House of Commons Hansard #20 of the 42nd Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was movement.


Opposition Motion—IsraelBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

1:40 p.m.


Scott Reid Conservative Lanark—Frontenac—Kingston, ON

Mr. Speaker, I do not know what I can say in 30 seconds that can cover that, but happily, there is a report issued by the Canadian Parliamentary Coalition to Combat Antisemitism about the kind of leadership role that a country like Canada can take.

I think Canada has been a leader for most of its history, but not always. Back in 1939, Canada turned away a ship full of Jewish refugees from Europe. They could not find homes here, went back to Europe, and many of them died in the Holocaust. We need to commemorate both what we have done right and what we have done wrong, and continue providing leadership by participating in international forums on this issue.

Opposition Motion—IsraelBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

1:40 p.m.


Anthony Housefather Liberal Mount Royal, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to rise today in the House to support a very important motion, which is both timely and one that deserves the attention of this House.

Next week, on Monday, for the fifth time in seven years, for the third time in two years, McGill University has a BDS motion in front of it.

I want to talk about the history of the Jews in Montreal and the experience of anti-Semitism in Montreal, because it comes a little bit from personal experience, because it ties to what is happening today with the BDS movement.

Students from McGill, where I am an alumnus, where I went to law school, contacted me last year and this weekend, not only Jewish students, but Christian students, Hindu students, Buddhist students, and Muslim students who are opposed to BDS, and they feel the hatred that permeates on campus. They feel the animosity that is generated by certain groups against them for no apparent reason, other than the fact that they continue to oppose BDS on campus and are trying to lead the fight against it.

The Jewish community in Montreal and Quebec has a long history. Jews could not live in New France because one had to be a Catholic, and those Jews who tried to come there got sent back to France. However, in 1760 with the British conquest, a Jewish community set up in Montreal. In 1768 the Spanish and Portuguese Synagogue, in my riding today, was founded.

For a long period of time there was a lot of harmony. Jews were among the founders of the Bank of Montreal, the founders of the power company, the founders of many of the institutions we know today in Montreal.

Of course, there were issues. In 1807, they tried to stop Ezekiel Hart from taking his seat in the Quebec National Assembly, because he would not swear an oath on the true faith of a Christian, but by 1832, Louis-Joseph Papineau put forward a motion that was adopted by the Quebec National Assembly, the first place in the British Commonwealth that allowed Jews to be full citizens.

There was a period of harmony in the 19th century. The Jewish community was small. However, in my great-grandparents' generation, that started to change. In my great-grandparents' generation, 1880s, 1890s, 1910, the massive Jewish immigration came from eastern Europe and hit different Canadian cities—Montreal, Toronto, Winnipeg—and rural communities. The Jews became a third solitude between the English and the French.

At that point in time, when my great-grandparents were alive and becoming of age, Jews were under quota systems at McGill. They could not get in unless they had better marks. That was not hidden; it was open. Jews were not accepted into the large law firms in Montreal. The Jewish General Hospital was created because Jewish doctors and nurses were not allowed to practise in either English or French institutions in Montreal, so we created a hospital, one of the greatest ones in all of Quebec today.

Things got even worse. In the 1930s, Canada's immigration policy, “none is too many”, under the King government—a Liberal government, by the way, which I accept—was horrendous. We had one of the worst records of accepting Jewish immigrants from Europe at a time of crisis.

We attended the Berlin Olympics, giving the Nazis a chance to showcase their wares to the world, and as my hon. colleague mentioned, when the SS St. Louis came up the coast and was refused by Cuba and refused by the United States, it was refused by Canada. People were sent back to Europe and many of them perished in the Holocaust.

After the war, Canada started changing. In my grandparents' generation, anti-Semitism was less overt, but they had a house in Val-David, and right next door in Sainte-Agathe there were signs saying “No dogs or Jews allowed in this location”.

It is ironic that my colleague, the hon. member for Laurentides—Labelle, is a Jewish member representing that same district where no Jews or dogs were allowed in the 1940s and 1950s.

That heralds the change in Canada. As things evolved over time, things got better. When my parents were coming of age, overt anti-Semitism was gone. There had still not been a Jewish cabinet minister federally. There had still not been a Jewish justice of the Supreme Court of Canada, but anti-Semitism was confined to polite statements when a Jewish individual tried to apply to a golf course, such as “Oh, our membership list is full”.

