House of Commons Hansard #230 of the 42nd Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was economy.


Department of Public Works and Government Services ActPrivate Members' Business

11 a.m.


Wayne Easter Liberal Malpeque, PE

moved that Bill S-236, An Act to recognize Charlottetown as the birthplace of Confederation, be read the second time and referred to a committee.

Mr. Speaker, it is an honour for me to rise today to move second reading of Bill S-236, an act to recognize Charlottetown as the birthplace of Confederation.

I begin by thanking my hon. colleague and fellow Islander, Senator Diane Griffin, for sponsoring the bill in the other place and for ably stickhandling it through the Senate legislative process. Of course thanks are also due to the senators who engaged in fulsome and thoughtful debate on Bill S-236 and who brought profile to the story of the founding of our great nation, and improved on the original bill.

Let me turn to the nuts and bolts of Bill S-236. The bill aims to entrench, honour, and affirm Charlottetown's integral role in the history of our country as the place where, in 1864, Sir John A. Macdonald led the Fathers of Confederation in a discussion about the political union that eventually led to Confederation. Reflecting on that foundational time in our history is especially important now as we near the end of the year-long celebration of our nation's 150th anniversary, and look forward to the next 150 years as a progressive, inclusive, and growing country.

Our founding fathers, I believe, with the seed of the idea of nationhood developed in Charlottetown and followed up later at the Quebec Conference, built better than they knew. In addition, I think it is critical to recognize that Bill S-236 will be an important contribution to the story of our nation's history that has been told in part by a number of actions that have preceded it, both in this place and elsewhere.

The bill will complement the September 1996 proclamation by the Right Hon. Jean Chrétien that recognized the role of Charlottetown as the birthplace of Confederation, and affirmed the city as an integral part of our Canadian heritage.

Prime Minister Lester B. Pearson should also be recognized. In October 1964, he had the official opening of the Confederation Centre of the Arts as Canada's national memorial to the Fathers of Confederation.

It also complements two measures that were passed in the P.E.I. Legislative Assembly: the Birthplace of Confederation Act; and a unanimous motion passed in December 2016, supporting the declaration of Charlottetown as the birthplace of Confederation and urging all of us as parliamentarians to support that legislation.

The story of Confederation is a story of building relationships. It is what we do within Canada and around the world. It is what we have always done.

On September 1, 1864, leaders of the governments and legislatures of Prince Edward Island, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, and the Province of Canada met in Charlottetown, P.E.I. for what came to be known as the Charlottetown Conference. There, they created a shared vision of a union of the British North American colonies, and the creation of a new country. They did so through peaceful and constructive conversation, which is something that cannot be said of all nations.

This point was vividly made by the University of Prince Edward Islands's Dr. Ed MacDonald when he appeared before the Senate Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs during its examination of the bill in June. He said:

Other nations were born at the tip of a sword. We were born at the point of a pen by discussion and negotiation.

From this perspective, while the story of Confederation may be less dramatic than that of some other nations, I think that it reflects what is probably not a uniquely Canadian approach, but is perhaps quintessentially Canadian to the extent that we can work together collegially and try to find mutually beneficial solutions.

Certainly this Canadian approach is particularly relevant now, as we continue to take our place on the world stage and navigate international negotiations.

In both situations, we as Canadians look beyond our borders and within to re-examine long-standing relationships; reflect on our economic, social, and cultural values as Canadians; and show leadership to the world.

The parliamentary and public debate about the bill and about the story of Confederation that has occurred as we celebrate 150 years as a country has raised some issues that must be recognized. One is what many see as the lack of inclusive discussions at the Charlottetown Conference in 1864. No indigenous peoples were involved and no women participated.

I invite everyone though to cast their minds back to that year and to reflect on how common that situation probably was. “All men” was probably the rule rather than the exception to the rule. During the other place's consideration of Bill S-236, Senator Griffin read a statement from the Mi'kmaq Confederacy that reflects the importance of indigenous people to P.E.I.'s heritage as it does to the heritage of all regions of Canada.

The statement noted that Prince Edward Island has been the home of the Mi'kmaq people for more than 12,000 years, yet they were not invited to participate in the Charlottetown Conference. It also emphasized the continued importance of the inclusion of Canada's indigenous peoples on a nation-to-nation basis on all matters.

Over time, we have learned to be a more inclusive society, one that respects diversity in all its forms and values that brings. I am confident that the parties who would be involved in these types of discussions today would be more representative of our peoples and our regions than was the case 150 years ago. We cannot rewrite history. We can only move forward with the lessons that we learn from history.

I also want to recognize that while the Charlottetown Conference may be viewed as the watershed moment in the story of Confederation, the importance of the Quebec Conference in 1864 and the London Conference two years later cannot be understated. During consideration in the other place, the preamble of Bill S-236 was amended in order to acknowledge those important conferences. Yes, the bill would allow us to celebrate a particular city, but it would also allow us to honour and to affirm our built heritage.

A great many nations do so. As a member of the Canada-U.S. Interparliamentary Group, I had the privilege of visiting Independence Hall in Philadelphia, which is a landmark that is revered throughout the United States and recognized around the globe. This physical place, built heritage, gives Americans and international visitors a sense of history, a sense of place, a sense of how the United States came into being.

Some 20 years ago, I had the occasion to take my American counterparts onto the floor of Province House in order to hold our final Canada-U.S. IPG session. As we walked on the worn steps we explained to them that Province House is the location of the province's legislature and very importantly is the national treasure where the founding discussions about our country occurred. It may be just my imagination, and most people around this place know I do not have a big imagination, but I want to think that I saw awe in the eyes of my American colleagues that mirrors that which I saw when visiting Independence Hall. Although as is often the case with the Americans, they thought the place was a little smaller.

Province House is a national treasure where the Charlottetown Conference took place. It is one of the world's oldest still functioning parliamentary buildings and the only remaining building of the Confederation conferences. Built of Nova Scotia sandstone, we islanders are privileged that this building still stands strong in Charlottetown and remains the centre of political life.

The United States has Philadelphia's Independence Hall and no doubt other countries around the world have buildings they associate with their founding fathers. Such buildings provide citizens and visitors with a physical place to connect with history and gain a sense of how a nation came to be.

It is my hope that Charlottetown's Province House can be such a place, where visitors can stand as they admire the Confederation chamber's high-vaulted ceilings, upper balcony, cornice mouldings, and worn steps and reflect that they are in the same location where Canada's Fathers of Confederation met more than 150 years ago to discuss the future of our nation. Among others, Parks Canada is to be commended for the work that it continues to do to preserve and protect Province House in order to “give our past a future”.

Let me reiterate the bill's fundamental objectives: to affirm Charlottetown as the birthplace of Confederation; to complement provincial efforts; and to build on the designation of Charlottetown as the birthplace of our country in order to honour, celebrate, share, and educate. In reiterating that the story of Confederation is one of relationship building, let me say that I look forward to respectful and non-partisan debate in this place, and I urge my colleagues to support this bill.

To conclude, in addition to those I mentioned at the beginning of my remarks, let me thank a number of others who contributed in important ways to where we find ourselves today with this bill. Philip Brown must be commended for his passion and persistence, along with Sharon Larter and Leonard Cusack for their efforts; island MLA Jordan Brown; former MP and colleague George Proud, who introduced a similar bill many years ago; and the people from New Brunswick who helped bring national attention to our efforts through a friendly and spirited dialogue, exactly the sort that we would expect of Atlantic Canadians, about the story of Confederation. Last but certainly not least, let me thank my island colleague, the hon. member for Charlottetown, who is the House of Commons representative of the place that Province House calls home and will in due course be sharing his unique perspective on Bill S-236.

Department of Public Works and Government Services ActPrivate Members' Business

11:15 a.m.


