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.


Systemic Racism and Religious DiscriminationPrivate Members' Business

6:20 p.m.


Rachel Blaney NDP North Island—Powell River, BC

Mr. Speaker, in my past work, I worked in an organization that served newcomers to Canada. A big part of what we did was work in our community around strengthening the bonds of multiculturalism.

When one lives in a community as I did in Campbell River, when somebody showed up who looked a little different, people noticed very quickly. I was always very heartened by the fact that so many people would call our office when they saw people who looked a little different. They wanted to ensure they were connected to my organization and were getting the support they needed.

It is also very important that we look at the reality that Islamophobia is a growing discrimination in our country today, and we need to address it.

How does the member think the study will impact the Muslim community, and how does she envision the study assisting the broader issues of systemic racism and religious discrimination?

Systemic Racism and Religious DiscriminationPrivate Members' Business

6:20 p.m.


Iqra Khalid Liberal Mississauga—Erin Mills, ON

Mr. Speaker, it is so important to engage in conversations to recognize a problem and to tackle that problem. Through this motion, I think by recognizing Islamophobia and then a call to action would really help Canadians come together. It would create a dialogue among our policy-makers, our civil society, our grassroots organizations, and Canadians at large, because the more we get to know each other, the more we realize that we are more the same than we are different.

Systemic Racism and Religious DiscriminationPrivate Members' Business

6:20 p.m.


Gary Anandasangaree Liberal Scarborough—Rouge Park, ON

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank my colleague for her eloquent speech and strong advocacy on this issue.

I want to get a sense from her as to the last two months and what kind of responses she has had as the member moving this motion. What kind of reaction has she received from the Muslim community, as well as all the other communities across the country, particularly against her? I know the personal toll it has had on her over the last few weeks. I would like to get a sense of how that has impacted her vision on this motion.

Systemic Racism and Religious DiscriminationPrivate Members' Business

6:20 p.m.


Iqra Khalid Liberal Mississauga—Erin Mills, ON

Mr. Speaker, I can say that the past few weeks have been a great learning experience. When my staff and I were going over the wording of the motion, the first people we went to were those with our grassroots organizations. We consulted them to see how they felt about it. I am very happy to report that I have letters of endorsement from my local synagogue, from my local mosque, and from our Christian communities in Mississauga—Erin Mills and all across Canada. The support has been overwhelming. It has really humbled me.

Yes, there has been some negative criticism and some hatred directed toward me and some of my colleagues, which only strengthens my resolve that this is something that we are going to champion together.

Systemic Racism and Religious DiscriminationPrivate Members' Business

6:25 p.m.


David Anderson Conservative Cypress Hills—Grasslands, SK

Mr. Speaker, I am glad to be here today to talk to Motion No. 103. My colleague and I have served together on the subcommittee on human rights, and I respect her commitment to these issues. However, we disagree on some points of her motion.

For those of us who have worked on issues of religious freedom, there is nothing worse than to hear of a faith community attacked simply because of who they are and because of the faith they hold. This is much too common around the world. We were reminded that we are not immune when we heard of the massacre in Quebec City, and the killing of people as they were praying.

I come to this discussion as a person of faith. Like so many other Canadians, my faith informs my life at every point. I know there are millions of Canadians, of many different faith groups, who live more confidently because of their faith. However, that does not always mean that we are always understood by the culture around us. Holding to a faith perspective often puts people at odds with the world around us. To hold a different perspective from our neighbour is to run the risk of being misunderstood. We live in a country made up of people from around the globe, from over 150 different cultures, histories, and beliefs. In the past, we have bridged those gaps. This has been done by insisting that each person has the right to believe or not believe, as he or she chooses, without coercion. He or she has the right to live out those beliefs, and has the right, and I would argue the obligation, to communicate those beliefs. The right to religious freedom and belief and the freedom of speech go hand in hand. When we find language that clarifies our perspective to others, we stand a chance of being understood and our issues being explainable to those who hold a different viewpoint. That is how we come to an understanding and acceptance of the fact that others can hold very different beliefs than we do. When we understand those differences, they are no longer threatening to us but actually complement what we are as a nation.

We have over one million Muslims in this country who are a part of the Canadian fabric. They have been here for decades. Generations have lived in Canadian society. Many live alongside their neighbours, who perhaps do not even know that they are Muslim. First, they are neighbours and then they are friends.

In the last few years, the events in the Middle East and around the world, including here in Canada, have put a new focus on Islam. One thing that is obvious is that not all Muslims, and indeed not every Muslim in Canada, hold the same views. When people see what is happening around the globe, they want to know more. They want to hear more information. They want explanations. This is where we find ourselves. The radical few are making a lot of trouble for everyone else. They have been successful in creating an atmosphere where both Muslims and non-Muslims are uncomfortable and fearful. As a country, we need to find long-term solutions to those divisions. However, to find solutions we need clarity. We need to be able to talk clearly.

That leads us to today and to Motion No. 103, which is highlighting one religion in particular but without clear language on what that means. It is unfortunate that this motion does not encourage conversation, because in the content of the motion the focus is on one term, Islamophobia. This is a word that we see often but one that many people are uncomfortable with because they do not know what it includes. In Motion No. 103, Islamophobia has been left undefined. People do not know what it means in this motion. It is not good enough for it to go to committee to be defined there, as the mover suggested yesterday. It was her responsibility or the responsibility of the PMO when it wrote this motion to define it if their intention was other than to play some sort of political game with it. No one knows how the word is defined in Motion No. 103 because we do not know what the mover intended. She tried to lay a bit of a definition out for us tonight. That is unfortunate, but not surprising, because there is no consensus on the meaning of the word in Motion No. 103. Is it so inclusive that it covers any and all criticisms of Islam?

There are many in the radical community who are trying to use this phrase as a catch-all. Does it allow for the asking of difficult questions? It sounds silly, but I have been to seminars where people were told they did not have the right to ask probing questions because that would mean that they were defining another religion in some way. Is “Islamophobia”, in Motion No. 103, only referring to the extreme hatred that we see as mosques are desecrated and people are killed? If that is the definition, Canadians can clearly understand that. However, because of the lack of a definition, this term can be applied differently depending on the priority of the user. Some apply the term to only serious acts of hostility, while others apply it to every critique and every act against Islam. Canadians have been confused by this and have been contacting all of our offices. I know every member in this Parliament has heard from their constituents, who are asking such questions as, “Is the term meant to inform us or intimidate us? Does it encourage free speech or is it shutting it down?” We cannot answer those questions because we do not know what is meant in the motion.