When I was coming of age, when I was at school in the 1990s, there was no anti-Semitism that I ever felt. I went to McGill campus. I was there for my four years of law school, and never once did I feel targeted or uncomfortable because of my faith or background.

Today, unfortunately, because of BDS and Israel apartheid week, that is no longer the case for Jewish students and other students who support Israel on our campuses here in Canada. That is shameful, because all students in this country should feel safe when they go to school and go to campus.

Let us come to the principles of this so-called BDS movement, a movement that justifies itself by saying that it is somehow going to stop us from doing business with and engaging in exchanges with Israel, and letting Israelis come to sporting events outside of Israel, in the name of helping the Palestinians. In my opinion, BDS in no way helps the Palestinians, in no way advances the peace process that all of us in this House believe is important, and in no way advances a two-state solution. Rather, as my learned mentor, Irwin Cotler, who represented my riding before me, said, it is simply part of a new anti-Semitism that stigmatizes and vilifies Israel by holding it to a different standard than every other country in the world.

Let us go through the reasons why BDS is wrong.

BDS misinterprets history. BDS seems to allege that the entire fault of the Arab-Israeli conflict lies with Israel. It places no fault whatsoever on the other side and makes no condemnation of it at all. Let me tell members something: In 1948, when the United Nations partitioned Palestine and said there would be a Jewish state and an Arab state, it was not the Jewish state that started a war. The Jewish state was content to live side by side with its Arab neighbours, but all the Arab countries ganged up and said no, they were going to drive those Jews into the sea. We ended up having a situation where Palestinians became refugees because they left the territory that was then going to be Israel, because Arab states started a war.

In 1967, Israel was attacked again, and the borders of Israel expanded, not because Israel was expansionist and seeking to grow its borders, but because it was again attacked by a grouping of Arab states. The same thing happened in 1973.

Israel is not blameless in this conflict, and no one should say that it is. Nor do I believe that everything Israel does is right. However, to allege as BDS does that all of the fault in the Arab-Israeli conflict is due to State of Israel is a simple distortion of history. For that reason alone, BDS is wrong. It singles out Israel and does nothing to condemn all those Arab states that started wars against Israel or condemn the terrorist actions or atrocities perpetrated by Hamas, Hezbollah, and the Palestinian Authority's leadership. Nor does it even condemn the mass atrocities happening in Israel itself, where innocent Israelis are being stabbed.

The BDS movement as well is wrong because the thrust of what it is asking for is the disappearance of the State of Israel. Israel is the only majority Jewish state in the world. Israel exists as a pluralistic state. People of all faiths and backgrounds live in Israel and are open, free citizens of Israel. They have the right to vote in elections, be represented in Parliament, be on the supreme court of Israel, and represent Israel abroad. It is not only Jews who represent Israel's diplomatic force or Israel's parliament. Israel has a free press and is a democracy.

Then we get to the fact of what BDS is asking for. It is saying that all Palestinian refugees must have the right of return to what is today Israel, which would automatically create a situation where we would not have a two-state solution. We would have a one-state solution where Israel was not a majority Jewish state. One of the three things that BDS is asking for is actually to make Israel disappear as a majority Jewish state, the only one in the whole entire world, and that is wrong.

Why else is BDS wrong? BDS, which again singles out Israel, is not looking at all those other countries in the world that engage in egregious human rights violations.

When these students come onto a campus and tell us that they want to pass boycott legislation against Israel, why are they not turning their attention to the State of Iran, which last year executed more than 1,000 people, that has political prisoners in prison for all kinds of things and who do not agree with the state, that is sponsoring terrorist organizations like Hamas and Hezbollah abroad, and that has declared that it wants to wipe out the State of Israel?

Why are they not condemning Saudi Arabia, which does not even let women drive, and does not let women have any kind of rights? Why are they not condemning Syria, where the Assad regime has killed thousands and actually displaced millions of its own people? What about China? What about North Korea?

There is not a word from the BDS movement about any of these other countries. Only Israel is condemned, as BDS holds it to a complete double standard. Indeed, I have been to many meeting where there is talk of BDS. I have heard that Israel should be held to a higher standard, that people do not think it is like other Arab countries.

That is the new form of anti-Semitism. The whole idea of holding Israel to a higher moral standard than anyone else is clearly anti-Semitic.

