House of Commons Hansard #193 of the 42nd Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was appointments.

Topics

Opposition Motion—Appointments CommitteeBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

1:35 p.m.

NDP

Alistair MacGregor NDP Cowichan—Malahat—Langford, BC

Mr. Speaker, previously the member for Laurentides—Labelle suggested that the process worked well because the candidate, Madame Meilleur, actually withdrew her candidacy. If we have to rely on the process being so bad for candidates that they withdraw their candidacy, I think the process is in very big trouble.

The committee we have proposed in this motion is a way for prospective candidates to maintain some dignity in the whole process, for them to be interviewed with respect and vetted by members of Parliament, rather than the process that we just had where Madame Meilleur had her name dragged through question period and through articles. Her credibility and her stature as a person suffered through this whole process, precisely because the government did not do its homework, did not consult with the opposition. The process does not work as it currently stands.

We are putting forward a constructive proposal to fix the process. If the Liberals have such a problem with the process, I would like to at least hear some constructive feedback on what they would like to do to amend this motion, to maybe make the language clearer, rather than just throwing the whole process out.

Opposition Motion—Appointments CommitteeBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

1:35 p.m.

Liberal

Paul Lefebvre Liberal Sudbury, ON

Mr. Speaker, at this time the process is very clear.

Concerning what has occurred in the case of Madame Meilleur, I was on the official languages committee that actually interviewed Madame Meilleur, and everybody was unanimous about her qualifications. She qualified. However, partisanship took its place, took a toll, and that all came in. That is the result of what has happened to Madame Meilleur, who was qualified as a candidate, and all the parties were in agreement. That is the process that was followed. We had a qualified candidate.

What the NDP is proposing is to have a veto on the process. That is not acceptable.

Opposition Motion—Appointments CommitteeBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

1:35 p.m.

Brampton West Ontario

Liberal

Kamal Khera LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of National Revenue

Mr. Speaker, I thank my hon. colleague for highlighting the importance of our government's commitment to an appointment process that is truly open, transparent and merit-based, a process of which Canadians can be proud, a process that Canadians can truly trust.

Could the member please highlight how this appointment process truly reflects the diversity of our country?

Opposition Motion—Appointments CommitteeBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

1:35 p.m.

Liberal

Paul Lefebvre Liberal Sudbury, ON

Mr. Speaker, as I mentioned before, we have come from a process where it was 100% decided by the Prime Minister. He just picked whomever he wanted, and from there he or she was named.

We wanted to make it a more transparent, inclusive process and to attract the most highly-qualified candidate. In the process of the official languages commissioner, we chose from 72 applications. Anybody could apply. It was not that if people knew the Prime Minister, they knew they had a job. Anybody could apply, and 72 people applied. A third party evaluated the applications and decided on a short list that was then recommended to the appropriate minister.

This is an open and transparent process that we have never seen before. That is why it is a very effective process.

Opposition Motion—Appointments CommitteeBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

1:35 p.m.

NDP

François Choquette NDP Drummond, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am both happy and sad at being required to stand in the House today regarding this motion, and that the NDP was required to table it. Contrary to what my colleague has just stated, the appointment process for senior parliamentary officials is flawed. It does not work. It has been damaged and has lost a lot of credibility.

I would like to inform the House that I will be sharing my time with the excellent member for Sherbrooke, the champion of mandatory labelling of GMOs. That is another fight that we are leading together to ensure that one day there will be transparency and all Canadians will know what they are eating.

That is the transparency that we also want to see in the appointment process for the highest offices in government. Officers of Parliament are hired by Parliament, not by the Liberal government. It is important for the Liberals to understand that. Officers of Parliament are not only accountable to the government, they are also accountable to Parliament.

Those officers of Parliament are our watchdogs. They ensure that the government follows the rules and the laws. It is very important to have these impartial people. That is the entire problem with the last appointment.

I will come back to that, as it is a matter that I followed with much interest. It took up almost six weeks of my time and the time of official language communities, including FCFA and QCGN members. They all lost precious time because of the partisan appointment of Madeleine Meilleur, instead of working on extremely important official languages issues, such as immigration in official language communities. We are facing a major problem, as we are not meeting our immigration targets.

Early childhood is another important issue. If we want to ensure that younger generations are committed to our official language communities, children must be able to attend day care in French, or in English in Quebec.

