House of Commons Hansard #175 of the 42nd Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was bank.

Topics

Opposition Motion—Canada Infrastructure BankBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

1:25 p.m.

NDP

Karine Trudel NDP Jonquière, QC

Madam Speaker, I would like to tell my colleague that private funding could double the cost of infrastructure projects. In the end, it is the population that is going to have to pay, whether because of increased user fees or increased public disbursements.

We are already seeing the evidence in Ontario, British Columbia and Quebec. The Quebec auditor general has estimated that the province would have saved $10.4 billion if we had built the Centre hospitalier de l'Université de Montréal based on the conventional public model instead of a public-private partnership. I would like to know what my colleague thinks about this and if he thinks that the argument we are making here today makes sense.

The numbers are clear: the sole purpose of infrastructure banks is to make a profit; they contribute nothing to the population. The government says that the middle class is important and that it is doing all it can to help it, but it is clear that this bank will provide no new infrastructures for communities, that it will not improve services and that it will not benefit the population, since it is going to be too expensive.

Opposition Motion—Canada Infrastructure BankBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

1:25 p.m.

Liberal

Peter Fragiskatos Liberal London North Centre, ON

Madam Speaker, we are not reinventing the wheel here. Indeed, there are a number of other examples of very successful infrastructure banks around the world. The U.K. has an infrastructure bank focused specifically on facilitating investments in green technology. There is an infrastructure bank in Australia. There is the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank. Similar initiatives have been taken in the United States, and there is also the Nordic Investment Bank.

These are examples of thinking outside the box, of recognizing that infrastructure matters but that the funding of infrastructure needs to be carried out in a creative way. It builds on our existing policies.

I also find it strange to hear these concerns around privatization from the NDP when the NDP's own leader is on record as praising not Tommy Douglas, not David Lewis or Stephen Lewis or Ed Broadbent, but Margaret Thatcher, the champion of privatization. It is a bit perplexing, I have to say.

Opposition Motion—Canada Infrastructure BankBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

1:25 p.m.

Conservative

Dianne Lynn Watts Conservative South Surrey—White Rock, BC

Madam Speaker, I am rising on a point of order. The member alluded to the Auditor General reporting to Parliament. I have the legislation in front of me, and there is no mention in it of the Auditor—

Opposition Motion—Canada Infrastructure BankBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

1:25 p.m.

NDP

The Assistant Deputy Speaker NDP Carol Hughes

Based on the information that the member is providing, it is a matter of debate and not a point of order.

Resuming debate, the hon. member for Central Nova.

Opposition Motion—Canada Infrastructure BankBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

May 11th, 2017 / 1:30 p.m.

Liberal

Sean Fraser Liberal Central Nova, NS

Madam Speaker, I am thankful for the opportunity to address a key portion of the government's plan for economic growth in our country. Investing in infrastructure was a key pillar of the economic platform we ran on in the 2015 election. I am pleased to see, as part of the budget implementation act that introduces serious investments in infrastructure as well as the concept of the infrastructure bank, that we are making good on this commitment. We are going to achieve economic growth across our country.

Over the course of my remarks, I hope to cover a few themes. For example, why are infrastructure investments important, particularly in the economic context we live in today, and why is an infrastructure bank a wise idea? I also want to cover some of the investments in my community so I can demonstrate through examples how meaningful economic growth can happen with strategic investments in our country's infrastructure.

I will begin with the importance of investing in our infrastructure. The economic context is key to understanding why this is a good time to be making such serious and substantial investments. Right now we live in a time that has historically low interest rates. Money has never been cheaper in the history of currency. At the same time, we are coming out of a period of slow economic growth, culminating with the third quarter of 2015 having us on the border of a recession.

When we are trying to spur economic growth when the private sector is going through a difficult time, and when it is cheap to gain access to capital, it makes sense to be making investments in infrastructure. However, it is also important to invest in certain kinds of infrastructure. We want to make sure that the investments we make create jobs in the short term to kick-start the economy but also set the conditions for long-term economic growth. We cannot simply hire people to dig holes in the ground. We need to be investing in projects that will create prosperity in the long term.

