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View Bruce Stanton Profile
CPC (ON)
View Bruce Stanton Profile
2021-05-07 10:01 [p.6883]
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When the House last took up debate on the motion, the hon. member for Sarnia—Lambton had six minutes remaining in her time for comments. There will be time for questions and comments after that.
Resuming debate, the hon. member for Sarnia—Lambton.
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View Marilyn Gladu Profile
CPC (ON)
View Marilyn Gladu Profile
2021-05-07 10:02 [p.6883]
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Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to be here and to recap the brilliant first 13 minutes of my speech in the last six minutes that I have.
First of all, with respect to an election in a pandemic, the most important point is that Canadians do not want an election in a pandemic. The most recent Ipsos poll on April 21 said that Canadians, in the majority, thought that it would be unsafe and unfair. It is important to take their views into account.
The Prime Minister clearly wants an election, and this is why the Liberals are spending so much effort ramming these bills through, and talking about the stalling and the delaying. At the end of the day, we want to put the health and safety of Canadians over that partisan interest.
Ontario is in lockdown, and some of the other provinces are similarly struggling with COVID-19. We have hotel quarantines. It is not safe to fly. Certainly with all of those messages out there, it would be hypocritical to try to hold an election in a pandemic.
In terms of the bill and the changes that are proposed, let me just give a little tour through the things I like and the things that I do not like. We have a tried-and-true democratic process in Canada. Canadians have had confidence in this process. I think we should minimize the changes that are proposed. If we need to do something to protect the health and safety of voters and workers, those are good changes. If the change does not support that, I am not sure we want to tamper with a process we all have confidence in.
The three-day election period is a very good idea. This would give more time for people to get to the polls and allow for COVID spacing protocols.
I like the idea of the ballot boxes for mail-in ballots at the polling stations. This was tried in the B.C. election and was very well received. With the expectation that there would be huge numbers of mail-in ballots, this would help address the capacity. If people leave it late, and they are worried that Canada Post would not deliver their ballot on time, they could drop it off at the polling station.
I like the electronic request for mail-in ballots; that is a great, progressive thing. As I understand it, the methodology is going to be that if people request a mail-in ballot, they would then not be eligible to show up and vote at the polling station. They would be taken off the polling station lists. That is a good way to prevent double voting. That is not specifically in the legislation and is something that should be detailed. That is the right protocol. I have spoken to many returning officers, and they have already been trained on these changes and that is their current understanding.
There are things I do not like in this bill. There are additional powers for the Chief Electoral Officer to make changes. I do not take issue with some of the specific ones that are cited. However, there is an overarching sense that he could basically do whatever he wants for health and safety; that is a bit broad. I would like to see some oversight from each of the parties that are participating in the election. That would be a great way to make sure that changes that are warranted are approved by the oversight, and that would keep us on track.
I have difficulty with counting ballots after election day. We have always counted everything right up to election day. I think people have confidence in that. We do not want to do anything to open the door to even perceived influence in our elections. The interesting thing is that in the bill, it says it would only be done if the Monday of the election was a holiday. However, that is not the understanding of the many returning officers I have spoken to. They think they will count them if they show up by Tuesday. That is a clarification that needs to be made, both in the legislation and in the training.
The other thing, obviously, is to correct the English-French discrepancy. In the French it said that the ballots were going to be counted in the national capital, and in the English it said it would be done at the local returning office. My understanding is it is going to be done at the local returning office. I think that is the right place for it in order for them to be sure they have controlled who is requesting a mail-in ballot. They are sending out the kits, and they will then know who is not eligible to vote at the polling station. That is the way to go.
What is missing in the bill? There is a sunset clause in the preamble, but it did not make it into the bill. The government says these are temporary measures. How temporary? There is no description of what we are going to do about scrutineers and making sure that scrutineers are able to observe the process, especially with the COVID distancing.
The returning officers have been asked to prioritize vaccinations for the elderly or election workers. That is something that should be considered. It does not necessarily have to go in the bill.
A recommendation to change the hours of voting on Sunday will really limit the number of locations. We want those polling locations to have a lot of space so that they can do the COVID protocols, but if they start at 9 a.m. on Sunday, many churches will not participate. Putting that timing from 2 p.m. until 9 p.m. might allow more location flexibility.
There was a proposal for electronic voters lists so that at every polling station, somewhat like they do provincially, we would be able to see who is off the list. That would be good. What to do if what happened in Newfoundland occurs here? We definitely need to see that contingency plan and I did not see that in the bill.
It looks like that is the end of my whirlwind tour.
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View Adam Vaughan Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Adam Vaughan Profile
2021-05-07 10:08 [p.6884]
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Mr. Speaker, I am glad the Conservatives are engaged in making it easier and safer to vote as we go through uncharted territory. I am very concerned about the idea of political parties having direct oversight minute by minute during an election, although it begins to explain why the Conservative were so nervous when the Reform Party was created.
I keep hearing Atlanta Republicans talking every time Conservatives start talking about the election. On that point, the member opposite raised the concern that we would have an election right now. Could she explain why her party is so worried about having an election right now? Conservatives have yet to vote confidence in the government in one single opportunity. In fact, they are the ones triggering the election every time they vote no in a confidence motion. I do not mind the debate disagreeing with the Liberals, that is their job, but if they are afraid of an election, I would think they would not vote to have one every time they put their hand up in the House of Commons.
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View Marilyn Gladu Profile
CPC (ON)
View Marilyn Gladu Profile
2021-05-07 10:09 [p.6884]
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Mr. Speaker, I want to clarify that we are not at all afraid of having an election, in fact, we look forward to the opportunity to get a strong Conservative majority in this country. However, Canadians need to be listened to and they have been clear that they do not want an election. The government tabled this bill in the House before the committee was even finished consideration of this, so it is clear Liberals are in a hurry and we all know why.
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View Christine Normandin Profile
BQ (QC)
View Christine Normandin Profile
2021-05-07 10:09 [p.6884]
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Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague from Sarnia—Lambton for her speech. I would like to know what she thinks about election day.
One of the recommendations that was made was to extend the polling period to three days, by holding the election not just on Monday but on the previous Saturday and Sunday as well. That would make it easier to find people to work at the polls, particularly young people, who would not be in school. It would also make it easier to access more potential polling locations. In order to facilitate social distancing, we might need more polling stations.
Would it have been useful to incorporate that recommendation into the bill?
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View Marilyn Gladu Profile
CPC (ON)
View Marilyn Gladu Profile
2021-05-07 10:10 [p.6884]
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Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for her question.
I think it is a good idea to have more polling stations. Since churches hold services on Sunday mornings, we might have to add some morning time slots, around 9 a.m., or afternoon time slots, around 2 p.m. Those are all things we need to think about in order to have a lot of choices regarding polling locations.
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View Gord Johns Profile
NDP (BC)
View Gord Johns Profile
2021-05-07 10:10 [p.6884]
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Mr. Speaker, indigenous communities face historical and structural barriers to voting. The pandemic has aggravated these challenges and obviously poses new ones. Does my colleague believe that Elections Canada should conduct special consultations with indigenous communities to ensure that voting is safe and accessible for them?
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View Marilyn Gladu Profile
CPC (ON)
View Marilyn Gladu Profile
2021-05-07 10:11 [p.6885]
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Mr. Speaker, indeed, I sat on the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs and listened to testimony from some of our indigenous folks who did raise these concerns and do need to be consulted. That would be a great idea. We know that especially rural and remote places and places where we have had extreme outbreaks have specific concerns and those concerns need to be heard and addressed so that they have the ability to vote.
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View Cheryl Gallant Profile
CPC (ON)
View Cheryl Gallant Profile
2021-05-07 10:11 [p.6885]
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Mr. Speaker, Bill C-19 is giving the Chief Electoral Officer full rein to make any changes to the way the election is conducted as he sees fit to support the health and safety of Canadian voters.
Would the Chief Electoral Officer be able to incorporate the changes that do not pass in the House of Commons that we do not like, if he has full reins? What other types of things can he make decisions on, given there would be no oversight?
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View Marilyn Gladu Profile
CPC (ON)
View Marilyn Gladu Profile
2021-05-07 10:12 [p.6885]
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Mr. Speaker, I share the member's concern. Because it is not defined what exactly the electoral officer could do, for health and safety reasons, theoretically they could have the power to do anything at all. That is not good because, definitely as has been pointed out, there are some changes that would need oversight, so I would like to see something happen on that.
The other thing that would be difficult is that if they changed polling stations at the last minute and there was not enough communication, people could be confused about where to go to vote. It is important to make sure that does not happen.
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View Elizabeth May Profile
GP (BC)
View Elizabeth May Profile
2021-05-07 10:13 [p.6885]
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Mr. Speaker, I thank my hon. colleague from Sarnia—Lambton for really great insight into where she sees absences in the bill. I note, as she does, that most Canadians do not want an election in a pandemic, and that was the recommendation as well from the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs, PROC.
Elections Canada has focused on what it is like on voting day, but I do not think it has paid adequate attention to what it is like in a campaign, particularly for candidates collecting their 100 signatures on their nomination papers, which, we all know, have to be very carefully vetted. My colleague, the leader of the Green Party of Saskatchewan, had a terrible time with her volunteers and how to collect what are basically paper forms when they are keeping six-foot distances and are masked. Has my hon. colleague given any attention to that part of the elections process?
