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Results: 1 - 60 of 646
View Annie Koutrakis Profile
Lib. (QC)
View Annie Koutrakis Profile
2020-01-29 15:14 [p.636]
Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order. In relation to my voting attendance Monday, I would like to reiterate that I was in the chamber and heard the question but was not in my seat when the vote started, which I now understand is the rule for a recorded vote.
This was obviously an error as a new member of the House. As a result, please remove my vote from Monday's relevant vote count.
View Anthony Rota Profile
Lib. (ON)
I thank the hon. member for the clarification. Accordingly, I direct the table to modify the results of the recorded division held on Monday and consider the matter now settled.
I would like to take this opportunity to remind hon. members of the importance of recorded divisions. The results of each vote reflect the opinion of the House and the parties. It is therefore imperative that the voting process be conducted with the utmost integrity.
Therefore, I will take this moment to remind hon. members once again that in order for their votes to count, they must be in the chamber to hear the motion being put to the House by the Chair. They must also be in their seats when the recorded division begins and remain so until the vote is completed and the results announced.
The leader of the Bloc Québécois in the House of Commons is rising on a point of order.
View Raquel Dancho Profile
View Raquel Dancho Profile
2020-01-27 11:05 [p.427]
Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to split my time with the member for Kenora today.
It would have been difficult to predict, over 150 years ago, that the shared vision of Canada's founding fathers who gathered to create a dominion from sea to sea would have led to a 29-year-old woman delivering the first speech of the new year and the new decade in our House of Commons.
As a first-time elected representative, it was a special moment for me to hear Canada's Governor General deliver the Speech from the Throne. Amid all the pomp and circumstance, I could not help but think back to my humble roots and how far I have come. I was born to four generations of Canadian farmers in a small town in eastern Manitoba. My family were prairie pioneers, and their lives were built on sacrifice, on struggle and on principles of personal responsibility and resilience.
At the time, Canada was a young country without the robust social safety net we see today. Faith, family and community were all they could rely on to get them through the tough times of financial hardship. They had no choice but to persevere and do the best they could to provide for the next generation.
My call to public service came when I was about nine years old. It was a hot summer day at my grandparents' farm. The adults in my family were sitting around the kitchen table passionately expressing their views of yet another damaging policy the Liberals in Ottawa had put on farmers. Even at that young age, I could feel the injustice of the harmful government intrusion in our lives. There was a disconnect between my humble hard-working family and the decision-makers here in Ottawa.
I decided in that moment that when I grew up, I would go to Ottawa to fight for my family. It has been a long journey from small-town country roots to being the first in my family to attend university and the first to enter federal politics. As a woman in her 20s, I stand before you today, Mr. Speaker, as part of a demographic that has rarely been represented in this House.
I attribute much of my success to the resilience I inherited from my pioneer ancestors and that burning motivation to fight for everyday Canadians against government agendas that are so often out of touch with the struggles facing everyday people. That is why I am truly honoured to represent my constituents of Kildonan—St. Paul.
My riding has a rich heritage and holds a place of significance in our national history. That history is tied to the mighty Red River, which cuts straight through the middle of Kildonan—St. Paul. The river has been the lifeblood of the community for thousands of years, beginning with Treaty 1 first nations and later the Red River Métis and the Selkirk Settlers, and later the Polish, Ukrainian, German and Mennonite homesteaders of the early 20th century.
More recently our community has welcomed many newcomers from India and the Philippines. Today Kildonan—St. Paul is a diverse constituency made strong by the contributions of young families, new Canadians, seniors, small business owners, tradesmen and women, and dozens of cultural and faith groups.
However, what troubles me is how the throne speech and the priorities of the Liberal government therein are not reflective of the priorities of the Winnipeggers and the Manitobans I represent. What I heard at the doorstep over the better part of the last two years was a desire for a representative who would fight for everyday hard-working Canadians in my community, an MP who would make clear to the Liberal government that higher taxes, mountains of debt and endless deficits do not create economic prosperity but in fact put our country's social programs and the future financial security of Canadians at risk.
Residents also expressed concerns for their environment, and top of mind is the North End Water Pollution Control Centre, which is at the very centre of my riding and processes 70% of Winnipeg sewage. It needs over $1 billion in infrastructure upgrades and is currently incapable of removing phosphorus to an acceptable degree from the treated sewage before it flows back into the Red River. As a result, there are impacts on the health of Lake Winnipeg, which, as all Manitobans know, has been choked with large algae blooms in the most recent years. Lake Winnipeg, the Red River and the Assiniboine River have shaped the history of Manitoba for thousands of years, and all three levels of government must come together to support this critical project.
Also top of mind was the extension of Chief Peguis Trail from Main Street to Route 90, which would substantially increase the livability of northwest Winnipeg by reducing traffic on residential streets to accommodate walking, cycling and public transit, and increase traffic mobility by supporting the completion of the strategic inner ring road of Winnipeg. Unfortunately, despite running billions in deficits and collecting millions more in additional tax revenue, the Prime Minister and the government have largely ignored critical infrastructure projects in Manitoba.
Winnipeggers are also looking at the federal government to take meaningful action to combat the meth crisis, which has wreaked havoc on Winnipeg in recent years, contributed to the dramatic increase in violent crime and contributed to its 44 murders in 2019, more than doubling from the year prior.
Our first responders and front-line community organizations are under tremendous stress as they deal with the heartbreaking and traumatic consequences of this crisis. I saw the dire need for action in our community first-hand when I went to an evening patrol with the Bear Clan, an indigenous-led grassroots community group that supports vulnerable people across our inner-city neighbourhoods in Winnipeg. That evening, a large bag of needles was found buried in a snowbank. Volunteers carefully collected them for safe disposal in bone-chilling -30°C weather, but the most shocking of all was when I looked up from our collection activities to see three young children peering down from a nearby second-storey window. I could not help but think how inviting this fluffy snowbank may have looked to these children as they walked to school or played outside.
Last year, the Bear Clan picked up more than 145,000 used needles in Winnipeg's North End. The Liberal government committed to long-term, predictable funding to support the Bear Clan's efforts, and I very much hope the Minister of Indigenous Services will deliver on this commitment made by his predecessor.
In addition to serving my constituents, I have also been given by my leader the responsibility of serving Canadians as the shadow minister for the new Department of Diversity and Inclusion and Youth. I am honoured to have earned this opportunity and I am committed to using this platform to advocate the inclusion of ethnically and racially diverse Canadians, freedom and equality of LGBTQ Canadians and a free, prosperous and healthy future for Canada's youth.
The youth in Canada are facing challenges. Affordability was the number one concern I heard on the doorstep, and it is impacting young people in many alarming ways. My generation has the largest student loan debt in the history of Canada. We are well into our thirties when buying our first homes, if we do so at all, and we are working without reliable retirement plans in the gig economy. Our wages are largely frozen while the cost of living has increased dramatically, so it is no surprise that we are drowning in household debt and having fewer children, if any.
Meanwhile, the baby boomers are aging into their retirement pensions and beginning to rely heavily on our health care and social services, which are already under tremendous strain. However, we have heard very little acknowledgement of these critical financial issues in the Liberal government's throne speech. Its multi-year, multi-billion-dollar deficit investments completely lack a strategic plan to secure my generation's financial future in the event of soaring interest rates or an economic downturn. The government is leaving us ill-equipped to deal with an uncertain and changing world, and every person in my generation will live with the consequences if we do not get it right.
I will embrace my critic role by holding the government to account on behalf of my generation and young Conservatives across this country, and as my party and our country navigate the issues of the 2020s, I will fight for everyday Canadians. I will fight for freedom; for safety; for security; for health, peace and prosperity; and for a government that respects the rich fabric of beliefs of our country. I will as well fight for the priorities of my constituents in Kildonan—St. Paul. I will ensure their voices and priorities are heard loud and clear in this chamber.
To conclude, I would like to acknowledge the people who helped get me here: my team. I thank all of the first-time and long-time volunteers who put in hundreds of hours on the campaign trail; my family, my parents and my two sisters, who have supported me in my dreams for decades; and most sincerely, I thank my fiancé Scott, who is in the gallery today. He was by my side back when being a member of Parliament was only a pipe dream.
Family really is the most important thing, and in that regard I have been very blessed. I am working tirelessly to make them proud as I come to Ottawa to do what I came here to do, which is to fight for everyday Canadians.
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
Lib. (MB)
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
2020-01-27 11:14 [p.429]
Madam Speaker, the member referred to fighting for Canadians. I am sure she would join with me and the Liberal caucus as we continue to deliver for Canadians from every region of this country.
For example, this government has delivered tax breaks to Canada's middle class. This is a government that has lifted literally hundreds of thousands of both seniors and children out of poverty by enhancing the Canada child benefit and increasing the guaranteed income supplement. Many progressive measures have been incorporated in the past few years to advance Canada's middle class, making it healthier and stronger. Are these the types of policies that we can anticipate she will support?
Further to that, today a motion was tabled to introduce the trade agreement for Canada, Mexico and the U.S. Would she not agree that this is a positive step and something we should get behind?
View Raquel Dancho Profile
View Raquel Dancho Profile
2020-01-27 11:15 [p.429]
Madam Speaker, I ask the member to consider the state of the Canadian economy under his government. About 71,000 Canadians lost their jobs in November, which I am sure he will remember. October 2019 had the highest number of personal bankruptcies in a decade, the most since the global financial crisis. Businesses like Encana are leaving Canada because of the government's tax hikes and harmful regulations. Investment in plants and equipment by Canadian businesses has fallen by 20% over the past five years, the worst performance in more than five decades. Foreign direct investment in Canada has fallen by 56% since this government came to power.
In my speech I spoke a lot about the future of this country and the stakes that young people are facing. I encourage the member opposite to reconsider his remarks and think about the consequences of his government's reckless financial actions.
View Alistair MacGregor Profile
Madam Speaker, I welcome the member for Kildonan—St. Paul to the House. I am very impressed with her first speech in this place.
Last week, the NDP leader, the member for Burnaby South, put forward a proposal for a bill that would establish a national pharmacare plan, laying out a framework that operates much in the same way that the Canada Health Act does.
In ridings right across this country, a lot people are struggling with the day-to-day costs of medication, and indeed many families are making the hard choice between paying the rent and utilities and paying for prescriptions.
A letter was sent to the Conservative Party, inviting its members to join with us to establish this national framework. I would like to hear the member's thoughts on that proposal, as well as on how pharmacare costs impact her constituents.
View Raquel Dancho Profile
View Raquel Dancho Profile
2020-01-27 11:17 [p.429]
Madam Speaker, there are many seniors in my riding, and I have spoken to thousands of them over the last two years. I can say quite confidently that I agree seniors are facing serious financial consequences right now that are not being helped by the Liberal government's carbon tax, which, as we know, puts an increase on everything. Everything is transported into Winnipeg by fuelled trucks, which means the cost of groceries, gas, heating and any kind of transportation increases for seniors. Seniors are on incredibly fixed incomes. The CPP is not keeping up with inflation, and they are facing serious consequences. The Liberal government has done nothing for seniors but make life more expensive with things like the carbon tax.
