House of Commons Hansard #237 of the 42nd Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was finance.

Topics

Opposition Motion—Finance Minister's AssetsBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

5:10 p.m.

NDP

The Assistant Deputy Speaker NDP Carol Hughes

I have to allow the member to respond, and we have to be able to get some more questions in.

The hon. member for Renfrew—Nipissing—Pembroke.

Opposition Motion—Finance Minister's AssetsBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

5:10 p.m.

Conservative

Cheryl Gallant Conservative Renfrew—Nipissing—Pembroke, ON

Madam Speaker, I appreciate that my biggest fan across the way was paying attention today.

Unfortunately, his comments were an affront to the House of Commons. What we would appreciate, as would all parliamentarians, is for the finance minister to table his holdings, not only for the Ethics Commissioner but, in view of transparency and letting that sun shine through, so all Canadians could know whether he was in a conflict of interest.

Opposition Motion—Finance Minister's AssetsBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

5:10 p.m.

NDP

Nathan Cullen NDP Skeena—Bulkley Valley, BC

Madam Speaker, here is something I will say inside the House, and I will repeat it outside the House. This was in the mandate letter to the finance minister and to all ministers in the cabinet:

...you must uphold the highest standards of honesty and impartiality, and both the performance of your official duties and the arrangement of your private affairs should bear the closest public scrutiny.

This is what Liberals committed to. This is what the Prime Minister committed to, and all of his cabinet ministers made the same promise to Canadians.

We have the case of the finance minister, who for two years allowed it to be believed that his personal assets were in a blind trust. We then found out, because reporters dug into the files and found out, that was not the case. He then revealed that it was true: he had shares in Morneau Shepell and he introduced a bill that would help Morneau Shepell out. However, he was going to donate the profits to charity, some millions of dollars.

Now there is another question. He has five other companies that are in numbered accounts, in which nobody has any clue what is held, including my friend from Winnipeg North. If the Liberals are going hold to their promise of public scrutiny, then they should simply do it. That is what makes the story go away.

I am not sure the Liberals even see this as a problem. That should be a concern to all Canadians.

Opposition Motion—Finance Minister's AssetsBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

5:10 p.m.

Conservative

Cheryl Gallant Conservative Renfrew—Nipissing—Pembroke, ON

Madam Speaker, I did not hear a question from the member, but his comments were well taken by all parliamentarians.

The Prime Minister required, in mandate letters, that the ministers go over and above what was required of them in the code of ethics. It did state public disclosure. Public disclosure means disclosure to all Canadians. We ask that the minister uphold and bring to light his entire holdings.

Opposition Motion—Finance Minister's AssetsBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

5:10 p.m.

NDP

The Assistant Deputy Speaker NDP Carol Hughes

I will have to interrupt the member shortly. I just wanted to let him know.

The hon. member for Sherwood Park—Fort Saskatchewan.

Opposition Motion—Finance Minister's AssetsBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

5:15 p.m.

Conservative

Garnett Genuis Conservative Sherwood Park—Fort Saskatchewan, AB

Madam Speaker, I appreciate the opportunity to briefly address this debate.

Earlier I thought the NDP asked a great question about salmon stocks during question period. However, I would suggest to the NDP members that if they want the government to care about salmon stocks, all they have to do is get the finance minister to buy some.

With one minute left, I just want to say that members of the government claim that the finance minister did not break any rules. In fact, he paid a $200 fine for breaking rules. He had a villa in France that he did not tell the Ethics Commissioner about. On the face of it, their talking points with respect to that are not factual.

In light of the vast amounts of money the finance minister has made as a result of the appreciation of his shares since he became the finance minister, I doubt the $200 fine will sting very much.

The reality is that it was clear that he broke the rules. More than that, Canadians can very clearly see a conflict of interest.

Opposition Motion—Finance Minister's AssetsBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

5:15 p.m.

