House of Commons Hansard #198 of the 42nd Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was statistics.

Topics

National SecurityRoutine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.

Liberal

Jody Wilson-Raybould Liberal Vancouver Granville, BC

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-59, An Act respecting national security matters.

Mr. Speaker, I would like to table at this time, in both official languages, a charter statement with respect to Bill C-59, an act respecting national security matters.

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

Procedure and House AffairsCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.

Liberal

Larry Bagnell Liberal Yukon, YT

Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the 35th report of the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs, entitled “A Third Interim Report in Response to the Chief Electoral Officer’s Recommendations for Legislative Reforms Following the 42nd General Election”.

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

FinanceCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.

Liberal

Wayne Easter Liberal Malpeque, PE

Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the 18th report of the Standing Committee on Finance, entitled “Canada's Federal Regional Development Agencies Supporting Businesses, Sectors, Individuals and Communities: A Summary of the Testimony”.

I want to add that this will be the last report for the two analysts, Dylan Gowans and Florian Richard, because they are leaving the Library of Parliament to go back to university. I want to thank them for their tremendous efforts over the last year, and their chief, June Dewetering, for working so hard with them as well.

This is a report without recommendations. It is a summary of what the regional development agencies had to say.

Transport, Infrastructure and CommunitiesCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.

Liberal

Angelo Iacono Liberal Alfred-Pellan, QC

Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the 14th report of the Standing Committee on Transport, Infrastructure and Communities, entitled “Aviation Safety in Canada”.

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

Public Safety and National SecurityCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.

Liberal

Rob Oliphant Liberal Don Valley West, ON

Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the 13th report of the Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security concerning Bill S-231, An Act to amend the Canada Evidence Act and the Criminal Code (protection of journalistic sources).

If you would allow me, I would like to thank the members of my committee for the herculean task of doing this in just 10 days, as well as the member for Louis-Saint-Laurent for sponsoring it in the House.

I would also like to thank the following people for the herculean task of getting this bill done in nine days: the clerk, Jean-Marie David; the legislative clerk, Philippe Méla; the analysts of the committee, Tanya Dupuis and Dominique Valiquet; and my staff person, Jake Eidinger.

The committee has studied the bill and has decided to report the bill back to the House with amendment.

Procedure and House AffairsCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.

Conservative

Blake Richards Conservative Banff—Airdrie, AB

Mr. Speaker, the Conservative members of the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs disagreed with some portions of the third interim report that was presented earlier this morning. We are offering supplemental dissenting conclusions, for example on the foreign financing provisions, with further recommendations that we are encouraging to ensure fair, effective, and transparent regulation and enforcement of third party electoral activities and finances, as an example.

I am tabling our dissenting opinions in both official languages, and call upon the Minister of Democratic Institutions to take action on our supplementary report.

Clerk of the House of CommonsRoutine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

Waterloo Ontario

Liberal

Bardish Chagger LiberalLeader of the Government in the House of Commons

moved:

That pursuant to Standing Order 111.1, the House approve the appointment of Charles Robert as the Clerk of the House of Commons.

Clerk of the House of CommonsRoutine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Geoff Regan

Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?

Clerk of the House of CommonsRoutine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

No.

Clerk of the House of CommonsRoutine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Geoff Regan

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

Clerk of the House of CommonsRoutine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

Some hon. members

Yea.

Clerk of the House of CommonsRoutine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Geoff Regan

All those opposed will please say nay.

Clerk of the House of CommonsRoutine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

Some hon. members

Nay.

Clerk of the House of CommonsRoutine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Geoff Regan

In my opinion the nays have it.

And five or more members having risen:

Call in the members.

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

Vote #338

Clerk of the House of CommonsRoutine Proceedings

10:45 a.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Geoff Regan

I declare the motion carried.

Education of GirlsPetitionsRoutine Proceedings

10:50 a.m.

Liberal

Michel Picard Liberal Montarville, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am proud to represent the riding of Montarville, whose citizens signed this petition in both official languages in support of women and girls in the world's poorest countries who need education.

It is a combined effort of two non-profit, non-partisan organizations that want to campaign in one action. The first raises public awareness and educates policy-makers about the importance of smart and effective policies and programs that are saving the lives of millions of people living in the world's poorest countries. The second engages in grassroots and direct advocacy with policy-makers and key influencers in support of such policies and programs.

Access to good education for girls improves health and economic outcomes for women, their children, and their households and reduces the spread of violence. By presenting this petition, I hope to motivate all my colleagues to do likewise. Together, we are one.

Kathryn SpiritPetitionsRoutine Proceedings

10:50 a.m.

NDP

Anne Minh-Thu Quach NDP Salaberry—Suroît, QC

Mr. Speaker, I have three petitions to present today. The first has to do with the infamous Kathryn Spirit, which has been languishing in Lake Saint-Louis at Beauharnois since 2011. The petitioners are calling on the federal government to ensure that the shipwreck is dismantled in a safe manner that meets all environmental standards.

Marine Activity and Recreational BoatingPetitionsRoutine Proceedings

10:50 a.m.

NDP

Anne Minh-Thu Quach NDP Salaberry—Suroît, QC

The second petition I wish to present has been signed by more than 200 people and relates to the regulation of marine activities and recreational boating, which falls under federal jurisdiction. The legislative and regulatory framework focuses on safety and minimizing interference to navigation, but disregards environmental factors such as waterways and shoreline degradation, quality of life, social conflicts between different groups of users, noise control, and public safety, for example. Local governments do not have the authority or the means to effectively address those situations. The petitioners therefore call on the federal government to delegate certain regulatory powers to local municipalities and to streamline and facilitate the process to allow municipalities to apply for boating restrictions on certain waterways.

Local FoodPetitionsRoutine Proceedings

10:50 a.m.

NDP

Anne Minh-Thu Quach NDP Salaberry—Suroît, QC

The third and final petition I am presenting has to do with local food and calls on the Government of Canada to develop a pan-Canadian strategy for local food. It also calls on the Department of Public Works and Government Services to adopt a policy for purchasing locally grown food to support our farmers all across Canada, who together provide one out of every eight jobs. Given that there are 48,000 federal facilities, there could be 48,000 cafeterias. If the government were to make an effort and lead by example, we could support our farmers immensely.

FirearmsPetitionsRoutine Proceedings

10:50 a.m.

Conservative

Garnett Genuis Conservative Sherwood Park—Fort Saskatchewan, AB

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to bring the attention of the House to an issue that is of major concern to the firearms community in my constituency, and it is certainly a concern that I share. That is the issue of the lack of certainty and consistency around the classification of firearms.

The petitioners in this case want to bring the attention of the House to some of the things that have happened with respect to the 10/22 magazine and, in general, the reality that we see. Often, the RCMP reclassifies firearms because there is a lack of definition in the law or in regulation about what constitutes a variant. The petitioners call specifically on the House to remove the power of the RCMP to arbitrarily make classification decisions with respect to firearms.

This is a rule of law issue. I know that members in the House may have different opinions with respect to how firearms should be classified, but we should all be in favour of clear, consistent, and understandable regulations so firearms owners know what the classification is and so there is not a situation of a firearm being in one classification one day and then being switched the next day to a different classification, immediately removing the right of people to continue to possess their property in the way that they could the previous day.

There needs to be clarity and consistency. This is a major concern for firearms owners, as it should be to all Canadians. I present this petition for the consideration of the House.

TaxationPetitionsRoutine Proceedings

10:55 a.m.

Conservative

Cheryl Gallant Conservative Renfrew—Nipissing—Pembroke, ON

Mr. Speaker, firearms owners are not the only people who want to be consulted on reclassification for no reason.

I am pleased to present a petition signed by campers who stayed at St. Clair Shores Campground in Stoney Point, Ontario, a place for beautiful lakeside camping in the riding of Chatham-Kent—Leamington. The petitioners are calling upon the government to treat campgrounds with five or fewer full-time year-round employees as small businesses and tax them as such.

Also, Glenrock Cottages and Trailer Park in Sturgeon Falls, Ontario, on the sandy shorelines of Lake Nipissing in the riding of Nickel Belt, calls on the government to ensure that campgrounds with fewer than five full-time year-round employees are still treated as small businesses and taxed as small businesses.

Animal ProtectionPetitionsRoutine Proceedings

10:55 a.m.

Liberal

Robert-Falcon Ouellette Liberal Winnipeg Centre, MB

Mr. Speaker, in the indigenous spirit of my people, I am presenting a petition on the protection of animals after disasters and emergencies. The petition seeks to ensure that during disasters the government provides assistance for animals, who are like family to us.

Falun GongPetitionsRoutine Proceedings

10:55 a.m.

NDP

Pierre-Luc Dusseault NDP Sherbrooke, QC

Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present a petition signed by hundreds of Canadians across the country who are calling on the Government of Canada to take action to protect Falun Gong practitioners, especially with regard to the illegal organ transplants occurring in China. The petition calls on the Canadian government to ask the Chinese government to conduct an independent investigation into these practices. The petition also calls on the government to actively discourage Canadians from seeking organs from China and to reject visas and immigration applications from anyone who may have been directly or indirectly linked to these illegal transplant practices. In addition, the petition calls on the Government of Canada to help and support Falun Gong practitioners, who are being persecuted in China and around the world.

AidsPetitionsRoutine Proceedings

10:55 a.m.

Green

Elizabeth May Green Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

Mr. Speaker, today I have the honour to present two petitions.

The first is on AIDS.

The petitioners from my riding of Saanich—Gulf Islands call for a national AIDS strategy based on the proven principle of treatment as prevention.

Bottled WaterPetitionsRoutine Proceedings

10:55 a.m.

Green

Elizabeth May Green Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

Mr. Speaker, the second petition is also from residents throughout Saanich—Gulf Islands calling for Parliament to discontinue the purchase of bottled water for personal use in any federal government institutions when potable water is available.

Physician-Assisted DyingPetitionsRoutine Proceedings

10:55 a.m.

Conservative

Mark Warawa Conservative Langley—Aldergrove, BC

Mr. Speaker, I am honoured to present a petition that highlights that, when the government passed legislation a year ago on assisted suicide and euthanasia, the government promised that no health care professionals would be forced to participate against their conscience in assisted suicide and euthanasia.

The petition goes on to say that the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario is using coercion, intimidation, and other forms of pressure against physicians who do not want to participate.

The petitioners are calling on Parliament to enact, in the Criminal Code, protection of conscience for physicians and health care institutions from coercion and intimidation, which is currently happening in this country. Our freedoms need to be protected.

Firearms Advisory CommitteePetitionsRoutine Proceedings

10:55 a.m.

Conservative

Cathay Wagantall Conservative Yorkton—Melville, SK

Mr. Speaker, I have three petitions to present this morning on behalf of law-abiding target shooters, hunters, trappers, farmers, and collectors who feel that they are not properly represented on the Canadian firearms advisory committee set up by the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness.

The petitioners feel that all the individuals in the new membership of the Canadian firearms advisory committee, which was announced on March 3, 2017, have either publicly stated that they are in favour of stricter gun control or are in fact members of the Coalition for Gun Control. Only two members of this committee have a firearms background.

The petitioners are calling for more fair representation.

TaxationPetitionsRoutine Proceedings

11 a.m.

Conservative

Tom Kmiec Conservative Calgary Shepard, AB

Mr. Speaker, I am tabling e-petition no. 818, initiated by my constituent Tony Fairfield, which includes 599 signatures.

The petitioners are calling on the Government of Canada and the House of Commons to make an immediate and public commitment to not pursue the elimination of the tax exemption for employer-sponsored health and dental benefit plans, now and into the future, at any time throughout the mandate of the government.

The petitioners draw the attention of the House to two specific facts: the February 7, 2017, vote in which every single member on the government caucus side voted against an opposition motion calling on the government to abandon any plans to tax federal dental and health benefits, and 24 million Canadians currently have access to health care through private employer-sponsored plans.

The 599 petitioners in this e-petition are specifically calling on the government, if it has future plans to introduce such taxation, to do so by calling for it during an election cycle.

Commemorative MedalsPetitionsRoutine Proceedings

11 a.m.

Conservative

Peter Van Loan Conservative York—Simcoe, ON

Mr. Speaker, the Liberal war on history continues to prompt many petitions to my office, and I have a raft of them to present today.

The petitioners are very proud Canadians. They are proud of their country's history. Commemorative medals have been issued on many occasions in Canada's history to recognize outstanding Canadians who have made significant contributions to their community and country. This kind of medal has been awarded on the occasions of Confederation in 1867, our diamond jubilee of Confederation in 1927, the centennial in 1967, and most recently on the 125th anniversary of Confederation in 1992. However, as part of the Liberal war on history, the program to present medals such as these, which was very well advanced, was unfortunately cancelled.

The petitioners call upon the government to reconsider that decision and actually proceed with a proper medal for the 150th anniversary of Confederation.

The petitioners come from Winnipeg, Manitoba; Iroquois Falls, Ontario; Yarmouth, Nova Scotia; Acadia, Nova Scotia; Wedgeport, Nova Scotia; Tusket, Nova Scotia; South Ohio, Nova Scotia; Nepean, Ontario; Ottawa, Ontario; Woodbridge, Ontario; Toronto, Ontario; Mississauga, Ontario; Markham, Ontario; Keswick, Ontario; Scarborough, Ontario; Whitby, Ontario; Pickering, Ontario; Ajax, Ontario; Stockholm, Saskatchewan; Grayson, Saskatchewan; Wapella, Saskatchewan; Whitewood, Saskatchewan; Esterhazy, Saskatchewan; Redvers, Saskatchewan; St. Louis, Prince Edward Island; and Tignish, Prince Edward Island.

The petitioners are calling on the Government of Canada to respect tradition, recognize deserving Canadians, and reverse the decision to cancel the commemorative medal for the 150th anniversary of Confederation.

Questions Passed as Orders for ReturnsRoutine Proceedings

11 a.m.

Winnipeg North Manitoba

Liberal

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

Mr. Speaker, if the supplementary response to Question No. 1025, originally tabled on June 16, and the government's response to Question No. 1027 could be made orders for returns, these returns would be tabled immediately.

Questions Passed as Orders for ReturnsRoutine Proceedings

11 a.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Geoff Regan

Is it agreed?

Questions Passed as Orders for ReturnsRoutine Proceedings

11 a.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Question No. 1025Questions Passed as Orders for ReturnsRoutine Proceedings

11 a.m.

NDP

Jenny Kwan NDP Vancouver East, BC

With regard to the Immigration and Refugee Board (IRB), since the changes made to the refugee determination system in 2012: (a) how many cases have come before the IRB, broken down by (i) year, (ii) country of origin of applicant, (iii) through the refugee protection division (RPD), (iv) through the refugee appeal division (RAP); (b) of the cases heard at the IRB, how many were ‘legacy cases’, broken down (i) year, (ii) country of origin of applicant, (iii) through the RPD, (iv) through the RAP; (c) what was the average length of delay for a legacy case to be heard, broken down by (i) year, (ii) country of origin of applicant, (iii) through the RPD, (iv) through the RAP; (d) what is the total funding provided to the IRB by the government, broken down (i) year, (ii) purpose; (e) how much internal funding has been shifted within the IRB to process ‘legacy cases’, broken down (i) year, (ii) area funding was shifted from; (f) how many ‘legacy cases’ have reached final decisions at the IRB, broken down by (i) year, (ii) country of origin of applicant, (iii) through the RPD, (iv) through the RAP; (g) of the remaining ‘legacy cases’, what average length of time the case has been before the IRB, broken down by (i) year, (ii) country of origin of applicant, (iii) through the RPD, (iv) through the RAP; (h) does the government have a plan in place to eliminate the backlog of ‘legacy cases’; (i) in what year is it expected that ‘legacy cases’ will be eliminated; (j) how many instances have there been of ‘legacy cases’ having hearings cancelled, broken down by (i) year, (ii) country of origin of applicant, (iii) through the RPD, (iv) through the RAP, (v) rationale for cancellation; (k) what is the average length of time between a ‘legacy case’ hearing cancellation and the hearing being rescheduled, broken down by (i) year, (ii) country of origin of applicant, (iii) through the RPD, (iv) through the RAP; (l) how many instances have there been of ‘legacy case’ hearings being rescheduled multiple times, broken down by (i) year, (ii) country of origin of applicant, (iii) number of hearing cancellations; (m) how many citizenship applications have been suspended due to the cessation of refugee protection provision, broken down by (i) year, (ii) country of origin of applicant, (iii) duration of period of suspension; (n) how many citizenship applications are being prosecuted due to the cessation of refugee protection provisions, broken down by (i) year, (ii) country of origin of applicant; (o) since 2009 how many cessation cases have been initiated pursuant to IRPA s. 108(2) at the Immigration and Refugee Board in total, broken down by (i) year, (ii) country of citizenship of person concerned; (p) how many cessation cases are being investigated in total, broken down by (i) year, (ii) country of origin of applicant; (q) what percentage of citizenship application suspensions are triggered by or related to cessation issues, broken down (i) year, (ii) country of citizenship of origin of applicant; (r) what is the average length of time it takes for a cessation case pursuant to IRPA s. 108(2) from its initiation by the Minister of IRCC, broken down by (i) year, (ii) country of citizenship of person concerned, (iii) method of determination; (s) what is the number of currently unresolved cessation cases pursuant to IRPA s. 108(2) that are pending before the RPD, broken down by year of initiation by the Minister of IRCC; and (t) what is the average time that currently unresolved cessation cases pursuant to IRPA s. 108(2) that are pending before the RPD, broken down by year of initiation by the Minister of IRCC?

(Return tabled)

Question No. 1027Questions Passed as Orders for ReturnsRoutine Proceedings

11 a.m.

NDP

Jenny Kwan NDP Vancouver East, BC

With regard to the Canada Border Services Agency and since 2009: (a) how many cessation cases in total are begin investigated but are not yet resolved, broken down by (i) year in which investigation was started, (ii) country of citizenship of person concerned; and (b) how many cessation cases have been investigated and resolved, broken down by (i) year in which investigation was started, (ii) country of citizenship of person concerned, (iii) outcome of investigation?

(Return tabled)

Questions Passed as Orders for ReturnsRoutine Proceedings

11 a.m.

Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux Liberal Winnipeg North, MB

Mr. Speaker, I would ask that all remaining questions be allowed to stand at this time, please.

Questions Passed as Orders for ReturnsRoutine Proceedings

11 a.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Geoff Regan

Is it agreed?

Questions Passed as Orders for ReturnsRoutine Proceedings

11 a.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Statements by Members--Speaker's RulingPrivilegeRoutine Proceedings

11 a.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Geoff Regan

I am now prepared to rule on the question of privilege raised on June 8, 2017 by the honourable member for Winnipeg Centre concerning the right of members to use indigenous languages in proceedings in the House of Commons.

I would like to thank the hon. member for Winnipeg Centre for having raised this important matter.

The member began by explaining that, despite having provided documentation to interpretation services 48 hours in advance, simultaneous interpretation was not provided when he made a statement in nehiyo, the Cree language, on May 4, 2017. Unable to be understood by his fellow parliamentarians and those viewing the proceedings, he felt that he had been effectively silenced and his privileges violated. The member asked for not only the right to use indigenous languages in the proceedings of the House but also for minimal resources to enable him to participate and interact fully with other members in the proceedings and them with him in turn.

The issue raised by the member for Winnipeg Centre speaks to the very core of what members need when they come to this chamber, that is, not only to be free to speak but also to be understood. To be clear, the sacrosanct right of members to speak is not what is now being questioned; rather, it is the right of members to be understood immediately when they speak in a language other than one of the two official languages that is being raised.

This acknowledge of the need to bridge understanding between languages was surely at the root of the introduction of simultaneous interpretation for Canada's two official languages in the House in 1958. House of Commons Procedure and Practice, second edition, at page 287, explains the intentions of members at that time:

Members were of the opinion that this would give further expression to the Constitution, which provides for the equal status of the official languages and for their use in parliamentary debate.

This critical service, which began by way of an order of the House when members unanimously agreed to a government motion on August 11, 1958, continues to provide integral support to members as they search to understand and participate in parliamentary proceedings.

The fact that interpretation is provided in our two official languages was not designed or intended to prohibit members from speaking other languages in this chamber. Acting Speaker Kilger confirmed this on June 12, 1995, at page 13605 of Debates, when he stated:

At this time, there is nothing in the standing orders preventing anyone from using, as you say, a language that is not one of Canada's two official languages.

Members have availed themselves of this opportunity on many occasions, speaking not only indigenous languages but others as well. However, given the House’s current limited technical and physical capacity for interpretation, if members want to ensure that the comments they make in a language other than French or English can be understood by those who are following the proceedings and are part of the official record in the Debates, an extra step is required. Specifically, members need to repeat their comments in one of the two official languages so that our interpreters can provide the appropriate interpretation and so that they may be fully captured in the Debates. By doing so, all members of the House and the public will be able to benefit from the rich value of these interventions.

The Chair understands fully how some members could find this to be woefully inadequate. Perhaps there is some merit to that view. Perhaps being able to speak in other languages without the benefit of simultaneous interpretation is not good enough for some, even as the Chair reminds members of the impact that inherent physical limitations of the chamber have on the capacity for interpretation.

To offer something more, something different in terms of interpretation services, that is a decision that belongs to the House. As the member for Winnipeg Centre made a passionate argument for the improvement of interpretive services offered simultaneously in the House, I invite him to raise this issue with the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs, which has a mandate for reviewing the procedures and practices of the House and its committees. As the member for Winnipeg Centre noted, other legislative bodies in Canada have had some experience with this issue, perhaps experiences from which the committee could draw upon should it undertake a study on the matter.

In conclusion, while the Chair understands that the current offering of interpretation may be not be seen as ideal by some members, I cannot find that the member for Winnipeg Centre has been prevented from conducting his parliamentary functions.

Therefore, I cannot find that a prima facie case of privilege exists in this case.

I thank hon. members for their attention.

The House resumed from June 19 consideration of the motion, and of the amendment.

Amendments to Standing OrdersGovernment Orders

11:10 a.m.

Green

Elizabeth May Green Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

Mr. Speaker, yesterday I spoke to the issue of prorogation, because we now have a historic opportunity to ensure that prorogation will never again be used improperly, and I said that the motion fails to eliminate that possibility.

I was about to close on the subject of prorogation by suggesting to the House, as I have suggested to the hon. government House leader in a paper I prepared on things we could do in our Standing Orders, the advice from Professor Hugo Cyr, L'Université du Québec à Montréal. He raised before the the Special Parliamentary Committee on Electoral Reform, as did Professor Peter Russell, Professor Emeritus at the University of Toronto, additional reforms for democracy that we should consider making.

Professor Cyr's approach is this:

...to amend the Standing Orders of the House of Commons so that asking for Parliament to be prorogued or dissolved without first obtaining the approval of the House of Commons automatically results in a loss of confidence in the Prime Minister. Consequently, the Governor General would not be bound by a prime minister's advice requesting the early dissolution or prorogation of Parliament without first obtaining the approval of the House of Commons.

This is a very sensible proposal. What the government has proposed is a form of improvement, but there is nothing in the government proposal that would stop the abuse of power such as we saw when Stephen Harper shut down of Parliament to avoid a vote he knew he would lose. Unfortunately, the opposition parties had just recently voted on the Speech from the Throne, mistaking what they thought was a mere formality. It actually was a confidence vote and that is why the Governor General at the time refused to deny Mr. Harper his request for prorogation, although it is historically an affront to parliamentary democracy. We need to close that door now and the proposal from the government does not do it.

Similarly, I was pleased to see the motion would deal with omnibus bills and allow them to be split, only to be crestfallen to realize they only would be allowed to be split when it came to voting on them, not for studying them. It was actually the case with one of Harper's omnibus bills, Bill C-31, which was introduced in spring 2014. I went to committee, as I was by that point mandated to do by the new motions that were passed to deny me my rights at report stage, to present amendments to various sections of the bill.

These omnibus bills were so big that when I went to committee with amendments to a section, it was the moment when members around the committee realized they had not had any witnesses on that section. It was a commercial chemical section, by the way. I wanted an amendment related to asbestos. The committee had no witnesses, had not studied it , and certainly could not take amendments, but it could pass it because it was under time allocation. When there are multiple sections pushed in the same bill, it is a small improvement to say that the Speaker can split them out for purpose of voting, but we really need those sections split out for purposes of study.

Again, the recommendation from the hon. government House leader is a small improvement but a long way from being adequate.

While we have a chance, there are a lot of things we could look at in the Standing Orders. Again, going back to the advice of Professor Peter Russell and Professor Hugo Cyr to the Special Parliamentary Committee on Electoral Reform, we are one of the only modern democracies that does not have a mandatory period between when an election takes place and when the newly elected government convenes Parliament. This loophole has not yet been exploited or abused, but there is no reason not to close the door on it now.

Fundamentally, what is terribly sad about this process is that we lost the opportunity to achieve a consensus on how to change our Standing Orders. This remains a historical, and not a good historical precedent, where the party with the majority of seats in this place, even though it does not have the majority of votes across the land, is able to push through this motion, because the votes are there.

I would urge the government House leader and the Liberals to seriously consider adopting the NDP amendment. It will do no violence to the principles it is espousing. It would at least allow omnibus bills to be split for purposes of study. I urge this to my colleagues. I also hope that in the future we can return to some of the other proposals I made, particularly taking into account the carbon footprint created by our parliamentary schedule. I continue to maintain that we need to consider very closely changing the days and the weeks in which we sit in order to intensify our time in Ottawa and thus reduce the millions of dollars and tons of greenhouse gases as we fly back and forth to this city.

Amendments to Standing OrdersGovernment Orders

11:15 a.m.

Conservative

Marilyn Gladu Conservative Sarnia—Lambton, ON

Mr. Speaker, I respect my colleague's years of parliamentary service and her understanding of the protocols in the House. I want to follow up on one of her statements about the omnibus bills. I agree with her that separating them out for the purpose of voting does not give us the opportunity to study them, and that is important.

I notice that budget bills are excluded from that. We have a situation here where the government has tried to bring in a budget bill with an infrastructure bank for $35 billion of taxpayer money in it . We only had two hours of discussion at committee before the Liberals shut that down. The government also resisted input from the opposition members who said it was complicated, that it had a lot of implications for the Canadian taxpayer, and that it should be studied separately. Now it is in the Senate. The senators brought forward the exact same comments and there was a lot of intervention.

Could the member comment on whether she thinks budget bills should be excluded from the proposed separation?

Amendments to Standing OrdersGovernment Orders

11:15 a.m.

Green

Elizabeth May Green Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

Mr. Speaker, that is a specific exclusion. Actually, the most egregious misuse of omnibus legislation over the years I have been in this place, during the 41st Parliament and then since 2015, have specifically been for budget bills. That is, again, a significant failing that is relatively inexplicable, given the stated motives for the changes to the Standing Orders.

Amendments to Standing OrdersGovernment Orders

11:15 a.m.

NDP

Wayne Stetski NDP Kootenay—Columbia, BC

Mr. Speaker, my colleague's speeches are always full of great ideas and lots of good thoughts.

I remember when we started this discussion on improving Parliament, a lot of the discussion was about trying to find ways to make it more family friendly. It seems to me that this was lost along the way. I would like to hear the member's view of what happened to family-friendly improvements to Parliament.

Amendments to Standing OrdersGovernment Orders

11:15 a.m.

Green

Elizabeth May Green Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

Mr. Speaker, in the 41st Parliament, the all-party women's caucus spent a lot of time looking at these issues and canvassed what was done in other parliaments. The problem we have in Canada, which means that the advice from the U.K. parliament, for example, does not really work, is that we are a very large country. The hon. member for Kootenay—Columbia and I are both in that category of MPs who spend a good deal of their lives on airplanes in order to serve their constituents and be in this place.

There is no perfect solution. Sittings ending earlier so that members in the Ottawa area could get home for dinner would be great for families in the Ottawa area but would not help us get through the work in this place so we could have more time in our constituencies.

