House of Commons Hansard #187 of the 41st Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was violence.

Topics

Zero Tolerance for Barbaric Cultural Practices ActGovernment Orders

6:10 p.m.

Some hon. members

Yea.

Zero Tolerance for Barbaric Cultural Practices ActGovernment Orders

6:10 p.m.

NDP

The Deputy Speaker NDP Joe Comartin

All those opposed will please say nay.

Zero Tolerance for Barbaric Cultural Practices ActGovernment Orders

6:10 p.m.

Some hon. members

Nay.

Zero Tolerance for Barbaric Cultural Practices ActGovernment Orders

6:10 p.m.

NDP

The Deputy Speaker NDP Joe Comartin

In my opinion the yeas have it.

I declare the motion carried. Accordingly the bill stands referred to the Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration.

(Motion agreed to, bill read the second time and referred to a committee)

Zero Tolerance for Barbaric Cultural Practices ActGovernment Orders

6:15 p.m.

NDP

Peter Julian NDP Burnaby—New Westminster, BC

Mr. Speaker, if you seek it, I think you will find consent to see the clock at 6:30.

Zero Tolerance for Barbaric Cultural Practices ActGovernment Orders

6:15 p.m.

NDP

The Deputy Speaker NDP Joe Comartin

Is it agreed?

Zero Tolerance for Barbaric Cultural Practices ActGovernment Orders

6:15 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

The House resumed from March 13 consideration of the motion that Bill C-2, An Act to amend the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act, be read the third time and passed.

Respect for Communities ActGovernment Orders

6:15 p.m.

NDP

The Deputy Speaker NDP Joe Comartin

Order. The House will now proceed to the taking of the deferred recorded division on the motion at third reading stage of Bill C-2.

Call in the members.

(The House divided on the motion, which was agreed to on the following division:)

Vote #353

Respect for Communities ActGovernment Orders

6:40 p.m.

Conservative

The Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

I declare the motion carried.

(Bill read the third time and passed)

A motion to adjourn the House under Standing Order 38 deemed to have been moved.

Foreign AffairsAdjournment Proceedings

6:40 p.m.

Independent

Maria Mourani Independent Ahuntsic, QC

Mr. Speaker, Raif Badawi is a Saudi Arabian—

Foreign AffairsAdjournment Proceedings

6:40 p.m.

Some hon. members

Oh, oh!

Foreign AffairsAdjournment Proceedings

6:40 p.m.

Independent

Maria Mourani Independent Ahuntsic, QC

I am sorry. There is too much noise.

Foreign AffairsAdjournment Proceedings

6:40 p.m.

NDP

The Deputy Speaker NDP Joe Comartin

Order. Could members please take their conversations outside the chamber as soon as possible?

Let us try again. The hon. member for Ahuntsic.

Foreign AffairsAdjournment Proceedings

6:40 p.m.

Independent

Maria Mourani Independent Ahuntsic, QC

Mr. Speaker, Raif Badawi is a Saudi Arabian. In 2008, he and Souad al-Shammari, a Saudi Arabian women's rights activist, created the site Free Saudi Liberals in support of religious freedom. It was a blog where people could discuss this issue online.

In 2008, he was arrested, questioned and then released. Nevertheless, he was charged with creating a website that insults Islam and forced to leave the country. He returned to Saudi Arabia in 2009 and, although the charges against him had supposedly been dropped, he was banned from leaving the country and had his bank account frozen.

In 2011, he was again arrested on charges that his website undermined religious values. He was sentenced to 10 years in prison and 1,000 lashes for religious insult and blasphemy. The first 50 lashes were administered but the rest of his punishment has been repeatedly postponed, as we have heard in the media.

I, along with other parliamentarians from other places, met with Mr. Badawi's wife, and she told us how urgent the situation is. We know that her husband's physical and emotional health has greatly deteriorated. We must therefore take action.

Many countries have reacted to this inhumane situation. For example, Sweden's foreign affairs minister said that the practice of flogging is straight out of the Middle Ages, and the Swedish government has not renewed its military co-operation agreement with Saudi Arabia, which expires in May.

