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View Anthony Rota Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Anthony Rota Profile
2022-12-05 11:02 [p.10383]
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There being no motion at report stage, the House will now proceed, without debate, to the putting of the question on the motion to concur in the bill at report stage.
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View Garnett Genuis Profile
CPC (AB)
View Garnett Genuis Profile
2022-12-05 11:03 [p.10383]
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, seconded by the member for Pierrefonds—Dollard, moved that the bill be concurred in.
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View Anthony Rota Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Anthony Rota Profile
2022-12-05 11:03 [p.10383]
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If a member of a recognized party present in the House wishes that the motion be carried or carried on division or wishes to request a recorded division, I would invite them to rise and indicate it to the Chair.
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View Garnett Genuis Profile
CPC (AB)
View Garnett Genuis Profile
2022-12-05 11:04 [p.10383]
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Mr. Speaker, I think there would be agreement for the motion to be carried unanimously.
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View Anthony Rota Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Anthony Rota Profile
2022-12-05 11:04 [p.10383]
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Is that agreed?
Some hon. members: Agreed.
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View Anthony Rota Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Anthony Rota Profile
2022-12-05 11:04 [p.10383]
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When shall the bill be read the third time? By leave, now?
Some hon. members: Agreed.
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View Garnett Genuis Profile
CPC (AB)
View Garnett Genuis Profile
2022-12-05 11:04 [p.10383]
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, seconded by the member for Pierrefonds—Dollard, moved that the bill be read the third time and passed.
He said: Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to be speaking today to Bill S-223, the next, and hopefully the last, in a long line of bills that have been proposed here and in the other place to begin the fight against the horrific practice of forced organ harvesting and trafficking.
I want to thank the member for Pierrefonds—Dollard for seconding the bill and recognize the incredible work done by Senator Ataullahjan as well, who proposed the bill. I have the honour of carrying that work on in this place.
The bill would make it a criminal offence for a person to go abroad and receive an organ taken without consent. Bill S-223 would also create a mechanism by which a person could be deemed inadmissible to Canada for involvement in forced organ harvesting and trafficking. The bill recognizes the basic moral principle that killing people or exploiting them for their organs is wrong everywhere and should be stopped everywhere.
Efforts to combat this practice have been ongoing in Canada's Parliament for close to 15 years, and the time that has elapsed underlines the sad reality of how long it takes to pass good private members' bills, even when everyone agrees. However, Bill S-223 has now made it further than any of its predecessors. Having passed the Senate and now been reported back from committee without amendments, the bill only needs to complete this third reading stage and receive royal assent before becoming law. Thanks to the member for Bow River trading with me today and the member for Simcoe North trading the second hour slot on Wednesday, the bill will complete debate this week and should pass its final vote in time for Christmas.
In the past I have always given uncharacteristically short speeches on the bill, trying to engineer an early collapse to debate to move the bill along more quickly. However, given that we now have the security of a second hour for debate lined up and a tight time line to move forward in any event, I will use the opportunity to now, for the first time, to lay out my views on this subject in the level of detail that the full time allows.
The bill responds to one particularly egregious human rights violation, but it would also take an important step toward the embracing of a vital principle of human rights more broadly; that is, the idea of the universality of human rights and of the responsibility of nations to prudentially use the means at their disposal to protect fundamental human rights, not only within their own nations but for every human being in every corner of the globe.
Bill S-223 would apply criminal prohibitions against organ harvesting and trafficking beyond Canada's borders. It recognizes that organ harvesting and trafficking is not just wrong in Canada as a result of particularly Canadian values or a particularly Canadian social contract. Rather, it recognizes that organ harvesting and trafficking is wrong because it denies the universal principle of inherent human dignity and value, a principle that should be understood and applied universally. In this sense, the bill seeks to continue the process of innovation around the principle of national sovereignty that began in 1948 with the promulgation of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
Today, I would like to make the case for the importance of embracing this continuing process of innovation, though with appropriate balance and with necessary parameters.
The principle of national sovereignty comes most sharply from Peace of Westphalia, which ended 30 years of war in the Holy Roman Empire in 1648. National sovereignty emerged as a necessary practical compromise from the new reality created by the Protestant Reformation. Prior to the Reformation, western Europe had a kind of moral and religious unity, with the Pope as spiritual leader and the Emperor as a temporal ruler whose practical jurisdiction varied from place to place, but who expressed a kind civilizational unity of the western Christian world.
The Reformation ended that unity and led to generations of wars, with most of the Catholic powers struggling to restore that civilizational unity and with the Protestant powers, with the periodic help of France, seeking to break the power of the Pope and Emperor and create a reality in which nation states could be their own authority in most areas. The Peace of Westphalia, more from exhaustion than decisive victory, marked the end of this period of religious wars and the beginning of the period of nation states.
Notably, this was not the beginning of some great flowering of individual freedom, liberty and human rights. The division of Europe into blocs meant that Catholics were persecuted in Protestant nations just as Protestants were persecuted in Catholic nations, and later as Catholics were brutally persecuted in anti-religious revolutionary France. Westphalia was not about saying that individuals could believe and do what they liked; it was “cuius regio, eius religio”, the religion of the ruler shall be the religion of the state. Under these circumstances, religious persecution continued for hundreds of years, and nations, though less inclined to fight wars over religion, fought wars that reflected the aspirations of rulers, no longer checked or mediated by super-national structures that reflected civilizational unity.
The 18th and 19th centuries saw the rise of new universalist movements. The French Revolution and later Marxism were great threats to existing structures and ideas of national sovereignty, because they made universal claims about the kinds of power structures that should exist, instead of accepting the Westphalian idea that it was up to the local political authorities to decide how a place would be governed.
These movements were obviously different, but a common thread can be discerned in the thinking of political universalists of both the pre-Reformation and the Revolutionary type. They believed that, insofar as there is such a thing as truth, insofar as there is such a thing as human nature and insofar as there is a resulting right and wrong way for a people to be governed, efforts should be made to apply these principles universally. There is intuitive logic to the idea that truth and justice for human beings in one place should be the same as truth and justice for human beings in another place.
There are more modern arguments made for the rejection of this kind of moral universalism that propose the general subjectivity of truth. I will comment more on these arguments later. For the time being, we should note that the emergence of national sovereignty as a principle in European politics did not arise from the rejection of absolute truth in religious and political matters. Rather, it arose from the practical recognition that such universals could not be practically enforced through warfare, at least not at any acceptable cost. The idea of national sovereignty was seen as a necessary political compromise to preserve some measure of peace and security.
It is hard to say how well national sovereignty actually worked at achieving its objectives. One can never test counterfactuals, but we can never know what would have happened in Europe if this piece of political technology had not been invented. Certainly, Europeans kept fighting wars of various kinds after 1648, but the return of the broadest and most devastating European wars tended to align with the emergence of new universalist ideologies.
Following the last of these total European wars, nations came together to try to shape a new kind of settlement. This included the formation of the United Nations in 1945 and also the signing of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights exactly 300 hundred years after the signing of the Peace of Westphalia.
Many of history's human rights declarations, especially prior to 1948, were calls to arms or efforts to justify a violent revolution. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights was radical insofar as it asserted the universality of various fundamental human rights, but it was also conservative in the sense that it was the project of nation states, within a framework that still recognized nationality with sovereignty, it did not legally bind the state signatories to actually uphold the rights therein, and, of course, it did not contain a call to armed enforcement by the people.
