House of Commons Hansard #194 of the 42nd Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was senate.

Topics

2 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Geoff Regan

It being Wednesday, we will now have the singing of O Canada, led by the hon. member for Edmonton Centre.

[Members sang the national anthem]

Quebec National HolidayStatements By Members

2 p.m.

Bloc

Xavier Barsalou-Duval Bloc Pierre-Boucher—Les Patriotes—Verchères, QC

Mr. Speaker, Quebec is the emblem of our pride, and we have good reason to be proud. We are proud to be a creative, determined, and welcoming people.

We are proud to be a people who, for over 400 years, has welcomed anyone who wanted to join us with open arms.

We are proud to be nation that continues to speak the most beautiful language in the world, that sings in that language, that puts our own stamp on it, and that stands ready to defend it against any threat.

We are proud of our artists who amaze the whole world and who make us dream, laugh, and cry.

We are proud of our bold and creative business people and of our workers who put their hearts into what they do.

We are proud of our tight-knit families and of those who join us and make us more diverse.

We are proud to be Québécois.

On behalf of the Bloc Québécois, I want to wish all Quebeckers a happy national holiday.

Philippine Independence DayStatements By Members

2 p.m.

Liberal

Marco Mendicino Liberal Eglinton—Lawrence, ON

Mr. Speaker, on Monday the Filipino community here in Canada and around the world came together to celebrate Philippine Independence Day.

I was honoured to raise the flag to celebrate this occasion at City Hall in Toronto, alongside Consul General Prospero, my hon. colleagues the members for York Centre and Scarborough Centre, and Mayor John Tory, as well as many other leaders from the community.

In my riding of Eglinton—Lawrence, we have a vibrant Filipino community, with outdoor festivals ranging from the Taste of Manila, which the Prime Minister attended last year, to the PIDC picnic, to the Victoria Invitational Basketball Tournament, to media outlets like Pinoy Radio and Pinoy Dreams, to wonderful local businesses like Cusina Lounge and Sampaguita, to FV Foods service providers. We have so much to be proud about when it comes to the Filipino community.

I would like to wish all Filipino Canadians and all those celebrating around the world a happy Independence Day.

Mabuhay.

Charity Work in ThailandStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Conservative

Randy Hoback Conservative Prince Albert, SK

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to draw attention to the international charity work of two of my constituents, Dave and Heather Heppner.

In 2005 the Heppners took their first trip to Thailand, where they witnessed the terrible refugee situation along the border of war-torn Myanmar.

On their return to Canada, the Heppners founded the charity Global Neighbors Canada. To date, Global Neighbors Canada has completed over 30 projects, at a cost of $2 million. These projects include new schools, school renovations, new dormitories, orphanages, study halls, a safe house for girls, and, most recently, a beautiful 24-bed hospital.

Their charity also also supports a migrant school in Thailand, teachers at Mae La refugee camp, and a small orphanage in Myanmar. These ongoing commitments total $70,000 annually.

One hundred per cent of the donations to Global Neighbors Canada goes to projects in Thailand and Myanmar. Not one single cent goes to the charity's administration.

On behalf of all members of the House, I thank Dave and Heather for their commitment to providing assistance to those in need. May God bless them as they proceed with this work.

National Blood Donor WeekStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Liberal

Francis Drouin Liberal Glengarry—Prescott—Russell, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise in the House today to recognize National Blood Donor Week and the thousands of Canadian blood donors who are the lifeblood of their communities.

National Blood Donor Week takes place from June 11 to June 17 and was officially enacted by the House of Commons in 2008.

As Canada celebrate its 150th anniversary, we celebrate every donor, volunteer, and supporter during National Blood Donor Week. We thank them for representing the best of our country with their generosity and spirit. Donating blood is a genuine act of altruism and a truly selfless gift. It is amazing how such a small act of kindness can have such a big impact.

Over 105,000 new donors will be needed this year alone to treat patients in Canadian hospitals. A new donor is needed every minute to save a life. Some 50% of Canadians will need blood products themselves one day or know someone who will. I encourage all Canadians to take advantage of National Blood Donor Week to thank someone—

National Blood Donor WeekStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Geoff Regan

The hon. member for Outremont.

Persecution of RomaStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

NDP

Thomas Mulcair NDP Outremont, QC

Mr. Speaker, in Italy last month, three young Roma sisters were burned to death while they slept. Graffiti celebrating “3 fewer Roma” subsequently appeared on the walls of the capital.

This is only one example, and certainly a serious one, of the violence, the hatred, and the persecution that the Roma are still enduring today, all over Europe.

Canada still applies policies that turn back Roma travellers when other people from the same home countries are allowed into ours with no constraints.

The Canadian Roma community has made repeated appeals to the Prime Minister to stand up against the normalization of hate against Roma, to honour Canada's commitment to the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance, and to follow the example of the European Parliament in recognizing August 2 as Roma genocide remembrance day.

Let us hope that happens.

Summer in Brampton NorthStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Liberal

Ruby Sahota Liberal Brampton North, ON

Mr. Speaker, summer is right around the corner. For many, summer is a time to go on a long holiday, head to the beach, or start a new hobby. School is done for the year, and the barbecues are fired up. For most of us, summer does not mean a two-month vacation, but it does give us something to look forward to. The weather is great, and people spend more time outdoors and get involved in their communities.

For me, summer means I get to better focus on the people of Brampton North by being in my Brampton office more often, by attending more community events, and by hearing from the residents of Brampton North right at their doorsteps.

A year and a half into our government's mandate, we are working hard for Canadians. We have cut taxes, improved our immigration system, and given young families the support that they need.

However, our work is not done yet. We know there is much more to do and we look forward to re-engaging with the people of Brampton North so that we can better serve them.

Calgary StampedeStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Conservative

Pat Kelly Conservative Calgary Rocky Ridge, AB

Mr. Speaker, soon we will rise for the summer, and that means it is almost time for the world-famous Calgary Stampede.

For 105 years, people have gathered from all walks of life and from all around the world to take in the greatest outdoor show on earth. Most people know that the stampede is a unique celebration of western heritage, culture, and community spirit, attracting over a million annual visitors. The stampede is at the heart of what makes Calgary such a special place to live and to visit.

The stampede also reaches into my suburban riding of Calgary Rocky Ridge, where I will attend stampede events hosted by community associations, churches, businesses, seniors' residences, and neighbours, including the annual Ranchlands Community Association bike-decorating contest, parade, and breakfast.

There is something for everyone during stampede, so I hope to see many of my colleagues. On behalf of my constituents, an early “Yahoo!”, and I will see them in July.

Municipal LibrariesStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Liberal

Fayçal El-Khoury Liberal Laval—Les Îles, QC

Mr. Speaker, the city of Laval has nine libraries and one bookmobile. Laval offers its residents a large number of activities during the summer, including free lectures and exhibitions.

Today, I want to turn the spotlight onto this institution that is showing our young people how to be successful in learning and how to learn to be successful by reading. It is a place where a plentiful flow of ideas and intellectual delights bring wonderful moments to the families of Laval, who can enjoy it all without breaking the bank.

Louis Aragon said that literature is the face of a nation. How eloquent, and how true. We must celebrate this institution that is thousands of years old and whose foundation will always be timeless.

If knowledge builds confidence, reading brings meaningful balance to the development of the intellect.

Marc-Aurèle-Fortin's YouthStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Liberal

Yves Robillard Liberal Marc-Aurèle-Fortin, QC

Mr. Speaker, last month, it was my pleasure to announce a federal government grant of more than $1 million for one of the jewels of my riding of Marc-Aurèle-Fortin, the Éco-Nature centre. I am proud that our government is supporting an organization whose mission is to educate and raise awareness among our youth, who will have a critical role to play as stewards of the natural environment.

I would like to take this opportunity to wish those young people all the success in the world. In the coming weeks, they will be benefiting from the rich experience that the Canada summer jobs program provides. This program is key to local organizations and businesses and makes it possible for almost 200 young people in my riding to gain specific work experience. This summer, it will be my great pleasure to go meet each one of those young people, who are our future and our pride.

JusticeStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Conservative

Michael Cooper Conservative St. Albert—Edmonton, AB

Mr. Speaker, this afternoon this House will vote on a Liberal motion to defeat Wynn's law, a law that would simply require prosecutors to lead evidence of the criminal history of bail applicants.

During the justice committee's study on Wynn's law, not one witness could provide a credible example of when it would be appropriate for prosecutors to withhold evidence of the criminal history of bail applicants, yet rather than fixing the loophole that cost Constable Wynn his life, the government is planning to leave it open, out of concern that bail hearings might be slightly delayed.

The bail hearing of Constable Wynn's killer was a highly efficient one, but one with fatal consequences. Potentially adding a few extra minutes to some bail hearings is a small price to pay compared to the loss of Constable Wynn.

Our TimeStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Liberal

Sukh Dhaliwal Liberal Surrey—Newton, BC

Mr. Speaker, today I rise to celebrate Sullivan Heights Secondary School teacher Marc Pelech, a former winner of the Prime Minister's Award for Teaching Excellence. He has produced a powerful Canada 150 project with the Arts Council of Surrey.

Entitled, “Our Time”, the project captures the strength and ambitions of 250 young South Asian women through five years of photographs and written narratives. It symbolizes the progress our country has made in promoting diversity and equality for all women, and ensures this progress is continued in the next 150 years.

I thank Mr. Pelech and all the young participants for their contributions. Happy Canada 150.

Anne Michelle CurtisStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Liberal

Mark Eyking Liberal Sydney—Victoria, NS

Mr. Speaker, today I rise in recognition of the late Anne Michelle Curtis, an Alberta native and former resident of New Waterford, who lost her life two years ago at the age of 45 while saving a group of children from a riptide off of Dunvegan, Nova Scotia.

August 2, 2015, Michelle noticed her nine-year-old son was among a few other children being pulled out to sea in a strong riptide. Without hesitation, Michelle swam to help her son and then headed back into the deep water to help another child. All children were rescued. Michelle made it back to shore, but encountered difficulties. Despite efforts of medical professionals, she died on the beach.

As a palliative care worker, a hospice volunteer, Michelle dedicated her life to helping others during the most fragile times of their lives. Michelle was often described by those who knew her as ambitious, energetic, a nurturer and giver, and Michelle referred to her children as her greatest accomplishment.

This past Monday, Michelle's husband Karl Curtis accepted the Medal of Bravery from the Governor General on her behalf.

Retirement CongratulationsStatements By Members

2:15 p.m.

Conservative

John Nater Conservative Perth—Wellington, ON

Mr. Speaker, I rise to pay tribute to Elaine Rouleau, who will be retiring this month after more than 30 years serving the students of Carleton University, including the past 18 years as the founding administrator of the Arthur Kroeger College of Public Affairs.

While her job title may have been “administrator”, she quickly became the heart and soul of the Kroeger College, providing gentle encouragement always and a stern warning when needed. In short, she was a second mother to all.

Together with directors Eileen Saunders, Calum Carmichael, Chris Dornan and Barry Wright, Elaine has seen her students go on to leadership positions in the public and private sectors, in NGOs, international organizations, and two members of the House.

On behalf of myself, the member from Sherwood Park-Fort Saskatchewan, and every Kroeger kid whose student experience was enriched by Elaine Rouleau, I thank her and wish her and her husband Denis a happy and healthy retirement filled with lots of time with the grandchildren.

Persons with DisabilitiesStatements By Members

2:15 p.m.

Liberal

TJ Harvey Liberal Tobique—Mactaquac, NB

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank my colleagues, the Minister of Families, Children and Social Development and the Minister of Sport and Persons with Disabilities, for their excellent work in creating a national housing strategy and legislation for Canadians with disabilities. I would also like to take this opportunity to encourage Canadians to join this discussion.

Over 90,000 New Brunswickers live with a mobility disability and the province has the oldest population in Canada. Therefore, it is vital we address the importance of identifying and eliminating barriers to accessibility, including housing.

I have heard from seniors in my riding. They want to remain independent and stay at home as long as possible, be active in their communities as they grow older, welcome people of all abilities and ages into their homes, and they want to age in place. I believe VisitAbility can be very positive step forward toward the future of housing in Canada.

I would also like to recognize Ability New Brunswick for its hard work and commitment to strong collaboration with government, its research and public policy efforts, as it continues to champion the concept of VisitAble Housing, something that benefits everyone.

Status of WomenStatements By Members

2:15 p.m.

NDP

Sheri Benson NDP Saskatoon West, SK

Mr. Speaker, it has been one year since the Special Committee on Pay Equity tabled its report, unironically entitled, “It's Time to Act”. The government's response? It will kick the can down a couple of years because women have been waiting over 40 years for this fundamental human right. What is a couple more years?

It has also completely bungled efforts to remove gender-based discrimination from the Indian Act, when indigenous women have already been waiting 50 years.

The right to equality is a cornerstone of our Charter of Rights and Freedoms, but sadly the government has disappointed time and time again when it comes to making things better for women. Grandiose announcements without immediate and meaningful funding do not help Canadian women today, and we are tired of waiting.

It is time for the so-called feminist government to walk its talk. It is 2017. It is time to act.

U.S. House Majority WhipStatements By Members

2:15 p.m.

Conservative

Gord Brown Conservative Leeds—Grenville—Thousand Islands and Rideau Lakes, ON

Mr. Speaker, I ask members of the House to keep their thoughts and prayers with the U.S. House majority whip Steve Scalise who was wounded this morning when a gunman opened fire at a charity baseball practice near Washington, DC.

Thankfully, his wounds are not serious. Prior to entering hospital he was in good spirits and talking to his wife. He also had praise for the police and first responders who came to his air.

Several other people, including two Capitol Hill police officers, were also injured in this shooting, for which there is as yet no known motive. Other lives could have been lost had it not been for the heroic efforts of law enforcement.

We stand with our American friends and colleagues in times of tragedy. At this time, we are praying for those who were shot, their families, and those who work with them each and every day.

PrideStatements By Members

June 14th, 2017 / 2:20 p.m.

Liberal

Julie Dabrusin Liberal Toronto—Danforth, ON

Mr. Speaker, this afternoon, for only the second time in Canada's history, we will raise the Pride flag on Parliament Hill.

Raising the flag to wave proudly on Parliament Hill is an important symbol of our commitment to ensuring Canada is safe, inclusive, and welcoming. With the passage of Bill C-16 from this place and Canada's leadership as the co-chair of the Equal Rights Coalition, important steps are being taken to recognize this commitment.

With the reported persecution of the LGBTQ2 community in places such as Chechnya, celebrating Pride affirms our efforts to advance the rights of LGBTQ2 people around the world.

Across Canada, I invite all Canadians to join the Pride celebrations. I look forward to the Toronto Pride parade, Faith+Pride hosted by the MCC, the Trans March and the Dyke March, started by Lisa Hayes and Lesha Van Der Bij.

Pride is a time to celebrate, support, and remember.

TaxationOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Regina—Qu'Appelle Saskatchewan

Conservative

Andrew Scheer ConservativeLeader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, in less than two years, the Prime Minister has turned a Conservative balanced budget into decades of Liberal deficits.

Leaving my kids with his credit card bill is bad enough, but now the Bank of Canada has indicated it might raise interest rates soon, something the U.S. has already done. Raising the interest rates by just a quarter point would mean at least a billion dollars in new interest charges.

Could the Prime Minister explain what new tax hikes he is planning or which programs he is going to cut to pay back all the Liberal debt?

TaxationOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Papineau Québec

Liberal

Justin Trudeau LiberalPrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, for 10 years, we had a Conservative government that gave boutique tax credits to the wealthiest Canadians, that neglected the middle class, and that had the worst record on growth in decades.

The fact is that we lowered taxes for the middle class and raised them on the wealthiest 1%, which those members voted against. We delivered a Canada child benefit that put more money in the pockets of Canadians. We have created record numbers of jobs over the past year.

We are working hard to deliver on the ambitious promises we made to Canadians, and we are seeing that on the ground.

Public SafetyOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Regina—Qu'Appelle Saskatchewan

Conservative

Andrew Scheer ConservativeLeader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, he is spending fast and loose and leaving future generations of Canadians with his bill.

For weeks, we have been asking the Prime Minister to reject the advice of his officials and take the sensible decision to make the National Sex Offender Registry public. Like me, the Prime Minister is a father. Both of us recognize the importance of protecting our children.

Why is the Prime Minister not giving all parents access to an important tool like the national sex offender registry?

Public SafetyOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Papineau Québec

Liberal

Justin Trudeau LiberalPrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, the safety of the public and our children is always our priority, and I know this is true for all members of the House.

Canada already has a national flagging system, created and funded by the Chrétien government, and a national sex offender registry, created and funded by the Martin government. These key tools make it possible to ensure that high-risk offenders are identified and tracked by the police and prosecutors. We are looking at this proposed database to ensure that it will protect our children.

Public SafetyOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Regina—Qu'Appelle Saskatchewan

Conservative

Andrew Scheer ConservativeLeader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, yesterday the Prime Minister suggested that he did not have the money to give parents access to information about dangerous criminals living near their kids. This makes no sense. After all, he has found money to renovate offices, to move his friends from Toronto, and even for luxury vacations.

Why will the Prime Minister not do the right thing, help parents protect their kids, and create the publicly accessible child sex offender database?

Public SafetyOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Papineau Québec

Liberal

Justin Trudeau LiberalPrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, we take the protection of our kids and our communities very seriously, like every government would.

Canada already has a national flagging system, created and funded by the Chrétien government, and a national sex offender registry, created and funded by the Martin government. These are key tools for ensuring that high-risk offenders are identified and tracked by police and prosecutors.

The Harper government passed legislation to create a proposed new database, but it never actually set it up and never funded it. We are examining the facts about it, in consultation with provinces and territories, victims groups, experts, and other stakeholders.

Foreign InvestmentOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Regina—Qu'Appelle Saskatchewan

Conservative

Andrew Scheer ConservativeLeader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, contrary to what the Prime Minister told the House, it is the cabinet that orders national security reviews of foreign takeovers. Plenty of experts are wondering why no such review was ordered for the sale of Norsat.

Now he is telling us that the United States was consulted, but the White House, the Defense department, the Treasury department, and the U.S. embassy are all refusing to comment.

Why is the Prime Minister misleading Canadians?

Foreign InvestmentOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Papineau Québec

Liberal

Justin Trudeau LiberalPrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, as I said, every transaction under the Investment Canada Act is subjected to a detailed assessment by all of the entities responsible for national security.

In this particular case, as I said, we consulted our allies, including the United States. Our national security experts examined the agreement and the technology and concluded that the deal did not raise any national security concerns.

We will never compromise on national security.

Foreign InvestmentOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Regina—Qu'Appelle Saskatchewan

Conservative

Andrew Scheer ConservativeLeader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, this is not the first time the Prime Minister has misled Canadians when it comes to how our allies have reacted to one of his decisions. When he withdrew Canada's jets from the fight against ISIS, he claimed that none of our allies objected. However, we now know that is not true.

Here at home, we know all about his “consultations”. Informing someone of a decision is not a “consultation”.

If the Prime Minister did consult the United States on the Norsat sale, as he claims, could he tell us if any objections were raised and exactly who he consulted with?

Foreign InvestmentOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Papineau Québec

Liberal

Justin Trudeau LiberalPrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, every single transaction is subject to a national security assessment. This is a multi-step assessment process, and the process was followed.

We take the advice and feedback from our national security agencies very seriously, and based on that advice, we proceeded with this transaction. In this particular case, our security agencies did consult with key allies, including the United States. I can reassure the member and the entire House that we will never compromise on national security.

Government AppointmentsOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

NDP

Thomas Mulcair NDP Outremont, QC

Now it is an assessment, Mr. Speaker.

Yesterday we introduced a motion to remove partisanship from the appointment of officers of Parliament. The Liberals said they welcomed it but had a structural problem with our motion. To show our sincerity, we amended our own motion to address their stated concern.

Will the Prime Minister accept this reasonable, amended proposal, or is he just physically incapable of putting an end to partisan appointments?

Government AppointmentsOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Papineau Québec

Liberal

Justin Trudeau LiberalPrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, we created an independent, open nomination process when we came to office after a decade of partisanship from the previous government. That is why we have been able to put forward appointments that reflect the diversity of this country: over 60% female appointments and significant numbers of indigenous and visible minorities appointments.

We are going to continue to follow all appropriate processes, including consulting with all parties and having a vote on the proper processes for officers of Parliament.

The EnvironmentOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

NDP

Thomas Mulcair NDP Outremont, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister suggested to Angela Merkel that all references to the Paris agreement be removed from the G20 declaration, and this is a fact, not simply because the German newspaper Der Spiegel confirmed it and then yesterday reconfirmed it but also because the Prime Minister has not denied this specific fact. What is less clear is why. Why did the Prime Minister do this?

The EnvironmentOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Papineau Québec

Liberal

Justin Trudeau LiberalPrime Minister

It is very simple, Mr. Speaker. I did no such thing. I clearly expressed to Angela Merkel that we need to continue to work together on fighting climate change, on remaining committed to Paris. As the German government confirmed today, “The prime minister did not ask [Chancellor Merkel] to delete all references to the climate agreement from the draft G20 document.”

Canada remains committed to the climate agreement, committed to Paris, and we will continue to push for that at the G20, at the G7, and at every opportunity we get, because that is how Canada leads.

Freedom of the PressOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

NDP

Thomas Mulcair NDP Outremont, QC

Mr. Speaker, there is an easy way to clarify all this, because the Prime Minister could very simply release the text of his part of that conversation with Merkel, but of course, he will not do that, because he knows that it is a fact that he and his government are a fraud when it comes to climate change.

Speaking of journalists, will the Prime Minister do what needs to be done to pass the bill to protect journalistic sources before the end of the session?

Will the government ensure that the protection of journalistic sources--

Freedom of the PressOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Geoff Regan

The Right Hon. Prime Minister.

Freedom of the PressOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Papineau Québec

Liberal

Justin Trudeau LiberalPrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, as I said, we remain committed to the Paris accord. I have said that to every world leader I have spoken to. We have pushed for that. We were an instrumental part in making sure it was a strong statement of support from the six G7 countries that are moving forward with Paris. We continue to push so it becomes part of the G20 communiqué. We know that leading on climate change is what Canadians expect and is exactly what this government is doing.

With regard to freedom of the press, we continue to defend and promote journalistic freedom, which is why we are supporting the Senate proposal.

National DefenceOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

NDP

Thomas Mulcair NDP Outremont, QC

Mr. Speaker, the question is whether we are going to get it through before the end of term, and we do not have an answer to that.

The Prime Minister said he stood by his defence minister's account of the role he played in Afghanistan and that there was no conflict when he blocked an inquiry into the detainee scandal. The Ethics Commissioner has just reported that the defence minister “downplayed” his role in the transfer of detainees.

What consequences will the minister face for having misled the Ethics Commissioner, or is the Prime Minister just fine with hiding things from Mary Dawson?

National DefenceOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Papineau Québec

Liberal

Justin Trudeau LiberalPrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, the issue of Afghan detainees is one we take very seriously in this House. That is why there have been no fewer than six investigations into that issue, including one that is ongoing. Indeed, when we were offered, as NDP and Liberals, the opportunity to go through 40,000 documents directly pertaining to that, the NDP refused to do it.

We engaged with that. We take very seriously those responsibilities. We will continue to take very seriously what Canadians expect from this government and from this party.

Foreign InvestmentOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Conservative

Gérard Deltell Conservative Louis-Saint-Laurent, QC

Mr. Speaker, in the scandal involving the sale of a high-tech firm to Chinese interests without having to go through a national security review, the Prime Minister keeps saying that he consulted key allies.

The problem is that the senior American officials consulted say they were never in fact consulted. They are more concerned about Canada’s national security than perhaps the Prime Minister is.

Can the Prime Minister, who seems so sure of himself, tell us when he met these people, whom he talked to, and at what time?

Foreign InvestmentOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Papineau Québec

Liberal

Justin Trudeau LiberalPrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, every single transaction is subject to a national security review. This is a multi-step review process, and the process was followed.

We take the advice and feedback from our national security agencies very seriously. We trust the work they do. It was based on their advice that we went ahead with this transaction.

In this particular case, the security agencies consulted the United States. I want to assure the member and the House that we will never compromise national security.

Foreign InvestmentOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Conservative

Gérard Deltell Conservative Louis-Saint-Laurent, QC

Mr. Speaker, I will repeat my very simple and very clear question: if the Prime Minister seems to be so sure of himself, is he willing to table all the documents and tell us who he consulted and when?

Foreign InvestmentOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Papineau Québec

Liberal

Justin Trudeau LiberalPrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, we take our national security responsibilities very seriously.

We work with and listen to our national security agencies. We trust our national security agencies, which followed the process, reviewed the transaction, consulted our allies, including the United States, and recommended going ahead with this transaction.

Foreign InvestmentOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Conservative

Tony Clement Conservative Parry Sound—Muskoka, ON

Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister's story on the Norsat takeover is getting murkier and murkier by the day, indeed, the hour.

We know these facts. It was the Liberal cabinet alone that chose to forego the national security review. That is a fact. It is a fact that the Prime Minister is claiming that our allies have somehow approved this, yet those same U.S. allies are saying publicly that they have grave concerns, so something is not adding up.

We ask again. Take away the speaking notes, I would encourage the Prime Minister, and answer the question in the House: Who did they consult with? Which allies--

Foreign InvestmentOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Geoff Regan

The Right Hon. Prime Minister.

Foreign InvestmentOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Papineau Québec

Liberal

Justin Trudeau LiberalPrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, there is in place, and has been in place for many years, a process whereby national security concerns are addressed and followed, and the fact is, our security agencies went through the proper process in regard to this transaction, including consulting with our allies, including the United States, and signalled that we could move forward with this transaction.

That is the process that is followed. We will never compromise national security, and as the member knows, we followed the process in this situation.

Foreign InvestmentOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Conservative

Tony Clement Conservative Parry Sound—Muskoka, ON

Mr. Speaker, why will the Prime Minister not be open and transparent in this House about who exactly was consulted on this deal? Which elements of the U.S. administration were consulted? What did they say?

We know that through this transaction, the Liberals are trying to appease Chinese official interests as they move forward with a free trade deal with China. We know that, but we are concerned about Canadian security, and we are concerned about North American security. Who did they consult with? Let us know.

Foreign InvestmentOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Papineau Québec

Liberal

Justin Trudeau LiberalPrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, we take very seriously our national security and always will. That is why we ensure that the process is rigorously followed for transactions of this type. Our national security agencies were engaged with this process, consulted with our allies, and did the work they are supposed to do.

On this side of the House, we trust our national security agencies. We believe in their capacity to do their job as mandated by the government, and we respect the fact that they are able to do their work in full respect of the law and the principles Canada lays out.

Foreign InvestmentOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Conservative

Lisa Raitt Conservative Milton, ON

Mr. Speaker, I listened to the Prime Minister very carefully today. This is not a question about trust in our national security agencies. This is about the competence and the negligence within the cabinet of the Government of Canada.

It is simply this. They have many connections, which they laud all the time in terms of talking to the United States. Did any single cabinet minister on the other side give a heads-up to their counterpart in the United States and say, “Is this a good idea, because I want to do a gut check?”

Does he know who is doing a gut check? It is the Canadian public.

Who did they talk to, and what did they learn?

Foreign InvestmentOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Papineau Québec

Liberal

Justin Trudeau LiberalPrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, the member opposite is wrong. This is about trusting our national security agencies to do their jobs and to follow the processes. Our national security agencies engaged in the rigorous process we have. They made determinations based on their investigations, based on conversations with our allies, including the United States, and reported to the government that it would be something that could move forward.

That involves trusting our civil servants and our national security agencies, which on this side of the House we do.

Foreign InvestmentOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Conservative

Lisa Raitt Conservative Milton, ON

Mr. Speaker, the Canadian public elected a government to do exactly what we are supposed to do here, which is to take the information from the public service and make sure that the right determination is being made. They have failed abysmally in this decision-making.

I have sat at this table, and I understand fully the importance of weighing so many different variables in making these decisions. They are hiding behind the skirts of the national security agencies, because they are afraid that they are going to be seen to not be appeasing the Chinese government because of whatever they want to do. This is wrong.

Foreign InvestmentOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Papineau Québec

Liberal

Justin Trudeau LiberalPrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, I am happy to take this occasion to wish all public servants a happy National Public Service Week.

After 10 years of a government that did not listen to our public servants, did not respect the work they did, and did whatever it wanted based on ideology and not facts, we are proud that we respect our public servants, that we listen to them, and that we expect them to fulfill their responsibilities with professionalism and accuracy. That is exactly what our national security agencies do every day to protect Canadians and our interests.

Indigenous AffairsOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

NDP

Romeo Saganash NDP Abitibi—Baie-James—Nunavik—Eeyou, QC

Mr. Speaker, speaking of respect, for two decades the indigenous peoples co-drafted the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. It has been 10 years since its adoption by the UN General Assembly.

Last December, the Prime Minister promised all chiefs, once again, that he remained committed to its adoption and implementation, yet on Monday, the Prime Minister suggested that the declaration would be tantamount to colonial imposition. How can the declaration be imposed on us if we wrote it? Which is it, yes or no, will the government support Bill C-262?

Indigenous AffairsOral Questions

2:40 p.m.

Papineau Québec

Liberal

Justin Trudeau LiberalPrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, our government has been clear. We are committed to implementation of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. In doing so we will ensure that implementation of the declaration goes beyond mere words. It must be translated into practical benefits on the ground.

Simply adopting the declaration word for word into law ignores Canada's section 35 framework and the hard work necessary to bring about real change. We are committed to working in consultation and co-operation with indigenous peoples to identify which laws, policies, and practices need to be changed to give full effect to UNDRIP.

Foreign InvestmentOral Questions

2:40 p.m.

NDP

Don Davies NDP Vancouver Kingsway, BC

Mr. Speaker, the Liberals have approved the foreign takeover of the major B.C. provider of seniors care by Anbang, a huge Chinese conglomerate. They did so despite serious concerns raised by the U.S. and many others about the company's murky ownership structure. Now we see that the chairman of Anbang has been arrested on suspected corruption charges.

We are talking about the well-being of B.C. seniors. Why did the government fail in its due diligence, and will it revisit its decision to ensure that Canadians are protected?

Foreign InvestmentOral Questions

2:40 p.m.

Papineau Québec

Liberal

Justin Trudeau LiberalPrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, the member well knows that B.C.'s regulatory regime is robust and imposes rigorous standards of care on all operators of residential care and assisted living facilities. Cedar Tree has confirmed its strong commitment to the ongoing quality of operations of the Canadian retirement residences and to its health care workers. They will remain subject to provincial oversight of senior care facilities, ensuring that rules for the care of seniors continue to be followed, and will keep the current number of full and part-time jobs.

Foreign InvestmentOral Questions

2:40 p.m.

Conservative

Candice Bergen Conservative Portage—Lisgar, MB

Mr. Speaker, we are seeing the interests of Canadians being put behind the interests of the Liberals and the appeasement they want to achieve with the Chinese. Our question is simple. Who in the U.S. did the national security agencies consult with? It is a very simple question. Canadians deserve to know who was consulted with in the United States.

Foreign InvestmentOral Questions

2:40 p.m.

Papineau Québec

Liberal

Justin Trudeau LiberalPrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, on this side of the House we trust our public servants. We trust our national security agencies to do the important work every day of keeping Canadians safe, of defending our interests. Our national security agencies went through the process. They consulted with our allies. They confirmed to us that we could move forward. That is exactly what we do.

For the member opposite to suggest that somehow our civil servants are not up to the task they are given, that our national security agencies are incapable of doing their jobs, that is quite frankly what we saw for 10 years and why they are now in opposition.

Foreign InvestmentOral Questions

2:40 p.m.

Conservative

Candice Bergen Conservative Portage—Lisgar, MB

Mr. Speaker, let us try again. Either the Prime Minister does not know who these national security agencies consulted with, or he is misleading the House. Which one is it? He can tell us right now. If he knows would he please tell the House who these national security agencies consulted with in the United States? Put the talking points away and tell us.

Foreign InvestmentOral Questions

2:40 p.m.

Papineau Québec

Liberal

Justin Trudeau LiberalPrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, under the Investment Canada Act, there is a process whereby our national security agencies look at transactions, evaluate them in terms of national interests, consult with allies including the United States in this case, and make a determination on whether or not it is safe to move forward. This process is not a new process that we brought in. It is a process that has existed for many years. Our national security agencies and civil servants have demonstrated their ability to protect Canada's interests and deliver on what we ask them to.

Foreign InvestmentOral Questions

2:40 p.m.

Conservative

Cathy McLeod Conservative Kamloops—Thompson—Cariboo, BC

Mr. Speaker, four months ago, the government rushed to sell senior care facilities in Canada to a Chinese conglomerate. Anbang Insurance has been denied in many other countries from buying assets. Now we learn that Mr. Wu, the chairman, has been charged with vague accusations including corruption. There is speculation this is part of the Chinese government's effort to re-establish state-owned enterprises.

I have a number of constituents who have asked me regularly and are very concerned. Can he tell us who owns their home?

Foreign InvestmentOral Questions

2:45 p.m.

Papineau Québec

Liberal

Justin Trudeau LiberalPrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, I can reassure the residents that indeed B.C. has a strong and robust regulatory regime that imposes rigorous standards of care on all operators of residential care and assisted living facilities. Cedar Tree has confirmed its strong commitment to the ongoing quality of operations of its Canadian retirement residences. They will continue to remain subject to all provincial oversight in upholding the highest standards of care for our seniors.

Foreign InvestmentOral Questions

2:45 p.m.

Conservative

Cathy McLeod Conservative Kamloops—Thompson—Cariboo, BC

Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister is perhaps not aware that a whole number of those seniors immediately received a notice that they had to be removed from their facility. It was absolutely shameful. The Liberals approved the sale of our seniors' care to Anbang. They cannot tell us who owns the conglomerate. The only face of that business was a chairman who of course is now in jail with these accusations.

The Liberals say everything is so fine. The minister says, “I am going to keep watching. I'm okay.” We are not convinced that things are okay. Would he stand and tell us who owns the homes of the seniors of Canada?

Foreign InvestmentOral Questions

2:45 p.m.

Papineau Québec

Liberal

Justin Trudeau LiberalPrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, the provincial governments across this country have the responsibility for imposing rigorous regulatory regimes to ensure the protection of our seniors, regardless of who owns and operates the various senior care centres. Cedar Tree has continued to emphasize its rigorous standards of care. We are going to make sure that the provincial oversight remains strong and that all proper rules and regulations are followed to ensure proper care for our seniors right across this country. This is something we take seriously and will continue to stand up for.

Dairy IndustryOral Questions

2:45 p.m.

NDP

Tracey Ramsey NDP Essex, ON

Mr. Speaker, on Monday, the U.S. dairy industry formally asked trade officials to come after the Canadian dairy industry in NAFTA renegotiations. New Democrats have repeatedly stood in the House highlighting trade attacks on our supply-managed dairy industry.

With the U.S. blaming Canadian farmers for their own overproduction, we need more than vague assurances from the government. It is clear to everyone that dairy will be a top priority for the U.S. administration. Instead of the same meaningless talking points, will the Prime Minister draw a red line and commit to no expanded market access?

Dairy IndustryOral Questions

2:45 p.m.

Papineau Québec

Liberal

Justin Trudeau LiberalPrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, it was a Liberal government that created supply management over 40 years ago. The Liberal Party has always defended supply management, and we always will defend supply management because it protects our consumers, it protects our producers, and it creates opportunities for growth and security in our production of dairy products.

We have been able to sign significant trade deals internationally, like NAFTA and CETA, while protecting our dairy industry and supply management. We are going to continue to do just that.

Dairy IndustryOral Questions

2:45 p.m.

NDP

Ruth Ellen Brosseau NDP Berthier—Maskinongé, QC

Mr. Speaker, someone should tell that to Martha Hall Findlay.

The Liberals promised dairy and cheese producers compensation for losses incurred as a result of CETA. Instead, they announced a transition program that does even cover the projected losses.

The program is so disappointing to Quebec's dairy producers that the official opposition in Quebec City is asking for a six-month delay to give the federal government time to come to its senses.

Can the Prime Minister confirm today that he will fully compensate the dairy and cheese industry, yes or no?

Dairy IndustryOral Questions

2:45 p.m.

Papineau Québec

Liberal

Justin Trudeau LiberalPrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, CETA will provide Canadian producers and consumers with access to a huge market of hundreds of millions of people to whom we can sell our products. We know that this will require a certain transition period, but I am so proud of our dairy producers in Quebec and Canada, and I know they will be able to adapt.

That is why we are investing hundreds of millions of dollars to help them through this transition, so that everyone can enjoy all the benefits that CETA has to offer. We are working with our dairy industry to defend it, support it, and ensure its success in this new global marketplace.

Regional Economic DevelopmentOral Questions

2:45 p.m.

Liberal

Alaina Lockhart Liberal Fundy Royal, NB

Mr. Speaker, Atlantic Canada faces a number of unique challenges in growing our economy and encouraging businesses to innovate and export. One of those challenges is helping high-growth potential firms grow and stay in Atlantic Canada. These firms are generally small in size but their impact is significant. They are more likely to invest in their companies and people, while also exporting more than the average Canadian business.

Can the Prime Minister please tell the House how the government is helping these firms in Atlantic Canada?

Regional Economic DevelopmentOral Questions

2:50 p.m.

Papineau Québec

Liberal

Justin Trudeau LiberalPrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the member for Fundy Royal for the excellent question, and in fact, all of the Atlantic MPs of all parties for their hard work on behalf of Atlantic Canadians.

With the newly launched Atlantic growth strategy, our government is creating the conditions for more well-paying jobs in Atlantic Canada by working with the Atlantic provinces to provide companies with a one-stop shop for access to both federal and provincial supports. Since the program's launch, the number of companies participating has more than doubled. This will result in more Atlantic Canadian companies expanding, becoming more competitive, and creating well-paying jobs in their communities. It is all part of growth for Atlantic Canada.

Access to InformationOral Questions

2:50 p.m.

Conservative

Alupa Clarke Conservative Beauport—Limoilou, QC

Mr. Speaker, in this beautiful sunny week, thousands of public servants are still not getting paid at all. That is how much respect the Prime Minister has for them.

We can all agree that responding to an access to information request is not optional, it is mandatory. However, a Shared Services Canada employee, who is also the riding association president for Glengarry—Prescott—Russell, recently deleted 398 pages of email after receiving a request for access to information, proving that the Liberals choose political gain over transparency.

Will the Prime Minister admit today that this goes against the law of the land?

Access to InformationOral Questions

2:50 p.m.

Papineau Québec

Liberal

Justin Trudeau LiberalPrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, what happened is extremely troubling. That is why those involved reported what happened in a clear and open manner. The process was followed and now it is up to the office of the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada to determine what happens next. We take this kind of partisanship quite seriously. It has no place in our public service.

Access to InformationOral Questions

2:50 p.m.

Conservative

John Brassard Conservative Barrie—Innisfil, ON

Mr. Speaker, Mr. Val Trudeau, who has a last name that is investigated a lot around here, is the director at Shared Services who illegally deleted 398 pages of emails related to the Liberal Party from a government server. Trudeau is a Liberal Party association president. It is highly doubtful that the parliamentary secretary, a former national director of the Liberal Party, and a Liberal minister can independently investigate illegal activity by this Liberal activist. What are they covering up?

Will the Prime Minister commit today to have the director of public prosecutions investigation this?

Access to InformationOral Questions

2:50 p.m.