View Michel Boudrias Profile
View Michel Boudrias Profile
2020-01-27 11:17 [p.429]
Madam Speaker, I would like to congratulate my colleague on her speech. She made a lot of sense about a lot of things, including her local- and provincial-level concerns about infrastructure, social issues and youth. Those values are shared by most Canadians and most of the MPs here. However, most of these issues are not just regional but, about 90% of the time, local, and they fall under provincial jurisdiction, especially when it comes to infrastructure and health.
With the federal government allocating some two-thirds of its budget to transfers, would my colleague agree that more money should be transferred to the provinces to fund those programs?
View Raquel Dancho Profile
View Raquel Dancho Profile
2020-01-27 11:18 [p.429]
Madam Speaker, I would support any measure that further supports Manitobans and the citizens in my riding. As I outlined in my speech, they are facing troubling economic times, particularly the youth. We are looking for a government that makes investments in the future of Canada that actually make reasonable impacts, lower taxes and keep the size of government small while we invest in critical infrastructure.
All of the priorities I mentioned are for trilateral infrastructure funding from all three levels of government. It is important that all members in the House come together with the other two levels of government to fund critical infrastructure to build our nation for the next generation.
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
Lib. (MB)
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
2020-01-27 11:19 [p.429]
Madam Speaker, it is always a pleasure to rise in the chamber and address a number of concerns that I have.
Here we are at the beginning of a new decade and I am feeling very optimistic, because over the last number of years we have seen a government in Canada that has had a very progressive attitude and has been able to deliver for Canadians in all regions of our country. Let there be no doubt that the priority of this government has been Canada's middle class and those aspiring to be a part of it. That has been the case since day one, and even prior.
I can recall that when the Prime Minister was elected leader of the Liberal Party, when we were the third party in the far corner of the House of Commons, he made it very clear in his leadership bid that his personal priority was the well-being of Canada's middle class and those aspiring to be a part of it, believing that by building Canada's middle class and giving it strength, we would have a healthier economy. We have seen that.
The member opposite made reference to the fact that in the month of November, 70,000 people became unemployed. We need to look at what we have accomplished in the last four years. There are well over one million net new jobs in Canada's economy. That is far more than Stephen Harper ever achieved in his eight or nine years. We have accomplished a great deal.
I will be splitting my time with the member for Hull—Aylmer.
I was very proud to be sitting beside the Deputy Prime Minister just 20 minutes ago when she tabled a ways and means notice of motion dealing with the Canada-U.S.-Mexico trade agreement.
Having said that, trade is important to Canada. This is one thing that adds value to our economy. In the last four years, the government has accomplished the signing of a significant number of trade agreements. We are talking about well over 25 or 30, with numerous countries. We have had a very aggressive and progressive movement toward trade agreements around the world because we know that Canada is very much dependent on world trade. That is one of the ways we can assist our middle class and grow our economy. We have seen that first-hand.
I often make reference to the pork industry in the province of Manitoba and how that industry as a whole continues to grow and provide thousands of jobs there, whether in Brandon, Neepawa, the city of Winnipeg or throughout rural communities. This is the type of thing that has a real impact, and that is just one industry. These jobs, in good part, are there because of trade. Trade is critically important. That is why it was so encouraging to see the government put trade as a high priority.
We look to the opposition members and particularly the Conservative Party, which has been a very strong advocate in past years for trade. We anticipate that the Conservatives will have the opportunity to go through the agreement and will continue to support trade with the United States. It is the same with the Bloc and the New Democrats. We understand and appreciate just how important this agreement is to Canada.
We have talked about the issues brought forward in the last few years, and I made reference to a number of them in the question I put to the member for Kildonan—St. Paul. We dealt with them through positive, progressive social policies, and we have seen a continuation.
I could talk about the first bill that we brought in back in 2015, the tax break for Canada's middle class. At the same time, we increased taxes for Canada's wealthiest 1%. Four years later, we are seeing a decrease in taxes for Canada's middle class and those aspiring to be a part of it. We are talking about hundreds of millions of dollars being put into the pockets of Canadians, adding to the disposable income of people across this country.
In terms of the other benefits we have enhanced, the Canada child benefit is something members of the Liberal caucus will quite often talk about. As I have made reference to in the past, over $9 million a month goes into the riding of Winnipeg North alone to support children.
We can talk about the increases to the guaranteed income supplement. We made a commitment to support some of our poorest seniors, those aged 75 and over, who are having a more difficult time, by looking into how we could further enhance their pensionable incomes. Over the next period of time, I look forward to seeing that realized. We understand how important it is to support young people and seniors in our communities.
These sorts of investments and putting the money back in through tax breaks allow the disposable income in our communities to go up. When we do these things, disposable income is being spent in our communities. That helps to fuel the demand for jobs.
That is why I believe, as I know my colleagues also believe, that having a healthy, strong middle class and building that middle class will add value to our economy and will make it stronger and healthier.
Over the years, we have seen an ongoing commitment to capital investments such as our housing strategy, with billions of dollars being invested in the first-ever national housing strategy, a very tangible action that will have a profoundly positive impact on thousands of Canadians in every region of our country by recognizing the importance of housing.
We can talk about infrastructure, whether it is roads or other types of community public facilities. Hundreds of millions and even billions of dollars have thus far been invested in our communities from coast to coast to coast.
For the first time, we have a government that is prepared to negotiate with the provinces to achieve tangible results. We have seen that in the Canada pension program. Individuals who are working today will have more money when it comes time to retire because of an initiative we took a couple of years back.
As a government, I truly believe we have recognized how important it is to invest in our social programs. If we were to canvass Canadians and ask them what makes them feel good about being a Canadian, more often than not I believe they would say, at least in Winnipeg North, that it is our health care system. People love our health care system. They believe in our health care system. The Canada Health Act provides the type of framework that Canadians are behind. The government is sending record amounts of health care dollars throughout our federation. Not only are we doing that, but we are now talking about how to come up with a pharmacare program.
I have been a parliamentarian for 30 years. For a vast majority of those years, we never heard about a national pharmacare program. It is only in the last four years it has been on the public agenda on virtually a weekly basis. If it were up to me, we would be having debate and discussion on a national pharmacare program every day, because it is something in which I genuinely believe. I suspect we will continue to receive the type of support we have seen from the New Democrats on pharmacare.
Discussing how we might be able to expand it is something I am open to. I remember a few years ago, my daughter, who happens to be the MLA in an area I represent in Winnipeg North, and I made a commitment to continue to push the pharmacare issue. She has tabled petitions in the Manitoba legislature and I have tabled numerous petitions in the House of Commons on this issue. The reason is that I know how important it is for all Canadians that we continue to push this issue forward. I believe we have a united caucus within the government caucus to ensure we see a realization of a pharmacare program.
I see my time has expired, so I will leave it at that.
View Mario Simard Profile
View Mario Simard Profile
2020-01-27 11:31 [p.431]
Madam Speaker, my colleague said that the middle class was a priority for the government. Back in Saguenay—Lac-Saint-Jean, the middle class depends on the aluminum industry, supply management and forestry, three sectors that have taken a hit in every single trade agreement signed by previous governments.
I have a simple question for my colleague: Will he support our party's initiative to revise the status of aluminum in the agreement between the United States, Canada and Mexico?
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
Lib. (MB)
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
2020-01-27 11:31 [p.431]
Madam Speaker, what is encouraging to see is that within the free trade agreement, from what I understand and on which we are going to get a lot more information over the next couple of days, there are significant achievements that were not in the previous trade agreement. One of the biggest beneficiaries of those changes will be the aluminum industry as a whole.
I often make reference to my historical roots going back to the province of Quebec. I am passionate about the province of Quebec, the jobs that are there and wanting to be able to protect them. I look forward to my colleague across the way participating and getting engaged in the debate on the free trade agreement between Canada, Mexico and the U.S.A. I suspect he will find this agreement is actually better for the industry than the previous agreement. That is really what we should, at least in good part, be measuring it against. The constituents he represents will be better off as a direct result of this agreement.
View John Brassard Profile
View John Brassard Profile
2020-01-27 11:33 [p.431]
Madam Speaker, I would like to ask the hon. member for some of the details of that agreement because, on this side of the House, we are struggling to find out what those details are. Maybe he can speak of the benefits to the aluminum, forestry and automotive sectors and at least give us some information on it.
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
Lib. (MB)
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
2020-01-27 11:33 [p.431]
Madam Speaker, I am encouraged to hear the question. I know in the next couple of days we will see a lot more information coming out. Hopefully, this will provide the type of details that will give the member opposite and me a much better understanding of it. I do not know many of the details at this point in time.
What I do know is that there are certain areas the opposition has raised with respect to the trade agreement. I had the opportunity to look into those areas and I found, from the research I did, that the agreement today is a better deal than what we had previously. That is something we consistently argued for. We wanted to get a good deal for Canadians.
I am very optimistic and hopeful that, once we have all the details on the table, the Conservatives will work diligently to get a good comprehensive understanding of the agreement. I do believe, given their past, they will be inclined to support the agreement, as both the Liberals and Conservatives have worked relatively well together on trade agreements.
View Brian Masse Profile
View Brian Masse Profile
2020-01-27 11:35 [p.431]
Madam Speaker, the idea of national pharmacare goes back to the origins of our medicare system in the 1960s. For the member to suggest this has only been four years in the making in the House of Commons also proves a point. I would like to ask the member whether he felt that the members of the Liberal Party who have been proposing this since 1997 were actually making it up and not doing the proper thing in bringing in pharmacare. Were they just making it up? Was it a lie back then? Did the members not have good intentions? Did they finally wake up today and realize that this has been going on in our country for decades?
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
Lib. (MB)
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
2020-01-27 11:35 [p.431]
Madam Speaker, as I indicated, I have been a parliamentarian for 30 years combined at the provincial and national levels. It is only in the last four or five years that the issue has come front and centre and has been extensively debated. I used to be the health care critic in the province of Manitoba and rarely during that period of time did it ever come up. Only in the last four years has it come up to the degree which it has and it is because of a lot of fine work by members on all sides of the House, not just one side. One side should not take credit.
This is all about providing a good service to Canadians. It is all about Canada and serving Canadians on an issue that is important to them.
View Greg Fergus Profile
Lib. (QC)
View Greg Fergus Profile
2020-01-27 11:36 [p.432]
Madam Speaker, I would like to begin by acknowledging all my colleagues in the House of Commons and wishing them a happy new year.
This is my first chance to speak in this 43rd Parliament of Canada. I am very pleased to rise and speak to everyone, including all Canadians who are watching at home today.
Before I begin my comments on the Speech from the Throne, I want to say that I think it is a remarkable document. It encourages parliamentarians to work together, just as Canadians called for in the last election. They want us to work together for the well-being of all Canadians.
I want to thank my constituents in Hull—Aylmer. The riding of Hull—Aylmer is located just across the river from the House of Commons, in the Outaouais region of Quebec, where the Ottawa and the Gatineau Rivers meet. It is a special place. My constituents are proud of their historic city. They are well aware that, without Hull—Aylmer, there would be no Ottawa.
In the early 19th century, Philemon Wright arrived from the United States and settled in this region to develop the lumber industry. This contributed to the creation of what has become the national capital region and the location of our Parliament.
In fact, our region has been home to indigenous peoples for 8,000 years, well before the arrival of people from Europe or Africa. This is where indigenous peoples came to conduct trade, share stories and build a future together. This is why I think this is the right place for the Canadian Parliament. In our own way, we can work together to help Canadians.
