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View Andrew Scheer Profile
CPC (SK)
Mr. Speaker, what we have before us with the WE corruption scandal is an organization that receives sole-sourced contracts from the government, from the taxpayer. The organization then sets up a real estate company and gobbles up over $40 million worth of prime downtown Toronto real estate. It also pays members of the Prime Minister's immediate family cash for speaking engagements. It also provides a huge platform for Liberals to do their campaigning. The organization even did an election-style ad promoting the Prime Minister.
However, it gets into trouble. Red flags start going up about its bank covenant, members of the board resign and so it lobbies the government and the government gives it another sole-sourced contract from which it can take $40 million worth of administration.
Canadians, rightly, are concerned by this kind of “You scratch my back, I scratch your back” type of relationship with a Liberal-friendly organization. Therefore, I have a series of very simple yes or no questions to help Canadians understand the depths of this scandal.
Was the Prime Minister aware that the agreement he signed with this organization was not with the WE Charity itself but was with a shell corporation that has no assets and no history of charitable work?
View Andrew Scheer Profile
CPC (SK)
Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister has to understand that it is not about his recusing himself from this decision. The Clerk of the Privy Council himself said that it would be impossible for the Prime Minister and the finance minister to recuse themselves from giving a sole-source contract to an organization with such close ties to the Liberal Party and his immediate family.
Was the Prime Minister aware that the sole stated purpose of the shell corporation that signed the contracts was to hold real estate?
View Andrew Scheer Profile
CPC (SK)
Mr. Speaker, he answered “no” to the previous question, but he could not answer yes or no to that question, so I wonder what that means.
Did the Prime Minister or anyone in his office speak to WE or anyone at WE prior to his April 22 announcement on the student grant?
View Kevin Waugh Profile
CPC (SK)
View Kevin Waugh Profile
2020-07-22 12:39 [p.2707]
Mr. Speaker, according to recent reports, the Canadian Football League has sent the heritage minister a new request for a $42.5-million relief package from the government. Apparently, the money would be used to cover the salaries of players and operating costs.
Does the government intend on giving the Canadian Football League this money, as requested, by tomorrow?
View Kevin Waugh Profile
CPC (SK)
View Kevin Waugh Profile
2020-07-22 12:40 [p.2707]
Mr. Speaker, I take it the answer to the Canadian Football League would be “no”.
The other question I have is this. Earlier this month, the government granted exemptions to allow hundreds of foreign National Hockey League players to enter Canada, specifically in Toronto and Edmonton, to allow them to participate in the upcoming NHL playoffs. Many of these players are coming from countries with far worse COVID-19 conditions than ours.
What steps is the government taking to protect Canadians, especially in Toronto and Edmonton, so this does not cause further breakouts of COVID-19?
View Gary Vidal Profile
CPC (SK)
Madam Chair, I will be splitting my time with my colleague from Yorkton—Melville.
Does the Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Disability Inclusion know how many jobs were denied across the country by the over-prescribed Canada summer jobs program in 2020?
View Gary Vidal Profile
CPC (SK)
Madam Chair, does the minister know the overall monetary value of the jobs that were denied across the country in the Canada summer jobs program in 2020?
View Gary Vidal Profile
CPC (SK)
Madam Chair, I can answer that question for my riding in northern Saskatchewan: Nearly $1.5 million were left on the table. That represents hundreds of job requests to hire students through the Canada summer jobs program that were denied by the current government.
Instead of simply using a program already in place that not only helps young Canadians, but is a lifeline for struggling community programs, small businesses and not-for-profit organizations that do not hold investments in Toronto real estate, the government looked to politically benefit itself.
Let us think of all the jobs that could have been created for these students, the opportunity provided and the value added to their communities if the government had simply used the existing Canada summer jobs process instead of creating a sole-source contribution agreement that would have put more than $43 million into the pockets of the Prime Minister's friends.
Could anyone on that side of the House explain to my constituents why cabinet was prepared to pay students to volunteer at less than minimum wage, and yet the requests for the Canada summer jobs program by the people of Desnethé—Missinippi—Churchill River were either denied completely or substantially underfunded?
View Cathay Wagantall Profile
CPC (SK)
View Cathay Wagantall Profile
2020-07-22 13:31 [p.2716]
Madam Chair, on June 15, I asked the Minister of Veterans Affairs if he was aware of the practice of red-flagging the files of veterans and his response was, “I am not aware”. However, two weeks earlier, June 2, he signed a letter thanking veteran Shane Jones for emails that included ATIP information that confirmed he was having issues with VAC because of a red flag on his file.
Again, is the minister aware of the practice of red-flagging the files of veterans?
View Cathay Wagantall Profile
CPC (SK)
View Cathay Wagantall Profile
2020-07-22 13:32 [p.2716]
Madam Chair, are veterans informed when a flag is placed on their file?
View Cathay Wagantall Profile
CPC (SK)
View Cathay Wagantall Profile
2020-07-22 13:34 [p.2716]
Madam Chair, are veterans services and funding impacted by a flag on their file?
View Cathay Wagantall Profile
CPC (SK)
View Cathay Wagantall Profile
2020-07-22 13:35 [p.2717]
Madam Chair, when cleared of wrongdoing, should a veteran have to hire a lawyer to have a flag removed?
View Cathay Wagantall Profile
CPC (SK)
View Cathay Wagantall Profile
2020-07-22 14:47 [p.2728]
Mr. Speaker, I would like to bring to the attention of my colleague something that happened right here as I was asking questions.
I was asking the Minister of Veterans Affairs if he was aware that flags were being placed on the files of veterans. He said that he was unaware, yet he sent a letter to a veteran, explaining concerns about that.
All my questions were simple, requiring quick yes or no answers. Was he aware? Are veterans informed when that happens? Are veterans services and funding impacted when there is a flag on a file? Can a flag be removed when it is clear that there was no wrongdoing? Does a veteran have to hire a lawyer to get that flag off? I asked all kinds of questions like this. Over and over again, the response from the minister was that this was not the place to discuss these issues. I sense that the attitude of the Prime Minister is permeating everywhere, that ministers do not want to have to respond to real, sincere, succinct questions for which they are accountable.
I am wondering if you would like to comment on that as well.
View Cathay Wagantall Profile
CPC (SK)
View Cathay Wagantall Profile
2020-07-22 15:26 [p.2734]
Madam Chair, I appreciate the heart expressed here today. You are talking about building back better. That is a term that is being used extensively now in the House. Is it in regard to the suggestions on how we move forward as an economy, beginning with the Corporate Knights?
View Cathay Wagantall Profile
CPC (SK)
View Cathay Wagantall Profile
2020-07-22 15:27 [p.2734]
Madam Chair, I am wondering about the term “building back better”. I have heard it used extensively within the context of the Corporate Knights organization, which is working on how our economy will come out of the COVID crisis. I am wondering if that is the member's reference.
View Cathay Wagantall Profile
CPC (SK)
View Cathay Wagantall Profile
2020-07-22 15:40 [p.2736]
Madam Chair, there are a couple of areas here that my constituents have talked to me about, in large numbers, and that the member has not commented on today.
One, they are very thankful for the help provided to Canadians because the economy was shut down. It has been crucial, there is no question about that, but they are incredibly aware that it will need to be paid back. Although they are receiving the help now, that help means that, at some future date, they are going to be on the ground paying the taxes, paying the expenses to return us to a healthier environment. That is the first thing I would mention.
Second, the other question I get asked a great deal is this: Why did the government not respond sooner? We know today, again, that it has been revealed that our Canadian Forces Intelligence Command informed the government on January 17 that we were facing a crisis. The government group did not even meet until 10 days later to begin to respond. What would have happened, I am asked, if our borders had been closed immediately and international travel had been shut down? Would we be facing the circumstances we are facing today?
View Kevin Waugh Profile
CPC (SK)
View Kevin Waugh Profile
2020-07-22 15:51 [p.2738]
Madam Chair, I want to take the opportunity to speak to the importance of something that has been lacking in the government's response to COVID, and that is transparency and accountability, which we just saw in the House of Commons a few seconds ago.
I will also be addressing how critical it is that Parliament be sitting to oversee the response to this pandemic. We have seen this week that we can, on all sides of the chamber, agree to sit for the first time in years, maybe even in history, in the summer and that we can have a great discussion on the disability bill, Bill C-20, that we talked about in this place on Monday and Tuesday.
Parliament granted special spending powers to the government so that it could provide emergency support to Canadian workers and many businesses in a fashion that was quick and responsive. I remember the day in the chamber, Friday, March 13, when we rose. We did not know when we would be back and then all of a sudden, three days later, the Prime Minister told everyone to go home. That was Monday, March 16.
Opposition parties have worked with the government to come to an agreement that is crucially important, particularly considering how difficult it was at the time to hold regular, proper sittings in the House of Commons. What Parliament did not consent to was a process to avoid transparency and accountability at every turn. The government has done everything it can to avoid some of the questions from opposition members.
Jobs were lost in the millions in this country. Businesses were shutting down, the economy was shrinking at an unprecedented rate, which we had never seen since the Second World War, and the projected deficit has ballooned to nearly $350 billion.
Why did it take the government until this month, July, nearly four months, to give us any information at all on the state of the economy and its budget? If we follow the pattern of behaviour of the government, it is easy to know that it was avoiding Parliament and its functions as an institution of accountability. I remember the day the finance minister stood and told everyone we had a deficit of $343 billion. It was unheard of. People were phoning my office in Saskatoon—Grasswood. They were stunned. That number was jolting. We now have a debt of over $1 trillion in this country. That is unaffordable for the 37 million Canadians who live in it.
I am not saying the significant levels of spending were not necessary. I do not think anyone in this chamber would say that. However, there is no good reason that the government could not be providing significantly more detail to Parliament about where the money is being allocated and what the money is for. In fact, I would argue that is the bare minimum expected of the Liberal government.
What is greatly concerning to me is that we have seen what happens when the Prime Minister thinks he has free rein to spend money wherever and however he wants, and he gives it to his friends. We have seen that with the WE scandal. We just talked about it in the House. It is exactly the reason that the government needs to be making itself available in the House of Commons proper.
When the Prime Minister thought he could allocate funding wherever he wished, he awarded a sole-sourced contract worth over $900 million to an organization with no real experience at all in managing that kind of massive program. Why was that? We do not know. The Prime Minister has been dodging or ignoring some of the questions from the opposition for over a week now.
Let us review what we do know about this. First, the Prime Minister's wife is actively involved in WE. Second, the Prime Minister's mother and brother have received a combined total of close to $300,000 in speaking fees from the organization. I have asked twice in the House, Monday and Tuesday, about the Prime Minister's mother receiving fees on July 2, 2017, for an event that was funded by the Government of Canada through the heritage department, $1.18 million to the WE organization.
Third, the finance minister has two immediate family members involved in WE.
We learned in the past hour that the finance minister wrote a cheque for $41,000 for illegal travel benefits from the WE organization following two family trips he took in 2017. He repaid the money today, just as he was set to testify at the finance committee. He took the trip in 2017, and today, months later in July 2020, he finally fessed up and wrote that cheque for $41,000. I think Canadians want a new finance minister. That is what Canadians are talking about today, when $41,000 later, he confessed to the WE Charity.