These are issues that we must address. In the meantime, we must ensure that the appointment process is not tainted by Liberal partisanship.

The new process was used to appoint Ms. Meilleur. We are not calling into question everything about the new process. The problem is that the process was undermined internally because Madeleine Meilleur had privileged access to the Prime Minister's senior officials, people in charge of the Liberal machine. I am talking about Katie Telford and Gerry Butts.

Ms. Meilleur had coffee with these people, which is something that the other candidates did not have the opportunity to do. Then, after enjoying that privileged access, she got a call from a public servant at the Department of Justice, which is quite an impressive thing.

On Thursday, May 18, 2017, when Madeleine Meilleur appeared before the House of Commons Standing Committee on Official Languages, she was asked who had told her that she was the candidate who had been selected.

She said, “I got a telephone call that my name was going to be put forward to the Prime Minister.”

She was then asked who had called her, and she responded, “It was staff from the Minister of Justice.”

She was asked on what date that had occurred and she answered, “It was late April, I think.”

We all know what happened next.

In April, an employee of the Department of Justice called Madeleine Meilleur to tell her that she was the successful candidate. In May, the opposition leaders received a letter telling them that Ms. Meilleur had been selected. There was no consultation.

How can we talk about consultation when Ms. Meilleur was already told last April that she had the job?

If there had been consultation, the leaders of the opposition parties would have been consulted, and Ms. Meilleur would then have been advised that her appointment had also been approved by the leaders of the opposition. The process in this case was completely backwards. That does not work.

This whole affair so undermined the credibility of the process that the FCFA said that it absolutely had to have a meeting, because the process was not working and there were outcries on all sides. The FCFA and the QCGN stated that they absolutely had to meet with the highest office holder in official languages, the Prime Minister of the country, who is responsible for official languages. They requested a meeting with the Prime Minister of Canada. Numerous newspaper articles mentioned that the FCFA and the QCGN wanted to meet with the Prime Minister because this was a serious situation. It is unprecedented for an appointment to be questioned that way, during six weeks of total unending controversy.

It did not end there. People filed complaints with the Office of the Commissioner of Official Languages because the Liberal government, the Prime Minister’s Office, did not comply with the Official Languages Act. Subsection 49(1) was breached. I myself filed a complaint, along with other Canadians. Why? Because that section is very important. It clearly states that “[t]he Governor in Council shall…appoint a Commissioner of Official Languages for Canada after consultation with the leader of every recognized party in the Senate and House of Commons…”, which was not done.

That is the second time that I file a complaint against the Prime Minister. The other time was when he wanted to speak only in English in Ontario, while on a cross-country consultation, a consultation of all Canadians. There are official language communities that speak only French in Ontario. After that, he went to the Sherbrooke area, the riding of my colleague and champion of GMO labelling. He spoke only in French, saying that he would not answer questions in English. That is a failure to recognize the reality of Canada. There are two official languages.

When you are Prime Minister of Canada and you embark on a cross-Canada consultation, you must respect both official languages, hence my question:

Does anyone think that I or any other Canadian citizen would have been able to file a complaint against the Prime Minister if the commissioner had been a personal friend of the Prime Minister's, a personal friend of the highest-ranking people in government and the Liberal Party? I am talking about Katie Telford and Gerald Butts.

Does anyone think I would have been comfortable with that?

According to subsection 58(4), the commissioner has the right to refuse to investigate. The Act says:

The Commissioner may refuse to investigate or cease to investigate any complaint if in the opinion of the Commissioner (a) the subject-matter of the complaint is trivial; (b) the complaint is frivolous or vexatious...; or (c) the subject-matter of the complaint does not involve a contravention...of this Act....

Ms. Meilleur could have rejected the complaint. How would I have known if it had to do with a different assessment of the situation or a desire to protect her Liberal friends?

To say that what has happened up to now was legitimate is false. The process was completely undermined. It needs to be revised and revamped. The vision set out in my colleague's motion is a good one. It outlines a process that includes opposition parties and relevant communities and guards against bad decisions like the one to appoint Madeleine Meilleur.

My colleague said that she was a very good candidate. Despite having all the skills, however, her one flaw is that she is too close to the government. She lacks impartiality, which is critical to serving in a watchdog position such as official languages commissioner. Commissioners are the highest-ranking officers in Parliament.

