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Results: 1 - 15 of 4107
View Rhéal Fortin Profile
View Rhéal Fortin Profile
2021-06-16 14:06 [p.8519]
Mr. Speaker, 30 years ago, the scout troops of Saint‑Jérôme, Saint‑Hippolyte, Prévost and Piedmont, led by Prévost resident Loyola Leroux, began a project whose scope can only be truly appreciated through the lens of time.
In the spring of 1991, they went out and planted 25,000 trees. The next year, they planted 45,000 trees. In 1993, they planted 96,000, and so on and so forth. By 2016, they had planted a total of 2.3 million trees.
The members of Parliament, the mayors and other dignitaries of these cities never missed an opportunity to get their hands dirty in our fertile soil. Two-time Oscar winner and internationally renowned Quebec artist and director Frédérick Back, or the man who planted trees, was among those who came out every year to cheer on these young tree planters.
I think it is important to highlight this anniversary by reminding the government that we are still awaiting the hundreds of millions of trees we were promised by the Prime Minister. If he is wondering how to go about it, I would be happy to introduce him to Loyola Leroux.
I would like to thank these men and women who planted trees.
View Yves Perron Profile
View Yves Perron Profile
2021-06-16 14:18 [p.8522]
Today, I want to congratulate the graduates of the various high schools across Quebec.
The very important last years of their journey, when people build bonds and friendships that often last a lifetime, did not go as planned, but humans are resilient. I am sure these students found a way to make the most of the situation. Now they are even better equipped to deal with the struggles of life.
I was a high school teacher for 25 happy, fulfilling years. I mainly taught grade nine, where I had the privilege of shaping the citizens of tomorrow. This June, the last cohort of students that I taught for a full year are graduating. I want to sincerely congratulate them and wish them all the best.
Most of all, I want them to always remember that nothing is impossible and that they should not let anyone convince them otherwise.
Congratulations and all the best.
View Yves-François Blanchet Profile
Mr. Speaker, the Quebec government is preparing to amend the Charter of the French Language, in tandem with the Quebec National Assembly, obviously. Meanwhile, the federal government is tabling another statement of intent on the Official Languages Act that will never pass, of course.
The federal bill competes and creates a divide between what Canada wants and what Quebec wants. When this is pointed out to the Minister of Official Languages, she says that she simply does not want to talk about it and only wants to work together. However, she is going to have to talk about it.
The question is simple: What takes precedence in promoting and protecting French? The federal legislation or the Quebec National Assembly?
View Yves-François Blanchet Profile
Mr. Speaker, she certainly understood some things.
The Bloc Québécois wants a legitimate approach to ensuring better protection for French in Quebec. That means putting Quebec's National Assembly in charge. The minister had better not count on our support for her bill to further entrench official bilingualism.
Here is my question. Does she really think that her bill, which has not been passed and therefore remains a statement of intent, will do a better job of protecting French than Quebeckers themselves are doing with the Charter of the French Language?
View Christine Normandin Profile
View Christine Normandin Profile
2021-06-16 14:40 [p.8526]
Mr. Speaker, Quebec wants to protect the French language. All that Ottawa could do in its jurisdictions to protect French in Quebec was to let Quebec's Charter of the French Language apply to federally regulated businesses.
However, the minister is doing the opposite with Bill C‑32. She is setting the stage for increased bilingualism by extending the scope of Canada's Official Languages Act. She is creating a jurisdictional squabble instead of helping stop the decline of French.
Why is the minister refusing to do something useful by letting Quebec apply Bill 101?
View Christine Normandin Profile
View Christine Normandin Profile
2021-06-16 14:41 [p.8526]
Mr. Speaker, there is no legal void and Quebec has no plan to rely on Bill C‑32.
Quebec's minister responsible for the French language said, “One thing is for sure: The terms and conditions of Quebec's bill will be the ones that apply in Quebec”.
The federal minister, looking for a fight, responded, “We have jurisdiction over federally regulated businesses.... What do they want to do? Do they want to protect French or do they want to keep arguing?”
The minister clearly chose to keep arguing, because her bill does not protect the French language. It protects bilingualism. Why does the minister not simply let Quebec protect the French language with Bill 101?
