. We can continue to talk about the role that the government played in creating this situation, where Parliament has not had more time. Nevertheless, we find ourselves here and have to respond to that situation. I hope Canadians will have been paying attention to the way that the government manufactured this sense of urgency and judge its members appropriately at election time.
We can talk about the economic crisis. It was severe. There is a lot that Parliament and the government need to do to avoid the economic threats that the pandemic presents. Of course, the CERB has been a very important part of heading off those threats to the economy. It has helped the economy continue as best it can in very difficult circumstances by ensuring that people have money to pay their landlords to stay housed, by ensuring that people have some money to put food on the table, and by ensuring that people have some money to spend in their local economy to help businesses that are struggling.
Those are all things that are very important, but first and foremost what we are called to respond to is the very real story of human tragedy that the pandemic has given rise to. We know that what people are struggling with, and what is top of mind for them, is a sense of fear because they have lost their jobs. In some cases people have gone back to work, which is great.
For other people, their entire industry has been called into question, with the future of their industry being on the ropes. Not only are they not back to work, but they are not sure if there will ever be work to go back to, in the industry that they worked in before, in the way that they knew it prior to the pandemic.
We know people have been overtaken with grief at the loss of loved ones, particularly in personal care homes. They were not able to go to visit someone at the height of the first wave. We are concerned as we enter into a second wave that families will find themselves in that position again, or that families will be limited to one visitor or none at all for a relative in a hospital. It may not be that someone is sick with COVID-19, but because they have another issue that has landed them in the hospital, concerned family members are challenged by not being able to see them.
We can think of people living in indigenous communities who have been abused for far too long. They worry about systemic problems that have led to overcrowded housing and a lack of clean drinking water, and what it will mean for their communities, families and loved ones if the virus enters their community. There have been travel bans put in place. It has made life hard for people.
These are the things that people are really worried about and they have been foremost in the minds of the NDP members and our work.
What can Parliament and government do to support Canadians as they deal with all of those consequences of the pandemic, on top of the challenges that they already had in their lives? As they try to manage that stress and they try to show compassion and care for the people around them, what can we do to ensure that we do not pile additional unneeded stress, particularly financial stress, on top of all those many concerns?
That is what the Canada emergency response benefit was meant to do. It was something that we had to fight for, initially. I remember sitting here, in this very place, prior to the initial lockdown, listening to the NDP leader question the Prime Minister about what they were going to do to support families as we headed toward lockdown. I remember, very distinctly, the Prime Minister talking about tinkering with the employment insurance system, a system that has long been broken and not serving Canadians well who have paid into that insurance program to support them when they are out of work. We knew that was not going to be enough. We knew that playing at the edges of that broken employment insurance system was not going to support Canadians through it.
New Democrats pushed for a basic income for all Canadians during this time that would be taxed back from those who did not need it at the end of the fiscal year, as a way to get help out as quickly as possible to as many Canadians as possible. We negotiated with a government that was determined to have an exclusionary approach to income, to decide who was deserving and who was not deserving. That is how the CERB was born.
Then, in the subsequent months, we spent a lot of work championing the cause of many different groups of Canadians who were left out by that exclusionary approach. I am thinking especially of persons living with disabilities, because we did, through multiple rounds of negotiations, finally convince the government to make some income support available for persons living with disabilities. It was not the kind of support we wanted to see. It was to be a one-time payment. It is shameful that that money has not yet been delivered. It was meant to be an emergency support payment, and people living with disabilities in Canada are still waiting.
Seniors were left out. It could be that the income of some seniors who have the good fortune of having a defined benefit plan did not change, but their circumstances changed. The support networks that they knew, the friends and family who would come and help them to do laundry and get groceries, were now being asked not to go to their parents' place or their grandparents' place. That meant that in order for seniors to replace the work that was done in that support network, money was required for laundry services, for grocery delivery, for whatever it may be.
We fought hard to try to get support for seniors as well. That payment was made, but it was only a one-time payment. We know that this pandemic is going to last a long time. That is why we need better solutions that build towards a better Canada that supports its seniors and that supports its people living with disabilities.
We fought for students who were left completely out of the CERB, notwithstanding the fact that we all knew that their summer employment prospects were not going to be the same as they had been before and that finding a job that could support them in paying their tuition in the fall was going to be impossible. Also, not every student is a kid living in their parents' basement. That is the impression we got from the government, while negotiating for the student benefit. That is simply not true. A lot of students are supporting themselves and supporting families as they go to school. They have to pay rent and put food on the table, and they were not able to get employment.
The government finally, after New Democrats pushing for students to be on the CERB, set up an entirely separate benefit that paid less. One of the reasons the government said it was justified in paying students less and having a whole separate administration, bureaucracy and program for students was because they were going to have an excellent summer work program that was going to top up students' benefits. That came to be known as the WE Charity scandal. That money has not flowed to students in any way, shape or form. That employment was never created. In fact, we found out that that money really was a targeted benefit for certain wealthy and well-connected friends of the Liberal Party, including their own family members, to the great shame of the government.
Part of the reason why we are in the urgent scenario that we are in is because they did such a terrible job of that. It was so obscene that the Prime Minister felt he had to prorogue Parliament just to escape scrutiny from it. That meant that Parliament did not have the time it ought to have had, and could have had, if Parliament had not been prorogued.
The economic challenges of the pandemic are not going away. They are not going to go away until we get back to normal, and that is going to take a significant amount of time. As I said earlier, the CERB expired yesterday at midnight, so we now find ourselves in a position where a significant portion of the over four million people who were still on CERB now do not have anything in place. We heard some discussion of this earlier in the House, and I think everybody is quite right to feel a great sense of frustration at the government that it came to this point. The NDP had negotiated a series of summer sittings, once every two weeks, partly to check in and make sure that the government was not misappropriating funds or spending them on its friends in inappropriate ways. It is a good thing we had those summer sittings, because we learned a lot about what the government was doing behind closed doors.
However, we did not get to have the last one, during which we could have done one of two things.
First, we could have considered legislation for the government's new program. We know that they knew the details, because they announced all of the details of the program the day after the Prime Minister prorogued Parliament. The idea that this was not ready to go or that we could not have had that discussion in August is simply false. We know they were ready to have that conversation, but they decided not to for reasons that had to do with their own political interests and nothing to do with the public interest. I submit that in that moment the government lost sight of the real stories of human tragedy that the pandemic has engendered and the importance of the role of government in supporting Canadians through this time. Had that been foremost in their minds, they would not have prorogued Parliament. They would have brought this legislation to us then.
Second, the NDP called for Parliament to resume earlier, for an earlier Speech from the Throne. Anybody familiar with Liberal election platforms for the last 30 years could have mocked up that Speech from the Throne on the back of a napkin in about half an hour. There was nothing special in that Speech from the Throne; there was nothing new. There was nothing even particularly eloquent about it. There was no good reason to wait on this important work for that Speech from the Throne, so we could have gotten that done. They could have done that a lot sooner. It was a canned speech as far as I am concerned. We could have been dealing with this and subjected it to more and appropriate scrutiny.
However, there is no doubt that there is an urgent need for this help, because we find ourselves where we find ourselves. We can play the blame game, but I think Canadians want us to move beyond that. Assigning political blame should not be a recipe for paralysis in a crisis.
We do need to move forward. We do need to have something to replace the CERB. Finally, after weeks of no communication, the Liberals got serious about talking to opposition parties, and we were able to push them to stop the cut that they announced in August to the CERB benefit, from $2,000 a month to $1,600 a month, and get them to maintain that benefit level for Canadians who needed it. That was a real, productive outcome of those negotiations, even if they happened late.
Likewise, we were able to secure improvements to the government's sick leave plan, a sick leave plan that, incidentally, the government was opposed to for a long time. The NDP had to make it a real priority in our negotiations with the government to get a commitment to paid sick days for Canadians in the context of the pandemic. Then it took months for the Liberals to announce a plan, and when they finally announced it, they prorogued Parliament. There has been delay after delay after delay, but I think we have shown that when the government is finally ready to work, we are there ready to get to work right away. We are ready to make improvements to these measures on behalf of Canadians.
I will say once again that when it comes to laying blame for the situation that we find ourselves in, although this is not a recipe for us to not ensure there is something in place for Canadians, in a democracy the ultimate mechanism for accountability is an election. Even though we are going to do our job and make sure there is a program for Canadians in their time of need, I do hope that Canadians remember at election time, whether it is in a month from now, a year from now or three years from now, that the Liberal government was prepared to play political games with their futures and, if nothing else, even if this legislation passes expeditiously, to rob them of the time to plan for what the replacement would look like.