In conclusion, I hope that the Liberal government will implement a better process for the very important appointments that it will soon be making.

Opposition Motion—Appointments CommitteeBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

1:45 p.m.

Liberal

René Arseneault Liberal Madawaska—Restigouche, NB

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank my NDP colleague, who has done fine work on the Standing Committee on Official Languages, which is a dynamic committee.

I would like to know what he thinks about the fact that these senior officer positions, including the position of Commissioner of Official Languages, were formerly nominated by the prime minister. This time, Canadians were invited to apply, and 72 people expressed interest in the position. A committee was then struck to screen the applications and choose the candidate.

I would like to know my colleague’s thoughts on this selection process, in which the 71 other people who applied for this position, a senior official of Canada, were ultimately put aside.

What does he think about the committee that did the screening? In his opinion, why should we not just invite all Canadians to apply for Ms. Meilleur’s position? She has resigned, in fact, and that is her right.

Opposition Motion—Appointments CommitteeBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

1:50 p.m.

NDP

François Choquette NDP Drummond, QC

Mr. Speaker, the process put in place by the Liberals seemed to be working very well. However, the government threw a spanner in the works when some people were given privileges and were able to meet with the most senior officials in the Liberal government, the people closest to the Prime Minister.

In addition, the members of the firm they retained to do the screening did not even know that a commissioner had been selected. They learned that from the media, although they were supposed to call the candidates who had not been selected. Even the finalists learned about Ms. Meilleur’s appointment from the media. The process was therefore compromised.

We also know that the final evaluation was done by the heritage minister, although two of her employees formerly worked for Madeleine Meilleur. The process became more and more compromised as it moved along.

That is what we are telling our colleague. The process is not entirely flawed, but it has to be reviewed.

Opposition Motion—Appointments CommitteeBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

1:50 p.m.

Conservative

Erin O'Toole Conservative Durham, ON

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the hon. member for his speech. Ironically, I would also like to thank the NDP for bringing this proposal forward to debate, because I think Canadians are concerned that there is an appointments committee right now, and its name is Gerry Butts. He seems to be able to appoint whomever he wants, whenever he wants, with some cursory level of oversight to give talking points to the ministers to defend these appointments. Therefore, the NDP is bringing a very valid debate to the House today.

With respect to the Commissioner of Official Languages, the minister conflicted not only the evidentiary record of Madam Meilleur in the House, which was brought up by the NDP leader, the member for Outremont, but she refused to retract her statements after evidence was provided to show that she was not giving a complete statement to the House. I would like the member to comment on how the minister handled the selling of this appointment to Canadians after Mr. Butts made the decision.

Opposition Motion—Appointments CommitteeBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

1:50 p.m.

NDP

François Choquette NDP Drummond, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank my colleague for his question and comments.

He has shown the whole scandal, all the problems that were disclosed week after week, for six weeks running. Nearly every other day, there was something new showing that Ms. Meilleur’s appointment was not made by the book or impartially, and that she had special rights and privileged access to the most senior officials in the Liberal government and around the Prime Minister. I am talking about Gerald Butts and Katie Telford. There was no final interview with the Minister of Canadian Heritage, who herself, here in the House, stated that Ms. Meilleur had never had any special contact with Katie Telford and Gerald Butts. However, Ms. Meilleur herself confirmed that fact to the Standing Committee on Official Languages and to the Senate committee.

In fact, there have been problems since the beginning. That is why the process must be reviewed, and we are proposing one today.

Opposition Motion—Appointments CommitteeBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

1:55 p.m.

Conservative

The Deputy Speaker Conservative Bruce Stanton

Before giving the floor to the hon. member for Sherbrooke, I must inform him that he has about three or four minutes for his speech. Of course, he will have the rest of the time later to finish his speech.

The hon. member for Sherbrooke.

Opposition Motion—Appointments CommitteeBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

1:55 p.m.

NDP

Pierre-Luc Dusseault NDP Sherbrooke, QC

Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure for me to rise following my colleague from Drummond, who has been working on this file for some time. He has put a lot of effort into it. I would also like to thank my colleague from Skeena—Bulkley Valley, who introduced the motion before us today. This motion seeks to replace a process for appointing officers of Parliament that is obviously completely broken.