This word is a conversation stopper and it needs to be set aside. We do a disservice to actual victims and their families when we describe what happened to them with the same word that we use to describe insulting language. Those attacks are not on the same level. Let us not describe them that way.

As Conservatives, we have focused on these issues for years. That is why we established the office of religious freedom to protect religious expression around the world. It was working well until the Liberal government shut it down.

We wanted to make this motion work. We went to the member opposite and suggested amendments. A simple change to amend it to say “hatred against Muslims” rather than “Islamophobia” would have made it much clearer. Everyone can understand that. They know what those terms mean. We did that so that this motion could be supported unanimously, if possible, but it was refused by the member, or by the PMO.

Why not change it to easily describe what we are trying to address? Would that not have allowed us to have a mature debate? The mover, who should want this more than any of us, refused our suggestions, and so we are stuck with this version. We are stuck with a divisive term that means nothing, or everything, which is not clearly defined. It is of little value in the debate about the role of Islam in Canada. That is unfortunate, because this motion could have set a new direction. It could have set us on the path to talking together, to walking together, and to working together. Perhaps it would have been easier to pretend that all is well and say nothing other than we oppose Islamophobia, but that leaves too many things unresolved, especially around issues of free speech.

This has a lot of people concerned. We are hearing from people across the spectrum. Moderate Muslims are left without the kind of comfort they need to have. The Canadian public that is interested in this issue has no safe place to take their questions and concerns. They are becoming reluctant to ask questions publicly because they do not know what they will be accused of. That is not healthy for our country. It is time we began to talk about these issues in much more mature terms.

If Liberals are using Islamophobia as a political football, they are not serving Canadians well. While they may be thinking they will get some sort a short-term political gain in passing this motion, the reality is this is not addressing the issue at a level necessary to deal with Canadians' concerns.

We need to have an open conversation in this country in order to support and promote the right of people of faith to live safely. To do that we need to have the freedom to speak clearly, openly, and in well-defined terms. The road to stress and persecution comes through the failure to communicate and to identify and protect safe spaces to have these discussions.

This debate tonight and the one tomorrow give us the opportunity to rise above clichés and to engage in a real debate about the future of religious freedom, free speech, and the place of religious communities in that conversation.

This is not just theoretical. I have worked with MPs from around the world on these issues. I have a friend, a Muslim MP, who is a moderate in a modern, democratic country. He is using his voice in his country to speak to these issues of what Islam is and is not. Because of his courage, he is under constant threat, under police protection because radicals do not want him speaking. To them he is an Islamophobe; to his constituents he is speaking on the issues of religious freedom and free speech.

Let us elevate this debate so that we can begin to deal with these issues in Canada maturely. If we do not, we will pay a heavy price in division and conflict. We have the opportunity to avoid that, so let us do it. Otherwise, we will be allowing a small group of ideologues who are trying to cause trouble around the globe, and a small group of people in our own country who hate for no reason to have their way, to drive a wedge between moderate Muslims and the Canadian public, both of whom reject the hatred that we saw two weeks ago.

Systemic Racism and Religious DiscriminationPrivate Members' Business

6:30 p.m.


Rachel Blaney NDP North Island—Powell River, BC

Mr. Speaker, today I rise to speak on Motion No. 103, racism and religious discrimination. I sincerely wish I could go to the heart of the matter, to speak on the intentions of this motion. Sadly, I rise today amidst a growing campaign asking members of the House to reject the motion.

I want to address some of the concerns now, stand up, and speak truthfully. It is unfortunate that there is so much misinformation surrounding Motion No. 103. There is a growing world where alternative facts are presented as reality. It is very important that we take our responsibilities seriously to understand the motion before us today. However, so-called media venues are bending facts and creating an environment of fear that can create hate. I hope all members of the House stand against so-called alternative facts that are based in fear and not in fact.

These truth-bending facts have promoted fear that this motion would suppress freedom of speech, emphasize one religion ahead of another, and create a media ban, just to name a few. These are falsehoods, so let us break it down.

The “M” stands for “Motion”. Motions are symbolic in nature. They do not impose any legal obligation on the part of the government. They simply indicate to the government that they have the moral support of the House. Motion No. 103 is not even written in a format that directly suggests any clear legislative action. This motion only asks to carry out an assessment. It is asking the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage for context and recommendations on the state of systemic racism and religious discrimination in Canada in order to reduce it.

I want to pause here, because this motion asks for context and recommendation of the state of all forms of systemic racism and religious discrimination in Canada. Asking a committee to explore the state of these important issues makes this completely in conformity with the charter. It is compliant.

As a party that supports freedom of speech, we believe that we should be encouraging a vigorous debate and discussions about issues, including Islamaphobia. Some have suggested that this motion would limit our ability to debate or censure discussion. As a motion, it cannot do that, and, notably, that is neither the intent nor the consequence of Motion No. 103.

I have been very touched and inspired by the members of the Muslim community, who opened the doors of their mosques to have members of the broader community enter and learn more about their Muslim faith. This is an example of opening doors and building bridges, rather than closing doors. I would like to stress the importance of doing everything we can to protect and maintain our democracy and essential freedoms.

The reality is that Canada has experienced an increase in numbers of targeted attacks toward Muslims. The recent attack in Quebec City, where members of the Muslim community were killed and many wounded in their place of worship, is a stark reminder that we need to stand together against racism and discrimination. Any form of violence or discrimination against a specific community is unacceptable in our country.

The incidence of anti-Muslim hate crimes, or incidents reported to the NCCM, the police, or in the media, has risen sharply since 2015. That some do not seem to understand or want to understand Islamaphobia is shocking to me. Are they not aware of the gradual increase of verbal attacks and attacks on property over the last four years?

It is very important that we also remind people that some brothers and sisters of the Muslim faith are visibly apparent, especially some Muslim women, in the risk that they take by just practising their faith. We are not stepping up to say, “In Canada, we will not be okay with this.” We need to do that in the House. We need to take that leadership.

Fighting against these discriminations is a profound way to protect our most cherished and fundamental values as Canadians. New Democrats hope this motion is an opportunity to reach out, give voice to impacted communities, and start a dialogue. We can build more inclusive communities.

It offers an opportunity for all parties to work together on an issue that concerns the very fabric of our country. The NDP is committed to multiculturalism and we would be pleased to play a positive role in the upcoming study.