I think the best solution, knowing that there is nothing perfect, is to have what I call the Fort McMurray work schedule, which would be three weeks in Ottawa and three weeks in our home ridings, with the three weeks in Ottawa being six days a week. There would be normal hours Monday to Friday and a half day on Saturday. This would actually give MPs a day of rest on the Sunday, because it would be physically impossible to fly home. I believe it would save taxpayers millions of dollars in air flights and would reduce greenhouse gases substantially.

For most families, an accommodation could be made. Other families across this country have accommodated that for family members who have to travel to work. A concentrated three-week period in Ottawa and three weeks in the riding I think would work better.

Clearly, nothing is going to be perfect. Many members from British Columbia, for instance, move their families, particularly with small children, to Ottawa so they can spend more time with their kids in the evenings, helping them with their homework. Then, when they are in their ridings, all they do is work full tilt on constituency issues.

It is a very challenging question, when we are looking at a family-friendly Parliament, as we travel across many time zones.

Amendments to Standing OrdersGovernment Orders

11:20 a.m.

Liberal

Anita Vandenbeld Liberal Ottawa West—Nepean, ON

Mr. Speaker, how can members across parties work together to improve democracy in this place?

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11:20 a.m.

Green

Elizabeth May Green Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member for Ottawa West—Nepean asked the perfect question. To work together here, we need to create those conditions that encourage co-operation, and we need to get rid of those conditions that encourage hyperpartisanship. That means we need to get rid of first past the post and bring in proportional representation.

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11:20 a.m.

Bloc

Luc Thériault Bloc Montcalm, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would first like to thank my colleague from Saanich—Gulf Islands for sharing her time with me.

Ten minutes is valuable time that will allow me to speak to the alleged intent behind the modernization of House of Commons procedure. My political party will have had only 10 minutes to express its views in the House. All the members of the House are complicit in believing that this is perfectly fine.

Since October 19, 2015, I have been experiencing Canadian-style parliamentary democracy. To be honest, it concerns me, both in terms of the inconsistencies between theory and practice and the inconsistencies between this government’s intentions and its actions. It concerns me, especially given the discrimination, as well as the complacency about this discrimination, plaguing this House. Whether we like it or not, there are two classes of members in the House. This also means that there are two classes of constituents. There are recognized parties and non-recognized parties, which make up the two classes of members. When it comes to freedom of speech, we do not have the same rights as all parliamentarians in the House.

In terms of its practices, Parliament is stuck in the 19th century. However, the mother parliament of Westminster has evolved. If you ask me, today it would have difficulty recognizing its Canadian offspring, since it grants its minority parties benefits and privileges that this Parliament does not. The aim was to undertake procedural reform. In the area of modernizing procedure, we have been excluded from all parliamentary committees since October 19, 2015.

When the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs wants to meet and seek the approval of all parliamentarians in the House to amend the Standing Orders, members who belong to a non-recognized party continue to be excluded. If this is not discrimination, I do not know what else to call it. Is this ideological segregation? This is following this government’s supposed intention to change the voting system in order to allow for a greater ideological diversity of opinions in the House. Obviously, the Liberals have tossed that in the trash, along with their intention to modernize procedure and the Standing Orders.

However, all my colleagues and I were elected, just like all other MPs, to honour the mandate given to us by the people. How is it that everyone accepts the fact that some MPs in the House do not have the same means of giving a voice to their constituents? I am speaking mostly of the contributions of MPs to committees, or parliamentary “commissions” in Quebec, which represent a large part of parliamentarian’s work.

If MPs are excluded from committees, what other means do they have left to make the voices of their constituents heard? In committee, when the debate is focused on the principle of a bill, we have the right to vote and are given ten minutes to say what we think of the bill. After that, it is radio silence. We no longer have the right to vote or intervene. Depending on the government’s mood, and if we have played nice in committee, we might be allowed to raise our hand and perhaps be given a brief two minutes to say something. However, we still do not have the right to vote. At report stage we can vote in the House, but there is absolutely no possibility of submitting any amendments that were not submitted in committee.

We do not have the right to vote or the right to speak in committee. Is this what Canadian-style parliamentary democracy looks like? Are we proud of this? I for one am not because I am not given the means to speak on behalf of constituents in the House.

However, we have a democratic principle under which voters pay taxes to the Government of Canada and have the right to be represented by MPs from the Bloc Québécois or the Green Party. These parties should have equitable means for representing their fellow citizens. Freedom of speech is a recognized principle, but an MP’s duty to speak is not respected in a fair manner in Parliament.

How could we think that this parliamentary reform of procedure would lead anywhere other than a dead end? According to parliamentary tradition, changing the rules of the game requires trying for the greatest consensus possible. In December 2015, this government gave the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs, a committee that we are excluded from, the mandate to modernize how the House works, within a perspective of work-family balance. That is an excellent idea, because after having sat as a member in another parliament, I can tell you that work-family balance is pathetic here in Ottawa.

However, today, this entire aspect has been set aside, along with the willingness to acknowledge all legislators of the House. Parliamentary procedure is controlled by executive power, which, in any case, is always looking to bypass legislative power, since hearing members speak takes too long. There are no ministers in the committees, but the government would like to give parliamentary secretaries more rights than I have. They will automatically receive the right to intervene, even if they do not have the right to vote. The executive will then be able to once again deliver its messages to the majority legislators of the governing party so that they do not deviate from the executive line of government. There is no separation of powers.

This government, however, was supposed to do politics differently. Changing the voting system, which allowed each vote to count, among other things, was thrown out. Reforming the financing of political parties was also tossed, and this could have at least allowed each vote to count, in a British system, by paying parties an allowance in proportion to the number of votes that they received. Work-family balance was scrapped along with the recognition of minority parties in the House, the fundamental right of parliamentarians of all parties to do their job in the House, freedom of speech, and the value of justice, because it is a matter of justice.

The fairness principle must be absolutely respected. However, when it is a matter of the right of only one member, one can assume that all members of the House may not be able to speak, as there are 338 members. This refers to parties. I have not heard many members, except for the member of the Green Party, agreeing with us and saying that what the members of the Green Party and the Bloc Québécois are experiencing is terrible, and that they support us because they would never want to be in that position.

I therefore ask our fellow legislators whether they support us in this interpretation of a bad reform of the procedure.

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11:30 a.m.

NDP

Brigitte Sansoucy NDP Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot, QC

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for presenting his point of view. I belong to a party that has already been in this situation in the history of this Parliament.

If I understand clearly, the parallel that you are making in relation to a reform of the voting system, the financing of political parties, or the changes presented to us is that it basically does not take into account the fact that we now have a multi-party system. Like most countries, we no longer have a two-party system. Any changes must take into account this multi-party system, whether we are talking about the reform of the voting system, political financing, or functioning of the House. Did I properly understand your position?

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11:30 a.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Geoff Regan

I remind the member to direct her comments through the Chair.

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11:30 a.m.

Bloc

Luc Thériault Bloc Montcalm, QC

Mr. Speaker, my colleague has understood completely. Just because we are in a British system does not mean that it cannot be adapted and that the two-party card must be abused. This two-party system resistance has been outdated for more than a century. Because of that resistance this Parliament is out of step with Canadians and with what they have told us, particularly before the special committee that sought to reform the voting system.

In the case of the voting system, the government agreed to give us the right to speak and the right to vote in a special committee to change the rules of democracy; however, in regard to procedure, the very procedure that excluded us from our very first day in this Parliament, the answer was no, there will be no special committee. We will not be able to defend our views to convince other legislators. Each of my colleagues opposite seem to subscribe heart and soul to the controlling policy of their government, although they would not be at all pleased to be in our place. I would not want them to experience in the near future what minority parties have to go through in this Parliament, namely ideological discrimination.

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11:30 a.m.

Winnipeg North Manitoba

Liberal

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

Mr. Speaker, I am sympathetic to what the member is saying. For 18 or 19 years, a good portion of the time I was in the Manitoba legislature, we did not have party status. Today we still do not have party status at the provincial level. It requires four seats to achieve that.

I had recognized back then that it was not just the government but also the opposition parties that would often make things difficult with respect to achieving that, so I wonder if the member across the way could share with the House the extent of his discussions with the official opposition and the third party with respect to their viewpoints. Does he believe that they are prepared to see the Bloc Québécois get party status?

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11:30 a.m.

Bloc

Luc Thériault Bloc Montcalm, QC

Mr. Speaker, the government’s prerogative is to table bills such as reform proposals.

My colleague does quite remarkable work in the House and is a brilliant debater. If his party wanted minority parties to have the same rights as all parliamentarians in the House, that would have been included in what they tabled to be considered in committee.

The Bloc Québécois tabled a motion to create the same kind of committee as the special committee on the reform of the voting system. It was the Liberals who told us no. They did not want a special committee on procedure. They can pass the buck to the Conservatives or the New Democrats, who can speak for themselves. I have asked them. I asked them if they agree with me regarding the right of every party in the House to fair treatment, but they remained silent. However, I know that the government spoke expressly against what I am advocating here today.

It is a shame, when they claim to want to do politics differently.

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11:35 a.m.

Conservative

Jamie Schmale Conservative Haliburton—Kawartha Lakes—Brock, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise today and speak to Motion No. 18. It is an important motion, one that impacts the way we conduct business here in the chamber. I am also pleased to split my time with my friend and colleague, the member for Calgary Rocky Ridge. I know he too has a lot to say on this matter.

I think it is fair to say that members on this side of the House strongly believe the government is trying to stifle the opposition's ability to protect the people we are elected to serve. What separates us from tyranny and revolution is our right, lent to us by the people, to stand in this place and contest ideas and demand that the government explain itself.

These are not sunny ways. These are dark days for democracy. The Prime Minister is not interested in working with members on this side of the House of Commons. The government simply wants to get its agenda through the door, regardless of the impact on Canadians. The role of the opposition, as we all know, is to hold government to account, debate ideas, and represent the people in our constituencies. It has become clear over the past two years that the opposition is just an inconvenience to the Prime Minister's agenda. He wants an audience, not an opposition.

Back in March, the government attempted, among other things, to reduce the opportunity for members to hold the government to account. The government intended to do this by eliminating Friday sittings, putting automatic time allocation on bills, eliminating the effectiveness of committees through preventing opposition parties from triggering debates on reports, and implementing closure changes to committees.

How Motion No. 18 came about, late on a Friday afternoon when members of the House were either back in their ridings or on their way there, is very suspect. The government decided it was a good time to spring these changes on the members of the House. It was not the government House leader but her colleague who gave notice to the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs, on which I sit, that these matters would be studied and everything wrapped up in a couple of months.

Yesterday the official opposition's House leader, the member for Portage—Lisgar, mentioned four examples in recent years when the Canadian Parliament worked together to form a consensus on changes to House procedure: Pierre Trudeau's Lefebvre committee; the McGrath committee, set up by Brian Mulroney; Jean Chrétien's special committee on modernization and improvement; and the previous Conservative government, under the stewardship of Stephen Harper, which worked co-operatively with all parties to bring in permanent procedural amendments.

I am honestly at a loss as to why the government ignored previous parliamentary traditions on working collectively on changes to House procedure. I thought this was the government that campaigned on working together.

I am very proud that both the NDP House leader and the opposition House leader worked together to suggest an alternative, a special all-party committee to work on a consensus to review our procedures and to propose alternatives. This would have been an opportunity to put aside partisanship and work in a collegial spirit to strengthen, not weaken, members' ability to protect Canadians' interests. If the Prime Minister was truly committed to working with this Parliament, he should have seen the value in that proposal.

There is a reason that the two sides of this chamber are separated by two swords' lengths. There was a time when parliamentary democracy was not as collegial as it is today. One has to but open a history book to see what happens when the people have no power or when it is stripped from them. Blood has been shed in the fight to enshrine and protect the rights of members of Parliament to fully represent their constituents. The government intends to deprive us of those rights. It will perhaps not happen all at once, but if it is successful here in this instance, make no mistake: the erosion of the House of Commons will have begun, and before long I fear this place will become redundant.

I would now like to turn to a brief overview of the changes the government is proposing in this motion.

Within 20 days of a new session following a prorogation, the government has to submit a report explaining the reasons that it prorogued. This rule is nothing more than sleight of hand. The opposition already has means to demand of the government answers to why it prorogued.

We have an opportunity to scrutinize the government. It is called question period. Unless the government's aim is to limit the availability of the Prime Minister during question period or perhaps even limit the powers of parliamentarians to debate ideas in this place, then all that is needed for scrutiny is an open question period that the Prime Minister attends for as many days as possible. Perhaps the government has more foresight than we gave it credit for.

In all seriousness, the inclusion of this item in the motion before us is nothing more than basically checking a box in the Liberal 2019 election pamphlet. If Liberals have issues with prorogation, they simply should promise not to do it and stick with that promise.

That brings me to omnibus bills. Under these proposals, the Speaker of the House of Commons would have the power to divide those bills for the purpose of voting “where there is not a common element connecting the various provisions”. As the motion reads, the exception would be budget bills.

If I recall correctly, not so long ago the current government was in opposition and would raise a hue and cry over those same omnibus budget bills. Now Liberals stand here decrying these evil omnibus bills, except that now they will allow them if they are budget bills. I guess there was one thing for the campaign and another thing for after being elected.

The most recent government omnibus budget bill included the new Liberal infrastructure bank, a bank that will offer taxpayer-backed loans and loan guarantees to cover the losses of wealthy foreign investors who build megaprojects in Canada. These are the kinds of bills the government has no problem passing in an omnibus bill, the kinds of bills for which it wants limited scrutiny. We are not even sure if members of the board of this $35-billion taxpayer-funded bank will be Canadians. We may see foreign directors funding foreign investors, with taxpayers on the hook for any losses. I do not understand this logic. Perhaps this is simply a means to balance out the election pamphlet that the Liberals are working on for 2019.

These first two items are nothing more than smoke and mirrors. The following item is much more nefarious, and in this connection a March 26 Globe and Mail opinion piece warned the Canadian public to keep an eye on what is happening in Parliament.

According to the government, a new schedule for budgets and main estimates documents will be created so that the Treasury Board Secretariat can have time to have the main estimates reflect what is in the budget. This is not the case in reality.

I applaud that the government wishes to better coordinate the budget and the main estimates, but reducing the time the opposition and stakeholders have to scrutinize the main estimates is not the way to do it. This is an issue of time management, nothing more.

The main estimates, for the benefit of the public watching, are the instrument the government uses that leads to the eventual authorization by Parliament for the government to spend the public's money. Perhaps that is the heart of the issue. The government has never really been serious about financial accountability. I am not even sure it realizes where this money comes from. Here is a reminder: it comes from the Canadian public, the people who work hard day in and day out for their paycheques. That is who the money belongs to, and I think every Canadian would demand that there be parliamentary oversight on that procedure. The government cannot take away the right of the public to scrutinize government spending simply by reducing the time parliamentarians and other stakeholders have to examine the main estimates. It is not Parliament that is delaying the government's spending; it is the government's own internal practices. If the government wants better alignment, it should get the main estimates to us a lot sooner.

The last item I will speak to today centres on committee business. In an attempt to neuter opposition MPs, the government plans to introduce an amendment to prevent ministers from sitting on committees. Instead, it will allow parliamentary secretaries to sit as ex officio members. There is only so much time committees have, and with an extra member for the government at the table, we can bet that opposition time will be affected. These parliamentary secretaries might not be able to vote, but they will have every other right of committee members. They will be in a position to effectively steer the committee toward their ministers' agenda, and that is something Liberals directly campaigned against.

I am not saying that Parliament must not renew and review its parliamentary procedures from time to time. I am on the procedure and House affairs committee and I get it, but we are talking about consensus by all parties to come to an agreement on how this place works.

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11:45 a.m.

NDP

Pierre Nantel NDP Longueuil—Saint-Hubert, QC

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for his speech. It must be said that his party has always been quite clear about its rather stubborn desire to lead the country without worrying much about details. In the 10 years that the Harper government was in power, we often saw the same kind of approach.

While Canadians have the unpleasant surprise of seeing that the Liberal government, after promising true blue, even “obamaesque”, democracy, is adopting its own preferred agenda, does the member enjoy seeing the Liberals taking a governing approach that somewhat resembles that of his own government, which at least had the merit of not hiding it?

The Conservative government did not care that people were not happy and did what it wanted. As for the Liberals, they give nice speeches on a great positive democracy and sunny ways, but in the end their agenda is rather dark. They decide everything and we must keep quiet.

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11:45 a.m.

Conservative

Jamie Schmale Conservative Haliburton—Kawartha Lakes—Brock, ON

Mr. Speaker, my friend is absolutely right. I think that goes to my point about the Globe and Mail article, which basically focused on encouraging Canadians to pay attention to what is going on in Parliament. I know Canadians are busy and it is our job to get the message out, but I think that was the focus: be aware of what is going on in Parliament, because the Liberal Party, through its draconian measures, is stripping members of the opposition of any power they have to hold the government to account.

So far we have been successful at pushing back at that, and I thank the members of the NDP for their co-operation. It was a good working relationship and we do appreciate it, but it is only the fact that we have been able to push back.

We look at Motion No. 6. We look at the Standing Order changes proposed. I believe it was March that it came out, and now there is this latest batch of changes, none of which are using consensus to change the procedures on how this place works. I wish they had used a historical precedent, because there are previous governments and previous prime ministers who did just that.

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11:45 a.m.

Liberal

Ken McDonald Liberal Avalon, NL

Mr. Speaker, I will just highlight one thing that my hon. colleague spoke about, and he can answer for me. He spoke about the parliamentary secretaries being members of the committee now and able to sit in, but it is my understanding they do not have any voting powers, so they will not be voting on any motions in committee.

Could he explain how it changes or puts forward the government position any differently than now, with a parliamentary secretary able to attend and not able to speak, or in the fact that when it comes to witnesses appearing or any debate that takes place, there is an allotted time frame for each party and a schedule that everybody sticks to, whether it is five minutes or seven?

Can he explain to me how he sees that changing in some way through the parliamentary secretary being present at committee?

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11:45 a.m.

Conservative

Jamie Schmale Conservative Haliburton—Kawartha Lakes—Brock, ON

Mr. Speaker, I do understand the question of my colleague across the way. At the procedure and House affairs committee, and I think every committee is the master of its own domain, what we are seeing now is the committee working somewhat well, minus the ramming through of changes to the Standing Orders that we had to deal with, but the problem now is that committees will not be the masters of their own domain. We will have the parliamentary secretary sitting there directing traffic, and that is something the Liberals very explicitly campaigned against. That is where we take exception to this change in the Standing Orders.

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11:50 a.m.

Conservative

Harold Albrecht Conservative Kitchener—Conestoga, ON

Mr. Speaker, I just want to pick up on this point of parliamentary secretaries sitting on committees as ex officio members.

Certainly during our time in government, the parliamentary secretary was there, part of the committee, quarterbacking the work that needed to be done. We know this idea of not having them there officially was tried in 1986 but scrapped in 1991. Thomas Sowell said this:

One of the most important reasons for studying history is that virtually every stupid idea that is in vogue today has been tried before and proved disastrous before, time and again.

If the government is so intent on having parliamentary secretaries at committee, why not let them sit there as full members to quarterback the work of government, as they really should be doing?

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11:50 a.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Geoff Regan

The member for Haliburton—Kawartha Lakes—Brock has 20 seconds.

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11:50 a.m.

Conservative

Jamie Schmale Conservative Haliburton—Kawartha Lakes—Brock, ON

Mr. Speaker, in 20 seconds, I appreciate the question from my friend from Kitchener—Conestoga.

That is basically what the Liberals were campaigning against. They were going to take that away. They campaigned against it and now they are going back on that, so that is issue number one. However, he is right that the parliamentary secretaries are able to direct traffic, which I mentioned before, which actually allowed the committees maybe to be a bit more productive. Some may argue not.

I just say that is another broken campaign promise.

I hope that was 20 seconds.

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11:50 a.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Geoff Regan

A little more, but there we go.

Resuming debate, the hon. member for Calgary Rocky Ridge.

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11:50 a.m.

Conservative

Pat Kelly Conservative Calgary Rocky Ridge, AB

Mr. Speaker, it is my pleasure, as always, to rise in this place and add to the debate, this time on Motion No. 18, a motion to amend the Standing Orders of the House of Commons.

Here we are. We are on the second day of debate on this motion and we are on the fourth-last scheduled sitting day of the session, under extended sitting hours, and talking about the changes to the Standing Orders. How did this happen and how did we get here? In order to explain the position that I am going to take on this motion and how I am going to use my vote and my voice on behalf of my constituents of Calgary Rocky Ridge, I am going to explain a bit of the context behind this motion for the benefit of constituents watching at home.

At the time of dissolution of the last Parliament, the Liberals were the third party in the House. They had 30-odd seats. They had a new untested leader. They had little to lose and they came up with an idealistic platform that included many promises that were designed to capture the imagination of Canadians, in contrast to a government that was very familiar to Canadians by virtue of its having won three consecutive elections and governing for nearly 10 years. Therefore, one might go so far as to say that the Liberals' 2015 platform perhaps was designed more to improve from the third-party status than to be a serious platform under which to govern.

It contained a lot of promises, including a modest deficit of $10 billion, and a stimulatory and not structural deficit that would result in immediate GDP growth and a swift return to balance. Obviously that did not happen. It also contained a promise to change the voting system within the first 18 months. That also did not happen.

The Liberals also had a promise to modernize the House of Commons, and what that meant was fairly vague. They threw out some idealistic buzzwords and mused about whether the House of Commons could be made more family friendly, a worthy ideal for many of us. I am a husband and a father of three children, so I am all for family friendliness.

The Liberals really only had four specific promises related to the Standing Orders. They promised that they would amend the Standing Orders to prevent omnibus bills; they promised not to use prorogation; they promised they would instill a British-style prime minister's question period, compelling the Prime Minister to answer all the questions one day a week; and they promised that they would change the estimates process so that the main estimates would reflect the current budget.

We know that Canadians took the current government at its word in the election and elected them on the strength of these and many other idealistic promises. However, soon enough the Liberals began to discover that reality is a tough place, an unforgiving place, and, once elected, reality is inescapable. One by one, the Liberal promises have been broken, set aside, or just plain abandoned. The Liberals' first attempt at what they called modernizing the House of Commons could be more properly called muzzling the opposition and disenfranchising the millions of Canadians who elected the 154 members of the opposition parties on this side of the House. It happened last year when Motion No. 6 tried to impose limits on debate and give members of the government additional powers over the House. That motion fortunately was abandoned on the night of the long elbows last May.

After that, the government expended enormous amounts of political capital, committee time, public money, and teasing the activist base whose support they stole from the NDP in the last election on their failed electoral reform agenda. Following that, the government then took its second stab at fulfilling its election promise on Standing Orders reform with its absurdly called “discussion paper”, delivered after hours on a Friday in March, followed by a motion with a deadline at the procedure and House affairs committee the next week. That motion and the so-called discussion paper called for all kinds of draconian and thoroughly undemocratic measures, including limiting debate through giving the government the power to pre-allocate time in the House of Commons, limiting debate at committees; and reducing the number of sitting days each week, thus reducing the number of days that the government would be compelled to be accountable to Canadians by facing the opposition in the House, especially during question period.

The reaction by the opposition parties was swift and predictable. Recognizing what was at stake, the Conservatives and the NDP used every means available under the existing Standing Orders to prevent the government from proceeding. At the height of the Standing Orders debacle at PROC, The Globe and Mail wrote an editorial that pointed out that in a majority Parliament when a government can pass any law or motion it wants, the opposition really only has two weapons at its disposal: moral suasion and the power to delay.

Both of those weapons were used to maximum effect, and eventually the government realized that the opposition would go to any lengths to prevent it from changing the Standing Orders without all-party consent, something that no other government has had the arrogance or contempt for the opposition to attempt before. That perhaps is wherein lies the rub. The Liberals seem quite sincere in their belief that whatever makes it easier and more convenient for the government and limits the ability of the opposition to hold it accountable is somehow democratic.

Members on the government side seem to sincerely believe that the opposition should merely act as spectators. It has been said before by me and by many of my colleagues that we are not an audience. We are the opposition. We were elected to this place just as each member on the other side was. We were elected by people who do not support the government's agenda and expect us to speak on their behalf. They expect us to demand accountability. They expect us to examine proposed expenditures. They do not expect us to simply act as mere spectators. They expect vigorous debate and robust daily question periods attended by the Prime Minister. They certainly do not expect us to surrender the very limited tools that we possess to do the job we were elected to do.

This brings me to the present and the details of the motion before us.

At first glance, the motion might appear not unreasonable, a compromise perhaps compared with the outrageous Motion No. 6, with the machinations that happened at PROC and the absurd statements that the government House leader has been making for months. In fact, one might for a moment be tempted to even give credit to the government for abandoning nearly all of the draconian changes signalled by its March so-called discussion paper and its Motion No. 6 of last year. Before doing that, however, let us consider what the motion would do and how it stacks up to the Liberals' supposedly sacrosanct commitment to delivering on the specific election promises related to Standing Orders and so-called modernization of the House of Commons.

With this motion, the government has abandoned its promise to change the Standing Orders for a prime minister's question period. Perhaps it has finally realized that this is something it could have done all along without a change to the Standing Orders, or perhaps it has realized just how poorly the present Prime Minister performs, so it is no longer so keen on the idea of a prime minister's question period.

The motion's so-called modernization of the estimates process would reduce the amount of time for committees to review the estimates, thereby reducing accountability.

Giving the Speaker the power to split a bill, not a budget-related bill and only for this Parliament, really is a joke within the context of the Liberals' promise and their past objections to omnibus legislation. The number of omnibus bills they have already tabled makes this part of the motion hilariously cynical.

The requirement to table a prorogation press release is also ridiculous, given the Liberals' promises and their past statements on this subject.

In short, despite the fact that this appears now to be merely token lip service to Standing Orders reform, I could never support the motion, because to do so would be to reward the government for its cynicism and for its spectacular incompetence. There is no way that we will let the Liberals claim that their grotesque mismanagement of this file has somehow ended in all-party support, all-party support that they have never seriously tried to obtain.

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Noon

Liberal

Julie Dabrusin Liberal Toronto—Danforth, ON

Mr. Speaker, the member opposite seems to underestimate the respect that we all have on this side for having this good discussion and robust discussions in committee. In my committee, I am always happy to hear thoughts and to debate what we can do to make things better and how we can proceed on different studies. I would like to point that out to the member.

In that respect, I did find one thing in the motion that is interesting, which is the proposed change to Standing Order 116, which would allow for the continuation of debate as long as somebody is interested in participating.

I wonder if the member does not see value in continuing robust debate in committee among all members of represented parties.

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Noon

Conservative

Pat Kelly Conservative Calgary Rocky Ridge, AB

Mr. Speaker, my committee, the access to information, privacy, and ethics committee, also has broad co-operation. We get along quite well on that committee. We are proud of the work we have done there.

That is not really the concern I have. The concern is with PROC. I do not know if this member would characterize what went on there as being in the same vein of co-operation. What happened there was an outrage and an affront to democracy, with the Liberals trying to ram through changes to the Standing Orders without all-party consent.

I will point out, for the benefit of both this member and others, that there are members on the government side who saw the cynicism and the outrageous contempt for our institutions at play in the Liberals' attempt to change the Standing Orders. Some spoke out about it, and they deserve credit for doing so. I know that many members on that side agreed with the opposition about the mistreatment that was at work in that debate.

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Noon

Liberal

Jennifer O'Connell Liberal Pickering—Uxbridge, ON

Mr. Speaker, in the last election, when knocking on doors, I heard a lot from residents concerned with the previous Harper government's use of omnibus legislation and the abuse by the government previously in ramming through legislation.

This was one of the election commitments in my riding and those of all members on this side of the House. This is in direct response to that commitment that we made.

Does the hon. member feel that the abuse of omnibus legislation that the Harper government used should just continue?

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Noon

Conservative

Pat Kelly Conservative Calgary Rocky Ridge, AB

Mr. Speaker, if this was raised at the doors in her riding, I wonder how it is going to go when she returns to those doors next time. She is going to have some awfully disappointed constituents.