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View Marilyn Gladu Profile
CPC (ON)
View Marilyn Gladu Profile
2021-05-07 10:14 [p.6885]
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Mr. Speaker, that was one of the things that was written down on my paper that I did not quite get to. This is very important.
The signatures are supposed to indicate that there are enough people in the riding who want the person to present themselves as a candidate. That could be done electronically. Certainly these are the kinds of progressive moves that we would like to see to move into a digital age. I look forward to seeing that addressed, as well, when we take this to committee.
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View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
Lib. (MB)
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
2021-05-07 10:14 [p.6885]
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Mr. Speaker, the member had made reference to voting past Mondays. I just want to make sure that we are clear. From the government's perspective, ballots would only be counted on Tuesdays if it is after a long weekend.
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View Marilyn Gladu Profile
CPC (ON)
View Marilyn Gladu Profile
2021-05-07 10:15 [p.6885]
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Mr. Speaker, that is exactly the clarification that is needed. However, my worry is that in discussion with several returning officers, who had already been trained on this legislation even before it had been discussed in the House or amended at committee, they are under the impression that they will be able to count any ballots that come in on Tuesday. Therefore, that retraining or clarification needs to go to them as well.
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View Karen Vecchio Profile
CPC (ON)
View Karen Vecchio Profile
2021-05-07 10:15 [p.6885]
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Mr. Speaker, I think that we all recognize the importance of scrutineers and, like the member mentioned. there is nothing in this about scrutineers. What would the member's suggestions be on how we should perhaps amend it, or what we should be doing to ensure that we have those additional volunteers available?
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View Marilyn Gladu Profile
CPC (ON)
View Marilyn Gladu Profile
2021-05-07 10:16 [p.6885]
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Mr. Speaker, certainly when it comes to scrutineering and we think about trying to keep six feet of distance, one of the difficulties would be to be able to see the ballot. Are we going to have to do something in terms of hooking up cameras on the process and having viewing screens? That is one possible solution. If they are going to have multiple scrutineers in the same spot, that makes it even more complicated. I do not have all the answers, but it is definitely something that is worth thinking about, because we want to make sure that people continue to have confidence in our tried-and-true democratic process.
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View Jenny Kwan Profile
NDP (BC)
View Jenny Kwan Profile
2021-05-07 10:16 [p.6885]
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Mr. Speaker, we know that student federations have fought hard to have polling stations on campus, and this has increased voter turnout of students by 10% since 2010. Does the member support maintaining polling stations at campuses to provide students with safe and accessible voting?
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View Marilyn Gladu Profile
CPC (ON)
View Marilyn Gladu Profile
2021-05-07 10:17 [p.6885]
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Mr. Speaker, having those polling stations at colleges and universities improved student turnout. However, I was a bit alarmed when I talked to my own returning officer and heard that they had taken a decision that they were not going to do that in this election. I wonder whether that is common across the country or is just specific to my riding. That is an excellent question.
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View Louise Charbonneau Profile
BQ (QC)
View Louise Charbonneau Profile
2021-05-07 10:17 [p.6885]
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Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for her presentation.
I did not hear her speak about voting in seniors' residences. I would like her to comment on that.
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View Marilyn Gladu Profile
CPC (ON)
View Marilyn Gladu Profile
2021-05-07 10:18 [p.6885]
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Mr. Speaker, I thank the member for her question.
The committee heard witnesses speak on long-term care homes. They indicated they would like a shorter voting period, which Bill C-19 does not provide for. I therefore believe that we should make an amendment to provide for as short a voting period as possible in long-term care homes.
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View Bruce Stanton Profile
CPC (ON)
View Bruce Stanton Profile
2021-05-07 10:18 [p.6886]
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I would like to congratulate the members in this last round for having kept strictly to their speaking time.
Resuming debate. The hon. member for Elgin—Middlesex—London.
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View Karen Vecchio Profile
CPC (ON)
View Karen Vecchio Profile
2021-05-07 10:19 [p.6886]
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Mr. Speaker, it is my pleasure to rise today to speak to Bill C-19, the government's legislation designed to make changes to the Canada Elections Act in the case of a potential pandemic election.
Over the past year, Canadians have changed much about what they are doing every day. They have changed how they do grocery shopping, how they do their work and how they socially interact with one another. In the same way, we have to start thinking about how we might change how we hold federal elections to reflect the realities of the pandemic. This is especially important in a minority Parliament, where things are not quite as stable as a majority and elections are a little more frequent.
Before I get into the government's legislation, it is important to note right off the bat that the government should not unnecessarily jeopardize the health of Canadians through an election. This pandemic continues to put a strain on all Canadians, and the last thing they need is the government putting their health on the line because the Liberals think it is good for them politically. Canadians are doing their best to keep their families safe and healthy, despite the challenges of COVID-19. Unfortunately, the government has already, on multiple occasions, threatened to send Canadians to the polls, risking their health and safety, instead of answering questions about the failed elements of its pandemic response or its ethical scandals. I was happy that, when this was discussed at the procedure and House affairs committee, the Liberal members actually agreed with this and included it in our final report.
Sadly, it seems as though the Liberal members of that committee do not hold much sway with the PMO. I only say this because, even though the government knew that PROC was working on a report that would help inform its legislation, the minister bypassed all the work of the committee and introduced Bill C-19 without taking any of the expert testimony into account. Some members of the procedure and House affairs committee are now talking about a prestudy of Bill C-19 that would rehash a lot of the same ground covered in the initial study. This suggestion could only make sense because all of the evidence was ignored the first time around.
However, with that discussion out of the way, I am happy to get into the meat of Bill C-19 and discuss the positives and negatives of it. I always try to look at things fairly, and I can honestly say that in my time as an MP I have not shied away from saying there are things in a bill that are not okay. Even if I do not like the whole thing, I like to try to find good in legislation from all sides. Members could even see that last night with the budget, and there are some good things here in Bill C-19.
For example, I am happy to see the inclusion of multiple voting days, which would be called a “polling period”. Having more than one voting day would help ensure that Canadians can come out to vote in as normal a fashion as possible, while still spacing out timing and physical distancing. Another flexible option we know already exists in Canada is the opportunity for mail-in ballots. However, in previous elections this method has not been used to the extent that we expect would happen in a pandemic election. The Chief Electoral Officer has said that we could see five million mail-in ballots if the government calls a pandemic election. We need to make sure we are prepared to receive and process these. We have spoken to Canada Post and it has assured us it is ready; we need to make sure we are ready as well.
The Chief Electoral Officer is responsible for making sure Canadians know that mail-in ballots are an option. However, Bill C-19 would offer a helpful way for Canadians to be able to apply for their mail-in ballot online. To be clear, Canadians would not be able to vote online, only to apply for their hard-copy mail-in ballot. As I am sure Canadians agree, a pandemic is certainly not the time to consider massive new sweeping changes to the electoral system, such as online voting. However, allowing Canadians to apply online for their special ballot would be a positive change to help enhance flexibility.
Another positive addition of Bill C-19 would be the installation of reception boxes—
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View Bruce Stanton Profile
CPC (ON)
View Bruce Stanton Profile
2021-05-07 10:23 [p.6886]
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I will interrupt the hon. member for a moment.
I see the hon. member for Niagara Falls on a point of order.
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View Tony Baldinelli Profile
CPC (ON)
View Tony Baldinelli Profile
2021-05-07 10:23 [p.6886]
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Mr. Speaker, I apologize for the interruption, but I believe my colleague was going to indicate that she would be splitting her time with the member for Calgary Skyview.
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View Karen Vecchio Profile
CPC (ON)
View Karen Vecchio Profile
2021-05-07 10:23 [p.6886]
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Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague. I will be splitting my time with the member for Calgary Skyview.
As I was saying, the boxes that would be at these stations would help folks like our seniors who may not feel safe going inside a polling station on election day but may be okay to go for a quick drive to drop off their ballot. This would also be a great thing for people who, like me, have last-minute things. If the ballot has not been mailed, they could still ensure that it gets counted in the election by just dropping it in that box.
The Chief Electoral Officer is working hard to make sure that Canadians remain safe in an election. However, I have some concerns about the suggested expansion of his powers in Bill C-19. While some of these suggestions are definitely reasonable, some of the more major shifts lack robust accountability. Unfortunately, some of the mechanisms in Bill C-19 would give the Chief Electoral Officer too much latitude to make significant changes without being accountable to Parliament.
Of course, during an election, Parliament is dissolved, so how can we make sure the Chief Electoral Officer remains accountable? At committee, we made the suggestion that the CEO should take certain actions only with the agreement of the Advisory Committee of Political Parties, which is struck under the Canada Elections Act. This is certainly not a perfect solution, and I would be happy to hear other solutions. There are definitely other ways in which the CEO could be more accountable instead of making certain decisions unilaterally, and this is just one.
Although I think very highly of Mr. Perrault and I trust that he will do his best in a very difficult situation, I am also sure that he shares my desire to ensure that there is absolutely no doubt when it comes to election results. In fact, there are a few parts of Bill C-19 that I feel would unnecessarily cause stress for Canadians regarding the outcome of an election.
The aspect of Bill C-19 that I have the most concern with is the willingness of the government to accept mail-in ballots after the polling stations are closed. This delay opens up a window of time when Canadians could feel uncertain of the results as mail-in ballots are counted. As we have seen in other elections around the world and even at home, confusion around election results is almost never helpful. These kinds of delays would cause Canadians anxiety and stress, and they would bring a sense of frustration around our democratic process.