Again, I want to clarify that there is absolutely nothing wrong with disagreeing with a policy position of the State of Israel, with disagreeing with the Israeli government, with disagreeing with an expansion of settlements, even. What is wrong is saying that we are going to boycott this one country, that we are going to tell academics from this one country that they cannot come to our universities, and telling athletes from this one country that they cannot compete in our sporting competitions no matter what their political views are.

There could be Israelis who hold those views. There are many Israelis in a free country who may agree with many of the themes of helping Palestinians and wanting a Palestinian state and doing things to advance that cause. However, the BDS movement is seeking to have us block those people as well from attending international conferences. It is a ludicrous double standard against the State of Israel.

Then I turn to the question of how it would help Canada. Canada's trade with Israel and the free trade agreement that was put in place originally in the 1990s and then expanded by the previous government, and that hopefully will be expanded even further by the current government, is good for Canada. Israel is a good trading partner. It is a sea of innovation in the Middle East.

It is a country. If we took Silicon Valley and transplanted it into the Middle East, we would have Israel. Intel is there; Dell is there; Hewlett Packard is there. The company Dialogic, which I used to work for, is there. Having had the experience of working in and with Israel, I know this is a country of innovation, a country where Canada as a trading partner would advance our own interests by continuing to partner with Israel.

What else is bad about BDS? Let us look at what it is drawing attention away from. Right now, we have all kinds of human rights abuses in the world. There is slavery going on in Mauritania. However, BDS focuses our attention away from political prisoners who are being held in all kinds of countries in the world, in North Korea, in Mauritania, in Venezuela, and focuses attention only on Israel.

When the world only has a small amount of time to capture issues, to learn about issues, BDS is taking our focus away from where it is the most important, to where it is the least important. I say this because Israel is a country that does have a court system and a supreme court, and a government that respects and upholds human rights.

Then, does it help Palestinians? How would BDS impact the Palestinians who are in the West Bank right now? How would it impact Arab communities in Israel? The goal of BDS is to harm the Israeli economy, to tell businesses to displace themselves from Israel. If we do not invest there, we are telling businesses to move. In the end, if we are telling businesses to move out of Israel, how does this help Palestinian workers working in factories in the West Bank? How does it help Arab Israelis? It does not. It does not at all.

Another issue is that the BDS movement is never really going to achieve its goals. The goal of having the Israeli government somehow capitulate to what BDS is asking for is never going to happen. It is counterproductive. What we need to look at is how we can advance the peace process, how we advance a two-state solution, where we are able to work together with our allies across the world to help Israel and Palestinians find peace.

When we take one side and make it the only guilty party, the only aggressive party, the only party we are blaming, and we say to the other side, “You've done nothing wrong, you're the ones we're trying to help and we're not passing any blame on you”, we are getting into a very dicey situation.

As a Jewish Canadian and Jewish Quebecker whose family has been here for generations, I am proud to have the opportunity to rise in the House to speak out against the BDS movement and in support of the motion. I think this is a very Canadian discussion. The Canadian Jewish community has 400,000 members, and I am one of the few who has the right to rise in this House and speak out against someone who is attacking our community. I am very grateful to have this opportunity.

In conclusion, I want to say that in December, I was lucky enough to attend the conference of the International Council of Jewish Parliamentarians in Israel and was able to talk about BDS with my colleagues from all over the world. I felt so lucky to come from a country like Canada where BDS was not a question, where BDS was a movement that our government would condemn, that the opposition would condemn, that almost all parliamentarians would condemn. That is not the case in most countries. As a Jewish Canadian, I never felt more proud to be Canadian that being in that room and telling them that in my country we are almost unanimous in saying that BDS is wrong.

Mr. Speaker, when we resume debate, I will speak to the free speech issue.

Energy East PipelineStatements By Members

2 p.m.


Luc Thériault Bloc Montcalm, QC

Mr. Speaker, Christiane Crevier, a caring woman from my riding, was with us this morning as we launched civic action against the energy east pipeline project.

The pipeline debate should cross party lines. That is why the leader of the Green Party and author and activist Jici Lauzon also took part in launching the petition. This pipeline project flies in the face of the commitments made by this government at the Paris conference. This project would increase current production by 40% and the output would be entirely destined for export. The project would do nothing to reduce the transportation of petroleum products by ship, rail, or road in Quebec. It jeopardizes our environmental heritage, our waterways, and our farmlands. The federal government needs to realize that this pipeline project does not have social licence in Quebec. What happens within our borders should be decided by us. It is up to the people of Quebec to decide its future.