Fourth, neither the Prime Minister nor the finance minister recused themselves from the cabinet discussion about granting WE the $912-million contract. Fifth and last, it is a sole-sourced contract without any competitive process whatsoever.
It is said that if it looks like and quacks like a duck, then it is a duck, and we saw that today from the finance minister at the finance committee here in the House of Commons. On top of that, the Prime Minister and the cabinet have had a long history of this kind of behaviour. Since the current government came to power in October 2015, it has been scandal after scandal after scandal. This is not the first time the Prime Minister, the finance minister or other members of the cabinet have been under investigation for violations of the Conflict of Interest Act.
The 2017 investigation found that the Prime Minister took a vacation to a millionaire's island with a registered lobbyist and found that he violated four provisions of the Conflict of Interest Act. That finding made him the first Prime Minister in the history of this country, in over 150 years, to have been found to violate the Conflict of Interest Act. He was the first ever in 150-plus years.
There was also the scandal in 2017 surrounding the finance minister's private company that owns a villa in France, which he somehow forgot about. Two years later he did not report that to the Ethics Commissioner. Of course, there was also the clam scam scandal involving the President of the Privy Council, and there are many, many more.
Then of course, who could forget about SNC Lavalin? That was the big scandal in the House of Commons when the Prime Minister improperly pressured the former attorney general into advancing the interests of a private company rather than the public interests. That scandal led to numerous resignations across the government. Some very good cabinet people left the Liberal government and were forced to sit on this side with opposition members.
By my count, there are five different cases where the Prime Minister or a member of his cabinet was found guilty of breaking at least one clause in our ethics law. We found out today we have another one with the finance minister admitting that the WE Charity did take $41,000 in benefits, writing that cheque out today.
The former ethics commissioner Mary Dawson told CBC last week that she thinks it would be difficult for her successor not to find that the Prime Minister contravened section 21. She said that the Prime Minister has a blind spot when it comes to ethics. I would add that the finance minister does as well.
How can Parliament, let alone Canadians from coast to coast, continue to trust that the Prime Minister will be acting in the country's best interests and handling the unprecedented powers given to him? What does the government do when this issue is raised at committee? We saw that the Prime Minister ignores calls to appear and Liberal MPs filibuster at committee so they can cover up their leader's tracks.
These are some of the questions that Parliament needs answers for. Unfortunately, we only had two days here on Monday and Tuesday to open Parliament. We had a lot of questions. Some of the answers came this afternoon at the finance committee with that stunning revelation by the finance minister of Canada.
View Kevin Waugh Profile
CPC (SK)
View Kevin Waugh Profile
2020-07-22 16:02 [p.2739]
Madam Chair, this is an embarrassing moment for the government. A member of the Privy Council has come forward in committee months after the fact, doing so today because the finance committee got him today. He revealed that in 2017 he took two trips to Ecuador and that he has family ties to WE Charity. If he had not been invited to the finance committee today, would he have paid the $41,000? I would say no. It is embarrassing for the government. I would say the finance minister should resign.
I remember a time when the Liberals went after Bev Oda over a $17 orange juice that she purchased. This is $41,000, and it was not recovered until this afternoon at the finance committee, when the finance minister finally got the chequebook out and noticed that he was wrong, that it is an ethics violation and that he had better cough up the $41,000.
View Kevin Waugh Profile
CPC (SK)
View Kevin Waugh Profile
2020-07-22 16:05 [p.2739]
Madam Chair, it is interesting that the finance minister was caught a few years ago for not showing the French villa in his declaration. That is one strike, but this $41,000 is a major strike. This was the breaking ball that came across the plate, as months later he admits $41,000 was never accounted for from the WE Charity when he took that trip to Ecuador, money given for accommodation, food and other things to do with WE Charity. Then we find out that not only the finance minister but the Prime Minister, his wife, his mother and his brother have ties to the WE Charity, which are just as close as the finance minister's ties. Yes, this one certainly reeks.
I think the finance minister should step down today and give Canadians a clean bill of health. This was a $912-million boondoggle that nearly happened. It was caught, and more will come out next week when the WE Charity owners come to committee. Hopefully they tell the truth.
View Cathay Wagantall Profile
CPC (SK)
View Cathay Wagantall Profile
2020-07-22 16:06 [p.2740]
Madam Chair, I know my colleague once worked in television. I am sure he is aware there is a show called CBC Kids News, where there has been talk about the dynamics of the Prime Minister's mistakes. We now have the finance minister making mistakes, and they have both expressed they are sorry. Children are given an opportunity to respond, and I find it interesting that my children would not be given this option. They are saying he is sorry, so we need to give him some slack because he said he was sorry and that this was a mistake.
I would like the member to comment on whether or not that level of forgiveness should be given in these circumstances where we are dealing with the Prime Minister of our country and a significant minister, second to him really, on his right hand, supposedly next to our new Deputy Prime Minister.
View Kevin Waugh Profile
CPC (SK)
View Kevin Waugh Profile
2020-07-22 16:07 [p.2740]
Madam Chair, yes, as a former journalist for years, this is front-page news. Other than in the Toronto Star, it has been front-page news. I would like to thank Brian Lilley here in the House of Commons for doing an excellent job. He has been the best journalist on this. He has looked at the 300 block of Queen Street, which WE has bought every six months. Building after building, and $43 million later, it now has an empire on Queen Street.
This is why democracy in the House of Commons is so important, because this story now has legs in the news media. It did when we came here on Monday, but following the $41,000 cheque from the second top person in the Liberal government, this should be the front-page story on CBC, CTV and Global for many hours and days to come.
View Kevin Waugh Profile
CPC (SK)
View Kevin Waugh Profile
2020-07-22 16:11 [p.2740]
Madam Chair, I would like to thank the hon. member for Prince George—Peace River—Northern Rockies for all his efforts on the ethics committee in the last Parliament.
Ethics is the most important focus for a member of Parliament who sits in the House. If we do not have an ethics base, we do not deserve to be members of Parliament in this country. Other than the committee of the whole that we have here today, the only other two committees of the whole will be on August 12 and 26. We have the biggest Liberal government scandal in years, and we are not going to come back here for three more weeks. As we saw today, there are problems with this virtual setting. Certain ministers cannot hear, and people who are speaking are not heard properly, so we need to get back here each and every day to hammer this out.
View Cathay Wagantall Profile
CPC (SK)
View Cathay Wagantall Profile
2020-07-21 10:40 [p.2656]
Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the member's comments and agree with the fact it has been two months since this was first presented. However, significantly more people with disabilities are included now because of the time that was invested in making the bill better.
One area the bill improves is support for veterans. They are included in this payment. Over 50,000 of them are without funding. I have a concern regarding what the Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Disability Inclusion said when she presented this in the House and referred to veterans. She said, “this is going to be super complicated at the back end”.
Does the member have any idea of the process that has been put in place to do this in an expeditious manner for veterans so that they do not lose hope again and this isn't another situation where the government is not providing them something they have been promised?
View Gary Vidal Profile
CPC (SK)
Mr. Speaker, I congratulate the member opposite on her maiden speech. I recently had to do one and I appreciate the stress that comes with it.
I have a quick question on the CEWS legislation. In the backgrounder that is produced by the Department of Finance, there is an example that talks about businesses that now qualify because of the reduction in the 30% limit. In that example there is no reference, and in fact this is quite clear, to a retroactive application of this legislation for some very significant businesses that would qualify now but have been waiting for over 100 days for help in this legislation.
I am curious if the member believes that there should have been a retroactive component to the CEWS legislation for businesses that now qualify for the benefit but only on a go-forward basis.
View Cathay Wagantall Profile
CPC (SK)
View Cathay Wagantall Profile
2020-07-21 11:09 [p.2661]
Mr. Speaker, I appreciated listening to what the member had to say. Today we had the opportunity to walk up the hill together and get to know each other a bit. We have a lot in common in our two ridings, and our concerns are very similar as well.
I do appreciate the Bloc members who have made the wise decision to tell the government that they are not happy with what it has done, with the help of the NDP, to our rights and privileges as the opposition on this side of the floor.
Would the member be interested in encouraging the rest of her caucus to fully support petition e-2629, which calls on the government to do the right thing and return, in full, to the House in September? We need to return so that we can carry on in the role we have to hold the government to account; bring forward our own supply day motions, which, as we have worked together, have been very successful; and have private member's bills.
All the roles we should have on this side of the floor have been hijacked by the government. We need to stand together, not just us parliamentarians in the House, but also every person in each of our ridings, and call on the Liberals to do what they should do and re-engage Parliament, rather than meeting virtually. We are no longer provided with opportunities to hold them accountable, other than through virtual means, or the Prime Minister stepping out of his door.
View Gary Vidal Profile
CPC (SK)
Madam Speaker, I appreciate the comments by the hon. Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations about struggling through the challenges of owning a law practice during the previous recession. As a former small business owner as well, as an accountant, I can appreciate that perspective.
With regard to the changes in the CEWS legislation, there are many companies that would now qualify with the removal of the restriction that they had to have lost 30% of their revenue. As a small business owner, I can empathize with those business owners who have been struggling with that decision for several months. However, in this proposed legislation, there is nothing that goes back to help these businesses that have been doing this for 120 days already, struggling to hang on to their employees.
Does the member believe there should be a retroactive component to the changes in the CEWS legislation to help those businesses that would now be eligible but were not prior?
View Cathay Wagantall Profile
CPC (SK)
View Cathay Wagantall Profile
2020-07-21 13:02 [p.2677]
Madam Speaker, I appreciate the comments made by the member across the way.
With regard to the disability benefit, which is better because it is more comprehensive and includes our veterans, I wonder if she would make a comment on a statement that the Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Disability Inclusion made when she was speaking to the disability tax credit that includes veterans. The member sat on the veterans committee for a while, and I am sure she is aware that the backlog has not diminished. It has actually grown to almost 50,000 cases, so this funding is important to our veterans. They desperately wait for months, if not years, to get the supports they need. However, the minister said, in regard to getting the disability tax credit, that it is incredibly complicated at the back end and that it will take up to 60 days for the bill to be implemented after being passed today. I am sure the member realizes why this makes veterans shudder.
If there were ways to make this process simpler, would they not be better for getting the money out the door as quickly in this case as we did with the CERB?
View Gary Vidal Profile
CPC (SK)
Madam Speaker, since the beginning of the pandemic, the official opposition has been offering solutions to ensure that gaps are filled in programs imperative to restarting our economy. For example, on March 9, Conservatives called for a mandatory quarantine for travellers, and on March 25, it was announced. On March 21, we called for an increase to the CEWS program, and on March 27, it was announced. On April 6, we called for an increase in eligibility to CEBA, and finally, on May 19, it was announced.
There is a pattern here. When the government actually listens to Conservatives, Canadians get results. When it does not, such as when it ignored our practical plan to make CERB more flexible with a back-to-work bonus, Canadians lose.
