House of Commons Hansard #228 of the 42nd Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was finance.


Budget Implementation Act, 2017, No. 2Government Orders

4:30 p.m.


Nathan Cullen NDP Skeena—Bulkley Valley, BC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to pick up on that point.

The government has told me when they do their polling and focus groups, a lot of their supporters love the notion of consultation. They should ask a more specific question about meaningful consultation. If we remember the actual history of the small business tax proposal, it went out for weeks and even passed the deadline, with the minister saying, “We did it the way we intended to do it.”

It was only when other controversies began to arise, such as when reporters discovered the French villa that had not been disclosed to the Ethics Commissioner, for which the finance minister has now been fined, and when we found out about his numbered companies and a cloud of concern and suspicion started to grow over his head, that the Liberals suddenly developed some humility about what they had been proposing.

The irony is that the loopholes the finance minister had accused small business of using were not loopholes in a legal sense, but were intended to allow for succession, and the finance minister was employing other ethical loopholes and had arranged his own affairs to avoid taxation by putting his assets in numbered companies and moving them to Alberta. It is an interesting way for him to conduct himself.

My question is this. The Liberals campaigned on a promise to close a stock option loophole that exists. However, it only applies to the 1%, generally speaking, this loophole that allows someone to be paid in stock options and to pay a much lower tax rate. The Liberals campaigned and said they would shrink and close that loophole. When I looked through the 300-plus pages, I do not see that happening. I do not see that promise being kept. I am wondering, if not now, then when? Will it take a little more scandal and controversy to bring the finance minister and the government to fulfill its promise to Canadians?

Budget Implementation Act, 2017, No. 2Government Orders

4:35 p.m.


Don Rusnak Liberal Thunder Bay—Rainy River, ON

Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. member for his question, but I disagree with the premise of it.

I went out and spoke to members of the business community in Thunder Bay—Rainy River throughout the consultation period. We received answers from the Thunder Bay Chamber of Commerce, small business groups across the riding, and small businesses in Fort Francis. We brought that information to the minister and the department to get the right piece of legislation before this House.

I do not know if the member consulted with his business community, but I certainly did in my riding, and I encourage all members to consult with their members across their regions.

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4:35 p.m.


The Assistant Deputy Speaker Liberal Anthony Rota

It is my duty pursuant to Standing Order 38 to inform the House that the questions to be raised tonight at the time of adjournment are as follows: the hon. member for Essex, Softwood Lumber; the hon. member for Saskatoon West, Public Transportation; the hon. member for Drummond, Official Languages.

Resuming debate. The hon. member for Skeena—Bulkley Valley.

Budget Implementation Act, 2017, No. 2Government Orders

4:35 p.m.


Nathan Cullen NDP Skeena—Bulkley Valley, BC

Mr. Speaker, I am happy to be sharing my time this afternoon with my friend from Vancouver East, who I know will bring great illumination.

For my friend from Thunder Bay, before he ducks out, I held consultations with my business community in Smithers and in Terrace and received copious amounts of correspondence on his government's ham-fisted, wrong approach to the small business community. If he hearkens back to where this all generates from, he will remember that the Prime Minister, when campaigning for the job of prime minister, said that there is a large number of small businesses that are only set up to avoid paying taxes. I remember hearing that and thinking how offensive that is. It came to me later on as to why the Prime Minister and perhaps the finance minister might think that. It is because the people they associate with use the small business tax code exactly for that purpose. However, when I think of small businesses that I represent in northwestern British Columbia, I think of actual small businesses that take the risk, go out into the marketplace, and try to make some money to feed their family and employ other Canadians.

I know it is a radical thought for the Liberals that this is actually what a small business does. However, some of our Liberal colleagues who are maybe entitled to a few more entitlements than others think of small businesses in a different way. If we followed from their philosophy, then their small business tax plan made perfect sense until we actually applied it to the real world and saw that their changes would inhibit farmers from passing on their farms, fishermen from passing on their businesses, and forestry companies. All these are small businesses that I represent. Only when pushed into scandal and controversy of their own making, did the humility and the ears start to open up a bit for the Liberals and they said that maybe they did not get this small business tax thing right.

Therefore, let us look through the bill at hand today. There are 330-odd pages of something connected to the budget. It would change 20 different laws in Canada, most of them financially connected. We can say this is an “omnibus light” I suppose, yet within these 330-odd pages there are a bunch of things we do not find.

Let me start with the good stuff because that is a shorter list. With respect to the Canada Labour Code, some new flexibility has been brought in for people to take leave to allow workers to make adjustments in their personal life. In a modern economy in 2017, this is welcome. There is also some small support for a geothermal industry. As we know, and as my colleague from Vancouver East knows, there is the whole Site C controversy. We know that when governments make bad energy policies, other good energy options are suddenly forgotten. A bit more geothermal industry in Canada and British Columbia would be welcome.

Let us move to what the majority of this bill would and would not do. In the context of where we are in the Canadian economy, we saw the surprise shrinkage in the last quarterly report of 0.1% of GDP down. That kind of took everyone a bit by surprise. The Liberals are going to have to update some of their talking notes about the robust economy. What is that economy founded on right now? We see Canadians carrying around still the highest personal debt rate of any G7 country, at 167% of disposable income. That is enormous. That is worse than it was in the U.S. at the 2008 financial crisis, just to have some context of where the Canadian personal debt load is harbouring right now. We do not see anything in this bill that would address that.

We also see the exorbitant use of offshore tax havens. The Liberals will get up again and again and say they are going to go after those tax havens and that they have hired more CRA auditors to go after them. The problem with their logic, that they know is a problem, is that the CRA auditors are going after small businesses and individuals because the tax havens, the ones that the Liberals have since signed on, are legal. They allow Canadians to legally offshore if they can afford it. If they are in the top per cent of a per cent, they can pay the lawyers and they can pay the fancy accountants to move their wealth off to a place like the Cook Islands. Therefore, it is kind of strange that the Liberals would sign a new tax haven treaty with a place like the Cook Islands. I do not know about other colleagues in the House, but the small businesses and the middle class and those working hard to join it, people whom I represent, are not able or interested in offshoring their wealth to the Cook Islands. Maybe it is friends of the finance minister who do this kind of thing, or maybe the Prime Minister himself. I am not sure, because we do not know a lot of what they hold, which is again the context of where we are in talking about all of this today.

We also see the stock option loophole. I had a small business before I entered politics and when I contracted out I did not pay people in stock options. When I talk to my middle-class friends and those working hard to join the middle class, I am told that they are not paid in stock options because it is not a normal procedure. In the last election, we New Democrats had actually said that it costs the treasury every year about $800 million, give or take, according to Statistics Canada and Finance Canada numbers. That is $800 million of forgone tax revenue.