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Noon

Liberal

Arnold Chan Liberal Scarborough—Agincourt, ON

Mr. Speaker, last week some individuals implied that the speech I gave last week might have been my last speech. I want to disabuse them of that thought, because I am standing here today. However, in the same speech I had indicated I was not sure whether I would have the opportunity for many more 20-minute slots. Today, in that case, I will leave some ongoing confusion. I only have a 10-minute slot today because it is my intention to split my time with the hon. member for Laurentides—Labelle.

While I have the floor, at this particular point, I really want to thank my hon. colleague for standing in for me when my health challenge arose again. I recognized that my capacity to actually carry out some of my House duties would be challenging. He has so admirably stepped in for me when I have not been able to perform that particular function. I want to thank him for his service and for his friendship in many ways covering much of my duty when I was not able to be here.

Yesterday, I had the opportunity to listen to the addresses of the House leader, the opposition House leader, and the New Democratic Party House leader, along with the hon. member for Beloeil—Chambly. I will focus most of my comments in response to the opposition House leader's very lengthy address. I probably will not be able to get through all of the points that I want to deal with, but I will acknowledge that I think the opposition House leader provided fairly lengthy criticism with respect to the process that led up to this point.

I think the one thing that was missing is to back up and to look at how we got here, not just what has transpired in the last few months, but what transpired under the previous government. It is that history that I want to address a bit, which I think needs to be part of the record, in terms of how a lot of issues that are now reflected in Motion No. 18 ultimately became part of our electoral platform in response to how the previous government treated this institution of Parliament. I will deal with some of those particular issues.

The first one I want to deal with is the first major test of Canadians' confidence in this institution at the end of 2008, shortly after the election that led to the Stephen Harper government being returned with a larger minority Parliament but not quite a majority. What transpired at that time was the coalition of three of the parties, the Liberals, the New Democratic Party, and the Bloc Québécois, to potentially defeat the government on a confidence motion, which led former prime minister Harper to go to the Governor General to seek a prorogation shortly after that government had already tabled the throne speech and had barely begun the legislative session.

The point I want to make is that ultimately prorogation is a crown prerogative, and so the ability of this House to circumscribe the crown's prerogatives is fairly limited. The criticism that came from the opposition House leader's attack on the proposed change in Motion No. 18 was that she did not see it having any merit or any particular point.

The purpose of this particular proposed change to prorogation is simply to shed light on the actual advice that the leader of the government, the prime minister of the day, is recommending to the Governor General as to why prorogation ought to be granted. Ultimately, that is entirely at the discretion of the Governor General. However, what this process does is shed light on that request. That is all it can do. It has, essentially, a political consequence and nothing more. That is essentially the purpose of why this particular amendment is being proposed within the Standing Orders.

The second thing that came out under the Harper government was, of course, the excessive use of omnibus legislation, particularly related to unrelated themes or unrelated matters. That is the one thing that we are trying to change, with respect to the proposed changes under the draft section 69.1 of the Standing Orders.

I acknowledge that we could have been clearer in the electoral campaign platform with respect to budget bills because, by their very nature, all budget bills are omnibus legislation. The point we are trying to make under proposed subsection 69.1(2) is that, if the budget bill proposes to make changes to other consequential acts, those changes have to be directly related to the implementation of the budget. It would be quite inefficient to break up a budget bill into numerous component parts because it would essentially render the whole budgetary process unworkable. The key in this area is the transfer of power from the government to the Speaker to make the final determination as to whether a piece of legislation is considered omnibus legislation or not, and the discretion would then rest entirely with the Speaker.

The third proposed area that is captured in Motion No. 18 relates to the estimates. The purpose of that change is to deal with what is a backward process right now where information about the budget is not clear. The changes being proposed would give parliamentarians better information ahead the budgetary process of instead of after it.

The fourth element that is proposed within Motion No. 18 deals specifically with parliamentary secretaries. In the previous Parliaments under the Conservative government, particularly in the 41st Parliament, in many but not necessarily all committees we saw the parliamentary secretary of the day dominating the agenda and denuding the broad capacity of all members of the House, particularly on the government side, from seriously looking at legislation that was coming through. The proposal we are putting forth in the Standing Orders would clarify the role of a parliamentary secretary. Parliamentary secretaries would still play an important liaison role with both the minister and the ministries they represent, but we would take away their capacity to be part of quorum and to vote. However, they would still play a very important liaison function with respect to dealing more rapidly with any of the issues that may arise at committee, through their participation. That is the fourth purpose in Motion No. 18 as to why the proposed changes are being advanced.

With respect to the last item, which has not made it into Motion No. 18, with respect to a prime minister's question period, the government has chosen to advance that particular measure by way of an established practised convention. I hope that we would give some serious consideration to following the United Kingdom model where the big difference is that, unlike the model we are executing now, the questions are tabled two days in advance by the opposition, which gives the prime minister of the day the opportunity to have a more fulsome response. This is as opposed to playing gotcha, as we are seeing right now with respect to question period.

I want to wrap up by simply saying that there has been some suggestion that there is an underhanded attempt by this government to ram through changes to the Standing Orders. I am a member of the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs. If the House leader had every intention of ramming things through, rather than presenting the discussion paper that was brought forward to PROC, she would have simply tabled a motion directly to the House to change the Standings Orders and to ram everything through that the government wanted, which is probably what the previous government would have done. This government did not do that. I want Canadians to understand that was never the intent or purpose behind the discussion paper. The intent was to solicit honest feedback. The Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs was already doing very good work on a number of fronts, and this was to expand some of the other ideas that we felt merited discussion.

I am happy to take questions from any of my colleagues.

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12:10 p.m.

Conservative

Pat Kelly Conservative Calgary Rocky Ridge, AB

Mr. Speaker, my hon. colleague for Scarborough—Agincourt spent quite a bit of time on the history of the 2008 prorogation and his view of the proposed changes in the context of that experience. I wonder if, perhaps, many of us have a hard time getting over events and dwell on certain flashpoints in the past.

The explanation he gave, although lengthy, seemed to me to be no more than saying that when Conservatives prorogue, it is bad, and when Liberals may wish to prorogue in the future, it is okay. I really do not see how this change is addressing it being wrong for a government to prorogue the House, especially while a party is colluding with two other parties, a separatist party and a socialist party, to form a coalition government elected by nobody.

Can the member comment on whether that experience is colouring this particular part of the bill?

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12:15 p.m.

Liberal

Arnold Chan Liberal Scarborough—Agincourt, ON

Mr. Speaker, there have been a number of issues in the past, in different governments, including the Mackenzie King government in 1926. At that time, the government of the day did not seek prorogation; it sought to call a new election. The governor general at the time, Lord Byng, refused to do so. From my perspective, what occurred in 2008 was clearly a potentially precedent-setting event.

I am simply suggesting that there are limits on crown prerogative in the sense that the House cannot override the right of the crown to execute its function. The point of this particular Standing Order change is simply to shed light on the rationale behind a request for prorogation. It would only be controversial when we were dealing with minority Parliaments. In a majority Parliament, that request would almost always be granted as a matter of right, because there would be no potential issue of confidence.

My point is that this particular change would simply allow for light to be shed on the advice that right now is confidential between the prime minister of the day and the governor general. I recognize that the governor general would have the absolute right to make whatever decision he or she ultimately decided with respect to that particular request.

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12:15 p.m.

NDP

Brigitte Sansoucy NDP Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot, QC

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

I would first like to say, through you, Mr. Speaker, how happy I am to have known him. It is an honour for me to have had the pleasure of working with him.

My question is about the last part of his speech. He presented his various arguments to us very clearly, but at the end of his speech, he spoke of intention. An intention must translate into actions, but the government’s approach, in moving this motion, did not at all create a climate of co-operation.

Should this government not have followed the example of Jean Chrétien and others, who wanted to make changes in the House and who truly created a forum for discussion that allowed everyone to reach consensus in good faith? The government’s approach did not do that. It was clear, in the opposition’s view, that the decision was made unilaterally. This entire process did not reflect the intention that the member expressed.

At the end of this process, we still cannot support this motion because it does not reflect the contribution that we would have liked to make as the opposition.

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12:15 p.m.

Liberal

Arnold Chan Liberal Scarborough—Agincourt, ON

Mr. Speaker, I want to thank my hon. friend for her friendship and for a fair question to the government. One of the things requested in the motion at PROC and with respect to the broader request from the opposition parties, which was to require unanimity among the recognized political parties before any changes to the Standing Orders could take place, would have essentially granted a veto to the Conservative Party on matters we were attempting to address from our campaign election platform commitments, which we knew they were opposed to and would like to see, frankly, not take place.

The government was not prepared to grant that request, as it related to the electoral platform commitment, and that is exactly what is reflected in Motion No. 18. We have withdrawn all the other ideas and concepts we wanted to have a discussion on. However, we are committed still to the ones we promised Canadians we would get done. It is unfortunate that the opposition will not be supporting us as we try to move forward.

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12:20 p.m.

Liberal

David Graham Liberal Laurentides—Labelle, QC

Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the member for Scarborough—Agincourt for sharing his time with me. It is emblematic of the duties we have been sharing over the past year as I have been working with him to back him up in his deputy House leadership duties.

While my dream of fixing the clocks in this place to be digital remains unfulfilled, there are a number of more serious Standing Order issues that need to be addressed. While the opposition has often accused Liberal members in this place of wanting to change the Standing Orders to government advantage, I would argue that the opposite is true.

Many of us on this side were here when we were in opposition. A few of us survived the decimation to third party. I started as a staffer, working for Frank Valeriote, the previous member for Guelph, in his constituency office early in the 40th Parliament. I eventually found myself working here for the member for Ottawa South, where I worked when the government was found to be in contempt of Parliament and an election was forced in early 2011. I subsequently worked for both those members as well as the current members for Halifax West, whom I take great pride in calling Mr. Speaker today, and the member for Coast of Bays—Central—Notre Dame, all, for a short period, at the same time.

Working for four excellent members of Parliament, with different personalities and areas of interest, I gained a great breadth of experience and perspective, which has been a key part of learning how to do this job. It also gave me an up-close perspective on the abuses of power, on a daily basis, by the previous government. That is the perspective from which this motion has been written, that of the third party. To make the point, I want to go over Motion No. 18 one piece at a time.

In 2008, most of us will remember that the Liberals, NDP, and Bloc got together in an effort to take down the freshly re-elected Harper government. Whatever one thinks of the details of that agreement, a majority of members intended to vote no confidence in a sitting minority government. To avoid this, Harper visited then governor general Michaëlle Jean and asked her to prorogue Parliament, a request she granted after a couple of hours of deliberation.

Parliament is often prorogued between dissolutions. Of the past seven Parliaments, only one did not have at least one prorogation, that being Paul Martin's minority 38th Parliament. Proroguing itself is definitely legitimate. In the 2008 instance, however, it was used as a tool to avoid a confidence vote. We all know how history played out after that, and it was a tactical success for Prime Minister Harper.

The first clause of Motion No. 18 would not prevent a prime minister from proroguing, but it would require the executive to explain why they felt it was necessary and would mandate the procedure and House affairs committee to revisit the matter. It would not prevent abuse, but it would raise the bar on prorogation.

It is a bit of a marvel to me that, in my experience, no one has tried to do a massive private member's bill that rethinks the role of government from one end to the other. It would be a pretty interesting two-hour debate and is only currently prevented by convention, not rule.

In the last Parliament, the government had some impressively scattered omnibus bills. The standard here is not about how many laws a bill amends but rather if those various and sundry changes all serve the overall purpose of the bill. For example, Bill C-49, which passed at second reading here only yesterday, was cited by many in the opposition as an omnibus bill because it intends to modify 13 existing acts. However, this is spurious, because all the changes legitimately and clearly fall under the concept of the name of the act, the transportation modernization act, and some of those 13 existing-act changes are both relevant and miniscule.

For example, clause 91 of Bill C-49 is the section that would amend the Budget Implementation Act, 2009. This change reads, in whole, “Parts 14 and 15 of the Budget Implementation Act, 2009 are repealed.” A quick investigation will reveal that Part 14 is amendments to the Canada Transportation Act and Part 15 is amendments to the Air Canada Public Participation Act, both well within the purview of the Minister of Transport to modernize within his mandate. Both sets of amendments from that Budget Implementation Act, 2009, which was called Bill C-10 in the second session of the 40th Parliament, came with a coming into force clause that read, in part, “come into force on a day to be fixed by order of the Governor in Council made on the recommendation of the Minister”. The most remarkable part of this eight-year-old piece of legislation is that the Governor in Council never brought these changes into force.

Getting rid of obsolete, never implemented bits of transportation law is clearly within the frame of transportation modernization.

In 2012, the Conservative government brought in a wide-ranging budget bill that implemented much of what it called Canada's economic action plan, but it also went after environmental legislation that had nothing to do with the budget. Among other things, it stripped legal protection for Canada's millions of lakes and waterways. This was slowed down, but not stopped, by more than 1,000 amendments to the bill at the finance committee, resulting in an around-the-clock filibuster-by-vote at clause-by-clause. I was there as staff for the final shift of that marathon vote.

The second section of Motion No. 18 would attempt to address these problems. Any bill presented in the House that did not focus on a single theme or overarching purpose could be split by the Speaker. While there would be an exception for budgets, the phrasing of that section, which would be standing order 69.1(2), would only seek to clarify that the objectives outlined in the budget would in their own right define the purpose. Attempting to change environmental law in a budget implementation act, without having defined it in the budget itself, for example, would permit a point of order to be raised and accepted by the Speaker to carve that section out of the BIA. This change is important and is something we committed to doing.

The third change is a little more arcane.

I was a staff member on the public accounts committee for a short period in the 41st Parliament and was a member of government operation and estimates early on in the 42nd Parliament for about the same length of time. I do not pretend to have any great understanding of the minutiae of the estimates process and defer to those who do. That is a big part of the point here. I welcome anything that can help bring clarity to the estimates process.

The fourth change in the Standing Orders in this motion is a particularly interesting one, covering sections 4 to 6 of Motion No. 18.

In the last Parliament, I believe most of us who were around had the same experience. Committees were run by parliamentary secretaries. They sat next to the chair, moved motions, voted, and otherwise controlled the committees. This utterly and totally defeats the point of parliamentary committees. The parliamentary secretary is, by definition, the representative of the minister. In this capacity, parliamentary secretaries serve a critical role in liaising between the committee and the department the committee oversees.

Being able to answer questions about intent and plans from the committee on a timely basis or bringing concerns or issues for study that ministers would like feedback on in the course of their duties are completely appropriate. However, when parliamentary secretaries run the committees, these oversight bodies cease to oversee much of anything and simply become extensions of the executive branch of government. If that is what we are to have, the committees serve little purpose. Including parliamentary secretaries on committees as liaisons with their departments instead of as the planners and executors of the work of those committees is the right balance.

This is really important. During the Reform Act debate in the last Parliament, the member for Wellington—Halton Hills, for whom I have great respect and have for many years, commented to me that as a backbencher, he was not government. “Like you,” he said to me, “my role is to keep the government to account. The difference is”, he concluded, “I have confidence in the government.”

This critical bit of political philosophy has stuck with me since that day. Our role as backbenchers is indeed to keep government to account whether we are on the government or opposition benches. One of the most critical tools to achieve that is committees, and when this government talks about restoring independence to committees, it is not a meaningless catchphrase or sound bite; it is legitimate. I have seen the transition on committee function from last Parliament to this Parliament and it is truly something. Keeping parliamentary secretaries in a participatory, but not controlling, role on committees is a critical element of this.

The last change, section 7 of the motion, is particularly interesting. The one place where the opposition has immense power, even in a majority government, is in the power of the filibuster at committee. An opposition member determined to prevent a vote from taking place or a report from being written at a committee has the absolute power to do so, as long as he or she is willing to talk out the clock and stay reasonably on point. Our colleague from Hamilton Centre is an expert at this task, often joking that after half an hour of talking he has not yet finished clearing his throat.

When we had the debate on reforming the Standing Orders that went sideways at PROC a few weeks ago, we were accused of trying to kill the filibuster. This could not be further from the truth.

In that debate, we sought to have a conversation about how to change the Standing Orders. The government House Leader had written a letter with her ideas of what changes she hoped we would discuss on top of the numerous ideas already before us on account of the Standing Order 51 debate from last fall. However, but if we refer back to the previous elements of this speech, where we landed was up to us as a committee. An idea floated was that members at committee be limited to an unlimited number of 10-minute speaking slots rather than a single slot with no end.

The way I understand this would work in practice is that any member can speak for as long as he or she wishes at committee, but when another member signals his or her interest in speaking, the member would have 10 minutes to cede the floor before the other member would take over, before giving it back again if the first member so chose. The effect of this would be to ensure that every member on a committee would have an opportunity to speak in any debate, but would not limit anyone from tying up committee and would not kill the filibuster either in the instance or in principle. It certainly would make it easier to negotiate our way out of one by giving others a chance to get a word in edgewise.

However, the change proposed here is not about that. It is about getting rid of one of the most absurd abuses of committee procedure we saw in previous parliaments: that a member of the committee majority would take the floor, even on a point of order, and say to the chair something like, “I move that we call the question.” The chair would correctly say that it was out of order and reject the request for the vote. The member would then move to challenge the chair, the majority would vote that the chair was wrong and the question could be called, and the motion to debate, study, report draft, or whatever was happening, would come to an abrupt, unceremonious, and totally acrimonious end. That was the only effective, if not exactly legitimate, way of ending a filibuster.

In Motion No. 18, we are defending the right to filibuster.

As I said, Motion No. 18 is about defending the rights of the opposition, informed by our experience in the third party. Not one line of this motion benefits a majority government. All, however, benefit the improved functioning of this place. I look forward to its passage.

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12:30 p.m.

Conservative

Marilyn Gladu Conservative Sarnia—Lambton, ON

Mr. Speaker, I want to clarify one common misrepresentation, which is the government brought a discussion paper. Clearly, it brought a motion to PROC and it was going to use its majority to vote it through.

When we talked about the Standing Orders in the House, I gave a speech. A lot of members have ideas about Standing Orders. I think of the myriad of things we could change to make things work better, such as when bills are introduced at first reading, all parties would stand, give speeches, and say they all agree. Then we continue to have second reading, it goes to committee, and on and on. Why do we not just send it to the Senate? There are so many ideas. We could have votes every day after question period and that could be put in place forever, so we would not have these family unfriendly votes late at night, all those kinds of things.

With all the changes that could have been made, could the member comment on why the government picked these ones as the priority?

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12:30 p.m.

Liberal

David Graham Liberal Laurentides—Labelle, QC

Mr. Speaker, they were in our platform and we committed to do them.

I would like to discuss the other items, and we did in fact propose a discussion. The motion was to create a discussion. I was there for it. I co-wrote the motion with the member for Coast of Bays—Central—Notre Dame. It was very important to have a discussion on how to do these very things, but we never did get to that. We had a filibuster.

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12:30 p.m.

Whitby Ontario

Liberal

Celina Caesar-Chavannes LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of International Development

Mr. Speaker, I want to build on the previous question. When we presented the discussion paper, some items in the discussion paper made it into the motion and some did not. There was opportunity, as my colleague across the way said, to have others.

Could the member explain to Canadians a little more on the value of putting forward a discussion paper, opening it up for parliamentarians to have some input on, and then presenting a motion here at this point, with which we will move forward?

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12:30 p.m.

Liberal

David Graham Liberal Laurentides—Labelle, QC

Mr. Speaker, as I said, we hoped to have a discussion to build on the ideas, to perhaps invite witnesses to discuss how it was done in other countries, and to see what other people did.

What ended up coming out of this was a few things committed to in the platform, rather than the very wide range of things coming out of Standing Order 51 debate. There were things the opposition members themselves wanted to discuss but did not actually want to discuss.

The process did not work as I would have liked. However, this is where we are. We have a motion that will improve the rights of members in the House. It is very worthwhile and very important to proceed with this.

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12:30 p.m.

NDP

Pierre Nantel NDP Longueuil—Saint-Hubert, QC

Mr. Speaker, I find it quite amusing to hear my colleague opposite talk about discussions, when an agenda cloaked in white, purity, and sunny ways was shamelessly imposed on us in a major way. Today, as an NDP member, I have to mention the Senate, which has said that the infrastructure bank should not be included in omnibus bills. I am even citing the Senate, which goes to show how much everyone agrees.

In my opinion, it is ridiculous for the government to claim to be a new breath of fresh air for democracy when it is imposing a monstrous bill, inserted in an omnibus bill, to make its pals happy.

I would like to hear my colleague’s comments on this.

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12:30 p.m.

Liberal

David Graham Liberal Laurentides—Labelle, QC

Mr. Speaker, I do not know what pals he is talking about.

Bill C-44 was introduced as part of the budget. We made it very clear in the budget that we were going to create the infrastructure bank. Our plans to do that were clear. The infrastructure bank is a way of investing and creating a good fund that will make it possible to invest in infrastructure across the country.

In my riding of Laurentides—Labelle, there is a significant need for infrastructure. In many cases, the money for infrastructure just is not there. The infrastructure bank will help in such cases, and that is why it is extremely important for the development of infrastructure and of the country.

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12:35 p.m.

Liberal

Bernadette Jordan Liberal South Shore—St. Margarets, NS

Mr. Speaker, I sat in on the PROC committee meeting, which was filibustered for almost 700 hours. There was a lot of concern about how we needed to have a discussion, but the opposition members did not bring forward any ideas. They only said why they did not like it.

How can we avoid this in the future? How can we have those discussions, rather than a filibuster, with some members saying they do not like what has been brought forward?

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12:35 p.m.

Liberal

David Graham Liberal Laurentides—Labelle, QC

Mr. Speaker, that is an easy one. If the opposition came to the table as honest brokers and came to the government to discuss this, which is what we were looking for, we would have had a much more productive discussion and it would have resulted in a motion. If they did not agree with it, they could have filibustered at that point. However, at least we would have had the discussion.

The best way of going forward is by having everybody come to the table and being honest with their opinions.

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12:35 p.m.

Conservative

Kelly McCauley Conservative Edmonton West, AB

Mr. Speaker, I will be sharing my time today with my colleague for Chilliwack—Hope.

First, I am so pleased to hear that our colleague for Scarborough—Agincourt will be speaking again, and that this was not his last speech today.

I rise today to speak to Motion No. 18, the government motion mostly about the estimates process and the government's shameful move to reduce parliamentary oversight by changing the tabling and reporting dates of the main estimates. It is the government's misguided and cynical attempt to change the estimates process so it appears it is trying to do something, anything actually.

How did we get to this point?

Over a year ago, the Treasury Board President appeared in the operations and estimates committee, OGGO, to discuss the difficulty in understanding the estimates process. We discussed the alignment of the estimates to the budget, accrual versus cash accounting, and the unclear reporting of the departments. He proposed a solution, which was an odd one. His solution to all of these problems was to simply take away two months of oversight by moving the tabling of the estimates to May 1 from March 1, allow zero time for the opposition to study the estimates before choosing the two committees of the whole, and take away a few supply days. This was supposed to be the solution to the issue of the estimates being difficult to understand. If members do not understand the process, then surely the government will give them less time. That must be solution.

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 oversight on the estimates. We were told that changing the Standing Orders to allow the government to move the tabling of the estimates from March 1 to May 1, leaving parliamentarians just over a month before the estimates were considered reported, would allow the government to ensure more of the budget would be in the estimates.

We asked the Treasury Board President about these concerns in committee and we were told not to worry, that we could change the Standing Orders back in a couple of years. We were told not to worry about having only five sitting weeks in May and June to review the estimates. The Liberals would guarantee that ministers would show up to all committee meetings regarding the main estimates. To quote the committee evidence, the President of the Treasury Board stated “.You have my personal commitment, but also the commitment of our government, to make sure that is the case”, that the ministers will show up.

The current Minister of Public Services is on leave and the department in an absolute mess. There is the Liberal Phoenix fiasco. There is the Liberals's on-again, off-again love affair with Boeing, which is truly sad. In Paris right now the love affair is off. It is very odd that the city of love cannot get back the love affair with Boeing. There was the scandal of the Liberal Party executives deleting emails in Shared Services Canada, reminiscent of Hillary Clinton. Then there is the ongoing shipbuilding delays that are costing taxpayers billions.

Therefore, with all of this going on, do members think the fill-in minister, if anyone even knows who that person is, or the parliamentary secretary would show up for the estimates? I am pretty sure members can guess what the answer is: No. The first chance the government had to put its money where its mouth was and we ended up with the deputy minister of Public Services and Procurement representing the minister. It was not that the deputy minister did not do a great job. We got all the same nonsensical answers we would have received from the minister herself, but it was the principle of the thing.

Kin Hubbard, the American satirist, had an oft-quoted line, “When a fellow says, 'It ain't the money but the principle of the thing,' it's the money.” In this case, it is both; it is the principle and the money, taxpayer money.

Another well-known and similar quote from H. L. Mencken is, “When somebody says it’s not about the money, it’s about the money.” Now Mencken was a very influential and prolific journalist in America during the depression area. He wrote a lot about the shenanigans and shams of con artists in the world. He would have had a lot of fun writing about this, because shams of con artists were his specialty.

The government is saying that to improve transparency, we must decrease transparency. In order to give more power of oversight to parliamentarians, we must first take away oversight to parliamentarians.

We told the Treasury Board President that if there was an alignment issue, why not move the budget up to an earlier fixed date. This was recommended by the all-party OGGO report in 2012 on the estimates. He told us that it was not possible due to timing issues. Therefore, we have two rulings on timing issues; unilaterally changing the Standing Orders on estimates is good, changing timing for the budget is bad.

Before anyone thinks this is just a partisan rant about the government, it is not just me who thinks the government is completely wrong on the issue. The PBO noted:

Before agreeing to the changes proposed by the Government, parliamentarians may wish revisit the core problem that undermines their financial scrutiny: the Government’s own internal administrative processes.

The PBO was in committee just this morning and again noted that moving the date would have little to no effect on alignment if the internal processes on budget and spending approval are not reformed, which is not happening. He further stated that taking away time for MPs to scrutinize government spending, as this motion would do, would be of no benefit at all to Parliament or to oversight by parliamentarians. The PBO proved this point by pointing out in a supplementary estimates analysis how many new budget measures appeared in each supplementary estimate.

In the 2016 supplementary estimates (A), 70% of new spending announced in the budget was in the supplementary estimates (A). If we go a year closer, with all the hard work they put into it, we see a new total of just 44% in the supplementary estimates (A). Incredibly, in response to this failure, the TBS president said it was “progress”.

We asked the minister to share his plans to reform the internal process and achieve alignment, and he refused, referring instead to his four-pillar discussion paper as a “concrete plan”, in his words. That is the same paper the PBO just this morning inconveniently noted was not a plan, since it had nothing concrete in it to address the process issues.

We further asked the TBS president 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.

My learned colleague from Moose Jaw—Lake Centre—Lanigan, who is our committee chair, asked repeatedly if, as was the long-held custom, the TBS president would commit to changes to Standing Orders only if he had all-party support. It was like asking the Prime Minister how many meetings he had with the Ethics Commissioner. All we got was non-answers.

Now we know why he would not answer such a simple question: they planned all along just to ram the changes down the throats of the opposition. What is next when this little experiment fails? Will it be further reduction in oversight?

In committee, the Treasury Board president trotted out a line from an interview with Kevin Page, the former PBO, as justification for his plans. He quoted Kevin Page as saying, “I support your recommendation that this adjustment may take two years to implement.” There was nothing about its being a good idea; it was just that it would take two years to implement. What the Treasury Board president did not know, however, were a couple of other thoughts from Kevin Page, also in a Globe and Mail interview. The former parliamentary budget officer stated:

The recommendations for change in the discussion paper seem to have come from a public servant's perspective.

It is not from a parliamentary perspective or a perspective of oversight to protect taxpayers, but from a public servant's perspective.

The article continues:

The report does not start from the perspective of the financial-control responsibilities of Parliament.

With great respect to [the Treasury Board president]...the specific proposals in the report do not go far to strengthen Parliament's financial control.

The current PBO said of the proposed estimates 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 noted that:

...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.