I am very proud to speak in support of the throne speech, which addresses some very important topics and political perspectives vital to Canada's well-being, now and in the future. Front and centre is climate action. There is nothing more important. We must focus on climate action to ensure that we leave our children, grandchildren and future generations a better world. I am very proud that we have committed Canada to net-zero emissions by 2050. Major national initiatives are required.
As member of Parliament for Hull—Aylmer, I will be hosting a new public forum, similar to the 24 I hosted during the previous Parliament. This time around, climate action will be the overarching theme of these public forums.
We are working with provincial and municipal representatives, key stakeholders like the Conseil régional sur l'environnement et le développement durable de l'Outaouais, and other individuals who work in this area. How can we better coordinate the efforts of individuals, businesses, key stakeholders and all levels of government? I hope that our region and my riding will achieve net-zero emissions well before 2050. This is very important and I will act accordingly.
I know that our government wants to work with all members and all parties to seriously tackle this issue. No action is too small, and we clearly have a duty to think of some big actions we can take to deal with this issue effectively. We are willing to collaborate with all members of the House to achieve this goal.
The throne speech covers not only broad existential issues like climate change, but also the issue of Canada itself. How do we strengthen the middle class and help those working so hard to join it? My colleague from Winnipeg North stressed the importance of the Canada child benefit. He has been involved in federal and provincial politics for 30 years, and I know his memory on this is excellent.
Back in 1988, I was a parliamentary page. I remember that, shortly after my year as a page, Parliament made a solemn pledge to end child poverty in Canada. That was in 1990, and the pledge was to do this within 10 years, by the year 2000. That was an initiative. It has been 30 years. For 25 of those 30 years, the poverty rate in Canada did not change. In 2015, however, our government launched an initiative for Canadians, the Canada child benefit. It was extraordinary. In just four short years, we reduced child poverty in Canada by a third and the overall poverty rate by a third as well. Now, over 300,000 young Canadians have been lifted out of poverty. If that is not one of an MP's most fundamental duties, I do not know what is. This is extraordinary.
I was a little disappointed that some people voted against this, but I hope all members of the House will continue to support this program. If we were able to accomplish that much in four years, I hope we will be able to keep up this work. That is the commitment we made.
Ensuring that we have a strong and durable economy is another thing that is very important in strengthening the middle class and those working hard to join it. We did that with the new NAFTA that we just signed and that the minister just tabled this morning. Once again, that is very important. Canada is not a huge country with a huge population, but we work hard. We are well aware that our prosperity depends fundamentally on building ties and international trade. That is what we just did with the new NAFTA, which will strengthen the jobs of millions of Canadians.
We did not stop there. In the last Parliament, with the help of many members of the House, we also signed a free trade agreement with Europe, a market of 500 million people. Once again, that is extraordinary. I could talk about reconciliation with indigenous peoples, which is very important to my riding. A large percentage of people in my riding are members of the Algonquin nation. I could also talk about the health and safety of Canadians.
In closing, I would simply like to tell all my colleagues that I think that this document is something that everyone can get behind. I hope I can count on the support of all my parliamentary colleagues to improve the lives of Canadians.
View John Brassard Profile
View John Brassard Profile
2020-01-27 11:46 [p.433]
Madam Speaker, I thank the hon. member for his speech.
I have a great deal of respect for my colleague. However, we have a lot of problems to address.
The government tabled a ways and means motion this morning on the USMCA deal, but it has very few details that parliamentarians can understand. I agree with my colleague that the Conservatives have always been supportive of free trade deals, but at a minimum we need to know what impact the USMCA is going to have on certain sectors of our economy like aluminum, the forestry sector or the automotive sector. Those details are scarce to this point.
On behalf of Canadians and those that the parliamentary secretary says are going to benefit from this deal, I think we need to understand this a little better. I would like some more details from him on how it is going to benefit Canadians and the sectors that I spoke about.
View Greg Fergus Profile
Lib. (QC)
View Greg Fergus Profile
2020-01-27 11:47 [p.433]
Madam Speaker, I certainly think the question the hon. member for Barrie—Innisfil raises regarding CUSMA is an important one. The aluminum sector, for example, is a great example of how Canadians have come together.
With this new deal, according to the reports that I have read in the papers, and we will see the details as they come out as we all examine the enabling legislation, we saw that the aluminum and steel sectors now have a rules of origin component, which guarantees that 70% of steel and aluminum will now be sourced in North America. We are not just slapping a sticker on an import from somewhere else in the world. I am speaking about products produced in Canada. This has never happened before. The aluminum sector has never had this kind of guarantee. This is a clear win. This is why we see aluminum producers very strongly supporting this deal.
View Yves Perron Profile
View Yves Perron Profile
2020-01-27 11:49 [p.433]
Madam Speaker, I want to reassure our colleagues in the government that members of the Bloc Québécois are basically in favour of any free trade agreement that benefits Quebec's economy.
However, the Bloc Québécois also takes a good look at the details of any agreement being negotiated to see what impact it might have. When we talk about steel and aluminum, which were again mentioned just now, steel is protected from the moment it is melted and poured, but not aluminum. Those are the kind of details I am talking about. It is important to look at the long-term consequences. Let's not forget that supply management was sacrificed.
I am having more and more meetings with stakeholders from the dairy industry. I was dismayed to realize that Canada even agreed to limit what we export to countries other than the United States. It is unheard of. They want to try to pass a bill, an agreement, without discussing it. As a function of democracy, is it essential to go over each clause in committee to consider the consequences to the economy.
View Greg Fergus Profile
Lib. (QC)
View Greg Fergus Profile
2020-01-27 11:50 [p.433]
Madam Speaker, I thank the member for Berthier—Maskinongé for his question, and I would also like to welcome him to the House of Commons.
First, I would like to set the record straight. People in the steel and aluminum sector have clearly stated that they support the bill. Unlike the former agreement, this one guarantees for the first time that steel and aluminum will be produced here in North America. They have never had that guarantee. In fact, 70% of steel and aluminum to be used must originate in Canada, the United States or Mexico. The U.S. and Mexico do not really have an aluminum sector, but Canada does. Quebec's Liberal MPs worked very hard to ensure the protection and promotion of our aluminum industry.
View Alistair MacGregor Profile
Madam Speaker, I will be splitting my time with the hon. member for Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie.
It is a great honour to be back in the House, having been re-elected to this 43rd Parliament by the great people of Cowichan—Malahat—Langford. Since this is my first speech in this Parliament, I want to take this opportunity to thank them for the trust that they have again placed on my shoulders and the huge responsibility that comes with it.
I am very lucky to be representing such a beautiful riding, which is a 4,700 square kilometre part of Vancouver Island filled with such amazing communities, such as Chemainus, down through Duncan, extending south to the city of Langford, extending out west through Lake Cowichan and including the community of Port Renfrew. It is home to the only Mediterranean-style climate in all of Canada. We are blessed to be able to grow a variety of crops and, indeed, we have a very storied and rich agricultural history in my region. It is also home to many first nations, including Cowichan tribes, Penelakut, Lyackson, Halalt, Malahat in the south and the western communities. These are communities that, of course, existed in this place for thousands of years with the first peoples. I have learned much over the last four years serving as their member of Parliament. I will continue to lean on them for guidance and their teachings as we chart a path forward with true reconciliation.
I would also like to take this time to welcome the class of 2019 to this place. I remember my own experience as a new member of Parliament four years ago, and it can seem quite overwhelming. However, new members should never forget that the people of their ridings sent them here. They placed their trust on their shoulders and every single seat in this place represents a distinct and unique geographic part of Canada. I think all members of Parliament, even though we may have our disagreements, have to respect that first and foremost. The electors are never wrong.
When I look at the election results in my riding and take the aggregate of the vote for all of the parties, I see that there was a clear desire for the people of Cowichan—Malahat—Langford to see action on climate change, housing and health care, because the three parties that came out with a huge margin all spoke in their platforms about commitments to those three things. Some platforms had placed varying degrees of importance but, nonetheless, people saw those three items in the parties' platforms, and that is what they responded to.
I would like to start with the issue of climate change. There is absolutely no doubt that this is the top issue of the 21st century. I do not need to repeat everything that has been said in the House in the previous Parliament and the one before that. We are now at a point where, last year, we had a letter from over 11,000 scientists from around the world, in over 150 countries, warning policy-makers that this has to be the top issue and that we have to measure our success with scientifically verifiable targets. Unfortunately, the debates in this place have so often centred simply on the carbon tax, which all experts in this area will acknowledge is just a very tiny part of what our overall response to climate change has to be.
When we start talking about the cost of climate change, what is conveniently left out of the conversation is the economic cost of unmitigated climate change. We have heard experts peg the figure at around 10% of the world's GDP. When we start talking about that figure, we are not talking about billions of dollars but trillions of dollars. Therefore, I would ask people who are fighting against the carbon tax: How much of our nation's tax revenues are they prepared to spend when we are fighting wildfires in British Columbia and Alberta? How much future tax revenues are we prepared to spend to save Vancouver International Airport from rising tides, sea levels and floods coming down the Fraser River?
Canada is a coastal nation. We have the longest coastline in the world, and many of our people live and work in coastal communities. Therefore, we have to find ways as a nation to start meeting those targets and acknowledge our responsibility for the way we have lived for the last several decades, but to also be a leader and show that there is a way. Simply talking about climate change is not enough, because the other big threat facing Canada is growing inequality.
The other thing I clearly learned over my last four years as a member of Parliament, but also on the doorsteps of my riding, is that environmental justice will never happen unless we also have economic justice and social justice.
We can go to the doorsteps of people who are struggling to pay the bills, who are wondering whether they are going to have a job next month and whether they are going to be able to make that hard choice between rent and utilities and putting good quality food on the table. Unless we have a comprehensive climate change plan that includes a place for the most disadvantaged members of our society, it will not work.
We have to have a just transition plan. We have to have this all wrapped up. We need to have, in a sense, what people are referring to as a green new deal, one that tackles all these in a comprehensive plan. Simply leaving it to private citizens and the goodwill of corporations, while important, is not going to be enough. We know we are now at a stage where we have to start treating this seriously.
I would like to move on to health care because that was the other big thing. The NDP, through the last election, committed to a national pharmacare plan. We want to stand by our promise, unlike the Liberals who first made the promise back in 1997. I would like to just correct the record there.
However, another big thing is a dental care plan. I think a national dental care plan will make a huge difference for people. I listened to members of my caucus speaking to their constituents. We have all met people who are embarrassed by the state of their teeth. They even have to hold their hands over their mouths because they are embarrassed by the state of their teeth.
We know that good oral health is very important to good overall health. It is actually a class thing, because people who are well off have healthy teeth but people who are living in poverty have really bad teeth. The best way we can make an impact on people's lives is to make sure that we are covering things like dental care and pharmacare, while not putting people in the unfortunate position of having to make tough choices.
It is all well and good to talk about tax breaks but if those tax breaks are only benefiting people who need them the least, while not identifying the true costs to people who are living in the margins and on the bottom rungs of our society, we are not going to make it forward as a nation.
