House of Commons Hansard #134 of the 42nd Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was ceta.


Democratic ReformAdjournment Proceedings

6:35 p.m.


Andy Fillmore Liberal Halifax, NS

Mr. Speaker, I want to be very clear. This government fundamentally believes that more Canadians should have the ability to vote. We are committed to enhancing participation by Canadians in the democratic process, as evidenced in the updated mandate letter for the Minister of Democratic Institutions.

I certainly appreciate the member opposite's commitment to this issue. Coming back to the reason we are having this discussion this evening, I will again say that we have tabled legislation in this House that, if passed, would enable more than a million new electors living abroad to vote.

We appreciate that many non-resident citizens care deeply about voting in Canadian federal elections. I, and many others in this House, look forward to debating Bill C-33.

Immigration, Refugees and CitizenshipAdjournment Proceedings

6:35 p.m.


Michelle Rempel Conservative Calgary Nose Hill, AB

Mr. Speaker, I have been on my feet many times in this place talking about the plight of the Yazidi people of northern Iraq and surrounding regions. They are probably some of the most persecuted people in the world. They face extreme persecution at the hands of extremists in the religious majority in the area. They are undisputed survivors of genocide, and the international community has a lot of work to do, when we say “never again”, in actually applying it to these people.

The government committed four months ago to assist Yazidi victims of genocide with a broad range of services. This does not just mean resettling refugees. Canada has a horrendous track record in identifying and bringing Yazidis to Canada. In fact, the government has brought none through the government-assisted program, in spite of the fact that it claims to welcome refugees.

It means that we need to ensure that we are supporting these people in terms of recovery from the atrocities they and their families have been through. It means aid to the region, support for rebuilding infrastructure, and asking the tough questions about what Canada's role is in the fight to contain ISIS, given that their homelands are not secure or safe.

The government, frankly, has shown a lack of compassion to these people, as has the international community.

I stood in the House and asked a very simple question: Has the government contacted any NGOs? There are many NGOs doing excellent work in this area. I asked if it had contacted NGOs to help identify Yazidi refugees to come to Canada, and I got no response. It was actually quite shameful.

Right now, NGOs have identified displaced persons in Iraq, as well as in refugee camps in Turkey, who could be here, basically with the stroke of the minister's pen. Yet the government refuses to work through these groups. Why? It is because it wants to rely solely on the UN to refer refugees to Canada. It uses the line, “We do not use religion to prioritize refugees to come to Canada”, yet it is exactly these people's religion that is causing them to be the most persecuted and vulnerable people in the world. They, in turn, require our support.

The government has this dichotomy. It is passing the buck to the UN and refusing to take action. It is like it only wants the glory and the photo op with other refugees. It is not servicing the most vulnerable. It is not supporting these people.

The reason it is so important for the government to identify which NGOs they are working with is that it shows the international community that what the UN is doing to help these people is not good enough. The international community needs to send a message to the UN that these people are not safe in refugee camps and that they are not being put on referral lists to come to countries like Canada, the U.S., and Australia. In fact, many Yazidi people have actually said that the UN is actively discriminating against them by giving them appointment dates that are years and years in the future.

My question is very simple. With dozens of NGOs working in this area internationally, which NGOs has the minister and the government contacted to ensure that Yazidi refugees, both in Iraq and out, are being identified for sponsorship to Canada?

Immigration, Refugees and CitizenshipAdjournment Proceedings

6:40 p.m.

Acadie—Bathurst New Brunswick


Serge Cormier LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Immigration

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise for the first time as parliamentary secretary to the Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship.

I look forward to working with the new minister in his new role. He is doing an awesome job so far. I also look forward to working with members of the committee, especially the member for Calgary Nose Hill. I know she is doing great work in committee, and I look forward to working with her.

Canadians are united with people the world over in deploring the murderous acts of Daesh. Millions of people have been driven from their homes and persecuted for their ethnic affiliation or sexual orientation.

Canada has been a key contributor in the international effort to address the crisis. Since November 4, 2015, we have welcomed nearly 40,000 Syrian refugees.

I am pleased that all the parties are working together to help the vulnerable victims of Daesh, including the Yazidi population, as evidenced by the unanimous support for the proposal to bring Yazidis to Canada within 120 days, by February 22.

It is important to know that bringing to Canada internally displaced people as opposed to refugees is something that we do only in very exceptional circumstances. This is one of those circumstances.

We are committed to meeting that 120-day deadline, but it is also important to take the time to do things right and ensure that we have in place settlement supports, welcoming communities, interpreters, and plans to meet the psychological and social needs of the people we are welcoming. That is why, as the outgoing minister said in response to the initial question, we have worked very hard to design a two-part plan. We are bringing in people who live outside Iraq, in Turkey and Lebanon, and, at the same time, we are identifying women and their families who live in Irak.

