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House of Commons Hansard #141 of the 42nd Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was crisis.

Topics

Controlled Drugs and Substances ActGovernment Orders

5 p.m.

Liberal

Darrell Samson Liberal Sackville—Preston—Chezzetcook, NS

Madam Speaker, research clearly shows that these sites save lives. We plan to do this as quickly as possible.

Controlled Drugs and Substances ActGovernment Orders

5 p.m.

Liberal

Sonia Sidhu Liberal Brampton South, ON

Madam Speaker, I am grateful for the opportunity to speak in support of Bill C-37, an act to amend the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act and to make related amendments to other acts.

While I am supporting this positive move, I must say I am still deeply troubled by this crisis that continues to hit communities. On a personal note, I was deeply touched after hearing from those affected. As a member of the Standing Committee on Health, I, with my colleagues from all parties, studied this crisis. In fact, we chose to pass a motion to undertake an emergency study of the crisis.

We were all in lockstep with the minister, trying to make a positive difference and to make choices that would save lives. That motivation drove us to work hard, and work together. We worked collectively and openly on this. That is something I am quite proud of and something I have valued in my time as the MP for Brampton South, and as a fellow parliamentarian of all who serve together in this place.

In committee, we heard from wide-ranging front-line perspectives, experts, and from the Minister of Health directly on this. I would like to make particular note of the testimony the committee heard from indigenous peoples on October 25, which I feel was compelling, honest, and a real wake-up call about what we need to do to ensure we address the needs of indigenous communities. For starters, improving access to naloxone treatment, the life-saving medication used in the case of an opioid overdose, was needed for rural and remote first nations in particular. That was a key part of the minister's action plan coming out of the summit, and goes to show what we can do when we consult all communities.

In looking at the bill, I see that Bill C-37 addresses what we heard from the Canada Border Services Agency about practical changes that would help prevent drug-making materials from entering the country. I applaud the minister's work also to check suspicious international mail packages that are 30 grams or less, which could be used to smuggle in any amounts of substances that may cause harm. This is a good precaution to benefit Canadians.

I want to remind colleagues that the bill is the product of hundreds of voices coming together. Our committee members were graciously invited to join in the health minister's summit on this as well. Coming out of the summit, we saw action. In fact, the joint statement of action by 42 organizations to address the opioid crisis was a broad but concrete approach that includes all those involved, from health care providers, to first responders, to educators, to researchers, and to families as well. I want to applaud our Minister of Health, and Ontario's minister of health as well, for leading that conference, which focused on concrete steps and delivering clear results.

Our government has taken action from day one, building on our five-point action plan to address opioid misuse. We have taken concrete steps, such as granting section 56 exemptions for the Dr. Peter Centre and extending the exemption for lnsite for an additional four years. We made the overdose antidote naloxone more widely available in Canada. Our government recently approved three safe consumption sites in Montreal that the community asked for.

Further, at the local level, we have seen action already undertaken. In the city of Toronto, the mayor met with the mayor of Vancouver and other officials in order to plan a proactive not reactive response for Ontario as the crisis drifts eastward. The mayor of Hamilton held a discussion about this as well, and other municipalities have been doing the same. I hope more municipalities will reach out, learn from one another, and take proactive measures in their communities.

The numbers and the experts support this as the right way to public health, and it also delivers cost savings. I see how various aspects of the bill address a lot of the concerns we heard at committee and at the opioids summit. While many members have made note of the urgency of passing the bill, I think the majority of members showed time and time again in recent weeks that they were willing to collaborate to move quickly on this.

I want to reassure members that I believe the bill is an extremely collaborative and well-thought-out bill that responds to experts in the field as well as front-line needs. It gives me comfort to know that this bill would make a difference.

As others have said before, and I agree, we are in a national public health crisis in Canada. In 2016, thousands of Canadians tragically died of accidental opioid overdoses, and more will die this year. Our government and its partners must work together aggressively to save lives.