I have to talk about the opioid crisis. The opioid crisis continues to ravage my community. Every day in the city of Duncan people can go to one part of the city and see it there in front of them. It is a constant reminder to residents of the failure so far of federal policy.
Unless we, as a nation, are prepared to have these difficult conversations about whether we engage in policies that establish a safe drug supply and commit ourselves to decriminalization for small amounts, we are not going to move forward. The agencies that are trying to provide help are still operating under the shackles of current federal policy.
We are at a breaking point, from the business owners who have to deal with it every day, to the RCMP that have made over 300 calls in a calendar year, to the people who are trying to revive people suffering from an overdose. They are suffering from compassion fatigue. They are suffering from burnout. Unless we have the federal resources necessary to properly deal with this problem, we are still going to be talking about it.
We are dealing with an epidemic and it requires us to call a national health emergency. It requires Ottawa to step up to the plate to provide the funding necessary for the provinces and communities like mine to effectively deal with this problem.
I will end by acknowledging that I am very proud to once again serve as my party's agriculture critic. I look forward to working with all parties in the House to advance policies that will benefit our farmers.
I also would like to acknowledge that we are in a minority Parliament and how different and wonderful it is from the previous Parliament. Unlike having the government dictate to us in the opposition which way we are going to proceed, it is now going to require a lot of goodwill and good-faith negotiations to sometimes put aside our differences to make sure that we are serving the interests of this nation.
View Stéphane Lauzon Profile
Lib. (QC)
Madam Speaker, I would like to thank my colleague for his characteristically impassioned speech.
He said two or three times that the environment is a priority. The throne speech also sets out that the environment is an absolute priority and includes several measures, which my colleague mentioned.
My question is simple: Does he agree with our government that not only must we work together to come up with good environmental measures, but we must also consider the economy in order to intelligently advance the environmental file and achieve net-zero emissions by 2050?
View Alistair MacGregor Profile
Madam Speaker, I very much agree with the words that are being uttered in this place with regard to the environment, but I also have to stand here and judge the government on its actions.
I appreciate the commitments that were made in the throne speech toward addressing climate change, but it has to be noted in this place that in the previous Parliament the government authorized the purchase of the Trans Mountain pipeline. That project is directly affecting coastal British Columbia and is going to triple our exports of diluted bitumen.
Here we are in the year 2020, and we are continuously investing in fossil fuel infrastructure and expansion when all around us climate scientists are telling us we have to put the brakes on these kinds of investments. We have to find a way, more importantly, for the oil and gas workers to engage and adjust transition strategy.
I would encourage that member's government to listen to organizations like Iron and Earth, which is made up of oil workers who understand that their industry will not be around forever. They want the government to engage in a transition plan here and now, so we can take this problem by the horns and start dealing with it with the urgency it deserves.
View Dan Albas Profile
Madam Speaker, I certainly sympathize. In December 2018, we had an emergency debate in this place on the opioid crisis. Since that time, one of my communities, Princeton, has had Canada's highest number of deaths per capita from opioid overdoses. The member of Parliament for Kelowna—Lake Country stated that this is an urgent issue in her community, and my community as well because I do represent part of Kelowna.
I want to ask the hon. member whether he has seen the so-called funding flow through in a way that tangibly affects his riding, and whether he thinks the government has done a good job on this front.
View Alistair MacGregor Profile
Madam Speaker, the short answer is no. I believe in budget 2017 there was a funding commitment made of about $100 million over five years. That is just a drop in the bucket compared with the status of the crisis that we are facing.
As I said in my speech, we are at a state now where RCMP, first responders to the situation, are suffering compassion fatigue and total burnout. The problem is there in my community as a constant daily reminder of the failure of federal policy.
I implore the Liberal government to start treating this like the crisis it is. Declare a national health emergency, free up the federal resources and allow us to properly tackle this crisis. Give the people the help they so deserve.
View Alexandre Boulerice Profile
Madam Speaker, thank you for this opportunity to respond to the Liberal government's Speech from the Throne.
I would like to begin by quoting Edmond Rostand, who would have this to say about it: That's too brief, young man! The throne speech is silent on quite a few subjects, especially subjects of interest to Quebeckers. In fact, the word “Quebec” does not appear even once. That is a singular omission on the part of a minority government that would have done well to pay more attention to Quebec's needs and interests in the throne speech. Unfortunately, it did not. The speech is long on rhetoric, hot air, good intentions and lip service but short on details, clarity and firm commitments in several areas, except where it suits the Liberals.
For years, the Liberals have been promising money for the national housing strategy and the fight against homelessness. Unfortunately, people on the ground know that the federal government provides precious few resources and refuses to make the kind of concrete commitments that allow projects to move forward and housing co-ops and affordable and low-income housing to get built. The housing issue is of vital importance to many Canadians and Quebeckers because it is many families' biggest expense. Right now, people are struggling to find adequate housing. The Liberals have said a lot of nice things about housing over the past few years but, sadly, have done very little.
In Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie, one-third of households spend more than 30% of their income on housing. In my riding, one in three families is literally at or below the poverty line. We all know that, as a rule, people should expect to spend 30% of their income on housing.
There is currently just one social housing project, unfortunately, and this project will soon come to an end. There is no plan for what comes next. How is that possible? The government has been going on for four years about how housing is a priority and how we need to build affordable and social housing. Nothing ever happens, because the federal government bickers with the Quebec government over which government should put its flag and logo on the project.
The NDP thinks that real action is needed to ensure access to affordable housing. The Liberals need to stop bickering with the Quebec government and transfer the funds. The Quebec government would then be able to implement the AccèsLogis program, through which projects could actually help people. I am sick of the bickering between Ottawa and Quebec at the expense of the poorest families, individuals and workers in my riding and across Quebec. The budget will soon be tabled, so now is the time to free up the money. This is urgent. We need this.
Also, I am not sure where the member for Winnipeg North has been for the past 25 years. He said we have been talking about pharmacare for the past four years, but I would remind him that it was in the Liberal platform of 1997. It was also part of the discussion when medicare was first introduced in this country in the 1960s. That was just a little refresher for my colleague from Winnipeg North. The Liberals are still talking about pharmacare, but we need to see whether there will ever be more than just consultations and reports. Are they ever going to actually implement anything?
Canada is the only country in the world that has a universal public health care system without a universal public pharmacare system to go with it. This is an anomaly. This means that Canadians and Quebeckers pay some of the highest prices for prescription drugs. This is slightly less problematic in Quebec, since we have a hybrid regime that is administered by the Quebec government. However, it also poses significant problems for many people who sometimes have to make really tough choices, like paying for their medication or paying for their groceries. When people do not take all their medication as prescribed, it can cause illnesses to progress more rapidly and force people back to work too soon. It can lead to other health problems and additional costs for the health care system.
The NDP believes it is high time that the Canada Health Act included a principle emphasizing the importance of a complete, free and universal pharmacare program and indicating that this is one of our society's values because we want to take care of people. That is not the case right now and people are suffering because of it. This issue is a priority for the NDP.
Many large groups in Quebec are calling for such a program because they understand the difference it could make in people's lives. Quebec's three major unions, the FTQ, the CSN and the CSQ, are calling for this program, as are many civil society groups, such as the Union des consommateurs du Québec. They are saying that it would make a difference in people's lives if we had a universal public pharmacare program managed by the provinces and the Government of Quebec, obviously.
Last year, I met with people who are directly affected by the lack of such a principle or federal program, for example, retail workers and unionized workers at Métro, Provigo and Loblaws. They work part time for a modest wage and have to contribute to their employer's drug plan. In Quebec, this supplemental health care coverage is not optional; it is mandatory. People cannot choose to opt for the public plan. They are required to contribute to the private plan. Those contributions cost many workers up to 25% of their income.
I met a young worker, about 25, who told me that for every month he works, his first week's salary goes entirely toward the drug plan offered by his employer. Public universal pharmacare would considerably change the life of someone like that. It would simplify collective bargaining for many groups. For that individual, it would mean a 25% increase in pay. That is not nothing. Not only would that worker's drug costs be covered, but his take-home pay would also get him much further ahead.
For all these reasons, we are telling the Liberal government that it is time to take action. According to the Hoskins report released a few months ago, this is a good thing that has been studied at length, and our society needs it. We at the NDP are saying that it is time to move forward and take this seriously, and we will be here to support the government if it comes up with something public and universal.
The other thing we wanted to see in the Speech from the Throne is dental care coverage. That would be another tangible way to help people in their lives.
We have a medicare system—thanks to the NDP, by the way—that is highly appreciated but that is not comprehensive because some parts of the body are not covered. That is rather bizarre. It is as though we collectively decided that our heart and arms would be insured, but that our eyes and teeth would not. There is no logic to it. Having to pay a dentist to provide care and ensure good dental hygiene also represents a considerable cost for many people.
Dental coverage would make a big difference in people's lives at a cost almost equivalent to the amount of the tax cut that the Liberal government has announced—a tax cut that will again benefit the wealthiest in our society.
They could have used that money, which amounts to a little less than one billion, or about $800 or $850 million, to provide dental care to all Quebeckers and Canadians. We, the New Democrats, would not make the same choices the Liberal government did.
We hope the government will be able to implement public pharmacare and dental care. We also hope the government will increase the federal contribution for early childhood care. Quebec needs 42,000 more ECE spots, in publicly funded day cares. We hope the federal government will be willing to give Quebec's ECE system a boost, so that families can get their children into affordable day care.
I only have a minute left, which is not enough time to talk about the climate emergency and the fact that this government is once again saying one thing and doing the opposite. We in the NDP condemn the decision to approve the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion. This decision completely flies in the face of the federal government's pledges to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions.
We are eager to see how the government reacts to the new Frontier oil sands project. If the government is serious about setting more ambitious targets for 2030, I hope that it will take measures that are consistent and logical with that goal, which is something the entire population is calling for, especially our youth.
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
Lib. (MB)
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
2020-01-27 12:16 [p.437]
Madam Speaker, I appreciate the passion the member has with respect to the pharmacare program. This program has been hotly discussed and has come to the forefront in the last four to five years. The New Democrats are very much in support of the program. The government caucus in the last number of years has been very supportive of the program. As a government, we have taken initiatives. We have allocated significant amounts of money, hundreds of millions, to further advance the idea. A standing committee dealt with the issue and came up with recommendations. An advisory council looked at this. We are moving forward.
I am often told that at times some New Democrats are like Liberals in a hurry. At the end of the day, it is possible. Would the member not agree that a majority of the members in the House in fact support a national pharmacare program of some form? Would he not agree with that statement?
View Alexandre Boulerice Profile
Madam Speaker, I would like to see some action. I would like folks to get some concrete help. I urge the Liberal government to tax web giants, raise taxes on banks and go after tax havens. That will give it the money to take care of Canadians.
View John Brassard Profile
View John Brassard Profile
2020-01-27 12:18 [p.437]
Madam Speaker, the member raised a lot of questions about pharmacare with respect to the Liberal plan. My question is simple. Does he have any confidence at all that the Liberals will be able to implement a pharmacare plan?
View Alexandre Boulerice Profile
Madam Speaker, the question is simple, but the answer may be complex.
We are in a minority government situation. In the past, we have been disappointed by the Liberals, who broke their promises over and over. We know this story well. We have already seen it play out many times, as everyone knows. This time, with everyone acting in good faith, I hope we will actually be able to move forward.
