Hansard
Consult the user guide
For assistance, please contact us
Consult the user guide
For assistance, please contact us
Add search criteria
Results: 1 - 15 of 44
View Chris Bittle Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Chris Bittle Profile
2020-02-28 10:35 [p.1732]
Madam Speaker, before I begin my speech, I would like to clarify something the opposition House leader said in her speech.
She stated that the Liberals opposed a motion to expedite CUSMA legislation. While she talked about working together with other parties in a collaborative manner, what she fails to mention is that she purposely provided the text at the very last minute, with no time to review it. The Conservatives are playing silly tricks and gotcha politics because they are on the defensive, trying to slow down this important bill.
We did the responsible thing. We took time to review it and then agreed with it and moved it again ourselves. However, once we moved it again ourselves, the Conservatives opposed it. There was no consent.
The actions of the Conservatives on this merely show their current desperation, and they are on the wrong side of history of this important issue.
View Chris Bittle Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Chris Bittle Profile
2020-02-28 10:37 [p.1732]
Madam Speaker, it seems we hit a nerve. It is clear the members of the opposition do not want to go forward on this important bill, a bill that is required, that businesses are crying out for, that farmers are crying out for, that people across the country want us to move forward on, but we are playing gotcha politics and we are playing petty politics on this particular day.
I would like to offer some comment on the importance of what we are debating today. This is not a motion that will likely attract the attention of many Canadians outside this chamber or outside the Ottawa bubble. It does not touch on the issues that are important to many of our constituents: the economy, jobs, affordability, climate change, health care, pensions, reconciliation with indigenous people, keeping our streets safe and securing Canada's place in the world.
These are, of course, the issues that are at the forefront of our government's agenda. These are the issues on which our government was elected to make changes. These are the issues on which our government has a mandate from Canadians.
This motion today does not call on the House to have a constructive debate on any of these matters. Make no mistake, the motion from the Conservative House leader has profound implications for Parliament and for the democratic system that we cherish. It is a motion that is reflective of the Conservatives themselves. While they were in government and during recent years in opposition, we have all seen their track record.
In government, under Stephen Harper, Conservatives showed disdain for Parliament and for all the members on the opposition benches. In opposition, under the current leader, who will be replaced in June, they have continued to show disdain for the traditions and decorum of this chamber. They heckle when I talk about decorum in this chamber, which is ironic.
Canadians have not forgotten the behaviour of the Conservatives in the 41st Parliament, as well as in the last one. It is the Conservatives who, all too often, held the House of Commons hostage with political tactics and manoeuvres, repeatedly obstructing MPs from debating important legislation. On more than one occasion, they forced the House to hold all-night marathon vote sessions. They voted against funding for infrastructure during that time, on national defence, veterans, police, security, VIA Rail services, Parks Canada, indigenous peoples and more.
This was a political stunt, and Liberal MPs stood proudly to vote in favour of those services that are important to Canadians. One of these voting marathons kept MPs in the chamber for 30 hours in the last Parliament. This came at a cost to Parliament's reputation and literally a cost to the taxpayers. Indeed, the Conservatives' current House leader said in a news release, when she was part of a previous Conservative government that was facing an NDP filibuster in 2011, that these tactics cost the House of Commons an additional $50,000 per hour to stay open. Where was that outrage in the last Parliament?
One of the Conservatives' most shameful episodes was when they tried to prevent the finance minister from reading his budget speech in the chamber by banging on their desks and shouting him down, like bullies in a schoolyard. It was an undignified spectacle.
These are the political stunts that the Conservatives like to call tools from their tool box. It is quite the tool box. This behaviour from the Conservative opposition has done nothing to restore Canadians' trust in Parliament. In fact, I fear what they have done has deepened the cynicism among all of our constituents.
Unfortunately, it has become clear that the Conservatives have not changed since the last Parliament. Last Thursday, they kept MPs in Ottawa for a vote on a opposition day, which never happened because once everyone had missed their flights home, they deferred the vote to the following Monday. MPs missed events in their riding, they missed spending time with their kids, husbands, wives and families. Why did they do this? For one reason: they could.