I invite everyone who cares about their environment to go to now and sign the electronic petition.

Operation ProvisionStatements By Members

2 p.m.


Matt DeCourcey Liberal Fredericton, NB

Mr. Speaker, last month constituents throughout Fredericton, New Maryland, Oromocto, and the Grand Lake region were proud to welcome home troops serving in Operation Provision.

On January 12, in the wee hours of the morning, 58 soldiers arrived at 5th Canadian Division Support Base Gagetown after working in Beirut and Amman to process Syrian refugees destined for Canada.

Military personnel spent months supporting staff in the Department of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship, aiding the security personnel with data entry and with medical screenings.

We were proud to see these soldiers contribute to this operation and proud to see them reunited with their loved ones and colleagues. I would like to personally thank these men and women for their service and congratulate them on their work.

Immigration, Refugees and CitizenshipStatements By Members

2 p.m.


Mel Arnold Conservative North Okanagan—Shuswap, BC

Mr. Speaker, Canadians from across this nation continue to step up to assist refugees arriving here from Syria.

I hope all members in the House share my appreciation for the many welcoming organizations that have sprung up across Canada to undertake this extraordinary task.

This is true in my riding of North Okanagan-—Shuswap where multiple organizations have been planning and fundraising since October to pull together the necessary support systems to welcome these families.

Sadly, welcoming committees in my riding such as Trinity United Church in Vernon and St. Andrew's Church in Enderby find themselves waiting while refugee families are also forced to wait in limbo due to the government's processes and policies.

It is time for the government to get serious about removing refugee families from limbo, connecting them with the organizations waiting to welcome them into their communities, and supporting them in their transition ahead.

Floyd WiebeStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.


Terry Duguid Liberal Winnipeg South, MB

Mr. Speaker, I would like to recognize today in the House the passing of Floyd Trevor Wiebe in late 2015.

Mr. Wiebe grew up in the Winnipeg South community of St. Vital. He was a successful entrepreneur and businessman, but will be best remembered for his work helping and protecting young people.

Floyd's son T.J. was tragically murdered in 2003. Instead of withdrawing into bitterness and despair over the loss of his child, Floyd instead chose to focus his considerable energies and charisma in supporting victims of violence, including becoming involved with the Manitoba Organization for Victim Assistance.

Floyd eventually founded the TJ's Gift Foundation, an organization dedicated to support young Manitobans and steer them away from drugs. He became a passionate advocate for youth, and commanded the attention of all who heard him speak powerfully against the perils of drugs and violence.

It is right that the House recognize the contributions of citizens who, through their dedication and effort to their communities, make Canada a better place for all. It is in this spirit of recognition that I ask us to remember Floyd Wiebe.

Louis RielStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.


Niki Ashton NDP Churchill—Keewatinook Aski, MB

Mr. Speaker, today we join the the Métis Nation, Manitobans and Canadians across the country in commemorating Louis Riel, a courageous national leader and an advocate for justice for the Métis people.

Riel is also regarded as a founder of the province of Manitoba. He was executed unjustly for defending the rights of his people.

Today, we recommit to working with the Métis people in the pursuit of justice. This includes immediately establishing a negotiation process between Canada and the Manitoba Metis Federation to settle the outstanding land claim.

We are in favour of a federal claims settlement process for the Métis, stable funding for core activities, and significant investment in education and training.

If we are going to move toward true reconciliation, we must establish a nation-to-nation relationship with the Métis nation.

The NDP remains committed to establishing that nation-to-nation relationship. We will continue to work with the Métis nation to achieve Louis Riel's vision of a fair and inclusive country for all.

Sergio Tagliavini JellinekStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.


Francesco Sorbara Liberal Vaughan—Woodbridge, ON

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to pay tribute to the iconic Italian-Canadian journalist, Sergio Tagliavini Jellinek who passed away on January 25.

Sergio was passionate about his profession which spanned over four decades in serving the community. His contributions were many and lasting, including managing editor at the Corriere Canadese, the founding of Lo Specchio, and recently the establishment of the monument to Italian Canadian workers killed on the job.

Sergio was awarded one of Italy's highest honours, the Cavaliere della Repubblica Italiana, as well as journalism merit and special achievement medals from Canada, Ontario, and the city of Vaughan.

I was lucky to meet and know Sergio. He had a deep understanding of current affairs and his community, and was a warm and thoughtful individual.