Papineau Québec

Liberal

Justin Trudeau LiberalPrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, we expect all employees to meet the highest level of ethical behaviour and decision-making as set out by the values and ethics code for the public sector.

Let me be clear, all rules should be appropriately followed at all times. Shared Services Canada took the situation very seriously, immediately launched an investigation, and notified the Information Commissioner. As is usual, this matter has now been referred to the Attorney General's office.

EthicsOral Questions

2:50 p.m.

Conservative

John Nater Conservative Perth—Wellington, ON

Mr. Speaker, maybe the Minister of Canadian Heritage should review the values and ethics code for the public service, especially the chapter on conflict of interest.

Once again, we see her staff being lobbied by their former employers. In fact, her chief of staff has been lobbied six times by Google Canada. The problem, Google Canada was her former employer. Anyone with a basic understanding of ethics would know this is a blatant conflict of interest.

Is the Prime Minister wilfully ignorant of the conflicts of interest within his own ministry, or does he just not care?

EthicsOral Questions

2:50 p.m.

Papineau Québec

Liberal

Justin Trudeau LiberalPrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, as we have said many times, creative industries are going through a period of disruption brought on by the digital shift.

The Minister of Canadian Heritage has met with all major digital platforms as part of our review of Canadian content in the digital age. The expertise and broad knowledge of her chief of staff in regard to the digital landscape is essential in our assessment of how best to support the sector during this transition. She has been fully transparent about her former employment with Google Canada, including with the Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner.

EthicsOral Questions

2:50 p.m.

Conservative

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

Mr. Speaker, what blatant partisanship.

In the wake of the conflicts of interest that the Liberal Party must justify day after day, there is yet another conflict involving the Minister of Canadian Heritage. Her current chief of staff, who worked at Google, has had many meetings with her former employer. Just as the Broadcasting Act is soon to undergo a full review, there is no better guidance than consulting the people who will benefit from it.

Will the Prime Minister and his ministers have to take an Ethics 101 course to ensure that the rules will be followed?

EthicsOral Questions

2:50 p.m.

Papineau Québec

Liberal

Justin Trudeau LiberalPrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, we all know that Canada's creative industries are facing serious obstacles brought on by the digital shift. The Minister of Canadian Heritage met with all major digital platforms as part of our review of Canadian content in the digital age. Her chief of staff's expertise and broad knowledge of the digital landscape are essential to our assessment of how best to support the sector during this transition. She has always been fully transparent about her former employer, Google Canada, including with the Ethics Commissioner—

EthicsOral Questions

2:55 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Geoff Regan

The hon. member for Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot.

Physician-Assisted DyingOral Questions

2:55 p.m.

NDP

Brigitte Sansoucy NDP Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot, QC

Mr. Speaker, yesterday we learned that two Quebeckers suffering from irremediable medical conditions and experiencing intolerable suffering have to go to court because they have been refused medical assistance in dying. However, they meet all the criteria set out by the Supreme Court in Carter. The problem is the physician-assisted dying legislation and its overly restrictive criterion concerning reasonably foreseeable natural death. This means that these individuals' rights were denied, and yet they are suffering.

What excuse is this government going to use again before really showing compassion?

Physician-Assisted DyingOral Questions

2:55 p.m.

Papineau Québec

Liberal

Justin Trudeau LiberalPrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, we passed a law that provides a regulatory framework for physician-assisted dying in Canada to protect the most vulnerable members of our society while respecting rights and the freedom to choose. Striking this balance is very important but also very delicate. We acknowledge that there is still work to do in society for this legislation to evolve, but we know that we have sought to strike the right balance between protecting the most vulnerable and respecting the freedom of choice and the decisions that Canadians can make. It is an important issue for society and for individuals, and we have found the right balance.

InfrastructureOral Questions

2:55 p.m.

NDP

Rachel Blaney NDP North Island—Powell River, BC

Mr. Speaker, I do not normally praise the Senate, but today senators are trying to separate the infrastructure bank from the Liberal omnibus budget bill.

This is exactly what the NDP tried to do in this place, but the Liberals blocked our attempts. Many experts, including the former parliamentary budget officer, have raised serious concerns about the Liberals' infrastructure bank.

Will the Prime Minister finally do the right thing and scrap the infrastructure bank from his omnibus bill?

InfrastructureOral Questions

2:55 p.m.

Papineau Québec

Liberal

Justin Trudeau LiberalPrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, we were the only party in the last election that committed to actually investing in the kinds of infrastructure that Canadians need. We know that proper investment in the future matters for public transit users, for social housing, and for green infrastructure that will protect people in the coming years.

We put forward $180 billion in infrastructure spending for the coming years. However, we recognize that even that is not enough. Being innovative about bringing forward new ways to find financing for the infrastructure that Canadians need to grow the economy and build for the future is something important that we have done.

Public SafetyOral Questions

2:55 p.m.

Conservative

Rob Nicholson Conservative Niagara Falls, ON

Mr. Speaker, the Liberals are going to end any prospect of the public child sex offender registry that was passed by this House two years ago becoming a reality. First they said they did not have any funds; now they just want it cancelled.

I am asking the Prime Minister to make the rights and interests of innocent and law-abiding Canadians the number one priority. What is the problem with that?

Public SafetyOral Questions

2:55 p.m.

Papineau Québec

Liberal

Justin Trudeau LiberalPrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, the safety of our children and our communities is a priority for this government, as it is for any Canadian government. There is no partisanship in this. That is why we recognize that we have a national flagging system created by the Chrétien government, we have a national sex offender registry created by the Martin government, and we look at the current proposal around a database that was proposed by the Harper government but not funded and not implemented. We are consulting with various community leaders, police groups, and protection-of-victims services to ensure that however we move forward, we are protecting victims and—

Public SafetyOral Questions

2:55 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Geoff Regan

The hon. member for Mégantic—L'Érable.

Public SafetyOral Questions

2:55 p.m.

Conservative

Luc Berthold Conservative Mégantic—L'Érable, QC

Mr. Speaker, he lists former prime ministers, but he has yet to accomplish a single thing. When the time comes to take concrete action to protect children, the Liberal government drops the ball by offloading its responsibilities onto the provinces.

We are seeing it with marijuana, with the Prime Minister's wanting to legalize pot possession for youth 12 to 18 years of age. We are seeing it with the pedophile registry, with the Liberals' wanting to deprive communities of the right to know when a sex offender moves to their neighbourhood.

When will the Prime Minister take his role seriously, protect our children and make the national sex offender registry available to parents?

Public SafetyOral Questions

2:55 p.m.

Papineau Québec

Liberal

Justin Trudeau LiberalPrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, anyone in the House who would suggest that one of us does not take the protection of our children and our communities seriously is not worthy of the House.

We all know that we must do everything we can to protect our communities and our young people, which is why we are moving forward with the control and regulation of marijuana, and why we are looking at proposals for child protection and are championing the national sex offender registry.

We know that it is a priority for everyone to protect—

Public SafetyOral Questions

3 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Geoff Regan

The hon. member for St. Albert—Edmonton.

JusticeOral Questions

3 p.m.

Conservative

Michael Cooper Conservative St. Albert—Edmonton, AB

Mr. Speaker, in minutes, this House will vote on a Liberal motion to defeat Wynn's law, a law that would close a Criminal Code loophole that cost the life of Constable Wynn. Wynn's law would simply require prosecutors to lead evidence of the criminal history of bail applicants so that what happened to Constable Wynn never happens again. How in good conscience can the Liberals oppose this?

JusticeOral Questions

3 p.m.

Papineau Québec

Liberal

Justin Trudeau LiberalPrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, again I extend my deepest sympathies to Constable David Wynn and especially his widow Shelly—

JusticeOral Questions

3 p.m.

Some hon. members

Oh, oh!

JusticeOral Questions

3 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Geoff Regan

Order. The Right Hon. Prime Minister.

JusticeOral Questions

3 p.m.

Liberal

Justin Trudeau Liberal Papineau, QC

Mr. Speaker, I extend my deepest condolences to the family of Constable David Wynn, including to his widow Shelly. I know the Minister of Justice and she had a good chat a number of months ago.

We took the proposal around Wynn's law and sent it to committee, where it was studied and where we heard experts on it. It was examined to see whether indeed it would do what it is purported to do. The committee made a determination, and we respect the work of committees to make exactly those kinds of determinations.

Families, Children and Social DevelopmentOral Questions

3 p.m.

Liberal

Sonia Sidhu Liberal Brampton South, ON

Mr. Speaker, families across Canada know the importance that child care has in their daily lives. From working parents to single parents to all manner of families, parents in my riding want to provide the best for their children, to contribute to their development and their communities, and to know their representative is a strong advocate for their priorities.

This is why on Monday I was very proud to see the federal government re-engage in early learning and child care across Canada with a $7.5 billion investment. Can the Prime Minister inform us on the next step he will be taking?

Families, Children and Social DevelopmentOral Questions

3 p.m.

Papineau Québec

Liberal

Justin Trudeau LiberalPrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, I thank the member for Brampton South for her question and for the hard work she does in her community and for families in her community.

Every child deserves access to quality early learning and child care. The framework signed this week will help more Canadian families have access to affordable, high-quality, flexible, and inclusive child care. It will focus on the most vulnerable children and ensure that more child care is language-appropriate for French and English minorities and culturally appropriate for indigenous children.

Our government is concentrating on finding real solutions for Canadians from coast to coast to coast. That is what we promised to Canadians. That is what we are delivering.

Persons with DisabilitiesOral Questions

3 p.m.

Conservative

Karen Vecchio Conservative Elgin—Middlesex—London, ON

Mr. Speaker, on May 18, the Liberal House leader's parliamentary secretary stood in this House and said this:

I cannot say enough about the Canada autism partnership and what it has been able to accomplish to date. I applaud each and every person involved in that.

However, on May 30, that same member stood in solidarity with his Liberal colleagues and opposed the Canadian autism partnership and the interests of Canadians living with autism.

What did the Prime Minister say to make the parliamentary secretary vote against the very existence of the organization he praised less than two weeks earlier?

Persons with DisabilitiesOral Questions

3 p.m.

Papineau Québec

Liberal

Justin Trudeau LiberalPrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, we recognize that autism spectrum disorder has a significant and lifelong impact on individuals and families. Federal investments in research, data improvement, surveillance, and training skills are supporting those with autism and their families.

There is an extraordinary network of stakeholders across the country raising awareness and providing services to families. Our government will continue to support these efforts through our programs. Through the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, the Government of Canada has invested more than $39 million in autism research over the past five years. We will continue to work with communities and parents—

Persons with DisabilitiesOral Questions

3 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Geoff Regan

The hon. member for Longueuil—Saint-Hubert.

Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications CommissionOral Questions

3:05 p.m.

NDP

Pierre Nantel NDP Longueuil—Saint-Hubert, QC

Mr. Speaker, a coalition has formed against the CRTC’s decision on French-language content. Today I expect an answer from the member for Papineau, not because it is Wednesday, but because the Prime Minister’s Office has met with Bell lobbyists more often than has the Minister of Canadian Heritage. Perhaps that explains why she has been silent on this issue.

After all these meetings with Bell and Corus Media, specifically on broadcasting, can the Prime Minister tell this coalition from the cultural community that he will stand with them and overturn this bad decision? This is the third time I have asked the government: will it send this decision back to the CRTC, yes or no?

Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications CommissionOral Questions

3:05 p.m.

Papineau Québec

Liberal

Justin Trudeau LiberalPrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, our government firmly believes in the importance of arts and culture. That is why we invested more than $1.9 billion in this area, the largest investment in the past 30 years.

We did so because we know that arts and culture are key drivers of our economy and our identity. We are currently studying the impacts of the CRTC’s decision.

EmploymentOral Questions

3:05 p.m.

Liberal

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

Mr. Speaker, our government is committed to strengthening the middle class and growing our economy. Last week, published data showed, once again, that our plan was working. Indeed, the employment statistics have been most welcome news, especially for Quebeckers.

I would like the Prime Minister to tell the House what the employment statistics have shown.

EmploymentOral Questions

3:05 p.m.

Papineau Québec

Liberal

Justin Trudeau LiberalPrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the member for Avignon—La Mitis—Matane—Matapédia for his question and his leadership in the Quebec caucus.

Canadians elected our government to grow the economy and create good jobs. Over the last six months, the economy created over 250,000 full-time jobs, showing the best growth in 15 years. In Quebec, the unemployment rate fell from 6.6% to 6%. It is at its lowest level since 1976.

Our plan is working, and we will continue to invest in Canadian workers in order to grow the economy in the long term.

Persons with DisabilitiesOral Questions

3:05 p.m.

Conservative

Mike Lake Conservative Edmonton—Wetaskiwin, AB

Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister keeps pointing to research funding as cover for not supporting the Canadian autism partnership. Does he understand how ridiculous this is?

Four members of the partnership working group are among the world's top autism researchers: Lonnie Zwaigenbaum from the University of Alberta, Stelios Georgiades from McMaster University, Jonathan Weiss from York University, and Stephen Scherer from SickKids. These researchers want their research to actually be used to benefit Canadian families who desperately need it.

When will the Prime Minister stop hiding behind our world-class researchers and support them in helping Canadians with autism?

Persons with DisabilitiesOral Questions

3:05 p.m.

Papineau Québec

Liberal

Justin Trudeau LiberalPrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, on the contrary, we are happy to support our world-class researchers in a broad range of issues on autism. This government, through the Canadian Institutes for Health Research, has invested more than $39 million in autism research over the past five years. We will continue to work with community leaders, continue to work with stakeholders, and continue to work with families to address the very real challenges faced by people and families living with autism. That is a commitment we are continuing to make in our commitment to research, our commitment to families, and our commitment to helping Canadians live better lives.

The EnvironmentOral Questions

3:05 p.m.

Green

Elizabeth May Green Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

Mr. Speaker, now that the Prime Minister has clarified, for the second time, the Der Spiegel story and has clearly said that he never asked Chancellor Merkel to remove references to the Paris accord from the G20 summit declaration, let me flip it to the affirmative and ask the Prime Minister to confirm that Canada will stand with Germany and insist that commitment to the Paris accord be in the G20 final declaration.

The EnvironmentOral Questions

3:05 p.m.

Papineau Québec

Liberal

Justin Trudeau LiberalPrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, yes, we will. We remain steadfastly committed to the Paris accords. Our environment minister and our government were instrumental in making sure that the Paris accords became a reality. We will continue to push for the respect and the support for Paris in the G7 communiqué, as we did, and also in the G20 coming in Hamburg.

I would like to take this moment also to congratulate the Conservative Party for recognizing that climate change is real and for supporting the Paris accords as well. It is an important moment for Canada as we see unanimously the need to move forward with real action to reduce our carbon emissions.

I look forward to hearing—

The EnvironmentOral Questions

3:05 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Geoff Regan

This concludes oral question period.

The hon. member for Mégantic—L'Érable on a point of order.

Oral questionsPoints of OrderOral Questions

3:05 p.m.

Conservative

Luc Berthold Conservative Mégantic—L'Érable, QC

Mr. Speaker, during question period, I raised some real concerns about the sex offender registry, as expressed by constituents of Mégantic—L'Érable. In response, the Prime Minister stated that I was not worthy of a seat in the House. I find those remarks to be clearly unparliamentary; in my view, they are an insult to the voters who elected me.

Oral questionsPoints of OrderOral Questions

3:05 p.m.

Some hon. members

Oh, oh!

Oral questionsPoints of OrderOral Questions

3:10 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Geoff Regan

Order.

I would ask the member for Banff—Airdrie to restrain himself or go to the lobby if he cannot. Otherwise, he will be asked to leave.

I thank the hon. member for Mégantic—L'Érable for raising the question. I will consult Hansard and come back to the House if necessary.

The House resumed from June 7 consideration of the motion that Bill C-243, An Act respecting the development of a national maternity assistance program strategy, be read the third time and passed.

National Maternity Assistance Program Strategy ActPrivate Members' Business

3:10 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Geoff Regan

It being 3:11 p.m., pursuant to order made on Tuesday, May 30, the House will now proceed to the taking of the deferred recorded division on the motion at third reading stage of Bill C-243, under private members' business.

Call in the members.

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

Vote #319

National Maternity Assistance Program Strategy ActPrivate Members' Business

3:20 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Geoff Regan

I declare the motion carried.

(Bill read the third time and passed)

The House resumed from June 13 consideration of the motion, and of the amendment.

Opposition Motion—Appointments CommitteeBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

3:20 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Geoff Regan

Pursuant to order made on Tuesday, June 13, the House will now proceed to the taking of the deferred recorded division on the amendment to the motion.

The question is on the amendment. Shall I dispense?

Opposition Motion—Appointments CommitteeBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

3:20 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

No.

Opposition Motion—Appointments CommitteeBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

3:20 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Geoff Regan

[Chair read text of amendment to House]

(The House divided on the amendment, which was negatived on the following division:)

Vote #320

Business of SupplyGovernment Orders

3:30 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Geoff Regan

I declare the amendment defeated.

The next question is on the main motion. Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?

Business of SupplyGovernment Orders

3:30 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Nay.

Business of SupplyGovernment Orders

3:30 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Geoff Regan

All those in favour of the motion will please say yea.

Business of SupplyGovernment Orders

3:30 p.m.

Some hon. members

Yea.

Business of SupplyGovernment Orders

3:30 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Geoff Regan

All those opposed will please say nay.

Business of SupplyGovernment Orders

3:30 p.m.

Some hon. members

Nay.

Business of SupplyGovernment Orders

3:30 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Geoff Regan

In my opinion, the nays have it.

And five or more members having risen:

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

Vote #321

Business of SupplyGovernment Orders

3:40 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Geoff Regan

I declare the motion defeated.

The House resumed from June 13 consideration of the motion.

Justice and Human RightsCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

3:40 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Geoff Regan

Pursuant to order made on Tuesday, May 30, the House will now proceed to the taking of the deferred recorded division on the motion to concur in the 11th report of the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights regarding the recommendation not to proceed further with Bill S-217.

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

Vote #322

Committees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

3:50 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Geoff Regan

I declare the motion carried.

Accordingly, pursuant to Standing Order 97.1(2)(d), the proceedings on the bill shall come to an end.

Foreign AffairsRoutine Proceedings

3:50 p.m.

Fredericton New Brunswick

Liberal

Matt DeCourcey LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Foreign Affairs

Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 32(2) I have the honour to table, in both official languages, the 2015-2016 Progress Report - Canada's National Action Plan for the Implementation of the United Nations Security Council Resolutions on Women, Peace and Security.

Government Response to PetitionsRoutine Proceedings

3:50 p.m.

Winnipeg North Manitoba

Liberal

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

Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 36(8) I have the honour to table, in both official languages, the government's response to 17 petitions.

Interparliamentary DelegationsRoutine Proceedings

3:50 p.m.

Liberal

John Oliver Liberal Oakville, ON

Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 34(1), I have the honour to present to the House, in both official languages, the report of the Canadian delegation of the Canada-Europe Parliamentary Association respecting its parliamentary mission to the Republic of Estonia, the next country to hold the rotating presidency of the Council of the European Union, and its participation at the second part of the 2017 session of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe in Strasbourg, France, from April 19 to 28, 2017.

Procedure and House AffairsCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

3:55 p.m.

Liberal

Larry Bagnell Liberal Yukon, YT

Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the 33rd report of the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs.

The committee advises that, pursuant to Standing Order 91.1(2), the Subcommittee on Private Members' Business met to consider the order of the second reading of private members' bills introduced in the Senate and recommended that the item listed herein, which it has determined should not be designated non-votable, be considered by the House.

Procedure and House AffairsCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

3:55 p.m.

Liberal

The Assistant Deputy Speaker Liberal Anthony Rota

Pursuant to Standing Order 91.1(2), the report is deemed adopted.

Foreign Affairs and International DevelopmentCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

3:55 p.m.

Liberal

Bob Nault Liberal Kenora, ON

Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the 11th report of the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Development. It is entitled “Scorched Earth: Responding to Conflict, Human Rights Violations and Manmade Humanitarian Catastrophe in South Sudan”.

Pursuant to Standing Order 109, the committee requests that the government table a comprehensive response to this report.

Navigation Protection ActRoutine Proceedings

3:55 p.m.

NDP

Richard Cannings NDP South Okanagan—West Kootenay, BC

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-360, An Act to amend the Navigation Protection Act (certain lakes and rivers in British Columbia).

Mr. Speaker, I am very happy to introduce my bill here and I thank my colleague from Kootenay—Columbia for seconding it. It is a bill that would restore protection to all the lakes and rivers in my riding that were protected under the Navigable Waters Protection Act, but were stripped of that under the Navigation Protection Act in the previous Parliament. The Liberal government promised to repeal these measures in the last election, but has since reneged on that promise. Through the bill, I hope the Liberals will change their course of action.

The bill would restore protection for the Okanagan River, which is home to the greatest success story in salmon-run restoration in the country; for the Kettle and Granby rivers that flow through Boundary Country; for the Slocan River, one of the most beautiful rivers on the continent; and for lakes such as Skaha, Vaseux, one of the first federal bird sanctuaries, Osoyoos, and Slocan. All of these waterways and more are at the heart of South Okanagan—West Kootenay, and they fully deserve the protection they once had.

(Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed)

Industry, Science and TechnologyCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

3:55 p.m.

Winnipeg North Manitoba

Liberal

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

Mr. Speaker, there have been discussions among the parties, and if you seek it, you will find unanimous consent for the following motion:

Motion

That the Standing Committee on Industry, Science and Technology be the committee designated for the purposes of clause 65 of An Act to promote the efficiency and adaptability of the Canadian economy by regulating certain activities that discourage reliance on electronic means of carrying out commercial activities, and to amend the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission Act, the Competition Act, the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act and the Telecommunications Act.

Industry, Science and TechnologyCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

3:55 p.m.

Liberal

The Assistant Deputy Speaker Liberal Anthony Rota

Does the hon. parliamentary secretary to the government House leader have the permission of the House to propose the motion?

Industry, Science and TechnologyCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

3:55 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Industry, Science and TechnologyCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

3:55 p.m.

Liberal

The Assistant Deputy Speaker Liberal Anthony Rota

The House has heard the terms of the motion. Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?

Industry, Science and TechnologyCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

3:55 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Industry, Science and TechnologyCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

3:55 p.m.

Liberal

The Assistant Deputy Speaker Liberal Anthony Rota

(Motion agreed to)

Guaranteed Annual IncomePetitionsRoutine Proceedings

3:55 p.m.

Liberal

Robert-Falcon Ouellette Liberal Winnipeg Centre, MB

Mr. Speaker, I am presenting a petition on behalf of 2,546 constituents who have signed e-petition 211. It concerns a guaranteed annual income. They believe a guaranteed annual income in Canada would help not only to eradicate poverty but would allow individuals the opportunity to use that income to become successful. They highlight the idea of Dauphin, Manitoba, which had a minimum income pilot project in the 1970s, which has been studied quite extensively by researchers at the University of Manitoba.

Tuition and Public TransitPetitionsRoutine Proceedings

4 p.m.

Liberal

Fayçal El-Khoury Liberal Laval—Les Îles, QC

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to present a petition signed by 648 citizens of Laval. The petitioners are calling on the Government of Canada to reverse its decision to abolish the tuition and public transit tax credits.

Electoral ReformPetitionsRoutine Proceedings

4 p.m.

Green

Elizabeth May Green Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

Mr. Speaker, I rise to present two petitions. My constituents in the riding of Saanich—Gulf Islands call on the House to take action and amend the Canada Elections Act to ensure that proportional representation becomes our voting system to ensure Canadian elections result in a democratically elected House that reflects the way the citizens of our country have actually voted.

Security CertificatesPetitionsRoutine Proceedings

4 p.m.

Green

Elizabeth May Green Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

Mr. Speaker, the second petition deals with the issue of security certificates. Again, this is from residents of Saanich—Gulf Islands. They call on the Government of Canada to end the use of security certificates as inherently open to abuse and violating an individual's right to a fair trial.

Abandoned VesselsPetitionsRoutine Proceedings

4 p.m.

NDP

Sheila Malcolmson NDP Nanaimo—Ladysmith, BC

Mr. Speaker, I rise once again to bring voices from coastal B.C. to Parliament in support of a solution to the long-standing problem of abandoned vessels. They risk oil spills, put at risk local jobs, and risk our environment across the country.

Let us end the runaround and make the Coast Guard responsible for first action on abandoned vessels. Let us fix vessel registration to get the costs off taxpayers. Let us build a coast-wide strategy, co-operating with provinces and local governments. Let us act before vessels sink. Let us create good green jobs by supporting recycling and local salvage companies.

The petition is signed by people from Gabriola Island, Victoria, Nanaimo, and all of the directors of the Regional District of Nanaimo signing as individuals. I am honoured to have the support of many local governments for my legislation, Bill C-352. We know $1 million a year, as announced by the government this month, is inadequate to deal with the thousands of abandoned vessels left on all three of Canada's coasts.

Palliative CarePetitionsRoutine Proceedings

4 p.m.

Conservative

Candice Bergen Conservative Portage—Lisgar, MB

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to present a petition on behalf of my constituents that calls on the government to recognize the importance of palliative care, when people are at their end of life, for the help and support that palliative care provides. Petitioners specifically ask that palliative care be defined as a medical service covered under the Canada Health Act so that provincial and territorial governments would be entitled to funds under the Canada health transfer system to be used to provide accessible and available hospice palliative care for all residents of Canada in their respective provinces and territories.

150th Anniversary of ConfederationPetitionsRoutine Proceedings

4 p.m.

Conservative

Peter Van Loan Conservative York—Simcoe, ON

Mr. Speaker, the Liberal war on history continues to prompt many petitions to my office. I rise today to present petitions from four Canadian historical societies stating they want history to be respected and celebrated during the 150th anniversary of Confederation, which as we know the government has not chosen to allow as a theme.

The members and visitors of the Elbow and District Museum in Elbow, Saskatchewan, have expressed their support for the government to include Confederation as a theme of Canada 150. The Elbow museum recounts the life of immigrants to the Prairies in the 1900s coming via Sir John A. Macdonald's railroad to settle the west.

Members of the Trail Historical Society have signed the petition and are also asking the government to keep Confederation in Canada 150. The former mining settlement grew with the development of a smelter servicing the Canadian Pacific Railway, one of the projects central to the legacy of Sir John A. Macdonald. Today, the legacy of this early project of Confederation plays a central role in Trail's heritage.

Members of the Thornhill historical foundation are calling on the government to restore Confederation as a theme of Canada 150. Father of Confederation, William Pearce Howland represented part of Thornhill as a member of Parliament in 1867.

I have a petition from the Antigonish historical society. Father of Confederation, William Alexander Henry grew up in Antigonish. He stood as a Liberal and became a Conservative. He originally opposed Confederation, but ultimately became a supporter after attending the Charlottetown conference. His ability to see the light and change his mind should be an inspiration to the government in encouraging it to change its mind, end the Liberal war on history, and make Confederation a theme of the 150th anniversary of Confederation.

Questions on the Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

4:05 p.m.

Winnipeg North Manitoba

Liberal

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

Mr. Speaker, the following questions will be answered today: Questions Nos. 987, 991, and 995.

Question No. 987Questions on the Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

4:05 p.m.

Conservative

Arnold Viersen Conservative Peace River—Westlock, AB

With regard to Bill C-38, An Act to amend An Act to amend the Criminal Code (exploitation and trafficking in persons) and former private Member's Bill C-452, An Act to amend the Criminal Code (exploitation and trafficking in persons): (a) did the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada undertake consultations with non-government stakeholders; (b) did the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada or any of her officials undertake consultations with any other federal department or agency; (c) if the answer to (a) or (b) is affirmative, (i) what are the names of the persons or organizations consulted, (ii) when were they consulted, (iii) what were the results of the consultations; and (d) on what evidence was the decision to eliminate the mandatory consecutive-sentencing provision (section 3) based?

Question No. 987Questions on the Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

4:05 p.m.

Vancouver Granville B.C.

Liberal

Jody Wilson-Raybould LiberalMinister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada

Mr. Speaker, Bill C-38, An Act to amend an Act to amend the Criminal Code (exploitation and trafficking in persons) was introduced on February 9, 2017.

Human trafficking is a very serious criminal offence, and the government is committed to strengthening its efforts to combat it and better protect its victims.

The legislation proposes to give law enforcement and prosecutors new tools to investigate and prosecute certain human trafficking offences that can be particularly difficult to prove. Human trafficking is a hidden crime, which makes it very difficult to detect, investigate and prosecute.

In drafting Bill C-38, the Minister of Justice benefited from the parliamentary record developed from former private member’s Bill C-452, which went through the entire parliamentary process. Bill C-38 would bring into force former Bill C-452, with amendments to ensure consistency with the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

For more information on Bill C-38, An Act to amend An Act to amend the Criminal Code (exploitation and trafficking in persons), members may consult the charter statement that was tabled in the House of Commons on February 9, 2017. It is available on Justice Canada’s website at http://www.justice.gc.ca/ eng/csj-sjc/pl/charter-charte/c38.html.

Question No. 991Questions on the Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

4:05 p.m.

Conservative

Len Webber Conservative Calgary Confederation, AB

With regard to the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between Canada and China regarding a collaboration to tackle illegal shipments of opioids and their analogues, as mentioned in the government response to the Sixth Report of the Standing Committee on Health entitled “Report and Recommendations on the Opioid Crisis in Canada”, (i) when was this MOU signed, (ii) who signed the MOU and in what capacity, (iii) was a Minister of the Crown consulted before it was signed, (iv) over what period of time did the MOU negotiations take place, (v) how much funding has been allocated to the implementation of the MOU and from what funding envelope, (iv) when does the MOU expire?

Question No. 991Questions on the Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

4:05 p.m.

Regina—Wascana Saskatchewan

Liberal

Ralph Goodale LiberalMinister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness

Mr. Speaker, with regard to (i), the memorandum of understanding, or MOU, between Canada and China was signed on September 22, 2016.

With regard to (ii), the signatories were the Hon. Ralph Goodale, Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness, and His Excellency Luo Zhaohui, Ambassador of the People's Republic of China.

With regard to (iii), the MOU was reviewed and approved by Global Affairs Canada prior to signature, as per the ministerial directive on RCMP agreements and the RCMP administrative manual policy for arrangements.

With regard to (iv), MOU negotiations took approximately two years, beginning in 2014.

With regard to (v), there is no specific funding allocated to the implementation of the MOU. However, targeting illicit opioids has been established as a federal policing national priority. Part of the RCMP’s funding for activities in this regard is allocated from the Canadian drugs and substances strategy, formerly the national anti-drug strategy.

With regard to the last point, the MOU is in effect for five years and will expire on September 22, 2021.

Question No. 995Questions on the Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

4:05 p.m.

NDP

Daniel Blaikie NDP Elmwood—Transcona, MB

With respect to the salary increase for RCMP members announced by the Minister for Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness on April 5, 2017: (a) what is the definition of a “market adjustment”; (b) how does a “market adjustment” differ from a “salary increase”, for example (i) is a “market adjustment” increase pensionable, (ii) is a “market adjustment” increase counted in the calculation of all benefits just as a “salary increase” would be, (iii) what is the process for rescinding a “market adjustment” as opposed to implementing a salary decrease, (iv) what are any other differences between a “market adjustment” and a “salary increase”; and (c) why did the government decide on a “market adjustment“ instead of a further salary increase?

Question No. 995Questions on the Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

4:05 p.m.

Vancouver Quadra B.C.

Liberal

Joyce Murray LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the President of the Treasury Board

Mr. Speaker, with regard to (a), in the current round of negotiations, settlements have been based on 1.25% annual economic increases. A number of groups represented by different bargaining agents have received additional amounts in consideration of the specific circumstances of the group.

In the context of the current round of negotiations, a ‘market adjustment’ has been used as an informal term to distinguish salary increases provided in response to group-specific circumstances from the pattern 1.25% annual economic increase. For example, a salary increase provided to address group-specific internal or external comparability issues or to address recruitment and retention pressures has been typically termed a ‘market adjustment’.

With regard to (b), the 2.3% market adjustment provided to the RCMP is a salary increase. The 2.3% increase was termed a ‘market adjustment’ to recognize that it was paid in addition to the 1.25% economic increases to align RCMP members’ total compensation with that of the eight police forces in Canada used for compensation comparability purposes.

With regard to (b)(i), the 2.3% market adjustment provided to the RCMP is pensionable, as it is a salary increase. ¸

With regard to (b)(ii), the 2.3% market adjustment provided to the RCMP will be counted in the calculation of benefits just as a salary increase would be.

With regard to (b)(iii), generally speaking, since the net effect of a market adjustment is the same as a salary increase, the process for rescinding a market adjustment would be the same as applying a salary reduction. However, there are no plans to rescind either the market adjustment or salary increases for RCMP members.

Should a bargaining agent representing RCMP members become certified, salaries and market adjustments, as key elements of the terms and conditions of employment, would need to be negotiated in the course of a collective bargaining process.

With regard to (b)(iv), there are none.

With regard to (c), in the case of the RCMP, it was determined that following the retroactive 1.25% salary increases effective January 1, 2015, and January 1, 2016, an additional 2.3% market adjustment was warranted to align RCMP compensation with what is provided to the eight comparable police forces in Canada. These comparators provide local police services for a large majority of the Canadian population. It was termed a ‘market adjustment’ to distinguish it from the 1.25% annual economic increases that have been included in settlements to date.

The 2.3% market adjustment is not a separate payment or allowance. It will be applied to members’ salaries in the same manner as the salary increases. The full amount of the market adjustment is pensionable and will be included in the calculation of benefits based upon the rate of pay.

Questions Passed as Orders for ReturnRoutine Proceedings

4:05 p.m.

Winnipeg North Manitoba

Liberal

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

Furthermore, if the government's response to Questions Nos. 986, 988 to 990, 992 to 994, and 996 to 999 could be made orders for return, these returns would be tabled immediately.

Questions Passed as Orders for ReturnRoutine Proceedings

4:05 p.m.

Liberal

The Assistant Deputy Speaker Liberal Anthony Rota

Is that agreed?

Questions Passed as Orders for ReturnRoutine Proceedings

4:05 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Question No. 986Questions Passed as Orders for ReturnRoutine Proceedings

4:05 p.m.

Conservative

Arnold Viersen Conservative Peace River—Westlock, AB

With regard to meetings held by the Minister of Indigenous and Northern Affairs with the over 600 First Nations, the Métis Nation, and Inuit communities since November 4, 2015: (a) how many meetings has the Minister held, broken down by (i) date, (ii) location, (iii) name and title of the First Nation, Métis Nation, or Inuit community, (iv) attendees, (v) recommendations that were made to the Minister; and (b) what are the details of any briefing notes or correspondence related to the meetings referred to in (a), including the (i) title, (ii) date, (iii) sender, (iv) recipient, (v) subject matter, (vi) file number?

(Return tabled)

Question No. 988Questions Passed as Orders for ReturnRoutine Proceedings

4:05 p.m.

Green

Elizabeth May Green Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

With regard to the Safe Foods for Canadians Regulations published in the Gazette, Vol. 151, No. 3 — January 21, 2017, what are the details, including but not limited to the (i) date, (ii) sender, (iii) recipient, (iv) title of: (a) any correspondence, reports, or documents prepared to brief the Agriculture and Agri-Food Minister’s office related to drafting and publicizing the Regulations; (b) any correspondence, reports, or documents prepared to brief the Health Minister’s office related to drafting and publicizing the Regulations; (c) any correspondence, reports, or documents prepared to brief the President of the Canadian Food Inspection Agency related to drafting and publicizing the Regulations; and (d) any correspondence, reports, or documents relating to the background research, content, and drafting of section 68(4), “Water given to food animals”, of the Regulations?

(Return tabled)

Question No. 989Questions Passed as Orders for ReturnRoutine Proceedings

4:05 p.m.

Conservative

Alex Nuttall Conservative Barrie—Springwater—Oro-Medonte, ON

With regard to the Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development’s ‘Innovation Agenda’ as published by the ‘Innovation Leaders’ titled “Innovation for a Better Canada, What We Heard” and all related events: (a) who was paid $1,990.21 to translate the document; (b) what are the costs of travel for the ten ‘Innovation Leaders’, broken down by (i) individual, (ii) round table location; (c) why were no travel costs incurred when the group travelled to the UK; (d) for each round table held by the ‘Innovation Leaders’, what are the details for meals and incidentals, broken down by (i) individual, (ii) round table location; (e) for each round table held by the ‘Innovation Leaders’, what are the details for lodging costs, broken down by (i) individual, (ii) round table location; and (f) what are the details for rental space costs, broken down by each of the 28 events?

(Return tabled)

Question No. 990Questions Passed as Orders for ReturnRoutine Proceedings

4:05 p.m.

Green

Elizabeth May Green Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

With regard to the United States’ continuing compliance with the Safe Third Country Agreement cited by the Minister of Immigration, Citizenship and Refugees in an interview with the CBC published March 14, 2017: (a) what are the details of any briefing notes related to this determination provided to (i) the Minister of Immigration, Citizenship and refugees, (ii) the Prime Minister; (b) with respect to the Minister’s summary of the Government's assertion that the United States, under the new administration’s Executive Order dated March 6, 2017, continues to ‘meet and comply with international standards’ what evidence does the Department have that (i) the terms of the Executive Order will not lead to the United States violating the non-refoulement requirement of the 1951 Refugee Convention, (ii) the terms of the Executive Order will not lead to the United States violating any other policies and practices with respect to claims under the 1951 Refugee Convention and obligations under the 1984 Convention Against Torture, (iii) the terms of the Executive Order will not lead to the US failing to provide a “meaningful opportunity to apply for asylum” as required, (iv) the United States remains a safe country where there exists systematic, predictable, and legally compliant enforcement of asylum; and (c) what are the details of any other relevant information regarding the evaluation of the United States under the Minister’s review obligation in s.101(3) of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act?

(Return tabled)

Question No. 992Questions Passed as Orders for ReturnRoutine Proceedings

4:05 p.m.

NDP

Brigitte Sansoucy NDP Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot, QC

With regard to the Skills Link program: (a) what is the program’s total budget since 2015, broken down by (i) calendar year, (ii) constituency; (b) what is the program’s total budget per constituency for 2015, 2016 and 2017; and (c) what are the criteria for determining the amount allocated to an applicant?

(Return tabled)

Question No. 993Questions Passed as Orders for ReturnRoutine Proceedings

4:05 p.m.

NDP

Brigitte Sansoucy NDP Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot, QC

With regard to the constituency of Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot and the Canada 150 Community Infrastructure Program, between the program’s launch on January 1, 2015 and April 13, 2017: (a) which proposals have been submitted from the constituency; and (b) which proposals have been approved?

(Return tabled)

Question No. 994Questions Passed as Orders for ReturnRoutine Proceedings

4:05 p.m.

NDP

Brigitte Sansoucy NDP Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot, QC

With regard to federal spending in the constituency of Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot in fiscal year 2016-2017: what grants, loans, contributions and contracts were awarded by the government, broken down by (i) department and agency, (ii) municipality, (iii) name of recipient, (iv) amount received, (v) program under which expenditure was allocated, (vi) date?

(Return tabled)

Question No. 996Questions Passed as Orders for ReturnRoutine Proceedings

4:05 p.m.

