Interventions in the House of Commons
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View Rob Nicholson Profile
View Rob Nicholson Profile
2019-06-13 12:28 [p.29048]
Madam Speaker, I have to agree on one point that the Liberals made with respect to the NDP. I do not know if there is any party in any western democracy that has had such a consistent record of opposing trade deals. To be fair, it is not just something recent. This goes back to the 1960s when the NDP did not like the Auto Pact. The NDP did not like the Canada-U.S. Free Trade Agreement. The NDP did not like NAFTA. New Democrats do not like CETA or the TPP. They do not like anything, but to be fair, I guess they have supported one agreement.
At least with the Liberals, they support trade agreements when they are in office, but of course not when they are in opposition like they were in 1988. They were passionately against the Canada-U.S. Free Trade Agreement. They were going to the wall on that one. They were going to challenge it.
That being said, would the hon. member like a list of all the trade deals that the Harper government agreed to and put into effect? It was a considerable record. I appreciate she is not the trade minister or the foreign affairs minister, but if she likes, I will—
View Rob Nicholson Profile
View Rob Nicholson Profile
2019-06-10 11:16 [p.28781]
Mr. Speaker, I am rising in the House to speak to Bill S-203. Despite good intentions, this legislation is flawed in its current form. It should come as no surprise that there are many issues with this bill. In the short time it has been before the House for consideration, one of the major problems identified is an English-French language conflict in the text of the bill.
As we all know, Canada is a bilingual country. Our two official languages are French and English, and all legislation drafted and passed in Parliament reflects this. Anyone who has ever read these documents knows that the English text is on the left side, while the French text is on the right. We also know that Canadian laws and legislation must be applied in the same manner for all Canadians, regardless of language. This is fundamental for ensuring a fair justice system, which is key to our democracy. Otherwise, it would be grossly unfair and inhumane for a state to subject its citizens to different laws and penalties based on the language they speak. I hope in this place, and across Canada, we can all agree on that.
That is why I believe the mistake in Bill S-203 was an unfortunate oversight made by the Standing Committee on Fisheries and Oceans. Issues like this are more likely to happen when legislation is rushed through the process without being subject to a thorough study. As members may know, Bill S-203 was given only two meetings before it was pushed ahead without amendment.
It began on March 18, 2019. In a meeting of the Standing Committee on Fisheries and Oceans, the government member from Miramichi—Grand Lake identified an important and significant language conflict in the text of Bill S-203. The following is a quote from the Evidence, as the member questioned a department official on this issue:
Another thing that would need to be clarified for me is clause 4 of Bill S-203 to prohibit the importation to Canada of living cetaceans as well as cetacean tissue or embryos, subject to a special permit. Apparently the English text of the clause refers to permits issued pursuant to proposed subsection 10(1.1) of WAPPRIITA [the Wild Animal and Plant Protection and Regulation of International and Interprovincial Trade Act] while the French version of the text is silent on the type of importation permit required. That sounds very odd. I wouldn't know of any other piece of legislation in which the French version would be different from the English version.
The departmental official replied, “I am not completely sure about the two clauses you are referencing. I haven't done a comparison of the English to the French so I don't have a response for you on that.” In response, the member asked, “Do you think we should clarify that?” The departmental official replied, “It would be important to make sure that the intent in both the English and the French is the same.”
Interestingly, it was a member of the current government, from a bilingual province, who flagged this critical language concern. It is also interesting how the department official stressed the importance of getting the language right.
The story does not end there. It continues.
On March 26, 2019, the Honourable J.C. Major, a former Supreme Court justice, penned a letter to all members of the Standing Committee on Fisheries and Oceans. He, too, identified the same language conflict as the member did. However, rather than merely stating his concern, he elevated the issue to be a constitutional matter. In addition to that, he informed the committee that this part requires amendment.
This is what the Honourable J.C. Major wrote to the members of the committee in his letter:
I have reviewed the proposed Section 7.1 which is scheduled as an amendment to Bill S-203 of the Wild Animal and Plant Protection Regulation of International and lnterprovincial Trade Act (WAPPRIITA).
In addition I have reviewed the French to English and English to French review certified by...ABCO International which on review concludes that the wording of Section 7.1 between the French and English version is starkly different. The question raised is whether the difference is so material that compliance is affected. In my opinion the differences are material and confusion is inevitable and an amendment is the only remedy that will clarify the intent and purpose of Section 7.1.