NDP

The Assistant Deputy Speaker NDP Carol Hughes

It being 5:15 p.m., it is my duty to interrupt the proceedings and put forthwith every question necessary to dispose of the business of supply.

The question is on the motion. Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?

Opposition Motion—Finance Minister's AssetsBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

5:15 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

No.

Opposition Motion—Finance Minister's AssetsBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

5:15 p.m.

NDP

The Assistant Deputy Speaker NDP Carol Hughes

All those in favour of the motion will please say yea.

Opposition Motion—Finance Minister's AssetsBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

5:15 p.m.

Some hon. members

Yea.

Opposition Motion—Finance Minister's AssetsBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

5:15 p.m.

NDP

The Assistant Deputy Speaker NDP Carol Hughes

All those opposed will please say nay.

Opposition Motion—Finance Minister's AssetsBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

5:15 p.m.

Some hon. members

Nay.

Opposition Motion—Finance Minister's AssetsBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

5:15 p.m.

NDP

The Assistant Deputy Speaker NDP Carol Hughes

In my opinion the yeas have it.

And five or more members having risen:

Call in the members.

Opposition Motion—Finance Minister's AssetsBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

5:15 p.m.

Conservative

Michelle Rempel Conservative Calgary Nose Hill, AB

Madam Speaker, I ask that the vote be deferred until Monday, November 27, 2017, at the end of the time provided for government orders.

Opposition Motion—Finance Minister's AssetsBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

5:15 p.m.

NDP

The Assistant Deputy Speaker NDP Carol Hughes

Accordingly, the recorded division stands deferred until Monday, November 27, at the expiry of the time provided for government orders.

Opposition Motion—Finance Minister's AssetsBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

5:15 p.m.

Conservative

John Nater Conservative Perth—Wellington, ON

Madam Speaker, I think you will find unanimous consent to see the clock as 5:30 p.m.

Opposition Motion—Finance Minister's AssetsBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

5:15 p.m.

NDP

The Assistant Deputy Speaker NDP Carol Hughes

Is it agreed?

Opposition Motion—Finance Minister's AssetsBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

5:15 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Opposition Motion—Finance Minister's AssetsBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

5:15 p.m.

NDP

The Assistant Deputy Speaker NDP Carol Hughes

We are all agreed.

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.

National Impaired Driving Prevention WeekPrivate Members' Business

5:15 p.m.

Liberal

Nicola Di Iorio Liberal Saint-Léonard—Saint-Michel, QC

moved:

Motion No. 148

That, in the opinion of the House, the government should recognize the importance of educating Canadians about the consequences of impaired driving due to alcohol, drugs, fatigue or distraction, which, each year, destroys the lives and health of thousands of Canadians, by designating the third week of March, each year, National Impaired Driving Prevention Week.

Madam Speaker, it is with tremendous enthusiasm that I rise to introduce my private member's bill, Motion No. 148. Such bills represent an important part of the work conducted by this House. PMBs, as we refer to them around here, provide members such as myself with an opportunity to put forward and pursue a matter that is believed to be of fundamental interest to our fellow citizens, to trigger a fundamental change in their lives, and to provide a tangible solution to a problem currently impacting their lives.

It is with great pride that I apply myself in my duties as member of Parliament for Saint-Léonard—Saint-Michel. I represent good people, who on a daily basis further themselves to improve their lives and those they hold dear, thus ensuring that we all have a better country that we can all be proud of. I feel very humble when I witness the trust they place in me.

While I resisted the pressures and invitations to become a candidate for public office because of my concerns about my family and profession, all of my constituents know that, when I accepted, I did so with all my determination, energy, and enthusiasm. It was equally clear that I would continue to pursue activities that both defined me and enriched my experience as a parliamentarian. Thus, I continued my practice of law, my teaching, research, and book-writing activities, my involvement with charities, and most important of all, my work as an advocate for road safety, work that brings me back to an important motivation and guiding principle in my decision to enter public service.