NDP

Alexandre Boulerice NDP Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie, QC

With regard to the Prime Minister’s and other Cabinet Ministers' private meetings with the American asset management firm BlackRock: (a) what is the list of government officials, cabinet ministers, public office holders, and staff who attended the meeting held on November 14, 2016, at Toronto’s Shangri-La Hotel; (b) what is the complete list of financial institutions, pension funds, sovereign funds, and other financial entities, and the names of their representatives, that attended the meeting in (a); (c) what are the details of the agenda for the meeting in (a); (d) what were the total expenditures of the government associated with the meeting in (a), broken down by (i) cost for renting the rooms, (ii) cost for food and drinks, (iii) cost for security; (e) how many meetings has the Prime Minister had with BlackRock executives or employees since November 1, 2015, and what are the details of these meetings, broken down by (i) meetings held in person or by teleconference, (ii) locations and times of all meetings, broken down by meeting, (iii) costs associated with all meetings, broken down by meeting; (f) how many meetings has the Minister of Finance had with BlackRock executives or employees since November 1, 2015, and what are the details of these meetings, broken down by (i) meetings held in person or by teleconference, (ii) locations and times of all meetings, broken down by meeting, (iii) costs associated with all meetings, broken down by meeting; (g) how many meetings has the Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development had with BlackRock executives or employees since November 1, 2015, and what are the details of these meetings, broken down by (i) meetings held in person or by teleconference, (ii) locations and times of all meetings, broken down by meeting, (iii) costs associated with all meetings, broken down by meeting; (h) how many meetings has the Minister of Environment and Climate Change had with BlackRock executives or employees since November 1, 2015, and what are the details of these meetings, broken down by (i) meetings held in person or by teleconference, (ii) locations and times of all meetings, broken down by meeting, (iii) costs associated with all meetings, broken down by meeting; (i) have any other Cabinet Ministers had meetings with BlackRock executives or employees and, if so, how many times have they met with BlackRock executives or employees since November 1, 2015, and what are the details of these meetings, broken down by (i) meetings held in person or by teleconference, (ii) locations and times of all meetings, broken down by meeting, (iii) costs associated with all meetings, broken down by meeting; and (j) how many meetings have the staff and designated public office holders from the Office of the Prime Minister had with BlackRock executives or employees since November 1, 2015, and what are the details of these meetings, broken down by (i) meetings held in person or by teleconference, (ii) locations and times of all meetings, broken down by meeting, (iii) costs associated with all meetings, broken down by meeting?

(Return tabled)

Question No. 997Questions Passed as Orders for ReturnRoutine Proceedings

4:05 p.m.

NDP

Brigitte Sansoucy NDP Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot, QC

With respect to the Minister of Families, Children and Social Development’s mandate letter and, in particular, the expectation to “undertake a broad review of the EI system with the goal of modernizing our system of income support for unemployed workers that leaves too many workers with no unemployment insurance safety net”: (a) what (i) consultations, (ii) steps, (iii) discussions, have been carried out by the Minister with non governmental stakeholders to modernize the EI system; (b) what (i) consultations, (ii) steps, (iii) discussions, have been carried out with stakeholders by the Minister, his officials, any other minister or any other officials; (c) what was the outcome of these (i) consultations, (ii) steps, (iii) discussions; (d) when does the government expect to undertake a broad review of the EI system with the goal of modernizing our system of income support for unemployed workers; (e) what is the timeframe for the review in (d); and (f) when will the findings of this broad review in (d) be tabled in Parliament?

(Return tabled)

Question No. 998Questions Passed as Orders for ReturnRoutine Proceedings

4:05 p.m.

Conservative

Kelly McCauley Conservative Edmonton West, AB

With regard to the secretariat supporting the Senate Advisory Board within the Privy Council Office: (a) what are the full job descriptions as they are written for each job posting within the secretariat; (b) what is the pay scale, occupational group and level of the positions being filled in the secretariat; (c) what is the budget for the occupational group assigned to the secretariat; (d) how much has been spent by the secretariat, broken down by (i) accommodation, (ii) travel, (iii) per diems, (iv) incidentals, (v) office renovation, (vi) office set-up; and (e) how much has been budgeted for the support group to the Senate selection group?

(Return tabled)

Question No. 999Questions Passed as Orders for ReturnRoutine Proceedings

4:05 p.m.

Conservative

Pierre Poilievre Conservative Carleton, ON

With regard to the number of Canadians with disabilities and disabled persons employed in the federal public service: (a) what is the percentage of public servants who are disabled versus the percentage of the overall Canadian workforce that is disabled; (b) what is the percentage of public servants who are disabled versus the percentage of private sector employees who are disabled; (c) how many disabled people have gone from being unemployed to employed after the intervention of any federally-funded employment program, in the most recent reporting year; (d) what is the average increase in wages earned by disabled people after receiving the federally-funded employment assistance programs referred to in (c); (e) how many disabled people went from unemployed to employed as a result of the funds provided through the Labour Market Agreements for Persons with Disabilities, broken down by province, in the most recent reporting year; and (f) how many disabled people went from unemployed to employed as a result of the funds provided through the Opportunities Fund, broken down by province, in the most recent reporting year?

(Return tabled)

Questions Passed as Orders for ReturnRoutine Proceedings

4:05 p.m.

Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux Liberal Winnipeg North, MB

Mr. Speaker, I would ask that all questions be allowed to stand.

Questions Passed as Orders for ReturnRoutine Proceedings

4:05 p.m.

Liberal

The Assistant Deputy Speaker Liberal Anthony Rota

Is that agreed?

Questions Passed as Orders for ReturnRoutine Proceedings

4:05 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Motions for PapersRoutine Proceedings

4:05 p.m.

Winnipeg North Manitoba

Liberal

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

Mr. Speaker, I would ask that all notices of motions for the production of papers be allowed to stand.

Motions for PapersRoutine Proceedings

4:05 p.m.

Liberal

The Assistant Deputy Speaker Liberal Anthony Rota

Is that agreed?

Motions for PapersRoutine Proceedings

4:05 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Opposition Motion—Tougher Penalties for Child Predators ActBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

4:05 p.m.

Liberal

The Assistant Deputy Speaker Liberal Anthony Rota

Since today is the final allotted day for the supply period ending June 23, 2017, the House will go through the usual procedures to consider and dispose of the supply bills. In view of recent practices, do hon. members agree that the bills be distributed now?

Opposition Motion—Tougher Penalties for Child Predators ActBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

4:05 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Opposition Motion—Tougher Penalties for Child Predators ActBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

4:05 p.m.

Conservative

Rob Nicholson Conservative Niagara Falls, ON

moved:

That the House:

(a) acknowledge that Bill C-26, Tougher Penalties for Child Predators Act, received Royal Assent on June 18, 2015;

(b) acknowledge that through two federal budget cycles, the current government has failed to fund and implement this Act, as passed two years ago;

(c) agree on the public safety importance of a publicly accessible high risk child sex offender registry database; and

(d) re-affirm that Canadian citizens have the right to know about dangerous and high risk child sex offenders living in their community and neighbourhood for the purpose of protecting their children, families, and loved ones;

accordingly, the House call upon the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness to fully implement Bill C-26, Tougher Penalties for Child Predators Act.

Mr. Speaker, I have the honour of sharing my time with the member for St. Albert—Edmonton.

Under our Conservative government, Bill C-26, also known as the Tougher Penalties for Child Predators Act, received royal assent on June 18, 2015. That was just a few days before the election was called.

I rise in this House to address a recent access to information report in which it states that the Liberal government is considering not releasing the publicly accessible registry names of persons found guilty of sexual offences against children to communities where these individuals reside.

Canadians are disturbed and perplexed by this report. Parents across Canada have the right to know if convicted sex offenders are living in their neighbourhood, so that they can better protect their children. Taking away this tool from parents puts children across the nation at a greater risk.

Under our Conservative government, I am proud to say that Canadian children were fully protected. If the Liberals do not make public the names of these high risk child sex offenders, it will increase the jeopardy under which Canadian children can be exposed.

The Conservative government put that law in place to safeguard children. As I indicated, in June 2015, it received royal assent. A day later, the parliamentary session ended for the summer. The Conservative government, though, set in motion a directive to the RCMP to take the necessary steps to implement the program.

It is two years later, and we have yet to see this database made public. Parents across Canada are justified in wanting to know why the Liberals have not acted on this. If a dangerous sex offender has been released or has moved into a neighbourhood, people should have the right to know. Parents, regardless of their political affiliation, want to be informed. It is the only way to ensure we are doing everything possible to safeguard our kids.

The question really is, why has the government not implemented it? Its legislative priorities, I would suggest, are skewed. It has introduced a bill that ensures that individuals do not pretend to practice witchcraft, and it has banned duel challenges. I do not know about other members, but the last time I checked my neighbourhood, fake witchcraft and duelling in the streets were not an issue.

What would be an issue is if a convicted sex offender moved into the house next door, and that information was not made accessible to neighbourhood parents through our high risk child sex offender database.

The Liberals need to explain this to Canadians. I am at a loss. Again, I pose the question to the government, does the government plan to make this publicly accessible high risk child sex offender database public, and if not, why not?

The other day in question period, the Prime Minister cited that the government was not left with any money from the previous government to implement the registry. This is completely inconsistent with its messaging. The government has been telling Canadians for the last 20 months it has billions of dollars to spend on everything. It would have us believe it has been struck by fiscal conscience, and it cannot justify the expenditure?

It would seem the Liberals have plenty of money to spend on staff junkets to Paris, Washington, and other extravagant trips. It does not seem to have any difficulty spending billions of dollars, and running a huge deficit that will ensure the budget will not be balanced until well after 2055.

The argument that it simply cannot afford to spend money on the high risk child sex offender database does not hold water. How is it the government can defend not budgeting these monies which would better protect our children? Is there a price that can be placed on the safety of our most valuable resource? I think not.

Had the Liberals employed the database after they formed government in 2015, how many children would have been spared such a nightmare? This is the whole idea of putting this forward.

We hear stories all the time of somebody having been picked up and, for whatever reason, the police had not made it known to them. I am the first one to compliment the members of the police and support them, but we have to take this added extra precaution. That is what we are talking about, so we are not reading stories in the newspaper about some convicted sexual predator, who has moved into a neighbourhood and the parents did not know about it. That is what we are saying.

I am not saying the police do not often notify communities, but I want parents to have the ability to go right into the database themselves to make sure these individuals are being watched, and they have the opportunity to know exactly who is moving into their neighbourhood. It is a step in the right direction. The database has been around for some time, but to make it publicly accessible was something new under our Conservative government. I challenge anybody in this House to argue that children will not be better protected if they have this. I challenge them to explain how children would not be better protected if people have the opportunity to check the registry.

I am not in the business of criticizing police members. We support them. They have been a tremendous support for everything we have done, and certainly everything we did as a government. However, this is one more protection we want to put in place. With respect to the question of how this would affect those individuals, I want to see those individuals get help. There is no question they should get help, and I am completely supportive of that.

I do not accept what the Liberals have said, namely, that there was no money for this. First, the election was called a couple of days after it passed. Second, the RCMP is given funds to put these things together, which it has been doing over the last couple of years. Perhaps the Liberals have moved on from the argument that they have no money for this. However, I challenge them to answer this question. Would children, the most vulnerable in our society, not be better protected with a public child sex offender database?

Opposition Motion—Tougher Penalties for Child Predators ActBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

4:15 p.m.

Scarborough Southwest Ontario

Liberal

Bill Blair LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada

Mr. Speaker, I would like to ask the member opposite a couple of points for clarification. Under the previous legislation, if there was a belief that a sex offender posed a significant public safety threat, the authority resided with the local police chief to release that information to the public. Quite frankly, I believe that I have probably done that more often than any other police chief in the country, so I have some experience with this.

The question I wanted to ask specifically of the member for Niagara Falls is this. As I read Bill C-26, it states:

The database must contain only information, with respect to any person referred to in subsection 4(1), that a police service or other public authority has previously made accessible to the public...

The only information that would be contained in this high risk database, to which the member refers, would be information which a police chief, or other public authority, would release to the public based on a threat assessment. Therefore, when the member makes reference to all entries in the sex offender registry, as I read it, that is not what Bill C-26 states, so I would seek that clarification from him.

Opposition Motion—Tougher Penalties for Child Predators ActBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

4:15 p.m.

Conservative

Rob Nicholson Conservative Niagara Falls, ON

Mr. Speaker, it would be very specific as to where these individuals are. There would not be some broad definition or announcement that this individual has moved into a particular area. Rather, people would be able to go online themselves and check it out. If they missed the warning the community had been given, they would be able to check that for themselves. That is what we want to do. It is the next logical step in better protecting our children. That is what the bill is all about.

The bill received royal assent. It is the law of this country. Therefore, I am asking the Liberals to go ahead with it. Members should ask parents in their community if they think this would be the next best step to help them, so they are not caught by surprise. We see incidents of this all the time, where some individual has been convicted, and many times the public was unaware or did not hear the announcement that the person had been released from jail. This is just one more step, and that is the way we have to look at it. I am not in the business of criticizing all of the efforts that have been made with respect to this, but we can make the system better. That is exactly what this bill would do. It was passed by Parliament. Therefore, I am asking the Liberals to do the right thing and implement it.

Opposition Motion—Tougher Penalties for Child Predators ActBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

4:15 p.m.

Conservative

Todd Doherty Conservative Cariboo—Prince George, BC

Mr. Speaker, I want to ask my hon. colleague a question for clarification. Earlier this week, in my riding of Cariboo—Prince George, we were told that a high risk sexual offender, Thomas Marion, was to be released into the community of Hixon, just a small community down the way from Prince George.

I believe that parents, victims, and communities have the right to know, but my understanding is that it is at the will and whim of the judicial system, and that of the police whether they choose to make those communities and victims aware these offenders will be released into the community.

All we are suggesting is that it becomes law. It is part of the bill. Regardless of who they are, where they are, they become part of this database, so that victims' families, the victims themselves, can then check the database to see when and if this person will be released back into the community, and be at high risk to offend.

Opposition Motion—Tougher Penalties for Child Predators ActBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

4:20 p.m.

Conservative

Rob Nicholson Conservative Niagara Falls, ON

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member has summed it up very well the challenges parents face under the present law. I believe the law previous to Bill C-26 was helpful. I believe these are important steps. All we are trying to do is to increase that protection that will be available to parents, because we have all heard stories, and I appreciate my colleague raising the question of a particular individual. Parents and people have the right to know if their safety is at risk, and particularly the safety of their children.

I should be clear, it is not just confined to children. There are obviously sexual predators who attack people of all ages. That being said, we have passed that law in Parliament, and I ask my colleagues on the other side to have a look at it, study it, but let us get moving on it.

Opposition Motion—Tougher Penalties for Child Predators ActBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

4:20 p.m.

Conservative

Michael Cooper Conservative St. Albert—Edmonton, AB

Mr. Speaker, a few weeks ago there were reports that bureaucrats within the Department of Public Safety had recommended that a publicly accessible registry for high-risk sex offenders not move forward. Since those reports came out, we on this side of the House have, quite legitimately, asked the government whether those reports are true and whether the government intends to cancel a publicly accessible registry for high-risk child sexual predators. Despite posing very clear questions to the government on this, we have not received a clear answer to a clear question.

All Canadian parents deserve to know when a high-risk child sexual predator moves into their neighbourhood. Every Canadian deserves an answer from the government as to whether it intends to move forward with this registry.

Let me say at the outset that when we talk about high-risk child sexual predators, we are talking about the worst of the worst. We are talking about people who pose the greatest risk to our children. It is those offenders who would be in a publicly accessible registry. Anyone could go online and get information about those offenders. As my hon. colleague from Niagara Falls mentioned, it was the previous Conservative government that passed legislation to establish this registry.

In response to the legitimate questions we have been asking, the government has come back with two arguments or statements. It has said, first, that there is a national sex offender registry, and second, that when a dangerous sex offender is released from prison, the Correctional Service of Canada informs the police, and the police, if there is a danger, can alert the public.

There is no question that the national sex offender registry is an important tool. To give a previous Liberal government credit, it was under the previous Liberal government that the national sex offender registry was established in 2004. It contains the names of more than 35,000 registered sex offenders. Of the 35,000 or so sex offenders listed in the registry, approximately two-thirds are individuals who committed sex offences against children. The database provides law enforcement with important information, including the names, addresses, whereabouts, and descriptions of sex offenders. That obviously is important for law enforcement so it can undertake investigations and ultimately help facilitate the prosecution of individuals who perpetrate such offences.

The issue with the sex offender registry is that it is not publicly accessible. Yes, it is a tool law enforcement uses, which is fine and well, and that is important. At the same time, parents deserve to know whether a child sexual predator is moving into their neighbourhood. That is where the publicly accessible registry comes into play.

The Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Public Safety and the Minister of Public Safety have said in the House that nonetheless, the Correctional Service of Canada alerts the police, and the police in turn can alert the public, which, yes, is important for the purpose of public awareness and keeping our communities safe. However, that is limited in the sense that the police notify the public on one day, and often, that is it. If one does not read the newspaper or watch the news that night or goes out of town for a week, it is quite possible that one would have no idea that a high-risk child sexual predator had moved into the neighbourhood. This is why our Conservative government introduced this registry.

The registry would empower parents to go online and check the name of someone who had moved in, see a photo, and maybe check it a few times, not just in passing in a newspaper. The information contained in this registry would be key to keeping our children safe. It is information parents could use to take precautionary measures that could make the difference in keeping a kid safe from a high-risk sexual predator. Yes, there are measures to inform the public, but this would add to them. It would give parents another tool. The real question is what the government has against giving parents an additional tool.

I think the Liberals owe it to Canadians, if they are not going to move ahead with the registry, to provide a clear and cogent explanation. However, if they agree, as we agree, that this would be a benefit, then it is imperative that they step up to the plate and provide funding so that we can get this registry implemented at the earliest opportunity so that high-risk sex offenders can be identified and children can be kept safe.

Unfortunately, the government, until now, has instead tried to pass the buck, engaging in the blame game and saying that it was the previous Conservative government that passed a bill but did not provide funding. Well, as the hon. member for Niagara Falls pointed out, the legislation that would have enabled this registry received royal assent on the last day the House sat before the 2015 election.

It has now been two budget cycles, and the current government has not provided one single cent toward this registry. Talk about a lack of priorities, especially for a government that spends like drunken sailors. It spends billions and billions of dollars on all kinds of things, but it cannot be bothered to provide the funding to create a registry and make available a tool for parents to keep their kids safe.

However, there is always an opportunity to take a step back and do the right thing. Stop stonewalling, stop the blame game, and just get on with it and get this registry established.

Opposition Motion—Tougher Penalties for Child Predators ActBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

4:30 p.m.

Ajax Ontario

Liberal

Mark Holland LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the tone of the member opposite. I would note that the tone we use in speaking about this issue is very important.

I do not know about the hon. member, but I have three wonderful children. I am fortunate to never have had this horror visited upon them. I did, unfortunately, have someone within my immediate family who, as a child, was a victim of a terrible sexual assault. All of us here profoundly want to protect our children, and all questions must come from that place. I know that the member cares. I care, and every one of us does. It is important that we maintain that respectful dialogue on something that is so difficult.

I have a couple of points to make. First, this registry was not introduced over a 10-year period but at the end of it, and dollars were not put toward it.

Second, the registry is just a compilation of already available data. The police already inform the public when they think there is a mistake, and when they notify the public that someone is in the neighbourhood, it is not something one misses.

We have heard two main problems with making it publicly available everywhere and removing the filter of the police. One is that folks go to ground. They disappear, and the police do not know where they are, because they do not want to be on this registry. They either move to jurisdictions like Quebec or New Brunswick, where they do not put out any information, or alternatively, they do not provide their information. It actually makes the public much less safe, because we do not know where they are and it hurts compliance. Second, there is substantial evidence of vigilante action, not just against those individuals but against innocent members of their families.

There are a lot of substantive concerns about public safety that I would like to hear the member respond to.

Opposition Motion—Tougher Penalties for Child Predators ActBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

4:30 p.m.

Conservative

Michael Cooper Conservative St. Albert—Edmonton, AB

Mr. Speaker, on the member's first point about the previous Conservative government introducing this at the end, over nine and a half years, the previous Conservative government did more to keep children safe than any government in recent Canadian history. I agree with the hon. member that all members of this House care about keeping our kids safe, but when it came time for action, it was our previous Conservative government that increased sentencing for child sexual predators. We strengthened the national sex offender registry by requiring all sex offenders to register. We made important investments in things like child advocacy centres to assist young individuals who experienced the most horrible of crimes. In terms of the Conservative record, there is absolutely nothing to apologize for.

With respect to the points raised by the hon. member, it simply comes down to whether you believe that parents should have access to readily available information about where these child sexual predators live. We say that every parent in this country has that right.

Opposition Motion—Tougher Penalties for Child Predators ActBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

4:30 p.m.

Conservative

Bev Shipley Conservative Lambton—Kent—Middlesex, ON

Mr. Speaker, I want to thank my colleague, not only for his presentation today but, as we heard earlier today in the House of Commons, for his involvement in another significant Wynn's law debate.

My colleague is absolutely right. I think those of us who may not have had a direct connection may not have the same feeling. I pass on to him my concern for those who have gone through that. It must be hell.

We all hear about the protection of our children, and that is great. We have taken one step. What is the concern about having another layer of protection so that we do not have a repeat of these situations that happen across our country?

Opposition Motion—Tougher Penalties for Child Predators ActBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

4:35 p.m.

Conservative

Michael Cooper Conservative St. Albert—Edmonton, AB

Mr. Speaker, to further respond to the point raised by the parliamentary secretary, of course I recognize that it is a terrible family tragedy, and I acknowledge his sincerity when he speaks about this issue. However, the fact is that in terms of the information that would be accessible in this registry, it would be information that was already made publicly available by the police. It would be available through a process that is already established. What this would do is add another layer so that parents could simply go online and get that information any time, anywhere, rather than being reliant on it being in the news on one day.

Opposition Motion—Tougher Penalties for Child Predators ActBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

4:35 p.m.

Liberal

The Assistant Deputy Speaker Liberal Anthony Rota

It is my duty pursuant to Standing Order 38 to inform the House that the questions to be raised tonight at the time of adjournment are as follows: the hon. member for Drummond, Official Languages; the hon. member for Calgary Nose Hill, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship; the hon. member for Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot, Canada Revenue Agency.

Opposition Motion—Tougher Penalties for Child Predators ActBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

4:35 p.m.

Ajax Ontario

Liberal

Mark Holland LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness

Mr. Speaker, I thank my hon. colleague for bringing forward this motion about our government's commitment to protect our communities and especially our children from sexual violence.

I will repeat what I said in the question earlier. There are certain issues that demand the best of us, demand us to rise above partisan rancour and have mature dialogue about an issue close to all of our hearts: the sexual exploitation of children in violent attacks. The devastation it visits upon young lives is something I wish I knew less about. For someone to survive that and get to a healthy place is an enormous challenge.

As government, it must be one of our top priorities to ensure the safety and well-being of our children. It demeans this place when anyone casts aspersions on any member for doing anything other than trying to provide that protection. It is incumbent upon us in this debate, and in any debate on such a sensitive matter, to avoid the temptation to oversimplify issues or to seek an opportunity to gain a partisan point when such matters are happening.

The debate that has been happening today has been much more constructive. Unfortunately, I feel that some of the debate during question period was much less so.

Before I turn the specifics of the motion, it is important to begin with some needed context and a clear understanding of how the current system works when it deals with sexual offenders.

Canada currently has very robust measures in place. The national sex offender registry was established in 2004 under then prime minister Paul Martin's government by former public safety minister Anne McLellan. It was created as part of the Sex Offender Registry Information Act, which is a key element of the current system. Under this act, sex offenders have a legal obligation to register with police so they can be monitored in the community.

The database is maintained and kept up to date by the RCMP. It contains important identifying information about convicted sex offenders across Canada, such as physical description, name, address, and place of employment. Sexual offenders are included in this database upon conviction, and police forces across Canada have access to it. This helps police officers prevent and investigate crimes of a sexual nature. It ensures sex offenders are properly registered and monitored and it serves as a vital tool for identifying high-risk offenders.

When a high-risk sex offender is released from prison, the Correctional Service of Canada notifies local law enforcement and provides police with detailed information about the individual. This information includes a document such as the offender's criminal profile, records of institutional behaviour, and psychological and psychiatric evaluations. Local police can then notify the public.

A key point to highlight in this regard is that most provinces and territories already have legislation or policies in place with regard to public notification about sex offenders. The majority of police forces across Canada already publicize information on any released sex offender whom they consider to be a potential danger to the public. Canada already has a registry the police can use to keep track of sex offenders. Most Canadian police forces already alert the public about sex offenders in their communities.

That brings me to the notion before us and the new database the Conservatives are calling for in accordance with the former Bill C-26.

Most of that legislation has already been brought into force, and our government is currently examining the sections of the law that allow for the creation of this new public database. I should point out that while the Harper government adopted legislation to create the database, it actually never created it. When the previous government introduced it at the end of its 10-year mandate, it never put any money into actually setting it up.

I have heard fears expressed by some hon. members in the House, including in some of the comments made here today, that this database might be dismantled. One cannot dismantle something that has not been set up. The term “cancelled” was used. One cannot cancel something that has not been created.

The question is not whether to take it apart but whether to set it up. Our government is giving the matter careful consideration, taking into account the needs and concerns of victims, the importance of helping parents and communities protect their children, the evidence about the utility and effectiveness of sex offender databases, and the experience in other jurisdictions.

Obviously this move is first and foremost about public safety and protection. When former Bill C-26 was being studied by the justice committee in 2005, the Canadian Centre for Child Protection expressed the view that public notification about sex offenders in high-risk cases could be of great assistance to families and communities, and the victims ombudsman stressed the importance of ensuring that victims have access to meaningful information so they feel “informed, considered, protected, and supported.”

We recognize these concerns, and I specifically share them. The criminal justice system must always keep the needs of victims in mind and we must always do everything we can to prevent further victimization. The best way to do that is by implementing criminal justice policy that has been proven to keep the public safe and is evidence-based.

To that end, we are aware of the questions that have been raised about the effectiveness of public notification systems and whether such systems might have unintended consequences, some of which I referred to in my questions earlier.

One practical concern is that public databases might encourage sex offenders to go underground or be less likely to comply with police registries, which can have an adverse effect on the effective monitoring of these individuals and be quite detrimental.

Sex offenders may also move to jurisdictions where they are not as heavily monitored, and that could be of particular concern with the proposed database we are talking about today, because the law would only allow this new database to include information that has already been publicly released. It would be of no help whatsoever in jurisdictions like Quebec and New Brunswick, which do not have any public notification systems, and it could actually encourage sex offenders to move to these provinces to avoid public exposure and scrutiny.

Another concern is that people may use a public database to access information about sex offenders for the purposes of vigilante action, as has been in the case in certain jurisdictions. There is the possibility that such an action could be misdirected, especially if information in the database was incorrect or out of date.

At the time Bill C-26 was being examined at committee, the Canadian Bar Association noted the possibility of innocent people falling victim to vigilantism if they were mistaken for offenders. Vigilantes have also been known to target the families of people on sex offender registries. These kinds of concerns need to be weighed against the benefit that a publicly accessible database would bring. We need to examine the evidence to determine, based on facts, whether this proposed database would make our communities safer, and that is exactly the work we are undertaking.

One thing we do know for a fact is that treatment and reintegration programs like Circles of Support and Accountability have been proven effective at reducing recidivism among sex offenders.

Circles of Support and Accountability is a Canadian-made, community-based program that is world renowned for its effectiveness in dramatically lowering rates of recidivism and preventing victimization. It was started by members of a Mennonite church in Ontario and involves some truly amazing volunteers who hold sex offenders accountable, support their reintegration, and protect Canadian communities.

Circles of Support and Accountability works primarily with people who have committed one or more sexual offences and who require support to live a positive, crime-free life. This program has shown time and time again that it leads to fewer victims of sexual predation, which is exactly what each and every one of us in the House wants.

The Harper government had research demonstrating that Circles of Support and Accountability reduced the rate of reoffending for sex offenders by almost three-quarters, from 22% to 5.6%. It is truly almost unheard of for programs to have that kind of efficacy.

As a bonus, Circles of Support and Accountability saves money. Again, the Harper government's own research shows that every dollar invested in the program resulted in nearly fivefold savings in costs to the justice system and to victims. The Conservative government unfortunately cut all federal funding for that program despite its efficacy and despite how science proved it was working.

At the time, Barbara Kay wrote a column in the National Post entitled “Ottawa's curious decision to cut funding to successful sex offender program”. In her words, “The cost [of Circles of Support and Accountability] is modest, the process benign, the burden on the community nil, the harm reduction proven.” She concluded that the government's choice to stop funding appears to be an incredibly misguided decision.

We recently reinstated that federal funding, allocating $7.48 million over five years to the national crime prevention strategy. We have also doubled the annual funding for the national flagging system program. The programs was established to track high-risk, violent sexual offenders and to ensure that prosecutors are aware of potential information regarding an offender's likelihood to engage in violent behaviour. It was recently evaluated and shown to be a very effective way of identifying and tracking high-risk offenders.

As members can see, we are investing in programs that have been proven effective in keeping communities safe, and we are carefully examining additional measures, notably the database that is the subject of today's motion, to better understand the benefits and potential unintended impacts. While that examination continues and while the work of making sure we get public safety right continues, particularly when it comes to our children, we are not in a position to support the motion today.

It is our government's intention to consult with communities, various stakeholders, and law enforcement experts to ensure that we have a firm understanding of the potential effectiveness of this initiative before we decide whether to move forward with its implementation.

We also have to ensure that any future database is compatible with systems already in place in some provinces and territories. Different approaches across various jurisdictions may create implementation challenges, especially since the proposed database would capture only those offenders who are already subject to a provincial or territorial notification. That is why we will be consulting with our provincial and territorial partners. These consultations will inform our way forward on this issue and ensure that we are implementing and funding evidence-based criminal justice policies to protect our children and keep Canadians safe.

The Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness and officials in the public safety department will be working very hard to that end over the upcoming months. In the meantime, we will continue to support the existing national sex offender registry as well as proven and effective programs like Circles of Support and Accountability and the national flagging system.

The most important consideration is that the programs we fund and the measures we implement must have demonstrated positive impacts on public safety. This is not a matter of who cares more or less about protecting our children. We know we all care. It is a matter of doing what works best to protect them, not based on a gut feeling, not based on what sounds best in a sound bite, but based on where evidence leads us. Right now we are doing the work of getting those facts so that we can decide whether or not to create this new database, and, if we do, how to best go about it.

This is a highly charged issue, but it is important for the public to know that the systems and controls that we have in place now—put in place in part, as I mentioned, by both Prime Minister Martin and Prime Minister Chrétien and by successive governments—established a framework to ensure community safety, and that when police feel somebody is dangerous, they can be used to notify the community. It is hyperbolic in the extreme to suggest that the only thing keeping our kids safe is this particular database, when in fact the database in question is aggregating existing publicly available information.

On that basis, I think we can have a constructive dialogue about the particular utility of this database, but given the very real concerns that were raised around its misuse, it is only appropriate that we take a prudent and appropriate amount of time to get this incremental piece right. In the meantime, there are a raft of things that we know from evidence we can do and are doing to keep our children safe. I know that is a priority for us and I know it is a priority for every member of this House.

Opposition Motion—Tougher Penalties for Child Predators ActBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

4:50 p.m.

Conservative

Karen Vecchio Conservative Elgin—Middlesex—London, ON

Mr. Speaker, an individual can go onto the national registry, but as everybody in this House knows, it is not public. As I have said, I have worked in a constituency office for a number of years and have had a lot of interaction with people who had been the victims of sexual offences. One was a seven-year-old girl and another was a 12-year-old girl. I recognize what the parents went through.

Following that, when the person was arrested in my own home town, the police were always being asked about it, but unfortunately that information is not public.

The member seems to be worried more about the reintegration of an offender than about public safety or our children. That is of great concern. I would like to know the science behind that, because this is a very science-based government. I am saying that while biting my tongue.

He is talking about science. I would like him to tell me, in terms of pedophiles, people who have sexually assaulted our children, what their chances are of re-victimizing.

Opposition Motion—Tougher Penalties for Child Predators ActBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

4:50 p.m.

Liberal

Mark Holland Liberal Ajax, ON

Mr. Speaker, I will go back to my earlier comments. When the member says that I care more about integration than I do about sexual victims, it is very unfortunate that—

Opposition Motion—Tougher Penalties for Child Predators ActBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

4:50 p.m.

Conservative

Karen Vecchio Conservative Elgin—Middlesex—London, ON

Answer the question.

Opposition Motion—Tougher Penalties for Child Predators ActBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

4:50 p.m.

Liberal

Mark Holland Liberal Ajax, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am sorry. It is beneath this place and it needs to be called out.

When any one of us in the House casts aspersions that somehow we do not care about the safety of our children, that somehow we do not care about sexual offenders, it is despicable. Every day we do something to keep our communities safe. I trust our police and chiefs of police that when there is a dangerous offender, they will let us know. When sexual violence hit my family in a very real way, I know exactly what it meant. To say that somehow I do not care about it is repugnant.

Instead of—

Opposition Motion—Tougher Penalties for Child Predators ActBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

4:50 p.m.

Some hon. members

Oh, oh!

Opposition Motion—Tougher Penalties for Child Predators ActBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

4:50 p.m.

Liberal

The Assistant Deputy Speaker Liberal Anthony Rota

Order, please. I realize this is a very emotional topic and emotions tend to bring out responses that are not very parliamentary at times. I want to remind hon. members that one person speaks at a time.

The hon. parliamentary secretary.

Opposition Motion—Tougher Penalties for Child Predators ActBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

4:55 p.m.

Liberal

Mark Holland Liberal Ajax, ON

Mr. Speaker, specifically, when we talk about what works, it is fortunate we have a variety of different jurisdictions that have implemented different measures to ensure reporting is done safely. We know our police inform us. The information being talked about is already publicly available. What we do not want to do is rush into the kind of hyperbolic politics that is being articulated on the other side to try to win some partisan points at the expense of good public policy.

So many of us here are parents. It is extremely important we get it right and what we do actually protects our communities, not protect our householders.

Opposition Motion—Tougher Penalties for Child Predators ActBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

4:55 p.m.

Liberal

The Acting Speaker Liberal Anthony Rota

Before I go to questions and comments, I would like to remind the hon. members that there are people who want to ask questions. On this topic, we seem to be going a little longer. Maybe members could try to keep it as concise as humanly possible. I know it is not easy.

Questions and comments, the hon. member for Winnipeg North.

Opposition Motion—Tougher Penalties for Child Predators ActBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

4:55 p.m.

Winnipeg North Manitoba

Liberal

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

Mr. Speaker, the Chrétien government brought in the national flagging system, which proved to be fairly effective. A budget followed it. The Paul Martin government brought in the national sex offenders registry and, again, allocated resources for it.

As the member has indicated to the House very clearly, we all care about the sensitivity of this issue. Could the member comment on how important it is that Ottawa work with different stakeholders and understand what we have in place as we try to move forward on a very important issue?

Opposition Motion—Tougher Penalties for Child Predators ActBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

4:55 p.m.

Liberal

Mark Holland Liberal Ajax, ON

Mr. Speaker, Canada has one of the lowest rates of violent recidivism and recidivism when it deals with sexual offences. That is because successive governments have implemented good policies. We also have phenomenal front-line police officers and police chiefs who do an incredible job of keeping our communities safe.

Those measures have already been put in place. The question is what we can do to improve it. The hesitation we need to have, particularly in something as detailed and as complicated as this matter, is to ensure we do not have knee-jerk policies based on gut feelings. Instead we need to root ourselves in evidence and science to ensure what we put in will not make things worse. It is incredibly important for us to be prudent and cautious as we proceed.

The member quite rightly points out that we have a wonderful base on which to stand. Very good work and policy has been done here. We always have to look at ways to make it better, but it has to be rooted in evidence.

Opposition Motion—Tougher Penalties for Child Predators ActBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

4:55 p.m.

Liberal

Julie Dabrusin Liberal Toronto—Danforth, ON

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate what the parliamentary secretary has outlined for us today as far as a vision. I was hoping he could expand a bit. He has shown great confidence in the system and what we are doing to move forward to ensure all our children are safe. However, I hear so many concerns from the other side. I would like to give the member extra time so he can let us know exactly what is in place right now so people can feel confident we are moving forward in the right direction to ensure our children are safe.

Opposition Motion—Tougher Penalties for Child Predators ActBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

4:55 p.m.

Liberal

Mark Holland Liberal Ajax, ON

Mr. Speaker, as was identified earlier, we have a national flagging system and databases available for police to access.

When police officers get information that somebody is being released into a community, they can make a threat assessment and determine what the public needs to know. They can make the public aware that an individual is moving into a neighbourhood. Right now, there is a very high compliance with the system as it exists. The police are able to know where individuals are and are able to track them.

One of the concerns with putting that on the Internet so everybody can search people's names and pictures and then point to them on the street is that if they have not been identified by the police as being a particular risk, everybody will start moving underground and moving off the system, not telling police where they are. We have to be very careful that we get right.

The circumstance could very well be that if we brought this out, we would not know where dangerous offenders were. When police forces need to apprehend them or need to know what they are up to, they will have no idea where they are. That could be one unintended consequence.

I have talked about vigilantism. Some think it is good if people commit vigilante violence against offenders who already have served their time and have been released. People have said that to me. I do not think very many people feel that way about the families of the offenders. There is a very real concern with families being targeted, people who have committed no crimes and are completely innocent.

We have to take a step back, walk outside the cone of rhetoric we are thrown into, and ensure the policies we implement actually improve public safety and protect our children. Where the debate should centre, as we have this back and forth, is on that. The opposition party, the Conservatives, the New Democrats, the Greens, and the Bloc all have ideas. We can share that dialogue in a fashion where we understand others have ideas that they may feel are better than ours, but let us not go to that next point of saying that somehow members do not care about kids or care about dealing the predation. That is unbecoming and not worthy of this place.

Opposition Motion—Tougher Penalties for Child Predators ActBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

5 p.m.

Conservative

Ben Lobb Conservative Huron—Bruce, ON

Mr. Speaker, I disagree with the member's point on vigilantism. I think parents would like to know if somebody is across the street or down the road from them. I appreciate the police have a role, but it is also a parent's right to know if a pedophile lives down the street.

California, which is a liberal state, a progressive state if we want to put it that way, has a registry. It even has apps so parents can find out where these pedophiles are, if they are on their street or in their neighbourhoods. Has the member gone to California? Has he talked to democratic legislators or lawmakers to see whether they find value in having a registry and apps? Why does it seem like it so impossible to do it here? I ask that question with all due respect.

Opposition Motion—Tougher Penalties for Child Predators ActBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

5 p.m.

Liberal

Mark Holland Liberal Ajax, ON

Mr. Speaker, I have been to California. The member might be interested to know that it has one of the highest violent recidivism rates in North America. If we are looking for places to emulate, California would be just about dead last.

Second, I do not speak about parenting in the abstract. I am a parent. The issues the member talks about are ones that preoccupy my mind, and every parent's mind. When we are talking about parenting, I want to look at jurisdictions that are getting it right, not jurisdictions that are getting it wrong.

Opposition Motion—Tougher Penalties for Child Predators ActBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

5 p.m.

NDP

Alistair MacGregor NDP Cowichan—Malahat—Langford, BC

Mr. Speaker, the member for Niagara Falls and I serve on the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights together. In the short time I have gotten to know him, I know him to be a man who treats these issues with sincerity and he cares about them.

The motion before us looks at a bill that was passed in the previous Parliament, Bill C-26, which received royal assent on June 18, 2015. That act created what was called the High Risk Child Sex Offender Database Act. The motion before us revolves around that act, whether it is operational, has had the funding, etc.