This provided a somewhat contradictory foundation, and international human rights law has continued to evolve and grow since 1948 on that foundation that recognizes both national sovereignty and universal human rights as being of great importance.
Notwithstanding the evident tension between these concepts, international diplomacy and law today recognizes that we cannot and ought not dispense with either. An absence of recognition of national sovereignty would lead to perpetual conflict between nations representing irreconcilable philosophical systems. This was the background prior to the Peace of Westphalia and a reality intermittently renewed by the rise of universalist revolutionary and totalitarian movements.
However, the absence of any limits on national sovereignty aimed at protecting universal human rights would create a reality in which we would look the other way when nations would commit the most dastardly crimes toward their own people. Any moral person who believes in justice and universal human dignity must, at a certain point, refuse to consent to allowing certain evils to be committed in the name of national sovereignty. Even if the only consideration is national sovereignty, history shows us clearly that nations that show capricious disregard for the rights of their own people quickly become a menace to their neighbours.
Recognizing the necessary tension between national sovereignty and international human rights, the approach of many nations has sadly been to talk the talk of international human rights, but not to put in practice meaningful mechanisms to enforce such rights.
The clearest example of this approach is the approach taken to the crime of genocide. Canada is a party to an international convention that seeks to define and make illegal the crime of genocide, regardless of assertions of national sovereignty. I strongly support this idea in principle and in practice. Slaughtering a group of people in an attempt to eradicate them is a horrific denial of universal human dignity of the person, and we should do what we can to prevent it. However, unfortunately, while assenting to the idea in principle that genocide should be an international crime, the Government of Canada has been reluctant to actually recognize any acts of genocide while they are progress. It claims that its obligation to act in response to genocide is triggered by a determination by some undefined competent international authority, even if such authorities are easily manipulated by the state committing genocide.
Additionally, this line from the government is fundamentally out of step with our actual legal obligations under the Genocide Convention. Our obligations, as a signatory to the convention, are to uphold that convention, which includes our responsibility to protect victims of genocide, regardless of national sovereignty and regardless of determinations by UN bodies. This is the legal obligation that we have assumed.
I also acknowledge the reality that it is not prudential to send in our troops in every case where genocide is happening. However, rather than burying our heads in the sand and denying the existence of genocide, the government could seek to clearly define the nature and also the limitations of how we would operationalize a responsibility to protect.
In my view, we need to develop real tools for practically integrating a commitment to universal human rights with a commitment to some form of national sovereignty. If an individual is involved in a violation of international human rights and if the nation state in which the person lives elects not to punish them or even condones their actions, national sovereignty limits our ability to punish this criminal. However, without resorting to means that are imprudent and likely to lead to even greater violence, we should still seek ways to punish those involved in human rights violations beyond our borders and thus deter criminals from committing these crimes.
Enter Bill S-223, a little bill with a big idea. It is the idea that we should use the means reasonably at our disposal to punish violations of fundamental human rights that happen beyond our borders. We could do this by punishing Canadians who are complicit in these acts of violence and by shunning foreigners who are involved in such violence. In light of the emergent reality of global connectivity, these kinds of limited tools are still meaningful and begin the process of deterring crime that happens beyond our borders.
It is a good thing that, if we agree it is always and everywhere wrong to do such and such a thing to a human being, we try to come up with some mechanism of accountability for these crimes that is prudent and that does not return us to the kind of world that existed between the Protestant Reformation and the Peace of Westphalia.
This idea of actively applying international human rights principles extraterritorially is about us doing what we can under the circumstances to advance justice. A commitment to this principle is why I have worked hard on this bill and also why I strongly support similar legislative mechanisms, such as the increasing use of Magnitsky sanctions, the adoption of Bill C-281, which is the international human rights act, and the adoption of Bill S-211. I support these legislative efforts to promote justice beyond our borders, because my children here in Canada are no more or less human than Uighur children, Rohingya children, the young nephew of my assistant who faces a hard winter in Ukraine or Kian Pirfalak, a nine-year-old boy who was murdered by police while attending a pro-freedom protest in Iran.
In conclusion, I want to return to a question I raised earlier: the case for universal moral claims in a world made up of diverse cultures and political traditions.
Every society since the dawn of time has tried to regulate itself with doctrines of something like morality. It is impossible for people to live together in a community if they do not regulate their interactions in some way. Furthermore, it is in our nature as beings to try to live rationally, to try to explain the decisions we make with reference to some good or goods.
However, while there has never been a society without some kind moral doctrines, and while those moral doctrines have sought to protect the lives and security of certain individuals, most societies have excluded certain groups or individuals from that protection. They have sought to protect an in-group without protecting an outgroup, seeking to narrow the definition of what it is to be human and perhaps allowing the exploitation of the outgroup for some advantage.
The core of my political philosophy is a simple commitment to universal humanism. It is the idea that we should not think in terms of in-group and outgroup when making decisions about fundamental human rights. If we are to speak authentically about human rights, then these are rights for all humans, regardless of age, environment, citizenship, skin colour or any other factor. Throughout history and still today, there are many who seek to limit the human family for their own convenience, but I believe that a person is a person.
Naturally there are certain kinds of rights that do flow from exchange. A worker has a right to wages. That is a right particular to the worker. A citizen has certain rights that accord with the obligations they have taken on to the nation in which they live. However, when we speak of human rights, these are rights that do not exist because of exchange. Rather, they are rights that flow from the universal nature of the human person.
Ideas of rights and justice are philosophical propositions that cannot be proven scientifically. All doctrines of human rights have their roots in something like faith: in the embrace of propositions that are not scientifically verifiable. However, the idea of universal human rights flowing from a universal humanness can be supported by observing how it accords with the universal aspirations of all people.
Today, as we speak, the people of China and the people of Iran are taking to the streets bravely demanding change. As we speak, incredibly, both of these totalitarian governments are at least feigning in the direction of concession. Also, the people of Ukraine have resisted and continue to heroically resist Putin's invasion, even as more and more Russians bravely express their own discontent.
I am proudly here today endorsing this universal movement for freedom and justice, to say that a person is a person no matter where they live and to say that we can and should prudentially work to affirm and give greater meaning to the idea of universal human rights.
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View Sameer Zuberi Profile
Lib. (QC)
View Sameer Zuberi Profile
2022-12-05 11:19 [p.10386]
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Madam Speaker, I would like to ask the member for Sherwood Park—Fort Saskatchewan a question.
We are working together on the Uighur file, which is an important issue. We are the co-chairs of the Canada-Uyghur Parliamentary Friendship Group.
I ask the member how the bill would impact this grave and serious human rights concern, which the House has said is a genocide occurring currently against the Uighur people. How does he see this bill ameliorating that particular situation right now?
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View Garnett Genuis Profile
CPC (AB)
View Garnett Genuis Profile
2022-12-05 11:20 [p.10386]
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Madam Speaker, we have seen many initiatives before the House, including my friend's Motion No. 62, and these initiatives deal with different parts of the genocide: recognition, sanctions, immigration measures and forced labour. There are many different pieces to it that require a response.