View Elizabeth May Profile
View Elizabeth May Profile
2020-01-27 12:18 [p.437]
Madam Speaker, I have a question for my colleague from Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie.
I am wondering about the consistency of the NDP position on climate change, specifically regarding the situation facing the Wet'suwet'en people, hydraulic fracturing activities in British Columbia and its liquefied natural gas program. As I see it, the NDP government in British Columbia is really supporting a project that is bad for the environment and goes against the interests of indigenous peoples.
I am wondering what the federal NDP's position is.
View Alexandre Boulerice Profile
Madam Speaker, I thank my colleague for her very pertinent question.
In the previous Parliament, the NDP introduced Bill C-262, which was passed by this House, to ensure that all federal laws are aligned with the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. This federal NDP initiative is therefore completely consistent with that objective.
The leader of the NDP has often said that the future of economic development does not lie in hydraulic fracturing. We believe that each project should be assessed individually to see whether it fits in with a real plan for reducing greenhouse gas emissions. In this specific case, the B.C. government found that it was feasible.
All the reports from Environment and Climate Change Canada have confirmed that the federal government is going to miss the 2030 targets set by the Conservative government. In this context, it would be impossible to consider new projects at the federal level, since we cannot even meet the Conservatives' targets.
View Brian Masse Profile
View Brian Masse Profile
2020-01-27 12:20 [p.437]
Madam Speaker, one of the aspects of universal pharmacare is that it can also be a good addition to our economy. With the time the member has, I would like him to touch on how supporting workers and employment in the pharmacare program could increase investments in Canada. Instead of employers getting large subsidies that go to their shareholders, would it not be better for them to go to the employees, because the employees are Canadians and Quebeckers?
View Alexandre Boulerice Profile
Madam Speaker, I thank my colleague from Windsor for his very good question.
That would indeed help workers. They would have more income and would spend more, which would help the local economy. It could also attract investments. As we saw in the past with medicare, the cost of local drug coverage can be a very heavy burden for businesses to bear. This type of program could also attract investors to the country.
View Marie-France Lalonde Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Marie-France Lalonde Profile
2020-01-27 12:21 [p.438]
Madam Speaker, I want to acknowledge that we are meeting today on the traditional territory of the Algonquin nation. I will use my time in maiden speech to speak, on behalf of our government, to the Speech from the Throne.
It is an honour to stand in the House today as the member of Parliament for the great riding or Orléans.
I would like to wish a happy new year to all my colleagues, the people of Orléans and Ontario and all Canadians.
Orleans represents the best of Canada and what it means to be a Canadian. It is a community where people stand by one another, where francophones, anglophones, francophiles and allophones work toward a common goal: to make their community, their province and their country the best place to live, to work, to raise a family and to build a better tomorrow.
It has been my home for 20 years, and I am honoured to represent Orléans in the House.
It is truly a great honour to be a member of this House.
Canada has made incredible progress since 2015, and the Speech from the Throne detailed a pact to build on that progress. I look forward to working with all members in a co-operative and collaborative fashion to make it happen.
Before I speak to that, I want to take a moment to thank my family.
I would not be here if not for the unconditional support of my family.
My husband Alvaro and I met when we were both 18 years old, more than 30 years ago. He is still the love of my life. He has supported my ideas, my aspirations and the dreams we have along the way. His support and his love are only matched by his tireless work, and he deserves more recognition and thanks than I can put into words.
We are blessed with a daughter, Monica. I am thankful for her love, her patience and her understanding. My daughter is a fierce competitor. I realized this when I managed her hockey team. She was the best goalie in the league and she gave everything she had in every single game. She has approached almost everything with the same dedication and that has been an inspiration to me.
I want to thank Monica for her understanding and support. I could not be more proud of her than I am today, especially when I see the woman she has become.
I also want to mention my parents, Monique and Royal.
I would be remiss if I failed to mention the love and support they have given me from the beginning of this extraordinary adventure.
I thank them for their unwavering support.
I thank them from the bottom of my heart. I also want to thank my brother, Jean-François, and his family, and my many aunts, uncles and cousins, who have helped me over the past few years.
Election campaigns are a team sport and my loyal, dedicated volunteers are the best team anyone could ask for, if I say so myself. They gave me their time, their hard work and their confidence, and I want to thank them for believing in me.
I know the sacrifices the members of my core team, and they know who they are, made and I am eternally grateful.
I once again want to thank the people of Orléans from the bottom of my heart for the trust they placed in me by allowing me to become their voice here in the House of Commons.
Last, but certainly not least, I want to recognize the people of Orléans who voted for me and those who did not. I am grateful for the trust they have placed in me. I will be a voice for everyone in our community and I will do my very best to earn their trust every day.
I would therefore like to take this opportunity that has been given to me today in the House to talk a little bit about myself and my community, which I have the honour of representing here—and before this at Queen's Park, since June 2014.
I would like to take this opportunity to tell the House a bit about myself and especially my community.
As a businesswoman with a background in social work, I know the importance of investing in the public services upon which Canadians rely. I began my career as a social worker with the Children's Aid Society before moving on to work at CHEO, the Children's Hospital of Eastern Ontario, because I was looking for an opportunity to help people. I love my work with young people, but when I moved to the Ottawa Hospital, I started helping seniors transition into long-term care and retirement residences, and I discovered my true passion.
I saw that there was a huge gap in services for seniors. There was no long-term care in the area and I had to send seniors away from their families and communities to receive the services they needed. At that time it became very clear to me that government can be a force for good, actually must be a force for good, and help people when and where they need it most.
Having found my true calling in the retirement sector, I took a big leap and built and ran a retirement residence in Orléans called Portobello Manor, le Manoir Portobello. It was hard work but it was worth it. It operates to this day serving the seniors in Orléans.
Most of my career has been about those among us who are most vulnerable: the young and the aging. I know the impact government can have on their lives. I decided to get involved in politics to help ensure the impact of government is a positive one. I am ready to roll up my sleeves and get to work. I am here to represent our community, most importantly to listen.
I am here today to humbly say that I am ready to listen and to act in the best interests of the people of Orléans.
Orléans has seen enormous change in recent years. It used to be mostly rural. It is now a vibrant urban area as more families join me in choosing Orléans as their place to call home.
My community has a strong, vibrant and growing francophone community, the largest in Ottawa. The riding has one of the highest populations of francophones in Ontario, with more than 36% speaking French as their first language.
I am extremely proud of my Franco-Ontarian roots. I was born at the Montfort Hospital, and I am deeply humbled to once again represent this community as a federal MP.
In addition to being bilingual, we are lucky to have a rich multicultural community in Orleans. Canadians know the value of diversity. To quote our Prime Minister, “Our country strong not in spite of our differences, but because of them.”
Orléans has so much to offer and it is such a great place to live, in many ways thanks to the record of the past Liberal government. Over the last four years alone, the government has stood up for Franco-Ontarians in supporting francophone communities with the historic investment of $2.7 billion in education, infrastructure, kindergarten and other key sectors.
Just last Wednesday I was thrilled to stand beside my friend the hon. Minister of Official Languages as she announced funding for Ontario's first French-language university that will give thousands of students the chance to pursue their education in the official language of their choice, en français.
Together with its partners, the government has also begun crucial work to improve the Phoenix pay system so public servants receive the proper pay for their important work. The backlog has been reduced to about 200,000 transactions since the beginning of 2018. We have also distributed $1.5 billion in retroactive pay to employees.
Orleans has a lot of public servants. The pay pod model has very successfully reduced the backlog. All 46 organizations served by the pay centre now operate under this model.
Our government has also worked to ensure that parks, pathways, buildings and bridges are maintained here in Ottawa by investing over $55 million in the National Capital Commission, all the while contributing $1.15 billion toward the second stage of the Ottawa light rail transit project, which will soon provide service all the way to Trim Road in our community. This investment stands to better connect the people in our city, taking cars off the road and keeping the air we breathe cleaner.
I am proud of that record, but I also know there is still a lot of work to do.
This is a record of which I am proud, but I know there is much more work to be done. The people in my community expect us to work together and find solutions to our common challenges.
I spoke to thousands of my constituents on their doorsteps during the election. I am sure many of my colleagues did the same. I heard from young, hard-working families who are still finding it difficult to make ends meet. I told them that our government has a plan to make it a little easier to raise their kids by boosting the Canada child benefit by 15%.
I also heard from many business owners that finding skilled workers has been a challenge. I was proud to tell them of our plan to get more young women and men into the skilled trades and apprenticeships.
As the member of Parliament for Orléans, I will fight for my community, its goals and aspirations. For example, the Mouvement d’implication francophone d’Orléans, MIFO, is seeking funding for a new facility. MIFO is more than just a community centre. It is a music school, a day camp, a preschool and an art gallery. It offers children and youth services and is an active living centre for people 50-plus, all the while employing more than 350 people. It has grown by 182% in the last 10 years and has outgrown its current building and facilities. Therefore, securing federal funding to expand this vital institution is among my top priorities.
My previous work has given me a unique understanding of the need for a strengthened pension plan. I have seen the reality of the financial hardships our seniors face. We have an aging population and those people who have built this society for us deserve to retire and live with dignity. Residents in my community told me at the door that they are worried about their retirement. I was happy to tell them that our government plans to introduce legislation to increase old age benefits by 10% and raise CPP survivor benefits by 25%.
Another big aspect of the campaign was climate change and our environment. Our community has one of the largest memberships of Ecology Ottawa.
My being here to acknowledge the impact of climate change is vitally important. Orleans has been through tornadoes and floods, which have affected our community's economy, Ottawa's economy and our country's economy.
I was happy to talk about our plan for the environment and climate change. Whether it is building 5,000 new charging stations or planting two billion new trees in the next 10 years, these are some of the things Orléans residents expect me to bring forward in this House.
In the short time that I have been here, I have been inspired by the commitment, compassion and talent of my colleagues on both sides of this House. We must hold each other to a higher standard, act with dignity and work to improve the lives of all Canadians everywhere.
Let us put evidence before ideology and partnership before partisanship. There is a common ground to be found. We can help create new jobs and a better climate for business. We can protect the environment, and we can help build a better future for all Canadians.
As I reflect on my last five years, and most recently with my election at the federal level, I know that people in my community expect me to be a vocal representative and address their local and international concerns.
I am proud to support this Speech from the Throne, and I believe the vote on it will happen some time today. I am proud to support a government and a Prime Minister with a plan to keep building Canada up.
I want to conclude my speech today by saying that I am very proud to have the good sense to support not only this throne speech, but also a government and a Prime Minister who are proposing a positive plan to keep building a strong and prosperous Canada.
I will focus on improving infrastructure in Orleans through targeted projects. I would also like to explore possible solutions and continue developing a meaningful climate action plan that focuses on the environment. We know that businesses and employers face some challenges. As a former businesswoman, I can relate to the employers in my community.
We owe it to our children, grandchildren and grandparents to work together and keep building a prosperous Canada.
I thank everyone for listening to me for 20 minutes on my first time standing in this House. It has been an honour.
It appears that I still have some time remaining. I will continue, since I do not think a politician has ever turned down an extra two minutes to speak.
I would like to talk about specific challenges. We sometimes forget what we all have in common here.