Since April, my party has been offering solutions to simplify the Canada emergency wage subsidy, yet here we are in the middle of July looking at making changes to this program through new legislation. This will require businesses of all sizes to hire accountants, lawyers and consultants to figure out if they might even qualify. I am digressing, but as a former public practice accountant who was, up until a year ago, practising and serving many small clients, I can assure the members that this would have made for a very busy summer for me.
I want to take a few minutes to consider some examples from my riding in northern Saskatchewan, where there are still some concerns with this legislation. Cameco, a uranium mining company, announced on March 23 that its Cigar Lake operation was being placed in a safe care and maintenance mode for four weeks. This was to protect the health and safety of Cameco employees, their family members and Cameco's partner communities in northern Saskatchewan.
On April 13, as the effects of the pandemic persisted, Cameco announced that it was extending the temporary production suspension indefinitely until a safe and sustainable restart was possible. The precautions and restrictions put in place by governments and local public health agencies, the increasing and significant concern among leaders in the remote, isolated communities of northern Saskatchewan, and the challenges of maintaining the recommended physical distancing at fly-in, fly-out sites with a full workforce were critical factors that Cameco considered in reaching this decision.
Cameco's president and CEO, Tim Gitzel, said:
The global challenges posed by this pandemic are not abating — in fact, they are deepening. We therefore need to stay vigilant and do everything we can to keep people and families safe. We are especially sensitive to the situation in the remote, isolated communities of northern Saskatchewan that are home to a sizeable portion of the workforce at Cigar Lake.
Cameco firmly believes that the proactive decisions made to protect its employees and to slow down the spread of COVID-19 were necessary decisions, and they are consistent with the company's values. During this period, Cameco, for the benefit of its employees and the northern communities where they live, continues to pay 75% of the salaries of its employees. It has also advocated for infrastructure investments in northern Saskatchewan to support the indigenous and northern businesses that make up the uranium mining supply chain while uranium production is suspended.
Clearly, Cameco recognizes that corporate social responsibility, partnerships and community matter. Early in the pandemic, Cameco created a COVID-19 relief fund and put out a call for organizations in need to apply. Cameco supported 67 community projects in Saskatoon and northern Saskatchewan through this $1-million fund.
This company is vital to employment and the economy of Desnethé—Missinippi—Churchill River, where it employs hundreds of northerners. It has voluntarily chosen not to apply for the Canada emergency wage subsidy until it has clarity regarding its eligibility for the program. I spoke with Cameco yesterday, and its finance team is analyzing the legislation and the backgrounder provided by Finance Canada to determine if the changes offered provide the clarity it seeks.
It has been 120 days since Cameco first suspended operations to keep its employees and the northern Saskatchewan communities safe, and it is just one example of the many companies that have waited too long for the answers they need. To compound this, in the backgrounder provided on the Department of Finance Canada website, there is no provision for retroactive application of these new rules.
I offer a second example. I received an email yesterday from a gentleman who owns and operates a lodge in Saskatchewan's far north. I am going to read his email, because I think he says it better than I could. He wrote:
I do have concerns that while the government is modifying the financial assistance programs to help small and medium businesses, no consideration is being given to seasonal businesses that generate all of their annual income in 2, 3 or 4 months.
While it is welcome news that the Liberal government is extending the wage subsidy, this is providing virtually no assistance to seasonal lodges and outfitters due to the eligibility criteria being tied to the loss of monthly income. For lodges such as ours, where all of our income is generated in one, two, three or four months, we are ineligible for the extended assistance since our lodges aren't operating and therefore have no income - even though we still have employees and are incurring expenses for the...8, 9, 10 or 11 months [for the rest] of the year.
For seasonal businesses, such as in the Canadian lodge and outfitting industry, where many of the operators have had a 100% loss of income in 2020, we are only eligible for assistance for the months in which we generated income in 2019. [My business] has incurred a 100% loss of income in 2020. Our operation normally generates [hundreds of thousands of dollars] of revenue each year during [a short] 45 day operating season. We contribute [hundreds of thousands of dollars] annually to our Saskatchewan suppliers and employees as well as paying federal and provincial income taxes, GST, payroll taxes and retail sales taxes.
Under the current government financial aid programs, such as the wage subsidy, because we are a seasonal business, only generating income during June and July each year, we are being penalized. We can only claim the wage subsidy for two months while we are incurring wage and other costs [I might add] the other ten months of the year.
It appears that the...government has not considered the situation of most Canadian lodges and outfitters, and the needs of seasonal businesses such as ours when formulating and “tweaking” the financial aid packages for small and medium businesses. I don't know if this huge hole in financing assistance affecting the lodge and outfitting industry, which contributes billions of dollars to the Canadian economy, has even been considered in the debate regarding the financial aid packages.
He concludes his email by stating:
Without financial aid for the lodge and outfitting industry, which is at least equitable to that being given to other segments of the economy - many, many lodges and outfitters will fail and close permanently.
These are only two of the many stories I could tell that describe what is happening on the ground in my constituency in northern Saskatchewan. There is a stark contrast between the headlines versus the reality in Desnethé—Missinippi—Churchill River.
This government, during the early days of the pandemic, when its attention should have been focused on helping Canadians or maybe, at the very least, avoiding conflicts of interest, issued an order in council on firearms. This provided the media with days of headlines that targeted law-abiding gun owners rather than actual criminals.
On January 24 of this year, Onion Lake Cree Nation in Saskatchewan declared a state of emergency as a result of a significant increase in drug and gang related activity. The leadership of Onion Lake and the surrounding first nation communities signed a western chiefs declaration with the support of the City of Lloydminster to tackle this very serious gang and rural crime problem. Unfortunately, the Liberal order in council does nothing to help these communities. It is headlines versus reality.
In 2015, the Prime Minister publicly claimed many times that the most important relationship for him was the one between his government and indigenous people. He even put it into all the mandate letters of his ministers at the time. Let us review what this relationship looks like for indigenous businesses during a pandemic.
First nation businesses that operate under a very common and limited partnership structure were initially left out of CEWS. On becoming more aware of this issue, I immediately contacted the finance minister's office, and I am still waiting for a reply. After much pressure from many organizations, this error was eventually corrected, and we appreciate that. There remained a gap in the forestry, mining, manufacturing, construction and consumer sales industries for indigenous people. It is headlines versus reality.
Indigenous small and medium-sized businesses heard an announcement on April 18 from the Prime Minister that would offer them short-term, interest-free loans and non-repayable contributions through aboriginal financial institutions, but they did not see any of that money flow until the middle of June, a full two months after the announcement. It is headlines versus reality.
Every time an announcement was made about support for businesses through programs like CEWS or CEBA, it required significant lobbying and exhaustive efforts before the government found a way to include indigenous businesses. It is headlines versus reality.
Being treated like an afterthought during a global pandemic does not strike me as being considered of high importance in a relationship. Again, headlines—
View Gary Vidal Profile
CPC (SK)
Madam Speaker, the question opens up an opportunity for me to talk about the limited partnership situation in my riding. This is something I advocated for in March. In my riding there are a number of very successful indigenous-owned businesses that operate under this limited partnership model. It is a very common business structure for indigenous businesses across this country.
I have a very clear example of being left out with the Meadow Lake Tribal Council, which operates an investment arm called Meadow Lake Tribal Council Industrial Investments. It has a sawmill and some other very significant businesses. The dividends from those businesses flow back to the nine first nations that make up the Meadow Lake Tribal Council.
One of those first nations is the same for which, on the week I was elected, I was in touch with the Minister of Indigenous Services' office because the first nation had declared a state of emergency over a suicide crisis. The flow of dividends from indigenous businesses to these communities is essential for them to provide health care, education and social support in their community. For them to be considered an afterthought in the provision of the wage subsidy is, frankly, appalling.
In fact, we had to stand and shout and scream as members of Parliament and as aboriginal business organizations across the country in order for that change to be made. I appreciate that the change was made. Let us give credit where credit is due. However, weeks or months is too long for them to operate on that uncertainty when dealing with what they are dealing with. Today, that same first nation is dealing with a five-year-old child on the bottom of the lake who they cannot find. That is the reality in Desnethé—Missinippi—Churchill River and of the communities affected by these decisions. That is the reality of being the member of Parliament for Northern Saskatchewan and I advocate for those communities.
View Gary Vidal Profile
CPC (SK)
Madam Speaker, I am going to reflect on a comment my colleague from Carleton made yesterday. Maybe there is a collective memory challenge of who presented the idea of back-to-work incentives first. It is an issue that we agree on with the Bloc, but on whether the chicken or the egg came first, maybe we will leave that for another day. Absolutely, we agree that there should be incentives because businesses in my riding are—
View Cathay Wagantall Profile
CPC (SK)
View Cathay Wagantall Profile
2020-07-21 13:51 [p.2684]
Madam Speaker, the member mentioned the importance of proper debate. Would she like to comment on the fact that we have not been allowed to debate the way the House should be allowed to do? Our rights and privileges, as the opposition, in holding the government to account have been shut down by the Prime Minister and the Liberal caucus, with the support of the NDP, which means that we are not been able to do our job in the way the member is suggesting it should be done.
Also, given that she is here today, as we all are, have been and will be for three days in a row, could she comment on why we cannot reconvene the House to do the job it was meant to do, namely, to sit in this place safely and do our job as the official opposition and hold the government to account and improve bills, as we have done today in giving the disability benefit to more people, including veterans?
View Kevin Waugh Profile
CPC (SK)
View Kevin Waugh Profile
2020-07-21 14:07 [p.2687]
Mr. Speaker, we are blessed to live in a country that is governed by democracy. Although we often disagree, Canadians can trust that the will of the people continues to drive decision-making in our country. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said about the people of Hong Kong, including the approximate 300,000 Canadians who are currently living there.
As new so-called national security laws sound the death knell for freedom and democracy there, police forces are raiding the offices of pro-democracy groups and censoring anyone who dissents.
We cannot stand idly by as the Chinese Communist Party wages war against freedom and democracy. Canada must stand beside those brave women and men who are fighting back against dictatorship in Hong Kong.
View Andrew Scheer Profile
CPC (SK)
Mr. Speaker, this is the third time the Prime Minister has been embroiled in a scandal. Once again, he thought the rules did not apply to him and rewarded an organization that paid members of his family $300,000 and gave him a huge political platform.
Canadians have had enough. They want to know the truth.
My question is simple. Will the Prime Minister appear before the Standing Committee on Finance, yes or no?
View Andrew Scheer Profile
CPC (SK)
Mr. Speaker, this is not about just a simple recusal. Here we have an organization that has paid cash to the Prime Minister's family and given him and other senior Liberals a massive political platform. That organization got in trouble after gobbling up millions of dollars' worth of prime Toronto real estate and breaking its bank covenant. It then lobbied the government for a tailor-made program that it would be able to take an administration fee for managing. The government did it even one better and came up with an even bigger program and gave it a sole-source contract, and the Prime Minister would have us all believe this is a massive coincidence.
Will the Prime Minister do the right thing and show up to testify at committee?