This bill seeks to combat forced organ harvesting and trafficking. We have been hearing more and more reports that Uighurs have been victim to forced organ harvesting and trafficking. By cutting off some of the demand for those organs and by seeking to in some sense punish those involved in forced organ harvesting and trafficking, this bill is an important step. There are still many more steps required, but it is an important step in trying to advance justice fo Uighurs.
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View Alistair MacGregor Profile
NDP (BC)
View Alistair MacGregor Profile
2022-12-05 11:20 [p.10386]
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Madam Speaker, I thank the member for shepherding this bill to this stage. It has been a long journey. I have a question based on the earlier intervention, aside from what is happening with the Uighur population.
Over the many years the member has been involved in trying to shepherd this bill through the Parliament of Canada, can he inform the House what the trends and statistics have been like worldwide that underline a strong a case and necessity for this bill being passed into law at this moment in time?
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View Garnett Genuis Profile
CPC (AB)
View Garnett Genuis Profile
2022-12-05 11:21 [p.10386]
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Madam Speaker, there are different kinds of cases of forced organ harvesting and trafficking. We often speak of the situation in China, where forced organ harvesting and trafficking are part of the persecution of dissidents or minorities. Falun Gong practitioners have been significantly targeted for decades. Now we are seeing an increase in the targeting of Uighurs as part of a state-directed and state-controlled system.
However, in many other countries around the world where forced organ harvesting and trafficking happen, they are not likely coordinated by the state but in the dark ungoverned or less governed corners of society. People who are poor and vulnerable are taken advantage of and coerced or compelled into giving up their organs.
We know this is a problem, and there have been various efforts to quantify it. It is a difficult thing to quantify. It is particularly difficult to quantify the extent to which Canadians are or are not complicit in this, but the bill takes an important step in responding to that reality throughout the world.
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View James Bezan Profile
CPC (MB)
View James Bezan Profile
2022-12-05 11:22 [p.10386]
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Madam Speaker, the member for Sherwood Park—Fort Saskatchewan's dissertation was well researched and well articulated.
We know that Falun Gong practitioners have been unfairly and unjustly targeted by the regime in Beijing for organ harvesting. They are denied freedom of religion, freedom of association and freedom expression, things that we take for granted here in Canada.
We know that our former colleague David Kilgour, as well as David Matas, wrote a large study and briefing document on those responsible for the organ harvesting of the Falun Dafa in China. They brought forward, along with Falun Gong practitioners here in Canada, over 20 names of those who have profited from the very gross, which I mean in every way possible, human rights violations of Falun Gong practitioners in China, who have had their organs harvested for being political dissidents. None of them have ever been sanctioned.
Can the member speak to whether this bill would allow us to make sure that nobody in Canada profits from or gains access to these illicit organs? Why we are not sanctioning the individuals who are responsible for this?
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View Garnett Genuis Profile
CPC (AB)
View Garnett Genuis Profile
2022-12-05 11:24 [p.10387]
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Madam Speaker, this bill would create a mechanism by which those involved with forced organ harvesting and trafficking would be inadmissible to Canada.
In terms of broader sanctions, Magnitsky-style sanctions, it is important that we also pass Bill C-281, which would create a mechanism through which a parliamentary committee could recommend people for Magnitsky sanctions. That would help us move forward to ensure that more people involved in these kinds of human rights violations are put on the sanctions list.
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View Sameer Zuberi Profile
Lib. (QC)
View Sameer Zuberi Profile
2022-12-05 11:24 [p.10387]
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Madam Speaker, I would like to start by thanking the member for Sherwood Park—Fort Saskatchewan.
I also want to thank Senator Ataullahjan, who has created this conversation within our House, the lower house, the House of Commons.
This Senate bill, Bill S-223, an act to amend the Criminal Code and the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (trafficking in human organs), is a critical piece of legislation that would help us address a grave and serious human rights concern. It is new legislation that adds to an existing body of law, which addresses criminality but not with respect to organ harvesting outside of Canada's territory.
I want to acknowledge our collective commitment to ensuring that these important reforms become law. This is a commitment from all members of the House, from what I can see. The important and beautiful thing about this legislation and discussing it is we are focused on the public good, putting aside our partisan squabbles to promote what is right and just.
First, I would like to review the history of the legislative reform proposed in this bill.
The issue of organ trafficking has been before Parliament for a decade. Prior to Bill S-223, there were two Senate public bills that proposed nearly identical reforms. They were Bill S-240, introduced in 2017, and Bill S-204, introduced in 2020. In addition, two private member's bills introduced in 2017 and 2013 proposed similar reforms. They were Bill C-350 and Bill C-561. We all agree that organ trafficking is a heinous crime. It requires a legislative response.
As I said earlier, this piece of legislation would create something new within the Criminal Code that speaks specifically to the trafficking of organs extraterritorially, or outside the territory of Canada. Additionally, it would amend the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act so those who are seeking to reside permanently in Canada or foreign nationals would be inadmissible to our beautiful country for engaging in conduct that constitutes one of the offences proposed in this legislation. These offences target anybody who obtains organs, or who participates in or facilitates the trafficking of organs, from a person who did not provide informed consent. This legislation also seeks to target those who obtained organs that are purchased and those who participate in or facilitate the transfer of purchased organs.
These are coercive practices. They are difficult to prove, but we want to send a clear and strong signal that we as a country do not accept them.
Unfortunately, we know that people who are wealthier unwittingly or sometimes wittingly engage in this practice. Those who are victims of this practice are almost always deeply vulnerable. The transplant of organs without consent is abhorrent. Oftentimes, it leads to devastating impacts on those who had their organs trafficked. They are uncompensated, they live with lifelong problems and they sometimes die.
The member for Sherwood Park—Fort Saskatchewan and I participated in an important study on the Uighur people. This was over two years ago at the parliamentary subcommittee on international human rights.
We heard testimony from a survivor of the concentration camps within Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region. He recounted to us, in testimony, how he was apprehended. He was asked to sign a forced confession and refused to do so. He was medically examined to such an extent that he thought he would be dissected on that table, that his eyes were going to be removed or that his organs were going to be harvested on the spot during the examination.
This piece of legislation seeks to target any behaviour that harvests organs from people.
I recognize that the Criminal Code may apply currently to some of the conduct that this bill is seeking to legislate. Right now, the Criminal Code has assault offences that apply when organs are harvested here in Canada with coercion. This piece of legislation, as I mentioned earlier, also looks at what happens outside of Canada.
Right now, there is no international covenant from the UN that speaks specifically to organ harvesting in its essence as the main thrust of the covenant. However, there are two covenants that do touch upon organ harvesting, and Canada is party to both of these UN instruments. The first is the Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children. This supplements the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime, which was ratified on May 13, 2002.
After this first piece of international law came the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography. This protocol addresses offering, delivering and accepting a child for the purposes of transferring children's organs, particularly article 3. This was ratified on September 14, 2005.
The Council of Europe Convention against Trafficking in Human Organs, adopted in 2014, also speaks directly to organ harvesting.
I will conclude by recognizing the important work that has been done around this, in particular by David Kilgour and David Matas. They have done extensive research around Falun Gong or Falun Dafa practitioners and have dedicated years to highlighting this particular issue around organ harvesting.
We know that David Kilgour served in the House for many years with the Liberal Party and the Conservative Party. He was a person of conviction. He was a person who continued to remain active after serving the House. He was somebody I crossed paths with before entering the House. I remember this gentleman as a sincere person who advocated for the public good and for human rights.
