House of Commons Hansard #167 of the 42nd Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was opposition.

Topics

Reference to Standing Committee on Procedure and House AffairsPrivilegeRoutine Proceedings

6:05 p.m.

Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux Liberal Winnipeg North, MB

Mr. Speaker, there have been many Liberals who have had the opportunity to engage on this issue, but there is a sense from the Conservative Party we are into a filibuster. I asked the member across the way why the opposition, according to some of its own members, made the decision to filibuster the issue of privilege, the privilege being unfettered access, when everyone agrees to it.

We allow it to come to a vote, it goes to where everyone wants it to go to, the procedure and House affairs committee, and the Conservatives continue to want to filibuster.

The member explained her filibuster in PROC, but she still has not explained why the members are intentionally filibustering on the important issue of privilege here on the floor of the House of Commons.

Reference to Standing Committee on Procedure and House AffairsPrivilegeRoutine Proceedings

6:10 p.m.

Conservative

Rachael Harder Conservative Lethbridge, AB

Mr. Speaker, I believe I answered this question. I made reference to the fact that yes, filibustering is taking place at PROC, which is a committee, with regard to the procedures of this House. Of course, the filibustering taking place there is because there are actions being taken by the Liberals, who are trying to impose a squashing of our voices as the opposition in this House. That is why we are filibustering there.

In terms of what is going on here in this place, we are actually enjoying an open discussion or debate, which, contrary to what the Liberals might understand, means that we go back and forth. Preferably, more than one member on your side would speak. That is really what we would prefer.

We go back and forth, and it means that we exchange ideas. It means that sometimes we are going to agree, but most of the time we are going to disagree, because that is our job. That is our responsibility. We were elected to this place to represent Canadians. Not all Canadians think alike, so there is going to be a variety of perspectives within this House. That is the House of Commons. That is the way it is supposed to be, and we are going to do all we can to prevent the Liberals from shutting that down.

Reference to Standing Committee on Procedure and House AffairsPrivilegeRoutine Proceedings

6:10 p.m.

Liberal

The Assistant Deputy Speaker Liberal Anthony Rota

Before I go back to debate, I want to say to the hon. member for Lethbridge that when she said “your side”, I looked behind me and did not see anyone there. I am sure she meant the hon. parliamentary secretary to the government House leader.

Resuming debate, the hon. member for Hamilton Mountain.

Reference to Standing Committee on Procedure and House AffairsPrivilegeRoutine Proceedings

6:10 p.m.

NDP

Scott Duvall NDP Hamilton Mountain, ON

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to speak to the question of privilege currently before the House, and perhaps most importantly the ability of members of Parliament to properly and effectively represent their constituents.

I have learned a lot since coming to Ottawa after being elected by the people of Hamilton Mountain. Much of this has been good and exciting. However, some of it has not been so good, and at times disheartening. One of the things that has not been so good is learning that Liberal promises made during an election are not worth the paper they are printed on. It turns out that the real definition of “sunny ways” is to not keep one's promises if one does not have to. Actually, sometimes I think sunny ways is a code or a signal to the Prime Minister's team to forget what was said during the election, because now it has a majority and it does not have to care about what it said.

I will speak more about broken promises later, but now I want to speak about one of the other things I have learned since getting elected, and that is the importance of members of Parliament being able to speak on behalf of, and to truly represent, their constituents. After all, that is the reason we are here. That right, that privilege, is what we are talking about today. It seems to me that, for the most part, the rules of this place put that above all else.

However, what I have learned is that there are many in this House who are willing to use process, who are willing to play games with the rules in order to hamper the ability of members to effectively represent the people who sent them here. This takes away the ability of all members to work together to bring about change that could be meaningful and make a difference in the lives of their constituents and all Canadians. People did not send us here to play games. When I get away from this Ottawa bubble and go home to talk to the people of Hamilton, they do not care about procedural manoeuvring, game playing, and who outdid who at committee. They care about what meaningful work we are doing to make their lives a bit better.

One prime example of this gamesmanship happened at committee with the government's legislation to change the Canada pension plan. During the committee process, we discovered a major flaw with the legislation that would negatively affect women and those people living with disabilities. The minister agreed that it was a problem, as did many members in this House on both sides. All the members at committee recognized the problem and agreed it should be fixed. I worked with legislative staff to develop the wording required to fix the problem in the bill and presented a number of amendments at committee. These amendments would have solved the problem, and millions of Canadians would be spared significant hardship. It seemed like an easy and routine matter.

