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Results: 1 - 15 of 93
View Arif Virani Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Arif Virani Profile
2022-09-20 15:07 [p.7430]
Mr. Speaker, let me outline what we have done for small businesses during the past two and a half years. We have supported small businesses throughout a pandemic. What we have also done, a matter that I am sure the member opposite is very concerned about, is support small businesses in their inclusivity with the women's entrepreneurship program. We have launched a Black entrepreneurship program. We are supporting indigenous businesses.
The Conservative record on supporting small businesses leaves a little to be desired. When we have proposed rebates for small businesses, the Conservatives have opposed them in their voting record. When small businesses in the city were under siege by an illegal blockade, the man who is now the Leader of the Opposition supported that blockade and the impediments it caused to small businesses. That is the Conservative record.
View Arif Virani Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Arif Virani Profile
2022-06-20 13:31 [p.6955]
Madam Speaker, I will be splitting my time with the member for Whitby.
I want to recognize that I am speaking to the House of Commons from traditionally unceded Algonquin territory.
I am speaking today on a very important bill, Bill C-21, an incredibly important bill that addresses the proliferation of handguns in Canada and the need for greater measures to protect community safety.
Just by way of a refresh, our work on gun control, as a government, started much earlier. Since 2015, we have banned AR-15s and listed 1,500 models of assault-style firearms as prohibited. We have cracked down on illegal trafficking by investing in law enforcement and enhancing border security. We have invested $250 million to address the root causes of gang violence.
Bill C-21 is part of the evolution of this approach and it is targeting specifically handguns. The question is why. We know that gun violence in Canada is on the rise. Since 2009, violent offences involving guns have increased by 81%, and handguns are the number one type of gun used in shooting homicides in this country.
Around 47% of Canadians have reported feeling that gun violence poses a serious threat to their communities. My community of Parkdale—High Park is no exception. My city of Toronto is no exception. We know that handguns are the preferred weapon of criminals in Canada, and that criminals obtain their guns through different means: smuggling, theft or what is known as straw purchases.
For example, the horrific Danforth shooting a few years back in Toronto involved a gun that was originally a legal firearm that was stolen in the province of Saskatchewan. We are trying to address part of the problem, which is the supply of handguns that are circulating in Canadian society.
How will we do that? This bill would freeze the market. Individuals will no longer be able to buy, sell, transfer or import handguns, subject to some very narrow exceptions. This means that there will never be more handguns in Canada than there are at the moment this bill passes. I just want that to sink in for members of Parliament, because that underscores the need to ensure community safety by passing this legislation as quickly as possible.
That begs the question, what about other sources, such as the borders? We are addressing borders and smuggling as well. While Bill C-21 limits the domestic supply of handguns, what we have done at the borders, and we have heard this injected into the debate by people like the member for Vaudreuil—Soulanges, is that we have made a $350-million investment into the RCMP and the CBSA, in their capacity to intercept weapons coming across the U.S. border. While we venerate our relationship with our strongest ally and our largest trading partner, that trading partner also happens to be the world's single largest manufacturer of firearms on the planet.
When we made that investment, and I will note this for the people watching on CPAC, the Conservative Party of Canada voted against that investment, betraying its perspective when the rubber hit the road, in terms of voting patterns.
What happened after that historic investment? Let us look at the evidence. In 2021, the RCMP and the CBSA intercepted nearly double the number of firearms at the border than they had in 2020. The investments in border safety are working to keep our communities safe.
Both in this debate and in the context of other debates about firearms and gun control in this legislature, at least in the time I have been here, since 2015, we have heard a lot about the narrative about victims, that the focus needs to be on the victims. Let me talk about three victim groups that I feel are strongly served by a bill like Bill C-21.
The first is women. The member for Vancouver East just asked a very poignant question of the member who just spoke from the official opposition, about victims of intimate partner violent and things like gender-based violence. We have heard, and it is fairly common-sense, that if there is violence in the home, the presence of weapons in the home would accentuate the propensity of that violence to end up being lethal. That is exactly what has happened. A stat was just provided that 500 instances of intimate partner violence involved firearms. That is almost two per day in terms of how frequent that is. That is an alarming statistic for all of us who are concerned about violence, and I am sure there is no debate that all of us in this chamber are concerned about intimate partner violence.