It is important to also mark David Matas, who along with David Kilgour conducted extensive research. It allowed us to build a body of evidence that proved not only anecdotally but also empirically that this is an abhorrent phenomenon occurring right now.
Recently, in the Subcommittee on International Human Rights, we heard how this is currently happening to the Uighur people. In the airports in Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region, in Urumqi, if my memory serves me correctly, there were lines on the floor as one entered the airport that specifically demarcated where one could pick up organs. This is abhorrent. This type of practice must stop. This practice might exist currently within a region of the world that we know, but this legislation applies across the board.
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View Kristina Michaud Profile
BQ (QC)
Madam Speaker, it is always a pleasure to address the House, and I am glad to be here to talk about Bill S-223 today.
I love it when there is consensus in the House and all parties, no matter their political leanings, agree on an issue. I am happy to see that that is the case for this bill. I think this type of legislation is a step in the right direction for both Quebeckers and Canadians. I am very happy.
We know that organ trafficking is a barbaric practice that has been around for a long time and has become more prevalent with the arrival of the Internet and improved immunosuppressant drugs. I believe it is our duty to enact legislation about this. Canada does not yet have legislation prohibiting people from engaging in transplant tourism, which means travelling abroad, buying organs, having them transplanted and returning to Canada. It is about time we enacted this kind of legislation.
This bill provides an additional tool to combat trafficking in human organs, which speaks to the social and economic inequalities that unfortunately still exist around the world. It is also an additional tool to combat criminal groups. The bill is a step in the right direction in the fight against organ trafficking, but its effects will be proportional to the effort put into increasing knowledge and awareness about organ donation in order to address the shortage of organs needed for people waiting for a second chance.
There has been a lot of discussion about the facts pertaining to this bill, and I would like to focus on a few of them. Bill S-223 explicitly makes it a crime to travel abroad to receive a transplanted organ that was removed without free and informed consent and obtained for consideration. Simply put, it prohibits individuals from engaging in a practice abroad that is prohibited in Canada. The Criminal Code prohibits the exploitation of individuals, which includes organ and tissue harvesting. Once again, the bill provides an additional tool, as I just mentioned.
Technically speaking, the bill amends section 7 of the Criminal Code so that, if a person is found guilty of organ trafficking abroad, they will also be found guilty of the same crime in Canada. The bill also adds a few provisions regarding the removal of organs without consent.
The bill makes it a crime to obtain an organ to be transplanted into one's own body or the body of another person “knowing that the person from whom it was removed or a person lawfully authorized to consent on behalf of the person from whom it was removed did not give informed consent to the removal, or being reckless as to whether or not such consent was given”.
The bill also makes it a crime to carry out, participate in or facilitate the removal of an organ from the body of another person “knowing that the person from whom it was removed or a person lawfully authorized to consent on behalf of the person from whom it was removed did not give informed consent to the removal, or being reckless as to whether or not such consent was given”. It also makes it a crime to do anything in connection with the removal of an organ from the body of another person. It is clear that Bill S-223 makes any involvement in any such activity a crime.
The bill would also prevent immigrants from becoming Canadian citizens if they are found guilty of a crime related to trafficking in human organs. I think that is an interesting addition to the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act.
I would like to reiterate a few facts that were mentioned by several of my colleagues and that are good reasons for voting in favour of this bill. First, we all know that in 2002 Canada signed the UN Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children, supplementing the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime. This UN protocol, better known as the Palermo Protocol, prohibits trafficking in persons, whose definition includes the removal of organs.
There is also the 2008 Declaration of Istanbul, which invited states to implement measures to fight organ trafficking, specifically transplant tourism. I also want to mention that Canada adheres to the World Health Organization's 11 guiding principles that prohibit monetary payment for the different parties for organ donation. They also require the free and informed consent of the donor, the protection of minors, and the allocation of organs removed to be guided by ethical and equitable norms.
Through its participation in certain international declarations or conventions, Canada has clearly committed to fighting trafficking in human organs. Bill S-223 does exactly that.
Unfortunately, we know that there are far more people in the world in need of a new organ than there are organs available. As in any market where it is possible to make money because demand far outweighs supply, people can turn to the black market to obtain what they need. When a person's life is on the line, the will to survive may override morals.
The facts I will be sharing describe the seedy underbelly of organ trafficking. These are things that have been mentioned in the media, including in recent years. It goes as far back as the 2000s.
According to the United Nations Global Initiative to Fight Human Trafficking, the organ trade occurs in three broad categories: traffickers who force victims to give up an organ; those who sell their organs out of financial desperation, often only receiving a fraction of the profit or even nothing at all; and victims who are duped into believing they need an operation and the organ is removed without the victim's knowledge.
Organ trafficking is an organized crime that involves many offenders, including the recruiters who identify the vulnerable person, the transporter, the hospital or clinic staff, the medical professionals who perform the surgery, the middleman, the buyers, and the banks that store the organs. This is clearly not a one-man show; there may be several people involved in this type of activity that we are looking to criminalize.
According to the UN initiative, the entire ring is rarely exposed. In fact, a 2004 World Health Assembly resolution urged member states to take measures to protect vulnerable groups from transplant tourism and the sale of tissues and organs.
Transplant tourism is the most common way to trade organs across national borders. Recipients travel abroad to undergo organ transplants. Some websites offer all-inclusive packages. For example, the price of a kidney transplant abroad ranges from $70,000 U.S. to $160,000 U.S.
According to the World Health Organization, one in 10 organ transplants involves a trafficked human organ, which amounts to about 10,000 per year. While kidneys are the most commonly sold organs, hearts, livers, lungs, pancreases, corneas and human tissue are also illegally traded.
In a recent report, Global Financial Integrity stated that organ trafficking, which occurs in many countries, is on the rise and generates between $600 million and $1.2 billion in profit annually.
In Iran, the only country where trade in human organs is legal, organ sales are closely monitored. This practice has eliminated the waiting list for kidney transplants and increased post mortem organ donations, for which there is no compensation in Iran.
According to a Harvard University study, donors come from poor countries in South America, Asia and Africa, whereas recipients are often from developed countries such as Canada, the United States, Australia, the United Kingdom, Israel and Japan.
According to Michigan State University research into the black market for human organs in Bangladesh, the average price of a kidney was $1,400 U.S. The price has since gone down because of abundant supply.
In conclusion, I could go on and on with more fascinating facts. Less than a week ago, in fact, Radio-Canada's Enquête looked into the failings of our health system and provincial health systems in Canada with respect to organ donation. According to Dr. Pierre Marsolais, Canada was a leader in the field 20 years ago. Now it is at a standstill.
Rather than turning to the poor and indigent to supply organs for transplants, why is Canada not trying harder to re-establish itself as a leader in this field?
There are other things that can also be done to support organ donation, besides passing this bill, and there are other ways members can show their support. I am not familiar with what the other provinces do, but in Quebec, people can consent to donate their organs and tissue by signing the back of their health insurance cards or by registering directly on the Régie de l'assurance maladie du Québec website. This small act can save up to eight lives and restore the health of another 20 people. If everyone did that one small thing, it could make for a much brighter future for so many people.