However, the problem did not get fixed. Instead, some minister's office became involved. What followed was a whole series of procedural manoeuvres and game playing, which resulted in the amendments being ruled out of order on a questionable technicality. Then we watched the government members close down any further debate by calling for adjournment. It was a shameful display of arrogance that I found shocking and disheartening.

That brings me back to the present question of privilege before the House. It is my understanding that this matter had to be brought back to the floor a second time, because the government shut down debate when it was first brought up in the House. The question before us is important, namely the right of a member of Parliament to access the chamber in order to vote. That is a fundamental right and a responsibility of each member of Parliament. However, what is important in this discussion of the government's decision to shut down debate on a question of privilege, which happened in this House on April 6, is when the matter was superseded by the adoption of a motion to proceed to orders of the day. Apparently, this had never happened before. In the long history of debate in this House of Commons, this was unprecedented.

The ability of members of Parliament to represent their constituents in this chamber and at committee is the most important fundamental right of all of us who sit in this House. On April 6, the Liberal government tried to change that. This question is not just a debate about a member's access to the Hill or the House, it is also a question about a majority government's decision to take away the rights of members of Parliament and their constituents, simply so it can push through its own agenda. .

This is from a party that promised during the election to make government more open, accessible, and accountable to the people. This is from a party that promised to end the practices of a previous government that prevented the meaningful participation of members of Parliament. This is from a party that promised to restore the integrity of the institution and the ability of members to represent their constituents.

As with many of the Liberal election promises, we got something totally different, but I guess we should not be surprised about another broken promise from the government. I do not have time here to address all of them, but the promise it made to 20,000 pensioners and former Stelco employees is a good example. When the current Prime Minister visited Hamilton during the last election, he said income insecurity for retirees across Canada “is extremely concerning to us.”

He also said, on the U.S. Steel mess:

Unfortunately, we have a government that, over the past years seems to have made decisions around foreign investment based on case-by-case, back-of-the-napkin political concerns rather than what truly is in the best interest of Canadians.

That is what the Prime Minister said.

His candidates at the same event detailed the Liberal position:

A Liberal government will use all legal tools at its disposal to ensure that U.S. Steel lives up to all of its obligations, whether that be full pension rights/benefits or providing the employment in Hamilton that it promised to do.

That was according to Flamborough-Glanbrook Liberal candidate Jennifer Stebbing.

The candidate and present member for Hamilton East—Stoney Creek is quoted that day as saying that the Conservative record on standing up for Canadian workers is abysmal. He said the Conservative government's lack of action to protect pensioners in the Statutory Review of the Bankruptcy and Insolvency Act and the Companies' Creditors Arrangement Act was completely unacceptable, and yet another example of ignoring the concerns of Canadian pensioners. He said that “unlike the Harper Conservatives, Liberals believe in the principle that employers must honour the commitments made to retirees and that pensioners must be included in any consultation and planning process to make changes to their existing plans. We have a collective legacy of valuing the long-term pension security of Canadians, a belief upheld in both word and deed.”

After the election the Liberal government has done nothing with the mess of U.S. Steel and Stelco, or for the workers and pensioners who are facing hardship as a result. In a year and a half, it has said and done nothing. This also includes Essar up in Sault Ste. Marie. Nothing has been done to help those people, who going through the same hardships as the people in Hamilton.

Talk about a government with an abysmal record. It should take a good look at itself. This is just another broken promise from a government with a long list of broken promises. We should not be surprised that the government is trying to unilaterally ram through changes to how the House of Commons works instead of working with all members to develop a consensus on those changes, and I just want to highlight some of the things that were addressed in the House today.

We talked about how Liberals want to put time allocation in now, something that the present government was so critical of the previous government for doing. The Liberals said at election time that they were going to fix this. Now, today, they are saying that they are going to change their promise and are going to use time allocation even more. That is another broken promise.

Electoral reform is another broken promise. When will the Liberals live up to something they agreed to, something they said to Canadians? I know that in Hamilton people are expressing frustration. They basically want me to use some kind of steelworker language in here to tell Liberals where to go. I know I cannot do that, so fuddle duddle.

