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View Michael Barrett Profile
CPC (ON)
Madam Speaker, I find myself often rising to ask questions of the government with respect to its handling of ethical matters, and no more appropriate a time have we found to address the government on these questions than in light of the scandal that currently has engulfed the Prime Minister's Office.
For a third time, the Prime Minister is under investigation by the Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner, twice having been found to have broken the law. On the front lines of this latest scandal with the WE Charity, the Prime Minister is in the company of another minister who has been found to have broken ethics laws in this country: the Minister of Finance with his forgotten French villa.
We hear from the finance minister and the Prime Minister, time and time again, that they are sorry. They are sorry they were caught, because right out of the gate with any of these issues the immediate response is that there is nothing to see here.
We remember with the SNC-Lavalin scandal the very first reaction by the Prime Minister was that the story in The Globe and Mail was false. Since then, the Ethics Commissioner investigated and found in the Trudeau II Report that the Prime Minister did contravene the Conflict of Interest Act. The story in The Globe and Mail was true.
We know that when it was before cabinet, and members of cabinet spoke out against the lack of ethical integrity at the table, the member for Vancouver Granville, the former minister of justice and attorney general, was fired. Canada's first female, indigenous attorney general was fired.
We know that when another member of cabinet with integrity, the former president of the Treasury Board, Dr. Jane Philpott, raised the issue as well, she was kicked out of caucus with the member for Vancouver Granville.
We know from those two reports, the Trudeau Report and Trudeau II Report, that the Prime Minister likes to reward his friends. We know from the ejection of the member for Vancouver Granville and the former president of the Treasury Board, the hon. Dr. Jane Philpott, that the Prime Minister punishes his enemies.
Accountability is not found today in the office of the Prime Minister, so we look to the government benches and ask Liberal members if they have the courage of their convictions and the intestinal fortitude to demand better of their Prime Minister.
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
Lib. (MB)
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
2020-07-20 18:35 [p.2648]
Madam Speaker, at times I wonder if the member goes to bed at night trying to influence his dreaming capabilities so he can raise some sort of issue with the government of the day that he can put a negative spin on. I was reviewing the question the member posed that ultimately led to the speech we just heard. The question was this: Why did the Bloc party vote with the government to prevent us from dealing with an issue that was in the House of Commons prior to the last election? He was upset with the Bloc because the Bloc voted with the government, but the Bloc agreed that the issue was from the previous Parliament and we did not need to talk about it.
If we were to go back to previous elections, I am sure we could find a number of interesting scandals that Conservatives were involved in. Do members remember the Senate scandal? Maybe we should regurgitate one of those scandals and have them go before the ethics committee.
At the end of the day, there has been a great deal of transparency and accountability. We have seen the Prime Minister, even when he was in opposition, bring forward things such as proactive disclosure. We have seen that the Prime Minister has been very candid in recognizing if he makes a mistake. He then apologizes for it and takes actions to rectify it.
In the end, I truly believe that we need to move forward. The report the member referred to, the second report on the Prime Minister, was dealt with in the House. We are not the only party in the House that agrees with that. I suggest the member remain focused on some of the good things that are happening. Maybe the member could spend less time dreaming about how he can create crisis situations and instead look at ways we can improve the system. I am not saying the system cannot be improved upon; the system can be improved upon.
There will be mistakes. Conservative ministers made mistakes and went to the commissioner. I urge members to remember that the commissioner is relatively new. That position only came into being in 2008, so there have only been two prime ministers and two governments that have been subjected to the commissioner. It is a learning process, and we have a Prime Minister who understands that. When mistakes are made, he is very straightforward and he co-operates with the Ethics Commissioner.
I see those as positive things. I only wish that Conservative opposition members would give some attention to not only the negative side of life but also to the positive side of life. Maybe they could bring forward ideas so we can ensure there is more accountability and transparency.
I am very open-minded, and I look forward to the rebuttal in the form of a question from my friend, but I would like to see us move forward. I would like to see if we can come up with some positive contributions to how we could change the system and ultimately see an improvement. I know he has it in him to come up with some positive recommendations. I would implore him to suggest one or two of them in a positive light.
View Michael Barrett Profile
CPC (ON)
Madam Speaker, the member opposite talked about things that I dream up at night, when these are, in fact, the nightmares Canadians are having with respect to the ethical scandals we are seeing from the Prime Minister's Office.
The question I originally asked, which brought about this late show, had to do with the Liberals working with the separatist Bloc party to prevent the Ethics Commissioner from presenting his report at the ethics committee. That is the lack of accountability of the Liberals. It is the same ethics report that the Prime Minister refused to allow nine people to testify for, or to provide evidence to the commissioner about.
A positive recommendation I have for the member opposite is that the Prime Minister voluntarily offer to appear at any standing committee of the House. A second recommendation I would make to the member is that the Prime Minister agree to waive all cabinet confidences this time, not just the ones that have already been broken through various reports.
These are recommendations the member opposite should encourage the Prime Minister to follow. Those are recommendations that the Liberal caucus should really encourage the Prime Minister to take, because if he does not, Canadians will be unable to have confidence in their institutions and their public office holders. Frankly, they deserve better.
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
Lib. (MB)
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
2020-07-20 18:40 [p.2648]
Madam Speaker, just to emphasize, the member opposite is focused on trying to blame the Bloc for voting with the Liberals to prevent something from a previous election coming before a House of Commons standing committee. This is the same Bloc that often votes with the Conservative Party against the government. The member is imputing motives that might not necessarily be justified, I would suggest, and I am trying to be as nice as I can with regard to it.
When I think of standing committees, in the back of my mind I am trying to think if Stephen Harper ever appeared before one. I wonder if the member is aware that, even though the office of the commissioner has only been around since 2008, there were a number of Conservatives—
View Garnett Genuis Profile
CPC (AB)
Madam Speaker, I have just come to the House from the hearings of the Subcommittee on International Human Rights. We spent all day in powerful hearings about the genocide happening in East Turkestan or Xinjiang in China where Uighur Muslims are facing all kinds of horrific human rights abuses simply on the basis of their faith and ethnic background. There was a clear consensus among witnesses that there is a genocide ongoing in Xinjiang, and there was a call from witnesses to take strong action here in Canada to respond to that genocide; indeed, to make meaningful our historic commitments to saying “never again”, that we will never again allow a people to be eradicated or attempts to eradicate them in this kind of way. Adrian Zenz, a senior researcher, described what is happening in Xinjiang as the largest mass incarceration of a minority since the Holocaust.
The calls to action included Canada's imposing Magnitsky sanctions against those involved in this gross violation of human rights, and also a response that would looks at the use of Uighur slave labour in our supply chains, with stronger legislation to prevent products that are produced through slave labour from making their way into our supply chains, as well as stronger measures to prevent government co-operation, like we have seen with Nuctech and security firms that are also involved in gross violations of human rights in East Turkestan.
The last panel at our hearing brings me to this question today, because we had an opportunity to hear from Kamila Telendibaeva, the wife of Huseyin Celil. Mr. Celil is a Canadian citizen of Uighur background who is currently in prison in China. He has been in prison in China for over a decade, and he has not had access to consular services. It is a horrific situation. He is the father of four, but he has never had an opportunity to meet his youngest son, because his wife was pregnant at the time he was taken. However, he was not arrested in China. He had travelled to Uzbekistan on a Canadian passport and was arrested in Uzbekistan and transferred to China. He has a wife and four sons here in Canada, the youngest of whom he has never met.
This horrific situation, the genocide of the Uighurs, in particular the detention of this Uighur Canadian, should seize Canadians and the government. I raised this issue at the Canada-China committee with our ambassador on February 5. Unfortunately, he initially seemed unaware of the case, and then he said that Mr. Celil was not a citizen. I note that the Minister of Foreign Affairs has since corrected this, but it remains a fact that we have regular mention, and rightly so, of other Canadians who are detained in China, but we have not seen nearly the same level of attention paid to cases involving Canadian citizens who originated abroad. Cases such as Mr. Celil, Fan Wei or others have simply not gotten the same attention in statements by our ambassador as cases that involve those born in Canada. That is very disappointing, because I think that we should all believe in a principle that a Canadian is a Canadian, and yet we have not seen a strong enough response.
During the testimony today, witnesses asked that the government not only make right what was made wrong but that it also take further steps, including appointing a special envoy to look into this case. I want to know what the government's response is to those calls actions and—
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
Lib. (MB)
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
2020-07-20 18:46 [p.2649]
Madam Speaker, I would first like to thank members of the standing committee and those who have taken the time to present and share their thoughts on this very important issue.
Huseyin Celil is a Canadian citizen. As the Prime Minister and the Minister of Foreign Affairs have consistently stated, the government is seized at all levels by cases of Canadians detained in China, including the long-standing case of Mr. Celil. Mr. Celil has been in detention in Xinjiang since 2006.
The provision of consular services to Canadians in China is governed by a bilateral agreement that details consular obligations and entitlements of our two countries in order to facilitate the protection of the rights and interests of our citizens. It is also governed by the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations. Canada expects China to live up to its obligations under these agreements.
In the case of Mr. Celil, despite repeated and ongoing attempts, Canadian officials have not been granted consular access. The government is deeply concerned about the case of Mr. Celil and will continue to raise his case at every opportunity at senior levels. Canadian officials will continue to advocate for Mr. Celil and seek consular access to him to verify his health and well-being and offer him assistance.
Mr. Celil is of the Uighur ethnicity, and Canada is deeply concerned by the mass detention of Uighurs in Xinjiang based on their ethnicity and religion and under the pretext of countering extremism. We acknowledge the pain and hardship experienced by Mr. Celil's family as a result of his detention. Consular officials are in communication with Mr. Celil's family and will continue to provide support until they are reunited.
Uighurs have been disappearing into detention in China, and getting information about their whereabouts can be incredibly challenging. Publicly and privately, in multilateral fora and in bilateral conversations, Canada has consistently called on the Chinese government to address the situation. Canada has called on the Chinese government to allow the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights and the UN Special Procedures immediate, unfettered, meaningful access to Xinjiang.
Our government will always stand up for Canadians in need of assistance abroad. We recognize and affirm that Mr. Celil is a Canadian. We will continue to advocate for him and make every effort to obtain consular access to him.
View Garnett Genuis Profile
CPC (AB)
Madam Speaker, I thank the hon. member for speaking from the heart.
I want to follow up on some of the testimony we heard. The government has said words with respect to this issue, but we need strong action.
Irwin Cotler, a former Liberal justice minister, said this is a genocide that requires us to respond in accordance with our international obligations under the genocide convention. We must recognize it and respond to it. We must recognize that we have a responsibility to protect and then deploy a range of measures to protect, to do what we can, whether this involves Magnitsky sanctions or other actions. We should also ensure that we do not have slave labour in our supply chains. That is a problem right now, and we need tougher legislation dealing with slave labour in our supply chains, especially coming from Xinjiang.
I wonder if the member would be willing to recognize specifically that China has not met its international obligations when it comes to consular access, and comment on the suggestion that we should have a special envoy to deal with this case.
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
Lib. (MB)
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
2020-07-20 18:50 [p.2650]
Madam Speaker, the Government of Canada remains deeply concerned about the ongoing detention of Mr. Celil.
As with all cases of Canadian citizens detained abroad, our officials have repeatedly sought consular access to determine Mr. Celil's well-being. While Canada has submitted numerous official requests and made high-level interventions in the case, China has not granted Canadian officials access to Mr. Celil.
Canada is deeply concerned by the mass detention that is taking place based on ethnicity and religion and under the pretext of countering extremism. We will continue to advocate on Mr. Celil's behalf and call on China to allow consular service officials to visit him.
View Garnett Genuis Profile
CPC (AB)
Mr. Speaker, I am back to talk about the Canada-China relationship, which, as we saw earlier today, the government has no interest in discussing in this chamber, shamefully, after giving no speeches during our special debate on the situation in Hong Kong. There have been no speeches from Liberal members, no speeches from NDP members. Both of those parties voted unanimously not to allow the Special Committee on Canada-China Relations to meet and do its work. They voted against allowing this committee to meet and do its important work during this time. That is shameful. It is a disgrace that the Liberals and the NDP refused to be involved in that conversation, and they worked together to shut down that possibility from happening. I know their constituents will hold them accountable for the shameful disregard for what is happening in Hong Kong, the disregard for the terrible human rights record of the Chinese government.
The parliamentary secretary to the government House leader said that we are not supposed to be talking about this issue and that we should be talking, instead, about COVID-19. Let me say a couple of things about that.
First, the parliamentary secretary should know that various authoritarian countries around the world, in particular the Government of China, are using precisely these circumstances to crack down on fundamental human rights and violate international law. If we ignore the vital need to stand up for the international rules-based order during this time, things are going to be a heck of a lot worse after this crisis is over. If we put our heads in the sand and pretend things are not happening, things are going to be a lot worse when this is over.
Second, the government needs to understand that we have a global pandemic precisely because of the suppression of information that took place in Wuhan and in China more broadly as a result of the authoritarian politics of that system. If this had happened in a democratic country, there would have immediately been discussion, debate and questions, openly, but the Chinese government intentionally suppressed information and discussion about the outbreak of COVID-19. This is what has allowed the global pandemic to unroll in the way that it has.
At a time when information is coming out about the suppression of information related to COVID-19, at a time when there are important questions to be asked of the World Health Organization about the way it is beholden to the Government of China, it is vitally important that we ask questions about the actions of the Government of China. However, the government does not want those questions to be asked, because every time the opportunity comes up, it gives a weak statement. It refuses to condemn the violation of fundamental human rights that is happening in Hong Kong. It refused to support an investigation into the actions of the World Health Organization that includes meaningful investigation into what is going on, including what is happening on the ground in China.
At committee, Ambassador Dominic Barton praised the Chinese government's response to COVID-19. The question that I asked earlier of the government on this issue was about whether it has confidence in Ambassador Barton, who praised the Chinese government's response to COVID-19, led a corporate retreat in Kashgar four miles from a Uighur concentration camp, and led McKinsey work to improve the image of pro-Kremlin Ukrainian presidential candidate Viktor Yanukovych.
These are important questions about Ambassador Barton. These are questions that the government does not want to answer, because after giving no speeches, the Liberals voted not to allow the parliamentary committee on Canada-China relations to meet virtually and investigate these questions.
Why is the government refusing to answer questions and refusing to allow debates at committee on the Canada-China relationship?
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
Lib. (MB)
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
2020-05-25 18:35 [p.2393]
Mr. Speaker, I was here earlier for the vote, and it was not just the government, but there were opposition members from two other political parties who agreed with what the government is saying on the issue.
It have been interesting to see the issue evolving over the last number of years. When Stephen Harper was the prime minister, he made reference to China on a number of different occasions. In fact, he flew to China, came back from China, and talked about how wonderful things were. He got a commitment from China to bring over a couple of panda bears. That is when I bought my panda bear necktie. I can recall it quite vividly. There were trade agreements of sorts that were signed off on but never debated here inside the House, agreements between the Harper Conservative government and China. Now, in opposition, the Conservatives seem to have taken a complete 180° turn in their approach to China.
We do not need to be lectured by the Conservatives on the importance of expressions of freedoms and rights, including to be able to speak freely. We are the party that came up with the Charter of Rights, which was presented by Pierre Elliott Trudeau back in the 1980s. The Charter of Rights is now a part of our Canadian values and we are very proud of it. We look at our values here in Canada and try to share them wherever we can throughout the world, trying to play a strong leadership role. I find it very interesting how the Conservatives continue to want to push that 180° turn, their road to Damascus approach, with respect to China.
There are some difficult situations that have to be overcome, just as there were when Stephen Harper was the prime minister. Yes, there has been a special committee. There have been numerous discussions. At the committee stage, there was a report. That report was adopted and concurred in by the House. No, the member did not get what he wanted specifically; there were both government and opposition members who said that there was no need.
As somebody said earlier today, our Chinese heritage community in Canada predates our Confederation. Our Chinese heritage community was here before Canada was even a country as we know it today, so when things take place in China, Hong Kong and Asia, Canada is concerned. When I say “Canada”, I am talking of people in Canada, even people who are not of Chinese heritage. We have all sorts of human rights advocates. Winnipeg is home to the Canadian Museum for Human Rights, one of the jewels of our city.
There are many parliamentarians who have been strong advocates of humanitarian rights and freedoms and are trying to ensure that Canada maintains its strong international leadership. Over the last number of years, with this Prime Minister and this government, we have continued to promote Canadian values throughout the world.
View Garnett Genuis Profile
CPC (AB)
Mr. Speaker, that was a lot of bafflegab, with no response to the question. I am glad to know that the member comes from the city where Canada's human rights museum is. I suggest he visit it sometime; he might learn something.
We had a choice and had an opportunity today to support a return of the Canada-China special committee. That would have allowed for hearings to happen online, just as other hearings are happening online. It would have allowed for hearings to actually get to the bottom of what is happening, and also put pressure on the government to take a stronger stance, because its stance so far on what is happening in Hong Kong has been very weak. If we compare it with the past, with Stephen Harper and the Conservatives' strong response to the Russian invasion of Crimea, the response by the current government to the violation of international law in the case of Hong Kong is not remotely comparable. That is why the Liberals do not want to have these conversations.
Why did the Liberals, along with their allies in the NDP, refuse to allow the committee to do its work to stand up for human rights?
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
Lib. (MB)
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
2020-05-25 18:40 [p.2394]
Mr. Speaker, I cannot speak for the New Democratic Party. Nor can I speak for the Green Party member who I understand also voted not to proceed, as the member has suggested.
What I can say is that the Liberal members have been very strong advocates for human rights. We have been very strong. We have not been selective, but the Conservatives choose to be selective. We recognize many injustices take place all over the world. Even at a time when Canadians have been dealing with the situation of coronavirus and this government has been focused on helping them, that issue and other human rights violations have not been lost to us.
We have a caucus that is diverse, caring and wanting to ensure that the values we have in Canada are shared among the world, and we will continue to advocate for that.
View Cheryl Gallant Profile
CPC (ON)
Mr. Speaker, I speak as the member of Parliament for the riding for Renfrew—Nipissing—Pembroke, home to Garrison Petawawa, training ground of the warriors, Canada's largest army base.
I am honoured to rise in this place on behalf of the women and men who serve in uniform in the Canadian Armed Forces. I appreciate the trust I have earned from our women and men in the forces. They know whenever I rise in this place to question the government, I have their backs.