If people have friends or neighbours who are hearing the Conservatives' argument that facilities like Insite are the wrong approach, I would encourage them to contact me or other members on the health committee who would be happy to provide non-partisan, evidence-based information on why that does not reflect the safe consumption site model we see working already in Canada. All members of this House can agree that our hearts go out to the families and friends affected personally when a loved one has lost his or her life instead of having another chance. Last year in British Columbia alone, more than 900 people died from a drug overdose, an 80% increase from 2015.

This legislation simply proposes to ease the burden on communities that wish to open a supervised consumption site, while putting stronger measures in place to stop the flow of illicit drugs and strengthening the system in place for licensed controlled substances facilities. Experts and stakeholders told the previous government and then told our government that Bill C-2 as it stood was not helping this crisis. That is why we took action to reverse the barriers that were holding back communities that have long been asking for the ability to save their citizens' lives.

We know there is more to be done as we move forward. We know that sadly the situation is getting worse. The deaths from overdoses will now be greater than deaths caused by car accidents. This tragic crisis continues to move eastward in Canada, with increasing drug seizures of fentanyl and carfentanil across the country. We will continue to work with our partners across the country to continue bringing forward evidence-based solutions to save lives and ensure that 2017 is the year that will mark a turn in this national public health crisis.

Many people in Brampton South have asked me about my work on the health committee, and I have mentioned over and over that we all agreed we should turn our focus to this study due to the emergency at hand. They ask me why and they are always engaged when hearing about how we can work together at committee to address real problems and issues that our fellow Canadians face. Again, the way our committee worked together is one of the cherished moments I have of being an MP, and I hope we get more chances to work collaboratively again. This crisis called on us as leaders in our communities and as parliamentarians to take action.

In October 2016, I put forward a motion that the health committee call upon the Minister of Health to move as quickly as possible to conduct a review of the laws and regulations in place with regard to safe injection sites. I suggested that the review have an end goal to improve the health and safety of Canadians, using a strong evidence-based approach. With Bill C-37, I feel the minister and government have responded fully to the motion that the health committee passed in October of last year.

I am proud to be supporting this legislation that would save the lives of Canadians who need our help.

Controlled Drugs and Substances ActGovernment Orders

5:10 p.m.

Conservative

Harold Albrecht Conservative Kitchener—Conestoga, ON

Madam Speaker, certainly on this side of the House we have unanimous agreement that we need to work on this challenging problem.

A number of weeks ago in committee, our health critic offered to actually split this bill into two parts to deal with the crisis part and then to work on the issues that we might have some disagreement on. In fact, the parts of the bill that should be implemented could actually be law right now had the Liberal government agreed to do that.

My question has two parts. One, why did the Liberal government not agree to allow us to split the bill into two parts and facilitate the quick movement of this bill? Two, now that the bill is here, why did the Liberals limit debate on this bill for those of us in Parliament who have been elected by our constituents to represent them to be able to give their voice here in Parliament? Why did the Liberals limit debate by closing down debate?

Controlled Drugs and Substances ActGovernment Orders

5:10 p.m.

Liberal

Sonia Sidhu Liberal Brampton South, ON

Madam Speaker, I appreciate my colleague's passion on this issue, but as he heard, 900 lives were lost in Vancouver. This is an urgent matter. We have to take steps. Evidence shows that when properly established and maintained, supervised consumption sites save lives and improve health without negatively impacting the surrounding communities.

Our minister brought forward Bill C-37. I want all members to support this valuable bill so we can save Canadian lives.

Controlled Drugs and Substances ActGovernment Orders

5:10 p.m.

Liberal

Angelo Iacono Liberal Alfred-Pellan, QC

Madam Speaker, I thank my colleague for her speech on this important bill.

The government is taking the necessary steps to respond to the fentanyl overdose crisis across the country. I think my colleague would agree that our government bases its decisions on facts, science, and sound evidence. That is why we want to support the establishment of supervised consumption sites in cities that want them, because this reduces harm.

I wonder if my colleague could tell the House about other beneficial effects the bill will have on the health and safety of all Canadians.

Controlled Drugs and Substances ActGovernment Orders

5:10 p.m.

Liberal

Sonia Sidhu Liberal Brampton South, ON

Madam Speaker, our government made the overdose antidote naloxone more widely available in Canada. It saves Canadians' lives. I appreciate that our Minister of Health took this step.