What does this bill do? This bill would provide, among other things, regulatory authority that will allow for an individual who is the subject of a restraining order to be prevented from having either a firearm or a firearms licence. We know that the number of women who are killed at home because of intimate partner violence and gender-based violence is far too large. That is why we are working to address this.
The next area I would like to address, in terms of whom we are supporting, is those who are dealing with mental illness. We know that we have a concern about mental illness, particularly in the aftermath of the COVID pandemic.
We know that rates of suicidality are going up. We know that when people are contemplating suicide, or having what is called suicidal ideation, the presence of a weapon can, again, be lethal. We know that guns in homes lead to greater numbers of suicides in this country. There are members of the official opposition who have called for various measures, and they are right to call for them, to address suicidality and to address getting people support.
One way of ensuring that suicidal ideation does not result in death is by restricting the numbers of firearms in homes. This bill would do that. I found it a bit perplexing, to be candid, to hear, in the debate just prior to my intervention, about the notion of background checks. It was raised by the Conservative member who just spoke. When the issue of background checks was moved in the House of Commons in the previous Parliament, the Conservative Party again voted against that aspect of the legislation. That is really troubling for a party, when all parliamentarians need to be addressing the need to ensure that lawful firearms are only put into the hands of people who should have firearms, not people who may perhaps be suffering from mental illness.
Let me address a third group, and this one is really important to me in the work that I have been doing for the past seven years. What this legislation would do through the red flag provisions is address people who could be targeted by hatred. I am talking about people who might be racial minorities and religious minorities. I am talking about people who could be targeted online, and the women I spoke of earlier. If such people have a legitimate basis or reasonable grounds to believe that a firearm should be removed from the home of a potential assailant, or someone who was stalking or threatening them, etc., they could apply for a court order to do just that. The court order raising a red flag could be for a limited period as short as up to 30 days. A long-term prohibition order could be all the way up to five years, if there continued to be a reasonable basis to believe the individual posed a public health risk.
The removal of the weapons could be done immediately, via a court order that they be surrendered immediately to law enforcement. This is important because we heard from, and listened to, women and minority groups who are targeted by violence. They are targeted by hatred and are threatened. They told us that their fears are real and that there are fears of reprisal.
I am going to get to an aspect that we have improved in this legislation. What they have said is that they were not going to come forward because if they did so, it would put them in even greater vulnerability. They would have a greater sense of jeopardy, with a higher likelihood of potentially fatal consequences. What we have done with this iteration of Bill C-21 is we have improved it. We have listened to those stakeholders, and we have cured what we feel is an aspect of the old Bill C-21 that needed curing. This is in terms of protecting the identity of those persons who would apply for such a court order.
Under the current version of the legislation that we are now debating, a court could close the court hearing to the public and the media. A court could seal the documents in the record for up to 30 days and remove identifying information for any period of time, even permanently, if the judge felt that was necessary. That is important because it gets to the heart of this issue: that people who are facing threats and have very legitimate fears need to be emboldened to come forward and not be afraid to come forward. This is what this legislation would do. It would allow for such people to be protected.
I want to point out the types of people who have been calling for the red flags. One amazing group is a group of physicians called Canadian Doctors for Protection from Guns, and I salute their incredible work. I had the occasion to meet with some of them, including Dr. Najma Ahmed and Dr. Julie Maggi. Many of their colleagues were doing incredible work from a medical perspective about this being a public health crisis that we are dealing with, in terms of firearms violence.
I also want to salute the lifetime work of my constituent, Ms. Wendy Cukier, a professor at TMU in Toronto and also the president of the Canadian Coalition for Gun Control. I first met Wendy when I was a parliamentary intern in this chamber in 1995. She was doing work back then, 27 years ago, to promote better gun control. She has never wavered in those 27 years. I salute her for the success that this legislation has achieved.