In response to these learned experts, the minister said he did not agree with every utterance from the PBO. Those are his exact words: utterances.

On this side of the House, we believe we should pay attention to such utterances. Reducing oversight of spending for no gain does not serve Canadian taxpayers, nor does it serve parliamentarians. I strongly urge the government to withdraw its damaging changes to the estimates timing.

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12:45 p.m.

Liberal

Ken Hardie Liberal Fleetwood—Port Kells, BC

Mr. Speaker, I want to go back a bit in history and ask the hon. member how many times the Mulroney Conservative government unilaterally changed the Standing Orders. Was it between 50 and 60 times or 60 and 70 times?

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12:45 p.m.

Conservative

Kelly McCauley Conservative Edmonton West, AB

Mr. Speaker, I would like to give a little history lesson: it was a Progressive Conservative, not a Mulroney Conservative question.

Perhaps I would like to invite the member to get into his DeLorean and go back to the future to today's discussion. We are not talking about what happened decades ago. We are talking about the current government's attack on our rights of oversight of parliamentary spending. It is shameful that every time we bring up these issues of unparliamentary attacks on the parliamentary budget officer and our right to oversee spending, the Liberals go back to, “What about 30 years ago? Did not Mulroney do this? Did not Harper do that?”

In this House, we are here to discuss today's Motion No. 18. I would suggest that the Liberals stick to it; if they did, they would see it is a bad motion and they would withdraw—

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12:45 p.m.

Conservative

The Deputy Speaker Conservative Bruce Stanton

Questions and comments, the hon. member for Salaberry—Suroît.

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12:45 p.m.

NDP

Anne Minh-Thu Quach NDP Salaberry—Suroît, QC

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

I would like to know if he really finds it transparent and democratic to table Motion No. 18 in the final days of this Parliament.

Indeed, we have been sitting for weeks until midnight, probably because the Liberals were unable to obtain agreement from all parties to implement this major reform to our Standing Orders. They wanted to do it on the pretext of holding discussions with everyone. They wanted to impose it on us, but they had to back down on certain measures that were supposed to improve work-life balance.

I must say that it has been very difficult in my home for the last month with a three-year-old little girl. We have worked and had votes in the evening every evening for more than a month. We sit until midnight and we begin the same thing again the next morning.

We do all that, but very few bills have been passed by the House, because the Liberals took so much time putting everything in place. Then we need to support, vote on, and pass all that. There are very few people in civil society who are aware of all these changes.

How can we say that it is democratic and transparent when it is done in this fashion, by ramming it through?

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12:45 p.m.

Conservative

Kelly McCauley Conservative Edmonton West, AB

Mr. Speaker, that was a very good question from my colleague from the NDP, and she brought up a lot of very valid points. The perfect word that she used was “pretense”, and that is what the Liberals are operating under. Every time this government stumbles or cannot get motions or bills through, it makes a power grab. It does it under the pretense of “modernization” or making it “family friendly”.

It is very clear that people on this side of the House—my colleagues from the NDP, the Bloc, the Green Party—and the public in general see this motion for what it is. It is a cynical attempt to reduce our rights. It is a cynical attempt by the government to delay and block our ability to provide proper oversight on its spending and its actions, and that is shameful.

One day this government will fall, and either the Conservative Party or perhaps the NDP will be in power. The Liberals then will want the same protection from a government changing the rules without unanimous consent that we are demanding here now. Again, I strongly suggest to the government that it go back to tradition and get unanimous consent from all opposition parties before it changes the way we operate in this House.

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12:45 p.m.

Liberal

Nathaniel Erskine-Smith Liberal Beaches—East York, ON

Mr. Speaker, I know the debate has been fractious at times and I know there is a bit of bad blood, but I am of the view that regardless of our partisanship, we agree more than we disagree. In the spirit of co-operation, I understand the member would like to see a better alignment between the budget and the estimates process and I think we all would like better financial scrutiny of the estimates process.

The member mentioned the PBO report, and he mentioned three items in the OGGO report: presentation of initiatives, timing of new budget measures, and differing accounting assumptions and scope. I recognize that it is not a complete answer and that there is work needed on the government's end to better align the estimates and the budget process, but is this not one piece of the puzzle? Does the member not think so?

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12:50 p.m.

Conservative

Kelly McCauley Conservative Edmonton West, AB

Mr. Speaker, it is the end part of the issue. We are putting the cart before the horse in changing the estimates tabling process. We have to get the processes right so that we have clear reporting and clear documentation on the spending.

The parliamentary budget officer, both in the report on the supplementary estimates (A) and in his previous report from last year commenting on the government's attempt to change the estimates process, made it very clear that the issue is not with the timing in aligning the estimates with the budget; the problem is with the bureaucracy not getting the programs out in time. Changing the estimates and reducing our oversight will have zero value until the government gets its act together with its processes.

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12:50 p.m.

Conservative

Mark Strahl Conservative Chilliwack—Hope, BC

Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to rise again in the House to debate an important issue.

Canadians tuning in today can perhaps be forgiven if they are wondering what Motion No. 18 means. Most probably do not give a lot of consideration to what the Standing Orders mean and how they affect their lives, but this motion is really about accountability and transparency of government and of the House of Commons. That is what we are debating today.

After several months, the government has finally put forward some proposals to change the Standing Orders, and it is important for people to understand how we arrived at this point and how we arrived at the proposals that are on the table today.

The road that we are on began over a year ago, when the government proposed Motion No. 6. The government was frustrated with the opposition for opposing its legislation and its attempts to change our laws. We were doing our job, but the government became frustrated with that, so it brought in Motion No. 6, which was by all accounts a draconian motion to take away the rights of the opposition, thereby disenfranchising the people that we represent, the millions of Canadians who voted for parties other than the governing party. We were sent here to do an important job; certain members of the government understand that, while others clearly need a reminder.

We saw what happened when the Prime Minister's anger boiled over. He came down to this end of the chamber, made contact with one member, grabbed another one, and we spent days debating his violation of the parliamentary privileges of members of the House. Only because of the Prime Minister's unparliamentary outburst did the government withdraw Motion No. 6 at the time, and we went back to operating under the normal Standing Orders that give opposition members their rights in this place.

We then came to March of this year and a supposed discussion paper. I listened with some amusement to the previous Liberal speaker and questioner talking about how this was just a discussion paper and how the government had no agenda. In fact, we heard from the previous speaker that freedom now reigns in committees and the Liberals are just operating as a bunch of free agents. They do not have any direction from the Prime Minister's Office or from ministers' offices. They just act on their own goodwill and good ideas.

Of course, the discussion paper was tabled on a Friday afternoon before a break week. Then, two hours later, a motion was presented calling for discussion of the paper that had just been discovered, just been translated, just been tabled before Canadians.

I guess an idea popped into the head of the member for Coast of Bays—Central—Notre Dame to bring this discussion paper before the procedure and House affairs committee with a firm deadline for the committee to report back to the House on these changes by June 2. It was essentially holding a hammer over the heads of opposition members. We could talk about it all we wanted, except here was the deadline, here were the terms, and here was what was going to happen.

We in the opposition exercised our rights as opposition members to hold the government accountable and to use the tools at our disposal to draw Canadians' attention to these changes.

What did the Liberals propose to do in these changes? They proposed to cancel Friday sittings, thereby reducing accountability by 20%. The House would sit for fewer days.

They proposed that the Prime Minister would only be in the House for 45 minutes a week, for question period on Wednesdays. They also proposed to cut speaking times in half and have five-minute speeches instead of 10-minute speeches, because we all know how easy it is to get complex matters discussed in five minutes. Perhaps members of the government are wishing they had implemented that already, as I have reached that point in my speech right now.

The Liberals also proposed electronic voting, meaning that we would no longer have to stand and be counted. I can tell the House that from this vantage point, I have several times seen Liberal backbenchers making up their minds as the roll call was coming to them. As they had to stand and be counted, they realized either through their own conscience or through the pressure of their peers what they should do. It is important that we stand and be counted and be recorded here in the House of Commons.

The government proposes eliminating the ability of MPs to bring up and sustain debate at committees. We have seen the member for Lakeland do an admirable job of using the immigration committee to talk about the government's false reasons for closing down the Vegreville case processing centre. Through her efforts at committee, we have exposed the fact that the government rationale for that decision was false, that the cost savings were manufactured, that in fact it would be costing taxpayers much more money to shut down that system. We never would have had that debate if the government had had its way and eliminated the ability of MPs to do that.

The government also wanted to eliminate the ability of MPs to be able to bring up concurrence motions, to be able to debate committee reports here. We have had important debates many times in this session. Just yesterday, we talked about the Official Languages Act and got to talk about the fiasco that was the Liberals' appointment process for the Commissioner of Official Languages. These were their proposals. We are now left, after weeks of debate and weeks of the opposition using the strategic and procedural tactics available to us to draw attention to this and slow it down. The government has finally put forward this thin gruel of Standing Order changes.

It is not just members of the opposition who have taken offence to how this has been conducted. The member for Malpeque, a long-standing, respected member of this Parliament, who has sat at the cabinet table, who has sat in the official opposition, who has sat in the third party and is now on the government benches, but as a backbench member of Parliament, quite clearly said:

This is the House of Commons. It’s not the House of cabinet. It’s not the House of the PMO. It’s the House of Commons. It’s the people’s House, and the majority of the people in that House are not members of Cabinet.

Those are wise words, and I wish that government members, members of the Liberal caucus, would heed them.

The member also said the following:

I know there is some upset in my own party over the way things are at, at the moment, that the environment seems to be somewhat toxic. But opposition are using the only levers of power they have at the moment, and I understand that; I’ve been there.

The member for Malpeque understands that we do not unilaterally change the rules of the game to benefit the majority, that the rules are there to protect the minority.

Again, the government has time after time shown that it is actually more interested in having an audience than an opposition. The member for Malpeque served in the government of Jean Chrétien. It is unfortunate that the government does not follow that example. Jean Chrétien was a tough guy. There was no love lost between him and the opposition. He realized that this place served a purpose, that members of the opposition served a purpose. Before there were any changes to the Standing Orders, he struck an all-party committee, in which the government did not have the majority, to look at things that could be agreed upon to change.

This happened again in the previous Parliament. Everyone talks about Harper ramming through this and ramming through that. When it came to the Standing Orders, he respected the rules and he respected the opposition, and there was no change made if there was no agreement; the issue was not brought forward. That was the record of Stephen Harper. We know that the government will not follow Stephen Harper's example on that, but they should follow Jean Chrétien's example.

I want to address just one of the issues: the Prime Minister's question period. The government says this has to be done to enact their campaign commitments. However, Prime Minister's question period is nowhere to be seen in Motion No.18. I do not know why. Perhaps it is because the Prime Minister has the ability to answer as many questions as he wants without changing the Standing Orders. Maybe he has finally come to that realization. Perhaps it is not going too well when he has to answer time after time, for instance, how many times he met with the Ethics Commissioner. He refuses to answer time after time.

We have come to this place. This is thin gruel. There is not much there. What is there, again, is done without the consent and co-operation of the opposition.

We think that there are possibilities to make changes here, but we believe that the government should have come to the table with a more willing attitude to work with the opposition and only make those changes that could be agreed to by all the major parties in this place.

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1 p.m.

Liberal

Deb Schulte Liberal King—Vaughan, ON

Mr. Speaker, I listened to my colleague across the way carefully to understand exactly what message he is trying to get across and what his frustration is. I am confused. The government put forward a discussion paper to start a discussion. We have heard that said several times today. I hear the laughter on the other side, but immediately following the discussion paper, almost within hours, we were hearing misinformation, misinterpretation from the other side of the House being asked in question period and being thrown at this side. There was no interest in having a true discussion.

I am going to address one of the points that the member raised. Why was the Prime Minister looking to try and have one day in QP and then be absent the rest of the week? I heard that over and over again in QP. It was completely not the intent of the government. The government's intent was to add time to have the Prime Minister answer questions.

I am hearing him again today clearly not having the right information, continuing to express this rhetoric. How did the member opposite come to that kind of a conclusion? What evidence and information was provided that said the Prime Minister was just going to stand up once a week to be available for questions?

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1 p.m.

Conservative

Mark Strahl Conservative Chilliwack—Hope, BC

Mr. Speaker, when there is a motion put forward at the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs within hours of the discussion paper, with an imposed deadline when those discussions would be referred back to the House, she will forgive us if we do not take the government at face value that it is just an open discussion. An open discussion could go on for years if we wanted it to, but when the Liberals had that firm deadline, that was the hammer over the head of the opposition.

In terms of the laughable need that the government House leader proposed, that we needed to change the Standing Orders for the Prime Minister to have his own question period, the Prime Minister can answer every question every day if he wants to. He has done it several weeks in a row. We quite enjoy it. I do not think he enjoys it very much, which is why it is not in the motion any longer. Once that is codified in the Standing Orders, and again it has been removed, it gives the government cover to have the Prime Minister not in the House except for that single day. We said the Prime Minister should answer all the questions he wants, he does not need to ram changes down the throats of the opposition to do it.

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1 p.m.

NDP

David Christopherson NDP Hamilton Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, I, unfortunately, have been one of those who had a ringside seat for this whole process from beginning to end and I agree with the member entirely when he does a recap. This whole thing speaks to complete ineptitude on the part of the government. All the problems we have had here have come from the government and most of them because the Liberals do not seem to know what the heck they are doing.

They brought in Motion No. 6, and as was pointed out, the Prime Minister's actions caused that to be reversed pretty darn quick. Then they brought out their famous discussion paper and it is absolutely true that the motion that followed was within hours and it had a deadline. They then pulled that back after we wasted six weeks on a filibuster that the opposition did not call for. The government caused that 24/7 filibuster and the Liberals know it was their doing.

What did the Liberals do at the end of six weeks? They withdrew the whole thing. It seems to me that when we finally looked at what is in front of us, it looks to me like the first thing the government did was fold, then it refolded on the second go-around, now it seems to have folded on the refold of the fold. Could the member comment on how much folding the government seems to be doing here?

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1:05 p.m.

Conservative

Mark Strahl Conservative Chilliwack—Hope, BC

Mr. Speaker, the only good thing that came out of the government's ineptitude and the government's exercise to try to ram down the throats of the opposition these changes to the Standing Orders was that the member for Hamilton Centre had more time at committee to share his wisdom, which he has just done with the House. The government has completely botched this effort.

There are things that we should do to modernize the House. If there were not that hammer over the head of the opposition, if there actually had been a good-faith effort to find ways to work together as parliamentarians, not as the Liberal government here with its new wisdom that needed no precedent, that it knew all and knew better, if the Liberals were here to change the way things work, if they had worked with the opposition in a good-faith effort, we would not be here where we are today with this thin gruel. After an entire spring session of wasting the time of the House to come up with Motion No. 18, it is quite frankly an embarrassment.

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1:05 p.m.

Winnipeg North Manitoba

Liberal

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

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order.

There have been discussions among the parties and I think you will find unanimous consent for the following motion:

That, notwithstanding any Standing or Special Order, when no Member rises to speak on Government Business No. 18 or no later than 1:59 p.m. today, all questions necessary to dispose of the motion be deemed put and a recorded division deemed requested and deferred until later today, at the expiry of the time provided for Oral Questions.

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1:05 p.m.

Conservative

The Deputy Speaker Conservative Bruce Stanton

Does the hon. Parliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons have the unanimous consent of the House to propose this motion?

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1:05 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

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1:05 p.m.

Conservative

The Deputy Speaker Conservative Bruce Stanton

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

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1:05 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

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1:05 p.m.

Conservative

The Deputy Speaker Conservative Bruce Stanton

(Motion agreed to)

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1:05 p.m.

Winnipeg North Manitoba

Liberal

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

Mr. Speaker, I will be splitting my time with the member for Cowichan—Malahat—Langford. Having said that, it only leaves me 10 minutes to cover this issue and that is just not enough time. However, I will give it my best shot.

Motion No. 18 is actually a very encouraging and positive motion. I would encourage all members of this House to recognize the value of this particular motion. If we take a look at the five aspects that I want to highlight, one only needs to look back to the last federal election. The Prime Minister made it very clear that he wanted to implement changes to House rules inside the House of Commons and to make some changes that would ultimately ensure there is a higher sense of accountability and a higher sense of transparency.

What we find in Motion No. 18 are changes to our Standing Orders that will in fact improve the conditions in the House. One of the issues that the Prime Minister talked a great deal about was prorogation. We have had a number of members make reference to it. There is a reason why prorogation became a major issue. Others have commented on it. Suffice it to say that the most encouraging aspect of what we are doing with respect to that is that a prime minister will no longer be able to walk across the street to the Governor General's house, have a session prorogued, and have nothing ever come of it in terms of any sense of accountability.

Through this change, there will be an obligation for the procedure and House affairs committee to deal with the issue, if at any point in time in the future a prime minister goes to the Governor General and asks for prorogation. That is something that was committed to in the last federal election. That is something this Prime Minister and this House are being asked to put into place, which I would strongly encourage members to do.

We have talked about the inappropriateness of the use of omnibus bills. This is something that has been somewhat controversial. I have been quoted by members in the opposition on some of the words I said when I was in opposition, and rightfully so. While I was in opposition, there were budgets bills and other pieces of legislation in which we saw an abuse of the idea of what an omnibus bill was actually meant to do.

At times, omnibus bills are questionable, and that is one of the reasons why we are enabling the Speaker to have more authority to ensure there are opportunities for members to vote on different sections of these bills, if in fact the Speaker deems it.

I have heard members talk about our budget bill. The example they give is the infrastructure bank that is being established. They have been using that as their class one example of the government having an omnibus bill. I would suggest that, if members really look into it, they will find that it has a direct link to the budget. After all, even in the budget we talk about the importance of the billions of dollars that we are investing in infrastructure. We make reference to the infrastructure bank. It only stands to reason that we would have that in the budget implementation bill.

Having said that, we recognize that there needs to be more authority and power given to the Speaker in addressing issues of this nature. This would be a change in the Standing Orders. I would think that all members of the opposition would support that.

Then what we are doing is giving strength to our committees. The Prime Minister made a comment and commitment that we should not have parliamentary secretaries voting at our standing committees. I am a parliamentary secretary, and I believe that is a positive move. We are codifying that. We are saying, in the Standing Orders, that parliamentary secretaries will not be able to vote in the standing committees. They will have a role to play, but they are not going to be able to vote.

I would think the opposition members would see that as a positive thing and support it.

We are talking about improving financial oversight. I served in the Manitoba legislature for many years, where a budget was presented, and following that budget presentation we would go into the estimates. We are talking about doing something of a similar nature here, postponing the estimates until after the budget has been presented on the floor of the House. That is a way that we can ensure a higher sense of accountability with respect to the budget, if we know those debates and discussions will occur after the budget has been presented. I suggest to members that many Canadians might have thought that would have been the case. It is something that is long overdue, and has been talked about a great deal. Listening to the members opposite provide comment on that aspect, I would expect that all members would be voting in favour of that change.

Increasing accountability for question period was another commitment this Prime Minister made to Canadians. We are so appreciative of the fact that Canadians supported our platform commitments relating to change. This is one that I thought was something the opposition members would have jumped all over. The Prime Minister has said that he would answer all questions from beginning to end of that question period. However, the Conservatives have been saying they do not want the Prime Minister to show up only once a week. Not one Liberal MP has argued that the Prime Minister would be here only once a week; it is only the Conservatives who want to argue that. That surprises me. We believe that the Prime Minister is providing more accountability by doing that. We will respect what we are hearing from the opposition, and going forward this government will make that commitment because we believe it is a good, positive thing for the Prime Minister to not only answer the first question but also the last question as much as is possible. When I sat in opposition, I was never really afforded the opportunity for my question to be in the top nine questions, which were the questions that Stephen Harper would usually answer. With these changes, even if a member is the 20th person to ask a question, he or she can ask that question of the Prime Minister. I think that is a positive thing.

Although, we are not codifying that in the Standing Orders, I would like to hear more encouraging words from the opposition with respect to the benefits of that, because I believe that Canadians who truly have an understanding of what is taking place in the House would look at not only that change but also the changes to the rules that we are making and see them for what they are. It was a promise that was made in the last election, and by all accounts it is a promise that has been kept.

That leads me to the discussion paper. We have a government that was open to changing other rules. We had a discussion paper. Members can call it whatever they like, but I would suggest that this has been a government that has opened its doors, talked with members, and invited them to encourage a dialogue with respect to changing the Standing Orders, whether it was the government House leader or PROC members. What has been interesting is that, as I listened to many of the members today and yesterday, I had the sense that there was a bit of regret on their part that maybe we could have made some other changes. One member who had an infant asked about the voting rules and why we would have to sit at nine o'clock. Why did we not allow for that discussion to take place? We on this side of the House were prepared to do that. We wanted to look at ways in which we could improve the rules in our Standing Orders. It was the members of the joint opposition that made the decision that they did not want that. However, we as a government wanted to ensure that those commitments that were made to Canadians would be kept. That is the reason why we are debating Motion No. 18 today.

I would encourage all members of this House to respect what Canadians want and vote in favour of Motion No. 18.

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1:15 p.m.

Conservative

Marilyn Gladu Conservative Sarnia—Lambton, ON

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the Parliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons for his creative imagination.

It seems to me there is such a difference between what the Liberals say and what they do. I heard that in the member's speech. They say they want to improve the transparency and accountability of the budgeting process, but they are taking a murky estimating process and shortening the time to look at it. They say they want a beneficial relationship in committees, when giving parliamentary secretaries a presence in them is increasing the influence of the government majority on committees. They pretend that they really wanted to have a discussion when the motion was brought to drive a deadline in the government's agenda by its majority on committees.

Does the member think the reason that Canadians are not buying any of this is that there is such a difference between what Liberals say and what they do?

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1:15 p.m.

Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux Liberal Winnipeg North, MB

Mr. Speaker, that is just not true. What the member just put on the record is just not true. The government had a position, and Motion No. 18 comprises the commitments given by the Prime Minister while campaigning in the last election. That is what Motion No. 18 is all about.

We went further than that, in the hope that the opposition would see the merits of looking at other rules changes. With the combined efforts of the official opposition working with the New Democrats, they chose to say no to additional changes. I would love to have this discussion in many different forums. There is so much more that we could have done. Who knows, maybe a day will come when we will be able to make changes on which we could all work together.

Members should not kid themselves. The government House leader and the government opened their arms to get feedback and make changes that would have improved all aspects of the chamber.

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1:20 p.m.

NDP

David Christopherson NDP Hamilton Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, that was an interesting speech from the parliamentary secretary. It reminds me of the mouse that roared, when I think of all the promises the government made about all the changes it was going to make.

By the way, let me also say that if anybody should be as upset as opposition members, it ought to be the backbench members of the government who are now in a position of ramming through unilateral changes to our Standing Orders against our tradition, with content that amounts to cotton batting. They should be really upset.

I could pick any issue for my question, but I will pick prorogation. The member said and the Liberals promised that they would end the improper use of prorogation. What they want to put in place is that, after the fact, there has to be an excuse given. I was here when a prime minister used prorogation to run away from a confidence vote, the most egregious misuse of prorogation. I would like to know what aspect of what the government is bringing in now would have any impact on a prime minister abusing prorogation in that fashion?

Amendments to Standing OrdersGovernment Orders

1:20 p.m.

Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux Liberal Winnipeg North, MB

Mr. Speaker, when I listen to a number of the members comment across the way, I detect a little regret possibly on their part. That would have been a wonderful discussion to have at the procedure and House affairs committee when Liberals presented a discussion paper. There could have been dialogue not only on that aspect of it but on many other aspects that were being suggested, with the idea that the PROC committee could have reported back to the House with a more wholesome report. However, it was the combined opposition that chose not to do that. They literally chose. As a direct result, Motion No. 18 is the fulfillment of a commitment that the Prime Minister made to Canadians in the last federal election.

Amendments to Standing OrdersGovernment Orders

1:20 p.m.

NDP

Alistair MacGregor NDP Cowichan—Malahat—Langford, BC

Mr. Speaker, I thank the member for Winnipeg North for splitting his time with me. I am pleased to stand up and give my thoughts on the motion before us today.

We have heard a lot of discussion from Liberal members. They keep on referring to the fact that it was just a discussion paper. “What is the matter with the opposition? It is just a discussion paper. We just wanted to have a discussion. These were just ideas.” What they conveniently forget to look at is the Trojan Horse that discussion paper was riding in, and that was the motion that was moved at the procedure and House affairs committee just a few days after the discussion paper came out, and imposed a timeline on when the committee was to complete its study. It was basically putting us into a straitjacket, and we know that with the Liberal majority on committee, they could have basically gotten any change they wanted. They would have reported that back to the House, and then that report, which would have reflected all of the Liberals' wants, would have then just been voted on by this House. We recognized that for what it was, a Trojan Horse, and we used every tool at our disposal to stand up.

There is a lot of alternative history and alternative facts being uttered in this place, but let me remind members that it was the Conservatives, in addition to the NDP, who proposed a reasoned amendment that stated that:

the Committee shall not report any recommendation for an amended Standing Order, provisional Standing Order, new Standing Order, Sessional Order, Special Order, or to create or to revise a usual practice of the House, which is not unanimously agreed to by the Committee.

That is the sticking point that the Liberals refused to agree to. They could not bring themselves to honour the time-honoured practice of this House that when any change is made to the bylaws by which we operate, we usually try to get all-party consensus, because these rules do not affect just the government members, they affect all members, and we all live by these rules. We all deserve their protection, and that is why we sought unanimous consent.

The Liberals refused to budge on that, so what does the opposition do? We use the tools at our disposal. We use the equivalent of pulling the fire alarm, and to this day, Liberals still express confusion as to why we were using all of these dilatory motions. Why were we moving that the member now be heard? Why were we calling ministers in for votes at inopportune times of the day? Because those are the only tools we have at our disposal, and they worked, because we forced the government to climb down, to wave the white flag, and the opposition did its job. Every national paper started running stories on this, the disgrace with which the government tried to unilaterally change those rules.

We will not apologize on this side of the House for using the rules that we need protection with. As soon as the government withdrew that motion, the dilatory motions stopped. What a surprise.

On the discussion paper that came about, what was causing so much consternation on our side was the fact that the Liberals wanted to codify in the Standing Orders the ability to add programming to bills so that they would not have to move time allocation. They wanted to limit the ability of the opposition to move motions during routine proceedings. They wanted to curtail filibusters at committee.

When there is a majority government in the House of Commons, those members have tremendous amounts of power. If only the new Liberal MPs could sometimes see what it is like from this side of the House, how much extreme power they wield in this House of Commons and how few tools we have at our disposal. Those rules are very sacred to this side of the House; they allow us to speak up with the voices of our constituents. For the Liberals to claim they have some sort of legitimacy to proceed with this, let me remind hon. members on that side of the House that the opposition, all parties combined, collectively represent 61% of Canadians. The majority of the population did not vote for the Liberal Party, so our voices deserve to have a say in this House, and we will fight as long and as hard as we can to make sure that we have that right.

We did enter that fiasco of the filibuster, as I like to call it. It spilled out into the House of Commons. We finally got the government to back down, and I am extremely proud of the work that we collectively did. I always say that politics makes for strange bedfellows. Any time that we can get the Conservatives and the NDP working together on something, it must be an important issue to fight for.

I want to go to the motion at hand. We try to reach changes in the House by consensus. What we see before us today in Motion No. 18 is an extremely watered down version. We do not see any substantive changes because, unfortunately, the government ruined its attempt to find those meaningful changes with the ham-fisted way it approached this whole reform package. As a result, here we are with a very watered down version of change in Motion No. 18.

I believe the government House leader claimed her mandate letter gave her some sort of mandate to proceed with changes in the House and how this place operates. The Liberals pursued that change with a lot of vigour initially, starting in March. If only they had had the same vigour for their promise on electoral reform. I can remember, and I think my hon. colleagues will also remember, how many times that promise was uttered, both in the House and out in the Canadian public, that 2015 would be the last election held under first past the post. That was not even worth the paper it was written on.