View Mario Beaulieu Profile
View Mario Beaulieu Profile
2021-06-16 14:55 [p.8529]
Mr. Speaker, Bill C‑32 invalidates Quebec’s Bill 96 and its intent to apply Bill 101 to federally regulated businesses. Bill C-32 does not force the francization of businesses; it simply tolerates that workers speak in French. Bill C-32 does not recognize French as Quebec’s only official language, nor does it do anything to make up for its threatened minority status. Bill C-32 therefore prevents Quebec from taking charge of its language policy.
Why would Quebec vote for this instead of its own Bill 101?
View Mario Beaulieu Profile
View Mario Beaulieu Profile
2021-06-16 14:56 [p.8529]
Mr. Speaker, Quebec wants Bill 101 to apply to federally regulated businesses. Quite simply, this means applying the existing legislation. As a matter of fact, the Bloc Québécois bill does just that.
There is no need for a federal bill dumped on us six days before the end of the session that will not debated or voted on. Our bill will be voted on in half an hour; it is as simple as that.
Will the Minister of Official Languages vote with us to apply Bill 101 in Quebec?
View Alexis Brunelle-Duceppe Profile
Mr. Speaker, today I am tabling this petition signed by nearly 100 people, all of whom are concerned about the rise in international trafficking in human organs.
These petitioners are calling on all parliamentarians to pass Bill S-204, an act to amend the Criminal Code and the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act with regard to trafficking in human organs, which is currently before the House and which seeks to prohibit the trafficking of human organs removed without consent or as a result of a financial transaction.
View Kristina Michaud Profile
Mr. Speaker, first of all, I must say that the Bloc Québécois welcomes the Conservatives' desire to engage in a debate on water quality and the pollution of our rivers.
At first glance, it might be surprising to see the Conservatives interested in the issue of water pollution. Let us not forget that, during the last campaign, they promised to take action on the dumping of waste water in waterways.
It must be said that the Conservatives happily rode the wave of Montreal's “flushgate”, when the city was forced, in 2015, to dump eight billion litres of waste water into the St. Lawrence.
It was probably to fulfill this promise that the former Conservative leader, the member for Regina—Qu'Appelle, introduced Bill C‑269. Again, we welcome the Conservatives' willingness to look at ways to reduce water pollution.
It is true that the debate on Bill C‑269 is an opportunity to draw attention to an important environmental issue: the problem of sewage being discharged into our waterways. This is not the first time the Conservatives have focused on this issue.
I would like to return briefly to the promises around sewage treatment and, in turn, federal inaction on this issue.
In fact, in July 2012, Stephen Harper's government enacted the wastewater systems effluent regulations. This was the first Canadian standard for sewage treatment.
At the time, the federal government estimated that 75% of existing waste water facilities met the new standard. For the remaining 25%, the government promised to provide funding to help them comply, and it established three categories of facilities.
The first category includes the highest risk facilities, which must comply with the new standard by 2020. The second and third categories are those facilities that pose less of a risk and have until 2030, as is the case for Montreal, or 2040 to comply with the new standard.
The then minister of transport, infrastructure and communities, Denis Lebel, promised that Ottawa would invest for the long term and would work in partnership with the provinces. For its part, the Union des municipalités du Québec estimated that it would take $9 billion to upgrade municipal facilities in order to bring them into compliance with the new federal regulations. That was in 2012.
According to a recent Réseau Environnement report, it will actually cost at least $17 billion just to upgrade the existing treatment facilities, which are beginning to show their age.
This amount does not include waste-water treatment plants that do not comply with federal regulations, nor does it include the investments required to build treatment plants in municipalities that do not have any. In March, Le Devoir reported that 80 Quebec municipalities still do not have waste-water treatment plants.
Ten municipalities in the Lower St. Lawrence and Gaspé region, the region I represent, still do not have treatment plants at the outlet of their sewer systems. It is 2021. That is unbelievable. This is a serious, ongoing problem, but the federal government is slow to get involved financially.