We know that our election processes and procedures can never be absolutely perfect, but Canada's system is extremely reliable. However, we must do everything we can to ensure that Canadians have faith that the system is working well. If we introduce new delays that disrupt the system, I fear that it would create unnecessary frustration instead of promoting faith in our institutions. In my opinion, it would be better to ensure that all ballots are received and counted on the final day of polling. That way, Canadians can have an election night that feels normal, for the most part, one where the results are announced right away and Canadians can process that information, instead of waiting around for votes to be counted over a number of days.
Some of my colleagues will certainly say that allowing an extra day for mail-in ballots to be counted is necessary to make sure that we capture as many as possible. I agree with this idea in principle. However, we know that, unfortunately, there will always be late ballots, no matter how late we push the deadline, just like in a normal election there are always people who arrive at the polling station just a little too late. I have faith that the vast majority of Canadians are capable of completing their ballots and submitting them on time, to be counted by the end of the last polling day.
I also have a lot of questions for the government about how it created its plan for long-term care homes, and hopefully we will have more discussion on this. Bill C-19 would allow polling stations to be opened in long-term care homes 13 days prior to polling days, and these polling stations would be allowed to be open for a total of 12 hours in that 13-day period. This seems a bit of a strange solution to me.
Instead of expanding the level of access that Elections Canada workers have to long-term care homes, I believe that it is more important to make sure that Elections Canada workers are vaccinated and tested for COVID-19 and are actively limiting any potential transmission to long-term care residents. This likely means having fewer Elections Canada workers entering these homes. The government needs to make sure that these workers pose as small a risk as possible to our long-term care residents. To that end, the government must consult with long-term care experts to do right by our seniors at this time.
I will conclude, as I often do, by using the concrete example of my parents. My mom and dad are young at heart, especially my dad, but like many elderly Canadians, they need to take steps to make sure they stay healthy these days. I am happy that Bill C-19 offers people like my parents flexibility around voting through multiple voting days, mail-in options and other flexibilities.
In these uncertain times, it is more important than ever that people like mom and dad have clarity around these measures and have the confidence that they will be safe if they go to vote. It is our job as parliamentarians to make sure that Canadians can feel safe voting and that their vote counts. Some of the changes of Bill C-19 help that goal, and others hurt that goal. I hope we can really look into this bill at committee to make sure we can get it right. I look forward to this important work.
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View Mark Gerretsen Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Mark Gerretsen Profile
2021-05-07 10:29 [p.6887]
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Mr. Speaker, I find it interesting to hear the Conservatives talk about this government bringing on an election. We are in a minority Parliament right now. The government does not control the agenda. As a matter of fact, the Conservatives have routinely been voting against confidence motions when it comes to the budget and other items. They are the ones who are dangling an election over Canadians' heads right now.
The member is on the PROC committee, and I was on that committee with her for quite a while. That is great. She knows the value of digging into the details of this at PROC and looking for solutions when talking to various stakeholders. Does she think that we are going to be able to get this to the PROC committee any time soon? Is she looking forward to a vote on this? Can she guess when that will be?
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View Karen Vecchio Profile
CPC (ON)
View Karen Vecchio Profile
2021-05-07 10:30 [p.6888]
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Mr. Speaker, it is really interesting because our critic just had her first opportunity to speak on this bill this morning. As a member of the PROC committee, I am just getting my turn as well. Let us not tell people out there that we are working on this bill when this is the first time we have gotten to speak on it. Let us change the direction there.
Let us go back to the fall of 2020. I am sorry, but twice the government put forward opportunities for votes of confidence. People like me are being asked to vote against something that I clearly cannot support, such as supporting an overwhelming $1.4-trillion debt to Canadians, to my family members and to my grandchildren. I cannot pass that legislation, so maybe, in turn, the government can put forward something that is worthy and perhaps work with all parties to ensure that we have good, healthy legislation that is good for all Canadians.
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View Luc Desilets Profile
BQ (QC)
View Luc Desilets Profile
2021-05-07 10:31 [p.6888]
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Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague. She always has a positive attitude and a smile on her face.
I would like her thoughts on this. At present, the Canada Elections Act prohibits the transmission of surveys or any form of advertising on polling day. Given that this bill proposes a three-day polling period, does my colleague agree with our interpretation that the Canada Elections Act will have to be amended to reflect that?
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View Karen Vecchio Profile
CPC (ON)
View Karen Vecchio Profile
2021-05-07 10:32 [p.6888]
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Mr. Speaker, it is interesting with the three days of polling. I wonder if that is turning into the advertising. I am not sure which way the member is going on this, if this is the three days of polling when we close down advertising to ensure that people would not be advertising on election day. We know that fines were put out, just yesterday, even to the parliamentary secretary, who deals with Elections Canada. I am not sure if that is what the member is referring to, closing down advertising at the polling.
I am not sure specifically, but I think we should ensure that we are always going by Elections Canada's acts and rules, and if advertising is not allowed during that period of voting, we should not be going there.
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View Jenny Kwan Profile
NDP (BC)
View Jenny Kwan Profile
2021-05-07 10:32 [p.6888]
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Mr. Speaker, one of the issues in my riding when it comes to elections is the mobile polls. This is particularly important for seniors and people with disabilities, who are less able to move around. Especially in the face of a pandemic, this becomes even more critical. I know that there could be reliance on the mail-in ballot, but for some that could be difficult as well. Language could become a barrier for them.
From that perspective, I wonder if the member has any comments about mobile polls. Should we strive to ensure that mobile polls are available for seniors and people with disabilities?
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View Karen Vecchio Profile
CPC (ON)
View Karen Vecchio Profile
2021-05-07 10:33 [p.6888]
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Mr. Speaker, these are the types of discussions that we must have. Even in my riding of Elgin—Middlesex—London, we have the St. Thomas Elgin General Hospital and we have the Elgin-Middlesex Detention Centre. There are a variety of places that need to have mobile polls. Although seniors homes are mobile polls, somewhat, we need to look into how we can ensure that we get as many people voting as possible. That is what is really important, so we need to ensure that we have the safety. I believe it is important that if we are looking at mobile polls, the safety and security of our voters, as well as the people who will be working at those polling stations, are always taken into account.
I will make sure that is a question I ask at committee.
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View Jag Sahota Profile
CPC (AB)
View Jag Sahota Profile
2021-05-07 10:34 [p.6888]
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Mr. Speaker, I rise today to speak to the government's proposed legislation, Bill C-19, an act to amend the Canada Elections Act, the COVID-19 response.
I am disappointed that the government is so out of touch with Canadians that it wants to amend the Canada Elections Act so it can call an election during a pandemic. Canadians do not want an election, especially during this vicious third wave of the pandemic. While the members opposite claimed to also not want one, it was the Liberals who introduced this legislation in the middle of a pandemic.
Just the other day the Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs was blaming the Conservatives for blocking the bill. However, as my colleague, the opposition House Leader, rightly pointed out, the Liberal government only has itself to blame for the slow pace of the bill.
The government sets the agenda, and it has only allowed the bill to be debated for three hours since its initial introduction almost five months ago. Now there seems to be a sense of great urgency by the Liberal government. While Canadians are suffering from the current COVID lockdowns and still being unable to return to work, the Liberal government is trying to push this legislation through, resulting in many Canadians wondering if the government cares more about its political fortunes rather than working for Canadians, prioritizing getting Canadians back to work and rebuilding our economy.
The mere idea that the government, a government that states it will be driven by science and facts to make decisions, wants to push this legislation through so quickly means it is completely ignoring the facts. Not only do Canadians not want an election, but in British Columbia, Saskatchewan and Newfoundland and Labrador, where general elections were held, they saw a spike in the number of COVID-19 cases, particularly in Newfoundland and Labrador, where just days before the election, a whole section of the province saw such a spike in cases that the Chief Electoral Officer had to pause the election until the outbreak got under control. People's lives are more important than an election.
While the Liberal government's intention to ram this bill through Parliament are definitely questionable at best, the Conservatives have many concerns with the bill. For starters, it has not escaped us that this is a minority Parliament. We all know that minority parliaments are very volatile and do not necessary last the full four years. This is why, at the beginning of this pandemic, the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs conducted a study on how Elections Canada could safely conduct an election during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Something as fundamental as how Canadians elect their members of Parliament must have participation from all members of the House, which is exactly what PROC was doing. However, the government decided that it did not want to wait for the all-party committee report. Instead, it decided to completely ignore any potential recommendations from the committee, including the committee's majority report recommendations that the government not call a federal election during the pandemic unless it was defeated on a motion of non-confidence. Instead, the Liberal government expressed its contempt for Parliament and tabled this bill. Complaining that it has not moved fast enough has clearly indicated to Canadians its desire to recklessly send Canadians to the polls at whatever time it deems to be the most advantageous for the Prime Minister.
Just the other day, members opposite were accusing the Conservatives of not having a consistent message throughout this pandemic, however, we have been consistent. We have consistently said no to an election during this pandemic. It has been the members opposite who have been inconsistent in their messaging in their refusal to commit to not calling an election during this pandemic unless defeated in a non-confidence motion.
I was quite pleased with my colleagues on PROC for their hard work in standing up for Canadians and ensuring that if an election were to be called, they made some great recommendations on how to safely conduct a general election.
