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.

A video is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

12:15 p.m.

Liberal

Han Dong Liberal Don Valley North, ON

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

Good afternoon and good morning, dear colleagues.

The uncertain and challenging times presented to Canadians by COVID-19 have also brought out the best in communities across the country. I would like to recognize some of the amazing groups working every day to support residents of Don Valley North during COVID-19: Bayview Village Association, Abu Huraira Center, Armenian Community Centre of Toronto, Afghan Women’s Organization of Ontario, Oriole food space, Fairview Interagency Network, Immanuel Baptist Church, Adventure Place, Forest Grove United Church, Confederation of Toronto Chinese Canadian Organizations, the Council of Newcomer Organizations, Wenzhounese in Ontario, Scarborough-York Region Chinese Business Association, Buddhist Prajna Temple, Bethune medical association of Canada, and of course the fantastic team at North York General Hospital.

Thank you very much for your great work, your kind donations and awesome volunteerism.

12:15 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Anthony Rota

Mr. Moore.

12:15 p.m.

Conservative

Rob Moore Conservative Fundy Royal, NB

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

Mr. Chair, the COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the important role of technology to connect with family, friends and society. Unfortunately, many of my constituents in Fundy Royal have been unable to take advantage of the many forms of digital communication due to a lack of access to high-speed Internet. As many employers across Canada asked employees to work from home, those in rural communities with weak Internet connections are left at a disadvantage.

The federal government needs to act and ensure that investments are made in rural, high-speed Internet. Importantly, it needs to ensure transparency for those investments to residents so they know where and when to expect improvements. Rural Canadians across Canada have waited long enough. It's time for action.

12:15 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Anthony Rota

Mr. Finnigan.

12:15 p.m.

Liberal

Pat Finnigan Liberal Miramichi—Grand Lake, NB

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

For over 20 years, the people of the greater Rogersville community have worked hard to create a community space and platform to express themselves and promote the development of our French Acadian heritage and culture. It has been a long road, but it finally became a reality with the official announcement by the Minister of Economic Development and Official Languages in January 2019.

Today, with the imminent completion of the construction project, the time has come to name our cafeteria theatre. So, with the cooperation of our community partners, we have decided to name the building Lisa LeBlanc Hall.

Lisa is an internationally renowned artist from the region, and she will continue to inspire upcoming generations of our community to nurture their talent and pursue their dreams. She has certainly shown us that making a dream come true does not depend on where you come from, but rather where you want to go.

12:15 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Anthony Rota

Mr. Kmiec.

12:15 p.m.

Conservative

Tom Kmiec Conservative Calgary Shepard, AB

Mr. Chair, this viral pandemic has brought two opposite responses: one from the people and one from the federal government. People across Canada have soldiered on, accepting limits on their freedoms to protect vulnerable neighbours; parents have home-schooled; strangers have brought groceries to seniors; and first responders were honoured for their efforts.

All the while, the federal government has been doing its very best to hide information and ignore Parliament.

The access to information system has ground to a halt. All my ATIPs have been delayed by months, and Global Affairs Canada refuses to answer. The federal government is starving the Auditor General's office of millions needed for performance audits on the $300-billion deficit in spending. It sole-sourced a $105-million contract for two new executive jets from Bombardier. It went ahead with a secret $8.6-million renovation of Harrington Lake, the so-called “caretaker” house. The infrastructure minister claims privacy to hide from Parliament over 20,000 missing projects worth tens of billions of dollars.

This Liberal government believes that we only deserve the information that the Prime Minister deigns to give us.

12:20 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Anthony Rota

Mr. Soroka.

12:20 p.m.

Conservative

Gerald Soroka Conservative Yellowhead, AB

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

I believe we're at a pivotal point in our society, now more than ever. Many people have told me they are concerned and feeling hopeless about the future, their jobs, the economy and debt. I've had conversations about dictatorship, socialism, communism and whether we still have a democratic society, because they believe they have lost their freedoms and rights. I've been asked why, at a time when they can lose their freedoms that their father or grandfather had fought for. The conversations I had were not only about Canada's debt but that of other countries around the world. They want to know the plan and how society is going to exist when future generations will have to bear these huge financial burdens. People find themselves isolated and having financial, emotional and physical hardships.

Mr. Chair, we need true, strong leadership, not catchphrases. The words and actions we choose now will create the society we strive towards.

12:20 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Anthony Rota

Mr. Cannings.

12:20 p.m.

NDP

Richard Cannings NDP South Okanagan—West Kootenay, BC

Mr. Chair, today is World Oceans Day. My riding is landlocked, but beautiful rivers run through it: the Okanagan, Kettle, Slocan, Kootenay and the mighty Columbia. Each year, the ocean returns to my riding in the form of salmon; sockeye, chinook and n'titxw, as they are known in the Okanagan language. Salmon have nourished people in this region for millennia. Tragically, their numbers collapsed in the 20th century when dams were built throughout the Columbia system. Although a few managed to return each year to the Okanagan, the upper Columbia stocks were wiped out with the construction of the Grand Coulee Dam.

Thanks to the recovery efforts of the Okanagan Nation Alliance, salmon numbers in the Okanagan have increased dramatically in recent years, and I say Lim'limpt to them. The renegotiation of the Columbia River Treaty opens the possibility that once again salmon will return to the upper Columbia, bringing the ocean back to the Kootenays.