View Andrew Scheer Profile
CPC (SK)
Mr. Speaker, it is so gross and disgusting that the Prime Minister keeps using the pandemic as an excuse for his corruption. The very first act the Prime Minister did when the pandemic hit was try to give himself unprecedented power and eliminate the role of the opposition in Parliament. Now we know why, because when the Liberals are pushing $300 billion worth of deficit out the door, they will stop and take the time to reward their friends. That is the essence of the Liberal Party under the current Liberal Prime Minister. I do not even have a question. It is just disgusting.
View Andrew Scheer Profile
CPC (SK)
Mr. Speaker, that is right, there is nothing to see here. Just move on. Do not ask any of the tough questions about the relationship with an organization that paid members of his family cash, that took administration fees for running sole-source contracts after breaking its bank covenants and having members of its board resign.
Now the Prime Minister is trying to hide behind the public service on this one, but I would like to ask him a very simple question. On what basis would the public service have made its recommendation that WE was the only organization that could deliver this program?
View Andrew Scheer Profile
CPC (SK)
Mr. Speaker, here is what the watchdog Charity Intelligence said about that claim: “I'm not sure how you would assess the charity's track record or capability to do this if it had not previously done such work in the past”. The Prime Minister's explanation just does not hold up.
There are two camps developing in the Liberal Party. On the one hand we have the foreign affairs minister, who wisely took a barge pole and separated himself from the scandal, saying that it was a mistake and he did not know anything about it. Then we have the deputy prime minister, who had no problem showing Liberal faithful that she was willing to defend her leader.
I would ask the deputy prime minister what it would take for her to lose confidence in the scandal-plagued Prime Minister.
View Kevin Waugh Profile
CPC (SK)
View Kevin Waugh Profile
2020-07-21 14:40 [p.2693]
Mr. Speaker, yesterday, the Liberals refused to tell the House whether the Prime Minister's mother was paid to appear at a WE event on Parliament Hill in 2017. Over a million of dollars of taxpayer money was used for this event and the Liberals owe Canadians the truth.
Enough of this corruption. Yes or no, was Margaret Trudeau paid to appear at the WE event on Parliament Hill, July 2, 2017?
View Cathay Wagantall Profile
CPC (SK)
View Cathay Wagantall Profile
2020-07-21 14:48 [p.2695]
Mr. Speaker, Veterans Affairs depends on our legions to help with the transition of veterans. Legions also coordinate school visits, teaching our children about the cost of our freedom. For many, legions are a safe place to find community.
There are 157 legions facing a risk of permanent closure due to restrictions on their fundraising efforts and there has been no flexibility to include them in the COVID-19 economic response plan.
The Minister of Veterans Affairs says that he hopes to have more on this shortly. When did the minister begin to think about the impact of the pandemic on Canada's legions?
View Gary Vidal Profile
CPC (SK)
Mr. Speaker, today there are many long-term drinking water advisories still in place in Northern Saskatchewan and many indigenous communities across the country. Men, women, children and elders are living without safe water during the pandemic.
Could the Prime Minister tell the House how many long-term drinking water advisories could have been lifted if the $43.5 million he had committed to WE had been used for improving drinking water infrastructure rather than it being earmarked for the Liberal-friendly organization that has paid his family?
View Andrew Scheer Profile
CPC (SK)
Mr. Speaker, I rise today on a question of privilege regarding an incident that occurred in committee of the whole on July 8, 2020. I know you are aware of this, because I made this case to you a couple of weeks ago and you came back to the House and identified the unique circumstances. I thought that now that the House is sitting, I would expand on the remarks I made that day.
Mr. Speaker, I would first like to present to you my argument that in this special case it is within your authority and duty as Speaker to rule on the matter raised in committee of the whole. As you yourself noted on July 8:
...the situation is somewhat particular in that the question of privilege was raised in the committee of the whole and the procedure for dealing with it is quite different than it is in the House.
What complicates this matter even further is that the work of the committee of the whole today and the work scheduled this summer are strictly governed by an order of the House that limits these proceedings and dictates that the committee must now rise.
The situation is more than particularly complicated. The House order adopted on May 26 would appear to run counter to some of the more important tenets of our parliamentary democracy, such as Parliament's authority to defend members' privileges or take action to keep the executive accountable. Although the Liberals, with the support of the NDP, provided us with these occasions to talk in committee of the whole, they effectively prevented members from taking any action.
Mr. Speaker, that is the point of my submission to you today and why I believe you should intervene on this question of privilege that arose in committee of the whole on July 8.
Page 156 of the third edition of House of Commons Procedure and Practice explains the procedure when a member rises on a question of privilege in committee of the whole:
...the Chair will hear the question of privilege. As in a standing, special, or legislative committee, the role of the Chair is to decide whether the matter raised does in fact relate to privilege. If the matter raised by the Member touches on privilege and relates to events in the Committee of the Whole, the Chair will entertain a motion that the events be reported to the House.
The terms of the May 26 order do not provide for a motion to be moved. Therefore, the matter of my question of privilege cannot be reported to the House.
Pages 152 and 153 of the third edition of House of Commons Procedure and Practice note:
Speakers have consistently ruled that, except in the most extreme situations, they will hear questions of privilege arising from committee proceedings only upon presentation of a report from the committee which deals directly with the matter and not as a question of privilege raised by an individual Member.
The extreme situation noted in that passage was from 1992, when Speaker Fraser found a prima facie case of privilege with respect to threats made to a witness who had appeared before a subcommittee, without waiting for a report. The ruling, found at page 14631 of the Debates, from December, 4, 1992, points out that there are occasions on which it is not appropriate to wait for a report from the committee before dealing with a serious breach of privilege. In that case, Mr. Speaker Fraser was faced with the fact that it might well be a period of several months before the subcommittee could meet to deal with the matter.
In this case, the problem is more substantive than just a simple matter of delay. It would appear that the committee of the whole established by the government is unable to take any action except to rise, as you explained to us on July 8, Mr. Speaker.
With respect to the content of my question of privilege, Mr. Speaker, I would like to bring your attention to a matter that was raised on November 3, 1978, by the member for Northumberland—Durham. The member charged that he had been deliberately misled by a former solicitor general. The member had written a letter in 1973 to the solicitor general, who assured him that as a matter of policy the RCMP did not intercept the private mail of Canadians. On November 1, 1978, during testimony before the McDonald Commission, the former commissioner of the RCMP stated that the RCMP did indeed intercept mail on a very restricted basis. The Speaker ruled on December 6, 1978, and found that this did constitute a prima facie case of privilege.
The issue I raised on July 8 is similar in that a senior officer of the House, the Ethics Commissioner, presented evidence that directly contradicts the evidence the Prime Minister gave the committee in response to my question about the co-operation that his office will or will not be providing to the Ethics Commissioner. The Prime Minister said, in reference to the SNC-Lavalin scandal, that he took unprecedented steps so that the Ethics Commissioner could, “fully investigate the matter at hand.”
On July 8, I referenced three points that the Ethics Commissioner made in the “Trudeau II Report”. They directly contradicted the Prime Minister.
First, the commissioner said:
Because of my inability to access all Cabinet confidences related to the matter I must, however, report that I was unable to fully discharge the investigatory duties conferred upon me by the Act.
Second, he noted:
Because of the decisions to deny our Office further access to Cabinet confidences, witnesses were constrained in their ability to provide all evidence. I was, therefore, prevented from looking over the entire body of evidence to determine its relevance to my examination. Decisions that affect my jurisdiction under the Act, by setting parameters on my ability to receive evidence, should be made transparently and democratically by Parliament, not by the very same public office holders who are subject to the regime I administer.
Third, he said:
During this examination, nine witnesses informed our Office that they had information they believed to be relevant, but that could not be disclosed because, according to them, this information would reveal a confidence of the Queen's Privy Council and would fall outside the scope of Order in Council 2019-0105.
This is very important, because as we are currently witnessing, the Prime Minister is in a very similar situation. He is assuring members of the House and Canadians that he will co-operate fully, as he said he did in the previous investigation, which we now know to be false.
On February 1, 2002, the Speaker Milliken ruled on a matter regarding the former minister of national defence. At the time, the previous member for Portage—Lisgar alleged that the former minister of national defence deliberately misled the House as to when he knew that prisoners taken by Canadian JTF 2 troops in Afghanistan had been handed over to the Americans. In support of that allegation, he cited the minister's responses in question period on two successive days. The Speaker considered the matter and found that there was a prima facie question of privilege. He said, “The authorities are consistent about the need for clarity in our proceedings and about the need to ensure the integrity of the information provided by the government to the House.” The authorities to which Speaker Milliken was referring include, but are not limited to, House of Commons Procedure and Practice, second edition, which states on page 115, “Misleading a Minister or a Member has also been considered a form of obstruction and thus a prima facie breach of privilege.”
The Speaker in 2002 accepted the minister's assertion that he had no intention to mislead the House and made the following statement: “Nevertheless this remains a very difficult situation.” The Speaker went on to say:
On the basis of the arguments presented by hon. members and in view of the gravity of the matter, I have concluded that the situation before us where the House is left with two versions of events is one that merits further consideration by an appropriate committee, if only to clear the air. I therefore invite the hon. member for Portage—Lisgar to move his motion.
Of course, the House is presented with two versions of events. We have the Prime Minister's version, where he claims he fully co-operated, and we have the report from the Ethics Commissioner, which directly contradicts that claim.
On February 25, 2014, the former House leader of the official opposition raised a question of privilege regarding statements made in the House by the former member for Mississauga—Streetsville. He said the hon. member for Mississauga—Streetsville had deliberately misled the House during debate on Bill C-23, the Fair Elections Act, when the member stated that he had witnessed evidence of voter fraud first-hand. The former House leader further argued that the matter was not resolved by the statements made by the member for Mississauga—Streetsville on February 24 and 25, when he admitted that, contrary to his original claim, he had not actually witnessed what he had originally claimed to have witnessed. In his view, this was not a simple case of someone misspeaking. He argued, rather, that in this case the member deliberately chose to take something he knew not to be true and present it as eyewitness evidence, something so egregious that it constituted contempt.
On March 3, 2014, the Speaker delivered his ruling, citing what Speaker Milliken was faced with in February 2002, when the then minister of national defence, Art Eggleton, provided contradictory information to the House. In a ruling on a question of privilege raised about the contradiction, Speaker Milliken stated on February 1, 2002, at page 8581 of the Debates, “I am prepared, as I must be, to accept the minister's assertion that he had no intention to mislead the House.”
The Speaker went on to conclude:
In keeping with that precedent, I am prepared to accord the same courtesy to the member for Mississauga—Streetsville.
At the same time, the fact remains that the House continues to be seized of completely contradictory statements. This is a difficult position in which to leave members, who must be able to depend on the integrity of the information with which they are provided to perform their parliamentary duties.
Accordingly, in keeping with the precedent cited earlier in which Speaker Milliken indicated that the matter merited “...further consideration by an appropriate committee, if only to clear the air”, I am prepared in this case for the same reason to allow the matter to be put to the House.
As you know, Mr. Speaker, in deciding these matters, Speakers take into consideration three principles. The first is that the statement was misleading.