Canada, by virtue of the Federal Government's legislation, confirmed by the Supreme Court of Canada and evidenced by the Charter of Rights, is officially bilingual. In addition, under S.18 of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms (Part 1 of the Constitution Act 1982), both English and French are made equally authoritative.
Given that both languages are authoritative and that differences between the French and English drafting of Section 7.1 are materially different, it is apparent that revisions by way of amendment of that section would by its uniformity confirm Parliament's intention as the section would then be clear to parties affected by it and invaluable to the judiciary.
The latter consideration is important as explained below as case law is replete with decisions evidencing the difficulty the courts in all provinces have from time to time reconciling statutory conflicts and either succeeded in doing so or entering an acquittal.
Section 7.1 of Bill S-203 is an enforcement provision under the Act. Given the conflict in the English and French versions of the proposed legislation its passage without a clarification amendment would, in the event of an illegal violation and subsequent prosecution, present a dilemma to the court. An obvious example being that an application under the English version would be required to meet the conditions set out in s. 10(1.1) whereas an application adhering to the French version would not. In the result the same law would be different depending on the site of the application. Should a charge be laid under the proposed Section 7.1 the difficulty described would be left to the court then to attempt a reconciliation of the conflict in the language and if not possible to strike down the section and order an acquittal.
The foregoing is a brief response to the difficulties that are inevitable if there is no amendment clarifying the intent of the legislation.
It is of value to consider the unequivocal recommendation number 35 of the Uniform Law Conference of Canada which concluded “the English and French versions of a bilingual Act must be identical in substance”.
My observation is that the member and the former Supreme Court justice both share the same concern: There is a language conflict in the bill's text. That common ground should be encouraging. However, what happened next in the committee at clause-by-clause was anything but. My party brought forward two amendments. One would make the English text read the same as the French, and the other would make the French text read the same as the English. Both amendments were rejected by the government, and Justice Major's legal opinion was ignored.
My second observation at committee was about the four government amendments that the member for Miramichi—Grand Lake suddenly withdrew at clause-by-clause. The withdrawals came as a surprise to the opposition members, because they were sensible amendments. Their intent was largely to coordinate Bill S-203 with the Liberals' own Bill C-68, which I can understand. Both bills share overlapping objectives, and if both were to pass, their implementation could clash or create confusion. In short, it made little sense for the member to make those withdrawals, especially when the changes were responsible ones that the Conservatives were prepared to support.
Here we are then. This is the second hour of third reading of Bill S-203. This bill is flawed. A former Supreme Court justice was called in. Bill S-203 is a constitutional challenge in waiting, and the scariest thing is that this bill is about to come into force.
This is as good a time as any to remind all members of the House that it is our responsibility as parliamentarians to ensure that the bills we pass are constitutional and legally sound.
Given the government's majority position, this decision ultimately weighs on the Liberal government to do what is right. It must act in the best interests of Canadians. That action is passing legally sound and constitutional legislation.
So here we are, at the second hour of third reading debate. The bill, in its current form, is flawed. A former Supreme Court justice has weighed in on the constitutionality, and those changes needed to be made. Now is a good time to remind all members of the House that it is our responsibility as parliamentarians to ensure that all laws we pass are constitutional and legally sound.
Given these reasons, I hope the government reconsiders its position on Bill S-203.
View Rob Nicholson Profile
View Rob Nicholson Profile
2019-06-10 15:59 [p.28824]
Madam Speaker, I would like to thank the hon. member for Guelph, who was good enough to share his time with me, as well as all those individuals from different political parties who have been so supportive and helpful over the years.
It is with mixed emotions that I rise today to give what will be my farewell address in this chamber, the people's House.
Thirty-five years ago, the people of Niagara Falls first elected me as their member of Parliament, and I will be forever grateful to them.
I am proud today to be wearing the Nicholson tartan tie for this occasion. I am pleased as well to be wearing a medal that was given to family members of World War I veterans. I received this when I was over at Vimy Ridge a couple of years ago. I was told that the Borden government encouraged people who were related to people who served in World War I to wear the medal. I had two grand-uncles, Gordon Gunn and Stewart Gunn, who fought in World War I. I have been very proud to wear this in public since that time.
As a boy, I took an interest in Prime Minister John Diefenbaker during the Cuban missile crisis. We talked about it all the time and I got quite caught up with this. I wrote to Mr. Diefenbaker and told him of my support for him, and it started a fan club in my class on his behalf.
Among other things, I would like to point out to the chamber that on this day, June 10, 1957, John Diefenbaker won his first election as Prime Minister of Canada. That was a great day for our country.