One of the things I was really shocked about today is that the government House leader is warning in her letter that “without those reforms the government will be forced instead to impose time allocation to limit debate and get legislation passed.” She said:

Canadians elected us to deliver an ambitious agenda, so it is with regret, but full transparency, that I want to inform you that, under the circumstances, the government will need to use time allocation more often in order to implement the real change we promised.

It should say “to implement the promises that we are changing now”, not the change they promised, because all the promises the Liberals made are being reneged on.

Another point mentioned, and I do not know why this was even a proposal put forward on the reforms, was having the Prime Minister answer all questions in one question period each week. That is unbelievable. That can happen now. The Liberals do not need our permission. They do not need anybody's permission. They can just do it. However, I want to give them a piece of advice. We have witnessed it twice now and they may want to take a good look at what the Prime Minister has been saying on TV. It would maybe educate them a bit and update them on the issues.

The Liberals should be embarrassed. What they have done is absolutely phenomenal. Today in the House, when the Prime Minister was answering questions, several of the questions were on the Minister of National Defence. It was a very important issue. The Prime Minister gave a short answer that basically said nothing, and he repeated himself seven or eight times. I suggest the Liberals should get a new CD or record that does not skip over and over again. There has to be some type of logic in the answers, not just the Prime Minister thinking that whatever he says people will believe.

I am getting quite frustrated because the Liberal government has done so much reneguing. The Liberals say that there is so much they want to do, that they are ambitious, that they want to fulfill their promises, and they say how they want to do it. So far, they have failed on Canada Post, the steel industry, softwood lumber, electoral reform, pay equity. The list goes on.

As I said, we should not be surprised that the government trying to unilaterally ram through changes to how the House of Commons works instead of working with all members to develop a consensus on those changes. It is consistent with how it has operated for the last year and a half. It is, however, disappointing to many members and Canadians, especially after the Liberal election promise to make positive changes to how the House of Commons functioned and to do it in a way that would benefit all members and all Canadians. It seems the only changes the Liberals want to make are the ones that benefit themselves. So much for the sunny ways.

Reference to Standing Committee on Procedure and House AffairsPrivilegeRoutine Proceedings

6:20 p.m.

Liberal

Mike Bossio Liberal Hastings—Lennox and Addington, ON

Mr. Speaker, I have been listening off and on to the discussions today in the supposed debate that is occurring in the House around parliamentary privilege and the right to access Parliament Hill. Everybody on this side is in full agreement with the member. From a parliamentary privilege standpoint and right to access, the Liberals agree. However, all members across the way wish to talk about is the filibuster occurring in the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs.

The Liberals are in agreement as far as parliamentary privilege is concerned. Maybe the member could go back to his caucus and discuss putting an end to this filibuster so we can actually get to the important work Canadians elected us to do.

Reference to Standing Committee on Procedure and House AffairsPrivilegeRoutine Proceedings

6:25 p.m.

NDP

Scott Duvall NDP Hamilton Mountain, ON

Mr. Speaker, I have been here all day, not off and on.

In the member's terms, he thinks we are filibustering here today. I know it is being done in the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs, but today we have been discussing the question of privilege. The NDP feels that what was being done at PROC was not warranted.

Some new information was dumped on us this morning that Liberals were going to backtrack now. Unfortunately, this was on the news yesterday. That is the disrespect we on this side of the House get. We got it this morning. Then the member asks why we are debating this. We do not know what is in the information. We have not read it. We do not even know what the Liberals are asking for. We got it through the newspapers. That is my answer.

Reference to Standing Committee on Procedure and House AffairsPrivilegeRoutine Proceedings

6:25 p.m.

Conservative

John Brassard Conservative Barrie—Innisfil, ON

Mr. Speaker, the member spoke about time allocation. I would like to know what the member has to say about the comments made by the member for Winnipeg North. On December 3, 2013, he said, “To say that time allocation is about scheduling is so far from reality that it is totally amazing that he would even stand in his place...” He said, “It is an assault on democracy, and it is as simple as that.”

Would the member agree that what the Liberal Party is imposing on the House is an assault on democracy?

Reference to Standing Committee on Procedure and House AffairsPrivilegeRoutine Proceedings

6:25 p.m.