The last piece I want to address in closing is the idea of having municipalities deal with this on a one-off basis. Having bylaws in individual municipalities would create a checkerboard. It would not serve the constituents of Toronto if guns were banned in Toronto but available in Markham or Mississauga. The same would apply across the country.
We are taking a national approach because this is a national issue and a national crisis. It is important for victims. It is important for women. It is important for people who are suffering with mental illness. It is important for racial and religious minorities. I firmly support this bill, and I hope my colleagues will, as well.
View Arif Virani Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Arif Virani Profile
2022-06-20 13:42 [p.6957]
Madam Speaker, obviously we have a very strong philosophical and principle difference on this issue. As a basic proposition, I would put to him that Canadians' safety is improved when we restrict the number of firearms in circulation. Any efforts in that regard, of which this bill is one, will benefit Canadians' safety. That is my first point.
The second point is that I do not dispute that there are concerns with the border. That is what I identified in my opening intervention. When issues come up about supporting the CBSA and RCMP at the border, in terms of their ability to intercept weapons, I hope this time the member for Selkirk—Interlake—Eastman and his colleagues on the Conservative benches will vote in favour of those investments instead of opposing them.
View Arif Virani Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Arif Virani Profile
2022-06-20 13:44 [p.6957]
Madam Speaker, I appreciate my Bloc Québécois colleague's question and her work on public safety.
Among the possible options, we decided to proceed through regulations rather than a bill, because this approach is sometimes faster.
I understand my colleague's impatience and why she is eager to see regulations on assault weapons. Let me assure the member that several of my Liberal colleagues and I will fight to have these regulations made as soon as possible.
View Arif Virani Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Arif Virani Profile
2022-06-20 13:46 [p.6958]
Madam Speaker, it is lamentable. What I recall is actually being with that member at the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights in the last Parliament and doing a study on acts of coercion and acts of aggression. Witnesses came from all parts of the country, including witnesses invited by the Conservative Party. When we put to those witnesses whether the presence of a firearm in the home increased jeopardy and vulnerability or decreased it, the answer was very straightforward. It obviously increases jeopardy. This is not something that should be partisan. This is not something that should be politicized. We all have a stake in addressing domestic violence. This is one way to do it.
View Arif Virani Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Arif Virani Profile
2022-06-16 14:00 [p.6809]
Mr. Speaker, gun violence is a reality in every community. My riding of Parkdale—High Park is no exception. As my staff have heard repeatedly from my constituents, we must do everything in our power to combat gun violence.
To date, we have banned assault-style weapons. We have cracked down on illegal trafficking. We have committed $250 million to address gang violence.
With Bill C-21 we are going further. We are implementing a national freeze on the sale, purchase, transfer and importation of handguns. We are responding to the pleas of women who are victims of intimate partner violence, which often turns lethal simply because of the presence of handguns in the home. We are responding to pleas of racialized and religious minorities, who have asked that red flag laws, which enable firearms to be removed by court order, protect the anonymity of those targeted by hate. We are responding to the pleas of mental health advocates, who contend, rightly, that handguns in Canadian homes result in increased deaths by suicide.
The only pleas we are ignoring are those of the gun lobby, who would criticize us for working to keep Canadians safe.
View Arif Virani Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Arif Virani Profile
2022-06-13 14:57 [p.6590]
Mr. Speaker, I thank the member opposite for the question. I would just point out to her that what we are doing and what we have done throughout the pandemic, and afterward as we exit this pandemic, is supporting Canadian small businesses.
We have recovered over 115% of the jobs lost prior to the pandemic, which is point number one. Point number two is that budget 2022, which I am sure the member opposite has perused carefully, actually shows significant supports for small businesses, such as the phase-out of the small business tax rate, $15 billion invested in the Canada growth fund to scale up and $97 million to secure Canadian IP.
We will continue to work hard for Canadian small businesses because we know that they are the backbone of our economy.
View Arif Virani Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Arif Virani Profile
2022-06-01 14:13 [p.5921]
Mr. Speaker, June marks National Indigenous History Month. My constituents, including Anne Hines, the minister of Roncesvalles United Church, care deeply about understanding indigenous contributions to our community. When Anne considered what her congregation could do to support indigenous reconciliation, she looked no further than Phil Cote.