Each and every one of us has been elected to represent our community, and we are proud to come here and share our thoughts. When I reflect on the Speech from the Throne, I would like to believe that most of us in this House can say there is one thing that we feel confident our communities are looking for. In this Parliament, we collectively, although in a minority, the people of Canada have given us a strong mandate to move forward on issues that matter to them.
There will be debates, of course, but I hope that we will always remain respectful of each other.
I think it is important to focus on what brings us together.
I like to believe that with the Conservative Party, the Bloc Québécois, the NDP, the Green Party and the independent member, with the great family of our Liberal friends, we can show Canadians that we can advance things that matter to them.
View John Brassard Profile
View John Brassard Profile
2020-01-27 12:41 [p.441]
Madam Speaker, oftentimes in the last Parliament, Liberals spoke about evidence-based decision-making. However, evidence-based decision-making is what they agree with only when it agrees with their ideology.
The people of Barrie—Innisfil sent me to Parliament because they were quite concerned. I know that the hon. member for Orléans came from the provincial government in Ontario. She spent five years under Kathleen Wynne, where we saw wasteful spending, reckless debt and endless deficits. In fact, in Ontario, we are facing $350 billion in debt. That is $40 million a day more than we were spending and billions of dollars in deficits.
Can the member honestly say, coming from that scenario in Ontario, that she is proud of the $800 billion in debt that we are at now, and the $27 billion in deficits that are ongoing and that are going to continue to grow under the Liberal government? How is that sustainable?
View Marie-France Lalonde Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Marie-France Lalonde Profile
2020-01-27 12:42 [p.441]
Madam Speaker, I like to look at the evidence. I know the member for Barrie—Innisfil mentioned this, but I always say the one thing that cannot lie is numbers. In the past four years, the Liberal government has created more than a million jobs.
Let us now focus on our economy. We had the lowest unemployment rate in the past 40 years. When I went to the doors of my constituents, at every door I was told we need to continue to invest. For me, it is about investing. I come from a business background, and sometimes money needs to be spent to better the lives of people. That is what we are doing.
I look at the record of the Ontario Liberals on cap and trade. I am sorry to say that this measure was cancelled by the Ford government, and $1.9 billion of revenue was forgone. If we want to talk about good business, I am proud to stand in this House as a federal Liberal member to continue our good progress.
View Alexis Brunelle-Duceppe Profile
Madam Speaker, I want to thank my hon. colleague from across the way for her fine speech.
She asks us who we were elected for. Every morning when I get up, I see a little note on my nightstand that says, “Who do you work for?” True story. I work for the people of Lac-Saint-Jean, an area where the aluminum industry is very important. Every time the aluminum file has come up in the House since the 43rd Parliament began, it has been plain to me that the Liberals do not understand the agreement they signed. It does not protect aluminum from North America, but rather parts made from aluminum. That means Mexico will get to import the world's dirtiest aluminum from China and manufacture parts that will flood the U.S. market.
Now that I have explained it, does my colleague understand the aluminum file any better?
View Marie-France Lalonde Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Marie-France Lalonde Profile
2020-01-27 12:45 [p.441]
Madam Speaker, I thank my colleague from Lac-Saint-Jean.
I visited his riding years ago. I am always very grateful to the people of Lac-Saint-Jean. I am proud to see that you are representing them here.
Yes, without a doubt, aluminum—
View Marie-France Lalonde Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Marie-France Lalonde Profile
2020-01-27 12:45 [p.441]
I apologize, Madam Speaker.
I would like to point out to my hon. colleague that in the negotiations of these past few years, the government took a strong stand in that we wanted to include something that we did not have before in the new NAFTA. With respect to aluminum, there was previously no minimum percentage, but now this agreement sets out a minimum of 70%. That is a good thing for the aluminum industry.
I know that this is still a concern, but I believe that if my colleague were to speak to those responsible in the sector, he would see that this is a major decision for the people of Quebec and of Lac-Saint-Jean.
View Alexandre Boulerice Profile
Madam Speaker, I thank my colleague from Orléans for her speech, the tone of her remarks and her openness.
However, the NDP wants to see firm commitments and concrete action. There is a climate emergency and young people are asking us to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions. We are not going to meet our targets for 2030. The Liberal government has agreed to the Trans Mountain expansion and is considering new projects like the Frontier project proposed by Teck Resources Ltd.
Will she undertake to eliminate subsidies for oil companies and not consider any new oil and gas projects until we are on track to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions?
View Marie-France Lalonde Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Marie-France Lalonde Profile
2020-01-27 12:46 [p.441]
Madam Speaker, I thank my colleague for the question. I am very proud that we put a price on carbon. It was an important measure for the net zero emissions target we committed to reach by 2050. Our action plan is designed to achieve that target. What is more—I hope my colleague will mention this—in our election campaign we promised to plant two billion trees. That will help us meet our ambitious targets.
As I said in my speech, I understand full well the importance of climate change, because that is something that came up at the doors. My role here is to continue what we started and to improve on it.
View Darrell Samson Profile
Lib. (NS)
Madam Speaker, I want to thank my colleague for her very interesting speech. I learned a lot about her region, which I was not very familiar with. She impressed me a great deal with her knowledge about some of the topics we discussed here today.
I would like the hon. member to say a few words about our government's investments. We have made major investments in infrastructure across the country, from east to west. These numerous investments have helped create jobs. The hon. member pointed out that more than one million jobs have been created. She also noted that we have the lowest unemployment rate in 40 years. These are very interesting, very important things that the Conservatives often forget to mention.
Can the hon. member explain how investments in infrastructure helped Ontario, and her riding in particular?
View Marie-France Lalonde Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Marie-France Lalonde Profile
2020-01-27 12:49 [p.442]
Madam Speaker, I am very pleased to speak on this subject, which is very important.
When we talk about what Canadians need, every community mentions the infrastructure deficit. Looking at our platform and what has been done in recent years, I was proud to see $182 billion invested in infrastructure over 12 years. My community and the Ottawa area have benefited from that. I can talk about Orléans. For instance, there is phase 2 of the light rail system, which now goes to Trim Road. It was the Liberal government that provided 50% of the funding for the light rail extension from Place d'Orléans to Trim Road.
We can talk about roads too. I am proud to say that we have doubled the tax funding for municipalities. Unfortunately, that is something that Ontario has not supported. I do not know about all the provinces yet. I can talk specifically about Ontario, and perhaps Quebec, and I am proud. I am really proud that our government is supporting the provinces, if they want to be at the table, the municipalities and the people of Canada with this much-needed investment. We are talking about schools and help for young children. We are making a lot of investments and I am certainly proud of that.
View Jacques Gourde Profile
View Jacques Gourde Profile
2020-01-27 12:51 [p.442]
Madam Speaker, I will be sharing my time with the member for Cypress Hills—Grasslands.
I am pleased to be taking part in the debate on the Speech from the Throne at the start of the 43rd Parliament.
I would first like to thank the people of Lévis—Lotbinière for putting their trust in me. I am representing them in the House of Commons for the fifth time. It is a great privilege to serve a community that is as dynamic and visionary as the one we are all proudly part of in Lévis—Lotbinière .
My team and I are passionately committed to working tirelessly in our riding throughout the 43rd Parliament to provide personal and attentive service to every constituent who needs our assistance and to take concrete action that meets their needs. I would like to thank my wife, Chantal, my family and all the volunteers who proudly participated, directly or indirectly, in the democratic exercise of the federal election.
Today, I am debating the Speech from the Throne. It is no surprise that this is a speech reflecting the Liberal values of a minority government that is walking on eggshells and needs to be very carefully watched at all times. You will have guessed that I am referring to the SNC-Lavalin scandal. As I was telling the House on Friday, December 6, the Liberal government, true to form, is standing in the way of the RCMP investigators.
We all know this government is sort of reaching out to the right but that it tends to lean much more to the left, though without any firm conviction. The worst part is this Liberal government's deplorable lack of vision for sustaining and stimulating the Canadian economy.
Judging from the throne speech, Canada's energy sector may as well not even exist. There was just one tiny mention of it, a poor reflection of how important this key sector is to the Canadian economy. We need to acknowledge that it underpins our wealth as a nation.
In late November, the CN strike highlighted how precarious the supply of energy sources such as propane is, especially in Quebec. Farmers in my region came to the sudden realization that their propane supply would be interrupted during the CN strike because of rationing for essential services. The entire agricultural sector was left with no way to keep animals warm and to dry grain during the harvest.
Delays in harvesting and drying grain can lead to irreparable losses for farmers, with very little compensation. In light of these events, the question Canadians are asking themselves is this: Are we adequately protected against disruptions in the shipping of our energy resources and the impact this has on the lives of Canadians and on the entire energy sector? The recent event involving propane deliveries shows us just how vulnerable we are considering the quasi-monopoly that exists in shipping. We are not immune to the disastrous consequences of any future potential shortages.
As parliamentarians, we have a duty to pay close attention to Canada's energy security. It is imperative that we work with industry experts in order to avoid energy shortages and reassure Canadians with respect to a steady supply of the energy resources used in this country. Canada is a country rich in natural resources, including crude oil and natural gas in western Canada and Newfoundland and Labrador, hydroelectricity in Quebec, Manitoba and British Columbia, and nuclear energy in Ontario and New Brunswick, not to mention the shale oil and gas, coal, solar energy, wind energy and biomass used in various provinces and territories.
We are so lucky to live in a country that has such an abundance of resources. Dozens of countries around the world would love to have Canada's resources, as it would help lift them out of poverty. This prompts us to ask other important questions. How are all these energy resources transported within Canada, to serve all the provinces and territories, and how are they exported out of Canada, to the U.S. and other countries?
Do we have adequate infrastructure? Are these methods of transportation safe and reliable enough to ensure an uninterrupted supply or, as was the case in the recent propane crisis in Quebec, are we relying on a single transporter? Would an energy corridor like the one proposed by the Conservative Party be the solution to the problem we have transporting all these forms of energy?
In the Speech from the Throne there is no mention of the word “oil”, as though we as Canadians are ashamed that Canada is an oil-producing country.
Another word that was missing from the throne speech is the word “pipeline”. The speech did, however, talk about shipping our Canadian natural resources to new markets. Everyone knows that a pipeline is the safest way to transport oil, gas or other chemical products. Have the Liberal MPs from Quebec forgotten about the tragedy in Lac-Mégantic? On July 6, 2013, 47 people were killed when a train made up of 72 tank cars carrying 7.7 million litres of crude oil derailed. If there had been a pipeline in that part of Quebec, we all know that those people would still be alive today.
I simply cannot understand what seems to be an obsession against pipelines as a secure and safe method of transportation. According to a Nanos poll published the first week of December 2019, most Canadians, or 60%, support the construction of a new pipeline. Only 30% of the population is opposed, despite all of the false information that is being spread about pipelines, particularly in my own province of Quebec.
The following week, a Léger poll indicated that 65% of Quebeckers prefer western Canadian oil. The same poll indicated that most Canadians believe that pipelines are the safest method of transportation.
Let us now talk about the Liberals' infamous carbon tax, which has already begun to wreak havoc. In early December, The Globe and Mail gave a good example of how this tax is affecting farmers in Saskatchewan, and the Currah family in particular, who are struggling under the Liberal government's tax.