We said that does not really generate anything for the Canadian economy. I know it generates more Ferrari sales. It might get a person another villa in France. However, it does not actually do anything for the working people of this country. Maybe we should close those loopholes.

Who agreed with the NDP on this? The Liberals agreed with us. Imagine that; they just cuddled right up to that policy on the left and said to Canadians, “Yes, us too”. We probably should have known better. When we appoint a finance minister like this one, the idea that he would ever do anything to hurt any of his friends at the country club should have been obvious to everybody.

The stock option loophole remains. It is going to cost us another $800 million this year, and next year, as it did last year. People want to know: what benefit does that get us, how many more kids does that help out of poverty, and how many more seniors does that help? Does it help on innovation? No, it does not, because there is a way to close that loophole that allows the true innovators in the tech sector or pharmaceuticals to start new companies off in a proper way, using stock options, not the Bay Street crowd, who just do not need that third villa or that fifth Maserati.

The question to the government is whether it actually believes anything it campaigned on. We are two years in. We are at the midway point. We see what it did to electoral reform. It was the thinnest of veils. When it came down to the point of actually delivering, the Prime Minister said something that hits the arrogance metre at a new level. He said that it was his decision to make, and he chose to make it. That is fascinating. That is a new structure of government that I am not used to, where people elect an individual member of Parliament, that party goes on to form a government, and suddenly the prime minister is bequeathed with all this power, so that he gets to make the electoral decisions he wants. We see that around poverty and other issues.

Let me return to this not-omnibus, near-omnibus bill, and it was the finance minister who sponsored this bill. We have asked him, time and again, to tell us something simple, in order to avoid the appearance of a conflict of interest—which is the Prime Minister's standard, by the way: not just not being in a conflict of interest but not giving the appearance of being in a conflict of interest.

We know the finance minister has at least five numbered companies. For Canadians who do not have numbered companies, which is most Canadians, a numbered company allows members to avoid things like with the Ethics Commissioner. Members can have shares that they control—which they would not be allowed to do if it was in their name—in a numbered company, and as soon as it is moved into a numbered company, they can keep control of those shares that are now in a numbered company and beyond the touch of the Ethics Commissioner.

That is fascinating. The finance minister owns other numbered companies. He has two options when he will not tell us what is in them. One of the options is something the minister does not think he needs to do. The Prime Minister said ministers' personal affairs should bear the fullest public scrutiny. That means the public should know what is going on with the personal affairs, the financial affairs of everybody in cabinet. That is broken.

The second option is, with those numbered companies, if the finance minister actually followed through on that commitment that he made too, we would find out that there are other conflicts of interest. We saw this with the whole charade around Bill C-27. We saw this when we offered up a vote to the Liberals. Everyone can remember this; it was just recently. We asked for two simple things. We said that we thought an apology is owed from the finance minister for this entire ethical mess of his own making. We also said we should close those ethical loopholes that have been exploited.

What did the Liberals in good standing do? One after another, they all stood and said no. Canadians are a forgiving people in my experience. If people screw up and it was unintended and they say, “Sorry about that, I didn't mean to do that; here's my apology and here's how I'm going to make good”, most Canadians I know would respect that. That is about being a person of integrity, or a party of a integrity.

What we see from the party, from information, to access to information, and on down the line, is a government that does not believe in its own commitments that it made.

I know our friend from Winnipeg North will be tempted to jump up and say, “Oh, we're such a wonderful government.” However, he has to bear in mind that the promises he made to Canadians, the promises the Prime Minister made, in offering so much hope and change, are starting to look a bit weak, as day after day goes on and promise after promise falls off the attention, and the Liberals' latest argument is that it is better than Stephen Harper's government. I wonder how that pitch would have actually worked. The best argument the Liberals use, to be precise, is that Stephen Harper did it too.

If the Prime Minister had gotten up said this was his commitment to them, that he would do more or less what Stephen Harper did, when all those Liberals voters went out to vote, I am not sure the Liberals would be sitting where they are right now. That is the way elections go.

Having to get parties to actually keep their promises is the job that we are doing now, and on the bill before us, the Liberals missed an opportunity to get it right.

Budget Implementation Act, 2017, No. 2Government Orders

4:45 p.m.

Winnipeg North Manitoba


Kevin Lamoureux LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, there is so much I would love to say in response to the member's speech.

To start off, NDP members like to say that they take this high road in politics. I was in third-party status when we had to bring the NDP kicking and screaming into proactive disclosure. Nothing has happened with the Minister of Finance or any other minister, and I would suggest any member of this House, in regard to violations against the code of ethics. At the end of the day, the Minister of Finance has been very clear.

As we are focusing on Canadians and real life in Canada, and the member challenges what I would say, I would tell the residents of Winnipeg North that we are giving child benefits, giving guaranteed income supplement increases, taking children and seniors out of poverty, giving middle-class tax breaks, and having a tax on Canada's wealthiest. Also, we have had historic negotiations on the environment and on the Canada pension plan. This government has done more in two years than the former government did in 10 years, and every time we do something, the NDP members are consistent in saying no and voting no.

My question is this. Why does the member not stand up for the constituents he represents and vote yes when there are good initiatives coming from the government?

Budget Implementation Act, 2017, No. 2Government Orders

4:45 p.m.


Nathan Cullen NDP Skeena—Bulkley Valley, BC

Mr. Speaker, if the member will let me know when those good initiatives show up, I will be there.

My friend from Winnipeg is good at spouting the talking points. However, here is one the Liberals did not talk about: the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, which is buried in here.

When a government has pride about something, is really excited about something, and wants Canadians to know about it, then it lets it stand alone in its shining glory. When it is not so proud of something, it bumps up this Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank from $256 million to $480 million—of borrowed money by the way, because the Liberals are running $20-billion deficits to do this. However, they plop this into the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, which does not even have similar safeguards to those the World Bank uses when it comes to human rights; when it comes to the environment, as my friend just mentioned; or when it comes to anything remotely close to being accountable to the Canadian people who are footing the bill for the whole exercise.

The member wants to talk about accountability and transparency and his love for his government's initiatives. I know this does not exist in the talking points, but how about he actually start walking the talk? That would be a good start.

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4:50 p.m.