Sewage spills happen frequently in Quebec, I am sad to say. The Fondation Rivières counted more than 60,000 spills in 2019, which added up to a total of over 470,000 hours of sewage flow into Quebec rivers and streams. The water pollution problems do not stop there.
The most recent research has brought to light the adverse health effects of endocrine disruptors in water. When these chemicals are present in the environment, they can enter the bodies of animals and humans, interact with their hormones and affect all systems in the body.
This is often harmful for both animals and humans. Even small quantities of these substances in the environment can have a significant impact. The adverse effects of endocrine disruptors have been observed in fish and mollusks in the St. Lawrence River, as well as in amphibians in rivers in southern Quebec.
Many scientists agree that endocrine disruptors are a contributing factor in certain cancers and can cause reproductive issues in humans, though few studies have been conducted in this area.
Research is currently focusing on the endocrine disruptive potential of several chemicals, such as parabens, polychlorinated biphenyls and pesticides.
The presence of microplastics is another problem that demonstrates the importance of addressing waste-water discharge into our rivers and streams.
Scientists at McGill University published a study in 2020 in the well-respected journal Environmental Pollution that found that microplastic pollution in the St. Lawrence River is of the same order of magnitude as that measured in waterways near densely populated cities in China. The researchers found, on average, 832 particles of plastic per kilogram dry weight of sediment. That is four times higher than the levels found by another team in the Ottawa River a few years ago. This finding places the St. Lawrence among the worst waterways analyzed to date. One of the problems is that microplastics linger in the environment for a long time. Since they remain in the sediment, many organisms are at risk of ingesting them and passing them up the food chain.
In short, all of this data about endocrine disruptors and the presence of microplastics shows that there is a a significant and disturbing amount of pollution in our waterways as a result of sewage spills, and we must do something about it.
Let us get back to Bill C‑269. Unfortunately, this bill does not contain a solution to the problem of sewage spills. Why not? Because it is inconsistent. It will still allow certain hazardous materials to be discharged. In short, Bill C‑269 is not as good as it looks.
It is true that, to reduce water pollution, we need effective regulations to stop sewage from being released into the environment. However, this bill allows the discharge of certain “authorized” substances, including petroleum products such as oil, gasoline, diesel and grease, chemicals, pesticides, heavy metals, fertilizer runoff and more.
Consequently, even if it were passed, Bill C‑269 would allow industry to discharge waste water contaminated with petroleum products from their facilities into our rivers, provided that the discharge complies with the Wastewater Systems Effluent Regulations. This means that waste water contaminated with chemicals like the ones I mentioned earlier would be allowed, but effluent from municipal waste-water systems would not. What will municipalities do then?
Montreal has been talking about building an ozonation plant to treat waste water for the past 15 years. The project was first announced by the Gérald Tremblay administration with a completion date in 2012, which was later pushed back to 2018. In 2019, Radio-Canada revealed that it should finally be completed in 2023 at a cost of half a billion dollars.
In February 2020, Valérie Plante's administration published a notice of interest for the construction of the plant. So far, however, there have been no developments. It is safe to say that the 2023 target may once again be postponed, but the City of Montreal has until 2030 to comply with existing federal regulations.
It is all well and good to draft regulations, but if a municipality is unable to build a water treatment plant because it simply cannot not afford it, what will the federal government do?
The solution for keeping sewage from polluting our waterways, including the St. Lawrence River, does not lie in arbitrary, unenforceable obligations or prohibitions. It lies in meaningful investments to help municipalities fulfill their waste-water treatment responsibilities.
The Bloc Québécois believes that, if we want to solve this problem together, we must demand that the federal government invest in waste-water treatment infrastructure through targeted, substantial, multi-year funding. Otherwise, neither municipalities nor Quebec will be able to fix the problem.
In conclusion, I will reiterate that the Bloc Québécois is in favour of having a debate on water quality and pollution in our rivers. We must admit that the debates on Bill C‑269 are drawing attention to this important environmental issue. However, for all of the reasons I mentioned, the Bloc Québécois will be voting against the bill.
Again, this bill does not contain a solution to the problem of sewage spills. The health of our waterways requires financial commitments that are not included in Bill C‑269. It requires a solid, long-term commitment on the part of the federal government. The government must invest heavily in municipal waste-water treatment infrastructure by means of appropriate transfers to Quebec and the provinces.