I want to state how important it is for us to protect our children from predators. I am a father of twin daughters and lucky to have a third one arriving later this year. I know all members in the House, whether Conservative, Liberal, NDP, Bloc Québécois, or Green, are very sincere in wanting to protect our children. I take that as a starting point. We want to ensure the policies and legislation coming out of this place are in the best interests of all Canadians and all children.

As long as the sexual exploitation of children continues, we need to come together in this place to find effective ways to prevent and eradicate child sexual exploitation. I will note that New Democrats voted in the last Parliament for the Conservatives' Bill C-26 because of the importance of the issue. However, we were very clear that we were disappointed with the legislation as the Conservative government promised action, but there was no new funding to implement it.

The Conservatives are now in opposition and accusations are being made about the Liberals, that the same problem exists, that there is no funding to implement the law.

The New Democrats have always had a zero-tolerance policy when it comes to sexual offences against children, and that has not changed. I speak for my entire caucus when I say that. We are disappointed that the Liberals and Conservatives are stuck in this argument that fails to address some of the key problems.

There have been cuts, followed with years of lack of funding for the prevention of sexual offences against children. The funding has not been there to reduce the risks of recidivism. What is good about this debate is that we now have a chance to discuss how important it is to protect children from sexual predators.

The committee heard from many witnesses in the previous Parliament that tougher sentences would not solve every problem. We need the resources immediately to counter sexual abuse against children.

When the Conservatives moved their omnibus crime bill in the previous Parliament, the NDP helped move the provisions that dealt with sexual offences against children through faster than anything else. Members of the NDP have introduced private members' initiatives with a view to preventing the sexual exploitation of children. One of the major changes was to make it illegal to use a computer to organize an offence against a child.

The NDP also fought for the Circles of Support and Accountability, an organization that works to reduce recidivism. Circles of Support and Accountability's numbers are impressive. One study found a 70% reduction in sexual recidivism for those who participated in the program compared to those who did not. Another study found an 83% reduction in recidivism. The program dramatically improves public safety, while not being prohibitively expensive. Despite the success of such an initiative, its funding was cut by the previous Conservative government.

When the committee did the study for Bill C-26 in the previous Parliament, we brought forward some evidence-based amendments. We asked that it be explicit that the database not be used to identify victims.

We also moved an amendment that would make the minister provide an annual report to Parliament on the effectiveness of the law. As I have mentioned many times in the House, this goes to the ability of this place to hold the government to account for the programs it is operating. We felt that providing this annual report to Parliament would allow parliamentarians to judge the government's effectiveness of the program, to hold it to account, and to possibly provide the pressure to initiate changes that might be needed. We clearly want to know that our measures are effective, and we should see evidence of that fact. Unfortunately, those well-meaning amendments at the time were rejected by the Conservative government.

Some of the initiatives taken by the Conservatives, when they were in government, starting in 2006, included the following. They implemented new mandatory prison sentences for seven existing Criminal Code offences. They made it illegal for anyone to provide sexually explicit material to a child for the purpose of facilitating the commission of an offence against that child. This is a process that is often referred to as grooming. They strengthened the sex offender registry. They increased the age of consent from 14 to 16 years of age. They also put in place legislation to make the reporting of child pornography by Internet service providers mandatory.

These were all big steps to stop the sexual exploitation of children. The issue was that in 2014, the minister of justice at the time came to the committee and stated that sexual offences against children had increased by 6% over those past two years. This statistic obviously puts everything that was done into question if we have no resources. It is easy enough to change a law, but if that law is not backed up by the resources, it quickly becomes meaningless.

I will highlight a point here. Over a five-year period, when the Conservatives were in power, the RCMP withheld some $10 million in funds that were earmarked for its national child exploitation coordination centre and related projects. These cuts were made partly because the RCMP had to conform to some of the deficit reduction action plans that were in place. They were made as the number of child exploitation tips from the public was increasing exponentially.

I want to talk a little about the sex offender registry now. Canada's sex offender registry is currently only available to police. Federal prisons are required by the Corrections and Conditional Release Act to notify police of the release of a high risk offender, which can result in a community notification. This generally means a police media release that contains basic information about the offender and includes a photograph. Depending on provincial legislation, police can publicly disclose information if there is a significant risk to the public. However, the Conservatives are arguing with today's motion that the public should have access to more information on who is living in their communities.

I want to look at the example that is employed by the province of Manitoba. It has a community notification advisory committee. It is made up of people from the criminal justice and mental health systems who have the expertise to determine whether an offender is likely to commit further crimes. It has representatives from the general public, Winnipeg and Brandon police, Manitoba public prosecutions, Manitoba corrections, Correctional Service of Canada, and Manitoba health. All of these agencies work together.

After a thorough review of each case, the committee recommends measures that can range from no notification to full public notification, all based on the circumstances of the individual. It can even recommend that police take other steps to ensure community safety, such as surveillance.

The Conservatives have been arguing that the public should have open access, but if we look at the measures that have been instituted in Manitoba, we already have an example of where there is an effective program that can institute a wide range of measures, depending on the circumstances.

The Sex Offender Information Registration Act is the act that established the national sex offender registry. As it stands now, the national database containing information on convicted sex offenders is managed by the RCMP. It provides access to current information on offenders to assist in the prevention or investigation of sexual offences. Under the current system, those convicted of certain sexually-based offences have to register with the police, and periodically update their personal information such as their name, address, the type of offence, and a recent photograph.

Police currently notify the public when they deem there is a risk that warrants it. As I have stated, other jurisdictions have drafted their own protocols or legislation regarding public notification, and there are certainly some fine examples that we can be looking at.

As I mentioned in my introduction, the legislation that was passed under the previous government, Bill C-26, made it possible for the government to create an online public database. The Conservatives, with this motion, are pushing the Liberals to go forward with this publicly available database. However, there have been some issues that have come up with the implementation of said database.

An internal memo to the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness, by his officials, which was obtained recently by the Canadian Press, mentioned that a number of concerns have been raised, and that there was support for dropping the idea of a public database. The memo indicated that officials recommended proceeding with elements of the legislation that impose new reporting requirements on registered sex offenders, and allow for better information-sharing between federal agencies.

Officials suggested Public Safety Canada and the RCMP undertake a review and consult interested parties for a fully informed assessment of the proposed new database, and then to develop options for the government. It is important these issues are dealt with before we go forward with sweeping changes that might not be effective in our fight against the sexual exploitation of children, which I will again repeat in this House is fully the goal of every member here.

Just to look at some of the judiciary impacts, in the province of Quebec its bar has long held the position that a publicly accessible registry could cause many unwanted societal consequences. In 2003, the bar argued that there were risks of vigilante-style attacks, a propagation of fear, and a creation of a false feeling of safety. Another issue with the federal registry is that there is no national definition of a risk of recidivism. The current assessment of risk is different between the provinces, and if we are going to make a national public database, it should be based on a common definition of recidivism rather than a patchwork quilt.

I want to do everything we can to protect public safety, which includes properly funding initiatives to put an end to child exploitation. The issue here is that there is not really any evidence that making the registry public would enhance public safety either by increasing arrest rates or by predicting the location of future offences. The police already have all of the relevant information in the current registry, and they are responsible for protecting public safety by using that information. We await the results of the ongoing review by public safety officials and the RCMP, who are at this moment studying further the possible merits and drawbacks of a public database.

I will conclude by saying this is a good opportunity for us in the House to have a discussion on how to best end child sexual exploitation. I will repeat that the NDP has always had a zero tolerance policy when it comes to sexual offences against children. We need an effective, well-funded regime that is based on evidence, not talking points. I look forward to hearing more from my colleagues from all parties in the House on this issue.

Opposition Motion—Tougher Penalties for Child Predators ActBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

5:15 p.m.

Scarborough Southwest Ontario

Liberal

Bill Blair LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada

Mr. Speaker, I have some experience with the actual application of the sex offender registry. We have talked about the establishment of a federal sex offender registry but, in fact, it was the province of Ontario, in 1999, that implemented what was then called Christopher's law, a sex offender registry, which was the first of its kind in this country. One of the things that I have been very much directly involved with is the oversight in the application of that registry, and how it is used.

I have just checked the Ontario community safety website where it speaks about the Ontario sex offender registry, the longest established, and I might suggest the most effective, in the country, and also in which the public does not have access. It makes the statement that this contributes to consistently higher offender compliance rates, resulting in increased accuracy and integrity of the data. It goes on to say this enhances public safety for Ontarians by providing police with the ability to have more accurate information about registered sex offenders.

I can tell members from experience that an accurate, comprehensive sex offender registry gives the police the tools they need to monitor offenders in our community, to locate offenders, and to identify them for the purposes of investigation and prosecution. I can also tell members that it is the responsibility of police chiefs in Ontario to notify the public when, on the basis of evidence and threat assessment, they believe an offender represents a significant threat to the community, and I have, quite frankly, been involved in that notification on very many occasions.

I ask the member, in light of that experience in Ontario, would he reflect on whether he believes this information should be made public for any other purpose other than the one I have already described?

Opposition Motion—Tougher Penalties for Child Predators ActBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

5:15 p.m.

NDP

Alistair MacGregor NDP Cowichan—Malahat—Langford, BC

Mr. Speaker, in response, this is a very hard subject to talk about. No one wants to imagine any child being put through this. It especially hits hard to those who know children either their own, their immediate family, or their friends who have been affected. Ultimately, the cornerstone of my speech was about finding an effective way to make sure this does not happen.

I trust our public safety officials, whether it is the RCMP, the local police, or the people in Corrections Canada. I highlighted the example that exists in Manitoba. I trust the people who have made a career out of public safety, and have our best interests at heart. I really look forward to the review that is being completed by Public Safety Canada.

The House should adopt policies based on that review, and we should trust the officials who have made a career out of this, and who are very dedicated to their craft. Ultimately, it should be based on a collaboration of those officials. We also need to make sure that these systems are well-funded. It is one thing to pass a law, but we need to make sure that when that law is passed and when it is in effect, those agencies have the resources to operate. I look forward to continuing this conversation, and to seeing the report when it is tabled in the House.

Opposition Motion—Tougher Penalties for Child Predators ActBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

5:20 p.m.

Conservative

Rob Nicholson Conservative Niagara Falls, ON

Mr. Speaker, I wonder if the member could help out with this from his discussions with his colleagues, particularly those who were here in the previous Parliament.

This was a bill that was introduced by my successor, the Hon. Peter MacKay. The bill did one of the things that gets talked about here a certain amount of time, such as increased mandatory penalties for certain sexual offences against children, and increased maximum sentences for violations of prohibition orders and peace bonds. A big part of the bill addressed what we are talking about, and that is the public sex offender registry.

Here is where I want to get some assistance from the hon. member. When this bill came up for second reading, I still remember to this day that it was supported by the Conservatives, Liberals, and the NDP at second reading to send it to committee. Believe me, it sticks out in my mind when the NDP and Liberals were supporting a bill that we presented to get tougher on crime. I am sure it may have happened some other time, and maybe it will happen again in the future. That being said, the bill was sent to committee, and when it returned here at third reading, it was carried by a voice vote here. Therefore, we had support all the way along. It was not something that came up three days before the election that the Conservatives were going to put in. As my colleague for St. Albert—Edmonton pointed out, it was consistent with what we were doing.

The NDP supported us on this on the registered vote at second reading. We got it passed easily at third reading. What happened in the meantime? Does the member have any theories as to why the Liberals have changed their minds on this?

Opposition Motion—Tougher Penalties for Child Predators ActBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

5:20 p.m.

NDP

Alistair MacGregor NDP Cowichan—Malahat—Langford, BC

Mr. Speaker, I was not present in the previous Parliament. I did work for former MP Jean Crowder as a constituency assistant, so I did have some awareness of what was going on in the previous Parliament. The member is correct that we supported Bill C-26. However, as I identified in my speech, we did have a few issues with the bill. We tried to move some specific amendments to make it stronger, in our view.

As to what has happened since June 2015 until now, I did mention in the conclusion of my speech that Public Safety officials and the RCMP are currently conducting a review. They are studying further the possible merits and drawbacks of such a public database. I think we owe it to those officials who have made a career out of public safety, who study this issue, and who know the best practices to conduct their review and hopefully report those findings back to the House so that we can then proceed with an informed decision.

Opposition Motion—Tougher Penalties for Child Predators ActBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

5:20 p.m.

Liberal

The Assistant Deputy Speaker Liberal Anthony Rota

Resuming debate, the hon. member for Medicine Hat—Cardston—Warner.

The hon. member only has about five minutes, because we will be stopping at 5:30 p.m.

Opposition Motion—Tougher Penalties for Child Predators ActBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

5:25 p.m.

Conservative

Glen Motz Conservative Medicine Hat—Cardston—Warner, AB

Mr. Speaker, those who know me well know I am a man of few words, so that should be more than sufficient to get across what I need to say today.

I rise to speak to Bill C-26, an act to amend the Criminal Code, specifically the high-risk sex offender database. What is interesting, as was pointed out by my colleague, is that this bill was introduced by the Hon. Peter MacKay back in February of 2014, and because Parliament rose for the summer for the 2015 election, it did not become enacted into law.

Bill C-26 summarized a number of things. It amended the Criminal Code, among other things, and there is a whole list of them there, which are great amendments in the bill. More specifically, it enacted the high-risk sex offender database to establish a publicly accessible database that contains information police services or other public authorities have previously made accessible to the public with respect to persons who are found guilty of sex offences against children and pose a high risk of committing crimes of a sexual nature. It is important to realize that what is intended in that specific piece of legislation is not information that will be made up. It is already available to the public.

One of the reasons this database is great is that in my previous life, I, too, as the hon. member across the way pointed out earlier, was involved in ensuring that as a police service, we advised our public when there was a high-risk offender being released in our community. We went through the process of ensuring our public was made aware of it. What was interesting about that process was that not everybody was aware of it at the time we made it public, and they had no other place to go find it unless there was a database available. One of the key aspects of this amendment is that there would be a database available for the public, who missed the police initially advising the public of such an offender, where they could find that information out.

What is interesting is that this piece of information, this publicly accessible database, contains specific information about persons who are found guilty of sexual offences against children and who pose a high risk to reoffend. The only information the database would contain under the legislation would be information that the police officer has previously made accessible to the public. This includes the offender's name, any aliases, date of birth, gender, physical description, a photograph, description of the offender's offences, any condition by which that offender is bound, and the name of the city, town, municipality, or other organized district in which the offender resides. That is information that is rightfully available and should be rightfully available to the public.

As I said, not everyone is available to hear the first pieces of information the police provide in a media release to the public. Some people move into a community after that release is done. It would be great to have a database available so that parents can access it and find out who and where these people might live.

The other interesting thing is that before this information is put into the database, the offender is notified of the intent to do so. That is also a critical component, as we found out in the past. In my previous life, this was something that we did on a regular basis.

What is unfortunate is that this did not receive the royal assent, as the Parliament session ended for the summer and an election was called. No money could be allocated for this, as it was not up to the government at that point in time for the implementation.

My suggestion is that the responsibility falls squarely on the shoulders of the current government to implement this act. It has had two years to do so and we still have no action on it.

Opposition Motion—Tougher Penalties for Child Predators ActBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

5:25 p.m.

Liberal

The Assistant Deputy Speaker Liberal Anthony Rota

It being 5:30 p.m., pursuant to order made Tuesday, May 30, and today being the last allotted day for the supply period ending June 23, it is my duty to interrupt the proceedings and put forthwith every question necessary to dispose of the opposition motion.

The question is on the motion. Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?

Opposition Motion—Tougher Penalties for Child Predators ActBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

5:30 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

No.

Opposition Motion—Tougher Penalties for Child Predators ActBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

5:30 p.m.

Liberal

The Assistant Deputy Speaker Liberal Anthony Rota

All those in favour of the motion will please say yea.

Opposition Motion—Tougher Penalties for Child Predators ActBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

5:30 p.m.

Some hon. members

Yea.

Opposition Motion—Tougher Penalties for Child Predators ActBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

5:30 p.m.

Liberal

The Assistant Deputy Speaker Liberal Anthony Rota

All those opposed will please say nay.

Opposition Motion—Tougher Penalties for Child Predators ActBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

5:30 p.m.

Some hon. members

Nay.

Opposition Motion—Tougher Penalties for Child Predators ActBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

5:30 p.m.

Liberal

The Assistant Deputy Speaker Liberal Anthony Rota

In my opinion the nays have it.

And five or more members having risen:

Pursuant to Standing Order 81(18), the recorded division stands deferred until later this day.

[For continuation of proceedings see part B]

[Continuation of proceedings from part A]

Concurrence in Vote 1—Privy Council OfficeMain Estimates, 2017-18Government Orders

5:30 p.m.

Liberal

Jean-Yves Duclos Liberal Québec, QC

moved:

That Vote 1, in the amount of $129,915,146, under Privy Council Office — Program expenditures, in the Main Estimates for the fiscal year ending March 31, 2018, be concurred in.

Concurrence in Vote 1—Privy Council OfficeMain Estimates, 2017-18Government Orders

5:30 p.m.

Burlington Ontario

Liberal

Karina Gould LiberalMinister of Democratic Institutions

Mr. Speaker, I would like to begin my remarks this evening by acknowledging that this week is the 25th annual National Public Service Week.

Now is the time to celebrate the tireless work of the more than 250,000 public servants who support the Government of Canada and ensure that the needs of Canadians are met.

I want to sincerely thank my officials who have supported me since the day I was sworn in as Minister of Democratic Institutions. They work hard to ensure that I am supported in my duties as minister. I feel proud and fortunate to work with such an exemplary group of public servants. Even more than that, Canada can be proud of the strength of its public service, thanks to individuals such as these. I thank them for all that they do.

I am pleased to rise this evening to speak to this opposed vote. This particular motion deals with vote 1, in the amount of $129,915,146, under Privy Council Office program expenditures, in the main estimates for the fiscal year ending March 31, 2018. Of this $129 million, $1 million deals with the creation of the new, non-partisan, merit-based Senate appointments process.

As the Minister of Democratic Institutions, I am mandated to “restore Canadians' trust and participation in our democratic processes”. My job is to improve, strengthen, and protect Canadian democracy.

I was honoured when the Prime Minister asked me to take on this portfolio, as, to me, it is one that touches every single Canadian. The effectiveness of our democratic institutions and the health of our democracy is one of the most defining features of our identity as a country. We know that when Canadians have faith in their institutions, they are engaged. It is when they lose faith in these institutions that they become disengaged from the process and disheartened by their lack of voice in the system.

Unfortunately, Canadians' faith in the Senate was shaken during the Senate expense scandal that saw the previous Prime Minister's Office directly interfere in the day-to-day operations of the Senate. We listened when Canadians told us they were losing faith in this institution. We listened when they told us they did not think the Prime Minister's Office should be interfering in the careful deliberations of the upper house. We listened when they told us the Senate should not simply be a rubber stamp for the government in the House of Commons, but instead should be conducting its important constitutional role as the chamber of sober second thought. Under the previous government, the reputation of the Senate suffered.

Canadians care deeply about their democracy. It is our job as legislators to ensure that we continue to strengthen and protect our great institutions.

That is why we announced in our 2015 election platform that, once elected, a Liberal government would set up a non-partisan committee whose members would be appointed based on merit and would propose candidates to the upper chamber to the Prime Minister.

We made this commitment to restore Canadians' trust in this institution. The Senate, after all, plays a pivotal role in our Parliament, and as it is written in our Constitution, we cannot pass legislation without it going through the Senate.

On January 19, 2016, we established the Independent Advisory Board for Senate Appointments and launched a non-partisan, open, and transparent application process. It consists of three permanent federal members and two ad hoc members from each of the provinces or territories where a vacancy exists.

The independent advisory board has a mandate to provide non-binding, merit-based recommendations to the Prime Minister on Senate appointments by carefully assessing applications using merit-based criteria. The advisory board looks to identify Canadians who would make a significant contribution to the work of the Senate.

From now on, Canadians across the country will be able to apply to become a senator.

The changes we made reflect our commitment to make the Senate a more open and transparent institution, a Senate that is arm's length from the government and less partisan than ever before.

If Canadians want to apply to serve in the Senate, they simply have to visit the government's website, Canada.ca. Our government is committed to a merit-based assessment of Senate candidates. Our emphasis is on individuals who meet the merit-based criteria established by the government.

The first such criterion regards gender, indigenous, and minority balance. Individuals will be considered with a view to achieving gender balance in the Senate. Priority consideration will be given to applicants who represent indigenous peoples and linguistic minority and ethnic communities, with a view to ensuring that representation of those communities in the Senate is consistent with the Senate's role in minority representation.

The second criterion is non-partisanship. Individuals must demonstrate to the advisory board that they have the ability to bring a perspective and a contribution to the work of the Senate that is independent and non-partisan. They will also have to disclose any political involvement and activities. Past political activities would not disqualify an applicant.

The third criterion is knowledge. Individuals must demonstrate a solid knowledge of the legislative process and Canada's Constitution, including the role of the Senate as an independent and complementary body of sober second thought, regional representation, and minority representation.

The fourth criterion is personal qualities. Individuals must demonstrate outstanding personal qualities, including adherence to the principles and standards of public life, ethics, and integrity. Individuals must demonstrate an ability to make an effective and significant contribution to the work of the Senate, not only in their chosen profession or area of expertise but in the wide range of other issues that come before the other place.

Since spring 2016, our government has appointed 27 senators through the new appointment process. Whether they are from Prince Edward Island, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Quebec, Ontario or British Columbia, they who have taken their sears in the Senate are all outstanding Canadians who are doing an excellent job on behalf of all Canadians. These new senators are from a variety of professional backgrounds; they are former judges, Olympians, engineers, civil servants, teachers, police commissioners and more, and they will add their knowledge and skills to the wealth of experience each member already brings to our institution.

While we have taken steps to modernize the Senate through the appointment process, the Senate itself has undertaken a number of modernization efforts to fulfill its important constitutional role. For example, the Senate has begun inviting ministers to appear at Senate question period. This gives senators an opportunity to directly question ministers in relation to their portfolios and mandates and to hold the government to account. I had the opportunity to appear before the Senate during its question period in February this year.

Furthermore, a new special committee was created in the Senate to deal specifically with Senate modernization. This Special Committee on Senate Modernization has released 11 reports to date on a variety of modernization efforts the Senate can implement within the current constitutional framework. These reports deal with issues such as question period, the speakership of the Senate, regional interests, and more.

On May 11, 2017, the Senate adopted the seventh report of the Senate Standing Committee on Rules, Procedures and the Rights of Parliament. This report implemented recommendations from the Special Committee on Senate Modernization that amended provisions in the Senate rules to allow any group of at least nine senators to be recognized either as a recognized party in the Senate, as long as the party was registered under the Canada Elections Act, or had been in the last 15 years, or as a recognized parliamentary group formed for parliamentary purposes. This change is a response to the influx of senators who are now sitting with designations of Independent or Non-affiliated. There are currently 43 senators who are not sitting as part of a recognized political party.

The Senate has also made changes to its committee structure. In December 2016, a sessional order was moved to increase the size of Senate committees to accommodate non-affiliated senators and to give them better representation on committees that is more in line with their numbers in the chamber.

The Senate is taking an active role in modernization efforts, and we applaud all senators for their hard work in this regard.

Our efforts to modernize the Senate by making it more open and transparent go hand in hand with our vision of governance.

We promised Canadians a government that is fair, open, and transparent, and that is what what we are doing. In addition to reforming the Senate, the Prime Minister gave me a mandate to deliver on other government priorities, such as significantly enhancing transparency for the public at large and media in the political fundraising system for cabinet members, party leaders, and leadership candidates.

I recently introduced Bill C-50, an act to amend the Canada Elections Act (political financing). This bill, if passed, will make political fundraising more open and transparent for Canadians.

Any fundraising activity with a ticket price of $200 or more and involving the Prime Minister, cabinet members, ministers, party leaders, and leadership candidates currently sitting in the House of Commons must be publicly advertised at least five days prior to the event. In addition, a list of everyone in attendance must be submitted to Elections Canada within 30 days so that it can be posted online.

Canada, it should be repeated, has one of the strictest oversight systems in the world when it comes to the financing of political parties. We have strict spending limits, a cap on annual donations, and a ban on corporate and union donations, but that does not mean we cannot do more to improve and strengthen our institutions.

Canadians have a right to know more about political fundraising in Canada. Bill C-50 will give Canadians more information than ever before on fundraising. This is part of my commitment and this government's commitment to protect, strengthen, and enhance our democracy.

This commitment also led us to introduce Bill C-33, an act to amend the Canada Elections Act and to make consequential amendments to other acts. If passed, Bill C-33 would make it easier for Canadians to vote. It would make our elections more open and inclusive and would help to build confidence in the integrity of our voting system.

Specifically, the legislation would do the following. It would restore the Chief Electoral Officer's ability to educate and inform Canadians, especially young people, indigenous Canadians, new Canadians, and others about voting, elections, and related issues. It would help more Canadians to vote by restoring vouching and using the voter identification card as ID. Guided by the Charter of Rights, it would break down barriers preventing millions of Canadian citizens living abroad from voting in Canadian elections. It would invite more Canadian youth into our democracy by allowing voting pre-registration for Canadians aged 14 to 17.

If passed, this bill will strengthen the integrity of the electoral process by giving Elections Canada new tools to ensure that only Canadians with the right to vote are listed in the national register of electors. In addition, this legislation will increase the level of independence of the commissioner of Canada Elections.

Bill C-33 would keep our government's promise to repeal certain elements of the previous government's so-called Fair Elections Act, which made it harder for Canadians to vote.

We believe that Canada is better served when the franchise is extended to as many Canadians as possible, not restricted. We will continue to look at ways to encourage greater voter participation and engagement. We will continue to work with the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs, which is currently studying the report of the Chief Electoral Officer, entitled “An Electoral Framework for the 21st Century: Recommendations from the Chief Electoral Officer of Canada Following the 42nd General Election”.

The committee has been studying this report, item by item, and I would like to thank them for all the work they have done so far in that regard. I very much look forward to receiving their recommendations.

In closing, I would like to take this opportunity today to remind Canadians that our work is not finished. Indeed, as I carry out my mandate, I will continue to work hard to protect, strengthen and improve our democratic institutions. To that end, I am currently working with the Minister of National Defence and the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness to assess our electoral process' degree of vulnerability to cyber threats.

I will also be looking at bringing forward options to create an independent commissioner to organize political party leaders' debates during future federal election campaigns, with a mandate to improve Canadians' knowledge of the parties, their leaders, and their policy positions.

I will also review the limits on the amounts political parties and third parties can spend during elections and propose measures to ensure that spending between elections is subject to reasonable limits.

Our democracy is strengthened when Canadians can get directly involved in our process. While casting a ballot is one of the most important ways to make our voices heard in our democracy, we have to ensure that Canadians know that it can be so much more than that. We can do this by continuing to examine what barriers exist between Canadians and participation and by learning how to create pathways for meaningful engagement.

I intend to do just that.

Concurrence in Vote 1—Privy Council OfficeMain Estimates, 2017-18Government Orders

5:45 p.m.

Winnipeg North Manitoba

Liberal

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

Madam Speaker, we can tell that the minister has a very ambitious agenda. I know Canadians would know, through the Prime Minister's mandate letter, the task that has been asked of her.

I want to pick up on the idea of enabling more voters to get out. One of the pet peeves I have, and we saw it with the Conservative government's legislation, is marginalizing the importance of the voter identification card. I wonder if the minister could provide her thoughts on the importance of the voter identification card and how it might be used going forward.

Concurrence in Vote 1—Privy Council OfficeMain Estimates, 2017-18Government Orders

5:50 p.m.

Liberal

Karina Gould Liberal Burlington, ON

Madam Speaker, we know and have the facts from Statistics Canada that almost 200,000 Canadians did not vote in the last federal election because they did not have the sufficient identification required to vote. The voter identification card is an excellent way for Canadians to be able to use that as sufficient ID to cast their ballots. All Canadian citizens have the right to vote. We need to ensure that they have the opportunity and the possibility to vote and that is exactly what Bill C-33 intends to do. I hope that all members in the House share that the importance of democracy is ensuring that everyone can participate.

Concurrence in Vote 1—Privy Council OfficeMain Estimates, 2017-18Government Orders

5:50 p.m.

NDP

Kennedy Stewart NDP Burnaby South, BC

Madam Speaker, last year I put a private member's bill forward, Bill C-237, the candidate gender equity act. Through discussions of that bill and the subsequent democratic reform committee, that proposal was put forward but was voted down both times by the government. Canada now is about 65th place in the world in terms of the percentage of women in the House of Commons. I am wondering if the minister has any concrete plans to make changes to increase the number of women in the House.

Concurrence in Vote 1—Privy Council OfficeMain Estimates, 2017-18Government Orders

5:50 p.m.

Liberal

Karina Gould Liberal Burlington, ON

Madam Speaker, obviously gender inclusion and ensuring that we have more gender balance in the House of Commons is a deeply important issue for me, as it is for this government. I thank the member for bringing forward his proposal. It is something that I am looking into to see what kinds of actions we can take because we know that we are richer when the House is more adequately reflective of the population at large. I look forward to carrying on conversations about what we can do to encourage more women to run for office and to see how we can support them when they do put their names forward.

Concurrence in Vote 1—Privy Council OfficeMain Estimates, 2017-18Government Orders

5:50 p.m.

NDP

Daniel Blaikie NDP Elmwood—Transcona, MB

Madam Speaker, the minister spoke about Bill C-50, which she recently tabled, that sets out rules for how to perform cash for access fundraising. Of course, those who object to the practice, object to the idea of selling access to ministers. It is the principle that is objectionable. Does she at least recognize the difference between an ordinary MP and ministers of the crown who are in charge of disbursing large amounts of government funding, together around $300 billion a year?

The bill does not stop that practice, but I wonder if she recognizes that there is a difference between the influence that ordinary MPs have with respect to government funding and the influence that ministers of the crown have.

Concurrence in Vote 1—Privy Council OfficeMain Estimates, 2017-18Government Orders

5:50 p.m.

Liberal

Karina Gould Liberal Burlington, ON

Madam Speaker, as it is clearly outlined in Bill C-50, this legislation would only apply to cabinet ministers, the Prime Minister, party leaders, and leadership contestants. It is precisely to provide more information to Canadians about political fundraising. It is within the rights of Canadians to contribute to a party, to a leader, to a candidate who shares values, who shares ideas, who shares aspirations for the future of our country, and that is precisely why this legislation is designed to provide more information than ever before about who is attending fundraisers, when they happen, and where they are taking place.

Concurrence in Vote 1—Privy Council OfficeMain Estimates, 2017-18Government Orders

5:50 p.m.

Conservative

James Bezan Conservative Selkirk—Interlake—Eastman, MB

Madam Speaker, I am somewhat confused in the minister's answer just now because in the rules that she is bringing forward what they are really trying to do is make it so that all cash for access fundraisers with Liberal cabinet ministers will now be legal, which currently does not fit under their own guidelines that were laid out by the Prime Minister and put in their mandate letters.

As the Minister for Democratic Institutions, which includes this place, in the late hours last night the House leader for the government tabled a notice of a new Clerk coming to our chamber from the Senate. I want to know whether or not the government consulted with the Speaker and other parties before they made this unilateral decision?

Concurrence in Vote 1—Privy Council OfficeMain Estimates, 2017-18Government Orders

5:55 p.m.

Liberal

Karina Gould Liberal Burlington, ON

Madam Speaker, that question is better posed to the government House leader, as this was not part of my portfolio. However, I do welcome and congratulate the individual whom we are putting forward for recommendation. My understanding is that he is of exceptional quality and has a long and distinguished career in this place, in Parliament.

Furthermore, I also want to use this opportunity to clarify that Canada has very strict rules when it comes to political fundraising. In fact, the maximum an individual can contribute is $1,550 a year, a level that was put in place by the previous government . We do believe it is important for Canadians to be able to exercise their democratic expression by supporting a political party of their choice. I know that all members in the House fundraise in order for them to run campaigns, that parties require funds to be able to operate, and that parties play an important and vital role in the democratic engagement and discourse that we have in this country.

Concurrence in Vote 1—Privy Council OfficeMain Estimates, 2017-18Government Orders

5:55 p.m.

NDP

Kennedy Stewart NDP Burnaby South, BC

Madam Speaker, I have another, related question. The minister mentioned the limit of $1,550. The Province of Quebec has always led the way when it comes to electoral finance. Currently, my understanding is that individuals can donate only $100 there. That is the limit for donations. I wonder if the minister would ever consider lowering the limit. Fifteen hundred and fifty dollars seems a bit excessive and most Canadians could not afford that. Would the minister ever consider lowering the limit from $1,550 to, say, $500 a year?

Concurrence in Vote 1—Privy Council OfficeMain Estimates, 2017-18Government Orders

5:55 p.m.

Liberal

Karina Gould Liberal Burlington, ON

Madam Speaker, as my hon. colleague knows, every province regulates how it does political fundraising and that is up to each province to decide. I believe that at the federal level this is a reasonable limit. With regard to that, it should be noted that the average donation is about $207 a year. There are fewer than 2% of Canadians who are members of political parties and who donate to political parties. It is something that more people could contribute to. It is just $5. It is a way to express support for a party that shares the ideas and the aspirations that people have as a country.

Concurrence in Vote 1—Privy Council OfficeMain Estimates, 2017-18Government Orders

5:55 p.m.

Conservative

Tom Kmiec Conservative Calgary Shepard, AB

Madam Speaker, in the minister's mandate letter, it says to bring forward options to create an independent commissioner to organize the political party leaders' debate, and she did mention that. On this independent commissioner, will the minister promise in the House not to follow the process followed by the government when it failed to appoint a Commissioner of Official Languages, and actually commit to doing a fulsome process where all parties in the House are consulted in person through a committee where we can all agree, with the members of the New Democratic Party as well?

Concurrence in Vote 1—Privy Council OfficeMain Estimates, 2017-18Government Orders

5:55 p.m.

Liberal

Karina Gould Liberal Burlington, ON

Madam Speaker, in fact I have already begun consulting with the parties opposite, both the leaders and the presidents of the parties as well as my opposition critics, on a whole range of issues including the debates commissioner within my mandate letter. Furthermore, I am particularly pleased and proud that we are going to be bringing this forward, since the party opposite refused to participate in the consortium debates during the last federal election. This is in specific response to ensure that if a party leader decides not to participate we will have debates and Canadians will be able to participate.

In 2011, 11 million Canadians tuned in to the national consortium debate. In 2015, because the previous prime minister refused to participate, the debate with the largest viewership was four million. This is an important initiative to ensure that during an election Canadians have access to the ideas, to the policies, and to the individual who is asking for their vote and for their trust.

Concurrence in Vote 1—Privy Council OfficeMain Estimates, 2017-18Government Orders

5:55 p.m.

Conservative

Phil McColeman Conservative Brantford—Brant, ON

Madam Speaker, before I begin, I will be splitting my time with the member for Edmonton Manning.

I am here tonight to speak about the estimates and about the part of the process that I am specifically charged with, which is being the critic of the Treasury Board and is also related to the budgetary things we find the government doing, the out-of-control spending we are watching, the fact that the debt is growing, and the fact that this will be put off to future generations. I will touch on a few things first, if I am allowed. I want to talk about what has been proposed by the government in terms of estimates and the reforming of estimates.

First, we should indicate that changes to the Standing Orders of the House are traditionally done with the unanimous consent of all parties. We do not take lightly the proposal to change the Standing Orders for estimates reform, although the government thinks differently. It thinks it can ram it through unilaterally and do what it wants. Its proposal would drastically reduce the time Parliament has to examine how government spends taxpayers' money. The government can improve this kind of accountability to parliamentarians without a change to the Standing Orders.

When it comes to the rationale for why the government is proposing to table the main estimates on May 1, the stated goal of the proposal is to delay them and therefore improve the alignment of the main estimates with the budget. However, there is no fixed date for the budget, or even a requirement by any government to table a budget, and there have been times in this country's history when it was appropriate not to table a budget in this Parliament. If we change the rules around what a government can and cannot do all of a sudden without that government agreeing to table a budget on fixed budget dates, then we are starting to take out the accountability factor that the government seems to want to have in terms of the House of Commons and parliamentarians.

Ultimately, alignment of the two documents will depend on streamlining the internal government processes and the timing of the budget, which are both under the full control of the government, so it should be very clear that a change in terms of when estimates are tabled could easily be done by the government without putting changes into the Standing Orders.

The primary implication of this change would be to drastically reduce, as I have mentioned, the time Parliament has to consider the main estimates for their approval. As this debate has been going on for some time, at least since the end of last year and into this year, several people have weighed in on it. I will read three quotes, and this is from the parliamentary budget office in terms of the report they wrote called “Considerations for Parliament in Reforming the Business of Supply”, dated November 22, 2016. The first quote comes from pages 11 and 12:

Unless the Government is able to present a clear plan to reform its internal management processes, this example shows that it is unlikely that delaying the release of the main estimates by eight weeks will provide full alignment with the budget.

In other words, the stated goal would not be achieved in terms of what the analysis of the parliamentary budget office said when it looked at what was being proposed. The second quote comes from the same document and it reads:

The Government asserts that Parliament does not play a meaningful role in financial scrutiny. [The parliamentary budget officer] disagrees with this view. We note that notwithstanding the Government’s performance information of admittedly poor quality, and their inability to reconcile the Government’s spending proposals, parliamentarians have performed a commendable job of asking pertinent questions in standing committee hearings, Question Period and Committee of the Whole.

Again, this is part of the analysis of the parliamentary budget officer in terms of what the government wants to do. The third quote comes from The Globe and Mail, November 2, 2016, which quoted the former parliamentary budget officer, Kevin Page, as saying:

On budget and estimates alignment, the report suggests that MPs should consider a delay in the tabling of main estimates until well after the start of the fiscal year. How does that improve financial control? Bureaucrats are effectively saying Parliament would review requested spending after the start of the fiscal year on April 1, with budgets tabled in late winter. If you start from the perspective of financial control, Parliament should see the fiscal plan, departmental plans and requested authorities (voted and statutory) before April 1.

The point of reading these quotes is that, to get our agreement to unanimously support this, we have been simply told to trust the government. At the end of the day, when we have brought up the issues, the President of the Treasury Board essentially ends the conversation by saying we just have to trust the Liberals, because he has been in Parliament for so long, over 20 years, and he has experienced more of Parliament from the opposition benches than the government benches, and he knows that this would help.

Estimates reform is a worthy goal. It is one which many Parliaments have tried to tackle. However, this is done in such a way as to not want to take input from the opposition and to, in fact, reduce the amount of scrutiny that the opposition has. The bottom line, in many ways, is that Parliament would have less scrutiny by way of confidence votes on financial matters in the House.

Why does that matter to the opposition? It matters greatly, because many times in our country's history, especially in minority governments, there are times when other issues are crowding in around the administration of a minority government. On every occasion, to have a confidence vote is an important occasion for the opposition in terms of having a tool to hold the government to true account. Therefore, when we reduce those, we are taking away some of that. This is reminiscent in many ways of what was tried by the government with Motion No. 6.

Motion No. 6 was a reactionary, spiteful motion put before us which basically took away many of the powers that are given through our parliamentary democracy for the opposition to use to hold the government to account. In that scenario, Canadians spoke up, and told the government that it was wrong, and it eventually backed-off from Motion No. 6.

