House of Commons Hansard #247 of the 42nd Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was equal.

Topics

Salaries ActGovernment Orders

1:35 p.m.

Liberal

The Assistant Deputy Speaker Liberal Anthony Rota

That is a matter of debate.

The hon. member for Newmarket—Aurora.

Salaries ActGovernment Orders

1:35 p.m.

Liberal

Kyle Peterson Liberal Newmarket—Aurora, ON

Mr. Speaker, as I said, debate is a good part of the process, and I am happy to partake in it. However, we should follow the rules in this place when debating, and I am happy to continue to do so.

I was about to conclude by saying that I urge all members to support the bill, because it is a great bill.

Salaries ActGovernment Orders

1:35 p.m.

Conservative

Alupa Clarke Conservative Beauport—Limoilou, QC

Mr. Speaker, I took part in this debate a few weeks ago and I kept repeating the same thing in what I would call a philosophical critique of the bill.

First, I think that making cabinet gender balanced is a terrible idea because having qualified ministers should be more important than gender parity.

In fact, I would go so far as to say that parity is the Liberals' way to prevent women from advancing to cabinet. Under this bill, women will never be able to make up more than 50% of cabinet. Is that just or fair considering that, for decades, men made up 100%, 70%, or 60% of cabinet? Now, the very clear message to women is that never will they ever represent more than half the cabinet. That is an interesting way of looking at this and I would not be surprised if that were the Liberal's primary objective.

Salaries ActGovernment Orders

1:40 p.m.

Liberal

Kyle Peterson Liberal Newmarket—Aurora, ON

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate my friend's interjection. I enjoyed my time with him on the government operations committee. At committee, he was always insightful and informative, and it was good to have him as part of our committee.

I am not sure where he is getting his position that women will not be able to have over 50% of cabinet positions. I have read the legislation pretty closely. I studied it at committee clause-by-clause. My memory is not perfect, but I can recall no provision mentioning anything of that sort. If there is a such a provision in there, I would be happy to change my answer and refer to that provision. However, I believe there is nothing in the act that would prevent a cabinet from being 100% female. Perhaps that is what we should be striving for.

Salaries ActGovernment Orders

1:40 p.m.

Liberal

Lloyd Longfield Liberal Guelph, ON

Mr. Speaker, as the member was speaking about the role of women around board tables, I was thinking of the different not-for-profit organizations I have been fortunate to be part of. I have been a part of 28 organizations in Guelph and several businesses over the years where women and diversity were not at the table. Once people are at the table, their voice is heard like every other voice around the table. We do not then say they are younger and therefore that their voice does not count, or that because they come from the other side of the country, their voice does not count. Being at the table brings their voice forward, and as far as I know, we all have equal voices when speaking.

Could the member talk about the contribution that various voices give us in getting varied and better ideas going forward?

Salaries ActGovernment Orders

1:40 p.m.

Liberal

Kyle Peterson Liberal Newmarket—Aurora, ON

Mr. Speaker, my hon. colleague's question gives me an opportunity to talk a bit about my former life. Do not be aghast at this, but I come from Bay Street and also have some experience as a lawyer in corporate governance. The evidence is clear that public boards with diverse directors are profitable and show an increased return on investment, and shareholders encourage it because it makes good business.

I would always say that having diverse perspectives is good for any organization, whether private or public sector. Hearing different perspectives lets people perhaps change their minds about decisions they would otherwise make, and ensures that the application of decisions is universal in scope and not just for a narrow group of people. If it makes for good business sense, as it does, it also makes good sense for good public governance. We should strive to have a diversity of opinions any time decisions are being made, and the cabinet table should be no exception.

Salaries ActGovernment Orders

1:40 p.m.

Conservative

Rachael Harder Conservative Lethbridge, AB

Mr. Speaker, it is with great pleasure that I rise in the House to speak to Bill C-24. I had the opportunity to speak to this same piece of legislation earlier in the spring, and the truth is that my concerns remain largely the same.

There are three main problems I wish to address. First, with this bill, the Liberals are seeking to get rid of regional development ministers. Instead of caring for the unique needs of Canada's diverse regions, the current government is choosing to apply a highly centralized and very top-down approach to decision-making. A minister from Toronto would now tell Atlantic Canada, as well as northern Canada and the western provinces, what they need and how to best economically develop. They are to trust him, because he is in the government, there to help them, right?

My second concern is that this bill lacks transparency, which of course very much concerns me. I will come back to that momentarily. The third concern I have with this bill is that the Liberals are hailing it as something that would result in equality among ministers, women and men, junior ministers and senior ministers. The government House leader said that it would create a cabinet that would uphold gender parity. When she said that, I could hear the Elvis Presley song, playing in the background, with the line, “that was just a l-i-e”, the word that cannot be said in this House.