During question period on March 9, two days before the pandemic was declared, I asked the Minister of National Defence when the military hospital at Garrison Petawawa would finally be operational. Canadians were disappointed to hear the minister of defence refuse to own up to the most recent $247 million cut from military infrastructure funding by the Prime Minister. In the case of health services, the health and safety of our troops is at risk at the worst possible time.
Again, what is the minister doing about the unfinished military hospital at a time when we need it most?
I am pleased to recognize the nearly 1,700 soldiers, including those from 1 Canadian Field Hospital stationed at Garrison Petawawa, who are deployed on Operation Laser. To meet the unprecedented challenge caused by the pandemic, members of the Canadian Armed Forces have been supporting a request from civilian authorities in Quebec since April 20 and Ontario since April 28. In Operation Laser, Canadian soldiers have been deployed to long-term care facilities to maintain staffing and help with infection control and infection prevention. They are at 25 long-term care facilities in Quebec and five homes in Ontario. Those numbers of deployed soldiers fluctuate as circumstances dictate.
Canadians expect our soldiers to be equipped with the latest in protective gear, with the proper training and with what Canadians expect is medical-grade protective equipment. It would appear that training and equipment has not prevented 28 soldiers serving on the front line of the pandemic from contracting the respiratory illness. Our prayers are with each and every soldier to fully recover.
The women and men of the Canadian Armed Forces put their lives on the line to protect us every day. At the time I asked my question, before Canada was placed in lockdown, I warned the minister of defence our soldiers would be at a heightened risk of getting sick. I warned the Prime Minister.
Our soldiers need to know we have their backs with the proper resources, like a full operational hospital. In the case of the construction on the hospital in Garrison Petawawa, it must be behind by two years. The Prime Minister is such a big fan of China. China built two hospitals in less than two weeks.
Canadians have learned that 28 Canadian Armed Forces members have tested positive for the coronavirus after being deployed to long-term care homes, with 12 positives in Ontario and 16 in Quebec. That is a jump in soldiers testing positive for the virus from five last week to 28 this week. How many more years will it take the Liberal government to build just one hospital?
View Anita Vandenbeld Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Anita Vandenbeld Profile
2020-05-25 18:46 [p.2395]
Mr. Speaker, in times of crisis, the Canadian Armed Forces has always been there for Canadians. At this time, Canadians and members of the forces are mourning the tragic losses from the Cyclone helicopter and Snowbirds accidents. While these losses are painful, those who serve are continuing to step up for Canadians during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Our government continues to make the necessary investments to ensure that the women and men of the Canadian Armed Forces are well supported.
We know that there is no greater risk to Canadians right now than COVID-19.
Our medical personnel were critical in repatriating about 650 Canadians from China and Japan when COVID-19 first began to spread.
The health and protection of all Canadians are the top priorities of the Canadian Armed Forces during this pandemic. That is why the Canadian Rangers are supporting the First Nations community health authorities and providing their help to vulnerable populations in indigenous communities, remote communities and northern communities from coast to coast to coast.
The Canadian Armed Forces is also assisting the Public Health Agency of Canada with warehouse management of personal protective equipment and with contact tracing. Through the Canadian Armed Forces' response to COVID-19 called Operation Laser, we have deployed over 1,600 members to support long-term care facilities in Quebec and Ontario. As of May 24, 36 military personnel who were providing support in facilities in Quebec and Ontario have tested positive for COVID-19. They are putting their lives on the line. Because of that, the chief of the defence staff has stated, “To recognize this uniquely hazardous environment...I have tasked my staff to pursue Hazard Allowance for those directly engaged inside the facilities.”
I want to assure my colleagues that prior to going in, all Canadian Armed Forces personnel have been trained in assisting long-term care residents and have been provided with personal protective equipment. Conditions at these facilities and others across the country are constantly being monitored.
That said, we also have to make sure that the women and men who serve and who are protecting us and our most vulnerable have the necessary critical health infrastructure to support them. This includes investments to modernize existing military infrastructure and to build new health care facilities at bases and wings across the country. That is why we continue to advance the construction of the health services centre at CFB Petawawa. While the project has faced delays due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we look forward to the completion of this centre in September.
What is more, we are still on track to start building a new military family resource centre at Canadian Forces Base Petawawa in order to support our soldiers and their families.
In addition to the ongoing work at CFB Petawawa, we have also completed jetty upgrades. We have a new armoury at the Saint-Hubert Garrison, a sports centre at the Saint-Jean Garrison, and we continue to modernize existing infrastructure. These investments help to ensure that the men and women in uniform have access to safe and modern facilities in which to work, train, live and receive care.
View Cheryl Gallant Profile
CPC (ON)
Mr. Speaker, the health of the Canadian Armed Forces is a matter of national security. When will the government start to realize that Canadians cannot wait until 2037, until the end of the 20-year time frame set by the government, to properly fund our armed forces?
That includes funds to complete the hospital at Garrison Petawawa, started by our Conservative government. In January, the Liberals said it would be open in June. Now they are saying September, and it is already two years behind as of January. This hospital needs to get open. Why will the Liberals not do what is necessary to make it operational?
View Anita Vandenbeld Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Anita Vandenbeld Profile
2020-05-25 18:51 [p.2395]
Mr. Speaker, we continue to ensure that military members are supported, both physically and mentally, and have access to safe and modern health care facilities. Our government continues to build new health care facilities at bases and wings all across the country, including at CFB Petawawa.
In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, we are also taking new, unprecedented measures to protect our members.
Members who are supporting essential operations have made social distancing and sanitization part of their routine, while non-essential tasks are paused.
We have also interrupted certain training and other exercises and moved personnel both at home and abroad to ensure their ongoing safety.
Throughout this period, we have maintained health care services for our brave men and women in uniform. This includes mental health support services and maintaining operations for all 37 primary health care clinics for Canadian Armed Forces members.
View Steven Blaney Profile
CPC (QC)
Mr. Speaker, I want to reassure those listening to us that we have one of the toughest and most effective firearms registration systems in the world. It includes two specific measures.
For instance, when people want to acquire a firearm in this country, they must follow mandatory training to possess what is called a non-restricted firearm. If they want to acquire a handgun or a more sophisticated gun, they have to take additional training. I should know, because this measure was introduced in 2014 by the Conservative government of the day, and I was the minister of public safety at the time.
We have a registration system that is simple and safe, complete with many guidelines and procedures. It would take too long to explain it all this evening, as the training takes several hours. What I can tell Canadians, however, is that people who own legal firearms in Canada have a lot of rules they must obey. Before taking that training myself, I was a total neophyte. I was very surprised to learn how law-abiding gun owners are. They know that a firearm must be used very carefully. These are often people who enjoy hunting or sport shooting, the two main categories of gun enthusiasts.
As I was saying, the system is very simple. There are unrestricted weapons, restricted weapons and prohibited weapons. For the average Canadian, prohibited weapons are automatic weapons, or machine guns. These machine guns include what are known as military assault-type weapons, which have been prohibited in this country since 1979. Canadians can rest assured that in the legal firearms world, automatic weapons and military assault-type weapons are prohibited. No one can own one, in any way, shape or form.
This is what led the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police, a credible public safety agency, to declare that Canada has adequate laws and that it is perfectly legitimate to own firearms. Furthermore, the former commissioner of the Ontario Provincial Police, Chris Lewis, who can be seen on English TV and who is an analyst on CTV, said that instead of targeting law-abiding gun owners, the government should deal effectively with the criminals who do not obey our existing laws.
I mentioned two police organizations during my four-minute speech because the current Liberal Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness is a former top cop. That makes me wonder why he did not heed the advice of his fellow officers.
Last week, he randomly and arbitrarily classified 1,600 firearms based on purely subjective criteria. One of my colleagues put it this way: Adding a skirt and spoiler combo to a Honda Civic does not make it a Formula 1 car. That is kind of what the minister is trying to do. He is using aesthetic and subjective criteria to classify firearms, and that is penalizing hundreds of thousands of honest citizens. He says he plans to buy back those firearms, which could cost a fortune and penalize what is clearly a highly legitimate industry, the recreation and tourism industry.
Why is the government not heeding the police's advice to go after illegal weapons, criminals and street gangs? Why is it going after scrupulously law-abiding people who are even more safety-oriented than the general population?
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
Lib. (MB)
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
2020-05-25 18:56 [p.2396]
Mr. Speaker, the issue of firearms has been hotly debated for many years in the House of Commons. In the early nineties I was a member of the Manitoba legislative assembly, and Ottawa was debating the issue of firearms. The Conservative approach is to talk about law-abiding firearms owners. If the Government of Canada, or Liberals, New Democrats, Green Party and possibly the Bloc, propose anything that deals with any form of controls or red flags, Conservatives say the government is attacking those law-abiding firearms owners. It is unfortunate.
I have had many discussions over the years with individuals who are law-abiding firearms owners. I do not believe that what the government is advocating is irresponsible in any fashion. We have demonstrated a willingness to work with other jurisdictions, particularly municipalities. We are having discussions at different levels of government, listening to the different stakeholders and, for a majority of the political entities inside the House of Commons, we are moving forward on a very important issue.
The Conservative Party seems to want to take a hard-right approach by saying any change is bad. I was pleased when the member made reference to the fact that, while he was a minister, the Conservatives brought in some legislation. That is something that Conservative MPs do not talk about very much. I was pleased that the member made reference to the legislation, because those mandatory training programs are critically important. A good number of law-abiding firearms owners support having progressive actions taken on the issue of firearms.
I spoke with a law enforcement officer, and he talked about toy guns. Some toy guns that look like assault-type weapons have an orange cap identifying them as toys. The officer said it would be possible to spray paint these caps black and have them look very convincing.
The actions the government is taking are not on a whim. They are working and listening to what Canadians want the government to do. They want to see some action on this important file. It is about safety. It is about making our communities a better place. It is about working with others.
I would invite the Conservative Party to get on board and be part of the broader coalition that is looking to make our communities better places while still respecting law-abiding firearms owners.
View Steven Blaney Profile
CPC (QC)
Mr. Speaker, I agree with my colleague that we should make our communities safer. That was our slogan in 2006.
I agree with him that firearms owners, whether they are sport shooters or hunters, are law-abiding citizens.
Why go after and harass them with costly and ineffective measures instead of examining the real problem of street gangs?
When will the government put in place measures to deal with street gangs and illegal firearms?
We will support the government. We even have proposals, such as strengthening the capacity of the CBSA at the border, putting in place a better information exchange system for police services and establishing harsher sentences for the possession of illegal firearms. We have proposals, but the Liberals' actions are designed to pander to the ill-informed for purely electoral and partisan reasons. They are intent on making hunters second-class citizens.
We will be there to represent and defend them.
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
Lib. (MB)
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
2020-05-25 19:01 [p.2397]
Mr. Speaker, that is just not true. Our government recognizes that the vast majority of firearm owners are conscientious and law-abiding, and we have tremendous respect for them. However, when guns get into the hands of criminals with violent intent, the results can be tragic.
We also intend to take further action to prevent firearms from falling into the wrong hands by strengthening safe storage laws and continuing to build a national system that will allow for the monitoring of bulk firearm purchases. The issue of gun and gang violence is complex and consistently evolving. It requires collaboration in partnership with all levels of government, law enforcement and community groups to get to the root of the problem and intervening where we know it will make a difference.
That is why the government has made unprecedented investments to support prevention, gang exiting and outreach and awareness programming through initiatives to take action on gun and gang violence. We are investing $327.6 million to give police and prosecutors new resources and tools to fight gang-related violence and address gun smuggling.
I see the time is up, but I have appreciated, as always, the opportunity to say a few words.
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
Lib. (MB)
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
2020-03-12 18:38 [p.2056]
Madam Speaker, I suspect if you were to canvass the House you would find unanimous consent to call it 6:53 p.m.
View Heather McPherson Profile
NDP (AB)
View Heather McPherson Profile
2020-03-12 18:39 [p.2056]
Madam Speaker, it is a great honour to speak in the House. I am honoured to speak on behalf of my constituents in Edmonton Strathcona and on behalf of Albertans.
With each passing day, I ask myself if there is a future for my children in Alberta. For 60 years, Alberta has become gradually and increasingly dependent on a single resource sector, a single resource that has driven the economies of Alberta and Canada in times of boom, but also devastated families and communities in times of bust. It is Albertans who have always paid the price for this dependence. Now Albertans face more than just another devastating bust cycle. Albertans are facing economic collapse.
Forty years of Conservative leadership in Alberta dedicated to rip and ship has cost Albertans dearly. It has meant that the value gained from a single resource and the jobs created declined even as production grew. Now, with the global climate crisis threatening our very existence, the world no longer needs or wants this single resource, a resource that accounts for 30% of Alberta's economy today.
Last week, I asked the government what it was going to do to help ensure a future for Alberta. I noted that unemployment in Edmonton, where I live, is the highest in Canada. I asked for investment in Alberta to create jobs now and investment to help diversify our economy for the future. I asked for our government to stop misleading Albertans, to stop telling us that there was going to be some sort of renewal of oil and gas and that it was coming back to $95 a barrel. I asked why the government is failing on diversification and failing to support Alberta workers. The Prime Minister responded, saying, “That is why we have worked to build the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion”. This is not good enough. Albertans desperately need this government to work with us to diversify our economy.
Last week Canadian crude was $47 a barrel. Today it was worth less than $20 a barrel. At the moment, it is $17.58. Last week Alberta was in the midst of an economic crisis. This week we are facing economic collapse. However, we do not have to. We can build a better future for Alberta if this government decides to take action.
My riding of Edmonton Strathcona is home to The King's University, the south campus of the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology and the University of Alberta. There are amazing researchers, inventors and innovators from academia and industry. Since my election, I have been privileged to hear a steady stream of ready-to-implement ideas to lower our greenhouse gas emissions and build our economy. In fact, I am convinced that we have the answers we need to address climate change and diversify our economy if we have the means to implement them.
Translation of research and development into commercialization and practice has always been a challenge for science and innovation. Every great idea or advancement requires funding to come to realization. Some projects, like advanced carbon sequestration practices, do not have access to venture capital because they do not have commercial outcomes. Others, like sulphur removal technologies, may have future commercial appeal but require funding for prototype development now.
Funding for these new ideas is one way to support Alberta. The Liberal government could help Alberta right now by creating an Alberta infrastructure bank for energy and other diversification projects and by targeting investment for—
View Kamal Khera Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Kamal Khera Profile
2020-03-12 18:43 [p.2057]
Madam Speaker, before I begin, I want to acknowledge that the question the member put forward for the adjournment debate was related to international development. I know she is also the shadow minister for international development and I would love to provide her with feedback in terms of what our government is doing for international development.
We are currently providing more than $6 billion in international assistance over the year to improve the lives of the poorest and most vulnerable around the world. To achieve our sustainable development goals, we committed an additional $2 billion over five years, starting in 2018-19, and in budget 2019 we announced an additional $700 million in 2023-24. These announcements represent the largest increase to Canadian aid since 2002.
However, our international assistance efforts go beyond dollars and cents. They are also measured by our leadership on international issues and our commitment to innovation. For example, through our assistance, we supported 2.9 million women and girls in gaining better access to sexual and reproductive health services, including modern methods of contraception. As an active member of the UN, we have a strong record on contributing innovative ideas and offering our global connections and expertise to address the world's most difficult peace and security challenges.
We currently chair the Peacebuilding Commission and are fostering cutting-edge work through the Elsie initiative on peacekeeping. We want to build on these and other efforts in securing a rotating seat on the UN Security Council in 2021-22, not as an end in itself but as a means to advance our foreign policy priorities and contribute to a peaceful, inclusive and sustainable world.
Ultimately, we want our international assistance to go farther and reach more people. We have new tools in place to attract more resources for sustainable development. We are building new partnerships, including with the private sector, and adopting more flexible and innovative approaches. The June 2019 announcement by our government will make sure that the equality fund, a partnership among government, philanthropists, the private sector and civil society, will create a sustainable source of funding for women's organizations and movements in developing countries.
We are confident that Canada is making and can continue to make a significant and positive difference on the world stage.
View Heather McPherson Profile
NDP (AB)
View Heather McPherson Profile
2020-03-12 18:46 [p.2057]
Madam Speaker, I am always happy to talk about our development efforts. Today's question was on the diversification of the economy for Alberta, but I would like to quickly point out that our official development assistance is at the lowest it has ever been and that there is much work we could do. Similar to what we see in Alberta, we have a government that is certainly speaking about the right things, with the feminist international assistance policy, and in terms of supporting Alberta, but is not actually doing the work we need to have it do.
There are things we could do in Alberta right now to help Alberta workers and I would encourage the government to move on that as soon as possible.
View Kamal Khera Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Kamal Khera Profile
2020-03-12 18:47 [p.2057]
Madam Speaker, we are doing incredible work when it comes to foreign affairs on the national front, as well as the international front. I am extremely proud of the feminist international assistance policy that is helping the most vulnerable and the poorest individuals around the world. We will continue to foster sustainable development, work to reduce poverty, promote peace and security around the world and provide humanitarian assistance during crises to protect some of the most vulnerable people.
I know the member opposite has extensive experience in international development and I look forward to working with her and making that a reality.
View Martin Shields Profile
CPC (AB)
View Martin Shields Profile
2020-03-12 18:47 [p.2057]
Madam Speaker, it is great to be here tonight to speak on a very critical topic.
In 2017, Health Canada proposed changes to the Patented Medicine Prices Review Board regulations. These changes introduced new factors to determine whether a medicine is being sold at an excessive price. Since these changes were proposed, rare disease patients have been warning there will be a problem. The new PMPRB regulations require drug manufacturers to lower the prices by a lot. By some estimates, price cuts of 45% to 75% will be required.
That sounds great, but the reality is that it makes our country a much less attractive market and hurts patients, particularly those with rare diseases. The road to hell is paved with good intentions.
From November 1, 2019, to February 29, 2020, Health Canada registration for new clinical trials dropped by 60% below the average of the four preceding years. There has also been a two-thirds drop in drugs approved before approval in the United States or approved within a year of approval there. The rate is now 15% of drugs.
We are dangerously falling behind because of the chill these proposed changes have caused. This is having a real-world consequence.
In my riding, I have constituents suffering from rare disorders like cystic fibrosis. No, they cannot get a doctor to get a special certificate, because they are not available. That does not work. The Liberals say it constantly.
Cystic fibrosis patients desperately need approval of the new drug called Trikafta. It could help 90% of people with cystic fibrosis. It was fast-tracked for approval in the United States and the U.K. It is available in the U.S. and many other countries, but in Canada, patients have no access.