Some of the recommendations we made included: that Elections Canada develop a task force responsible for extensively consulting with long-term care homes to determine a safe and mutually agreeable way to conduct a vote in long-term care homes; that these consultations include both national and regional stakeholders and that these consultations include consideration of how rapid testing of Elections Canada employees may increase the safety of residents of long-term care homes; that the government commit to making rapid tests available to Elections Canada for the purpose of conducting an election during the COVID-19 pandemic; that Elections Canada provide a list of expected situations where it would require an expansion to the Chief Electoral Officer's adaptation power as well as a list of actions that would remain prohibited under the expanded adaptation power and that these lists be tabled before Parliament for review and approval; that any unanticipated adaptations require the approval of the advisory committee of political parties struck under section 21.1 (1) of the Canada Elections Act; that Elections Canada ensure all voting locations are accessible for those living with disabilities and that alternative methods of voting such as mail-in ballots are adequately accessible for all voters who do not wish to leave their homes; that Elections Canada stick with the tried and true mail-in ballot process, which sets a deadline for ballots to be mailed and does not count any after election day; that Elections Canada outline a plan to reconcile the number of special ballots received during the course of the election with the number of special ballots distributed and that up-to-date information on who has received mail-in ballots be made available to candidates and registered political parties throughout the election; and that the federal government commit to not calling a federal election during the pandemic unless it is defeated on a motion of non-confidence and that the government ensure the majority of Canadians at an elevated risk from the pandemic will have received the vaccine prior to calling an election.
All these recommendations are designed to protect Canadians and to put them first. It is disappointing to see a Canadian government more interested in getting itself re-elected and using a health crisis, a pandemic, as cover instead of pouring all its resources into getting Canadians back to normal.
I want my constituents to know that under a Conservative government we would be focused on securing mass shipments of vaccines to get Canadians vaccinated, but we would also be focused on getting Canadians back to work and securing stable, well-paying jobs and ensuring we start actually addressing mental health.
Under a Conservative government, we would take immediate action to help the hardest hit sectors, including helping women and young Canadians who have suffered the most. We would assist small businesses and provide incentives to invest in, build and start new businesses.
We would also focus on mental health. COVID-19 has certainly highlighted the shortcomings in our health care sector when it comes to mental health. We would increase the funding to the provinces for mental health care and provide incentives to employers to provide mental health coverage to employees as well as create a nationwide three-digit suicide prevention hotline.
While the Liberals continue to look toward advancing their own agenda and padding the pockets of their friends, Canadians can take solace in that Canada's Conservatives will have their backs and stand up for them, their pocketbooks, their health and their jobs.
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View Adam Vaughan Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Adam Vaughan Profile
2021-05-07 10:43 [p.6889]
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Mr. Speaker, I thank the member opposite for raising the issue of mental health, which is a critical issue, but she referenced the danger of holding elections, cited some provincial elections and identified Newfoundland and Labrador as a particular case study.
Is the member aware that the number of active COVID cases registered yesterday in Newfoundland and Labrador was six? In two provinces, say Alberta and Ontario, Alberta had 2,211 cases without an election, which have been going up, and in Ontario it was 3,424 cases, which have also been going up. Perhaps holding an election might actually change those results in those two provinces if Newfoundland and Labrador is the case study she wishes to look at.
That is a party that changed election law in its last term of government, had an MP convicted of cheating and lost at the Supreme Court. That is a party that, quite frankly, used Pierre Poutine, a bigoted name, to cheat in London. It is outlandish.
The Republicans in Florida could take lessons from you lot. I mean, pick a lane, are you Giuliani or are you Trump, because you sound like both of them?
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View Bruce Stanton Profile
CPC (ON)
View Bruce Stanton Profile
2021-05-07 10:44 [p.6890]
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The hon. parliamentary secretary is getting a little too carried away with the “you” references. I would remind him to direct his comments to the Chair in that respect.
The hon. member for Calgary Skyview.
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View Jag Sahota Profile
CPC (AB)
View Jag Sahota Profile
2021-05-07 10:45 [p.6890]
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Mr. Speaker, I do not know if there was a question or if it was more of an attack on myself—
Mr. Adam Vaughan: Giuliani or Trump? Pick a lane.
Ms. Jag Sahota: Are you going to speak or are you going to let me speak?
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View Bruce Stanton Profile
CPC (ON)
View Bruce Stanton Profile
2021-05-07 10:45 [p.6890]
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Order, please. For debate in the House, we only have one member recognized at the time. I will remind hon. members to not activate their microphones to speak over top of a member who has been recognized.
We will go back to the hon. member for Calgary Skyview for the rest of her response. I ask all other hon. members to let her finish her remarks.
The hon. member for Calgary Skyview.
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View Jag Sahota Profile
CPC (AB)
View Jag Sahota Profile
2021-05-07 10:46 [p.6890]
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Mr. Speaker, I am disappointed that the member opposite suggested that holding an election would reduce the numbers. He seems to be suggesting that holding an election did not cause the spread or contribute to those numbers.
Less than two days ago we had an emergency debate on how the numbers in Alberta were going up. The member is suggesting that by holding an election in Newfoundland and Labrador and using that as an example, the numbers could go down. I am not sure if the he had a point to make, but he seems to suggest the opposite of what the facts and science say right now.
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View Scott Duvall Profile
NDP (ON)
View Scott Duvall Profile
2021-05-07 10:46 [p.6890]
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Mr. Speaker, the NDP believes there should not be an election during a pandemic, like the other parties, but should it happen, all parties should be in agreement on the process to go forward.
The member talked about people with disabilities. Does she not agree that Elections Canada should consult with the Canadian disability organizations to come up with a list of accommodations for people who live with disabilities so we know they are involved and will show us the best methods to use going forward?
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View Jag Sahota Profile
CPC (AB)
View Jag Sahota Profile
2021-05-07 10:47 [p.6890]
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Mr. Speaker, I agree that we should be having wide consultations and ensuring that if an election is called and we go to the polls, that all Canadians are safe. It is important to conduct consultations and it is even more important to follow those recommendations. That is where the government is lacking with respect to not following the recommendations brought forward by the PROC committee, for example, and by bringing the bill forward before that report was even tabled.
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View Marilyn Gladu Profile
CPC (ON)
View Marilyn Gladu Profile
2021-05-07 10:48 [p.6890]
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Mr. Speaker, one thing that is of concern is the assertion on the part of the government that somehow the Conservatives are delaying this.
Could the member comment on that?
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View Jag Sahota Profile
CPC (AB)
View Jag Sahota Profile
2021-05-07 10:48 [p.6890]
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Mr. Speaker, I thank the member for her hard work on this bill. We have to understand the pulse of the country, and Canadians are saying there should be no election right now. I fail to understand what the urgency is to bring in this bill when the report from PROC committee has not even been tabled in Parliament. The focus needs to be on the safety of Canadians, not on calling an election just because the numbers look good for the Liberal government.
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View Rachael Harder Profile
CPC (AB)
View Rachael Harder Profile
2021-05-07 10:49 [p.6890]
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Mr. Speaker, leadership often requires making difficult decisions. A good leader makes decisions in the best interests of the people. A bad leader makes decisions in the best interests of him or herself, often to the detriment of the people.
Since the beginning of this pandemic, the government has used the phrase “unprecedented times” to justify many ludicrous actions, such as when it tried to get away with giving itself unlimited taxing and spending powers until 2022, or when it replaced Parliament with a special committee where only certain questions were permitted, or when Parliament was prorogued in order to cover up the Prime Minister's scandal: the unethical conduct he engaged in with the WE Charity Foundation. All of these actions were taken in the name of “unprecedented times”.
Canadians are watching and are catching on. They are beginning to see a pattern wherein the government is exploiting the pandemic in order to engineer scenarios that benefit it politically. This bill is another example of exactly that. While no one would suggest that we do not want to be prepared for an eventual election with a minority Parliament, we also need to be aware that the COVID-19 crisis continues to worsen. Canadians are losing their businesses. We have the highest unemployment rate in the G7 and we have a runaway deficit with zero plan for economic recovery.
Any reasonable person would understand that other priorities need to take precedence over calling an election. In fact, every single party has said it does not want an election, speaking on behalf of what they are hearing from Canadians. What are the Liberals thinking about? They are thinking about sending Canadians to the polls in the middle of a pandemic.
We have learned from the Prime Minister that talk is cheap. He has said his government cares about protecting Canadians, but when it comes down to it, all he seems to care about is protecting his own job. Why else would this bill be rushed through the House of Commons before receiving a report that is supposed to come forward from the Procedure and House Affairs Committee? This committee conducted a study specifically on having an election during the COVID-19 pandemic. Why is there a rush? Why act so quickly? Could it be that the Prime Minister is in fact trying to time things just right so that he can go to the polls when it is most politically advantageous for him to do so? Again, a good leader would govern in the interests of the people.
Many components of this bill are cause for serious concern. They grant the Chief Electoral Officer unprecedented powers to extend the vote time, to allow mail-in ballots to be counted past the deadline, to determine what is satisfactory proof of identity and residence and to accelerate the timeline for these changes to go into effect. I do not believe I need to inform the House of what happens when a large portion of the public questions the validity of election results. Let us just say that chaos ensues.
For democracy to work, it is imperative that the public have confidence in the electoral process. Given that there are so many uncertainties at this time, the government should ensure that the rules are definitive and clear. Instead, we see the opposite in this legislation. This bill gives significant discretionary powers to the Chief Electoral Officer and creates a ton of uncertainty for voters.