NDP

Scott Duvall NDP Hamilton Mountain, ON

Mr. Speaker, I certainly agree with what the member has said. It is a case against our democracy, but the Liberals have a short memory span. When it serves what they want, they will say anything, but they do not remember what they said before. That is the problem. They will use great phrases, great statements, make it all sound very good and tell Canadians what a great job they are doing, but the real truth is it comes to nothing. They renege on whatever they want in order to get something through.

I certainly agree with what the member said. It is a crime on our democracy, but I wish he would remember those words when he wants to use it for all of the people and not just for himself or his own Liberal government.

Reference to Standing Committee on Procedure and House AffairsPrivilegeRoutine Proceedings

6:25 p.m.

NDP

Pierre-Luc Dusseault NDP Sherbrooke, QC

Mr. Speaker, I understand my colleague's frustration with respect to the member for Winnipeg North.

When he was sitting over here, not too far from my seat, he often stood up and criticized the Conservative government. As usual, he would shout his dissatisfaction at the government any time it used time allocation.

The question I have for my colleague has to do with the Liberals' hypocrisy. They said that there was no consensus on electoral reform, so they broke a promise on something they had firmly committed to. However, when it comes to rules and procedure, they do not need a consensus; they absolutely have to keep their promise and do not ask any questions.

Why do the Liberals have a double standard when it comes to their promised reforms to the electoral system and reforms to the rules of the House? They have completely different criteria for adopting each set of reforms.

Reference to Standing Committee on Procedure and House AffairsPrivilegeRoutine Proceedings

6:30 p.m.

NDP

Scott Duvall NDP Hamilton Mountain, ON

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for all the work that he does for his constituents. The question was about the Liberals saying that they do not need consensus, but when it comes to electoral reform they said they needed consensus but could not get consensus. It is something that both opposition parties on this side of the House are trying to figure out. Maybe some day the Liberals could indulge us and give us a great answer because I do not have one.

The House resumed from April 11 consideration of the motion.

Status of WomenCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

6:30 p.m.

Liberal

The Assistant Deputy Speaker Liberal Anthony Rota

It being 6:30 p.m. pursuant to order to made Monday, April 3, the House will now proceed to the taking of the deferred recorded division on the motion to concur in the fourth report of the Standing Committee on the Status of Women.

Call in the members.

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

Vote #257

Committees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

6:50 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Geoff Regan

I declare the motion carried.

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

EthicsAdjournment Proceedings

6:55 p.m.

Conservative

Sylvie Boucher Conservative Beauport—Côte-de-Beaupré—Île d’Orléans—Charlevoix, QC

Mr. Speaker, for almost a year now I have been asking questions about the Liberals' ethics. I was elected for the first time in 2006 and I took on my parliamentary duties to serve Canadian democracy and all Canadians with honour and respect.

Like all my colleagues, I have seen the way this Prime Minister behaves and I have heard his apologies. To me, his apologies will be nothing more than words until he changes his behaviour. I am dismayed by the show this Prime Minister puts on when he apologizes in the House. Nothing he has said to justify his many ethical breaches has me convinced that he is innocent in any of this.

Since coming to power, and in response to the outcry, the Liberal government has been responding to questions about the ethics of its members, including the Prime Minister, with talking points. This is the first time that a prime minister has been investigated by the Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner. Either the Prime Minister does not understand that he should be above suspicion, or he does not give a damn about it.

The Prime Minister takes trips south of the border, sells access to himself for $1,500 to his millionaire friends, and discusses government business with his wealthy Chinese friends. Ordinary Canadians do not necessarily have $1,500 to spend on getting answers from this government.

The Prime Minister seems to have learned a few things from his father, Pierre Elliott Trudeau, who used his legal and business connections to get out of delicate situations. We do not have to look very hard to discover that our Right Honourable Prime Minister stated that his father was able to avoid a difficult situation by using his connections. This is what he said in his Vice Canada interview:

My father reached out to his friends in the legal community, got the best possible lawyer....We were confident that my littlest brother wasn't going to be saddled with a criminal record for life...

As the saying goes, “like father, like son” or in this case “like Prime Minister, like minister”. The Minister of National Defence is following in the footsteps of his leader by giving Canadians and our soldiers a number of fictitious accounts of his time in the Canadian Armed Forces. The minister has said many times that he was the architect of Operation Medusa, even though he was not in command of that operation. He was trying to improve his image at the expense of other members of the armed forces.

When it comes to ethics, prime ministers, MPs, and ministers should not be above the law. We are the face of Canada, the face of Quebec.