I have only 10 minutes, so permit me to dive in and provide a fuller discussion. The bill aims to eliminate the positions—

Salaries ActGovernment Orders

1:45 p.m.

Liberal

The Assistant Deputy Speaker Liberal Anthony Rota

There is a point of order by the hon. member for Winnipeg North.

Salaries ActGovernment Orders

1:45 p.m.

Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux Liberal Winnipeg North, MB

Mr. Speaker, an unparliamentary word is just that: unparliamentary. Even if it is spelled, it is still unparliamentary.

Salaries ActGovernment Orders

1:45 p.m.

Liberal

The Assistant Deputy Speaker Liberal Anthony Rota

Does the hon. member for Lethbridge want to withdraw the word?

Salaries ActGovernment Orders

1:45 p.m.

Conservative

Rachael Harder Conservative Lethbridge, AB

Mr. Speaker, it is part of the lyrics of a song by Elvis Presley.

Salaries ActGovernment Orders

1:45 p.m.

Liberal

The Assistant Deputy Speaker Liberal Anthony Rota

The rule is that members cannot say indirectly what they cannot say directly. I do not want to hear the word again, whether it is spelled or said. Perhaps the member could apologize or withdraw it, and we can continue.

Salaries ActGovernment Orders

1:45 p.m.

Conservative

Rachael Harder Conservative Lethbridge, AB

Mr. Speaker, I apologize that the opposite side of the House is offended by all this questioning.

The bill aims to eliminate the positions of our former government's six regional ministers, who looked after these different parts of our country. The elimination of these positions will mean that the unique needs of western Canada, northern Canada, Atlantic Canada, northern Ontario, southern Ontario, and Quebec will not be adequately represented at the cabinet table. I would imagine that this would upset everyone in the House, because we should strive to represent these regions adequately. Instead of putting regional ministers in place who have boots on the ground and their fingers on the pulse in these different regions, the Prime Minister decided that one minister from Toronto would make the decisions for all of Canada in terms of their economic development and prosperity going forward.

Traditionally, regional development agency ministers brought their region-specific requests, requirements, or desires to Parliament to ensure that accurate representation was made. However, as I said, the bill would gut that opportunity. When asked about this decision, the Prime Minister said that appointing a Toronto minister for all regional development was “a way of reducing the kind of politics that we've always seen from regional development agencies.”

What exactly is that supposed to mean? Is it that, in a nation with significant diversity, the unique needs of the different regions are not worth considering, or does it mean that it is too political, too complicated, or too uncomfortable for the Prime Minister to bring those voices to the table? Maybe the Prime Minister, who claims to place importance on consultation, does not actually give a care.

I will borrow the words written in an editorial in The Guardian, which said, “Exactly how does a central Canadian give the regional development agency more clout at the cabinet table?”

What the Liberal government has done is incredibly illogical, and what makes matters worse, and is quite embarrassing for the Liberals, to be frank, is the fact that in the last election, 32 ridings in Atlantic Canada elected a Liberal member of Parliament. Surely one of these 32 individuals is qualified to be a regional minister to stand up for their unique needs in Canada. What is the Prime Minister saying about those 32 individuals and their ability or inability?

When I think about the Prime Minister's so-called commitment to transparency and accountability, I would expect that he would want men and women at the table to represent these regions well. I would expect that he would want them to go to a shipyard in Halifax or to visit a mine in the north or an agricultural event in Saskatchewan. He would want those experiences represented around his cabinet table, but that is not the case.

This brings me to my second concern, which is that the government is actually refusing to be transparent. Bill C-24 calls on members of the House to approve three mysterious ministers, and it says nothing more. There is no transparency or accountability. The clause is absolutely unreasonable in asking the House to permit a blank cheque going forward. I am not okay with that.

That is not the only thing that is farcical in the bill. My third point is that when it comes to changing the salaries of ministers of state, Bill C-24 is nothing more than a hurried attempt to cover up for the Liberals' media embarrassment when the Prime Minister went out and said that he had put a gender-equal cabinet in place. The media picked up on this immediately and noticed that all five junior ministers were, in fact, women. The Prime Minister actually chose to give these women less authority, less responsibility, and smaller budgets than their male counterparts. So much for 2015.

Bill C-24 is the Prime Minister's attempt to remedy this mistake. The problem is that just attaching a label and a few extra dollars to a position does not mean that the person is valued or respected any more than she was before. The bill does an incredible disservice to women, as it is tokenism at its finest.