Kellie Leitch Conservative Simcoe—Grey, ON

Mr. Speaker, I found it quite shocking what was just said in the House by one of the members from the Liberal Party on this issue around how the Minister of Finance has not been seen to have done anything wrong. Maybe the member can confirm for me because I may have read the news wrong, but last I checked, the Minister of Finance was actually fined. He was seen as doing something wrong by the Ethics Commissioner, and he should be paying the price for that. However, maybe I got the message wrong.

On the point the member was making with regard to the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, I share his concerns. This is a government, on the other side of the House, that has made these pronouncements about investment in infrastructure in Canada. Last I checked, China is not a province. Last I checked, China is not part of our sovereign nation. Could the member for Skeena—Bulkley Valley comment on that, and how, I am sure, he agrees with me that we should be investing in infrastructure in Canada and not abroad?

Budget Implementation Act, 2017, No. 2Government Orders

4:50 p.m.


Nathan Cullen NDP Skeena—Bulkley Valley, BC

Mr. Speaker, maybe the Prime Minister's plan is the opposite, which is to make Canada a province of China. If we look at the way the Liberals have gone through reviews of state-controlled companies from China buying up technology and aerospace firms, and firms that work alongside the military, we see it has been the Americans who have been raising far more concerns, even in the pick-up of a concrete and construction company that China is looking to buy right now. When I say China is looking to buy, I mean the Government of China. However, it is the Americans who are saying that, if we allow that sale to go ahead, they have concerns with the company and it will not be allowed to operate in the United States anymore, but go ahead and let the purchase go forward.

As for the finance minister, he has been fined. The Liberals stand up day after day and say that the finance minister has done everything right, and in fact, he has gone beyond. Why did he go beyond? It is because he got caught. What type of integrity is that when one does the right thing after being caught?

I have seven-year-old kids, and we talk about this kind of stuff. We try to guide them along the way to do the right thing out of the gate, so then they will not have to pay a fine, admit all these things, and start to suddenly make new-found charitable donations after realizing there is an investigation into their ethical behaviour.

Budget Implementation Act, 2017, No. 2Government Orders

4:50 p.m.


Jenny Kwan NDP Vancouver East, BC

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise in the House to speak to Bill C-63. Budgets and budget implementation bills really tell us a lot. They tell us where a government's priorities lie, the political will of the government, so to speak, and how it will tackle the major issues that communities are faced with today. There are a few priorities and initiatives in this budget implementation bill that are welcome, but when we talk about a 329-page document containing 20 pieces of legislation embedded in this giant bill, a few are simply not enough.

New Democrats have been very clear about what we had hoped to see in this budget implementation bill. We wanted measures that make substantial strides in making our country greener and more equitable, measures that would make significant improvements in workplaces so that Canadians could have a better quality of life and seniors entering retirement would not see their savings ripped out from under them, such as what the government is doing in Bill C-27. We wanted an expansion of our health care system. There are a lot of seniors in my community who say they cannot afford their medications. There are a lot of people in my constituency who say they want dental care to be part of our pharmacare system. None of that is in this 329-page budget implementation bill.

The government is so good at saying there is a new nation-to-nation relationship and it wants to do right by the indigenous community. What do we not see? We do not see real action to address historic systemic discrimination against indigenous peoples in this budget implementation bill. We do not see any actions there. The government, despite all of its lofty rhetoric, fancy Facebook posts, tweets, social media, and so on, has failed once again, in my view, to adequately prioritize these important areas for Canadians.

This can be seen not just in Bill C-63, as I mentioned. We can also see what the government is trying to do in Bill C-27 and other tax measures. I will get into that a little. The government suggests that it is making the tax system more fair for Canadians, and yet its consultations—on the small business tax changes, the provisions in Bill C-27, which go after seniors' pensions, and the lack of action in Bill C-63 to address the real issues of the day—show otherwise.

Over the last 30 years, workers have helped our economy grow by some 50%, and yet salaries are stagnating and retirements are becoming less secure. Now the inequality gap in Canada between the richest and the majority of Canadians is growing faster and wider than in other developed nations. The richest 100 Canadians now have the same wealth as 10 million less fortunate Canadians combined. Canada's top 100 CEOs now make 193 times more than someone earning an average wage, and these CEOs had already out-earned the average Canadian's annual wage by 11:50 a.m. on January 3 of this year.

According to the Conference Board of Canada, Canada loses at least $8 billion a year through tax evasion and avoidance by the richest and largest corporations; 91% of this lost revenue goes back to the top 10% of income earners; and 50% of that goes to the top 1%.

New Democrats have been clear that regressive tax measures, such as the CEO stock option loophole, which costs the treasury an estimated $800 million per year, need to be closed. By the way, the Liberals promised that during the campaign. They said they were going to close the stock option loophole. What happened after the election? It was not on the agenda anymore.

The Liberals continue to fail to deliver with Bill C-63. The increasing use of tax havens to avoid taxes costs the treasury an estimated $7 billion per year. The NDP has called for action. The Liberals have yet again failed to deliver in Bill C-63 so that we can direct that $7 billion into much-needed support for Canadians in each of our ridings. The Liberals refuse to do that, and they justify it every day in the House with their talking points, pretending that they are doing right by Canadians.

We saw during the consultations that they floated ideas that do not address the main issues of the day, the things they promised during the campaign. Instead, they chose to target the small business community.

If that was not enough, the government then attempted to target low-earning retail workers, many of whom are minimum wage earners who are just trying to survive in an era when housing costs are increasing and they cannot afford to put food on the table. That is the government's priority.

I think the government did that so it could cast a shadow over the real agenda. They did it so that their friends on Bay Street would not have to be faced with the tax measures they promised they would bring in after they formed government. They did it so they could protect their friends and the well-to-do. As it happens, the Minister of Finance is among them, as we see in the ethical scandal he is mired in right now. Every day we learn more, although sometimes less, because he is working so hard to hide all that information. We are learning, though, that the finance minister is making a decision on Bill C-27, on pension benefits, so that he can, it turns out, benefit himself and his family with the shares he holds in the company.

We also learned that the finance minister is using numbered companies to avoid paying taxes. Is it any wonder the government has turned a blind eye to the priority of tackling where the low-hanging fruit is in terms of redirecting those monies to the treasury?

I do not see measures in Bill C-63 that many of the people in Vancouver East would like to see, and that I would venture to say many Canadians would like to see. Young parents and working mothers, who are often impacted the most, need better access to affordable, high-quality child care, yet we do not see any provisions in the bill for a national child care program. It would be an enormous benefit for women who need child care. It would benefit not only their family units and the children in terms of early childhood development but would benefit our overall economy. The government has failed to deliver on that.