The manufacturer, Vertex Pharmaceuticals, says its concern about proposed changes to Canada's regulations for patented medicines is the reason the product has not been launched in Canada. When the Liberals say it has not applied, there is a reason it has not applied. It is because of the regulations. It cannot drop its prices by as much as the PMPRB changes would require. Like many other pharmaceutical companies, it will not even bother applying to Health Canada under these new rules. Who suffers? It is patients with rare diseases like cystic fibrosis.
This is not about pharmaceutical companies; it is about patients who are suffering and need the drugs. They need their government to deliver for them.
Now we have the coronavirus. There is no drug for it. What are we doing? We are doing all sorts of things in the world economy. The Liberal government gave $50 million to the UN to help with it, but how would $50 million have helped the patients who have cystic fibrosis? We know 90% of them would be helped by this drug, but the Liberals gave $50 million to the UN.
Patients understand that companies should bring drugs to market at a reasonable price, but they also need the government to make sure the regulatory environment does not prevent them from getting access to life-saving drugs.
Cystic fibrosis patients do not have time to wait for the government to sort this mess out. They need action now to get this drug. The government needs to stop the proposed changes at the PMPRB and find a better way to get new drugs into the hands of patients. They need them now.
View Kamal Khera Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Kamal Khera Profile
2020-03-12 18:51 [p.2058]
Madam Speaker, I rise to speak about this extremely important topic of access to therapies for rare diseases.
I would like to reassure the member and the House that our government recognizes the importance of providing access to medications for patients with serious conditions and few treatment options. The lack of timely access to therapies and the high cost of treatment are barriers often faced by individuals living with rare diseases.
Health Canada's initiative to expand priority review processes for drug submissions is decreasing the review time for health products, including drugs for rare diseases, which in turn allows these medications to become accessible to Canadians faster.
The department is also working to align its regulatory review process with partners such as the Canadian Agency for Drugs and Technologies in Health to reduce the time between approval of a drug and the reimbursement recommendations.
The drug authorization process is initiated when a manufacturer files a submission to Health Canada for review. While Health Canada encourages manufacturers of new drugs to seek authorization for sale in Canada, it is the company's decision whether to apply to market their product in Canada.
Additionally, we recognize that for many Canadians who require prescription drugs to treat rare diseases, the cost of these medications can be extremely high. This is why our government will continue to work with the provinces, territories and other key partners to develop a national strategy for high-cost drugs for rare diseases.
Budget 2019 proposed to invest up to $1 billion over two years, with up to $500 million per year ongoing, to help Canadians with rare diseases access the drugs they need.
To ensure that Canadians have access to safe, effective and high-quality medications, Health Canada conducts a thorough review of every drug for the Canadian market. This thorough review ensures that Canadians are being offered the best possible medications.
However, we also know that every patient will have their own response to a given medication, and that is why there is the special access program that allows access to unauthorized drugs for patients with serious or life-threatening diseases or conditions, under specific circumstances. SAP is available around the clock to respond to physician requests, and delivers a 24-hour service, 365 days a year.
There are situations where Health Canada is unable to authorize a drug available in another country because the manufacturer has not yet applied to market their drug in Canada. An example of this is the drug Trikafta, which my colleague talked about, and which is a breakthrough therapy used for cystic fibrosis. Although Health Canada has not received a new drug submission for this particular drug, there have been 14 requests for this drug through SAP.
We are absolutely committed to working with all our partners, including the provinces and territories, to reduce barriers to treatments for Canadians living with rare diseases. This important work includes improving access to necessary prescription medications and making them more affordable for every Canadian.
View Martin Shields Profile
CPC (AB)
View Martin Shields Profile
2020-03-12 18:54 [p.2059]
Madam Speaker, I thank my hon. colleague for the information, but that is just not how it is working.
It is not working because companies will not apply. They are not going to apply to Canada because of those proposed regulations. That is why the numbers of companies applying has gone down 60%. Companies are not going to bring it here.
The problem is the member can say it is going faster, but it is not, because the companies have not applied.
We have people dying when 90% of cystic fibrosis people could survive. The cost to our health care system is phenomenal. These people are going to ERs because of their medical conditions. It is a huge cost. They could have a life, and 90% of the cases for CF patients could be resolved from this particular drug.
We need this done now.
View Kamal Khera Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Kamal Khera Profile
2020-03-12 18:55 [p.2059]
Madam Speaker, as a registered nurse, having worked in the community as well as in hospitals, and having met with individuals with rare diseases, I can say that I understand what the member is talking about. There are significant challenges for patients with rare diseases in our country.
Under the Food and Drugs Act and regulations, all products sold or marketed in Canada that make a therapeutic claim need to be approved by Health Canada. The drug authorization process is initiated when a manufacturer files a submission to Health Canada for review. The drug company that the member talked about has not submitted this drug.
To improve the access of effective treatments to Canadians, we will work with the provinces, territories and other key partners to develop a national strategy for high-cost drugs for rare diseases.
View Gérard Deltell Profile
CPC (QC)
View Gérard Deltell Profile
2020-03-12 18:56 [p.2059]
Madam Speaker, we all know that winter is not pleasant for Canadians. However, in the midst of this bleak winter for the Canadian economy, there was a good day that brought good news. On February 4, the Court of Appeal handed down a ruling in favour of Trans Mountain. We can now move forward, as there was no appeal. In short, it is working. This is good news because the Trans Mountain project is good for Canada's economy and its natural resources.
Unfortunately, the government nationalized the project. It took $4.5 billion of taxpayers' money to purchase a project that was not for sale. It decided to buy it and send the money to the United States. Unfortunately, the price keeps going up. We are talking about another $7 billion, and taxpayers will be the ones footing the bill.
Even so, it is a good project that has the support of all directly affected first nations. Better still, it will contribute $20 billion to Canadian, provincial and municipal coffers. That is why I asked the Minister of Canadian Heritage what he planned to do with the billions of dollars he will be able to spend as heritage minister, keeping in mind that he frequently spoke out against Trans Mountain in his past life.
Unfortunately, that is the only good news we have received since this government took office. Since the Liberals have been in power, 200,000 Canadian jobs have been lost in the energy sector, seven major projects have been cancelled, and $150 billion in potential investment has evaporated. That is this government's record.
It does not end there. Last week, a private investor withdrew funding from Quebec's Énergie Saguenay project, a pipeline that would bring liquefied natural gas from the west to Quebec. That private investor is not just anybody. It is the one and only Warren Buffett. He did it because he rightly feels that the current government has done everything in its power to discourage investment in natural resources.
Canada is closed for business.
That is unfortunate. Speaking of Quebec, it is important to remember that 50,000 people in Quebec work in the petrochemical industry. People in Quebec are said to be against the pipeline. Quebec has 2,000 kilometres of pipeline. Nine pipelines pass under the St. Lawrence River. In 2012, we built a pipeline that goes from Lévis to Montreal through 630 different areas, covering 248 kilometres and crossing 26 waterways, including the St. Lawrence River. It works so well that no one knows or talks about it. That is what happens when things are done right, and that is how Trans Mountain is going to do things.
What bothers me when we talk about energy in Quebec is the fact that Quebec bought 10.6 billion litres of oil. It does not bother me that we bought the oil, because we need it. What bothers me is that 62% of that oil comes from the United States. Why send billions of dollars to Donald Trump when we could keep that money here in Canada? That is why people in Quebec are in favour of developing natural resources, if it is done correctly. Yes, Quebeckers, like all Canadians, would rather buy Canadian oil than foreign oil. What is happening right now in Quebec is that the Liberals and their Bloc Québécois friends are against these development projects. They would rather let Donald Trump lead them by the nose than help the Canadian economy.
What will the Minister of Canadian Heritage, who was against the Trans Mountain project, do with the billions of dollars in tax revenue that this project will bring in for the governments?
View Kamal Khera Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Kamal Khera Profile
2020-03-12 19:00 [p.2060]
Madam Speaker, it is a core responsibility of the federal government to help get Canada's natural resources to market and support good middle-class jobs. We know this is only possible when we earn the public's trust and work toward addressing environmental, indigenous peoples' and local concerns.
The Trans Mountain expansion project is part of that. It is a critical project for Canada that is creating thousands of good, well-paying jobs. It will boost the price of valuable Canadian resources by unlocking new global markets, generate revenue to help fund clean energy and climate solutions and help advance reconciliation with indigenous people, including through economic opportunities. That is why we have done the hard work necessary to ensure that this project moves forward in the right way, every step of the way.
Construction is under way. Pipe is in the ground. Work is under way at the terminals in Edmonton and Kamloops. More than 2,900 hard-working Canadians are currently making this project a reality. The Federal Court of Appeal ruling was a positive one, especially for our energy workers.
These are not the only reasons this project is a positive one. We have always said that the economy and the environment not only can, but must, go hand in hand. We remain committed to that principle with this project. We will invest the revenues from the TMX project in climate and clean energy solutions.
Let me address a few of the investments our government has already made in energy efficiency and clean and renewable energy projects: more than $2.3 billion in clean technology, over $1 billion of new funding committed for energy efficiency through budget 2019, a coast-to-coast network of fast chargers for electric vehicles and new chargers at street level and apartment building retail outlets and workplaces.
We know the TMX project will support more of these investments and create significant economic benefits for the country. In fact, the Department of Finance estimates that additional federal corporate income tax revenues could be around $500 million per year once the project is completed. Every dollar we earn from this project will be reinvested in clean energy projects that will power our homes, businesses and communities for years to come.
We did the hard work necessary to get this project right because it is good for Canada and will advance our investments in clean energy.
View Gérard Deltell Profile
CPC (QC)
View Gérard Deltell Profile
2020-03-12 19:03 [p.2060]
Madam Speaker, I want to thank the hon. member for the passion she has for this project. Unfortunately, this is only for one project. Because the government lacked leadership, we lost seven big projects. We lost $150 billion of investment because the government is closed for business in developing our natural resources.
The question was for the Minister of Canadian Heritage, who has an very colourful past. I have a lot of respect for him. He is very involved in environmental issues and said all kinds of bad things about Trans Mountain. Now, he is acting as though nothing happened.
We are asking the government why it took $4.5 billion of taxpayers' money to buy a project that was not for sale and that will now cost an additional $7 billion.
Before the government can invest one cent in the environment, it will have to spend tens of billions. How is that good management of public funds?
View Kamal Khera Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Kamal Khera Profile
2020-03-12 19:04 [p.2060]
Madam Speaker, I assure the hon. member that I am extremely proud of our government, our Minister of Canadian Heritage and all cabinet members for the work they do in ensuring that we not only grow our economy but do it in a way that protects the environment.
We have a steadfast commitment to moving forward in the right way, every step of the way, on TMX, because we know how important it is to every Canadian. We believe that the success of this project and other projects will demonstrate that Canada can create the prosperity we all want and protect the environment we all cherish.
View Jenica Atwin Profile
GP (NB)
View Jenica Atwin Profile
2020-03-11 18:30 [p.1968]
Madam Speaker, I am pleased to stand in the House today as a follow-up to my question on funding for a national framework for mental health. I would like to start today by sharing how mental health has impacted my journey here.
I began my career as an educator. One day, a 14-year-old student got into some trouble in class and was sent down to see me. As we talked, it became clear there was a lot going on. I was aware of some social struggles in the friend group and I knew a bit of family history.
Suddenly and unforgettably, this student for whom I cared deeply, said the words, “I do not want to live anymore.” The student had the means and the motivation to escape this painful experience. The weight of the suffering hung thick in the air. I did what any human would do under the circumstances. I did my best to stumble through the rest of the conversation with empathy, but I recognized very acutely that my colleagues and I were not equipped to navigate the complexities of these conversations with the youth who trusted us the most. I would spend many hours and resources finding the tools to tackle this crisis, and I wish many other Canadians would also have that opportunity.
I am acutely aware of the pain of suicide, as many of us are. We have all lost someone. a cousin, the child of a teammate, a co-worker, a friend, a grandmother. Research shows that approximately 90% of people who die by suicide suffer from mental illness or addiction. Suicide is the second leading cause of death among youth ages 15 to 24. Rates of suicide are three times higher for members of first nations communities than they are for non-indigenous people. Risk factors are directly linked to socio-economic characteristics, including household income, employment status, level of education and family support.
I have shared a story. I have shared the data. I would now like to look to the solution.
Canadian provinces and territories need financial support from the federal government to ensure they can address the mental health crisis impacting families and communities across the nation.
We need to invest in training for professionals across sectors, educators and everyday Canadians to access resources and learning opportunities to support those suffering from mental illness.
We need to invest in a timely diagnosis process. Service providers and families need access to early diagnosis to ensure early intervention.
We need to invest in a national pharmacare system. Canadians should never have the financial anxiety of needing to choose between buying groceries or life-saving medications.
We need to invest in support for sexual assault survivors. This is a massive missing link in this conversation.
We need to invest in support for elders, like intergenerational housing, to avoid isolation and loneliness.
That is why on February 26, I asked the Minister of Finance if the budget would include funding for a national framework on mental health so the provinces and territories could work together to find solutions to address this crisis. I look forward to hearing the response from the hon. member as to how we might come together to restore hope for Canadians across the country.
View Gudie Hutchings Profile
Lib. (NL)
View Gudie Hutchings Profile
2020-03-11 18:33 [p.1969]
Madam Speaker, I would like to thank the member first and foremost for sharing her story and for providing the House with this opportunity to speak about mental health.
According to Statistics Canada, one in three Canadians will be affected by a mental illness in their lifetime. Mental health is influenced by a number of factors, including life experience and social and economic conditions. Our government recognizes the need for a comprehensive approach to mental health, one that embraces promotion and prevention alongside treatment and recovery.
For this reason, we have worked with our partners and stakeholders to put in place community-based programs and initiatives that promote mental health and contribute to the prevention of mental illness.
Our government is also committed to increasing the availability of high-quality mental health services for all Canadians. Through budget 2017, we provided provinces and territories with $5 billion over 10 years to improve access to mental health and addiction services. These targeted investments will address specific gaps in the availability of mental health services, including those for children and youth.
Allow me to illustrate, through concrete examples, how these investments are expected to directly help Canadians suffering from mental illness.
With this funding, in my province of Newfoundland and Labrador we will add new community crisis houses to provide a safe place for people experiencing a mental health crisis. Several models will be explored for these beds, based on the emerging needs of each of the province's regional health authorities.
Quebec will improve accommodation and community retention services to provide psychiatric hospitalizations and reduce psychiatric ward stays.
The Northwest Territories will contract an itinerant private counselling team that will provide surge capacity assistance to individuals struggling with mental illness through timely crisis supports when local resources are either unavailable or overwhelmed.
Saskatchewan will establish residential options that include intensive supports for individuals with serious and persistent mental health issues.
With federal funds, Ontario has committed to develop and provide new services in supportive units, such as daily living supports and case management for those living with mental illness, those with addictions, and those who are at risk of becoming homeless.
In Ontario, as well as in New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island, and Nova Scotia, federal investments will also support other initiatives that integrate mental health and addictions services into supportive housing programs, justice services, and education settings, all of which will have a particular focus on youth.
To provide support for those struggling with suicidal thoughts, our government is also investing close to $3 million over five years to support the development of the Canada suicide prevention service through Crisis Services Canada. This service connects people in Canada to confidential 24/7 crisis support and resources through trained responders.
Finally, to promote child and youth mental health, our government is also investing $1.1 million in 2019-20, $4.7 million in 2020-21 and $4.9 million from 2021-22 and onwards through the mental health promotion innovation fund. The fund will support the development of new and promising interventions that aim to address the underlying determinants of mental health in children and young people throughout Canada.
To sum up, mental health is a priority for the federal government, and we will continue to work with all our partners to make improvements in this area.
View Jenica Atwin Profile
GP (NB)
View Jenica Atwin Profile
2020-03-11 18:37 [p.1970]
Madam Speaker, I thank the member for that really wonderful response. There are lots of great initiatives taking place in Canada. I feel we have come a very long way.
I do want to highlight that there are still some missing pieces. Mental health has long been recognized as a fundamental aspect of one's health; however, under our current health regime, the majority of mental health services do not meet the eligibility requirement of “medically necessary”.
I feel we need to have another look at this, and that is why I am asking for a national legislation framework. There is a patchwork of provincial and regional initiatives, but I feel we need a more unified approach. I am thinking of a story of a constituent who is searching for their son across provincial lines and is having a lot of difficulty because there is not a lot of collaboration and communication that occurs.
I am asking for a national strategy to be looked at and funded by the government.
View Gudie Hutchings Profile
Lib. (NL)
View Gudie Hutchings Profile
2020-03-11 18:38 [p.1970]
Madam Speaker, I know my hon. colleague is passionate about this issue and I encourage her to reach out and work with all the departments.
I am sure the member knows that the provinces determine where most of the federal money given to them goes. That is why we were so adamant in earmarking that money for mental health initiatives.
We are committed to a comprehensive approach to mental health, one that embraces promotion, prevention, treatment and recovery. We are investing in a range of culturally appropriate mental health initiatives and programs that take into account social, economic and environmental factors, such as income, housing and education. We are also working with our provincial and territorial partners to improve access to mental health services for Canadians.
As mentioned, through our commitment of $5 billion over 10 years in budget 2017, investments have been made in appropriate and cost-effective mental health services for Canadians. We will ensure that the provinces continue to do so.
The challenge of addressing mental health issues requires the combined efforts of all levels of government and many stakeholders, as well as all members in this House.
View Paul Manly Profile
GP (BC)
View Paul Manly Profile
2020-03-11 18:39 [p.1970]
Madam Speaker, Retirement Concepts runs 23 long-term care facilities for seniors in Canada. Nineteen are in B.C. and seven are on Vancouver Island. Retirement Concepts provides independent living, assisted living and complex care for seniors.
In 2017, the government approved the sale of Retirement Concepts to the Chinese corporation Anbang Insurance. The following year, Anbang's CEO was convicted of corruption, and the company was taken over by the Chinese state.
The conditions at Retirement Concepts' Nanaimo Seniors Village in my riding were atrocious. The home was understaffed and provided substandard care. Seniors went for weeks without receiving a bath. They were left in soiled clothes and soiled beds. Bedsores and other related health consequences of neglect were common.
After numerous complaints by residents and their families, the Vancouver Island Health Authority took over Nanaimo Seniors Village and two other Retirement Concepts care facilities on Vancouver Island. Last month, another facility, in Summerland, had to be taken over as well.