There are a handful of key focus areas for the $180-billion infrastructure plan that have been laid out.

We are investing in public transit, which disproportionately has a positive impact on people living in poverty, people living with disabilities, and seniors, which are key demographics in my riding.

We are investing in social infrastructure, such as housing and child care, to the tune of $11 billion and $7 billion, respectively, because we know that the cost of investing in these key parts of social infrastructure is cheaper than the cost of failing to make investments that are much needed.

We are investing in trade and transport infrastructure, because we know that we are competing in a global marketplace, and getting our goods to the global marketplace in a timely manner is essential if we are going to create good-paying, middle-class jobs across Canada.

We are investing in clean growth and green infrastructure. I have to point out, in light of the flooding in recent days, that I lived in Calgary in 2013 during the massive floods and was evacuated. With investments in flood mitigation infrastructure, we can see economic benefits that do not shut down downtown cores for weeks at a time. With investments in alternative energy, we can become greener, and create good-paying 21st-century jobs at the same time.

The final theme of the infrastructure plan laid out in the budget, which is of key importance to my riding, is an investment in rural Canada. There is $2 billion set aside for rural and northern infrastructure. This does not prejudice the ability of small towns and rural communities to seek investments from the rest of the infrastructure funding envelope. However, to see that there is actually a carve-out for rural infrastructure makes me incredibly proud, because it is something that I and a number of my rural colleagues have been advocating for. To see that recognition says to me that the Government of Canada is interested not just in the biggest urban centres but in the small towns and rural communities that make up the vast majority of our geography.

The great news is that the plan is already starting to work. We have seen, over a six-month period, over a quarter of a million jobs added to the Canadian economy, most of which are full-time. Unemployment has crept down. The plan is starting to work. While the private sector is seeing some improvement, public investments in infrastructure are also paying dividends early on.

I do not want to talk just in generalities. I hope that some examples from my own riding will be illustrative of the difference our investments are going to make.

With 32 Atlantic Canadian MPs on the government side of the House, we have had an opportunity to inform the policy-making process in a manner we have never had before. The government has responded to the advocacy of Atlantic Canadian MPs by coming up with the Atlantic growth strategy, under which infrastructure is one of the key pillars that is going to drive economic growth. There have been investments in infrastructure in my riding that not only play to our strengths but seek to mitigate some of our weaknesses as well.

We saw recently at St. Francis Xavier University, of which I am a proud graduate, as are my five sisters and both of my parents, an investment to the tune of $30 million to establish the institute of government and the centre for innovation in health.

The Brian Mulroney institute of government—Brian Mulroney is also a graduate of this fine institution—is going to focus on things like Canada-U.S. relations and international trade, the politics of environment and climate change, and women in leadership, among other things.

Each of these programs is going to not only contribute to long-term economic growth by promoting women to senior leadership roles and by understanding what policies we can adopt to enhance trade with our largest trading partner but is also going to create 600 jobs, for four years, in my backyard, in a community of only 4,500 people. This is a phenomenal investment in small-town Canada that I am incredibly proud of.

At the same time, another portion of this project is going to the centre for innovation and health. In Nova Scotia we have the highest proportion of seniors of any province in Canada. We need to come up with innovative solutions if we are going to succeed in the 21st century. Investing in a facility that is going to create jobs in the short term and help us solve our long-term demographic problems is essential and smart, and I am very proud of it.

Keeping with the theme of post-secondary education infrastructure, we have seen a tremendous investment, a combined federal and provincial investment of over $15 million, in the Nova Scotia Community College Pictou Campus that is going to see a new trades innovation centre. This educational hub for the skilled trades is what keeps many of our good-paying jobs in our community today. Without an institution that is keeping our machine shops filled with employees, I do not know where my county would be. To know that we are investing to make sure that we are not just protecting the jobs we have now but are educating a workforce for the jobs of the next 10 or 20 years, or more, is something I am incredibly proud of.

When we talk about infrastructure, we often limit ourselves to the envelopes of funding that fall under the Minister of Infrastructure and Communities, but in fact, in my community, there is all kinds of infrastructure that matters.