Simply a day later, on Friday, the Conservatives dipped into their bag of tricks again to obstruct the work of Parliament. On that day, members were debating Bill C-3, supported by all parties, including the Conservatives, that would bring great improvements to the accountability of the Canada Border Services Agency, and yet the Conservatives moved to literally shut down the business of the House that day.
They moved a motion to adjourn the House at 12:30 p.m., during their lunch hour. I know most Canadians do not move to end their work during their lunch hour, but the Conservatives did. They wanted to turn off the lights for the day. When that did not work, they attempted to adjourn debate again. When that failed, they attempted to shut down the House early, again.
These political stunts consumed over two hours of time in the House. The Conservatives' objective was clear: preventing the House from debating this important legislation. Unfortunately, that is exactly what happened. Without a doubt, the Conservatives have shown their true colours. They do not believe in Parliament.
Conservatives have shown this once again with the motion we are debating today, for at the heart of what the Conservative opposition members hope to achieve is tilting the balance from long-standing practices and procedures that have served the House well for many decades. This balance is simple in its design but crucial to its core.
The following is what makes our parliamentary system so successful. When an election happens, Canadians send their elected representatives to the House of Commons to act on their behalf. The government is elected with the responsibility to move forward on the agenda that Canadians have given it. That means introducing legislation, ensuring it receives vibrant debate from all sides and ultimately bringing legislation to a vote. There is limited time in the parliamentary calendar, and the government must always endeavour to schedule the time Parliament needs to examine and vote on its legislation.
Across the aisle, the opposition has the responsibility to hold the government to account and raise issues of public concern. Our system, under standing orders, allows for supply days to be scheduled. These days are also known as opposition days. On these days, government legislation is not debated. Instead, the opposition has the opportunity to bring forward a motion for debate and, ultimately, a vote.
This is the balance. Parliament needs time to debate legislation and to debate the supply days motion from the opposition. We believe Parliament can strike that balance.
Already we have come forward with important bills to ratify the new NAFTA, improve the CBSA, require training for judges on sexual assault, modernize the oath of citizenship and adjust the rules surrounding medical assistance in dying. These are just some of the parts of our platform to keep moving forward with policies that are both ambitious and achievable.
Our throne speech in December provided a road map for Parliament that outlines our agenda. We want to strengthen the middle class, make life more affordable for Canadians, protect the environment, fight climate change, improve the lives of indigenous people and secure Canada's place in the world.
Canadians sent us all a message in the recent election. They want us all to work together, and we agree. Indeed, we believe the House of Commons is a place where we can work on legislation to make important decisions for Canadians. Every day, we work hard in Parliament to find common ground on behalf of the Canadians who sent us all here.
While this happens, while we debate the merits of legislation and look to improve it, the opposition has many opportunities to bring issues to the forefront. This happens routinely in question period, and I would be remiss if I did not remind the House that it was our government that made fundamental changes to question period. It was our government that created the prime minister's question period on Wednesdays. Our Prime Minister answers every question during question period from all sides of the House.
Some hon. members: Oh, oh!
Mr. Chris Bittle: Madam Speaker, again we hear heckling from the other side. It is something Stephen Harper would never do in his wildest dreams, but something that the Prime Minister put forward to make himself accountable to the opposition, to Parliament, so that Canadians can hear the government's agenda. This is true accountability.
In addition to this, there are supply days. Today is the 26th sitting of the session. In December, as the previous supply period ended, the Conservatives were allotted an opposition day in which they put forward their motions. In this supply period, which runs from December 11 to March 26, seven days are allotted for opposition days. These are the rules under the Standing Orders.
Today marks the sixth opposition day. The Conservatives had four of those opposition days, and the Bloc and NDP have each had one to present their motions to the House for debate and a vote. Under the rules, one more opposition day remains up to March 26. Once we get to the next supply period, from April to June, there will be eight more opposition days.