There are some parallels here to being told what it is we are going to have in terms of financial accountability on the government side to the opposition in saying, “Well, we just need to do it, because we feel it is the right thing”. This goes against the traditions of the House.

I want to tie this to the record of the government on financial issues or its economic record. We see in the overall scheme of things, especially now with what is being debated in the Senate today, there are escalations on certain forms of taxation being automatically put into the budget bill. Of course, our friends in the Senate are debating them today, and will continue to debate them whether this is good for Canadians or not.

In looking back, I want to focus on two things in terms of not only the broken promises, the $10 billion tiny deficit the Liberals campaigned on but also the things that really affect Canadians. However, my time has run out, and so I will stop there.

Concurrence in Vote 1—Privy Council OfficeMain Estimates, 2017-18Government Orders

6:05 p.m.

NDP

The Assistant Deputy Speaker NDP Carol Hughes

I am sure the member will be able to provide some more information during questions and comments.

Questions and comments. The hon. member for Hastings—Lennox and Addington.

Concurrence in Vote 1—Privy Council OfficeMain Estimates, 2017-18Government Orders

6:10 p.m.

Liberal

Mike Bossio Liberal Hastings—Lennox and Addington, ON

Madam Speaker, The Globe and Mail has called the current sequencing of the estimates bad, to the point of absurdity, and said that it is a discredited practice that has only served to keep MPs in the dark about how tax dollars are being spent. When the member is studying the main estimates, does the hon. member not want them to include items from that year's budget, so the estimates are actually relevant?

Concurrence in Vote 1—Privy Council OfficeMain Estimates, 2017-18Government Orders

6:10 p.m.

Conservative

Phil McColeman Conservative Brantford—Brant, ON

Madam Speaker, absolutely, I do. We do reconcile them, through the supplemental estimates that we have right now. The process we have has worked well. As the parliamentary budget officer said in his quote, parliamentarians have done an admirable job in lining them up. They will never be lined up totally. That would depend on when the Minister of Finance decides to table a budget. It will never be perfect. This by no means even comes close to those alignments being perfect.

Frankly, The Globe and Mail is wrong about that. I have been here nine years, and I have worked through the supplemental estimates process, lined up what the spending has been relative to, what the budget presentations have been and, frankly, I agree with the parliamentary budget officer and not The Globe and Mail.

Concurrence in Vote 1—Privy Council OfficeMain Estimates, 2017-18Government Orders

6:10 p.m.

Conservative

Kelly McCauley Conservative Edmonton West, AB

Madam Speaker, I want to read further from the PBO report on estimates reform. He said:

Before agreeing to changes proposed by the government, parliamentarians may wish to visit the core problem that undermines their financial scrutiny: the government's own internal admin processes. President of the Treasure Board's policy papers mention these can materially delay the implementation of government programs...Supplementary (B) tabled on November 3 contained 51 measures worth $1.7 billion that was originally proposed seven months earlier in the budget.

It is very clear that changing the date of the estimates is not going to help with the alignment if the government is still taking 7 to 18 months to get programs out the door. Why does my colleague think the government is trying to change the Standing Orders and preventing parliamentary oversight?

Concurrence in Vote 1—Privy Council OfficeMain Estimates, 2017-18Government Orders

6:10 p.m.

Conservative

Phil McColeman Conservative Brantford—Brant, ON

Madam Speaker, it kind of goes back to the question of, what is the motive here? Is it truly pure, as has been attempted to be presented, that this would truly make things more understandable for parliamentarians?

There is nothing in these changes to simplify how the numbers are reported. Frankly, if we look at the size of these documents, and the detail to which they go, they are not an easy read. They are not easy for people who do not have an accounting numbers orientation to be able to sort through. I would rather see the emphasis of the government to try to make them more understandable, make them more readable, than with the alignment.

The alignment is a good thing. I am not suggesting it is a bad thing. However, the real motive here is to actually chip away at the scrutiny that we have as parliamentarians, all parliamentarians, not just the government, because the government can do what it wants when it has a majority. However, the question has to be asked, if we make these changes, and we have a minority government, what are the long-term effects of these changes? In this case, it is taking away some of the scrutinizing powers that opposition has if we go with these changes, as written.

There has been some talk of them being open to amendments, and open to negotiation on certain things. I await what those might be. However, the reality is that, as proposed, the real motivation is just to make life a little easier for them.

Concurrence in Vote 1—Privy Council OfficeMain Estimates, 2017-18Government Orders

6:10 p.m.

Conservative

Ziad Aboultaif Conservative Edmonton Manning, AB

Madam Speaker, I find it somewhat ironic that we are tonight debating the main estimates, or the government's projection for what it is going to spend this year. It is ironic, because there is little if any chance the Liberal estimates bear any relation to reality.

Perhaps we need to change the parliamentary wording. All of us on this side of the House, and probably on the other side, would be more comfortable if we were to refer to it as the wild guesses put forward by the government. Perhaps, given its desire to legalize marijuana, we could call it pipe dreams. That would probably be a better description. Certainly, this spending program has no basis in reality.

If we want reality, I would encourage members to look at the accomplishments of our previous Conservative government under the leadership of Stephen Harper. During the worst economic downturn since the great recession, Canada had the best job creation and economic growth record among G7 countries. We reduced taxes to the lowest point in 50 years, with a typical family of four saving almost $7,000 per year from what they were paying under the previous Liberal government. Also, after running a targeted stimulus program that created and maintained approximately 200,000 jobs, we kept our promise to balance the budget, and we handed the Liberals a surplus in 2015.

Of course, we all owe our thanks to the late, great Jim Flaherty for his steady guidance over several years. Today, that surplus is a forgotten memory, lost to history, as are the Liberal promises of electoral reform, or a small budget deficit. Instead, we have out of control reckless spending with no plan to bring any fiscal order to Canada's finances.

The government may realize that money does not grow on trees, but it is hazy on where it comes from. Certainly, the basic economic fact that borrowed money must eventually be repaid, and with interest, does not seem to have made its way into the Liberal financial handbook. From what I can see, the Liberal economic plan is a simple one, stumble along blindly and hope the Conservatives will come back and fix it in 2019.

The Liberals have failed to grow the economy. According to the parliamentary budget officer, economic growth forecasts for 2016-2021 are lower today than they were when the Liberals started their spending spree. The PBO says the Liberals' infrastructure plan added only .06% to GDP, and created only 1,900 jobs in 2016-17, far lower than promised in budget 2016.

Philosopher George Santayana is often quoted as having said, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” I do not know whether he had the Liberals in mind when he made his observation, but the government certainly proves the truth of his observation. As in the 1970s, the Liberals' reckless spending is causing public debt to grow uncontrollably. Our nation still has not repaid the massive Liberal debt incurred then, and the government is adding to it and repeating it.

I have a message for the Minister of Finance, information that may be new to him that he might find helpful in his planning. Borrowed money must be paid back. At some point in time, those who have been so eager to lend him money are going to want their money back, and definitely with interest. When that happens, he is going to have to find the money. He is going to look like crazy for money everywhere, and no better place, as the government has a history of doing, but to reach deeply into the pockets of Canadians to make up for its crazy spending it always repeats.

What has happened is that money has to be repaid. The obligation is obvious to us. The government has no idea how it will pay the debt back.

Madam Speaker, you and I both know how the Minister of Finance is going to pay for this reckless spending. I suspect he knows, too, but he does not want to admit to Canadians that he has no plan. I am sure he knows Liberal governments have historically paid for overspending only by raising taxes.

In the words of Ronald Reagan, “Death and taxes may be inevitable, but unjust taxes are not.” We have seen this already.

The Liberals have already raised taxes on middle-class families, students, and small business owners, whether it is the CPP tax hike on youth, middle-class families, and small businesses, killing jobs and small businesses. They have cancelled incentives such as the children's fitness tax credit, the children's art tax credit and the textbook tax credit. The Liberals are raising taxes, all the while claiming they are not. The irony is that they claim they are not, while they are doing it, and doing it badly.

When they kept the small business tax rate at 10.5%, when it was supposed to down to 9%, and ended the hiring credit for small businesses, they showed they did not understand the importance of small businesses to the Canadian economy.

I was a business owner before entering political life, so I know how business works. The finance minister apparently does not understand that increasing taxes on businesses is not the way to create jobs. Increasing taxes on businesses kills jobs. That may be why the job-creation record of the government is so dismal, so low, and a disaster. I suppose that lack of understanding on the Liberals' part explains why they are so eager to impose a carbon tax on all Canadians, a move that will increase consumer prices on practically everything, while killing jobs in the process.

We need to protect our environment. However, I fail to see how a carbon tax, which will put people out of work, will help Canadians and our economy. I must admit the financial numbers the government has put forward are impressive. They are certainly not based on reality and are certainly not what Canada needs, but they are still impressive.

Looking at them, I can only come to the conclusion that the finance minister has missed his calling in life. He is obviously wasted in this place where the true nature of his talent is not appreciated. I would suggest that in the future, he present his budget, his estimates, his fiscal updates, and other financial statements not to the House, but to His Excellency the Governor General.

The minister may be unaware of it, but each year the Governor General presents an award for the best work of Canadian fiction published for that year. From what I can see from the numbers being presented to the House, the minister would be guaranteed to win this year's fiction award. Maybe in the future the Liberals will adopt some economic policies designed to help, rather than hurt, the Canadian economy and ordinary Canadians. I look forward to that day, no matter how unlikely it seems.

We really can learn from the lessons of history. That is why, after a few years of reckless Liberal government spending, we know the Conservative Party will be trusted by the Canadian people to put together a fiscal policy that will be in the best interests of all Canadians.

Concurrence in Vote 1—Privy Council OfficeMain Estimates, 2017-18Government Orders

6:20 p.m.

Liberal

Wayne Easter Liberal Malpeque, PE

Madam Speaker, I do enjoy some time on the finance committee with the member for Edmonton Manning. He mentioned fiction. There really was a lot of fiction in that speech.

I will give the member a little history about debt in our country.

During the Mulroney years, the debt went up, and that was a Conservative government. Then the Chrétien and Martin years was when the government had to make hard decisions. I come from a region where those hard decisions really hurt. The government made those decisions, balanced the books, and had a surplus for eight or nine budgets.

Then Mr. Harper came along and drove us into $170 billion dollars worth of additional debt in the country. It was not just the debt that was the problem; it was the services he cut. He cut back on the military. He had the lowest spending on the military of any prime minister in 50 years. While he talked a different line, he cut the investments into science and research.

The budget from the Liberal Minister of Finance makes investments. The target for balancing the books is not there yet, but we will not create fiction. We will take our time and do it right. We have invested in infrastructure and research and science. Why can the member not see that this investment is there for the future, for our children and grandchildren?

Concurrence in Vote 1—Privy Council OfficeMain Estimates, 2017-18Government Orders

6:25 p.m.

Conservative

Ziad Aboultaif Conservative Edmonton Manning, AB

Madam Speaker, you probably could have given the chair of the finance committee a few more minutes to make his own speech. I am really enjoying what the member has just said.

The member talks about cutting down. We all know that when there are financial difficulties and we are going through a recession, the worst since the first great recession, people need to take all the proper measures if they are truly good managers, businessmen, and financial managers. Those measures were taken by the Conservative government to fix the economy. We came back with a surplus in 2015 and balanced the budget.

Since the hon. member mentioned balancing the budget, why do you not stick to the old rules and why do you not read the books of the previous government on—

Concurrence in Vote 1—Privy Council OfficeMain Estimates, 2017-18Government Orders

6:25 p.m.

NDP

The Assistant Deputy Speaker NDP Carol Hughes

Order, please. I remind the member that he is to address his comments and questions to the Chair.

The hon. member for Hastings—Lennox and Addington.

Concurrence in Vote 1—Privy Council OfficeMain Estimates, 2017-18Government Orders

6:25 p.m.

Liberal

Mike Bossio Liberal Hastings—Lennox and Addington, ON

Madam Speaker, the member opposite likes to talk, as the previous member said, a little fiction. I would like to remind the member about some of the investments our government has made in infrastructure, billions into innovation, into the Canada child benefit, where $5.9 million goes into my own riding every month to help 9,600 families. Seventeen thousand children will benefit. All that money is spent locally in my riding. That has had a huge economic impact on my riding.

I would like to remind the member as well that economists keep upping their growth projections for Canada, going from 2.6% in January to now 3.5%. In his mind, are these investments not making that kind of a difference?

Concurrence in Vote 1—Privy Council OfficeMain Estimates, 2017-18Government Orders

6:25 p.m.

Conservative

Ziad Aboultaif Conservative Edmonton Manning, AB

Madam Speaker, in reality, what the member calls investment, we call crazy and unnecessary spending. If this can really be called investment, it should come with good results on the ground. We are not seeing those results.

The reports from the PBO show that your return on investment is next to nothing and is therefore not helping. The strategy the Minister of Finance is using is not the right one, is not working, and you must reconsider.

Concurrence in Vote 1—Privy Council OfficeMain Estimates, 2017-18Government Orders

6:25 p.m.

NDP

The Assistant Deputy Speaker NDP Carol Hughes

Again, I want to emphasize that the member should not use the word you. It would be so much easier to address the questions and comments to the Chair. That way there would not be any interruptions.

Resuming debate, the hon. member for Elmwood—Transcona.

Concurrence in Vote 1—Privy Council OfficeMain Estimates, 2017-18Government Orders

6:25 p.m.

NDP

Daniel Blaikie NDP Elmwood—Transcona, MB

Madam Speaker, I am pleased to rise to speak to the main estimates tonight. I will pick up on a theme of the discussion so far, at least for part of the evening, on the topic of the estimates, particularly estimates reform and how we could do a better job of bringing financial transparency and therefore accountability to Parliament.

It was a theme of the President of the Treasury Board early on in his mandate. He reached out to other parties to talk about it. He even presented a briefing package on some ideas he had for reform and how to address some of the problems, which had to do with a number of things. In some cases it is the alignment, as we have discussed tonight, between the budget document and the estimates documents. There is also a difference in the way the accounting is performed for each document. The budget is done under accrual based accounting, whereas we have cash accounting in the main estimates. There is sometimes confusion for parliamentarians around some of the line items because they are not attached to particular programs.

All these issues were identified by the President of the Treasury Board, with some proposals to fix them. I, along with my fellow Treasury Board critic from the Conservative Party, noted that a lot of these reforms really were things that needed to be done administratively by government. They were not things that required a legislative fix.

In the beginning of this reform, if we looked at the President of the Treasury Board's reform package as a whole, it really was not a bad package. It is fair to say that if we could adopt it holus-bolus, it would move us in the right direction for parliamentarians and Canadians to better understand Parliament's financial documents and therefore provide more openness and transparency. The proposal for moving forward ended up being not the kinds of things a government could do administratively, which are ultimately required for those reforms to be a success.

However, the first ask was that we change the Standing Orders to simply allow the main estimates documents to be tabled later. That, in and of itself, does not provide any guarantee of better financial documents, financial documents that are easier to read. It does not provide a guarantee that the budget and the estimates will align. It simply allows the government to take more time to table the main estimates, which may well be used by a sincere well-meaning government to make those documents cohere. However, it may be abused by other kinds of governments we have seen in this place from time to time.

It is hard to understand why, with a well-outlined program for reform, the only thing the government seemed to be trying to aggressively advance, and in some ways it was putting the cart before the horse, was the one thing that would diminish accountability unless there was a lot of serious follow-up from the government.

We have cause to be skeptical at this point in the government's term about its good faith with respect to these kinds of things. The mood here, rightly, is far more skeptical about its commitment to openness and transparency than it was at the beginning of the term.

I offer up the example of Glen McGregor, a reporter from CTV. He recently asked, under an access to information request, to get an itemized list of the overall number of staff, not the particular staff, in the Prime Minister's office and their salary range. What he got was a list with every name blacked out. That is hardly a step in the direction of accountability and transparency.

When the President of the Treasury Board comes forward and asks us to trust the government and consent to backing up the date for the tabling of the main estimates, because it believes in being more open and transparent, and then a reporter wants to know how many people are employed by the Prime Minister's office and what their pay range is, not the specific people and the specific pay, and receives an answer that clearly flies in the face of openness and accountability, we have a reasonable cause to doubt the sincerity of the government and its proposed change.

This was the same tactic used by the Harper government when it was asked similar questions about the PMO.

When the Liberals were elected, they said they were going to make changes, that they were going to be more transparent and provide more accountability. Now the Liberals are asking us to change the Standing Orders in a way that would allow an insincere government to simply reduce time for scrutiny, and then they pull stunts like that, not providing legitimate information about their staffing and their spending when they easily could. It becomes hard to trust them.

The government is also becoming notorious for making big funding announcements but back-ending the funding. The Liberals talk about big numbers, such as $180 billion being invested in infrastructure, but just a tiny fraction of it will actually be spent in this Parliament, never mind this budget year.

The government says we should trust it when it wants to change the tabling date of the main estimates. It claims to be sincere. It says it wants more openness and more transparency, yet every day in question period ministers get up and misrepresent the amount of money the government is actually investing. We could pick any issue. The government is doing this with respect to defence, to housing, to child care, and it has done it with a number of other issues. I could spend a full 20 minutes just listing the policy areas where the government is daily misrepresenting information and executing a lack of transparency.

It makes me wonder, and I think fairly, whether we can trust the Liberals when they present their big shiny package of reforms to make the estimates better. They just want to do this one little thing for themselves first, and then they expect us to trust them that the rest will come.

We heard that from the President of the Treasury Board apparently quite sincerely at the beginning of his mandate. He came to the access to information, privacy and ethics committee many times to say that he wanted to reform access to information laws in this country. He said he wanted a government that was open by default and that the Prime Minister shared his views. He stated it was in his mandate letter. He told us at committee that the government was going to move forward with its reforms to access to information and it was going to be done in a two-stage process. Incidentally, no reform is needed for access to information requests in order to disclose of the number of staff in the Prime Minister's Office and their salary ranges. They can just do it. They do not need to wait on reform for that.

If the Liberals wanted to model the kind of open and transparent government that they foresee by changing the Standing Orders and by changing the law, they could do it tomorrow. In fact, they should have started doing it well before yesterday, but they did not.

In terms of the commitment by the President of the Treasury Board to have a two-stage reform to access to information, he made a couple of administrative reforms, but nothing in the law itself. We have waited a long time. In fact, we were supposed to be debating legislation in the House by now that would have changed the access to information regime, but we are not. Not only are we not debating it now, but we are not going to be debating it any time soon. That announcement was made by the minister himself. He announced that the changes will not be coming, at least not any time soon.

I raise this point because it is important. If we are being given the “just trust us” line by a government that wants to change the estimates process in a way that would ultimately reduce scrutiny unless the government was acting in very good faith, then as an opposition party it is our duty on behalf of Canadians to ask if we can trust the government on this proposal.

When we take into account the Liberals' behaviour in disclosing information under the current access to information regime, which they could do much more readily than they do, and when we take into account their record on other issues where they have said they were going to do something and then reneged, any right-thinking Canadian would look at their record and say we need to stick with what we have until they are ready to bring in more of the package at the same time so that some of the other elements that introduce more accountability and more transparency come with the change. That change would be tolerable if the other measures were in place. What is not tolerable is to move ahead with that alone and expect to get openness and transparency from the government later.

We just saw today a vote on a way to make appointment processes more open and more transparent. That did not come out of nowhere. That came out of a catastrophe on the government's part, in trying to nominate a candidate to become an independent officer of Parliament and failing miserably to select a candidate who could perform that function, because in order to be an independent officer of Parliament, the person has to enjoy the confidence not just of the government but of all the parties in Parliament.

There are ways of establishing processes that would allow them to nominate candidates that could hold the respect of all the parties in Parliament. We suggested one yesterday in our opposition day motion. After they criticized it, they said, “Everything else is good, but there is one thing we cannot agree to”, so we amended it to solve that problem for them. They still would not support that motion.

Again we hear, “Just trust us on the estimates reform. We are going to move ahead with this one tiny piece of the whole package.” The package together actually makes a lot of sense, but they are asking us to just trust them that they are going to follow up. It is simply not believable. On access to information, for instance, we just heard recently that in the Liberals' first 18 months in government, their track record on access to information is worse than the previous government's track record in its last 18 months of government. We are just not at the point anymore where the “just trust us” line is adequate.

It is important to try to understand these documents better, because significant things end up happening within the context of the main estimates. One of the consequences from these estimates in my home province is that the Coast Guard facilities in Gimli, Manitoba, and in Kenora are going to be shut down. An open and transparent government that was serious about having people understand what it was doing when it came to the finances of the country and the financial decisions that it was making would have gone out and consulted with people in the community and made it clear. It would not have buried it in a line item in the main estimates or in the budget. Government members would have gone out and talked to people in the community about the reasons for the closures.

It could be that the government felt those services were not effective. That is not what we hear if we talk to people in the community, who, with respect, know better than people here in Ottawa. I have asked before in this House, and I will ask again: how many of the seven Liberal MPs from Manitoba knew before it was announced that those Coast Guard stations were going to be closed, and what lobbying did they do to prevent it from happening? Clearly they failed, if they made any effort at all, but it would be nice for people back home to know what the Liberals are doing to represent people back home.

There is a story that just broke in the Winnipeg Free Press about Canada 150 money. A reporter who has followed the money said that Manitoba is clearly not getting its fair share of the Canada 150 funding. Again, where are the seven Liberals from Manitoba who ought to be advocating for us to make sure that we are getting our fair share? It was not until I raised the issue of the post-secondary institution strategic investment fund here in the House that we started to see at least some announcements being made in Manitoba under that fund. When we are talking about how the government spends its money, it is right to ask where the Manitoba Liberals are on those files and why it is that in a number of cases Manitoba has been consistently under-represented in terms of its fair share of funding.

It is another fair question to ask where is the federal government is when it comes to meaningfully dealing with OmniTrax, which has not been doing its fair share in terms of the community in Churchill. OmniTrax, after getting a sweetheart deal to take over the railway, has been getting a lot of money in public subsidies, and that money has been going to Denver, Colorado. It has not been reinvested in that railway. Now that there is a flood, the rail infrastructure is inadequate and the town of Churchill is in crisis because the people cannot get food and other supplies to town. We just have not heard the quick response that is needed to provide assurance to people in Churchill that they are not going to be left out in the cold by the current government. I say again, where are they and where is the money when we are talking about estimates and we are talking about a budget?

Those are just some of the problems.

I appreciate my colleague from the Conservative Party bringing up the issue of estimates reform, because it is an important issue and it is something we have to tackle. However, I emphasize that what it comes down to when we talk about reform is sequencing that reform properly to ensure that members of this House who are not in the government have the appropriate tools they need to hold the government to account all the way along. Otherwise, we are in a position of having to press them on reform.

Another important reform issue in this Parliament was the government's commitment on electoral reform. I think that speaks quite clearly to the character of the government and why people on this side of the House cannot trust it.

The government made a black-and-white promise that 2015 would be the last election under the first-past-the-post system. The Liberals spent a lot of money to break that promise. They struck a special committee that travelled across the country. It took up the time of Canadians who were calling for action and who were not paid to go to testify at that committee. If they had been paid for their time, because their time also matters, the bill would have been that much higher. The committee came back and put the report together, and it was tossed aside by the minister at the time.

Then the Liberals had the gall, I think knowing already they had no intention of keeping that promise, to go out and spend literally millions of dollars on a bogus survey that was designed to obfuscate the issue and give them an out, which was the special committee, because the Liberals, despite saying that they wanted Parliament to be a place where people would work together, were hoping that the opposition parties would not work together. The opposition parties went out, did that, and showed them a way to keep their own promise.

It is pretty wild when the opposition parties are working harder to keep government promises than the government itself. However, that was the situation. Not only were opposition parties working hard, but they were also willing to compromise in order to help the government keep its promise. Instead, the Liberals threw that out. They spent millions of dollars on a survey trying to hide the fact that there was the potential for consensus if the government would show leadership.

How can we have a government that shows leadership? I imagine the process looks something like having the leader of a party promising something during an election, putting it in the party platform, and having candidates across the country repeat that promise ad nauseam. Then that party would be elected and follow through on that commitment. That is how it would be done, and that is exactly what Canadians did. To say there was no consensus or that the government did not have a mandate to provide leadership on democratic reform is just obviously false.

Nevertheless, the Liberals broke that promise. They let down all the many Canadians who elected them for that express purpose. Then, when it comes to something as important as the scrutiny of their spending, they ask us to trust them to get around to the rest of the program if we do this one thing that could reduce the scrutiny of a government if it is not acting in good faith in the face of all of the broken promises and everything else. That is what the Liberals are asking us to do, and they should not be surprised if the answer is no, we do not believe we can.

It is for at least those reasons, and those that I have not had time to get into, that the NDP will be opposing the main estimates.

Concurrence in Vote 1—Privy Council OfficeMain Estimates, 2017-18Government Orders

6:45 p.m.

Winnipeg North Manitoba

Liberal

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

Madam Speaker, I believe the NDP are being true to form in the sense of opposing, even though what we are proposing is something that is very good for all Canadians.

My colleague from across the way challenged what it is that Liberal MPs in the Province of Manitoba are doing for that province. I can tell the member that we have a very strong representation in the province to ensure that the issues of Manitoba are in fact being raised at the cabinet table, in the caucus, on the floor of the chamber, and in many different ways.

I would suggest that these are things the member should be voting for. However, he is voting against issues such as the Canada child benefit, which thousands of children in Manitoba will benefit from. He is voting against the middle-class tax cut, which thousands of Manitobans benefited from. He is voting against the increases to the GIS, which thousands of Manitobans are benefiting from, and the list goes on. Therefore, when we talk about the main estimates and the types of things the member will be voting on, he needs to be aware that, through his vote, he would take away the opportunity for Manitoba to be a part of the national scene in which people are receiving great enhancements.

We are doing things, such as infrastructure, that is making a difference for Canada's middle class and those who are aspiring to it. The member across the way, along with his NDP cohorts, have made the decision that Canada is not going to have the types of activities that we are proposing within this budget, which would in fact enhance the lifestyle of all Canadians, including those who live in Manitoba.

Why is he opposing that?

Concurrence in Vote 1—Privy Council OfficeMain Estimates, 2017-18Government Orders

6:50 p.m.

NDP

Daniel Blaikie NDP Elmwood—Transcona, MB

Madam Speaker, the member has been in the House for some years now. I would encourage him to revise his speaking notes for the budget when he decides to get up and speak to the main estimates.

While it is true that there is a lot of money in the budget for some things, it is all back-loaded to 10 years from now. The main estimates actually speak to the spending this year, and the spending in the main estimates, as opposed to what is projected for 2027, 2034, or 2058 in the budget, is far less.

Concurrence in Vote 1—Privy Council OfficeMain Estimates, 2017-18Government Orders

6:50 p.m.

Conservative

Marilyn Gladu Conservative Sarnia—Lambton, ON

Madam Speaker, I want to thank my hon. colleague for his speech and for his passionate work in the House. He is advancing the cause of democracy by his common-sense approach when he comes here and calls it like it is.

My benchmark is from global business. I worked for several multinational corporations. When it came to budgets and estimates, it was clear that we were able to see all the money that was planned to be spent, and we were able to drill down on the line items and know exactly what was going to be spent. However, that is not possible with the government, because we have main estimates, supplementary estimates, and we have supplements that come after the supplementary estimates. There is absolutely no way for Canadians to understand how their tax money is being spent.

I would ask the member how that represents openness and transparency.

Concurrence in Vote 1—Privy Council OfficeMain Estimates, 2017-18Government Orders

6:50 p.m.

NDP

Daniel Blaikie NDP Elmwood—Transcona, MB

Madam Speaker, I thank the hon. member for giving me the opportunity to return to the issue of estimates reform, because the member is quite right. I do not think that is the opinion of just the opposition parties. In fact, it is the opinion of the government, or at least the President of the Treasury Board, that the estimates process is quite convoluted, and that opinion is shared by many people in civil society who are at the forefront of examining government spending. The question becomes how do we change it.

It was promising, initially, to see the President of the Treasury Board present a package on how we could have a better estimates process. I said in my speech, and I will say again, that as a whole package, it looks pretty promising in terms of being able to get a better system that is more comprehensible for not just us here but also for Canadians generally. However, as always, the devil is in the details. How do we implement it?

When the government says that it has this great package that has a number of reforms, most not requiring Standing Order changes and which would actually advance the cause of transparency and openness more than a simple change to the Standing Orders, but that is what the Liberals want to start with and that alone, then the issue is whether we trust the Liberals to follow through on the rest of the package. Then we go to some of the examples I raised in my speech where they have promised a two-stage reform, for instance, on ATI, but have not done it, where they promised democratic reform and launched a whole process that came to naught.

This is why we have to assess the character of the government, and when we do, based on its record, we come up with the answer that we cannot trust the Liberals to go ahead with that one little piece first. We have to have more substantive reform that comes with it.

Concurrence in Vote 1—Privy Council OfficeMain Estimates, 2017-18Government Orders

6:50 p.m.

Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux Liberal Winnipeg North, MB

Madam Speaker, in the Province of Manitoba, they have the estimates. The member would be very familiar with that, and I served there. Under the estimates, what would happen is that they would present the budget and then, shortly thereafter, they would start to debate the estimates.

I will not be critical of the NDP, which reduced the number of hours from, at one point, 240 hours of line-by-line debate down to about 100, and I think it might have reduced it further than that. I will stay away from that for now.

It seemed to be a proper procedure. I wonder if my colleague from across the way would agree that what was happening in Manitoba with respect to having estimates brought in after the budget is a good principle?

Concurrence in Vote 1—Privy Council OfficeMain Estimates, 2017-18Government Orders

6:55 p.m.

NDP

Daniel Blaikie NDP Elmwood—Transcona, MB

Madam Speaker, my understanding of the estimates process in Manitoba is that members get considerably more time with ministers to interrogate them about spending than we do here. For instance, here, we are lucky to get a minister at committee for an hour or so. In Manitoba, they just went through an estimates process where ministers were before committee for days, being asked questions.

If the member is recommending that we adopt a model like that here, then I would be quite interested in hearing more about that proposal. I think there are many members in the chamber who would love to have a minister before committee for days because, he is quite right, there is a lot of departmental spending, departments are very large, and it is difficult.

For instance, we are debating the main estimates here in the chamber tonight for four hours. That is the sum total of the main debate on the main estimates. Some committees will have a minister before them and examine their spending for probably not much more than for an hour. That is not actually a lot of time.

He is right to notice that there are substantive differences between the estimates process here in Ottawa and in Manitoba. Manitoba grants far more access to ministers during that process than is done here. I take that as a point of interest. Perhaps it is something we will return to.

Concurrence in Vote 1—Privy Council OfficeMain Estimates, 2017-18Government Orders

6:55 p.m.

Conservative

Blaine Calkins Conservative Red Deer—Lacombe, AB

Madam Speaker, I appreciate the words of my colleague from the NDP. He and I have served together on committee, notably, the ethics committee, for the better part of the last two years, and he brought up some of the issues that we faced on that committee. The committee has actually done excellent work. All members from all parties in the House have actually done excellent work. We made recommendations on changing several pieces of legislation, the Access to Information Act, the Privacy act, and now we are undergoing a study of PIPEDA, as well. The government has stated quite clearly that it has no intention of actually bringing back any of the legislative changes in response to any of the committee reports that we put forward.

My question for my colleague, and he brought it up in his speech, is this. How can we, in good faith, when the estimates process is again up for debate by the Liberal government as something it wants to change, know that it is going to keep its word when it has not kept its word on anything? It wants to change the process of how the House works, yet it cannot even nominate a new commissioner. It cannot even get that process right. I wonder if my colleague thinks it can get any process right.

Concurrence in Vote 1—Privy Council OfficeMain Estimates, 2017-18Government Orders

6:55 p.m.

NDP

Daniel Blaikie NDP Elmwood—Transcona, MB

Madam Speaker, I am a very hopeful person, so I will hope that it can and it just has not yet. However, that remains to be seen. It is up to the government to make good on that hopeful remark. It is frustrating.

I will maybe just examine another angle of my frustration with the position of the government, and not just in respect to access to information, but I think it makes the point well. We hear often, when it is convenient for the government, that it appreciates the work of committees and it wants to send things to committee and it wants to have it studied, and that is a great virtue. The government did not feel that way about the infrastructure bank because it did not want to break that off and actually have a committee have more time to look at it. The government cherry-picks. It liked the work of the committee on Bill S-217, which we voted on earlier. It cherry-picks when it likes the work of a committee and when it does not.

Interestingly, the work that we have done on the access to information, privacy and ethics committee generated, and members can correct me if I am wrong, two unanimous reports. One report was on access to information reform. It was a commitment of the minister that he would bring forward legislation this spring, which he has subsequently changed and has not given a new date by which he will bring that legislation in. We also had a unanimous report on reform to the Privacy Act.

In no case has the government taken that work of the committee, unanimous work, which means six Liberals on the committee endorsed all of those recommendations, and picked one recommendation that it would put into law. Again, the government's word is not worth much.

Concurrence in Vote 1—Privy Council OfficeMain Estimates, 2017-18Government Orders

6:55 p.m.

Halifax Nova Scotia

Liberal

Andy Fillmore LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Democratic Institutions

Madam Speaker, after nearly a decade of partisan exploitation by the previous government, we are following through on our commitment to Canadians to build a more effective and less partisan Senate that works for everyone.

Canadians elected our government on a promise of openness and transparency, and it is our job to stay focused on those who have put trust in us. The interests of Canadians should always be placed above political allegiances, and our government is committed to restoring and creating a less partisan Senate appointment process.

Canadians were clear in the last election. The status quo of the Senate needed to change, and since then we have made major strides to deliver on that promise. Believing that our government should focus its efforts on the priorities of Canadians and not on more rounds of constitutional negotiations, we have implemented meaningful changes and have developed a process to appoint senators that is merit-based and non-partisan, while also being more open and transparent than ever before. These advances are crucial to restoring the confidence of Canadians in the Senate and to reinvigorating an institution that performs vital functions in our parliamentary democracy.

Shortly after taking office, our government announced the establishment of an Independent Advisory Board for Senate Appointments in order to provide advice to the Prime Minister on potential candidates to the Senate. This independent advisory board is guided by merit-based criteria in order to identify qualified, hard-working Canadians who can make a significant contribution to the work of the Senate. Additionally, this criteria has helped to ensure that a high standard of integrity, ability to collaborate, and non-partisanship have become central qualities in every Senate appointee. This new Senate appointment process has also aided in reinventing the Senate's fundamental role in our parliamentary democracy, and has done so while staying within the framework of our Constitution.

Our government knows the important role the Senate plays in our Parliament, so following the announcement of a new Senate advisory board, our government moved quickly to appoint seven new senators whose appointments immediately helped to reduce the partisan nature of the Senate, while also greatly improving the representation of the provinces that currently hold the most vacancies.

Additionally, as part of our government demonstrating its commitment to the new appointment process, we named one of these initial independent appointees, Senator Peter Harder, to serve as the government's representative in the Senate. Born in Winnipeg, Senator Peter Harder was the first independent senator appointed under the new selection process, coming into the red chamber with nearly 30 years of experience in federal public service in addition to a decade serving as a volunteer in various organizations and as a member of several boards of directors. He also served as president of the Canada China Business Council.

Senator Harder was first appointed as a deputy minister in 1991 and continued with this role under five different prime ministers and 12 different ministers over nearly 16 years. This included time in the Departments of Immigration, Public Safety, Industry, the Treasury Board, and Foreign Affairs. As deputy minister, he oversaw the legislative process of countless bills and has appeared before the standing committees of the House of Commons and the Senate. In his current role as government representative in the Senate, he is leading efforts on reform for a more accountable and transparent institution, while also working within existing Senate rules to ensure Senate business can be effectively coordinated with the government.

Over the course of the three months leading up to the announcement of these seven new senators, the Independent Advisory Board for Senate Appointments undertook broad consultations in Manitoba, Ontario, and Quebec, and provided the Prime Minister with a number of qualified candidates. This process was designed to help ensure the Senate is reflective of Canada's diversity. From that pool of candidates, the Prime Minister selected the seven new senators to be appointed by the Governor General.

In addition to Senator Harder, this group included the likes of Chantal Petitclerc and André Pratte from Quebec, Justice Murray Sinclair and Raymonde Gagné from Manitoba, and Ratna Omidvar and Frances Lankin from Ontario. These senators are not only qualified appointments, but over the past year that they have spent in the Senate, they have embodied the true, hard-working nature that I know all parliamentarians aspire to.

As a result, I would like to take some time to highlight a few of these exceptional individuals. Having served in the justice system of Manitoba for over 25 years, Justice Murray Sinclair represents this hard-working nature. As the first indigenous judge to be appointed in Manitoba, in addition to being only the second in Canada, he served as the co-chair of the Aboriginal Justice Inquiry in Manitoba, and as chief commissioner of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. As head of the TRC, he participated in hundreds of hearings across Canada that culminated in the issuance of the TRC's report in 2015. He also oversaw an active, multi-million dollar fundraising program to support various TRC events and activities and to allow survivors to travel to attend TRC events.

I would also highlight Senator Ratna Omidvar. Since arriving in Canada from Iran, Senator Omidvar has proved to be experienced in issues concerning immigration, multiculturalism, diversity, citizenship, integration, and minority rights. Recognized in 2010 by The Globe and Mail as one of Canada's top nation builders of the decade, she was also chosen by The Economist magazine in 2015 as one of the top 10 diversity champions worldwide.

Senator Sinclair and Senator Omidvar not only represent the true importance of merit-based appointments but also demonstrate, above all, the impactful role a less partisan Senate can have in tackling some of the most important and pressing issues facing our country.

The appointment of these initial seven senators and the introduction of the independent Senate advisory board in the spring of 2016 was followed by the launch of the second phase of the independent Senate appointments process, which opened up the ability to apply to be a senator to all Canadians.

In recognition of the important role the Senate plays in regional representation, the second phase also included the appointment of eight additional provincial members of the Independent Advisory Board for Senate Appointments. The appointment of these additional provincial board members not only improved the representation of all regions across Canada but also brought more voices to the table to contribute to making these important decisions.

Since taking office, our government is proud to say that we have made a total of 27 non-partisan, independent, merit-based appointments to the upper chamber through the new process. In doing so, we have respected the constitutional framework while also ensuring that our provinces and territories have increased representation in the process.

Our government knows the important and valued role the Senate plays in Parliament and in our democratic institutions. We greatly applaud the work the Senate itself has done in transitioning toward a more independent and less partisan institution. We respect that more senators from all political stripes have chosen to sit as independents. Above all, it is clear that these changes reflect a move toward a more open and transparent institution.

Take, for example, the nine current Senators who were previously chosen as partisan appointees but now sit as independents. These now independent Senators, many of whom were appointed by previous prime ministers as partisan nominees, chose to put partisanship to the side and instead focus on the importance of integrity, collaboration, and strength in Canada's democratic process. This choice not only respects Canada's constitutional framework but represents monumental strides toward a truly effective and less partisan upper chamber.

I would like to take some time to highlight some of these individuals. Appointed in 2013, after being nominated by former prime minister Harper, Senator Douglas Black is an example of someone who was originally appointed as a Conservative but chose to drop partisan stripes and become an independent in the interest of non-partisanship. As one of Canada's most influential lawyers prior to joining the Senate, Senator Black exemplifies non-partisanship by continuously working with members of all parties and putting the interests of Canadians first.