On behalf of the constitutions of Vaughan—Woodbridge, I want to extend my condolences to his family. He was a remarkable person who will be greatly missed.

Nicole MarchandStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.


Alex Nuttall Conservative Barrie—Springwater—Oro-Medonte, ON

Mr. Speaker, on February 16, after a long battle with cancer, Barrie resident Nicole Marchand passed away at the young age of 30. She was born the same year as I was and was a fellow student at Innisdale Secondary School.

Nicole has been recognized as a hero, her positive attitude, her constant fervour to give others hope, and the number of lives she has changed through the courage shown and displayed in such a public fight in Barrie.

I do not believe it is quite fitting just to say that her memories will live on, for it is the legacy Nicole has left of courage in the face of fear, strength to give even more when so much has been taken, and positivity in times that have been cut far too short that will live on in the lives of those whom she has touched.

I thank Nicole and her incredible family.

Jean-Marc LalondeStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.


Francis Drouin Liberal Glengarry—Prescott—Russell, ON

Mr. Speaker, on Friday, a prominent leader in my riding received the country's highest civilian honour, the Order of Canada.

Jean-Marc Lalonde is a luminary in the Franco-Ontarian community. Active in municipal and provincial politics for over 40 years, including 15 years as the mayor of Rockland, he has worked tirelessly to promote and preserve the vitality of the French language. He is still serving as a municipal councillor.

His list of achievements is long: cofounder of the Association française des municipalités de l'Ontario and founder of the Parlement jeunesse francophone de l'Ontario, he boosted Franco-Ontarian pride by obtaining Queen's Park's recognition of the Franco-Ontarian flag as the community's official emblem. Mr. Lalonde is an exemplary leader and an inspiration to our whole community.

If I accomplish half of what Jean-Marc has accomplished in his political career, I will consider that a success. Once again, congratulations.

VolunteerismStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.


Marco Mendicino Liberal Eglinton—Lawrence, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise today to acknowledge the ongoing efforts of the good people in my riding of Eglinton—Lawrence to provide meaningful support to the Syrian refugees, many of whom are arriving with nothing more than the clothes on their backs and the hope for a better life.

One fine example is Grace Besar. Grace is a 13-year-old student at the Sts. Cosmas and Damian Catholic School who is involved in the Girl Guides of Canada Pathfinder program.

For Grace, showing leadership means many positive things, including lending a hand in Canada's response to the Syrian refugee crisis. Knowing that our winters would be difficult for the refugees, Grace focused her efforts on collecting winter coats, hats, scarves, mittens, and other accessories that would help keep them warm as they acclimatized to their new home.

Grace's clothing drive received incredible support. More than 300 articles of clothing were collected to be handed out to newly arrived refugees.

I am so proud of Grace. She reminds each and every one of us that making a difference is as much about the leadership shown by individual volunteers in their communities as the important decisions we take in the House.

Brandon Winter FestivalStatements By Members

February 18th, 2016 / 2:10 p.m.


Larry Maguire Conservative Brandon—Souris, MB

Mr. Speaker, it is with great pleasure that I congratulate the volunteers and organizers of the 13th Annual Brandon Winter Festival. I am proud of how our winter festival has grown and thrived over the years. None of it would be possible without the volunteers and countless residents who participated and attended this end-of-January ritual in Brandon.

It was a beautiful weekend as thousands of Westman residents lined up at the eight pavilions to enjoy a snapshot of the music, art, dance, and fine cuisine of each culture. Our winter festival brings the entire community together to celebrate Canada's rich and diverse cultural heritage.

I am especially pleased to see how Westman embraces our diversity, and to see neighbours and friends come together to showcase our cultural mosaic, which makes us distinctively Canadian.

As we continue to work here in the people's Commons, let us renew our enthusiasm and strive to make Canada the most inclusive and welcoming country in the world.

World Sledge Hockey ChallengeStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.


Bernadette Jordan Liberal South Shore—St. Margarets, NS

Mr. Speaker, I am proud to rise in the House today to share my congratulations for the Canadian sledge hockey team for its silver medal win at the World Sledge Hockey Challenge that took place last month in Bridgewater, Nova Scotia.

Sledge hockey is the paralympic version of ice hockey. The first world cup was held 25 years ago in Norway.

I would like to thank Events Lunenburg County, businesses, municipal, provincial and federal funding partners, and the 112 volunteers who put in many hours of work to make these world-class athletes feel at home on the south shore of Nova Scotia.