For the benefit of my colleagues and of those listening or watching, it is worth providing some context for the motion we have introduced today. Had the government followed a proper appointment process in the case of the Commissioner of Official Languages, we would not have introduced this motion today. It is therefore a sequence of events and a context that have forced us to propose a solution to the problem at hand. We certainly do not want to have to face it again because, as we know, officers of Parliament, in all the positions we are familiar with, are individuals who must demonstrate the greatest possible independence and impartiality. We need only think of the position of Chief Electoral Officer. Everyone here will agree that this position requires the utmost impartiality. Everyone in the House has gone through an electoral process and will agree that the individual who oversees elections must obviously be impartial.

However, going back to the appointment of the Commissioner of Official Languages, this all began because the commissioner, Mr. Fraser, was retiring. As the position was becoming vacant, the government launched a selection process to accept applications. Everything was going well up to that point. Many of us in the House know what happened next. The government announced that a candidate was appointed. However, she was chosen not only because of her qualifications, but also for her very close ties to certain senior officials in the office of the Prime Minister. She herself admitted it, although the Minister of Canadian Heritage tried to deny this. She had contacted officials in the office of the Prime Minister directly in an attempt to bypass the appointment process. Obviously, her connections got her the position.

My time is up. I will be pleased to continue later on today.

Opposition Motion—Appointments CommitteeBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

1:55 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Geoff Regan

The hon. member will have seven minutes to continue his speech after oral questions.

Aveos WorkersStatements By Members

1:55 p.m.

Bloc

Simon Marcil Bloc Mirabel, QC

Mr. Speaker, I wish to draw attention to the presence in our gallery of former Aveos workers.

In 2012, workers at Aveos lost their jobs because the government decided to break its own law. Instead of supporting the workers, Ottawa did the opposite and made it legal for Air Canada to close its maintenance centres, which cost hundreds of jobs.

Worse still, after they lost their jobs, the workers had the Canada Employment Insurance Commission on their backs. Some widows were asked to pay back as much as $20,000.

Today we are appealing to the Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Labour to do the workers justice by cancelling the redress process by the Canada Employment Insurance Commission, as she is authorized to do under the act.

I can assure the House that the Bloc Québécois stands behind Aveos workers. We have always done so in the past, and we will continue to do so both today and in the future.

Charles-Eugène MarinStatements By Members

1:55 p.m.

Liberal

Rémi Massé Liberal Avignon—La Mitis—Matane—Matapédia, QC

Mr. Speaker, it is with great sadness that we learned last week of the death of Charles-Eugène Marin, doctor and politician who made his mark in the Gaspé with his passion and determination.

Charles-Eugène Marin is an example of devotion and commitment. In addition to serving in municipal politics as mayor of Sainte-Anne-des-Monts, this exceptional man also served as member of Parliament from 1984 to 1993.

Mr. Marin was always a strong defender of our corner of the country. He was completely devoted to improving his community and always believed in our region's potential. Through hard work and determination, he founded the Exploramer museum in Sainte-Anne-des-Monts.

I want to take this opportunity in the House to pay tribute to him. My colleague the Minister of National Revenue and I also wish to extend our condolences to his family, friends, and loved ones.

Jim FinkbeinerStatements By Members

2 p.m.

Conservative

Ben Lobb Conservative Huron—Bruce, ON

Mr. Speaker, last Thursday, Huron—Bruce lost one of our good guys. Jim Finkbeiner passed away at 72 years of age from complications from Alzheimer's.

After Jim's diagnosis nearly nine years ago, he and his wife Linda decided they would face the disease head on. Jim enjoyed walking, so they decided he would raise awareness in conjunction with the annual Walk for Memories. In spite of his illness, Jim did four walks in total. His most prolific walk was a 33-kilometre walk, outside in the middle of January, from Exeter to Clinton, Ontario.

Jim was involved in the Alzheimer national campaign and he was a regional spokesman. Jim's final walk took place on Saturday, with over 100 friends and family walking from the Crediton Community Centre to the cemetery.

I thank the Huron County Alzheimer Society, the South Huron Fire Department, and everyone who supported Jim and Linda. I thank Linda, their sons Robb and Russ, and the extended family for taking us on their journey. God bless, and may we someday find a cure.

Philippine Independence DayStatements By Members

2 p.m.

Liberal

Salma Zahid Liberal Scarborough Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, I rise in the House today to recognize the Philippines' Independence Day, which commemorates the 1898 declaration of independence by the Philippines after 300 years of Spanish rule. It is a day to celebrate and recognize the contributions that Filipinos are making around the world.