12:20 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Anthony Rota

We will continue with Mrs. Vignola.

12:20 p.m.

Bloc

Julie Vignola Bloc Beauport—Limoilou, QC

Mr. Chair, in three days, Beauport—Limoilou lost three men who have worked their entire lives for the betterment of their fellow citizens.

On May 26, Raymond-Marie Juneau, a volunteer involved for more than four decades in Beauport, passed away. He was the recipient of several awards recognizing his involvement, including the Lieutenant Governor's Medal in 2014.

On May 27, Jacques Langlois, mayor of Beauport from 1984 to 2001, then municipal councillor, left us. Mr. Langlois helped Beauport get through the dark economic times of the 1980s and early 1990s. Until recently, people called him “Mr. Mayor”, demonstrating their deep attachment to this larger-than-life man.

On May 28, Raymond Déry also left us. This man, who was constantly smiling, was so involved in organizing leisure activities in Limoilou that a room at the Jean-Guy-Drolet Community Centre bears his name.

To the families of these three men who gave so much to their community, I offer my deepest condolences.

12:20 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Anthony Rota

Mr. Lawrence.

12:20 p.m.

Conservative

Philip Lawrence Conservative Northumberland—Peterborough South, ON

Barbara Hillary was 75 years old when she became the first black woman to reach the North Pole.

Susan B. Anthony was 80 years old when she formed the International Woman Suffrage Alliance.

Alex Trebek, aged 79 years old, continues his philanthropic efforts despite battling cancer.

Benjamin Franklin was 70 years of age when he signed the Declaration of Independence.

Mother Teresa was 69 years of age when she won the Nobel Peace Prize.

Nelson Mandela became president of South Africa at age 75.

Mr. Chair, seniors are not a burden. They are a blessing and a gift to our community. They provide wisdom, love and kindness to our community. We need to provide seniors with the life they deserve, a life of dignity; not just because of the fidelity or loyalty we owe them all for building this great country but also because we need their wisdom more than ever during these tumultuous times. Our children need their grandparents' reassurance, our young need their guidance and we could all benefit from their love.

Let's take a moment, Mr. Chair, and thank our seniors, not just for their sake but for ours.

12:25 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Anthony Rota

Ms. Duncan.

June 8th, 2020 / 12:25 p.m.

Liberal

Kirsty Duncan Liberal Etobicoke North, ON

Mr. Chair, I have attended funeral after funeral of young black men and held grieving mothers in my arms while they cried for their sons and the safety of their children. I march time and again for change, but change hasn't happened.

Our families live the differences in our schools, streets and workplaces. Our Etobicoke North community is hurting because yet again another black man, George Floyd, has tragically been killed. People of all backgrounds are taking part in anti-black racism protests and vigils across Canada and around the world to show solidarity and to demand an end to systemic racism. Anti-black racism is real; systemic racism is real; unconscious bias is real, and they do happen in Canada.

Our community will always stand against racism, and I will always stand with our community. After hundreds of years of failed moments, this must be our watershed.

12:25 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Anthony Rota

We will now proceed to questioning of ministers.

Please note that we will suspend the proceedings every 45 minutes in order to allow the employees providing support for the sitting to spell each other off safely.

We'll now go on to the first question. It will be from the hon. Leader of the Opposition, Mr. Scheer.

12:25 p.m.

Regina—Qu'Appelle Saskatchewan

Conservative

Andrew Scheer ConservativeLeader of the Opposition

Thank you very much, Mr. Chair.

Mr. Chair, the government has been telling Canadians for months now that they must not gather in large groups. The government, of course, has to set the right example. Can the Deputy Prime Minister tell the House whether the government's advice as to public large gatherings has changed?

12:25 p.m.

University—Rosedale Ontario

Liberal

Chrystia Freeland LiberalDeputy Prime Minister and Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs

Mr. Chair, thank you for that very important question from the leader of the official opposition. I have agonized over this myself, personally, quite a lot.

I think that the leader of the official opposition must be referring to the many—

12:25 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Anthony Rota

We now go back to the Leader of the Opposition, Mr. Scheer.

12:25 p.m.

Conservative

Andrew Scheer Conservative Regina—Qu'Appelle, SK

Mr. Chair, the Deputy Prime Minister herself said last week that she did not participate in mass gatherings in order to respect appropriate physical distancing. She said, “As a mother, I have been struggling very hard to say to my children that they can't see their friends, and they can't be in groups, so setting an example on that front is also an important one for me.”

She clearly thinks it would have been wrong for her to attend large mass gatherings. Does she think it was okay for Justin Trudeau to do it?

12:25 p.m.

Liberal

Chrystia Freeland Liberal University—Rosedale, ON

Thank you very much, Mr. Chair.

The leader of the official opposition has inaccurately quoted the comments that I made last week, but those comments did sincerely reflect what I think is the debate or the struggle all of us have been having about two realities. One is the absolute imperative to honour peaceful protests and for Canadians—

12:25 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Anthony Rota

We go back to Mr. Scheer.

12:25 p.m.

Conservative

Andrew Scheer Conservative Regina—Qu'Appelle, SK

It's a simple question, Mr. Chair. Canadians have been told that they cannot visit their loved ones, that they cannot attend funerals. Tragically, so many Canadians have had to say goodbye to relatives over Skype.

Is the Deputy Prime Minister now saying that all of those precautions no longer need to be followed and that people can visit relatives who are in care homes or who are facing illness?