The impact of this event will live on with the workshops on increasing the awareness of disabilities. Many schools and young students also learned about building active and supportive communities.

The sold out gold medal match was a nail-biter as Canada narrowly lost in overtime to the United States.

Once again, I congratulate all the players, organizers and volunteers for a fun and exciting tournament.

North East Winter GamesStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.


Terry Sheehan Liberal Sault Ste. Marie, ON

Mr. Speaker, today I am honoured to stand in the House of Commons to wish the organizers, volunteers and participants in the Special Olympics North East Winter Games all the best as they begin the competition in Sault Ste. Marie on February 20.

Over the past 40 years, Special Olympics has provided people with intellectual disabilities the opportunity to develop physical fitness, demonstrate courage, experience joy, and develop their relationships with friends, family and community through sports. It has been dedicated to promoting values such as respect, acceptance, inclusion and human dignity.

As the member of Parliament for Sault Ste. Marie, I am delighted to have this opportunity to congratulate my community on the opening of the North East Winter Games.

Special Olympics Ontario does important work. I encourage it to continue that work for years to come. I thank it for all it brings to our communities and wish this year's participants good luck. Let the games begin.

Bernard CameronStatements By Members

2:15 p.m.


Scott Reid Conservative Lanark—Frontenac—Kingston, ON

Mr. Speaker, a week ago today in the beautiful and peaceful town of Almonte, Bernard Cameron was shot and killed in his own home while defending his family. The details of his death are well-known, and all that needs to be repeated here is that he died a hero, protecting the lives and safety of those he loved.

It is tempting when one learns of this kind of extraordinary courage to dwell upon that final moment, rather than on the life that preceded it. That would be a shame, for Bernard Cameron's life was characterized by the same strength, love and resolution that he showed in his final act.

He was a much loved high school teacher and a deeply committed member of the Almonte community. He served as a scoutmaster, served two terms as a municipal councillor, and he spent nearly two decades on the board of the local museum.

The Camerons were also adoptive parents, and loving grandparents as well. It was while defending his grandchildren, as well as his daughter, that he was killed. A week later, Almonte is still in shock.

Let us join with the community in praying for the well-being of the entire Cameron family at this most difficult time.

Congenital Heart Defect Awareness WeekStatements By Members

2:15 p.m.


Frank Baylis Liberal Pierrefonds—Dollard, QC

Mr. Speaker, last week was Congenital Heart Defect Awareness Week. Pediatric congenital cardiologists were the first to perform open-heart surgery in 1944, thereby starting the modern era of cardiac surgery.

We Canadians should be particularly proud to know that we have world leaders in this field, including Toronto's Hospital for Sick Children with renowned physicians such as Dr. Lee Benson and Dr. Gil Gross.

In Quebec, the Sainte-Justine university hospital centre conducts humanitarian missions every year under the direction of Dr. Joaquim Miró and Dr. Nancy Poirier. Medical teams travelled to Morocco, Egypt, and Ethiopia to perform heart surgeries and teach their skills to local doctors.

In summary, anyone who has been touched by heart disease should know that we owe an enormous debt of gratitude to the wonderful men and women who work in the field of congenital heart disease.

Syrian RefugeesStatements By Members

2:15 p.m.


Randall Garrison NDP Esquimalt—Saanich—Sooke, BC

Mr. Speaker, in November, when the government announced it would recognized LGBT refugees as among the highest risk Syrian refugees, I was among the first to praise the government for changing Canada's policy to recognize the fact that LGBT refugees are subject to extra risks simply because of who they are.

When it quickly became clear that LGBT refugees were not actually getting through the system, I approached the Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship, and he asked me to work with the government to find a solution.

Three obstacles still remain: getting access to the Canadian system from the region, meeting the unique settlement needs of LGBT refugees, and making links with the local LGBT groups in Canada waiting to sponsor them.

In December, I presented the government with a plan to work with Egale Canada and private sponsorship groups from across the country to get those at risk here as quickly as possible. Now, nearly three months have passed. The government continues to express its good intentions while the lives of LGBT Syrians remain at serious risk.

I call on the government to act to create a path that will allow LGBT Syrian refugees to find the safety and support they need here in Canada and to do so now.

UNRWAStatements By Members

2:15 p.m.