The department is also working closely with welcoming communities to ensure that settlement supports are in place and available to individuals upon their arrival.

We know that we need to make sure that these victims are protected from Daesh, but because the region is still so unstable, it is extremely challenging to identify and interview these people and get them out of Iraq while ensuring the safety of our immigration officers, members of the Yazidi community, and other vulnerable groups.

When we prepare operational plans, our priority is the safety of individuals, staff, and partners. It also takes considerable resources to process the files of difficult-to-access populations.

That said, the Government of Canada is looking at ways to respond to the challenge in northern Iraq. IRCC officials recently completed a third visit to the region.

Over the course of the three trips, they interviewed a large number of Syrian refugees, as well as some internally displaced persons, and met with key partners in order to collect as much information as possible about the situation on the ground.

The desire to help those in need and to protect them is a longstanding Canadian tradition that is alive and well. We hope to continue to be global leaders, but there is no miracle solution for these problems.

We continue to work with our partners in the region to respond to the various challenges of resettling this vulnerable population in northern Iraq, and we will communicate on our progress as soon as it is appropriate,

Immigration, Refugees and CitizenshipAdjournment Proceedings

6:45 p.m.


Michelle Rempel Conservative Calgary Nose Hill, AB

Mr. Speaker, we just got a preview of what the government's response is going to be later this month when it fails to do anything material for the Yazidi people, in spite of the lip service it has paid this. The talking points are, “We can't work fast enough” and “This isn't easy”. When the government said during the campaign that bringing in 25,000 Syrian refugees was just a matter of political will, it was just a matter of political will. Of course it is not easy, but it is the right thing to do.

I asked the member a very simple question. I know he is new in the role, but the talking points he just gave should give him pause for thought and some shame.

It is not easy, but there are people on the ground who know what they are doing. There are NGOs that are well positioned. Why is the government not working with these people? I met with dozens of them today and they all said that they had had no calls from the government. Who is the government working with? Is it just working through a woefully inadequate UN? How many Yazidis will the government be bringing to Canada?

Immigration, Refugees and CitizenshipAdjournment Proceedings

6:45 p.m.


Serge Cormier Liberal Acadie—Bathurst, NB

Mr. Speaker, as I said earlier, we are very pleased that all parties are working together to help the vulnerable victims of Daesh, which include the Yazidi, as shown by the unanimous support for the proposal to bring these Yazidi to Canada within 120 days, or by February 22, 2017.

We are committed to meeting this 120-day timeline, but it is equally important to take the necessary time to do this right.

That is why we are working very actively on developing a two-pronged plan, as I mentioned earlier. The department is also working closely with host communities to ensure that settlement supports are in place and available to individuals upon their arrival.

Again, we will communicate our progress as soon as it is appropriate.

Port of QuébecAdjournment Proceedings

6:45 p.m.


Alupa Clarke Conservative Beauport—Limoilou, QC

Mr. Speaker, thank you for giving me the floor this evening. I am glad to have the opportunity to address my colleague from Ville-Marie—Le Sud-Ouest—Île-des-Soeurs for the first time.

This evening, I would like to talk about the Port of Québec, an extremely important port and the oldest one in Canada. It is more than four centuries old and part of Quebec City's very foundation.

The Port of Québec has reached a turning point. If it does not look to the future, focus on development, and expand its operations, then, sadly, it will soon die.

Three projects are under way. Beauport 2020 is of utmost importance. L'Anse au Foulon is an extension of Samuel-De Champlain Boulevard. During the election campaign, there was a promise to invest $12 million in it. The Louise Basin is another Port of Québec site with plans for development.

During its first year in power, the Liberal government did not have much to say about those projects. It was silent on the subject of l'Anse au Foulon, the Louise Basin, and Beauport 2020. There was nothing about Beauport 2020 in the throne speech or in the budget, and not much talk about it in general other than brief mentions by the Minister of Transport during his infrequent stops in Quebec City.

Beauport 2020 is vital to helping the Port of Québec remain competitive internationally and in North America. This project is also important to maintaining 8,000 direct and indirect jobs in the greater Quebec City area. Among other things, Beauport 2020 includes plans to double the area of the port's wharves. It is important because investments tied to this project will make it possible to complete significant repairs to the port facilities so that the Port of Québec can remain competitive in North America.

The environmental assessment is well under way. We are currently at the public hearing stage. Social licence will not be a problem, I am quite sure, because the port authorities are doing a good job. There has been constant dialogue between the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency and the Port of Québec. The agency has given the green light for public hearings to begin. By July 1, Canada Day, the Minister of Environment and Climate Change should receive a positive report from the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency. I am confident that she will receive a positive report for this project. The Government of Quebec and municipal authorities all support this project. The Liberal Government of Canada has also said that it supports the project. However, it has been very tight-lipped about it for the past year.