Murray Rankin NDP Victoria, BC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to begin by congratulating my colleague from Malpeque for shepherding this initiative from the other place through this place.

In particular, I was drawn to the member's reference to Confederation being a story of building relationships, so I congratulate the member for also including in those relationships that of the indigenous members in Canada.

I have two questions for the hon. gentleman. First, would he support as part of this initiative including the Mi'kmaq population in and around Charlottetown in developing heritage and tourism materials to talk about their participation in this relationship of which the member speaks? Second, would he support the call to action number 45 of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission that asks for, “Reconcil[ing] Aboriginal and Crown constitutional and legal orders to ensure that Aboriginal peoples are full partners in Confederation”?

Department of Public Works and Government Services ActPrivate Members' Business

11:15 a.m.


Wayne Easter Liberal Malpeque, PE

Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister has made it very clear that we support the recommendations of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. The ministers have been involved very extensively in trying to work with the indigenous community to recognize those wrongs of the past and build for the future.

With regard to heritage sites around the city and on Prince Edward Island, that is happening in many cases. There is always much more to do but clearly, as I said in my remarks, the Mi'kmaq people have been residents, if I could call it that, of Prince Edward Island for some 12,000 years. They are a part of this. We are in different times today and their participation has to be recognized as well.

Department of Public Works and Government Services ActPrivate Members' Business

11:15 a.m.


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

Mr. Speaker, in the hon. member's remarks, he gave us a feel for why recognizing the birthplace of Canada and Confederation is so important. Why would we recognize it now? What is it about this point in history that we should leverage the lessons from 150 years ago and that birthplace and take it into the future? What has endured and what has changed, and why is now the right time to be recognizing this?

Department of Public Works and Government Services ActPrivate Members' Business

11:15 a.m.


Wayne Easter Liberal Malpeque, PE

Clearly the timing could not be more appropriate, Mr. Speaker. This is our 150th anniversary. It is a time of celebration. At this time, we are building on the experiences of our past. A lot of effort has gone into this over the last number of years, and everything has come together in this, our 150th year. This is the time to pass in legislation that Charlottetown is indeed the birthplace of Confederation.

However, as I mentioned in my remarks, there were other important events. Yes, Charlottetown was the birthplace of Confederation, but I could also go into what a number of people from Upper and Lower Canada said at the conference, how they talked about building a union. That was then built on in the Quebec and London conferences. Charlottetown is the birthplace, but to get there, there were other conferences that happened as well.

Department of Public Works and Government Services ActPrivate Members' Business

11:15 a.m.


Peter Van Loan Conservative York—Simcoe, ON

Mr. Speaker, this year marks the 150th anniversary of our country's Confederation. However, while it may seem strange to us now, the establishment of the Dominion of Canada in 1867 was by no means a foregone conclusion. In the pre-Confederation period, the colonies in British North America were seized with political deadlock and economic instability. They faced numerous challenges posed by geographic distance, barriers in language and communication, and distinct regional identities and interests.

Due to these significant obstacles, the prospect of any sort of union between the colonies seemed hopelessly impractical and unachievable. However, there were some great men, determined men, who were undeterred by the challenges they faced. They were motivated by the grander vision they shared for the disparate British North American colonies. These visionaries, the men we refer to as the Fathers of Confederation, set out to join the colonies and forge the future of a nation.

With this goal in mind, on the evening of Monday, August 29, these men—John A. Macdonald, George Brown, Thomas D'Arcy McGee, Alexander Galt, William McDougall, George-Étienne Cartier, Alexander Campbell, and Hector Langevin—boarded the SS Queen Victoria to sail down the St. Lawrence to Charlottetown, P.E.I.

At the same time, delegates from Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, and Prince Edward Island were about to hold a conference in Charlottetown to discuss a maritime union among the three provinces. However, the Canadian delegation believed that these discussions could result in something even more significant, so they resolved to join the Maritimers and make the case, not for a regional union but for a larger confederation.

The Charlottetown Conference began on Thursday, September 1, 1864, and lasted until Wednesday, September 7. There were 23 delegates in all, eight from the Canadas, as Ontario and Quebec were then known, and five from each of the maritime colonies. They met each day without interruption or adjournment on the second floor of the legislative council chamber in the Colonial Building.

Over the course of the week, John A. Macdonald and the rest of the Canadian contingent presented their arguments in favour of Confederation to the maritime delegates. The new nation would be one established in the spirit of co-operation. Each of the regions would be represented in a central government, which composition would be reflective of the general population. This government would be able to enact laws that would ensure the prosperity and security of the nation as a whole, which would be enhanced beyond what could ever be achieved by each colony on its own. The delegates were taken up with the vision for a new nation communicated by Macdonald and the others, and deliberations began in earnest to establish the terms for Confederation.

The long hours and hard work of the conference were punctuated by grand balls and dinners. On one such occasion, Macdonald and the Canadian delegates invited their counterparts to dine on the SS Queen Victoria. They had prepared well, bringing a boatload of champagne with them to Charlottetown for the occasion. Liquor and wine flowed freely, and there were numerous stirring and impromptu speeches.

According to historian P.B. Waite, it was moments like these that were truly “the beginning of Confederation. There were no resolutions and no signatures, only toasts and talk, but perhaps for the first time, some of the twenty-three delegates at Charlottetown began to drink the deeper draught of nationalism.”

These events fostered considerable amicability and mutual respect among the delegates, smoothing the path for the hard work of nation building. Despite such different backgrounds, regional interests, and aspirations, each man at the conference was able to work with the others in the interest of achieving something truly remarkable.

By the time the conference concluded on September 7, all of the initial discussions and agreements necessary had been made. It had been a success. Of course, not all was settled, and the conversation would need to continue, first at Quebec, where the bulk of the detailed hard negotiation and drafting took place, and finally in London, where the i's were dotted and the t's were crossed and the birthplace of Canada was finalized. The Charlottetown Conference had demonstrated that a union between the colonies was indeed possible.

As one observer noted, “the Charlottetown Conference established Confederation as a political reality. It gave Confederation the initial élan, the sense of common destiny, that for a time seemed to sweep all before it.” Because of the success of the Charlottetown Conference and the momentum it produced towards achieving Confederation, John A. Macdonald and the other Fathers of Confederation were able to find the consensus necessary to unite Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick, and Nova Scotia as the initial provinces in the Dominion of Canada. It was not long before their vision for a great country would finally stretch from sea to sea, with the other provinces and territories joining in subsequent years.

Were it not for the hard work and efforts of the Fathers of Confederation at that initial conference in Charlottetown, we would not have the strong, proud, and free country of Canada that we know today. There is no question that we would not be standing here in this place today if not for the tenacity and determination of the Fathers of Confederation, who worked so hard on those late summer days in Charlottetown over 150 years ago to secure the vision of a united country we call Canada. That is why, in the days leading up to the Charlottetown Conference, the Charlottetown Monitor declared that it would be, “perhaps the most important event-as far at least as the future destinies of these colonies are concerned-that has occurred during the present century.” It is for this reason that Charlottetown is now rightfully termed the birthplace of Confederation, which this bill seeks to formalize.

I am especially glad to see a bill such as this come about in this year, the year that we celebrate the 150th anniversary of Confederation. For the Canada 150 celebrations, the Liberal government determined that the history and the events of Confederation itself were not worthy to be celebrated as part of Canada 150. Despite that fact, everyday Canadians from across the country have taken it upon themselves to celebrate the people, events, and accomplishments of Canada's history themselves. Canadians care about their history and the places that have shaped that history. Prince Edward Island has seen a record increase in tourism this year, as Canadians and other visitors have flocked to the places that are of so much significance to the founding of our country. Therefore, I applaud the hon. member for Malpeque' s conscientious objection to the Liberal government's war on history, by recognizing the historic importance of Charlottetown in forming our country through the Charlottetown Conference. I would encourage all members of this House to continue to reflect upon the importance of historic places in our country and to seek out further opportunities to see these places preserved and restored.