At the age of 13, I had the privilege of meeting the Right Hon. John Diefenbaker, who asked me if I wanted to become a Conservative MP some day. I said for sure I would.
What I did not know at the time was that since the creation of the Niagara Falls riding, the Liberals had won five straight elections. It came as no surprise to me that years later my teacher, Mrs. Gordon, told me that when she told other teachers I wanted to be a Conservative MP some day, one of them said she should have encouraged me to become the captain of the Zeppelin instead.
In my 24 years in the House of Commons, I have witnessed much, such as the rise and fall of governments, including my own. Regardless of political stripe, the important thing is that our democracy works. There is not another country in the world that does it better than Canada.
At citizenship courts and others, I always say that to be a Canadian means that one has won the lotto of life. That was consistently true in the roles I have had as defence minister, foreign affairs minister and justice minister.
Wherever I went in the world, representatives of other countries were always and completely consistent. They were appreciative of and grateful to Canada.
I remember being in Afghanistan a few years ago, talking with government officials. They wanted to talk about the difference Canada and our allies had made in that country. They told me that in 2006, 75,000 girls went to school in Afghanistan. They pointed to me and said that two million girls now went to school in Afghanistan, that this was the difference Canada and its allies had made. What we heard was so consistent with what we hear wherever we go.
One of the other things that always struck me was Canada's influence. I remember getting off a plane in Ukraine and being asked if I would wear a poppy on my left lapel. This was in March. I said I would. Everywhere I went I could see posters of people wearing poppies. I checked my briefing notes, but I did not see anything on this in particular. When I asked about it, I was told that up to a couple of years ago Ukraine had commemorated its war dead the way the old Soviet Union did, but had decided to do what Canada did, which was to wear a poppy. It is a perfect example of Canada's influence.
I remember getting off the plane in the United Arab Emirates and meeting Prince Abdullah, who was the foreign minister. We made a bit of chit-chat. He told me his son had just completed the Terry Fox run. I asked if he had visited Canada recently, to which he replied no, that the run was in Abu Dhabi, where 20,000 people participated in the Terry Fox run. He said that they got the idea from Canada, to which I replied “I know”.
This is so consistent with what we have heard about Canada. Canada has always been there for the right reasons.
Over the years, I have always emphasized the great opportunities for our country. Sometimes we do not underscore that enough.
I remember, back in 1988, I had a meeting with an American congressman. We were going to have an election later in 1988, and he said to me, “Do you have your money lined up?” I told him that my party had a few dollars in the bank and that we could spend only $50,000, because that was the limit. He said, “Fifty thousand? I don't think I could open an office for $50,000.” I asked him how much he had, and he said, “I am running for re-election as a congressman, and I have $2 million in the bank right now.” I thought to myself, what a wonderful country this is. One does not have to have a couple of million dollars to become a member of Parliament. We do not need that kind of money, and we are not dependent on people for that.
We are truly blessed to live in this country. In the words of Prime Minister Diefenbaker:
I am a Canadian, free to speak without fear, free to worship in my own way, free to stand for what I think right, free to oppose what I believe wrong, or free to choose those who shall govern my country. This heritage of freedom I pledge to uphold for myself and all mankind.
May all of us in this House continue to value those ideas, because that is what makes Canada great.
It was a great opportunity to be elected in 1984, and it was a great day for Canada when Brian Mulroney was elected prime minister. I have had so many amazing experiences that I would need much more time than I have today to recall them all.
I do remember, for instance, that very soon after being elected, Brian Mulroney sent several of us MPs over to Ethiopia and Sudan to observe that aid was getting through to the people of those countries. It was no surprise to me that it was getting through. Canadian aid was being delivered to the people of Sudan and Ethiopia. Again, this is one of the things that are so characteristic of this country.
I was proud to be a member of the government that enacted the acid rain treaty between Canada and the United States and the free trade agreement between Canada, the U.S. and Mexico, and I was proud of the fact that Brian Mulroney took such a determined stance against apartheid and was the first western leader to recognize the freedom of Ukraine.
One of the last pieces of legislation to be passed under that government was legislation that made the possession of child pornography illegal in Canada. I am most proud that as a government we stood to protect children from falling prey to this heinous crime.
I also had the honour of serving under Canada's first female prime minister, the Right Hon. Kim Campbell, first as her parliamentary secretary and then later as minister of science and small business.
Serving in the cabinet under the Right Hon. Stephen Harper was one of the great chapters of my life, first of all as his House leader, minister of justice, minister of national defence, and minister of foreign affairs. I thank him, because on the world stage, he stood up consistently for what is right. He stood up for the integrity of our justice system and the rule of law, and for victims of crime. I believe he will go down in history as one of Canada's greatest prime ministers.