Mr. Badawi's wife, Ms. Haidar, has been living in Quebec with their children since October 31, 2013, and the Premier of Quebec, Mr. Couillard, told representatives of Saudi authorities in Canada that we want to bring Mr. Badawi here.

Furthermore, Quebec's international affairs minister, my colleague the member for Acadie, Christine St-Pierre, called Mr. Badawi's treatment inhumane and called on the Conservative government to take action in light of the family's situation, even though Mr. Badawi is not a Canadian citizen.

The federal government has granted Mrs. Badawi and her children the status of political refugees in Canada.

People in Sherbrooke mobilized and held vigils to support Mr. Badawi. A vigil was also held in Quebec City. Elected officials in Montreal unanimously called on the Canadian government to take action.

However, the Prime Minister is the first to talk about barbaric practices when it suits him, and we even voted today on a bill that he decided to call the zero tolerance for barbaric cultural practices act. He likes to talk about barbarism.

Will he follow the Quebec premier's lead and ask that Mr. Badawi be sent here? Will he personally get involved in this case?

Foreign AffairsAdjournment Proceedings

6:45 p.m.

Cumberland—Colchester—Musquodoboit Valley Nova Scotia

Conservative

Scott Armstrong ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Employment and Social Development and Minister of Labour

Mr. Speaker, as the member opposite is well aware, the minister and our government have taken a very strong stand on this issue. We consider the punishment of Mr. Badawi to be in violation of human dignity and of his personal rights.

We will continue to call for clemency in his case, and we will continue to promote human rights around the world as part of our government's policies.

Foreign AffairsAdjournment Proceedings

6:45 p.m.

Independent

Maria Mourani Independent Ahuntsic, QC

Mr. Speaker, the government does not seem to have much to say about this.

Here are the facts. Mr. Badawi did not do anything wrong. All he did was create a blog in support of freedom of religion in Saudi Arabia. His family has political asylum here, so he has some significant ties to Quebec and Canada.

When will the Prime Minister call for his release? I do not understand why he does not talk about Mr. Badawi during his discussions with the Saudi princes, the representatives and the heads of state there.

I would ask my colleague to ensure that his leader, his Prime Minister, do this, so that it does not take 10 years for Mr. Badawi to get to Canada.

Foreign AffairsAdjournment Proceedings

March 23rd, 2015 / 6:50 p.m.

Conservative

Scott Armstrong Conservative Cumberland—Colchester—Musquodoboit Valley, NS

Mr. Speaker, I thought I was clear the first time. The member should be aware that the minister and our government have taken a strong stand on this issue. We consider the punishment of Mr. Badawi to be in violation of his human dignity and his personal rights. We continue to call internationally for clemency in his case, and we will continue to promote human rights around the world as part of our government's policy.

HousingAdjournment Proceedings

6:50 p.m.

NDP

Annick Papillon NDP Québec, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise in the House today. A few weeks ago I asked a very clear question to the government about the important homelessness partnering strategy, the HPS, a federal program to fight homelessness. Homelessness is a problem in every city, including Quebec City. The problem may not be as bad in Quebec City as it is in Montreal, Toronto or Vancouver, but homelessness is still an issue.

Why do we not see many homeless people on the streets of Quebec City? It is probably because there are organizations to help them, organizations that are proactive and try to ensure that people do not become homeless. If a person does become homeless, these organizations can help that person and follow up with them to ensure that the person is on the right track.

Prevention makes all the difference. Prevention is very important in Quebec City. Indeed, there about 36 listed organizations that are taking concrete action against homelessness in this city. Of these 36 organizations, 26 are funded by the federal government's homelessness partnering strategy, or HPS. All these 26 organizations are to use 55% of their federal funding on prevention and all services not related to housing. We know that the Conservatives want to promote the housing first program, which aims to ensure that every homeless person has a roof over their head.