My question is very simple. One month before the election, the Conservative government confirmed that there was a $60 million envelope for the Port of Québec's Beauport 2020 project. The Minister of Transport repeatedly stated that he would honour the previous Conservative government's commitment in due course. My question is for the parliamentary secretary. Is this $60 million envelope, which was allocated by the Conservative government, still available? Is this amount still on the books? Other than saying that the government supports the Beauport 2020 project, can the government tell us whether this envelope exists and is still available today?

Port of QuébecAdjournment Proceedings

6:50 p.m.

Ville-Marie—Le Sud-Ouest—Île-des-Soeurs Québec


Marc Miller LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Infrastructure and Communities

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the member for Beauport—Limoilou for his comments and involvement in the Port of Québec file and the project he mentioned.

The Government of Canada knows that infrastructure provides opportunities and can change lives. It helps people get to work and get their children to school. It can lift families out of poverty. It can help businesses grow. Infrastructure helps build better communities and strengthen Canada.

In budget 2016, we launched the first phase of our infrastructure plan, and we did not waste any time rolling it out. We signed bilateral agreements with all provinces and territories, and approved more than 1,200 projects, 65% of which are already under way.

On July 5, the Governments of Canada and Quebec signed the Canada-Quebec agreement on the public transit infrastructure fund and the clean water and waste water fund. Together, these funds will provide municipalities in Quebec with nearly $1.3 billion in federal funding for projects across the province.

To date, we have approved over $730 million to 57 projects. We look forward to announcing more projects with the province in the coming months.

With these investments, we will ensure that all Quebeckers have access to modern infrastructure, including to help shorten their daily commute and optimize their work-life balance, while encouraging job creation, especially for the middle class.

Our government is committed to making transformative investments in infrastructure and, as my colleague the hon. Minister of Finance announced on November 1, we will be providing more than $180 billion for infrastructure over 12 years.

These investments will address key areas such as public transit, green and social infrastructure, transportation infrastructure that supports trade, and rural and northern communities.

The government has received the Port of Québec's proposed Beauport 2020 Phase 1 project for funding consideration. This funding is subject to all applicable program terms and conditions. A federal environmental assessment review was required before this project could be approved and the previous government was well aware of that when it promised funding just before the election campaign. The assessment, led by the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency, is currently underway.

Infrastructure Canada will continue the project review once the environmental assessment is complete. We are pleased to provide funding consideration to projects such as the Beauport 2020 Phase 1 project.

We will continue to work with our counterparts in Quebec, the hon. member for Beauport—Limoilou of course, as well as municipal representatives to deliver on our shared infrastructure priorities.

Port of QuébecAdjournment Proceedings

6:55 p.m.


Alupa Clarke Conservative Beauport—Limoilou, QC

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for his answer.

I understand that this is the first phase and that the government needs to conduct an assessment. That being said, when the member mentioned that the federal government has approved 57 infrastructure projects in Quebec, I could not help but notice that there does not seem to be anything for Quebec City.

What about the third link? The Liberal minister for the region, who says that he is not the minister for the region, has not said anything about it. No solution has been proposed regarding the Quebec Bridge, nor have we heard anything about the bus rapid transit system, a key project of the Quebec City mayor.

I understand the importance of government procedures, but regardless of what steps the government needs to take in relation to Beauport 2020, I would like to know whether the $60-million envelope is still there. That is what port authorities, the Government of Quebec, the mayor of Quebec City, and my constituents want to know.

Port of QuébecAdjournment Proceedings

6:55 p.m.


Marc Miller Liberal Ville-Marie—Le Sud-Ouest—Île-des-Soeurs, QC

Mr. Speaker, the member for Beauport—Limoilou said that the federal government is not funding any projects in the Quebec City area, but that is not true. In fact, the government is funding several. The member need only check our website to confirm it.

The Government of Canada recognizes that investments in vital national trade and transportation infrastructure like the port of Quebec project will help create long-term economic growth in the province of Quebec, as well as to the rest of Canada.

We are currently developing an infrastructure plan that will allow us to invest a total of more than $180 billion in federal funding over 12 years. We have signed agreements with all the provinces and territories to provide them with federal funding for phase 1 of our plan, and more than $245 million has been approved so far in Quebec.

We will continue to work with Canada's provinces, territories, and municipalities to help strengthen our communities.

We look forward to continuing to work with our proponents to make investments like the port of Quebec Beauport 2020 project a reality.

Port of QuébecAdjournment Proceedings

6:55 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 6:58 p.m.)