It should be said that there is an element of irony in this effort to recognize Charlottetown as the birthplace of Confederation. As all who were listening carefully to that speech noted, while the conference took place there and those first four colonies took the step, the leap into Confederation, there was one that was conspicuously absent. That was the one that housed that original conference, Prince Edward Island. I have often asked my friends from Prince Edward Island what the reasons were. They have always said to me what I thought was the most succinct response, “Well, you know us islanders, we're a very prudent type. We just wanted to be totally sure that this project was going to work before we got on board.” It would only be a few years before that actually took place. Therefore, we are glad not only that P.E.I. overcame those initial fears, but now so enthusiastically wants to embrace its critical role in making that Confederation happen.

Thomas Heath Haviland was one of those Fathers of Confederation. He was born and died in Charlottetown. He knew just how important his beloved city was in the shaping of this country Canada. He declared, “It may yet be said that here in little Prince Edward Island was that union formed which has produced one of the greatest nations on the face of God's Earth.” Indeed, this is as true today as it was on the day when he spoke those very words.

Department of Public Works and Government Services ActPrivate Members' Business

11:25 a.m.


Murray Rankin NDP Victoria, BC

Mr. Speaker, I rise in support of Bill C-236 but with some significant caveats I would like to propose to members.

While I accept the premise that Charlottetown is the birthplace of Confederation, we in the NDP think it is imperative that Confederation be framed as a process and not as a finite, singular event. The relationship of which the member for Malpeque spoke is among Canadians, among provinces, among territories, and among indigenous communities that make up this amazing country. It is an ongoing process, therefore. We are in this marriage together, and we must continuously work on improving that relationship, which is the foundation of our country.

Yes, the process of Confederation began in Charlottetown, and that is indeed worthy of celebration, yet there were several vital steps that occurred and must therefore be part of this narrative as well. Other steps and other places deserve credit in the creation of our country. Specifically, Quebec and New Brunswick both played important roles in this process, and one would be remiss not to mention that fact. This legislation may give the impression that Confederation was conceptualized and executed all in Charlottetown. That was definitely not the case.

I would also like to spend some of my time speaking about the way indigenous people were so wrongfully ignored during this process. We are all aware of the colonial context in which our country was created a century and a half ago. Just as each of us as individuals is a product of our historical context, so too is Canada. I implore the government to ensure that recognition of Charlottetown does not lead to a sort of celebration of colonialism.

Including indigenous people, especially the Mi'kmaq population in and around Charlottetown, in developing heritage and tourism materials for the cradle of confederation is a critical component of this celebration and this understanding. A better understanding of our history is one important step toward reconciliation. The glaring omission in our historical narrative of the essential contribution of indigenous peoples must be redressed. A celebration of the birthplace of Confederation must include them going forward as part of our country's narrative.

We must be careful to acknowledge indigenous peoples' presence in the concerned territory prior to this particular agreement. We must acknowledge that they were not included in the negotiations about their future and the future of the very lands they had occupied from time immemorial.

It is also important to support indigenous people as they represent their own historical narratives. Confederation is not the Canadian story; it is a Canadian story, one of many that represent our collective history. Let us not make the same mistake those who came before us made by ignoring other cultural historical narratives.

With this in mind, let me return to the matter of Charlottetown and how to best define its role in this process. Recognizing Charlottetown as the birthplace of Confederation is, for many Canadians, a foregone conclusion. The province is already promoting itself as the cradle of Confederation, and most of us arrive on the island by means of what is called the Confederation Bridge.

I understand that there has been a little contention, though. A recent 2017 New Brunswick tourism campaign had the slogan “Celebrate where it all began”, so I understand the sponsor's tenacity in seeking to get Charlottetown formally recognized. If I am not mistaken, a similar bill was put forward a couple of years ago, and I am also aware of a former Liberal prime minister making a proclamation to express this sentiment.

Let me start by addressing one argument I have heard to discredit Charlottetown's role, which is that Prince Edward Island did not join the union of British North America colonies until 1873. However, the proposed bill recognizes Charlottetown as the birthplace of Confederation, irrespective of P.E.I.'s participation in the union, so I do not consider the province's initial withdrawal from the proposed union as grounds to oppose this legislation in any way.

I alluded to my following point in my short preamble, but I want to reiterate: with respect to this legislation, Confederation should not be considered a static event.

Complicated unions and political manoeuvrings often have many moving parts. The British North America colonies union is certainly no exception. The initial conference was held September 1, 1864, in Charlottetown, and then New Brunswick governor Arthur Hamilton Gordon was instrumental in its organization. The role Governor Gordon played in getting parties to the conference is certainly worthy of recognition in the story of Confederation, because without his insistence on the initial conference, perhaps things would not have come together as they did. However, we must remember that he had proposed the initial conference to achieve a maritime union among P.E.I., New Brunswick, and Nova Scotia. Shortly after the conference began, Sir John A. Macdonald and Sir George-Étienne Cartier persuaded the delegates from the east to abandon their original proposal and consider a greater British North America colonies union with those who called themselves the Canadians, who hailed from what is now Ontario and Quebec.

Historian Shawn McCarthy, at UNB, has convincingly explained that New Brunswick governor Gordon had hoped to assemble a maritime union and invited P.E.I. and Nova Scotia to discuss the proposal. Since this was not the union that took place, he promptly withdrew from the conference and headed home. Therefore, at the Charlottetown conference, the idea of a maritime union was essentially scrapped, and the union of the British North America colonies was born.

While many items were agreed to in spirit in Charlottetown, such as the idea of creating a federation, with a federal and local or provincial government, the details were confirmed in Quebec City at the famous Quebec City conference, in October 1864. Therefore, Quebec City played no less of an important role. It just does not necessarily have the title of the birthplace of Confederation. There was a subsequent conference in London as well that undoubtedly also played a significant role in finalizing the proposed union.

The BNA Act received royal assent on July 1, 1867. I hope hon. members will see why I have asked that Confederation be considered a process instead of a singular event.

In some ways, the Confederation process is a very Canadian story. It is filled with compromises and the genius and emotional intelligence of key players drawn from various backgrounds from various parts of this land. When one considers these prominent figures and their roles in arranging both the Charlottetown and Quebec conferences, it is easy to see that both New Brunswick and Quebec played a huge role in the ultimate success of the union. It is certainly my contention, however, that Charlottetown was where the union of what we now call Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick, and Nova Scotia was conceived.

Professor MacDonald, from the department of history at the University of P.E.I., states:

...the process began in Charlottetown in 1864. It was at that conference that a congruence of pressures, fear of the Americans, the colonial office wanting us to unite and the needs of Canadians came together in an agreement in principle to a confederation. This was a huge, watershed moment, and I use that term advisedly. All things flowed from that agreement in principle to a confederation

He said that everything flowed from the conference in Charlottetown, so that is absolutely critical.

There has not, however, always been a positive role in Confederation in respect of indigenous peoples. That has to be recognized as well as we try now, finally, to build a nation-to-nation relationship. We must ever be mindful of the way the first peoples were treated in our country. That is why, in the preamble of the bill before us, its talks about Charlottetown forming “part of the basis for the nation of Canada”. I strongly agree. The population of indigenous peoples, the Mi’kmaw population in particular, have to be front and centre as we celebrate this initiative.

Therefore, I call on the government to not pay lip service to the calls for action in the truth and reconciliation commission report. In particular, I draw its attention to call to action no. 45, which calls on the government to not only reconcile aboriginal and crown constitutional orders to ensure that aboriginal peoples are full partners in Confederation but also to “adopt and implement the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples as the framework for reconciliation.”