This was clearly the case. The Prime Minister gave us a version of events that was obviously not true.
Second, the member knew at the time of the statement that it was incorrect. There is no doubt that the Prime Minister must have known that it was incorrect. The title of the report was the Trudeau II Report, because it was the second time he was found guilty of ethics violations. He also knows it be false, because in the previous Parliament, I questioned him regularly on his obstruction of that investigation.
Third, the member making the statement intended to mislead the House.
I believe this matter has met all three of these principles, Mr. Speaker.
Getting back to your comment in committee on July 8 about this matter being complicated, I refer you to Joseph Maingot's second edition of Parliamentary Procedures in Canada, page 227:
In the final analysis, in areas of doubt, the Speaker asks simply: Does the act complained of appear at first sight to be a breach of privilege...or, to put it shortly, has the Member an arguable point? If the Speaker feels any doubt on the question, he should...leave it to the House.
In a ruling of October 24, 1966, at page 9005 of the Debates, the Speaker said:
In considering this matter I ask myself: What is the duty of the Speaker in cases of doubt? If we take into consideration that at the moment the Speaker is not asked to render a decision as to whether or not the article of complaint constitutes a breach of privilege...considering also that the Speaker is the guardian of the rules, rights and privileges of the House and of its members and that he cannot deprive them of such privileges when there is uncertainty in his mind.... I think at this preliminary stage of the proceedings, the doubt which I have in my mind should be interpreted to the benefit of the member.
Mr. Speaker, you have clearly indicated that this is uncharted territory. There are likely very few scenarios that could guide you specifically as to the proper course of action, because this has not happened before in our parliamentary system. I believe, therefore, you should leave it to the House to decide, and if you do find that there is a prima facie question of privilege, I am prepared to move the appropriate motion.
View Cathay Wagantall Profile
CPC (SK)
View Cathay Wagantall Profile
2020-07-20 12:49 [p.2588]
Madam Speaker, I appreciated hearing from my colleague from Barrie—Innisfil about an issue with one of his businesses. I wonder if the Minister of Middle Class Prosperity is familiar with the deeming rule, which was part of the original Canada emergency wage subsidy program, where, if people qualify for a month but then go above the qualifying amount the next month, they still get the funding for that additional month. It is called the “deeming rule” and it was applied.
Perhaps the member could discuss that further with us today. I would like to know if it will apply going forward, with the changes to CEWS, and whether those who have not realized this deeming rule was in effect can go back and apply for it, having missed that opportunity previously.
View Gary Vidal Profile
CPC (SK)
Mr. Speaker, I rise today to recognize two communities in northwest Saskatchewan. On April 15, the first case of COVID-19 was identified in the town of La Loche. This quickly escalated into 220 cases, with another 62 cases in the neighbouring Clearwater River Dene Nation. La Loche and Clearwater were considered the hot spots of indigenous communities in all of Canada at the time. Of the 15 deaths in Saskatchewan from COVID, five were residents of La Loche, bringing further pain to an already difficult situation.
I am happy to say that as of Wednesday, La Loche and the Clearwater River Dene Nation had zero active cases. Mayor Robert St. Pierre and Chief Teddy Clark have shown incredible leadership in guiding the people through this very real crisis. The Saskatchewan Health Authority and the Northern Inter-Tribal Health Authority initiated an unprecedented door-to-door testing and contact-tracing campaign that contributed to managing this outbreak. This situation is a great example of people in northern Saskatchewan working together for the common good.
View Andrew Scheer Profile
CPC (SK)
Mr. Speaker, June 10 was the last time the House of Commons met to deal with the legislation that we have been summoned back for today. In the meantime, the Prime Minister has been rocked by a $900-million scandal in which he gave a sole-source contract to an organization that paid his immediate family members hundreds of thousands of dollars.
The Prime Minister could have picked any day to summon members of Parliament back to work, but on his website it says that he is taking a personal day. I guess he needed another long weekend.
Why is the Prime Minister taking a personal day? I would like to ask the Deputy Prime Minister, is everything okay?
View Andrew Scheer Profile
CPC (SK)
We will see, Mr. Speaker.
Every day, we learn troubling new details about the WE Charity scandal. This weekend, Charity Intelligence, an independent watchdog, said that it had serious concerns about WE, including enormous debts, poor financial transparency and board member resignations.
Was the Prime Minister aware of these issues when cabinet chose to give the contract to his friends at WE Charity?
View Andrew Scheer Profile
CPC (SK)
Mr. Speaker, a group of people set up an organization with a charitable wing that receives money from the taxpayer. That same organization sets up a for-profit corporation that charges the charity for services. At the same time, the charity and the for-profit are gobbling up tens of millions of dollars' worth of prime Toronto real estate, all the while giving a platform and endorsements to the politicians who approved the grants in the first place.
This is not a plot line in a Sopranos episode; this is the Prime Minister's current scandal, so will the Prime Minister show up at committee and testify?
View Andrew Scheer Profile
CPC (SK)
Mr. Speaker, it is odd that the public service would come up with this idea all on its own. Charity Intelligence, a watchdog for charitable organizations, says WE has no experience delivering this kind of program: “I'm not sure how you would assess the charity's track record or capability to do this if it had not previously done such work in the past.” That is from the managing director, Kate Bahen.
The Liberals say it was the public service that recommended WE, and yet it was WE that sent a proposal to manage this program directly to Rachel Wernick, on the same day that the Prime Minister announced the program.
Who in the Prime Minister's office prepped WE for this announcement?
View Andrew Scheer Profile
CPC (SK)
Mr. Speaker, I am not sure what the Deputy Prime Minister is saying; nothing has become clear from testimony at the committee. In fact, at the ethics committee, Liberal members shamefully filibustered and ran out the clock so they would not have to answer these types of questions. Getting up in the House of Commons and responding is not the same as giving an answer to very specific questions.
Charity Intelligence went on to say that “in 2018, the auditor flagged for the first time that WE Charity was in breach of its bank covenants. That is a massive, massive red flag.”
Either the Liberals were aware of these issues and still approved the decision, or they were incompetent. It is either corruption or incompetence. Which is it?
View Cathay Wagantall Profile
CPC (SK)
View Cathay Wagantall Profile
2020-07-20 14:49 [p.2607]
Mr. Speaker, on June 15, I asked the Minister of Veterans Affairs if he was aware of the practice of red-flagging veterans' files. His response was, “I'm not aware”, yet on June 2, he signed a letter thanking veteran Shane Jones for his emails that had been forwarded to the minister from the Prime Minister's Office. Those emails included ATIP information that confirmed issues with which Shane was dealing with VAC because there was a flag on his file.
Again, was the Minister of Veterans Affairs aware of the practice of red-flagging veterans' files?
View Kevin Waugh Profile
CPC (SK)
View Kevin Waugh Profile
2020-07-20 14:59 [p.2609]
Mr. Speaker, it is hard not to feel disappointed in the Liberal government, because every day there is a new scandal. The Prime Minister has already broken our ethics laws not once but twice, and now he is under a conflict of interest investigation yet again.
Remember 2017? It was the Liberal government that paid over $1 million to WE for an event right here on Parliament Hill featuring the Prime Minister's own mother. Could the Prime Minister tell the House whether his mother was paid for this appearance?
View Andrew Scheer Profile
CPC (SK)
Mr. Speaker, I am seeking leave for an emergency debate this evening.
The recent revelations that several members of the Prime Minister's immediate family have received nearly $300,000 from the WE organization have raised serious questions about the government's decision to enter into a $900-million agreement with that same charity. This was followed by the revelation of further ties between the Prime Minister, the Minister of Finance and that organization.
I believe it is clear that this issue meets the threshold for an emergency debate.
The Prime Minister and the Minister of Finance have admitted that their failure to recuse themselves from the cabinet decision on this contract was wrong. Conservative members of Parliament have written to the RCMP requesting a criminal investigation, and the Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner has initiated investigations to determine whether the Prime Minister and the Minister of Finance contravened the Conflict of Interest Act.
More and more details are emerging of the relationship between the various entities under the WE umbrella, such as the money flowing back and forth from the charitable wing to the for-profit corporation. This is an organization that provides a platform and endorsements for Liberal politicians. Those very same politicians then make the decisions as to whether or not to approve these sole-source contracts to this organization, and I believe that falls under the administrative role of government.
Also, speakers regularly look, in terms of whether not they will approve an emergency debate request, at whether there are opportunities for opposition parties to raise these issues. I point out that the House of Commons has not been allowed to sit since the middle of March. We have lost our opposition days. We have lost our ability to put questions on the order paper. Many of the tools normally available to Parliament have been eliminated by the government's motion to effectively sideline Parliament.
There are no opposition days coming up. This is clearly a matter in the public interest. This was something that we were looking forward to questioning the Prime Minister on today. He said, last week, that he would be in the House to answer these questions today, but he is taking a personal day.
I hope that this request will be granted to allow members of Parliament and the government to further delve into the sordid affair the Prime Minister finds himself in.
View Cathay Wagantall Profile
CPC (SK)
View Cathay Wagantall Profile
2020-07-20 16:52 [p.2633]
Mr. Speaker, I am wondering if my colleague is aware of the deeming rule, which was included in the CEWS package at the very beginning. In the case where businesses applied the first month and then the amount was increased to 30%, some no longer qualified, so they did not apply. However, there was a deeming rule, which apparently indicated that a business qualified for that next month even though it no longer met that eligibility. A number of businesses in my riding were not aware of that and did not apply for it.
I wonder if the member is aware as to whether that deeming rule is still in place for those businesses retroactively to be able to get the support they desperately need. With this new layout of the land, will that still be included for them, going forward?
View Cathay Wagantall Profile
CPC (SK)
View Cathay Wagantall Profile
2020-07-20 18:28 [p.2647]
Madam Speaker, my colleague mentioned a number of areas where the government had failed throughout this course of time. There is another area specifically, which is the Canada summer jobs program. The Liberals decided to extend the amount of time that it could run, they increased the wages to minimum wage, they included part-time work, they gave more opportunities for businesses to apply and yet they provided no more funding for the program.
This was set up. We had our wonderful, professional public service ready to run it. Instead, the Liberals chose to roll the dice, with an ethical violation as the outcome.
Could my colleague comment on the importance of that program and how the government failed to implement it?
View Andrew Scheer Profile
CPC (SK)
Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister is under investigation for granting a $900-million contract to an organization to which he has personal ties.
Did the Prime Minister officially recuse himself from the decision-making process to give a contract to a friend, yes or no?
View Andrew Scheer Profile
CPC (SK)
Mr. Speaker, when the Prime Minister was under investigation for the SNC-Lavalin scandal, he refused to give the Ethics Commissioner all the evidence that was asked for. He also prevented nine people from providing their full testimony.
I have a simple yes-or-no question. Will the Prime Minister commit today to waiving all privileges and confidences so that the Ethics Commissioner can do a full and proper investigation?
View Andrew Scheer Profile
CPC (SK)
Actually, Mr. Speaker, it is the Prime Minister who said something that was not true. When he was under investigation the last time, he refused to waive full and complete privileges and confidences, preventing not only the former attorney general but also people within the PMO from being able to fully participate in the investigation. That is his modus operandi when it comes to a scandal investigation: He does everything he can to prevent the full truth from coming out.