Phil belongs to the Moose Deer Point first nation and is a celebrated Anishinabe artist. Anne commissioned him to create a soaring indigenous mural, some 60 feet high and 70 feet wide, that now adorns an entire wall of the church.
The mural is the first of its kind in a church in Canada. The significance is clear, given the historical role of the church in administering the residential school system. Now all those who enter Toronto's Roncesvalles United Church are struck by this towering work of art and the creation story it depicts.
As opposed to working to take the Indian out of the child, Roncevalles United is now celebrating the indigenous presence that surrounds all of us.
The path toward reconciliation is a shared one. Thanks, Phil Cote and Anne Hines, for demonstrating that for all of us.
View Arif Virani Profile
Lib. (ON)
Madam Speaker, with respect to the wine industry, we stand firmly in favour of supporting this industry in terms of its growth in this country and in terms of its growth, economic development and ability to export.
The minister's work is taking her into different areas of the world. Right now, she is travelling to APEC to address the need for diversification in the Asia-Pacific. With our agreements and trade accords, what we are doing is ensuring the exportation of Canadian wine and other Canadian industries so they can meet the important targets we are setting.
View Arif Virani Profile
Lib. (ON)
Mr. Speaker, I rise today to welcome Mr. Penpa Tsering, the Sikyong, or president, of the Central Tibetan Administration. Tashi delek.
He is here to spread awareness about the lack of linguistic, religious and cultural freedoms for Tibetans. He is here to advocate for the middle way, an approach crafted by His Holiness the Dalai Lama, which simply seeks genuine autonomy for Tibet within the framework of the People's Republic of China.
The Sikyong is here calling for a resumption for the Sino-Tibetan dialogue, and he is here to raise awareness about the whereabouts of the Panchen Lama. At the time of his abduction by the CCP in 1995, Gedhun Choekyi Nyima was six years old, making him the youngest political prisoner in the entire world. He has not been seen in public for 27 years.
Today in Parliament, the Sikyong is accompanied by the venerable Tenzin Rabgyal, the abbot of the Panchen Lama Monastery. I ask all members of the House to take up the cause of Tibetans' struggle for basic human rights and to join me in welcoming these two Tibetan leaders. To them I say thu-chi che.
View Arif Virani Profile
Lib. (ON)
Mr. Speaker, it is very important that we are talking about Canada-U.S. relations, as U.S. trade representative Katherine Tai is presently here in Ottawa, meeting with the Minister of International Trade. This underscores how important this relationship is and the work that is ongoing.
With respect to the member's specific question with regard to trade irritants that relate to CUSMA, he knows the extensive work that was done by the now deputy prime minister in terms of engaging in a strong agreement that protects Canadian interests. That is the first point.
The second point is that when CUSMA violations are triggered, we have been assertive and will always be assertive in defending Canadian interests and the interests of Canadian businesses to defend their economic success in this country.
View Arif Virani Profile
Lib. (ON)
Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the question from the Bloc Québécois member and the opportunity to talk to his constituents about the impact of the sanctions we have put in place, which are affecting farmers and other businesses in Quebec.
First, I would like to say that everyone agreed with the idea of imposing tariffs and sanctions on Russia, because we all support Ukraine. Second, I would like to say that we will be looking at the situation with respect to farms and fertilizer.
It has been impacted, and the issue of food security in Canada and global food security is one we are very much concerned with.
View Arif Virani Profile
Lib. (ON)
Mr. Speaker, as I said earlier, we completely agree that we need to support our farmers and our agricultural producers.
We also completely agree that tariffs and sanctions must be imposed on the Russian government and on Mr. Putin himself in order to support the Ukrainian people in this illegal war.
The last point I will make is that we are preoccupied with this issue. The Minister of Agriculture is working very hard on this issue to work with Canadian farmers to ensure that we are supporting food security in this country and around the world.
View Arif Virani Profile
Lib. (ON)
Mr. Speaker, the member opposite is an experienced member of the trade committee. He has actually been on trade trips with the Minister of International Trade to Washington, D.C. The Prime Minister has also been to Washington, D.C. engaging with Joseph Biden.