We know in this minority Parliament that it takes negotiation among the parties to get something passed. Canadians know that. They are not fools. Notwithstanding whatever the government announced in August, Canadians did not know what they could rely on until this moment, until there had been negotiations, and they will not know until the legislation is passed. That makes it very hard for them to plan for their futures.
That has been a theme of the government: It has been ragging the puck and making it hard for Canadians to plan month to month. We saw it with a couple of eleventh-hour extensions of the CERB. The government wasted that time instead of using it to come up with something that could have either replaced the CERB or extended the CERB for a longer period. We saw month-to-month extensions and then an extension over the summer, but that time was not properly used to develop an alternative that Canadians could rely on.
Despite the fact that we are prepared to support these measures as a matter of urgency, the paid sick leave provisions are not what Canadians deserve. Canadians, like workers in many other jurisdictions internationally, should have the right to 10 paid sick days from their employer on a permanent basis, regardless of what the illness is. In the bill the Liberals presented before, Bill C-2, we saw a very restrictive approach to these sick days and know they are only temporary. When the new bill is tabled, I am hoping and expecting very much to see expanded eligibility that makes it easier for Canadians to avail themselves of this sick leave, which is not quite COVID-specific. I hope it is just a stepping stone to get to the point where Canadians have permanent sick leave.
It is also relevant to the pandemic. What we want to do is take as many barriers off the table for Canadians that would cause them to question whether they are eligible for this benefit or not, because we saw this in the story of CERB and the attestation, as well as with the concern over the fraud provisions in Bill C-17. Canadians are honest, by and large, and they are deeply concerned about applying for benefits that they are unsure they qualify for. What was really important when it came to sick leave was to ensure that Canadians had the maximum level of comfort to be able to avail themselves of those provisions. Let us remember why these sick days are such an important tool for the pandemic. It is so that when Canadians wake up and are feeling sick, whether they are sneezing, coughing, have a headache or feel sick to their stomach, they can make the call to not go into work to protect their colleagues and their communities from the spread of a virus that we know is spreading rapidly. This is what we are asking people to do to prevent the spread of the virus, and they need the tools to be able to do that. Paid sick leave is an important tool.
We have pushed to try to make this as easy to access as possible in the context of a government that does not want to see 10 permanent sick days allocated to Canadians as a matter of right. That is unfortunate, but it is a battle we will continue to fight, notwithstanding supporting this legislation today. What we are doing today is getting something in place that can serve Canadians now. It is not building back better. It is not what we would like to see when it comes to having immediate solutions that build toward a brighter future. It is a band-aid solution, but one that is badly needed in the circumstances.
I hope one day Canadians will have a government that is willing to respond to a crisis in a way that sets us up to have a better future beyond the crisis, rather than just limping through. That is something Canadians can count on the NDP to continue fighting for here in this chamber.
View Daniel Blaikie Profile
NDP (MB)
View Daniel Blaikie Profile
2020-09-28 12:58 [p.163]
Madam Speaker, I do not feel quite right dignifying that with a response.
What the New Democrats have been doing is working with a government that we are quite critical of. We were elected to a minority Parliament, as were they, and we said we would come to Ottawa and make Parliament work as best we could for people. That is the work that we continue to do, notwithstanding the shenanigans of the Liberal Party. We will work as best we can. As long as we can find agreement on a path forward that is better for Canadians than what they would get if the Liberals were simply left to their own devices, we will continue to do that work. That is what we are here to do.
It came as no surprise to me that it was not a very inspiring Speech from the Throne. That was not my criterion. I was not looking to be inspired by a Prime Minister who has had ethical scandal after ethical scandal and is clearly looking to help his friends. What I was looking for is an opportunity to do my work and leverage more out of the government for ordinary Canadians who it does not think about enough, frankly, and I will continue to do that work for as long as I can.
View Daniel Blaikie Profile
NDP (MB)
View Daniel Blaikie Profile
2020-09-28 13:00 [p.163]
Madam Speaker, I certainly agree with the hon. member that this is the gold standard, but given the expiration of CERB yesterday, we are in a situation of real urgency and that help needs to get to Canadians.
I am as frustrated as anybody that the opportunity was not afforded to Parliament to do that very work and to follow that normal process. This was as a result of a government trying to run and hide from a political scandal that it created without any prompting and for no good reason. However, now we find ourselves in the situation we are in.
I hope Canadians are paying attention. I hope they will remember this come election time, this crass disregard the government had for Canadians' vital interests. However, now we need to make sure that there is a net to catch all of the people who are coming off of CERB, and that requires us to be flexible.
I think we need to draw a box around a lot of the procedural things that have happened during the pandemic and recognize that we are not setting precedents for how Parliament ought to operate normally. What we are doing is working hard to get the help to Canadians that they need on an urgent basis. With a different government and a different attitude in government, we could have done that in a way that observed more of the normal parliamentary process. It is regrettable that we do not have a government that is willing to do that in good faith. Nevertheless, what needs to come first is the interests of Canadians, and those are what we are here to support first and foremost.
View Daniel Blaikie Profile
NDP (MB)
View Daniel Blaikie Profile
2020-09-28 13:03 [p.164]
Madam Speaker, I thank my colleague for the question. She may be aware that the NDP has been pressuring the government for quite some time to make changes to the EI system. Indeed, this is something we must do. I myself tabled in this Parliament a bill to increase EI sickness benefits to 50 weeks. That is something we support and want to discuss.
However, the problem we have today is that the CERB came to an end yesterday and we want to ensure that a new program will provide Canadians with the support they want to be able to count on. Our work in the House today is to focus on that.
View Daniel Blaikie Profile
NDP (MB)
View Daniel Blaikie Profile
2020-09-28 13:06 [p.164]
Madam Speaker, I want to thank my colleague for bringing it back to the lived experience of Canadians who are struggling through this. Here we are having a policy debate, and then there are politics layered over that. It is easy to get lost in all of that. The task that the NDP has really set for itself in this Parliament and throughout the pandemic has been to bring it back to that experience, not to this administrative deadline, this political reason or that political reason.
There is a single mom who is trying to make rent. She does not know if, at the end of the month, she is going to get a cheque for $2,000 or $1,600, or nothing at all. That makes a big difference in her life. The stress and anxiety of not knowing that is serious. It is real and it compounds all the problems of the pandemic.
The least we can do from here in Ottawa, and those in government can do, is to act in a timely way to make sure that people have as much knowledge and lead time as possible to prepare themselves—
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
Lib. (MB)
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
2020-09-28 13:47 [p.170]
Madam Speaker, there is no doubt we are in a second wave of the pandemic. This legislation is greatly needed to protect Canadians in all regions of our nation. It would provide necessary support for us to continue moving forward through this situation.
Members have raised the issue regarding the number of hours. I would like to ask the member about something I expressed previously, and that is that it has been decades since a government has sat during summer months. That allowed opposition members to literally have hundreds and hundreds of additional questions of the government about programs.
Could the member give his thoughts on how important that vehicle was in providing members the opportunity to provide direct input into legislation such as the one before us today?
View Candice Bergen Profile
CPC (MB)
View Candice Bergen Profile
2020-09-28 14:20 [p.176]
Mr. Speaker, my first question today is on behalf of that single mom who is standing in line right now, for the second day in a row, waiting to get a COVID test, for that senior widower who is at home alone, scared and isolated, waiting for his result, and for the thousands of Canadians just like them who are scared and worried and do not know if they have COVID.
Very simply, what is the government doing to ensure that Canadians get access to rapid and safe at-home testing?
View Candice Bergen Profile
CPC (MB)
View Candice Bergen Profile
2020-09-28 14:21 [p.176]
Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister always seems to be playing catch-up. Whether it was months ago and the decision around the border, or today, being slow and inept in helping small businesses or getting rapid, safe at-home testing for Canadians, the Liberals are always giving Canadians too little too late. Things are not okay. There are 700 new COVID cases in Ontario alone. Shutting down the economy and going back to the Prime Minister's morning show is not the answer.
When will the Prime Minister see that he is failing on dealing with the COVID crisis and that he is actually leaving millions of Canadians behind?
View Candice Bergen Profile
CPC (MB)
View Candice Bergen Profile
2020-09-28 14:22 [p.176]
Mr. Speaker, six weeks ago when Bill Morneau, the finance minister, resigned, it was clear the Prime Minister was going to do whatever it took to shut down the noise around the WE scandal. He was more concerned about himself and covering his own hide than governing, so he locked up Parliament, wasting precious time that could have been used doing work for Canadians.
Does the Prime Minister not know that his scandals are not going to go away and that by trying to cover them up, he has put his own interests above the interests of Canadians, their lives, their livelihoods and their peace of mind?