In conclusion, the NDP supports Charlottetown as the birthplace of Confederation. We acknowledge that the long process began there, but we call on the government to recognize and acknowledge the important role indigenous peoples should have played in the negotiations and to work with them to create a new narrative for Canada going forward.

Department of Public Works and Government Services ActPrivate Members' Business

11:35 a.m.

Charlottetown P.E.I.


Sean Casey LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Canadian Heritage

Mr. Speaker, I could not be more proud to stand in this chamber today to speak to Bill S-236, an act to recognize Charlottetown as the birthplace of Confederation.

I would like to begin by acknowledging the efforts of a couple of Charlottetown constituents, Sharon Larter and Philip Brown, from Charlottetown, not be confused with Philip Brown from out west. They have been the driving force behind getting this bill into Parliament and pushing it along.

I would also like to acknowledge the efforts of Senator Griffin, in the other place, who picked up the idea from these Charlottetown constituents and shepherded the bill through the Senate; and my colleague, the hon. member for Malpeque, who is seeing the bill through this process. I would also like to acknowledge George Proud, the former member of Parliament from Hillsborough, a friend and mentor, who initially came up with this as a private member's bill more than 20 years ago. This must be a proud day for him.

I would like to thank the members for York—Simcoe and Victoria for their very thoughtful contributions and support of this bill.

A birthplace marks a beginning and the setting into motion of something new. The movement towards Confederation began with the discussions at the 1864 Charlottetown Conference. Held in the legislative council chamber of Province House, in the capital of Prince Edward Island, these discussions sparked a vision of a wider, united nation built on the belief that is still true today, that unity is strength.

Prince Edward Island has embraced its role as the birthplace of Confederation and has made it a significant part of the identity of the province. This identity is showcased through historic re-enactments every summer by the Confederation Players. It is proudly featured in tourism campaigns and on license plates. It is integrated in the name of the world's longest bridge, across ice-covered water, the Confederation Bridge, and in the name of the Confederation Trail, which extends the full length of Prince Edward Island. I can personally attest to that, having traversed the full length of the trail by bicycle this past summer with 20 friends in our own Canada 150 project. It is also in the name of the Confederation Centre of the Arts, which is a permanent memorial to the Fathers of Confederation and the site of the longest running musical in Canadian history, Anne of Green Gables.

The Government of Canada has also recognized Charlottetown as the birthplace of Confederation. In 1996, the role of Charlottetown was recognized through a proclamation signed by former prime minister Jean Chrétien, and it is still proudly displayed on the second floor of City Hall in Charlottetown.

The Government of Canada invested in the year-long celebrations in 2014 of the 150th anniversary of the historic Charlottetown Conference. Currently, the government is investing over $40 million to restore Province House, the site of the Charlottetown Conference.

In recognizing past historic events, we have the opportunity to consider what it was like to live at that time. In 1864, our country was very different. Our government looked different, our economy and transportation were different, and the role of women and indigenous peoples in our society was different. Recognition of a historic moment is not a stamp of approval of the values and ideals of society or its leaders at that time. Recognition is a marker. It is a point of reference for future generations to show that at this time in our history something happened that altered the course. For Canada, Confederation indeed altered the course of our nation.

I recognize that not all of the outcomes of Confederation were good and that for certain groups, like Canada’s indigenous peoples, the effects were long-lasting. This is part of the reason why recognition is the correct course of action and why I support Bill S-236. Recognition of Charlottetown as the birthplace has the potential to spark discussions and reflection on what happened, who was involved, and what motivated their behaviour and decisions.

It can also be an occasion to encourage Canadians, and especially our youth, to look at this historic marker in the continuum of our nation and consider the event from multiple perspectives. It could encourage reflection on how far we have come as a nation on issues of importance in society today such as the role of women, and it can serve as a reminder that we still have a way to go on issues like our interactions with indigenous peoples.

Progress is attained by degrees. Even the act of Confederation was not established in a single meeting but took several conferences and several years before it came to fruition. In addition to Charlottetown, there were the Quebec and London conferences, in 1864 and 1867, respectively. Confederation initially brought together four provinces but it took over a century for the other six provinces and three territories to become a part of the Canada we know and love today.

It is well-timed to recognize Charlottetown as the birthplace of Confederation in 2017 to coincide with the 150th anniversary of Confederation. As we celebrate this year-long anniversary, we are setting the tone for the future of Canada. Moving forward with this acknowledges that our past is a part of us. We will better understand the complexity of the issues facing us if we take the time to understand how we got to where we are today.

We can be inspired by those who have paved the way for us, who have led with vision, and who, through hard work, determination, and collaboration, pushed forward on the dream of a nation united. That dream is yet to be attained. There is work ahead of us. For now, we can reaffirm the role of Charlottetown in Confederation by supporting Bill S-236. We can, through this bill, also recognize the role that the Quebec and London conferences played in Confederation.

Our nation was not born out of revolution or war; it was born out of a series of conferences and negotiations that led to our Constitution, our country's founding principles. At the Charlottetown Conference and the following conferences, our predecessors set out to define who we are and what we stand for as a country. This is continually evolving, but it is built on the foundation that we, as Canadians, believe in fundamental freedoms and live in a democratic society. We believe in human rights, equality, and peace. These are our values.

What was accomplished at the conferences that led to Confederation was a coming together of ideas, collective problem-solving, and the birth of the ideal that we are better together as a nation united. Our differences of region, background, education, and goals strengthen us, rather than divide us. This year, as we celebrate the 150th anniversary of Confederation, we are looking back, but we are also looking forward. Bill S-236 reminds us of a specific moment in our country's evolution, a turning point. We cannot go back; we must keep moving onward, but we should remember that what is happening now could not have happened without what happened then.

This bill has a simple purpose: reaffirming the role of Charlottetown in Confederation. Canada's smallest province played a big role in the creation of our nation. Let us inspire those who come after us to be reminded that, in this vast and diverse nation where we can freely have heated debates on topics we are passionate about, we ultimately are united and that this union began in a room in Charlottetown in 1864.

Department of Public Works and Government Services ActPrivate Members' Business

11:45 a.m.


Larry Maguire Conservative Brandon—Souris, MB

Mr. Speaker, today I begin the debate on an issue that is near and dear to the hearts of many Canadians, and in particular my dear friend and colleague, the hon. member for Malpeque, to officially recognize in law that Charlottetown was indeed the birthplace of Canadian Confederation. Not only is this legislation 150 years too late, but it finally solves the great debate on what place in Canada we should formally recognize as our official birthplace.

Second, this proposed legislation would unofficially give the blessing of the Parliament of Canada to the Province of Prince Edward Island to proclaim on its licence plates that it is in fact the birthplace of Confederation. I commend the tenacity of Islanders in their struggle to get this endorsed recognition. As the old saying goes, “It's better to ask for forgiveness than permission”. I would not be surprised to find this saying inscribed on the family crest of the member for Malpeque.

As only a squabble among Canadian provinces can break out, from what I am led to believe, our New Brunswick brethren decided that their Canada 150 celebration tourism slogan would read that people should visit their province to “Celebrate where it all began”. This impasse on which province should officially be designated by law as the birthplace of Confederation led to Bill S-236 being introduced by Senator Griffin from P.E.I., so that our dear friends from the New Brunswick delegation would know that the seed that led to the birth of our great country was planted in September 1864, while on the island of the great red mud.

In preparation for this momentous debate, my office reached out to the Parliamentary library and requested the book The Road to Confederation, by Donald Creighton, which some would call the most preeminent tome ever written on the subject. And lo and behold, their copy had walked away. While some would raise suspicions as to whether the Minister of Tourism for New Brunswick had somehow acquired this book to ensure that the waters remained muddy on this age-old question, as if by divine intervention the Parliamentary library found its original 1964 hardback copy at the thirteenth hour and saved the day.