While I can appreciate that adjustments need to be made to accommodate safety precautions and various health measures, I believe we should come with concrete rules, not arbitrary guidelines that can be modified on the whim of an individual. This is a recipe for disaster.
What is needed? Any additional powers given to the Chief Electoral Officer should be subject to approval by each party represented in the House of Commons. After election day, no mail-in ballots should be counted. Straying from this norm could create an opportunity for all sorts of problems, and we see this in other countries. Perhaps most importantly, this bill, which will amend the Canada Elections Act in response to COVID-19, must have a sunset clause. We have seen the Liberals attempt to entrench pandemic policies post-pandemic. That cannot be the case with the amendments being made to this legislation. This bill must stop being in effect after the pandemic has subsided. It is so important that this bill have a sunset clause.
Another change to the Canada Elections Act the Liberals are proposing with this piece of legislation is to allow polling stations at long-term care homes to commence 13 days before the end of the election. This one makes zero sense. Sadly, the pandemic has illuminated very tragic realities in senior care homes across this country. Based on the statistics, the elderly are most vulnerable when it comes to suffering from COVID-19 and the loss of life. Instead of minimizing potential exposure, the government now thinks it would be a good idea to have polling stations open even longer, therefore maximizing the opportunity for exposure to COVID-19.
In what world does that make sense? There is zero evidence for this change to the act. It is putting our most vulnerable at risk, and it must not go through. It is ludicrous. It is silly. It is incomprehensible. Clearly the Liberals are in a hurry to hold an election in the middle of a pandemic, and they are putting their partisan interests above the health and well-being of people, the elderly and those with disabilities in particular.
Canadians do not want an election in the middle of a pandemic. We saw the spikes in COVID cases after the B.C. election and the Saskatchewan election. Just imagine what that would look like on a federal level. By not considering the testimony of the health officials appearing during the committee study, the Prime Minister has wasted the valuable time of public health officials and the valuable advice they have offered.
The Liberals have continued to scheme to push through this legislation as quickly as possible, when they should have been prioritizing Canadians and our economic recovery as well as our health. There are legitimate concerns about this new legislation's effect on the safety of seniors, those in long-term care and those with disabilities. I dare say there are concerns for all Canadians.
Canadians deserve clarity around their electoral process and any changes to it, especially if they are forced to go to the polls in the potentially high-risk environment of a worsening pandemic. This bill brings uncertainty and puts vulnerable Canadians at risk at a time when so many Canadians are just trying to keep their heads above water.
It would be nice to see the leader of this country divert some attention from himself and his political career toward the Canadian public and what is in their best interests. The pandemic has exposed the true colours of the Liberal government and where its focus lies. The crafting of this legislation, and the speed at which it is being pushed forward, are prime examples. It is undeniable that this bill was unilaterally constructed on behalf of the Liberals and for the benefit of the Liberal Party of Canada, not the Canadian people.
Our focus as parliamentarians should be on Canadians: on their health, safety, welfare and future. We need to see an economic recovery plan, not a Liberal election plan, as was provided in the 2021 budget. Democracy in Canada has taken some significant hits from the government currently in power. It would be my hope that for the remainder of the House, those on the side of opposition would band together and take a stand on behalf of the Canadian people, insisting on good legislation as we move forward.
It would be my hope, then, that we do not continue the trend of a declining democracy and that we vote against this legislation as it stands today.
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View Bruce Stanton Profile
CPC (ON)
View Bruce Stanton Profile
2021-05-07 10:58 [p.6892]
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The hon. member for Lethbridge will have 11 minutes remaining in her time when the House next gets back to debate on the motion.
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View Sven Spengemann Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Sven Spengemann Profile
2021-05-07 10:59 [p.6892]
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Mr. Speaker, on May 8, Sir David Attenborough celebrates 95 years on the blue planet, and I take the floor to wish him a very happy birthday.
David Attenborough has been a household name for decades for so many of us, and he continues to deliver nature's stories into living rooms, schools, hearts and minds around the world. His call for greater urgency in the fight against climate change and in the effort to restore biodiversity is one of the most relevant and important appeals today.
Sir David's work is so impactful that the collective response to the devastation caused by plastic pollution is known as the “Attenborough Effect”. He believes that we are one single, human civilization and that the greatest threats we face should unite us rather than divide us.
I ask all members of Canada's House of Commons to join me in wishing Sir David Attenborough a very happy birthday, and in thanking him for a lifetime of dedication to the planet.
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View Brad Redekopp Profile
CPC (SK)
View Brad Redekopp Profile
2021-05-07 10:59 [p.6892]
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Mr. Speaker, Saskatoon recently lost a stalwart of the Conservative movement. As a long-time EDA board member and staff member, Al Chant was a dedicated and caring person who loved helping others. Whether to a constituent, a party member or even an MP, Al was not afraid to speak up, and he always said what was on his mind. I am sure even Prime Minister Harper got an earful or two from Al.
Honesty and truth in our beliefs are characteristics that separate Conservatives from the Liberals, and Al Chant was as separate from a Liberal as one could find. Al was a loyal staff member to former MPs Brad Trost and Maurice Vellacott. Al loved helping people through the MP office. He also served for many years on the Saskatoon—Rosetown—Biggar EDA board and on my Saskatoon West EDA board.
After he retired, Al became an avid fisherman, casting his line in the water and chatting with everyone who walked by.
To Al's wife Elizabeth, I offer my heartfelt condolences and sincere thanks for sharing Al with us for all these years.
May Al be at peace, and God bless him.
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View Adam Vaughan Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Adam Vaughan Profile
2021-05-07 11:01 [p.6892]
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Mr. Speaker, Deanne Taylor, a loving partner in life and in art to Michael Hollingsworth, and one of the Hummer Sisters, has passed away.
Playwright, actress, singer, designer, multimedia wizard, journalist and director, Deanne Taylor was one of the most important artists ever to grace our beautiful city. Celebrated as the co-creator of The Village of The Small Huts, last mounted at the Stratford Festival and perhaps her most important work, Taylor and Hollingsworth created a gloriously, wickedly funny, smart series of plays that lampooned, revealed and explored Canada's history.
She also ran for mayor as part of a trio of feminists: the Hummer Sisters. They finished second to Art Eggleton in a campaign played out as Art Vs. Art .
Deanne lived her life in a studio atop Cameron House on Queen Street West in Toronto. She dispensed sage political advice and wrote speeches for many a candidate, including the MP who is speaking right now.
The queen of Queen Street's reign has ended. Long live the queen. Bless Deanne. Bless her.
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View Rachel Blaney Profile
NDP (BC)
View Rachel Blaney Profile
2021-05-07 11:02 [p.6892]
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Mr. Speaker, a couple of weeks ago, our wing commander, Colonel Poitras, moved on with his family to his next post. I attended the virtual event, but want to thank him for his service and wish him and his family all the best.
I also want to welcome the new wing commander, Colonel Elliott. I look forward to meeting and working with you. I know that you and your family will thrive in our region.
I also want to acknowledge a previous wing commander and a cornerstone in our riding, Mr. James Edwards, also known as “Stocky”. When Stocky finished high school, he passed on an opportunity with the Chicago Blackhawks to enlist with the Royal Canadian Air Force, and all Canadians are glad he made that choice. He received his wings in 1941 and went on to make his family very proud with his service. On D-Day, a day after turning 23, he flew a Spitfire over the beaches of Normandy.
Stocky's career in the military showcases the deep respect and love he has for his country. With his 100th birthday in June, I want to thank him for his service to his country and to his community.
I thank both Stocky and his wife, Toni.
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View Rachel Bendayan Profile
Lib. (QC)
View Rachel Bendayan Profile
2021-05-07 11:03 [p.6893]
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Mr. Speaker, I really want to draw everyone's attention to Mental Health Week, which is coming to a close.
We know that the pandemic has affected everyone's mental health and that our youth are among those who have been hit hardest. I know this because my community has lost several young people.
That is why it is more important than ever to make sure this message gets to the people of Outremont and everyone who needs to hear it. You are not alone. Do not hesitate to seek help, to talk about it with the people around you and to take care of yourself.
We will never say it enough: It is okay not to be okay. I have had my own ups and downs over the last year. We all have.
However, yesterday, I received my first dose of the vaccine and the light at the end of this long COVID tunnel shone brighter because I know that with each jab, with each vaccine administered in an arm, we are one step closer to this being over.
We will get through this, Canada, and we will do so together.
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View Warren Steinley Profile
CPC (SK)
View Warren Steinley Profile
2021-05-07 11:04 [p.6893]
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Mr. Speaker, on May 23, 2007, the RCMP Heritage Centre officially opened its doors in Regina. It brought to life the story, beginning in 1885, of the training of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. Over the past 14 years, it has grown to be a premier tourist venue. However, my Conservative colleagues, board members, Chair Steve McLellan, countless volunteers and local MLAs could see the potential for growth.
Through everyone's tireless advocacy and letters of endorsement, the centre will now be turned into a Canadian RCMP national museum. With nine national museums across Canada, and only one in western Canada, this is of huge national significance for our city and province. Located in the heart of my riding of Regina—Lewvan, the new museum will serve as another piece of national pride. The timing of this designation is perfect, with the RCMP celebrating 150 years in 2023.
Let the salute begin to all those who wear the red serge. Let us commemorate and honour the work they do each and every day in the service of our country.