During my time as an opposition member these last few years, I was very pleased to have passed my private member's Bill C-233, on Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias. One of the most poignant memories I have, after the passing of my friend and colleague Gord Brown, was my initiative to distribute aspirin pill holders in his memory.
I also want to thank the hon. Leader of the Opposition for having placed his confidence in me. I am grateful to have served under him as shadow minister for justice and shadow minister for procurement. I thank him for putting my name forward for the national security committee. Canada is fortunate to have the Leader of the Opposition.
There are many I would be remiss if I did not thank. The countless volunteers who gave up their personal time to elect me are all remarkable Canadians, and I owe them a debt of gratitude. I want to thank all those who worked on my federal campaigns, people like the Lyon, Gibson and Stockton families, and members of my own family who have helped me for over 35 years.
This is also for Maureen Murphy and the outstanding staff I have had the privilege of working with in my ministerial portfolios, on the Hill and in the riding. I cannot name all the people who worked in my Hill and constituency offices, but I will name those who are with me today: Stewart Graham, Tracy Alway, Anna Annunziata, Jenn Stockton, Billy Morrison and Cheri Elliott. I want them to know that it has been an honour to work with them, and a great privilege for me.
To my beautiful wife and partner, Arlene, so often she displayed extraordinary graciousness in not having her husband by her side when duty called. There were many special occasions I was not able to be present at. I often tell people, though, that if a spouse does not completely support them in their candidacy, they should not get into this job, because it is a 24-hour-a-day job. One of the blessings I have had is the unequivocal backing of my wife, and I thank her for her love and support. I am looking forward to being there for my wife and my family. I love Arlene dearly.
To my colleagues in the House and those who work with us, I am grateful. It has been a privilege serving with them, and Canada is a better place because of them.
There is a time for everything and a season for every activity under the heavens. Now is my time and season to say farewell to this venerated chamber.
This marks the beginning of a new chapter in my life for Arlene, myself and our three children, Rob, Peter and Christine. I have enjoyed the journey thus far and look forward to what the future holds. I have always been proud to be a loyal subject of Her Majesty the Queen, and I am proud that the people of Niagara Falls have given me the privilege of serving in this place.
I thank everyone for the memories, for they will last long after the goodbyes.
View Rob Nicholson Profile
View Rob Nicholson Profile
2019-06-10 16:16 [p.28826]
Madam Speaker, I do not agree. The member was doing so well with his comments, and then he got a little off track.
I want to thank members from all three political parties. In the different roles that I have had, on many occasions, I have had the opportunity to work with members and their staff. It was a great experience for me, and I grew greater respect for all those who do work, because they truly believe. As the hon. member from the Liberal Party said, we do not always agree on the same issues, but we passionately agree with what we do understand to be the truth and what is the best for this country. While we may disagree, that respect continues.
Again, I thank all my colleagues very much. I appreciate it.
View Rob Nicholson Profile
View Rob Nicholson Profile
2019-06-04 16:14 [p.28510]
Mr. Speaker, I too, like all my colleagues on both sides of the House, want to wish all the very best to the member for Bruce—Grey—Owen Sound. I knew him for about six years prior to his election in 2004. We both had the privilege of sitting on the Niagara Escarpment Commission. For the record, we did not always agree on preserving the escarpment commission, etc, but we certainly enjoyed each other's company.
I remember being so pleased and proud when he obtained the candidacy in 2004. I was completely confident, certainly hoped and prayed, that we would have the opportunity to continue to serve together. It has been a great 15 years for me serving with the hon. member, and a great six and a half years on the escarpment commission.
I, too, wish him all the very best.
View Rob Nicholson Profile
View Rob Nicholson Profile
2019-06-03 14:01 [p.28402]
Mr. Speaker, it is my great honour to rise in the House today to pay tribute to my constituent, World War II hero Lieutenant Leon Dopke, who passed away on May 4 in Niagara.
Leon enlisted in the army at the age of 14 in response to German troops attacking and destroying the Polish Air Force. He went on to fight with the Allies in Britain, Poland, Italy, Sweden and France, culminating in the liberation of Bologna, Italy, and the capture of Mussolini.
When I was Minister of National Defence, often the topic of medals would come up. I remember bragging about Leon's array of medals. I said that if we spread them out across his chest, they would have stretched down to his elbow.