Let us be clear. This is a worldwide issue that is broader than Trump's latest action of putting up a Muslim ban, one that is impacting Canadian citizens as we have recently seen.

In Canada, there are about 100 active white power organizations. These have been re-energized and welcome divisive rhetoric. Twitter users can self-identify as white nationalists and neo-Nazis have grown 600% since 2012, according to a new study by George Washington University's program on extremism.

Death threats, physical harm, and property destruction have become a sombre norm for many and this for partaking peacefully in Canadian society. We cannot be complacent. We cannot be fearful. We must stand together against this current global climate of hate, fear, and violence.

Our multicultural society will only flourish in a context of cultural diversity whereby religious discrimination is clearly unacceptable. Let us rather confront these types of discrimination head-on and make progress together.

This motion is about addressing the issue directly. I want to express my deepest thanks to the communities across Canada that circled the mosques in our country to provide a sense of safety when people went back to their holy place after the Quebec terror attacks. This was a true testament to Canadian values of safety and inclusion.

I thank the mosques that have opened their doors to share their beliefs with Canadians across Canada. This action is one, again, that opens doors to have conversations and to grow understanding. We cannot let fear be our guide. I hope Canadians will choose openness and curiosity instead.

In my last job, one of the things we did was open very meaningful conversations. We held dialogues and community circles, where diversity would come together and have open conversations, places where we could actually ask those questions that were sometimes hard to ask.

One unfortunate thing was when the then Conservative government took the funding of immigrant services back from the provinces. We found there was no support to continue that very important work, of working in communities one by one, to bring diverse groups together to have meaningful conversations, to build those bridges.

I hope that out of the research done at the committee, one of the things we identify is the need to give some support to those organizations that bring diverse people together to have those really meaningful conversations. That is how we build a Canada of which we can all be proud, one of which we have a long history.

Let us do that work together. I hope to see everyone stand in this place, stand up against Islamophobia and support the motion.

Systemic Racism and Religious DiscriminationPrivate Members' Business

6:40 p.m.

Parkdale—High Park Ontario


Arif Virani LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Canadian Heritage (Multiculturalism)

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to address Motion No. 103, introduced by the member for Mississauga—Erin Mills. The motion calls on the House to recognize the need to quell the increasing public climate of hate and fear, and condemn Islamophobia and all forms of systemic racism and religious discrimination.

The motion calls on the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage to study how to develop a whole-of-government approach to reducing systemic discrimination and racism, including Islamophobia, and report back to this chamber.

The standing committee would make recommendations to better reflect our enshrined rights and freedoms, examine how the government should collect data on hate crimes, and conduct needs assessments for impacted communities.

As the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Canadian Heritage (Multiculturalism), I am proud to state in this chamber that our government supports Motion No. 103. I am proud to stand here today to recognize the importance of overcoming all forms of systemic racism and religious discrimination in Canada, in particular, the pressing issue of Islamophobia, with a view to building a more equitable society grounded in the important values of inclusion and acceptance.

Canada is one of the most diverse countries in the world. In our country, people from all backgrounds, including immigrants and refugees, from around the globe, live and work side by side and contribute to today's rich and magnificent mosaic. I am a product of our great national experiment as I am a Muslim refugee from Uganda who arrived here about 45 years ago. Today, I am a parliamentarian. The member for Mississauga—Erin Mills is also a product of a culturally diverse and pluralistic Canada, just like our colleagues born abroad who come from no less than 41 different countries.

Our nation is composed of people from many countries, with many religions, many languages, many races, and many cultures. This is a place where Muslims, Sikhs, Buddhists, Hindus, Jews, Christians, and members of many other religious groups live together in solidarity. This is a nation of proud francophone and anglophone communities, speakers of a large number of aboriginal languages, and of other citizens whose mother tongue is neither French nor English.

Our country continues to change and diversify. By 2036, it is expected that more than 30% of working-age Canadians will be made up of non-whites, or of members of a visible minority. It is even estimated that this percentage could climb to roughly 65% in Toronto and more than 60% in Vancouver.

I am emphasizing our diversity not to reiterate well-known facts about our multicultural population, but to point out that we owe the success we have enjoyed since Confederation to our diversity.

People from diverse ethnic, cultural, and racial backgrounds and very different religious beliefs have contributed to Canada's success over the 150 years since Confederation.

Yet, significant challenges remain. The terrorist attack that occurred at a Quebec mosque on January 29 was a tragic reminder of the persistence of hate in our society, and how such hatred can have deadly consequences. As a Muslim Canadian and as a member of this chamber, my initial reaction to the shootings was shock and horror, followed by rage and anger, and eventually mourning for the senseless loss of innocent lives. Indeed, Canadians of all backgrounds are still grieving across the country. Our hearts go out to the victims and their families.

This incident should not be viewed in isolation. It must be seen in context, and that context is one of growing intolerance fuelled in part by the politics of division where groups have driven wedge issues in an attempt to divide the electorate for partisan gain.

I reject outright the characterization by the member for Cypress Hills—Grasslands that some members of the Liberal Party have been responsible for this politicization. Our party and our government stand against the politics of division.

Growing intolerance has manifested in escalating actions. Take, for example, the appearance of racist posters targeting members of the Sikh community that surfaced in Alberta. Subsequent to the Quebec terror attack, we have witnessed anti-Semitic graffiti in Ottawa, and Islamophobic insults hurled at passengers on the Toronto transit system. These incidents cast a shadow on our reputation as a peaceful, tolerant, and inclusive society, and remind us of the vital need for initiatives such as Motion No. 103.

They are a reminder, as the member for Louis-Hébert put it so passionately in this chamber two weeks ago, that we must never be complacent in the face of racism and discrimination. Instead, we must confront it, in all its forms. Canadians have started to do so.

In the wake of the horrible shootings in Quebec, we have also seen a broad outpouring of solidarity, support, and compassion from Canadians across the country. We have seen thousands braving freezing temperatures to mourn the innocent loss of life at vigils. We have seen Jews and Christians gather to form circles of protection around mosques to give worshippers a sense of safety and security for their Friday Jumu'ah prayers. We have seen, in my very own riding of Parkdale—High Park, the development of inter-faith dialogue groups to better understand one another's religions, in the hope of breaking down barriers.

However, fostering the inclusive and compassionate Canada we aspire to, where difference is not only tolerated but celebrated requires vigilance. It requires a re-dedication to the task of rooting out systemic racism and religious discrimination, which is precisely what the motion seeks to do. However, this attempt at remaining vigilant has come up against a few objections, which I will turn to now.