However, fighting homelessness does not just involve providing housing for a homeless person. If the homeless have health, mental or psychological problems, they are entitled to a certain amount of follow-up. It also means ensuring that the resources are available. That is what is important. The Conservative government announced that it was going to eliminate the entire budget for prevention. It does not respect the holistic approach preferred by the Quebec City stakeholders that have been working together on this issue. That is our criticism of the Conservative government. Without these funds, the organizations cannot provide everything I talked about earlier.

If the government does not understand the reality in Quebec City and the holistic approach that makes all the difference, sooner or later we will once again see homeless people roaming the streets because they have not been helped by the system.

I have plenty of examples. I am in frequent contact with these organizations, and I salute them because they do exceptional work. One of these is the Maison de Lauberivière, a major shelter in Quebec City. Its trust is in jeopardy. That trust keeps a roof over people's heads and prevents them from becoming homeless again. The Maison de Lauberivière provides many different services, such as those helping people sober up. All of these services have been affected. Another organization is the Salvation Army, and I have close ties to these people who work hard to follow up. Another is the YWCA. Services provided by these four organizations will be cut unless this approach is taken.

When it comes to homelessness, I think the federal government should play a much bigger role. It should prevent rather than cure because that costs much less. This is the economical choice. I urge the government to sit down with people from Quebec City and understand how they are working together on this issue.

HousingAdjournment Proceedings

6:55 p.m.

Cumberland—Colchester—Musquodoboit Valley Nova Scotia

Conservative

Scott Armstrong ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Employment and Social Development and Minister of Labour

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member for Québec has some questions about our homelessness partnering strategy, questions that show she does not fully understand the policy that we are implementing. She has asked why we are not going with approaches that work. That is precisely what we are doing.

We have made housing first the cornerstone of our homelessness partnering strategy because it does work. Housing first is a proven, evidence-based approach. Housing first aims to stabilize the lives of homeless people for the long term, first by moving them into permanent housing and then by providing them additional support for the underlying problems like addiction and mental illness.

Last year, the Mental Health Commission of Canada released the results of the largest study of its kind, the At Home/Chez Soi project. The study found strong evidence that the housing first approach was effective in reducing chronic homelessness, while alleviating the pressure on other shelter, health and judicial services. Our former approach to homelessness was not reducing the size of the homelessness population. It was time for us to try something new, so we did.

The hon. member also asks why we are imposing this one-size-fits-all solution, but this is hardly the case. The homelessness partnering strategy, or HPS, allows communities to assess their own needs and develop projects to meet those needs. The federal government entrusts a community body, often a municipal government, with the responsibility of selecting and managing HPS projects within its own area. All requests for funding must go through that body.

In Quebec, the homelessness partnering strategy is delivered in partnership with the Quebec government and community partners that are responsible for identifying priorities, launching calls for proposal and selecting projects to recommend for HPS funding.

Local organizations know best when it comes to deciding which projects will best serve the needs of their own communities. That is why we have given them the authority to make their own spending decisions. Local organizations retain the flexibility to invest in other approaches to reduce homelessness at a local level, such as shelters or transitional housing. It means they may continue to dedicate a portion of their funding to non-housing first projects just as they did before.

Housing first is being introduced gradually across the country over the next two years. It is true that a focus on that new approach will be a shift for some communities, but it is an approach that works.

HousingAdjournment Proceedings

6:55 p.m.

NDP

Annick Papillon NDP Québec, QC

Mr. Speaker, we have asked the Conservative government multiple times to maintain the general character of the homelessness partnering strategy. The NDP recognizes the excellent results obtained by the At Home program but believes that the housing first approach is not a panacea because it cannot respond to all types of requests. That is the subtle difference that must be understood and that my colleague opposite would do well to understand.

The NDP believes in using a variety of approaches to combat homelessness, and we believe in the importance of prevention.