Freedom is not free, and no one knew that better than Leon Dopke. As we approach D-Day on June 6, in what may be my last S. 0. 31 in the House, I am privileged to pay homage to Leon Dopke.
I thank Leon for standing on guard for Canada. Democracy is indebted to him.
View Rob Nicholson Profile
View Rob Nicholson Profile
2019-05-14 15:36 [p.27770]
Mr. Speaker, I too want to convey my congratulations to the hon member for Sydney—Victoria. I thank him for all his service to Cape Breton and to this great country. When he was talking about the members of his family and his grandchildren, I could not help but think that they will forever remember the hon. member's service to this country and to Cape Breton. It is something they will be very proud of for generations to come.
I wish him all the very best, but I have one small favour to ask him. As he is aware, I think slightly more than half the people in Sydney—Victoria are related to me. When he goes back to thank them for all their support, he should tell them that now that he is leaving, they can consider other political parties to support. I wish he could do that.
View Rob Nicholson Profile
View Rob Nicholson Profile
2019-05-10 11:27 [p.27629]
Madam Speaker, everyone who knows Vice-Admiral Norman knows him to be a respected, dependable and distinguished member of the Royal Canadian Navy. Why is it that the Liberals could not have given him the benefit of the doubt by keeping his job open for him? Why did they not pay his legal fees until three days ago, when they were shamed into doing it?
View Rob Nicholson Profile
View Rob Nicholson Profile
2019-05-10 13:43 [p.27649]
Madam Speaker, this debate will continue, but I want to ask the hon. member if she has had an opportunity to compare what is in her bill to what is in the government's Bill C-68, which is now before the Senate. That bill covers a lot of ground, but a number of the issues are very similar, if not identical, to what is in her private member's bill. I will ask her to comment.
View Rob Nicholson Profile
View Rob Nicholson Profile
2019-05-09 16:57 [p.27607]
Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to address Bill C-266, an act to amend the Criminal Code with regard to increasing parole ineligibility.
I want to begin by thanking the member for Selkirk—Interlake—Eastman for introducing the bill. It is certainly consistent with his great record here in Parliament. I was pleased and honoured when I served as Minister of National Defence and he was parliamentary secretary. He worked very hard to see that justice prevailed in every possible opportunity, whether it involved Ukraine or Iranian human rights and democratic issues.
The member has always stood up for the rights of victims, and I support and laud his efforts here in Canada and abroad. He was one of 13 Canadians banned from travelling to Russia under retaliatory sanctions imposed by Russian President Vladimir Putin in 2014. I loved his retort to that. He said, “Sanctions by Russia will not silence me standing up for Ukraine. This is a badge of honour for all critics of the Crimea Invasion”.
This is what this legislation is all about: standing up for what is right.
I have to tell the House how proud I was as defence minister when he went personally to Ukraine to help get the equipment and all the supplies that people in Ukraine needed. I remember seeing him on television and thinking what a great moment it was for a member of Parliament and for him personally.
Under Stephen Harper, I was justice minister for six and a half years. One thing about the Harper administration is that it was completely consistent in standing up for the rights of victims. We did not hear too much from the NDP about victims, but it was certainly a priority of the Harper government to make sure that people had confidence in our criminal justice system.
I had the opportunity to meet with many victims over the years. I remember the grandparents of one of Clifford Olson's victims telling me how awful it was that Clifford Olson was not even prosecuted for the murder of their grandchild. Why? It was because it was already locked in. He received 25 years with no parole, so the Crown decided not to proceed.
How did that make the family feel? They told me they were victimized themselves, because there was no justice at all for their grandchild.
As a result of those kinds of cases, our Conservative government introduced the possibility of consecutive sentencing, which again is up to the courts to decide. It is not mandatory.
The first case involving consecutive sentencing was in New Brunswick, after three members of the RCMP had been murdered. The person convicted of that crime became ineligible for parole for 75 years, and I did not get one email. There were no letters, no phone calls, no demonstrations whatsoever from people who thought it was a bad idea that this individual would have to basically spend the rest of his life behind bars.
It was the same with the faint hope clause, which we heard quite a bit about. I have to disagree with the hon. member as to why that legislation was put in.
I remember the day I introduced that bill in Parliament. I went outside for a scrum, just outside the House of Commons chamber. I remember one reporter asking me if I thought people were going to stop committing murder now because they would not be eligible for the possibility of parole after 15 years. I told her the truth. I said I was not sure why anybody would commit murder, that it was a mystery to me, but I told her that what I did know about the bill was that it would reduce victimization of the people who have suffered because of what someone else had done.