The first is that condemning Islamophobia will serve to limit the freedom of speech of those who have genuine concerns about Islam and its tenets.

Nothing could be further from the truth. There is nothing in this motion that would curb or limit the constitutionally protected right to freedom of expression guaranteed under section 2b of the charter.

Let me go further. I know that we, as Canadians, will never be able to truly overcome intolerance, and build a more inclusive country unless we are to have candid, open, and respectful discussions about the challenges presented by a changing and rapidly diversifying population, and pose honest questions.

As a Muslim, I have asked those questions myself, and I pose them regularly to religious leaders in my own community.

Make no mistake, Motion No. 103 is not about limiting respectful discussion. It is about curbing hatred. Motion No. 103 is about all members of this House standing up and affirming that racism and discrimination, whether toward Muslims, Jews, Black Canadians, indigenous groups, or any others, runs contrary to the values we hold dear as Canadians.

In this context, I want to address the plethora of misinformation and fearmongering about Motion No. 103 circulating on social medica. This motion is not about bringing Sharia law to Canada. Such statements are pure conjecture and should be rejected out of hand because they lack any merit.

On top of the erroneous information circulating on social media, it is the abuse that we have witnessed which concerns me. The online attacks that are circulating about this motion are just that, attacks. They illustrate, quite directly, the climate of hatred, which this motion recognizes. These online attacks constitute abuse and insults meant to intimidate and shut down discussion, not promote it.

Our government wants to have a discussion, because discussion is vital to building a more inclusive country. By calling for a parliamentary committee to study systemic racism, Motion No. 103 fosters freedom of expression. It does not limit it.

The second objection we have heard, and we heard it again this evening, is that this motion is flawed because it singles out the vague term Islamophobia for special consideration. I have several responses to this.

First, reaching a resolution on this matter is not a question of the PMO's approval. It is a private member's motion brought forward by the member for Mississauga—Erin Mills. We have heard her response this evening. Let me reiterate her response on why Islamophobia is important to enumerate.

First, understanding what we mean by Islamophobia is not difficult. When we speak about Islamophobia, we are not talking about legitimate questions about a religion or a respectful criticism of religious practices. When we speak about Islamophobia, we are talking about taking a stand against prejudice, against abuse, against discrimination targeted toward individuals for no reason other than the fact that they practise Islam.

Second, singling out a particular religion has precedence. As the member for Wellington—Halton Hills has observed, this House has a long tradition of passing motions denouncing discrimination and hatred against particular groups, such as Jews, Yazidis, Egyptian Coptic Christians.

Third, the motion enumerates Islamophobia because words matter. It is incumbent on us, as parliamentarians, to use words which accurately depict and call out by name the intolerance we are observing, and that we are honest with the facts, which show an overall increase in the number of hate crimes in this country against Muslims.

While all of us in this chamber stand opposed to all instances of racism and discrimination, 24 days after six Muslim men were gunned down in cold blood in a mosque simply because of their religion, it is incumbent upon this government and this Parliament to signal to Canadians that we recognize that there is an acute problem with anti-Muslim sentiment, and that we are committed to working steadfastly to address it. If we cannot call out Islamophobia now, at this junction, when will it ever be appropriate do so.

Our government supports Motion No. 103. I do, and I urge all members of this House to do the same.

Systemic Racism and Religious DiscriminationPrivate Members' Business

6:50 p.m.


Scott Reid Conservative Lanark—Frontenac—Kingston, ON

Mr. Speaker, as I address Motion No. 103, I will attempt to draw upon two sources of experience that may be relevant. First, I was the chair of the House of Commons Subcommittee on International Human Rights from 2008 to 2015. Second, I co-chaired the Canadian Parliamentary Coalition to Combat Anti-Semitism in 2010 and 2011.

Let me start by noting the very close textural relationship between Motion No. 103, which we are debating today, and the Conservative Party's motion, which we will be debating tomorrow. Both condemn all forms of systemic racism and religious discrimination. Both use identical language to instruct the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage to undertake a study on hate crime and to seek out ways of reducing or eliminating discrimination. Both instruct the committee to report back to the House in 240 days.

The two motions differ in only three particulars.

First, the Conservative motion condemns racism, religious intolerance, and discrimination against all of Canada's largest religious groups: Muslims, Jews, Christians, Sikhs, and Hindus, while Motion No. 103 mentions only Islam by name.

Second, the focus of Motion No. 103 is on the undefined term Islamophobia rather than on protecting Muslims as individuals. This implies that what Canada needs is state protection for faiths rather than for the safety of the faithful.

Finally, the Conservative motion specifically names, as the paradigmatic example of impermissible hatred, what it describes as “the recent and senseless violent acts at a Quebec City mosque”. This wording reiterates that it is the faithful who must be protected rather than the faiths they profess, since eternal truth is under the protection of an almighty and all-loving protector far more powerful than the Government of Canada.

Based on these distinctions, I will be voting against Motion No. 103 in favour of the alternative motion which we will be debated tomorrow.

The contrast between these two motions is reminiscent of a similar contrast between the motions considered during the course of a decade-long debate at the United Nations Human Rights Council.

In 1999, Pakistan introduced a motion calling for all UN member states to take measures in their domestic law to ban the defamation of religions. Pakistan's motion went through a number of incarnations. Initially it referred only to Islamophobia, but as time went on, reference was made to other religions as well. For example, the 2009 version condemned the defamation of religion as a human rights violation and authorized an annual report “on all manifestations of defamation of religions and in particular, on the serious implications of Islamophobia”.

Pakistan's set of motions met with consistent opposition from many democracies, including both Canada and the United States, and from many civil liberties groups as well. Human rights groups pointed out that this measure could have the effect of authorizing or even mandating domestic blasphemy laws, with citizens of any complying state potentially being found guilty in their domestic courts of blaspheming against religions in which they had never been participants or believers.

As well, in 2007, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Contemporary Forms of Racism, himself a Muslim, reported back that the special and isolated reference to Islam in the motion was widely seen as creating what he referred to as “the hierarchization of forms of discrimination”.

Eileen Donahoe's critique of the motion is also worth repeating. She was President Obama's ambassador to the United Nations. She said:

We cannot agree that prohibiting speech is the way to promote tolerance, and because we continue to see the “defamation of religions” concept used to justify censorship, criminalization, and in some cases violent assaults and deaths of political, racial, and religious minorities around the world.