I have two coasts in my riding, the Northumberland Strait and the eastern shore of Nova Scotia. That is why I was so proud to see investments in small craft harbours to the tune of tens of millions of dollars. In my riding alone, to protect the fishery, to provide our fishermen with a safe place to work, we have seen investments to the tune of $10.8 million. A lot of this work is under way or complete today, and fishermen who are achieving an all-time high in terms of the price of lobster are able to know they have a place to bring in their product.

We are seeing investments in major highways, such as the Aerotech connector, which is going to connect some of the residents of my neighbour, the hon. member for Sackville—Preston—Chezzetcook, to the key economic hub outside the Halifax Stanfield International Airport, which is the Aerotech business park. This is an innovation hub in the aerotech sector that is key to the future of the Nova Scotia economy.

We are seeing investments in the connect to innovate program that are going to extend access to rural Internet to places that do not have it today. The importance of this investment cannot be overstated. I have talked to business owners who closed their storefront in a tourist community because they did not have reliable access to the Internet and their debit machine worked only 50% of the time. Tourists do not carry cash like they used to, and the owners have to operate their business in a community a little way down the road, where they have a reliable connection.

I have talked to tourism operators who cannot attract people to come to stay at their facilities because these people cannot achieve a wireless connection while they are there. I have talked to property owners who have been on the verge of a sale of their home, and when a person went to make a phone call and could not connect, they backed out of the deal. The investment in connectivity in rural communities is essential, and I look forward to the results. I know that it will serve Nova Scotia well.

I could go on about a number of other municipal infrastructure investments, including long-term commitments to the ferry service, but I want to turn my mind to the infrastructure bank, which is the specific subject of the motion today.

There is a unique opportunity to create more jobs in our communities and improve the strength of our communities. Currently, the global context is perfect for an investment like this. There is approximately $16 trillion in negative yield bonds around the world. What this means is that there is $16 trillion sitting waiting and looking for a better home. We can provide that home by putting up $35 billion of our own to create an infrastructure bank that will attract investments from international companies in Canadian communities to create jobs.

We have an infrastructure deficit in our country of about $1 trillion. We cannot do this solely through public financing if we do not want it to take three generations. The infrastructure bank is going to help cut into that deficit and make a meaningful difference in the communities I represent.

I support the infrastructure bank. It is a great idea. The time is right. I am so pleased to offer a few thoughts on this investment for my community.

Opposition Motion—Canada Infrastructure BankBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

1:40 p.m.

NDP

Alistair MacGregor NDP Cowichan—Malahat—Langford, BC

Madam Speaker, I appreciate sitting on the justice committee with my colleague across the way.

I want to ask him specifically about the time frame that has been allocated to the committee to study this particular bill. We have looked at many private members' bills in justice committee, and sometimes those meetings have gone over several days and have called forth many witnesses.

Is the member honestly going to stand in the House and agree that two hours is enough time for the people's elected representatives to give this bank the proper examination it deserves? I would like to hear his honest answer.

Opposition Motion—Canada Infrastructure BankBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

1:40 p.m.

Liberal

Sean Fraser Liberal Central Nova, NS

Madam Speaker, I share my colleague's excitement about the opportunity to work with one another after my experience with him on the justice committee. I sit on the transport and infrastructure committee, and I am looking forward to seeing my colleague there.

I would like to point out that some of my colleagues who sit on that committee have put forward motions, because we have known about the infrastructure bank for a significant period of time. There was a motion in November of last year about the infrastructure bank that sought to bring the minister before the committee. We agreed, and it was approved. There was a motion put forward by one of the hon. member's colleagues from the NDP to conduct a study on the infrastructure bank. It was tabled, but it never advanced.

The fact is that at this late stage in the game, after we have known about the infrastructure bank really from the time of the election campaign, this is difficult to swallow.

My hope is that this will get significant attention in the public. Although there is a certain time constraint because we have put forward a budget we need to implement and Canadians expect the government to make the investments it campaigned on, I would not suggest that the one hour my colleague is suggesting is the only opportunity we will have to look at the infrastructure bank in committee, although it may be, in the very short term.