Here is what was happening: No matter how disgusting the individual was and how unlikely it was that he or she would get parole, many times they would apply after 15 years. The families would tell me they were victimized again. They told me they were worried and upset at the possibility of the person who killed a member of their family getting out.
Their victimization does not stop there. It would happen again after 17 years, 19 years, 20 years, 21 years, 23 years. Every time it came up, they would tell me the same thing: How awful it was that there was a possibility that the person could be released.
When we introduced the bill to get rid of the faint hope clause, we were thinking about victims. That is who we were standing up for. That is what wanted to do during our time in government.
There is another part to this. If people see sentences that do not align with the seriousness of a crime, people's confidence in the criminal justice system will be reduced. It is absolutely vital that Canadians have complete confidence that the criminal justice system will do the right thing. If the penalty for people who commit terrible, serious crimes does not align with those crimes, people's confidence in the criminal justice system will be decreased. This is not what we need.
One of my constituents, a woman by the name of Marcia Penner, recently wrote to me about the Tori Stafford case. She said:
“I am writing you today to ask you to fight for the justice of Tori Stafford. The monster (Terri-Lynne McClintic) who took this sweet girls life needs to be put back behind bars where she belongs.”
“As you may or may not remember, I was best friends with Kristen French. Over 26 years later we are suffering the adverse effects of the lack of justice.”
“Please don't let this happen for Tori. Let's fight for her, and keep her killer locked up where she belongs. Behind bars, and away from more innocent children.”
This is consistent with what I have heard over the years.
Members may remember the Bernardo case, which took place in my area. On the 25th anniversary of the death of Kristen French, Donna French and the mother of Leslie Mahaffy went to a hearing. As members remember, both girls were abducted, brutally tortured, raped and murdered by Bernardo and Karla Homolka. When Bernardo was up for the possibility of parole for all his crimes, Debbie Mahaffy stated at the hearing:
We have had to relive Leslie’s pain and horror—our pain and horror, as if it happened yesterday, not 27 years ago.
Leslie’s violent, horrific death changed everything in my psyche and in my life.
I do not want to be in the same room as Bernardo but here I am
She went on to say:
The effect of this parole hearing allows Bernardo to abduct our beautiful memories of Leslie as he had inserted himself and the ugliness of her death into our lives yet again.
Donna French added:
It’s painfully unthinkable that Paul Bernardo’s parole ineligibility did not change by a single second, a single minute as a result of his unspeakable murder of Kristen.
It so diminishes her life. I appreciate that the Criminal Code has been amended to lengthen the parole period, but it is not retroactive.
However, going forward, it will be.
That is why I am supportive of this. I am sure there are members in the Liberal Party who, in the previous Parliament, voted in favour of a bill identical to this one.
I know I am speaking on behalf of my Conservative colleagues when I say that we will continue to stand up for and worry about victims. We will continue to ensure that people can have confidence in the criminal justice system. Our party was all about that in the years we governed. I hope people will support my hon colleague who brought this forward and do the right thing.
View Rob Nicholson Profile
View Rob Nicholson Profile
2019-04-08 16:40 [p.26821]
Mr. Speaker, I do not look forward to anything like this, but the hon. member for Victoria has made an excellent point as to what has taken place.
This is a process that was put together by the existing government in which it wanted a number of members of Parliament to participate in this process to make recommendations with respect to the Supreme Court justice. I remember that the government wanted to be careful about this. My office was told that we were going to have to swear that we were going to keep it secret. My staff pointed out that I had top security clearance as a former foreign minister, in other positions and as a member of the Privy Council. However, when I heard this, I said that it was fine and I would swear to keep quiet anything we did and any contents of the meeting.
The meeting was very small, involving several members of Parliament. The member for Victoria, the then justice minister, who we made recommendations to, and I were the only people who knew this. It was something that was given to the Prime Minister's Office. Therefore, what we hear, as the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Justice said on Friday, and the Prime Minister and others, is that, no, neither the Prime Minister nor anyone in his office leaked this. Okay. Then the justice minister said that no, nothing came from his department. Then who was it? Let us face it. There were just a couple of us involved with this.
This is why I have found it very concerning. It seems to me that it weakens people's trust in this institution. We ask people to swear that they will keep something quiet, secret, and not divulge this information, and then when we see something like this, we want to see something done.
A number of us asked the justice minister last week, in I think four questions in a row, to please investigate this. Would you not want to investigate this, Mr. Speaker? If you believed that the Prime Minister or the Prime Minister's Office or the Department of Justice had anything to do with this leak, would you not want this investigated? I think most people looking at this would say yes, it only makes sense to do that, and it is the right thing to do.
