House of Commons Hansard #57 of the 42nd Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was access.

Topics

Democratic ReformOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Geoff Regan

As I said before, members on all sides of the House manage to hear things that they do not like without reacting. I encourage others to do that. The member for Lanark—Frontenac—Kingston does not react very often, but he did did that time.

The hon. member for Richmond—Arthabaska

Democratic ReformOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Conservative

Alain Rayes Conservative Richmond—Arthabaska, QC

Mr. Speaker, in a country that claims to be democratic, what can we say about a government that wants to change the voting process, the very foundation of its democratic system, without consulting all Canadians?

Right here in Canada, every province that changed its electoral system consulted its people by holding a referendum.

Can the minister reassure us that she will do everything she can to convince the Prime Minister of Canada of the importance of holding a referendum to consult all Canadians?

Democratic ReformOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Peterborough—Kawartha Ontario

Liberal

Maryam Monsef LiberalMinister of Democratic Institutions

Mr. Speaker, the member opposite and his party had 10 years to enhance our democratic institutions and listen to Canadians.

We were elected on a promise to bring our electoral system into the 21st century, and while I appreciate that there is an appropriate time for this House to be partisan, and I do appreciate that, this is not one of those times.

The leadership required from every single member of this House to ensure that the voices of those constituents in their ridings who are not traditionally heard are brought to this House will be paramount, and I am looking forward to collaborating with all members of this House.

Democratic ReformOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Conservative

Alain Rayes Conservative Richmond—Arthabaska, QC

Mr. Speaker, the minister is quite right. The House can be partisan, and the Liberals have definitely proved it on this issue.

The Prime Minister already announced that the first-past-the-post system was no longer an option. The Liberals have told us that they prefer a preferential ballot system and they are putting together a partisan committee without consulting the opposition parties.

Today we see that the government has already made up its mind about this, even though ministers' so-called consultations have not even started.

Can the Prime Minister tell us and tell all Canadians that they will have a say in a referendum?

Democratic ReformOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Peterborough—Kawartha Ontario

Liberal

Maryam Monsef LiberalMinister of Democratic Institutions

Mr. Speaker, I have risen in this House dozens of times. Every single time, I have extended an invitation to all 337 members who are here with me to be part of this process, to help us engage with those in their ridings whose voices are not traditionally heard.

What have I heard? A call for a referendum. That is all that the party opposite has brought to the table. It is time to turn a new leaf. It is time to put the interests of Canadians ahead of party interests, and I look forward to working with all members to that end.

Democratic ReformOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Conservative

Rachael Harder Conservative Lethbridge, AB

Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Democratic Institutions talks a big game when it comes to hearing the will of the people. However, it appears that she is scared of actually asking Canadians in a referendum as to how we should elect members of Parliament. First she delayed forming the committee; then she gave six Liberal MPs the final say in what system the committee recommends; and now the Liberals have ruled out directly asking Canadians for their voice. When will the Liberals stop the games and give Canadians the final say in how we elect members of Parliament?

Democratic ReformOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Peterborough—Kawartha Ontario

Liberal

Maryam Monsef LiberalMinister of Democratic Institutions

Mr. Speaker, we are committed to doing politics differently. We are committed to hearing from all Canadians across this diverse nation on what their thoughts, their values, and their aspirations are for our democratic institutions. I look forward to working with all members of this House to put party interests aside and work toward a common interest that serves the best interests of Canadians now and for generations to come.

Democratic ReformOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Conservative

Rachael Harder Conservative Lethbridge, AB

Mr. Speaker, the minister continues to push for a fake consultation process that perhaps a few thousand people will be involved in. A referendum would allow tens of millions of Canadians to have their voices heard. This Liberal minister believes that she knows better than Canadians. Will the Minister of Democratic Institutions allow all Canadians an opportunity to weigh in on this important discussion by holding a referendum?

Democratic ReformOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Peterborough—Kawartha Ontario

Liberal

Maryam Monsef LiberalMinister of Democratic Institutions

Mr. Speaker, we want to hear from all Canadians, and we intend to use a multitude of methods, including the special committee, town halls, for which every single member of this House needs to take responsibility, social media platforms, and additional processes that work to ensure that every citizen in this country is allowed to be part of this conversation. This is an opportunity to engage those who are not currently engaged in the democratic process. It will require a collective will and effort on behalf of every member of this House, and I look forward to that collaboration.

Indigenous AffairsOral Questions

May 17th, 2016 / 2:35 p.m.

NDP

Brigitte Sansoucy NDP Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot, QC

Mr. Speaker, 27 years ago, the House voted unanimously in favour of Ed Broadbent's motion, thereby promising to eliminate child poverty. Governments since then, both Conservative and Liberal, have made absolutely no progress.

A report published today describes an alarming situation in this country, particularly with respect to first nations children, a federal government responsibility. Six out of ten children on reserves live in poverty. For shame.

What will the government do to help first nations children?

Indigenous AffairsOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Toronto—St. Paul's Ontario

Liberal

Carolyn Bennett LiberalMinister of Indigenous and Northern Affairs

Mr. Speaker, I completely agree with the member.

The situation is totally unacceptable, and we have to do better. We believe that the historic investments for indigenous communities in budget 2016 and the generous and fair Canada child tax benefit will lift many children out of poverty.

Indigenous AffairsOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

NDP

Niki Ashton NDP Churchill—Keewatinook Aski, MB

Mr. Speaker, let us be clear. There is a poverty crisis in indigenous communities across this country, and the Liberal budget does not cut it.

In Manitoba, three out of four children living on reserve live in poverty. This did not just happen. It is the result of years, decades, of underfunding of education, housing, child welfare, health, clean water, and the list goes on. Despite a clear ruling from the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal, Liberals still have failed to provide equitable funding for child welfare.