EthicsAdjournment Proceedings

7 p.m.

Winnipeg North Manitoba

Liberal

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

Mr. Speaker, I listened to the member across the way, and I must express some disappointment, in the sense I believe that the opposite has actually occurred. We have a Prime Minister who believes in accountability and transparency. Virtually every action that this government has taken to date has been a fairly clear indication of that sense of commitment. I do not say that lightly.

I was here when the Prime Minister became the leader of the Liberal Party. One of his first actions as leader of the Liberal Party was to enact proactive disclosure, ensuring that Canadians from coast to coast to coast would know how members of Parliament were using their expenses, so that it became public. Even today's Prime Minister, the then leader of the Liberal Party, asked for unanimous consent of the House to have that procedure put in place. The Conservatives and the New Democrats said no to accountability, no to transparency. That is what the Conservatives and the NDP did back then.

A little while after, the leader of the Liberal Party then indicated that Canadians deserve to have more accountability. He said that the Liberal members of Parliament would have proactive disclosure. A few months later, to their credit, the Conservatives recognized that the leader of the Liberal Party was doing the right thing, and they then adopted our position.

Through a motion in the House, we were able to shame the New Democrats into adopting proactive disclosure on members' office budgets. Since being in government, we have seen a Prime Minister who has done what he did when he was in opposition, and that is to seek further proactive disclosure. Today in question period, a member asked the minister responsible for democratic reform a question. We talked about new rules that are going to be put in place through the Liberal Party in a proactive way. We are also going to be introducing legislation, telling Canadians once again that we as a government, and the Prime Minister, believe in proactive disclosure. Now we are going to do the same thing in terms of fundraising. This is not only going to apply to government ministers, but also to leaders of recognized political parties inside this chamber. We are going even further than what we told Canadians we would do.

I would ask members across the way, in reflecting on this, to emphasize that no laws or rules were broken. If there were no laws and rules that were broken, then there was no conflict of interest. When the issue has been brought to the floor of the House, when the Prime Minister has been challenged to take action, we did that much more. The Prime Minister asked the Minister of Democratic Institutions to look at ways in which we can improve the system, recognizing that there is an expectation. The Prime Minister wants to meet the expectation of Canadians on this file. That is why we now have a Minister of Democratic Institutions who has brought forward the idea and will be bringing forward legislation that will ensure there is more accountability, not less. It does not just apply to government and cabinet ministers; it will also apply, from what I understand, to leaders of official parties inside the House.

We see that as a good thing, and we only wish that the Conservative Party would recognize the reality of the situation, which is that the government is proactive.

EthicsAdjournment Proceedings

7:05 p.m.

Conservative

Sylvie Boucher Conservative Beauport—Côte-de-Beaupré—Île d’Orléans—Charlevoix, QC

Mr. Speaker, just because the member opposite speaks loudly does not mean he is more ethical than everyone else.

I asked questions about the Prime Minister's ethics. I am sorry but this is in the Liberal Party's DNA. This is not the first time that we have had this type of discussion. The Liberals have been in office for 18 months, and we are starting to get used to their way of doing things. They use talking points. They were the first to protest when our government did things the way they do them. Now, they are protesting again, and they are the ones in power.

The Liberals behaved unethically and did things that were against the law. They got caught and they lied about it. They apologize publicly, but then they do the same sort of thing again and again. Guess—

EthicsAdjournment Proceedings

7:05 p.m.

Liberal

The Assistant Deputy Speaker Liberal Anthony Rota

The Parliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons.

EthicsAdjournment Proceedings

7:05 p.m.

Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux Liberal Winnipeg North, MB

Mr. Speaker, the member said that I had prefab answers. I was not looking at any script when I was speaking to the House. That was not a prefab answer. That just happens to be the truth. Whether the member across the way agrees with reality and the truth is ultimately up to her to decide. All I am doing is presenting the facts, and the fact of the matter is very clear: we have a Prime Minister who, not only today but since he was elected leader of the Liberal Party, has taken a proactive approach in ensuring that there is more accountability and transparency in Canada when it comes to dealing with members of the House.

That is something the member across the way completely ignores. That is her choice, but the facts remain the same. I believe that at the end of the day, Canadians will recognize that in fact we do have a Prime Minister who is genuine in wanting to make sure there is a higher sense of accountability and transparency in the House of Commons. Whether the Conservatives and the NDP want it or not, that is something we are committed to doing.