The very concept of a united Canada in 1864 was as far-fetched as the idea that this current Liberal government will inevitably balance its budget. That said, hope springs eternal. Canada was indeed created, and there is a minute chance that the current federal ledgers may one day return to the black.

Today's debate is to prove that Charlottetown should be recognized as the birthplace of Confederation. To do so, I will rely on the evidence of Donald Creighton in his book, who went to great pains to illustrate that were it not for the Charlottetown Conference, we would not have been celebrating our sesquicentennial.

As has been said, the Charlottetown Conference was originally not designed or orchestrated for the sole purpose of unifying the various regions of British North America under one central government. The intent of the meeting was to explore whether Prince Edward Island, New Brunswick, and Nova Scotia should amalgamate as one entity. While it would be an understatement to say there was hesitancy on the part of these three colonies to undergo a maritime union, it was none other than Sir John A., George-Étienne Cartier, George Brown, and Alexander Galt who struck when the iron was hot.

While the Province of Canada and the three maritime colonies may have been neighbours, their direct links and familiarity with each other were nowhere near as strong as they would soon become. While the delegates from the maritime colonies had arrived in preparation for the conference, P.E.l.'s W.H. Pope, the provincial secretary who had been tapped to be the official welcoming party, wondered where the interlopers from the west were.

It was not until the next morning, on September 1, that an unknown steamer pulled into view. As noted in the Road to Confederation, the Islanders later came to call her the “Confederate Cruiser”. As soon as the ship pulled into the harbour, the news travelled as fast as a Prairie wildfire that “the Canadians had arrived”.

Now, much to the chagrin of Pope, the cruiser did not actually dock in the harbour but had anchored some distance from the wharf. How was he supposed to extend the most personable and warm Islander welcome, as only an Islander can do, without being in the presence of these Canadians? He found himself a rowboat, and according to the New Brunswick assembly journals, he started bravely out with all the dignity he could in a “flat-bottomed boat, with a barrel of flour in the bow, and two jars of molasses in the stern, and with a lusty fisherman as his only companion, to meet the distinguished visitors”.

As the Canadians assembled on shore and met in the legislative council chamber in the Colonial Building, the Prince Edward Island government was taken back by such a large delegation. They had only prepared a table to sit four delegates from the west; however, sitting across from them was a group of eight smiling Canadian ministers, and in tow, the clerk of the Canadian Executive Council and two of Sir John A.'s secretaries.

To highlight the excitement that was in the air, by a stroke of coincidence, the Slaymaker and Nichols' Olympic Circus were in town. Now, why, one might ask, did I bring this up? I do so because Islanders from across the colony had gathered in Charlottetown to attend the circus, the first in over two decades. There were no rooms available at any of the hotels or lodgings to accommodate all of the Canadian delegation. Because all of the accommodations were accounted, this provided for a far more personal interaction between none other than George Brown and W.H. Pope, as Brown was invited to stay at the affable latter's house, while the others were put up at Franklin House.

As they began the heavy work of negotiating a single unified country, P.B. Waite wrote in The Life and Times of Confederation, the Charlottetown Conference established Confederation as a political reality. It gave Confederation the official élan, the sense of common destiny.

It was that morning that the four principles, Macdonald, Cartier, Brown, and Galt, began the process of gently swaying their maritime cohorts. The Canadians, who were once bitter enemies, in particular Macdonald and Brown, had decided to holster their partisan leanings and personal political objectives in order to persuade the others that Confederation was “possible, desirable, even necessary”.

Day three of the conference proceeded in the same orderly fashion, with rhetorical flourishes and convincing arguments by the other Canadian delegates, who were doing an extraordinary job of convincing all those who attended of the great potential of a United Canada.

It was that night that the Canadians invited the maritimers onboard the SS Queen Victoria, aka the “Confederate Cruiser”, and swooned them over a decadent meal and a steady flow of Sir John A.'s water. The ice had been broken, the relationships were now firmly formed, and no longer were they strangers or even acquaintances; they were the architects of Canada.

According to George Brown's letter to his wife recalling the events of the evening, someone on the vessel had yelled:

If any one can show just cause or impediment why the Colonies should not be united in matrimonial alliance, let him now express it or forever hold his peace.

To the surprise of no one, there was silence, and George Brown said:

...the union was thereupon formally completed and proclaimed!

Confederation was meant to be.

That very word “Confederation”, which only two days before was as foreign to the delegates as the word “excitable” to describe Stephen Harper would be or the word “humility” to describe the current sitting Prime Minister, was now dripping with great excitement from the tongues those who had gathered around the mahogany table the next day at the Colonial Building in Charlottetown.

I think the evidence provided by my colleagues in previous speeches, and some of the colour I was able to provide, has helped convince this House that Bill S-236 should be passed with unanimity and expediency.

While the Charlottetown Conference was just one element that led to the official creation of our dominion in 1867, it was the birthplace that led to the successful Quebec City and London conferences.

As P.B. Waite said:

What is surprising is not how much was concluded at Quebec, but how much had been arranged at Charlottetown.

To Donald Creighton who wrote that people despairingly said that nothing could ever happen in Charlottetown, they have undeniably been proven wrong.

The story of how our nation was created, showing how westerners, maritimers and, yes, even Islanders, could put aside petty differences to focus on what was best for the greater good, is a lesson for all of us assembled here today 150 years later. It could perhaps lead to great compromises among all political parties in 2017, if only the member from Malpeque could row out in his dinghy and show us that true Islander hospitality for which Islanders are known.

There is more that unites Canadians than divides us; that the nation is unified and proud. As we gaze upon what the next 150 years will bring, we pay tribute to those courageous founding fathers for all they did, and we make the solemn pledge to pass down a stronger Canada than the one we inherited.

Department of Public Works and Government Services ActPrivate Members' Business

11:55 a.m.


Wayne Easter Liberal Malpeque, PE

Mr. Speaker, I certainly want to thank my colleagues of all parties who spoke and offered their support for Bill S-236, that Charlottetown is the birthplace of Confederation.

When there are debates in this place, we sometimes do not agree and sometimes we do. Even when we agree, we always learn something new. I thank the members for York—Simcoe and Victoria. I learned something new from their remarks. I really liked the approach of the member for Brandon—Souris who appealed to the compromises we could make within our parties. The member and I did not always compromise on the farm movement, but just like the lessons of Confederation, we always learn some lessons as time passes.

It could be summed up best on why this was the birthplace of Confederation. I will read a note, which I believe comes from the archives. It says:

On the first official day of the conference, Macdonald spoke at length about the benefits of a union of all of British North America. The next day, Galt - a businessman, finance minister, and railway promoter - presented a well-researched description of the financial workings of such a union. On the third day, George Brown discussed the legal structure. And on the fourth day, McGee praised the nationalist identity, one that he saw bolstered by a vivid Canadian literature.

On every day of the conference, people spoke about building a greater nation.

I will sum up by saying thanks to all those in the House who offered their support at this stage of the bill today. We ought to recognize our founding fathers who met in Charlottetown and, yes, who went further in other conferences, such as the Quebec Conference and the London Conference. Over the years, we have learned, as the member for Victoria mentioned, about ensuring we are inclusive, about bringing in all peoples of our country and about what we are doing in this day and age. I can truly say, with the meeting and this bill to endorse Charlottetown as the birthplace of Confederation, that the founding fathers built, better than they new, a great nation, Canada, from coast to coast to coast.