View Raquel Dancho Profile
CPC (MB)
View Raquel Dancho Profile
2020-09-28 14:45 [p.181]
Mr. Speaker, Canadian Sarah Campbell has been battling thyroid cancer for months and needs her U.K. fiancé by her side, but they have been separated due to the border closures. Sarah has written 123 letters to Liberal cabinet ministers asking for a compassionate exemption. When she finally received a response, it was nothing but a cold-hearted, useless letter from the department. The minister did not even have the decency to sign it himself. There are thousands of Canadians just like Sarah who are being completely ignored by the Liberal government and they deserve answers.
Will families be reunited in October, yes or no?
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
Lib. (MB)
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
2020-09-28 15:25 [p.187]
Mr. Speaker, I ask that all questions be allowed to stand.
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
Lib. (MB)
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
2020-09-28 15:28 [p.188]
Mr. Speaker, what we have witnessed over the the last six or so months is a great spirit among all different stakeholders, whether they are government agencies, non-profit organizations or individual outstanding Canadians, coming together to work and appreciate the challenges that were being brought forward as a direct result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
As such, there is an obligation, and the national government has been a leader at providing the types of supports that are absolutely critical in a time of need. The bill we are trying to suggest to all members of the House, which needs to be passed rather quickly, is to continue that monetary support, in particular for those Canadians who truly need it.
Would the member not agree that we should continue to work together to see quick passage of the legislation?
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
Lib. (MB)
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
2020-09-28 16:09 [p.194]
Mr. Speaker, over the summer the government sat in the House of Commons on several occasions. During these sittings, members of the opposition had the opportunity to ask, and did ask, literally hundreds of questions. Members could always review the questions, if they choose to do so, which provided many opportunities for opposition members to have direct input on a wide spectrum of programs. Today's bill is important because it continues supporting Canadians in a very real and tangible way.
As the opposition was afforded the opportunity during the summer and, as the minister's door and phones have been open to all members of the House, I am wondering why the member opposite believes the opposition has not had the opportunity to provide any input. We have done things the former government never did. Could the member tell me the last time the House sat in August?
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
Lib. (MB)
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
2020-09-28 16:28 [p.197]
Mr. Speaker, I listened very carefully to what my colleague and friend was espousing with respect to his disappointment in the government. I suspect that his disappointment in this government would carry over to other levels of government. They did the same thing, in part, that our government did. They looked at the science and listened to what the health experts were saying at the time. It is interesting that whether it is the Prime Minister, the Minister of Health or provincial ministers, often the advice and discussions that take place are rooted in what the health experts and science are saying.
Does the member opposite not believe that as politicians, at times, and this is one of those times, we need to listen to what the health care experts are saying? Many of the comments that the member opposite made reference to were based on listening to those experts.
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
Lib. (MB)
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
2020-09-28 17:19 [p.205]
Mr. Speaker, I will be responding to two matters of privilege that have been raised and provide comments.
In particular, I am rising to respond to the question of privilege raised by the member for Leeds—Grenville—Thousand Islands and Rideau Lakes on Thursday, September 24, respecting the production of documents ordered by the Standing Committee on Finance in the previous session.
The member argues that the government did not respect the finance committee's motion, while at the same time acknowledges that the government provided the requested documents to the clerk of the committee on August 8, 2020. It was the opposition parties who wanted the law clerk to review these documents for the purposes of additional redactions. Liberal members on the committee agreed to the motion. I want to be clear: The government respected the finance committee's motion and provided the documents on time. The government also provided exactly the information that the committee requested in its motion. The only things excluded were matters of cabinet confidence and national security, which the committee spelled out in the motion.
In preparing the documents in response to the committee motion, public servants respected their statutory obligations under law. The government provided the documents, which were 5,600 pages, on the date requested by the committee. Due to the time needed for the law clerk to do his work, Parliament was prorogued before they were properly given to the committee. As a result, not only did the finance committee cease to exist with prorogation, but the committee did not fully have these documents. It is therefore difficult for the opposition to argue that the government did not comply with the committee's motion when they were not in a position to take such a determination since they did not have the formal law clerk-approved documents.
The second issue was that there was no report from the finance committee to the House. The hon. member for Leeds—Grenville—Thousand Islands and Rideau Lakes correctly cites the relevant section from the House of Commons Procedure and Practice, 2017, which states, “If such an order is ignored, the committee has no means to enforce the order on its own. It may report the matter to the House and recommend that appropriate action be taken. It is then a decision of the House whether or not to issue an order for the production of papers.” There has been no report from the finance committee and the hon. member knows that committee business does not carry over from one session to the next.
My hon. colleague also states that the Speaker needs to take extraordinary steps to intervene now to prevent actions “to keep our committees from considering substantive business until November”. I would like to draw the attention of my hon. colleague to a motion that the House adopted immediately upon the opening of the House, a full day before he gave and made his intervention. In addition to allowing the House to meet in a hybrid format and to vote remotely to ensure the safety of members and their staff, the motion also stated that the Standing Committee on Finance must hold an organizational meeting as early as October 8 but no later than October 9. The hon. member knows that the opposition holds a majority on the committees and that the finance committee will decide its agenda at that time.
Furthermore, the motion enabled all committees to meet either virtually or in a hybrid format, which means that it can meet to transact any business it wants as of next week. It is therefore incorrect to state that the government can use procedural tactics to delay the finance committee from considering substantive business until November.
The member argues that there was no ability for the finance committee to report the matter in the question to the House. I would refer the hon. member to the motion adopted by the House on March 24, 2020. I quote the section (i) of that motion where it states:
(i) starting the week of March 30, 2020, the Minister of Finance or his delegate shall provide the Standing Committee on Finance with a bi-weekly report on all actions undertaken pursuant to parts 3, 8 and 19 of the COVID-19 Emergency Response Act and shall appear before the committee to discuss the report, provided that, until April 20, 2020, or any date to which the adjournment period is extended pursuant to paragraph f), if committee is not satisfied with how the government is exercising its powers under the Act, it may adopt a motion during a meeting by videoconference or teleconference to report this to the House by depositing a report with the Clerk of the House which shall be deemed to have been duly presented to the House on that day.
Since this matter was not before the House and the documents were not formally before the House or the committee, it would difficult, if not impossible, for the Speaker to make a determination on whether the committee's motion was respected. While the government asserts that this issue does not constitute a prima facie case of privilege, I want to make it clear that when the finance committee restarts on October 8 or 9, if it readopts the motion and is not satisfied with the way the government has provided documents to the committee, the government is prepared to work in good faith with the committee to address any concerns that it may have.
This matter has raised a number of unique circumstances. I will note that the procedure and House affairs committee has undertaken two studies on how our House should operate in a pandemic. It therefore makes good sense to ask this committee to undertake a study of the Standing Orders and practices, and once complete, report its findings to the House.
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
Lib. (MB)
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
2020-09-28 17:32 [p.206]
Mr. Speaker, I rise in response to the second question of privilege raised on September 24 by the hon. member for Leeds—Grenville—Thousand Islands and Rideau Lakes.
In his intervention, the member made a serious claim in accusing the Minister of Public Services and Procurement of misleading the House in response to Order Paper Question No. 443. I submit that the matter raised by my colleague amounts to a dispute as to facts and does not meet the high threshold for finding a prima facie question of privilege.
There are two key matters to support this view. First, the Canadian Taxpayers Federation and the member misread and miscalculated the amounts in the access to information request. Second, the Canadian Taxpayers Federation and the member's Order Paper question cover different periods.
In his remarks, my counterpart referenced access to information request no. 2020-00025, which was provided to the Canadian Taxpayers Federation. The ATIP in question requested a generic actuals report of the cost of renovations, improvements, construction and maintenance of the Prime Minister's official residence at Harrington Lake between January 1, 2020, and April 22, 2020. It seems that the member across the way read the table in the same way as the Canadian Taxpayers Federation. I suspect that both the member and the Canadian Taxpayers Federation added all of the amounts listed in the response to the access to information request together rather than viewing them as spending from a total budget. Put simply, the member and the Canadian Taxpayers Federation misread and miscalculated the numbers in the response to the access to information request.
I will refer to Order Paper Question No. 443, raised by the same member. This question reads as follows:
With regard to construction and renovations at the Prime Minister’s country residence and surrounding property at Harrington Lake: (a) what are the details of each new building or other structure constructed, or in the process of being constructed, at the property since November 4, 2015, including (i) date construction began, (ii) projected or actual completion date, (iii) square footage, (iv) physical description of the structure, (v) purpose of the structure, (vi) estimated cost; and (b) what are the details of all renovations which began at the property since November 4, 2015, including (i) start date, (ii) projected or actual completion date, (iii) structure, (iv) project description, (v) estimated cost?