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View Tony Van Bynen Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Tony Van Bynen Profile
2021-05-07 11:05 [p.6893]
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Mr. Speaker, I am happy to announce that summer is right around the corner. I know that because last weekend both the Newmarket Farmers Market and The Aurora Farmers Market opened for the season. Every weekend from May to October we can expect over 40 vendors to welcome us, from farmers and artisans to community groups. Every year, these markets provide our community with an opportunity to support local, eat fresh and catch up with friends and neighbours.
While we continue to fight this virus, I am proud of how both markets have adapted and implemented local public health guidelines to keep us all safe. I look forward to visiting both markets over the next few months and catching up with constituents, while masked and physically distanced, rain or shine.
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View Judy A. Sgro Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Judy A. Sgro Profile
2021-05-07 11:06 [p.6893]
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Mr. Speaker, as chair of the Canada-Taiwan Parliamentary Friendship Group, it gives me great pleasure to rise in the House today to recognize the President of Taiwan. President Tsai is this year's winner of the John McCain Prize for Leadership in Public Service from the Halifax International Security Forum.
Taiwan has been a world leader in the fight against COVID-19. As the coronavirus has upended lives and economies around the world, Taiwan has been a model that other countries, including Canada, continue to learn from. Through President Tsai's leadership and hard work, Taiwan has had continued success in containing the ongoing pandemic, proving that a united population can be a force for good around the world.
I would like to congratulate President Tsai once again for the well-deserved recognition in receiving this prestigious award.
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View Stephanie Kusie Profile
CPC (AB)
View Stephanie Kusie Profile
2021-05-07 11:07 [p.6893]
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Mr. Speaker, this is my last statement of this session and possibly before we go to the polls. I am grateful for the four years that the good people of Calgary Midnapore have allowed me to be their voice, so I cannot let this opportunity pass without expressing the following.
Mr. Prime Minister, you have failed the people of Calgary Midnapore. You have taken away their right to make a living. You implemented Bill C-48 and Bill C-69. You delayed Trans Mountain. You did not stand up for Keystone XL and Line 5. You cancelled energy east and the northern gateway. You have called my small business owners “tax cheats” and attacked their retirements and succession plans. This was all before 2020.
You failed to protect them. You squashed their ingenuity of therapeutics, rapid tests and pilot projects. It is you who has delayed their freedom with your horrific procurement of vaccinations, delaying their lives and dreams.
You may want to forget what you have done to the people of Calgary Midnapore, but I will not let you.
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View Robert Oliphant Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Robert Oliphant Profile
2021-05-07 11:08 [p.6894]
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Mr. Speaker, it is my honour today to pay tribute to Alain Baudot, who passed away this week.
Professor emeritus in the Department of French Studies at Glendon College, a faculty of York University located in Don Valley West, Alain Baudot created and ran departments, programs and a publishing house at Glendon over the years. He also tirelessly promoted the French language in Ontario. He loved French, but more than that, he enjoyed sharing his love of language and culture with his students.
A fellow of the Royal Society of Canada and a resident of Leaside, he actively celebrated International Day of La Francophonie every year in Toronto. Alain Baudot leaves a permanent legacy in the hearts of those who knew him.
I offer my deepest condolences to his colleagues at Glendon, but especially to his wife Carla and their daughters Laure and Érica.
May he rest in peace.
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View Todd Doherty Profile
CPC (BC)
View Todd Doherty Profile
2021-05-07 11:09 [p.6894]
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Mr. Speaker, nearly one in two Canadians is expected to be diagnosed with cancer in their lifetime. That means half of our family, friends and colleagues will hear the words “you have cancer” at some point in their lives. We all know someone whose life has been changed by this disease. Our family has been negatively impacted by cancer, and we have lost far too many friends and family members to this terrible disease.
The Canadian Cancer Society's Relay for Life takes place June 12. I will once again be walking the full 24 hours. At the Relay for Life, we show those we love that life is bigger than their diagnosis, and—
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View Bruce Stanton Profile
CPC (ON)
View Bruce Stanton Profile
2021-05-07 11:10 [p.6894]
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I am sorry to interrupt the member for Cariboo—Prince George, but it would appear that we are having an issue with sound. Does the hon. member have a headset he can use?
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View Todd Doherty Profile
CPC (BC)
View Todd Doherty Profile
2021-05-07 11:10 [p.6894]
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Mr. Speaker, if you go to the next person, I will connect and then come back.
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View Bruce Stanton Profile
CPC (ON)
View Bruce Stanton Profile
2021-05-07 11:10 [p.6894]
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We will do that.
Let us go to the hon. member for Chicoutimi—Le Fjord.
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View Richard Martel Profile
CPC (QC)
View Richard Martel Profile
2021-05-07 11:10 [p.6894]
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Mr. Speaker, 15 years ago, Quebec took a historic step that was celebrated this week by the National Assembly of Quebec, which voted to recognize the 15th anniversary of Quebec obtaining a seat at UNESCO, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization.
Led by Stephen Harper in 2006, this project was and continues to be a major victory for Quebec. That should come as no surprise, as Conservatives have always taken this approach of openness towards Quebec. It is a recognition of our history, our culture and our people.
We are a proud nation in a united Canada, and this accomplishment underscores our importance and our contributions not only in Canada, but also around the world.
I am proud to be a Quebecker, and I feel that pride in my riding of Chicoutimi—Le Fjord and throughout our beautiful province. The recognition given to Quebec 15 years ago is a historic milestone and another reminder of what makes our province and our country so great.
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View Bruce Stanton Profile
CPC (ON)
View Bruce Stanton Profile
2021-05-07 11:11 [p.6894]
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We will go back to the hon. member for Cariboo—Prince George, and I will ask him to just pick it up from where he left off, if he can, and we will finish his statement.
The hon. member for Cariboo—Prince George.
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View Todd Doherty Profile
CPC (BC)
View Todd Doherty Profile
2021-05-07 11:12 [p.6894]
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Mr. Speaker, at the Relay for Life, we show those we love that life is bigger than their diagnosis and that no matter where they live, they do not have to face cancer alone.
I relay for those we have lost. I relay for those who have fought cancer and won. I relay for those who are in the fight today. I relay for those left behind. I relay because I believe there will be a day when a cancer diagnosis is not a death sentence.
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View Peter Julian Profile
NDP (BC)
View Peter Julian Profile
2021-05-07 11:12 [p.6895]
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Mr. Speaker, during the pandemic, as the third wave crashes on our shores, our hearts go out to the families of the more than 24,000 Canadians who have passed away. However, our hearts also go out to people making a difference in our communities.
In New Westminster and Burnaby we thank the nurses, doctors and health care workers at Royal Columbian Hospital and Burnaby Hospital. We thank the first responders: the New Westminster firefighters and Burnaby firefighters, who also organize events to help people struggling in our community; the Burnaby RCMP; the New Westminster police; and the B.C. Ambulance Service. We thank people in community organizations, like the New Westminster food bank, the Burnaby food bank, New West Helping Hands in New Westminster and Caring During Covid-19 Burnaby/New Westminster. We thank front-line workers, who are providing groceries, pharmaceutical products and essential services during the pandemic, and small business people.
We thank them all, and to thank them all, let us recommit to building back better and building a society where nobody is left behind.
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View Rhéal Fortin Profile
BQ (QC)
View Rhéal Fortin Profile
2021-05-07 11:13 [p.6895]
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Mr. Speaker, today at 4:00 p.m. sharp, the Lion Electric team will ring the closing bell on Wall Street to celebrate the listing of this jewel of our economy on the NYSE. We are going to be hearing a lot more about Lion Electric.
This great business, which manufactures zero-emission heavy vehicles, started out in Saint-Jérôme and has continued to grow. We are proud of its success and of the hundreds of high-quality jobs for the people living in the Laurentians and across Quebec, and we are proud of the company's reputation outside Canada.
Quebec is a leader in the electrification of transportation and the fight against climate change. The Bloc Québécois is and will remain a proud and reliable ally to all those who wish to help build a better and greener future focused on clean energy.
Congratulations and thank you to the entire Lion Electric team, its CEO, Marc Bédard, and its proud employees, suppliers and collaborators. Their outstanding success is a credit to the people of Rivière-du-Nord.
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View Damien Kurek Profile
CPC (AB)
View Damien Kurek Profile
2021-05-07 11:14 [p.6895]
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Mr. Speaker, last night the House had an emergency debate on the pending shutdown of Enbridge's Line 5 pipeline. From the tens of thousands of jobs immediately affected to the energy insecurity that could lead to dangerous fuel shortages to the stress on the already limited market availability for western crude, this is an emergency.
The Liberals say a lot of the right things, but their actions show a different story, and I have observed a typical tactic that they employ when they have failed. They claim to need a team Canada approach, and to avoid questions they simply accuse the opposition of playing politics. We see through that charade. In this case, the evidence the evidence shows that they did not take it seriously, and they set a precedent with how they handled KXL. The result is that Canadians could be left in the dark.
This is not about Conservatives versus Liberals or left versus right. This is about standing up for Canadians, and the government, after six years, has shown it is not capable of that. Canadians deserve better.
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View Sonia Sidhu Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Sonia Sidhu Profile
2021-05-07 11:15 [p.6895]
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Mr. Speaker, as Mother’s Day is this Sunday, I want to highlight the contributions that mothers make every day. Although they often go without credit, mothers are the real heroes. A mother can take the place of all others, but nobody can take a mother's place.
