Evidence of meeting #22 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

12:35 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Anthony Rota

We now return to Ms. Normandin.

12:35 p.m.

Bloc

Christine Normandin Bloc Saint-Jean, QC

It was indeed at Quebec's request. What I'm saying is that, at present, the provinces are unanimously asking that there be no conditions. It's urgent that the money be transferred.

The federal government's job here is to sign the cheque and send it to the provinces. The government's job is also to make Parliament work. This is where there should be negotiations so that we can work, among other things, to send money to people living with disabilities, to make sure we fight CERB fraud and to make sure that court time limits are effective in the current crisis.

Can the government focus on the issue in order to respect the provinces and transfer money for health care?

12:35 p.m.

Liberal

Chrystia Freeland Liberal University—Rosedale, ON

I thank the hon. member for her question, Mr. Chair.

I agree with the hon. member that the women and men of the Canadian Armed Forces are in Quebec today at the request of the Province of Quebec. That said, I hope that the hon. member will agree with me that being there for Quebec's seniors, that saving the lives of Quebec's seniors, is much more than simply signing cheques.

I am very proud of the work the women and men of the Canadian Armed Forces are doing. I think we all should thank these people who are working for Canada, for Quebec, and who are doing an important and excellent job.

12:35 p.m.

Bloc

Christine Normandin Bloc Saint-Jean, QC

Mr. Chair, I think the Deputy Prime Minister misunderstood me when I was talking about the importance of acting quickly.

Negotiations between the government and the provinces take an awfully long time because the federal government decides to place conditions where there shouldn't be any. Right now, the only important thing is to transfer the money quickly so that it can be used in our hospitals and our long-term care facilities, where the need is desperate. Quebec and the provinces know exactly what their needs are.

12:35 p.m.

Liberal

Chrystia Freeland Liberal University—Rosedale, ON

Mr. Chair, I would like to point out the extent to which the federal government is there to support the provinces, including Quebec. We have increased funding to the provinces and territories by $500 million to help them prepare for COVID-19 outbreaks. This funding is in addition to the $40 billion that we already provide annually to the provinces and territories. That's a lot of money. It is strong endorsement—

12:40 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Anthony Rota

We'll now go to Mr. Singh.

12:40 p.m.

NDP

Jagmeet Singh NDP Burnaby South, BC

Mr. Chair, systemic racism is killing people. It's killing black people and it's killing indigenous people. Recently, Rodney Levi was another victim of systemic racism. He was killed in New Brunswick by the RCMP.

To deal with systemic racism, we need systemic change. Will the Liberal government commit to systemic change so that not another life is ever taken again?

12:40 p.m.

Liberal

Chrystia Freeland Liberal University—Rosedale, ON

Mr. Chair, I thank the member opposite for the extremely important question, and I'll take this opportunity to acknowledge the work that he has done for many years fighting racism in Canada.

Our government absolutely acknowledges that systemic racism exists in Canada. It exists in all of our institutions, including the police and the RCMP. I agree with the member opposite that now is the moment to fight this—

12:40 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Anthony Rota

Mr. Singh.

June 15th, 2020 / 12:40 p.m.

NDP

Jagmeet Singh NDP Burnaby South, BC

Mr. Chair, I thank the Deputy Prime Minister very much for the response, but there are some specific actions we need to take.

There are movements. Black Lives Matter, as a movement, is calling for the defunding of police. What they're saying is we need to make better choices with how money is being spent. When someone is in need of a wellness check or a mental health check, money, financing and support should go to mental health workers and health care workers, not the police.

Is the government prepared to fund and prioritize health care workers over the police?

12:40 p.m.

Liberal

Chrystia Freeland Liberal University—Rosedale, ON

Mr. Chair, the member quite rightly began his questions by speaking about systemic racism against indigenous people in Canada, and I would like to speak about that for a moment.

I spoke to Perry Bellegarde this morning, because it is such a crucial issue. We can describe it as the original sin of our country. I absolutely agree that we need root and branch reform, including in how policing is done in Canada.

12:40 p.m.

NDP

Jagmeet Singh NDP Burnaby South, BC

Mr. Chair, will the Liberal government commit to a review of the use of force as outlined for the RCMP? Will the Liberals commit to that change?

12:40 p.m.

Liberal

Chrystia Freeland Liberal University—Rosedale, ON

Mr. Chair, the Prime Minister and the Minister of Public Safety had many conversations last week with the RCMP. We all accept that—

12:40 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Anthony Rota

We'll go back to Mr. Singh.

12:40 p.m.

NDP

Jagmeet Singh NDP Burnaby South, BC

Mr. Chair, will the government commit to ensuring that de-escalation receives priority?

12:40 p.m.

Liberal

Chrystia Freeland Liberal University—Rosedale, ON

Let me continue, Mr. Chair.

Systemic racism exists in all of our federal institutions, including the RCMP. It's time to put an end to it. Let me just say—

12:40 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Anthony Rota

We'll go back to Mr. Singh.

12:40 p.m.

NDP

Jagmeet Singh NDP Burnaby South, BC

Mr. Chair, I'm not getting an answer.

Will the Prime Minister or the Liberal government commit to something simple and ensure that at the federal level, racial profiling, street checks and carding are expressly prohibited?

12:40 p.m.

Liberal

Chrystia Freeland Liberal University—Rosedale, ON

Mr. Chair, sadly, I can't agree that rooting out systemic racism is going to be simple, but I can agree that racial profiling is absolutely inappropriate. It is not something that we should—

12:40 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Anthony Rota

We'll go back to Mr. Singh.

12:40 p.m.

NDP

Jagmeet Singh NDP Burnaby South, BC

Well, I'm going to try to get another commitment from the government, because they don't seem able to commit to something as clear as ending racial profiling.

We know that millions of Canadians in a couple of weeks are going to be faced with the reality of their CERB ending. These families are worried about how they're going to put food on the table, because they can't return to a job.

Will the Liberal government commit today so that those families will have some concrete support, yes or no?

12:40 p.m.

Liberal

Chrystia Freeland Liberal University—Rosedale, ON

Mr. Chair, let me be clear, as I was in my previous answer, that our government clearly is opposed to racial profiling. This is a wrong practice and we're very clear about our position there.

Now when it comes to the CERB, I absolutely share the concern of the member opposite. The Canadian economy is in its direst state since the Great Depression. We know that all the jobs have not yet come back. We know that Canadian workers, Canadian families, continue to need—

12:45 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Anthony Rota

We'll now pause for a short time to allow staff to change within the safety parameters for the COVID-19 virus, and as we resume, we will go to Ms. Harder.

12:45 p.m.

Conservative

Rachael Harder Conservative Lethbridge, AB

Mr. Chair, the Prime Minister has mandated his ministers, and I quote, “to govern in a positive, open and collaborative way.” Ironically, as it stands, Parliament is currently closed for business. Opposition parties have little opportunity to hold the ruling party to account, private members' bills cannot be tabled and legislation cannot be debated.

Can the Prime Minister, Mr. Trudeau himself, help us understand how all of this fits into his definition of so-called “open government”?

12:45 p.m.

Liberal

The Honourable Pablo Rodriguez Liberal Pablo Rodriguez

Well, Mr. Chair, we're here, right? We're here, and the opposition is asking questions. They have the equivalent of eight question periods instead of five to ask questions. They have more time than before, so I don't know why they're not happy about it.