View Marilène Gill Profile
View Marilène Gill Profile
2021-06-16 18:18 [p.8565]
Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to be speaking today about Bill C‑269, an act to amend the Fisheries Act, which I can summarize very quickly as being a good idea only at first glance. My colleague from Avignon—La Mitis—Matane—Matapédia agrees with me completely.
There have been at least 10 sewage spills in Quebec in recent years. Consider the spill of millions of litres of waste water in the Richelieu River in Saint‑Jean this past March. It was the fourth such spill in three years. The same thing happened in Longueuil in 2018, when 150 million tonnes of polluted water spilled directly into the St. Lawrence River for eight straight days. It is also impossible to forget “flushgate” in Montreal in 2015, when no less than eight billion litres of waste water was dumped into the St. Lawrence.
These examples are only some of the many similar incidents that have occurred, since sewage spills are unfortunately not a rare occurrence. In Quebec alone, Fondation Rivières counted 60,660 spills in 2019, adding up to a total of 471,300 hours of overflow. That is a lot.
Considering all of the data and the pollution in our waterways, we might have expected a far more ambitious bill. That is why I called it a good idea only at first glance earlier.
It is true that Bill C‑269 has given the House the opportunity to talk about the environment and the protection of our waterways. The Bloc Québécois is certainly not going to complain about that. However, Bill C‑269 does not offer any real solutions to the complex problem of sewage spills.
Unfortunately, it does not cover all waste water or all the harmful substances that could be discharged into the environment. It does not contain any real solutions for municipalities that are forced to release their sewage into our rivers, including the St. Lawrence, because they do not have adequate treatment systems.
The first fundamental problem with Bill C‑269 is that it contains only half measures. The first clause of Bill C‑269 excludes raw sewage from the definition of “deleterious substance” in the Fisheries Act. That is the problem.
Bill C‑269 prohibits the deposit of raw sewage, which could prevent another “flushgate” in Montreal. However, it permits the deposit of several other substances that are just as deleterious, meaning the Conservatives' bill opens the door to discharges of all kinds in our waterways. Allow me to list a few substances that the Conservatives forgot: petroleum products, chemicals, pesticides, heavy metals, industrial effluent, paint, and cleaning products like bleach.
If we want to truly protect our waterways, we need to go much further. Prohibiting the discharge of waste water is one thing, but allowing the deposit of all sorts of other equally dangerous substances is quite another. If the Conservatives want to prove that they care about protecting our waterways, they should revise their bill to avoid creating two categories of pollutants.
I would like to mention another problem with Bill C‑269. How do the Conservatives plan to prohibit the discharge of waste water if the municipalities do not have adequate water treatment facilities to stop doing it?
Let us consider the facts. Le Devoir recently reported that 80 Quebec municipalities do not have waste-water treatment plants. The article also mentioned a report by the Réseau Environnement that estimated we will have to invest at least $17 billion just to upgrade existing treatment facilities, which are beginning to show their age. Even with $17 billion, we will not achieve the miracle solution the Conservatives think they are proposing.
For the Bloc Québécois, until effective regulations against waste-water discharge are implemented, the problem will never be fully resolved. The real solution is clear, but it does not appear in the bill. It is so simple: The federal government must make substantial, regular investments, with dedicated, multi-year funding, to help the municipalities, which should not have to cut corners when it comes to protecting our waterways.
The federal government must invest in order to allow municipalities to build adequate waste-water treatment infrastructure.
In conclusion, if the Conservatives want to look good and burnish their green credentials by showing concern for the health of our waterways, including the St. Lawrence River, they must be bolder and propose real solutions, none of which appear in Bill C‑269.
If the Conservatives really want to solve the problem of sewage spills, they must think about including all harmful substances, and the federal government must help municipalities build adequate treatment systems, or the problem will resurface and will never be totally resolved.
For these reasons, the Bloc Québécois will vote against Bill C‑269.
View Andréanne Larouche Profile
Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for his speech and for the interesting debate this evening.
