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Results: 1 - 15 of 109
View John Williamson Profile
Mr. Speaker, I want to congratulate incoming Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett on successfully forming a national government and to thank Prime Minister Netanyahu for 12 years of service, during which he strengthened the many bonds between Canada and Israel.
I also want to congratulate the Israeli people on electing their new government, the culmination of a robust democratic process, which is the only one in the Middle East.
The Conservative Party will always support Israel, our ally in the fight against terror, and will work toward a future when all the region's people can vote to have their democratic preferences reflected in governments of their choosing, that is to say, elected by a free and fair democratic process in Israel as in Canada.
View John Williamson Profile
Mr. Speaker, I present a petition on behalf of my New Brunswick constituents calling for Parliament to end the abhorrent practice of sex-selective abortions in Canada. Abortions based on gender are currently legally permitted in Canada, yet there is a broad consensus to prohibit them as 84% of Canadians agree that sex-selective abortions should not be permitted.
I hope the House of Commons will reflect this consensus when we vote Wednesday on Bill C-233.
View John Williamson Profile
Madam Speaker, I am not sure what that speech was. For a second I thought our parliamentary system had turned into the CCTV broadcast out of mainland China, where the member was going through a job application as a spokesperson.
My question for the member is simple. Is it her position that the Government of Canada is no more obliged to provide documents to Parliament than the Chinese government is to provide documents to the people in China? Is there no right of accountability in Canada during a pandemic?
View John Williamson Profile
Madam Speaker, I will be splitting my time with the member for Port Moody—Coquitlam this afternoon.
Like other members of this House and hundreds of thousands of Canadians, I have had the pleasure and privilege of living in Hong Kong. I was fortunate enough to be on hand for the territory's handover from Britain to the People's Republic of China on July 1, 1997. It was a heavy moment, with feelings of both apprehension and opportunity.
I visited Asia frequently after returning to Canada a year later, and I have fond memories of both rural and urban China, Hong Kong and remote Tibet. Today, I would not travel to any part of mainland China for any reason. This saddens me, because I have a deep affection for the Chinese people. One cannot travel for weeks at a time and leave untouched by their hospitality, fondness for family, tradition and cuisine. As well, I admire China's culture and long history of struggle, perseverance and accomplishments. However, travel today in the Middle Kingdom is risky, because the PRC's governing system is not subject to oversight, nor the rule of law. Instead, it is arbitrary and dangerous.
As of Friday last week, May 28 to be exact, two Canadians, Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor, have been illegally detained by the Chinese Communist Party for over 900 days. This is a disgrace. We have witnessed how Beijing has increasingly revealed itself to be at odds with international law, accountability and openness, as well as the rights of people, including China's own citizens.
Beijing, instead, is devoted to control and secrecy, at home and abroad. Its ruling politburo believes its opaque and autocratic institution offers its country superior economic and social outcomes compared to nations that govern themselves democratically, like ours. Certainly, too many Sinophiles, otherwise committed to democracy in their home countries, are tempted to agree, but I do not. Totalitarian nations can make societal advances, but to sustain them requires ingenuity and human freedom. These flourish when people are free and govern themselves as free people.
At the core of today's motion is Canada's long-standing commitment to accountable government. It appears to me, from the filibuster speeches made today by some Liberal MPs, that the government bench might well oppose this accountability motion. I should not need to remind government MPs that under our system, the federal government is accountable to Parliament, and Parliament is accountable to Canadians.
My hon. colleague, the member for Wellington—Halton Hills, earlier today made the compelling case that the Liberal mismanagement of Winnipeg's National Microbiology Laboratory failed to protect Canada's national security and the safety of Canadians. We know that Canadian scientists worked at the Winnipeg lab with mainland Chinese scientists, including military scientists, on some of the world's deadliest viruses and pathogens. We know that the RCMP escorted NML employees out of the facility, and those two employees were terminated. Later, other senior staff resigned, suddenly and without explanation.
Does this not beg for answers? It does, which is why every MP on the special parliamentary committee examining Canada's relationship with mainland China voted, twice, for answers, by summoning the production of unredacted documents produced by the Public Health Agency of Canada concerning the transfer of deadly viruses to the Wuhan Institute of Virology in 2019 and the subsequent revocation of security clearances for, and termination of, two employees.
PHAC has stonewalled Parliament, twice. Canadians, through their elected representatives, have a responsibility to scrutinize the federal government and find answers.