I fail to see in this legislation anything to do with safe, secure, and affordable housing, which a lot of people are struggling with. The government talks a good talk about delivering a national affordable housing program, but where is that in Bill C-63?

Let me close with what Dr. Cindy Blackstock said:

There's nothing new in the budget for First Nations children and their families, in child welfare, or their implementation of the Jordan's Principle, even though they've been found out of compliance with legal orders to stop that inequality. It's a moral issue: is Canada so broke that the finance minister and the Prime Minister have made a deliberate choice to discriminate against little kids?

Bill C-63 misses the mark.

Budget Implementation Act, 2017, No. 2Government Orders

5 p.m.

Louis-Hébert Québec


Joël Lightbound LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, earlier in this debate, the member for Oshawa talked about financial literacy. Unfortunately, he is regrettably confusing the situation of an individual with that of a country, which is more akin to a business. When one is confident in one's business or one's country, it can be wise to borrow so as to invest in needed infrastructure and to invest in Canadians. I am sure that he was not suggesting that Christine Lagarde, of the IMF, or the World Bank are financially illiterate when they say that Canada's approach is one that should be emulated around the world and should go viral.

In the interest of financial literacy, I would like to know the member's plan. When the New Democrats pushed for a progressive agenda back in 2015, under an austerity bound Conservative budget, how would they have achieved that progressive agenda? We are pushing that forward with the approach we have taken, which is working for the Canadian economy and for a more prosperous and inclusive economy.

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5 p.m.


Jenny Kwan NDP Vancouver East, BC

Mr. Speaker, Liberal members need to review what they promised during the campaign and the things they are failing to deliver on. It is now two years into the election cycle, and the list of broken promises the Liberals have brought forward is astounding.

On tax measures, the government likes to say that it wants to bring in measures to benefit the middle class and those working hard to join it. How about working hard to deliver for Canadians and less for those who are French villa owners, because that is what the government is doing.

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5 p.m.


Cathay Wagantall Conservative Yorkton—Melville, SK

Mr. Speaker, we have heard over and over again, and even through question period today, the government's response to our questions about misbehaviour on that side of the House. The response has been to trumpet the child benefits they have given to Canadians and how wonderful they are. They have even given us numbers, for each riding, as to how much each family has grown in income, with $500, $600, and $700 of income. This has been said over and over again for the past two years. I think it is the only thing they think they have actually accomplished, yet at the same time, we have been told that every family in Canada is now paying $800 more a year in taxes. That is not even including a lot of other things that are coming into play on the tax front.

How do you see their record as far as actually enabling Canadians to have more money to spend versus their fear that the taxman is coming to take it all away?

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5:05 p.m.


The Assistant Deputy Speaker Liberal Anthony Rota

I just want to remind the hon. members to pose their questions through the Speaker. It makes it a lot easier.

The hon. member for Vancouver East.

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5:05 p.m.


Jenny Kwan NDP Vancouver East, BC

Mr. Speaker, I come from Vancouver East. We are not a particularly rich riding. In fact, we are one of the lowest-income ridings in the country. What my constituents consistently have said is that they want a government that will support them by providing the necessary services they depend on. For example, the seniors who are trying to go into retirement were not expecting the government to bring in a bill, Bill C-27, that would actually rip the pension they have earned right from under them so that companies, like the one the Minister of Finance has a personal interest in, would benefit.

My constituents have said that they want to see a national child care program so they can afford to go to work and support their families and their children can get the best support in early childhood development in those early years. We do not see that.

Housing affordability is a major issue in my community. It was the Liberal government back in 1993 that cancelled the national affordable housing program. As a result, our country lost more than half a million units of affordable housing. The Liberals campaigned on bringing back a national affordable housing program. It is now two years in. They say to wait for it, that it is coming. Why is it not here now? Do the people who are homeless today not deserve housing? Why is the government making them wait if it is really going to bring back a national affordable housing program?

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5:05 p.m.


Francesco Sorbara Liberal Vaughan—Woodbridge, ON

Mr. Speaker, it is great to be here this afternoon with other passionate speakers we have heard from today on Bill C-63. I would like to present my humble view on Bill C-63, the budget implementation act, 2017, no. 2, which is the second and final piece of legislation to implement budget 2017.

Budget 2017, much like budget 2016, is built on a number of transformational measures our government has put in place that are benefiting Canadians from coast to coast to coast. Our government's commitment to the middle class and those working hard to join it is unwavering. Budget 2017 is delivering results in my riding, my dynamic and beautiful riding of Vaughan—Woodbridge, and across Canada.

We see the results of our plan with an economy that is growing at rate of over 3%. More importantly, approximately 450,000 Canadians now have jobs, most of them full time, and they are now able to provide a better future for their families.

In my riding, Vaughan—Woodbridge, we are seeing the impact the Canada child benefit is having.

In just a one-month period, families in my riding received a total of 9,140 payments that benefited 16,110 children, with an average payment of $470, and a total payout of $4.3 million. That is change. That is hope and hard work. That is keeping a commitment. On an annual basis, that is nearly $52 million going to families in my riding of Vaughan—Woodbridge. Those are monies that are going directly to help families pay for educational expenses, clothing for their children, and children's sports activities.

In fact, I am proud to say that the Governor of the Bank of Canada commented this week at the Standing Committee on Finance that the Canada child benefit provided a boost to the Canadian economy, a boost to the gross domestic product, of 0.5%. That is something to be applauded.

Our government believes that better is always possible, and I am proud to say that we have now committed to indexing the Canada child benefit, the CCB, a full two years early. Due to a strong economy, the fastest growth rate in the G7, and prudent financial management by our Minister of Finance, the member of Parliament for Toronto Centre, starting in July 2018, families will see their CCB indexed. This measure alone will provide Canadian families with an additional $5.6 billion to support them over the 2018-19 to 2022-23 period. For example, a single parent of two children, making $35,000 a year, will receive $560 more next year. It is tax-free, monthly, very simple, and very effective. They can use this money for books, skating lessons, or as winter approaches, warm clothes.

Governing is about helping families, and I am proud to state that the CCB has lifted approximately, looking at the data from 2013 to now, 300,000 children out of poverty in our country. Again, that is something to be applauded, and I would hope my colleagues on the other side would applaud that and vote for that.

When we speak about growing the economy and increasing the potential growth rate of the economy to improve the standard of living for all Canadians, the focus must be through the lens of innovation. Innovation is something that was absent in this House of Commons for the last 10 years. We need a focus on innovation and on helping companies in Canada innovate, grow, commercialize, and yes, earn money for their shareholders and do well.