In 2011, this deadlock was broken when the United States and Pakistan co-authored a new resolution which was adopted as Resolution 16/18, under the title, ”Combating intolerance, negative stereotyping and stigmatization of, and discrimination, incitement to violence and violence against, persons based on religion or belief.” It is a long but comprehensive title.

Resolution 16/18 bears the same relationship to the Pakistani delegations's previous motions that the motion we will be debating tomorrow bears to Motion No. 103, which we are debating today.

This episode reminds us that freedom of religion and freedom of speech are not opposed concepts. It is no accident that they are protected side-by-side in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

Section 2 of the charter reads as follows:

2. Everyone has the following fundamental freedoms:

(a) freedom of conscience and religion;

(b) freedom of thought, belief, opinion and expression, including freedom of the press and other media of communication;

(c) freedom of peaceful assembly; and

(d) freedom of association.

We cannot have one of these freedoms unless the others are protected in equal measure. We cannot have freedom of religion without having the ability to try to convince others to share in one's thoughts and beliefs and therefore to abandon the religion, or absence of religion, to which they presently adhere. We cannot have freedom of religion if we cannot assemble peacefully to pray, whether that be in a church, a mosque, a synagogue, or a public place. We cannot have freedom of religion if we cannot associate with other like-minded individuals.

To better make the point about the spirit that lies behind tomorrow's motion, and to distinguish it more clearly from Motion No. 103, let me now turn to the classic jurisprudence on the issue of the relationship between speech and safety, which comes from the Supreme Court of the United States in its 1919 ruling in Schenck v. United States. Speaking for the unanimous court, Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes wrote the following:

The most stringent protection of free speech would not protect a man in falsely shouting fire in a theatre and causing a panic.... The question in every case is whether the words used are used in such circumstances and are of such a nature as to create a clear and present danger that they will bring about the substantive evils that Congress has a right to prevent.

In other words, it is when, and only when, speech is a form of action, and when that action itself would be a criminal offence, that speech may be prohibited by law.

By the way, lest anyone regard the reference to “shouting fire in a theatre” as being merely a rhetorical flourish, I should point out that Justice Holmes was referring to a real-life event: the fatal stampede that occurred after someone shouted “fire” at a party in a crowded community hall in Calumet, Michigan on Christmas Eve, 1913. This disaster, which killed 73 people, was disturbingly similar to the mosque shooting in Quebec City, and it is correctly regarded to this day as the worst act of mass murder in Michigan's history.

I should point out as well that there are practical dangers in developing new categories of legislated impermissible speech, as opposed to legitimate bans on the kind of speech that constitutes criminal incitement.

In the 1970s and 1980s, Ernst Zundel was able to turn his serial prosecutions on charges of inciting hate to generate far more publicity than would otherwise have been possible for so marginal, and frankly, contemptible and laughable a character. Had he simply been ignored, it would have been better for the cause of openness in Canada. Indeed, he was able to use this publicity, this notoriety, to turn himself into a sort of media celebrity. Similarly, the existence of laws in Weimar Germany against the defamation of religions, including Judaism, did nothing to slow down the rise of the Nazis.

Seven years ago, this fact led me, along with other Conservative members of Parliament on the Canadian Parliamentary Coalition to Combat Antisemitism, to disagree with our Liberal colleagues, who wanted to expand the definition of hate speech. We believed it would be very counterproductive. I believed that in 2011, and my goal was to find ways to combat hatred against Jews. I believe that today, in the context of the debate taking place just weeks after this country's worst ever act of hatred against Muslims.

Freedom of speech and freedom of religion are united concepts. Embracing all religions, allowing ourselves to speak freely about them, and ensuring the protection of individuals to practice their faith is the best way forward.

I encourage all members to vote against Motion No. 103 and in favour of the motion that will be debated in the House tomorrow.

Systemic Racism and Religious DiscriminationPrivate Members' Business

7 p.m.


Frank Baylis Liberal Pierrefonds—Dollard, QC

Mr. Speaker, I rise today in support of Motion No. 103, a private member's motion put forward by the member for Mississauga—Erin Mills. I congratulate her for the work she has done to bring forward the motion.

Motion No. 103 asks the government to undertake a study looking at ways of reducing or eliminating systemic racism and religious discrimination, including Islamophobia. The key points of the motion are to tackle systemic racism and religious discrimination.

Let us start with systemic racism. Systemic racism exists whenever the system itself is designed or came about to inherently discriminate against one people. If a barrier is in place, some people say we should reach over the barrier and bring people to the other side, but tackling systemic racism and discrimination means removing the barrier.

My own family's history has been touched by the fight against systemic racism. More than 50 years ago, my mother, Gloria Leon Baylis, a young black immigrant from Barbados, was denied a job because of her skin colour, because of her race. When that happened, she did not throw a rock through a window at night or write graffiti on a wall. No, she took them to court. She found a young Jewish lawyer, who told her he would stand with her and take on the case. Remember that this was over 50 years ago, when such discrimination was commonplace and, quite frankly, accepted.

Her case would take over 12 years to be settled, and when it was done and she won, the perpetrators were fined the measly sum of $25, some $25 for a 12-year case. However, the case was never about money. Her case would be the first in Canada to be fought and won against racial discrimination in the workplace. After that, it would no longer be legal in Canada to deny someone employment strictly because of their race.

I am very proud that my mother, a woman with an indomitable spirit, helped shape our nation by taking down the systemic racism in employment. This is what removing barriers is all about. Unfortunately, the battle is not over. To this day, the highest number of hate crimes are those against black Canadians.

Mr. Speaker, I will stop here and continue on later.

Systemic Racism and Religious DiscriminationPrivate Members' Business

7:05 p.m.


The Assistant Deputy Speaker Liberal Anthony Rota

The hon. member will have seven minutes remaining when the motion comes forward again.

The time provided for the consideration of private members' business has now expired, and the order is dropped to the bottom of the order of precedence on the order paper.

A motion to adjourn the House under Standing Order 38 deemed to have been moved.

National DefenceAdjournment Proceedings

February 15th, 2017 / 7:05 p.m.


James Bezan Conservative Selkirk—Interlake—Eastman, MB

Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure for me to rise two nights in a row for the late show, along with my friend, the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of National Defence. I will give him a chance to reiterate his comments from last night. I understand the answer was provided to the October 26 debate, in which I first raised this question, to the question I raised yesterday, which was October 27. Today's question is about the transparency of the government as it relates to what our troops are doing in Iraq.