Under the Investment Canada Act, Anbang had an obligation to maintain staffing levels. The federal government made assurances to the provinces that patient care would be protected. The B.C. Seniors Advocate has stated that she did not understand how the federal government could make such an assurance. The reporting and transparency required to make that promise do not exist. The federal government should not be permitting foreign ownership of businesses that provide taxpayer-funded health care services. When seniors are hospitalized as a result of neglect and substandard care, we all carry the cost. Our seniors deserve better than for-profit care run by foreign corporations that lack accountability.
Recent analysis by the B.C. Office of the Seniors Advocate found that the not-for-profit sector spends 59% of its revenue on direct care. That is 24% more per resident per year than the for-profit sector. The for-profit sector failed to deliver 207,000 hours of funded care. The not-for-profit sector provided 80,000 more hours of direct care than it was paid to deliver. Wages for care workers in the for-profit sector were 28% less than the industry standard. Nanaimo Seniors Village had a hard time attracting workers, with an average wage of $18 per hour, rather than the industry standard of $24 an hour.
There is a waiting list for every government-funded care bed. There is no competition to provide these services, no free market. These beds will be filled, whether or not a facility is properly staffed and delivering appropriate care. That revenue stream is guaranteed.
The abuses that have resulted from this situation are horrifying. We have failed to protect our seniors. We must remove the financial incentive to provide substandard seniors care. Corporations cannot be permitted to squeeze profit out of the health care system through vague accounting, paying below-average wages and neglecting vulnerable seniors. That is unacceptable.
The operation of seniors long-term care facilities is under the jurisdiction of the provinces, but the government must be actively involved in creating a solution to these problems. The government needs to mandate national standards to ensure the safety and dignity of Canadian seniors. Going forward, the government should not permit foreign ownership of businesses that provide taxpayer-funded health care services.
View Ali Ehsassi Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Ali Ehsassi Profile
2020-03-11 18:43 [p.1971]
Madam Speaker, thank you for allowing me the opportunity to respond to the comments made by my hon. colleague from Nanaimo—Ladysmith regarding the acquisition of Retirement Concepts by Cedar Tree in 2017.
Let me begin by saying that the safety and well-being of our seniors is of paramount concern to our government. We also recognize that global investment can benefit Canadians and the Canadian economy. Investment flows into this country are important, and Canada has a robust framework in place to promote trade and investment.
The Investment Canada Act is one part of that robust framework and is the primary mechanism for reviewing foreign investments in Canada. Acquisitions of Canadian businesses are subject to a net benefit review. Consequently, they are carefully considered in light of factors set out in the act, and it is only after that act has been consulted that approval is forthcoming. Of course the determination has to be made that the acquisition is of overall economic benefit to our country.
In the course of the review of this specific investment, the minister considered submissions from a number of health care advocacy groups, associations and professionals. The minister also considered submissions from academics and individual Canadians. These parties raised important policy issues regarding the quality and availability of care for seniors in Canada.
The minister also consulted with the relevant provincial regulators of senior care facilities, such as the Government of British Columbia, which further informed the review and the ultimate decision.
I wish to emphasize that existing provincial regulations set out licensing obligations and standards of care for all operators of residential care and assisted living facilities, regardless of ultimate ownership. Retirement Concepts continues to be required to meet or exceed these requirements, and it is also required to work with the Government of British Columbia to remedy any concerns.
Additionally, through the Investment Canada Act review, legally binding commitments were put in place. Federal officials consult their provincial counterparts to actively monitor compliance with the Investment Canada Act.
View Paul Manly Profile
GP (BC)
View Paul Manly Profile
2020-03-11 18:46 [p.1971]
Madam Speaker, now that the Chinese state has created a new corporate entity called Dajia, which owns Retirement Concepts, it is time for the federal government to review the original purchase and rescind the agreement.
The Canadian seniors of today are the workers and business owners of yesterday. They worked hard, paid their taxes and contributed to building what they believed to be retirement security. They are also our parents and grandparents. We owe them dignity and care in their final years. No one in a care facility in Canada should be left in a soiled bed for hours until he or she gets a septic wound. No one in a care facility in Canada should be left without a bath for weeks on end.
We should not have allowed this critical health care service to be sold to the highest foreign bidder. This crisis must be fixed.
View Ali Ehsassi Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Ali Ehsassi Profile
2020-03-11 18:47 [p.1971]
Madam Speaker, Retirement Concepts, as the operator, continues to work with the Government of British Columbia to remedy any and all concerns. However, I feel it is fitting that I close by recognizing the first Canadian death from COVID-19: a resident of a British Columbia residential care facility. We extend our deepest condolences.
Our absolute priority will always remain the health and safety of Canadians. The federal government will continue to provide leadership and partnership with the provinces, territories and all Canadians.
View Eric Duncan Profile
CPC (ON)
Madam Speaker, I am thankful for this opportunity to speak during adjournment proceedings tonight.
I will speak to the first two questions I was able to ask in the House of Commons as a member of Parliament. They pertain not only to my riding of Stormont—Dundas—South Glengarry and its rural municipalities and rural projects, but to every corner of this country, whether it is a small, rural municipality, of which I have several in my riding; the city of Cornwall, a mid-sized Ontario urban community; downtown Toronto, Ontario; or the west or east coast.
I have had two opportunities to ask questions about the delays we have seen in getting infrastructure funding out the door. The announcement that dollars are there is one thing, but giving the okay to municipalities so that shovels can get in the ground is something we have not seen quickly, which has been very concerning.
This issue is a bit of a passion of mine. Before I came to the House, I served at the municipal level as a mayor in the township of North Dundas and a warden of the United Counties of Stormont, Dundas and Glengarry for 12 years. I am a self-professed technocrat when it comes to this subject.
I requested the time tonight not just to complain about these delays. As I committed in my maiden speech and in my community, I will not just complain about things, but rather offer some solutions or feedback to my colleagues in the House.
I will remind members of my question on a specific project, which is just as an example of hundreds across Ontario and, I am sure, in other provinces and in rural communities across the country. The example I used is the Morrisburg streetscape project. Last May, the Municipality of South Dundas and many counties came together and applied to the investing in Canada infrastructure program through the stream of the rural and northern lens.
Most relationships that have been done by Conservative and Liberal governments over the years have been one-third federal, one-third provincial and one-third municipal. Municipalities put their projects forward and commit one-third. Last summer, in July, many projects, including the Morrisburg streetscape project, got the okay from the provincial government and they were given their one-third.
I had a concern as an outsider at that point, as I was not a member of the House, when we were coming into an election period: Will dollars get out the door before the election? Unfortunately that did not happen. My thinking at the time was was to give the benefit of the doubt, since the government cannot make announcements or okay projects during a writ period. I understand and respect that. However, one thing I have said as well is that bureaucrats are not off during an election. We are often out and about, just as ministers are, so bureaucrats here in Ottawa or across the country can prepare lists for approvals for our communities.
What could have happened? The first day the new minister was back in Ottawa, we could have signed off and had these projects. Unfortunately it is five months after the election and hundreds of applications are still outstanding, waiting to hear yea or nay on those projects.
These delays are frustrating. One of the reasons for that is municipalities have now done their 2020 budgets. They have allocated the money and are waiting to go, but they need an answer from the federal government on whether these projects can happen.
One of the other concerns I have is with the timeframe we have now. By the time we get approvals out and RFPs go out for tenders on these projects, costs are going up because it is later in the season.
I have two questions for the parliamentary secretary, whom I appreciate being here tonight to respond. Would she agree that these delays are excessive and unnecessary when it comes to approvals, when the other two levels of government have agreed? Does she agree that while it is one thing to announce funding, we need to get it out the door and give those dollars to get the shovels in the ground?
View Gudie Hutchings Profile
Lib. (NL)
View Gudie Hutchings Profile
2020-03-11 18:52 [p.1972]
Madam Speaker, first and foremost, I would like to congratulate my colleague from Stormont—Dundas—South Glengarry for his recent election and passionately representing his constituents in the House. I too am from a very large rural riding. I love to say the land-mass of my riding is bigger than Switzerland. I have 217 beautiful little communities. Therefore, the member should come and visit the west coast of Newfoundland at any time.
The Government of Canada believes in the importance of investing in infrastructure. We believe in the promise we made to Canadians to create good jobs, grow the economy and invest in resilient and sustainable communities.
The over 52,000 projects across the country that we have supported through the investing in Canada plan are tangible proof of how we are delivering on that promise. Over 4,800 of those are right here in Ontario.
I am pleased to have the opportunity to talk about how we review the projects submitted for funding approval and to highlight how the federal funding is available now for provincial, territorial and municipal priorities. We want all Canadians to see and feel the impacts of the investments.
Under the majority of Canada's infrastructure programs, once the projects are approved, partners can start their projects and spend immediately. The flow of federal funds occurs when the claims are submitted to the department for reimbursement. We want to ensure that the projects are reviewed and approved as quickly as possible. That is why we continue to work closely with our partners to explore how we can improve the timeliness of our flow of funds.
Through the investing in Canada infrastructure program, we are investing over $33 billion across the country through bilateral agreements with each and every province and territory. The program investments all aim to improve the quality of life of Canadians by investing in infrastructure through four funding streams: public transit; green; community, culture and recreational; and rural and northern communities' infrastructure.
Specifically, the rural and northern communities' stream of the program dedicates $2 billion to addressing the unique infrastructure needs of these really rural and remote communities. Our investments are increasing economic growth and creating jobs within the infrastructure that improves peoples' quality of life. The investments are benefiting rural and remote communities across the country, but before a project can begin, an application has to be submitted.
Under this program, it is then up to provinces and territories to identify the projects, prioritize the projects and submit those projects for approval. Each application is then assessed to determine whether it fits within the applicable funding stream or whether federal environmental assessment or indigenous consultations are required.
By working closely with our partners, we are aiming to get shovels in the ground faster to deliver real results for Canadian communities.
I understand the member's question about during the writ period. I too was impacted by that, and that is just the way things go. During the writ period, nothing happens. If it is a sitting member, it is considered a feather in his or her cap, so to speak. That is why nothing goes on during the writ period.
In fairness to my colleague, as he is new in the House, it takes a while for the new departments to get staffed up and under way, especially when a new minister is in place.
I am proud of the work our government is doing to ensure our communities grow and succeed now and into the future. I look forward to working with my colleague anytime we can address this issue further.
View Eric Duncan Profile
CPC (ON)
Madam Speaker, I am going to follow up on a few of those aspects.
I agree with her. There has been an improvement in the after aspect of municipalities getting the actual cheques when the projects are done. I am speaking more specifically of that time lag between the deadline of those applications being received and that okay.
I appreciate her comments about the writ, and again I understand and respect that. However, regardless of elections or not, perhaps we could tighten up that time frame in terms of how we can do that.
As for the multi-year agreements we saw between the federal government and different provinces and municipalities, there are ways of improving that process. I want to be collaborative, like I have said before.
My colleague teased the other day and said it was “A” for announcement and “D” for delivery with respect to these things sometimes. We should ensure the dollars get out in a timely manner. Equally as important is getting it out at the right time so when tenders to municipalities go out, they are getting the best price and maximizing Canada's weather patterns as best as they possibly can.
I look forward to working with colleagues on that issue going forward to help all municipalities across Canada.
View Gudie Hutchings Profile
Lib. (NL)
View Gudie Hutchings Profile
2020-03-11 18:57 [p.1973]
Madam Speaker, as I mentioned, we are investing $33 billion through the bilateral agreements with each of the provinces and territories. The funding is available now for them to start their projects immediately.
We have made important investments in infrastructure in every region. Our goal remains to work collaboratively, responsibly and quickly to invest in infrastructure. However, the application process is critical and it is incumbent on all of us to ensure these investments will make the lives of Canadians better.
My colleague commented about the weather. This winter, Newfoundland and Labrador has seen mountains of snow and I know it will have an impact on its construction season as well. I agree with the member that we need to do all we can to ensure we get the funding out to the respective communities in a timely manner.
View Jenny Kwan Profile
NDP (BC)
View Jenny Kwan Profile
2020-03-10 18:30 [p.1919]
Mr. Speaker, when I rose to ask the Prime Minister about the failures of his national housing strategy, including the glaring absence of a housing strategy that would be led by indigenous people for rural, urban and northern indigenous people, I received the usual meaningless talking points, despite the Liberals pledge in 2017 with the introduction of the national housing strategy to address the housing crisis for Inuit, Métis and first nations people.
The Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Families, Children and Social Development even said on the public record that the Liberals were committed to a separate national urban indigenous housing strategy by and for urban indigenous people. However, years later there is still no action.
Aboriginal people in Canada are 10 times more likely than non-aboriginal people to become homeless. When I pointed out that 40% of the homeless population in Vancouver was indigenous people, the Prime Minister was busy patting himself on the back with self-congratulatory rhetoric that I do not even think he realized how severe the housing crisis was and how grossly disproportionate it was effecting urban, rural and northern indigenous communities.
Across the country, indigenous peoples are experiencing the highest levels of poverty, with a shocking 25% of indigenous people living in poverty, despite making up only 5% of Canada's population. High poverty rates for indigenous people are part of the continued legacy of colonization. Ignoring the housing crisis they are facing will only result in having these numbers increase and further perpetuate the impact of colonization.
With a staggering 87% of indigenous households not living on reserve lands, we need to have an affordable housing strategy to address the needs of indigenous people living in the rural, urban and northern parts of Canada. It is a matter of urgency requiring immediate action that is consistent with international human rights law.
This strategic approach must be founded upon cultural-based practice and action, led by indigenous people for indigenous people. No more kicking the can down the road. Canadians need to see the allocation of the necessary funds to support the national housing strategy in budget 2020 and action for a urban, rural and northern indigenous housing strategy led by and for indigenous peoples. The government promised to do better, Canadians expected better and the government must do better.
View Adam Vaughan Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Adam Vaughan Profile
2020-03-10 18:33 [p.1920]
Mr. Speaker, we all agree. I am very proud to have helped move the motions at committee to start the process of driving forward an urban, rural and northern indigenous housing strategy to make sure that people that are governed outside the Indian Act, close to 87% in my province but 80% across the country who live outside of the national indigenous organizations governance structures, have their housing needs met. They need to be met now. They needed to have been met years ago.
I am proud to be part of a government that not only passed the national housing strategy, which incorporates the move towards self-directed, self-designed and self-delivered indigenous housing programs in this area but also has started to make profound investments in that very same space.
Our 2016 budget included $564.7 million in new funding over the next three years to address pressing needs in 464 first nations communities. We have also, as part of the 10-year housing strategy and part of the reaching home strategy, for the first time carved out an indigenous stream, which is indigenous-led, indigenous-designed and indigenous-delivered in communities right across this country.
We did something else which is profoundly important. In areas where homelessness is high and the point-in-time counts show a strong indigenous population unfortunately is being over-represented, we have started to convert even the designated communities to indigenous leadership so that indigenous housing providers can provide support for those communities right across the country from coast to coast to coast.
In Vancouver, in B.C.'s Lower Mainland, the community entity that manages the funds for that part of the country and the community advisory board is now being led by indigenous leadership and indigenous housing providers precisely because we recognize their expertise but also their cultural capacity to deliver better services for people that are homeless.
As I said, the government committed in mandate letters to the Minister of Northern Affairs, to the minister that I work for, and also to the minister of indigenous infrastructure to deliver an indigenous-led urban, rural and northen housing strategy. Those dollars will be building upon investments that we have made already as part of the national housing strategy. In fact, $225 million over the last three years has been invested specifically here.
We did one other thing that I am also very proud of and that is we made sure that CMHC stops its practice which it has been conducting over the previous decades of disqualifying indigenous applications as they came forward by saying that the applicant has to go to INAC, Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada, to get money. All applications, indigenous and non-indigenous, that come forward to serve indigenous communities are now incorporated into the national housing strategy under all of the $55-billion program. We are having real success with that.
We also negotiated accords with the provinces and territories across this country a responsibility for those provincial accords to address indigenous housing in off-reserve areas, including supports to sustain the existing program and existing rental supports that are needed to make and sustain affordable communities for indigenous people. We also made sure that capital dollars were allocated in that area.
The member is correct. This is an area that is going to require this Parliament to act with great deliberation and to make substantial investments.
It is unfortunate that the NDP platform does not mention indigenous housing in urban spaces at all. It also is unfortunate that the three different letters that have been posted by the leader never once mention indigenous housing, not specifically and not intentionally.
I am glad that the member opposite has raised this issue and has driven this issue forward to make sure that her party takes this issue seriously. I look forward to her support at committee and her support of the federal budget and support of the findings that our government will produce to show the way forward.
We can solve this crisis. If we do not solve the crisis of urban, rural and northern homelessness, if we do not have a self-directed fourth pillar in the indigenous housing programs of this country, we will never solve homelessness and we will never achieve reconciliation and we will never achieve the dreams of decolonization that the member talked about.
Our government is committed to achieving this. I am committed to achieving this. I look forward to working with members opposite to make sure the dollars flow, the housing is built and people are cared for.
View Jenny Kwan Profile
NDP (BC)
View Jenny Kwan Profile
2020-03-10 18:37 [p.1920]
Mr. Speaker, "There is a specific kind of hypocrisy when government over-promises but continues to under-deliver, which serves nothing more than to damage an already fraught relationship. In the emerging political momentum on tackling the indigenous housing crisis and homelessness, urban and rural indigenous stakeholders cannot be an afterthought in the process." That is a direct quote from Marc Maracle, the Gignul Non-Profit Housing Corporation representative.
The comments from the parliamentary secretary, while political, do not serve the work that needs to be done. The fact remains the government ignored and did not even see the need to address the urban, rural and northern indigenous communities' homelessness crisis. Now it is talking about it but that talk has gone on for years and years and it is now time to act.
The NDP is always ready to see action become reality. We will be at the table at every turn, pushing the government until indigenous communities in urban, rural and northern communities are housed.
View Adam Vaughan Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Adam Vaughan Profile
2020-03-10 18:38 [p.1921]
Mr. Speaker, let me be crystal clear. The $2.2 billion reaching home program has a specific indigenous-led homelessness component to it that specifically addresses the needs, goals and aspirations of indigenous housing providers fighting homelessness right across the country.
Additionally, we have put $55 billion into housing. Those housing dollars are available to all indigenous housing providers across this country on an equal terms basis.
That is a foreshadowing to the important work we have to do to set up a fourth, distinct and deliberately intentional funding formula that builds on the $225 million we have already invested, without the help of the New Democrats, who never promised a penny of this in their platform and have never asked for a penny of this in any of their budget submissions. We have put those dollars into play, which are building properties right now. I was in Vernon, B.C., where I opened an indigenous elders' seniors residence. I have worked in Sturgeon Falls, where we have produced new housing. I have been here in Ottawa with the Inuit community. We have also delivered new housing as a direct result of the investments to the national housing strategy.