Last November, the Minister of Health co-hosted a conference on opioid overdose crisis which resulted in 42 organizations bringing forward concrete proposals on their own.

Our government is also continuing to respond to the tragic crisis in the way that is comprehensive, collaborative, and compassionate. We will continue to work with our partners across the country to continue bringing forward evidence-based solutions to save lives. That is why all members, as well as those across the way, are debating Bill C-37. We are all working together to save Canadians' lives.

Controlled Drugs and Substances ActGovernment Orders

5:10 p.m.

Conservative

Larry Maguire Conservative Brandon—Souris, MB

Madam Speaker, I would like to ask my colleague about the situation she has looked at. She indicated there were some 900 deaths in Vancouver. They have injection sites, as has been pointed out by colleagues and others and I just want to also follow up. We still have not received an answer to the question that we have placed multiple times today about why the government did not split the bill. There is about 80% of it that we have agreed with. It could very well have been enacted by now and perhaps saved even more lives, yet the government seems to be against community consultation. I am wondering if she can provide an answer to both of those.

Controlled Drugs and Substances ActGovernment Orders

5:15 p.m.

Liberal

Sonia Sidhu Liberal Brampton South, ON

Madam Speaker, we need to have a comprehensive approach in order to face this crisis. This is not the time to play politics. This is a time to act. We need to act urgently.

Controlled Drugs and Substances ActGovernment Orders

5:15 p.m.

NDP

The Assistant Deputy Speaker NDP Carol Hughes

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

Controlled Drugs and Substances ActGovernment Orders

5:15 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

No.

Controlled Drugs and Substances ActGovernment Orders

5:15 p.m.

NDP

The Assistant Deputy Speaker NDP Carol Hughes

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

Controlled Drugs and Substances ActGovernment Orders

5:15 p.m.

Some hon. members

Yea.

Controlled Drugs and Substances ActGovernment Orders

5:15 p.m.

NDP

The Assistant Deputy Speaker NDP Carol Hughes

All those opposed will please say nay.

Controlled Drugs and Substances ActGovernment Orders

5:15 p.m.

Some hon. members

Nay.

Controlled Drugs and Substances ActGovernment Orders

5:15 p.m.

NDP

The Assistant Deputy Speaker NDP Carol Hughes

In my opinion the yeas have it.

And five or more members having risen:

Call in the members.

(The House divided on the motion, which was agreed to on the following division:)

Vote #199

Controlled Drugs and Substances ActGovernment Orders

5:50 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Geoff Regan

I declare the motion carried.

(Bill read the third time and passed)

The House resumed from February 8 consideration of the motion that Bill S-211, An Act respecting National Sickle Cell Awareness Day, be read the second time and referred to a committee.

National Sickle Cell Awareness Day ActPrivate Members' Business

5:55 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Geoff Regan

The House will now proceed to the taking of the deferred recorded division on the motion at second reading stage of Bill S-211.

(The House divided on the motion, which was agreed to on the following division:)

Vote #200

National Sickle Cell Awareness Day ActPrivate Members' Business

6 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Geoff Regan

I declare the motion carried. Accordingly the bill stands referred to the Standing Committee on Health.

(Bill read the second time and referred to a committee)

National Sickle Cell Awareness Day ActPrivate Members' Business

6:05 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Geoff Regan

It being 6:04 p.m., the House will now proceed to the consideration of private members' business as listed on today's Order Paper.

Systemic Racism and Religious DiscriminationPrivate Members' Business

February 15th, 2017 / 6:05 p.m.

Liberal

Iqra Khalid Liberal Mississauga—Erin Mills, ON

moved:

That, in the opinion of the House, the government should: (a) recognize the need to quell the increasing public climate of hate and fear; (b) condemn Islamophobia and all forms of systemic racism and religious discrimination and take note of House of Commons’ petition e-411 and the issues raised by it; and (c) request that the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage undertake a study on how the government could (i) develop a whole-of-government approach to reducing or eliminating systemic racism and religious discrimination including Islamophobia, in Canada, while ensuring a community-centered focus with a holistic response through evidence-based policy-making, (ii) collect data to contextualize hate crime reports and to conduct needs assessments for impacted communities, and that the Committee should present its findings and recommendations to the House no later than 240 calendar days from the adoption of this motion, provided that in its report, the Committee should make recommendations that the government may use to better reflect the enshrined rights and freedoms in the Constitution Acts, including the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank my colleagues who have stood with me today.