Our government is delivering on this agenda. In the past few weeks, the minister of innovation announced the superclusters agenda, something that has been applauded by individuals and stakeholders from coast to coast to coast. It is something I am very proud to support, because it is the right thing to do to increase the capacity of this economy and to get Canadians working in good, high-paying jobs.

In the budget implementation legislation we have before us, we will include this innovation through further investments through the business development corporation. It will include $600 million in new financing for clean technology firms and $400 million that will be put in place for the venture capital catalyst initiative.

When we are thinking about clean technology and venture capital, we are thinking about incubators. We are thinking about people taking risks. We need to be there, partnering with these individuals.

When I think of clean technology, and I see what is happening globally with the amount of renewable energy being put in place to run facilities, whether it is a hospital or a school, Canada needs to be at the forefront. Even today, the Prime Minister was in Toronto with representatives from Alphabet, looking at how technology was transforming the world. We are partnering with these entities.

If we look at our skills training and immigration programs, we want the best and the brightest to come to Canada. We want to harness that human capital. Clean technology is about that. That is where we are going. If I could use a hockey analogy, that is where the puck is going. I was glad to play ice hockey for 20 years of my life, and, to me, that is where we need to be going.

Again, this financing will be put in place with the Business Development Bank, with an increased capital contribution of $1.5 billion to $4.5 billion.

Our government believes in tax fairness. During consultations with small business owners, manufacturers, and professionals, including my own extensive consultations with leading tax experts, we found that tax fairness, done right, both strengthens our economy and our middle class. That is what we will do, and what we are doing.

On this front, Bill C-63 phases out billed-basis accounting practices for designated professionals, but for the law profession, I want to note that we are protecting legal services provided through legal aid or on a pro bono basis, as well as measures are put in place for contingency fee arrangements. In addition, we will give professionals a five-year period to adjust to the new rules. This is both fair and right. This has been done after extensive consultations with these designated professionals.

I have the privilege of representing a riding that contains thousands of private businesses. In fact, the city of Vaughan, which I have the pleasure of representing, along with the member for Thornhill and the member for King—Vaughan, contains nearly 13,000 private businesses. It is one of the most entrepreneurial cities in Canada. I am proud to state that in 45 days from now, people will be able to take the subway, arriving in the city of Vaughan from the city of Toronto. Those decisions were made in prior years. We are executing them and we are quite happy. I would like to invite members of Parliament in the GTA to visit the riding, take the subway, and come visit our great bakeries, restaurants, and tourist attractions.

I am proud to be part of a government that invests in small businesses and that will lower their taxes from 11% in 2015 to 9% in 2019. Promise made; promise kept. It was in our platform, and we have fulfilled that commitment. Businesses will receive up to $7,500 of tax savings. They can choose to invest that in human resources, human capital, or capital equipment, return it to their shareholders, or invest to grow their business. That is what is growing our economy. That is what it means to deliver on our campaign commitments.

As a trained economist, someone who worked on Bay Street, someone who worked on Wall Street, but, more important, someone who grew up on Main Street, in very humble surroundings, I understand that businesses are the main drivers of economic growth and job creation. Our government is committed to ensuring that businesses, whether it is the local bakery, the manufacturer, or the tech startup, operate in an environment that allows them to be successful. More important, as a competitive individual, it will allow them to win and compete globally and take a market share.

Canada is considered an open economy, dependent on trade and global investment. We need to strengthen our bilateral and multilateral relations with our trading partners in other countries throughout the world. We succeed as a country, as a nation and its people, only when we have the foresight to make those policy choices that focus on measures to grow the economy for the long term, not short-sighted policies like augmenting the long-form census, like the prior government did. We need to make decisions based on evidence, based on what works and what does not work. We can only know that with good data. Thankfully, our government put the long-form census in place again.

Trade and investment has literally lifted hundreds of millions of people on this globe out of poverty. In Canada, it has improved the standard of living for millions of Canadians.

As part of Canada's commitment to its global partners, we will now move forward as the first North American member of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank. I am proud of this. There are currently 57 founding members of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, including Australia, China, France, Germany, Italy, South Korea, and the United Kingdom. I challenge the members on the opposite side, because I have heard some of the questioning on the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, why we should not be a partner with it, why we should not be at the table there. The Germans are there, the Brits are there, the Italians are there, the French are there, the Australians are there. Why should Canada not be there as well? I have heard that question. I was very disappointed in the other side.

This represents a long-term economic opportunity for Canada and Canadian companies to explore new commercial opportunities. We know that jobs connected to trade on average pay higher and provide better benefits to Canadians. We see that through our ports, whether someone is a longshore person, whether it is in the Port of Halifax, the Port of Montreal, the Port of Vancouver, the Port of Prince Rupert. I am proud that in September we had the preliminary application of the comprehensive European free trade agreement and that our government continues with with its global partners. We must do so.

It is clear that the government's investments in people, our communities, and our economy are working.

We have the fastest-growing economy in the G7 and that is something we should be proud of. We are reinvesting the benefits of that growth back into the people who contribute most to that success.

Our economy is growing faster than it has in a decade, growing 40% faster than the United States or Germany. We all know that as a country we must always assist those who need a hand on occasion and are working hard to join the middle class. Yes, we talk about the middle class, but what does it really mean? What does it really mean to put in place policies to assist them? There are the Canada child benefit, cutting taxes for nine million Canadians and providing over $20 billion of tax relief over a five-year period, and increasing student loans for low- and middle-income Canadians. I can go on and on.

As a nomination candidate, I argued for an increase in the working income tax benefit, and I was very proud to say that our government will move forward with an enhanced working income tax benefit. This benefit is a refundable tax credit that would support low-income workers and provide important financial support to low-income Canadians to improve their financial outcome when working. This is important. A work income tax benefit encourages the labour force participation rate to rise. It was first introduced in a Liberal government under former prime minister Paul Martin, and augmented by the other side but the idea came from us.

In 2015, there were 1.4 million Canadians who benefited from the working income tax benefit, and our investment of an additional $500 million in this expansion is an investment that is, for me as a sort of policy wonk and an economist, something I fully support. This is something that is moving people off welfare to work, encouraging people to join the labour force. It is something very important, that is transformational. It gives people who may be in a precarious job situation, part-time workers, and those earning $16 or $17 an hour a bit more cash at the end of the year, some money for them to put more food on the table and pay for school supplies for their kids. That is what our government, which I am proud to be a part of, is fighting for every day. That is what I fight for in my riding of Vaughan—Woodbridge. I know my riding is blessed with many entrepreneurs and we are doing phenomenally well with a number of investments from all three levels of government. At the same time, any government should only be judged by how it treats those who are less fortunate, those who need a bit of assistance.