The same can be said for Senator Larry Campbell. A Liberal partisan appointed by former prime minister Paul Martin, Senator Campbell has spent his time in the chamber doing valuable work on topics ranging from drug policy to mental health and aboriginal issues. Much like Senator Black, Senator Campbell also chose to put the interests of Canadians ahead of political allegiances when he dropped his partisan stripes and became an independent. Building on this, our government has made clear that our new independent and non-partisan Senate appointment process will, above all, respect the independence of senators like Senators Campbell and Black.

Our government has time and again recognized the importance of a truly effective Senate and its fundamental function in our valued democratic institutions. Through its role in representing regional and minority interests in our legislative and democratic process, it is foundational to the framework of our parliamentary democracy.

The interests of Canadians should always be put before partisanship. Our government has been crystal clear on this fact and in our commitment to fixing the damage done by the previous government. We were elected on a promise to change what had become the status quo in the Senate. To meet the expectations of Canadians, we developed this new Senate appointment process.

This new Senate appointment process, in addition to the work the Senate itself has done to transition toward a more independent and less partisan institution, is crucial to restoring the confidence of Canadians in the Senate and to reinvigorating an institution that performs vital functions in our parliamentary democracy. Furthermore, it shows that a less partisan Senate is possible. As we move forward, we can continue to work toward a future in which the Senate can truly be seen to conduct itself as an effective legislative body.

Concurrence in Vote 1—Privy Council OfficeMain Estimates, 2017-18Government Orders

7:05 p.m.

Conservative

Marilyn Gladu Conservative Sarnia—Lambton, ON

Madam Speaker, the member talked a lot about the selection of senators and how wise they are, how qualified they are, and how they are able to bring that independent view we are looking for. I would ask why the government is rejecting all the amendments the senators are bringing.

Concurrence in Vote 1—Privy Council OfficeMain Estimates, 2017-18Government Orders

7:10 p.m.

Liberal

Andy Fillmore Liberal Halifax, NS

Madam Speaker, right now we are extremely focused on engaging senators and improving both Houses. That is the path forward. Fundamental to that is this new process of merit-based appointments we have put in place. As these appointments continue, we will find that we have a Senate that is able to work more effectively over time. The government will be working with that place to ensure that government priorities and legislation will proceed through the House.

Concurrence in Vote 1—Privy Council OfficeMain Estimates, 2017-18Government Orders

7:10 p.m.

NDP

Kennedy Stewart NDP Burnaby South, BC

Madam Speaker, continuing an earlier theme, I wonder if the government has any plan to achieve gender balance in the Senate. Does it have any plan to make sure that as we replace members, the Senate will be 50% men and 50% women?

Concurrence in Vote 1—Privy Council OfficeMain Estimates, 2017-18Government Orders

7:10 p.m.

Liberal

Andy Fillmore Liberal Halifax, NS

Madam Speaker, we are actually coming very close to gender parity in our Senate appointment process. It is a goal we in the House all hold closely. As we go through this merit-based process, based on fairness and accomplishments and geographic representation, I think we are going to achieve gender parity in the Senate.

Concurrence in Vote 1—Privy Council OfficeMain Estimates, 2017-18Government Orders

7:10 p.m.

Liberal

Lloyd Longfield Liberal Guelph, ON

Madam Speaker, I am very interested in how the Senate has made a change in the government, after 150 years of history, in moving toward a more open process and the merit-based system. We now have a mix of senators. Some are partisan appointments and some are from the new system. Could the parliamentary secretary expand on where we are heading in terms of the appointment process and how the Senate will evolve in the future?

Concurrence in Vote 1—Privy Council OfficeMain Estimates, 2017-18Government Orders

7:10 p.m.

Liberal

Andy Fillmore Liberal Halifax, NS

Madam Speaker, as we continue to appoint new senators to the chamber, based on merit, ability, and a track record of working hard for Canadians, we are going to see a much more productive and effective Senate.

Concurrence in Vote 1—Privy Council OfficeMain Estimates, 2017-18Government Orders

7:10 p.m.

NDP

Kennedy Stewart NDP Burnaby South, BC

Madam Speaker, since we are talking about gender parity, the minister indicated earlier that she would be moving toward increasing gender equity in this place. However, I did not hear any concrete suggestions as to how that was going to move forward, so I was wondering if the parliamentary secretary could perhaps elaborate.

Concurrence in Vote 1—Privy Council OfficeMain Estimates, 2017-18Government Orders

7:10 p.m.

Liberal

Andy Fillmore Liberal Halifax, NS

Madam Speaker, a fundamental hallmark of the DNA of our government is the goal of achieving gender parity in all our democratic institutions. It can be taken for granted as written into all our objectives.

As I already mentioned, we are on track for gender parity in the Senate. We have been appointing more women to the Senate, so this is a goal we are going to achieve before too much longer.

Concurrence in Vote 1—Privy Council OfficeMain Estimates, 2017-18Government Orders

7:10 p.m.

Liberal

David Graham Liberal Laurentides—Labelle, QC

Madam Speaker, I enjoy talking about the Senate, because I think the Senate has an incredible value in our country, especially in its current form, where members are there as members who provide sober second thought. Sobriety does not refer to alcohol. The sober caucus, on that basis, may not have official party status. It is about not having to worry about what they are going to do at the end of their careers, so their decisions can be objective. Therefore, being elected or having their terms limited would completely eliminate any value of the Senate, in my opinion. I wonder if the member agrees with that assessment.

Concurrence in Vote 1—Privy Council OfficeMain Estimates, 2017-18Government Orders

7:10 p.m.

Liberal

Andy Fillmore Liberal Halifax, NS

Madam Speaker, I thank the member for the excellent question and the insightful observation. At the heart of this merit-based appointment process is that we are welcoming more senators into the chamber who come with a wealth of life experience, professional experience, and experience serving Canadians. I agree; the clarity that comes with not needing to consider what comes next allows for a singleness of purpose in the work at hand, which will make the other place stronger over time.

Concurrence in Vote 1—Privy Council OfficeMain Estimates, 2017-18Government Orders

7:15 p.m.

Conservative

Blaine Calkins Conservative Red Deer—Lacombe, AB

Madam Speaker, I heard the opening comments from my colleague across the way about how great the new Senate process has been for the Liberals. Then I thought to myself that it was interesting, because the Prime Minister is going to be forced to prorogue at some point this summer, because the so-called independent senators are gathering as a united party of united independents in the Senate, which means that they are going to have their own agenda. They are seeking committee chairmanships and committee placements. The only way those things can actually be done in the current system is through prorogation.

We have had numerous pieces of legislation come back to this House that the government has actually ignored. The government is hailing its new appointment process and is putting it out there as a spectacle for Canadians to buy. However, the government is not listening to any of the advice the senators have sent.

We are not sure if Bill C-4 is going to come back to the House a third time or if the Senate is actually going to pass it or accept the recommendations from the House. We now know that a budget bill, a confidence bill, has been split in the Senate. I have been here a long time, and I have never seen anything like this before.

The Liberal government on the other side is all about announcements, fuzzy good feelings, photo ops, and headlines, with no thought of the long-term consequences of the actions it is taking.

I would like my hon. colleague to stand up and say whether he and the rest of his colleagues will be accepting the amendments that come from the Senate on future legislation. Otherwise, the whole process is nothing more than a sham.

Concurrence in Vote 1—Privy Council OfficeMain Estimates, 2017-18Government Orders

7:15 p.m.

Liberal

Andy Fillmore Liberal Halifax, NS

Madam Speaker, that is a curious characterization. This House has accepted amendments from the other place on numerous occasions and will continue to do so when those amendments are helpful to Canadians. Bill C-6 and Bill C-14, medical assistance in dying, are great examples.

The rest of what the member was speculating on is just that, speculation. Let us keep the conversation in the House today to facts and the work we are actually doing, and that is putting qualified senators in that place and working with them to further the interests of Canadians and the legislation in this House.

Concurrence in Vote 1—Privy Council OfficeMain Estimates, 2017-18Government Orders

7:15 p.m.

NDP

Kennedy Stewart NDP Burnaby South, BC

Madam Speaker, I did not quite get the answer I was looking for from the member. It seems to me that the questions on gender equity in the House are all about blaming women for not coming forward, but it is political parties that are blocking nominations.

I wonder if I can ask for a concrete answer to my question. What are the Liberals going to be doing to make sure there are more women in the House after the next election?

Concurrence in Vote 1—Privy Council OfficeMain Estimates, 2017-18Government Orders

7:15 p.m.

Liberal

Andy Fillmore Liberal Halifax, NS

Madam Speaker, as I have already said, gender parity is fundamental to our goals for all the democratic institutions in Canada. We are converging on that goal in a number of ways.

We look forward to working with all members of the House who are interested in sorting out how we can always do better. I would love to have constructive, forward-looking conversations in that regard.

Concurrence in Vote 1—Privy Council OfficeMain Estimates, 2017-18Government Orders

7:15 p.m.

Conservative

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

Madam Speaker, I am pleased to rise this evening.

There is a lot of talk about parity between men and women. I would like to know what my colleague thinks about parity between francophones and anglophones.

Will it one day be achieved on that side of the House?

Concurrence in Vote 1—Privy Council OfficeMain Estimates, 2017-18Government Orders

7:15 p.m.

Liberal

Andy Fillmore Liberal Halifax, NS

Madam Speaker, as we enter into and start to use this new merit-based appointment process, we must also remember that this is a process that also results in geographic diversity. This process allows plenty of room to accommodate diversity in all its forms.

Concurrence in Vote 1—Privy Council OfficeMain Estimates, 2017-18Government Orders

7:15 p.m.

Conservative

John Nater Conservative Perth—Wellington, ON

Madam Speaker, it is an honour to rise this evening to debate the estimates process and the main estimates. Too often Canadians probably have their eyes glaze over, and I am sure some parliamentarians' eyes glaze over when we talk about the estimates.

The estimates are the foundational role that Parliament plays in this place. The business of supply or withholding supply is a fundamental purpose of this place, one that dates back many generations before the House was established to our forbearer in the United Kingdom. It was at Runnymeade in 1215 with the great Magna Carta that the power of the purse, and the supremacy of Parliament in the business of the supply process were fundamentally established.

Fundamentally speaking, the government ought not and should not spend a dime of taxpayers' money without the approval of this place, yet time and time again, we see the Liberal government abusing the very supply process which we are debating tonight.

In fact, just a couple of nights ago we were in this place debating the Salaries Act, a standalone piece of legislation to give pay raises to certain Liberal ministers. When the Prime Minister tried to establish a gender equal cabinet, he forgot he was giving his female junior ministers a lower salary than their male colleagues, so he decided to introduce the Salaries Act. It was a conscious decision by the government to introduce a piece of legislation to increase the wages of certain ministers, certainly something that is well within the right of the government to do.

The Liberals forgot something. They forgot that this piece of legislation has not yet been passed by the House. It has not been passed by the other place either. Instead of passing the legislation, the Liberals decided to abuse the supply and estimates process. It did not go unnoticed by members of this place or the other place.

The Senate Committee on National Finance reported, in its 13th report in March 2017, its grave concern of the abuse by the Liberal government of the estimates process. The report stated, “Senators and Treasury Board officials also discussed the larger issues of parliamentary authorities and approval, and the proper usage of the supply process.”

The report went on to say:

However, the Supplementary Estimates are not intended to be a convenient mechanism for the temporary funding of needs that were foreseeable and could have been planned, particularly in the case where such needs have their own source of authority in an Act of Parliament. The Salaries Act for ministers, like the Parliament of Canada Act for MPs and Senators, authorizes the payment of ministers’ salaries out of the Consolidated Revenue Fund and also fixes the amounts of those salaries.

In direct notice in speaking to the government of the day, the committee stated:

Our committee is concerned about the recurrent practice of using supplementary estimates to pay certain ministers' salaries prior to the enactment of amendments to the Salaries Act, and raises this question in the context of Bill C-24.

The member from Halifax was just talking about the new independent senators in the other place. This report included independent senators, members of the other place, who expressed grave concerns about the abuse of the estimates process. We are seeing this tonight as we debate the main estimates. Rather, they encourage the Liberal government to fundamentally follow the rules of this place and the other place.

Citing Debates of March 25, 1981, the other place recommends, “A supply item ought not to be used to obtain authority which is the subject of legislation.” However, in at least two occasions, we have had estimates come through the House using the estimates process in place of a piece of legislation.

It cites paragraph 937, “The government may not use an appropriation act to obtain authority it does not have under existing legislation.” It goes on to cite Beauschene's Parliamentary Rules and Forms of the House of Commons of Canada, which cites those statements. Of course, we are all big fans of Beauchesne's sixth edition in this House. Particularly around this side of the House, we are very proud of the great insight we have from Beauchesne's co-editor, Mr. John Holtby, a distinguished member of our team who is always providing us with great insight into the rules of this place. Certainly, the estimates is one of those issues.

Therefore, we have a process, and it is one that has unfortunately been abused on these issues by the government across the way. Too often, the members on the other side forget that, in fact, they are not members of the government; that only members of the cabinet serve as members of the government. Each and every Liberal MP who does not serve in the government is a member of Parliament first. Those members may sit as Liberal MPs, but they are not members of the government. Fundamentally, we need to remember in this place that we are members of Parliament first, and it is our duty to this place to properly undertake the review of the estimates process.

When I was reading through the estimates process, I was intrigued by some of the issues that are being recommended and encouraged. I happened to turn to page 228 of the main estimates, dealing with PPP Canada, Public–Private Partnership Canada. It is intriguing that in 2015-2016, there was no money spent for investments; again in 2016-2017 there was $267,700,000 allocated; and again in this current main estimates $267,700,000. Is the government planning to go forward continuing to fund PPP Canada? We do not know.

In fact, we do not even know what is going to happen to the infrastructure bank. As we speak in this place, the other place is debating the infrastructure bank. Indeed, the government could have used the provisions through PPP Canada where it has money, where, tonight, we will be voting on $267 million for PPP Canada. We could get that money out the door, enhance public–private partnerships, and reduce the risk on the taxpayer. That money is in the main estimates, and yet, in the other place, they are debating splitting it out. Indeed, just hours ago, the hon. Joseph Day, the leader of the Liberal caucus in the Senate, gave an impassioned speech in the other place about this very issue.

I want to quote from the blues: “The analogy that occurred to me as I read the bill is that Bill C-44 is like one of those Ukrainian dolls. You open up the first doll and there is another doll inside it, and you open up the second doll and there is another doll, and you keep going and peeling off the onion skins. As you open one, another one is revealed underneath and under that another and another and another. But while that may be fun as a doll, it is absolutely no way to present legislation for proper study.”

That is coming from a Liberal senator. I know the member from Halifax was just speaking about what he called the improved Senate, the improved process. This is one of the Liberal senators who is concerned about this. Of course, another issue that we see coming forward is the issue of an automatic escalator in taxation. In the other place, again, Senator Joseph Day, the leader of the Senate Liberals, said:

The “effectiveness” of the taxes. How much is raised, I would suspect is the effectiveness. Those are the words of the government official, not mine. Colleagues, that is certainly a rationale for government coming forward in a budget bill and asking to increase the applicable exercise tax rate, but I fail to see how it is a rationale for allowing future rate hikes without parliamentary scrutiny or approval. When the officials were asked for precedents for such an extraordinary provision, they pointed to the tax brackets for personal income taxes, which rise automatically with inflation. But, colleagues, that indexation works to taxpayers' advantage. If a tax bracket goes up because of inflation, we pay less tax. That is nothing like the automatic excise tax increase.

Indeed, in the budget bill that is being debated in the other place right now, there is an automatic tax increase without ever again having the approval of this place or the other place. It is fundamentally contrary to some of the basic principles of the power of the purse in this place, and it shows the degree of respect that the government has lost for members of Parliament.

If we look back in the not too distant Canadian history, in the 1970s, granted it was well before I was born, but in the recent past of Parliament, in 1975, that great Liberal, Senator Joseph Day, said that parliamentarians felt they needed more time to debate the borrowing itself. In 1975, the borrowing authority was broken out of the supply process, and set up in its own dedicated process.

In 1975, the Speaker in this place ordered a borrowing clause struck from the supply bill related to supplementary estimates on the ground that under the House of Commons rules then established, its inclusion in the supply bill virtually precluded discussion of the borrowing provisions. After that, every year the government would have to come to Parliament and request, in a borrowing authority bill, the authority to borrow a stated amount of money for that year.

This is a fundamental power of this place and too often, we forget that. It was not too long ago as a perfect example of the disrespect that the government has for this place, the recent botched, boggled, failed appointment of Madeleine Meilleur as Commissioner of Official Languages. Fundamentally, Parliament was not involved in that process. Members of this place were not involved in that process. They were not consulted, they were simply told in a letter dated nearly a month after Ms. Meilleur was informed she would be the successful candidate. That is not consultation. Officers of this place ought to be chosen with fundamental consultation by members of this place.

The estimates process, the business of supply gives us the opportunity to pass judgment on the continued confidence of the government in office. The confidence convention means that cabinet, in this case the Liberal cabinet, is accountable to the House, and confidence can be withdrawn by a number of provisions including the supply process, including a vote on main or supplementary estimates. In this case, our opposition does not have confidence in the government, and we will be voting against the estimates because of that lack of confidence.

I wish to highlight one matter in particular. It is our national debt and ongoing deficit spending. We all vividly recall in the last election the then leader of the third party, now the Prime Minister, promising Canadians, giving them his solemn word, that he would run tiny $10 billion deficits for three years, and only three years, but by 2019, in time for the next election, we would be back to balanced budgets. That quickly went out the window with the very first budget of the Minister of Finance. Now, over the next number of years, we will see continued deficit spending. In fact, the Department of Finance's own numbers show we will not return to balanced budgets until 2055.

Let me put that in context. My son Bennett just turned one on June 1. By the time the budget is balanced, Bennet will be 39 years old. He will be older than I am now, and that is pretty old. My daughter Ainsley, is about three years old. She will be 41 by the time the budget is balanced. We are putting the debt, the spending and the mismanagement of the Liberal government on our children's generation. It is unacceptable that by 2055, we will have $1.5 trillion in total debt, debt that will be paid back through the continued interest charges of future generations.

It is completely unacceptable that the government has given no plan for the return to balanced budgets. Our friend and colleague, the member for Louis-Saint-Laurent, the finance critic, asks the Minister of Finance on a very regular basis, when will we return to balanced budgets. Each and every time, the Minister of Finance waffles and fails to answer the question.

My constituents were hurt In my riding of Perth—Wellington. They are hard-working Canadians. They balance their chequebook each month. Small businesses balance their books each month. However, each and every month they find it harder and harder to continue to survive in their businesses because of the concerns and the issues being placed on them by federal Liberal government and the Liberal government in Ontario.

I spoke to one business owner not too long ago whose hydro bill tripled in the time that the McGuinty-Wynne Liberal were in office provincially. Now we are seeing at federal level the imposition of a carbon tax, which will only see the cost of running a business increase. It is not just businesses that are seeing their costs increase. Families are seeing their dollars stretched further and further each week because of the Liberal government.

I recall the very first bill brought before the House, Bill C-2, which was what the Liberals called a middle-class tax cut. No one making under $44,000 a year got a cent out of that tax cut. In fact, those making between $100,000 and $200,000 were getting the biggest tax cuts out of that, but those making under $44,000 got nothing, not a dime.

In the first budget, the Liberals took away the fitness tax credit. They took away the arts tax credit for families that decided to put their children in arts programs or in fitness activities to improve their health. They got rid of the text book and education tax credit. I was at Carleton University earlier today, talking with current students and former students, and the importance of fundamentally helping our young people survive. Again, the Liberals are making it harder and harder for Canadians to get by.

I want to speak to home ownership for a minute and the changes the Liberals have been placing on the burdens of buying a home for the first time. We should be encouraging and helping Canadians buy their first homes. A strong society encourages home ownership, encourages Canadians to buy that first home rather than discouraging them from doing so, as we are seeing in the recent changes.

I want to close on where I started, and that is about the fundamental importance of the supply process and the estimates process. This process belongs to the House, belongs to Parliament, the power of the purse, the ability for parliamentarians, each and every member of Parliament, whether they are government MPs or not. This is our opportunity to pass judgment on the confidence we have in the government.

I have no confidence in the government, and I will be voting against the main estimates when they come to a vote later this evening.

Concurrence in Vote 1—Privy Council OfficeMain Estimates, 2017-18Government Orders

7:35 p.m.

Liberal

Wayne Easter Liberal Malpeque, PE

Mr. Speaker, I listened to the member for Perth—Wellington. For the record, it is great to make speeches in this place, but for heaven's sake, let them have at least some semblance of reality.

The member talked about this government going into deficit, and I admit we are. Any business that is going to do anything and remain in business has to invest in the future and innovation. It has to make that investment so it is efficient and productive in the future.

I want to come back to what the member said about the debt. Let us look at some reality.

In 1984, after the Pierre Elliott Trudeau years, the debt of our country was $135 billion. In 1994, after the Mulroney years, a Conservative government, the debt was $478 billion. Conservatives have very seldom ever balanced the books. Liberals always have dealt with the tough decisions to balance the books. It went up a little bit, after the Chrétien-Martin years, but there were eight surpluses and they paid down some of the debt over those years. Then of course there was the Harper government. It added another $170 billion to the debt.

The Conservatives should look at the reality, look at the figures. It is the Conservative Party that has always driven our country into debt. Why we are moving with some deficit—

Concurrence in Vote 1—Privy Council OfficeMain Estimates, 2017-18Government Orders

7:40 p.m.

Conservative

The Deputy Speaker Conservative Bruce Stanton

We are in a 10-minute question and comment time, but we do have to leave some time for other members.

Concurrence in Vote 1—Privy Council OfficeMain Estimates, 2017-18Government Orders

7:40 p.m.

Conservative

John Nater Conservative Perth—Wellington, ON

Mr. Speaker, I can debate this issue all night long if the member for Malpeque wants to do so.

He talked about having some semblance of reality. He cited a business investing in its future. Any business investing in its future would pay off its debts in order to survive and continue to be in business. No business can constantly spend more than it takes in on a regular basis. That is what is happening with the government.

I have to remind the member for Malpeque, because he was in this place in the previous Parliament, that the Conservative government paid off $30 billion prior to the greatest global fiscal recession since the Great Depression.

For two years, a year earlier, under the leadership of the Hon. Jim Flaherty, we saw a return to a balanced budget. We committed to that in the 2011 election, and we returned a balanced budget a year early, which the Liberal government has no commitment to doing so until 2055.

Concurrence in Vote 1—Privy Council OfficeMain Estimates, 2017-18Government Orders

7:40 p.m.

Liberal

Mike Bossio Liberal Hastings—Lennox and Addington, ON

Mr. Speaker, since we are on the topic of deficits, our government believes in making strategic investments in our country so we can become more productive and move more people into the middle class and those working so hard to get there.

We are investing $184 billion in infrastructure and innovation. The Canada child benefit puts $5.9 million monthly into my riding, assisting 17,000 children. It is being spent locally to benefit the economic development of my riding.

This has now generated growth. Every month it is being estimated to be higher and higher. It is now up to a 3.5% growth rate, a rate our country has not seen in all the years Harper was in power.

We will get back into a surplus position, as every Liberal government has done in the past. Before the Conservatives get their hands on it again, how may years will it before we are back into a deficit position?

Concurrence in Vote 1—Privy Council OfficeMain Estimates, 2017-18Government Orders

7:40 p.m.

Conservative

John Nater Conservative Perth—Wellington, ON

Mr. Speaker, one thing is for sure. It will be much before 2055 that we will return the budget to balance. In fact, our leader has committed to two years from the time of the next election. I look forward to that time.

Let us talk about the record of the former Conservative government. We had the strongest job creation in the G7, coming out of the largest global recession since the Great Depression; 1.3 million net new jobs under the strong leadership of Minister Flaherty and the prime minister. Most of those jobs were full-time private sector jobs, not government jobs, which members across the way seem to enjoy creating through government coffers.

Concurrence in Vote 1—Privy Council OfficeMain Estimates, 2017-18Government Orders

7:45 p.m.

Conservative

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

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for his speech. It was very good. I also listened to what the members across the way were saying.

After 18 months in government, it is time to stop pointing fingers and start taking charge.

When the government creates jobs, or used to create jobs, it was for the middle class. Has my colleague noticed that the government is giving the plum jobs to Liberal cronies?

Concurrence in Vote 1—Privy Council OfficeMain Estimates, 2017-18Government Orders

7:45 p.m.

Conservative

John Nater Conservative Perth—Wellington, ON

Mr. Speaker, I want to thank my colleague the hon. member for Beauport—Côte-de-Beaupré—Île d'Orléans—Charlevoix for her question. I also want to thank her for the work she does with me at the Standing Committee on Official Languages and for her good work on denouncing the appointment of a partisan Liberal to the position of commissioner of official languages.

She asked about middle-class jobs. I think all members of the House would like to see strong, middle-class jobs.

I recently met with a local business person of a very innovative robotics company in my riding. He would like to see the government get out of the way of his business. He is a true innovator. He talked about having an innovative culture within his business. We need that to create strong middle-class jobs, to enable and encourage that innovative culture, not the Liberal government spending money, throwing it out the window hoping it will stick somewhere, spending it on government bureaucrats. That is not what we do to create innovation. We spend it wisely, but more important, we get out of the way of private innovators and allow them to do what they do best, which is create jobs, innovate for the future, and innovate for the new economy.

Concurrence in Vote 1—Privy Council OfficeMain Estimates, 2017-18Government Orders

7:45 p.m.

Liberal

David Graham Liberal Laurentides—Labelle, QC

Mr. Speaker, the only thing rich about the record of the Conservatives is their description of it.

In over a century, the Conservatives have never managed to take us from a deficit to a surplus. I am getting tired of hearing that lecture. Virtually all the debt we have in the country, by percentage, is from them. They cannot manage their way out of a Tim Hortons.

Concurrence in Vote 1—Privy Council OfficeMain Estimates, 2017-18Government Orders

7:45 p.m.

Conservative

John Nater Conservative Perth—Wellington, ON

Mr. Speaker, I will take my direction from a Tim Hortons and a grocery store, not from the cocktail circuit like the members across the way, to paraphrase our new leader, the member for Regina—Qu'Appelle.

Let me remind the hon. member. He was not a member here, and neither was I, but it was under the strong stewardship of Joe Oliver, and before him, Jim Flaherty, that we saw a return to balanced budget under Prime Minister Harper a year early. We saw it the second year in a row. Unfortunately, because of the government's spending like a drunken sailor in the last month of the fiscal year, it turned a Conservative budgetary surplus into a deficit.

Concurrence in Vote 1—Privy Council OfficeMain Estimates, 2017-18Government Orders

7:45 p.m.

Conservative

Mark Warawa Conservative Langley—Aldergrove, BC

Mr. Speaker, I listened intently and would like to ask my hon. colleague if he can think of any examples where the Prime Minister and the Liberal government have actually kept a promise. The norm in the House, and in Canada, is the Liberals say one thing and do something else. I could spend hours giving examples. Could he think of any examples where the Prime Minister has kept his promise, other than the marijuana legislation?

Concurrence in Vote 1—Privy Council OfficeMain Estimates, 2017-18Government Orders

7:45 p.m.

Conservative

John Nater Conservative Perth—Wellington, ON

Mr. Speaker, I can think of one. He did say he was going to do appointments differently. It is certainly different when he appoints a long-time Liberal donor to be an independent officer of this place.

The member for Langley—Aldergrove serves as our opposition critic for seniors. The Liberal government has failed to appoint a minister for seniors. Our former minister, the member for Richmond Centre, did an exceptional job serving seniors. They are the fastest growing demographic, a demographic that has unique needs. The Liberal government has failed to have a person at the cabinet table dedicated to representing seniors in Canada.

Concurrence in Vote 1—Privy Council OfficeMain Estimates, 2017-18Government Orders

7:50 p.m.

Liberal

Alexandra Mendes Liberal Brossard—Saint-Lambert, QC

Mr. Speaker, I had prepared a nice speech, but it is kind of off topic. That being said, I want to start by saying that if irony were water, the House would be flooded. I am truly stunned by our opposition colleagues' comments. Their memory seems to fail them. Regardless, I will now deliver my prepared speech because that is what I have before me.

I would like to take the opportunity this evening to identify some of the outstanding Canadians that our reformed Senate appointments process has produced.

Since taking office in 2015, our government has appointed 27 Canadians to the red chamber who come from diverse backgrounds in law, community activism, the arts, journalism, environmentalism, and public service. This evening, I would like to identify a few of these individuals to illustrate the diversity of viewpoints that our appointments process has brought to the Senate.

The Hon. Gwen Boniface, appointed to the Senate on November 10, 2016, is one of Canada's trail-blazing female police officers. Senator Boniface earned a bachelor of arts from York University in 1982, after which she completed her bachelor of laws degree at Osgoode Hall Law School in 1988. She entered into the Ontario Provincial Police, first in 1977 as a constable, then worked as superintendent-director responsible for first nations and contract policing and as chief superintendent regional commander for western Ontario, before becoming commissioner of the OPP in 1998.

Boniface was the first woman to be named commissioner of the OPP, serving from 1998 to 2006. After stepping down as commissioner, Senator Boniface worked with Ireland's Garda Síochána, the United Nations police division, and the United Nations counterterrorism integrated task force.

Senator Boniface has worked tirelessly to repair relationships with first nation communities, initiating many reforms to promote aboriginal policing. As a consultant on policing and justice issues, both internationally and domestically, she provided services to universities, municipalities, government, and non-profit organizations in the areas of human rights, policing, and justice. Finally, Senator Boniface was invested into the Order of Ontario in 2001 in recognition of her service for the province and her work with first nations communities. She also received the United Nations peacekeeping medal and was awarded an honorary doctorate of letters from Nipissing University in 2006.

Senator Boniface's record of work to improve the standing of marginalized groups in policing and her title of first female commissioner of the OPP certainly made her a worthy appointment to the red chamber, where she will be empowered to continue the work she has done for Canadians during her lifetime.

Another very good appointment, Senator Wanda Bernard, comes from a very different background, though the work she has done over the course of her lifetime is no less impressive. Born in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Senator Bernard has devoted her life to social work and community activism. She has been a professor at Dalhousie University's school of social work, where she has been the director for a decade. Upon receiving a full professorship, Senator Bernard became the first African Nova Scotian to hold a tenured position.

Dr. Wanda Thomas Bernard has worked with provincial organizations to bring diversity to the political process in Nova Scotia and teach community members about Canada's legislative process and citizen engagement. She is a founding member of the Association of Black Social Workers, which helps address the needs of marginalized citizens, especially those of African descent. She has served in an advisory capacity to ministers, helping them craft frameworks for gendered violence and health equity. She has also served as an expert witness in human rights cases and has presented at many local, national, and international forums.

Senator Bernard has received both the Order of Nova Scotia and the Order of Canada, among other awards, for her community service. Senator Bernard was appointed to the Senate in November 2016, where she will bring her perspective to Parliament and have the opportunity give a voice to marginalized Canadians in the country's highest institution.

I would like to, now, bring members' attention to the appointment of another unique but equally deserving Canadian to the red chamber. Senator René Cormier is a proud Acadian and community leader from New Brunswick. He has a strong background in the arts, earning a degree in music from the Université du Québec à Montréal and in theatre from L'École Internationale Jacques LeCoq in Paris.

Mr. Cormier has worked in a variety of roles over the past 40 years, as he has advanced arts and culture in Acadian and Canadian society. His resumé includes positions at Radio-Canada, artistic and general direction in theatres, and management of the États généraux on Arts and Culture in Acadian Society in New Brunswick within the Association acadienne des artistes professionnel.le.s du Nouveau-Brunswick.

Additionally, Senator Cormier has sat on a number of boards of directors, including that of TV5 Québec Canada, the Canadian Conference of the Arts, and the Atlantic Visual Arts Festival. Beyond his interest in the arts, Senator Cormier has advanced the interests of Acadians through his work with La Société de l'Acadie du Nouveau-Brunswick both within Canada and internationally. Senator Cormier has been the recipient of numerous awards, both related to the arts and to community engagement. His appointment to the Senate will certainly bring greater character and diversity to our upper house.

Another remarkable Canadian, Senator André Pratte, was one of the government's first appointments to the red chamber in April 2016. A distinguished journalist, author, and proud Quebecker, Senator Pratte's experience in the media and advocacy for Quebec bring a distinct perspective to the red chamber.

Senator Pratte worked for 35 years as a journalist, and from 2001 to 2015 was the editor-in-chief of La Presse, Montreal's largest circulation newspaper. In 2007, 2008, and 2010, he won the editorial category of the National Newspaper Awards. Pratte has voiced his support for federalism in Quebec, defending the position of his newspaper.

Along with Lucien Bouchard and 10 other Quebeckers, Pratte signed the 2005 manifesto entitled “Pour un Québec lucide”, outlining a vision for Quebec within Canada. In 2009, Senator Pratte created The Federal Idea, a non-partisan think tank devoted to studying federalism and the place of Quebec in Canada. In addition to his public advocacy and journalistic career, Pratte has published eight books, his most recent being a biography of Wilfred Laurier published in 2011.

As an accomplished Canadian and distinguished Quebecker committed to federalism, Senator Pratte will be able to contribute to the Senate in the future as a place of diverse perspectives and ideas.

The next senator I would like to bring to the attention of the house is Senator Rosa Galvez of Quebec. Born in a hemisphere away in Peru, Senator Galvez earned both a master's of science and a Ph.D. in geotechnical and geoenvironmental engineering from McGill University.

Senator Galvez is one of Canada's leading researchers on the effects of pollution, specializing in water and soil decontamination, waste management and residues, and environmental impact and risk assessment. She has worked in the private and public sector, offering advice and consultation to companies and communities. After the rail disaster in Lac-Mégantic, Senator Galvez carried out a study on the environmental impact of the spill.

Senator Galvez has also done work internationally in the U.S., Europe, and Asia. She is a member of the Ordre des ingénieurs du Québec, the Canadian Society for Civil Engineering, and Engineers Without Borders, and has been a professor at Laval University in Quebec City.

Senator Galvez will bring important expertise on environmental protection, which will be ever more important as parliamentarians will have to address the challenges of climate change.

Finally, I would like to draw the attention of the House to the appointment of Senator Tony Dean of Ontario. Senator Dean was appointed along with some of his previously mentioned colleagues in November 2016.

Mr. Dean made his career in the Ontario public service, rising to the position of secretary of the cabinet and head of the Ontario Public Service from 2002 to 2008. Senator Dean also served as deputy minister for two departments, working with NDP, Progressive Conservative, and Liberal provincial governments.

After his retirement in 2008, Senator Dean became a professor at the University of Toronto's school of public policy and governance. His hard work earned him a senior research fellowship at the Harvard Kennedy School, praise from former Premier Dalton McGuinty, who described him as “the ultimate public servant”, and the Order of Ontario in 2009. Dean has written extensively on public sector leadership in both the Toronto Star and The Guardian, and co-authored a Mowat Centre report on fiscal sustainability in Canada.

Senator Dean has decades of invaluable public administration experience and a considerable record of success in public administration. His expertise makes him a valuable addition to the Senate, where he will have the opportunity to continue his life's work of improving governance for Canadians. Additionally, his perspective as a distinguished public servant will enable Parliament as a whole to better craft legislation and policy that impacts the public service.

Each of the new senators I have mentioned today represent the best of what Canada has to offer and together form a diversity of perspectives and backgrounds. These leaders in their respective communities will be better able to represent the diversities of Canadians and help build a better Canada. Each of these individuals was selected and appointed through our government's new approach to Senate appointments, which is up for debate this evening. By selecting senators through a non-partisan, independent, and merit-based appointment process, our government is changing the composition of the Senate.

Gone are the days of appointing partisan bagmen and party hacks, a practice that resulted in the deterioration of Canadians' trust in our upper chamber. By making appointments based on merit and considering the diversity of perspectives and identities, our government is remaking the Senate into the place of non-partisan, sober second thought that it was intended to be. The Senate as an institution provides an opportunity to include the voices of groups that might not be represented in Parliament. The Senate of the past was worthy of criticism, though it was not reflective of the potential of the institution.

Our government believes in the potential of a non-partisan Senate that serves the interests of Canadians and is worthy of their trust. The reformed appointments process our government has undertaken is a step toward this future and to remaking the Senate for many decades to come.

Concurrence in Vote 1—Privy Council OfficeMain Estimates, 2017-18Government Orders

8 p.m.

Conservative

Marilyn Gladu Conservative Sarnia—Lambton, ON

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the member opposite for her speech on new senators. Obviously we are here to talk about the main estimates, but there is nothing good to talk about in them and clearly the member agrees. There is no way to defend it, so it is better to talk about senators.

The member talked about how capable these new senators are, how qualified they are to do the right thing for Canada, so why is the government refusing each amendment that the senators bring?

Concurrence in Vote 1—Privy Council OfficeMain Estimates, 2017-18Government Orders

8 p.m.

Liberal

Alexandra Mendes Liberal Brossard—Saint-Lambert, QC

Mr. Speaker, that is just not true. We do accept amendments that the senators bring to bills that have been discussed, debated, and looked at by the Senate. We do not accept them all, but we accept many of the amendments that have been made. I do not know what the member is referring to.

Concurrence in Vote 1—Privy Council OfficeMain Estimates, 2017-18Government Orders

8 p.m.

Conservative

John Nater Conservative Perth—Wellington, ON

Mr. Speaker, like my colleague from Sarnia—Lambton, I greatly enjoyed hearing the member read the Senate biographies from the Senate website into Hansard. That is always great and I appreciate in particular the member's commentary and glowing words for Senator Pratte. He is a new senator in the other place who is currently amending the budget bill in the other place, amending it to take the infrastructure bank out of the budget implementation act.

I appreciate the government's strong support for the new independent senators. Am I right to assume, given the glowing words by the member for Brossard—Saint-Lambert, that they will be accepting Senator Pratte's recommendation to split up the budget bill and break off the new infrastructure bank from the budget implementation act?

Concurrence in Vote 1—Privy Council OfficeMain Estimates, 2017-18Government Orders

8 p.m.

Liberal

Alexandra Mendes Liberal Brossard—Saint-Lambert, QC

Mr. Speaker, I obviously cannot presume what cabinet will decide. As the member so rightly pointed out, I am not cabinet. I am a member of Parliament, so I will not make that decision. I will let cabinet come to that decision.

Concurrence in Vote 1—Privy Council OfficeMain Estimates, 2017-18Government Orders

8 p.m.

Liberal

Greg Fergus Liberal Hull—Aylmer, QC

Mr. Speaker, thank you for allowing me this opportunity to thank the member for Brossard—Saint-Lambert for her great intervention. I am glad that she brought up senators and the whole nomination process because the members opposite do not want to talk about the nomination process for the Senate. I am certain my hon. colleague can discuss why, and then the talk about the quality senators that we have appointed. I am glad my hon. colleague brought up the issue of Senator André Pratte, who came up with a very reasonable change to our budget bill in last year's budget, which was accepted by the government upon reflection. The Senate fulfilled its role of sober second thought and provided us with an option.

I am wondering if the hon. member could enlighten me as to what type of sober second thought the previous government had in terms of Senator Mike Duffy, or I could continue on with other senators. What types of reflection and contributions did they make to the legislative process in the other place?

Concurrence in Vote 1—Privy Council OfficeMain Estimates, 2017-18Government Orders

8:05 p.m.

Liberal

Alexandra Mendes Liberal Brossard—Saint-Lambert, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would prefer to talk about the good things that our side of the House has done. I do not want to revisit the Senate's dark past.