Opposition Motion—Canada Infrastructure BankBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

1:40 p.m.

Conservative

Dianne Lynn Watts Conservative South Surrey—White Rock, BC

Madam Speaker, I would remind the member that the legislation has just been tabled.

My comments are on the time frame. I will say, again, that one hour has been allotted, and time allocation has been invoked, shutting down debate.

The internal report from KPMG, which the government commissioned, said to slow down and get it right. Meetings between the Prime Minister, ministers, and BlackRock are significant conflicts of interest. The reports have all been redacted. When we look at members of the committee, who are now trying to seek $103 billion for their own projects, it is again a significant conflict of interest. With respect to the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, Canadians are on the hook for $1.3 billion in loan guarantees.

Why the rush? There are conflicts of interest. There are redacted reports. There are internal reports that are redacted as well. Why the rush? What is the government trying to hide?

Opposition Motion—Canada Infrastructure BankBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

1:40 p.m.

Liberal

Sean Fraser Liberal Central Nova, NS

Through you, Madam Speaker, I would like to address the handful of concerns the hon. member opposite has raised.

With respect to things like time allocation, I find this to be a difficult pill to swallow after I have been forced to leave committee to vote on at least three, maybe four, occasions on issues such as who stood up first, on issues about adjourning debate and shutting down the House when we are seeking to move forward a legislative agenda and bring these issues to the light of day. I cannot accept in good faith an argument about the use of time allocation and that we are trying to rush on that basis.

With respect to the involvement of groups like BlackRock, a number of issues have come up in the House. We have been the subject of allegations of conflict of interest any time there has been a member of an industry we are seeking investments from, whose involvement is in providing expertise. The alternative would be to exclude industry players who have knowledge that could be useful.

With respect to the comments on the Asian infrastructure bank, that is not something I actually raised in my remarks, although there are a number of different infrastructure banks my hon. colleague from London raised previously, such as in the U.K. and Australia.

This is going to provide an opportunity for different groups to invest. It is going to see money from different countries come into my community. I am proud to support it.

Opposition Motion—Canada Infrastructure BankBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

1:45 p.m.

NDP

François Choquette NDP Drummond, QC

Madam Speaker, it is my pleasure to rise in the House to address an extremely important subject, that being the Liberals’ infrastructure privatization bank. I will explain why it is absolutely necessary that it be withdrawn from the omnibus bill C-44. We must be able to debate it and to hold a vote specifically on this infrastructure privatization bank, which is completely unacceptable. The people of Drummond do not accept it. They are shocked, and even furious, to know that the Liberal government wants to privatize our infrastructures.

Before going any further, I would like to say that I will be sharing my time with my excellent colleague, the member for Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot.

Before taking the debate any further, I would like to read the motion that my colleague from Beloeil—Chambly has moved in the House of Commons. It is an extremely important motion. It is not something that is easy for the layperson to grasp, but when we look at it in detail, the Liberals’ plan is quite clear. It is a plan that aims to support their cronies the private investors, and not the Canadian people, the middle class and those working hard to join it.

The motion reads as follows:

That, in the opinion of the House: (a) public infrastructure should serve the interests of Canadians, not work to make private investors rich; (b) during the election, the Liberals did not reveal to voters their plans to privatize investment in public infrastructure; (c) infrastructure built by private investors will cost more than public infrastructure; (d) it is a conflict of interest to allow private corporations, who will be the largest beneficiaries of the Canada Infrastructure Bank, to participate in the planning and development of the Bank; (e) the Bank will leave taxpayers with an unacceptable burden of fees, tolls, and privatization that will only make private investors wealthy, to the detriment of the public interest; and (f) the clauses concerning the Canada Infrastructure Bank’s creation should be removed from Bill C-44, Budget Implementation Act, 2017, No. 1, so they can be studied as a stand-alone bill.

As I was saying, the part that is totally unacceptable, scandalous even, is that the Liberal government has broken yet another promise. It promised not to draft omnibus bills like the Conservatives did. Omnibus bills are undemocratic. They prevent MPs from doing their work properly, from analyzing all of the bills up for amendment, and from sending them to the proper committees for thorough analysis.