Let us look at the changes listed in Motion No. 18. The government wants to have the ability, when omnibus bills come before the House, to give the Speaker the ability to make changes so we can have multiple votes on areas that are unrelated to each other. My friend from Beloeil—Chambly has moved an amendment that would also give the Speaker the ability to carve the bill up into separate bills, because if we really want to put an end to omnibus bills that should be the way. The way this motion is written, it does not pay any heed to a 300-page omnibus bill, or 400 or 500 pages. It is all well and good to split up the constituent parts so we can vote on them individually, but it does not stop the fact that we collectively have to debate on a giant bill with the 10 minutes we are given.

Our major source of frustration with this is that it would actually legitimize the use of omnibus bills. The government could just say that because the Standing Orders have been changed, it can just clump everything together because we can vote on it separately, conveniently forgetting the fact that our debate is going to still be constrained to the same amount of time as if it was just one bill.

Another part of the motion is adding parliamentary secretaries to committees. This flies in the face of what the government's promise was. I am lucky enough to sit as the vice-chair on the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights. The two parliamentary secretaries to the minister of justice are very honourable people, and I enjoy working with them, but there is nothing there to prevent them from coming and joining our committee. Parliamentary secretaries, whether they like it or not, are representatives of the executive branch. A committee is a constituent and important part of the legislative branch, and I resist any attempt to have that influence from the executive branch on a legislative committee. We have already given so much power in the House to the executive to allow parliamentary secretaries to now sit on the committee as members. They are not able to vote, but to give them the opportunity to question witnesses, that is our job. We already have so much time devoted to the executive in the House. Ministers can appear before committee if they wish to clarify points. They are allowed to have unlimited speeches when they introduce bills. There is already a tremendous amount of power that rests with the executive.

Finally, the part on prorogation. Let us face it, this is a bit ridiculous. To be able to, within 20 days of a new session, table a statement as to why a government prorogued, what good is that going to do? Whatever the party in power, it could simply spin the reasons and say they did it for this or that reason. There would be no debate on it. It would just be tabled. It does not stop the fact that prorogation, which I know is a constitutionally protected right, still happened. For us to just continue down that path with a simple discussion paper tabled in Parliament, I do not see that as a substantive change.

I see my time is running out, but I will note that the great Stanley Knowles gave an address to the Empire Club in 1957. He stated that the rules are the only thing the opposition has for its protection. The majority has so much power at its disposal, the opposition depends on these rules. I hope Liberal MPs will now understand why we mounted such a stiff opposition. It is all we have in the House. We will go to the wall to defend the rules, and I am proud of the job we did together.

Amendments to Standing OrdersGovernment Orders

1:30 p.m.

Liberal

Filomena Tassi Liberal Hamilton West—Ancaster—Dundas, ON

Mr. Speaker, my colleague across the way talks about this deadline in the motion and he uses this as a reason for not debating. I want to point that the deadline that was in motion was over a month. I am a hard-working member on the PROC committee—all of us on that committee are very hard-working. In my view, that provides us with a lot of time and a willingness to work overtime in order to discuss this very important matter.

Then the member refers to these opposition tactics, a motion to adjourn or who is going to speak next, almost in a boastful way. We spent seven days on a question of privilege motion in which the question itself was important, but everybody in the House agreed to move it to PROC.

I wonder if the member is proud of these tactics, which in fact do not respect the value of the time that we have in this House to debate these very important topics. Could that time not have been used in a much better way to have the wholesome discussion to bring improvements to this House, as we have promised Canadians?

Amendments to Standing OrdersGovernment Orders

1:30 p.m.

NDP

Alistair MacGregor NDP Cowichan—Malahat—Langford, BC

Mr. Speaker, again, the Liberals conveniently forget the fact that the Conservatives moved a reasoned amendment that would have asked that any report require unanimous consent. That was the sticking point.

Do I feel our time could have been better spent? There are very important issues, but when we only have one card left to play in such a stacked game against us, absolutely, I am proud that we played that card, and I would do it again tomorrow, if I could.

Amendments to Standing OrdersGovernment Orders

1:35 p.m.

Conservative

Marilyn Gladu Conservative Sarnia—Lambton, ON

Mr. Speaker, I want to talk about the difference between discussions and motions. I am the chair of the status of women committee. This morning we were discussing what we are going to study next. In the middle of the discussion, which was generating a lot of ideas, the Liberals brought a motion to vote on the thing they wanted to study next. That, effectively, ended the discussion, because when we have a motion, we vote on it, and that ends it.

It seems to me that the Liberals are confused about the difference between a discussion and a motion. I wonder if the member would elaborate.

Amendments to Standing OrdersGovernment Orders

1:35 p.m.

NDP

Alistair MacGregor NDP Cowichan—Malahat—Langford, BC

Mr. Speaker, I could not agree more with my friend, the member for Sarnia—Lambton. That is why, at the beginning of my speech, the issue was not so much the discussion paper, it was how it was going about being discussed, the rules of the motion to formulate how this discussion paper was going to go. Absolutely, we had a willingness to do this, but not under the constraints that the government imposed on us.

Again, as I said, we have a very reasonable amendment to the motion made by the Liberals. It required an all-party consent to report whatever was discussed in that discussion paper, whatever is reported back to the House that has the agreement of all parties, as is a time-honoured tradition in this House whenever any substantive changes are made to the Standing Orders.

These are rules for Parliament, for all parliamentarians, for the opposition, most important, not just for the government because the government already wields so much incredible power in this House as it is.

Amendments to Standing OrdersGovernment Orders

1:35 p.m.

Vancouver Quadra B.C.

Liberal

Joyce Murray LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the President of the Treasury Board

Mr. Speaker, I was shocked to hear the member say that he does not see any meaningful changes in Motion No. 18 because Motion No. 18 has a very key change to the timing of the budget and the estimates. As the member probably well knows, currently, the estimates have to be tabled on or before March 1, and the budget is almost always tabled after that, and so parliamentarians who are trying to scrutinize the government's intended spending have a disconnect because the estimates are reflecting the previous year's spending approvals.

This motion does address that. It addresses Standing Order 81. It puts the timing of the estimates six weeks later so the estimates can reflect the budget for this coming year's commitments by government and will empower parliamentarians to do their job in following the money. It is only one step in a longer process of estimates reform that is under way, but it is an important one.

Does the member not believe that it is important for members of Parliament to be able to follow the money and hold government to account?

Amendments to Standing OrdersGovernment Orders

1:35 p.m.

NDP

Alistair MacGregor NDP Cowichan—Malahat—Langford, BC

Mr. Speaker, the way I read that part of the motion is it simply reduces the amount of time committees have to study the main estimates, from three months to eight weeks. I agree that Parliament should have oversight over the nation's purse. After all, we authorize the money Her Majesty gets to spend. However, I do not agree with giving committees less time to examine the main estimates, which is one of the main concerns we in the NDP have.

Amendments to Standing OrdersGovernment Orders

1:35 p.m.

Conservative

Luc Berthold Conservative Mégantic—L'Érable, QC

Mr. Speaker, it is my turn to speak to the government’s Motion No. 18. No one will be surprised to learn that we will vote against this motion, for several reasons that I will have the opportunity to raise in the next few minutes.

To begin this short 10-minute speech, I will be very clear. I am blessed to be one of the Conservative members who will have the opportunity to speak on such an important motion as this one, which aims to change the Standing Orders of the House of Commons. I consider myself lucky because Motion No. 18 was tabled yesterday and the debate will end in a few minutes, when there were only two hours of deliberations yesterday and we resumed the debate at 11:30 this morning.

I do not have a lot of experience in the House of Commons, as I have only been here since October 2015. However, I have had the opportunity to speak with several of my colleagues who have been here for a very long time, even though none of them have been here since the creation of this beautiful House, of which I am proud to be a part. Never in memory have the Standing Orders of the House been changed by a motion that was hastily moved at the end of a parliamentary session and that divided the members of the House. According to all the comments I have received, this is a first. Moreover, it is quite a first, but it is not at all a credit to the Liberals opposite. It is shameful to act in this way.

Since the October 2015 election, this government seems to be quite unco-operative when it comes to the business of the House. It does not appear to understand its role as the governing party, and more importantly, it does not appear to understand at all the role of the official opposition, which is to ask it to justify each of its decisions.

When I was the mayor of Thetford Mines, I had to justify each of my decisions to the community. If a decision made at a Monday night council meeting did not please the community, I would hear about it the next morning at Tim Hortons, because people would quickly find out about it. Therefore, if, God forbid, at some Monday night council meeting I was unprepared and together we made a bad decision, the next morning, it was we—the councillors and the mayor—who be called to account.

If we became better and made good decisions on a Monday night, it was because not all the councillors supported the mayor’s decisions. They understood that their role was to point out the flaws in decisions that were not that well thought out. Therefore, even if we cannot refer to them as the opposition in the same way we do here in the House, having town councillors challenge our decisions made us all better. The following day, instead of being criticized, we were praised by the community, because we had made good decisions.

I appreciated the fact that the councillors did not always agree with me. I appreciated that they approved of some of our decisions and questioned others. That upset us sometimes, since we did not always agree with them, but ultimately these councillors who acted as the opposition made us all better.

This is what the Liberal government does not seem to understand. The role of the official opposition is to improve how this country works and improve the decisions made by all governments, regardless of political stripe, by allowing the official opposition and the other opposition parties to examine them. That is how the House must operate.

What protects the members of the House so they can properly perform this role? Certainly, they sometimes bother the government when they ask questions and criticize it.

We sometimes point out its failings and oversights. We do not always see eye to eye. Sometimes, we prevent the Liberals from keeping their promises because those promises were reckless to begin with. Other times, we would like them to keep their promises, but they always have all sorts of reasons not to. I am sure government members find us incredibly irritating at times, because we do not share their thinking, but that is our role.

What holds us together, what makes it possible for us to fulfill this role for the benefit of all Canadians? The answer is simple: the Standing Orders of the House. Without these rules that allow us to question and challenge the government's decisions and positions, things would slowly but surely turn into a dictatorship, even under another name. Why? Because the government would then be able to do whatever it likes without subjecting itself to the opposition's scrutiny, making all the decisions, good ones and bad, its bad decisions remaining unchallenged.

That is why I am sending this message to my colleagues across the floor who are not in government, but who sit in the House and on committees. They were there when we exhausted all avenues and used every tool at our disposal to make our point that the government cannot do what it wants to the rules of the House. These rules belong to all Canadians, as they serve to protect them from a government whose arrogance might one day reach such heights as to compel it to want to use the full measure of its power to introduce the policy it wants without regard for the opinion of Canadians who might not share its views. That is why we are here in the House.

Motion No. 18 is a manifestation of this arrogance. It has to be said, because this is the first time since October 2015 that I have seen such a lengthy motion. It is written in very small print. When I was mayor, I remember receiving complaints from citizens telling us not to use such small print because it made it difficult to see the big picture. Some of our more senior citizens asked us all the time if we could use larger print. People use small print when they want to make it so others cannot read them. This applies to Motion No. 18. They would rather we did not read it, so it is full of numbers and other stuff. Motions will pass, however, even if they are too wordy. That is the Liberal way. They are always looking for a back door to sneak through, hoping not to rouse the opposition along the way. That is why I now declare, as my opposition colleagues will surely agree, that this will not stand. We will not be fooled by the Liberal government's methods.

Before we vote on this motion, I just want to say that I am very proud to be an MP. It is a privilege to be elected to the House. This government swept to power on a tide of false promises about sunny ways, openness, transparency, and doing things differently. I hope that, by “doing things differently”, it did not mean “doing things unilaterally”.

Unfortunately, ever since last year, Motion No. 6, the infamous discussion paper that the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons tabled in the House, the many closure motions the government has imposed, and the partisan appointment processes we have witnessed in recent weeks and months have exposed the government's blatant lack of respect for the work of opposition members.

Motion No. 18 is essentially the dregs of the government's latest attempts to unilaterally change the rules of the House. The government may have watered things down considerably, but the outcome is the same. It will use its majority to force changes to the House rules without getting consensus, even though there has always been and should always be consensus to change the House rules.

Amendments to Standing OrdersGovernment Orders

1:45 p.m.

Vancouver Quadra B.C.

Liberal

Joyce Murray LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the President of the Treasury Board

Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 84 of the House of Commons, at present, the main estimates provide a partial overview of planned spending, given that they are tabled prior to the estimates for the current fiscal year.

By tabling the main estimates in the spring after the budget is presented, parliamentarians could gain a better understanding of how the details of the estimates correspond to the picture outlined in the budget forecasting. This approach also makes it possible to reduce the time between when the budget is presented and when programs can be implemented, thereby increasing the government's ability to deliver results.

Will the member acknowledge that this change will improve the quality and efficiency of the work of MPs, including opposition MPs?

Amendments to Standing OrdersGovernment Orders

1:45 p.m.

Conservative

Luc Berthold Conservative Mégantic—L'Érable, QC

Mr. Speaker, like all of the government's proposed rule changes, this one might have been acceptable if only it did not limit the amount of time the opposition has to study the actual estimates. It could have been acceptable otherwise.

If the Liberals are so sure that this is the right thing to do, if they are so convinced that this rule change will benefit all parliamentarians, why could they not get a consensus to change the rules and get this change to unanimously pass in the House? That is the real question.

Amendments to Standing OrdersGovernment Orders

1:50 p.m.

Conservative

Alupa Clarke Conservative Beauport—Limoilou, QC

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague from Mégantic—L'Érable for his very fine speech.

I felt like his speech was written with me in mind because he talked about tradition and the founding fathers. I would say to him that from 1864 to 1867, most of the speeches in the House lasted between two to four hours, all night or all day. Now it is extraordinary when someone speaks for 20 minutes. It is a big deal.

This spring, the Liberals tried to use their parliamentary reform to prevent us from speaking for more than 10 minutes at committees. We would not have been able to filibuster to make our view clear and to protect Canadian democracy. They wanted to impose a 10-minute maximum speaking time at parliamentary committees. I would like to know what my colleague thinks of that.

Amendments to Standing OrdersGovernment Orders

1:50 p.m.

Conservative

Luc Berthold Conservative Mégantic—L'Érable, QC

Mr. Speaker, here we have a young MP who has things to say and wants to say them not only in the House, but also in committee. There, we have a government that does not want to hear those things, that is not interested in the opposition's comments and suggestions. This government is completely closed to any idea that is not its own.

Then when it is time to have a discussion with the official opposition and the other parties, how can we trust the government when we know that ultimately we are going to end up in the situation we are in today, where a motion will be adopted by the government majority?

Amendments to Standing OrdersGovernment Orders

1:50 p.m.

NDP

Alistair MacGregor NDP Cowichan—Malahat—Langford, BC

Mr. Speaker, I unfortunately did not hear all of my hon. colleague's speech, so I apologize if he went over this. I am looking at the last three weeks, including this one. We have been sitting until midnight in a mad dash to the finish line to try to pass government legislation. Could the member offer some comments on the direct link between what we are doing now and the incredible amount of time the government wasted back in March and April?

Amendments to Standing OrdersGovernment Orders

1:50 p.m.

Conservative

Luc Berthold Conservative Mégantic—L'Érable, QC

Mr. Speaker, before I respond to my colleague, I would invite him, the next time I give a speech, to listen to it from start to finish because what I have to say is always very relevant.

To come back to his question, we are here today because the government wanted to impose its law and take control of the House of Commons. It wanted to do as it pleased, do things its own way, without taking into account the views of the opposition. That is why we are sitting until midnight. That is why we are spending such a long time debating a question of privilege. Otherwise, the government would have done even more things its own way and imposed even more unacceptable decisions on members. That is why we are doing this.

I will continue to do the same thing as long as I am a member of the official opposition, even though I do not expect that to be for very long.

Amendments to Standing OrdersGovernment Orders

1:50 p.m.

Conservative

The Deputy Speaker Conservative Bruce Stanton

Before I recognize the hon. member for Louis-Saint-Laurent to resume debate, I must inform him that I will have to interrupt him at about 1:59 p.m. He therefore has about five minutes remaining.

The hon. member for Louis-Saint-Laurent.

Amendments to Standing OrdersGovernment Orders

1:50 p.m.

Conservative

Gérard Deltell Conservative Louis-Saint-Laurent, QC

Mr. Speaker, you are in charge of both discipline and the clock in the House of Commons. I trust you will let me know when my time is up.

We are here today talking about this motion to make sure that, if changes do in fact need to be made to the rules of procedure, that they are made consensually.

When it comes to changes to our institutions and the way the House operates in particular, it is important that they be made not according to the wishes of the party in office, but to those of the country as a whole.

We, the 338 members of the House represent all Canadians, whether we are Liberals, Conservatives, New Democrats, or members of the Bloc Québécois or Green Party. If changes need to be made, they need to be made in the interests of all Canadians and on behalf of all Canadians.

In 2012 and 2013, when I was a member of the Quebec National Assembly, I worked closely with my political opponents who were articulate, ferocious, and tough. Nevertheless, we worked together to make the changes we deemed necessary to the electoral system at the time. Heaven knows that, today, they are being put to good use.

We are currently going through exactly the same thing because, when we change the voting system or the rules of procedure, we have a direct impact on democratic institutions. From my past experience in the National Assembly, I draw the conclusion that we cannot make changes without consensus. We had consensus on the issues of federal political party financing and provincial election spending, and then when it was time to set a fixed date for elections. Therefore, yes, we are able to do that.

As I said earlier, I faced vigorous opposition, from both the member from Beauce-Sud at the time, Mr. Robert Dutil, or the PQ minister of the day, Mr. Bernard Drainville, who is now a radio commentator. For my part, I worked for the Coalition Avenir Québec. We were all guided by a desire to make changes, but first and foremost by a desire to do so with consensus.

I will always remember the conversations we had following the discussions, coat in hand, to try to find a way together to make those changes with consensus. We found a way. When we are guided by good faith and want to make changes, it can be done with rigour, respect, and especially a desire for consensus.

I find it very bizarre, if not laughable or preposterous, to hear politicians say earlier that they were elected on that promise. May I remind them that there were elected by promising small deficits and saying that they would return to a balanced budget in 2019? May I remind them that the reality today is that those deficits are enormous and that the Prime Minister stated three days ago, without any shame, that he did not even know when we would return to a balanced budget? The Liberals lecture us about their election promises. It is a complete farce.

Since we are discussing the voting system, or in fact the attitudes that we must have as parliamentarians, we must not forget the famous promise, made a thousand times, not just once, that 2015 would be the last election under that system. How many times did we hear our NDP friends repeat that to no end? What did the Prime Minister decide when he realized that the polls were in his favour and that the system worked for him? In the end, he said that Canadians did not really want change.

Today, the Liberals are lecturing us and saying that they were elected on that promise. In their election platform, a very specific article stated that the Prime Minister must spend a full day answering questions in Question Period. They tried it, realized that it did not work for them, and decided to do it later or when it suited them better. I will not say that it is hypocritical, as that is a somewhat harsh term, but what a surprising way to deal with the facts.

The reality, quite simply, is that the Prime Minister tried to answer the 40 questions put to him every day during question period. Obviously, talking and answering are very different things. Everyone remembers the 18 times we asked the Prime Minister a very simple question and he was never able to answer. No later than last week, nine times we asked very specific questions to the Prime Minister about the Norsat scandal, and he was unable to answer directly.

The Liberals want to lecture us about parliamentarianism. They need to ease up a bit. Whenever they want to bring amendments forward, they need to find a consensus. They will not accomplish anything by imposing long motions on us and giving us just a few hours to debate them. We need to work together beforehand, find some common ground and be willing to compromise. That is how we achieve meaningful results. That is not what is happening now.

Amendments to Standing OrdersGovernment Orders

1:55 p.m.

Conservative

The Deputy Speaker Conservative Bruce Stanton

It being 1:59 p.m., pursuant to order made earlier today, it is my duty to interrupt the proceedings.

Pursuant to an order made earlier today, all questions necessary to dispose of Government Business No. 18 are deemed put and a recorded division deemed requested and deferred until later today, at the expiry of the time provided for oral questions.

Decorum in the HouseStatements By Members

1:55 p.m.

Green

Elizabeth May Green Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

Mr. Speaker, in what is undoubtedly my last opportunity to address the House in the Standing Order 31 rubric for the next 60 seconds, I want to pick up on the debate we have been having today about changing our Standing Orders and also pick up on the fine words of the member for Scarborough—Agincourt in this place last week about how to improve decorum in the House.

There are three things that could be done that would be salutary and would not require changing the Standing Orders.

The first would be for the Speaker to ignore the lists that come from whips. That is a matter of convention and not a rule. The Speaker of the House could decide from among all of us standing and take questions from any member.

The second thing would be to go back to one of our written rules, which says no reading of prepared, canned speeches. This would also improve decorum in the House and ensure that people who speak know what they are talking about.

The last thing we all have in our power to do, and that is to behave ourselves as if our children were watching.

Abandoned VesselsStatements By Members

2 p.m.

Liberal

Bernadette Jordan Liberal South Shore—St. Margarets, NS

Mr. Speaker, last October the House unanimously adopted my Motion No. 40 on dealing with abandoned and derelict vessels. In October, this was made a part of the oceans protection plan.

I am extremely pleased to rise today to tell the House that on Thursday, June 15, I announced in Shelburne, Nova Scotia, that the abandoned and derelict vessel Farley Mowat will be removed.

The Farley Mowat was deemed an environmental risk by the Canadian Coast Guard after sinking, being refloated, collecting rain water and snow, and being filled with pollutants. It has been cleared by the Coast Guard to be towed up to 75 nautical miles for disposal.

The removal of the Farley Mowat is an example of the hard work and dedication our government has to Canada's coastlines, protecting our waters, and ensuring they are safe and clean, both for today and for future generations.

I would like to thank the residents of the Town of Shelburne for all of their work on this, as well as the Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard and the Minister of Transport for their dedication to the safety of our waters.

Here is to a Farley-free Port of Shelburne for the tall ships festival in August.

Cantaré Children's ChoirStatements By Members

2 p.m.

Conservative

Bob Benzen Conservative Calgary Heritage, AB

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to acknowledge the Cantaré Children's Choir, which will be embarking on a two-week tour of the Netherlands, Belgium, and France this July to commemorate Canada's contribution to the Great War.

The Cantaré Children's Choir was formed in 1997 to enrich the lives of Calgary children through the wonder and power of music. Over the years, the choir has earned critical acclaim, awards, and a stellar international reputation for its excellence.

During its upcoming tour, the choir will be visiting and performing at major historical sites such as Vimy Ridge, the Menin Gate Memorial, Passchendaele, and Juno Beach, to honour Canada's contributions and sacrifice in both world wars.

The Cantaré Children's Choir will serve as an excellent ambassador on behalf of Canada.

I would ask members to please join me today in recognizing and thanking the choir for its amazing work and efforts.

Saint-Jean-Baptiste DayStatements By Members

2 p.m.

Liberal

Marc Serré Liberal Nickel Belt, ON

Mr. Speaker, I have celebrated Saint-Jean-Baptiste Day since my childhood days in the small communities of Chelmsford, Verner, and Field.

I proudly recognize my ancestors, Nickel Belt pioneers such as my great-grandfather Pierre Aubin, from Saint-Donat, Quebec, who immigrated to Field, Ontario, in 1860.

My great-grandparents Serré, Racine, and Éthier also came to Verner, Cache Bay, and Nickel Belt in 1880 as did the descendants of the Algonquin nation, including my grandmother, Victoire Aubin-Trudel.

I feel it is important to recognize my roots and my heritage, and to pay tribute to everyone who played a key role in Ontario.

I recognize the importance of the work of Jacques and Michelle De Courville Nicol, both of whom have so generously given of themselves in French Ontario.

I am proud to be Franco-Ontarian, to be of Métis descent, and to be a member of the Algonquin nation.

Happy Saint-Jean-Baptiste Day. Meegwetch.

World Refugee DayStatements By Members

2 p.m.

NDP

Jenny Kwan NDP Vancouver East, BC

Mr. Speaker, on World Refugee Day, New Democrats recognize the struggle of people around the world forced to flee their homes due to war, violence, and persecution.

When Trump's travel ban was first announced, while the NDP called for action, the Prime Minister tweeted #Welcome To Canada.

We have recently learned that a 57-year-old woman lost her life attempting to cross the border into Manitoba. If the Prime Minister's hopeful words were matched with real action such as suspending the safe third country agreement, a life might have been saved.

Last week, for the first time in 33 years, the Inland Refugee Society of BC turned away a family of asylum seekers due to the lack of resources. Without federal support, it will have to close its doors in the fall.

What is more, the IRB is now adding 1,000 cases each month to its backlog of 24,000, and asylum claims could take 11 years to process. Still, the government refuses to provide additional resources to the IRB.

For the Prime Minister, happy World Refugee Day.

Governor General's Performing Arts AwardsStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Liberal

Seamus O'Regan Liberal St. John's South—Mount Pearl, NL

Mr. Speaker, the Governor General's Performing Arts Award is presented each year in the categories of theatre, dance, classical music, popular music, film, and broadcasting.

This year's recipients of the Lifetime Artistic Achievement Award are Jean Beaudin, Yves Sioui Durand, Brigitte Haentjens, Martin Short, and Michael J. Fox. The recipient of the Ramon John Hnatyshyn Award for Voluntarism in the Performing Arts is William H. Loewen. Lastly, the recipient of the National Arts Centre Award is my friend Michael Bublé.

It has been said that the arts, freedom, and creativity will change society faster than politics. Today, the House congratulates our real leaders.

Young EntrepreneursStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Conservative

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

Mr. Speaker, today I want to share some news with everyone about how a young entrepreneur was shut down.

A young girl named Lily, who lives close to my riding, was enjoying family time with her father. The two built a lemonade stand together. Lily's plan was to sell lemonade to her neighbours. The five-year-old started off doing just that, selling lemonade, but soon decided to give it out for free, along with water to passing dogs. That was until the government told her that they would be fined, and they had to shut it down.

This is yet another example of government crushing entrepreneurialism and community-building. Lily represents the job creators of tomorrow, the future of this country, and I stand today to recognize Lily and encourage this budding entrepreneurial spirit.

Julia ChanStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Liberal

Shaun Chen Liberal Scarborough North, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am delighted to rise today to pay tribute to an outstanding Canadian.

Julia Chan cared for her husband, Frank, following his unexpected heart transplant. For 26 years she worked day in and day out to help alleviate his pain and suffering. Following Frank's passing, Julia did not stop. All that love and compassion she gave her husband extended to 400 seniors living in similar circumstances at the Yee Hong Garden Terrace. Residents describe Julia as the heart of their community.

Last month, the national non-profit Canada Cares recognized her as the heart of our country. On May 5, I joined the Hon. David Onley, Lieutenant Governor of Ontario, to present Julia with this year's national family caregiver award.

Canada is a better country because of people like Julia who, through their generous dedication, help others. She is a shining example to us all.

Let us extend our warmest congratulations to Julia, the recipient of the national family caregiver award.

Canada 150Statements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Liberal

Jennifer O'Connell Liberal Pickering—Uxbridge, ON

Mr. Speaker, as Canada Day approaches, this historic year has been an opportunity for us all to reflect on the treasures at home.

To gain an even deeper understanding of Canada, the member for Malpeque and I have decided to do a riding-exchange visit. First we thought we would name it “city dreamer meets country mouse”, but we settled on “like an islander in the city.” We will host each other in our respective urban and rural ridings, visit local treasures, sample local fare, and learn more about our respective regions' specific, unique contribution to Canada. I have been told I will learn all about “aggiculture” from my favourite Malpequer. As a new member and as a long-serving member, we each look forward to showcasing what makes our communities so special.

This historic year, let us appreciate the treasures at home and the role diversity has played in strengthening and enriching our Canadian identity.

Here is to Canada 150.

Play On Street Hockey TournamentStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Conservative

Kelly McCauley Conservative Edmonton West, AB

Mr. Speaker, Edmonton has many amazing community leaders who help kids be kids, keep young adults on track, and keep the older of us young at heart.