Department of Public Works and Government Services ActPrivate Members' Business



The Deputy Speaker Conservative Bruce Stanton

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

Department of Public Works and Government Services ActPrivate Members' Business


Some hon. members


Department of Public Works and Government Services ActPrivate Members' Business



The Deputy Speaker Conservative Bruce Stanton

Accordingly the bill stands referred to the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage.

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

The House resumed from November 2 consideration of the motion that Bill C-63, A second Act to implement certain provisions of the budget tabled in Parliament on March 22, 2017 and other measures, be read the second time and referred to a committee.

Budget Implementation Act, 2017, No. 2Government Orders



Todd Doherty Conservative Cariboo—Prince George, BC

Mr. Speaker, it is an honour to stand in the House today, 150 years since the very first sitting on November 6, 1867.

Before I move onto this, it is appropriate that I send our thoughts and prayers to friends, families, colleagues, and first responders who attended the church shooting in Sutherland Springs, Texas. Our thoughts and prayers are with the friends, the families, and all first responders in that entire community. Just as they are grieving, we are grieving with them.

I thought about what I would say on the fall economic statement. Today, I will talk about our legacy because, at the end of the day, all of us will be remembered for something. In preparing for this speech, I stumbled across a couple of quotes that I thought I would enter into the records. The first is, “No legacy is so rich as honesty.” That was by William Shakespeare. Over the last two year, we have seen the Prime Minister's actions, his direction and his choice of how he will move forward in his mandate or what he believes is his mandate.

I coached for a long time. I would always tell our kids, when I was coaching hockey, or baseball, or soccer or when I was working with youth groups, that they would go through this life once. At the end of the day, all they would have was their integrity, their legacy. I would ask them what they would like to leave behind, or what would be their brand as they moved through life. When I would worked in schools, I would talked to kids. I would ask them what a brand was. They would say that a brand was the swoosh on a Nike shoe, or it was the great big A&W sign or the bear for A&W. I would tell them that their brand was what people would say about them after they left the room. The kids talked about the the swoosh or all those other items. These are logos and marketing tools, but a brand is really what people say about us.

If we compare governments and prime ministers over the years, Prime Minister Harper took us from back row and second from the left to principled leadership and the front row. That will no doubt elicit jabs from the other side, but I want to offer this. We had a leader who was principled, who put his thoughts always on Canadians, how our policy would impact those who elected us, how we were seen on the world stage with respect to Canada as a collective as one nation, and I have the examples to back it up.

There are those of us who are more concerned about how we are perceived through the lens of others than how our actions are perceived and what our legacy will be. I will use a very recent example.

We have a young Prime Minister who has been in Vogue. He has been seen planking, photo bombing through Stanley Park in my beautiful province of British Columbia. He has been seen with his shirt off. Far be it for me to criticize.

We had a leader who was known for his principled leadership. Now there is a leader who is known for fancy socks or for showing up in question period in a Superman Halloween costume underneath his clothes. I was in the House that day. Many on this side were wondering if he had a new haircut. Somebody said that he was trying to be Waldo. I said no. I said that if we had learned anything over the last two years, it was that he believed he was Superman. I said he was trying to Clark Kent. The Prime Minister left part way through question period and returned quickly. Shortly thereafter in social media was the Prime Minister coming down the stairs showing the large Superman logo. He thought that was very novel and that it would be on the front page of newspapers.

At a time when fishers, farmers, and small business people are suffering, the Prime Minister is being investigated by the Ethics Commissioner. The finance minister is embroiled in an investigation, one that I do not know we ever have seen before. He seemingly has profited since being in office. He introduced legislation that would benefit the companies in which he had assets. We now know that there are more hidden businesses, numbered companies, in the Bahamas. The latest leak in the last 24 hours is that there are more questions. Canadians are hearing about questionable actions, which are leading to more questions.

I come back to our legacy. When I ran in the election, I had an opportunity to speak to a few members of Parliament, a few MLAs, and leaders within the community, who I hold in high esteem. They are really my mentors and I respect them. They put our constituents first. I think the world of Mayor Lyn Hall in my riding. During the course of the wildfires, he led his team with actions, not just words. He helped alongside myself and some of the MLAs as our community grew beyond our traditional population base. We welcomed 11,000 evacuees into our community and looked after them. We opened up our hearts and homes and looked after them.

With true leadership, MLA Mike Morris, MLA Shirley Bond, and MLA John Rustad did whatever they could to ensure that those in our communities were cared for. We do that every day, not just when there are emergencies. Why? Because we care more for how those in the community who elected us are doing than getting a picture on the front page of a newspaper, wearing new socks, walking a red carpet, or taking a selfie. We care about those who elect us. We care deeply about our communities. We care deeply about Canadians.

We have a government that campaigned on promises to Canadians, that said they were ready to lead. They said real change will be coming. Have we ever seen real change. The Liberals announced in their fall fiscal update that they have no plan to get back to a balanced budget. They have no plan, because it is not their money. They have no idea.

When I talk about my family finances, I do not refer to them as my fortune. In my riding of Cariboo—Prince George, there are very few people who can stand before a mike or a camera and talk about their family's fortune. They would probably say they are worried about their family's finances or how they are going to make ends meet. They would probably say they are worried about the fact that Canada does not have a softwood lumber agreement in place.

There is a further concern in terms of one of our number one industries within the province of British Columbia. This past weekend, Tolko, one of the largest mills in my riding and located in Williams Lake, had a massive fire. This added further insult to the fact that we lost 53-million cubic metres of fibre in the wildfires this past summer.

The Liberal government has dithered away any opportunity to get a softwood lumber agreement in place, and hundreds of people have been waiting to see their government stand up for them and fight. Now there is further uncertainty in our communities. There is further uncertainty in our communities because of what the government has done. The Liberals like to say that Canadians are far better off, but the reality is that hydro, gasoline, home heating, health and dental benefits, employee discounts, personal savings, life-saving therapies, and local businesses have all been attacked by them, regardless of what they say.

People at home are listening to this debate today. People in the gallery are listening. I can say that everyone gets talking points. Government members get talking points. When we ask the hard questions that Canadians want us to ask, time and time again the Liberals will stand up and give the same repetitive answer, which turns out to be a non-answer. Why is that? It is because they do not believe they have to answer to Canadians.

There is another quote that I want to mention, “All good men and women must take responsibility to create legacies that will take the next generation to a level we could only imagine.” What level are we talking about for the next generation? Under the leadership of Prime Minister Trudeau, what is the government going to leave to the next generation? The debt we are incurring today, the money we are talking about today, is not free money. It has to be paid back. Who is going to pay that money back? It will be my kids. It will be their kids. The next generation will have to pay it back. That will be the Liberal legacy.

I have stood in the House a number of times since the summer. I have talked about the wildfires and how our communities managed to rally together.

Speaking about legacies, there is a gentleman back home who is very sick. I believe he knew how sick he was during the summer. Regardless of how sick he was, he continued to fight the fires. He continued to lead teams all on his own. He is a local logging contractor whose name is Lee Todd. He is legendary in the Cariboo. However, he was sick, and I am not quite sure how sick, but he flew his personal helicopter to try to spot where the first fires were. He led other local contractors.

In the Cariboo, we do not take no for an answer and we do whatever we can to get things done. Regardless of whether it is prescribed, we just get it done. We do not ask for permission, many times we beg forgiveness afterward, but we get the job done. Nobody knows what tomorrow is going to bring but, for me, one of Lee's legacies is going to be that regardless of his own health and well-being, he continued to lead and do whatever he could. For example, he opened his shop and fed the firefighters and contractors who wanted to save our community.

I throw that in because, again, when we are talking about legacy and moving forward, we have to be reminded time and again that this House does not belong to us. It does not belong to the government or to those of us on the side. It belongs to Canadians. We were elected to be here and be their voices. We have talked about parliamentary privilege over the last year. That privilege is not so we can get to the front of line, ride in fancy vehicles, or attend fancy events. Parliamentary privilege is there to protect the rights of Canadians. This has been forgotten.