As a strong, intelligent, and hard-working woman, I want to be entrusted with responsibility and granted a voice at the cabinet table, not because of my gender but because of my ability. I would expect the same from the women in the House. They want their salaries to match what they do, what they are capable of, and the trust put in them. Changing the pay system would not create equality. In fact, it would diminish the value of being a woman at the cabinet table.

The Prime Minister is saying, “Don't worry. I won't give you the same level of responsibility or assign you a comparable budget or trust you to function at the cabinet table the way others do, but I will give you a name placard and a few extra dollars, and we will call it good.” It that for real? That is 2015? That is gender equality?

Here is the thing. The Prime Minister is a self-proclaimed feminist. So am I, but our ideas of feminism are not aligned. According to his definition of feminism, it is okay for Yazidi women and girls to be systematically kidnapped, tortured, raped, and sold while Canada stands by in vain, watching from afar. According to his definition of feminism, it is okay for newcomers to practise genital mutilation and it is no longer considered a barbaric practice in Canada. According to his definition of feminism, all women are equal, but some are more equal than others. There is a right type of woman and a wrong type of woman, and it is up to this Prime Minister to dictate what that is. Some are simply an inappropriate choice, according to this Prime Minister.

Now, on this side of the House, feminism looks like respect for every single woman. Feminism on this side of the House looks like taking a stand against gender-based hatred and violence. Feminism on this side of the House looks like protecting young girls from being brutalized. Feminism on this side of the House looks like preserving a woman's right to choose between two or more options, not just accepting the one that is dictated to her. This is feminism on this side of the House. This is the feminism that all of Canada deserves and expects.

In summary, Bill C-24 is extremely flawed. It robs regions of fair representation, it lacks transparency, and it fails in its attempt to create ministerial equality. I will be voting no.

Salaries ActGovernment Orders

1:50 p.m.

Liberal

Nick Whalen Liberal St. John's East, NL

Mr. Speaker, the member for Lethbridge spoke about a number of things that actually arose today in our committee on citizenship and immigration, where we had the minister appear before us. With respect to a couple of points, I think she is fairly off base, but it is possibly because she was not able to attend the meeting, being in the House.

With respect to the issue of the section of the Canadian citizenship guide, it has not been changed. The words she referred to are still in the guide. With respect to Yazidi women and girls, the government is making huge efforts, as we have also heard in committee, on bringing people who are suffering under Daesh to Canada. It is doing its utmost to try to help them and find ways to address some of the concerns.

Does the member not agree with the motion, which was passed by the House, to bring Yazidi women and girls to Canada to settle and protect them, as is currently being done?

Salaries ActGovernment Orders

1:55 p.m.

Conservative

Rachael Harder Conservative Lethbridge, AB

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member's question is ludicrous. Here is why. Those in this House know very well, as does the Canadian public, that it was our former leader, Rona Ambrose, joined by other members on this side, who brought forward the motion to bring Yazidi women and girls over to Canada to give them a second chance at life. That came from this side of the House. How dare that side of the House try to take credit for that action.

Let us talk about one more thing, and that is that in June 2016, the UN declared what was taking place in northern Iraq a genocide. Conservatives called on the government to take action. The Prime Minister said no. He said that we would wait. We would wait for more women to be slaughtered. We would wait for more women to be tortured. We would wait for more women to be raped. We would wait for more women to be sold into slavery. We would wait. It was not until after we applied significant pressure that the government finally acted. That is not feminism.

Salaries ActGovernment Orders

1:55 p.m.

NDP

Wayne Stetski NDP Kootenay—Columbia, BC

Mr. Speaker, I want to lament the fact that with her decision to quote from an Elvis song, I think Elvis really has left the building. It is quite sad.

I would like to give the hon. member an opportunity to talk about how she would fix the bill. Is there any fix that would work for her?

Salaries ActGovernment Orders

1:55 p.m.

Conservative

Rachael Harder Conservative Lethbridge, AB

Mr. Speaker, the answer to that is very simple.

Salaries ActGovernment Orders

1:55 p.m.

Some hon. members

Oh, oh!

Salaries ActGovernment Orders

1:55 p.m.

Conservative

Garnett Genuis Conservative Sherwood Park—Fort Saskatchewan, AB

Mr. Speaker, I want to bring the attention of some of my friends on the government side to, in fact, what—

Salaries ActGovernment Orders

1:55 p.m.

Liberal

The Assistant Deputy Speaker Liberal Anthony Rota

Order. I am trying to hear the question from the hon. member for Sherwood Park—Fort Saskatchewan and I am having a hard time with the cackling that is going on. It has stopped now, so I will let the member continue.

Salaries ActGovernment Orders

1:55 p.m.

Conservative

Garnett Genuis Conservative Sherwood Park—Fort Saskatchewan, AB

Mr. Speaker, I hope members of the government will listen. This is the Liberals' opportunity to learn something.