Canada is home to a prosperous Filipino community. They are our neighbours and friends, our co-workers, and our caregivers. As we celebrate the 150th anniversary of Canadian Confederation, Filipinos are an important part of the diversity that makes Canada strong. My riding of Scarborough Centre is blessed with a thriving Filipino Canadian population whose culture and cuisine help make Scarborough a great place to live.

To all those celebrating in Scarborough and across Canada, mabuhay, Canada, mabuhay, Philippines.

Workplace SafetyStatements By Members

2 p.m.

NDP

Scott Duvall NDP Hamilton Mountain, ON

Mr. Speaker, 25 years ago, on May 9, 1992, an explosion rocked the Westray mine in Nova Scotia, killing 26 workers and forever scarring the surrounding communities. The bodies of 11 men were never recovered. The inquiry that followed concluded the disaster was the result “of incompetence, of mismanagement, of bureaucratic bungling, of deceit, of ruthlessness, of cover-up...and of cynical indifference.” Despite these findings, no mine manager, CEO, or government regulator was ever held responsible.

A group of dedicated volunteers set out to change the law, resulting in the Government of Canada unanimously passing changes to the Criminal Code in 2003 in what is known as the Westray law. Still, nearly 1,000 Canadian workers are killed each year and many of these deaths are preventable. In 14 years since the Westray law was passed, only one person has ever been convicted under the law. That is shameful.

In memory of those who were lost in the Westray mine disaster, stop the killing and enforce the law.

Economic Development of SheffordStatements By Members

June 13th, 2017 / 2 p.m.

Liberal

Pierre Breton Liberal Shefford, QC

Mr. Speaker, our government believes innovation is key to development in Canada, which is why I am pleased to acknowledge the 10th anniversary of BRP's revolutionary three-wheel motorcycle, the Can-Am Spyder.

There are now more than 100,000 enthusiasts around the world. More than 3,000 owners from around the world came to Valcourt in my riding, the home of this machine that would define an entirely new market.

BRP is known for its leadership in research and development into innovative products.

I want to thank BRP's 2,000 employees in Valcourt who contribute to the economic development of the riding of Shefford. They are the most important asset of our community and our country and they do us proud.

Happy 10th anniversary to the Spyder.

Canada's 150th AnniversaryStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Conservative

Rachael Harder Conservative Lethbridge, AB

Mr. Speaker, as we approach Canada's 150th birthday, it gives us the chance to stop and reflect on our past, to celebrate our present, and to look to our future with anticipation.

Together, as Canadians from coast to coast, we celebrate the place we call home. We celebrate the first nations peoples, who were the first to live in our great country. We celebrate the voyageurs, who risked everything to discover new land and forge new beginnings. We celebrate the Fathers of Confederation for their wisdom and their leadership. We celebrate all those who have contributed to our great country by building homes, by adding their skills and abilities to the labour market, by contributing to the fine arts, by participating in sports, and by offering their time and their talents through volunteerism.

We are a diverse country, in geography, in history, and in our people. Canada is the place we call home, and we are very blessed to do so. As we move forward, may we adopt the best of our past, steward our present, and build for our future.

Come From AwayStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Liberal

John Oliver Liberal Oakville, ON

Mr. Speaker, “On 9/11, the world stopped. On 9/12, their stories moved us all.” This is the opening line from Come From Away.

I have the immense pleasure of recognizing that a major Tony Award for best director was awarded to the blockbuster musical that got its start at Sheridan College.

Sheridan College, in my riding of Oakville, is home to the Canadian Music Theatre Project, the incubator that first developed and produced Come From Away.

Only five Canadians musicals have made it to Broadway. I could not be more proud to say that Sheridan is the first Canadian post-secondary institution in the history of the Tony Awards to have seven nominations and a Tony awarded for its production. I know all Canadians, especially my colleagues from Newfoundland, share that pride.

When this amazing production returns to Toronto in 2018, I hope everyone comes out to join me to see this uniquely Canadian story.

2017 Stanley CupStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Liberal

Darren Fisher Liberal Dartmouth—Cole Harbour, NS

Mr. Speaker, today I am so proud to rise and commend once again our Dartmouth—Cole Harbour hometown boy and three-time Stanley Cup champion, Sidney Crosby.