For all the tea in China, no one will convince me that there is no pattern to the Liberal government's behaviour. It has a tendency to hide certain things and has shown a lack of transparency, and even a lack of ethics, in several matters. The recent WE Charity decision comes to mind, but there have been other instances where the government lacked transparency.
I would like to hear my colleague's opinion on this.
View Andréanne Larouche Profile
Madam Speaker, I thank my colleague from Kingston and the Islands for his remarks.
However, I would like him to explain something to me. I believe that what we have just experienced is highly symptomatic of three things. First, this government is in contempt of democracy. Second, as I said earlier, this government has shown contempt by obstructing and lacking transparency on several issues. Third, the government is telling us this evening that we would rather debate this issue than other bills, and yet it is the government that is responsible for its own legislative agenda. It has sat on many bills for a long, long time, and it is entirely responsible for the delays.
I would like to ask my colleague a question, and I would like him to avoid telling me what he believes the Conservatives were thinking when they moved tonight's motion. Why did my colleague not take more time in his speech to specifically address the issue that we are debating right now?
View Simon-Pierre Savard-Tremblay Profile
Madam Speaker, I salute our Conservative colleagues.
The House is debating a motion that hits on something, which is that, ultimately, parliamentarians should have rights. When we adopt something like a motion, it should not just fade into oblivion, like a big show or circus just passing through, as if it stops mattering once the vote has taken place.
We are constantly being told that under Canada's parliamentary system, which originated in the United Kingdom, Parliament is the supreme body and has all the powers, and that the legislative branch does everything and the government is accountable to it. However, in the end, we see that the votes in this Parliament are forgotten and serve no purpose. Is this normal? Is that how this parliamentary system, the virtues of which are constantly being dinned into our ears, is supposed to work?
We are also told that this is a parliamentary monarchy, but I think the monarchy part gets more air time in the House than the parliamentary part. Apparently, the legislative power is merely symbolic when we vote on a motion, as is the case here.
In fact, I see the same thing in my files. I am the international trade critic, and every time a trade agreement is discussed, we, as parliamentarians, are not asked to tell the negotiators which issues we want them to play up or down, or which interests they should suggest or protect. We are not consulted at all, and it is only at the end of the process that we are asked to rubber-stamp it.
The motion moved by the member for Louis-Saint-Laurent, a member of the official opposition, also hits the nail on the head with regard to this whole parliamentary culture, which is parliamentary in name only. That is unacceptable.
The Bloc Québécois was in favour of the motion, but it questioned some aspects of it. The government House leader spoke earlier about information that could impact national security and that must not end up in the wrong hands, redacted information that should not be revealed. The Bloc Québécois also expressed concern in that regard, and we told our official opposition colleagues that we agreed with their motion but that we were somewhat concerned about that aspect of it.
That did not stop us from voting in favour of the motion, because we figured that any disclosure of information had to be approved in committee and that there were enough members who would vote to prevent sensitive or essential information from being leaked, since no party holds a majority in committee. I therefore do not really understand the motivation or rationale behind the concerns of our colleague opposite, the government House leader.
There is something else we need to address, and the member for Louis‑Saint‑Laurent touched on it earlier when he said that the Conservatives' motion was not meant to stigmatize China or the Chinese community.
The Bloc Québécois has a completely different approach to China than the Conservative Party. We have always spoken in favour of normalizing relations with China, and we are in favour of maintaining good relations between our two countries, even though these relations have worsened over time.
Just a few years ago, we had excellent relations, to the point that we almost signed a free trade agreement with China. We were seriously considering it. The Bloc Québécois would have been against such an agreement because it would not have been a good idea. However, the fact that we were talking about this proposal and it has now been completely abandoned shows that our relations with China have deteriorated.
All the same, that should not stop us from remaining clear-eyed. My colleague from the Bloc Québécois, the member for Lac-Saint-Jean, has brought up the situation of the Uighurs several times. The week following the election, we also voted with the Conservatives in favour of creating the Special Committee on Canada-China Relations.
Our position is one of respect, because China went a long time without getting the respect it was due. For a long time, it was not even recognized. It was France, under the insightful General de Gaulle, that finally recognized that China was more than just Taiwan. That was the right thing to do.