Chief among the reasons for carrying on my professional, philanthropic, and community activities after my election is my deep-felt need to remain grounded and retain sufficient independence to carry on my work as an elected official. I am fully mindful that, because of my decision to remain an active law practitioner, and by virtue of the prevailing rules in place, I am precluded from ever occupying a cabinet position. As I will explain shortly, my personal journey and the objectives that I set to attain while having the privilege of being an integral part of this institution more than makes up for any opportunity that I might be forgoing.

I notice that our fellow citizens are adopting healthy lifestyles these days. Ironically, by leading an active life, they are putting their lives at risk, because accidents are the leading cause of death for Canadians under 45. That statistic includes all accidents, not just road accidents, though road accidents account for a substantial portion. Canada suffered a great tragedy in the 2000s when 158 Canadian men and women in uniform gave their lives for their country in a decade-long war.

However, over that same period, nearly 100 times more people died in collisions involving drugs and alcohol. It is an unspeakable tragedy. We are talking about nearly 15,000 people who died in that way. Wars end, but road fatalities never do. Every day, four Canadians die in a collision involving alcohol or drugs. Sadly, the tragedy does not end there, as others suffer serious injuries, leading to paralysis, amputation, and other functional limitations. Add to that all the other injuries and their consequences, as well as the material damages, hospital bills, health care costs, and subsequent losses to society.

In terms of the criminal aspect, police reported more than 72,000 impaired driving incidents in 2015. Impaired driving is the most common offence in cases heard by criminal courts. It is the leading criminal cause of death in Canada.

This brings us to cannabis. As we speak, Canadians are driving under the influence of cannabis. This drug is currently sold by criminal gangs, which are motivated solely by profit and are not bound by any obligation to ensure the well-being or safety of their clients. It goes without saying that when cannabis is legalized, people will continue to consume it, and we will still have a problem with people driving under the influence of cannabis. We are entering a new era that will require a new approach and stepped-up prevention efforts.

The legalization of cannabis raises many concerns about its impact on driving. However, legalization also brings new hope, as it may result in more research on cannabis, its effects, and, above all, techniques for determining its precise impact on driving ability.

As for collisions and non-accidents, in common language, we tend to consider or at least to talk about a fatality caused by a drunk driver as an accident, when really, there is nothing accidental about it. It is a collision, not an accident.

In terms of technology, we cannot talk about the tragedy of impaired driving without mentioning the meaningful progress that has been made in recent years. Although considerable progress has been made, we still cannot forget the staggering number of deaths that do still occur as well as the serious injuries. I want to reiterate that this progress would not have been possible without all the efforts made in the area of prevention by many stakeholders in the field. I cannot say it enough: prevention must continue. We must constantly continue, renew, and increase prevention efforts.

There is more. Technology must also serve to help and strengthen prevention. Over the next few years, we can look forward to advances in artificial intelligence and deep learning in order to come up with more solutions to eliminate the scourge of drug-impaired driving and eliminate the sources of distracted driving.

What is my motivation? To adequately describe my motivation, I need to provide a glimpse into my personal journey. After 5,000 years of lineage in a magnificent locality in what is now Italy, I was the first generation to be born abroad, namely, in my great country of Canada, while being a dual citizen. Where I was born was, at the time, the poorest area of the poorest neighbourhood in Canada. While being poor, we never felt poor, because we had one another.

My father is a survivor of the Nazi camps, where he faced forced labour, the harshness of physical and psychological punishment, and hunger on a daily basis. Both he and my mother devoted themselves to their family while instilling the values and virtues of hard work and service to the community. That is what brought me to be a founder of the largest ethnic cultural centre in Canada, the Leonardo da Vinci Centre, on the board of which I remain to this day and where I have established my riding office.