The question is this. When will the government drop the delays and increase funding to first nations in Manitoba and across the country?

Indigenous AffairsOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Toronto—St. Paul's Ontario

Liberal

Carolyn Bennett LiberalMinister of Indigenous and Northern Affairs

Mr. Speaker, I agree with the member that this has gone on for far too long. We do believe that in budget 2016 we are making historic investments in housing, water, education, and all of the the things that will raise these children out of poverty and do the right thing by these children. They only have one childhood.

Democratic ReformOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Conservative

Scott Reid Conservative Lanark—Frontenac—Kingston, ON

Mr. Speaker, my apologies for being so incensed earlier, but the minister insults the 65% of Canadians who would like to see a referendum when she suggests that somehow this is about taking rights away from Canadians.

After years of the Liberals doing nothing to give voting rights to women or to aboriginal people, Conservative governments introduced those motions. I do not know if that means that elections are inappropriate because they produce the wrong policy results.

Canadians are smarter than the Liberals think. Canadians know that a referendum is the best and most decisive way of determining the public's will. Canadians also know that they are not less enlightened than this minister. Will the minister or will she not give us a referendum?

Democratic ReformOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Peterborough—Kawartha Ontario

Liberal

Maryam Monsef LiberalMinister of Democratic Institutions

Mr. Speaker, we are all students of history in this House. It took the collective will of every member in this House, years ago, to extend the franchise to women, to extend the franchise to indigenous persons, to be creative and innovative and establish the Office of the Chief Electoral Officer. That takes leadership. It takes vision, and it takes a collective effort by all members of this House. I look forward to working with the honourable critic toward that end.

Democratic ReformOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Conservative

Scott Reid Conservative Lanark—Frontenac—Kingston, ON

Mr. Speaker, I will tell members what leadership takes. It is designing a new electoral system that is good enough that it wins over the support of the majority of Canadians.

I will tell members what cowardice is. That is the way out: designing a system to favour their own party and ensuring that Canadians do not get a say, so they can rig election 2019.

Why on earth does the Prime Minister think he can rig the next election? Why does he think he can do that? Why does he think it is not the right of the Canadian people to decide whether or not the system he is designing is satisfactory?

Democratic ReformOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Peterborough—Kawartha Ontario

Liberal

Maryam Monsef LiberalMinister of Democratic Institutions

Mr. Speaker, I do not share the cynicism of the member opposite.

We need to work together. We need to put parties' interests aside and serve the best interests of Canadians. Every single member of this House now has an extraordinary responsibility. That is, to reach out in their communities to those—

Democratic ReformOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Some hon. members

Oh, oh!

Democratic ReformOral Questions

2:40 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Geoff Regan

Order, please.

The member for Wellington—Halton Hills will come to order and not speak until it is his turn to speak. Members have very strong views on many issues that come before us, and there are different views, but most members are able to listen to opposite views without reacting and yelling out. Let us show respect for this place and for the public who elected us and put us here.

We will now listen to the hon. Minister of Democratic Institutions.

Democratic ReformOral Questions

2:40 p.m.

Liberal

Maryam Monsef Liberal Peterborough—Kawartha, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am thrilled to see such enthusiasm for the renewal of our democratic institutions. It is time to put the interests of Canadians ahead of our partisan interests. It is time to work together to ensure that our electoral system meets the—

Democratic ReformOral Questions

2:40 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Geoff Regan

The hon. member for Calgary Midnapore.

Democratic ReformOral Questions

2:40 p.m.

Conservative

Jason Kenney Conservative Calgary Midnapore, AB

Mr. Speaker, the minister says that we need to work together in her warm tones, while at the same time stacking the entire process for a Liberal rigging of the process by which we choose this Parliament that belongs to the Canadian people.

We believe in government of, for, and by the people, not of, for, and by the Liberal Party.

In her litany of our Conservative electoral reforms, she neglected to mention the 2005 P.E.I. referendum, the 2007 Ontario referendum, the 2009 British Columbia referendum.

The problem for the Liberals is that those voters did not give those Liberal governments the answer that they wanted.

Why not let the people decide, rather than the Liberal Party?

Democratic ReformOral Questions

2:40 p.m.

Peterborough—Kawartha Ontario

Liberal

Maryam Monsef LiberalMinister of Democratic Institutions

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the compliment about my tone. Indeed, that is the positive tone that Canadians voted for.

In the referenda that the member opposite cited, nearly half of the population did not vote. Is that okay? Is that acceptable? Or, can we use the tools available to us in the 21st century to ensure that those who have barriers that need to be overcome are addressed and heard in this important conversation?

Democratic ReformOral Questions

2:40 p.m.

Conservative

Jason Kenney Conservative Calgary Midnapore, AB

Mr. Speaker, the two-thirds of Canadians who demand a referendum on how they elected their MPs will not be confused by the smugness of the minister. The last time we had a referendum in this country, which was 1992 under a Conservative government, 14 million Canadians voted. In a typical parliamentary study, fewer than 100 witnesses appear.

How could she possibly think that a process involving dozens or hundreds of people is more inclusive than one involving tens of millions?

Democratic ReformOral Questions

2:40 p.m.

Peterborough—Kawartha Ontario

Liberal

Maryam Monsef LiberalMinister of Democratic Institutions

Mr. Speaker, the member opposite would like to put all his consultation eggs in the referendum basket. I do not agree with this approach.

Canadians deserve a more inclusive approach, designed to meet the needs and the opportunities of the 21st century.

The member opposite, and all members in this House, need to accept responsibility, to ensure that the voices of those Canadians who are not currently and traditionally engaged in this process are heard and are reflected in the final outcome.