There are many items in Bill C-63, and one of them is to include legislation on flexible work arrangements for federally regulated entities. That speaks to the changing nature of work and the changing nature of responsibilities that families have, whether that is for bereavement leave, for when someone gets sick, or a family member having to augment his or her work-life balance. It is something that we recognize and that is contained in Bill C-63. We all should be proud of it. I hope other employers, even in the private sector, where possible, could put it into effect.

In Bill C-63 we have also introduced changes to the tax code that will ensure that the sale of principal residences by all Canadians remains unchanged, but at the same time that there are no concerns raised by the sales of residences in Canada by non-residents in particular, so that our Canadian housing market will remain strong and stable. We have ensured improved tax fairness for homeowners, something I am very proud of.

In Bill C-63, we have made changes to the Bank of Canada Act, specifying that the bank may make loans or advances to members of the Canadian Payments Association. We clarified some rules regarding CDIC, specifying that the Bank of Canada and CDIC are exempt from stays, where obligations are secured by real property or immovables.

Budget 2017 is the next step in our government's ambitious plan to make smart investments that will create jobs, grow the economy, and provide more opportunities for the middle class and those working hard to join it. If we look at the foundations we have put in place, Bill C-63 continues the investments we need to make in our economy for Canadians. Whether it was increasing the guaranteed income supplement by nearly $900 million so that over one million single seniors are better off today than they were in the beginning of 2015, our government was there. Whether it was listening to the provinces and hammering out an agreement on an enhanced Canada pension plan, we were there and got it done. Whether it was listening to auto manufacturers' concerns and changing their program through the auto innovation fund to remove the strings attached to as to whether the terms of the funding provided is a grant or a repayable loan, we were there, because we know that we need to be at the table in today's economy. Whether it was our skills agenda, we made the strategic investments that we needed to make. Whether it was ensuring that low and middle-income Canadians have access to Canada student grants or assistance so that they can get the education they need for better jobs, we were there.

I am also proud of the Minister of Immigration who yesterday tabled the government's increased immigration levels. I do not really want to use the word “immigrant”, because my parents were immigrants. I look at them as newcomers, newcomers whose hopes and dreams are being fulfilled in Canada on a daily basis.

We know the demographic challenges that we face here in Canada. We understand them quite well. We know the retiree-to-worker ratio and understand that we face demographic headwinds. The only way to solve these challenges it is to bring newcomers to Canada. Canadians from coast to coast to coast are accepting, diverse, inclusive, and tolerant. They will welcome these folks and build an even stronger country.

I was very proud to rise today to talk about a number of measures contained in Bill C-63, which builds on budgets 2016 and 2017. Our government has laid out a road map with the measures in Bill C-63 and has continued to grow our economy, with an unemployment rate now at the 6% level, something we have not seen in many years, with full-time jobs and the labour force participation rate ticking up. Even the governor of the Bank of Canada commented that our labour force productivity over the last two years has increased to levels not seen in over 10 years.

As an economist and someone who is fiscally responsible, I know that the government has done everything with an eye to maintaining Canada's AAA credit rating and a strong fiscal foundation. Our fall economic update shows that we have been able to lower the debt to GDP ratio, the anchor I look at, which will be trending below 30%. It is something that we can all be proud of. It is something that we need to keep our eye on as a government to measure how our investments are doing in growing the economy at over 3%, a rate that has not been seen in a number of years, and creating full-time jobs, over 15,000 a month, and ensuring that we make key investments in the industries where we know that growth is happening and where our innovation strategy is taking hold.

Budget Implementation Act, 2017, No. 2Government Orders

5:25 p.m.


Gérard Deltell Conservative Louis-Saint-Laurent, QC

Mr. Speaker, first, allow me to say that the hon. member used the Liberals classic talking point, “the middle class and those working hard to join it”.

I say this facetiously, but in Canada there are people who are bilingual and those working hard to join them. The hon. member is one of those and I commend him on his efforts to learn French.

The member addressed an issue with which I totally disagree, and he forget a few very important elements. He talked about the fact that families had more money in their pockets. However, he forgot to say that this money was not available now. We are borrowing this money from our children, because the government is creating a deficit. Our government gave many tax credits to help families with sports activities, artistic activities, student loans, and all of that, but the Liberal government cancelled those.

The member also raised the issue of Paul Martin as the one who killed the deficit in the 1990s. He was a great prime minister, but unfortunately the current Prime Minister is recreating the deficit, and that is wrong.

The member also talked about the 1% who paid more taxes. That is not true. The finance department concluded in a report a few weeks ago that the 1% paid $1 billion less.

Speaking of millionaires, could he identify a Canadian millionaire who hired two nannies and sent the bill to the Canadian taxpayers?

Budget Implementation Act, 2017, No. 2Government Orders

5:25 p.m.


Francesco Sorbara Liberal Vaughan—Woodbridge, ON

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague from the beautiful province of Quebec for his question.

The results of our plan speak for themselves. Whether it is on the job front, the unemployment rate, or wage gains that Canadians are making, the evidence is clear. Two years in, we have created 450,000 new jobs. We have just indexed the CPP, which is a transformational measure to help Canadian families and reduce poverty. We will continue working on that front.

We will continue working with Canadians from coast to coast to coast. We will continue consulting and working with all our stakeholders to ensure we get things right. We are listening to everyone. Our economy is going the right way. The country is doing great. We will continue to do the good work that Canadians expect us to do.

Budget Implementation Act, 2017, No. 2Government Orders

5:30 p.m.


The Assistant Deputy Speaker Liberal Anthony Rota

The hon. member for Vaughan—Woodbridge will have seven minutes and 35 seconds coming to him in questions when we take up this bill again.

It being 5:30 p.m., the House will now proceed to the consideration of private members' business as listed on today's Order Paper.

The House resumed from September 28 consideration of the motion.

Federally Funded Health ResearchPrivate Members' Business

5:30 p.m.


Lloyd Longfield Liberal Guelph, ON

Mr. Speaker, it is my pleasure today to support the private member's motion that is being brought forward by my friend, colleague, and neighbour down the way on federally funded health research.

This study will be focusing on lowering drug costs, but also looking at increasing access to medicines in Canada and around the world. Like my hon. colleague, I too have noticed that there is a knowledge transfer problem in Canada. In the House of Commons Standing Committee on Industry, Science and Economic Development, we have heard similar testimony to what he is presenting on the problems around intellectual property.