By including the infrastructure bank in this bill, the government is preventing MPs—preventing lawmakers—from doing a proper analysis and from sending the bill to a committee where expert testimony would enable them to pick apart all the ins and outs of the proposed infrastructure privatization bank legislation and reveal all of its possible negative impacts.

By putting all of this in a mammoth omnibus bill and breaking the Liberal promise to put an end to omnibus bills, they are making it impossible for this bill to receive proper analysis. They are depriving not only the members, but also the Canadian people, of the right to have full knowledge of and properly analyze the bills to be amended here. This is extremely serious. This is another broken promise of the Liberals, in addition to their broken promise to stop the constant tabling of time allocation motions.

What are we seeing? We are seeing the very opposite. The Liberals are well on their way to matching the Conservatives’ record for time allocation motions and gag orders, the same Conservatives who broke the all-time record, the worst record ever in the Canadian history. The Liberals, who had been so critical of that, are on their way to doing the same thing. It is truly deplorable.

What is more, they recently told us to get ready, because they are going to pass even more time allocation motions. I hope that the Liberal members will tell the government Leader in the House of Commons that the time allocations must stop, that they have fought their fight and promised to be much more reasonable about this. However, that is not the case at all at the moment.

What is an infrastructure privatization bank, and what is its main consequence? First of all, the profits are given to private investors, while the government assumes all the risk and all the downside. The government is not just the Liberals. It is Canadians who are going to pay for all this, including the people in the riding of Drummond, which I represent. They are the ones who will have to pay for this ill-considered infrastructure bank.

Another consequence of creating such a bank is that the regions are forgotten, since private investors, who are looking to make profits, will invest only in projects located in the big cities, where there is far more opportunity to make a profit and where there are enough people to make it worthwhile.

Regions like Drummond have no infrastructure that can generate a big return; the infrastructure there exists to serve the population. Therefore, cities and regions like Drummond are not going to benefit from an infrastructure privatization bank. The money generated by Drummond and other regions of Canada will be taken and they will be told that it is not going to be invested locally. It is a shame.

The regions that will be able to benefit from this bank will be charged tolls and other fees. More tax pressure is going to be put on the middle class and those aspiring to join it. It really makes no sense.

The money they are going to invest in the infrastructure privatization bank could have been invested more wisely. Right now, Canadians all over Quebec and Ontario are suffering as a result of the flooding, because there has been no planning to adapt our infrastructures. We must ensure that we are resilient and can adapt to the effects of climate change, since there are going to be more and more extreme weather events.

The 2017 Green Budget Coalition has made some very important recommendations regarding investment in natural infrastructures and ecosystems. The following is an excerpt from one of the recommendations:

The Green Budget Coalition recommends that in Budget 2017 the Government of Canada allocate 30% of planned phase-2 Green Infrastructure funding for investments to protect and enhance Canada’s vital natural infrastructure...

Rather than investing that money in an infrastructure privatization bank, which will not serve Canadians or the Drummond region, it could have been invested in green infrastructure and in climate resilience and adaptation for existing infrastructure. That is of the utmost importance, given what is happening to our regions.

For instance, near Yamachiche and near Gatineau, right here, people are suffering because of flooding, and yet no planning is being done to adapt to climate change. That is in the green budget, which the Liberals unfortunately did not read. What a shame.

In closing, the part of Bill C-44 that deals with the privatization of infrastructure must absolutely be taken out, so that we may debate it properly and study all the ins and outs at the appropriate committee, where experts could show that the bank is in no way good for the Drummond region. That is why we will be opposing the bill.

Opposition Motion—Canada Infrastructure BankBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

1:55 p.m.

Liberal

Ken Hardie Liberal Fleetwood—Port Kells, BC

Madam Speaker, this seems to be an issue where ideology trumps common sense.

First, I could point out for the hon. member major infrastructure projects in metro Vancouver that could only have taken place with the participation of the private sector: rapid transit line, a bridge, and others.