EmploymentAdjournment Proceedings

7:05 p.m.

Conservative

Matt Jeneroux Conservative Edmonton Riverbend, AB

Mr. Speaker, I stand here today to again raise the issue of the jobs crisis in my home province of Alberta.

Although months have passed since I asked the Minister of Infrastructure when Alberta's struggling families can expect the Liberal government to present a plan that will actually create the jobs they need, nothing has changed. In fact, Alberta's unemployment rate continued to rise last month, and jobs in the natural resource sector crumbled. It has become clear that the government has no clear plan for job creation and simply continues to collectively bury its head in the sand, ignoring Alberta's unemployment crisis.

The reality remains that thousands of Albertans are out of work and struggling to provide the basic necessities for their families. What was the government's answer in budget 2017? It eliminated tax credits to help the oil and gas industry and wrote a $30-million stimulus cheque to Alberta's NDP government. Let us be clear: Premier Notley does not have a very good track record when it comes to stimulating Alberta's economy. Neither of these measures will do anything to directly help Albertans get back to work.

In addition to the empty measures in budget 2017, the government continues to claim that its infrastructure projects will create jobs, but that is simply not occurring. In fact, it is the opposite. The infrastructure announcements made by the government have not created the immediate jobs that are so desperately needed. Money is not flowing, real core infrastructure projects are nowhere to be seen, and no jobs are being created. The projects that are currently being approved, such as the Yellowhead Highway in Edmonton, will not start construction until 2023. That is an awfully long time away when Alberta could use this project to hire some of the currently unemployed Albertans.

It has become clear to Canadians and Albertans that the only thing the federal Liberals have accomplished with their infrastructure investments are photo ops and ribbon cuttings, rather than creating the jobs they promised.

Canadians across the country, and especially in Alberta, are tightening their belts as they face a tough job market and a high cost of living. Canadians deserve a government that creates jobs, keeps taxes low, and spends their tax dollars responsibly. Instead, we have a government that is more interested in nickel-and-diming taxpayers and promoting itself.

I would again ask the minister, does the government have a plan that will actually create jobs for Albertans?

EmploymentAdjournment Proceedings

7:10 p.m.

Cape Breton—Canso Nova Scotia

Liberal

Rodger Cuzner LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Employment

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member for Edmonton Riverbend is absolutely right to champion the needs of Albertans and to seek on their behalf some assurances on what is happening today in Lethbridge or Stony Mountain or Stony Plain. It is very much on the minds of all of us here, certainly on the government side. There is no question that Alberta families are facing difficult times and that many middle-class Albertans feel anxious about having access to opportunities to succeed for themselves, and of course, for their children.

Albertans have endured a number of challenges unique to the province and local economies over the past few years. That is why our government has taken a range of actions to give Albertans, and indeed all Canadians, opportunities to succeed. Our aim is to create growth in a way that benefits the broadest possible set of Canadians, unlocks the full potential of our people and businesses, and is fiscally sustainable so that we have the flexibility to deal with recessions and pressures from an aging population.

We began by reducing income taxes for nearly nine million middle-class Canadians. We have made more strategic investments in infrastructure, investments that can create much-needed jobs today while delivering benefits for years to come. Total federal investments in infrastructure will top $180 billion over 12 years. That is sort of a big number over a broad time.

What does that mean for Albertans? Our first phase of funding, announced in budget 2016, includes almost $350 million to upgrade and improve public transit systems as well as just under $200 million for investments in water and waste water projects in Alberta alone. As of right now, over 100 projects have been approved, and the vast majority of those are in progress, creating and sustaining jobs for hard-working Albertans.

However, this is not the only industry where our work is helping to support job creation. In co-operation with the provinces, we have approved two pipelines that are expected to create more than 22,000 construction jobs in western Canada.

Having worked in Fort McMurray for over 10 years, I keep in touch with my friends and even family who are working in western Canada. They are ecstatic about the progress this government has made on those pipeline announcements. That includes the Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain pipeline expansion project that our Prime Minister announced last November. It will create 15,000 new middle-class jobs in Alberta and British Columbia during the construction phase, the majority of those in trades, and also 440 permanent jobs during its operation.