The issue currently before us in the House is a symptom of a much larger problem. I support this study, because it is the first step to addressing a problem, which is admitting that there is a problem, and this problem may affect the health and well-being of hundreds of thousands of people around the world.

Intellectual property is relied on more and more to protect the fruits of service economies such as ours. However, a cumbersome and outdated IP regime can in fact make it even more difficult to protect intellectual property, and worse, it can stand in the way of life-saving medical services.

Perhaps the most worrying example of this problem is in regards to the recent Ebola epidemic in Africa. As the member for Kitchener Centre has mentioned in his speech, Canada played a large role in developing a vaccine, yet due to an intellectual property dispute with an American company that purchased the commercialization licence from the government, the vaccine sat in laboratories for months when it could have been saving lives. This is why the study is so important. It is about more than knowledge transfer. This study is about saving lives.

We all want to see each investment the government makes reach its fullest potential, especially when it applies to investments within health sciences and research, but it is particularly a tragedy when taxpayer-funded medical research sits on the shelf unused when, in fact, this IP should be flying off the shelves. Not only should this research be available to Canada, but as the motion states, it should be accessible around the world.

The health sciences program at the University of Guelph is an increasing draw for students from across Canada and around the world. Many people do not think of Guelph as a centre for health research, but when we put it in the context of health of animals and vaccines that protect animals from diseases, it starts making sense. Guelph has done this for over 190 years.

Many of these students, both graduate and undergraduate, who are studying at the University of Guelph are working at the Centre for Cardiovascular Investigations to learn about the human heart. They start with looking at hearts of smaller animals and then they apply their studies to the human heart. The CCVI was developed to find innovative ways to fight heart disease. It received funding through grants from numerous sources, which include the Heart and Stroke Foundation, the Canada Foundation for Innovation, the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council, and other sponsors that are essential to support the great work of the professors and students working in this area.

To name just a few examples of the incredible medical research going on at the University of Guelph, Jeremy Simpson's work is studying heart failure symptoms that apply to women differently than men. I recently visited his lab, and I had presentations from his researchers on what they are doing around heart diseases. They are looking at the gender-based differences between heart disease in women and men, and are helping women survive heart conditions that up until now were thought to be the same as heart conditions found in men.

Dr. Petrik's lab is focusing on developing novel therapeutics for the treatment of late-stage ovarian cancer. For women who have ovarian cancer, it is very difficult to detect, but the research he is doing is actually almost at the breakthrough point. He is collaborating with researchers in the United States and around the world, and we are hoping for his breakthrough soon so that we can end this terrible disease that affects so many women in Canada.

Professor Glen Pyle's laboratory uses molecular research to treat heart failure.

I could go on and on. There are a lot of examples of the type of research that could significantly increase benefits to the public. This is all to say that the brilliant research being conducted in my constituency of Guelph and across Canada must benefit Canadians but also help people around the world.

It would truly be a tragedy if any one of these research projects were to run aground because of difficulties on IP regime, or funding, or other barriers to access to market.

It is our responsibility to address this problem. Whether the cause is a lack of awareness about IP, which is often the case, or bureaucratic licensing disputes, no medical breakthrough should sit idle in a lab when it could be saving or improving lives. This serious problem is at the centre of the hon. member's motion and should, if approved by the House, be a central issue for the health committee to study.

I am proud to say that our government has already shown leadership on this issue. Canada recently became the 20th country to accede to the Marrakesh Treaty, allowing the treaty to come into force. The treaty aims to bring the global community together to better address growing demand for published materials for those with print disabilities.

With proper funding and protection, Canadian intellectual property could contribute so much more to the world. Canada has a proud tradition of leadership in the field of medicine. From doctors Banting and Best, who developed life-saving insulin to treat diabetes, to Dr. William Penfield, who developed a surgical method for treating epilepsy, known as the Montreal procedure, Canadians can be proud of their work.

If Canada is to carry on in this great tradition and remain on the cutting edge of medical advancement, we must revisit Canada's intellectual property regime. We in the House owe it to Canadians and the world to make sure life-saving medical advancements are available to those in need.

I would like to express for my colleagues, constituents, and stakeholders that the motion is not about assigning blame or fault. The motion is about making the most of Canadian ingenuity and innovation in the field of medical research. We cannot accomplish this goal by pointing fingers. We can accomplish this goal if we harness the unique strengths of businesses, governments, universities, and colleges. Each has a role to play and each has strengths to contribute. It is my sincere hope that the health committee study initiated by the motion will bring together all these stakeholders and suggest some solutions to this growing problem. We are looking for a new strategy to streamline Canadian medical IP.

I would like to again thank the member for Kitchener Centre for putting forward this important motion for debate. His experience as a pharmacist and the work he has done in helping the people of Kitchener Centre will now continue on, to looking at broadening the scope to all of Canada, in fact, looking to help the world.

Canadians are rightly proud of their health care system, which itself depends upon research and discovery. I implore all my colleagues in the House to support this important motion so the legacy of Canadian medical innovation and advancements can benefit Canadians and the rest of the world. I am very pleased to present my support for the member for Kitchener Centre.

Federally Funded Health ResearchPrivate Members' Business

5:35 p.m.


Marilyn Gladu Conservative Sarnia—Lambton, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise in the House today to speak in support of Motion No. 132, brought forward by the member for Kitchener Centre. As the shadow minister for health and as the vice chair for the Standing Committee on Health, I believe that a study on ways to optimize health research funding and lower the costs of prescription medications would be both timely and insightful.

The motion calls on the Standing Committee on Health to study better ways of increasing public benefits from federally funded health research, with the goals of lowering drug costs and increasing access to medications both in Canada and across the globe. I fully support the motion.

I believe that Canada's health researchers are among the best in the world and that Canada is internationally renowned as a leader in health innovation, research, and development. Making sure that federal research funding is being used as efficiently as possible just makes sense. In a similar vein, I believe all Canadians should have affordable access to the prescription medication they need, and I am very eager to do research on the subject.

Canada is recognized across the globe as a world leader in health research with very strong capabilities in the field of vaccines. Canadian researchers are responsible for breakthroughs in the fields of cancer, HIV/AIDS, malaria, tuberculosis, polio, multiple sclerosis, and diabetes research. The list goes on.

These discoveries have saved lives and continue to do so today. This week, a major international research collaboration discovered 72 new genetic markers that contribute to the risk of developing breast cancer. This international group included many Canadians. This discovery more than doubled the number of known genetic markers for the disease. We have some of the best research institutes in the world and Canadian innovations continue to move at a rapid rate.