Second, given that we knew the debate and the discussion on the infrastructure bank was coming, rather than burn up a whole week of time on a question of privilege, where we heard the same argument again and again, did the hon. member approach his House leader to say that maybe the members should use that time a bit more productively and talk about something that really mattered to Canadians?

Opposition Motion—Canada Infrastructure BankBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

1:55 p.m.

NDP

François Choquette NDP Drummond, QC

Madam Speaker, I am really glad that the hon. member asked me that question.

I wonder if he approached his House leader and reminded her that the Liberals campaigned on a promise not to introduce omnibus bills. The Liberals broke that promise and introduced an omnibus bill. The Liberals also promised not to use time allocation motions at the drop of a hat. That is yet another broken promise, and we have been told to expect even more. There are going to be even more time allocation motions than there were under the Conservatives. The Liberals are breaking the Conservatives' record.

I appreciate that there are some great projects in Vancouver, but Drummond is not a big urban centre and the infrastructure bank will do nothing for regions like Drummond. That is what we take issue with.

Why not use this money to adapt infrastructure to climate change?

Opposition Motion—Canada Infrastructure BankBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

1:55 p.m.

Conservative

Alain Rayes Conservative Richmond—Arthabaska, QC

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

I think he hit the nail on the head. We know that $15 billion should have gone to every municipality in Canada, including Drummondville and other municipalities in my colleague's riding, and that this money will instead be transferred to the infrastructure bank, whose only purpose is to make foreigner investors, billionaires, even richer.

How does the hon. member feel about that? Does he really think the biggest city in his riding, Drummondville, stands a chance of getting any of this money? Has Drummondville ever undertake a project worth over $100 million that was federally funded?

We have already been told that projects under $100 million will not be accepted. There is even talk about a $500 million minimum.

Does the hon. member really think that Drummondville could have access to this program, this bank, for help?

Opposition Motion—Canada Infrastructure BankBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

1:55 p.m.

NDP

François Choquette NDP Drummond, QC

Madam Speaker, I thank my colleague from Richmond—Arthabaska for his question.

We are in the same position. Our ridings are next to one another in the region. This infrastructure bank will never be of help to us. In fact, our constituents, our cities, and those living in outlying areas are telling us that this infrastructure bank will only benefit private investors. Unfortunately, the Liberals' friends are going to benefit.

This is not good for Canadians. It is not good for regions such as Drummond and Richmond—Arthabaska, and it is certainly not good for Canada's middle class and those trying to join it.

Luso Charitable SocietyStatements By Members

1:55 p.m.

Liberal

Peter Fonseca Liberal Mississauga East—Cooksville, ON

Mr. Speaker, the true measure of a country and its communities is how we treat our most vulnerable citizens. Adults living with developmental and physical disabilities are among those most vulnerable.

This past Sunday, I had the pleasure, with a few of my Mississauga and Brampton colleagues and hundreds of supporters, to assist in raising precious funds through a bikeathon and walkathon for the Luso Charitable Society. All proceeds raised go toward funding the just opened Luso Peel region home, which provides supports, programs, and services in a nurturing environment to those most in need.

Hearing from caregivers and family members about what this home meant to them and their loved ones just filled the hearts of all those in attendance.

This is the third Luso home to open. The others service the areas of Toronto and Hamilton. Like those in the bikeathon, they are on a roll. We will be the wind at their back along this highway of caring.

Free Enterprise AwardStatements By Members

2 p.m.

Conservative

Karen Vecchio Conservative Elgin—Middlesex—London, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am proud to rise and recognize the St. Thomas & District Chamber of Commerce Free Enterprise Award winners.

The 2017 Chair's Award recognized Janet Baker for her work and service to the chamber and our community. This award recognizes Janet's dedication and over 16 years as both a chamber and safe communities volunteer.

The Chamber Awards of Merit went to Jamie Quai of Quai du Vin Estate Winery, who was named the 2016 Grape King. Jamie is only the second recipient in 60 years to be named the Grape King or Grape Grower of the Year from outside the traditional Niagara growing area.

Chris Streib began Talbot Trail Physiotherapy in 2002 with one clinic in Aylmer, and has grown the enterprise to six locations with 35 employees serving every part of Elgin County and into Chatham-Kent and Middlesex.