Then there was a call. In my case, it all began with a phone call in the middle of the night on July 24, 2010. The phone stopped ringing before I could answer it. I went back to bed, and shortly after, it rang again. When I answered, the caller identified himself as a physician in the emergency ward of the Montreal General Hospital. One of my three daughters had been brought there after being in a car that struck a tree at a very high speed, actually 140 kilometres an hour. She was in critical condition, had brain bleeds, multiple fractures, and was in a coma. I did not recognize her when I saw her. The physician insisted that I get to the hospital as quickly as possible. He kept repeating and asking if I understood what that meant.

It was the summer of Claudia's 16th birthday. After a midsummer school reunion, she was waiting for a taxi with two friends when a young man offered to drive the girls home. Despite their initial refusal, they accepted. Claudia and her friend, Justine, arrived at the hospital between life and death.

Claudia was in a month-long coma before waking up completely paralyzed. I was told she would never walk again. I never accepted the initial reports that she would not make it. Claudia, on the other hand, never accepted the notion that she would not walk again. Today I simply need to turn my head, and I see a living miracle every time I look at her. Now she attends McGill law school. She is the youngest member of the board of directors of a public corporation in Canada's history. She was awarded the distinction of the Young Quebecers Leading the Way Award for 2017. She has run two half marathons. All of that is because of her tireless advocacy in matters of road safety, and particularly, impaired-driving prevention. She is a survivor and a miracle. However, Justine, who was with her in the car, is still in the hospital, having gone through another surgery this week.

Claudia asked that I salute the member for Souris—Moose Mountain for his inspiring words of wisdom he shared with me and with her this morning, and also that I salute the member for Rivière-du-Nord, whose son was lost in a similar tragedy.

I dissected the events. I had ample time to reflect. That is when I created Cool Taxi with the fathers of two other girls, which offers the option of a safe ride home and gives an opportunity that did not exist before. What we also see is the number of deaths in Quebec, as elsewhere in Canada. In Quebec we used to lose 100 kids a year between the ages of 16 and 25. Now we lose 50. That means that every year, there are 50 kids who are alive, and this is year after year.

I want to salute all those who participated in the round table this morning and give a particular salute to Theresa-Anne Kramer, MADD, la Fondation Jean Lapointe, the Canadian Centre on Substance Abuse and Addiction, Arrive Alive, and Alco Prevention Canada.

What I really want to emphasize is that people can change their behaviour, and prevention and intervention efforts on the part of all of the volunteers and groups working in this area can help.

I hope that all of these efforts combined will put an end to this scourge. I am asking my colleagues to say yes to making a difference, to road safety, to prevention, to saving lives, and to a national impaired driving prevention week.

National Impaired Driving Prevention WeekPrivate Members' Business

5:30 p.m.

Conservative

Robert Gordon Kitchen Conservative Souris—Moose Mountain, SK

Madam Speaker, I commend the hon. member for his passion and commitment to this motion.

I had the opportunity to meet with the member's daughter earlier today. I am honoured to say that I am a survivor like her. Families are affected by this tremendously. My parents were halfway around the world when it happened to me. Neither one of them knew what was going on. In those days, we did not have cellphones to get that information. I truly understand and feel for what he and his family have had to go through.

Part of this conversation has one discussion that has never happened. While we have heard from MADD and its representatives have spoken about various aspects of impaired driving, we have not heard from the victims. We do not ask the victims, those of us who were lucky enough to survive such a tragic event.

Could the member provide us with his thoughts on that?

National Impaired Driving Prevention WeekPrivate Members' Business

5:35 p.m.

Liberal

Nicola Di Iorio Liberal Saint-Léonard—Saint-Michel, QC

Madam Speaker, I salute my dear colleague. He has been extremely generous with the words he has shared with my daughter and also with his insight and advice. I commend him for having made it all the way to this honourable institution.

My daughter was victimized by the accident, and she was also victimized by the judicial process. It was extremely painful going through that. I am a lawyer by profession, and I owned the courthouse. It was where I spent most of the time. Despite that, this was one of the most painful exercises. I always think about the other victims who do not have the expertise I have to navigate through it. I realized that what was lacking in our system was that the victims were not represented in the judicial process.