I agree with the intent of this bill, and I would like to thank the member for bringing it forward at this time. A well-rounded study on this issue would be valuable to parliamentarians and all Canadians. It could lead to increased efficiency in how medical research funding is used.

There is always room for further innovation. I believe Canada can continue to be a leader. Strong, well-placed research funding can go a very long way to foster innovation and results.

Furthermore, we need to assure that the findings of this research will be made available at a reasonable speed. I believe that we should always be working towards getting the most from our research funding, and that taxpayer dollars be used in the most efficient manner possible.

As in many other health-related fields, I believe we have much to learn from the health research and funding structures used in other countries. Prioritizing health research on common issues and fostering international collaboration on health research projects would eliminate a lot of overlap and could lead to major studies. International collaboration is one way to use research funding efficiently and promote positive working relationships with researchers in other countries.

The second portion of this motion speaks to the need for further study into lowering the costs of pharmaceutical drugs in Canada, and how to make them more accessible in Canada and globally. All Canadians should have reasonable access to the prescription medications that they need. Today, 88% of Canadians have some form of pharmaceutical coverage through either private or public insurance plans. This gap leaves 12% of Canadians with no prescription medical coverage or inadequate coverage.

I believe that lowering the cost of prescription medications, through strategies such as bulk buying, would go a long way to making sure Canadians can access the medications they need. However, we need to co-operate with our provincial partners as well, since they have jurisdiction in this area. As with all matters related to health, we will have to tread carefully.

I am pleased to be involved at health committee with the study on pharmacare and the costing the parliamentary budget officer did on that program. We could use our volume leverage within Canada to save $4 billion in prescription drug costs. That would be a huge advancement for Canada.

There are a number of very expensive medications to treat rare diseases and, in many cases, these are either not covered or they put undue stress on the insurance companies that are trying to provide them. This is an area where research into how to either replace those medications with more cost-effective ones or to address the root cause of the diseases would be helpful.

Today at health committee we were pleased to have folks speak to us about the problem with antibiotics and the resistance to them from over use. Organizations across Canada are looking at what needs to be done to address this problem, which is actually a global problem. They pointed to the need for research. They need to have research into antibiotics and how to reduce the bacteria from becoming resistant. We need global co-operation on that effort. This is another key area where we would see the need for the kind of research the motion sets out.

Canadians have made many discoveries in research. The member for Guelph just talked about a few of them, one being Banting and Best and the insulin discovery. Everyone in the world knows Canadians played a part in that. Canada shines in my other areas. The ebola plague is one. Canada came up with the research, the solution, and provided the vaccine that saved thousands of lives.

Canada has clearly established itself in the world as a leader. We have the capability to go ahead. This motion would bring the encouragement that we need to go ahead and fund and direct the research to reduce the cost of prescription drugs and to continue growing our leadership in this area.

One thing I will talk about is the Naylor report on fundamental research. It covered the area of health research and talked about the increased funding that would be needed. It also talked about many recommendations. That report was issued earlier this year. I have not really heard much from the government about that and what it intends to move forward with this. With our aging population and with the trend going from acute disease to chronic disease, there is an ever-increasing need for health research to address these conditions.

Once again, I would like to thank the member for Kitchener Centre for bringing the motion forward and for his ongoing support of medical research in Canada. Dedicated and prioritized health research funding, coupled with more accessible prescription medications, is worth specific study at the Standing Committee on Health.

As members may know, I recently became the shadow health minister and so I am getting up to speed on many of these files. The pharmacare study apparently started over a year ago, so it is quite a task to absorb the summary evidence that was given.

As I saw today, the antimicrobial resistance study that we are doing also began before I became the shadow health minister. We certainly are doing work that touches on the issues raised by the motion. I look forward to working with the health committee to study this issue in-depth.

Once again, I am thankful for the opportunity to speak to the motion. I want to congratulate the member for Kitchener Centre for bringing this forward. It is my pleasure to say that we will be supporting the motion.

Alleged Actions of Member for Spadina—Fort YorkPoints of OrderPrivate Members' Business

5:45 p.m.

Spadina—Fort York Ontario


Adam Vaughan LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Families

Mr. Speaker, in my absence, I understand that a point of order was raised earlier this afternoon while I was at committee doing work on behalf of the minister I serve. I understand that the member for Richmond Centre has concerns about an interaction we had on one of the buses that shuttles back and forth between our offices, following our duty here in the House.

I do not share the characterization of the events as they were reported to have taken place, and will stand that by. However, it is not a question of what I feel, it is not a question of my perspective, but a question of the perspective and the point of order raised by the member for Richmond Centre.

No member of this House should ever feel intimidated. No member of this House should ever feel that an exchange with a member of the opposition or even a colleague leaves them feeling intimated. I regret that the member felt intimidated. I have no other course of action to take than to apologize directly.

Regardless of my intent, regardless of my behaviour, if the member felt that she was intimidated, that is wrong. I take full responsibility for her feeling that. Her feelings do matter. I do respect them. I do respect this House. I will conduct my business more appropriately in the future.

Again, I apologize to any member who felt intimidated by any interaction I played a part in. Again, it is not my feelings that are stake here, it is not my sentiment, it is hers. I respect them as they have been presented to the House and I do apologize. I will apologize to her directly as well.

Alleged Actions of Member for Spadina—Fort YorkPoints of OrderPrivate Members' Business

5:50 p.m.


The Assistant Deputy Speaker Liberal Anthony Rota

As is the procedure in the House, the member's apology is accepted. We will come back, if need be.

Alleged Actions of Member for Spadina—Fort YorkPoints of OrderPrivate Members' Business

5:50 p.m.


Dave MacKenzie Conservative Oxford, ON

Mr. Speaker, I think it is fine that the member came in here to make a response, but even more importantly, it would be way better if the member for Richmond Centre were present.

When a member comes in at the end of a day, when the House is not really sitting, when there are not a lot of people here during private members' business, the apology almost rings hollow.

The apology should be made in the presence of the member for Richmond Centre. I hope the Speaker sees that.

Alleged Actions of Member for Spadina—Fort YorkPoints of OrderPrivate Members' Business

5:50 p.m.


Adam Vaughan Liberal Spadina—Fort York, ON

Mr. Speaker, my understanding is that the proper procedure and appropriate response is to apologize as soon as possible. As I said, I have no hesitation in apologizing to her directly and no hesitation in taking responsibility for the way in which my actions have left a member feeling.

As I said, no member should ever feel unsafe or intimidated. I apologize for whatever contribution I made to her feeling that way. She should not feel that way. I take this matter as seriously as she does and as seriously as the House would expect me to.