First, I note that in question (a) at point (vi) and in question (b) at point (v), the hon. member clearly requested the estimated cost and not the generic actuals report, as requested by the Canadian Taxpayers Federation. Second, the date of the actuals requested from the Canadian Taxpayers Federation is from January 1, 2020, to April 22, 2020, in comparison with the hon. member requesting the work and estimates from November 4, 2015.
I am happy to refer my hon. colleague to the National Capital Commission's website for Harrington Lake, which clearly states that the estimated budget of repairs for Harrington Lake is $8.6 million. This is still the budget for the renovations and was the amount provided to my hon. colleague in his response to Question No. 443.
To provide perfect clarity, approximately $850,000 of the cost to which the member alludes is for contracts that serve all six official residences in the NCC portfolio. Furthermore, some of the actual expenses incurred by the NCC, released as part of an ATIP, fall outside the estimated budget of $8.6 million. At no point was the House misled in this manner.
This is a matter of debate as to facts and does not meet the high threshold for finding a question of privilege. It is a long-standing tradition that the House takes members at their word, and as I mentioned in an intervention in March of this year, there are other avenues to resolve such disputes before raising questions of privilege. There are alternatives and other ways of seeking clarification on such matters.
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
Lib. (MB)
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
2020-09-28 17:43 [p.208]
Madam Speaker, the pandemic has put a great deal of pressure on in many different ways.
Earlier this year, the government, in co-operation, particularly, with the New Democratic Party, recognized the value in the House of Commons sitting in the summer, and justifiably so, something it has not done, at least not that I can recall, in the last 30 years. I suspect it might be even longer than that, since the House actually sat in the summer months.
I was here both in July and August, sitting inside this chamber, listening to hundreds of questions. That does not even come close to the types of transparency and accountability that I saw when I was on the opposition benches. Government was available for questioning.
Where was all the interest, which the Conservatives have today, during the summer, when they were not necessarily posing the types of questions they are looking for answers to today?
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
Lib. (MB)
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
2020-09-28 17:58 [p.210]
Madam Speaker, it is interesting to have contrast here. We have a Conservative member who is making it very clear. The debt that is being accrued because of the programs we are bringing into place is very upsetting and appears to be something which the member does not support. She is giving the impression that we should not be borrowing as much money as we are. On the other hand, she tries to give the impression that she supports all these programs.
Looking specifically at this bill, the member is complaining about the $50 billion, but she is supporting the programs. She cannot have it both ways.
Does the member believe that we should continue to support Canadians through programs that are largely, in part, being financed through debt? Does she believe we should do it or should we not do it?
View Daniel Blaikie Profile
NDP (MB)
View Daniel Blaikie Profile
2020-09-25 11:14 [p.116]
Mr. Speaker, the pandemic shone a light on how poorly Canada is doing in taking care of its seniors, particularly seniors who depend on our long-term care system. It showed the backward thinking of many governments, including the Conservative government in Manitoba. One of its first acts after being elected was cancelling an upgrade and expansion of Park Manor Personal Care Home in Transcona and other care homes across the province.
It showed the effect of the creeping privatization of our health system that has been taking place for a long time now. It puts the financial interest of investors ahead of the interests of our loved ones in personal care homes. It has been my honour to serve as a vice-chair of the NDP's building for better task force. We have heard from experts across the country who have highlighted the negative role that the profit motive has been playing in long-term care. We have seen the result with higher rates of death in for-profit personal care homes across the country. It is a call for federal leadership in funding and convening the provinces to have better standards. That is something the NDP is here to fight for.
View Leah Gazan Profile
NDP (MB)
View Leah Gazan Profile
2020-09-25 11:45 [p.121]
Mr. Speaker, we know that women's careers have been the hardest hit by this pandemic, which has been made worse by the Liberals' failure to follow through on their promises for a universal child care program, which they first promised in 1993. I am not going to hold my breath.
Will the minister tell us the implementation timeline for a universal child care program that properly supports early childhood educators, cares for kids with exceptional needs and helps parents who want to go back to work outside the home confidently go back to work?
View Dan Vandal Profile
Lib. (MB)
Mr. Speaker, I am very proud of the support we have given northern Canada during these difficult times. In April, we invested $130 million for economic and health supports for all of northern Canada. We have also invested significantly in aviation support. Through these difficult times, our government will be there for all Canadians, including, of course, Canadians who live in the north.
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
Lib. (MB)
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
2020-09-25 12:22 [p.128]
Madam Speaker, I would ask that all questions be allowed to stand at this time.
The Assistant Deputy Speaker (Mrs. Carol Hughes): Is that agreed?
Some hon. members: Agreed.
View Leah Gazan Profile
NDP (MB)
View Leah Gazan Profile
2020-09-25 12:30 [p.130]
Madam Speaker, the government talks about building back better, but it has forgotten a lot of people: students and veterans. Let us not forget the Canadian human rights tribunal ruling to immediately stop racially discriminating against first nations kids.
Cindy Blackstock said that there was an opportunity for Canada to acknowledge its own systemic discrimination toward first nations kids and fix it. It did not. Spending over 13 years fighting a human rights decision shows racism is in Canada's DNA.
When will the government start upholding its domestic and international legal obligations and make sure that all people on Turtle Island can live with human rights, in dignity?
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
Lib. (MB)
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
2020-09-25 12:42 [p.132]
Madam Speaker, I will say right from the onset that I disagree with what the member is trying to convey through her messaging this afternoon. If the member would take the time to read through the throne speech, I suspect that she would find there are many different initiatives that are very tangible that would continue to assist Canadians through this very difficult time in terms of dealing with the coronavirus and the issue of getting the economy going to its maximum force. I do not think they have to look that far into the throne speech to find that. I plan to speak a bit later and expand upon that.
Would the member not, at the very least, acknowledge that within the throne speech there are numerous measures that deal with what the Government of Canada is proposing to do?
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
Lib. (MB)
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
2020-09-25 13:05 [p.135]
Madam Speaker, it is always a pleasure to address the House and today is no exception.
It has been a very interesting time for all us, no matter where we live in Canada. I thought maybe I would share some thoughts with respect to contrast. It is not meant to scare people on what would have happened if the Conservatives were in government, but rather to put things in a different perspective.
First, in the last six months we have witnessed a great deal of co-operation, of people coming together to work. We often use the words “team Canada approach”. Led by the national government in Ottawa, we have seen a great sense of need to respond to the pandemic. Provincial governments, municipal governments, non-profit agencies, essential workers, a wide spectrum of people and organizations have recognized the need to work together. The only exception to that would probably be the Conservatives.
A great deal has been accomplished as a direct result. Millions of jobs have been saved and millions of people have been assisted directly. I thought it might be somewhat advantageous for us to spend some time talking about why it was so important for the government to be engaged so heavily on this file.
If we go back to the very beginning of 2020, the economy was doing quite well. Canada was very successful at excelling in a lot of things. The job numbers were fantastic. Members will recall that in our first four to four and a half years, the Liberal government created over one million jobs. We had the lowest unemployment. We were doing exceptionally well. It was not just because of the things we were doing in Ottawa, but what others were doing in all regions of the country. Some regions were finding it more difficult than others. The impact of the world price on oil did have an impact. Some things we did not necessarily have much control over. However, generally speaking, the economy and our communities were doing quite well.
When the pandemic came, it got to a point where we had to make the decision to shut things down. It was a wise decision. We listened to what the health care experts were saying. Science matters to this government. Listening matters to this government. When the decision was made, we understood that the government needed to step up and provide the types of supports Canadians would need in the coming days, weeks and months, and even beyond.
The Prime Minister has been very clear that we will be there for Canadians throughout this process. From day one, we have been. Remember, there was no such thing as a CERB program back in January. We created a program, with the support of civil servants and with an understanding of what we had been hearing, from virtually nothing. The program was so effective that well over eight million Canadians benefited from it. Canada has less than 37 million people. We can do the math.
It is interesting to hear the criticism coming from the Conservative party. They are saying that we are not doing enough. There is no doubt we can always do better, and we look for ways we can do better. Depending on which Conservative MP I am listening to, the government is spending far too much money and we should not be doing the things that we are doing, but then others say that maybe we should be doing some of the things that we are doing. The only consistent message from the Conservative party is that we, as a government, are spending too much money.