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View Alistair MacGregor Profile
NDP (BC)
View Alistair MacGregor Profile
2022-12-05 11:44 [p.10390]
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Madam Speaker, it is a real honour to be able to rise today to speak to Bill S-223. Before I get into my remarks, it is important to recognize the two individuals who have been working diligently over the years to shepherd this bill through Parliament, starting in the other place, with Senator Ataullahjan, and here, the member for Sherwood Park—Fort Saskatchewan. Both individuals have been long involved in this process, over several Parliaments.
The bill, of course, passed very quickly through second and third reading in the other place. In fact, it even skipped consideration by the committee on December 9 of last year. It gives a sense of the arduous journey that private members' bills, both from the Senate side and from the House side, have to make in order to pass the entire parliamentary process: the fact that we are here in December 2022, only now considering its third reading, and it has taken a full year to get to that stage.
Before I get into the details of why this legislation is necessary, I would like to talk about a few key points in terms of what the bill is going to do, so we are all very clear on what the House is going to be debating and hopefully passing in short order.
Essentially, it is a substantive amendment to a narrow section of the Criminal Code in relation to the crime of trafficking in human organs. We know that organs like kidneys and livers are being forcibly removed from many people, but this bill, with a new section 240.1, is going to create some new offences: anyone who obtains organs without informed consent, either for use in another person or for themselves; anyone who is involved in the carrying out of the procedure to remove those organs without informed consent; and anyone who does anything in connection with the removal of the organs without informed consent.
That is quite broad. It could involve anyone who was involved in allowing a place to be used for the surgery and anyone who is involved in the transportation of the organs or their smuggling across borders. It is a very real problem. It is something that, through several Parliaments, we have been waiting for substantive action on.
We know this is a crime that disproportionately affects people who live in impoverished countries and who live under authoritarian rule and do not have access to the same rights, privileges and equality under the law that we sometimes take for granted here in Canada. It is important that countries like Canada, with its well-known track record in standing up for human rights and the rule of law, not only here in our own country but abroad, follow suit and really establish what we think should be the norm and what all citizens of the world should be able to enjoy.
There is also a very important amendment to the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act, so that a permanent resident or any foreign national would be inadmissible to Canada if the Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship is of the opinion that they have engaged in any activities related to the new offence that is going to be put into the Criminal Code through the passage of this bill.
Through the conversation today, I have heard several members talk about how having this provision in Canadian law for a crime that occurred in another country is important. It reminds me that we sometimes have a double standard in this place about how we apply Canadian law.
I have been a member of this House for seven years now. I was here in the 42nd Parliament. I remember a previous private member's bill, which was sponsored by the member for New Westminster—Burnaby. It was Bill C-331. In the dying days of the 42nd Parliament, we managed to come to a vote on that bill at second reading. It was June 19, 2019, pretty much the very last day of the 42nd Parliament.
That was an important bill, because it intended to amend the Federal Courts Act so that people from other countries who wanted to bring a civil claim could do so under the jurisdiction of federal court.
The nature of the claims could have to do with genocide, a war crime or a crime against humanity, slavery or slave trading, extrajudicial killings, torture, prolonged arbitrary detention, or the sale or trafficking of persons. These are all crimes that every member of this House agrees are abhorrent and certainly need the full force of the law.
The problem is that when the member for New Westminster—Burnaby was attempting, for many good reasons, to bring that bill forward, the House voted against it. In fact, the Liberals and the Conservatives joined together to shut the bill down at second reading.
I do not want to take away from the debate on the bill today. Bill S-223 is going to have our full support. I just hope that when Parliament is conducting itself and when we see value in these types of measures that try to apply Canadian law to things that happen abroad, we can do so on a consistent basis.
We need to recognize that there are huge problems out there, not just with human trafficking in organs, but also in war crimes, slavery and other methods. Should the member for New Westminster—Burnaby try to bring that initiative back, I hope the House will apply the lessons from the debate on Bill S-223 to that similar and worthy initiative.
Bill S-223 is no stranger to us. In the 42nd Parliament, it was before the House as Bill S-240. The reason I think it is a forgone conclusion that this bill is going to pass the House is that it is identical to the version we debated and passed as Bill S-240. In fact, in the 42nd Parliament it received the unanimous support of the House at second reading and again at third reading on April 30, 2019.
The important and notable difference with Bill S-223 is that it incorporates the amendments the House made to the previous version of the bill. That is what caused the delay on Bill S-240. It had to be sent back to the Senate so it could consider House amendments.
Unfortunately, at that time, the bill was held up because of the procedural shenanigans going on in the other place related to the old bill, Bill C-262, which was introduced by my former colleague, Romeo Saganash. That was his attempt with a private member's bill to enshrine the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.
I am glad to see, from the tone and content of the speeches so far, that there is recognition that this is an important and long-overdue change to criminal law. It sends a strong message, not only to people around the world who are facing these barbaric practices under regimes such as China, and we have heard well-documented testimony on what the Uighur population is going through, but also to impoverished people living in countries where the rule of law is applied selectively at best.
These people may be targeted by criminal organizations. We have heard testimony from people who have woken up in a drugged haze to someone wearing a surgical mask and gloves telling them that their kidney has just been removed and that they need to take care. Often, these victims can suffer very serious, lifelong health consequences from that, and because of the nature of the operation, some people have ultimately died from it. It is a very real issue.
We know the demand for organs is very high worldwide, and we need to take steps to encourage people to put themselves on an organ donor registry. I am pleased to see that this Parliament has tried to address that by making it easier for people to sign up and so on. However, those are problems that are not going to go away. The demand for organs is high, and as our population ages we certainly need to have smart and effective policy to address that.
On behalf of the New Democratic caucus, I will indicate that we are looking forward to supporting this bill and voting on it so it gets sent to the Governor General for royal assent. We have long opposed all forms of trafficking, whether it be human trafficking for sexual exploitation, labour trafficking or the trafficking of human organs. We must do all we can to protect vulnerable people. With that, I will conclude my remarks. I appreciate this opportunity.
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View Ted Falk Profile
CPC (MB)
View Ted Falk Profile
2022-12-05 11:54 [p.10391]
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Madam Speaker, I am pleased to take this opportunity today to speak to this legislation. I would like to start by recognizing the sponsors of the bill, the Hon. Senator Ataullahjan from the other House and our member for Sherwood Park—Fort Saskatchewan, for the leadership that they have shown on this important issue. I want to thank them, and it is encouraging to see a bill brought forward that can be supported across all party lines and in both Houses. I am excited to see this legislation come to fruition.
I will begin with how we view the human body, and the dignity and worth that we assign to that human body. My faith teaches me that every human being is created in the image of God and that there is sanctity and a sacredness to human life, including the physical body. That is why, unlike so many other ancient civilizations or religions, those who follow and have followed Christianity, Judaism or Islam have historically practised burial rather than cremation. There is the belief that, even after death, the human body remains important. Christianity and even some branches of Judaism teach that the body will one day be resurrected and transformed. As such, the body is of value and must be treated with care and respect, even after death.
If the human body is viewed as important, worthy of care and dignity, and sacred even in death, how much more should it be treated as sacrosanct while the human person is alive? Even those who reject the tenets of the three Abrahamic faiths would agree that the body after death should be treated with dignity. In fact, here in Canada we have laws that relate specifically to the handling of a human body after death. Section 182 of the Criminal Code of Canada makes it a criminal offence to improperly or indecently interfere with or offer any indignity to a dead human body, and there are similar laws around the globe. Why? It is because as humans we recognize there is a sacredness to humanity, including the physical body. Again, if treated with such dignity and reverence after death, how much more so while still alive?