I wish to reinforce my position today by highlighting Speaker Milliken's ruling in 2010. Speaker Milliken confirmed that parliamentary committees, through this House of Commons, have unfettered constitutional power to send for persons and papers, a power greater than ordinary statute law, through parliamentary privilege. This fact is confirmed in section 18 of the Constitution and subsection 8(2) of the Privacy Act. It has been confirmed by our Supreme Court. It has been confirmed again by the House law clerk. Most recently, it has been confirmed, twice, by the Special Committee on Canada-China Relations, on which I sit.
Today we are debating an egregious affront to the will of Parliament: Documents requested by a parliamentary committee are not being released to Parliament. It is a deliberate act infringing on the supremacy of Parliament, and it sets a precedent that could weaken our institutions if it goes unanswered. To put it in a different context, officials who report directly to the health minister are knowingly withholding pertinent information on a study regarding national security: specifically, how scientists with deep connections to the Chinese military were able to gain access to a Canadian high-level security-cleared laboratory with the world's most dangerous viruses.
We should consider some of the following information discovered through other channels. The member for Cloverdale—Langley City, on her Order Paper question from last year about the National Microbiology Laboratory, asked: “What is the reason that officials from the laboratory wrote on March 28, 2019, that they were really hoping that the transferred viruses go through Vancouver instead of Toronto, and fingers crossed?” The government's reply was, “These comments relate to the administrative process associated with transit through Toronto. The process for shipment through Vancouver is simpler.”
Why is that? Should security not be identical at any of Canada's borders? Why would health officials hope for loopholes when dealing with viruses and pathogens?
The member for Cloverdale—Langley City asked about the lab's inner workings on the same Order Paper question concerning a September 14, 2018, email from Matthew Gilmour, the lab's former senior official. She asked: “Are there materials that the Wuhan Institute of Virology has that we would benefit from receiving?” The government's reply was, “There have been no requests from the National Microbiology Laboratory for materials from the Wuhan Institute of Virology.”
Exactly what was the relationship between the two labs, and was it strictly one-way?
I highlight these questions today for the record because they demand further explanation, and because each of the responses received from the Order Paper questions was more revealing than the documents released by PHAC under order of a parliamentary committee. The question that remains is this: What is the federal government hiding? Is it bureaucratic incompetence, a gross security error, being duped by Beijing or some sort of malfeasance? Could it be how a foreign government scientist with direct ties to a foreign military received secret clearance to work at one of the most secure facilities in Canada?
Does the government not want to disclose more ill-advised partnerships that failed to protect sensitive information from being accessed by hostile foreign agents? Have there been additional instances of wilful ignorance concerning partnerships on sensitive technologies with counterparts in China, causing research to be delivered to the Chinese military? Why is a government that was elected in 2015, and that promised to be the most open and transparent in Canadian history, ignoring a lawful request by Parliament?
It appears to me this is a case of Canadian officials ignoring our national security and bending over backwards to collaborate in a partnership with the Chinese military. Now those same officials are citing national security, or even privacy concerns, as justification for not disclosing important details to Parliament. They certainly earn points for moxie, but is it a cover-up? That shall be revealed by the Liberal government's next few moves in the House. We know now how easily our most secure institutions have been compromised by the Prime Minister. Canadians should be informed of the toll of that security lapse to our collective safety and security.
View John Williamson Profile
Madam Speaker, I thank my colleague for her question.
Under the motion that we moved today, the Special Committee on Canada-China Relations would take steps to make absolutely sure that only information that does not jeopardize our national security is shared with the public.
Until now, we have asked the clerk of the committee to verify what is sent over. In the future, committee members would have a discussion to ensure that Canada's interests are protected.
View John Williamson Profile
Madam Speaker, my hon. colleague is spot on. This is a question of the Canada-China parliamentary committee setting up a number of measures to protect the information we receive from PHAC so it can be reviewed by outside counsel, or parliamentary committee counsel, before it is reviewed by members to decide on next steps. Previously, the government deputy House leader threw out a red herring by saying the government could not release the information publicly and that it questioned whether we cared about national security. Of course we do. That is why we are taking that step, but that is also why we think these answers are important. We need to protect national security and find areas where it is lacking and how we can improve on it.
View John Williamson Profile
Madam Speaker, that is absolutely right. I think that reasoning, twinned with Speaker Milliken's ruling in 2010, will make it virtually very difficult for the government to vote against this. Should it do so, it would raise further questions about what exactly it is hiding.
View John Williamson Profile
Mr. Speaker, a new mom-to-be in my riding was temporarily laid off in December after working throughout the pandemic as an essential worker. She is pregnant with a June due date. Under the Liberals' CERB-to-EI transition, this young lady was forced to claim EI against the hours she banked from her maternity benefits. As a result, she will not be eligible to receive a full year of maternity leave. According to the minister, this was by design.