What is very important is that we have always taken a team Canada approach, which has been encouraged to us by all stakeholders and by witnesses who have come before the committee where that member has been present. We will continue to take a non-partisan approach to continuing the dialogue with our biggest trading partner to see jobs and opportunity for Canadians and Americans, because it serves both sides of the border.
View Arif Virani Profile
Lib. (ON)
Madam Speaker, I will be sharing my time with the member for Sackville—Preston—Chezzetcook.
I am rising today to participate in this very important debate. On an annual basis, when we have a chance to speak about the budget and the plan the government has going forward for the people of Canada, it is a critical time to participate in debate in this chamber and discuss some of the issues contained in the budget and some of the policies that are being focused on.
There are about five or six areas that I am going to touch upon, but I am going to start with one that is very close to the residents I represent in Parkdale—High Park. It is the issue of Ukraine. We are now past the second month of the conflict in Ukraine, and we heard the Minister of Finance deliver a budget that she was very emotional about as a woman of Ukrainian heritage.
What we have done to support Ukraine with sanctions, humanitarian aid and military aid is extensive. What this budget included very specifically is something that a lot of my constituents have talked to me about. They talked about further military aid and further economic aid to prop up the economy as it comes out of and exits this period of Russian unlawful and illegal aggression. Those are very significant initiatives, and I wanted to start by highlighting them.
The second piece dovetails with a commitment we made going back to the campaign and that we concluded just before the tabling of this budget. It is what we are doing to assist people who are raising families in this country. The people who are raising families in my province of Ontario unfortunately had to wait a little longer than the rest of the country because of the obstinacy in some respects on the part of the Government of Ontario. However, lo and behold, even the Government of Ontario got across the finish line, and now we have concluded a deal that will allow affordable child care to be provided to families with children under six in licensed facilities in every province and every territory in this country. This is a terrific day for Canada and a terrific day for families.
What does this mean for my constituents? It means direct assistance. Already, in the month of April alone, the cost of child care has been reduced by 25% in licensed facilities. This is just in the past month. By the end of this year, it will go down 50%. The Speaker's riding is in the beautiful province of Montreal and my riding is in Toronto. All of us have very expensive child care, particularly those of us in cities. The cost of child care is between approximately $1,500 and $2,200 per child per month in my riding. That is staggering. To take that in half by the end of this year is equally staggering. To take it to $10 a day by the end of four years is dramatic. That is what we are doing to help serve Canadians.
Who does this help? It helps children with their early childhood development, but it also helps women. I specify women because we know the choice is still made in 2022 that one parents has to stay home, and too often and more often than not, it is the woman who is compelled to stay home. It is the woman who is deprived of the ability to stay in the workforce or return to the workforce. That does not help women, does not help their empowerment and does not help Canada's economic bottom line. This policy will, and it is contained in this budget.
We are also addressing what we have heard about, rightly, regarding the growing income disparity we have seen during the pandemic and even after the pandemic between the haves and have-nots. What I am talking about is large financial institutions. This is about banks in particular, but includes large insurance companies. There are provisions in this budget that address exactly that.
We have proposed that where profits of over $1 billion were made, there will be a 15% tax on any profits above $1 billion in the 2021 taxation year. On top of that, we proposed, and are implementing through this budget, an increase in the corporate income taxation rate from the current 15% to 16.5% on banking income that is above $100 million. That is critical because it helps produce some of the fairness we are seeking to achieve in Canadian society, since some have done very well during this pandemic and some have done very poorly. We are also initiating more investigations and prosecutions of those who use aggressive tax planning to exploit loopholes. There is $1.2 billion dedicated to the CRA to promote just that.
Who else are we helping? We are helping people with their broader health care. I am talking about oral health and dental health, which are also contained in this budget. It is momentous. We know that today 33% of Canadians do not have dental insurance. I, like every other member of this chamber, benefit from the fact that we are provided dental benefits, along with other benefits, as members of this chamber. Not every Canadian is so lucky.