For those who prefer a more humanistic argument, I would point the House toward Immanuel Kant and his piece, Groundwork of the Metaphysics of Morals, in which he casts the innate dignity of every human being as a categorical imperative. If we follow Kant, we must recognize that when a human organ becomes a commodity, a monetary value is placed on that organ. By assigning a monetary value to the organ, we essentially assign a monetary value to the individual who provided it. I am quite confident that we all agree with Kant, in this aspect, that putting a price on any part of a human being violates his or her intrinsic dignity.
Moreover, the removal of organs by force, under coercion or with consent, violates another Kantian principle: that of bodily autonomy. We hear a lot about bodily autonomy. We hear very different perspectives on what that entails, but there is a near-universal belief, at least in the western democracies, that what happens in an individual's body should be the sole purview of that individual or, in the case of young children, of their parents. Sadly, there are still individuals, criminal organizations and even some governments who refuse to respect the sanctity of the body.
No country officially endorses the practice of organ trafficking, but many turn a blind eye to this dehumanizing and often dangerous practice. In some cases, individuals, often those who live in poverty, sell their organs. In others, organs are obtained without the consent of a donor. An example of this would be what is happening in China with political prisoners, particularly people of faith. Again and again we have raised the plight of the Uighurs, practitioners of Falun Gong and Christians.
There have been many petitions presented in this House to that effect, with respect to individual groups who have been persecuted by China's brutal regime. Organ harvesting of these religious minorities by China is well documented. Typically, these extractions and the transplants themselves take place outside of national medical systems, so even assuming the donor is kept alive, which is never a guarantee, there is a high risk associated with the extraction and implantation of these organs, and as such these practices violate the sanctity and dignity of the human person. Therefore, we can all agree that human life is precious, and the body and the organs therein are worthy of the protection this legislation seeks to provide.
I am pleased that we are standing up for the value of human life. I wish we would also have the courage to show a similar concern and do what the Supreme Court of Canada instructed Parliament to do three decades ago, and finally enact legal protection for the preborn child in the womb. It is time we acted.
I am in favour of the bill's crackdown on foreign nationals who have been involved in organ trafficking attempting to come to Canada. I think that is good. It is high time that we crack down on who is allowed to come to Canada and who is not. However, I think that we need to be careful to differentiate between those who have been involved as traffickers and those who the traffickers may have exploited. If an individual has been involved in trafficking proper, that is, if they have facilitated or received monetary benefit from facilitating the illegal trafficking of organs, like those who traffic in drugs or slaves, that individual should not be admissible to Canada.
As an aside, I think it is reprehensible and hypocritical that the current government, even though it is supporting the legislation, also brought forward Bill C-75, which lowered the penalties for those involved in profiting from human trafficking. It is frankly absurd, and I hope some of the members on the opposite side see the disconnect, but any foreign nationals who traffic or profit from trafficking in human organs should not be admissible to Canada.
That said, as I read this legislation, I think that there should be a clear enough differentiation between traffickers and those who have willingly donated their own organs.
I am also a bit concerned about the first part of proposed subsection 4.2, where it says, “a person who commits an act or omission outside Canada that, if committed in Canada, would be an offence under section 240.?1 is deemed to commit that act or omission in Canada”. As far as it relates to this piece of legislation, I think it is good, but I understand and I have to admit that I do struggle a little with that portion for a couple of reasons. The first is that other countries are not Canada, and every country around the globe has its own laws and legal systems. In the same way that we would expect those who come to Canada to respect our laws, we also need to be willing to respect the laws of other countries.
I know there are good counter-arguments to that point. Many of them are excellent reasonable arguments, but I think that something needs to be said where we respect other jurisdictions.
I would like to reiterate again that I am happy we are having this discussion. I would like to see that handful of concerns addressed, but overall I am pleased to be supporting this legislation. Our party is pleased to support it.
I want to again thank the member for Sherwood Park—Fort Saskatchewan and Senator Ataullahjan for their hard work on this file. I am looking forward to supporting it.
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View Alexandra Mendès Profile
Lib. (QC)
View Alexandra Mendès Profile
2022-12-05 12:02 [p.10392]
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The time provided for the consideration of Private Members' Business has now expired and the order is dropped to the bottom of the order of precedence on the Order Paper.
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View Alexandra Mendès Profile
Lib. (QC)
View Alexandra Mendès Profile
2022-12-05 12:02 [p.10392]
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There is one motion in amendment standing on the Notice Paper for the report stage of Bill C-32. Motion No. 1 will be debated and voted upon.
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View Eric Duncan Profile
CPC (ON)
View Eric Duncan Profile
2022-12-05 12:03 [p.10392]
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moved:
That Bill C-32 be amended by deleting the short title.
He said: Madam Speaker, normally if a Canadian wanted to know what was happening with their federal government and what the federal government was doing for them, one would think it would be natural to look at the fall economic statement or a federal budget. My advice to Canadians is, if they want to know what is really going on in this country, they should not read the budget put out by the Liberal-NDP alliance. What they instead need to look at is not what has been said and talked about, but the realities of what is actually getting done. In many cases, the government did not follow through on what it said it would do.
Canadians need to read more than the budget to know what is going on. They need to read the reports of the Auditor General of Canada. They need to read the reports of the Parliamentary Budget Officer, who audits and calls out far too many times, sadly, the number of failures the government has had when it comes to operating the federal government and its programs efficiently. In the budget document, one reads: “we will”, “proposes” or that they want to do certain things. There are a lot of word salads, platitudes and generalities.
After reading the dozens of pages, one would think one never had it so good in this country. One would think the government is going to solve, and is about to solve, every single problem that we face with wording like, “the billions of dollars” in new proposed spending and the paragraphs of promises that would affect everything this country is facing. However, the truth, when it comes to the economic record of the government and its coalition alliance with the NDP, is that the Liberals will talk about solving the problem by spending more money than ever before. They are going to spend a billion here and a billion there, yet they never follow through on delivering better results. Sadly, we have seen billions of dollars being spent, while little progress has been made. The situation is actually getting worse.
In all fairness, someone might say that I am a bit biased about the performance of the government. I would tell Canadians not to take my word for it. Take the Auditor General of Canada's word, an independent officer of Parliament who is very busy calling out the government for its numerous failures these days.
Back in June, in my interaction at the public accounts committee with the Auditor General, she said that the government is spending more money and getting fewer results for it. Karen Hogan, the Auditor General of Canada, said, “it's not about spending more money but about spending it in a more intelligent or creative way that actually targets the barriers.” In her words, not mine, we are spending more money and getting fewer results. We are seeing that.
Conservatives are standing up to call this out. The government is spending more money. Things are now costing more. In many cases the situation is getting worse and the government is making the situation worse. Look no further than the fact that the government cannot even deliver a passport in a reasonable period of time. My constituency office has heard from numerous frustrated Canadians who, after waiting months and months, are trying to get a basic service such as a new or renewed passport.
The list from the Auditor General of Canada goes on. With respect to Indigenous Services Canada, the audit came in about drinking water in rural and remote indigenous communities, and the government failed to keep its promise to eliminate all of those issues. It now has no plan or timeline of how it is actually going to complete that promise. That was called out by the Auditor General.