Today I want to shine the spotlight on a community event hosted in Edmonton by the organization Play On. Every year, in partnership with Hockey Night in Canada, Play On sets up the largest street hockey tournament in the world by hosting tens of thousands of Canadians in cities across the country. The largest of those is hosted in the parking lots of West Edmonton Mall in my riding of Edmonton West.

Hockey has always been part of the great Canadian story. Today I want to thank Play On's founder, Scott Hill, for keeping the story going. The NHL season may be over, but as long as organizations like this are around, our future NHL hall-of-famers will always be ready to play on.

St. Boniface Hospital ResearchStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Liberal

Dan Vandal Liberal Saint Boniface—Saint Vital, MB

Mr. Speaker, in mid-April, researchers at the St. Boniface Hospital Research centre announced an important scientific breakthrough that could help in the fight against antibiotic-resistant bacteria. PEG-2S, which could help in the fight against antibiotic-resistant bacteria, was developed by Dr. Grant Pierce and Dr. Pavel Dibrov to combat two of the top 10 antibiotic-resistant priority pathogens. This antibiotic is novel in that it does not affect healthy cells. It only targets bacterial cells that act as a form of energy supply that help the harmful bacteria proliferate.

Although we have to wait until this new drug passes through the necessary steps in order to reach pharmacy shelves, this announcement is important for the international medical community and represents the first potential discovery of a new antibiotic in the past 30 years.

This is a reminder of the impressive work being done every day by researchers at the St. Boniface Hospital Research Centre.

National Aboriginal DayStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Liberal

Yvonne Jones Liberal Labrador, NL

Mr. Speaker, [member spoke in Inuktitut].

As Jose Kusugak of the Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami once said, [member spoke in Inuktitut].

I stand in the House today as an indigenous Canadian to honour National Aboriginal Day and to speak in Inuktitut as we celebrate on June 21. We are the first Canadians and Canadians first. As Canada celebrates 150 years of Confederation, many indigenous people recall those years as a dark colonial period of our history. However, we celebrate what Canada has achieved on other fronts, at home and abroad. Our founding beliefs, values, and history are woven with indigenous knowledge and culture. Aboriginal Day is meant to recognize and reflect those shared and intertwined values.

As an indigenous member of Parliament, I am proud of our leadership on reconciliation.

[Member spoke in Inuktitut]

World Refugee DayStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Conservative

Michelle Rempel Conservative Calgary Nose Hill, AB

Mr. Speaker, today is World Refugee Day, and on behalf of the Conservative Party of Canada, I call upon the Liberals to immediately develop a fully costed, transparent, sustainable plan to provide integration support for refugees, and in doing so, to stop simply offloading costs for long-term refugee support to the provinces; to address the massive 45,000-case backlog of privately sponsored refugees; to establish a permanent standing subcommittee on internally displaced persecuted groups; to address the severe crisis in asylum claim processing times at the IRB; to stop turning a blind eye to the border crossing crisis in places such as Emerson, Manitoba; to pressure the United Nations to eliminate institutionalized discrimination against persecuted minorities within the refugee selection process; and to make the rainbow refugee assistance program, established under the former Conservative government, a regular, ongoing program.

On World Refugee Day, I affirm that the Conservative Party of Canada will continue to be a voice for the protection of human rights and the world's most vulnerable.

Syrian RefugeesStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Liberal

Michel Picard Liberal Montarville, QC

Mr. Speaker, let me introduce George Barmaksez, a fine family man. He and his family arrived in Montarville, as the first refugees the parishioners welcomed. The integration with the congregation was impeccable. George now speaks French very well.

Where we live, family is important. In fact, I am also going to talk about Stelpro, a company on the south shore that specializes in heating systems, a company passed down from father to son. It is an example of family, too.

What is the link between the two? George works full-time at Stelpro, two families who care about integration and are a tangible example of success when we invite and welcome Syrians into our communities.

Queen City Pride ParadeStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

NDP

Erin Weir NDP Regina—Lewvan, SK

Mr. Speaker, last Saturday I once again had the pleasure to march in the Queen City Pride parade. Despite rain, attendance was larger than ever, including a strong NDP contingent. The NDP is proud to have been the first party to call for the legalization of homosexuality, the first with openly gay candidates and MPs, and the first to support gay marriage.

This year, Amnesty International led the parade in Regina to highlight the need for visas for LGBT refugees. I hope the member for Regina—Wascana, who also marched in the parade, took note of this call for government action.

Finally, I want to invite the member for Regina—Qu'Appelle to join the parade next year so we can have all three of Regina's MPs, from all three major political parties, marching to support equal rights for everyone.

Marc BoscStatements By Members

2:15 p.m.

Conservative

Andrew Scheer Conservative Regina—Qu'Appelle, SK

Mr. Speaker, I would like to take this opportunity to thank Marc Bosc for his excellent work.

Marc has served as Acting Clerk of this House since 2014 and Deputy Clerk since 2005. I was very fortunate to work with him during my time as Speaker. His guidance, his advice, and his love of this place are truly second to none.

Marc is a generous, non-partisan professional. He is loyal, dedicated, and committed to always doing the right thing. He has demonstrated his sincere devotion since his days as a page, back in 1978. In addition to being recognized by his colleagues all around the globe as president of the Association of Secretaries General of Parliaments, Marc is the co-editor of the second edition of House of Commons Procedure and Practice, known around here as O'Brien and Bosc. For those of us who find that book just a little too exhilarating, I understand that he is working on a book on birding, which I look forward to reading when he is finished.

In the aftermath of the shooting on Parliament Hill, Marc provided calm and focused leadership to get us through that crisis. He is a strong defender of the rights and privileges of the legislative branch of government.

Marc, I want to sincerely thank you again for your service. We will all miss you sitting at that table, and we wish you the very best in your future endeavours.

Marc BoscStatements By Members

2:15 p.m.

Some hon. members

Hear, hear!

World Refugee DayStatements By Members

2:15 p.m.

Liberal

Serge Cormier Liberal Acadie—Bathurst, NB

Mr. Speaker, Canada has a long-standing humanitarian tradition of providing assistance and protection to refugees the world over.

When communities welcome refugees with open arms and open hearts, they can help create the foundation for a successful transition to Canadian life.

It is important for communities across the country to foster a welcoming spirit toward newcomers, including refugees. Today, World Refugee Day is also a good day to recognize the important and generous work done by those who sponsor refugees and help them to settle, integrate, and succeed in Canada.

These individuals totally embody Canada's values of compassion, openness, and diversity.

Unfortunately, there are some negative and hateful voices against refugees, but they do not represent the majority of Canadians or our values. We will not let those voices discourage us.

I have the honour of working with Canadians and all MPs in the House to ensure that our country is open and welcoming to newcomers and refugees.

Acting Clerk of the House of CommonsStatements By Members

2:15 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Geoff Regan

As has just been shown, I know that hon. members will want to join me in thanking Marc Bosc for his exemplary service to the institution during his tenure as Acting Clerk.

I would like to recognize Mr. Bosc's leadership in the House administration during a period of great change, both in the House and throughout Parliament.

The effect of that leadership was evident last Friday, when hundreds of House administration employees gathered in the Hall of Honour to applaud Mr. Bosc in the Speaker's parade.

Mr. Bosc held this position for almost three years, and despite external difficulties, the House administration not only continued to provide exemplary services to MPs and the institution, but also improved the service delivery model and is now on track to achieve its long-term objectives.

As Speaker, I have appreciated his procedural acumen, his administrative counsel, the reassurance of his calm demeanour, and his friendship.

Once again, thank you, Marc, for your exceptional service to the House of Commons.

Acting Clerk of the House of CommonsStatements By Members

2:15 p.m.

Some hon. members

Hear, hear!

FinanceOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Regina—Qu'Appelle Saskatchewan

Conservative

Andrew Scheer ConservativeLeader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, it is traditional in Canada to make sacrifices in order to ensure prosperity for future generations, but this Prime Minister is doing the opposite. He is asking the next generation to make sacrifices to pay for his out-of-control spending. He once again confirmed this week that he has abandoned his promise of a return to a balanced budget in 2019.

When will the Prime Minister understand that Canadians do not want to leave an astronomical Liberal debt for our children and grandchildren?

FinanceOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Papineau Québec

Liberal

Justin Trudeau LiberalPrime Minister

Quite the contrary, Mr. Speaker, Canadians made a very clear choice in the last election. They could vote for a party that was going to balance the budget at any cost with cuts, or vote for a party that would govern by investing in our future, giving more money to the middle class, raising the taxes on the wealthiest 1% and investing in our communities, in public transit, in social housing and in building a better future for our citizens. That is exactly what we committed to doing and that is exactly what we are delivering to Canadians and future generations.

FinanceOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Regina—Qu'Appelle Saskatchewan

Conservative

Andrew Scheer ConservativeLeader of the Opposition

Well, Mr. Speaker, Canadians were given a choice, and one of the choices was a modest and temporary deficit. He has broken both of those promises. This means billions more taxpayer dollars spent on paying interest payments to banks and bondholders instead of investing in services, like health care, education, or new tax cuts.

Now we know the Prime Minister is not even going to try to balance the budget, but could he at least try to try, since now we know budgets just do not balance themselves?

FinanceOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Papineau Québec

Liberal

Justin Trudeau LiberalPrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, it is humorous to hear the members opposite talk about investing in health, in education, in infrastructure, when for 10 years they did not do enough of that.

We got elected on a commitment to invest in—

FinanceOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Some hon. members

Oh, oh!

FinanceOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Geoff Regan

Order, please. I am having trouble hearing the Prime Minister. I want to hear all members when it is their turn to speak and preferably not when it is not their turn to speak.

The right hon. Prime Minister.

FinanceOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Liberal

Justin Trudeau Liberal Papineau, QC

Mr. Speaker, we got elected on a commitment to invest in Canadians, to invest in their future, to lower taxes on the middle class and raise them on the wealthiest 1%, to deliver a Canada child benefit that gives more money to nine out of 10 Canadian families, by stopping to send Conservative cheques to millionaires. That is what we promised.

TaxationOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Regina—Qu'Appelle Saskatchewan

Conservative

Andrew Scheer ConservativeLeader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister keeps raising taxes on the middle class. He raised payroll taxes as well as taxes on children's activities and small businesses. He even raised taxes on military personnel. He wanted to tax health insurance plans. Now he has his sights set on taxing public transit, carpooling, beer, and wine.

Why is the Prime Minister refusing to admit that he is hurting the people he claims to be helping?

TaxationOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Papineau Québec

Liberal

Justin Trudeau LiberalPrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, the member opposite can say whatever he wants, but the fact is that we lowered taxes on the middle class and raised them on the wealthiest 1%. I should point out that he and his party voted against lowering taxes on the middle class and raising them on the wealthiest 1%.

The Liberal party, the Liberal government, is lowering taxes on the middle class because the previous government spent 10 years giving the very rich all the advantages.

TaxationOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Regina—Qu'Appelle Saskatchewan

Conservative

Andrew Scheer ConservativeLeader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister does not realize this, but his new tax hikes are hurting Canadians who are having trouble paying their bills. However, that is what happens when one only talks about the middle class never having actually lived it.

Wages are stagnating. Canadians are taking on more debt just to keep up. They are getting worried about their homes. Now the Prime Minister is finding new ways to make it harder. New beer and wine taxes, just in time summer, are the latest examples.

Does the Prime Minister think it is fair to keep shaking down middle-class families so he can spend their money on whatever he wants?

TaxationOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Papineau Québec

Liberal

Justin Trudeau LiberalPrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, for 10 years, the Conservative government's approach to growth was to give boutique tax exemptions and lower taxes on the wealthiest 1%. The Conservatives focused on helping the rich and hoping—

TaxationOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Some hon. members

Oh, oh!

TaxationOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Geoff Regan

Order, please. I would ask the hon. member for Edmonton Manning and some other members who are not that far away from him to try and restrain themselves. Soon, I am sure, as it is summertime, members will be home relaxing. Therefore, let us try to stay in a good mood here.

The right hon. Prime Minister has about 20 seconds.

TaxationOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Liberal

Justin Trudeau Liberal Papineau, QC

Mr. Speaker, when the Conservative Party was in government, it focused on helping the richest and not the people who needed help the most. That is why we are so proud of having lowered taxes on the middle class, raised them on the wealthiest 1%, and delivered child benefit cheques to nine out of 10 Canadians families that are bigger and tax free by stopping to send Conservative cheques to millionaires.

Public SafetyOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Regina—Qu'Appelle Saskatchewan

Conservative

Andrew Scheer ConservativeLeader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, the Conservatives take ensuring the safety of Canadians seriously and we also understand the need to balance those concerns with protection for civil liberties. Unfortunately law enforcement and security agencies sometimes have only mere minutes to react to threats.

The Liberal's new bill is removing the ability of security agencies to take proactive steps when sometimes just seconds matter.

Why does the Prime Minister want to remove the tools our law enforcement and security agencies need to disrupt threats to Canadians before they happen?

Public SafetyOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Papineau Québec

Liberal

Justin Trudeau LiberalPrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, Canadians expect their government to do two things: to protect our rights and freedoms and keep our communities safe. That is the focus of our national security legislation. That is something we are working very hard, with all parties, to ensure we are able to do.

We look forward to recommendations, to advice, to amendments from other parties on how to improve that issue. All Canadians know we need to balance security with rights and freedoms. That is what Canadians expect.

Access to InformationOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

NDP

Thomas Mulcair NDP Outremont, QC

Mr. Speaker, Canadians are waiting for accountability and clear answers, but I think it is too much to hope from the Liberals.

Let us instead look at a document that does not spin as freely as the Prime Minister can. The Liberals' election platform states, “We will ensure that Access to Information applies to the Prime Minister's and Ministers' Offices”.

Can the Prime Minister explain which part of his own promise he failed to understand?

Access to InformationOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Papineau Québec

Liberal

Justin Trudeau LiberalPrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, we are improving government openness and transparency by making the most significant changes to the Access to Information Act since 1983. We are giving the Information Commissioner the power to order the disclosure of government information, and we are extending the scope of the act by including a legislated, proactive disclosure system for ministers' offices, the Prime Minister's Office, and the institutions that offer administrative and other support to Parliament.

We have committed to making the government more open, more accessible and more transparent, which is exactly what we are doing.

Access to InformationOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

NDP

Thomas Mulcair NDP Outremont, QC

Mr. Speaker, I think it is entirely possible that the Prime Minister does not understand some of the things he says, but is he actually telling us today that he did not understand his own electoral platform? Here is the wording of the promise again, “We will ensure that Access to Information applies to the Prime Minister’s and Ministers’ Offices...”, #RealChange.

When the Prime Minister broke his promise on changing the voting system, he blamed the opposition. What is his excuse this time?

Access to InformationOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Papineau Québec

Liberal

Justin Trudeau LiberalPrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, unlike what the member opposite said, we are expanding the act to include a system of legislative proactive disclosure for ministers' offices, the Prime Minister's Office, administrative institutions that support Parliament, and others.

We are, as we always have been, raising the bar on transparency and openness with the first and significant changes to the Access to Information Act, the largest changes made since 1983.

We continue to demonstrate to Canadians our commitment to openness and transparency, and we will keep delivering on that.

EthicsOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

NDP

Thomas Mulcair NDP Outremont, QC

Mr. Speaker, there is a term for someone who commits to something in writing and then reneges on that commitment. It is called a con job.

When the Prime Minister got caught selling access to himself and his ministers in exchange for donations to his political party, he decided to let the media attend rather than put an end to the sketchy practice. However, last night, he kicked the media out.

Will there be any consequences for the Liberal Party after it broke the Prime Minister's rule on cash for access fundraisers?

EthicsOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Papineau Québec

Liberal

Justin Trudeau LiberalPrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, the federal level of government has among the toughest laws on fundraising of any level of government in the country. We will—

EthicsOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Some hon. members

Oh, oh!

EthicsOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Geoff Regan

Order, please. I cannot hear the Prime Minister's answer. I would ask the hon. member for Banff—Airdrie to please come to order, along with others. We want to carry on with the rest of question period, do we not?

The right hon. Prime Minister.

EthicsOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Liberal

Justin Trudeau Liberal Papineau, QC

Mr. Speaker, we take very seriously the strong rules we have with respect to donations to political parties at the federal level. That is why we have actually raised the bar and we have encouraged the other parties to follow suite, to hold our fundraisers in public places, to invite the media, and immediately disclose the list. These are the things the Liberal Party is doing that the other parties have not done yet.

When are they going to start being open and transparent with Canadians as well?

EthicsOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

NDP

Thomas Mulcair NDP Outremont, QC

“Follow suite”, Mr. Speaker?

The Prime Minister himself said that the problem with their fundraising activities was the secrecy surrounding them. We think that selling access to the minister for partisan gain is the problem. Who would have thought?

Let us focus for a moment on the Liberals' smokescreen. How can the Liberals claim to have done away with secrecy and to have nothing to hide, when they keep the media out of their fundraisers? It does not add up.

EthicsOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Papineau Québec

Liberal

Justin Trudeau LiberalPrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, we will keep striving to make the work we do in Parliament and within our political parties more open and transparent. We encourage hon. opposition party members to participate openly and transparently in the changes we have made.

The media is welcome to attend our fundraising events, which are held in public places. Our guest lists are known. This never happens with the parties across the way. What do they have to hide? We prefer to be open.

Regional Economic DevelopmentOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Conservative

Denis Lebel Conservative Lac-Saint-Jean, QC

Mr. Speaker, I face the difficult task of addressing something rather unpleasant.

In recent years, I had the honour of occupying a role that allowed me to effectively represent Quebec and its regions. I had the honour of being the longest serving minister of Canada Economic Development for Quebec Regions. I also had the honour of being the political lieutenant for Quebec for former prime minister Stephen Harper. Both of those roles have been eliminated. Now the Liberals like to claim that their 40 members from that province are standing up for Quebec's regions, but what I am hearing is that we did more with five members than they are doing with 40.

Why did the Liberals take away the Quebec regions' right to be heard through those positions?

Regional Economic DevelopmentOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Papineau Québec

Liberal

Justin Trudeau LiberalPrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, let me begin by thanking the member for his service to his community, to the House, and to all Canadians for many years.

We certainly do not see eye to eye on many issues, but one thing we do agree on is that we must be there at all times to defend our values and our communities. I do so proudly as a Quebecker, just as he has. Everyone in the House will miss him when he goes, because he has made us work harder and more fervently to defend our communities and our country.

InfrastructureOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Conservative

Denis Lebel Conservative Lac-Saint-Jean, QC

Mr. Speaker, I had the honour of being the mayor of Roberval, a small town in Quebec with 10,000 residents, for seven years before I came here. Small towns also have a right to be heard. Big infrastructure announcements are being made regarding $1-billion or $1.4-billion projects. The government is giving $100-million projects access to an infrastructure bank.

How does the government intend to give greater consideration to the country's small municipalities, who are coming to talk to us about this? The minister has said that the infrastructure bank will help everyone, but that is not true. How will the government's plan help small communities across Canada? Canada is not just made up of Calgary, Edmonton, Vancouver, Montreal, and Toronto.

InfrastructureOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Edmonton Mill Woods Alberta

Liberal

Amarjeet Sohi LiberalMinister of Infrastructure and Communities

Mr. Speaker, we are very proud to have put forward an agenda to build and rebuild all Canadian communities, regardless of size. We have dedicated funding of $2 billion for small communities, water and waste water funding that has primarily gone to build waterways for our systems in small communities. As well, 80% of the funding approved for the small communities fund has gone to communities with a population of less than 15,000 people.

That is exactly what we are focused on. We want to help all communities, large, mid-sized, small towns, and hamlets.

FinanceOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Conservative

Shannon Stubbs Conservative Lakeland, AB

Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister is close to passing Canada's all-time per capita spending record, but unlike his predecessors, his out-of-control spending is without a global recession or a large-scale military conflict. The Liberals spend and spend, while nickel and diming everyday Canadians and forcing tax hikes on the most vulnerable. The deficit is already three times what the Liberals promised, and they have no plan to get it under control.

Can the minister tell Canadians when the budget will be balanced?

FinanceOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Toronto Centre Ontario

Liberal

Bill Morneau LiberalMinister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, I want to be very clear with this House: we have a plan, and that plan is working. What we have seen over the course of the last year and a half is that our economy is doing significantly better. Over the last three quarters, as an example, we have 3.5% real growth. More than a quarter of a million full-time jobs have been created over the last year. What we are seeing is a real improvement in our economy, which is helping families across this country. That is exactly what we have set out to do: make a real difference for Canadians, today and tomorrow.

FinanceOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Conservative

Shannon Stubbs Conservative Lakeland, AB

Mr. Speaker, that is not an answer. Former parliamentary budget watchdog Kevin Page said the Liberal spending patterns are like his weekend golf swing: loose and all over the place. Worse, Page said Canada's fiscal analysis is among the weakest in the G7.

The Liberals' only plan is to slap even more taxes on Canadians who already cannot afford it. The Liberals spend billions of dollars overseas, hundreds of thousands of dollars on big, self-centred perks and cardboard cut-outs. Their priorities are out of whack. It is ridiculous.

When will the Liberals finally be responsible, keep their word, and stop risking the economic futures of young Canadians?

FinanceOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Toronto Centre Ontario

Liberal

Bill Morneau LiberalMinister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, the reason the IMF and the OECD look at Canada and say we are making a real difference is that they can see the impact we are actually having on young Canadians: creating jobs for people, more than 250,000 full-time jobs over the course of the last year and a half. That is the best record in many years. That is exactly what we set out to do. We are seeing better economic outcomes today. What that is going to prove is that we are showing real benefits for Canadians today and tomorrow.

TaxationOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Conservative

Gérard Deltell Conservative Louis-Saint-Laurent, QC

Mr. Speaker, yesterday, the Minister of Finance met with his provincial counterparts. What did he talk about? Taxing marijuana. Wow. What a way to help society. That sort of thing is pretty low on Canadians' list of priorities.

I will be a good team player and recognize that my friend, the Minister of Finance, has a particular expertise when it comes to taxes. He invented the Liberal carbon tax and he raised taxes on alcohol, the Friday and Saturday night tax. He has also done many other things, like doing away with certain tax credits.

Is taxing marijuana really a good thing for Canadians?

TaxationOral Questions

2:40 p.m.

Toronto Centre Ontario

Liberal

Bill Morneau LiberalMinister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, we have very important goals when it comes to cannabis. We want to put criminals out of business and we want a system that protects children. Those are our two goals.

What is more, it is very important to keep taxes very low. That way there will be fewer criminals in the system. That is very important. That is our plan, and the situation will be better in the future.

FinanceOral Questions

2:40 p.m.

Conservative

Gérard Deltell Conservative Louis-Saint-Laurent, QC

Mr. Speaker, the minister just said, “That is our plan”.

Two days ago, Global Television aired a clip of the Prime Minister making a statement that was completely irresponsible. He said he had no idea when Canada would return to a balanced budget. This is the first time in the history of Canada that a Prime Minister has uttered such nonsense.

The Minister of Finance is a serious man who has a great deal of experience in the private sector.

When the Minister of Finance worked in the private sector, would he have tolerated such an insipid remark from the Prime Minister?

FinanceOral Questions

2:40 p.m.

Toronto Centre Ontario

Liberal

Bill Morneau LiberalMinister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, whether in the private or public sector, the figures are the same.

The situation is clear. Our economic growth is much stronger than it was before. Our growth in the last three quarters has been in the order of 3.5%. We are in a very good situation, and employment levels are quite high for young people and Canadians across the country. Our plan for the economy is working very well for our country.

Public SafetyOral Questions

2:40 p.m.

NDP

Matthew Dubé NDP Beloeil—Chambly, QC

Mr. Speaker, having voted in favour of the Harper government's Bill C-51, the minister is finally presenting the promised reforms, but they are unfortunately incomplete.

The security of Canada information sharing act can have its name changed, but that is only a cosmetic change that does not protect the information shared by national security agencies.

Why has the minister not addressed one of the most controversial aspects of the former Bill C-51?

Public SafetyOral Questions

2:40 p.m.

Regina—Wascana Saskatchewan

Liberal

Ralph Goodale LiberalMinister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness

Mr. Speaker, in the election we laid out a very detailed program for how we would deal with Bill C-51, and today we have implemented exactly that. It is contained in Bill C-59, before the House, which is in addition to the committee of parliamentarians, which is in addition to the funding for counter-radicalization, which is in addition to the most extensive consultations in Canadian history. We have listened carefully to Canadians and we have implemented their advice.

Public SafetyOral Questions

2:40 p.m.

NDP

Matthew Dubé NDP Beloeil—Chambly, QC

Mr. Speaker, the committee of parliamentarians does not have full access; the consultation took nearly two years, while CSIS continued to use these new abusive powers that it has. The promise was to fix a bill as a way to hide from the fact that they endorsed the Conservatives' draconian agenda. The Federal Court ruled a few months ago that it was illegal for CSIS to retain bulk metadata. What we see in Bill C-59 is simply formalizing and legalizing what the court deemed illegal.

Could the minister explain where in the consultations he was told by experts and Canadians that it was the right thing to do?

Public SafetyOral Questions

2:40 p.m.

Regina—Wascana Saskatchewan

Liberal

Ralph Goodale LiberalMinister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness

Mr. Speaker, in his judgment last fall, Justice Noël of the Federal Court indicated that the Canadian Security Intelligence Service Act, in his view, was out of date in relation to new technology and other developments over the last 25 years. We have taken his judgment to heart and in fact implemented in this legislation the kind of framework to ensure that the law and the Constitution are properly respected.

The difficulty is that Canadians have made it very clear that they do not trust the NDP with their safety and they do not trust the Conservatives with their rights.

Government AppointmentsOral Questions

2:40 p.m.

Conservative

Kelly Block Conservative Carlton Trail—Eagle Creek, SK

Mr. Speaker, the Liberal-created partisan appointments know no bounds. Dwight Duncan, former Liberal finance minister and Liberal appointment as chair of the Windsor–Detroit Bridge Authority, is using his position to take partisan swipes at leaders on both sides of the border. One wonders when he has time to oversee the construction of the Gordie Howe bridge. The Prime Minister's personal directive to public office holders is clear. They must refrain from expressing partisan views. Why do the Liberals not appoint someone who can stickhandle this project without annoying everyone on both sides of the border?

Government AppointmentsOral Questions

2:45 p.m.

Edmonton Mill Woods Alberta

Liberal

Amarjeet Sohi LiberalMinister of Infrastructure and Communities

Mr. Speaker, the chair of the WDBA was appointed a year ago through an open, transparent, and merit-based selection process, and he brings a considerable amount of experience to this important position as a result of his diverse career accomplishments both in the private sector and in the public sector. His in-depth knowledge about the Windsor–Detroit region and his lifelong residency in the region is an asset. He has apologized for his comments, and I accept his apology.

Government AppointmentsOral Questions

2:45 p.m.

Conservative

John Brassard Conservative Barrie—Innisfil, ON

Mr. Speaker, if Dwight Duncan is in an apologizing mood, maybe he could apologize for working with Dalton McGuinty and Kathleen Wynne, turning Ontario into a have-not province while he was finance minister. With construction of the $4.8 billion bridge set to start next summer, Duncan has been preoccupied on social media gushing over Liberals and attacking anyone who is not. He admitted his inappropriate and reckless tweets and comments were an obvious lack of judgment. Will the Prime Minister show some good judgment for once and fire this partisan political hack?

Government AppointmentsOral Questions

2:45 p.m.

Edmonton Mill Woods Alberta

Liberal

Amarjeet Sohi LiberalMinister of Infrastructure and Communities

Mr. Speaker, the Gordie Howe international bridge is a very critical trade corridor between Canada and the United States, and 30% of the surface trade between Canada and the U.S. goes through this corridor. We are focused on getting this crossing built, and that is exactly why we appointed Mr. Duncan to undertake the duties of the board and also make sure that we are on time and on budget.

Government AppointmentsOral Questions

2:45 p.m.