I have a simple yes-or-no question. Will he waive all cabinet confidences and privileges this time?
View Andrew Scheer Profile
CPC (SK)
Mr. Speaker, it was an unprecedented step because it was an unprecedented thing that the Prime Minister did. No other prime minister has tried to personally intervene in a criminal court proceeding, so pardon me for not giving him a gold star for handing over some documents to the Ethics Commissioner. We know that he will not waive full cabinet confidences and privileges, as he has refused to do so.
The Prime Minister claims that several organizations were considered to manage the grant program that WE Charity eventually got. Could the Prime Minister name the other organizations that were considered?
View Andrew Scheer Profile
CPC (SK)
Mr. Speaker, this charity has received many sole-source contracts from the Prime Minister, some for millions of dollars. In the last few years, the real estate holdings that WE has accumulated have gone from $11.9 million to $43.7 million. That is 43 million dollars' worth of real estate holdings.
Could the Prime Minister inform the House whether any of the money that was allocated to this charity went to purchase real estate holdings?
View Andrew Scheer Profile
CPC (SK)
Mr. Speaker, I rise on a question of privilege that arises out of the exchange from earlier today. This is the first opportunity I have had to raise it, since that period just ended.
I would like to draw your attention to the Prime Minister's answer to my question about the Ethics Commissioner and the co-operation that his office will or will not be providing. His answer says, “in the last situation, we did the unprecedented step of waiving cabinet confidentiality and of waiving solicitor-client confidentiality in the situation so that the Ethics Commissioner could fully investigate the matter at hand.” This is in reference to the SNC-Lavalin scandal and the subject of the “Trudeau II Report”.
Mr. Speaker, I draw your attention to the words “fully investigate the matter at hand” to show why I believe we have a case of the Prime Minister deliberately misleading the House. The Ethics Commissioner, in his report, mentioned three things I would like to read. I hope that you will find there is a prima facie case of an attempt to deliberately mislead the House.
The first quote is as follows:
In the present examination, I have gathered sufficient factual information to properly determine the matter on its merits. Because of my inability to access all Cabinet confidences related to the matter I must, however, report that I was unable to fully discharge the investigatory duties conferred upon me by the Act.
The second quote states:
Because of the decisions to deny our Office further access to Cabinet confidences, witnesses were constrained in their ability to provide all evidence. I was, therefore, prevented from looking over the entire body of evidence to determine its relevance to my examination. Decisions that affect my jurisdiction under the Act, by setting parameters on my ability to receive evidence, should be made transparently and democratically by Parliament, not by the very same public office holders who are subject to the regime I administer.
The third quote states:
During this examination, nine witnesses informed our Office that they had information they believed to be relevant, but that could not be disclosed because, according to them, this information would reveal a confidence of the Queen's Privy Council and would fall outside the scope of Order in Council 2019-0105.
I believe this case speaks for itself. The Prime Minister earlier today said that in the last scandal he was involved with, he fully co-operated with the Ethics Commissioner. I have just read three quotes that are directly from the Ethics Commissioner himself that fully contradict that.
One of the tests that must be met in order for the Speaker to find there is a case of an attempt to deliberately mislead the House and a breach of privilege is that the member who makes the statement must know it to be false. This report is entitled “Trudeau II Report”. There is no doubt that the Prime Minister knows about its findings. It was the subject of multiple exchanges in question period before the last election.
I leave it to you, Mr. Speaker, to find a prima facie case of misleading the House.
View Andrew Scheer Profile
CPC (SK)
Mr. Speaker, so much of what the finance minister just said is not true. I do not have enough time to enumerate it all, because we only have a few minutes for questions and comments.
The government was wrong. It was wrong to leave our borders open for longer. It was wrong when it said it was going to have enhanced screening at airports, and it was slow to fix the gaps in its own programs. So many Canadians have been let down by the government. It has refused to fix the wage subsidy. It has refused to remove the back-to-work penalty for people who want to take available shifts, and it has refused to implement the back-to-work bonus that Conservatives have proposed to help people fill available shifts and help local businesses get back on their feet.
The government has also refused to fund the Auditor General so that she can keep track of this massive amount of new spending and historic levels of deficits and debt. All she wanted was about $10 million to make sure she could go through the programs, but the minister did find $15 million kicking around for the Deputy Prime Minister's political office.
Can the finance minister tell the House exactly what the $15 million that he gave the Deputy Prime Minister will be going to?
View Andrew Scheer Profile
CPC (SK)
Mr. Speaker, I will be sharing my time with the hon. member for Carleton, one of the great, hard-working finance shadow ministers who the minister referenced, who are doing so much good work to try to help fix the gaps in the government's programs.
The finance minister has just painted an extremely dire picture of Canada's finances, but what we did not hear was any kind of a plan to support the reopening of our economy and to get Canadians back to work.
Coming out of the pandemic, every single country on the planet will be desperately competing for the same opportunities and the same investments, so where is the Prime Minister's plan to set us apart? The United Kingdom has a plan. France, Germany, South Korea and Japan all have plans. In fact, every single country in the G7 has a plan.
The government is borrowing $343 billion this year. However, the Prime Minister has no plan to help Canadians return to work. He has no plan to guide our economic recovery. He has no plan to stimulate growth or attract business investment to create the conditions for job growth.
The government is borrowing $343 billion this year. This year, for the first time ever, the net federal debt will reach over one trillion dollars. In fact, it is borrowing so much money that the Bank of Canada has to create it out of thin air. The Bank of Canada is purchasing 5 billion dollars' worth of government debt every single week.
The Prime Minister has absolutely no plan to help Canadians return to work, no plan for our economic recovery and no plan to stimulate growth, attract business investment or create the conditions for job growth.
I know this might come as a shock to a Liberal prime minister, but spending billions of dollars does not create economic growth, and handing it out to Liberal insiders certainly will not restart our economy. More Liberal tax hikes and more red tape will not restart our economy.
If we want to be competitive, we must unlock the power of the private sector, help Canadians get back to work, support small businesses, lower taxes, eliminate red tape and put Canada back on the map as an attractive place to do business.
The biggest misconception right now about the economy is that if we simply lift the restrictions and provinces reopen, our economy will come roaring back to life. The reality is that it will take leadership, big ideas and a lot of hard work. However, the Prime Minister's track record proves that he cannot be trusted to lead Canada's recovery. His sky-high taxes, wasteful spending and massive deficits put Canada in an incredibly weak position before the pandemic began.
While a responsible government would have saved while times were good and paid down debt, as our previous Conservative government did, the Liberals added $87 billion in new debt during its first four years of power. As a result, Canada is the only G7 country to have lost its AAA credit rating and has one of the highest debt levels in the AA category.
Before the pandemic, Canada's unemployment rate was higher than that of all other G7 countries except France and Italy, whose socialist policies the Prime Minister was trying to emulate. Now Canada has surpassed them and has the highest unemployment rate in the G7. In fact, we have among the highest unemployment rates in the OECD, falling fourth right behind Greece. This is should be a major wake-up call for the government.
There is no doubt that Canadians are struggling. The last few months have been very difficult. Millions of people lost their jobs. More than 100,000 Canadians became ill. Thousands died. Businesses shut down and many will never reopen. Canadians are watching in horror as their savings disappear.
Despite all of this, as provinces gradually reopen, Canadians are hopeful and optimistic about their futures. They want to work. Businesses want to reopen to welcome back staff and customers. They are determined to rebuild and are coming up with innovative ways to offer services as provinces.
Now, I do not know why the Prime Minister always feels the need to talk down Canada. Canadians are an endlessly enterprising people. Perhaps it is a product of our immigrant society where people have left the familiarity of home for a shot at a better life on the other side of the world, and then work hard to achieve it. Perhaps it is the inspiration that we take from indigenous peoples, resilient men and women who built Canada's first communities in some of the harshest conditions imaginable. Perhaps it is our belief in freedom, limited government and the power of the free market. Regardless of the reason, Canadians have proven time and time again that through hard work, innovation and perseverance, we can accomplish anything.
Canada's economic recovery will be driven by Canadians. Governments do not create jobs, and we cannot borrow our way to prosperity. True success comes from investing in people, but the only people the Liberals are interested in investing in are the wealthy elites. While regular Canadians continue to struggle, the Prime Minister is passing buckets of money around the highest levels of corporate Canada. It started in the last Parliament when the Liberals developed their superclusters program, handing out billions and billions of dollars to corporate entities and wealthy institutions. They gave $50 million to Mastercard and $12 million to Loblaws. They gave $35 billion to the Canada Infrastructure Bank, which protects wealthy investors and puts all the risk on the backs of taxpayers. How many projects has that new Infrastructure Bank actually completed? Zero. The Bank of Canada, as I said earlier, is printing money.
Now, the finance minister just bragged about the low cost of servicing that debt. Well, there is a reason why. It is because the Bank of Canada is purchasing government debt on the secondary bond market. It is creating money out of thin air, and who gets that money first? It is the wealthy investors who have already purchased government debt in the past. This is the epitome of trickle-down economics. It's throwing money around at the highest levels of corporate Canada while raising taxes on hard-working Canadians. In the middle of a pandemic and all of the economic difficulties it has caused, they raised the carbon tax and are raising payroll taxes and excise taxes. Meanwhile, there is no help for energy workers. They have refused to fix their flawed programs.
The finance minister talked about the need for speed. Well, we all agreed back in March that the government had to act quickly, and we were told that if Parliament passed these measures, they would be fixed as time went on. I note the date, July 8, and that they have still not fixed the flaws in the wage subsidy, and there are still thousands and thousands of people who have lost their jobs because of the gaps in that program. They have refused to make any adjustments to the rental subsidies that require businesses to have lost 70% of their revenue before they qualify, and, of course, they have refused to take away the barrier to people returning back to work by adopting the back-to-work bonus the Conservatives have proposed. We cannot forget that in the middle of this pandemic, the Prime Minister has let so many Canadians fall behind.
The Conservatives have been proposing constructive solutions to help Canadians all along through this pandemic. Our goal is to help workers and local businesses get back up and running as quickly as possible.
It is very disappointing that the Prime Minister did not use today's fiscal snapshot to offer the back-to-work bonus. Our Conservative plan can make the Canada emergency response benefit more flexible and more generous, to allow workers to earn more as businesses gradually open.
Helping Canadians transition back to work is vital to our recovery. A good job helps Canadians succeed. It helps their families succeed. It helps build our communities and ultimately makes our country strong.
Under the Prime Minister, Canada and Canadians are losing out. We are falling behind. We are falling behind every other nation in the G7. That is unacceptable. Canadians deserve a government that stands up for their interests. They deserve better than what they just got today.
View Andrew Scheer Profile
CPC (SK)
Madam Chair, I am not surprised that the member has a selective memory when it comes to the last few months. It seems like he is stuck in March. He is stuck at about March 22, when everybody realized that we were in an unprecedented situation and we all agreed that we would come back to Parliament to give the government the tools it needed to help Canadians.