All senators, including Senator Pratt, do meaningful work, including when they propose amendments for us to consider. In the case of the Citizenship Act, we accepted two of the three amendments proposed by the Senate. Obviously, as a government, our views will not always align with the Senate's proposals, but we take into account what the chamber of sober second thought proposes, since that is its reason for being. That is exactly why we have two chambers of Parliament.

Concurrence in Vote 1—Privy Council OfficeMain Estimates, 2017-18Government Orders

8:05 p.m.

Conservative

Rachael Harder Conservative Lethbridge, AB

Mr. Speaker, it certainly was very fascinating—the word I will choose to use—to listen to the member opposite talk about the Senate and do nothing more than simply read the biographies off the Internet.

We are here in this House today talking about the estimates, which really comes down to our taking taxpayers' money and allocating it into different services and provisions on behalf of the Canadian people.

My question is simple. Why does the member opposite not feel that it is necessary to speak on behalf of Canadians and take this process seriously?

Concurrence in Vote 1—Privy Council OfficeMain Estimates, 2017-18Government Orders

8:05 p.m.

Liberal

Alexandra Mendes Liberal Brossard—Saint-Lambert, QC

Mr. Speaker, I do not know why the member thinks we are not taking the process seriously. This is part of the estimates that we are discussing.

With regard to the Senate, I am not reciting a speech by rote. I believe what I just said. I believe in our Senate. I believe it has a very important role to play in our Parliament. It is a part of our Parliament. I believe we have extremely qualified senators on all sides of the chamber. Independent, Liberal, and Conservative senators do a wonderful amount of work and have a very important position in our Parliament.

Concurrence in Vote 1—Privy Council OfficeMain Estimates, 2017-18Government Orders

8:05 p.m.

Moncton—Riverview—Dieppe New Brunswick

Liberal

Ginette Petitpas Taylor LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, I would like to take this opportunity to thank my colleague for giving us a good overview and background on our senators.

As the member for Moncton—Riverview—Dieppe and as a member representing the province of New Brunswick, I was extremely pleased this year that we had two senators appointed, one of whom the member mentioned, Senator Cormier, who represents the Acadian population so well in my riding. Being a French Acadian girl, I was extremely proud when he was appointed to the Senate, because we have seen the amazing work that he has done. As well, Nancy Hartling, from near my riding, is another trailblazer. The member did not mention her today, but she also has a phenomenal background and has done wonderful work on violence against women. She is a strong feminist and activist. We are very proud of her.

I am wondering if my colleague could talk about the benefit of the independent process that we have, and how these independent senators benefit our House and our laws.

Concurrence in Vote 1—Privy Council OfficeMain Estimates, 2017-18Government Orders

8:05 p.m.

Liberal

Alexandra Mendes Liberal Brossard—Saint-Lambert, QC

Mr. Speaker, I believe the process that has been put in place by the Prime Minister has resulted in an extremely non-partisan chamber that is fulfilling its main role, which is to provide us with a sober second thought on legislation. By choosing people who have achieved great success in their careers and their lives, we are precisely voicing what Canadians have done with their lives and what has made this country so magnificent and admirable throughout the world. Therefore, yes, I think the process is the right one, and it has taken away a lot of the partisanship in naming senators.

Concurrence in Vote 1—Privy Council OfficeMain Estimates, 2017-18Government Orders

8:05 p.m.

Conservative

Mark Warawa Conservative Langley—Aldergrove, BC

Mr. Speaker, I listened intently, and it was a very interesting speech, although not quite on topic. We are here to talk about the estimates. I did find the member's perspective interesting with respect to acknowledging the high quality of the appointments of senators.

What baffles me—and a lot of Canadians have asked me this—is if these are truly independent senators. If they are, why is it that the Prime Minister's Office and ministers are encouraging the senators to vote in certain ways? She said that she will be waiting for her instructions from cabinet as to how she will be voting, and we see something very similar with the senators. Why are the Liberals coaching these independent senators to vote in certain ways?

Concurrence in Vote 1—Privy Council OfficeMain Estimates, 2017-18Government Orders

8:10 p.m.

Liberal

Alexandra Mendes Liberal Brossard—Saint-Lambert, QC

Mr. Speaker, I do not even know how to begin to answer that question. I never said that I am waiting for cabinet to tell me how to vote. I have proven in this House that I vote as I see fit, and I will vote in the estimates as I see fit . That is not the question.

I did say that it is up to cabinet to decide what amendments to accept to a bill. It is not for me to decide whether I accept an amendment; that is the cabinet's role. Again, if the independent senators were not so independent, they would not be bringing back amendments that we do not necessarily agree with. I think that proves their independence.

Concurrence in Vote 1—Privy Council OfficeMain Estimates, 2017-18Government Orders

8:10 p.m.

Liberal

Peter Fragiskatos Liberal London North Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, we saw in the past election campaign ideas put forward by various parties on what to do with the Senate. The NDP wanted to abolish the Senate, which would have pushed us as a country into constitutional negotiations for the better part of a decade. In the difficult economic situation that the Conservatives had put us in at the time, that would have been very difficult to pursue. Mr. Harper wanted to stop appointing senators, which would have presented constitutional issues in and of itself.

We are pursuing a different path, a merit-based process. I wonder if the hon. member could comment on the utility of that and the fact that this is quite realistic, quite prudent, and in fact matches with what constitutional experts across the country have talked about and advised.

Concurrence in Vote 1—Privy Council OfficeMain Estimates, 2017-18Government Orders

8:10 p.m.

Liberal

Alexandra Mendes Liberal Brossard—Saint-Lambert, QC

Mr. Speaker, my colleague's question is very much what we hear constituents telling us: that they appreciate this new process, they appreciate the transparency with which we are doing it, and they appreciate the fact that the senators who have been named so far really do prove to have incredible merits and represent very well the successes of our country.

Concurrence in Vote 1—Privy Council OfficeMain Estimates, 2017-18Government Orders

8:10 p.m.

Conservative

Kevin Sorenson Conservative Battle River—Crowfoot, AB

Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to rise in the House again tonight. I will be splitting my time with the member for Sarnia—Lambton.

I appreciated the speech I just heard, and before I get into my remarks, my colleague the vice-chair from public accounts committee expressed very good comments and much confidence in the Senate. We will wait to see what the government does with the budget bill that the Senate will send back with all the amendments. We will see if she is bragging about the members of the Senate then. However, it is good to follow the member from the Liberal Party.

I am pleased to speak during the debate on the main estimates and this government's mismanagement of the Canadian economy. The main estimates are a publication from the federal Government of Canada. They detail the Liberal economic plan, how it has failed, and how Canadians are the ones ending up paying for it. Most disappointing is that we can see item by item, line by line, that the main estimates are telling us that the Liberal government's only solution to the problems it is facing is to try to manage on behalf of Canadians by borrowing more money, spending more money, and putting our children and grandchildren into bigger debt.

The biggest problem with this borrowed money is that in the long term it affects Canadian workers, families, and jobs. Economic forecasts suggest it could be 2055 before the government again has a balanced budget, unless, of course, Canadian voters decide to elect a Conservative government as soon as possible to stop the skyrocketing debt the Government of Canada is piling up.

On May 30 of this year, a few days ago, the parliamentary budget officer released a report entitled “Following the Dollar: Tracking Budget 2016 Spending and Tax Measures”. This document is important because it provides Canadians with an independent analysis of the Liberal government's finances.

In the annual federal budget, the government outlines its fiscal plan, including additional spending for ongoing programs, new spending initiatives, and changes to taxation. I want to highlight some of the findings in the parliamentary budget officer's document. For example, the parliamentary budget officer says, “...many spending measures had more funding or less funding in fiscal year 2016-17 than indicated in the budget (31 per cent)”.

The people of Battle River—Crowfoot, the investors on Bay Street and around the world, the middle class and, as they would say, those trying to join the middle class are disappointed that the Liberals were 30% wrong in their budgetary calculations. Imagine: 31% of the Liberal budget was wrong in its projections. In the private sector, accountants, number crunchers, forecasters, chief financial officers, and other executives would be in serious trouble if one-third of their facts and figures were wrong. They might be fired from their jobs for such a 30% error.

Small businesses around my constituency and across our country cannot survive and stay in business if they are one-third wrong on their budgetary estimates. Obviously they would be poor managers, and those businesses would undoubtedly lose business. However, the Liberals are confident that if things go off the rails, even by 30%, they can simply borrow more money off the backs of taxpayers in the next federal budget.

The parliamentary budget officer also found that 8% of the Liberals' spending measures “were not provided funding through the supplementary estimates.” This is important because it means that 8% of the budget was never funded. These budgetary announcements—“announcement” being the key word—were never paid for. They do not exist. The middle class and those trying to join it have been shortchanged by the Liberals by almost 10%.

Is this another tax, to simply withhold 8% to 10% of what they promised? Is this another way of promising something, then not delivering on it, and hoping no one notices?

The parliamentary budget officer noticed and we noticed. The parliamentary budget officer's report said, “That is, they were not implemented as stated in Budget 2016.” The Liberals promise, and then they break the promise. The current government should get an A for announcement and a D for delivery. It should get an A for making those wonderful promises to municipalities, and wonderful promises to Canadians, but when it comes right down to delivering, the budget officer said it is failing.

I hope the Canadian electorate tires of this talking the talk, but not walking the walk. I hope the voters do something in the very next election. The parliamentary budget officer is so very diplomatic in the way he makes these comments, much like our Auditor General. As chair of the public accounts committee, I have learned that Canada's auditors general, including our current Auditor General, are for the most part very matter of fact when they comment on the government's performances. The parliamentary budget officer, another officer of Parliament, carefully said, “...which suggests that the Government may need to improve its funding processes or its estimation methodology for spending measures included in the budget.”

Therefore, what makes this credibility gap that the Liberals are the architects of even more tough is, and I will again quote the parliamentary budget officer report. He said:

Moreover, there is no clear line of sight from budget announcements to their implementation. The different presentation, wording and accounting methodology makes it challenging to align budget spending measures with items included in the estimates. And it is not possible to track spending on most budget measures beyond the first year or what was actually spent on specific measures. It is thus very difficult for parliamentarians to follow the dollar and hold the government to account for implementing its fiscal plan, as outlined in the budget.

This would be brilliant if it were not so scary or so nefarious. It almost makes one wonder if this is some type of devious plan concocted by our finance minister and President of the Treasury Board, who is here tonight, so we can throw him in there too, both of whom should know better. An alternative explanation would be simple incompetence. Canadians do not want to believe that those in charge of Canadians' fiscal situation are so incompetent, but the facts and the figures they present cannot even be traced or linked to reality. That is according to the parliamentary budget officer, and yet Canadians do not want to believe that the books are cooked.

Even an accountant has a difficult time following the money trail left by the current government. Worst of all, we parliamentarians are supposed to be able to examine what has been done by the Liberal government, and debate these things during main estimates debate, for example, like we are doing here tonight. Canadians rely on us to spend the time going over these books: the budget, the estimates, the supplementary estimates, and even the public accounts of Canada. Canadians should be able to depend on and believe that these expenditures by the Liberal government are what it says they are.

Therefore, what do the Liberals do? They present this House with a budget that reads almost like a plate of spaghetti, and then they challenge the members of Parliament to follow each noodle of their expenditures of taxpayers' dollars, and make political and policy decisions on the success or failure of these expenditures. The Liberals make it as hard as possible to follow the expenditures. The average member of Parliament has very great difficulty following the promised expenditure to the actual expense. Liberal backbenchers do not have to read or study this; they just accept what the finance minister says. They are basically told, “Do not bother about that, we will give you your talking points; you're new, over the years you'll learn how to do this.” However, even the parliamentary budget officer says the methodology of working through this is difficult.

I have concentrated my comments on the work of the parliamentary budget officer. The Liberal government is scrambling the facts and figures we are debating tonight in the budgetary main estimates, and I believe dishonestly.

The budget officer tries to withhold the frustration of that office, and the PBO gently calls for more streamlined reporting in the budget process, a little more transparency and methodology.

I am thankful for the opportunity, on behalf of Battle River—Crowfoot, to bring forward some of the concerns we have with the government, the main estimates, and with its spending.

Concurrence in Vote 1—Privy Council OfficeMain Estimates, 2017-18Government Orders

8:20 p.m.

Kings—Hants Nova Scotia

Liberal

Scott Brison LiberalPresident of the Treasury Board

Mr. Speaker, I am delighted to rise in the House tonight and participate in this debate. However, I found it curious that the hon. member, who had been a member of the previous government, has a very selective memory when it comes to the fiscal record of that government.

The Harper government inherited the best fiscal situation of any incoming government in Canadian history, a $13 billion surplus. During the good times, that government not only eliminated that surplus, it put Canada into a deficit before the 2008 financial crisis. It then went on to add $150 billion to the national debt, and all we got out of it were a few gazebos and a fake lake. We also had the worst growth record under that Harper government that we had since the Great Depression.

The Liberals are making in investments, implementing progressive tax cuts, and providing Canadian middle class and low income families with the help they need right now. That is working. That is why we have had the best growth in the last six months than we have had in 10 years in Canada, and the creation of 250,000 new jobs.

Why is that hon. member opposed to the kinds of important investments that can move Canadian families forward, build more livable communities, and a more competitive economy?

Concurrence in Vote 1—Privy Council OfficeMain Estimates, 2017-18Government Orders

8:20 p.m.

Conservative

Kevin Sorenson Conservative Battle River—Crowfoot, AB

Mr. Speaker, I love the rhetoric coming from the President of the Treasury Board. Make no mistake, when the Conservatives came to power in 2006, he is correct, there was a surplus, almost a $9 billion surplus. They undoubtedly did like former Prime Minister Martin did in overtaxing Canadians. There was no question. There was no recession. Those were in very good times.

In 2007 and 2008, the world went into a recession. Canada was the last to go into the recession. The Liberal Party and the NDP were begging for the government to spend like drunken sailors. We know how drunken sailors spend. We can see how they are doing it today. We paid down $40 billion in debt. Yes, we went into deficit while the whole world was going into deficit to kick-start the economy. When the Conservatives left power, we were not in a recession, we balanced the budget, and we told Canadians that as long as there was growth in the economy, we would balance the budget. We would keep our spending in line.

The other thing that is forgotten is that the Conservatives encouraged Canadians to save through things like a tax free savings account. There are no options like that brought forward in a budget, nothing shown in the estimates. The Liberal government only cares about spending. It does not care about seniors or the average Canadian. It is a shame. The Conservatives will solve it in 2019.

Concurrence in Vote 1—Privy Council OfficeMain Estimates, 2017-18Government Orders

8:25 p.m.

Liberal

Wayne Easter Liberal Malpeque, PE

Mr. Speaker, I want to follow-up on the comments made by the Treasury Board minister.

First, the member opposite accused this government of talking the talk, but not walking the walk. If there was any experience in that kind of talking the talk and not walking the walk, it was the previous government with cuts to the RCMP, services, EI, the public service, and to pretty near everything known to man.

Let us talk about the progress this government is making. Here is a quote from today's Globe and Mail, “The Bank of Canada sent out more signals Tuesday that it's moving closer to an interest-rate hike as the economy continues to strengthen.” A quote from the Governor of the Bank of Canada, “The economy is gathering momentum, and not just in certain spots but across a much- wider array.”

That is because of things this government is doing, and because of things the Treasury Board minister talked about. This government is talking the talk and walking the walk, and we are investing in Canadian—

Concurrence in Vote 1—Privy Council OfficeMain Estimates, 2017-18Government Orders

8:25 p.m.

Conservative

The Deputy Speaker Conservative Bruce Stanton

The hon. member for Battle River—Crowfoot.

Concurrence in Vote 1—Privy Council OfficeMain Estimates, 2017-18Government Orders

8:25 p.m.

Conservative

Kevin Sorenson Conservative Battle River—Crowfoot, AB

Mr. Speaker, the Liberals are not walking the walk; they are following along. They are caught in the wake behind the Unites States economy. That is a fact.

When we went into the global downturn, the United States and every G7 country had gone into that downturn as well. Canada was the last to go in. Why? It is because we paid down our debt by $40 billion. We lowered our taxes. We lowered the GST, and we lowered taxes for every Canadian. The average family in the time the Conservative party was governing had $6,600 more in their pockets than they have today.

We were the last to go into the recession, and first to come out. Why? It is because international investors understood we were going to get our house in order. Why are those same investors today going to China? Why are they selling-off all our goods to China? It is because it is hard to find investors here in Canada that believe the government in the long-term has the economy in mind. The government fails. It spends, but it is not concerned with balancing budgets and fiscal management.

Concurrence in Vote 1—Privy Council OfficeMain Estimates, 2017-18Government Orders

8:25 p.m.

Conservative

Marilyn Gladu Conservative Sarnia—Lambton, ON

Mr. Speaker, what a surprise it is to be in the House tonight and to have more than three government members here at this time and to have them so passionate about the debate on estimates.

As usual, I am going to try not to say the same things everyone else has brought to this debate. I am going to try to add a few different perspectives.

In my past experience, I was a global leader in a multinational business. We had a budgeting process. We had a process to look at estimates. The first thing we needed to be sure of were the desired outcomes we were hoping to accomplish. That was the first question. Second, how much did we estimate the plans we needed to put in place to achieve those outcomes would cost? Third, could we afford to do them all, and if we could not afford to do them all, how would we prioritize them? What were the most important ones? Once we had that plan and the estimates associated with it, how would we track it as we went along to see how our spending was happening. Was it happening as we planned or not?

That ought to be the goal of this estimates discussion tonight. We should be looking at the estimates and we should be able to see what the desired outcomes are, what the plans are, how much each of those costs, and what the priorities are so we can then track them.

I would say that there is not a lot of disagreement about the desired outcomes of the budget. We have heard what they are, because it is the rhetoric we hear all the time. Everyone wants the middle class to do well. Everyone wants to raise people out of poverty. We want to help our seniors. We want to help our veterans. We want to defend our country. We want to help our families. Everyone in the House is on that page for those desired outcomes.

However, when I look at the estimates, it is very convoluted as far as how much we are really spending, when we are spending it, and how we will track it. There is some room for improvement.

Another thing we can look at is the gender part of budget 2017 and the estimates that come from that. As the chair of status of women, we certainly devoted a lot of time to coming up with a very detailed report on gender-based analysis-plus. There were recommendations that were accepted by the government that it was to implement, but so far, none of them have been implemented.

Although these estimates were apparently developed with GBA-plus in mind, there is no transparency from the government on what analysis was done, what exactly came of it, and what changes were actually made. That is not clear to me. If it is not clear to me, then it is not clear to other Canadians.

The other report we did at status of women that was critical was on taking action to eliminate violence against women and girls. One out of three or one out of four women in Canada will experience violence. This is a huge issue. If we look to the estimates, we see that the government is planning to spend $100 million over five years. That is $20 million a year to handle violence against women, which affects one in three or one in four women in Canada.

How does that relate to other priorities? The government is going to spend more than three times that amount to collect statistical data. That is how important eliminating violence against women is. It is more important to collect data than to do that. Again, when it comes to the priorities we see in the estimates, I take some exception to that.

Another subject I would like to talk about is pay equity, because of course, I was also able to serve on the pay equity committee, three times a week for about three hours a night, to make sure that we, in a hurry, came with recommendations for the government. We did come with recommendations, and again, there is nothing in these estimates to address that. There is no progress on those initiatives. While the government claims to be a feminist government that is about gender equality, I really have to question that. I do not see it reflected at all in the estimates.

We are currently studying how to improve the economic status of women in Canada. One of the things we are looking at are the barriers to women improving their economic security. One of them, of course, is child care. We saw earlier this week that the government had an announcement on that. It is talking about maybe 40,000 spots, which is about 100 or 120 per riding. It is totally inadequate for the need. The government is counting on the provinces to do the right thing and implement that in a way that will actually come with spaces.

We see in places like Quebec, which has child care that is subsidized, that there are issues with not only the quality of the care but the flexibility of the hours of the care, and there is also a huge waiting list. It is still inadequate to meet the needs. What is in the estimates certainly does not reflect what needs to happen.

The other thing I would say about the budgeting and estimates process is that in the real world, we come with our estimates and have no more money to spend after that. There seems to be a philosophy here that if we come to the end of the money, we just get a supplement. I sit on the liaison committee, and I watch continually as officials come with the estimate of what they are going to spend. They spend that, and then they come with supplementary estimates for what else they want to spend, and the Liberals approve that, and then they go again. This is not the way Canadian taxpayers want us to manage their funds. We need to be responsible with their funds. We need to put our plans in place and stick to our budget, and that is how it should work.

The government makes it worse by giving Canadians messages that it is not open and transparent. When we have asked for information on the carbon tax, it has been rejected. When people misrepresent facts here in the House of Commons and they are proven later, it erodes the credibility of the government. When there is not clarity in the estimates, people will say that the government has not been credible in some areas, so can they really believe that the money is going where they think it is? That is something that needs to be addressed.

On the subject of deficits, Canadians clearly supported a small $10-billion deficit, but then it got way out of control and was $30 billion, and it is going to be $30 billion again this year. The problem is that eventually, we are going to be paying $10 billion a year in interest payments on the deficit we have racked up, especially with interest rates that may go up. I do not see that reflected, and I am concerned about the ongoing sustainability of that.

I also need to comment on the science budget, because I am the critic for science, so I should have something to say about the estimates and what is happening there. There is an important review, the Naylor report, which looks at science and how we should change things. The report came in December 2016. It has 32 recommendations, but they are not reflected anywhere in the estimates. We know the value of what we are going to do is not zero, so there should not be zero in the estimates. There should be something, some plan, some amount of allotment the government would dedicate to that, because there are some very worthy recommendations in the Naylor report. I would be happy to give a speech another day and give a dissertation on that 300-page report.

The estimates should reflect the legislative priority as well, but I do not see that there really is a legislative priority. The government seems to be spending a lot of time discussing things that have already happened. We spent hours here talking about Bill C-24, which is a bill to address the salaries of the ministers and make the junior ones equivalent to the senior ones and to eliminate six economic ministers. Those actions have already been taken, but we spent all kinds of time in the House talking about it after it was already done. Obviously, we are not reflecting the priorities of the government.

There have only been 19 pieces of legislation passed, compared to 52 by the previous government, and of those 19, 10 were budgetary.

In terms of the estimates, we need to make sure that, once again, we come back to what they do in the real world. We know what the desired outcomes are, but we have to get clarity about the plans and how much they really cost so we can track them. We also have to give consideration to whether we can afford them all. Sometimes we cannot afford to do everything we want to do, and we have to draw the line. I would encourage the government to be more fiscally responsible and to not say yes to everything. It should have priorities and do what is important for Canadians.

Concurrence in Vote 1—Privy Council OfficeMain Estimates, 2017-18Government Orders

8:35 p.m.

Kings—Hants Nova Scotia

Liberal

Scott Brison LiberalPresident of the Treasury Board

Mr. Speaker, we are making important investments with which I believe the hon. member would be in agreement. Investments in public transit and green infrastructure are part of these estimates. She mentioned the Naylor report. There are investments in the post-secondary institutions strategic investment fund, the SIF fund, which is specifically investing in post-secondary research infrastructure across Canada. She mentioned women. There is investment in social infrastructure to help families, including social housing. As a government, we have provided to low-income and middle-income families, through the Canada child benefit, a remarkable boost. A low-income single parent making $30,000 a year would be $6,000 better off under our plan.

We are investing in a lot of the priorities she says she supports, and I take her at her word, but she is not talking about those investments. Let us get back to talking about some of the specific investments we are making.

She has talked about making the budget and estimates process more transparent. I agree with her, and that is why we are moving forward with, and have in fact implemented, purpose-based budgeting in some departments, though we want to do more; reconciliation of cash in accrual accounting to make it easier for not just parliamentarians but Canadians broadly to understand the process; and results-based reporting for departments, including a new departmental results framework that focuses on what the departments are investing in and what they are actually accomplishing.

She also mentioned the sequencing of the main estimates. She mentioned that we should be doing things more like other governments. Perhaps she was referencing the private sector. In no other environment does it really make sense to have the main estimates before we have the budget. One of our proposals is that we have the budget and then we have the main estimates following the budget, such that it reflects the priorities of the government and we can have legitimate debate in the House on the main estimates and have the main estimates really mean something. Would she support that kind of change?

Concurrence in Vote 1—Privy Council OfficeMain Estimates, 2017-18Government Orders

8:40 p.m.

Conservative

Marilyn Gladu Conservative Sarnia—Lambton, ON

Mr. Speaker, I want to correct the President of the Treasury Board on one point, and that is that there are no estimates that have to do with the Naylor report in this particular main estimates discussion. Those will come in the supplementary estimates, probably later this year.

With respect to his question on infrastructure, I do not think we should confuse infrastructure press releases with actual infrastructure projects. Of the 1,200 projects out there, I understand that between 5% and 10% actually have shovels in the ground. In fact, the construction industry in the country has decreased by 16%. That is of concern, because while I think we intended to implement infrastructure spending to get the kind of economic growth we wanted, we really have not seen infrastructure projects move along as well as they could.

In terms of the transparency of the budgeting process, I absolutely support the President of the Treasury Board's comments that we need to get estimates before budgets. That makes sense and is what is done elsewhere. It would also be more transparent. The government can say what it intended to do and then what it actually spent.

Concurrence in Vote 1—Privy Council OfficeMain Estimates, 2017-18Government Orders

8:40 p.m.

Conservative

Randy Hoback Conservative Prince Albert, SK

Mr. Speaker, in Saskatchewan in 2008-09, the global recession hit. It was interesting to see how the Conservative government at the time reacted, the decisions it made, the transparency, how the infrastructure money flowed out to communities, and how it was spent. It was spent on water systems, treatment plants, roads, and sewers. The infrastructure projects were vital for the people of Saskatchewan and right across Canada.

The member talks about transparency in the estimates. When she was in Ontario in 2008-09, there was a totally different picture. Can she tell me how transparency would relate to the fact that we do not want to see the mistakes they made in Ontario repeated here in Ottawa?

Concurrence in Vote 1—Privy Council OfficeMain Estimates, 2017-18Government Orders

8:40 p.m.

Conservative

Marilyn Gladu Conservative Sarnia—Lambton, ON

Mr. Speaker, Ontario has had a troubled past, especially under the Wynne Liberal government.

With respect to the rollouts, we spent a lot of money on power projects and renewable energy projects that were 86¢ per kilowatt hour, compared to 4¢ for coal and 8¢ for nuclear. This drove the cost of electricity up, which we are still struggling with in terms of small businesses and our ability to attract industry to us. Under the Conservative government, my riding received a lot of infrastructure money and put a lot of projects in place to address waste water, city sewers, roads, and a lot of the things that got the construction business going. Currently, under the Liberal government, I have been looking for $12 million of infrastructure money to create 3,000 jobs in my riding for an oversized-load corridor. It has been two years, and we are not anywhere yet.

Bill C-49—Notice of time allocation motionTransportation Modernization ActGovernment Orders

8:40 p.m.

Waterloo Ontario

Liberal

Bardish Chagger LiberalLeader of the Government in the House of Commons and Minister of Small Business and Tourism

Mr. Speaker, I would like to advise that agreement could not reached under the provisions of Standing Order 78(1) or 78(2) with respect to the second reading stage of Bill C-49, an act to amend the Canada Transportation Act and other acts respecting transportation and to make related and consequential amendments to other acts.

Under the provisions of Standing Order 78(3), I give notice that a minister of the crown will propose at the next sitting a motion to allot a specific number of days or hours for the consideration and disposal of proceedings at the said stage.

The House resumed consideration of Motion No. 1

Concurrence in Vote 1—Privy Council OfficeMain Estimates, 2017-18Government Orders

8:45 p.m.

Liberal

Mike Bossio Liberal Hastings—Lennox and Addington, ON

Mr. Speaker, I rise this evening to draw to the attention of the House the background and merit of certainly recently appointed senators selected under this government's reformed appointments process.

Unlike the previous government, we have made it a priority to only appoint individuals who have a record of contributing to Canadian society in their own unique ways and who have succeeded in making life better for Canadians. It is these qualities that we look for in our new senators, a refreshing change from the past.

Our new appointments process is remaking the Senate. By creating an independent appointments process, we are choosing individuals who represent Canadian communities that otherwise might not have a voice in Parliament.

I would like to bring the to the attention of members just a few of these individuals who this government has appointed to date.

Appointed December 6, 2016, Senator Dan Christmas is one of our government's latest appointments to the red chamber. Born in Sydney, Nova Scotia, Senator Christmas is a Mi'kmaw of the Membertou First Nation.

Senator Christmas has been very active in the Membertou community. He served as band manager for the community of Membertou for five years before moving to the Union of Nova Scotia Indians. There, he worked for 15 years, 10 of which he spent as its director.

During his tenure, Mr. Christmas helped the Membertou First Nation grow and become a thriving community. Through his work in his community, and outside, Senator Christmas has amassed extensive expertise and knowledge of issues relevant to indigenous communities in Atlantic Canada. His experience extends to the fields of aboriginal and treaty rights, justice, policing, education, health care, human rights, adult training, business development, and the environment.

By having such knowledge of important issues, Senator Christmas will improve the Senate's overall capacity to make informed decisions, considering the best interests of first nations in Ailanthic Canada.

Another outstanding Maritimer, Senator Nancy Hartling, was appointed to the Senate on November 10, 2016. Originally from Tatamagouche, Nova Scotia, Senator Hartling earned a bachelor's degree from Norwich University and a master's degree in adult education from St. Francis Xavier University.

During her career, Hartling devoted herself to promoting social change, focusing on families and social issues. In 1982, Hartling founded Support to Single Parents Incorporated in Moncton, serving as director until the organization closed in 2016. During its more than 30 years in operation, Support to Single Parents provided single parents with affordable housing. Her long career working on social issues has given her extensive knowledge of mental health-related issues, poverty, violence against women, and economic development.

Mrs. Hartling's record of achievement in community service, in organizational leadership, and in advocacy has been recognized with several awards, such as the Governor General's Award in Commemoration of the Persons Case, the Community Spirit Award from the United Way of Greater Moncton and Southeastern New Brunswick, and the Order of New Brunswick.

Senator Hartling is a direct beneficent of our government's new Senate appointments process, as she applied directly under the new process introduced in 2016.

Senator Hartling's experience working on women's issues will bring the voice of an underprivileged group in Parliament.

Another November 10, 2016, appointment, Mr. Sarabjit S. Marwah, comes from a very different background. Born around the world in India, Marwah immigrated to Canada after pursuing studies in Calcutta, Delhi, and Los Angeles. He joined Scotiabank in Toronto as a financial analyst in the bank's finance division in 1979. Over the course of his career, senator Marwah rose through more senior positions, becoming chief financial officer in 1998 and a senior vice president in 2002.

Prior to his appointment in 2016, Senator Marwah had been the vice chairman and chief operating officer of the bank since 2008.

Outside of his professional life, Senator Marwah, has been particularly active in his community. He currently serves as vice chair of the board of trustees of the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto. He is on the board of directors for the Toronto International Film Festival.

Senator Marwah is Sikh and is a founding member of the Sikh Foundation of Canada, representing the Sikh community in Canada.

Sabi has been recognized with several awards, including the following: Professional of the Year Award from the Indo Canada Chamber of Commerce in 1994; the Sewa Award on two occasions from the Sikh Centennial Foundation; Queen’s Golden Jubilee Award; Words & Deeds award from the United Jewish Federation in 2009; and the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Award in 2012.

Mr. Marwah's record of community service and success as an immigrant in the business community reflect his ambition and success, which will serve the Senate and Canadians well with this new appointment.

Concurrence in Vote 1—Privy Council OfficeMain Estimates, 2017-18Government Orders

8:50 p.m.

Conservative

John Nater Conservative Perth—Wellington, ON

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order. I notice the member reading from a prepared document. He seems to be reading the Senate biographies from the other place. Perhaps we could speed this up and ask for unanimous consent to simply table the website from the senate of all Senate biographies and move things along and discuss issues that are actually relevant and matter to Canadians, such as those contained in the actual main estimates.

Concurrence in Vote 1—Privy Council OfficeMain Estimates, 2017-18Government Orders

8:50 p.m.

Conservative

The Deputy Speaker Conservative Bruce Stanton

Does the hon. member for Perth—Wellington have unanimous consent of the House to propose such a request?

Concurrence in Vote 1—Privy Council OfficeMain Estimates, 2017-18Government Orders

8:50 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

No.

Concurrence in Vote 1—Privy Council OfficeMain Estimates, 2017-18Government Orders

8:50 p.m.

Conservative

The Deputy Speaker Conservative Bruce Stanton

The hon. member for Hastings—Lennox and Addington.

Concurrence in Vote 1—Privy Council OfficeMain Estimates, 2017-18Government Orders

8:50 p.m.

Liberal

Mike Bossio Liberal Hastings—Lennox and Addington, ON

Mr. Speaker, Senator Mégie exemplifies just what our government's merit-based appointments process is aimed at; Canadians with diverse backgrounds, compelling qualifications, and bold contributions to Canadian society. A member of the Order of Canada, Senator Mégie's career encompasses more than 35 years as a family doctor and nearly 30 years as a university professor and mentor to young Canadians.

Since being appointed by the Prime Minister last November, she has proven her mettle on the Senate committee on social affairs, science and technology, the committee on official languages, and the committee on aboriginal peoples.

Senator Mégie has provided her quiet strength to the red chamber in a way that inspires and honours Canadians and encourages us all to meet the standards she sets for parliamentary excellence.

The senator not only embodies the hard work and integrity that the upper house requires, but she embodies a vision for the future of Canada and proves to young women of colour what they can be capable of if they work hard and believe in themselves.

This kind of representation, where Canadians of all backgrounds can see themselves represented in their leaders, is paramount to the strength of our democracy and the engagement of young Canadians. Every day the senator gives her focus and energy to our country to advance the interests of Canadians, using her expertise in health and education to help Canada find its way forward.

Our government is committed to achieving a less partisan and more independent Senate with merit-based appointments. In the time that Senator Mégie has dedicated to Parliament, she has proven that those efforts are working. I believe this process will prove to be a new era for accountability and efficacy of the Senate of Canada.

Another member of a group of senators appointed November 10, 2016, Lucie Moncion, has an outstanding record of leadership in her field and represents a unique community in Canada.

Originally from Ottawa, Senator Moncion earned her bachelor of business administration from Laurentian University and an MBA from Moncton University. She has extensive knowledge of the cooperative financing sector, was the first woman in Canada to be appointed as head of a caisse populaire federation, and served as the president and chief executive officer of L’Alliance des caisses populaires de l’Ontario for 16 years.

Active on various corporate boards of directors, she has chaired the audit and governance committees of Groupe Média TFO. She was vice chair of Nipissing University's board of governors, treasurer of the Direction Ontario board of directors, chair of the Circuit Champlain and Coalition of Credit Unions and Caisses Populaires working groups, and a member of the board of directors at Collège Boréal.

Aside from her professional experience, Senator Moncion has extensive knowledge of the Franco-Ontarian community.

Over the course of her lifetime, she has developed an in-depth knowledge of northern Ontario, its economy, business climate, needs and communities and has recognized experience in the cooperatives and social entrepreneurship sector.

In the Senate, Senator Moncion will bring her knowledge of business, entrepreneurship, and cooperative financing, but also an understanding of one of Ontario's social minorities. Senator Moncion's experiences will help the Senate build a better future for all Canadians.

Another esteemed parliamentarian, Senator Pate, demonstrates the strength of this appointment process. Senator Pate is a nationally renowned advocate for women and youth issues, and has for 35 years, been a voice to the marginalized, the victimized, and all those who society has failed. Her work on the prison system, feminism, human rights, immigration, indigenous affairs, and mental health, as well as her legal expertise, make her contribution to the Senate something few can match.

Her progressive wisdom, temerity, and single-minded quest to bring justice and compassion to the voiceless is evident to all parliamentarians. This government knows she will bring that record of excellence to the Senate. We are tremendously lucky to have someone with her heart on Parliament Hill.

To quote Senator Pate's maiden speech, “I have—

Concurrence in Vote 1—Privy Council OfficeMain Estimates, 2017-18Government Orders

8:55 p.m.

Conservative

Mark Strahl Conservative Chilliwack—Hope, BC

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order. I fail to understand how reading, word for word, a senator's biography has anything to do with the main estimates. I know, as Speakers often remind us, there is wide latitude. However, I am struggling to see how reading from the biography of a senator from a website, word for word, is contributing to the debate on the main estimates.

Concurrence in Vote 1—Privy Council OfficeMain Estimates, 2017-18Government Orders

8:55 p.m.

Conservative

The Deputy Speaker Conservative Bruce Stanton

I thank the hon. member for Chilliwack—Hope for his intervention. As he alluded to, the main estimates affords I would say probably the greatest of latitude with respect to topics before the House because it, frankly, incorporates just about every aspect of the ministries' responsibilities across government, including that of appointments. I appreciate the hon. member's intervention. However, of course it is the member for Hastings—Lennox and Addington's time and he is able to incorporate in that the subject he wishes and believes is relevant to the issue that is before the House.

The hon. member for Hastings—Lennox and Addington.

Concurrence in Vote 1—Privy Council OfficeMain Estimates, 2017-18Government Orders

8:55 p.m.

Liberal

Mike Bossio Liberal Hastings—Lennox and Addington, ON

Mr. Speaker, to quote Senator Pate's maiden speech, she said, “I have often found myself driven either by rage or despair as I've tried to address that which I could not and will never accept”. The entire chamber rose to applaud her fearlessness after delivering this speech. Her journey fighting injustice in Canada's prison system was featured in The Globe and Mail, where she was described as having braved “a numbing world that tests the souls of all who touch it, filled with extremes of...apathy and...barbarity.”

It is incredible to me that the senator weathered that storm, yet still has so much to give to Canadians. I am humbled that she chose to join the ranks of parliamentarians. Like all of her colleagues I have discussed, she presents a new standard of excellence, not just for our team on Parliament Hill but for all Canadians. Her example teaches us to raise our voices, sharpen our minds, and commit to always opening our hearts.

The appointment of these individuals, and 21 others, through our government's new appointments process, is remaking the face of the Senate. Once a house of patronage appointments, with little credibility as a democratic institution, we are striving to change the Senate for the better. Our government is filling the upper house with qualified Canadians who represent diverse backgrounds and unique communities in Canada. These community leaders will represent the interests of groups whose representation might otherwise be overlooked by Canada's democracy.

It is the belief of our government that by reforming the Senate, the red chamber can be refashioned into an institution that enhances the quality and representativeness of Canada's Parliament.

Concurrence in Vote 1—Privy Council OfficeMain Estimates, 2017-18Government Orders

9 p.m.

Conservative

John Nater Conservative Perth—Wellington, ON

Madam Speaker, I appreciate the opportunity to rise in response to the biographies offered by the member for Hastings—Lennox and Addington. That really is what it is. It is reading the biographies off the Senate website, word for word, in most cases. Certainly, there is wide latitude provided to members of the House to debate on different matters related to the main estimates. However, to simply read word for word from the biographies on the website brings this process into a grave area, when we should be debating the most important issues before us.

However, I want to ask the member something about the independent senators that I had asked another hon. member. Currently, Senator Pratte, the independent senator appointed by the Liberals' new process, is working in the other place to split off the infrastructure bank from the main budget bill. If they are so proud of their new senators, I would like to ask the member whether he will be supportive of that measure or if he will to wait, like his other colleague, for the cabinet to tell him how to vote.

Concurrence in Vote 1—Privy Council OfficeMain Estimates, 2017-18Government Orders

9 p.m.