This is the balance I spoke of. It works, it is democratic, yet the Conservatives are proposing to turn their backs on the Standing Orders and tilt the balance by adding three more opposition days to this supply period.
There would be a consequence to this change. There would be three fewer days for members of the House to debate legislation that Canadians have elected the government to move forward with. The motives behind the Conservatives' political tactic are transparent. They do not believe Parliament is a democratic institution to achieve consensus and change for Canadians. When Conservatives do not like the rules, they simply bulldoze over them.
This is a stunning hypocrisy given that the Conservatives continually preach that any rule change needs to have the unanimous support of all parties, but this should surprise no one. When it suits their needs Conservatives are willing to do anything, even if they were against it before they were for it.
They have become politically isolated and are in the midst of a leadership race that is exposing their own divisions. They are increasingly becoming irrelevant. Their objective is to obstruct the government's agenda. We are committed to making that agenda a reality.
I would like to talk about some examples of what we want to accomplish. There is no greater challenge facing this country and the world than fighting climate change. We believe strongly in this government's pan-Canadian framework on clean growth and climate change. It is no surprise that Conservatives do not want to debate that because, for the last five years that I have been here, we have heard the language of denial, mistrust of scientists and doing nothing.
We are committed to building upon this plan to ensure Canadian businesses will seize on the immense economic opportunities that are involved in the transition to the clean economy of the 21st century. We will set a target to achieve net-zero by 2050. Our goal will be ambitious but necessary, as we protect the environment but grow the economy.
We will help make energy-efficient homes more affordable. We will make it easier for Canadians to buy zero-emissions vehicles. We will cut taxes for all Canadians except the wealthiest. This will provide more money in the pockets of hard-working Canadians who need it the most.
To many Canadians who are unable to buy their first home, we will continue to take action with significant investments in affordable housing. We will introduce measures to make it easy for more people to purchase homes. It would be nice to see the Conservatives' provincial counterparts take action on that as well and work with us as partners to make affordable housing a reality in the provinces across the country.
Canadian workers, families and seniors are facing anxieties about making ends meet. We will assist parents with the time and money they need to raise their children. We will support students as they bear the cost of higher education and skills training. We will increase the federal minimum wage. We will reduce cellphone bills by 25%, and strengthen pensions for our seniors.
Four years ago, we promised to put Canada on a path forward toward reconciliation with indigenous peoples. We put the country on that path and we will keep Canada firmly on that path. The work toward reconciliation has not ended.
Once again, I hear heckling on that, but the leaders of their party talk about sending in the army. They call indigenous protesters terrorists, yet they are the ones heckling us on our record on reconciliation when the Harper government did absolutely nothing on the subject.
Canadians are worried about gun violence in our communities and we will crack down on this. We will also ban military-style assault rifles. We will work with provinces and territories to strengthen the health care system to get the service Canadians deserve. Once again, it is shocking that we are debating changes to the standing order, rather than talking about issues like climate change or health care.
Pharmacare, for example, has become one of the key missing pieces of universal health care in this country. Our government will take steps to introduce and implement a national pharmacare program so that Canadians have the drug coverage they need.
I cite these examples of where we intend to lead the country. We believe that parliamentarians must put the interests of Canadians first. Parliament is not a place only to debate our disagreements, but also a place to come together and find common ground. This is what can happen when we maintain the crucial balance about which I have spoken.
I would implore members to look at the legislation before this chamber, as well as the bills before us in the future, and work together on all of those bills. Parliament needs time to debate those bills, to scrutinize them and, when necessary, improve them. It is not time for political stunts and obstructions. This is the time for constructive debate, returning our attention to the legislation that can improve the lives of Canadians. It is the time to do the right thing for Parliament.
View Chris Bittle Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Chris Bittle Profile
2020-02-28 10:53 [p.1735]
Madam Speaker, I find it interesting that it requires the invitation of members of Parliament to meet with the mayor of another community. That is shocking in and of itself. We can throw around statistics all day. In my riding—
Some hon. members: Oh, oh!