What did his party do with that opportunity? Before members of Parliament even gathered in the chamber, before we had even figured out how to stay two metres apart, the government wrote itself a massive power grab, trying to eliminate the role of Parliament. In the middle of a pandemic when people were losing their jobs and losing loved ones, the first thought of members of his party was how they could benefit politically from it. Then, when we pointed out time and again the gaps that people were falling through, in the wage subsidy, in the CERB and the penalty for going back to work, and in the rental subsidy, the Liberals have refused to make any of those changes, leaving thousands of Canadians behind.
That is the legacy the government will take into the next election and I have no doubt that Canadians will not reward the Liberals for their slowness, their poor decisions and their inaction.
View Andrew Scheer Profile
CPC (SK)
Madam Chair, first, the Conservatives support the idea of eliminating the barrier for people who want to return to work. The Bloc Québécois paid the Conservatives a nice compliment by stealing our idea. That does not bother me. It is a nice compliment. It was our party that proposed giving Canadians incentives to return to work. It was our finance critic who suggested it. It came about because of the hard work of our Conservative team, which put forward ideas to improve the Liberal government's disastrous programs.
If the Bloc Québécois has seen the light and supports our position, that is a good thing.
View Andrew Scheer Profile
CPC (SK)
Madam Chair, I would like to indicate that I am sharing my time with the hon. member for Richmond—Arthabaska.
The government would have us believe that it is doing its best during this difficult time, yet despite calling for a team Canada approach in the early days of this pandemic, the government has ignored many of the reasonable, common-sense proposals that the opposition has put forward to make the programs better and to ensure that Canadians do not fall through the cracks. Unfortunately, the government has let people down from the beginning of the health crisis, and this continues, even though the economic effects of the lockdown have caused so much hardship and misery to Canadians.
For example, when other countries were closing down their borders, the government refused to do so, which allowed more people who had the virus to enter the country, obviously leading to more Canadians acquiring it. As the pandemic continued, the government was slow to act, giving PPE away to other countries and dumping stockpiles here at home just months before the coronavirus hit Canada.
As I mentioned, we have proposed common-sense solutions to help more Canadians during this crisis, and the government has refused to act. We are now on the last sitting day of the House before the summer break.
On April 20, we first raised, with the Minister of Finance, an issue relating to companies that have acquired the assets of another company. They are unable to show a significant enough loss to qualify for the wage subsidy. As a result, thousands of Canadians across the country are losing their jobs.
We proposed a solution to the government. Actually, the Minister of Finance's officials came up with a solution: applying an existing provision under the Excise Tax Act to the wage subsidy.
I have a very simple question. Will the government make this change to allow more Canadians to keep their jobs?
View Andrew Scheer Profile
CPC (SK)
Madam Chair, will the government make the change to the wage subsidy program to allow companies that have acquired another company to receive the subsidy so we can keep more Canadians working, yes or no?
View Andrew Scheer Profile
CPC (SK)
Madam Chair, the Liberals still cannot answer a yes-or-no question.
The government has racked up unprecedented debt in the last few months. Before the coronavirus hit, the Bank of Canada had approximately $120 billion on its asset sheet. It now has over $500 billion. In other words, it has purchased almost 400 billion dollars' worth of additional debt.
Could the minister tell Canadians where the Bank of Canada got the money to buy that debt?
View Andrew Scheer Profile
CPC (SK)
Madam Chair, the Bank of Canada is buying up to $5 billion a week in bonds. Where is the Bank of Canada getting the money to buy those bonds?
View Andrew Scheer Profile
CPC (SK)
Madam Chair, nobody believes that. This is the government that gave $50 million to Mastercard and $12 million to Loblaws, a government that racked up 80 billion dollars' worth of new deficits before the pandemic hit. Nobody is buying what the minister is selling.
However, the Bank of Canada is buying a lot of debt that other institutions are selling. It is buying government bonds and corporate bonds, at $5 billion a week. Where is the Bank of Canada getting the money to buy all of those bonds?
View Andrew Scheer Profile
CPC (SK)
Madam Chair, the minister talked about a balance sheet. The balance sheet of the government racked up 80 billion dollars' worth of debt before the health pandemic hit. Now the Bank of Canada's balance sheet has quadrupled. It has gone from $120 billion to $500 billion because it has bought debt; it has bought bonds.
Again, where is the Bank of Canada getting the money to buy the bonds?
View Andrew Scheer Profile
CPC (SK)
Madam Chair, the Bank of Canada is buying all kinds of different bonds. In fact, it is doing so in a secondary market, which means the first people to get the new money the Bank of Canada is creating are bondholders, hedge fund managers and corporate institutions. The Bank of Canada is also buying record amounts of corporate bonds.
Many of these companies are facing significant hardships. Who pays if the corporations go bankrupt?
View Warren Steinley Profile
CPC (SK)
View Warren Steinley Profile
2020-06-17 16:42 [p.2505]
Madam Chair, I will be opening with a few comments and ending with a round of questions.
This is my first opportunity to be in the chamber since the pandemic struck in March, and I am happy to be here to represent my constituents in Regina—Lewvan. They have had a lot of questions over the last 12 weeks and want to know exactly what the government's plan is to re-launch our economy, and these estimates are going to be a big part of that.
As a member of the public accounts committee, I was wondering if any of the funding in these supplementary estimates is going toward ensuring that the Auditor General's office has the funding it needs to do audits after COVID-19 is over.
View Warren Steinley Profile
CPC (SK)
View Warren Steinley Profile
2020-06-17 16:42 [p.2505]
Madam Chair, I am on that committee, and she has requested several times now that her funding be increased over the next few years, so that she will be able to perform her audits. They are doing half the audits they were doing a few years ago.
Will the funding be there so she can do her job successfully?
View Warren Steinley Profile
CPC (SK)
View Warren Steinley Profile
2020-06-17 16:43 [p.2506]
Madam Chair, it is nice to be back in Ottawa. There is never really an honest, straightforward answer to any question asked. Some things have not changed since I have been gone for about 12 weeks.
I have a simple question. There is a business in Regina that is not receiving CEBA funding, and the reason is that it changed its financial institution in March; it had nothing to do with COVID-19. It is a baby and lady-wear company in Regina called Nico, which has contacted the minister's office several times.
They are wondering if there is an appeal process coming for the CEBA program for these applications, and if not, can there not be a bit of leeway for a company that has just changed. They have nine years of financial records, but only because they changed their financial institution in March, their application was denied and they are not to receiving the CEBA benefit.
View Warren Steinley Profile
CPC (SK)
View Warren Steinley Profile
2020-06-17 16:44 [p.2506]
Madam Chair, I appreciate that offer. Our office will be in touch with WD.
They should be able to receive the CEBA program, though. It is simple. All they have to do to fix it simply is to give banking institutions a bit of discretion, and I believe that would fix a lot of the problems that our companies and businesses are having in Saskatchewan. There are a few falling through the cracks.
Another example is a father and son company. The father gave ownership to the son in January. It's the same company, same location, same services, and the same staff, but because the son does not have a large enough payroll, he cannot get the CEBA application approved.
Are we looking at changing something so that companies, family businesses, are not going to fall through the cracks any longer?
View Warren Steinley Profile
CPC (SK)
View Warren Steinley Profile
2020-06-17 16:46 [p.2506]
Madam Chair, I have contacted the minister's office a few times. I am putting forward a suggestion right now. If we gave the financial lending institutions a bit of discretion, it would solve a lot of problems. All we have to do is change a few words in the CEBA criteria to add “or at the lending institution's discretion”. They do not want to lose money either.
That is a straightforward solution, a western Canadian common-sense solution. If we gave the banks a bit of discretion, a lot of those businesses would not fall through the cracks.
View Kelly Block Profile
CPC (SK)
Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to be participating in the debate today on the estimates, and I look forward to the minister's answers with regard to the funding her department is requesting.
Yesterday at committee, the deputy minister of PSPC told us that the $500 million being requested for PPE in these estimates was for contracts for itself, and not for contracts on behalf of other clients or departments.
Can the minister briefly detail what PPE is being purchased with this $500 million?
View Kelly Block Profile
CPC (SK)
Mr. Speaker, I would encourage the minister to have a conversation with her deputy minister to find out just what information was shared with the committee.
Yesterday, the deputy minister also indicated that most of these funds were already under contract. Additionally, he indicated that many contracts for PPE include an advance payment provision, often depending on the commodity.
How many, or what percentage, of the contracts related to the $500 million request in the estimates contain an advance payment provision?
View Kelly Block Profile
CPC (SK)
Mr. Speaker, I will advise the minister that I have the opportunity of getting briefings every week from her parliamentary secretary, who is quite forthcoming in giving answers to the questions that we ask. I just wish she would be, specifically to this $500 million request.
What is the average percentage of prepayments of all the contracts already entered into?
View Kelly Block Profile
CPC (SK)
Mr. Speaker, we know that PSPC is trying to extract itself from a contract with a company that sold us millions of substandard KN95 masks. Yesterday, the deputy minister told the OGGO committee that other contracted companies are struggling with timeliness, and that at least one more is having quality issues.
Can the minister assure Canadians that none of the $500 million requested in these estimates will be going, or has gone, to one of these companies struggling with timeliness or quality?
View Andrew Scheer Profile
CPC (SK)
Mr. Speaker, I have two unanimous consent motions for which I hope you will find support. The Conservatives, of course, believe that Parliament should be sitting and had we been sitting normally, we could have debated this bill. We could have facilitated the government House leader's request, but the government has refused to allow the House to do its work as it normally would.
Indeed, the proposal that the government has as it relates to people with disabilities was announced several days ago and the House could have been entertaining this legislation as early as Monday.
I ask for the unanimous consent of the House for the following motion in order to allow the House to debate the legislation that the minister introduced today: that notwithstanding any standing order, or special order or usual practice of the House, when the House adjourns, it shall next meet at 3 p.m. later this day.
View Andrew Scheer Profile
CPC (SK)
Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order. I invite the hon. House leader to go back, rewind the tape and listen, because members on this side said yes to the House of Commons meeting later today and it was members of the Liberal Party who said no.
View Kevin Waugh Profile
CPC (SK)
View Kevin Waugh Profile
2020-05-26 11:11 [p.2408]
Mr. Speaker, New Brunswick like Saskatchewan is well ahead of the curve. We have done very well in our provinces. I can see that Ontario and Quebec need to catch up to our two provinces.
I will say one thing to the member, who is new in the House, and it is that Private members' bills will not go forward. We are going to miss almost a full year of private members' bills in the House of Commons. They are an important privilege of members, enabling them to bring their issues forward.
What is the member's view on private members' bills being shut down until the fall or maybe even longer than that?
View Rosemarie Falk Profile
CPC (SK)
Mr. Speaker, we were talking about a virtual committee, not virtual Parliament. That is the motion before us.
I have a rural riding. I have trouble accessing the Internet as it is. Usually, it is pretty choppy. I wonder if my colleague could talk about some of the flaws in this and how members will be able to participate virtually, because that is not necessarily possible for all 338.