So far, the government has put a veil of secrecy around what our troops are doing in Operation Impact in Iraq. It really does play to this overall level of control that we have not witnessed of the government in controlling the flow of information about our military back to Canadians and Parliament, so that we can do our job as opposition and hold the government to account, which is a fundamental role of making sure that our parliamentary democracy works.

I know the parliamentary secretary last night wanted to talk about all the technical briefings the government has done. In less than a year and a half, when the Conservatives were government back in 2014-15, 19 technical briefings were held on what the troops were doing and what the air force was doing in the combat mission against ISIS in support of our allies, including the Kurds and the Iraqi security forces. Canadians were able to see the benefit of our troops being in theatre.

There have only been four technical briefings in a year and a half, since the government came to power. We appreciate those technical briefings when they happen, but we were also told at the last technical briefing that took place that for operational security reasons, the government is no longer going to be sharing this information.

We know for a fact that this mission, which was an air combat mission, was expanded into a training mission. The Liberals pulled our CF-18s out of the fight against ISIS. We were supportive of having more boots on the ground to do the advise and assist, the command and control, and the training to work with our Kurdish peshmerga partners and Iraqi security forces, among other allies, in getting rid of ISIS. As we witness today, it is paying off in multitudes by pushing ISIS out of Mosul and Iraq.

We know that our troops are doing more. Images have come from the front line showing Canadian troops, not in an advise and assist role anymore but actually providing cover by using anti-tank weaponry to stop any attacks coming at the peshmerga or Iraqi positions as they are pushing ISIS out of Mosul. All of these images are getting posted through other media means, whether it is social media, Iraqi television, or other foreign media sources. Canadians expect more transparency from the government, not a veil of secrecy, not the iron fist over the dome of silence, to tell Canadians what a great job our troops are doing and the risks that they are taking.

It is important that the Liberal government share the facts with Canadians so that we know what our troops are doing and whether we can hold the government to account.

National DefenceAdjournment Proceedings

7:10 p.m.

Saint-Jean Québec


Jean Rioux LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of National Defence

Mr. Speaker, I am happy to discuss Operation Impact.

Let me explain our mission. I will be completely transparent. Our government decided to invest $1.6 billion in security, stabilization, humanitarian aid, and development assistance in that region. The work Canadian Armed Forces members are doing in carrying out that mission is very difficult, and I am extremely proud of what they have accomplished so far.

Thanks to their tireless work and dedication, they have played an important role in making the Iraqi security forces more effective in the fight against Daesh.

Since fall 2014, our special forces personnel have trained more than 2,000 members of the Iraqi special forces. Our military personnel are there to advise and assist the security forces. Our personnel are advising Iraqi security forces on their operational and tactical planning. We are also providing Iraqi security forces with key tools such as increased intelligence capabilities.

Since October, Iraqi security forces have been actively engaging Daesh in their campaign to liberate Mosul. To date, Iraqi security forces have retaken approximately 62% of the territory once controlled by Daesh in Iraq and have liberated 115 cities and towns. Our advise and assist role has become increasingly important to the Iraqi security forces' success.

On top of those efforts, we have increased our intelligence capability in order to better protect our forces and our partners' forces. We have also deployed Griffon helicopters to transport troops and equipment. In addition, we will continue to support the air task force by conducting air-to-air refuelling sorties and intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance missions.

In terms of medical assistance, we are proud to say that beginning in November 2016, the Canadian Armed Forces assumed the lead of the Coalition Role 2 medical facility in Northern Iraq. The team is made up of doctors, nurses, medical technicians, lab technicians, and diagnostic imaging technologists, as well as a dental team and support staff. Approximately 50 military personnel are currently working at the facility, and a total of 364 patients have been treated there so far.

Our government has always been and will continue to be open and transparent about this mission, while always considering the safety and security of our troops. Canadians want to know what our troops are doing, and our government has worked very hard to keep them informed, in a number of different ways. There have been several technical briefings about the mission in recent months.

The Canadian Armed Forces also made it possible for journalists to visit operations, as they did in November 2016, and we will continue to do so regularly.

We are extremely proud of the work that our troops are doing in Iraq. Canada will continue to work with our allies, as the Minister of National Defence did this week in Brussels and Munich.

We will continue to work in co-operation with local and international partners to defeat Daesh and bring peace and stability to the region. We will continue to support the Iraqi government and the Iraqi people on their journey toward becoming a stable and secure country.

National DefenceAdjournment Proceedings

7:10 p.m.


James Bezan Conservative Selkirk—Interlake—Eastman, MB

Mr. Speaker, I had hoped that the parliamentary secretary would not just regurgitate the talking points from the minister's office, and actually tell us what our troops are doing. We know that our troops are no longer training. We support our troops 100%.

We are proud of the work they are doing, especially the Special Operations Forces on the ground today, as well as the air combat mission that is taking place based out of Kuwait. Of course, the Liberals are cutting back the danger pay and benefits that are provided to our troops in Kuwait.

The Prime Minister said, when he was in opposition, that the Liberal Party could not support any military mission where the arguments to support it are not represented in an open and transparent manner. He demanded that of the prime minister of the day, Stephen Harper, and yet he is not providing those facts.

We know that our troops are accompanying the Kurdish peshmerga and the Iraqi security forces into Mosul, but there have been no technical briefings about how they are doing and what the safety factor is. We know that they are pushed right up to the Tigris River, without any details, which Canadians expect. Opposition members are trying to hold the government to account. If the Liberals want to be effective on this mission, they have to be open and transparent.

National DefenceAdjournment Proceedings

7:15 p.m.


Jean Rioux Liberal Saint-Jean, QC

Mr. Speaker, the government is being open and transparent about this mission, but it would never do anything to put our troops in danger.

Daesh has proven in the past that its fighters care not only about what is done, but also about what is said. We will therefore continue to communicate what can be communicated, and we intend to keep confidential what needs to be confidential. I repeat, we will continue to act openly, while taking into account any risks that we could be inadvertently exposing our troops to.

Canada will continue to work with our local and international partners and allies in order to defeat Daesh and bring peace and stability to the region. We will continue to inform Canadians of the progress made in the fight against Daesh.

I would like to reiterate once again just how proud we are of the progress made to date and of the role played by our soldiers in the global fight to defeat Daesh. Our military personnel continue to provide extraordinary support to the coalition.