Peter Kent Conservative Thornhill, ON

Mr. Speaker, the United Nations Relief and Works Agency, UNRWA, was created in 1949 to support Palestinian refugees, but UNRWA has been politicized by the corrupt Hamas government in Gaza in flagrant violation of the UN policy of neutrality.

Human rights organizations in Canada and abroad cite redirection of aid funds and material, storage of weapons, and incitement to violence against Israel in UNRWA-operated schools. B'nai Brith Canada says Canadian aid for Arab Palestinian welfare should go only to specific humanitarian programs and peaceful infrastructure projects. UN Watch has accused dozens of UNRWA staffers of using their official positions to incite Palestinian stabbing and shooting attacks against Israeli Jews.

My Thornhill constituents ask: Why can the Liberals not find more appropriate ways of delivering humanitarian aid rather than simply handing it to terrorist sympathizers?

International Day of Women and Girls in ScienceStatements By Members

2:15 p.m.


Leona Alleslev Liberal Aurora—Oak Ridges—Richmond Hill, ON

Mr. Speaker, today I rise in the House not only as a member of Parliament, but also as a woman who has worked hard to champion the cause of gender equality, particularly in science, engineering, technology, and mathematics.

I have worked in a traditionally male-dominated industry my whole life, and I have seen gender inequality in many forms. Today, only 18% of female students versus 37% of male are likely to graduate with a bachelor's degree in a science-related field. This statistic is simply unacceptable. That is why I am applauding the United Nations for marking February 11 as International Day of Women and Girls in Science.

This is a significant step, because it helps women, including women like Victoria Kaspi who just won the Herzberg medal, to harness their greatest potential and contribute to society in the field of their choosing.

I invite all Canadians, women and men alike, to join me in celebrating this important achievement.

National DefenceOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Sturgeon River—Parkland Alberta


Rona Ambrose ConservativeLeader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, mistakenly, Canadians actually believed that the Prime Minister wanted to do things differently, but last night, on the first night of our debate on pulling out the CF-18s, we find out that the fighter jets had already actually flown their last mission. He did not even wait for the debate or wait for Parliament to vote.

My question is simple. How could the Prime Minister show so much disrespect for parliamentarians?

National DefenceOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Papineau Québec


Justin Trudeau LiberalPrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to have participated in this debate that is ongoing in our continuing engagement in the fight against ISIL, our strong role as part of the coalition.

As we know, Canadians got an opportunity to weigh in, in the last election, on what they wanted for Canada to engage in ISIL. They rejected the Conservatives' military emphasis, they rejected the NDP stepping back. They accepted that we have the best plan for a whole-of-government approach that steps up our involvement in ways that Canada can best help.

Natural ResourcesOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Sturgeon River—Parkland Alberta


Rona Ambrose ConservativeLeader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, yesterday, Bombardier announced it was cutting 7,000 jobs. My heart goes out to the families.

Similar cuts affected tens of thousands of other Canadians in the energy sector, but no Liberal minister rushed to make a statement in front of the cameras for them. Nothing is being negotiated to help them. Instead, the Prime Minister is refusing to support energy east.

Why this double standard?

Natural ResourcesOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Papineau Québec


Justin Trudeau LiberalPrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, we lament the job losses. We want to encourage the families who are suffering and going through tough economic times. We are here for them.

That is why we are taking a different approach than the previous government did. We truly want to export our resources in a sustainable way. We can only do this by respecting the environment and the communities, and not by working against the communities and environmental concerns because that approach achieved nothing for 10 years.

Employment InsuranceOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Sturgeon River—Parkland Alberta


Rona Ambrose ConservativeLeader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, Statistics Canada shows that the number of people on EI in Saskatchewan is up nearly 40%. These are people who depend on the resource sector. They do not want a bailout and they do not even ask for a handout. All they want is an opportunity to get back to work, but what they are getting instead are roadblocks to pipelines and new carbon taxes, or they are being told to just hang in there.

Does the Prime Minister understand that what he is doing does actually more harm to the economy than good?

Employment InsuranceOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Papineau Québec


Justin Trudeau LiberalPrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, it is actually quite interesting to me to hear the member opposite talk about the need to strengthen EI. It was this party that campaigned on a platform to do exactly that. Her party stood against the kinds of strengthening to EI that we know is going to make a difference in the lives of people facing economic downturns and job losses right across the country.

We are working very hard to improve the EI system that the Conservatives have neglected for so many years and we look forward to having good news across the country in the coming weeks.