I spoke about the jobs affected by these cuts. I am thinking of the Maison Richelieu hébergement jeunesse, where three jobs are funded by the HPS; the Centre résidentiel et communautaire Jacques-Cartier—my neighbours, the people who work across from my office—where two jobs are funded by the HPS. These organizations provide transitional housing for young people aged 16 to 35. As I was saying, the Fiducie de la Maison de Lauberivière has four jobs funded by the HPS. This organization provides budgeting services. It helps people to manage their income and expenditures and provides psychosocial evaluation and follow-up.

HousingAdjournment Proceedings

6:55 p.m.

Conservative

Scott Armstrong Conservative Cumberland—Colchester—Musquodoboit Valley, NS

Mr. Speaker, we are well aware that organizations that help the homeless are concerned about the transition to the housing first approach. I want to reassure the hon. member for Québec that these organizations have time to adjust. Our two governments are currently discussing how we can effectively coordinate our approaches. We want to coordinate them in a way that respects the priorities of each level of government.

Discussions regarding the Canada-Quebec agreement on the homelessness partnering strategy 2014-2019 are nearing their conclusion. The two governments agreed to a one-year transition period beginning April 1, 2014. This ensured that certain organizations in Quebec continued to receive funding and avoided any gap in client services.

We will continue to ensure the effective delivery of homelessness programs and services in Quebec and, in fact, right across Canada.

SeniorsAdjournment Proceedings

6:55 p.m.

NDP

Irene Mathyssen NDP London—Fanshawe, ON

Mr. Speaker, we desperately need a plan to deal with Canada's aging population. There needs to be practical and effective planning for the nearly 10 million people who will be seniors in the next 25 years.

The Canadian Medical Association is calling for a comprehensive seniors strategy because it understands the social determinants of health and future needs. Being able to house oneself properly and feed oneself adequately makes one a healthier person, with fewer visits to the emergency room, fewer and shorter hospital stays, and less medication prescribed. In short, living in a dignified situation promotes health and reduces health costs for all of us in the long run.

When the current government enacts measures that increase the number of seniors living in poverty, it creates an increased burden on the health care and support system. It is the downloading of a federal responsibility to provinces, communities, and families. There is absolutely no excuse to leave one Canadian senior living in poverty, and furthermore, the achievable alternative just makes good fiscal sense. We have the responsibility to do something about seniors' poverty and we cannot afford not to.

As I already said, the number of seniors in Canada is projected to increase from 4.2 million in 2005 to 9.8 million in 2036. With so many more seniors retiring in the years to come, we need to put measures in place right now to avoid dramatic increases in the rate of seniors living in poverty in the future.

A study released by Laval University in September shows that the change imposed by the Conservatives that raises the age of eligibility for OAS from 65 to 67 years adversely affects those who can least afford it. It will increase the percentage of seniors who live in poverty from 6% now to 17%. The study goes on to point out that any revenues the government would realize with the delayed retirement age could be achieved by alternate reforms without having such large impacts on seniors at the lowest income range. The current government is clearly not preparing for the increased number of seniors in Canada's future, let alone ensuring that no Canadian senior today need live in poverty.

In addition to the research done by Laval University, we have just recently heard from researchers at the University of British Columbia, who have demonstrated that a universal pharmacare plan, something that every developed country in the world with a medicare plan already has, would actually save billions of dollars. Such a plan would benefit every Canadian, especially those living in poverty, and it certainly would ensure that no Canadian senior need live in poverty as well.

A national pharmacare plan should be part of an effective strategy on aging, as should a national housing strategy that allows seniors to stay in their own homes as long as possible, as should a truly universal, affordable, and accessible health care system that addresses the particular needs of an aging population.

The current government's solution to seniors' poverty and seniors' access to resources is to offer tax breaks to those who do not need them and to trumpet ineffective strategies like the pooled registered pension plan. We have heard all about how much revenue the government will lose with tax-free savings accounts, another luxury that a very small proportion of Canadians will be able to receive. Interestingly, when they were first elected, the Conservatives increased the GIS. They have forgotten all about this.

The New Democrats have a plan that would work, and when we are in government, we will implement it.