The orders in council that the government put forward on November 4 were the orders in council that created the ministerial positions. Let me read just one example, “...a Minister of State to be styled Minister of Status of Women, to assist the Minister of Canadian Heritage in the carrying out of that Minister's responsibilities....”

We have heard all sorts of impassioned speeches from members of the government that these five areas are important responsibilities that deserve their own ministers. I have a suggestion to those who have given those speeches. They should write to the Prime Minister and suggest that he do that.

Bill C-24 pays ministers who will remain ministers of state. There is an important difference between a minister and a minister of state. It is not a difference of the importance of the area, it is a difference of the public administration mechanism. Ministers of state are subject to full ministers in the exercise of their functions which is why the orders in council published on November 4 very clearly established that ministers of state, styled as full ministers, but in fact ministers of state, report to full ministers in the carrying out of their functions.

It is incredible that many members of the government do not understand this basic feature of how the ministerial system works and are giving speeches that misunderstand the provisions of the bill.

I would be curious for my colleague's comments on this simple reality of how Bill C-24 works.

Salaries ActGovernment Orders

1:55 p.m.

Conservative

Rachael Harder Conservative Lethbridge, AB

Mr. Speaker, I thank my hon. colleague for this excellent question and for his excellent explanation. To be honest, I do not know that I can add much to it, he has covered it quite well. The government is claiming to do something that it is not actually doing. Liberals are putting a few extra dollars along with a placard on a door and saying, “there, now you are equal”. No, actually there is a distinction in these positions.

I would like to make one point very clear and that is every single member of the House is equal in value, equal in worth, and equal in dignity and that can never be robbed from them. What the government is trying to do, however, is somehow say that adding extra money and adding a new placard, though not changing the rule, is somehow making the minister equal in voice at the table. That is just not the case.

Leo AbrahamStatements By Members

2 p.m.

Liberal

Ruby Sahota Liberal Brampton North, ON

Mr. Speaker, over the last two years I have had the privilege of visiting many schools in my riding of Brampton North and I always find it is the teachers who are the unsung heroes, helping students transition through life's challenging times.

Leo Abraham was a grade 4 and grade 5 teacher at St. John Bosco School and an inspiration and mentor to all who knew him. It is with great sadness that I must announce that Leo passed away last Thursday, after a head-on crash with a tractor-trailer while driving home from a Toronto FC playoff game. Leo's lighthearted sense of humour and non-judgmental nature created an environment that made everyone feel at ease and accepted in his presence. These unique qualities helped him connect with and mentor countless young students during his nearly 18 years as a teacher.

My thoughts and prayers are with his family, his wife Sonia and his sons Owen, Ian, Sebastian, and Ethan. They and all of the countless lives that he touched will forever miss Leo.

Political PrisonersStatements By Members

2 p.m.

Conservative

Peter Kent Conservative Thornhill, ON

Mr. Speaker, four years ago this week, the world lost a human rights hero: Nelson Mandela's legacy, the inspiration he sparked globally in those who similarly stand in opposition to political injustice and tyranny.

That is why the Raoul Wallenberg All-Party Parliamentary Caucus for Human Rights was moved to convene in this building today, a gathering of families of political prisoners. Their names are Raif Badawi, imprisoned in Saudi Arabia, with family in Sherbrooke; Dr. Wang Bingzhang, imprisoned in China, with family in Montreal; Sun Qian, a Canadian Falun Gong practitioner imprisoned in China; Leopoldo López, imprisoned in Venezuela, with family originally from Fredericton; Saeed Malekpour, imprisoned in Iran, with a sister in Vancouver; and Ayatollah Boroujerdi, a champion of religious tolerance, imprisoned in Iran. Each is a human rights role model.

We stand today in witness to their heroism and unjust imprisonment and call for their release.

Olympic Curling TrialsStatements By Members

December 7th, 2017 / 2 p.m.

Liberal

Terry Duguid Liberal Winnipeg South, MB

Mr. Speaker, this week in our nation's capital, the Olympic curling trials are under way. Known as the Roar of the Rings, 18 of the best teams in the country will compete to represent Canada at the 2018 Winter Olympics in PyeongChang, South Korea.

Curling has always been important to me and my family. My father, Don Duguid, is a three-time Canadian Brier champion, two-time world champion, and long-time curling broadcaster. He was inducted into the Canadian Curling Hall of Fame in 1974 and the World Curling Hall of Fame in 2013.

Manitoba boasts some of the best curlers in the country and the world, and I particularly want to wish the best of luck to the teams from Manitoba competing in this week's trials. Regardless of who emerges victorious on Sunday, I am sure that our country will be well represented at the Olympics. Hurry hard.