Crosby is a super role model for kids across Canada, not just because of all the trophies but because of his philanthropy in the community, his hard work, his winning attitude, and his resilience.

He is just the third player in NHL history to win playoff MVP in consecutive seasons and just the sixth player to win it twice in a career. “Sid the Kid” finished the 2017 Stanley Cup playoffs with 27 points in 24 games. In the words of Canada's own Don Cherry, he is the best player in the world. “Here's to you Sid”.

Bring that cup back home to Cole Harbour. We are ready to plan the parade.

Young Graduates from Portneuf—Jacques-CartierStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Conservative

Joël Godin Conservative Portneuf—Jacques-Cartier, QC

Mr. Speaker, I rise today as a member of Parliament and a father to acknowledge a very important time for all Canadian students who have finished or are about to finish the school year and begin their well-deserved summer holidays.

Saturday, I was proud to attend my son Charles-Antoine's graduation from Séminaire Saint-François. I believe that all of the parents of children who are finishing elementary, junior high, high school, college, or university are just as proud of their children's success. These are very important stages of life.

I gave all of the high school graduates in my riding a personalized certificate to recognize their perseverance in getting their diploma. These are students from École secondaire Dollard-des-Ormeaux in Shannon, École secondaire de Donnacona, École secondaire Saint-Marc-des-Carrières, École secondaire Louis-Jobin in Saint-Raymond, École secondaire Mont-Saint-Sacrement, and École des Pionniers in Saint-Augustin-de-Desmaures.

We need to take care of our young people. We need to believe in them and take good care of them, and I mean good care.

I wish all young Canadians a great summer.

KosovoStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Liberal

Anita Vandenbeld Liberal Ottawa West—Nepean, ON

Mr. Speaker, in every generation Canadians have come together as a country to welcome families from abroad fleeing turmoil to make a new home in Canada.

For our parents, they will always remember the Vietnamese. For today's young Canadians, it will be the story of the Syrian refugees. For my generation, we will always remember those who arrived from Kosovo in 1999.

I was in Kosovo, working with the OSCE as an adviser to the Parliamentary Assembly, when it declared independence. The experience of watching a new country born is one that I will never forget.

Today, as we celebrate the 18th anniversary of the arrival of the Kosovo refugees in Canada, we welcome to Parliament some of those former refugees who are successful leaders in the arts, in the media, in sports, and in business, along with those generous Canadians who opened their hearts and homes to welcome them.

We thank them for their contributions to our country.

Faleminderit shumë.

RussiaStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Liberal

Matt DeCourcey Liberal Fredericton, NB

Mr. Speaker, yesterday thousands of Russian citizens assembled peacefully in cities right across Russia. Their purpose was to demand that the government put an end to cases of rampant corruption.

This is not the first such protest. Just as in March of this year, the Russian authorities moved quickly to clamp down on the legitimate expression of discontent. Over 1,500 people were reported detained simply for exercising their right to join their fellow citizens in protest and peaceful assembly.

Organizers of the Moscow and St. Petersburg protests were arrested before they even left home. Although many have since been released, others remain in custody.

Peaceful protests, in which citizens can freely voice their concerns, are critical to a functioning democracy. Canadians are greatly concerned by these arrests and the civil rights of the Russian people.

We call for the respect of democratic rights and norms and the immediate release of all peaceful protestors and journalists detained. We have repeatedly and forcefully spoken out against rights abuses in Russia, and Canada will continue to do so.

Lotbinière Association for People with DisabilitiesStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Conservative

Jacques Gourde Conservative Lévis—Lotbinière, QC

Mr. Speaker, I wanted to add my voice to those celebrating the 40th anniversary of the creation of the Association des personnes handicapées de Lotbinière, which is supported by a wonderful team and several partners and allies.

I applaud all the dedication and hard work done to address the concerns and demands associated with defending the rights of, and achieving equality for, people with disabilities.

The services provided have helped end the isolation of these vulnerable people and have given some respite to many families, while always encouraging people with disabilities to be autonomous and push their own limits.

The Association des personnes handicapées de Lotbinière is a pivotal force in our region. It fosters caring and mutual support among peers and definitely enhances our entire community.

I want to thank all of these caring and engaged people for working their small miracles, day in and day out, for 40 years now.