We have a Prime Minister and a House leader who wanted to change the standing rules of the House because they thought it would modernize them. They have invoked closure on debate, time allocation, time and again. I know what is going to come from the other side. They are going to start pointing fingers and saying that when those guys were in power this is what they did. Well, I can only speak about my experience. I am a new member of Parliament, as people know. I am fortunate that the good people of Cariboo—Prince George elected me. I have lived every day of being elected with the mindset of asking what my legacy is, because I may only get the chance to be elected once. We do not know how long this opportunity is going to last. Whatever we do, we should try to impact and change as many lives as we can.

Hopefully, people see that they have a fighter and I am fortunate enough to be elected in the next election. Whether it is my bill, Bill C-211, that calls on the government to develop a national framework with respect to post-traumatic stress disorder; our work in talking about the impacts of impaired driving on families, which loss never heals regardless of time; working with my colleagues on this side of the House to hold the government accountable and fight for Canadians; working with colleagues across the way on team Canada approaches, and going to the U.S. to sit side by side with them and presenting team Canada, not being partisan, but team Canada; or whether it is through parliamentary trips, we always have to be mindful of what our legacy is.

I know my time is very short. I want to leave everyone with this last quote, and I have one question after that. John Diefenbaker said, “Freedom is the right to be wrong, [freedom is] not the right to do wrong.” I think that is so important. I am going to leave my colleagues with this. Before the partisan jabs come out, I want to ask everyone in the House what they want their legacy to be and what they want to be remembered for. Is it standing up for someone who is hiding assets and making it harder for Canadians? Fight, fight for Canadians.

Budget Implementation Act, 2017, No. 2Government Orders

12:20 p.m.


Filomena Tassi Liberal Hamilton West—Ancaster—Dundas, ON

Mr. Speaker, let me begin by making a comment. It is very easy to make personal attacks. It would be very easy for me to make personal attacks against the previous Prime Minister Stephen Harper. However, I will not do that, because that is not what Canadians want. What I will do is focus on the member's comments about a legacy. One thing that this Prime Minister has proven as part of his legacy is a confidence and a belief in Canadians. That is why this Prime Minister has held unprecedented levels of consultations, which have resulted in some of the measures included in Bill C-63.

Just as an FYI, it is not the Prime Minister who is asking to take selfies, it is Canadians who are asking to take selfies with the Prime Minister. That is a vote of confidence. That is an indication of a great legacy and a great brand.

I will provide the member with a few facts. There are over 450,000 more new jobs today than there were in 2015. In October alone, there were over 30,000 new jobs created. We have had the lowest unemployment rate since 2008. We have had the fastest growth in the G7. Are these not things that the member would acknowledge are a great legacy and that our Prime Minister and this Liberal team can be very proud of?

Budget Implementation Act, 2017, No. 2Government Orders

12:25 p.m.


Todd Doherty Conservative Cariboo—Prince George, BC

There we go, Mr. Speaker, she answered the question. That is exactly what I said the Liberals are worried about, their brand. She said that it was because of their “brand”. Oh my gosh, the arrogance is staggering.

Let me speak first to this “FYI”. It is not about the brand of the Prime Minister, it is about the policy that impacts Canadians. We know that 80% of Canadians pay more tax under the current government than they did with us.

Let me also talk about the consultations of the Liberals. Whether it is with respect to Bill C-63 or Bill C-55, Canadians are saying that the current government is not listening to them. Therefore, in my file on fisheries, oceans, and the Canadian Coast Guard, time and again, Canadians, whether they are our first nations, stakeholders, fishermen, or farmers, those people at the grassroots are telling us that the Liberals are not listening. They are more worried about their brand than they are about Canadians. That is the problem.

Budget Implementation Act, 2017, No. 2Government Orders

12:25 p.m.


Ed Fast Conservative Abbotsford, BC

Mr. Speaker, I am so pleased that my colleague from Cariboo—Prince George has highlighted the legacy of failings of the Liberal government. Also, I very much appreciate that he highlighted that this is not about serving Canadians, it is about branding the Prime Minister. In fact, in the question just a second ago from the Liberal member, she commented on what a great legacy taking selfies was to leave behind. Can members imagine that being one's legacy?

I want to ask the member this. The long-lasting legacy of the current Liberal government will be imposing upon the next generation an unbearable debt load because of the Prime Minister's profligacy in spending. I would ask the member to comment on how our children and grandchildren are going to have to pay for our spending today. This is spending that is for our benefit but that future generations will have to pay.

Budget Implementation Act, 2017, No. 2Government Orders

12:25 p.m.


Todd Doherty Conservative Cariboo—Prince George, BC

Mr. Speaker, I want to thank my hon. colleague from Abbotsford. He knows I look up to him, and think the world of him. We are very fortunate to be in the House. We get to learn from and work with great people from all sides. The hon. member for Abbotsford has an incredible legacy that will live well beyond his time in the House.

He talked about the spending of the government. I do not know about you, Mr. Speaker, but I do not go to the casinos. I think we have done fairly well in our lives, but just going to a bank machine is like going to a slot machine. If I get some cash out, it is like I beat the house.

The Prime Minister has never had to worry about balancing a chequebook. He has never had to worry if he is going to have money in his bank account to make ends meet at the end of the day, or how he is going to clothe and feed his family. His government has spent more money on projects that do not benefit Canadians. The Asian investment bank will do nothing to create infrastructure here in Canada. Why is he spending that money? It is because it is helping his friends.

He has no concept that that money has to be paid back. Our kids, like the pages who are sitting with us, when they get out into the real world, do not understand they already have a huge amount of debt they have to pay off because of the government. It is not starting out on the right foot. It is starting out in debt. That is wrong.

Budget Implementation Act, 2017, No. 2Government Orders

November 6th, 2017 / 12:30 p.m.


Elizabeth May Green Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to bring us to the topic of today's debate, which has been completely absent for the last half hour or so. That is Bill C-63, the omnibus budget bill.

This is my first chance to speak to this, so I would like to mention that I read it over the weekend. It is a bill of 275 pages, with 11 different divisions. As much as I am genuinely fond of my friend from Cariboo—Prince George, I was disappointed by his speech, because vacuous rhetoric around the Prime Minister's socks is not as valuable as actually diving in and discussing the bill.

I have read a lot of omnibus budget bills. As for the ones under the previous government, I can genuinely and honestly say that turning page after page of Bill C-38 I moved from anger to grief. I was crying by the time I finished reading it. I am very happy to say that having read Bill C-63, I was nearly very bored. That is a good sign when dealing with a budget bill.

I would like the member to tell me if he likes or does not like the amendments in division 8, part 5, which would allow for flexible work arrangements for employees, or further in that division, the part that would guarantee time off work for families who are victims of family violence.

Budget Implementation Act, 2017, No. 2Government Orders

12:30 p.m.


Todd Doherty Conservative Cariboo—Prince George, BC

Mr. Speaker, the member for Saanich—Gulf Islands is also someone I very much respect in the House, and consider a friend. Usually, she is standing up and saying that was a good speech we did, or we had a good comment.

Our colleague brings up a good point. There are things in the bill that are good, but I would offer this to our hon. colleague across the way. She is a good person. She knows we are here to make sure we are representing and standing up for Canadians at all times.

My 30 minutes was not about the Prime Minister's socks. It was more about how we are more worried about a brand than policy, and how that impacts Canadians. She is a very smart and learned person, far smarter than I am. I apologize, perhaps it was my delivery of my speech, but my message was this. We seem to have gone away from what matters most, and that is Canadians, to what our Prime Minister is wearing. It is more that than what he is bringing to the table, and what he is doing for Canadians, and how far we have fallen. That was the crux of my speech.