I want to thank my own mother, who taught me the value of helping those in need. She is fighting a battle against cancer. Her strength inspires me. I know how much you are going through, mom. I am because of your values, resilience and strength, which only a mother could teach.
My message to all mothers is to take care of yourselves. We are often too busy taking care of our children, parents and families. We often forget about our own health, including mental health. You deserve to take care of yourselves.
Happy Mother’s Day to all of you.
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View Bruce Stanton Profile
CPC (ON)
View Bruce Stanton Profile
2021-05-07 11:16 [p.6895]
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Before we go to Oral Questions, I want to make a brief comment.
One of today's statements by members made ample use of “you” and “your” references. This style of speech is not accepted in the House. I remind hon. members, as the Speaker has done routinely, to direct their comments and their speeches to the Chair. There is a reason for that. I ask members to oblige and follow that practice.
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View Candice Bergen Profile
CPC (MB)
View Candice Bergen Profile
2021-05-07 11:17 [p.6895]
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Mr. Speaker, with Bill C-10, the fact is that the Prime Minister is taking away Canadians' freedoms. However, instead of admitting how bad the bill is and scrapping it, he would rather insult people and accuse those who oppose it of wearing tinfoil hats.
The Liberals' amendments to Bill C-10 do not even come close to their promise to protect free speech, and that is according to Canada's leading Internet law expert.
Why is the Prime Minister so fixated on trying to control online speech?
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View Steven Guilbeault Profile
Lib. (QC)
View Steven Guilbeault Profile
2021-05-07 11:17 [p.6896]
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Mr. Speaker, yesterday at committee, it was made clear that we want to focus on a few things. We want social media platforms to fairly financially contribute to our cultural industry, just like Canadian companies do, and make our Canadian artists discoverable like suggested playlists on YouTube.
We continue to stand with our artists and creators. It pains me to see the Conservatives work for the interests of foreign tech companies. I call on the Conservative Party of Canada to let the Canadian heritage committee pursue its work later today.
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View Candice Bergen Profile
CPC (MB)
View Candice Bergen Profile
2021-05-07 11:18 [p.6896]
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Mr. Speaker, let me let the minister know that two past commissioners of the CRTC have warned of significant problems with Bill C-10. They say that it is a threat to free speech. They say that it is actually going to suppress investment in the creative sector. It is going to stifle innovation by cultural entrepreneurs.
Free expression on the Internet is essential to Canadian free speech rights. Why do the Liberals want to control what Canadians say and hear online?
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View Steven Guilbeault Profile
Lib. (QC)
View Steven Guilbeault Profile
2021-05-07 11:19 [p.6896]
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Mr. Speaker, we have been saying this from the beginning, and confirmed it last night. Bill C-10 is about fairness, not about what we can or cannot post online. Bill C-10 does not remove anything from Canadians. What it would do is give them more opportunities to meet with their artists and creators. How are we going to do this? By by making big streaming companies pay their fair share to our cultural institutions and ensure Canadian artists are discoverable on their platforms.
I invite the Conservative Party to join me in this important task and get Bill C-10 adopted. Our creators cannot afford to wait any longer.
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View Candice Bergen Profile
CPC (MB)
View Candice Bergen Profile
2021-05-07 11:19 [p.6896]
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Mr. Speaker, it is interesting to hear the Liberals talk about how awful web giants are in their defence of Bill C-10. Guess who is promoting a big interview with the web giant YouTube? That is right; it is the Prime Minister. Apparently, YouTube is okay as long as it is giving the Prime Minister what he wants. We cannot help Canadians from being awfully cynical when it comes to the government.
Why does the Prime Minister think that speech should only be free if it agrees with and helps him?
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View Steven Guilbeault Profile
Lib. (QC)
View Steven Guilbeault Profile
2021-05-07 11:20 [p.6896]
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Mr. Speaker, if the Conservative Party members truly cared about freedom of speech, then it would let our democracy continue its work freely.
Again, this bill is not about what anyone can or cannot post online. Freedom of speech is not negotiable for our government. It is explicitly protected under this act and in our Charter of Rights and Freedoms. If the member opposite actually read the bill, she would see article 2(3). We will continue to abide by these rules and we should let the committee pursue its work. If it means a charter review. then it will be done at the end of the process.
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View Gérard Deltell Profile
CPC (QC)
View Gérard Deltell Profile
2021-05-07 11:20 [p.6896]
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Mr. Speaker, the Premier of Quebec is getting impatient, and for good reason. Ottawa is dragging its feet on immigration files.
The QMI Agency reported this morning that Ottawa has a backlog of 51,446 immigration applications. This means that more than 51,000 people around the world are hoping and dreaming of living in Quebec, but Ottawa is dragging its feet.
Even though Quebec has more than 100,000 positions available, these people have to wait.
Why is Ottawa dragging its feet on applications for immigration to Quebec?
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View Peter Schiefke Profile
Lib. (QC)
View Peter Schiefke Profile
2021-05-07 11:21 [p.6896]
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Mr. Speaker, immigration is essential to the economic recovery in Quebec and all of Canada.
This year, we welcomed more than 7,000 new skilled permanent residents in Quebec, which represents a 54% increase compared to the same period last year.
We are on track to meet the immigration targets set by Quebec, including getting caught up on the 2020 files. We will continue to work with the Government of Quebec to support its economic recovery.
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View Gérard Deltell Profile
CPC (QC)
View Gérard Deltell Profile
2021-05-07 11:21 [p.6896]
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Mr. Speaker, some people really can make figures say anything.
Guillaume Cliche-Rivard, an immigration lawyer, stated this week to Radio-Canada, “In 2020, it was the federal government that was incapable of meeting Quebec's targets”. That is the statement of an independent observer.
Chambers of commerce and business people want Ottawa to clear the backlog. We certainly do not want any conflict between Quebec and Ottawa, and we certainly do not want to fight over the numbers. We want results.
What will the government do to clear the backlog of 51,000 immigration applications from people who are ready to be welcomed to Quebec, but who are being kept waiting?
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View Peter Schiefke Profile
Lib. (QC)
View Peter Schiefke Profile
2021-05-07 11:22 [p.6897]
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Mr. Speaker, my hon. colleague knows very well that last year, we were in a global pandemic, but since then, we have added additional resources where they were needed the most and moved from paper-based applications to digital.
This has allowed us to admit over 7,000 skilled workers, an improvement of more than 56% compared to the same period last year. We will continue to work with our Quebec counterparts to support economic recovery in Quebec and across Canada.
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View Andréanne Larouche Profile
BQ (QC)
View Andréanne Larouche Profile
2021-05-07 11:23 [p.6897]
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Mr. Speaker, seniors are still angry about the federal government's decision to split them into two classes by increasing pensions only for seniors aged 75 and up.
The president of FADOQ, Gisèle Tassé-Goodman, pointed that out in an open letter this morning. She wrote that many people who are 65 have just as much trouble making ends meet as those who are 75, contrary to what the Prime Minister is claiming. She warned that this split would cause significant damage.
Will the government finally do the right thing as soon as possible and increase the pension for all seniors?
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View Stéphane Lauzon Profile
Lib. (QC)
View Stéphane Lauzon Profile
2021-05-07 11:23 [p.6897]
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Mr. Speaker, the 2021 budget is great news and will make a real difference for our seniors.
We kept our promise to increase old age security for Canadians aged 75 and up. We will be giving seniors a one-time payment of $500 in August 2021 and increasing old age security by 10% in July 2022, as we promised in our platform.
We are also creating a new age well at home initiative to fund services led by community groups that help seniors at home, and we will also invest $3 billion to help the provinces and territories—
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View Bruce Stanton Profile
CPC (ON)
View Bruce Stanton Profile
2021-05-07 11:24 [p.6897]
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The hon. member for Shefford.
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View Andréanne Larouche Profile
BQ (QC)
View Andréanne Larouche Profile
2021-05-07 11:24 [p.6897]
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Mr. Speaker, the Liberals clearly do not get it. The move to create two classes of seniors is not going over well in Quebec. All seniors need to be supported starting at age 65.
This morning, the president of FADOQ put pen to paper to stand up for all seniors in Quebec regardless of their age. In the meantime, the Liberals in Quebec also put pen to paper, but to defend their government. I was dumbfounded to read statements in our papers from the members for Brome—Missisquoi and Compton—Stanstead, defending the creation of two classes of seniors.
Why are they not standing up for seniors in the Eastern Townships and Quebec instead of defending the unfair choices of their government?
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View Stéphane Lauzon Profile
Lib. (QC)
View Stéphane Lauzon Profile
2021-05-07 11:25 [p.6897]
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Mr. Speaker, seniors have different needs.
They are more likely to outlive their savings, have disabilities, be unable to work, and be widowed, all while their health care costs are rising. Among seniors aged 75 and over, half have a disability, and half of those have severe disabilities. Fifty-seven percent are women, four in 10 are widowed, and 59% have incomes below $30,000.
Our plan will help address these pressures by keeping our promise to increase old age security for Canadians aged 75 and up and to increase it by 10% in July 2022.
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View Alexandre Boulerice Profile
NDP (QC)
View Alexandre Boulerice Profile
2021-05-07 11:26 [p.6897]
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Mr. Speaker, yesterday, to everyone's surprise, the government supported our motion requiring Netflix to also pay tax on its staggering revenues. Congratulations to the Liberals for this moment of clarity, but will they follow through?