Why did the Liberals approve a benefits program that discriminates against new mothers?
View John Williamson Profile
Madam Speaker, Monday's budget included a remarkable admission that veterans are unable to access programs because disability benefits are not being confirmed.
An Afghan veteran in my riding has undergone multiple surgeries after being injured in an IED blast. For the past six years, he has been denied the critical injury benefit. Two years ago, the veterans minister visited my riding and met his family. Instead of deciding, the minister suggested that they appeal, again.
However, the minister sets policy, and so we ask again: Are multiple, invasive surgeries complex treatments?
View John Williamson Profile
Madam Speaker, I will be splitting my time today with my colleague from Provencher.
At about this time last year, the Liberal government announced at the start of the COVID health crisis, when Parliament was shuttered, that by using its vast regulatory powers it was banning the use, sale and importation of more than 1,500 makes and models of legally purchased firearms. This was done without Parliament's authority and without a vote or even a debate among MPs. It was, in my opinion, undemocratic, and in the eyes of many it was an illegitimate order.
Law-abiding firearm owners follow it, as they must and always do, but many feel their democratic rights have been stripped away. The Liberals turned hundreds and maybe thousands of my constituents, and many tens of thousands of responsible law-abiding firearm owners across Canada, into criminals overnight with the signing of this regulatory order.
Today we debate Bill C-21, which builds on the government's regulatory order and will continue to target and harass Canadian hunters, farmers and recreational firearm users. What Bill C-21 will not do is improve public safety. Worse, the federal government is using Bill C-21 to resurrect the failed Liberal long-gun registry.
The Minister of Public Safety will deny it. He will get angry too, along with many Liberal MPs—
View John Williamson Profile
Madam Speaker, as I was saying, the Minister of Public Safety will deny it. He will get angry too, along with many Liberal MPs. They will do that instead of replying to the substance of their policy, their own legislation.
Listen to the minister's response this week when answering my Conservative colleague from Red Deer—Lacombe during question period. He said:
There is no gun registry in the country. It is one of the reasons in the legislation we have brought forward that we will require people who are in possession of these now prohibited weapons to register them properly, so we can have a precise calculation of where these guns are.
By the minister's own description of the legislation, the Liberals intend to resurrect a long-gun registry.
That is not all. The bill misses its mark elsewhere and will waste resources in other ways as well.
Bill C-21 hopes to set up a voluntary purchase program, what Liberals call a “buyback” of the firearms the government made illegal last year. What is Ottawa proposing to purchase? It is lawfully obtained firearms as well as heirlooms and tools. Many are worth thousands of dollars because of their rarity, age and calibre.
The Minister of Public Safety recently said that the government did not know how many firearms would fall under its confiscation program, yet he also claimed elsewhere that in the range of 200,000 firearms, at an average cost of $1,300 per firearm, would be covered. At the low end of estimates, this will cost taxpayers somewhere in the range of $250 million, but other experts have said that the Liberals' voluntary confiscation program could cost the treasury billions of dollars.
As many members know, under the current Liberal government, our country's national debt surpasses the debt of every other government before it since Confederation. To the Liberals, a few more billion dollars wasted is not something to worry about. That is because they believe the budget will balance itself.
For some reason, the Liberals believe that creating more red tape for law-abiding firearms owners in confiscating their property will somehow stop gang and gun violence in Toronto. They are so confident this is a proven solution that they have even introduced another terribly flawed piece of legislation, Bill C-22, which doles out softer sentences for criminals who commit offences with a firearm. The Liberals are soft on crime. They are more concerned about standing up for the so-called rights of criminals than defending our communities.
We on this side of the House believe that victims of crime should have the first claim on our compassion. We also believe laws should achieve results, which Bill C-21 would not do. Indeed, Bill C-22 would even make communities less safe.
Unlike the Liberals, the Conservatives know our justice system must put more emphasis on responding to victims than catering to criminals.
The crimes the Liberals hope to prevent are committed by criminals who will never follow the laws and regulations of legal firearm ownership in Canada. Despite the Liberal order in council firearm ban last May, there were 462 Toronto shootings in 2020, an increase over 2018. After the Liberals brought in their firearms ban last year, the precursor to Bill C-21, the rate of shootings in Toronto did not go down but up. Why? Because law-abiding gun owners are not the source of gun crime in Toronto.
As a Conservative MP in 2012, I was proud to vote to abolish the wasteful and ineffective long-gun registry. It cost taxpayers almost $2 billion, yet it did not protect the public from gun crime. Instead, it needlessly targeted law-abiding Canadians and tied up police resources.
The Conservatives went further than simply abolishing it. We also enacted tougher legislation on the illegal use of firearms, something I know we tried to pass in this Parliament as well, but was voted down by opposition parties.