There is no hypocrisy here. There was action, an investment and a commitment to work for even better results in this Parliament.
View Richard Cannings Profile
NDP (BC)
Mr. Speaker, last December I asked the Prime Minister about the financial situation surrounding the Trans Mountain pipeline. As most Canadians know, the government now owns this pipeline, having bought it in 2018. We paid $4.5 billion for the pipeline, a price that has most charitably been characterized as being at the higher end of the valuation range. By other analysts, it was considered overpriced by a billion dollars or more.
I asked that question because the Parliamentary Budget Officer had just reported that the pipeline was losing money. To be accurate, it actually posted a small profit in 2019 due to, according to the PBO report, tax recoveries due to negative earnings before taxes and changes in the provincial corporate tax rate. Therefore, the taxpayers, particularly those in Alberta, continue to subsidize this project.
In my question I also mentioned the analysis of Trans Mountain's financial situation by economist Robyn Allan. She found that the tolls charged by the pipeline only covered about a third of the cost of running it, and that these tolls were constrained by the way Canada had bought the pipeline, through shares instead of capital assets.
The Prime Minister answered with two familiar narratives. He said that Canada needed access to new oil markets outside the United States, and even after I had explained why there would be no profits for Trans Mountain, the Prime Minister said that all those profits would go to “nature-based solutions and new technologies”.
I will say briefly that all analysts would agree that almost all the oil that may flow one day through the Trans Mountain expansion pipeline will go to the United States, not Asia, since it is in the U.S. that the best opportunities for bitumen lie. The narrative that the government and industry are spinning about the need for pipelines to tidewater is not at all accurate.
I want to spend the rest of my time explaining why the Trans Mountain expansion project will result in little or no profits for shippers or the government. The government has been saying for months that tax revenues will increase by $500 million per year once the expanded pipeline is in place. That assumption is wildly incorrect for two reasons. First, it was based on an estimated project cost of $5.4 billion and, as I will mention shortly, that figure has changed a bit. Second, it is also based on the incorrect assumption that all the oil production in western Canada would benefit from better prices produced by having a pipeline to tidewater.
As we have all heard, there is often a considerable differential between the price of oil received by some producers in western Canada and the general world price. That differential is caused by shipping constraints when refineries are shut down for maintenance or pipelines are shut off to fix leaks, so a bigger pipeline would help eliminate that differential. However, according to Natural Resources Canada, the differential only affects about 30% of oil produced in Canada, so profits would only increase theoretically for about 30% of oil producers, and even those profits are at risk because of the rising costs of the project.
I asked a second question on Trans Mountain a few weeks ago when the company announced the price of the expansion had gone up from $5.4 billion to $12.6 billion, and as project costs skyrocket, profits for the companies that have pledged to use the pipeline quickly vanish. They go down because a portion of the pipeline shipping toll fees for those producers is linked to the costs of the project. As the tolls go up, profits go down, and if the cost is truly $13 billion, they essentially vanish. It is those non-existent profits that would theoretically generate the tax revenues the Prime Minister would want to use to fight climate change.
View Sean Fraser Profile
Lib. (NS)
View Sean Fraser Profile
2020-03-10 18:44 [p.1922]
Mr. Speaker, as always, I appreciate the question and commentary from my colleague, who I know cares deeply not just about this project but about the environment more broadly.
As has been canvassed in this House many times, the Trans Mountain project matters to Canada. There are a number of reasons for that, but if we acknowledge that the oil and gas sector is a part of the Canadian economy that cannot be shut off overnight, we should do what we can to maximize the economic return while our energy producers are continuing to take part in employing Canadians and growing the economy. That said, we have to recognize that we are in the midst of a massive transition toward a low-carbon economy, and there cannot be a higher priority for the government.
With respect to the project, despite some of the issues that were raised by my colleague, we are confident that the project remains commercially viable. There is going to be a serious economic return from this project, although it was sort of dismissed. The fact remains that because we sell primarily to customers in one country, the United States, diversifying the markets these products could be sold into, whether they end up in the United States or in Asian markets, will create a competition in the marketplace that will increase the price, which will not only create economic returns on this specific project but will pay off across the energy sector more broadly. That does not even touch on the fact that thousands of Canadians in a part of the country that is deeply concerned about its local economy will now be working on this project.
I know there was some criticism on the basis that this was treated as some sort of a subsidy. The original question giving rise to the remarks this evening referred to the Parliamentary Budget Officer. I just came back from a finance committee meeting where the Parliamentary Budget Officer confirmed that in fact this is the purchase of an asset, not a subsidy.
The costs have changed over time, but that is because this project is different from what it was in 2017. We have put in place higher standards for environmental protection. We have engaged in a meaningful way with indigenous communities, and there are going to be more union jobs on this project as a result of some of the changes. If those come at a cost, the arm's-length Trans Mountain Corporation will need to recognize that it needs to meet the standard that the Federal Court has recognized is appropriate for this case.
To summarize, this project is proceeding in the right way. With regard to indigenous communities in particular, there are now 58 agreements with indigenous communities that represent over $500 million in benefits. When the project is complete, the contract awards will exceed $1 billion. Importantly, every dollar of profit, whether from the operation or the eventual sale of this project, is going to go to the transition toward a green economy.
The original question was critical, asking why we would do this when we could be doing that. It ignores the fact that we have invested about $70 billion toward the clean transition and have advanced Canada's first-ever national plan to combat climate change. It includes, of course, putting a price on pollution, investing in energy efficiency that will see 90% of our electricity generated from non-emitting sources by the end of the decade, massive investments in the transition toward electric vehicles, the single largest investment to protect nature in the history of Canada, new investments in research and innovation, and a phase-out of coal by the year 2030, to name but a few of the items that we are pursuing.
The fact is that the project remains in the national interest. We know it will put Canadians to work, but importantly, we have not taken our eye off the ball of the need to transition to a low-carbon economy. That remains at the top of our priority list as a government.
View Richard Cannings Profile
NDP (BC)
Mr. Speaker, I will finish by pointing out two things.
First is the obvious change in the world oil market that has happened over the past few days. The world price is now hovering around $30 a barrel. Oil sands projects are not economical at those prices, and there is no indication that those prices will increase back to levels where they will be economical.
Second, according to recent polls, Canadians are increasingly opposed to the Trans Mountain expansion, especially as they see the cost rise to astronomical levels. In B.C., more people now oppose the project than support it.
How much will Canadians pay for the Trans Mountain expansion? Why does the government not abandon this expansion and instead invest those billions into projects that will put people to work in good jobs right now, instead of waiting for some mythical tax profits to magically appear?
Those increased taxes are not going to materialize, they are not going to provide any money to create the good jobs that western Canadians need now, and they are not going to provide money to do the good things around climate action that need to be done right now.
View Sean Fraser Profile
Lib. (NS)
View Sean Fraser Profile
2020-03-10 18:49 [p.1922]
Mr. Speaker, with respect, we maintain that the project remains economically viable, and we intend to eventually divest this project into the private sector. I expect the very likely outcome that it will actually do better than break even and will turn a profit. Based on the economics, despite the recent short-term change to the price per barrel of oil, which is having a serious economic impact on the world economy, this particular project does remain viable.
The hon. member finished his commentary by saying there is a need to take action on climate change. I could not agree more. The fact is we have invested more than any government in the history of Canada toward measures that will actually fight climate change and protect our environment. I could list a few of them.
I look forward to sharing the measures that will be contained in the upcoming federal budget and that hopefully will be implemented in this Parliament. They will position Canada as a world leader in the fight against climate change. Anything less would, quite rightly, fall short of the expectations that Canadians have of our government.
View Daniel Blaikie Profile
NDP (MB)
View Daniel Blaikie Profile
2020-03-10 18:50 [p.1923]
Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise this evening, after a full day of debate on the Canada-United States-Mexico trade agreement, to follow up on a question I asked in question period some time ago around the provisions protecting Canadian businesses, which see U.S. government procurement as an important part of their business, from the buy America policy.
We are told that these agreements are all about unfettered access to markets, yet there are companies like New Flyer, which manufactures buses in, among other places, Transcona, that have to shift jobs from manufacturing facilities in Canada to the Untied States because the U.S. content requirement for things like buses increases under the buy America policy.
I am hoping that a representative of the government can explain tonight the rules, if there are any, that protect Canadian businesses from the buy America policy. In the event that there is no preferential access for Canadians with respect to American government procurement, what reciprocal limitations are put on U.S. businesses applying for government procurement contracts in Canada?
View Omar Alghabra Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Omar Alghabra Profile
2020-03-10 18:51 [p.1923]
Mr. Speaker, the question my hon. colleague from Elmwood—Transcona asked is timely because today we started debating third reading of Bill C-4. Hopefully the bill will be passed in this Parliament with the support of all political parties in the House, including the NDP. I want to thank the member and his colleagues for their support.
The issue of buy America is very important. Our Prime Minister and our Deputy Prime Minister, who at the time was Minister of Foreign Affairs, have been very public and vocal about our intent and desire to resolve this issue with our American friends. There has not been a public or a private opportunity that the Deputy Prime Minister has not raised this issue. In fact, we utilized the support we have from team Canada, which includes provincial premiers, legislators in the House of Commons, senators, and governors in the United States, to make sure we sent a strong message to our friends in the United States.
Last summer I attended the National Governors Association conference in Utah and I had a chance to meet with several governors. Some of them were surprised to learn that 34 out of the 50 states have Canada as their number one customer. In fact, all 50 states have Canada as their number one, number two or number three customer. We made every effort to remind our friends in the United States that it is important to treat Canadian businesses with equal access to economic opportunities, because doing so is not only in the best interest of Canadian workers and Canadian businesses; it also serves the interests of American businesses and American workers.
View Daniel Blaikie Profile
NDP (MB)
View Daniel Blaikie Profile
2020-03-10 18:53 [p.1923]
Mr. Speaker, I will start by quickly noting that the NDP's support for this particular iteration of the deal was contingent upon some successful negotiation with the government on things that we think are important in going ahead on trade policy. Also, a number of the things we think are laudable about the agreement were secured not by our government but by American politicians, which is too bad, frankly, because we would like to see the Canadian government as a champion of things we support.
In the parliamentary secretary's answer, I did not hear a definition of the rules that apply to Canadian businesses applying for American government procurement work and vice versa. I wonder if he would be willing to follow up in a letter and outline what rules govern the application for procurement projects from parties of one country to another, going each way. I would appreciate a letter to that effect.
View Omar Alghabra Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Omar Alghabra Profile
2020-03-10 18:54 [p.1923]
Mr. Speaker, I want to thank my colleague again for his support and also for raising this important issue, because I know that it is very important to many Canadian businesses and workers.
I want to take a moment to remind the member and colleagues here in the House that we were negotiating with an American president who wanted to limit trade and make it very difficult to access a free flow of products and services between our two countries. It was a challenge at times, but we persisted. We insisted on protecting the interests of Canadian businesses and workers, and we reached a good deal.
That said, there is still a lot of work to be done, and just as we have collaborated on Bill C-4, I look forward to continuing to collaborate with our colleagues in the NDP to achieve an even better agreement in the future.
View Gord Johns Profile
NDP (BC)
View Gord Johns Profile
2020-03-09 18:54 [p.1837]
Mr. Speaker, as you know, marine pollution is increasingly becoming an urgent global problem, impacting marine animals, millions of seabirds and even salmon on the west coast of British Columbia.
We had a spill on the west coast of British Columbia four years ago where 35 shipping containers spilled. The Government of Canada had no action plan to address this problem. In fact, those marine cargo shipment containers spread all up and down the coast and it was left up to local people to deal with this difficult challenge.
We know we are shipping plastic and debris to the Philippines and it has become a diplomatic problem for us. Finally, after our pressure, that pollution and that waste was shipped back to us. We know that in Malaysia, they are concerned about the first world shipping their problem to developing nations.
View Gord Johns Profile
NDP (BC)
View Gord Johns Profile
2020-03-09 18:56 [p.1837]
Madam Speaker, we know that we are facing a global crisis right now when it comes to marine plastic pollution and the impact it is having on our oceans. Right now we are seeing over eight million tonnes of plastic pollution entering our oceans every year globally. This plastic pollution is killing hundreds of thousands of marine animals and millions of seabirds. It is a huge problem not just globally, but certainly here at home as well. When we talk about the state of our oceans and our duty to protect them, it is for the species that do not have a voice.
There was a spill off the west coast of British Columbia four years ago. Thirty-five large shipping containers spilled into our waters and the Government of Canada was nowhere to be seen. It fell on the backs of local communities and local stakeholder groups like Clayoquot CleanUp, which is now called the Coastal Restoration Society, and Surfrider Pacific Rim, to take on the challenge of cleaning up the marine debris that spread throughout our coast.
We are also hearing about our garbage ending up in places like the Philippines. Members may recall the Philippines declared war on Canada because of the government's inability to deal with a problem and it grew into a diplomatic relationship issue. The Philippines did not want our garbage and it sat in a harbour there for several years. We are hearing that our garbage is ending up in Malaysia. Children are living in plastic garbage slums, and it is our plastic and our garbage. It is disgraceful and embarrassing for all Canadians. Children should not be living among our garbage in developing nations. It needs to stop. It can stop.
The Government of Canada has signed a part of the Basel Convention whereby it has to get permission from developing countries to stop shipping its garbage to developing nations. What we want is the government to not even seek permission, but to actually stop shipping our garbage to developing nations. It needs to stop. It is the responsible thing to do.
I do want to applaud the government for hearing our voices and feeling the pressure from us calling on the government to take on this huge issue. We worked with the government and the Minister of Environment when he was the parliamentary secretary. He came to Victoria for a meeting with me and the former member for Victoria, Murray Rankin. We met with the University of Victoria environmental offsetter, who had produced a report on the seven ways to address marine plastic pollution. The government did encapsulate some of those recommendations. It has taken some action when it comes to dealing with ghost and derelict fishing gear.
The government has talked a great bunch about single-use plastics, but we still have not seen any action or commitments. Despite the fact that nations and jurisdictions around the world have taken action, this is still falling on the backs of local governments and provincial governments.
The environment and the species in our environment cannot wait any longer. We are calling on the government to make an announcement about its single-use plastic commitments and to commit to dealing with industrial-use plastics.
I look forward to hearing from the parliamentary secretary. I look forward to continuing to work with the government on dealing with this urgent matter.
View Peter Schiefke Profile
Lib. (QC)
View Peter Schiefke Profile
2020-03-09 18:59 [p.1838]
Madam Speaker, it has been a pleasure discussing this with my hon. colleague on numerous occasions. He is working hard on this matter, and I appreciate that greatly.
Canadians want us to address plastic pollution. We agree, and are doing our due diligence to advance the best solutions for Canada in a timely manner. The Government of Canada has made getting to zero plastic waste one of its environmental priorities. To do so, we are taking action through a comprehensive approach.
Since the motion was approved, I am very happy to report that progress has indeed been made. On February 1, we published the draft science assessment on plastic pollution for public comment. This report will guide future research and inform our decisions as we follow through on our commitment to ban harmful single-use plastic, where warranted and supported by science, as early as 2021, and take other actions to reduce plastic pollution. This is the first step in accessing our regulatory tools under the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act.
We do not take lightly the decisions around the role government should play in the management of single-use plastics and other plastic products. The development of any regulatory measure, including which products will be targeted, will be informed by science and socio-economic considerations.
We will also continue to engage and consult with stakeholders throughout the development, management and review of potential regulations or other measures. These efforts are part of a comprehensive agenda to reduce plastic waste and pollution. We are developing a range of complementary actions, which include encouraging better product design for longer product life, recyclability and recycled content; increasing the collection of plastic waste; and making producers responsible for the waste their products generate.
We are also greening our federal operations by eliminating unnecessary single-use plastics, procuring sustainable plastic products and working toward our commitment to divert 75% of our plastic waste by 2030.
In 2018, Canada launched the Canadian Plastics Innovation Challenge to help small and medium-sized businesses find new ways to reduce plastic waste and turn waste into valuable resources. Eight challenges were completed in 2018-2019, providing over $11.8 million to 18 Canadian small and medium-sized entrepreneurs. Three finalists for 2019-2020 were announced this February. The federal leadership toward zero plastic waste initiative includes grant funding of $2.6 million for Environment and Climate Change Canada to undertake new Canadian Plastics Innovation Challenges over the next three years, beginning in fiscal year 2019-20.
We are also investing in science, innovation and deployable solutions, such as through Environment and Climate Change Canada's recently launched funding opportunities, one for advancing science and the other for targeting community-level solutions. The Government of Canada is providing grants and other supports for community activities such as shoreline cleanups, and for accelerating research on the life cycle of plastics and on the impacts of plastic pollution on humans, wildlife and the environment. This complements the investments by Fisheries and Oceans Canada to support projects that help prevent and retrieve lost fishing gear.
We have also worked with the provinces and territories and launched the Canada-wide strategy on the zero waste plastic and phase 1 action plan. We are working together to implement these commitments, including by creating a road map to address single-use plastics, guidance for consistent policies to make companies that manufacture or sell plastic products responsible for their end-of-life management, and national targets and standards for plastic products and packaging.
We are taking action. Internationally, we have garnered support from 26 governments and from 67 businesses and organizations that have endorsed the Ocean Plastics Charter, committing to take action along the life cycle of plastics.
We are committed to taking action on this issue. We have already started. We are going to get it done.
View Gord Johns Profile
NDP (BC)
View Gord Johns Profile
2020-03-09 19:03 [p.1839]
Madam Speaker, I want to thank the government and all parties in this House for supporting my motion No. 151 to tackle marine plastic pollution.
The Liberals need to take action. They need to make announcements of what they are going to ban when it comes to single-use plastics and take real action when it comes to industrial-use plastics.
My colleague from the Conservative Party from York—Simcoe tabled a bill to ban the export of certain plastics to developing countries. I applaud him for that, but all the government needs to do is tick a box at the Basel Convention to stop it now. It does not even need to wait for this bill. It is something that the government could address.
Right now, we need urgent investments for marine debris cleanups, for working with indigenous guardians and their programs, and for salmon restoration projects that could help protect our wild salmon in the salmon emergency we are in.
We look forward to working with the government, but we want to hear concrete commitments and timelines on when it is going to address these issues.
View Peter Schiefke Profile
Lib. (QC)
View Peter Schiefke Profile
2020-03-09 19:04 [p.1839]
Madam Speaker, in regard to the movement of waste internationally, Canada is party to three international agreements that outline the requirements for exports, imports and transit of hazardous waste and hazardous recyclable materials. We take our obligations under these agreements very seriously.