Therein lies the difference that we need to highlight. A Liberal government, and this Prime Minister in particular, genuinely believe that the last six months have been a time in which the government needed to step up and support families. It should not be an option, but if we listen to the Conservatives, we would think that there was an option. We believe that we need to put money into the pockets of Canadians throughout the country because of the many hardships caused directly by the pandemic. That is what CERB was all about. The CERB program was there to support Canadians when we had to support Canadians. It was the right thing to do.
Regarding the economy, obviously we are concerned about jobs. As I pointed out, in our first four years we created well over a million jobs. That is about the same number Harper created, but it took him nine or 10 years to achieve. The wage subsidy program has literally saved tens of thousands of jobs. It has prevented many companies across Canada from going bankrupt. It has allowed companies to keep jobs in their factories and places of employment that otherwise might not have been maintained. It not only protected jobs, but provided the money that was necessary for people to pay their mortgages, buy groceries, get gas for their vehicles or have day-in and day-out necessary expenditures and be able to continue on.
Those two programs affected a wide spectrum of Canadians, directly or indirectly. When we look at the throne speech, it shows us why it is laughable that the Conservatives or others would try to imply that the throne speech does not have a plan. In the throne speech we see the extension of the wage subsidy program. We see more in terms of how the CERB program is going to be incorporated, in a different form, into the employment insurance program. Those are substantial issues. We are talking about billions of dollars, not millions.
Within the throne speech, which was read just the other day, there is a litany of things to provide comfort and assurances to Canadians. This government is going to continue to be there for them in a very real and tangible way. We are going to continue to fight the COVID-19 virus for however long it takes, and we are going to be there to protect our economy and jobs. If we look at the commitments made in the throne speech, we find historic amounts of money allocated for job retraining. We recognize the value of changing skill sets and the need to upgrade one's skill set as the economy has changed.
The Prime Minister made reference to many things that now stand out, both positive and negative, because of the pandemic, and there are some things we can pick up from that.
Canadians love our health care system. In the throne speech, there is a reaffirmation of the pharmacare program. I know some would say we should implement it today. It is not quite as easy as that, because we have to work with the provinces. In order to maximize the benefit of a national pharmacare program, provinces have to work with the federal government.
It is discouraging for me when I hear Conservatives say that we should just give money to the provinces and that we should not interfere in what they believe the federal government should have no interest in. I believe the Conservatives, and their cousins in the Bloc, are wrong. I believe the Bloc does a disservice to Canadians when it advocates for just handing over cash to the provinces and that the federal government should have no role. However, I understand it. The government House leader said it quite well. The Bloc wants to see the destruction of Canada.
On the other hand, I do not quite understand why the Conservatives do not believe there is a stronger role for the federal government in ensuring that Canadians are getting what they want regarding health care. We have the Canada Health Act. I encourage Conservatives to read it. They will see there is an opportunity for Ottawa to contribute to the debate. It is not just about money, as the Conservatives tend to think it is.
I hope the Conservatives will start listening to their constituents on the very important issue of health care, because I believe a majority of Conservative voters who live in Winnipeg North would disagree with their twisted approach on the delivery of health care in our country. There are Conservatives who will support me because of their stance on health care.
At the end of the day—
Some hon. members: Oh, oh!
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
Lib. (MB)
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
2020-09-25 13:19 [p.137]
Madam Speaker, I need to move on as there are a number of other points I want to make.
An issue in Winnipeg North, which I am sure is universal across the country, arose when classrooms and schools started back in September. There was a great deal of anxiety. Parents were debating whether they should send their children to school or hold the them back and wait and see.
A wonderful announcement came from the government of a $2 billion commitment to assist schools and help to get young people back to school. That went a long way to providing some comfort to constituents, teaching professionals and other stakeholders.
Similar to when we make reference to the issue of health care, the government has a responsibility to be there in that real, tangible way. One of those ways was the very positive and progressive announcement by the government of that $2 billion to help make young people feel more comfortable in getting back into the classroom as well as to support our teachers. I suspect that is something the Conservatives would have never supported. I do not hear them talking about it.
Initiatives that have been brought forward have had a very positive impact. Ottawa has worked with the provinces in a number of areas, such as supporting children in schools, pharmacare and health care. That is one of the reasons for the $19 billion safe restart agreement. Ottawa worked with the provinces and came up with an agreement. For example, Manitoba will almost triple the province's ability to test for COVID-19. The government will be there in a very tangible way to support our health care services.
I was quite encouraged when I saw the letter from the Premier of Manitoba, acknowledging how Manitoba would benefit from the restart agreement between Ottawa and the province. That type of cooperation makes a big difference. We have witnessed that virtually from day one.
We have had issues as MPs when we have been encouraged to provide that feedback directly. I have no doubt that MPs on all sides of the House listen to their constituents and ultimately bring forward, in the best way they can, their thoughts to the authorities, whether through a department or minister.
I was appreciative of the system we set up to allow Liberal members of Parliament the opportunity to raise issues every day for a period of time. We felt comfortable knowing that if we raised these issues in caucus, it would filter through to the ministries or the PMO. We were being listened to.
I suspect each party had its own mechanism to allow for that direct input. I appreciated the fact that the Prime Minister made it such a high priority for all members of Parliament, of whatever political party, to bring the ideas and thoughts of their constituents to the attention of the PMO, the ministries or whatever other mechanism an individual MP felt most comfortable with. I like to think that it had a profoundly positive impact on a number of programs that we brought in.
I can see that my time has run out. I will pick up on a couple of those points during questions and answers.
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
Lib. (MB)
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
2020-09-25 13:26 [p.137]
Madam Speaker, I really believe that, as a nation, we are very much unified. All one needs to do is to take a look at the participation and the amount of co-operation we have witnessed over the last six months.
I can appreciate that the Conservatives, for their own political purposes, want to try to cause more division within our great nation, and that is completely up to them. They have to take responsibility for that. Yes, they did lose a lot of seats in Quebec to the Bloc, and I recognize that.
At the end of the day, I believe that Canada is very much a unified country. We see that in terms of the take-up of interest in working with the national government, not only to fight the pandemic but also in terms of many of the other initiatives we have seen prior to the pandemic, whether it be reforms to the CPP, the Canada health accord or other initiatives that required co-operation from the different regions of our country.
All in all, there is a high sense of co-operation in the land. There may be a bit of division that is promoted—
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
Lib. (MB)
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
2020-09-25 13:29 [p.138]
Madam Speaker, I am someone who has grown up in the Prairies and I have always had a very strong passion for Canada. My heritage a few generations ago, probably on both sides of my house, originates from the province of Quebec. I have always had a strong love for the province of Quebec, as many of my friends do. We see Canada as a wonderful nation that is made up of 10 provinces and three territories and of course our indigenous communities. These are things we treasure very much. The Bloc wants to divide and take Quebec outside of Canada. I think that would be a very sad thing for all Canadians, no matter what region of the country they live in.
If the member were to come to Winnipeg North and walk some streets, he would witness some constituents whom I represent who believe in a national health care system, who want to see a federal government play some—
View Daniel Blaikie Profile
NDP (MB)
View Daniel Blaikie Profile
2020-09-25 13:30 [p.138]
Madam Speaker, it comes as a surprise to no member of the House that I am no fan of the Liberal government, and never is the Liberal vision for Canada less compelling than when articulated by the member for Winnipeg North. The Speech from the Throne came a close second. Indeed, for a while I thought maybe it had been authored by the member for Winnipeg North, because it was just a lazy rehashing of what we had heard so many times from Liberals before.
Meanwhile, this was being developed, we presume, over the course of time when the NDP was calling for Parliament to come and meet to deal with the replacement for CERB. We were told that was not possible because a new grand vision was nigh from the Liberals in the Speech from the Throne.
What exactly is it that was new in the Speech from the Throne that justified shutting down Parliament when we had a deadline for the end of CERB? Could he please point to something worthwhile that was worth suspending the work of Parliament just to come back and have Liberal campaign commitments from as far back as 1993 repeated to us as if they were news?
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
Lib. (MB)
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
2020-09-25 13:32 [p.138]
Madam Speaker, speechless I will never be.
At the end of the day, we have to put things in the perspective of what has taken place over the last six months. Whether or not members want to recognize it, COVID-19 has had a very profound impact on our society, where, literally, tens of billions of additional dollars were required. I believe that turning the page and coming forward with a new throne speech that is going to help set our tracks for the next couple of years is a positive thing and something that was well worthwhile. If people want to take the time to read the throne speech, I am sure they will agree with what I am saying.