Mr. Chris Bittle: Madam Speaker, they clearly do not want to debate the issues of the day.
View Chris Bittle Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Chris Bittle Profile
2020-02-28 10:54 [p.1735]
Madam Speaker, we can talk about the riding of St. Catharines, where the Conservative vote went down. Residents of my riding look at the harmful cuts that a Conservative Ford government has made. They have looked at the terrible actions of austerity and what that has done to the people of this country. We can talk about the 70% of St. Catharines residents who want action on climate change.
Why are we not debating that? Why are we debating this political stunt?
View Chris Bittle Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Chris Bittle Profile
2020-02-28 10:55 [p.1735]
Madam Speaker, I remember sitting in the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs at three in the morning one day in the previous Parliament because of a filibuster from the opposition. There was a suggestion that we enter into a debate to consider changes to the Standing Order. That was so out of bounds from the opposition, that we would even engage in a discussion to proceed that way. The opposition has an opportunity, as I have stated, every day in the House to call the government to account. It will have that in five minutes. Every day that happens.
The opposition has said repeatedly it will not change the Standing Order, and should not change Standing Orders unless there is the consent of all parties. That seems to have disappeared today.
View Chris Bittle Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Chris Bittle Profile
2020-02-28 10:57 [p.1735]
Madam Speaker, it is interesting that the hon. member talks about a pipeline that is subsidized and is being overseen by an NDP-Green coalition government.
That aside, I sat on the PROC committee with the hon. member David Christopherson for years. He talked about the need for consensus in any change to the Standing Orders. Having heard that from the NDP for the two years that I sat on that committee, it is shocking now to hear from the NDP that “Well, this benefits us, so it is okay. We should just go ahead with this. Do not worry about what we said in the last Parliament or the Parliament before. In this one instance, it benefits us. Do not read Hansard. We would rather you not do that.”
View Chris Bittle Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Chris Bittle Profile
2020-02-28 10:59 [p.1736]
Madam Speaker, I cannot speak to the one announcement in the hon. member's riding, but I will speak to the last announcement in Niagara. It was at Brock University, and it was great to see the hon. member for Niagara Falls come and cut the ribbon on a new green energy facility there. This facility will cut greenhouse gas emissions, and it was funded under Kathleen Wynne's cap and trade program.
It was great to see the member in attendance after having been invited, smiling to see the benefits of cap and trade in helping the environment, helping Brock University, and bettering the community and all of Niagara.
View Chris Bittle Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Chris Bittle Profile
2020-02-28 11:00 [p.1736]
Madam Speaker, if we take a step back, this is gamesmanship, pure and simple. When the Conservatives get an opposition day on a Friday, which is a perfectly legitimate thing for the government to do, they decide to team up with opposition parties to change the rules for their benefit.
What the opposition parties are clearly aligned on today is a blatant attempt to give them more opposition days, which means less time for government bills. Not only would this provide less time for government bills, but it would also slow the progress of the parliamentary process.
View Chris Bittle Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Chris Bittle Profile
2020-02-28 11:24 [p.1741]
Madam Speaker, the government fully understands the impacts that these blockades are having across the country. I would like to remind the hon. member that the Minister of Transport and his department helped facilitate an agreement between CN and CP to get rail traffic going and that up to 70% of CN's goods were flowing down the tracks.
Exaggerating the shortages does not benefit Canadians. There is some backup. We hope to get everything back moving and we are moving in the right direction.
View Chris Bittle Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Chris Bittle Profile
2020-02-28 11:27 [p.1741]
Madam Speaker, as I have said, the government understands the significant impacts that these blockades have had across the country. I know we are working hard to resolve the issues that are outstanding and focusing on negotiation as the best way to solve this in a lasting and meaningful way. We will continue to do that. We hope to hear progress from the meetings with the Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations and look forward to hearing from her from British Columbia.
View Chris Bittle Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Chris Bittle Profile
2020-02-28 11:34 [p.1743]
Madam Speaker, we understand the impacts that these blockades are having across the country, but it is important we proceed with a negotiated settlement of these disputes because we want a lasting settlement. We do not want to see these blockades happening again.