Today I am honoured to speak to my Motion No. 103. This is a motion that seeks to continue the important conversation about how we can strengthen our Canadian fabric by studying systemic racism and religious discrimination, including Islamaphobia, in Canada.

I am a member of Parliament in one of the most diverse ridings in Canada. I like to say that the whole world is represented in my city of Mississauga. We live beside each other as Canadians. We all, in our different ways, contribute to the building of Canada. We all form part of this beautiful Canadian fabric. Our Prime Minister has often said that our diversity is our strength. Our government of today focuses its policies on being inclusive and on leveraging our strengths to the benefit of all of us as a nation.

However, when it comes to the ground reality, I often find myself wondering how it is that we can come from so many different places, be of every colour, practice different faiths, and yet collectively, be one of the most peaceful countries in the world. Balancing the interests of such a diverse and dynamic group of people like Canadians requires a lot of work. It requires partnerships between our policy-makers, civil society, which acts as a watchdog, grassroots organizations, which provide programs and services required, and individual Canadians and the respect they have for one another. Without that respect, our society cannot function. Let me be clear. This respect exists, despite Canadians having differences in ideology, skin colour, faith, and so on.

In light of the statistics, the media reports, and the personal stories I hear, I feel that this partnership needs more effort.

Motion No. 103 seeks three things from our government: first, to recognize the need to quell the increasing public climate of hate and fear; second, to condemn all forms of systemic racism and religious discrimination, including Islamaphobia; and third, to request that the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage undertake a study on how the government could develop a whole-of-government approach to reducing or eliminating systemic racism and religious discrimination, including Islamaphobia, and collect data to contextualize hate crime reports and to conduct a needs assessment for impacted communities.

Racism is not new to Canada. From the struggle of black Canadian communities, to the turning away of the Komagata Maru from Canadian shores, to the internment of Japanese, Italian, and Ukrainian Canadians, to discrimination against our Jewish community, exemplified by the actions taken in 1939, when 907 Jewish refugees aboard the German transatlantic liner, the St. Louis, were seeking refuge from Nazi Germany. Canada refused to take them in, and the ship sailed back to Europe, where 254 would later die in concentration camps.

This brings us to the historic and ongoing struggle of our indigenous communities, and now, additionally, the targeting of the Muslim community in Canada.

Racism and religious discrimination is a reality. A recent survey commissioned by The Globe and Mail and conducted by Nanos Research in 2016 suggests that seven in 10 respondents say that there is still a lot of racism in Canada. One in five have had a racist remark directed at them, and more than one-third have made a racist remark in the company of others.

In 2016 alone, there were cases of discrimination and racism against almost every community in Canada. On September 20, 2016, the University of Alberta woke up to posters put around campus depicting turbaned men of the Sikh faith with racist insults written above them.

In December 2016, in Edmonton, a man went up to two women wearing hijabs. He then pulled a rope from his pocket, tied the rope into a noose, and said, “This is for you”.

In November of the same year, swastikas and racist slurs were spray-painted on a church in Ottawa that had a black pastor. “Go home” was spray-painted on the front doors of the Ottawa Muslim Association. Anti-Semitic slurs were spray-painted on synagogues.

Statistic Canada's most recent hate crime data from 2014 shows a doubling of hate crimes perpetuated against Muslims over a three-year period. Many Muslim Canadians have told me personally that they do not feel safe practising their faith here in Canada.

When I tabled Motion No. 103, not even in my wildest imagination would I have envisioned the Quebec terrorist attack, where six Canadians lost their lives for the simple reason that they were practising their faith.

When over 69,000 Canadians came together to call on our government to act on Islamophobia through e-petition 411, sponsored by the member for Pierrefonds—Dollard, it was a signal to me that we need to act.

The first step toward engaging in these conversations of inclusion is to recognize that we have a problem. Words have impact. When we as a government stand together and condemn intolerance manifested through racism and religious discrimination, we can begin to tackle the issue.