Heavy autumn rains had a major impact on the Currahs and many other canola, oat, barley and wheat farmers across Canada. They had to harvest their grain crops while they were wet, meaning the grain had to be dried using natural gas dryers before it could be sold. As a result, for the past few months, farmers in Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario and New Brunswick have had to pay the Liberal carbon tax on the natural gas they need to run their grain dryers.
Since January 1, 2020, Alberta has joined the list of victims of the carbon tax. The Currah family in Saskatchewan has had to spend $1,200 on the carbon tax and expects the final tally to reach $10,000 once all the grain is dry. That $10,000 bill for drying grain comes on top of all the other production costs.
This tax is hurting our SMEs and our farms, but the worst is yet to come. In 2022, in order to comply with the greenhouse gas reduction targets for 2030, the tax will be increased to $102 per tonne, which means that $10,000 bill will rise to $50,000 a year for the Currah family of farmers in Saskatchewan.
In closing, I believe all energy sector stakeholders should work together as part of a large-scale national consultation sponsored by the federal government. We need to have the courage to talk about the energy sector, instead of glossing over it the way this Liberal government did by not mentioning it in the throne speech. Sadly, this subject is a divisive issue in Canada right now, when it should be a unifying force that brings all of us together, from coast to coast to coast.
I urge all parliamentarians, from all parties, to start this conversation with all energy sector stakeholders in order to develop a serious strategy for Canada's energy future, which will have an impact on the economic prospects of future generations.
View Wayne Easter Profile
Lib. (PE)
View Wayne Easter Profile
2020-01-27 13:01 [p.443]
Madam Speaker, the member talked about the energy sector becoming a topic of discord. I listened closely to his remarks. I have a lot of friends in Alberta as I worked there for years and I still talk to them. The story I get from them is not what the Conservative opposition is saying, but that they are concerned about vacant office buildings in Calgary. Yes, there is a very strong concern in Alberta that I think is creating disunity and division in Canada. I hate to see that because, as I said, I have a lot of friends there.
One of the reasons for the discord is the misinformation the Conservative Party is propagandizing and that the member who just spoke is still doing by saying Liberals are opposed to pipelines. Why does the member not be honest in this place and with Canadians across the country? The Liberal government purchased a pipeline to get oil to market and Liberals are going to see it through. Let us have some honesty over there.
View Jacques Gourde Profile
View Jacques Gourde Profile
2020-01-27 13:02 [p.443]
Madam Speaker, I thank my colleague for his question.
A discussion about energy should never create discord in Canada. We should all be proud to live in a country that has many energy sources.
As parliamentarians, we have a duty to promote all energies for the sake of our country's economic future. We all have a duty to implement a national strategy on energy security, because the economic prosperity of future generations clearly hinges on the decisions that will be made in the 43rd Parliament. We have a duty to talk about energy, to promote energy and to find the fairest way for all of Canada's energy sources to coexist.
We are very proud that our country is an exporter and producer. This is an excellent opportunity to allow all of these energy sources to coexist in our country.
View Denis Trudel Profile
Madam Speaker, I thank the member for Lévis—Lotbinière for his speech.
I would simply like to point out to the hon. member that the Bloc Québécois campaigned heavily on environmental issues. We got 32 members elected in Quebec by talking about significantly reducing greenhouse gases and stopping pipelines from being built in Quebec.
Quebec is facing a housing shortage. There are 250,000 households that spend more than 50% of their income on housing. What does my colleague think about the housing shortage? Will he support our requests that the Liberal government finally sign the agreement with Quebec to build 15,000 social housing units as quickly as possible?
View Jacques Gourde Profile
View Jacques Gourde Profile
2020-01-27 13:05 [p.444]
Madam Speaker, I thank my colleague for his question.
I would like to remind him that 65% of Quebeckers agree with transporting oil by pipeline and that 65% of Quebeckers are happy to use oil from Alberta. We want 100% of Québec's oil to come from Alberta.
I would also like to remind my colleague that year after year, in Québec, we are consuming more and more oil because there are more and more vehicles. Québec has one of the highest rates of vehicles per household in North America.
Quebeckers are also proud of their hydroelectric power. Quebeckers would like to be able to sell hydroelectric power in Ontario, Manitoba and western Canada. If we bought oil from western Canada, it would make sense for us to sell them our hydroelectric power. It would be so easy for Québec to cross the Ottawa River to serve a third of Ontario with affordable power.
View Jeremy Patzer Profile
Madam Speaker, it is an honour to stand here and give my first speech in the House today as the member of Parliament for Cypress Hills—Grasslands.
I first need to thank the voters in my constituency for sending me here with a very clear mandate. They know what they want, and it is humbling to have received their overwhelming support.
I also need to thank my wife of 12 years, Kyla, for her unwavering support and for being willing to take this big step with me into parliamentary life. We have three of the most amazing kids, Jacoby, Jada and Kenzie, and if I did not have their full support as well, I would not have dragged them along on this journey.
To my campaign team and volunteers, I am thankful for their hard work and dedication in making sure that my first campaign was a successful one. I live in a riding that is 77,000 square kilometres, and it was a joy to meet and campaign with people from so many communities and backgrounds.
Today, I will be speaking in reply to the throne speech delivered by the Governor General, which set out the government's priorities and agenda.
After the election on October 21, when western Canadians overwhelmingly voted out every Liberal between Winnipeg and Vancouver, the Prime Minister went on national TV and told western Canadians, “I've heard your frustration and I want to be there to support you.” Naturally, the throne speech would have been a golden opportunity to show western Canadians that he had in fact heard our frustrations. However, this throne speech is just further evidence that the Prime Minister is not listening to western Canadians. In fact, the Liberals are continuing to ignore what western Canada is trying to communicate to them.
I come from a rural riding. Part of what makes it so great to live in a small town in a rural area is that one has to have a certain level of entrepreneurship and resolve to make one's farm, ranch or business succeed. Agriculture, energy, tourism and the natural resource sectors have always provided opportunities for people to start up a new business, to innovate, and then to develop their product and their business model. However, when there has been a multi-year downturn in the resource sector coupled with the lows that the agriculture sector has encountered, it puts the very businesses and people who keep small towns and small businesses viable in danger of losing everything.
With all that in mind, I will focus on a line that was used in both this year's throne speech and the 2015 throne speech, which is that every Canadian should have a “real and fair chance” to succeed. However, the government needs to understand it is the government's policies that are getting in the way and making it harder for Canadians to succeed.
The first policy we heard in the speech was that the government is doubling down on its carbon tax. So far, this has been the main method it is using to try to eliminate Canada's carbon emissions. However, it has not only proven to be a harmful policy for farmers, energy workers, seniors and everybody else, but it is also an ineffective policy. We are only seeing the cost of living go up, which is hurting the most vulnerable people, such as our seniors and low-income families. It has been nothing but an added burden for a lot of people.
In April, the cost of the carbon tax will increase from $20 to $30 per tonne, which means that life is about to get even harder. If that was not bad enough, we found out a few weeks ago that in a few provinces the government is lowering the carbon tax rebate that families could receive. Those provinces happen to be the ones that have not gone along with putting their own carbon tax in place. My home province of Saskatchewan is getting the largest cutback. When it was first introduced, the Liberals said that the tax would be revenue neutral and that Canadians could expect support for their extra expenses through a tax rebate. This is a perfect demonstration of what we can expect from the carbon tax in actual practice. As the cost and tax rate increase, the support for taxpayers and struggling families will decrease.
The carbon tax is also adding another layer of stress in agriculture. In western Canada, farmers had a year unlike any other in recent memory, from starting out the year with drought-like conditions to having way too much moisture in the fall when it came time to get the crops off. In fact, we have millions of acres of crops still out in the fields buried in snow. For the crops that are now in the bins, the next problem is to dry the grain, and natural gas is the main source of heat generation to accomplish this. It is a necessary part of grain farming, but the price for that fuel has gone up by hundreds of dollars because of the carbon tax, and then the GST is applied on top of that and so we now have a tax on top of a tax. After a difficult year in 2019, this is the last thing those farmers need. They have been calling attention to their desperate situation. I was happy to read in the National Post that the Green Party's agriculture critic agrees that we need to exempt farmers from the carbon tax, but nobody in the government seems to be listening.
Beyond the carbon tax, the Liberals' anti-energy, anti-business policies are killing jobs in resource development all over Canada. We heard a lot about how the anti-pipeline Bill C-69 would shut down energy projects, but there have also been concerns raised in mining and other industries.
In 2016, the Prime Minister said:
I have said many times that there isn’t a country in the world that would find billions of barrels of oil and leave it in the ground while there is a market for it.
But it isn’t enough to just use that resource for our short-term interest.
Our challenge is to use today’s wealth to create tomorrow’s opportunity. Ultimately, this is about leaving a better country for our kids than the one we inherited from our parents.
He was right to say that we should be making the most of Canadian energy while there is a market for it. However, after four years, the Liberals have left a lot of oil in the ground and that has left a lot of people out of work. Over the last four years, the government's regulatory changes have chased over $100 billion in investment, or four and a half per cent of GDP, out of Canada. I fail to see how we can create tomorrow's opportunities with results like that.
I could say a lot more about how the government's current policies do not make sense for either the environment or the economy, but I would much rather talk about what does make sense and what could work.
Just before Christmas, SaskPower, the power utility in Saskatchewan, held the grand opening of the Chinook power station northwest of Swift Current in my riding. It is a good example of how we have made clean, efficient use of natural gas in combined cycle power generation. This facility has the capacity to provide more power for around 300,000 homes. It runs 50% more efficiently than a coal-fired plant. The reason this power station is so important, along with others like it in the province, is that we now have strong enough baseload power generation so that we can invest further into renewables like wind and solar.
The Province of Saskatchewan, while under the guidance of former premier Brad Wall, created an ambitious plan to reduce our emissions. This plan is set to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 40% by 2030, as well as to have 50% renewable energy by then. This is a far more achievable plan than the one the Liberals have used. By creating a strong enough baseload power capacity that is reliable while utilizing technologies like combined-cycle power generation, the province can now focus its efforts further on growth in renewables. We already have a strong presence in the wind and solar industries, and further investment into these areas will continue to be encouraged.
Therefore, I find it crazy that the government has chosen to ignore the province's plan, which actually reduces emissions and shifts to renewable energy, while the Liberals' carbon tax only drives valuable investment dollars out of Canada that are needed for funding new technology.
I also need to highlight the innovative farming practices, such as zero-till farming, that have taken off in Saskatchewan. These methods remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere by keeping more of it in the soil. Our province continues to be a world leader in this regard. When it comes to the promise of this approach, I saw an article in National Geographic that noted the following:
...about a quarter of the world's greenhouse gas emissions come from land use and agriculture combined—but farmers are uniquely situated to be part of the solution.
We are seeing something like this in Saskatchewan. Due to the zero-till farming efforts, just as an example, we sequester 9.46 million tonnes of carbon dioxide per year. According to Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, that is the equivalent of removing two million cars from the highway each and every year. That is a real result. This is the type of success that comes from properly respecting farmers and their livelihood. It is a way of life that already deeply understands the close relationship between the economy and being a good steward of the land and the environment. Canadians working in the agriculture and energy sectors do not need to be lectured about it. They need to be supported in the balanced approach that they are already pursuing.