Liberal

Mike Bossio Liberal Hastings—Lennox and Addington, ON

Madam Speaker, I am very supportive of the members in the red chamber and the work they are doing. It is a testament to their independence that they have come back to the House with outstanding amendments and recommendations on different bills. In fact, they came back with some very thoughtful, provocative, and carefully thought-out amendments for the bill on medical assistance in dying that this government did accept.

Therefore, I agree that this totally validates why we have made the changes we have made to the chamber, and we will continue to do so because it increases the level of diversity of thought. The different life experiences that these senators bring allow us to send bills to the Senate chamber that we know will come back after careful thought and deliberation.

Concurrence in Vote 1—Privy Council OfficeMain Estimates, 2017-18Government Orders

9 p.m.

Conservative

Mark Strahl Conservative Chilliwack—Hope, BC

Madam Speaker, I would like to follow up on the question from my hon. colleague, the member for Perth—Wellington, referring to the Senate biographies the member was reading verbatim to show the excellent people who have been appointed. The Senate has also taken great umbrage to the fact that the government has tried to raise taxes year after year, into the future, as far as the eye can see, without ever coming back to the House to ask for the permission of the elected members of Parliament on things like an escalating beer tax, escalating wine tax, escalating spirits tax, escalating camping fees, and escalating all kinds of user fees without asking the House to vote on that.

Does he agree the fiercely independent senators, whose biographies he read verbatim, are doing good work by opposing the tax increases the government is trying to bring in by stealth?

Concurrence in Vote 1—Privy Council OfficeMain Estimates, 2017-18Government Orders

9 p.m.

Liberal

Mike Bossio Liberal Hastings—Lennox and Addington, ON

Madam Speaker, I would like to thank the member for giving me the opportunity to talk about the outstanding backgrounds that these senators bring to the chamber, whether it is finance, or dealing with indigenous issues, women's issues, tax issues, all of them. It adds to robust debate in both chambers that we can have, respect, and maybe agree on amendments in some cases, as we did with assisted dying, and not in other cases.

It is up to the Senate to do what it feels is the right thing to do, because that is the right thing to do. When they bring that to the House, we will determine whether we agree it is the right thing and that it would benefit all Canadians after our chamber has had its ability to debate the same issues.

Concurrence in Vote 1—Privy Council OfficeMain Estimates, 2017-18Government Orders

9:05 p.m.

Liberal

Mark Gerretsen Liberal Kingston and the Islands, ON

Madam Speaker, I wonder if the member would enlighten us by telling us what he thinks about the current process for nominating senators versus another process we saw on the eve of the election, by the previous government, of making numerous political appointees. How does he think our new process measures up to that?

Concurrence in Vote 1—Privy Council OfficeMain Estimates, 2017-18Government Orders

9:05 p.m.

Liberal

Mike Bossio Liberal Hastings—Lennox and Addington, ON

Madam Speaker, the question allows me to shine a light upon this really outstanding process that has selected highly respected, well-thought-of experts in their fields to be now part of the Senate. That would never have happened previously, especially in the previous government. We saw what happened under the previous government, the absolute mess it created and the toxic environment it created within the Senate.

I am so grateful that we have had the opportunity to bring these incredible senators to the red chamber. They are going to benefit all Canadians for many years to come.

Concurrence in Vote 1—Privy Council OfficeMain Estimates, 2017-18Government Orders

9:05 p.m.

Conservative

John Nater Conservative Perth—Wellington, ON

Madam Speaker, in response to a previous question, the member said they will accept some of the amendments from the Senate and will reject others. It might depend how the cabinet feels that day. Would it not be more appropriate if the government listened to the elected members of Parliament who have the electoral endorsement of the population and listen to the amendments that we bring forward in committee and at report stage, rather than the unelected other body, which is still regionally unbalanced and still does not have term limits or an electoral mandate from the people?

Concurrence in Vote 1—Privy Council OfficeMain Estimates, 2017-18Government Orders

9:05 p.m.

Liberal

Mike Bossio Liberal Hastings—Lennox and Addington, ON

Madam Speaker, I would remind the member of the benefits of the Westminster-style democratic system we have in our great country. We have a chamber that provides sober second thought. It is by appointing such qualified individuals as we have under this new process that we enable that chamber to provide sober second thought to the elected officials, where the final decision is made. That is of utmost importance.

Canadians have elected us as members of the House to make those large decisions, but as long as we continue to appoint highly qualified senators that come with different areas of expertise, which perhaps some members of the House may not have, it only makes our system that much better and that much stronger. That will continue to benefit Canadians for generations to come.

Concurrence in Vote 1—Privy Council OfficeMain Estimates, 2017-18Government Orders

9:05 p.m.

Conservative

Mark Strahl Conservative Chilliwack—Hope, BC

Madam Speaker, the member and I have been having some fun here after the member read quite a few biographies into the record, but in all seriousness there is a real threat here to the government that the Senate will completely stall the agenda. It is an agenda that I do not happen to agree with, but the government does have a mandate at least from the people of Canada.

The Liberals have been elected by people to implement an agenda and now, because there is this independent Senate they put into place, it is jamming up the government's agenda. Does the member not see that by doing this half-baked idea of Senate reform without actually reforming any part of the Senate, just putting people in who now believe they have a mandate to jam up government legislation, that down the road, even with his own government, this could be an absolute train wreck that will have perhaps constitutional ramifications?

Does the member not see the writing on the wall with how things are going already with this beautiful process that he has been so happy to endorse here tonight?

Concurrence in Vote 1—Privy Council OfficeMain Estimates, 2017-18Government Orders

9:10 p.m.

Liberal

Mike Bossio Liberal Hastings—Lennox and Addington, ON

Madam Speaker, once again I appreciate the opportunity to address the question. I think the member misses something very important, and actually I am very disappointed in his negative, cynical view of the Senate and its ability to be that chamber of sober second thought. We have created an incredible democracy in this country, and the Senate is an integral part of that democracy as long as it is not a rubber-stamp chamber as existed under the previous government. When it is actually there and it is enabled to do the job that it was meant to do under the original Constitution that was framed in this country, it serves as a tremendous benefit to all Canadians.

Concurrence in Vote 1—Privy Council OfficeMain Estimates, 2017-18Government Orders

9:10 p.m.

Conservative

Kelly McCauley Conservative Edmonton West, AB

Madam Speaker, I will be sharing my time today with my colleague from Carlton Trail—Eagle Creek.

I am pleased to rise today to talk about the main estimates. There are two topics I am going to cover tonight. The first is the President of the Treasury Board's misguided and rather cynical attempt to change the estimates process—solely, by the way, to prove that he is actually doing something, anything at all. The second is to talk about some of my favourite spending plans from the estimates, a rogue's gallery of waste.

Paul McCartney wrote:

You never give me your money
You only give me your funny paper
And in the middle of negotiations
You break down
But oh, that magic feeling, nowhere to go.

That is where we are with the estimates: no reform and nowhere to go. It is just a discussion document that is funny paper at best.

When the government cannot get the opposition to agree to changes in the Standing Orders and negotiations break down, this is where I am going to switch to a Judas Priest quote: “Ram it down” their throats.

Last year the President of the Treasury Board brought forward his solution to the issue of the budget and the estimates not aligning. This was supposed to be a solution to the issue of the estimates being difficult to understand. Despite the government having proved completely unable to fix its own internal administrative processes, the President of the Treasury Board decided the solution was to take away two months of parliamentary oversight of the estimates, changing the Standing Orders to allow the government to move tabling of the estimates from March 1 to May 1, leaving parliamentarians just one month before the estimates are considered reported. It would allow the opposition party just an hour or two to review the estimates before being required, on the same day, to name the two departments for a committee of a whole, and it would take away supply days. We were told that moving the estimates from March 1 to May 1 would allow the government to ensure more of the budget is in the estimates.

We asked President of the Treasury Board about these concerns in committee, and we were told not to worry. We were told the government would just change the Standing Orders for a couple of years, that we should trust it, and that it would get around to changing them back when things were fixed. We were also told that the government did not really have an answer about the committee of the whole, but it would work out the supply days and we should just trust it to move ahead.

We were told not to worry about having only three sitting weeks in May to review the estimates, because the government would guarantee ministers would show up at all committee meetings regarding the main estimates. I accept that the current Minister of Public Services and Procurement is off on leave looking after family, and I respect that, but I also note that the fill-in minister and parliamentary secretary were both no-shows for estimates in OGGO, the government operations and estimates committee.

We asked the President of the Treasury Board why, if there was an alignment issue, the budget could not just be moved up to an earlier fixed date, as was recommended in the all-party 2012 OGGO report on the estimates. We were told that parliamentarians did not want to be bothered with unproductive busywork. I, for one, do not believe that the role of Parliament, the oversight of spending, is just busywork. It is the reason we are here.

I am not the only one who thinks the government is completely out of touch here. The PBO noted:

Before agreeing to the changes proposed by the Government, parliamentarians may wish [to] revisit the core problem that undermines their financial scrutiny: the Government's own internal administrative processes.

He states that moving the date would have little to no effect on aligning the internal processes if budget and spending approval are not reformed.

The PBO proved this point by pointing out in his supplementary estimates analysis how many new budget measures are in each supplementary estimate document. In the 2016 supplementary estimates (A), 70% of new spending announced in the budget was present in the supplementary estimates (A). A year later, after the government's commitment to hard work and improving the alignment, we see a total of 44% in the 2017 supplementary estimates (A).

In his response to the failure, the President of the Treasury Board said it was progress. Dropping from 70% to 44% is progress. Maybe in the Superman Bizarro world it is, and that may be something he has to hang onto.

I asked the minister to share his plans to achieve alignment and reform the internal process, and he refused, referring instead to a general aspirational document on where he wants to go. He said his plan was to make progress, with no details on how to get there. It is clear the government does not have a plan.

When asked if he would follow parliamentary tradition and make no changes to the Standing Orders without unanimous consent of the opposition parties, he said—well, actually he did not say. It was like the Prime Minister's infamous performance when he refused to answer how many meetings he had with the Ethics Commissioner. I asked the President of the Treasury Board and the chair asked repeatedly, but we got nothing.

Kevin Page, the respected former PBO, said of the minister's plan:

With great respect to [the TBS president]...the specific proposals in the report do not far to strengthen Parliament's financial control.

The current PBO says of the proposed estimate changes:

With respect to delaying the main estimates, the Government indicates that the core impediment in aligning the budget and estimates arises from the Government's own sclerotic internal administrative processes, rather than parliamentary timelines.

The PBO further notes:

...the Secretariat is further away from its goal in 2017-18, rather than closer to it. This raises a significant question of whether the Government's proposal to delay the main estimates would result in meaningful alignment with the budget.

What was the minister's response to these learned experts? He said that he did not agree with every utterance from the PBO. Yes, he actually said the PBO's well-thought-out concerns were mere utterances.

To finish on the issue of estimates reform, I want to quote William Gladstone, former Chancellor of the Exchequer and four-time PM of the U.K.:

If the House of Commons by any possibility lose the power of the control of the grants of public money, depend upon it, your very liberty will be worth very little in comparison.

With this “open by default” government, Canadians would be well advised to worry.

I want to look at examples of why the government wants to suppress oversight of the estimates and not empower parliamentarians. These examples are from the estimates, and I call them my greatest hits.

I appreciate all the talk on the new Senate appointments. We have a new Senate appointment system whereby we appoint or hire a Secretariat, a secretary's assistant, to support the advisers. Last year it was $1.4 million of taxpayers' money. We asked at the committee, and they basically said they do not do the selection process and they do not weed out resumés. They merely print the resumés and forward them to the advisory committee. That is $1.4 million. This year it is $1 million for support staff to basically print resumés.

Here are a couple of titles. We have a senior policy adviser for printing resumés. We have a team leader for selection processes. We have a senior recruitment and selection officer for printing resumés, and an administrative assistant to assist the senior recruitment and selection officer, the team leader for selection processes, and the senior policy adviser. They print resumés and then hand them on to the advisory committee.

Here is the great thing. It is $1 million this year. We looked at the website where individuals apply for the Senate and found that applications are closed till Christmas, so for about a 10-month period, we are not taking resumés for the Senate.

I asked the government why we are spending $1 million when it is closed, and I was told we are still selecting senators. However, the website is closed, but there was silence and we moved on.

The website for selecting the senators cost $400,000, I was told by the government. I asked in shock, “It is $400,000? Are you serious?” They were busy patting themselves on the back, saying, “Yes, we saved so much money because we used an existing template.”

In other spending in the estimates, here is one of my favourites: $1.8 million for grants to foreign recipients for participation in international organizations supporting agriculture. We asked the government why it was spending money to send foreigners to foreign conferences. Would they not send Canadians? The answer was “We believe in multinationalism” or something, but the government is spending $1.8 million to send foreigners to foreign conferences.

To write off a loan to Cuba, it is $18 million. Here we have the cast that has stolen billions of dollars, and the Government of Canada, which just last week voted against $19 million for autism research over four years because it was too much, gave away $18 million. We asked the government why. The response was, “We had no choice. We were forced into it by our allies.”

Another fun thing is the $600,000-plus for website support for the Prime Minister to have people sitting there around the clock to update the website, maybe in case he needs to show new socks or perhaps has a photo op. These are just some of my favourites, just a small part of the huge amount of government waste to which the government is turning a blind eye and for which it is happily trying to suppress oversight in order to get away with it.

Concurrence in Vote 1—Privy Council OfficeMain Estimates, 2017-18Government Orders

9:20 p.m.

Conservative

John Nater Conservative Perth—Wellington, ON

Madam Speaker, I appreciated the comments by my colleague from Edmonton West and some of his greatest hits.

I wonder, for $1.4 million, if the member thinks that perhaps we could all collect an intern from each of our offices, maybe two or three of them, to help the government print off resumés.

I have a few hours on the weekend when I could maybe attend constituency events, print off a few resumés, and try to save that $1.4 million for the assistance of the government.

Concurrence in Vote 1—Privy Council OfficeMain Estimates, 2017-18Government Orders

9:20 p.m.

Conservative

Kelly McCauley Conservative Edmonton West, AB

Madam Speaker, that is a great question, and I thank my colleague for his hard work on the file. We asked pretty much the same question last year in the estimates. How many resumés were there? It was 68. I asked if they were making sure they were qualified to be senators. Were they from the right province and so on? They said no, they just print them and send them on. I said I could do that in an afternoon over a pot of coffee and write a poorly written speech, as I just did. The government is oblivious.

The $1.4 million could probably renovate a minister's office, but it is double what the government invested in shelters for women escaping abuse last year. There was $1.2 million to renovate the Minister of Status of Women's office, $1.4 million for secretarial support, and $700,000 to support the women who actually need it. This shows the ridiculousness of the government and its out-of-touch spending.

Concurrence in Vote 1—Privy Council OfficeMain Estimates, 2017-18Government Orders

9:20 p.m.

Winnipeg North Manitoba

Liberal

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

Madam Speaker, when I sat in opposition, I would see not $1 million or $2 million but $750 million. It was spent on nothing but propaganda for the Harper government, purely on ads for the economic action plan. What about $1 million-plus so the prime minister would be able to have a car he trusted in India when he made a trip there?

I am wondering if the member is absolutely confident that every dollar spent by the Harper government was a dollar well spent. I suspect there are 35 million-plus Canadians who would disagree with the member.

Concurrence in Vote 1—Privy Council OfficeMain Estimates, 2017-18Government Orders

9:20 p.m.

Conservative

Kelly McCauley Conservative Edmonton West, AB

Madam Speaker, I find it mind-boggling and ironic that the party of Gomery, the party of scandal with advertising, that stole money from taxpayers to funnel into their own party, would dare--

Concurrence in Vote 1—Privy Council OfficeMain Estimates, 2017-18Government Orders

9:20 p.m.

NDP

The Assistant Deputy Speaker NDP Carol Hughes

I would remind the member that he cannot insinuate that someone stole something.

The hon. member for Edmonton West.

Concurrence in Vote 1—Privy Council OfficeMain Estimates, 2017-18Government Orders

9:20 p.m.

Conservative

Kelly McCauley Conservative Edmonton West, AB

Madam Speaker, it was the party that misdirected money from taxpayers, with $40 million still unaccounted for. That he would dare stand and ask about advertising, the party of Gomery, I find very ironic. It is a very cynical question from my colleague across the way.

Concurrence in Vote 1—Privy Council OfficeMain Estimates, 2017-18Government Orders

9:20 p.m.

Conservative

Alupa Clarke Conservative Beauport—Limoilou, QC

Madam Speaker, I have the honour to sit with my colleague from Edmonton West on the Standing Committee on Government Operations and Estimates. I had the privilege to be with him when we fought against estimates reform. One of the biggest reasons we did it was that oversight by opposition MPs and oversight by the overall Canadian society of the budgetary spending of the government is one of the core principles of our democracy and Parliament. I would like my colleague to explain what would happen if we lost two months of the possibility of oversight of the spending of the government.

Concurrence in Vote 1—Privy Council OfficeMain Estimates, 2017-18Government Orders

9:20 p.m.

Conservative

Kelly McCauley Conservative Edmonton West, AB

Madam Speaker, the Westminster system exists for oversight of spending. It goes back to the time of the Magna Carta. We exist to have oversight and approve spending. It is not for photo ops, not to stand here in the House and participate. It is for oversight of spending. If the government has its way and just walks in any time and changes the Standing Orders to take away the ability to oversee spending, it is an insult and an attack on parliamentary traditions and on taxpayers and our ability to hold the government to account. That is exactly what the government is trying to do by changing the Standing Orders without unanimous consent.

Concurrence in Vote 1—Privy Council OfficeMain Estimates, 2017-18Government Orders

9:25 p.m.

Conservative

Kelly Block Conservative Carlton Trail—Eagle Creek, SK

Madam Speaker, we are here tonight debating the main estimates because, unfortunately, the Liberals have decided that working collaboratively with all parties is something they are no longer interested in doing. While studying estimates is normally done in committees, the Liberals seem intent on making it difficult for the opposition to properly scrutinize government spending in this forum.

I am a member on the Standing Committee on Transport, Infrastructure and Communities, and one of my ongoing frustrations is how little time has been set aside for the consideration of the estimates of the two departments and the many crown corporations that fall under the committee's purview. During our scheduled meeting for the main estimates and supplementary estimates (C) on March 23, 2017, the committee meeting was cut short because of a time allocation vote in the House. Consequently, 10 committee members did not even get 15 minutes to ask questions of representatives from the eight crown corporations that were present.

The Canadian Air Transport Security Authority was being allocated $584 million, PPP Canada was being allocated $279 million, Jacques-Cartier and Champlain Bridges Incorporated was allocated $331 million, and VIA Rail Canada $221 million. None of these organizations were rescheduled to appear at a later date. When the Minister of Transport and the Minister of Infrastructure and Communities were invited to appear on their departments' main estimates, they came together on May 9 for a maximum of one hour. I cannot think of another example where two ministers of different portfolios appeared together at a committee. The Minister of Infrastructure and Communities is not the Minister of Transport's associate. They should not appear at committee as such.

Because that meeting was also cut short, the official opposition got less than 10 minutes to inquire about issues such as the Navigation Protection Act, the sale of Canada's airports, the infrastructure bank, or the pipeline moratorium in B.C. What is worse, Liberal members had been assuring us that this meeting was going to be the opposition's opportunity to ask questions of the government.

On May 2, my colleague, the member for Alfred-Pellan, pointed out to us that, “I can tell you that [the minister] will be with us here on May 9. You can ask all the questions you desire. I'm sure it will be the minister's pleasure to respond.” Members of the official opposition received less than 10 minutes to ask two ministers, representing two different departments, questions on billions of dollars in spending.

Unfortunately, this is not a one-off. On November 17, 2016, when the committee considered supplementary estimates (B), the Minister of Transport was present for the first hour and his officials, along with representatives from crown corporations, were scheduled to be present for the second hour. The second hour of our meeting was cut short due to another vote, and the committee ended up voting on hundreds of millions of dollars of funding in supplementary estimates (B) after barely 25 minutes of scrutiny. The lost time was never made up.

I remember back when the transport, infrastructure and communities committee was first struck in this 42nd Parliament. The Minister of Transport and the Minister of Infrastructure and Communities each came for two hours to discuss their mandate letters. Fast forward, and it is clear the Prime Minister and his caucus see the opposition as an inconvenience rather than fulfilling an essential function in Parliament, with members of Her Majesty's loyal opposition barely being given any time to scrutinize billions of dollars in spending.

There was a time when transport and infrastructure were part of the same department, because infrastructure was seen as a facilitator for trade and transportation. Now that Infrastructure Canada has moved more in the direction of the social realm than the trade and transport realm, the transport, infrastructure and communities committee should no longer be hearing from the two ministers as though they manage the same file. The fact remains that the Liberal mismanagement of the House has trickled down to committees. I guess it speaks volumes to the character of the government, that it believes having to listen to the opposition is cumbersome. How this meshes with sunny ways is beyond me. The new operating procedure of the Liberal members in the transport, infrastructure and communities committee, when presented with reasonable motions, is to sit quietly, say nothing at all, and then vote them down.

Now, if they become irritated, one of their members will usually move to adjourn debate on the motion. This a convenient course of action for them, as these motions to adjourn debate on a motion are non-debatable, so the Liberals do not have to justify their actions. When we do try to resume debate on these motions, the Liberals do not provide consent, thereby essentially voting down the motion by putting it into permanent limbo.

Here are some of the motions the Liberals have voted down without providing Canadians any justification. A motion inviting the newly appointed director of the Hamilton Port Authority to appear at committee for one hour. If the committee never reviews the qualifications of government appointments, there is not much point they be referred to committees. We still do not know why they did not agree to that.

A motion by the NDP asking for documents relating to the sale of Canada's airports. The committee was asking for documents and the Liberal members refused to speak to it. If these documents were not available, it is for the government to say why, and not for these ministers on the committee to say no to a request of this nature. If the government and these members are truly proud of their record, they should do more than sit quietly, and wait out the clock whenever the opposition challenges their actions.

Returning to the government's complete mismanagement of Canada's public finances, it seems that the Liberals' overarching priority is to continue raising revenues to fund their misguided plans. There is no other reason why popular tax breaks for public transit, child care spaces, or gifts of medicine to charities were taken away. Municipalities and public transit agencies had even taken it upon themselves to advertise the public transit tax credit in order to incentivize more Canadians to use public transit. Unfortunately, making public transit more affordable for Canadians, who may not own a car or share one with their spouse, was considered less important than raising revenues to pay for Liberal pet projects. The government has fallen into a negative feedback loop, where the optics are more important than the policy. As policy becomes less important, more emphasis is placed on optics, and around and around we go.

For the first time in history, the Government of Canada is doing regular polling to gauge the popularity of the Prime Minister. Taxpayers are paying for the Prime Minister's Office to conduct this polling. For a government that claims to be interested in evidence-based public policy, it is hard not to think that the overwhelming consideration for anything they will do will be the result of current and future public polling. By design of the PMO, Canadians know more about the Prime Minister's interest in cupping than the $330 billion in overall expenditures he is making with their tax dollars, and the nearly $30 billion deficit.

In conclusion, everywhere I go, I hear about the incredible frustration with the Liberal government. After a year of being hit with an increase like the increase in mandatory CPP premiums, the federally mandated carbon tax, or cuts, like a 50% cut to the tax free savings account, and the end of tax breaks for children's soccer and piano lessons, Canadians were hoping that the Liberals would be done with raising taxes.

Unfortunately, the Liberal government continues to try to squeeze every single penny out of the pockets of Canadians, and is doing its very best to shield itself from parliamentary scrutiny by attempting to change the Standing Orders and avoiding debate in committee.

Concurrence in Vote 1—Privy Council OfficeMain Estimates, 2017-18Government Orders

9:35 p.m.

Liberal

Ken Hardie Liberal Fleetwood—Port Kells, BC

Madam Speaker, I have the pleasure of serving on the transport committee with the hon. member, and by my recollection, if there was inadequate time to question officials, she might want to look back at the number of times the Conservatives filibustered while we had witnesses waiting to testify, and who were sent back without having a chance to do so.

If they have not had time to debate a number of other spending measures, they may want to look back to the whole week it took them to deal with the issues of two people who had trouble getting to the Hill on time because their bus was held up. There have been many other things. If we look at their opposition day motions, and some of the things they have put forward, perhaps they would like to have some of that time back to do some real substantive work in the House instead of pursuing jump-the-shark type projects.

I ask the member, if she could have some of that time back, what would she prioritize?

Concurrence in Vote 1—Privy Council OfficeMain Estimates, 2017-18Government Orders

9:35 p.m.

Conservative

Kelly Block Conservative Carlton Trail—Eagle Creek, SK

Madam Speaker, believe it or not, I do enjoy working with my colleague on the transportation, infrastructure and communities committee. His interventions are often very interesting. There is one issue I would highlight when he asks me what time I would like to gain back. It is not possible under the guidance of the current government to gain back the time we have lost under its mismanagement.

Concurrence in Vote 1—Privy Council OfficeMain Estimates, 2017-18Government Orders

9:35 p.m.

NDP

Brigitte Sansoucy NDP Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot, QC

Madam Speaker, I thank my colleague for her speech.

What I took from her speech is that she is concerned about the sound management of public funds. That is a concern that I share. Like her, I believe that if we really want to work for the people we represent, we need to respect the respective roles of members on both sides of the House.

I represent 25 municipalities that are very concerned about government infrastructure spending. The member spoke about the fact that the committee members did not have enough time to ask questions to the Minister of Infrastructure and Communities and others.

This evening, we do not have enough time to ask the government questions. If we did have the time we needed, what questions could we ask this government?

Concurrence in Vote 1—Privy Council OfficeMain Estimates, 2017-18Government Orders

9:35 p.m.

Conservative

Kelly Block Conservative Carlton Trail—Eagle Creek, SK

Madam Speaker, the fact of the matter is that since the Liberals took office, 94% of announced infrastructure projects have failed to start construction. In committee, we might ask, why is that the case? This means that jobs are not being created, and the economy is not being stimulated as the Liberals like to declare is happening. Instead of coming up with a new plan that would build infrastructure and create jobs, the budget they put forward this year doubled down on an existing infrastructure plan and contained no new infrastructure spending. These are the kinds of questions we would have liked to pose to the minister responsible for infrastructure.

Concurrence in Vote 1—Privy Council OfficeMain Estimates, 2017-18Government Orders

9:35 p.m.

Liberal

Bernadette Jordan Liberal South Shore—St. Margarets, NS

Madam Speaker, I was particularly interested in my colleague's comments on how important committee work is, and how she feels her work in committee has been blocked. Right now there is a study before the immigration committee on something that is vitally important to Atlantic Canada, yet members of the Conservative Party and the NDP have been blocking the study that every member of the House voted in favour of. Could the member please talk to her colleagues, and make sure they stop filibustering that committee?

Concurrence in Vote 1—Privy Council OfficeMain Estimates, 2017-18Government Orders

9:35 p.m.

Conservative

Kelly Block Conservative Carlton Trail—Eagle Creek, SK

Madam Speaker, it is not up to me to demand of anybody in the House that they spend their time in a particular way, whether on committee or in the House. At the beginning of this Parliament we came to this place ready to work with members of the governing party. The chair of our committee stated very clearly that she thought we could do some meaningful work. As it has been demonstrated, the Liberals have not been true to that suggestion.

Concurrence in Vote 1—Privy Council OfficeMain Estimates, 2017-18Government Orders

9:40 p.m.

Winnipeg North Manitoba

Liberal

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

Madam Speaker, I want to reflect on the Minister of Democratic Reform, who introduced the debate by spending a great deal of time talking about the election fairness and the Senate. I also want to take the opportunity to talk about a few other issues related to the budget that were raised this afternoon.

Let me start by recognizing National Public Service Week. Unlike the Conservatives across the way, and we saw it during question period today, we need to recognize the valuable contributions our public service makes every day. Our public service is held in such high esteem that experts and civil servants around the world often come to Canada to get a better understanding of how we have been so successful at attracting some of the brightest individuals, as well as that sense of commitment to serving the public, which our public servants do day in and day out.

The Prime Minister recognized earlier today how important it was for elected officials to listen to our public servants. I can assure that Public Service Week is not only to commend our public servants, but also to clearly let them know we listen to what they have to say. We appreciate their fine work.

I have heard a lot about the Senate. A number of my colleagues brought up the biographies of numerous senators. It was encouraging. It was not that long ago when we heard Stephen Harper, while he was prime minister and even before that, tell us what the Conservative Party wanted to do with the Senate.

Being from western Canada, the propaganda that stemmed from the Conservative Party was overwhelming at times. It talked about how it wanted to reform and make changes to the Senate. The only real thing it was able to accomplish was to put a dark cloud over the Senate, which motivated Canadians to say they wanted to see something happen on the Senate file.

I would love to compare the types of appointments made under the previous Harper government, which were based strictly on politics. The prime minister made the decision and chose the individuals he believed needed to be in the other chamber. We saw some of those appointments. Some of my colleagues have thrown names at me, and I am sure many Canadians are familiar with them. Probably one of the more popular appointments was Mr. Duffy. He, along with a few others, ultimately raised a great deal of concern about the Senate. It was a hotly debated issue, even prior to the current Prime Minister becoming the leader of the Liberal Party.

The Conservative prime minister was saying it was the best they could do. The NDP was saying to abolish the Senate. Both answers coming from the Conservatives and NDP were that to justify reform of the senate, the Constitution had to be changed.

When today's Prime Minister became leader of the Liberal Party, which was the third party, he made a very bold move. He said that to be part of that Liberal caucus, one needed to be an elected member of Parliament. He wanted to see the Senate operate in a more independent fashion.

With that statement, we saw more reform to the Senate chamber than Stephen Harper ever did in 10 years. That is when the Prime Minister was leader of the third party. There was a genuine attempt to make changes without having to change the Constitution. We know Canadians do not want us to focus our attention on that. It was important to move forward on making changes to the Senate, which could be done without having to change the Constitution.

I am really encouraged by the way senators have been appointed. We have some incredible senators. Individuals who have been listening to the debate will have heard some of the bios of those independent senators. We look forward to having a relationship where the Senate continues to do better. There are many sides to that.

I will not go into all the biographies of senators, but I will talk about one. As many do, I have a favourite senator, and that is Senator Sinclair, a former judge. He played a critical role as the chief commissioner of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. Many Manitobans felt very proud that the Prime Minister kept his word in ensuring we depoliticized the Senate.

Members can sense the enthusiasm in my caucus on that issue. Let us imagine the enthusiasm of Canadians, recognizing that this is just one of many promises the Prime Minister has kept. We could say so much more about about the Senate.

However, we have had a busy Minister of Democratic Institutions who introduced the debate today. I want to highlight a couple of other things. Imagine, we now have a government that recognizes it is good to get more people to vote in elections.

Many Canadians will remember the unfair elections act brought in by Stephen Harper. We have a minister who has recognized the many faults in that legislation, and has brought in some really good stuff. Let me mention a few of those things.

What about the voter identification card, a card everyone was issued? When I asked the minister a question about it earlier today, she said there were about 200,000 individuals who might have not had the same opportunity to vote because of being unable to use their voter ID cards. There is good news. The voter identification card will count in the next federal election because of this government.

We want to see more young people engaged in the elections. What is a good way to get young people engaged? Through the legislation being proposed by the government, 14 to 17 years olds can register with Elections Canada. That will get more young people engaged at an earlier age, so they are on the voters' lists. That is a positive thing, having more young people engaged on this issue.

We all know Canadians are a trustworthy group of people. We know the Conservative Party said that it did not trust vouching at poll stations. When we were in opposition, we said that we trusted Canadians and that it was good enough to accept a Canadian vouching for another Canadian. This minister has brought in legislation that would allow Canadians to once again vouch for other Canadians, and that too would increase voter participation in the next election.

The good news does not stop there. As I said, we have a busy Minister of Democratic Institutions. We have reform in our election financing laws. After the legislation passes, not only will we have more robust legislation, but we will have some of the strongest, if not the strongest, legislation on election financing in North America. We all can all be proud that.

We are highlighting the fact that not only a prime minister or a minister, but also a leader of an officially recognized party has an obligation to report those individuals who contribute more than $200 to attend an event. What does that mean? More transparency and more accountability for our political leaders in Canada, and that is a good thing.

We have heard a great deal about the estimates and the reforms on estimates. The government House leader has gone out of her way to get opposition members onside. The President of the Treasury Board has tried to encourage members to understand that we need to move forward in making changes to the House of Commons. Let me share a couple of those ideas.

One idea makes a lot of sense. It is what we did in the Manitoba legislature. The Minister of Natural Resources and I served in the Manitoba legislature. After the budget was presented, we had the main estimates. What is wrong with that? The President of the Treasury Board has talked a lot about that and we should all get behind that because it makes sense.

A Conservative member, in addressing this issue, talked about the importance of ministers, their responsibilities, and the need to be transparent and accountable. Members will recall that not only did the Prime Minister appoint a gender-neutral cabinet, but as part of that every ministers was given a mandate letter that was made public. Unlike former Prime Minister Harper, we recognize that each minister has a responsibility and that responsibility is dictated in the mandate letter. Unlike the member who previously spoke, we see that as a good thing.

It is interesting how the member across the way said that the Conservatives were a little disappointed because the government interrupted a committee meeting in which a minister was before it and the minister did not come back. I have heard many ministers in the House talk about the importance of making changes to benefit all Canadians. One of those changes was to the way in which we had some of those votes. I say this because the previous speaker made reference to it. She talked about how unfortunate it was that we had the bells ringing during the committee meeting, which interrupted the meeting. Hundreds of individuals are brought to Ottawa under the pretence of making a presentation to a standing committee. Unfortunately, at times, there are votes. However, with the the number of dilatory motions brought in by the official opposition, interruptions occurred as direct result of those.

When we get members of the Conservative Party who are talking about changes and wanting to see changes that are going to have a positive impact on the flow of business inside the House, they need to reflect on some of the behaviours that they participated in that ultimately caused the disruptions they are opposing today. There are many different ideas.

Having said all of that, I want to get to the core of the main estimates. That is really what we are talking about. There is so much good news. I take budget one and budget two, and I say, this is all about Canada's middle class. For those Canadians who appreciate and want to see Canada's middle class and those aspiring to be a part of it really move forward, this is a budget and estimates that people need to get behind. Look at what we have been able to accomplish in such a short period of time. Let me name a few of those things.

The Prime Minister often talks about the extra tax on the 1% wealthiest. Remember, that is the tax the Conservatives voted against. Then what about the tax break for Canada's middle class? That was hundreds of millions of dollars put into the pockets of Canadians, which will be helping our small businesses, which I know makes the minister responsible for small business very happy. We put in tax breaks and gave the cash to Canadians in the very first budget. This is just a continuation. Again, the Conservatives, believe it or not, voted against tax breaks.

Let us talk about seniors. When we look at some of the actions for seniors, we had the wonderful reversal of the Stephen Harper approach on retirement. Remember, Stephen Harper increased the age of retirement from 65 to 67. I remember it well. I did petitions. We did emergency debates, just name it, to try to point out to Mr. Harper that it was a bad decision. We made a campaign promise to reverse that decision, and we did just that. Canadians will have the opportunity to retire at the age of 65.

Then we could talk about the guaranteed income supplement. There was a substantial increase, which lifted tens of thousands of seniors in every region of our country out of poverty because of a good idea, an idea that the Harper government never acted on, which is most unfortunate.

One of the best things that I believe this government has done is that it has recognized the importance of investing in Canada's infrastructure. Investing billions of dollars, record amounts of money, into Canada's infrastructure is good for our economy. It is good for Canadians. It is going to enrich all those who get behind this project because it will make a difference. This is the type of thing we are here for, to look for good, solid policy ideas that are going to have a positive impact on everyday Canadians.

Day after day, we are seeing decisions being made by this cabinet, by this government, and by the caucus, to ensure that Canadians will be better off as a direct result of this Prime Minister and the wonderful things that we are doing.

To quote the Prime Minister, we can always do better. That is something we take very seriously. We consult with our constituents, knowing full well that we have a government that wants us to come back with the ideas that are being generated from our constituencies to share with our caucus colleagues so that those ideas will be reflected in the government policies that are being developed over the coming years.

I think it is a good thing for Canadians for members to get behind this particular budget and vote for—

Concurrence in Vote 1—Privy Council OfficeMain Estimates, 2017-18Government Orders

9:55 p.m.

NDP

The Assistant Deputy Speaker NDP Carol Hughes

Questions and comments. The hon. member for Chilliwack—Hope.

Concurrence in Vote 1—Privy Council OfficeMain Estimates, 2017-18Government Orders

10 p.m.

Conservative

Mark Strahl Conservative Chilliwack—Hope, BC

Madam Speaker, I would suggest that maybe in the future the Liberal lobby implement a two-drink maximum when we are having these late-night debates.

There is a quote from Senator Joe Day, who was appointed by Jean Chrétien, who said that if we pass Bill C 44 in its current form, we are the ones who are knowingly removing parliamentary oversight. Parliamentarians certainly have the procedural and legal authority to abdicate even more of their oversight responsibilities if they want, but I am, for one, profoundly disappointed that the government has decided to ask—

Concurrence in Vote 1—Privy Council OfficeMain Estimates, 2017-18Government Orders

10 p.m.

Liberal

Rodger Cuzner Liberal Cape Breton—Canso, NS

Madam Speaker, I rise on a point of order. I know my friend and colleague across the way is an honourable member and I know that he would never want to impugn the reputation of another member in this chamber. I know for a fact that my friend and colleague, the parliamentary secretary, is a non-drinker.

Concurrence in Vote 1—Privy Council OfficeMain Estimates, 2017-18Government Orders

10 p.m.

NDP

The Assistant Deputy Speaker NDP Carol Hughes

Order. I would inform the hon. member for Cape Breton—Canso that this is debate.

I am sorry, the time is up. I will allow two seconds for the parliamentary secretary to respond.

Concurrence in Vote 1—Privy Council OfficeMain Estimates, 2017-18Government Orders

10 p.m.

Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux Liberal Winnipeg North, MB

Madam Speaker, I appreciate that. As the member said, I do not drink.

Having said that, one thing about the Liberals is that we are not afraid to work. We are here to work hard for Canadians, and that is what we plan on doing.

Concurrence in Vote 1—Privy Council OfficeMain Estimates, 2017-18Government Orders

10 p.m.

NDP

The Assistant Deputy Speaker NDP Carol Hughes

It being 10 o'clock, it is my duty to interrupt the proceedings and put forthwith every question necessary to dispose of the business of supply.

Call in the members.

The House resumed consideration of the motion.

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

Vote #323

Main Estimates, 2017-18Government Orders

10:40 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Geoff Regan

I declare the motion defeated.

10:40 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Geoff Regan

I wish to inform the House that Motions Nos. 2-104, 106-167, and 169-245 will not be put to the House as the notices of the opposition were withdrawn by the member for Portage—Lisgar, the hon. opposition House leader.

The House resumed consideration of Motion No. 1.

Concurrence in vote 1—Privy CouncilMain Estimates, 2017-18

10:40 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Geoff Regan

The question is on the motion. Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?

Concurrence in vote 1—Privy CouncilMain Estimates, 2017-18

10:40 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

No.

Concurrence in vote 1—Privy CouncilMain Estimates, 2017-18

10:40 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Geoff Regan

All those in favour of the motion will please say yea.

Concurrence in vote 1—Privy CouncilMain Estimates, 2017-18

10:40 p.m.

Some hon. members

Yea.

Concurrence in vote 1—Privy CouncilMain Estimates, 2017-18

10:40 p.m.