Rail TransportationAdjournment Proceedings

7:15 p.m.


Luc Berthold Conservative Mégantic—L'Érable, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise this evening after a hard day in the House of Commons.

The adjournment proceedings give us an opportunity to provide details and talk at greater length about a subject that concerns us. Often, during question period, we do not have time to get into the details, which means that the answers can sometimes be quite evasive and much broader. This evening, I will reiterate the questions I have asked the Minister of Transport many times about the Lac-Mégantic bypass.

To be clear, I would like to say from the outset that I know that the current government is working on the bypass file. I think that this issue must transcend political partisanship. This is an issue that directly concerns the people who were affected by the worst rail tragedy in the history of Canada.

As a reminder, this tragedy struck on July 6, 2013, when a train pulling 72 tanker cars full of crude oil got into an accident in the middle of the night. The train flipped over in downtown Lac-Mégantic. It was a disaster that killed 47 people and destroyed many homes, apartments, and commercial buildings. More than 100,000 litres of heavy oil spilled in the very heart of Lac-Mégantic.

Many families had to leave their homes for several weeks. Many of them were unable to return because the soil was contaminated or because their homes no longer existed.

It is important that we remember these facts, because three years after this tragedy people are very slowly getting back on their feet and are still feeling very vulnerable. This feeling is only heightened by the reconstruction of the downtown area, the class action lawsuits in progress, and the wait for confirmation of the construction of a bypass.

Based on everything I have heard here and in committee, I believe that all parties, as well as the Prime Minister and the Minister of Transport, agree that it is important for the people of Lac-Mégantic to have this bypass.

It is important to mention that the Eastern Townships public health department has conducted research on the health of people living in Lac-Mégantic. I will point out a few facts that may surprise some parliamentarians here this evening. Three years after the tragedy, the health of the people of Lac-Mégantic has not improved; in fact, it has deteriorated. The use of anti-anxiety medication has increased. Why? The people of Lac-Mégantic still hear the train passing through the downtown core every day. In fact, the people of Lac-Mégantic have to relive this tragedy day after day. Until the cause of their fear is removed and a bypass is built, their health is not expected to improve.

My question is simple. Given that the government, the Prime Minister, and the Minister of Transport, have promised to expedite the study, can they provide assurances today to the people of Lac-Mégantic and give them hope by simply saying that things will move more quickly and that they will get their bypass?

Rail TransportationAdjournment Proceedings

7:20 p.m.

LaSalle—Émard—Verdun Québec


David Lametti LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Innovation

Mr. Speaker, I first want to thank the member for Mégantic—L'Érable for the question and for his tenacity on this file. Obviously, this terrible tragedy had a devastating effect on his community. We recognize that, and we must reach out to the people of Lac-Mégantic.

Rail safety remains the Minister of Transport's top priority. When he visited, he heard loud and clear the concerns raised by local residents regarding rail safety. The incident that occurred in 2013 was one of the most tragic events to ever happen in Canadian transportation, and our thoughts are still with the families of the victims of that tragedy.

During his visit to Sherbrooke, the Prime Minister met with the mayor of Lac-Mégantic and committed to doing everything he could to speed up the process. After that visit, the Minister of Transport got in touch with the Government of Quebec to organize a meeting with the Province and the Town of Lac-Mégantic in order to discuss the bypass and the possibility of expediting the study.

We continue to monitor railway companies closely to ensure that they are complying with the rules, regulations, and standards by conducting audits and inspections and taking all necessary measures to rectify problems. That includes monitoring train speed and infrastructure in the Lac-Mégantic region.

Since taking office, the Minister of Transport has introduced a number of measures to enhance rail safety. He has established stricter requirements for track inspections, emergency response plans, and dangerous goods classification. That includes the accelerated removal of DOT-111 tank cars, which is a crucial step toward strengthening our rail system by making sure that crude oil no longer travels in the least crash-resistant tank cars.

The Minister of Transport was honoured to have Denis Lauzon, the Lac-Mégantic fire chief, join him for the announcement of Transportation 2030, a strategic plan that includes speeding up the review of the Railway Safety Act to build on our actions to improve rail safety across Canada.

The bypass feasibility study is still ongoing. According to the City of Lac-Mégantic, the cost of this study is nearly $1 million. Funding for the study comes from Canada Economic Development for Quebec Regions and the Province of Quebec.

In April 2016, the project manager presented Transport Canada with the results of the first phase of the feasibility study and the preliminary recommendations for potentially building a bypass in Lac-Mégantic. The city then presented the preliminary results to the residents of Lac-Mégantic. There are three phases to the study, and to our understanding, phase two is moving along nicely.

Our government made Lac-Mégantic's economy recovery a priority and it is committed to revitalizing the community and healing its citizens. That is why we will continue to work with the city as well as other stakeholders to ensure that this is a collaborative effort.

Rail TransportationAdjournment Proceedings

7:20 p.m.


Luc Berthold Conservative Mégantic—L'Érable, QC

Mr. Speaker, that is what the minister has been saying from the start. I am well aware that the minister is working on the Lac-Mégantic file, that he is in contact with the population and the mayor, and that the Prime Minister has been very clear about his desire to speed up the rail bypass study.

However, a desire to speed up the study is not necessarily enough to help people get off their anxiety medication. The government needs to commit to building the bypass.

I am asking the government to commit to speeding up not just to the study but the healing process by announcing that it will build a rail bypass. That would be a good answer to give the people of Lac-Mégantic, who could then start to heal faster. I think that everyone here agrees.

I thank the parliamentary secretary for his collaboration and response. Does he agree with me that it is the duty of all parliamentarians to help the people of Lac-Mégantic?

Rail TransportationAdjournment Proceedings

7:25 p.m.


David Lametti Liberal LaSalle—Émard—Verdun, QC

Mr. Speaker, I thank the member once again.

As I mentioned before, rail safety is a priority for our government, and our thoughts continue to be with the families of the victims of the July 2013 tragedy.

Representatives of the Prime Minister's Office and the office of the Minister of Transport also met with a group of people from Lac-Mégantic when they were in Ottawa. Unfortunately, today, it would be premature for the Minister of Transport to make any decision based on the first phase of the study.

Nevertheless, our government is committed to finding ways to speed up the study and pursue the dialogue with the community of Lac-Mégantic and other stakeholders in order to help the community get back on its feet.

Foreign AffairsAdjournment Proceedings

7:25 p.m.