The government is engaged in those negotiations and we are doing what we can to ensure a lasting settlement going forward.
View Chris Bittle Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Chris Bittle Profile
2020-02-28 11:36 [p.1743]
Madam Speaker, I understand, representing residents who use GO rail to get to work in Toronto, the impacts this is having and that rail blockades in the past have had across the country over the last few weeks.
We are working hard toward a negotiated peace and settlement. The tone by the Conservatives to exaggerate the impact is not appropriate. The tone to call in the army and to order the police is inappropriate and is not helping anything. He is only exacerbating the situation.
View Chris Bittle Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Chris Bittle Profile
2020-02-28 12:01 [p.1748]
Madam Speaker, as an MP representing a manufacturing area like Oshawa, I understand the concerns his constituents are facing. We understand the impacts these blockades are having across the country on small businesses, manufacturers and farmers.
As the Prime Minister stated last week, it is time for the remaining blockades to come down. We are hopeful for a swift resolution on all remaining blockades to ensure that Canadians affected by these blockades can return to work.
View Chris Bittle Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Chris Bittle Profile
2020-02-28 12:20 [p.1751]
Madam Speaker, what the member is talking about is the 30 hours the opposition said that members had to sit here, to be away from their families, to be away from their constituents. That is a serious matter, and to make light of it is ridiculous. Let us get to work.
I know those members do not think Friday is an important day, but we are ready to get to work and pass legislation, like the new NAFTA.
View Chris Bittle Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Chris Bittle Profile
2020-02-24 19:02 [p.1467]
Madam Speaker, I am pleased to speak to this important issue.
As we know, rail transportation is deeply embedded in our nation's history. Rail has connected communities from coast to coast and allowed them to grow and prosper. The desire for greater connectivity was one of the drivers of Canadian Confederation, leaving an indelible mark on our shared history.
Efficient, effective and sustainable transportation is still the backbone of our economy today. It is the key to our economy's strength, enabling trade, supporting business, serving as an employer and enabling Canadians to get to their jobs. It is a marvel of interconnected modes of transportation working together. The rail sector employs thousands of Canadians with almost 37,000 employed by it and almost another 4,000 employed in support activities.
Every Canadian purchases, produces or eats something that travels by rail. Whether it is in the car they are driving, the grain our farmers work so hard to produce or the chlorine that is used by municipalities to provide drinking water, products that are transported by rail are as diverse as they are essential. Our manufacturers, farmers and other exporters need an efficient, resilient and reliable rail network. That is why we have said from the beginning that we needed a peaceful and quick resolution to the blockades.
Some people across the aisle wanted a rash and brutal intervention by our armed forces, but this is a fundamental misunderstanding of the situation. Acting in such a reckless way would have been creating a riskier environment for our railways, but also for rail workers and for businesses that depend on rail to get their products to market.
Our government has been working tirelessly and diligently on two fronts. The first is to meaningfully engage with indigenous communities and leaders in order to find both short-term and long-term solutions to the issues that first nations face both on and off reserves. The second is to mitigate the impact of Canadian blockades both on our economy and on Canadians themselves.
We have been working with the railways to ensure more goods reach communities, including essential commodities like propane and chlorine. We are also supportive of a safe rail transportation network. As we know, rail safety is the minister's top priority, and we have taken serious actions to reinforce the resiliency and safety of transportation over the past four years.
We have also warned that while the right to peaceful protest is fundamental in Canada, anyone who chooses to exercise this right must do so in accordance with the law. We have seen examples of illegal and very dangerous behaviour that could have dire consequences for the people carrying out these acts. Interfering with rail operations is both illegal and extremely dangerous.
In my time today, I have barely scratched the surface of how important Canada's rail system is to Canadians. The prosperity of our country depends on that rail network, and we will never stop working to improve it.
Results: 1 - 15 of 44 | Page: 1 of 3

1
2
3
>
>|
Export As: XML CSV RSS

For more data options, please see Open Data