In May 2019, Canada actively supported the negotiation and adoption of amendments to the Basel Convention, which my hon. colleague mentioned, to strengthen controls on the transboundary movement of plastic waste. Domestically, Canada has a comprehensive regulatory regime in place to control exports of hazardous waste and comply with international obligations. We are taking action to improve compliance with this regulatory regime through measures such as communicating requirements to Canadian companies.
We are also setting up an ad hoc committee that will work to prevent illegal waste exports. Canada respects the regulatory decisions of other countries to control waste imports, and as such seeks their consent before allowing waste exports from Canada to be shipped to those countries.
I would like to further state that I appreciate all the work that my hon. colleague has done on this issue, and I look forward to collaborating with him further.
View Michael Barrett Profile
CPC (ON)
Madam Speaker, how does one become a judge in Canada? One would think individuals would take the LSAT, go to law school, get a good job, establish a career that demonstrates their ability and their merit year after year, and maybe they would be deemed fit to be appointed to the bench. Ideally, that would be the process that a young person with judicial ambitions would undertake. Under the Liberal government however, the reality is that if individuals want to become judges, they better be Liberals. If they want to expedite the process, being related to a Liberal member or being a max donor sure helps.
The Liberal record on partisan judicial appointments is horrendous and completely does away with the government's claims, “All judicial appointments follow our new, open, independent, transparent and merit-based process”. The way it works with the Liberal government is that prospective candidates are recommended by Liberal members or other members of the Liberal elite, like the wife of a currently sitting member of Parliament who sits on the Queen's Bench in Manitoba.
The prospective candidates are then checked against their score on Liberalist, a Liberal database, to make sure they are Liberal enough to make the cut and that their donation records are up to date. If the fact that a sitting judge is telling ministerial staff who should be appointed to the bench, and where, does not raise red flags, then the fact that they are being graded on their partisanship should.
It is no secret that the Liberals always put their friends before the rest of Canadians. No clearer example of this can be found than that of the President of the Queen's Privy Council, the member for Beauséjour, letting his family and friends jump the queue as we saw with clam scam, where the member awarded a lucrative fishing contract to family when he was the minister of fisheries. With that track record, it is no surprise that five of six recent judicial appointments in New Brunswick have personal connections to that member.
A neighbour, a family relative and three lawyers who helped retire debts from his unsuccessful 2008 leadership bid were all appointed to the bench in New Brunswick, again raising red flags that the Liberals' merit-based appointment process might not be so merit-based after all, and that they are indeed partisan patronage appointments.
It really comes down to ethics. We have seen that the Liberal government seems to throw ethical considerations by the wayside and step over the ethical line repeatedly. Again, it is no surprise that the Liberal appointment process is certainly not merit-based but is in fact an exercise in partisanship. That is exactly why Canadians are losing faith in public institutions that they pay for and that they expect to operate at the highest ethical level.
We have witnessed a steady degradation of the public trust over the last five years and Canadians are left with a feeling that two sets of rules exist in Canada: one for the governing class and one for those they govern. Canadians deserve to have confidence in their public institutions and deserve to have a government that upholds those institutions.
When will the Liberal government realize that very thing, and put everyday Canadians ahead of their friends?
View Arif Virani Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Arif Virani Profile
2020-03-09 19:09 [p.1840]
Madam Speaker, I thank the member opposite for his contributions in the last Parliament in the justice committee and for raising this important issue this evening.
Devoting time to considering judicial appointments and the judicial appointment process is critically important. A high-quality superior court judiciary is essential to the fair and effective functioning of our justice system.
We on this side of the House are proud of the merit-based, diverse appointments that we have made. Since taking office, we have made 350 outstanding individuals, who reflect the face of Canada, eligible to serve on our superior courts either through direct appointments or through elevations.
As all members of this House can attest, we are fortunate in Canada to have a strong and independent judiciary. Canadians know they can turn to the courts to resolve their disputes and uphold their rights and freedoms. They know that the judges that serve them are not beholden to other branches of government nor to any powerful groups or interests in society.
However, we cannot take this for granted. Every single day we must strive to uphold the institutions and values that make it possible to live in a free, just and democratic society. Fundamental to upholding these institutions and values is working to ensure that the public has confidence in the justice system.
That very point was made by the member opposite, ensuring the public has confidence in the administration of justice. That is actually outlined in the Constitution. It is such a fundamental precept.
This includes trusting that there is a rigorous process in place to appoint judges. To bolster this trust, our government in 2016 introduced important reforms to strengthen the superior court appointments process.
What has that process resulted in? We overhauled that process and we did it deliberately. We wanted to ensure the bench reflected the Canadians who the bench serves. What we have done in elevating 357 judges, 293 who are new appointments and 64 elevations, is appoint 53% female judges. By contrast, the previous government appointed 32% women to Canada's superior courts. Of the judges appointed under our process, 3% are indigenous, 8% are racialized Canadians, 5% identify as LGBTQ2 and 33% are functioning bilingual.
Why is this important? Why am I listing these statistics and putting them into the record for tonight's discussion? Because I agree with the member opposite. Canadians need to have confidence in the administration of justice, Canadians watching tonight and Canadians right across the country.
How do we ensure that confidence? We ensure that litigants who appear before our courts see themselves reflected in those courts, and that means Canadians of all backgrounds, all races, all religions, regardless of their sexual orientation, should be able to see themselves in front of that bench. We are doing that with these appointments.
To state that people better be Liberal in order to get appointed is patently false and does not denote the actual record, which is that we have appointed people who have been involved in political affiliations, political donations or political partisan activities from all major parties in the country. We are proud of that record.
We are ensuring we have a qualified bench, a meritorious bench that continues the tradition of fine judge-making in the country, which we are known for around the world.
View Michael Barrett Profile
CPC (ON)
Madam Speaker, it is admirable and it is laudable that the government does endeavour to have a judiciary that reflects the face of the people who are served by the judiciary.
However, it can do that without just picking Liberals. We know it is a matter of public record that the Liberals vet their appointments through their database, through their partisan database, their fundraising database, their volunteer database. That is not in the best interests of democracy. It is not in the best interests of an independent and unbiased judiciary. That is what we are talking about.
What we are looking for from the Liberals is non-partisan appointments. When are they going to put Canadians ahead of their friends?
View Arif Virani Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Arif Virani Profile
2020-03-09 19:14 [p.1840]
Madam Speaker, what I would put for the member opposite and, indeed, to all parliamentarians is the track record of the previous government's appointments, when previous elected officials to this chamber were elevated to spots on the superior court versus what we have done.
We have put in place 17 judicial appointments committees around the country. We ensure those appointments committees are diverse with respect to their composition. There are representatives from law societies, from the superior courts themselves and from the chief justices of the various provinces. They make recommendations, “not recommended”, “recommended” or “highly recommended”.
The Minister of Justice has done exactly what the previous minister of justice did, which is only appoint from the pool of “recommended” or “highly recommended” officials. I will say what I said earlier. Are there people who have been involved in political activities through being engaged in their communities? Yes, there are. There are those who have touched all the parties in the country. That involvement is a good thing. We want fine jurists, and that is who we are appointing.
View Garnett Genuis Profile
CPC (AB)
Madam Speaker, I am following up on a question I asked the Prime Minister earlier in which I raised two distinct issues. I spoke a little about Canadian participation in the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, and I also spoke about the Prime Minister announcing four years ago that Canada was in the beginnings of extradition discussions with the Government of China. I want to follow up on and highlight both of those very important issues again. I look forward to the feedback of the government on them.
First, as I pointed out at the time, the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank is part of a colonial project to expand Chinese government control and influence throughout Asia. In spite of the very clear objectives, briefing documents sent to the government by the public services pointed out that this is part of a belt and road initiative, which promotes values, economic security and ideas of human rights that are contrary to Canadian values and principles.
In spite of that, the Liberal government chose to bring Canada into the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, which means that we put over 400 million hard-earned taxpayer dollars into this bank. This bank is a vehicle for expanding the strategic influence of the Chinese government through which the Chinese government promotes models of governance, ideas about human rights and economic securities that are contrary to our values.
Why in the world would Canada participate in this? Why would Canadians want to see their dollars going to this type of a development bank? We have heard a couple of responses from the government on that. Sometimes we hear the government saying that this is about creating opportunities for Canadian companies, that maybe Canadian companies could get contracts with the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank if we put taxpayer money into it.
Even if that were true, I do not think that this sort of backdoor corporate subsidy through the Chinese government is a very effective way of supporting Canadian businesses. In any event, it is not true. As I was able to establish when I visited the headquarters of the AIIB in Beijing, it has an open procurement policy so Canadian companies are welcome to bid on projects whether or not Canada is a member of the bank.
The government says it is important for us to be promoting development, participating in multilateral institutions and so forth. Yes, it is important for us to be participating in multilateral institutions that reflect and promote our values, not ones that are seeking to promote strategic interests in a model of government which is contrary to our values.
It is very sad to see how the Chinese government today is replicating colonial techniques in other parts of Asia that were tragically and wrongly used against China in the 19th century, and that it is inflicting the same humiliation on other countries. I think everyone can understand that that is not right and Canada should not participate. In the exchange that took place previously in the House, the Prime Minister completely mischaracterized our participation in the AIIB.
I also raised the issue of extradition. Four years ago the Prime Minister announced the beginning of extradition discussions. At the time, when I asked the question in the House in the last month, the Prime Minister responded by saying that China does not meet the criteria for an extradition treaty. This is heartening because frankly it is obvious that the Chinese government does not meet the criteria for an extradition treaty. It did not four years ago, and it does not today.
I would like to ask the parliamentary secretary why is it that any discussions took place, because at the Canada-China committee our public servants confirmed that discussions did take place. When it was as obvious then as it is today that the criteria are not there, why was the door even opened? Canadians deserve an answer on that as well.
View Robert Oliphant Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Robert Oliphant Profile
2020-03-09 19:19 [p.1841]
Madam Speaker, through you, I want to thank the hon. member for his questions, particularly regarding the extradition discussions with China.
Let me be perfectly clear. Canada is not considering an extradition agreement with China. Canadian and Chinese officials have routinely discussed legal co-operation issues, including as part of the Canada-China national security and rule of law dialogue. During previous dialogues, Canadian and Chinese officials have held discussions on many issues of mutual interest in the areas of legal co-operation and rule of law matters. This has included counterterrorism, cybersecurity, combatting transnational organized crime, and international and regional security challenges. In the course of this dialogue, China expressed its interest in exploring an extradition agreement with Canada. That is not unusual.
Canada is a popular destination for travel and immigration. As such, we are regularly approached by foreign countries interested in joining the ranks of the 80 countries with which we have bilateral extradition agreements. If a treaty with a particular country is assessed to be in Canada's interest, this can lead to a formal negotiation process and eventually a new extradition treaty could be undertaken. Other times, when Canada does not feel a treaty with a given country is necessary, is possible or is in Canada's best interest, extradition treaty proposals do not move past an exploratory phase and are not acted upon.
In accordance with our values and laws, Canada expects its extradition partners to uphold the highest standards of due process and fair treatment in their judicial and correctional systems. These are the key elements in the extradition treaty agreement.
In the case of China's expression of interest, while early discussions did take place, no decision was ever made to engage further, to the point of formal negotiations.
Nevertheless, China continues to be an important partner for Canada. China is Canada's third largest merchandise trading partner and an important market for Canadian businesses. China is an important source of foreign students and tourists, who make important contributions to the Canadian economy.
Canada and China have many differences. That is perfectly clear. However, where there are differences, we will continue to have appropriate engagement. Canada places great importance on our relations with China. We will engage continually with the Government of China in a way that is in Canada's best interest, all the while defending Canadian values and advancing our interests.
With respect to the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, I would simply say that our government is a pro-business government that looks for opportunities for Canadian businesses to engage in projects around the world in every way we can. The Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank is one such opportunity. We will continue to support Canadian businesses so they can grow, expand and create prosperity in this country.
View Garnett Genuis Profile
CPC (AB)
Madam Speaker, I have three brief points of follow-up for the parliamentary secretary.
With respect to the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, I pointed out explicitly that those opportunities already existed for Canadian business because the AIIB has an open procurement policy. We still have not heard from the government as to why we joined the AIIB and spent over $400 million of taxpayer money to do so when businesses already had the opportunity to apply for contracts. Was the government unaware of the open procurement policy of the AIIB? Did it not do its due diligence at that basic level? Why did we put $400 million plus into this?
With respect to engagement, we heard some great testimony today at the Canada-China committee about how engagement is important and must be a means to an end, not an end in and of itself, that is, we engage with other countries in order to advance our values and interests, but we do not see engagement as an end in and of itself. That is very important.
On the issue of extradition, there was a joint communiqué issued that said, “The two sides determined that the short-term objectives for Canada-China cooperation on security and rule of law are to: start discussions on an Extradition Treaty and a Transfer of Offenders Treaty as well as other related matters”.
I would like to know why that joint communiqué was sent, given what the parliamentary secretary said.
View Robert Oliphant Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Robert Oliphant Profile
2020-03-09 19:23 [p.1842]
Madam Speaker, let me be clear. Canada is not negotiating an extradition agreement with China. Canada is an independent sovereign nation. We recognize that China is and will continue to be a major player in international affairs. It is in Canada's best interest to engage appropriately with China. Canadians have decided who is best to engage with China as a government. Canadians have elected this government to do that. Canadians have put their trust in us to do that in a way that protects Canadian values, and in a way that assures that we will be engaged in human rights and those activities that Canadians value.
Despite our differences, we will continue to have a meaningful relationship that is in Canada's best interest and, at the same time, in the best interests of Canadian businesses.
View Garnett Genuis Profile
CPC (AB)
Madam Speaker, this is a bit frustrating because I have asked the same question of the government so many times. I hope I will be clear enough as to give the government no excuse this time. Hopefully I will actually get some degree of an answer.
My question is why the government has not listed the IRGC, the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps in Iran, a terrorist entity and if it is still the policy of the government to do so.
I will give a quick historical background on this.
Approaching two years ago, we passed in the House a motion to list the IRGC as a terrorist entity. That motion passed with the support of all members of the Conservative caucus and all members of the Liberal caucus, at least all those who were present. The Prime Minister and other leading ministers, such as the former ministers of public safety, foreign affairs, etc., were part of that vote and voted in favour of listing the IRGC as a terrorist entity under the Criminal Code.
In fact, the motion did not just say to list the IRGC, it said to do so immediately. The Conservatives followed up immediately. We told the government that it voted for a motion and that the House of Commons had expressed its desire to immediately list the IRGC as a terrorist entity under the Criminal Code. We had asked for it to be done immediately and the government had agreed. We asked what the government would do about it. The government said that it would think about it, would study it and that the process was under way.
We understood there was a process that could take a month, two months or three months. It is not really plausible that it is approaching two years after the fact. Surely the listing process does not take that long. In fact, there have been cases where terrorist entities that have existed for less time have managed to be listed in a much shorter period of time.
The typical response, and maybe the response we will hear from the government tonight, is to usually talk about other things that have been done on human rights related to Iran. The government will not say that all those things are continuations of things that were done under the Harper government, but nonetheless it will point to those things.
The government will say that the IRGC Quds Force, which is part of the IRGC, is listed. Again, that was an action taken by the Harper government, not by the current government. The Quds Force is still listed as a terrorist entity. However, the motion that passed, approaching two years ago, was not to list the Quds Force. It was already listed. The motion was to list the IRGC in its entirety and to do so immediately.
Maybe tonight will be the night. Maybe we will not hear the smoke and mirrors of it still being in process. It is going to be in process for another 50 years. Hopefully we will not hear this “still in process” nonsense. Hopefully the government will not just remind us about the Quds Force, which is already listed, has been for a long time and is not the topic here.
Hopefully the government will answer the question. Is it still the policy of the government to list the IRGC? Is there a reason the government did not list the IRGC earlier, and why? What is its intention with regard to the listing of the IRGC? It should be a simple question. It has been asked over and over again in question period and late shows. Hopefully now is the time we get an answer.
Is it still the policy of the government to list the IRGC, why has it not done it yet and does it plan to do it in the future?
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
Lib. (MB)
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
2020-02-27 18:35 [p.1723]
Madam Speaker, our thoughts continue to be with the families of those who perished in the crash of Ukrainian International Airlines flight 752. The plane was carrying 176 people when it crashed, and all of those on board were killed, including 57 Canadians.
After initially denying its responsibility, Iran has since admitted that it unintentionally shot down the plane. As the Prime Minister has said, there will be much thought given to the potential consequences in the course of the coming weeks. For now, we are seeking full clarity on the circumstances that led to such a horrific tragedy.
The downing of flight 752 has brought renewed focus to the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, or IRGC. Canada continues to have in place a series of strong measures to hold both Iran and the IRGC accountable.
In June 2019, Canada added three new Iran-backed groups to the list: Al-Ashtar Brigades, Harakat al-Sabireen and Fatemiyoun Division. Iran provides these three groups with substantial resources, including training and weapons to carry out terrorist acts that advance its goals in the region.
The Al-Ashtar Brigades, or AAB, aims to overthrow Bahrain's monarchy and targets Bahraini security forces primarily through the use of improvised explosive devices. Canada is not alone in designating AAB. In 2017, AAB was listed by the U.K., and the U.S. designated it as a foreign terrorist organization in 2018.
Harakat al-Sabireen, or HaS, is an Iranian-backed Shia group that supports the destruction of Israel. HaS was founded and is led by a former leader of Palestinian Islamic Jihad, which is itself a listed entity in Canada. Members of HaS fight against Israel alongside Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad. The U.S. designated HaS in 2018.
Finally, the Fatemiyoun Division, or FD, is supported and trained by the Quds Force and Hizballah. It serves as part of the Iran-backed forces fighting in Syria and has a presence in Afghanistan. FD is also known to have used Afghan children as child soldiers. In January 2019, the U.S. Treasury Department designated the FD for providing material support to Iran's Quds Force.
Canada continues to list the IRGC-Quds Force and a number of terrorist entities that have benefited from the force's patronage, including arms, funding and paramilitary training, and who help advance Iran's interests and foreign policy. These include Hizballah, Hamas, the Palestinian Islamic Jihad and the Taliban.
We have imposed sanctions on Iran and the IRGC, as well as on senior members of its leadership under the Special Economic Measures Act. The regulations explicitly target the IRGC and several sub-organizations, including the IRGC air force and air force missile command. Iran also continues to be designated as a state supporter of terrorism under Canada's State Immunity Act.