Last month, the Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Labour announced a collaborative project with the Government of Alberta that will put Albertans first in line for local jobs. The pilot will help employers find and hire Albertans who have lost their jobs in the oil and gas sector and in other occupations affected by the resource downturn. This will be good for workers. This will be good for business. This will be good for all Albertans.

EmploymentAdjournment Proceedings

7:10 p.m.

Conservative

Matt Jeneroux Conservative Edmonton Riverbend, AB

Mr. Speaker, the parliamentary secretary made my point for me when he said that these things will happen. The problem is that they are not happening. They are promised to start in years like 2023, five or 10 years from now. Albertans are in a crisis right now.

The Prime Minister has encouraged Albertans to hang in there as pink slips replace paycheques. The Minister of Infrastructure and Communities tells us that by holding hands together, we will get out of this crisis. Such platitudes are doing nothing to help our struggling families as the number of unemployed Albertans grows every month. Albertans need more than the empty words and promises they are getting from the government. They need good jobs that will help put food on the table and a roof over their heads.

EmploymentAdjournment Proceedings

7:10 p.m.

Liberal

Rodger Cuzner Liberal Cape Breton—Canso, NS

Mr. Speaker, $550 million alone, just in infrastructure, has already been signed off for Alberta. Those are projects that are ready to go. What is also good is that now there is some hope in Alberta, and there is hope in B.C., because this government undertook the hard work of working with communities, getting broad social support for initiatives like the pipelines. That is instilling in that economy the opportunity for investment in Alberta, investment in projects going forward, and investment in their communities. That is what is going to create jobs.

The private sector is certainly stepping up to the plate knowing that this government is with it. That is what is going to help buoy the economy in Alberta and continue to grow Alberta's economy. We are proud to work with the Province of Alberta and industry to help with Alberta's recovery.

Immigration, Refugees and CitizenshipAdjournment Proceedings

7:15 p.m.

Conservative

Michelle Rempel Conservative Calgary Nose Hill, AB

Mr. Speaker, Canada is facing a very large crisis right now with people illegally crossing our land border with the United States and making asylum claims, some of which are false. The reality is that this particular situation is increasing. Thousands of people are doing this. We have seen a massive increase year over year from last year and this was during the dead of winter. We are expecting this problem to get significantly worse over the summer months. To date, all the government and the Prime Minister have done to address this is to issue a tweet called #WelcomeRefugees. Rather than saying this is illegal and it needs to stop or providing any sort of plan to stop this activity, the government is making it worse.

What does that mean? It means there is a significant impact on affected communities. Using the province of Manitoba as an example, the provincial government has stated that resources are strained. Its health care system, the employee income assistance program, its legal aid assistance program are being strained by the people illegally crossing the borders and accessing these services. Child protection placement services are being strained. Affordable housing units are being strained. English-language training and translation services are being strained. The resources of Canada Border Services Agency, as well as the RCMP, along with border towns, are being strained.

There have been reports of families who have had people illegally crossing the border knock on their doors in the middle of the night, which has caused their children to be afraid. There have also been reports on the CBC that over half of the people illegally crossing the borders have, quoting from a news article, “serious criminal records”. This is putting communities at risk. It is putting a significant strain on taxpayer-funded services that are there for people who legally enter the country. Frankly, it is also straining resources for people who are coming to Canada through legitimate legal means and are trying to immigrate to our country.

We heard over the weekend that a facility in Gretna, Manitoba, which was originally built to house Canadian seniors is now being used by the Manitoba government as an emergency stopgap measure to house people illegally crossing the border. What has the government done on this? It has done nothing to date.

I have noticed that across political stripes, it does not really matter what political affiliation one is, there is a great a concern among Canadians that the government has been silent on this. We know the government has been very hesitant and is trying to prevent the RCMP from releasing numbers on how many people are coming across the border. From the responses I have received in the House, the government expects Canadians to think that this problem is going to go away if we ignore it.

My question is very simple. I raised it in the House of Commons today in a question for the minister. The minister did not answer the question. There is a legal loophole in the safe third country agreement that allows people to illegally cross the border and still make asylum claims in Canada, even if they have already done it in the United States. At this point in time, I think that loophole is causing a major problem and we need to close the loophole in order to give first responders another legislative tool to stop this problem. Will the government close the loophole in the safe third country agreement to prevent the problem of illegal border crossings from growing further this summer?