Still, we have to be clear-eyed about the fact that human rights abuses are happening and that some serious issues there need to be discussed. I will not go over the timeline or talk about how the doctor, her husband and her students were removed from the lab. I think the timeline is well established. However, that does raise some questions about the labs.
Let us talk about the National Microbiology Laboratory in Winnipeg, Canada's only containment level 4 virology lab. This lab handles some of the most dangerous pathogens on the planet. This kind of lab follows very strict protocols to prevent viruses from escaping, which would have disastrous consequences.
This kind of facility also has numerous chemical showers, and employees have to don pressurized rubber suits with external air supplies. Security protocols are highly detailed. Everything is closely monitored and tightly controlled. Access to the lab is tightly controlled, as is egress, of course. We do not want anything getting in that should not be there, and we definitely do not want anything getting out that should not be out. Very few people have access to the lab.
A level 4 lab does not usually work with viruses like COVID‑19. That kind of virus is usually handled in a level 3 lab. A level 4 lab typically handles pathogens for which there is no antibody or treatment.
As members know, according to certain conspiracy theories, Dr. Qiu and Dr. Cheng shipped the COVID‑19 virus to the Wuhan Institute of Virology. For the reason I just mentioned, this theory does not hold up. The laboratory actually deals with viruses like Ebola, Lassa fever, smallpox, henipaviruses and other similar virus types. It is managed by the Public Health Agency of Canada, and it is the type of laboratory that is designed to prevent pathogens from being released in the event of an earthquake or a fire, for example.
Let us now talk about the laboratories in China. It is quite an interesting subject. China has two level 4 laboratories, the Wuhan Institute of Virology and the Harbin Veterinary Research Institute.
The Wuhan institute was established in collaboration with France. One of its features is that it can handle viruses like the coronavirus, and this is the source of the conspiracy theory that emerged early in the pandemic and recently resurfaced, namely, that the COVID‑19 virus escaped from a laboratory. The Wuhan lab holds the world's largest collection of coronaviruses. We know that China has been somewhat lax and that there have been leaks in a number of areas. My colleagues probably remember SARS, or severe acute respiratory syndrome. Well, SARS escaped from level 3 labs in Beijing several times in the past, despite the fact that it posed a very high risk to the population.
Most scientists agree that the virus came from animals rather than the Wuhan lab, although this possibility has not been ruled out. Let us agree that if this does turn out to be the case, the COVID‑19 crisis would truly be to China what Chernobyl was to the Soviet Union. It is a disaster of the same magnitude.
Still, we need to bear in mind one aspect that has been observed and that was mentioned in a 2017 article published in the journal Nature. In this article, a number of researchers showed that the Chinese regime its lack of transparency was preventing laboratories from being safe, because it was impossible to criticize the authorities and the senior ranks. If anything went wrong, they might be tempted to cover up what was going on.
At the Wuhan institute, the risk of a leak is significant. In the case at hand, it is surprising that Canada allowed the shipment of virus samples.
It would be very surprising if this shipment caused the virus to make its way from Canada to China. I explained why a little earlier. Nevertheless, it is very surprising that the shipment was allowed.
There is no denying that there are concerns about safety.
In 2005, scientists at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in the United States recreated the Spanish flu in a laboratory so they could study it and better understand how it works. They tested the virus on animals, and the animals quickly died. The U.S. military also took an interest in the virus, studying several sample fragments to sequence the virus's genomes.
China may well be conducting similar tests, but its lack of transparency makes it impossible to know for sure. China is particularly interested in Ebola and is investing heavily in Africa, but those investments could be threatened by a resurgence of the virus.
This research raises concerns about the possible use of other countries' intellectual property. China is known for taking intellectual property from Canada.
In May 2020, Chinese President Xi Jinping announced plans to make a potential Chinese vaccine available to the entire planet. The reality is that China is giving away some doses, but it is also selling them to other countries. As everyone knows, China sells licenses, so it is already much better than pharmaceutical companies in the western world. However, China is using vaccines to pressure Taiwan. For instance, China recently pressured Pfizer to stop distributing the vaccine directly to Taiwan, to force the Taiwanese administration to negotiate with Beijing.