When it comes to housing, a recent report indicated that the Liberals have spent an extra $1 billion specifically on homelessness, but they cannot keep track of how many homeless people there are in Canada. They have no idea what the results are after spending all of that money. On top of that, through the transparency we advocated for, we were able to call out the fact that the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation, which is responsible for affordable housing in this country, gave their staff $40 million in bonuses as housing prices have doubled and, as the audit confirmed, the service levels at that organization left something to be desired.
Regarding the environment, the Auditor General, on the greening government strategy, says, “government decision makers, parliamentarians, and Canadians do not...know...whether the government will meet its...target”. The tripling of the carbon tax is coming ahead, and the government cannot even see if its plan is going to meet its targets.
We can look back in history and see, for every single target the Liberals have set for themselves for environmental emissions and standards, they have failed to meet it, and they have not even come remotely close. It continues. We should not take a look at the budget, with all its aspirational sayings. We should look at the records of all this.
As we talk about the fall economic statement, the financial plan of the government, here is the reality that is hitting home for millions of Canadians watching the news these past few days. When it comes to veterans' service levels, the Auditor General of the country says:
[Veterans Affairs'] actions did not reduce overall wait times for eligible veterans. The department was still a long way from meeting its service standard. Implementation of initiatives was slow. Data to measure improvements was lacking. Both the funding and almost half of the employees on the team responsible for processing applications were temporary. As a result, veterans waited too long to receive benefits to support their physical and mental health and their families’ overall well-being.
I would not know that if I had read the Liberals' budget, but when I read the Auditor General of Canada, who is actually calling out not only intentions and words, but also actions and results, it certainly leaves something to be desired from the Liberal-NDP alliance.
I want to spend some time talking about the carbon tax. The last time I rose in the House to speak to the carbon tax, it was on an environmental bill, Bill S-5. I was shouted down and interrupted with points of order in the House of Commons, while I was talking about environmental legislation, by members saying the carbon tax was not relevant to a debate on the government's environmental priorities, and I now want to apologize to the government. I was wrong, and I should not have talked about the carbon tax during an environmental debate because the carbon tax plan the government has is not an environmental plan. It is a tax plan.
Now, I am here. I cannot be interrupted by a point of order, and I cannot be stopped from talking about the carbon tax, because it is a tax plan, and I am happy to spend some time on that. I can acknowledge my faults and shortcomings, and I will in this case.
Let us talk about it. Let me take the independent Parliamentary Budget Officer's analysis of the carbon tax's impact on families:
Most households under the backstop will see a net loss resulting from federal carbon pricing under the HEHE plan in 2030-31.
Household carbon costs...exceed the rebate and the induced reduction in personal income taxes arising from the loss in income.
Here is the thing that the Liberals, the NDP, the Bloc Québécois and the Green Party fail to understand about the carbon tax: taxpayers do not even get back in the rebate what they pay into it directly. I want to talk about who does not get a rebate at all in this country when it comes to the increasing and punitive carbon tax. It is small businesses and farmers.
They get nailed with the full bill each and every time. What happens is that when our favourite restaurant, bakery or retail store gets hit with its utility bill, and just as a senior gets a utility bill with a GST, HST and carbon tax portion, every business gets those same utility bills. They are seeing their gas bills go up. They are seeing their cost of transportation go up, and they do not get any sort of subsidy or break.
What do they do at that restaurant? With no pun intended, they bake it into the price of one's favourite pizza or favourite food. That price is then passed on to the restaurant customer and to the grocery store customer. It is not a line item of a tax they are charged on top of that, per se, but it is added in to the inflationary prices we are seeing in this country.
The Liberals, the New Democrats and other parties consistently advocate the budget document, which confirms they want to triple the carbon tax in the coming years, and all that is doing is adding to the inflationary pressure. Food price listings for 2023 have risen. They are expected to go up in many cases by double digits again. Enough is enough.
The carbon tax is driving up the price and the cost of living in our country. One thing we need to call out is that it was supposed to lower emissions. Every year since the Liberals and NDP put the carbon tax in, it has gone up. Enough is enough. The Conservatives are proud to stand and say that we will not take it anymore.
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View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
Lib. (MB)
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
2022-12-05 12:13 [p.10394]
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Madam Speaker, what the member does not tell Canadians is that in the last federal election, every Conservative member supported the Conservative election platform that clearly indicated to Canadians that a Conservative government would support a price on pollution. That means a carbon tax. On the one hand, during an election campaign, the Conservatives made a commitment to Canada, saying they supported a price on pollution. Today, they have reversed their position. Now they say they do not support a price on pollution.
I wonder if the member would be transparent and apologize to Canadians for making a promise then and now saying the Conservatives no longer support what they told Canadians.
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View Eric Duncan Profile
CPC (ON)
View Eric Duncan Profile
2022-12-05 12:14 [p.10394]
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Madam Speaker, I will not apologize, but I will stand up proudly and say that Canadians across the country understand the damage and inefficiency of the carbon tax. Not only do they believe it should not increase, but it should not triple.
If we want to talk about broken promises under the Liberal government tabling legislation, former environment minister, Catherine McKenna, who is no longer a member of the House, promised Canadians, under the Prime Minister, that the carbon tax would not go above $50 a tonne. The Liberals have broken their promise and will triple it to over $170 a tonne.
The government should be apologizing for breaking its promise and raising the cost of living on Canadians. The Conservatives are standing on the right side of the issue and we are seeing that in the momentum we are getting across the country with this message.
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View Claude DeBellefeuille Profile
BQ (QC)
View Claude DeBellefeuille Profile
2022-12-05 12:15 [p.10394]
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Madam Speaker, I listened carefully to my colleague's speech. I agree with him. There are a number of things missing from this economic statement. I would like him to comment on the absence of the health transfers that are so important for all provinces, which are currently under a lot of pressure to meet needs and provide services. The money is in Ottawa, but the needs are in the provinces.
Does my colleague also think that there is something major missing with regard to health transfers?
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View Eric Duncan Profile
CPC (ON)
View Eric Duncan Profile
2022-12-05 12:16 [p.10394]
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Madam Speaker, I thank my Bloc Québécois colleague for her question and the opportunity to practise my second language this afternoon.
I agree with the question in general. On the health file, there is a major crisis in every province and every region of this country. We need leadership from the federal government and the Minister of Health. The government made a commitment to put more money into Canada's health transfer system. Every province will need more money and a five- to 10-year plan to increase health care services. Yes, a lot of things were missing from this economic statement, health transfers in particular.
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View Mike Morrice Profile
GP (ON)
View Mike Morrice Profile
2022-12-05 12:17 [p.10394]
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Madam Speaker, the member for Stormont—Dundas—South Glengarry spent quite a bit of his speech speaking about a price on carbon, so I will spend some time on that.
What the member did not mention is that the economic cost of the wildfires in B.C. alone, let alone the deaths, is estimated between $10.6 billion to $17.1 billion. He is right to point out that emissions continue to go up, so obviously more needs to be done to address the climate crisis. Ending subsidies to fossil fuels should be part of that plan.