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
Lib. (MB)
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
2020-09-25 13:33 [p.139]
Madam Speaker, I must say to my friend and colleague that, to be completely honest, I would be absolutely shocked if the Conservatives were to vote in favour of the throne speech. They have been consistent from virtually day one. I have used the term “character assassination”. The Conservatives only have one issue, and that is to try to make the Prime Minister look as if he is some sort of evil person. Nothing could be further from the truth, but that has been their sole purpose virtually from the day they lost the last election.
I think they are frustrated because at the end of the day what we want to do is to spend less time on that sort of an issue and focus all of our time on serving Canadians and fighting COVID-19.
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
Lib. (MB)
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
2020-09-25 13:35 [p.139]
Madam Speaker, it is okay. Having been a parliamentarian for 30 years, I have a fairly thick skin. As they say, sticks and stones may break my bones, but names will never hurt me.
At the end of the day, I am sure many members of the House would like to address the throne speech. Many other Liberals would like to, so if any Conservatives would like to forfeit their spot, we would be more than happy to fill it.
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
Lib. (MB)
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
2020-09-25 14:18 [p.145]
Madam Speaker, I suspect that if you were to canvass the House you would find unanimous leave to call it 2:30 p.m. at this time.
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
Lib. (MB)
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
2020-09-24 10:04 [p.25]
Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 36(8)(a), I have the honour to table, in both official languages, the government's response to 67 petitions. These returns will be tabled in an electronic format.
View Candice Bergen Profile
CPC (MB)
Mr. Speaker, on behalf of the official opposition and the Conservative Party of Canada, I have the honour to pay tribute to former prime minister the Right Hon. John Turner.
Some people leave their mark on this place in a way that outlasts them by decades. To walk the halls and see their portraits is to be reminded daily that we stand where they stood.
The tributes that have poured out for Mr. John Turner in the last week could easily lead one to believe that the very existence of the modern Liberal Party is his greatest legacy. So many veterans of the Martin and Chrétien campaigns of the 1990s and early 2000s took to television, to social media, and to local radio and newspapers this week to pay tribute to the man they give credit for getting them involved in politics.
Their stories had one common theme. They spoke to a plain truth that John Turner never forgot and that so many who held the same lofty offices as his have never known. John Turner cared about individual Canadians, and not just those he encountered in the halls of power, where he spent more than 20 years as attorney general, finance minister, prime minister and leader of the opposition. Stories this week have been set in airplanes, taverns, church basements and coffee shops, stories of a man who took the extra time to know Canadians' stories and remember their names.
We have a tendency in moments like this to turn men into monuments, and with a prime minister who was an Olympic athlete and a Rhodes Scholar, that would be very easy to do. However, to Canadians who shared their stories this week of a man who remembered their names years after first meeting them, of a politician who inspired them to get off the couch, of an adversary without a shred of malice in his heart, the John Turner who comes through is one who always had more interest in being a person than he ever had in being a portrait.
I will relate a story. It is very interesting, and when I first heard it I questioned whether it was actually true. When I tell the story, I think those who have not heard it will share in my awe.
As the story goes, the young Liberal MP John Turner and his wife were vacationing in Barbados. While on the beach one morning, Mr. Turner's wife noticed a man out for a swim who appeared to be in trouble. The surf was rough that day. There was a strong undertow and the elderly man was not a strong swimmer. Mr. Turner's wife anxiously alerted her husband to the situation. Without hesitation, the young MP, who was a competitive swimmer in his university days, plunged into the surf. Grasping the man in a life-saving hold, he struggled against the undertow and finally made it back to shore.
Once on the beach, Mr. Turner set out to give the man mouth-to-mouth resuscitation. When the resuscitated gentleman came to his senses, who was the person Mr. Turner had saved? It was none other than the Progressive Conservative leader, former prime minister and then leader of the opposition John Diefenbaker. Is that not unbelievable? It is one thing to run into a colleague on a holiday, especially an opposition colleague, but it is another thing to save that individual's life. What an amazing and wonderful story.
They say that the greatest compliments are those that come from our staunchest adversaries, and in spite of being one of his fiercest adversaries, former Progressive Conservative prime minister Brian Mulroney had this to say about Mr. Turner:
The fact that he was a gentleman set him apart.... He was leader of the opposition...and while we had many battles...there was no malice in the man. He was a man of principle, so he brought a great sense of dignity both to himself and to the various jobs he held.
He always conducted himself with dignity and with elegance, so I think he's going to be remembered, of course, as a prime minister, but also as a parliamentarian, who contributed a great deal to Canada in the course of a highly successful life.
As I say, he brought to politics a very, very good mind and a vision for Canada. He brought all those values, including integrity and dignity, to his job. He symbolized, I thought, much of what was best about Canada.
What wonderful words from former prime minister Brian Mulroney about the Right. Hon. John Turner.
In closing, history has taught us that we always knew where John Turner stood. It did not matter if it was the prime minister he served, the Canadian people he faced or the party that he dedicated his life to. He did the hard job for every prime minister he served, and from what I have heard, when he disagreed with them they knew it. In fact, John Turner was the last finance minister to have resigned from cabinet on principle. Mr. Turner had all the qualities one would want in a Canadian statesman, even when people disagreed with him, and sometimes especially when people disagreed with him.
Our public life is richer because of the contributions the Right Hon. John Turner made. May he rest in peace.
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
Lib. (MB)
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
2020-09-24 11:10 [p.34]
Mr. Speaker, I think you will find that the government did in fact comply with the motion as adopted by the committee. However, it is disappointing that in a time that we are facing a second wave of a pandemic, the Conservatives want to use this time in the House to play partisan politics and talk about the WE Charity rather than focus on providing the help that Canadians need.
I will get the opportunity to review the many comments put on the record by the member opposite and will provide further comment in the coming days.
View Candice Bergen Profile
CPC (MB)
Mr. Speaker, I am rising today to speak on behalf of Canada's Conservatives and the official opposition to respond to the government's Speech from the Throne.
I will be sharing my time with my colleague from Louis-Saint-Laurent, the House Leader of the Official Opposition.
We heard another Liberal Speech from the Throne. It was another speech full of recycled Liberal promises, with grand gestures and lofty visions, but with no real plan to deal with the pandemic, no real plan to deal with the urgent health care needs of the provinces, no real plan to deal with the lack of jobs and no real plan to deal with Canadian unity issues or western alienation. There was no plan to deal with the economy.
The Liberal Speech from the Throne was full of the same old promises and recycled ideas that we have all been hearing for years and years. Many of these promises have been unfulfilled and they leave countless people behind.
I am talking about people like the single mom from Burlington who has to choose between staying home with her sick kids and picking up another shift at the local Subway to pay the rent. I am talking about the fish harvester down east who is not sure how they are going to afford their next season. I am talking about the producer in Brandon, Manitoba burdened by the carbon tax and worried about a trade war keeping their goods from market. I am talking about the dad in Hinton, Alberta who does not know what he is going to do when the bank's mortgage deferral program comes to an end.
I am talking about the family in Cantley, Quebec that is trying to get their minivan to last through just one more winter, and they cannot afford an electric car. I am talking about the people who drive Ford 150s, like thousands of Canadians. They are tired of being insulted by Liberal elites. I am talking about the family in Yukon that runs a fly-in guide outfitting business. They rely almost entirely on international tourism.
These are the people that Conservatives are standing up for. These are the people who we know have been left behind in this Liberal Speech from the Throne.
Let us just make sure that it is clear: The Prime Minister shut down Parliament. He prorogued Parliament, he shut down committees and he stopped everything dead in its tracks when he was being exposed for his scandal. Why was this? He said he was going to present a Speech from the Throne that would give Canadians a plan. It did none of that. It is clear the only reason the Prime Minister prorogued Parliament was to cover up and distract from his own scandal.
It is also very disturbing that there was no plan to deal with this pandemic. When our leader spoke with the Prime Minister last week, he asked the Prime Minister to ensure that Canadians had better and faster access to COVID testing options. It is vitally important right now that Canadians have options to get tested for COVID and they get the results back in a timely manner. It is unacceptable that we trust countries such as Japan, Germany and the U.S. with our national security intelligence, but we do not trust their approval of 15-minute saliva tests.
Just last March, the Prime Minister promised that rapid testing for Canadians would be his top priority. Half a year and half a trillion dollars later, Canadian families are still waiting in line for hours and sometimes days for tests, let alone for results. The Prime Minister has failed to deliver. Maybe the wealthy, well-connected friends of the Liberal elite can afford to stay quarantined. Maybe they can afford to wait, but hard-working Canadians cannot afford to take weeks off to quarantine if they come up in a contact-tracing list. They deserve a plan and they deserve to have some hope.
There was no commitment to increase health transfers, which was the provinces' top ask. Instead of giving the provinces the resources they need to fight the pandemic, the Liberals are once again interfering in provincial jurisdiction.