Conservative

Luc Berthold Conservative Mégantic—L'Érable, QC

Mr. Speaker, under the false pretenses of openness and transparency, the Liberal government is busy being Liberal. It is secretive and partisan. Madeleine Meilleur's anticipated resignation, even before it was confirmed, sparked off long debates and seriously undermined the credibility of all future holders of senior positions. It is ridiculous. Because of the Liberals, the public's understanding is that, in order to be appointed, you must have contributed to the coffers or be a member of the select club of Liberal cronies.

Will the Prime Minister commit today to removing the Liberal Party of Canada membership card from the selection criteria?

Government AppointmentsOral Questions

2:45 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, we have implemented a new, open, transparent, and merit-based appointment process. Our aim is to identify highly qualified candidates who will help achieve gender parity and truly reflect Canada's diversity. All Canadians can continue to apply for positions, which are advertised online.

Government AppointmentsOral Questions

2:45 p.m.

Conservative

Blaine Calkins Conservative Red Deer—Lacombe, AB

Mr. Speaker, when it comes to appointments it is clear that, if people are not Liberal, they need not apply. Whether it is trying to reward a retired Ontario Liberal cabinet minister or any long-time Liberal donors, the present Prime Minister has shown he has only one priority, which is to take care of his friends at the cost of the taxpayer.

The appointments process is now so botched that the Liberals cannot even find impartial candidates to be the next ethics or lobbying commissioner. The Prime Minister has lost all credibility on this file. When will he get serious and let people who know what they are doing fix his appointments mess?

Government AppointmentsOral Questions

2:45 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, as I have said many times in this place, we have put in place a new process, an open, transparent, merit-based process, where Canadians can apply for available positions, which are all posted online. I encourage all members to look into their communities to encourage Canadians who are wanting to serve this country in many different capacities. We know the important work these positions do for our country. We are looking for Canadians from coast to coast to coast. We are looking at gender parity. We are looking at bilingualism. This is an amazing opportunity, and all members can be part of this to get Canadians to apply.

Immigration, Refugees, and CitizenshipOral Questions

2:45 p.m.

NDP

Jenny Kwan NDP Vancouver East, BC

Mr. Speaker, for the first time in its history, Inland Refugee Society of BC was forced to turn away a family of asylum seekers because the Liberal government refused to provide it with any support. The Liberals refused to suspend the safe third country agreement, preventing asylum seekers from crossing at official points of entry. Last week, we learned that asylum wait times could hit 11 years long.

How can the Prime Minister claim today, on World Refugee Day, that he welcomes refugees, when he refuses to do anything to actually help refugees?

Immigration, Refugees, and CitizenshipOral Questions

2:45 p.m.

York South—Weston Ontario

Liberal

Ahmed Hussen LiberalMinister of Immigration

Mr. Speaker, on this World Refugee Day, I am proud of our government's commitment to welcoming people fleeing war, terror, and persecution.

As the government, we have played a leadership role that has been acknowledged all over the world. We are putting resources behind our principles. This year alone, we are investing more than $700 million in the resettlement of refugees and integration. We are providing $62.9 million in budget 2017 for legal aid for refugees.

We will always defend refugees and provide them with enough supports to rebuild their lives and become great Canadians.

Immigration, Refugees, and CitizenshipOral Questions

2:50 p.m.

NDP

Hélène Laverdière NDP Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister says all the right things about welcoming refugees to Canada.

The problem is what he does. He refused to suspend the Canada-U.S. safe third country agreement. The Immigration and Refugee Board is underfunded and riddled with vacancies. Nothing has been done to deal with the 24,000-case backlog. That is just the beginning.

On this World Refugee Day, will the Prime Minister pledge to walk the talk?

Immigration, Refugees, and CitizenshipOral Questions

2:50 p.m.

York South—Weston Ontario

Liberal

Ahmed Hussen LiberalMinister of Immigration

Mr. Speaker, Canadians and the international community recognize this government's record and leadership on welcoming refugees, and I am proud of our record and our leadership.

We are investing more than $700 million this year on refugee resettlement and integration services; $62.9 million in budget 2017 for legal aid for refugees to better make their case in front the Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada. The Immigration and Refugee Board has put measures in place to increase productivity. We have ordered a third-party review to find more efficiencies in the Immigration and Refugee Board. We will continue to play—

Immigration, Refugees, and CitizenshipOral Questions

2:50 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Geoff Regan

The hon. member for Yukon.

Indigenous LanguagesOral Questions

2:50 p.m.

Liberal

Larry Bagnell Liberal Yukon, YT

Mr. Speaker, in small and large indigenous communities across this country, language is foundational. Dozens of indigenous languages are at threat of extinction. In fact, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission report had several calls to action about preserving and protecting aboriginal languages.

Would the Minister of Canadian Heritage please update this House on what our government is doing to safeguard indigenous languages?

Indigenous LanguagesOral Questions

2:50 p.m.

Ahuntsic-Cartierville Québec

Liberal

Mélanie Joly LiberalMinister of Canadian Heritage

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the member for Yukon for his important work on this file.

Our responsibility to protect and promote indigenous languages is a priority for our government.

Last week, alongside the leaders of the national indigenous organizations, we made a declaration of intent to collaborate on the co-development of a first legislation to support and protect these important indigenous languages. By helping to preserve and restore indigenous languages, our government is following through on its commitment to building a new nation-to-nation relationship in the spirit of reconciliation.

Foreign InvestmentOral Questions

2:50 p.m.

Conservative

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

Mr. Speaker, when it comes to the Norsat sell-off, the Liberals are betraying Canadian interests. Contrary to what the Prime Minister says, this is a threat to our national security and that of our closest allies. Red flags have been raised in Washington, but not in the Prime Minister's Office here in Canada.

When will the Prime Minister put the security of Canadians before the interests of his friends in Beijing?

Foreign InvestmentOral Questions

2:50 p.m.

LaSalle—Émard—Verdun Québec

Liberal

David Lametti LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Innovation

Mr. Speaker, the security of Canadians is our absolute priority. All transactions under the Investment Canada Act are subject to a multistep national security review process. We can confirm that this process was followed with respect to Hytera's proposed acquisition of Norsat, and there are no outstanding national security concerns under the act.

Throughout the process, security agencies had access to all pertinent facts, information, and intelligence. They made that recommendation on this basis.

We never have and we never will compromise national security.

Foreign InvestmentOral Questions

2:50 p.m.

Conservative

Alain Rayes Conservative Richmond—Arthabaska, QC

Mr. Speaker, in the case of Norsat, a company that manufactures safety equipment to ensure our security and that of the Americans, the Liberals neglected that security. The Chinese did not want a full review, and the Prime Minister responded that there was no problem, we would not do one. This is not a poker game; we are talking about the security of Canadians.

When will the Prime Minister finally launch a full risk review for our national security?

Foreign InvestmentOral Questions

2:50 p.m.

LaSalle—Émard—Verdun Québec

Liberal

David Lametti LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Innovation

Mr. Speaker, we take national security very seriously. All the investments examined under the act are subject to a multi-step security review process, which was done in this case. The national security community conducted a review and confirmed that the security procedures and the safeguards in place comply with our high standards. No transaction would take place if it did not meet our strong guarantees and security measures.

Foreign InvestmentOral Questions

2:55 p.m.

Conservative

Mark Strahl Conservative Chilliwack—Hope, BC

Mr. Speaker, to appease China, the Liberals approved the sale of B.C.'s largest chain of retirement homes to Anbang Insurance. So questionable are the past dealings and practices of this Chinese company that one financial regulator complained that they were “barbarians” in the insurance sector. Now we learn that the founder of Anbang, Mr. Wu, is being detained on suspicion of money laundering and other alleged crimes.

Why, when the wolves of Wall Street will not deal with this questionable company, did the Prime Minister rush headlong into approving this deal? Why did he sell out our seniors?

Foreign InvestmentOral Questions

2:55 p.m.

LaSalle—Émard—Verdun Québec

Liberal

David Lametti LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Innovation

Mr. Speaker, the application by Cedar Tree to acquire Retirement Concepts was approved, as the acquisition will result in a net benefit to Canada. Cedar Tree has agreed to maintain at least the current levels of full-time and part-time employees; have the current Canadian operator, Retirement Concepts, continue to manage the business; not close or repurpose any of the existing residences; and financially support the expansion of the business. These guarantees will remain in place for a significant period of time.

There was a net benefit to Canada here. That is the criterion under the act. That is why we approved it.

Foreign InvestmentOral Questions

2:55 p.m.

Conservative

Mark Strahl Conservative Chilliwack—Hope, BC

Mr. Speaker, there is no net benefit to B.C.'s seniors from this deal. It is like an onion: the more layers we peel back, the more it smells.

It has become all too clear that there is no deal with the Chinese that this Liberal government will not make. It is wearing out its rubber stamp. Whether it is giving up our military technology or putting a corrupt company in charge of caring for our seniors, anything and everything is up for grabs.

When will the Prime Minister stop selling out Canadians to appease his Liberal friends and backers in Beijing?

Foreign InvestmentOral Questions

2:55 p.m.

LaSalle—Émard—Verdun Québec

Liberal

David Lametti LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Innovation

Mr. Speaker, the simple fact of the matter is that this deal was good for Canada. Canadians can be reassured that we followed the Investment Canada Act process and carried out its required due diligence. We examined the case on its own merits and approved the acquisition because it is of net economic benefit to Canada.

Jobs will be maintained. None of the existing residences will be closed or repurposed, and financial resources will be available for expansion. This means more seniors living in high-quality health care facilities in Canada and more jobs in Canada. There is a net benefit to Canada here.

Softwood LumberOral Questions

2:55 p.m.

NDP

Karine Trudel NDP Jonquière, QC

Mr. Speaker, despite the government's announcement, a lot of work remains to be done to save all the forestry jobs once and for all. Just yesterday, Unifor organized a day of action across the country, including in my home of Jonquière. I marched side by side with the workers to acknowledge the importance of the forestry sector, which is central to the Saguenay—Lac-Saint-Jean communities.

The former government left a lot of money on the table in the last agreement. Can the minister assure us that her government will not negotiate a sellout agreement?

Softwood LumberOral Questions

2:55 p.m.

Orléans Ontario

Liberal

Andrew Leslie LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Foreign Affairs (Canada-U.S. Relations)

Mr. Speaker, we are committed to defending Quebec's forestry sector and we continue to include it in all our negotiations. We strongly oppose the U.S. Department of Commerce's decision to impose unfair countervailing duties. We will continue to work closely with our industry and provincial partners. A negotiated agreement would be the best outcome for Canadians and for the Americans. Nevertheless, we want a good agreement for Canada, not just any agreement.

Softwood LumberOral Questions

2:55 p.m.

NDP

Tracey Ramsey NDP Essex, ON

Mr. Speaker, workers are out in the streets fighting for their jobs because the Liberal government is failing to fix it.

The failure of the Liberals to secure a deal on softwood is seriously threatening forestry jobs. On the eve of NAFTA renegotiations, the lack of a softwood deal is not inspiring much confidence. The Liberals like to talk about their respectful relationship with the U.S. and how they will get the best deal. How can Canadians trust the government to get a good deal on NAFTA when the Liberals continue to fail to get an agreement on softwood lumber?

Softwood LumberOral Questions

2:55 p.m.

Orléans Ontario

Liberal

Andrew Leslie LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Foreign Affairs (Canada-U.S. Relations)

Mr. Speaker, as we know, the previous Conservative government allowed the agreement to lapse.

We strongly disagree with the U.S. commerce department's decision to impose unfair and punitive duties—

Softwood LumberOral Questions

2:55 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Geoff Regan

Order. Order. The hon. parliamentary secretary has the floor.

Softwood LumberOral Questions

3 p.m.

Liberal

Andrew Leslie Liberal Orléans, ON

Mr. Speaker, we will challenge this U.S. decision in the courts and we will win, as we have done on every past occasion.

The Prime Minister raises softwood lumber with President Trump at every opportunity, just as the minister for global affairs and trade does. However, we want a good agreement for Canada, not just any deal.

Public Services and ProcurementOral Questions

3 p.m.

Conservative

James Bezan Conservative Selkirk—Interlake—Eastman, MB

Mr. Speaker, in media reports today, the RCMP have alleged that an employee in Public Services and Procurement Canada was responsible for the leaks about Canada's shipbuilding program. However, the Prime Minister and the Minister of National Defence have both stated that they support the action directed by the PMO against a senior member of the Royal Canadian Navy.

Now there are new allegations about another government department and another individual. Does it not just prove that the Prime Minister and the Minister of National Defence are simply incompetent on this file?

Public Services and ProcurementOral Questions

3 p.m.

Winnipeg South Centre Manitoba

Liberal

Jim Carr LiberalMinister of Natural Resources

Mr. Speaker, we are committed to open, fair, and transparent procurement processes. Through the national shipbuilding strategy, we are committed to getting the women and men of the Royal Canadian Navy and the Canadian Coast Guard the equipment they need to do their jobs in protecting and serving Canadians.

The strategy is a long-term commitment to shipbuilding that will rejuvenate our industry, support Canadian innovation, and bring jobs and prosperity to communities across the country.

National DefenceOral Questions

3 p.m.

Conservative

Pierre Paul-Hus Conservative Charlesbourg—Haute-Saint-Charles, QC

Mr. Speaker, our men and women in uniform have front row seats for the sad spectacle of the Liberals and the Prime Minister.

For the past year, the opposition, experts, and the military have been telling the government to stop misleading Canadians with the unnecessary purchase of 18 Super Hornets. The minister has lost all credibility. Canadians also realize that the Prime Minister is improvising at the expense of national security.

Can the government stop improvising and finally hold an open and transparent process to replace the fighter jets in order to give the military the equipment they are entitled to right now?

National DefenceOral Questions

3 p.m.

Vancouver South B.C.

Liberal

Harjit S. Sajjan LiberalMinister of National Defence

Mr. Speaker, I was very proud, on behalf of the government's new defence policy, to be able to announce that we will be purchasing not 65 fighter aircraft but 88, making sure that we have a full, transparent competition to replace the entire fleet.

We are investing in our legacy fleet as well. We do have a capability gap and we need to fill it to make sure that the air force has all the planes necessary to meet all their commitments simultaneously.

Immigration, Refugees and CitizenshipOral Questions

3 p.m.

Conservative

Michelle Rempel Conservative Calgary Nose Hill, AB

Mr. Speaker, the government's rush to process Syrian refugees has resulted in a backlog of almost 45,000 privately sponsored refugees.

This means that many of the world's most persecuted—including Iraqi Christians, Yazidis, and LGBTQ+, many of whom are internally displaced and cannot survive the process of getting onto a UNHRC list—remain in peril, even though Canadians have fundraised to bring them to Canada.

Why is the Prime Minister turning his back on both generous Canadian donors and persecuted minorities?

Immigration, Refugees and CitizenshipOral Questions

3 p.m.

York South—Weston Ontario

Liberal

Ahmed Hussen LiberalMinister of Immigration

Mr. Speaker, I am proud of our government's results and leadership in welcoming refugees, which was recognized in Canada and around the world.

This year we will have allocations of 40,000 people for protected persons and refugees. That includes 25,000 resettled refugees from abroad, which is double what that party and that member committed to, and 16,000 privately sponsored refugees, which is almost quadruple what that party and that member committed to.

We will take no lessons on refugee resettlement from that member and that party.

National ParksOral Questions

3 p.m.

Liberal

John McKay Liberal Scarborough—Guildwood, ON

Mr. Speaker, I was delighted to see that the amendments to the Rouge National Urban Park Act received royal assent yesterday. Now the Rouge park has the same level of environmental protection as every other national park. This was a Liberal platform commitment, it was a mandate priority of the Prime Minister, and, most importantly, it was a fulfillment of the dreams of citizens of Scarborough and the GTA.

Would the Minister of Environment and Climate Change please inform the House of the next steps in the completion of this national park?

National ParksOral Questions

3 p.m.

Ottawa Centre Ontario

Liberal

Catherine McKenna LiberalMinister of Environment and Climate Change

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the member for Scarborough—Guildwood and the many citizens who have worked for decades to make Rouge National Urban Park a reality.

With royal assent to Bill C-18, we kept our promise to protect the Rouge, provide certainty for farmers, work with first nations, and build a lasting legacy for Canada.

On Sunday, Ontario's premier and my caucus colleagues and I canoed at the CPAWS Annual Paddle the Rouge, where the premier reiterated the commitment of the Ontario government to transfer provincial land to complete the Rouge.

The Rouge is within one hour's drive of seven million Canadians and is accessible by public transit. I am so proud that the Rouge will become the world's largest—

National ParksOral Questions

3:05 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Geoff Regan

The hon. member for Cariboo—Prince George.

Marine TransportationOral Questions

3:05 p.m.

Conservative

Todd Doherty Conservative Cariboo—Prince George, BC

Mr. Speaker, we should mark that down on the calendar. It seems as though the Liberals kept a campaign promise.

A new report has found that Marine Atlantic, a crown corporation operating ferries between Newfoundland and Nova Scotia, is receiving taxpayer subsidies and forcing out private marine shipping from the market. Marine Atlantic's role is to provide fair and reasonable services, not to put close to 1,000 jobs across eastern Canada at risk through its heavily subsidized and heavily discounted rates.

What is the minister doing to ensure a level playing field for all of our shippers in Atlantic Canada?

Marine TransportationOral Questions

3:05 p.m.

Kanata—Carleton Ontario

Liberal

Karen McCrimmon LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Transport

Mr. Speaker, our government is dedicated to ensuring Canadians have an integrated and sustainable transportation system. The ferry service connecting Newfoundland to the mainland serves as a critical economic and social link and a visible element of Canada's constitutional mandate to connect the province to the rest of the country.

We are committed to Newfoundlanders having safe, efficient, and reliable ferry services to the mainland.

Innovation, Science and Economic DevelopmentOral Questions

3:05 p.m.

NDP

Pierre Nantel NDP Longueuil—Saint-Hubert, QC

Mr. Speaker, the government's inconsistency will never cease to amaze us. In Canada, the only plug-in hybrid minivan available is the Chrysler Pacifica, manufactured here by our unionized workers in Windsor. This is a fine opportunity for the National Capital Commission to purchase one and to show it off to all the tourists who come to Ottawa to celebrate Canada 150 right here, in front of the Parliament buildings. Well, no, that will not happen. The National Capital Commission's two new minivans run on gas only. What a missed opportunity.

Can someone tell me why we want to hide our finest technological achievements? These are not made in China.

Innovation, Science and Economic DevelopmentOral Questions

3:05 p.m.

Ahuntsic-Cartierville Québec

Liberal

Mélanie Joly LiberalMinister of Canadian Heritage

Mr. Speaker, of course, it is Canada’s 150th anniversary and tomorrow we are kicking off the celebrations.

It will be June 21, National Aboriginal Day. Then we will have the day celebrating Quebec and the Canadian Francophonie, Canadian Multiculturalism Day, and finally Canada Day.

I encourage all members in the House and all Canadians to celebrate Canada Day and to show off the best technologies that are proudly Canadian and that of course help in our fight against climate change.

Immigration, Refugees and CitizenshipOral Questions

3:05 p.m.

Liberal

Gary Anandasangaree Liberal Scarborough—Rouge Park, ON

Mr. Speaker, there are over 65 million refugees fleeing persecution around the world. Countries like Canada have a responsibility to ensure that we do our part to support and provide refuge to those in need of protection.

On this World Refugee Day, can the Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship please advise this House on the government's commitment to refugee resettlement?

Immigration, Refugees and CitizenshipOral Questions

3:05 p.m.

York South—Weston Ontario

Liberal

Ahmed Hussen LiberalMinister of Immigration

Mr. Speaker, I wish to thank the hon. member from Scarborough—Rouge Park for his work as an advocate for refugees.

On World Refugee Day, I am proud of our government’s commitment to welcome those fleeing war, terror, and persecution.

As a government, we responded to the largest refugee crisis in half a century by admitting 40,000 Syrian refugees. We restored refugee health care that was callously cut by the previous government. We tripled the number of privately sponsored refugees.

As a former refugee, and on behalf of the Government of Canada, I applaud the generosity of Canadians who day in and day out assist refugees.

Veterans AffairsOral Questions

3:05 p.m.

Conservative

Cathay Wagantall Conservative Yorkton—Melville, SK

Mr. Speaker, listen to this capability gap.

In October, the Liberals invited veterans from the Somalian and Afghanistan wars to give heart-wrenching testimony about side effects and the impact they experienced from being forced to take mefloquine. When the committee tabled the report to the House, veterans were shocked to see that the vast majority of witness testimony was stripped out. On this side of the House, we stand with veterans, and that is why we tabled the witness testimony so that Canadians could hear the truth.

Will the minister commit to not only responding to the committee but also to the countless hours of heartbreaking witness testimony?

Veterans AffairsOral Questions

3:05 p.m.

Calgary Centre Alberta

Liberal

Kent Hehr LiberalMinister of Veterans Affairs and Associate Minister of National Defence

Mr. Speaker, the health and wellness of veterans and their families is at the core of what we do. I am proud of the fact that committee members looked at all of these issues, because they, too, are committed to the health and wellness of veterans.

I can tell the member that I have not yet had an opportunity to review the whole report. I will be doing so and looking into how we can fold in some of the ideas to best support veterans and their families that lead to better outcomes for their success.

Natural ResourcesOral Questions

3:10 p.m.

Bloc

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

Mr. Speaker, practically everyone in Quebec has condemned the energy east project. Today, the FQM is joining in. This project threatens our rivers, lakes, and farmland. Under this project, Quebec assumes all the risks without any of the benefits.

Do you know who is not standing up to defend Quebec on this project? Obviously, as usual, it is those who do not stand up for our people, the 40 phantom MPs of the Liberal Party.

When will these 40 phantom MPs stand up to defend Quebec?

Natural ResourcesOral Questions

3:10 p.m.

Winnipeg South Centre Manitoba

Liberal

Jim Carr LiberalMinister of Natural Resources

Mr. Speaker, I am sure that the member will have every opportunity to express that view and the view of his colleagues to the National Energy Board, which will be spending the next 21 or so months reviewing every aspect of that pipeline proposal. Surely, he would not want us to make a decision before he has had a chance to tell the National Energy Board what he thinks.

InfrastructureOral Questions

3:10 p.m.

Bloc

Gabriel Ste-Marie Bloc Joliette, QC

Mr. Speaker, the same goes for the infrastructure bank. No one in Quebec supports this government, not the experts, not the National Assembly, not the farmers. They all agree with us that it makes no sense to let financiers from Toronto build whatever they want in Quebec with no regard for our laws on the environment, urban planning, and agriculture.

Who are the 40 phantom MPs from Quebec working for? Is there one among them who can represent his or her constituents rather than Bay Street?

InfrastructureOral Questions

3:10 p.m.

Edmonton Mill Woods Alberta

Liberal

Amarjeet Sohi LiberalMinister of Infrastructure and Communities

Mr. Speaker, our infrastructure investments are achieving real and tangible results for Canadians. They are helping us buy new buses to grow public transit systems. They are making systems accessible for people with disabilities. They are helping to renovate more affordable housing for people to have a decent place to live.

As far as respect for the jurisdiction is concerned, the infrastructure bank, or any project undertaken by the bank, will respect the local laws and regulations in place.

Oral QuestionsPoints of OrderOral Questions

3:10 p.m.

Conservative

Blake Richards Conservative Banff—Airdrie, AB

Mr. Speaker, chapter 13 of O'Brien and Bosc, under “Rules of Order and Decorum”, on page 614, indicates that a member cannot do indirectly what cannot be done directly. It is obviously referring to quoting from newspaper articles, etc. I would argue that it should also hold to members saying, “Any member who”, and making a statement about the member.

Last Wednesday, following question period, in response to a point of order raised by the member for Mégantic—L'Érable regarding an inappropriate personal comment made about him by the Prime Minister in response to his question that day, you had indicated that you would check the Hansard and get back to the House if you deemed it necessary.

I will point out that this is not the first time, in fact, it is the third time at least, that the Prime Minister has had a point of order raised regarding his behaviour in question period. On two previous occasions, it was in relation to his taunting of female members of Parliament who were asking questions. You indicated that you would check and get back to the House. In those cases, it is possible that his behaviour was not recorded on camera. However, in this case, it would be something that you could check, because it was made while he was responding to a question.

Given that past record of deplorable behaviour, the fact that this has been raised, and you indicated you would get back to the House and also given that it is not permissible to do indirectly what is not permissible directly, I would ask if you have had the chance to do the review and advise the House of your ruling. If you decided that it was not necessary to report back to the House, I would ask that you give us your justification for that, Mr. Speaker.

Oral QuestionsPoints of OrderOral Questions

3:10 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Geoff Regan

I thank the hon. member for Banff—Airdrie for the supplemental information. I will look into it and will come back to the House if necessary.

Oral QuestionsPoints of OrderOral Questions

3:15 p.m.

Liberal

Borys Wrzesnewskyj Liberal Etobicoke Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, I rise to ask for the unanimous consent of the House to return to presenting reports from committees. The Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration's 12th report is now ready, with dissenting reports appended. The opportunity to ensure it is presented in the House before the summer adjournment would be appreciated by all members of the committee.

Oral QuestionsPoints of OrderOral Questions

3:15 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Geoff Regan

Does the hon. member have the unanimous consent of the House?

Oral QuestionsPoints of OrderOral Questions

3:15 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Citizenship and ImmigrationCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

3:15 p.m.

Liberal

Borys Wrzesnewskyj Liberal Etobicoke Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the 12th report of the Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration, entitled, “LGBTQ+ at Risk Abroad: Canada's Call to Action”.

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

Citizenship and ImmigrationCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

3:15 p.m.

Conservative

Michelle Rempel Conservative Calgary Nose Hill, AB

Mr. Speaker, Conservatives fully support many aspects of this report, including the recommendation for regular funding of the rainbow assistance program, which was started under the former Conservative government. There are other requests of the government, as noted in the dissenting report.

The House resumed from June 19 consideration of the motion that Bill C-17, An Act to amend the Yukon Environmental and Socio-economic Assessment Act and to make a consequential amendment to another Act, be read the second time and referred to a committee.

Yukon Environmental and Socio-Economic Assessment ActGovernment Orders

3:15 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Geoff Regan

It being 3:16 p.m., pursuant to order made on Tuesday, May 30, 2017, the House will now proceed to the taking of the deferred recorded division on the motion at the second reading stage of Bill C-17.

Call in the members.

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

Vote #339

Yukon Environmental and Socio-Economic Assessment ActGovernment Orders

3:25 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Geoff Regan

I declare the motion carried. Accordingly, the bill stands referred to the Standing Committee on Indigenous and Northern Affairs.

(Bill read the second time and referred to a committee)

The House resumed consideration of the motion, and of the amendment.

Amendments to Standing OrdersGovernment Orders

3:25 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Geoff Regan

Pursuant to order made earlier today, the House will now proceed to the taking of the deferred recorded division on the amendment relating to Government Business No. 18.

The question is on the amendment.

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

Vote #340

Amendments to Standing OrdersGovernment Orders

3:30 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Geoff Regan

I declare the amendment lost.

Pursuant to order made earlier today, the House will now proceed to the taking of the deferred recorded division on Government Business No. 18.

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

Amendments to Standing OrdersGovernment Orders

3:35 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

No.

Amendments to Standing OrdersGovernment Orders

3:35 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Geoff Regan

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

Amendments to Standing OrdersGovernment Orders

3:35 p.m.

Some hon. members

Yea.

Amendments to Standing OrdersGovernment Orders

3:35 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Geoff Regan

All those opposed will please say nay.

Amendments to Standing OrdersGovernment Orders

3:35 p.m.

Some hon. members

Nay.

Amendments to Standing OrdersGovernment Orders

3:35 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Geoff Regan

In my opinion the yeas have it.

And five or more members having risen:

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

Vote #341

Amendments to Standing OrdersGovernment Orders

3:40 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Geoff Regan

I declare the motion carried.

Resignation of MemberRoutine Proceedings

3:40 p.m.

Conservative

Denis Lebel Conservative Lac-Saint-Jean, QC

Mr. Speaker, I have always respected both official languages of our country, but I will give my speech in French as it will be easier for translation. However, I want to tell everybody in English that I was proud to speak both official languages in the House.