I would like to hear if the member is opposed to a carbon tax, which economists say is the most efficient way to address the climate crisis, one of many measures we need. We need to get more funds to those who are impacted the most by it. I would like to hear more from the member on what he would like to see done to have Canada step up and do its part to address the climate crisis.
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View Eric Duncan Profile
CPC (ON)
View Eric Duncan Profile
2022-12-05 12:18 [p.10395]
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Madam Speaker, no, the Conservatives do not believe that the failed carbon tax is working. If we look at the metrics that the Green Party has itself, we have a carbon tax that has been increasing every year since it came into effect. We were told that emissions would drop when the carbon tax came in. Emissions have gone up every year and they will continue to do so. The government still has not tabled a plan to meet any of the targets it has set.
We can make progress on lowering emissions through removing gatekeepers and by enabling technology, not taxes, to be the solution. There is a lot—
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View Alexandra Mendès Profile
Lib. (QC)
View Alexandra Mendès Profile
2022-12-05 12:18 [p.10395]
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Resuming debate, the hon. parliamentary secretary to the government House leader.
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View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
Lib. (MB)
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
2022-12-05 12:18 [p.10395]
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Madam Speaker, there is a significant difference between the government and the official opposition when it comes to budgetary and legislative measures. We have a government that understands the importance of having the backs of Canadians, whether it is during a pandemic or at a time when Canadians are concerned about inflation.
The member made reference to a couple of issues, and I want to pick up on that because it amplifies the contrast. We, on this side of the House, believe in an economy that works for all Canadians. We do not believe in the trickle down theory of the Conservatives, which is to cut, or as the minister of revenue would say, “chop, chop.”
That is the approach of the Conservatives. They do not necessarily tell us where they are going to cut; they are just going to cut. It is because they do not want to be honest with Canadians and tell them what they want to cut. I often refer to this as the Conservative hidden agenda. Will we find out that hidden agenda if, heaven forbid, they form a government?
We get a sense of the contrast. If we look at the last federal election, when we think of policy, what does the Conservative Party really stand for? In the last federal election, 338 Conservative candidates from coast to coast to coast accepted the Conservative election platform, meaning they campaigned on it. Within that document, it says that the Conservative Party of Canada supports a price on pollution, which in essence is the carbon tax.
The Conservatives have been raising this issue day after day, coming up with the stupid thing of “triple, triple, triple”. It does not make any sense and the Conservatives do not make any sense on this issue. First, they supported it during the last election and now they have reversed their position. Then one of their members says that Canadians are a lot worse off because of the price on pollution and quotes the Parliamentary Budget Officer.
I will quote the Parliamentary Budget Officer, who has said that 80% of Canadians who are part of the backstop for the price on pollution are receiving more than they are actually spending. There is a net gain. That means 80% of the residents of Winnipeg North are benefiting from the price on pollution. When Conservatives say that it is going up, so is the rebate. My constituents are benefiting from that.
Are the Conservatives being honest on this issue? They are not, and they are spreading misinformation. We know that. We knew that shortly after the last national election, when they said that they would support it. Now saying they are not going to support it and are spreading misinformation about it.
Policy matters and leadership on major issues matter. That is why we wait with bated breath for the Conservative leader to stand and apologize to Canadians on his position on cryptocurrency. I and others have raised this issue in the past, when the leader of the Conservative Party, Canada's official opposition, was being provided the opportunity to apologize to Canadians for encouraging them to invest in cryptocurrency to fight inflation. Those who would have followed that advice would have incurred a loss of more than 60% of their revenue. Imagine being a senior on a fixed income and following the advice of the leader of the Conservative Party.
When it comes to the issue of inflation, the Conservative Party would have us believe that the Government of Canada, the Prime Minister, is responsible for inflation in Canada and, in fact, beyond. Yes, we play a role, and we recognize the pain and hurt in our communities as a result of inflation, but let us put it in proper perspective.
Let us compare Canada's inflation rate to the U.S.A., Great Britain, most of the European countries and the G20 countries. When we look at the averages, Canada's inflation rate is below theirs. It fluctuates depending on provinces, but, generally speaking, our inflation rate is under control in comparison to other countries.
However, that is not good enough for us. We on the government benches recognize that Canadians are hurting when they buy groceries, require services or are putting fuel in their cars. We understand and appreciate that, which is why we have the fall economic statement. It is why we have brought forward legislation to provide relief to Canadians, measures that will put money in the pockets of Canadians and, in many ways, help Canadians get through this time of higher inflation.
For example, there is the doubling of the GST credit for six months. Remember, the Conservatives originally opposed that. They had to be shamed into supporting it. After all, it put money in the pockets of Canadians. After a little shaming, they came on side and supported that legislation. However, we did a lot more than that, and some high-profile things.
Just last week, Canadians, depending on eligibility and income, were provided dental care services for children under the age of 12. Many of those children, if they do not get that dental service, end up in our emergency hospitals. The Conservative Party, still today, is saying no to that. When it came time for the Conservatives to vote on it, they voted no for children under the age of 12 receiving dental care benefits.
There is the rental support, which, again, is direct money to support Canadians who are having a difficult time meeting rental payments. The Conservatives will say that it could have been more money, but the bottom line is that we are spending hundreds of millions of dollars to assist Canadians with their rent. Again, the Conservative Party voted against that.
What about students? Interest on federal student loans is being forgiven. Again, the Conservative Party is voting against it.
I am a big fan of the multi-generational home renovation tax credit. It is a fantastic program. It will make a difference for many Canadians, for moms, dads and adults with disabilities, by providing a credit to add a secondary unit for those individuals. It is a significant credit, but the Conservatives are voting against that too.
There is a litany of things that the government is doing to provide Canadians the support they need during this difficult time, and time and again, the Conservatives have voted against them. As we continue to build an economy that works for all Canadians, we will do what we can to ensure that happens.
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View James Bezan Profile
CPC (MB)
View James Bezan Profile
2022-12-05 12:29 [p.10396]
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Madam Speaker, the member for Winnipeg North likes to come up here and cast aspersions upon us as Conservatives. The Liberal Party always stands for “tax and spend”. I need to remind the member for Winnipeg North that these tax dollars are not the money of the Liberal Party of Canada. They belong to Canadians. The best place to leave that money is in the pockets of Canadians. For the member to get up and pontificate and slander the Conservatives is unbecoming of any parliamentary speech. It is common for the member to do.
The member often tells me he likes to come up to my riding where he has a cabin. He should spend some time talking to rural Manitobans. They know the carbon tax, which is tripling, will cost $1,145 more per Manitoban than what they get back from the government. Those Canadians who live in rural areas know the carbon tax is hurting them, especially those who live on fixed incomes, like seniors.
He needs to talk to real Canadians outside the Ottawa bubble so he knows exactly what is happening in the real world.
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View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
Lib. (MB)
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
2022-12-05 12:30 [p.10396]
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Madam Speaker, the member made reference to seniors. We brought in increases to the GIS that brought tens of thousands of seniors out of poverty and made a 10% increase for our seniors who are 75 and over. If the member wants to accuse me of upsetting a lot of Conservatives because of the words I say, I can assure the member that every word I say is, in fact, accurate. I think it is important that Canadians have a right to know what the Conservatives are saying. When the Minister of National Revenue says the words “chop, chop, chop”, she is right. The Conservative Party does have that mentality and the member opposite just demonstrated that in part. Canadians have a right to know.
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