Last week, on behalf of the provinces, Premiers Kenney, Pallister, Ford and Legault were here in Ottawa, presenting a united front and asking the federal government to do the right thing by providing appropriate health care funding to the provinces with no strings attached. Contrary to what the Prime Minister thinks, and who believes Ottawa knows best, it is the provinces that are best placed to deal with issues that fall within provincial jurisdiction.
Last week, to highlight the extent of the health care funding problem, my premier, Manitoba's Premier Pallister, explained it this way. He said that never has there been a higher demand for health care, never have federal contributions to health care been so low and, because of this, never have wait times been so long. This was before the pandemic even started. Now, with the second wave of the pandemic upon us, people are hurting and sometimes even dying because the federal government is not giving the provinces the health care funding they need to look after their people.
Furthermore, the Canadian Medical Association had this to say about the failure of the current Liberal Prime Minister's Speech from the Throne. It stated:
...today's speech falls short of delivering on the promise of ensuring a resilient health care system and keeping Canadians healthy.
The top issue we are dealing with today is a health crisis, and the Liberals failed to address it in the Speech from the Throne. It is absolutely unacceptable. While I could continue on the issue of health care, I know that my colleague, the hon. member for Calgary Nose Hill and our shadow minister for health, will have a lot more to say during this debate and during the days and weeks ahead.
I want to close my remarks today with a very important issue. I understand that for some who are here in the east it may not be top of mind. For those who live in Ontario, Quebec and maybe the Atlantic provinces, I fully understand and I can see why they do not see this as top of mind. I wish the Prime Minister would help to bring it to the forefront. It is the issue of unity in this country and the issue of the western provinces, including the one I come from, feeling alienated by the Prime Minister and the current government. The Prime Minister likes to say that we are stronger when we are united and we are all in this together, yet our country is more divided than ever.
Our Conservative leader made it clear during his first call with the Prime Minister that if the Prime Minister is serious he must make addressing national unity concerns and western alienation a priority. However, there is not a single thing in the throne speech to even acknowledge that there is a problem.
Our government needs to show Canadians that it values and respects all of them and their contributions to this country. This respect starts with an understanding that revenue generated by various resources in each region of the country helps to build roads, hospitals and infrastructure in other parts of the country and not just in the provinces where the resources are found. The lack of respect by the Prime Minister for our natural resource industries is unacceptable because these industries form the backbone of our economy.
In the words of Alberta premier Jason Kenney:
In a 6,783 word throne speech, not one word recognized the crisis facing Canada’s largest industry: the energy sector that supports 800,000 jobs.... Instead, we got a litany of policies that would strangle investment and jeopardize resource jobs when we most need the industry that generates 20 percent of government revenues in Canada.
To highlight the failure of the Liberal government to deal with the issues facing Alberta, Premier Kenney went on to say:
Alberta is disappointed that instead of listening to Canada’s provinces, the federal government doubled down on policies that will kill jobs, make Canada poorer and weaken national unity.
In fact, agriculture, forestry and energy resources were not mentioned once in this speech. This is completely unacceptable given that we found out yesterday that Canada recorded its largest ever drop in natural resources employment in the second quarter.
Under the leadership of the hon. member for Durham, Canadians can rest assured that we will hold the Prime Minister and the Liberal government to account. We will not support this Speech from the Throne, but we will put forward a plan that keeps Canadians safe, protects jobs and gets our country back on track.
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
Lib. (MB)
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
2020-09-24 11:27 [p.37]
Mr. Speaker, we on the government's side recognize the importance of working with the provinces, territories and other stakeholders to do what we can to minimize the negative impact of a second wave.
I would like to provide a quote from the Premier of Manitoba. It is a response to the safe restart agreement that contradicts most of what the deputy leader of the Conservative Party says. The letter states:
This federal funding will help support work already undertaken by the Government of Manitoba to increase daily testing capacity from a baseline of 1,000 tests to more than 3,000 tests per day.
It further states:
The Government of Canada will provide $700 million to support health care system capacity to respond to a potential future wave of COVID-19. A further $500 million will address immediate needs and gaps in the support and protection of people experiencing challenges related to mental health, substance use or homelessness. This investment will help to keep Canadians safe and healthy with the health care supports they need.
Does the member agree that it is time we get co-operation from the official opposition, as we are receiving it even from Conservative premiers in Canada?
View Candice Bergen Profile
CPC (MB)
Mr. Speaker, as an opposition, the Conservatives have shown ourselves to be very co-operative since the pandemic hit in passing emergency legislation. We had to be very careful because we saw the Liberal government try to make a power grab during the pandemic. We had to be careful, but we have been very co-operative. I will take no lectures from my colleague from Manitoba on the Liberal side regarding co-operating. We have done our fair share of co-operating.
Today is the day, and the opposition will take this day, to stand up for Canadians who are left behind by the Liberals. This is not just about throwing money at something. This is money that the Liberals are very good at promising and very bad at delivering, as we have seen over the last five years. The money never gets to its intended place. We saw this when times were good and the Liberals were promising money for infrastructure. We can ask Manitoba how far that money went and whether it was even delivered. I can say it did not get to its intended place.
We are not impressed by Liberal promises. We have heard them. We have seen them. We got the T-shirt.
View Candice Bergen Profile
CPC (MB)
Mr. Speaker, I agree with my colleague, as I come from an agricultural riding in Manitoba. I have been so disappointed, as have all of us on this side, by the lack of value, attention and credit given to our agricultural sector in Canada. This includes those who are part of the supply management system, but also livestock producers and grain producers. Every sector of the agricultural industry in Canada has been ignored and disrespected. People have pretended that the sector does not exist and what it contributes does not exist. The Speech from the Throne is another example of that.
We have to continue to advocate for farmers. The Liberals seem not to have set foot on a farm in many years, and I would invite some of them to visit some rural areas. I know they do not represent those areas, but they need to understand the sacrifices our farmers make in producing food not only for Canada, but for the world, and they do it in an environmentally friendly and sustainable way. They should be congratulated, rewarded and supported instead of ignored.
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
Lib. (MB)
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
2020-09-24 13:02 [p.49]
Madam Speaker, I am somewhat disappointed but not surprised. My colleagues, the members of the Bloc, would like to see the demise of Canada. That is fairly well established. All they want is to have the cash without any standards or anything tagged onto the money. They just want the government to give them the money.
This is completely at odds with the people I represent. The people who I represent are not that much different from a majority of Canadians. They understand and appreciate that the federal government's role is more than just handing over cash or a blank cheque. They understand and appreciate the value of our health care system. They want a national government that genuinely cares about the delivery of that health care system.
The federal government does have a role to play. The Canada Health Act dictates that the federal government has a role to play.
The member commented that the throne speech would do nothing for the aerospace industry. Facts are often distorted in the chamber. The government cares passionately about the aerospace industry, whether it is in the province of Quebec or in the province of Manitoba. I suspect that the wage subsidy program has been very beneficial for many aerospace jobs.
Would the member not recognize that many of the initiatives that have been brought into force over the last six months have literally saved thousands of jobs in the province of Quebec and have assisted many more, tens of thousands, people, providing money to them?
View Candice Bergen Profile
CPC (MB)
Mr. Speaker, the second wave of the pandemic is here and most Canadians who may come up in a contact tracing list cannot afford to take two or three weeks off to get tested for COVID.
Last March, the Prime Minister promised that rapid COVID testing for Canadians would be a top priority. Half a year and half a trillion dollars later, Canadian families still have to wait in line for hours, and sometimes days, to get tested.
Why is the Prime Minister failing Canadians on this vital test during the pandemic?
View Candice Bergen Profile
CPC (MB)
Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister locked the doors of Parliament to cover up his WE scandal under the guise of a Speech from the Throne that would address the pandemic. However, the throne speech was nothing but a litany of recycled Liberal broken promises that leaves countless numbers of people behind.
This Prime Minister has no plan to deal with the health crisis, no plan to deal with job losses and no plan to address divisions in our country. Why did the Prime Minister waste all of this time just to cover up his scandal, instead of using it to help Canadians?
View Candice Bergen Profile
CPC (MB)
Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister's throne speech was nothing more than an attempt to change the channel on his corrupt government's actions.
The speech was almost 7,000 words long but mentioned Canada's natural resources only once. There was no mention of unionized oil and gas workers in Alberta, no plan for forestry workers in Quebec and B.C., and farmers, all they can expect is more carbon tax.
Why did the Prime Minister knowingly leave millions of Canadians behind?