Budget Implementation Act, 2017, No. 2Government Orders

12:30 p.m.

Winnipeg North Manitoba


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

Mr. Speaker, the Conservatives continue to be out of touch with what Canadians really want to hear. I would suggest to members that, while they focus their criticism and personal attacks, whether it is on the Prime Minister, the Minister of Finance, or the government as a whole, we will continue to remain focused on delivering for Canadians.

When the member talks about things such as “legacy”, I would suggest that the member might want to reflect on many of the positive initiatives of this government, whether it is historic agreements on pensions and the environment; a health care accord in regards to the fine work that the former minister of health has done on that; or tax reform or tax breaks. There is a litany of things that this government has done.

I have many individuals who have given me the distinct impression that this government has done more in two years than the former government did in over 10 years. I would ask the member if he would not, at the very least, acknowledge that there have been many different and positive actions that this government has taken.

Budget Implementation Act, 2017, No. 2Government Orders

12:30 p.m.


Todd Doherty Conservative Cariboo—Prince George, BC

There we go again, Mr. Speaker, the Liberal arrogance.

The member should come out to the communities. Come out to the small rural ridings where the proposed tax plans are targeting the hard-working creators of our communities, the backbone of our economy, and the backbone of our provincial and regional economies. They are attacking them. Eighty percent of Canadians are far worse off under the current government than they were under our government.

In fact, the Liberals talk about all the money that they are spending to make things better. The parliamentary budget officer has even said that infrastructure grants and contribution promises are falling flat. They are not able to get the money out the door. What do the Liberals do? They point the finger at the communities, say that they are not ready, and say it is not them but somebody else.

I am asking colleagues across the way to stand up for Canadians. How do they want to be remembered? What is their legacy going to be? Will it be socks?

Budget Implementation Act, 2017, No. 2Government Orders

12:35 p.m.


Kyle Peterson Liberal Newmarket—Aurora, ON

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to speak on Bill C-63. It is an honour to do so.

Small and medium-sized enterprises, or SMEs, are the backbone of the Canadian economy. They employ 10.5 million Canadians and contribute to roughly 40% of the country's gross domestic product. They are indeed engines of job creation.

The government is committed to making sure that businesses have the resources that they need to invest, innovate, grow, and create jobs. The Business Development Bank of Canada, BDC, is helping Canadian entrepreneurs achieve their full potential by facilitating their access to tailored solutions, including financing and consulting at each stage of their development. BDC services support the start-up and growth of small businesses across Canada.

BDC is mandated to support Canadian entrepreneurship, with a particular focus on SMEs. It does so by offering financing and advisory services. BDC financing provides business loans with flexible financing options, such as principle postponements and pre-authorized working capital, which help to protect the company's cash flow.

Before I go any further, I would like to inform this House that I am honoured to be splitting my time with the member for Parkdale—High Park.

Through its investments in a broad range of services, from venture capital to quasi-equity and securitization, BDC supports innovative and high-growth companies as they expand operations and scale up.

BDC's advisory services, which include a broad range of business support and consulting provided through a network of consultants, help businesses scale up, improve productivity, and export. Through its pan-Canadian reach, BDC serves nearly 49,000 clients, active in all industries nationwide, through a network of 118 business centres located across Canada.

To further expand its reach to entrepreneurs, BDC leverages its support to SMEs through more than 290 partnerships, strategic relationships, and memberships. Among other things, these partnerships allow BDC to improve support for underserved entrepreneurs, including young entrepreneurs, women entrepreneurs, indigenous entrepreneurs, businesses in Canada's north, social entrepreneurs, immigrant entrepreneurs, and rural entrepreneurs.

BDC also extends its reach and visibility to SMEs by organizing the annual BDC small business week, which was successfully held across Canada this year during the week of October 16. The BDC small business week celebrates entrepreneurship at local, provincial, and national events. It attracts close to 10,000 entrepreneurs at hundreds of events held across Canada.

As an instrument of public policy, BDC also responds to the direction from the government on areas with the most priority. For example, recognizing the importance of venture capital to Canada's economic prosperity, the Government of Canada introduced the venture capital action plan, VCAP, in 2013 and directed BDC to act as an agent of the government in managing the VCAP.

BDC also participates in the development and deployment of the accelerated growth service, AGS, which delivers coordinated, client-centric federal support, including financing, advisory services, and export and innovation support from participating federal organizations. As part of its role in the AGS, BDC collaborates with other organizations in the federal family to operationalize its concept, and to offer coordinated access to government services and programs.

The proposed changes in Bill C-63 to the Business Development Bank of Canada Act will allow the BDC to deliver on key initiatives in budget 2017, and thus improve access to capital for innovative SMEs operating in emerging sectors of the Canadian economy.

SMEs will be the Canadian job creators of the future. In particular, BDC will also be making available new financing to clean technology firms, including SMEs, to help them hire new staff, develop innovative products, and support domestic and international sales. Innovation in clean technology will lead to products and services that will have an impact on all sectors of the Canadian economy. Clean tech has the potential to create thousands of well-paying jobs for Canadians.

The legislative change will also allow BDC to administer the venture capital catalyst initiative, VCCI, which will increase the late-stage venture capital available to Canadian entrepreneurs, and help Canadian start-ups grow and succeed. Venture capital is an essential source of financing for innovative, growth-oriented firms, and VCCI will support the continued growth of Canada's innovative companies.

I am very pleased to see that the Government of Canada is making smart and responsible investments that will result in better jobs and opportunities for all Canadians. The amendment to the Business Development Bank of Canada Act will enable the government to make the required investments in BDC to allow it to implement these important initiatives.

As our economy evolves to a more innovative clean tech-oriented economy, it is important that we make investments today that will pay off for the future generations. Equally important, I believe, is Canada's growing trade economy. Canada's ability to export to foreign markets needs to be leveraged. It is the way the economy of the future will grow, and it is the way Canada and Canadians can diversify their customer base in a changing global environment.

My riding of Newmarket—Aurora is home to many SMEs. I have had conversations with a number of them who already access the services of BDC. It is an important tool and lever in the Canadian economy that, in my frank assessment, is underutilized at this point.

Many SMEs are not aware of the services offered by BDC. I believe that changing the Business Development Bank of Canada Act, creating investment, particularly venture capital investment, will be the way for those SMEs to tap into and access federal government support, and also to access venture capital support, both at early age as start-ups and as they mature when they need additional capital to expand their already successful operation.

I hope that all sides of the House will agree that supporting SMEs, supporting innovation, and supporting the creators of jobs today and what will be the creator of jobs in the future is something that we can all get behind. I urge all members to support Bill C-63, particularly those with an affinity and fondness for the proposed changes to the BDC, because these investments will improve the BDC, thereby improving the opportunities for SMEs across Canada.

Budget Implementation Act, 2017, No. 2Government Orders

12:45 p.m.


Kellie Leitch Conservative Simcoe—Grey, ON

Mr. Speaker, the member opposite was focused on one bank, but I would like to focus on another that is mentioned in this budget implementation bill.

The Liberals have made a choice to now make an enormous investment in the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank. This is a government that ran on a platform that it would make substantive investments in infrastructure development here in Canada. Whether it be Collingwood or Wasaga Beach, my home town of Creemore, or otherwise, that infrastructure is desperately needed to make sure that small businesses are successful and, quite frankly, to make sure moms can just get their kids to school.

The fact of the matter is the Liberal government has made a choice. It has chosen to invest close to half a billion dollars in a different place, in China. The last time I checked, China was not a province of Canada nor Canada a province of China.

Why is this investment in infrastructure being made overseas, not here at home where we really need it?