Yesterday, together with my colleague from New Westminster—Burnaby, I sent a letter to the Minister of Finance asking her to apply the digital tax to all web giants, including Netflix.
I am giving her another chance to do what is expected of her, and that is to pledge to apply the tax to all revenues of online services, including subscriptions, and to make public the 2017 secret agreement with Netflix.
Will she do it?
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View Chrystia Freeland Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Chrystia Freeland Profile
2021-05-07 11:26 [p.6897]
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Mr. Speaker, I want to point out that there is no special exemption for Netflix or for any other digital company.
In fact, on July 1, for the first time in Canada's history, we will be imposing GST and HST on digital service providers such as Netflix. This amount is included in the budget implementation act and should result in $1.2 billion in revenue over five years.
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View Taylor Bachrach Profile
NDP (BC)
View Taylor Bachrach Profile
2021-05-07 11:27 [p.6897]
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Mr. Speaker, people still are not seeing the projects and jobs they were promised through the Canada Infrastructure Bank. Meanwhile the cost of operating the bank doubled last year. It is now costing Canadians $50 million a year to prop up the Liberals' failed privatization experiment.
Over the past two years, the CIB spent nearly $8 million on consultants. The bank is failing communities. Why did the minister need to pay consultants $8 million to tell the government what Canadians already know?
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View Catherine McKenna Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Catherine McKenna Profile
2021-05-07 11:27 [p.6898]
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Mr. Speaker, I am very proud of the progress that the Canada Infrastructure Bank has made. We have brought in new leadership and it is making a real difference, from projects like the REM in Montreal, and I am happy to show the member, which is creating good jobs right now; to the Oneida battery project in Ontario, which is a partnership with the first nations of Grand River; to the Lake Erie connector.
We are working to get more infrastructure built, which is good for Canadians, it is good for jobs, it is good for tackling climate change and it is good for building more inclusive communities.
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View Pierre Poilievre Profile
CPC (ON)
View Pierre Poilievre Profile
2021-05-07 11:28 [p.6898]
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Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister's failure on the vaccine front is killing Canadians and their jobs. In April, 200,000 Canadians lost their jobs and do not have any money coming in to pay the bills. Canada's unemployment rate is now the second-highest in the G7, and it is much higher than the average.
When will the Prime Minister come up with a plan to reopen the economy safely with vaccines to protect lives and jobs?
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View Chrystia Freeland Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Chrystia Freeland Profile
2021-05-07 11:29 [p.6898]
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Mr. Speaker, local public health authorities have had to impose the necessary restrictions to fight the third wave, and those restrictions have had repercussions on Canadians' jobs.
That is why our budget extends the Canada emergency wage subsidy, the Canada emergency rent subsidy and the recovery benefits. This will help Canadians and Canadian businesses get through the pandemic.
I hope all members of the House—
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View Bruce Stanton Profile
CPC (ON)
View Bruce Stanton Profile
2021-05-07 11:29 [p.6898]
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Order. The hon. member for Carleton.
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View Pierre Poilievre Profile
CPC (ON)
View Pierre Poilievre Profile
2021-05-07 11:29 [p.6898]
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Mr. Speaker, she is right. The governments were forced to put in those restrictions because of her and the Prime Minister's failure to provide vaccines.
While other economies in the world are reopening safely and vaccinated, our people are now locked down again because of the Prime Minister's third wave. That is why we have an unemployment rate that is 50% higher than the G7 average, higher than the U.K., the U.S., France and almost every other country in the G7. The reality is that this third wave is the responsibility of the government and its failure to safely reopen.
When will we have a safe reopening?
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View Chrystia Freeland Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Chrystia Freeland Profile
2021-05-07 11:30 [p.6898]
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Mr. Speaker, it is puzzling to me why the Conservatives constantly try to talk down Canada and Canadians. The reality is that Canadians and Canadian businesses have been astonishingly resilient, notwithstanding COVID.
In the fourth quarter, our GDP grew by 10%. In the first quarter, it grew by 6.5%. In both cases, that is stronger growth than in the U.S. When it comes to jobs, notwithstanding today's very difficult numbers, 83% of COVID job losses have been recovered in Canada compared to just 63% in the United States.
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View Pierre Poilievre Profile
CPC (ON)
View Pierre Poilievre Profile
2021-05-07 11:31 [p.6898]
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Mr. Speaker, that is because Canada had far more lost jobs to recover. We had a far bigger drop in employment because of the government's failure to close the border early on. Now we have higher unemployment than the U.S., the U.K., France, Germany, Japan; in fact, much higher than the G7 average because of the Prime Minister's third wave. He left the borders open, but he kept vaccines out and now Canadians are losing their lives and their jobs.
When will the government present a real plan to safely reopen so Canadians can protect their lives and get their jobs back?
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View Chrystia Freeland Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Chrystia Freeland Profile
2021-05-07 11:32 [p.6898]
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Mr. Speaker, yet again, let me urge our Conservative colleagues to pick a lane. Half of the time, the Conservatives complain about debt and deficits, and accuse our government of investing too much to help Canadians finish the fight against COVID and have a strong and robust recovery.
What we believe Canada needs is the support to get through this difficult wave, which our budget provides, and strong investment to come roaring back. That is what we are going to do.
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View Richard Martel Profile
CPC (QC)
View Richard Martel Profile
2021-05-07 11:32 [p.6898]
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Mr. Speaker, the Liberal government's attitude towards the women who serve our country is, quite simply, shameful.
We saw it with the member for Vancouver Granville and the SNC-Lavalin scandal, and we can see it now with the cover-up over the allegations of sexual assault against General Vance. These are not isolated incidents. They show a pattern of behaviour and a culture that our so-called feminist Prime Minister allowed to fester.
What is his excuse for letting Canadian women down this time?
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View Anita Vandenbeld Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Anita Vandenbeld Profile
2021-05-07 11:33 [p.6898]
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Mr. Speaker, Canadian Armed Forces members make enormous sacrifices to protect Canadians, and they have an undeniable right to serve with safety.
It is clear that we have not lived up to our responsibilities to protect members from misconduct. That is why we announced that Louise Arbour will lead an independent external comprehensive review into harassment and sexual misconduct. Plus, we have named Lieutenant-General Jennie Carignan as chief of professional conduct and culture.
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View Richard Martel Profile
CPC (QC)
View Richard Martel Profile
2021-05-07 11:33 [p.6899]
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Mr. Speaker, our Prime Minister clearly does not value the brave women who serve in our armed forces because he did not defend them. On the contrary, his government did nothing and allowed them to suffer.
These women make so many sacrifices for us, but he is not prepared to sacrifice his image to protect them. When will he apologize to them?
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View Anita Vandenbeld Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Anita Vandenbeld Profile
2021-05-07 11:34 [p.6899]
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Mr. Speaker, eliminating all forms of misconduct and abuse of power and creating a safe work environment for everyone in the defence team have always been our top priority.
We know that the Canadian Armed Forces must work hard to eliminate the toxic masculinity that creates an unacceptable culture. We have announced that Louise Arbour will lead an independent external comprehensive review into harassment and sexual misconduct. We owe it to our members and to Canadians to get this right.
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View Richard Martel Profile
CPC (QC)
View Richard Martel Profile
2021-05-07 11:35 [p.6899]
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Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister is supposed to be responsible for his cabinet. It is up to him to oversee what happens in government, and it is the job of ministers and the Prime Minister's Office to keep him informed of major events.
I find it hard to understand how something as despicable as allegations of sexual assault could be ignored on his watch.
Are we really supposed to believe that the Prime Minister knew nothing about this, when everyone around him did?
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View Anita Vandenbeld Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Anita Vandenbeld Profile
2021-05-07 11:35 [p.6899]
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Mr. Speaker, as the minister said in committee, he did not know the nature or specifics of the allegations.
Mr. Walbourne mentioned misconduct issues involving the former chief of the defence staff. He did not provide the minister with any details.
The minister has always ensured that all allegations brought to his attention are reported to the appropriate authorities for investigation.
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View Luc Desilets Profile
BQ (QC)
View Luc Desilets Profile
2021-05-07 11:36 [p.6899]
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Mr. Speaker, the federal government needs to send a clear message to victims of CERB fraud.
In the House, the minister said that victims will not be held responsible for the fraud. We all agree on that. However, when victims call her department, they are being told to pay taxes on the fraudulent amounts and that they will eventually be reimbursed.
My question will be clear because we need a clear answer. Should victims keep their money, yes or no?
It is not complicated.
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View Francesco Sorbara Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Francesco Sorbara Profile
2021-05-07 11:36 [p.6899]
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Mr. Speaker, the Canada Revenue Agency takes the protection of taxpayer information very seriously. The CRA has robust safeguards in place to identify fraudulent emergency and recovery claims. Canadians who receive a T4A for CERB payments they did not claim should contact the CRA as soon as possible. Victims of fraud will not be held responsible for any money paid out to scammers using their identity.
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View Luc Desilets Profile
BQ (QC)
View Luc Desilets Profile
2021-05-07 11:37 [p.6899]
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Mr. Speaker, it is really difficult to get answers to simple questions.
The minister also needs to take action to prevent victims of CERB fraud from being deprived of assistance from her government because the fraudulent amounts are being added to the victims' actual income. Government assistance benefits are calculated based on people's income, particularly the Canada child benefit, the Canada workers benefit and the GST credit.
What is the minister doing to guarantee victims that they will not be deprived of the government assistance they need?
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