View Leah Gazan Profile
NDP (MB)
View Leah Gazan Profile
2020-09-24 16:32 [p.84]
Mr. Speaker, yesterday we heard a lot of rhetoric about supporting the middle class, but I did not hear a lot of support for people who have been totally left out during this pandemic: disabled persons, among whom we have seen rates of suicide rise higher and higher. The $600 tax credit most people are unable to receive or have not received it, and there is no guaranteed livable income, which was Call for Justice 4.5 in the National Inquiry into Murdered and Missing Indigenous Women and Girls. I did not see much action on that.
Where do the people who are living most rough fit in? These are people with mental health issues or suffering from addictions who are not able to work and fall outside of the margins of this middle-class discussion that the Liberals keep holding up with such pride. Where do—
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
Lib. (MB)
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
2020-09-24 18:03 [p.97]
Madam Speaker, the member made reference to the proroguing of Parliament. I can and will articulate in the coming days just how important it was that we did, in fact, prorogue.
In terms of the type of abuse the member is referencing, I would have her reflect back to when Stephen Harper was prime minister and his government was going down in defeat. Had the House resumed, the government would have fallen. What the government did was it prorogued Parliament in order to avoid a confidence vote. That is quite different from what is taking place today.
We have seen a Prime Minister who is very much committed to the principles of transparency, accountability and democracy. That is the reality of the situation. Would the member not agree that the pandemic and the impact it is having on today's society needed to see a throne speech, which is a confidence vote, to reaffirm that the government is going in the right direction and for members of Parliament of all political parties to base their votes on?
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
Lib. (MB)
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
2020-09-24 18:17 [p.100]
Madam Speaker, unity is a government that understands and appreciates the diversity of our nation and the many different regions in our nation and works to better the lives of all. A good example of unity is that when we hit the pandemic from nothing, we created a program called CERB. Through that program, close to nine million Canadians were served. That is with a population base of 37 million. That is a government that understands the reality and the importance not only of unity, but being there in a real tangible way for Canadians. That is but one way to demonstrate the importance of unity on which this government was very clear.
Would the member agree that it did not matter where people lived in our beautiful country, that the program was there to serve Canadians first and foremost at a time in which it was needed?
View Daniel Blaikie Profile
NDP (MB)
View Daniel Blaikie Profile
2020-09-23 17:35 [p.22]
Mr. Speaker, I will start by saying how grateful I am to have the opportunity to be in the House once again, and what an honour it is to represent the people of Elmwood—Transcona, who, like everyone across the country and indeed the world, have been suffering and struggling through this global pandemic that we are experiencing.
I have to say, having listened to the Speech from the Throne, that I do not think it really justifies proroguing Parliament when we still had another summer sitting to come. With the expiration of CERB coming, we had an opportunity at the end of August to get together to talk about what would be replacing CERB. Now we are only days away from the deadline and we still do not have legislation tabled in the House. There are only just beginning to be conversations between the government and opposition parties, meaningfully, about the details of the replacement. It was shameful for the government to shut down Parliament when that important item was before us.
Now we have a Speech from the Throne with hardly anything new in it. I heard the hon. member mention some initiatives that the government is contemplating for people living with disabilities. Would it please just deliver on the payment that it promised people living with disabilities in the spring, on an emergency basis? Frankly, the government needs to get that done. I wonder why it is that people living with disabilities and seniors who have been promised things by the government are still waiting. Another repeated promise that we have heard again and again is raising the old age security supplement for seniors. It was promised again but not delivered.
Now we have new promises for people living with disabilities who are still waiting on the emergency promise that was made to them in the spring. When is that payment going to be made and when are the Liberals going to actually deliver on these promises, or are we going to be hearing about them in the next Speech from the Throne?
View Candice Bergen Profile
CPC (MB)
Mr. Speaker, I would like to congratulate everyone today who participated in the debate and the questions and answers around today's Speech from the Throne.
I know our leader, the member for Durham, would very much have liked to have participated in this, as I know the leader of the Bloc party would have. We all wish both these gentlemen and their families the very best of health and a quick recovery. We appreciate them so much.
Conservatives are disappointed. The Prime Minister prorogued Parliament for the Speech from the Throne and we are not happy with what we are seeing. We will have more to say about that tomorrow and in the days ahead.
At this time, I move:
That the debate be now adjourned.
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
Lib. (MB)
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
2020-08-12 12:11 [p.2746]
moved:
Mr. Speaker, there have been discussions among the parties and if you seek it, I think you will find unanimous consent to adopt the following motion:
That, notwithstanding any standing order, special order or usual practice of the House, today, Statements by Ministers, pursuant to Standing Order 33, shall be taken up immediately following the adoption of this order; members may participate in this rubric either in person or by videoconference; a member of the Green Party be permitted to comment briefly on the statement; and, following Statements by Ministers, the House shall resolve itself in a committee of the whole, pursuant to the order adopted on Tuesday, May 26, 2020.
View Candice Bergen Profile
CPC (MB)
View Candice Bergen Profile
2020-08-12 12:50 [p.2752]
Mr. Speaker, yesterday in the National Post the Prime Minister's Office refused to answer some questions. I would like to give the government the opportunity to provide some clarity.
Did the Prime Minister or anyone in his office meet or speak with Rob Silver, who is the husband of the Prime Minister's chief of staff, Katie Telford, about commercial rent, yes or no?
View Candice Bergen Profile
CPC (MB)
View Candice Bergen Profile
2020-08-12 12:51 [p.2752]
Mr. Speaker, it is a very simple yes-or-no question.
Did the Prime Minister or anyone in his office meet with Rob Silver, either in person, via telephone, via Zoom conference or text, about the issue of commercial rent, yes or no?
View Candice Bergen Profile
CPC (MB)
View Candice Bergen Profile
2020-08-12 12:51 [p.2752]
Mr. Speaker, I will take that as a “yes”.
When did the Prime Minister or someone in his office meet with Mr. Silver? What are the dates and who met with Mr. Silver?
View Candice Bergen Profile
CPC (MB)
View Candice Bergen Profile
2020-08-12 12:52 [p.2752]
Mr. Speaker, they should then be able to answer the question, and I take that as a “yes”.
Who in the finance minister's office met with Mr. Silver and when did they meet with Mr. Silver?
View Candice Bergen Profile
CPC (MB)
View Candice Bergen Profile
2020-08-12 12:53 [p.2752]
Mr. Speaker, those are evasive non-answers.
Six months into this pandemic, and six years into this government, and the Prime Minister will be remembered for a $343-billion deficit and for setting the lowest bar ever for a prime minister's conduct in the history of this country.
The Prime Minister inappropriately groped a woman. He wore black face. He, his friends and his family took a prepaid, lavish vacation to billionaire island. He interfered in an SNC Lavalin criminal trial, and he then fired his attorney general because she would not go along with his cronyism.
He tried to give almost $1 billion to his friends at WE, who, we now know, have not only been campaigning for him, but have also been meeting with tens of thousands of young people and trying to get them to vote Liberal. We have also found out that WE has given the Prime Minister's family and friends, his family especially, hundreds of thousands of dollars, and we have now found out that the husband of the Prime Minister's chief of staff got a nice $83-million contract from the Prime Minister.
With the Liberals, it really is about who one knows, not what one knows. This makes the Liberal sponsorship scandal look like child's play, actually.
Can the Prime Minister tell us—oh, sorry, he is not here. Can somebody on that side tell us why the Prime Minister thinks the rules do not apply to him?
View Daniel Blaikie Profile
NDP (MB)
View Daniel Blaikie Profile
2020-08-12 13:33 [p.2759]
Mr. Chair, please know that I will be splitting my time with the member for Winnipeg Centre.
Right now, there are millions of Canadian families sitting down at their kitchen tables who have been depending on CERB while they are out of work due to the pandemic. They are concerned about their finances for September. At the same time, they are concerned about what going back to school will look like for their kids. They are concerned about getting child care for their family. They are concerned about how to return to work safely, and for many of them there is still no job to return to.
Earlier, in response to the NDP leader's question, the minister said that the government has a plan, but the problem is that Canadians do not know what it is, so they cannot make their own financial plans for September. When exactly is the government going to announce its plan for the end of the month, since it has said already that it is going to be wrapping up CERB?
View Daniel Blaikie Profile
NDP (MB)
View Daniel Blaikie Profile
2020-08-12 13:35 [p.2760]
Mr. Chair, how can Canadians expect to plan for that when they are getting less than two weeks' notice? The Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives has estimated that people transitioning from CERB to EI, on average, will be receiving about $750 less per month. Maybe that is not the case, maybe the government has a plan, but how can Canadians be expected to plan for September? We are talking two weeks away and they do not know what the government will provide with respect to income support come September.
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