As well, the Conservatives also made changes when they were in government and the data collected on firearm owners from the long-gun registry was destroyed so that a future federal government could not resurrect it after promising not to do so. One could say that the Conservative government passed measures 10 years ago to stop Liberal tricks. I say tricks, because in the last election, we saw Liberals across the country, especially in rural ridings, promise that a re-elected Liberal government would not bring back the long-gun registry. However, the Minister of Public Safety's answer in question period shows otherwise; that Bill C-21 would create a new registry.
As the member of Parliament for New Brunswick Southwest, I represent thousands of law-abiding firearms owners. Each was schooled on how to use firearms responsibly, how to care for them and how to store long guns. Each was approved by the RCMP to purchase, own and use his or her firearms legally.
These law-abiding citizens already follow some of the world's strictest laws pertaining to firearm ownership. They are moms and fathers, grandparents, sisters, brothers and, in some cases, kids. They are friends and they are neighbours. They pay their taxes and follow the rules. They enjoy spending their leisure time at a range or hunting deer, birds and moose in the woods.
These law-abiding firearm owners strive to follow all the rules and regulations on firearm ownership as outlined by the RCMP. Safety for them is not an afterthought but the chief objective whenever they use a firearm. I have seen this first-hand, as I have gone shooting with them on many occasions.
People should not take my word for it. They should go to the range themselves and watch. For every person, it is safety first. It is always about safety first. Why? Because they are responsible Canadians.
As well, many of them are legally allowed to possess restricted firearms. Under the Firearms Act, the RCMP scans their names through the Canadian Police Information Centre every single day. I did not misspeak. Every single day, checks are made.
Unfortunately, to the Liberals, these men and women are threats. They are practically criminals in their eyes. The act of them legally purchasing a firearm is seen as dangerous. The Minister of Public Safety has taken it upon himself to overreach into provincial authority and attempt to confiscate legally purchased property at taxpayer expense.
Bill C-21 as well as Bill C-22 are flawed bills that are poorly thought out and make our communities unsafe.
After the tragic killings in Nova Scotia last year, the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Public Safety shared a briefing with parliamentarians. Those who joined the government's technical call on the Liberal order in council firearm ban last year will recall the exchange. When asked, “Would anything announced today in this prohibition have changed what occurred in Nova Scotia and how he accessed those illegal firearms?”, the parliamentary secretary for Public Safety replied, “C'est pas l'objectif”. That is not the bill's objective.
Other than using a national tragedy to vilify and harass law-abiding firearm owners, what would Bill C-21 achieve?
View John Williamson Profile
Madam Speaker, just because something is technically legal does not mean it should be acted upon. It was part of the Liberal platform, but the forum to bring forward these changes is Parliament. However, the Prime Minister brought these forward at a time of the health crisis, when Parliament was closed and there was no room for debate. It was a technically legal manoeuver, but it was not the right way to go about this, because it shut out MPs who represent voters across the country and who had no say at that time.
View John Williamson Profile
Madam Speaker, I thank my colleague for her question.
Bill C-21 affects thousands of hunters, fishers and people living in rural areas by making them out to be criminals. This is bad legislation.
With regard to the border, when firearms are not registered, the penalties should be more severe. We, Conservatives, introduced a bill on that, but it was blocked by the government and some opposition MPs. Furthermore, Bill C-21 would weaken penalties for the illegal aspects.
View John Williamson Profile
Madam Speaker, that is my point. These two bills have to be looked at in conjunction.
On the one hand, Bill C-21 targets law-abiding Canadians by turning them into criminals, penalizing them. On the other hand, Bill C-22 lessens the criminal sanctions on the illegal use of firearms.
It makes no sense, and a Conservative government would do the exact opposite.
View John Williamson Profile
Mr. Speaker, the Canada-U.S. border agreement includes an exemption for Campobello. Residents of this New Brunswick island must drive through the state of Maine to re-enter Canada for essential reasons.
On April 9, Ottawa decided that islanders must comply with its new registry, ArriveCAN, each time they drove on and off the island or risk fines. This means the responsible minister wants to know whenever islanders go to and from work, buy groceries or fuel, go see a doctor or comply with child custody arrangements.
However, New Brunswick already collects this health and travel data. Ottawa's work is redundant. Campobello should be exempt from ArriveCAN given its unique situation.
Canada is in a troubling third wave because of Ottawa's incompetence securing vaccines. From April 4 to 16, 120 international flights with COVID-positive passengers arrived in Canada. Leave Campobello alone. The provincial government has it covered. Ottawa should instead do its job.
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