The member can be assured that Canada is looking at all possible options to constrain the activities of Iran that threaten national security.
View Garnett Genuis Profile
CPC (AB)
Madam Speaker, that response clearly demonstrates how uninterested the government is in engaging in a serious response to a serious and important question about foreign affairs and national security. We gave the opportunity to the minister, the parliamentary secretary for foreign affairs or the parliamentary secretary for public safety to respond to the question, and we have the great fog read out of policy detail that in no way engages with a very simple and clear question. It is not as if the government did not have advance notice of this.
Members know the way these late shows work: The government knows a long time in advance that the question is going to be asked and exactly what the question is going to be. Again and again we ask the same question, and not only has the government not bothered to answer, but the foreign affairs and public safety teams could not even be bothered to show up.
Again, this is a simple question: Why did the government not list the IRGC as a terrorist entity? Does it still intend to list the IRGC? If the answer is no, it should just tell us no. The House deserves an answer.
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
Lib. (MB)
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
2020-02-27 18:39 [p.1724]
Madam Speaker, this listing of regime is an important tool for countering terrorism in Canada and globally, and it is part of the government's commitment to keeping Canadians safe. Listing is just one component of the international and domestic response to terrorism.
With that in mind, I would reiterate that Canada has already taken action against Iran and the IRGC specifically, including listing the IRGC Quds Force. These actions are broadly consistent with our international partners, who have designated components of the IRGC under their own sanctioned regimes.
This past June we listed three militant groups that are aligned with, and controlled by, the Quds Force and operating in Bahrain, the Gaza strip, Syria and Afghanistan. A listing imposes severe penalties for people and organizations that deal with property or finances of a listed entity. Another important point is, of course, that once listed, an entity falls within the definition of a terrorist group in the Criminal Code. This helps to facilitate the laying of terrorism-related charges against perpetrators and supporters of terrorism.
View Michael Barrett Profile
CPC (ON)
Madam Speaker, it is a pleasure to rise in this House.
I have said before and I will say again that, when I was appointed by the leader of the official opposition as the shadow minister for ethics, I told the leader, and I have told folks who have asked, that I hoped to be the most bored in the shadow cabinet, that I would not have any work to do.
Regrettably, the government has demonstrated through its top-down model of disregard for the rules, not only of this place but the rules writ large, that we seem to find ourselves constantly following up on the ethical violations of the Prime Minister, his cabinet members and his backbenchers.
I had the opportunity to ask a question in the House a few weeks ago about former member Joe Peschisolido, who was found guilty of having broken the conflict of interest code. The code is laid out in such a way that it is very easy for us to follow. The purpose of the code, as colleagues know, is so that Canadians can continue to have confidence in their elected officials and have confidence in public institutions.
When we, as the finance minister did, forget to disclose that we have a French villa, for example, Canadians find that a bit incredible to believe.
Madam Speaker, when you and I filled out our disclosures, I do not think that we paused too long on the French villa box. You and I both know how many French villas we have, as I am sure the Minister of Finance did.
In Mr. Peschisolido's case, he failed to disclose a wide range of things. I encourage interested Canadians to take a look at that. I also encourage the government to do the same.
The response I got from the government when I asked the government House leader was that, “Oh, that member is no longer a member of our caucus, so we don't know how it has anything to do with us.” That speaks to the culture that exists in the government benches. That speaks to what we have seen with the Prime Minister twice being found guilty of breaking the Conflict of Interest Act, which is also in place to ensure that Canadians can have confidence in their executive, the Prime Minister and his or her ministers.
Whether it is the SNC-Lavalin scandal, clam scam or forgotten French villas, we have seen this litany of ethical breaches with the government. Most recently, again on the subject of disclosures, we make these disclosures to the commissioner with regard to members' personal dealings so that we can make sure members aren't being unduly influenced financially in a pecuniary manner.
The Prime Minister just did not answer the questionnaire. He is required to do so. He did not do it. In response, when he was called out on it, it was an administrative oversight. A week later, the Ethics Commissioner published who had failed to file their disclosures. Canada's Prime Minister's name appeared again.
When will the government start taking the confidence that Canadians have put in them seriously? Do they need any help following those rules?
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
Lib. (MB)
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
2020-02-27 18:45 [p.1725]
Madam Speaker, allow me to provide a quote with respect to what the commissioner said. He stated, “Where I conclude that a Member has contravened the Code and I find no mitigating circumstances, as was the case in this inquiry,” as the member referenced, “I may recommend a sanction for the House to impose on the contravening Member. However, in the present case, given that Mr. Peschisolido is no longer a Member and therefore not subject to the rules governing Members of the House of Commons, issuing such a recommendation would serve no purpose.”
I think the government, or at least the party, has been very consistent in our approach in regard to the Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner. We recognize when mistakes are made, and we follow and respect the advice and recommendations that are provided and thank the commissioner for the fine work he does.
The problem I had with the question posed by the member across the way is he tries to come across as if this is sensitive and he did not want to be kept busy, and all this kind of stuff. To that I say, “balderdash”.
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
Lib. (MB)
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
2020-02-27 18:49 [p.1725]
Madam Speaker, there have been so many days when I have seen that the primary objective of the official opposition was character assassination. Its members will constantly go all out to try to identify an issue as an ethical breach, as if the Conservatives, the New Democrats or any other political party has never done anything wrong. Members need to be careful when they throw stones in glass houses.
The member cited how the Minister of Finance broke the code of ethics. We respect what the commissioner ruled on that. Does the member know that the Minister of Finance did not intentionally do what the member is proposing he did? In the case of that so-called French villa, it was shortly thereafter that the fact that the Minister of Finance had a house in France was published in a major newspaper here in Canada. There was no attempt to intentionally hide it.
Yes, sometimes mistakes happen. Members of Parliament on all sides of the House make mistakes, and the commissioner investigates them and comes up with recommendations. To try to give the illusion that there is only one political entity that makes mistakes inside this House is a false impression. There are mistakes made on all sides of the House. When a mistake is made, we need to recognize it and take corrective action. That is what we have seen with this government.
If the member wants to talk about proactive measures, I would remind him of the proactive disclosures we made with respect to the allowances of all members back when we were the third party in this House. We had to literally drag the Conservatives into supporting proactive disclosure. This Prime Minister and this government have taken the responsibility of being open, transparent and accountable very seriously. I would argue that this is something this government has been very good at, especially if we compare it to the Stephen Harper era. We have seen much more open government, transparency and accountability, which was lacking when Stephen Harper was the prime minister.
View Michael Barrett Profile
CPC (ON)
Madam Speaker, I would say balderdash to that.
I do not believe that “character assassination” is the correct term to be used here, because that would imply that what I said was malicious and unjustified. It is a fact that the Prime Minister was twice found guilty of breaking the law, and when he did, he did not apologize; rather, he said he would never apologize. He said he would stand up for jobs, but we know that he did not know what he was standing up for, other than his own seat.
My offer to the parliamentary secretary is in good faith. I am happy to work with him to develop a curriculum for the Prime Minister, the ministers and members of the government backbenches on how to properly follow the ethical guidelines that are in place. Is he interested in taking me up on that offer?
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
Lib. (MB)
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
2020-02-27 18:50 [p.1726]
Madam Speaker, I would welcome the participation or a nice sit-down discussion with the member with respect to how it is important that we listen to, follow and look at ways to improve a system, and not only for the Ethics Commissioner.
We can talk about the ombudsmen and election officers. Independent offices of Parliament serve our Parliament exceptionally well. When they come out with reports, we should listen so we can respond, so we can try to make our system work that much better.
I would acknowledge that we need to recognize that it is not just one member or one political entity that needs to learn things from reports. All political entities in the chamber would benefit. Maybe we can start that dialogue over a cup of coffee.
View Larry Maguire Profile
CPC (MB)
View Larry Maguire Profile
2020-02-26 18:39 [p.1641]
Mr. Speaker, just imagine going through a harvest from hell and then not being able to combine the crops. That was the reality for farmers across the Prairies, and our farmers are already dealing with a tirade of trade disruptions and the decline of commodity prices.
Let us never forget our farmers are bearing the brunt of the illegal blockades that have shut down Canada's rail system, prohibiting them from getting their grain to ports for export. They are facing a cash crunch that is causing real hardship, and yet the Liberal government has been absolutely absent. To make matters worse, farmers are now opening their mail to find that the Liberals are sticking them with a huge tax bill to dry their grain, a huge carbon tax bill.
If the Liberals hope that I or my colleagues are going to go away, let me be crystal clear. I will never waver from standing up for the western farmers, and my colleagues will always stand up for the farmers in their areas as well.
We are being forced to do this because there are no substitutes for propane and natural gas for drying grain or heating barns, yet these fuels are not exempt from the Liberal carbon tax within the agriculture sector.
In question period I asked for the removal of these carbon taxes on fuels as farmers need them to heat their barns and dry their grain. I am disappointed that the Minister of Agriculture has not been able to push through the necessary changes to exempt farmers from the carbon tax on these necessary fuels. The minister claims she is listening to farmers, but our government is ignoring what these farmers are telling them.
The Liberals have proposed no solutions to lessen the financial pain that their carbon tax is causing for farmers. That is why my colleague from Northumberland—Peterborough South has provided his private member's bill to this House. It is to help farmers solve this Liberal lack of action or recognition of hurt. His bill would remove the carbon tax from fuels for drying grain and heating barns. This is action that I can support.
However, today in question period, in this House, the Prime Minister said that his Liberal government recognizes this issue is hurting farm families. Recognizing the issue is simply not enough. It is time for the government to stand up and act. That is what my colleague has done.
I ask the Liberals again, will they do the right thing and fully exempt farmers from the carbon tax? I ask for a simple yes or no answer.
View Neil Ellis Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Neil Ellis Profile
2020-02-26 18:42 [p.1642]
Mr. Speaker, Canada's farmers and farm families are critical to the health and well-being of Canadians and our economy.
The green sector is an important driver of the Canadian economy, with over $20 billion in farm gate receipts and exports. Canadian grain growers have shown incredible resilience in the face of some very significant and stressful weather and market challenges last year, not to mention the CN rail strike. Wet conditions resulted in an extremely difficult fall harvest season for many growers across Canada. We recognize the challenges that farmers are facing and the extra demands on energy for grain drying.
At the same time, carbon pricing is an important part of Canada's plan to transition to a cleaner and more innovative economy that reduces emissions and protects our environment. That is why we are taking steps to review the information at hand and to consult with the sector and the provinces to determine a path forward, one that is good both for farmers and for the environment.
Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada is working with industry to see whether existing programs can help. I thank the industry for working with us on this important issue.
When it comes to the well-being of our valued grain sector, the Government of Canada will do everything in its power to help farmers overcome these challenges, while keeping our commitment to protect the environment. The two go hand in hand. Canada simply cannot have a strong and growing grain sector without clean air, land and water. Producers understand this better than most.
We are exploring all potential options to address this issue and we will continue to collaborate with our provincial and territorial partners moving forward.
Canada has the very best farmers who grow the very best grains. The Government of Canada wholeheartedly supports the sector and our grain growers.
View Larry Maguire Profile
CPC (MB)
View Larry Maguire Profile
2020-02-26 18:44 [p.1642]
Mr. Speaker, therein lies the problem.
I thank my colleague across the way for his reply, but he is just saying that he recognizes the problem, the same as the Prime Minister said today in the House. However, there is no action. All the government has to do is remove the carbon tax from these particular heating fuels, propane and natural gas, that are used for drying grain and heating barns in this country, producing food for consumers in not only our country but in neighbouring and international countries as well.
Once again the Liberals refuse to give the farmers a straight answer. Farmers continue to pay the price for the government's failed carbon tax plan. Westman farmers and farm families and those in the prairies want to know why they are continuing to be penalized for drying their grain and heating their barns.
Farmers are vital environmental stewards, as has been pointed out. My father had a saying: “If you look after the land, it'll look after you”. Through zero-till farming and regenerative agriculture, farmers are essential in protecting our air and water. Together, they help reduce 1.5 million tonnes of carbon every year.
Despite the decade of strong management practices that farmers have had, the government continues to put farmers at a disadvantage relative to their major international competitors. It is time for the Liberal government to stop stalling and take real action to fix the issues they have created, so I will give the government another opportunity.
Will the Liberals exempt farmers from the carbon tax and reimburse them for the taxes they have already paid, yes or no?
View Neil Ellis Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Neil Ellis Profile
2020-02-26 18:46 [p.1643]
Mr. Speaker, we know that grain growers faced serious weather and market interruptions challenges last year. A wet harvest coupled with the rail strike meant grain sat in storage and required extra energy to dry. We recognize that the unusually high drying costs late in the 2019 season have added to producers' financial concerns.
We are working with our provincial and territorial colleagues to review the suite of business risk management programs we offer to producers and to make changes to ensure producers have timely, predictable and effective support. Carbon pricing is an important part of Canada's plan to transition to a cleaner and more innovative economy that reduces emissions and protects our environment.
We are exploring all potential options to address this issue, and we will continue to collaborate with provincial and territorial partners moving forward.
View Paul Manly Profile
GP (BC)
View Paul Manly Profile
2020-02-26 18:47 [p.1643]
Mr. Speaker, on February 6, the day that the RCMP began raids on the Wet'suwet'en people asserting sovereignty over their lands, I asked why the government had abandoned its duty and allowed the constitutional and legal rights of the Wet'suwet'en hereditary chiefs to be violated.
Since early January, the hereditary chiefs have been asking for meetings with the federal and provincial governments to help them deal with the issues they were facing with the Coastal GasLink project.
I travelled to Wet'suwet'en territory on January 19 and met with a hereditary chief. I travelled through the territory and learned about the Wet'suwet'en law. I met with the RCMP detachment commander in Smithers and at the community-industry safety office, 25 kilometres off the highway, out in the bush. The RCMP told me that as long as there was dialogue, it would not act on the Coastal GasLink injunction.
The Wet'suwet'en had proposed alternate routes for the pipeline six years ago. Instead of compromising and using an existing pipeline route, Coastal GasLink pushed its project through a pristine and culturally sensitive area.
Coastal GasLink is running its pipeline down the historic Kweese trail, which is thousands of years old. This area contains archeological sites and burial grounds. The area is used for cultural training of the Wet'suwet'en youth. It is an area used for hunting, gathering, trapping and other cultural practices. The Unis’tot’en camp was established in the area 10 years ago to assert sovereignty, and now includes a well-established healing centre.
I have a map on my desk of the alternative routes, a description of these routes provided by Pacific Trails Pipeline, another pipeline company working in the area. I have the documents outlining Coastal GasLink's refusals to consider these alternative routes because of the cost. I have a petition to the Supreme Court of B.C. by the Office of the Wet'suwet'en, outlining a long list of non-compliance by Coastal GasLink of the terms and conditions set out by the environmental assessment office in B.C., including the damage done to archeological sites without a proper assessment of those sites.
A week before the raids, I gave the Prime Minister a letter in person and asked him to take time to meet with the hereditary chiefs. The Prime Minister's response was that this was a provincial issue, not a federal issue. I told him that it was a federal issue. The federal government is responsible for the Indian Act, the reserve system and the nation-to-nation relationship with first nations.
Let us review the constitutional and legal rights of the Wet'suwet'en hereditary chiefs.
The Royal Proclamation of 1763 states that indigenous title to indigenous lands must first be reconciled before settlement can take place and only the Crown can reconcile indigenous title.
Section 35(1) of the Constitution Act of 1982 recognizes and affirms aboriginal and treaty rights.
The Supreme Court in Delgamuukw affirmed that the Royal Proclamation of 1763 applied and confirmed that aboriginal title was not extinguished by the Wet'suwet'en. It was the Wet'suwet'en hereditary chiefs who were the plaintiffs in the Delgamuukw case. They were recognized by the Supreme Court of Canada.
The Supreme Court's Tsilhqot’in decision confirmed that land rights were collective and intergenerational, and it was the collective that spoke for the ancestral territory. The hereditary system represents that collective.
The government has had 23 years to work with the Wet'suwet'en First Nation to implement the directives outlined by the Supreme Court in the Delgamuukw decision. The lack of free, prior and informed consent and the RCMP raids are violations of the government's commitment to the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. The federal government has failed in its responsibility to the Wet'suwet'en people by not negotiating with the hereditary chiefs before the RCMP raids.
View Gary Anandasangaree Profile
Lib. (ON)
Mr. Speaker, I want to begin by acknowledging that we are all gathered here on the unceded territory of the Algonquin.
This is a trying time for all Canadians, indigenous and non-indigenous alike. We all want a peaceful and rapid resolution that brings down the blockades and advances dialogue with the Wet'suwet'en.
Our government has been working around the clock to resolve this issue in a peaceful and lasting way. That is why the Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations has been in regular communication with the Wet'suwet'en hereditary chiefs throughout the past week. It is time to move forward together to get our economy moving and to continue advancing reconciliation with indigenous people.
The government's commitment from 2015 has not changed. There remains no more important relationship to the government, and to Canada, than the one with indigenous peoples. Our resolve to pursue the reconciliation agenda with indigenous peoples is as strong as ever. Canada is ready for this. Canadians want this.
We have significantly stepped up rights-based discussions with indigenous peoples. Today, active discussions are under way with partners from every province and territory: more than 150 processes, more than 500 indigenous communities and almost 900 indigenous peoples.
This government has also moved to strengthen relationships with national indigenous organizations to ensure they have the stable, predictable and reasonable funding needed to carry out their work.
To ensure key issues are regularly discussed at the highest levels, the Government of Canada established permanent bilateral mechanisms with first nations, Inuit and Métis leaders to identify each community's priorities.
We continue to make progress on implementing the Truth and Reconciliation Commission's calls to action. The Truth and Reconciliation Commission has said the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples charts a path for reconciliation to flourish in the 21st century in Canada. We are committed to working collaboratively with indigenous partners to develop legislation to deliver on our commitment to introduce legislation on the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples by the end of 2020.
We were disappointed when the Conservative leader blocked Bill C-262 in the other House during the last Parliament and we will ensure that our government legislation fully respects the intent of the declaration and establishes Bill C-262 as the floor and not the ceiling.
There are many hopeful signs, but there is also much work that remains to be done.
View Paul Manly Profile
GP (BC)
View Paul Manly Profile
2020-02-26 18:54 [p.1644]
Mr. Speaker, the results of not negotiating with the Wet'suwet'en chiefs led to the RCMP enforcing the injunction and it has led to a reaction across Canada. Nobody should be surprised. Indigenous people across Canada have said that they would stand together when a first nation is attacked. The results are hundreds of protests, blockades and occupations across this country.