View Rosemarie Falk Profile
CPC (SK)
Mr. Speaker, it is a privilege and an honour to rise in the House of Commons today to participate in this debate. The opportunity to debate, to stand and be counted in this chamber is a privilege, and it is the same privilege that those in the 42 Parliaments before us have had.
Now, in the 43rd Parliament, it is difficult to imagine that there are elected members of Parliament who are ready to pass on that privilege, but here we are today. In the midst of a pandemic, the government has put forward a motion that limits the role of Parliament. While this proposal is an improvement, of course, to the first one, it still falls far short of a full Parliament. It is shameful that some would devalue our democracy during a crisis.
Canadians have stepped up during this pandemic. They have followed the guidelines of our health authorities and have taken precautions. Our front-line health care workers have risked their health and safety to care for others. Essential workers have made adjustments to provide necessary services and goods to Canadians. All Canadians have faced disruptions and unforeseen challenges. The social, economic and health impacts of COVID-19 are widespread and, while the impact on each person may vary, not a single person is immune.
As Canadians across the country face these challenges head-on, they need to know that their government is also stepping up. They need to know that their government is committed to getting the best results for Canadians, and they need to know that their government is working to ensure that no one falls through the cracks. Right now, we are navigating the immediate fallout of this health crisis, but we still do not know what the long-term impacts will be.
The quality of governmental leadership will largely dictate the long-term impacts of this crisis. Good leadership is accountable, yet before us is essentially a permission slip from the Prime Minister asking to be less accountable. By limiting the role of Parliament, the Prime Minister is telling Canadians that he would like an audience and not an opposition. The government would like Parliament to govern without scrutiny, without debate and without opposition, but that is not how our democracy works.
Canada is a representative democracy. Three hundred and thirty-eight members of Parliament are elected across this country, each of us representing tens of thousands of constituents. Each of us is sent to Parliament with a mandate from those who have elected us. Each of us has the responsibility to represent all electors in our ridings.
If there are members of Parliament who think that in a time of crisis their responsibility to their constituents is any less, I must question why they chose to put their names on the ballot. In times of crisis, our responsibility to our constituents is even greater. As a member of Her Majesty's loyal opposition, it is my duty to hold the government to account. It is my duty to seek answers for constituents, and it is my duty to stand up for their interests and make them known.
As a Saskatchewan member of Parliament, I will make note that western Canada is notably absent from the cabinet table, and the government benches altogether. Last fall, western Canada rejected the failed policies of this Liberal government. They rejected the Prime Minister's attacks on their livelihoods and their communities. In our democracy, that is their right.
The Prime Minister, however, does not have a licence to shut down their voices by governing without opposition parties. In fact, the principal economic drivers in my riding of Battlefords—Lloydminster have been largely left out of the government's response to COVID-19. They have been left out despite the national importance of both of these economic drivers.
First, the Prime Minister has failed to step up to support Canada's oil and gas sector, a sector that will be critical for a speedy economic recovery for western Canada and, frankly, for Canada as a whole. Aside from paying lip service to the industry, the Prime Minister has failed to follow through with meaningful support. As hours, days and months go by, there is an emptiness to his words. Given the Prime Minister's history of attacking the oil and gas sector and his admitted goal of phasing it out, it is difficult not to view this as anything but a death-by-delay tactic.
The other sector that has been left by the wayside in the government's COVID-19 response is agriculture. Hard-working farm families across this country are facing a crisis of their own. In the past year, they have already been confronted with hardship after hardship beyond their control, and COVID-19 is yet another devastating blow. Our farmers are faced with rising operational costs, a disrupted service industry, labour shortages and reduced capacity at processing plants. Our farmers and producers have already sounded the alarm.
To maintain a steady supply of affordable and healthy food, we have to ensure our vital first link in the food supply chain. We do know that the Canadian Federation of Agriculture had asked the government for an emergency fund, but instead of responding to the specific COVID-19 challenges that our farmers are facing, the Liberals reannounced already-budgeted funding. To make matters worse, while our farmers are trying to face the challenges brought on by COVID-19, the government hiked the carbon tax, reaching into their pockets for more money at a time when they could afford it the least.
The disregard for these two sectors of national importance underscores the absolute necessity for Parliament. The government must be accountable for its actions and also its inaction. It is essential that as individual members of Parliament we have the opportunity to raise the issues that are important to and affect our constituents. We are their voice in the democratic process.
We have seen repeatedly during the COVID-19 special committee meetings the government dodge and deflect questions asked by opposition members that it, frankly, does not want to answer. It has shut down questions it does not want asked and justifies it by stating they are outside the scope of the debate of this committee. I would argue that the impact of COVID-19 is so far-reaching that there is not much beyond its scope. This pattern of avoidance certainly does not invoke confidence that much will change without Parliament fully sitting.
It is not up to the government of the day to decide how it will be held accountable for its governing. When it comes to fiscal responsibility and accountability, the Prime Minister and the finance minister seem equally disinterested.
View Cathay Wagantall Profile
CPC (SK)
View Cathay Wagantall Profile
2020-05-26 14:05 [p.2434]
Mr. Speaker, for months Canadians have adapted to painful new realities. They are making sacrifices every day and expect their elected representatives to be their present voice in Ottawa. However, the government has stripped Parliament of its work and continues to deny Canadians that voice.
Preventing discussion on private members' bills means that my privilege and responsibility as a member of Parliament has been held captive. In February, I had the honour of tabling Bill C-233, the sex-selective abortion act. The bill would prohibit a medical practitioner from performing an abortion if the reason is the sex of the preborn child.
My constituents, and indeed 84% of Canadians, have been clear that sex-selective abortion is not permissible in Canada, yet we know it happens in our country because we have no law against it.
It is time for Canada and the Prime Minister to stand up for human rights and end inequality between the sexes from the earliest stages of life. It is time to restore Parliament and continue this vital conversation.
View Kevin Waugh Profile
CPC (SK)
View Kevin Waugh Profile
2020-05-26 14:09 [p.2434]
Mr. Speaker, two great artists have passed away recently in my home province of Saskatchewan, Bob Pitzel of Humboldt in March and Hugo Alvarado of Saskatoon just a couple of days ago.
Bob Pitzel was a masterful watercolour artist who spent many hours in his studio just south of Humboldt. Bob loved painting rural Saskatchewan scenes. His worked often displayed the old farm homes, the fences and trucks. He also enjoyed painting trains and won many awards for his work. Bob is lovingly remembered by his spouse Maureen Doetzel.
Hugo Alvarado came to Saskatoon from Chile, with a mere $5 in his pocket. What a gift to our city. Hugo was heavily involved in Artists Against Hunger, raising funds for those in need. His paintings featured landscapes, cityscapes and still life. A former Saskatoon citizen of the year, Hugo always encouraged others to paint and express their feelings.
We will miss these artists as both Bob and Hugo gave back so much to our arts society.
View Andrew Scheer Profile
CPC (SK)
Mr. Speaker, we are learning today that on May 14, members of the Canadian Armed Forces wrote a report detailing dreadful conditions at long-term care homes in Ontario. Soldiers have witnessed cockroaches, rotting food, seniors left in soiled diapers, and cries for help ignored for lengthy periods. I am sure all Canadians are horrified to hear these details. However, the Liberals only provided this report to the Province of Ontario on Sunday. In other words, the government sat on this report for almost two weeks.
Why did it take a leak to make these details public? Why was the Prime Minister not transparent with this horrific information?
View Andrew Scheer Profile
CPC (SK)
Mr. Speaker, the fact remains that the report was written on May 14, so it took almost two weeks for it to be made public.
Our seniors deserve better than this. They deserve better than a government that waits almost two weeks before reading an absolutely appalling report on the situation in seniors' homes. We hear that the army is working on a second report, which will describe the situation in long-term care homes in Quebec.
Can the Prime Minister assure us that he will not wait two weeks before reading it?
View Andrew Scheer Profile
CPC (SK)
The Prime Minister has laid out that kind of timeline, Mr. Speaker.
I have a simple question. Who had the report from May 14 until last Thursday?
View Andrew Scheer Profile
CPC (SK)
Mr. Speaker, the media is also reporting today that the Minister of Digital Government has been promoting a fundraising campaign to sue Global News for its story that criticized the Chinese Communist Party. WeChat is a Chinese state-sanctioned social media platform that is monitored by the communist state security and, worse yet, the minister has admitted that her taxpayer-funded political aide is the one who manages her WeChat account and who allowed the fundraising campaign to be promoted. Clearly, this is inappropriate.
What action has the Prime Minister taken in light of these revelations?
View Andrew Scheer Profile
CPC (SK)
Mr. Speaker, this is so typical of the Liberals. When it comes to things like this, they only apologize when they get caught. When we put this in light of their whole approach to China, foreign affairs experts are saying that the government's approach is to speak softly and carry no stick.
Yesterday, I gave the Prime Minister four opportunities to condemn the attack on the freedom of the people of Hong Kong by the Government of China. He refused. We have seen a pattern of appeasement toward the PRC, but this is much worse. By helping an arm of the Chinese government suppress media critical of the PRC here in Canada, the Prime Minister is actually doing its dirty work.
Why are the Prime Minister's cabinet ministers helping the dictators in the PRC?
View Kevin Waugh Profile
CPC (SK)
View Kevin Waugh Profile
2020-05-26 14:42 [p.2441]
Mr. Speaker, the Liberals refuse to tell us what happened to the national strategic stockpile before this crisis. On Friday, the chief medical officer was asked if she ever advised the Liberals that the emergency stockpile was underfunded, but the health minister prevented Dr. Tam from answering the question. She claimed it was cabinet confidence.
When will the Liberals come clean about their decision to reduce Canada's strategic stockpile?
View Cathay Wagantall Profile
CPC (SK)
View Cathay Wagantall Profile
2020-05-26 14:53 [p.2443]
Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness has ruled that the firearms contained on the order in council banned list were unsuitable for sport or hunting, despite the government providing transport permits for over 30 years for the purpose of sport shooting with those firearms.
Why is the minister choosing to attack law-abiding gun owners instead of gun smugglers and criminals who have absolutely no intention of obeying his restrictions?
View Rosemarie Falk Profile
CPC (SK)
Mr. Speaker, we know that the Prime Minister does not like energy workers. He will not support farmers and he is going after responsible firearms owners. The Prime Minister should be targeting the criminals who traffic in illegal guns, not hunters and athletes. The Prime Minister seems to only support Canadians when he thinks he can get their votes.
It is a simple question. Can the Prime Minister tell us why he is playing politics during this pandemic?
View Cathay Wagantall Profile
CPC (SK)
View Cathay Wagantall Profile
2020-05-26 15:25 [p.2449]
Mr. Speaker, the problem is not with the format, and Canadians are figuring this out. Perhaps that is the reason those members want to shut down debate. The problem is not the format. The problem is that we are dealing with a committee instead of Parliament itself sitting in this House, and Canadians have figured that out. They are not happy, because this is not what they were asking for and continue to ask the House for.
There is no reason, if there are four days that we are here, and we travel back and forth, that we cannot sit as a proper Parliament during those four days. The member's explanation is not acceptable.
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