The 2017 Free Enterprise Master Awards included Buckland Customs Brokerage, Gary Coutts of RBC Royal Bank, and the Elgin Business Resource Centre.

I congratulate all the award winners at last night's Free Enterprise Awards.

Manitoba DayStatements By Members

2 p.m.

Liberal

Dan Vandal Liberal Saint Boniface—Saint Vital, MB

Mr. Speaker, tomorrow, May 12, is Manitoba Day.

Tomorrow, the province will celebrate its 147th anniversary as well as the 51st anniversary of Manitoba's flag.

From the Ojibway “Manito-bau” and the Cree “Manitowapow”, our keystone province is a remarkable place to live.

I invite all Canadians to celebrate our history at Fort Gibraltar, to take their family to Manitoba's Children's Museum, and to pay tribute to Louis Riel, the father of Manitoba, at Le Musée de Saint-Boniface.

They can take in the migratory bird season at Fort Whyte Alive or check out the world's largest mating dens for red-sided garter snakes in Narcisse.

I also invite them to visit St. Vital Park, Assiniboine Park or Riding Mountain National Park, and to spend the day at Lake Winnipeg or Lake Manitoba.

They can go out to Little Limestone Lake, the world's largest marl lake, a lake that changes colour with the temperature. The choices abound.

I wish friendly Manitoba a happy birthday.

Neighbourhood House WeekStatements By Members

2 p.m.

NDP

Jenny Kwan NDP Vancouver East, BC

Mr. Speaker, where can we go and find a place that is the heartbeat of the community, a place where it is the touch stone of social life, a place to help people to connect, combat isolation, and build both personal and community capacities?

It is in our friendly Neighbourhood Houses, the living room of our communities where people connect, engage, foster a sense of belonging, and take part in civic life.

Canada's first Neighbourhood House opened in Toronto in 1899. In the Lower Mainland, four of 10 Neighbourhood Houses are in East Van, and the Association of Neighbourhood Houses BC to boot.

Like all Neighbourhood Houses, Van East's very own Kiwassa, Frog Hollow, Mt. Pleasant, and Downtown Eastside Neighbourhood Houses do invaluable work.

The 2017 Leadership Forum report details this important research.

As we celebrate the third annual Neighbourhood House Week, I call on the federal government to go beyond short-term program funding. It is time we become a true partner and support their work with stable core funding.

Retirement CongratulationsStatements By Members

2 p.m.

Liberal

Judy Sgro Liberal Humber River—Black Creek, ON

Mr. Speaker I rise today to honour my long-time staff members, Greg and Julie McClinchey, who will be leaving Parliament Hill after a long tenure in my office and on the Hill.

Greg has served members of Parliament since the young age of 16, first for MP Paul Steckle then coming to work for me eight years ago. Julie has served three members of Parliament: Brenda Chamberlain, Rose-Marie Ur, and myself.

Over the years, both Julie and Greg have become advisers, confidants, and friends to many on Parliament Hill, lending a hand to anyone, even when it meant putting in extra hours in a day.

While I am sad to lose such valuable staff members, I am happy that Greg and Julie will be moving closer to home and their family in southwestern Ontario.

I rise to honour Greg and Julie McClinchey in the House today. It has been a privilege to work with each of them, and I am proud now to call them friends. I wish them and their family success and happiness in the future, and much love from all of us.

2017 Special OlympicsStatements By Members

2 p.m.

Conservative

Diane Finley Conservative Haldimand—Norfolk, ON

Mr. Speaker, Sara McKelvie, from my riding of Haldimand—Norfolk, is no stranger to athletic success. Just this past month, this talented and passionate young woman from Cayuga performed a flawless figure skating routine at the 2017 Special Olympics World Winter Games in Austria, bringing home a gold medal.

This is not the first time she has felt the gold rush. In 2013, Sara participated in her first-ever Special Olympic Games and brought home not one but two gold medals. It is said that gold medals are not really made of gold. They are made of sweat, determination, and a hard-to-find alloy called guts.