Jenny Kwan NDP Vancouver East, BC

Mr. Speaker, Canadians cherish their role as global citizens. There can be no question that Canadians are exceedingly generous and compassionate. This was reaffirmed with the Syrian refugee initiative.

As a member of the Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration, I had the opportunity during our study on Canada's resettlement efforts for Syrian refugees to hear first hand from sponsorship agreement holders about their experiences and drive to help those vulnerable individuals and families rebuild their lives in Canada.

I also had the opportunity to hear from the advocates and the advocacy for sponsorship agreement holders in the Lower Mainland of British Columbia. The drive and enthusiasm of the sponsorship community has not waned, but I fear the government is squandering this desire to help instead of fostering it.

The arbitrary cap on the group of five sponsorship applications of 1,000 has stifled sponsorship agreement holders who wish to do more, and that is just baffling.

Since Trump's attempt to ban refugees seeking asylum based on their race, place of birth and religion, Canadians are rising to the occasion and are calling for action. If the Trump administration is going to fail to live up to international humanitarian obligations, Canadians do not want our own government to stand idly by. Canadians are demanding that the government lift the arbitrary cap on sponsorship applications and allow Canadians to further demonstrate their generosity and compassion with real action.

The Liberal government's business as usual and refusal to re-examine its immigration and refugee targets in the wake of Trump's discriminatory immigration ban simply makes the Prime Minister's words ring hollow.

The call for action is strong and is coming from not just a humanitarian perspective, but from a legal standpoint also. Amnesty International, the Canadian Association of Refugee Lawyers, the Canadian Council for Refugees, the Canadian Civil Liberties Association, Universities Canada, 200 of Canada's law professors, law students and countless others are not afraid to take a principle stand against the U.S., and they are calling for Canada to stand up against Trump.

In our hearts, we know that the U.S. can no longer be considered a safe country for asylum seekers. People should not be forced to risk life and limb to get to safety, and that is what is happening.

Canada needs to immediately suspend the safe third country agreement. Our Prime Minister should not be a bystander in the face of Trump's racist immigration policies.

Over the weekend, I was at a rally, and a young person held up a sign that said, “No one is free when others are oppressed”. Another one read, “Make racism wrong again”. Perhaps this one says it best. It speaks to the hope and courage of those who are not afraid to take action to reaffirm their principles and values. It read, “If you build a wall, my generation will knock it down”.

Will the Prime Minister and the Liberal government join in and help cement our Canadian values in this important moment in our country's history with real action?

Foreign AffairsAdjournment Proceedings

7:30 p.m.

Acadie—Bathurst New Brunswick


Serge Cormier LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Immigration

Mr. Speaker, I thank the member for her question.

The member opposite talked about the 1,000 person cap. Let me begin by making it very clear and clarifying that there is not a 1,000 person cap on privately sponsored refugees.

There is not a 1,000-person cap on privately sponsored refugees. The 1,000-person limit in question is a cap related to new applications for Syrian and Iraqi refugees that can be submitted by a specific stream of sponsors, namely groups of five and community sponsors.

The limit on new applications should not be confused with the number of privately sponsored refugees that Canada will welcome this year, currently set at 16,000 refugees.

A group of five is five or more Canadian citizens or permanent residents who have arranged to sponsor a refugee living abroad to come to Canada.

All of the group members must be at least 18 years of age and live or have representatives in the area where the refugee will settle. The group must agree to give emotional and financial support to the refugees they are sponsoring for the full sponsorship period, which is usually one year.

Once again, I need to stress that the limit on new applications for groups of five and community sponsors should not be confused with the number of privately sponsored refugees Canada will welcome this year, which is currently set, as I said, at 16,000 refugees.

As the Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship said, “We have always welcomed people in need [of protection] and will continue to do so.”

This year, the overall target for resettled refugees is 25,000, which is divided among our various resettlement programs.

In fact, in 2017, we will welcome one of the highest numbers of refugees in Canadian history. While 2016 was an unprecedented year, planned admissions for resettled refugees in 2017 are double those established in 2015 and in preceding years.

The department already has enough applications in the system to meet its target for privately sponsored refugees.

It is a priority for this government to provide timely protection to privately sponsored refugees. That is why the department is taking steps to reduce the inventory of applications, which will help to significantly reduce wait times.

It has been a long-standing Canadian tradition to help the world's most vulnerable, and it is a tradition we will maintain as a government.

Foreign AffairsAdjournment Proceedings

7:30 p.m.


Jenny Kwan NDP Vancouver East, BC

Mr. Speaker, let us be clear. Why the government has a cap on any of the streams of privately sponsored refugees is a mystery to me. The fact of the matter is the government has not changed its immigration policies since the Trump administration's very disturbing and troubling discriminatory ban on immigration policies came forward. It is business as usual.

Does the government not realize that by sitting silently by, it is complicit in these discriminatory policies? With each passing day, we see more asylum seekers risking their lives to illegally cross from the U.S. into Canada. How many more people must risk their lives in -20°C or lower temperatures to reach Canada before the government acts? How many more discriminatory immigration policies must be enacted before the Canadian government will speak out? I ask the government to do what is right and what is necessary for us to take our place and have the courage to stand up—

Foreign AffairsAdjournment Proceedings

7:30 p.m.


The Assistant Deputy Speaker Liberal Anthony Rota

Order. The hon. parliamentary secretary.

Foreign AffairsAdjournment Proceedings

7:30 p.m.


Serge Cormier Liberal Acadie—Bathurst, NB

Mr. Speaker, the main question was about the cap on the number of people.

There is no 1,000-person cap on privately sponsored refugees.

The 1,000-person cap the member mentioned in her question refers to new sponsorship applications for Syrian and Iraqi refugees by specific groups of sponsors.

This specific cap on new applications is not to be confused with the number of privately sponsored refugees that Canada will welcome this year, which is currently set at 16,000.

This year, our goal once again is to welcome 25,000 refugees, one of the highest numbers in the history of Canada.

It has been a long-standing Canadian tradition to help the world's most vulnerable. It is a tradition we have maintained, and we will continue to do so.

Foreign AffairsAdjournment Proceedings

7:35 p.m.


The Assistant Deputy Speaker Liberal Anthony Rota

The motion to adjourn the House is now deemed to have been adopted. Accordingly, the House stands adjourned until tomorrow at 10 a.m., pursuant to Standing Order 24(1).

(The House adjourned at 7:35 p.m.)