National Impaired Driving Prevention WeekPrivate Members' Business

November 23rd, 2017 / 5:35 p.m.

Liberal

Ken Hardie Liberal Fleetwood—Port Kells, BC

Madam Speaker, when I was in my early teens, one of my favourite buddies was a cousin. We woke up one morning to the news that he had been killed by a drunk driver up in Prince George. In those days, the penalties were not what we would see today. I think the driver was fined something like $65.

I have learned over time, and particularly in the work I did with the public auto insurer in British Columbia where my job was to try to educate the public about the dangers of drinking and driving. and other bad driving behaviours, that when somebody starts to drink, the first thing that goes is the person's judgment. All of a sudden, he or she is not in a situation to make wise, sane choices.

Could my hon. colleague talk about the message we need to send to people in a drinking and driving prevention week, which talks about making wise decisions before their judgment is impaired?

National Impaired Driving Prevention WeekPrivate Members' Business

5:35 p.m.

Liberal

Nicola Di Iorio Liberal Saint-Léonard—Saint-Michel, QC

Madam Speaker, I will provide an example of where we are all at risk of getting involved with such behaviour.

A friend, a person who is highly commended in his community, was arrested for impaired driving. When I spoke with him I said, “You of all people”. He had such a positive attitude, and was an example for everybody. I asked him how he could have been involved in that. He said that he was at an event, people started having a few drinks, and he was getting phone calls all evening about an emergency at the office. He kept trying to manage it over the phone, but at some point he told those in his office to calm down, that he would go to the office. He got in his car, and the first thing he knew, he was stopped by the police. When the police officer asked him if he had been drinking, for a split second, he forgot he had been drinking.

Prevention is so important because it is a constant reminder. Prevention is what works.

National Impaired Driving Prevention WeekPrivate Members' Business

5:35 p.m.

Conservative

Larry Maguire Conservative Brandon—Souris, MB

Madam Speaker, every day across Canada we know individuals who get behind the wheel of a car and make that dreadful decision of driving while impaired. I would be willing to suggest that there is not a single member in this House who has not been either directly or indirectly impacted by an incident of impaired driving.

I know the member for Saint-Léonard—Saint-Michel has been an advocate for ways to reduce impaired driving since his own daughter was severely injured in an accident involving an impaired driver. I am so glad to see her here with us in the chamber today in the gallery. I applaud the member for all that he has done to raise awareness, and for introducing a private member's motion that would proclaim the third week of March, each and every year, to be designated national impaired driving prevention week.

Far too often we hear in the news about another incident or fatality because a driver made the dreadful decision of thinking that he or she was still capable of operating a vehicle or would not get caught. In preparing for this motion, it was heart-wrenching to read about what the member for Saint-Léonard—Saint-Michel went through as his daughter was recovering, as well as listening to his presentation here in the chamber this evening. If passing this motion saves one life, then it is worth setting in stone a full week solely for the purpose of highlighting impaired driving.

I understand that through the good work of schools, police departments, governments, and organizations, such as Mothers Against Drunk Driving, individuals are being bombarded with respect to the consequences of getting behind the wheel after one too many beers or being high on prescription drugs or illegal substances. Police departments, such as the one in the city of Brandon, are constantly setting up check stops to look for those who think they can evade the law and put others at risk.

Many may be surprised to know this, but impaired driving in rural areas is far more overrepresented than those living in large urban centres. The reason is that in places like Ottawa and Toronto, or even in smaller communities like Red Deer or North Bay, there are available means of public transportation. This statistic of having more incidences of impaired driving in rural Canada should lead to a larger discussion on how we can make sure that impaired drivers stay off the roads and highways. Technology and innovations, such as Uber or Lyft, could in fact bridge that gap of having available ways to get home. Another program that has worked quite successfully is Operation Red Nose. For years, the volunteers of this very worthwhile program have driven thousands of people home from Christmas or New Year's parties, while also raising funds for many worthwhile causes.