On behalf of everyone in Haldimand—Norfolk, I want to express how very proud we are of Sara. We thank her for her hard work and for sharing her talent with the rest of the world.

Community Support in LavalStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Liberal

Angelo Iacono Liberal Alfred-Pellan, QC

Mr. Speaker, like many cities in Quebec, Laval has been hard hit by the flooding. At this difficult time, I have seen people come together to work on various community initiatives, such as building makeshift breakwaters and organizing aid for flood victims.

I want to say how proud I am to represent the people of Alfred-Pellan and Laval, who are standing in solidarity with their neighbours. I also want to acknowledge the remarkable and tireless efforts of Laval's police officers and firefighters.

I thank Mayor Marc Demers, Deputy Mayor David De Cotis, and all the municipal councillors who are there on the ground helping flood victims and coordinating aid. I also want to thank the minister responsible for Laval, Francine Charbonneau.

Residents of Laval, my colleagues and I stand in solidarity with you, and we will continue to do so when the flood waters recede and it is time to clean up. We wish you well.

IranStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Liberal

Anthony Housefather Liberal Mount Royal, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Iranian regime poses a danger to the world. Through its sponsorship of terrorist organizations, its support for the brutal Assad regime, and its calls for the destruction of Israel, Iran's actions are of grave concern to all Canadians. During this Iran Accountability Week, I want to speak of the deplorable human rights violations within Iran.

Iranian authorities executed over 200 people this year alone. The regime violates the human rights of its own people. The way it treats the LGBTQ community and religious minorities, such as the Baha'i, is particularly appalling.

Iran's jails are full of political prisoners. Those who dare to speak out against the government continue to be punished unjustly, often without charges or trial.

I ask all my colleagues to join me in telling the victims of the Iranian regime that Canada stands with them and that we are committed to holding this regime accountable.

Religious FreedomStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Conservative

Scott Reid Conservative Lanark—Frontenac—Kingston, ON

Mr. Speaker, here are three facts: one, thanks be to God, state-sanctioned persecution in the name of Christianity is nearly extinct worldwide; two, religious persecution by officially Muslim states, and even more by officially atheist regimes, is alive and well; and, three, over 200 million Christians live in the states that are the worst offenders.

As a result, more Christians face in their home countries what the Pew Research Center forum calls “religious restrictions” than does any other faith group. This includes thousands arrested for their beliefs, some executed for spreading the gospel, and in some countries, although this is without state sanction, many are slaughtered by death squads and terrorists.

Now of course, this does not reflect the situation of Christians in Canada. However, our domestic situation should not blind Canadians to the way things are elsewhere or keep us from speaking out on behalf of persecuted Christians worldwide.

James DynerowiczStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Liberal

Raj Saini Liberal Kitchener Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to commemorate the life of Sergeant Robert James Dynerowicz, a member of the Royal Canadian Dragoons, who passed away last month during the exercise Rugged Bear, while preparing to defend our country.

In life, Sergeant Dynerowicz was a hero who served our country in two deployments to Afghanistan. However, he was more than a soldier. He was an outdoorsman, a compassionate family member and friend, and a man who is remembered for his leadership, his mentorship, and his kindness. His loss will be felt by the entire community.

I would ask my colleagues to join me in extending our sincerest sympathies and deepest condolences to his family, friends, and loved ones at this extremely difficult time.

Speech and Hearing MonthStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Liberal

Francesco Sorbara Liberal Vaughan—Woodbridge, ON

Mr. Speaker,

[Member spoke in sign language]

May is Speech and Hearing Month. As the husband of a speech-language pathologist, it is a great honour to rise today to recognize Canada's outstanding speech-language pathologists, audiologists, and communication health assistants.

Throughout the month of May, Speech-Language & Audiology Canada, or SAC, and its more than 6,200 members and associates will be highlighting the importance of early detection and intervention of speech, language, swallowing, hearing, and balance disorders.

Many of us take for granted our ability to communicate, yet the ability to speak, hear, and be heard is vital to our everyday lives.

On behalf of members of the House, I thank the communication health professionals for all they do to help Canadians reach their communication potential.