What we are doing is correcting that situation via a significant financial investment that will go toward the dental health of Canadians and helping with their overall health. How are we doing this? Children under 12 are targeted in 2022. By 2023, it will be children under 18, seniors and those living with a disability. By 2025, there will be full implementation. What does that mean? It means that $5 billion will be spent over five years to ensure the dental health of families with an annual income of less than $90,000. We are targeting this help to those who need it the most.
Members have heard me speak many times in this chamber over the past seven years and know that I am committed to a basic premise, which is about promoting equality and combatting discrimination. It is something that I spent 15 years doing as a practising lawyer. It is something I continue to do as a member of Parliament. I am very pleased that this document, this budget that has just been tabled, outlines the next steps in that important fight.
How are we doing this? We are reinvigorating the anti-racism strategy, which was launched in my riding by the former minister of heritage during the 42nd Parliament. That national anti-racism strategy is getting another funding injection of $85 million over four years. That will also include a national plan on combatting hate, hate that we have seen too much of, not just during this pandemic but even prior to the pandemic. It has spread online through things like misinformation and disinformation. We are also dedicating two special representatives: one on combatting Islamophobia and one on combatting anti-Semitism. Both roles are critical. Both roles will continue, in perpetuity, going forward with the funding we have announced.
Last is something that is very germane to my riding, because one of the lead proponents of this initiative is a U of T law professor who is my constituent. That man is named Anver Emon. He started something called the Muslims in Canada archives. What is that all about? Why am I talking about the Muslims in Canada archives in the middle of a budget speech? I am talking about it because if we want to address Islamophobia, we need to do short-term things, like promoting people's safety at mosques, and we also need to do medium- and long-term things.
How do we do that? We change the narrative. We disabuse the stereotypes. We change the perceptions and generalizations, giving positive imagery to replace negative imagery. We get rid of the tropes and stereotypes, and we replace them with positive history about Muslims and their contributions in this country. That is what the Muslims in Canada archives will do. That is what is being funded by this budget, to the tune of $4 million, so that, whether Muslims live in Quebec, Alberta, the Maritimes, Ontario or anywhere else in this country, their stories can be told, shared and spread throughout the community so we can cure the pernicious impacts of Islamophobia. It is something I am very proud to stand by, and that is what is in this budget.
There are two large components to this budget: the housing component and the environmental component. In the last couple of minutes I have, I will just draw on a few specific points under each heading.
On the housing front, I am very pleased to represent six different co-ops in my riding of Parkdale—High Park. What I am even more pleased by is that in this budget, for the first time in several decades, we are injecting new funding to further expand the breadth of co-op housing that exists in this country. This is critical for people who desperately need and deserve adequate housing. That is on top of the rapid housing initiative investments and on top of the housing accelerator, which will build more units. It is a critical thing to address a very basic need.
On the environment, we are talking about a number of things that dovetail with our emissions reduction plan, but what I will focus on in the brief time remaining is ZEVs. I am pleased at this point that when we turn on the television, we see things like Ford trucks being advertised that are going to be electric. I am pleased that people are talking to me more about charging stations and vehicle charging infrastructure. That shows that the idea is taking hold.
We are transforming an industry. We are transforming work for those who work in the industry through things like the just transition. We are also transforming things in terms of the quality of air in the environment that we all have for our families, for our children and for our children's children's families. That is critical in terms of getting to net zero. We are doing that with yet another commitment to furthering zero-emission vehicles in terms of providing the critical minerals for the batteries that they need, providing the charging infrastructure and continuing the rebates for those cars.
I started off by talking about the Government of Ontario. I will return to talking about the Government of Ontario. On June 2, there is an election coming up. What is unfortunate is that there was a previous government that coupled our rebate on zero-emission vehicles with its provincial rebate, but that was summarily dismissed by the government of Doug Ford during his first couple of months in office. It has not been restored, and he is not even campaigning on restoring it.
We all need to get to net zero. Doug Ford's constituents, like mine, are longing to purchase a zero-emission vehicle but could use some help in doing so. I think it is incumbent upon all provincial governments to join us in providing similar rebates so that we can get to that net-zero future together.
That is what is contained in the budget. I am happy to defend it in this House.
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