The worst thing about discussing the topic of driving while impaired is that there are still some people out there in society who are more than willing to continue to do it, yet they do not think about the others who may get hurt because of their terrible life decision. Driving while impaired is one of the most selfish decisions that anyone can make.

There are some serious concerns out there that Canadians are not getting the message. According to a recent study, despite years of public messaging about the dangers of drinking and driving, Canada rates the worst among 19 wealthy countries for the percentage of roadway deaths linked to alcohol impairment. Last year, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention did a study of various countries and found that while fewer people were dying from car crashes, the proportion of deaths linked to alcohol impairment was 34%, which is higher than any other country that it surveyed.

I am also pleased that the member has put forward in his motion that drugs, fatigue, and distraction would also be part of a prevention week.

Psychoactive prescription drugs can also contribute to impaired driving. Not every prescription drug out there will have the same effect on one's body and mind. In many circumstances it will impact drivers in varying degrees based on the length of time they have taken the prescription drug or the dosage. While alcohol and illegal substances are now at the forefront of any discussion involving impaired driving, we can never forget that more Canadians take prescription drugs than ever before in our history.

While there are particular stories involving prescription drugs that have made the news, such as the recent incident involving a famous golfer, it is imperative for all of us to shine a light on the inadequate amount of information available to everyday Canadians about the consequences of prescription drugs and their impact on one's motor skills. We also know there are countless instances of people being under the influence of drugs such as marijuana, cocaine, ecstasy, and crystal meth, which impact their body and brain just as badly, if not worse, than alcohol. According to the Canadian Centre on Substance Abuse and Addiction, the percentage of Canadian drivers fatally injured in vehicle crashes and testing positive for drugs now exceeds that of drivers testing positive for alcohol.

As parliamentarians, we must be fully seized with the unintended consequences of legalizing recreational marijuana. I have spoken at great length about my trepidations of rushing the July 1, 2018 deadline. While I am fully supportive of this private member's motion, I wonder if we should at this moment in time heed the advice of police chiefs, mayors, and provincial governments, who all say they will not be prepared by this date. Across Canada, police departments are scrambling to train and certify their officers as drug recognition experts so they can identify and charge those who are impaired.

If we at this time can reflect on the real life consequences of what will happen once marijuana is legalized for recreational purposes, all partisanship aside, it would be inappropriate to rush ahead until at least the training and equipment are acquired by our law enforcement agencies.

It is truly astounding that regardless of how many times people are reminded and taught about the dangers of driving while impaired, the numbers are not coming down as quickly as we would like. According to MADD Canada, over a thousand Canadians are dying in impairment-related crashes. While there have been great strides in bringing this number down, there is still much more to do.

We must never forget that only 50 years ago, impaired driving was in many instances a tolerated behaviour. Many of us have heard stories of someone being caught behind the wheel being impaired, yet sometimes being allowed by the police officer to drive home while the officer followed them to make sure they made it. Now in Canada, our drunk driving laws are some of the most heavily litigated in our judicial system, and massive amounts of resources are being applied to keep our roadways safe.

I know that bars, pubs, and restaurants are all doing their part in serving responsibly. I know that organizations are working diligently around the clock to lobby for stricter laws and new laws to deter reckless behaviour. The most powerful antidote to fix this problem is for friends and loved ones to step up to the plate and ensure that nobody operates a motor vehicle while impaired. Education and awareness must continue. I know there are many members in this House who have worked diligently on Bill C-46. I also know that police and RCMP officers are doing everything in their power to enforce the law and keep dangerous drivers from hurting others.

No person or family deserves to go through what the member for Saint-Léonard—Saint-Michel has gone through. I too know first-hand what it means to be directly impacted by an impaired driver. One incident is too many. We should never tolerate, under any circumstance, driving while impaired as socially acceptable. With that I will finish my remarks, and once again thank my hon. colleague for all his work throughout the years and for bringing this debate to the floor of the House of Commons.