Now the Wet'suwet'en hereditary chiefs are demanding that the RCMP completely withdraw from their traditional territory, including the removal of all the expensive infrastructure related to the community-industry safety detachment at kilometre 29 on the Morice West Forest Service Road, and that Coastal GasLink cease all operations in the territory.
The Liberal government must stop failing in its duty to the Wet'suwet'en people. It is time to apologize, meet these demands and meet with the hereditary chiefs.
View Gary Anandasangaree Profile
Lib. (ON)
Mr. Speaker, we need to work in true partnership. Together we can find a path towards a better future and reconciliation with indigenous peoples. We have already started down this path, and we will keep walking together inspired by and joined by our youth, who are leaders not only of tomorrow but already of today.
We have all seen what happens when we do not come together to keep the conversations going. It results in mistrust and confusion that can be the root of conflict. It is a barrier to moving forward together.
Yes, these are challenges. The hard work ahead is worth the effort. All of us will benefit in striving for a better present and future for indigenous peoples and all Canadians.
View Rosemarie Falk Profile
CPC (SK)
Mr. Speaker, as we know, Canada's farmers are leaders in agriculture. They are innovative, good stewards of the land and they feed Canada and the world.
The success of our farmers is vital to all Canadians, but the reality is that they are struggling right now. In large part, that is because the Liberal government is failing them. The illegal blockades across this country are holding our Canadian economy hostage and this includes our farmers. Our farmers are not able to get their products to market because of the ongoing, illegal blockades.
The Prime Minister's leadership is failing them in this crisis. For weeks, the Prime Minister has sat on his hands, emboldening activists and still today, there is no plan to end these blockades.
Just the other day I spoke to Brandon, a constituent in my riding who is in dire straits. The local grain elevator is so backlogged that he cannot make arrangements to get his grain to market in March. His farm operations depend on the income of that sale. His ability to keep the heat on in his house and feed his family also depends on the income of that sale. The banks are not offering any relief. Where does he turn? Unfortunately, Brandon's story is not unique.
The bills are mounting for our farmers, and every day that they cannot get their product to market puts them further and further behind. This economic crisis created by these illegal blockades is just the latest. Our farmers are constantly finding themselves at the losing end of the government's failures. Trade relations and opportunities have deteriorated and the Liberal carbon tax is bankrupting our farmers. Eliminating the Liberal carbon tax is a real, tangible action they could take today to deliver relief to our farmers.
In question period, I asked the Prime Minister to fully exempt our farmers from the carbon tax. I also asked him if he would finally acknowledge that his carbon tax unfairly punishes our rural communities and our farmers. The Prime Minister's response was that Canadians were better off with his carbon tax and that he was putting more money in their pockets. That is completely ludicrous. If $100 is taken out of someone's pocket and $1 is put back in, they are not better off.
No one is naive enough to believe that. It shows that the Prime Minister is either not listening, he does not understand the realities of rural Saskatchewan or that he does not care. Maybe it is all of the above. Regardless, my constituents of Battlefords—Lloydminster are owed better.
The Liberal carbon tax does not acknowledge the reality of living in rural Saskatchewan, it does not acknowledge the contributions of our farmers to environmental sustainability and certainly the Liberal household carbon rebates given to farm families do not even come close to offsetting the taxes paid by their farm businesses.
Farmers in Saskatchewan are paying the carbon tax on everything from drying grain to hauling crops to machinery to rail transportation and so many other major farm expenses. Unlike other industries, farmers and producers cannot pass along the added expense. It is a direct hit to their bottom line.
This year, they are losing 8% of their total net income and in less than two years, that number will be 12% of their net income. Those numbers are astronomical and will drive our family farm businesses into the ground. Blow after blow, our farmers are taking hits and they are desperate. I sure hope we will hear a different answer.
How does the Liberal government expect farmers to put food on their own tables, let alone the tables of Canadians?
View Neil Ellis Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Neil Ellis Profile
2020-02-26 19:00 [p.1645]
Mr. Speaker, I welcome the opportunity to further address the question of the hon. member for Battlefords—Lloydminster on pollution pricing in the agriculture sector.
In many ways, agriculture is leading the way in our transition to a low-carbon economy. Canada's farmers are and will continue to be part of the climate change solution. That is why our carbon-pricing policy reflects the realities of Canada's agriculture industry.
Our government recognizes that farmers and farm families are important drivers of our economy. We understand that Canadian farmers are making important contributions in the fight against climate change, for example, by adopting sustainable technologies and practices like precision agriculture or conservation tillage. We know farmers are price takers and cannot easily pass along increased costs to consumers. That is why gasoline and diesel fuels for on-farm use are exempted from carbon pricing under the federal backstop. As well, emissions from crop and livestock production are not subject to carbon pricing.
As for the issue of usage of propane for grain drying, we are committed to listening to producers. We thank the organizations who have provided data and we will certainly give it full consideration. The agriculture sector already has a solid track record of innovating and adopting new technologies to improve environmental performance and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
As one young farmer said recently, environmental sustainability is in their DNA and if they are not caring for their land for those six consecutive generations, they are not in business. In fact, for more than a decade, greenhouse gases from agriculture have remained stable, despite growth in production.
The government places a high priority on helping the industry adjust to the effects of climate change. Climate change and the environment are at the heart of Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada's Canadian agricultural partnership. Through this partnership, the federal, provincial and territorial governments are investing in key priorities of the agriculture sector, including the environment. The programs help farmers capitalize on opportunities for sustainable growth while adapting to climate change. They help farmers adopt precision agriculture technologies, tools and products to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. This helps them further contribute to Canada's actions on greenhouse gas emissions while growing production to feed the world.
Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada is investing $70 million in agriculture science to address emerging priorities such as climate change and soil and water conservation. That includes an investment of $10 million in the living laboratories initiative, which brings scientists and farmers together to develop practical technologies of sustainable farming practices that are field tested so farmers can adopt them quickly. In Prince Edward Island, the research conducted under living lab Atlantic will help P.E.I. farmers enhance soil health, improve water quality and boost their crop production.
We know Canadian grain farmers are working hard to safeguard our environment. We will continue to invest to support them in their great work.
View Rosemarie Falk Profile
CPC (SK)
Mr. Speaker, I heard a lot of things there. I do not know how the government is respecting provincial jurisdiction.
We look at Alberta and Saskatchewan and what farmers are already doing. Obviously, they are innovative. It is good for their bottom line. They want to be good for the environment. They are already good stewards of the land, so just to hear the same platitudes over and over again, farmers know that they are doing what they can do. They want to be innovative, but when the Liberal government keeps putting its hands in farmers' pockets, they are not going to have any capital left over to be innovative and to afford those things to reduce their carbon footprint.
I heard the member mention exploring the idea of an exemption of the carbon tax on propane for drying grain. I am wondering if this is a commitment that the government is willing to make, to make that exemption for propane fuel that is used for farm purposes such as drying grain.
View Neil Ellis Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Neil Ellis Profile
2020-02-26 19:03 [p.1646]
Mr. Speaker, Canada has the opportunity to be a global leader when it comes to feeding a growing world population sustainably. The government will provide the investments needed to maximize and accelerate the efforts of our farmers, our scientists and industry. Our programs will help farmers care for their land and strengthen their businesses. These efforts will bring enormous value to our Canadian brand, already renowned in global markets for quality and respect for the environment.
We are committed to supporting farmers as they continue to be responsible stewards of our land. We will continue to work with farmers to help them capture sustainable growth while adapting to climate change.
View John Barlow Profile
CPC (AB)
View John Barlow Profile
2020-02-24 18:58 [p.1466]
Madam Speaker, it is an opportunity for me to rise today and build on a question I asked last week with regard to the illegal blockades and the ramifications they are having on Canada's economy, but certainly specific to Canadian agriculture.
I want to reiterate that this is a critical situation. The situation for Canadian agriculture is at a crisis, where producers are not able to move their products. The agriculture industry is so trade-reliant that their inability to move their products from farm to terminal to port has crippled their ability to do business.
I had said there are about 50 ships off the port of Vancouver and about 19 ships off the port of Prince Rupert. I want to apologize to the House because I was a little off on my numbers during my question. In fact, it is not 50 ships off the port of Vancouver, it is actually 85. We have seen in just a couple of days how that number has expanded to a critical stage.
As a result, when there are 100 ships off of the B.C. coast waiting to be loaded with grain, that is having a profound impact on Canadian grain farmers. They are short about 400,000 tonnes of grain. We have a backlog of 20,000 grain cars and this is costing Canadian grain farmers more than $300 million.
I want to quote Mary Robinson, President of the Canadian Federation of Agriculture, “How many blows can we take? The rail barricades are already causing propane shortages used to heat livestock barns, and delays in grain shipments, which are estimated to be costing the industry about $63 million...a week.”
We are close to three weeks into this crisis and there is still no resolution. On the good side, the Prime Minister said on Friday that these blockades must come down. It is ironic that he felt those comments disqualified the Leader of the Opposition from even participating in a meeting to discuss this crisis, but three days later he took almost verbatim the same position as the Leader of the Opposition.
However, my concern is when the Prime Minister said the blockades must come down, which are illegal as stated by a court injunction, he did not table a distinct plan to ensure that those blockades would come down.
We have heard that some blockades have been dismantled, but at the same time, other blockades have arisen in their place, maybe a few miles away on a different railroad or a different bridge or a different highway. We have to see very distinct, concrete plans from the government to ensure that illegal blockades are removed. As I said, for Canadian agriculture this is particularly damaging.
I spoke with some of the Canadian National Millers Association members as well. They mentioned it is days, not weeks, before they are out of wheat and oats. Let us imagine Canadian shoppers going to grocery stores this week or next week and there is no bread on the shelves. The other issue is there is no feed for animals. If the millers do not have the source wheat, they cannot produce feed for livestock.
Therefore, this is going to be more and more a critical problem for Canadian agriculture, but especially the Canadian economy which is on its knees. I would like to hear a concrete plan from the parliamentary secretary on how these blockades are going to be removed.
View Chris Bittle Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Chris Bittle Profile
2020-02-24 19:02 [p.1467]
Madam Speaker, I am pleased to speak to this important issue.
As we know, rail transportation is deeply embedded in our nation's history. Rail has connected communities from coast to coast and allowed them to grow and prosper. The desire for greater connectivity was one of the drivers of Canadian Confederation, leaving an indelible mark on our shared history.
Efficient, effective and sustainable transportation is still the backbone of our economy today. It is the key to our economy's strength, enabling trade, supporting business, serving as an employer and enabling Canadians to get to their jobs. It is a marvel of interconnected modes of transportation working together. The rail sector employs thousands of Canadians with almost 37,000 employed by it and almost another 4,000 employed in support activities.
Every Canadian purchases, produces or eats something that travels by rail. Whether it is in the car they are driving, the grain our farmers work so hard to produce or the chlorine that is used by municipalities to provide drinking water, products that are transported by rail are as diverse as they are essential. Our manufacturers, farmers and other exporters need an efficient, resilient and reliable rail network. That is why we have said from the beginning that we needed a peaceful and quick resolution to the blockades.
Some people across the aisle wanted a rash and brutal intervention by our armed forces, but this is a fundamental misunderstanding of the situation. Acting in such a reckless way would have been creating a riskier environment for our railways, but also for rail workers and for businesses that depend on rail to get their products to market.
Our government has been working tirelessly and diligently on two fronts. The first is to meaningfully engage with indigenous communities and leaders in order to find both short-term and long-term solutions to the issues that first nations face both on and off reserves. The second is to mitigate the impact of Canadian blockades both on our economy and on Canadians themselves.
We have been working with the railways to ensure more goods reach communities, including essential commodities like propane and chlorine. We are also supportive of a safe rail transportation network. As we know, rail safety is the minister's top priority, and we have taken serious actions to reinforce the resiliency and safety of transportation over the past four years.
We have also warned that while the right to peaceful protest is fundamental in Canada, anyone who chooses to exercise this right must do so in accordance with the law. We have seen examples of illegal and very dangerous behaviour that could have dire consequences for the people carrying out these acts. Interfering with rail operations is both illegal and extremely dangerous.
In my time today, I have barely scratched the surface of how important Canada's rail system is to Canadians. The prosperity of our country depends on that rail network, and we will never stop working to improve it.
View John Barlow Profile
CPC (AB)
View John Barlow Profile
2020-02-24 19:05 [p.1467]
Madam Speaker, this proves my point that this is not a top priority for the Liberal government. I was not asking for a history lesson on Canada's railway system.
Let me put this in perspective. Every day these blockades are in place costs Canadian grain farmers $9 million. Let me put this into a different perspective. In a little more than two weeks, on March 15, Canadian grain farmers who took money out on the advance payments program through Farm Credit Canada must start paying those loans back at 19% if they miss that deadline.
How are they going to start paying those loans back if they cannot sell their grain because of the illegal blockades on railways across the country, which the Liberal government is doing nothing to end? Where is the plan to ensure these illegal blockades are removed today and in the future? We do not need a history lesson on using the train tracks from one part of the country to another.
View Chris Bittle Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Chris Bittle Profile
2020-02-24 19:06 [p.1467]
Madam Speaker, I was disappointed on Friday when, during question period, I mentioned that the government was engaged in dialogue and heard laughter from the other side.
I am disappointed by the creation of the misinformation that the Prime Minister or the minister responsible can direct the RCMP. It is unfortunate that the rule of law is not being respected on the other side, and that there is a belief that the police or the army should rush in at the whim of the minister or the Prime Minister. That is not allowed under the rule of law or under the laws of Canada.
We are going to do what we can do, which is to continue to offer the hands of dialogue and let police do their jobs because we, on this side of the House, trust them.
View Martin Shields Profile
CPC (AB)
View Martin Shields Profile
2020-02-24 19:07 [p.1468]
Madam Speaker, I appreciate the opportunity to stand in this august place and speak tonight.
One of the news items today was about the cancellation of the Teck project in Alberta. This is devastating news in Alberta. It is devastating news for the whole country. This is a big mining company, one of the largest in Canada, which had invested more than $1 billion over 10 years on this project. It would have spent another $20 billion developing this project with another 7,000 jobs created. It would have meant hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue across the country. That could mean hospitals, schools and roads all over this country from this project.
The company withdrew because it could see that the government was not going to approve it. It could see that there is no reason to invest in the resource sector in this country any longer. It is also a huge message to other organizations and companies outside of this country that say this is not a country to invest in, that this is not a place they want to do business. Billions have left. Billions will not come again.
Another topic is the prison needle exchange program that the government is planning to do. There is a large penitentiary bordering my riding. Many people work in that prison. This is a place where there is not supposed to be drugs. We know there are drugs. There is a place in a hospital setting, a safe setting where they can do drug exchanges in that centre.
However, handing out needles puts staff at risk. The people we pay to take care of prisoners in our jails are now at risk. There is a risk of being poked by a needle if staff members search a prisoner's room or clothes. This means they will have to take a litany of drugs for prevention. This is a horrendous idea.
For prisoners who are addicted to drugs when they go into prison, this is an opportunity for them to get off drugs. Now, this needle exchange program just encourages drug use. Instead of the possibility of prisoners getting off drugs, there will now be even more prisoners on drugs as the needle exchange is permitted in the jails. This is a horrendous idea and should not happen.
This puts many people who work in a tremendously stressful job at risk. The stress this causes is horrendous.
I have one more thing I would like to mention, and I know the parliamentary secretary thinks we are talking about $5,000 pictures, but not tonight. We are talking about more urgent issues, and we will wait to see how he responds to my question on $5,000 pictures.
View Chris Bittle Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Chris Bittle Profile
2020-02-24 19:10 [p.1468]
Madam Speaker, we were here to talk about tourism and the importance of tourism, which was exciting to my heart as a member representing one of the most popular tourism destinations in Canada, the Niagara region, where 15 million people visit annually. However, the hon. member did not really pose any questions in regard to that.
I will speak to the issue. I wish he had brought this up earlier so that I could have better information. It is disappointing to hear from Conservatives, not only here but in our provincial legislatures as well, in terms of harm reduction, the view that people who are addicted should be treated as criminals and there is no desire to reach out, provide assistance and use programs that work.
I was very happy to see the Doug Ford government break an election promise in St. Catharines, when it allowed for the creation of a supervised injection site. We have seen the incredible work that is being done. I am sure the hon. member on the other side would scoff and say that we are giving needles to addicts, looking down on the most vulnerable people in our society.
However, the people at Positive Living Niagara who are operating this supervised injection site are saving lives. It is disappointing to see the misinformation being spread by the Conservatives in terms of preventative measures on health. We should look at addiction as a health concern. It is disappointing to see our Conservative friends thinking that police action could solve the problem.
We are seeing thousands of Canadians die every year from the opioid crisis. I believe it was 4,000 last year. We need partners from the Conservative Party to stand up and say that we need evidence-based solutions. I cannot speak specifically to the program that the member has brought up, but I know that the needle exchange in my community is working. It is saving lives. It is helping people. It is stopping the spread of diseases, like HIV and hepatitis C which is on the increase in a place like St. Catharines.
It is truly disappointing. I wish we had a partner in the Conservatives to say that there are science-based solutions to help stop this epidemic. It is sad that we do not have that.
Perhaps there will be a tourism question coming afterwards, and I will be happy to answer it.
View Martin Shields Profile
CPC (AB)
View Martin Shields Profile
2020-02-24 19:13 [p.1468]
Madam Speaker, what I would like to do is read a recommendation regarding the CRTC from a report that just came in. It states:
We recommend…to reduce the maximum number of Commissioners to a Chair, a Vice-Chair, and up to seven additional Commissioners, each appointed for a single term of up to seven years. For the term of their appointment, Commissioners should reside in the National Capital Region or within a prescribed distance thereof.
I read that and think the people in my jurisdiction would think that it has not been made inclusive. It says one has to live in the national capital region. That means someone from western Canada would have to move to Ottawa.
This recommendation fans the flames. It fans the flames like the Teck agreement. This kind of recommendation is not acceptable and should not be instituted by the government.
View Chris Bittle Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Chris Bittle Profile
2020-02-24 19:14 [p.1469]
Madam Speaker, it is clear the hon. member does not want an answer to the question or he would have asked the question specifically to the parliamentary secretary who is responsible and I would have brought the information required for his answer.
We hear again from the Conservatives that more jails will be the solution to all of society's problems. It has not worked. It did not work under Stephen Harper, and it is not going to work again.
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