I am asking, Mr. Speaker, that you have a look at this, because this certainly impacts all of us who want to participate and be part of this process here. That, I believe, has been compromised by this. It should be changed, and it should be put to rest by a proper investigation.
View Rob Nicholson Profile
View Rob Nicholson Profile
2019-04-01 14:43 [p.26518]
Mr. Speaker, I do not know why this is always so difficult for the Liberals here.
Last week, the Manitoba Bar Association issued a very scathing statement regarding the confidentiality of the judicial selection process by the compromising of Chief Justice Joyal's recommendation. Now this serious breach of confidentiality under the Liberals has violated that justice's privacy and undermined Canadians' confidence in our judicial process.
Why is it so difficult for him to do the right thing, contact the Privacy Commissioner and get an investigation on this? That is what should be done. It should not be that difficult.
View Rob Nicholson Profile
View Rob Nicholson Profile
2019-02-27 14:17 [p.25851]
Mr. Speaker, amid a mounting list of failures, the Prime Minister's 2019 carbon tax is just the beginning of what he wants Canadians to pay. Experts agree that it will not be effective and will only lead to economic hardship for Canadians.
The Prime Minister's carbon tax will add 11¢ to the cost of every litre of gas and hundreds more for home heating. Despite false assurances that it will not add up to much, independent analysis estimates the cost to be up to $100 more per month. This is yet another area where the Prime Minister needs to come clean with Canadians. Canadians should not be punished with an ineffective tax for working, playing and living. Worse yet, the Liberal carbon tax will go even higher.
The Prime Minister does not worry about money or deficits, but that is not the case for most Canadians. Hundreds of dollars in added costs per year matters to most of us. In October, we have a clear choice. The Conservatives will ensure that Canadians get ahead instead of falling behind.
View Rob Nicholson Profile
View Rob Nicholson Profile
2019-02-19 14:14 [p.25510]
Mr. Speaker, I rise in the House today to bring attention to the questions raised by #LavScam and whether the rule of law in Canada has been compromised.
The office of the Attorney General must remain autonomous and maintain its independence from political pressure. It is in fact the cornerstone of our democracy. The member for Vancouver Granville was very succinct on this point in her most recent public letter. One part that particularly resonated with me is the following:
It is a pillar of our democracy that our system of justice be free from even the perception of political interference and uphold the highest levels of public confidence.
That is why it is imperative that the former attorney general and Mr. Butts be allowed to speak at the justice committee. Canadians must have the assurance that the rule of law in Canada has been upheld and in no way has been brokered or suppressed. It is fundamental and must be applied equally to all persons. As Martin Luther King stated, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”
View Rob Nicholson Profile
View Rob Nicholson Profile
2019-02-04 18:00 [p.25233]
Mr. Speaker, I have the honour of splitting my time today with the member for Perth—Wellington.
I rise in the House today to speak to the motion on the floor and call upon the Prime Minister to provide written confirmation that his government will not raise taxes on Canadians. In order to do this, we should look at the record of the Liberals when they are in power. Indeed, it is a tale to tell.
As writer and philosopher George Santayana penned, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” If we look at the Liberal government of the 1960s through to the 1980s, under the Liberals, federal spending rose from 30% to 53% of GDP. I am sure that many people in the chamber can remember that incredible inflation. Prime lending rates skyrocketed to an incredible 22%. Subsequently, the inability to pay such exorbitant rates resulted in both corporate and personal bankruptcies. It would be two decades before Canadians would crawl out of this economic black hole and begin to reduce the country's debt. In fact, by 1984, Canada's international debt had grown by 700%.
If we fast-track to 2019, the current Government of Canada is on the same trajectory. There is 81% of middle-income Canadians who have experienced the economic pain of higher taxes, and the Prime Minister has promised Canadians that he would not raise taxes but lower them.
Another obvious comparison to years ago is the now failed and infamous national energy program. Starting in 1980, the national energy program, with the Liberal Party behind it, single-handedly destroyed the thriving economic engine that benefited all Canadians, putting thousands of Canadians out of work and causing many to not only lose their livelihoods but their homes as well.
Enter the current Liberal government and its pipeline debacle. Because of the Prime Minister's failure to secure a pipeline, thousands of Canadians have lost their jobs. It sounds familiar, does it not? Currently, Canadian taxpayers are on the hook for a $4.5-billion pipeline that may never be built. Last week, the Parliamentary Budget Officer said that the government has probably overpaid for the Trans Mountain pipeline by an unbelievable $1 billion. This is costing the Canadian economy about $50 million a day.