It is important to understand that, generally speaking, in the health context, China is a real expert when it comes to collecting data, especially medical data.
Of course, I could go on and on about China's economic and trade strategy, but let us focus on what China refers to in its official communications as the belt and road initiative.
When this initiative was launched a few years ago, it was essentially about transportation infrastructure. However, a health component was added during the pandemic, and a digital component was also developed. In the issue we are concerned with today, that may represent something much bigger that we will have to examine.
China is investing heavily in research and development and in various technologies, such as 5G, data centres and artificial intelligence. It has adopted policies concerning global collection of health data. Private technology firms are extremely integrated with the research arm of the military. China's and Canada's data protection standards are quite different. It is important to know that.
Take the Chinese firm BGI, for example. BGI's headquarters are located in Shenzhen, which is known as the Chinese Silicon Valley. During the COVID-19 pandemic, BGI donated equipment to almost 20 countries, but a dozen or so U.S. states refused them out of fear. They rejected this seemingly generous offer. BGI also has many partnerships with hospitals, universities and research centres.
BGI is listed on the Chinese stock exchange, which is regulated by Beijing. BGI built and manages the China National GeneBank DataBase, which is under government control. This database holds the largest number of genetic and biological samples in the world. BGI sometimes uses the Chinese army's supercomputers to process genetic data. This shows that everything is closely connected: the data collection, the companies, the military and the Chinese government.
The lab at Mount Sinai Hospital in Toronto analyzes 15,000 COVID‑19 test samples every day. In 2020, the lab did not have enough money to pay for equipment, but it received donated equipment from BGI Group. This equipment included an extraction robot that speeds up the process for analyzing COVID‑19 tests. The company also installed the equipment and provided training and logistical support. Global Affairs Canada remained silent on the issue.
BGI has an office in Montreal, Quebec, on Avenue du Parc. The company's website claims that this office has been conducting genome sequencing since 2019. However, in an interview with Radio-Canada, BGI denied that this office did sequencing. It even said that the office was closed and that no one worked there. Who is telling the truth, BGI or BGI? Do we believe their website or their official statement? Actually, these are both types of official statements.
As far as the public is aware, there are six BGI sequencers in Canadian universities and research centres, including in Quebec. In Quebec's case, the two devices at McGill University remain BGI's property. McGill University claims that the data is not shared with the company, but it refuses to answer questions on where the data is stored and who is authorized to access it. BGI also has a maintenance agreement regarding the machines. That means that company technicians have access to the machines and can do whatever they like with the data they contain.
Canada is the only country in North America with BGI sequencers. Apart from the equipment, the company has also entered into a scientific collaboration with Genome Canada. It is normal that such an agreement should be confidential. However, there are still two major issues with it, namely data collection and China's commercial power grab in America's biopharmaceutical sector.
We know that China is collecting DNA data and sometimes uses it for repressive purposes. That has been proven and documented. The lab at the Mount Sinai Hospital in Toronto that I was talking about earlier claims that no data is shared with BGI. The people at the National Counterintelligence and Security Center in Washington are looking into that, and they are worried about China controlling America's biopharmaceutical industry.
Of course, Washington also has its own imperialistic tendencies and its own ways of using data, algorithms and so on. One empire is criticizing another and creating one of its own. However, that is not the issue.
We can still consider the recent 750-page report that was just submitted to the U.S. Congress and President Joe Biden, in which the National Security Commission on Artificial Intelligence also warns the country about these practices.
Did Canada consider those issues too? Presumably not. Unfortunately, the tone that the government is taking today on this motion regarding past events suggests that it is no more prepared to face the present and future than it is the past.
View Simon-Pierre Savard-Tremblay Profile
Madam Speaker, it appears extremely clear that the government does not like when we pry into its affairs. We saw that with WE Charity and many other issues.
Although we are more than willing to work together, which is something we should be doing in a time of crisis, it is obvious that the abuse of power is neither warranted nor justifiable. The government's lack of transparency is a blatant, highly reprehensible problem.
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