I am so proud to live in a riding that is part of a comprehensive, serious and practical plan for the environment like the one being implemented in Saskatchewan. However, the sad fact is that my province and my riding are not getting the credit they deserve from the current government. Instead, they have been blamed, neglected and ignored.
The Prime Minister said to western Canadians, “I hear you.” If this is true, then he should scrap the carbon tax and stop punishing the energy sector. If all Canadians are supposed to have a real and fair chance to succeed, then the government needs to listen to the provinces and the industry leaders who are suffering as a result of failed Liberal policies. It just sounds like more of the same from the Liberals, but I want Canadians to know that we hear them on this side of the House and we are ready to help them succeed.
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
Lib. (MB)
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
2020-01-27 13:15 [p.446]
Madam Speaker, as a western Canadian member of Parliament, I can tell the member that there are many initiatives within the throne speech, and within the budget in the last number of years, that western Canadians would be very proud of and would recognize as progressive measures that have had a real impact on their lives. We need to be sensitive to the fact that some regions of the country, in particular the provinces of Saskatchewan and Alberta, have gone through some very difficult times as governments at all levels have tried to assist where they can.
We respect that. We have a government that understands the importance of the environment, and the price of pollution has a role to play in that. I believe most western Canadians recognize that. I believe that we need to recognize that a balancing needs to take place between the economy and the environment, and this is a government that has recognized that.
I wonder if the member would not concur and recognize that the environment and the economy go hand in hand. Would he not agree that this is an important principle to adhere to?
View Jeremy Patzer Profile
Madam Speaker, the one thing that I want to highlight while talking about the environment and the economy is that we cannot use the environment as a means to tax people into submission. That is what the carbon tax does. As we have seen, it is driving investment dollars out of Canada.
That is not how to build an economy or how to support an economy. It is how to cripple the economy.
View Alistair MacGregor Profile
Madam Speaker, I am glad to see so much reference to western Canada in the House today. From my perspective on Vancouver Island, most of the people in this House are eastern Canadians, but I will leave that aside.
I would caution the member against speaking so forcefully on behalf of western Canadians. Fully one-third of the people in Alberta and Saskatchewan did not vote Conservative, and they were not rewarded with the seats proportional to those results because we have an unfair first-past-the-post system. In fact, most people in British Columbia and in Manitoba did not vote Conservative, so I would express some caution on that.
My question for the member is on the subject of agriculture. I would like to hear his comments on our developing some policies in this Parliament that recognize the hard work that farmers do, especially with regenerative agricultural practices that sequester more carbon in the soil, and whether we have an opportunity to give farmers a place to become one of the greatest weapons we have against climate change with their use of good soil practices.
View Jeremy Patzer Profile
Madam Speaker, part of what we need to do with any policy that we can develop going forward is to respect the hard work that has already been accomplished by our farmers, our ranchers and the people who are actively working in the agricultural sector. They have already been innovative in their approach.
In fact, the province of Saskatchewan, going back to the early 1900s, has been responsible for hundreds and thousands of different patents with regard to agricultural development. We are very innovative in the province. Farmers are very good and have a great sense of entrepreneurship and resolve. The more we can work to get policies to support that would be great.
View Damien Kurek Profile
View Damien Kurek Profile
2020-01-27 13:19 [p.446]
Madam Speaker, would the hon. member be able to highlight some of the challenges that regular middle-class, rural Canadians have with regard to the carbon tax?
View Jeremy Patzer Profile
Madam Speaker, the biggest challenge that we have now, as I highlighted in my speech, is the great distance to travel. My riding is 77,000 square kilometres, but the population base within that is only 67,000, with around a third of the population located in the city of Swift Current. It can be a long way for people in our small towns to travel, as some towns do not have a grocery store. For people to be able to go and get their groceries, their necessities for life, they sometimes have to travel great distances. The carbon tax continues to put them at a disadvantage.
When we are talking about supporting small towns, small businesses and regular hard-working, middle-class Canadians, this is why the carbon tax is a very ineffective policy.
View Elizabeth May Profile
View Elizabeth May Profile
2020-01-27 13:20 [p.446]
Madam Speaker, I am honoured to rise today for the first time this year and at the start of a new decade.
I would like to share my time with my colleague, the hon. member for Nanaimo—Ladysmith. I am very happy that all the members of the Green Party will have an opportunity to speak to the 2019 throne speech, as this is the last day of debate. I would like to thank the people who manage time within the Liberal Party, since my colleague, the member for Fredericton, will share her time with a Liberal member.
I want to start by saying, and this is not a formality, that we are on the unceded territory of the Algonquin people.
I want to acknowledge that we are here on traditional unceded Algonquin territory, and to them we say, meegwetch.
It is an honour to speak to the Speech from the Throne today. There is much in it that can carry one away with inspirational promises, with rhetoric with which we can only agree. For instance, I turn to this bit, which I particularly like: “From forest fires and floods, to ocean pollution and coastal erosion, Canadians are living the impact of climate change every day.”
The science is clear and it has been for decades. A clear majority of Canadians voted for ambitious climate action now. That stirs me to think I will vote for this, but I will not. I will not because the gap between the inspirational rhetoric coming from the Liberal administration and the reality of Liberal actions is so wide it induces vertigo. It is so deep that it is dizzying.
As an example of why I now feel this way, I turn to the 2015 Speech from the Throne, which I did vote for. I loved this promise and will remind people of it. Some of us who also served in the 42nd Parliament will remember the government's promise to “not resort to devices like...omnibus bills to avoid scrutiny.”
I think we all recall that it was an omnibus budget bill in which the deferred prosecution agreement designed specifically for SNC-Lavalin was hidden. Now I read everything, as my colleagues know, so I actually saw the deferred prosecution agreement hidden in an omnibus budget bill. I wondered why it was not stand-alone criminal legislation to go through the Department of Justice, but I was persuaded by the notes and looking into it that nothing nefarious lay there. However, it was in an omnibus bill and I do regret that the deferred prosecution agreement amendment to the Criminal Code never went to the Department of Justice and to the committee studying justice bills, as it should have.
Another fun promise to remember from the 2015 Speech from the Throne was “the government will undertake to renew, nation-to-nation, the relationship between Canada and indigenous peoples, one based on recognition of rights, respect, co-operation and partnership.”
It was with some shock that I saw within months the Liberal government's approval of Site C, ignoring the court cases and concerns of indigenous peoples, as well as the environmental impacts.
Approval of the Kinder Morgan pipeline ignored the fact that, even during the 2015 election campaign, the then leader of the Liberal Party, now Prime Minister, said that no project could be approved based on the inadequate and flawed process that had taken place while there were court cases, and strong and clear objection, from the Tsleil-Waututh, Musqueam, Squamish and WSANEC First Nations, whose territory I am honoured to live on. Muskrat Falls ignored the concerns of the Innu.
Quoting from the 2015 Speech from the Throne, many people will remember the following without being reminded, the promise “that 2015 will be the last federal election conducted under the first-past-the-post voting system.” One can see where concern arises. How much can we believe in the 2019 Speech from the Throne? I would like to believe it, but then we come to the reality of what is being pledged. We are seeing a commitment in this new Speech from the Throne.
In the throne speech the government said, and I quote, “The Government will set a target to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050.”
In reality, our target is the same as the one chosen by the former Conservative government under Stephen Harper. The target has not changed by a single tonne.
Here we are with a government that says we can get to net-zero by 2050, and there are some questions. As many will know, we do not whip votes in the Green Party. I am so honoured to be joined by the member for Nanaimo—Ladysmith and the member for Fredericton. We cannot vote confidence in a government that does not have a climate target that allies with the science.
We know that the government has said that it is important to face the climate situation as a climate emergency. In fact, it was a Liberal motion passed by this House on June 17, 2019, in which the House agreed that we are in a climate emergency. The motion stated:
...the House declare that Canada is in a national climate emergency which requires...that Canada commit to meeting its national emissions target under the Paris Agreement and to making deeper reductions in line with...pursuing efforts to keep global warming below 1.5 degrees Celsius.
However, here we are with a Speech from the Throne that never once uses the term “climate emergency”.
We are in a climate emergency, but there is not a single mention of “climate emergency” in the throne speech.
The Speech from the Throne says that we have to address climate change. While the government says that we must achieve net-zero emissions by 2050, only a few paragraphs later we are also told that the government must take strong action to fight climate change and also work just as hard to get Canadian resources to new markets.
In other words, with the same vigour which the government wants to address the climate emergency, it will also use public funds in the neighbourhood of $10 billion to $13 billion to drive forward the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion, which is a direct threat to climate action, as it also contemplates approving the Teck Frontier mine project. It also is ignoring its obligations under the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and the climate emergency by subsidizing and supporting the LNG projects where the gas pipeline is. At this very moment, the RCMP are in Wet'suwet'en Territory prepared to enforce an injunction that should never be enforced because it violates hereditary rights and traditional rights of Wet'suwet'en people.
Here is the reality, and it is a tough one. I have worked on this issue since 1986. I have seen government after government, well-meaning Liberals, well-meaning provincial New Democrats, well-meaning Progressive Conservatives, make climate commitments and then find it is too hard. Something political needs to be fixed before we can do the right thing to ensure our kids have a livable world.
Here is the tough choice, and it is not one that we can find wiggle room or some medium space to do a bit of this and a bit of that, with a pipeline here and an oil sands mine there, and still live up to climate commitments. The stark choice is this. Before the next election, we assembled in this Parliament must have Canada's targets align with the advice of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. That means we must at least double our targets until 2030.
We must now as humanity, as the world assembled through the multilateral process, change our economies in a transformational sense that gets rid of fossil fuels to ensure that our children, that human civilization can survive in a hospitable biosphere or we defend the fossil fuel industry. We cannot do both. We have to choose. I choose climate action and the Speech from the Throne and the government had better deliver.
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
Lib. (MB)
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
2020-01-27 13:30 [p.448]
Madam Speaker, I recall when the former leader of the Green Party supported the throne speech. I am a little disappointed that she is considering not supporting it this time around. There are many good environmental initiatives. One of the biggest and boldest is the whole idea of the price on pollution as we continue to move forward. I would be interested in her thoughts on the progress on that file.
I am curious with respect to the LNG. The LNG in British Columbia was an agreement, the largest private sector government sponsored agreement with billions of dollars of investment, with the NDP provincially and with us at the national level. To what degree would the Green Party support something of that nature? When the member makes reference to transition, maybe there is some merit for projects of that nature. Would the member not agree?
View Elizabeth May Profile
View Elizabeth May Profile
2020-01-27 13:31 [p.448]
Madam Speaker, the reality is that in the early 1990s, people talked of natural gas as a potential transition fuel in getting rid of coal and oil. The problem in 2020 is that it is not a transition fuel. It is not natural gas. It is primarily from fracking. Now the international scientific community is recognizing that a big pulse in greenhouse gases is coming from fracking from fugitive methane emissions. The reality is that fracked natural gas from B.C. has the same carbon footprint as coal. It is one of the great lies of our time, that shipping LNG from B.C. to China will somehow have a net benefit in fighting global warming. It will in fact do the opposite. It is a carbon bomb, and we need to stop fracking.
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