I have been asked by some to change the wording of my motion to remove “Islamophobia” and other references. I will not do so any more than I would speak of the Holocaust and not mention that the overwhelming majority of victims were six million followers of the Jewish faith and that anti-Semitism was the root cause of the Holocaust. We cannot address a problem if we fail to call it by its true name.

What is Islamophobia? The most commonly used definition, and the one I ascribe to, is that Islamophobia is the irrational hatred of Muslims that leads to discrimination. With that definition in mind, I find it hard to believe that any member of the House would vote against a motion that condemns this.

I cannot believe that some Canadians are practitioners of Islamophobia. There are certainly a small, and unfortunately growing, number of individuals who are driven by dark motivations to commit acts of violence or even murder to silence or marginalize Canadians who ascribe to certain beliefs and values.

I would like to address the question of freedom of speech, which is a central and dearly held Canadian value protected by the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. The passage of my motion will do nothing to affect the status of the charter, despite many allegations to the contrary. To suggest that my motion, the aim of which is to initiate a study of systemic racism and religious discrimination in Canada, could possibly impact the freedom of speech enjoyed by Canadians demonstrates a lack of understanding of how our charter works.

A study of systemic racism and religious discrimination would bolster the state of freedom of speech in Canada by making certain that all voices are able to be heard on a level playing field. In essence, this study would shed light on areas in which the freedom of speech of Canadians belonging to racial and religious minorities is currently curtailed. The freedom of speech of all Canadians is strengthened by studies such as the one proposed by the motion, because having access to the experiences and wisdom of all Canadians makes our society, culture, and economy stronger. To recognize where we currently have a blind spot, where we “other” certain Canadian voices, can only result in an enrichment of our multicultural, secular national conversation.

To tackle this issue, we must go to our partners, our civil society, our grassroots organizations, and individual Canadians to assess the impact of racism and religious discrimination on Canadians. I propose that these conversations take place in the context of a formal study that brings everyone to the table and provides them with an opportunity to raise their voice.

It is not about one race over another. It is not about one religion over another. Hate does not discriminate. I am sure the black community, the Jewish community, the aboriginal community, the Sikh community, and many more communities feel what their brothers and sisters of the Muslim faith feel today. The reality is that none of us are immune. None of our communities are exempt from this sort of prejudice, bigotry, racism, and discrimination. This motion is about strengthening our country. It is about finding ways to work together to build on our diversity as our strength.

I ask all members of the House to join with me and pass this motion so the committee can conduct a fulsome study of systemic racism, religious discrimination, and Islamophobia. I would expect the committee to call witnesses from all affected communities as well as hear from experts both in the field of evidence gathering and from those who can offer potential solutions through greater education and understanding.

This motion was never meant to be a divisive one, and I am indeed sorry that some have tried to turn the intent of the motion into something that it is not. The motion would not expand or change the Criminal Code in any way. The intention of the motion is to show all Canadians that Parliament is united in its opposition to all forms of discrimination that weaken our Canadian fabric.

I look forward to the support of all members of the House.

Systemic Racism and Religious DiscriminationPrivate Members' Business

6:20 p.m.

Conservative

David Anderson Conservative Cypress Hills—Grasslands, SK

Mr. Speaker, my colleague mentioned at the end of her speech that she would like to see Parliament come together. She had a chance to amend the motion in some very minor ways that would have allowed for perhaps near unanimous support in the House for her motion, but she chose not to do that.

Could the member tell us why she and/or the PMO have resisted an opportunity to bring Canadians together on this very important issue?

Systemic Racism and Religious DiscriminationPrivate Members' Business

6:20 p.m.

Liberal

Iqra Khalid Liberal Mississauga—Erin Mills, ON

Mr. Speaker, the wording of the motion as it stands today is supported by members of the House from across party lines. The wording of the motion as it stands today is supported by organizations all across Canada. It is supported, as it stands today, by Canadians at large all across Canada. Watering down the language of the motion will not be in the best interest of Canadians.

I really would like to address the concerns raised by the member and his colleagues, and I would like to see the committee study these issues as presented.