Evidence of meeting #18 for COVID-19 Pandemic in the 43rd Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament’s site, as are the minutes.) The winning word was chair.

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On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

12:50 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Anthony Rota

The honourable minister.

12:50 p.m.

Honoré-Mercier Québec

Liberal

Pablo Rodriguez LiberalLeader of the Government in the House of Commons

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

Regarding the estimates, as she knows, there will be those four hours on the 17th, but since the estimates are public, they can ask questions about them today, tomorrow, the day afterwards, on Thursday, on Monday, Tuesday or Wednesday, whenever they want. We're allowed to ask questions on anything, including the estimates, because they're public. On top of that, committees are meeting, so they can also ask questions during those committee sittings.

12:50 p.m.

Conservative

Candice Bergen Conservative Portage—Lisgar, MB

I'd just like to inform the minister that they do not have a majority government, and Parliament is still part of our democracy. This COVID committee does not replace Parliament, and it's sad to see the arrogance and the hypocrisy of Justin Trudeau, as well as this Liberal government.

Here we've seen an area where the government has been really unaccountable, and that's in infrastructure spending. Infrastructure Minister McKenna said they have funded 52,000 projects, but the Parliamentary Budget Officer said there are 20,000 that are unaccounted for. Therefore, we've asked the minister, will she table, will she make public, the 20,000 projects they're trying to hide from Canadians?

12:50 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Anthony Rota

The honourable minister.

12:50 p.m.

Ottawa Centre Ontario

Liberal

Catherine McKenna LiberalMinister of Infrastructure and Communities

Mr. Chair, the simple answer to the honourable member's question is to look at the 10-year agreement that the Conservatives signed on the gas tax fund in 2014. It does not require provinces to provide detailed reporting on each project or its outcomes. In fact, Quebec isn't required to do project-by-project reporting at all.

We'll be looking for more accountability when we renegotiate the gas tax funds, for example, by requiring provinces and municipalities to publicly publish project details on their website.

In the meantime, it's quite something for the Conservatives to attack the accountability of a program they negotiated.

June 8th, 2020 / 12:55 p.m.

Conservative

Candice Bergen Conservative Portage—Lisgar, MB

Mr. Chair, it's the Parliamentary Budget Officer who has stated that there have been projects that money has been spent on but they don't know where it's gone. The government says they've spent $10 billion on infrastructure; the Parliamentary Budget Officer says only $5 billion. The government has an opportunity to be transparent and they need to table those projects.

Another area where they've been holding back is on the Auditor General's ability to provide oversight of this massive amount of spending. When the Conservatives put money into infrastructure, when we stimulated the economy during one of the great recessions, we put it into legislation that the Auditor General would provide oversight, and we provided funding for that.

Will the Liberals provide funding for the Auditor General and let the Auditor General audit all the spending that has happened over the last number of months?

12:55 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Anthony Rota

The honourable minister.

12:55 p.m.

Liberal

Joyce Murray Liberal Vancouver Quadra, BC

Mr. Chair, first I would like to offer my congratulations to the new Auditor General for her appointment. I'd also like, on behalf of the government, to offer her our full support and collaboration. Her role is essential to our democracy, and we are all eager to work with her.

The Auditor General is more than welcome to share her concerns directly with the government, and I can assure her that my colleague the Minister of Finance, the President of the Treasury Board and all of us will take these concerns into account.

12:55 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Anthony Rota

You have 30 seconds left.

12:55 p.m.

Conservative

Candice Bergen Conservative Portage—Lisgar, MB

There is an ongoing pattern here, Mr. Chair. The Liberals don't want to be held accountable. They've shut down Parliament, even though it's clear the Prime Minister will show up for gatherings that he thinks are important. They're not funding the Auditor General, and they're not being transparent on money that they've spent on infrastructure. Usually this ends up being some sort of a Liberal scandal.

Why don't the Liberals just be transparent, recall Parliament and give the Auditor General the funding she needs?

12:55 p.m.

Liberal

Joyce Murray Liberal Vancouver Quadra, BC

Mr. Chair, the government actually worked with the Auditor General to increase funding levels in 2018-19, after they were cut by the previous Conservative government. Thanks to this funding, their office was able to add the equivalent of 38 new full-time staff to the team.

We're totally committed to working with the Auditor General and her staff on the important—

12:55 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Anthony Rota

We'll now move on to Mr. Sweet.

12:55 p.m.

Conservative

David Sweet Conservative Flamborough—Glanbrook, ON

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

Since April, there has been a notable increase in the number of political executions in Iran, while the world's attention was focused on COVID-19. What interventions has the Liberal government made with the Iranian regime to strongly condemn these increasing atrocities?

12:55 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Anthony Rota

The honourable minister.

12:55 p.m.

Markham—Thornhill Ontario

Liberal

Mary Ng LiberalMinister of Small Business

Mr. Chair, our government will always stand up for human rights across the world, and we will continue to do that work for Canada, and for Canadians.

12:55 p.m.

Conservative

David Sweet Conservative Flamborough—Glanbrook, ON

Mr. Chair, in June 2018, my honourable colleague Garnett Genuis tabled a motion, which was passed by this House, to immediately list the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps as a terrorist entity.

It's been two years now. What's the holdup?

12:55 p.m.

Liberal

Mary Ng Liberal Markham—Thornhill, ON

Mr. Chair, I want to assure the honourable member that human rights are absolutely a top priority for this government, and we will always stand up for it.

12:55 p.m.

Conservative

David Sweet Conservative Flamborough—Glanbrook, ON

Mr. Chair, as with all the questions I've posed in the last couple of sittings, there are all kinds of platitudes, but absolutely no action taken.

I'll give it another chance. What about the Magnitsky act? When will we use the Magnitsky act to sanction the leaders in the Iranian regime?

12:55 p.m.

Liberal

Mary Ng Liberal Markham—Thornhill, ON

Mr. Chair, we condemn the Iranian regime for its abuse of human rights, and I want to assure the honourable member that standing up for human rights is what we will do, what we will always continue to do.

1 p.m.

Conservative

David Sweet Conservative Flamborough—Glanbrook, ON

My real concern, Mr. Chair, is that we have lost our way entirely, as far as human rights on the international stage are concerned.

What exactly is this UN security seat costing us?

1 p.m.

Liberal

Mary Ng Liberal Markham—Thornhill, ON

Mr. Chair, I want to assure the member that the work Canada does around the world, in global trade and in our relationships on the international stage, is—

1 p.m.

Conservative

David Sweet Conservative Flamborough—Glanbrook, ON

What concrete steps has the government taken in the last two weeks to help Hong Kongers?

1 p.m.

Liberal

Mary Ng Liberal Markham—Thornhill, ON

Mr. Chair, our government has been clear. Our government stands with our allies, making a strong statement expressing our deep concern—

1 p.m.

Conservative

David Sweet Conservative Flamborough—Glanbrook, ON

Mr. Chair, the Burmese government told the world that they were heading towards democracy, and gladly took millions of dollars from Canadian taxpayers. They continue to persecute the Rohingya and other minorities. What actions will this government take to increase the Magnitsky Law on the leaders of that regime?

1 p.m.

Liberal

Mary Ng Liberal Markham—Thornhill, ON

Mr. Chair, I want to assure my honourable colleague that our government will always stand up for human rights. It will continue to do that, and it will always do that.