Doug Porter, the chief economist and managing director of BMO Financial Group, predicts the following: “I think Canada has a very weak competitive position. I think we’re going to get crushed in the next recession”. Canadians are already feeling the crush. The average income tax increase for middle-income Canadians is $840. In addition, Canada pension plan premiums have gone up to $2,200 per household, and employment insurance premiums are up by $85 per worker.
The outlook is even bleaker as the Liberals insist upon this new carbon tax of theirs. This will end up costing households about $2,500. Sadly, the carbon tax fails to address the environment and serves to make life even more expensive for Canadians, and yet the Prime Minister has promised that he will not raise taxes. This is not the Liberal record. Fifty years ago, the Liberals inherited a strong, growing and varied Canadian economy, and when they left in 1984, Canadians were still feeling the effects of Canada's worst recession since the Great Depression.
The current Liberal government inherited Stephen Harper's zero-deficit balance sheet a little over three years ago, and over the last three years, the government has added $60 billion to the national debt. The Prime Minister promised that the budget would be balanced this year. Instead, the deficit will hit $21.3 billion. Again, he has promised that he will not raise taxes. This is why we are here today. We are calling upon the Prime Minister to provide written confirmation that his government will not further raise taxes on Canadians. In light of how he has bungled our coffers thus far, it is simply not credible to believe the Prime Minister when he says that he will not raise taxes. The question that I think Canadians have to ask is, by how much? According to Finance, the budget will not return to balance until 2040, and by then racking up an additional $271 billion of debt.
Financial trends are cyclical. Most economists believe Canadians and the world will be facing an economic downturn. The Prime Minister has left nothing to cushion Canada from such a forecast. Last year Canada's national debt reached an all-time high of $670 billion, or a massive $47,600 per Canadian family. A recent Fraser Institute report states that a very serious downturn could add more than $50 billion per year to the government's deficit forecast. Canada's national debt would be nearly a trillion dollars by the year 2023. That is unfathomable and should be unthinkable.
When the recession hit Canada in 2009 we were largely insulated because of the prudent economic planning by the former Conservative government. I remember travelling with prime minister Stephen Harper, and it was astonishing to see world leaders lining up to speak with the prime minister. Presidents and prime ministers from around the globe would line up to ask Mr. Harper how it was that Canada was the only country in the G7 able to withstand the worldwide economic downturn. It was due in part to ensuring that we had a good financial cushion to rely on in the event of a fiscal recession. The Liberals, on the other hand, seem hell-bent on employing any fiscal policy so long as it is not in line with what the Conservatives implemented.
In addition, I remember back in 1988 when the Liberals were against implementing the GST. They had just finished coming off an election where they were against the free trade agreement, and we remember how they changed their minds on that one. All Liberal leaders at the time were against implementing the GST. Liberal leader John Turner said the GST was an attack on the weaker regions of the country, that it was regressive, against lower-income groups, invisible, sneaky and of course an administrative nightmare.
It gets better. Paul Martin stated in the chamber the following: “Mr. Speaker, the goods and services tax is a stupid, inept and incompetent tax”. He went on to say he would abolish the GST.
It did not stop there. In 1990, then Liberal leader Jean Chrétien said on September 27 of that year, “I want this tax dead”. He went on to say the following: “I am opposed to the GST. I have always been opposed to it, and I will always be opposed to it. It is a tax that is both regressive and discriminatory”.
We cannot believe any of those Liberal leaders. What they did when they returned to power was to be completely onside with implementing the GST. What I have been saying about them is that they cannot be trusted in these areas.
I was told many years ago that the Liberals would say whatever it takes to get elected. If they think it will get them elected to be against the free trade agreement, they are against it. If it helps them to be against GST, wage and price controls, name it, over the years it was whatever they felt was necessary. However, they would always go with something afterward that was completely out of line with that.
NAFTA is just another example of their bungling of their international obligations for our country. We can see that the new NAFTA that is being presented to us is weaker than the existing one. It will raise the price of condos through the steel and aluminum tariffs. That is just one example. American farmers will have tariff-free access to 3.6% of Canada's dairy market. It will send hundreds of millions of dollars more of their product into our country, and not a single concession was made by the United States.
Why do we want to have a written confirmation from the Prime Minister that he will not raise taxes? Just have a look at the last 50 years of Liberal governments. The Liberals say one thing during an election and do something different after the election. It is our job to hold them accountable as much as we can. That is why we want to have this in writing.
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