Life is always good when you give yourself time and time can do its work. Given the schedule that was originally planned, according to which we were to adjourn a few days ago, I never thought I would have the opportunity to speak to the House as I am doing today. I want to thank everyone and all parliamentarians for what has happened in the last few hours. I also want them to have as many great moments as I have had here in the wonderful House of Commons.

I came here in 2007, after having been mayor. My first political life began in 2000. I have now been in politics full time for 17 years. I arrived here in September 2007 after winning the first by-election for the Stephen Harper government. At the time, I had an office on the sixth floor of the Confederation Building. I had just arrived here when my neighbour to the left knocked on my door. I did not have staff, I did not have a team and I was alone. The House had been prorogued, and nobody was in Ottawa. This person invited me to knock on his door if I needed anything, and he would be there. That person is you, Mr. Speaker. I thank you again.

Of course, I am sure everyone has heard by now that I am leaving politics in the next few weeks. I will use the coming weeks to honourably finish the work that remains, as I hope I have done for the past 17 years. I need to close my four offices, transfer files to the proponents that submitted them to me, do the summer festival circuit in my riding, meet with people, thank them, and help prepare the next by-election to make sure the Conservatives win, of course. That is how I will be spending the next few weeks. Today is simply an opportunity for me to say thank you.

I want to thank everyone in this beautiful place, the House of Commons, and the rest of Parliament Hill. We all need to make a point of thanking the people who help us do our jobs without too many headaches, from the person who washes the floor to the one who serves us our meals, from our security officers to the person who cuts the grass. The pages are there for us for every little thing we need, as we saw earlier. We can all be satisfied and proud of those individuals.

I first came here in 2007, and one year later, I became a minister because someone put his trust in me. A great man, a great prime minister, Stephen Harper, someone I will never forget as long as I live, did me the honour of entrusting me with considerable responsibilities.

Recently, the Minister of Transport was talking about how much work he had, and I joked that when I was the transport minister, I was also the minister of infrastructure, communities, and intergovernmental affairs, as well as the minister responsible for the Economic Development Agency of Canada for Quebec Regions, so he had no business telling me he had lots of work because he was practically on vacation.

I owe all that to Stephen Harper, a great prime minister, who had faith in me and led us to a balanced budget. He gave me mandates. When I got to Transport Canada, the new Champlain Bridge was not even on the radar. There was nothing going on with it. Just 140 days later, thanks to former finance minister Jim Flaherty and Prime Minister Harper, we made an announcement about that major project for the Montreal area. We also announced the Windsor bridge project. In fact, it was my honour to announce the Windsor bridge. Given what I am seeing now, maybe I should have appointed the board of directors too. I would have made different appointments, but that is another story.

I had the honour of developing this country's biggest infrastructure plan ever with a balanced budget. That is an important distinction. I could go on and on, but I will stop here. Mr. Harper put his trust in me, and I will be forever grateful.

After the election, another great woman gave me the opportunity to become deputy leader of the official opposition. The member for Sturgeon River—Parkland asked me to be her right-hand man, and I am still grateful for that honour.

I have a lot of confidence in the young member for Regina—Qu'Appelle.

One of the reasons why I can leave today with peace of mind is all of the people behind me. We have a new leader, who will demonstrate how empathetic he is and how in touch he is with people's feelings, while having a great economic vision and a lot of respect for Canadians.

Of course, I want to thank all the members of the Quebec caucus, past and present, who have always supported me. Today, they allowed me to leave. There were five of us, then 12. Now there are 11, but I am sure there will be more.

Canada's public servants are among the best in the world. When I was a minister, I had the opportunity to work with many great public servants from all departments. I have a soft spot for the Economic Development Agency of Canada for Quebec Regions. A Quebecker who comes from one of the regions loves being in the regions of Quebec. Every public servant I had the opportunity to work with showed me how qualified they are. I thank them from the very bottom of my heart.

I have had different families. There was the Conservative political family, made up of all the Conservative members that I had the opportunity to work with here in the House, caring and committed men and women. There was also the House of Commons family, made up of all members of the House. All members, regardless of their party, are here to work for the good of Canadians, and we need to continue to be accessible to them and to be respectful and open-minded. Behind all the political posturing are men and women with families and children. When someone attacks the person they love the most in this world, often their father or mother, it affects the whole family. Let us think about that when we engage in parliamentary sparring. Let us show respect for all members of the House.

I also found family in the various departments I have headed, with up to 42 employees. A few of them are here today. They became my second family. Some of them became my sons and daughters, and I thank them for that. Those were often very turbulent years, when we had to handle several files at once. There is never anyone more important than the team. In life, when we realize how lucky we are to be at the top of a pyramid or a group of individuals while respecting those below, that always makes things much easier. I have long and often said that I would be Denis much longer than a minister. It was just a job. Later, people will remember Denis, not my job.

I have often said that it was very nice to be important, but it was much more important to be nice. When someone is not nice, people remember. I will continue living my life that way and working to make things happen.

I thank everyone who has worked for me. I want to pay special tribute to my former chief of staff, Mr. Yan Plante. He has done an exceptional job, and he provides me with valued advice even today.

I also thank all of the constituents in my riding, where I was the mayor. I thank them for putting their trust in me.

Obviously, I would like to close by thanking my family. When public life is forced on our spouses, children, and grandchildren for 17 years, it is not always easy.

I would like to share a story. My granddaughter was in grade 4 at the time. She was told by her teacher, a political opponent, that her granddad was going to lose the election. It is hard to imagine a child of nine or ten being told that by someone, but these things happen. When we decide to get into politics, our families get dragged into it as well. We must remember to always protect our families and to help them protect themselves.

My life philosophy has always been the same. I have always said that we are all human, and no matter the colour of our skin or our political, religious, or sexual orientation, we should work together to build a better future and a better world for those around us. I am proud to call the Lac-Saint-Jean region my home, and I always will be.

I hope that I will be remembered as someone who gave of himself, as does everyone else here.

Resignation of MemberRoutine Proceedings

3:45 p.m.

Some hon. members

Hear, hear!

Resignation of MemberRoutine Proceedings

3:55 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Geoff Regan

Order. The hon. member for Regina—Qu'Appelle.

Hon. Member for Lac-Saint-JeanRoutine Proceedings

3:55 p.m.

Regina—Qu'Appelle Saskatchewan

Conservative

Andrew Scheer ConservativeLeader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, it is an honour for me to rise today to pay tribute to our deputy leader and good friend, the hon. member for Lac-Saint-Jean.

For over a decade, the hon. member for Lac-Saint-Jean, a proud native son, served his constituents with distinction. He devoted his life to serving the public, specifically his constituents in Roberval.

At a time when our Conservative movement needed energy and reassurance, the hon. member for Lac-Saint-Jean was there to lead the way.

Through him, voters knew that our Conservative caucus was fighting every single day to help their businesses succeed, help their families stay prosperous, and help their communities grow.

As a result of his hard work and leadership, our Conservative family in Quebec grew from five to 12 members in the last election. The Conservative caucus is always stronger when it is represented in la belle province. We have the hon. member for Lac-Saint-Jean to thank for making us stronger.

He was always a natural choice to lead, not just our efforts in Quebec but within our caucus as well. We have trusted him to be a source of wise counsel and to always bring to the table a strong perspective on what everyday Canadians are thinking.

The fact that he was Minister of Transport and Minister of Infrastructure is a testament to his unique capacity to know what Canadians and their families expect from a responsible government. Under his leadership, the Champlain Bridge in Montreal received considerable support. This is a project that will allow traffic to flow more smoothly. When he was infrastructure minister, he oversaw the construction of highway 85 in Quebec, under the new building Canada fund.

In his riding, his work for the Véloroute des Bleuets, the historic village of Val-Jalbert, and the Zoo sauvage de Saint-Félicien helped his region to flourish even more.

The hon. member for Lac-Saint-Jean has always been driven to help families and job creators in Quebec to prosper in their province. That was always very important to him. Among all his responsibilities, I know that what he enjoyed most was meeting Quebeckers right across the province in his capacity as minister of the Economic Development Agency of Canada for the Regions of Quebec.

Within our ranks, his warmth and friendship have been critical in helping our party navigate the experience of leading a minority government, then a majority, and then being an effective official opposition, soon to become the government again. When that day comes, it will be in no small part because of the hard work the member for Lac-Saint-Jean put in, day after day. As he has said himself, he is not a man who does things in half measures. We on this side of the House know how true that is.

On behalf of our entire caucus, I hope that he will enjoy his next mission, that of taking time for himself and his family, to the fullest. I thank Danielle and his children, Marie-Ève and Mathieu, for sharing him with us for these many years.

I thank the member for Lac-Saint-Jean for his work, his wisdom, and his friendship. I will always remember our trip to Rome a few years ago. Despite the years he spent as an organizer of the Traversée internationale du lac Saint-Jean, I know that although he is not a great swimmer he will be happy spending more time on the beach, on the shores of his lake.

Hon. Member for Lac-Saint-JeanRoutine Proceedings

3:55 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Geoff Regan

I apologize to the hon. Leader of the Opposition. I should have introduced him as the Leader of the Opposition even though he is the member for Regina—Qu'Appelle.

The hon. Chief Government Whip.

Hon. Member for Lac-Saint-JeanRoutine Proceedings

3:55 p.m.

Liberal

Pablo Rodriguez Liberal Honoré-Mercier, QC

Mr. Speaker, the walls of Parliament shook this week when the member for Roberval announced that he is leaving. It was such a surprise to all of the members that we decided to suspend the House immediately this week.

This is big news. The member for Roberval is a politician, a well-known and highly respected public figure, and he is also greatly liked by Quebecers. In fact, he is such a nice guy that I always suspected that he was a Liberal. We on both sides of the House will miss him very much.

I could easily talk about his career as a businessman, as the mayor of Roberval, as a member of Parliament, as a minister of half of the government, and as president of the Privy Council. I will stop here, because that is not what matters. Everything he has done is great, but what matters is the man behind it all. Behind the politician, the member of Parliament, and the minister, there is the man. Beyond the political adversary there is the man, the human being, a generous, passionate, fair and always smiling individual. He is Mr. Smile, in a way.

He is a father, grandfather, husband, friend, hockey player, golfer, badminton player, and champion cyclist. He is successful at everything he does; he is an accomplished athlete.

In other words, he is not just another pretty face. He is also a helluva good guy, and we will miss him.

He gave me a hard time. When I had the privilege of being the co-chair of the campaign in Quebec, I toured the regions and tried to get candidates. Every time I arrived somewhere, I was told that the hon. member for Roberval had just passed through. He's a damn good guy, and he was ahead of us every time. Whether it was by car or by bicycle, he was absolutely everywhere. He is a machine.

As I said earlier, what he did not do by car, he did by bicycle with the same smile and the same energy. He is a bit like the Energizer bunny; he keeps going and going. I saw him at work on the ground, and he won all my admiration and all my respect. It can be said that he served his constituents and his country with honour, dignity, and humility.

Today, he is heading home, to his region and to his family. He is so attached to that region, to his roots, that it was there that he announced his departure this week. I just hope he will not change his mind.

In preparing these notes, I reread an interview that I really liked and that touched me. The reporter asked him, “What have fatherhood and family changed in your life, your perspective on everyday life?”

He answered, “I have always considered family as being the essence, the reason why we do things, the foundation of everything. When you are in high places professionally, family becomes even more important. My family is my safe haven, where I am told the truth and I am supported as a person.”

The other question that he was asked was: “If you were to go back 30 years, would you have done some things differently with your children?”

He answered, “Although my children never complained about my absence, I would try to be more present.”

Today, he will go back home, he will be with his family and he will be much more present. On behalf of the Liberal members, I would like to thank and congratulate him for all his accomplishments.

On a more personal note, the next time I am in Roberval, if he is not away cycling up Mount Everest, we will sit down and solve the problems of the world over a glass of wine.

I wish him all the best.

Hon. Member for Lac-Saint-JeanRoutine Proceedings

4 p.m.

NDP

Marjolaine Boutin-Sweet NDP Hochelaga, QC

Mr. Speaker, as the New Democratic Party Whip, Mr. Speaker, it is my honour, Mr. Speaker, to pay tribute today, Mr. Speaker, to the member for Lac-Saint-Jean, Mr. Speaker, whom I will call by name if you do not mind, Mr. Speaker, the hon. Denis Lebel, Mr. Speaker.

I am sure you noticed how many times I mentioned your title in my introduction, and I hope you realize I was just having a little fun at the member for Lac-Saint-Jean's expense by imitating his speaking style. Please believe me when I say that I kid because I care. Despite our political differences, I am very fond of the member for Lac-Saint-Jean. I thought I knew him, but it turns out I did not know him as well as I thought.

I recently found out that the member for Lac-Saint-Jean is an accomplished cyclist who rides at least 3,000 kilometres every summer. That is really impressive. I also learned that he was a badminton champion at the age of 18. That would explain his aggressive style on behalf of the former Conservative government.

I was less surprised to discover that he was once the director of the Village historique de Val-Jalbert. I can definitely picture him sporting a bowler hat and suspenders at the general store in that company town, busy pulling a fast one on a bunch of his fellow villagers.

Although he is self-taught, he has verve, our Denis. Not only has he been a very eloquent speaker in the House of Commons for 10 years, but he has remained close to the people, despite all the years and the increased importance of his duties.

When I was infrastructure critic for the official opposition and he was the minister of infrastructure, of course, I had to question him regularly. He answered with such assurance and conviction that he almost believed it. No, I am exaggerating. However, his talents as a communicator always impressed me, even when he used them against me.

A few years later, when he returned after dealing with some health problems, I realized just how nice and kind he was when I asked him about his health, and he told me that he appreciated my concern very much.

As everyone knows, the hon. member for Lac-Saint-Jean was mayor of Roberval before entering federal politics for the Conservative Party. Well-placed sources in Lac-Saint-Jean tell me that he could have run for any party because people voted for the popular man involved in his community rather than for the party he represented.

Now that he is leaving to set sail for other horizons, my colleagues from the New Democratic Party and I would like to thank him for the considerable amount of work he has done over the years.

Two days after Father's Day, I hope that before setting sail on a new adventure, he will take a little time to be a dad and granddad again, because I know he misses it very much.

I would like to conclude this statement with two quotations. The first is from the leader of the NDP, the hon. member for Outremont, who used the words “kind and high road all the way” in speaking to me about Denis Lebel, when I told him that I was the one who would pay tribute to Denis today. He added that Denis made things very difficult for his adversaries because he is such a good guy.

My second quotation comes from the hon. member for Lac-Saint-Jean himself. In the fall of 2015, when replying to a reporter, after Mr. Lebel moved to the opposition side for the first time in his career in federal politics, he said: “I always treated our political opponents with a lot of respect and dignity when I was a minister. They are certainly repaying me for that today.”

I hope to have done so too. Thank you, Denis.

Hon. Member for Lac-Saint-JeanRoutine Proceedings

4:05 p.m.

Bloc

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

Mr. Speaker, on behalf of the Bloc Québécois, I too would like to pay tribute to the hon. member for Lac-Saint-Jean, who has announced that he is leaving political life. Of course, I could say that one fewer Conservative is always good news. However, I feel that we have to give credit where credit is due.

The hon. member for Lac-Saint-Jean has always had a deep attachment to his hometown of Roberval, where he was a respected mayor, as well as to his region and all of Quebec. Mr. Lebel could be seen travelling all over Quebec. He was always well received and always positive, and people fully reciprocated. It is difficult to answer positivity with negativity; this makes for an opponent who is hard to attack.

Politically, he is blue. It is not the same blue as ours, however, even though his constituency was once the constituency of our founding leader. We know he has blue roots, and he proudly represents the blueberry region. He is therefore a true “blueberry” at heart.

He may come across as a teddy bear, but this does not mean that he is as gentle as one. Mr. Lebel has been a formidable opponent. He may not have often raised his voice in the House, but when he debated with his calm, even voice and his smile, he would still find flaws that really stung his opponents. He used them to throw anything he could find back in our faces, making it difficult for his opponents to answer back. He is a tough and effective politician.

On behalf of the Bloc Québécois, I wish him all the best in his future plans, as well as a wonderful return to his family. I am certain that he will be only too happy to return to his lake and its people. I think that Mr. Lebel has been a worthy representative of Lac-Saint-Jean. He could have been very effective in the Bloc, I am sure of that, but well, nobody is perfect.

All the best, hon. member!

Hon. Member for Lac-Saint-JeanRoutine Proceedings

4:10 p.m.

Green

Elizabeth May Green Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

Mr. Speaker, I will add a few words in complete agreement with everything else my colleagues have said.

The member for Lac-Saint-Jean has always been friendly and honourable and a man of integrity. I remember when he was the minister of infrastructure. I believe that he did good work in that area because he had already been a mayor. He was the mayor of Roberval, and he always kept this level of government in mind.

I am absolutely certain that the Federation of Canadian Municipalities found in him a friend and a champion of municipalities and local interests.

I live in a town with a population of 10,000, but at the other side of the country, in the town of Sidney, which is really perfect if someone wants to come for a visit this summer.

I would like to say to my friend, the hon. member for Lac-Saint-Jean, on behalf of the entire Green Party of Canada, that we wish him real happiness for the future with his family and loved ones, because happiness is what he deserves.

Thank you very much.

Hon. Member for Lac-Saint-JeanRoutine Proceedings

4:10 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Geoff Regan

I would like to add my voice to all the comments and compliments made to my friend, the member for Lac-Saint-Jean.

I remember very clearly when he first set foot in the Confederation Building. I note that he mentioned his efforts to be always pleasant. I can attest that he has done so with flying colours.

During the year when we were both in the Confederation Building, not only before but also after he became a minister, he was always truly pleasant. Everyone in the House knows that he is a dedicated man who went above and beyond to serve his country. It must be said that people here not only dedicate their time, but also a large part of their lives. That is what the member for Lac-Saint-Jean did. I very much appreciated it.

I consider him a friend. I appreciate his service not only as a member of Parliament, but also as a minister in Canada. That is much appreciated, on behalf of the House and on behalf of Canadians.

Denis, I hope that you will contact me if you find yourself in Nova Scotia. I could show you some wonderful trails and we could cycle together.

Long life to you, my friend!

Hon. Member for Lac-Saint-JeanRoutine Proceedings

4:10 p.m.

Some hon. members

Hear, hear!

Private Members' BusinessPoints of OrderRoutine Proceedings

4:15 p.m.

Liberal

Lloyd Longfield Liberal Guelph, ON

Mr. Speaker, I rise today on a point of order regarding Bill S-229, an act respecting underground infrastructure safety.

I would like to thank Senator Mitchell for sponsoring this bill from the other place. This bill is a worthwhile act that promotes the safety of Canadians as well as important underground infrastructure. It is my hope that the Chair will seriously consider the merits of the following points of procedure as they pertain to Bill S-229.

Specifically, my point of order is in regard to the Chair's ruling of May 9, 2017, alerting the House to Bill S-229, which at first glance appears to infringe on the financial prerogative of the crown. The Chair stated that if, following an anticipated first reading of Bill S-229, the Chair determined that the bill was contrary to our usual rules and practices regarding money bills, the Chair would be obligated to disallow it being further considered in this House.

The parliamentary secretary to the leader of the government in the House of Commons also made representations and formally raised a point of order on this matter on May 12, 2107.

The rights and privileges of each House of Parliament respecting money bills are provided for in the Constitution. Sections 53 and 54 of the Constitution Act of 1867 state:

53. Bills for appropriating any Part of the Public Revenue, or for imposing any Tax or Impost, shall originate in the House of Commons.

54. It shall not be lawful for the House of Commons to adopt or pass any Vote, Resolution, Address, or Bill for the Appropriation of any Part of the Public Revenue, or of any Tax or Impost, to any Purpose that has not been first recommended to that House by Message of the Governor General in the Session in which such Vote, Resolution, Address, or Bill is proposed.

The Standing Orders of the House of Commons reflect in part those provisions. I refer to Standing Orders 79 and 80. Standing Order 79(1) states:

This House shall not adopt or pass any vote, resolution, address or bill for the appropriation of any part of the public revenue, or of any tax or impost, to any purpose that has not been first recommended to the House by a message from the Governor General in the session in which such vote, resolution, address or bill is proposed.

Standing Order 80(1) states:

All aids and supplies granted to the Sovereign by the Parliament of Canada are the sole gift of the House of Commons, and all bills for granting such aids and supplies ought to begin with the House, as it is the undoubted right of the House to direct, limit, and appoint in all such bills, the ends, purposes, considerations, conditions, limitations and qualifications of such grants, which are not alterable by the Senate.

Bill S-229 includes a special coming into force provision that states in clause 33:

(1) Subject to subsection (2), the provisions of this Act come into force on a day or days to be fixed by order of the Governor in Council.

(2) No order may be made under subsection (1) unless the appropriation of moneys for the purposes of this Act has been recommended by the Governor General and such moneys have been appropriated by Parliament.

I would like to raise a preliminary point respecting the role and the authority of the Speaker of this House. It is a well-established principle of parliamentary law and procedure that our Speaker does not rule on questions of law but rather rules on questions of procedure.

The Speaker indicated in a statement to the House on May 9, 2017, that should he determine that Bill S-229 was:

....contrary to our usual rules and practices regarding money bills, I would be obligated to disallow them to be further considered in the House. Specifically, it would be incumbent on me to order them removed from the Order Paper and any consideration of them ended.

With respect, there is no Standing Order that would allow the Chair to remove Bill S-229 from the Order Paper unless the Chair acted under the sole authority of section 54 of the Constitution Act, 1867, which, in my opinion, would be contrary to the principle stated above that the Chair does not rule on questions of law.

The current situation is different from those you alluded to in your statement. I refer to rulings from your predecessors, Speaker Parent, respecting Bill S-13, on December 2, 1998, and Speaker Milliken, respecting Bill S-15, on June 12, 2001.

In those cases, while the Chair referred to the relevant constitutional provisions, the rulings were based on the requirement for taxation bills to be preceded by a ways and means motion, which is a requirement under our Standing Orders. As no such motion had been adopted, these Senate bills were ruled out of order. However, Bill S-229 is not a taxation bill.

I respectfully submit that should you decide that Bill S-229 is not a money bill, without a procedural rule to that effect, it belongs to this House, and not the Chair, to decide whether it will insist on its rights and privileges as provided for in sections 53 and 54 of the Constitution Act, 1867.

I recognize, however, that Standing Order 79(1) requires that you do not put the question at third reading if you decide that Bill S-229 is a money bill. Letting Bill S-229 go through the legislative process in this House would also allow for the consideration of the provisions of this bill and would provide an opportunity to amend or remove any provisions that may appear contrary to the financial initiative of the House and the crown.

The Parliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons, in his remarks of May 12, referred to page 769 of the second edition of House of Commons Procedure and Practice, which states:

An amendment intended to alter the coming into force clause of a bill, making it conditional, is out of order

With due respect to my colleague, this is not such a case. Bill S-229 already contains a coming into force clause that is conditional. This House is not seized with an amendment that would render an already existing coming into force clause conditional.

The Parliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons also referred to a ruling rendered by the Chair on November 9, 1978, to assert that the use of a provision in the bill to elude the requirement for a royal recommendation had been ruled unacceptable. In that case, a bill, Bill C-204, contained a provision that read, “nothing in the present Act shall be interpreted as requiring” an appropriation of any part of the public revenue.

The Chair, however, did not rule this practice to be unacceptable but instead stated that such a clause “will not be given any consideration in determining whether or not there is any infringement of the financial initiative of the Crown.”

I would note that the Chair, in this particular case, allowed the consideration of Bill C-204 to be continued.

Standing Order 79(1) states:

This House shall not adopt or pass any...bill for the appropriation of any part of the public revenue...to any purpose that has not been first recommended to the House by a message from the Governor General in the session in which such...bill is proposed.

The effect of the coming into force clause included in Bill S-229 would be that this bill would not appropriate any part of the public revenue. Another legislative enactment would be necessary to appropriate the required funds.

There have been two rulings rendered by the Speaker of the Senate respecting the effect of the coming into force clause included in Bill S-229, one respecting Bill S-234, on May 27, 2008, and another respecting Bill S-230, on May 5, 2009. I refer you to page 1087 of the Journals of the Senate of May 27, 2008, where Speaker Kinsella stated:

What Bill S-234 would actually do is set up a legal framework for subsequent action. Nothing can begin to happen to make this framework effective without a subsequent Royal Recommendation and appropriation by Parliament.

The Bill, itself, does not actually authorize the appropriation of any funds. While the passage of the Bill would express a will on the part of Parliament to establish an aboriginal peoples' assembly and an executive council, the Crown would not actually be obliged to give the necessary Recommendation, so its initiative would not be impaired. If the Governor General did recommend the necessary funds, and Parliament appropriated them, that would have the known effect of allowing the Bill to be brought into force, with the resulting consequences.

Bill S-234 thus appears to respect fully the financial initiative of the Crown, since no funds are being or must be appropriated.

Our own procedural authorities are to the same effect and were relied upon by the Speaker of the other place in his ruling.

Citation 611 of Beauchesne's, Sixth Edition states:

A bill from the Senate, certain clauses of which would necessitate some public expenditure, is in order if it is provided by a clause of the said bill that no such expenditure shall be made unless previously sanctioned by Parliament.

Beauchesne also referred to a ruling rendered on April 5, 1870, by Speaker Cockburn, which is highly relevant to the present case. The last clause in the first section of the bill provides:

That nothing in this Act shall give the authority to the Minister to cause expenditure until previously sanctioned by Parliament.

This overrides the eighth section referred to by the hon. member. No contract could therefore be entered into under that section, which could bind government and necessitate an expenditure of public money unless it had previously been sanctioned by Parliament.

With respect to Bill S-229, the proposal is not even a money bill, as it merely contemplates the minister entering into an agreement but does not directly involve any expenditure.

In his remarks, the Parliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons stated:

Clause 17 of Bill S-229, an act respecting underground infrastructure safety, authorizes the minister to enter into agreements, including funding agreements, that the minister considers necessary for carrying out the purposes of the act. Subclause 17(2) provides greater detail around the operation of such funding agreements between the federal government and the provincial governments. These specific purposes are not authorized by any statute or appropriation.

Citation 613 of Beauchesne's, Sixth Edition reads:

A bill, which does not involve a direct expenditure but merely confers upon the government a power for the exercise of which public money will have to be voted [on] by Parliament, is not a money bill, and no Royal Recommendation is necessary as a condition precedent to its introduction.

In support of this, I refer to the ruling of Speaker Sproule, rendered on January 16, 1912, respecting the Inquiries Act, authorizing the Governor in Council to establish commissions of inquiries by orders in council. Neither the 1912 Inquiries Act, which was a consolidation of two statutes, nor its 1868 or 1880 predecessors, had received a royal recommendation. I note that the 1868 act had also been introduced in the Senate.

Bill S-229 is no different from those precedents.

In many cases, a separate appropriation bill, based on the main or supplementary estimates, is necessary, otherwise the new organization cannot undertake its activities.

I refer, for example, to the Law Commission of Canada. While the Law Commission of Canada Act was passed by Parliament in 1996, the activities of the commission were always dependent on appropriations voted every year by Parliament. In 2006, when the government did not seek appropriations from Parliament and appropriations were, accordingly, not granted for the operations of the commission, the commission had to cease its activities, and all the while the Law Commission of Canada Act remained, and in fact still remains, in the law books.

For these reasons, I respectfully submit that Bill S-229 is admissible and should not be ruled out of order.

Private Members' BusinessPoints of OrderRoutine Proceedings

4:30 p.m.

NDP

The Assistant Deputy Speaker NDP Carol Hughes

I thank the member for Guelph for raising this point of order. I will take the information provided under advisement on Bill S-229. I am sure that it will be of assistance in researching the issue and preparing for a decision.

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 member for Nanaimo—Ladysmith, Aboriginal Affairs; the member for Cumberland—Colchester, Royal Canadian Mounted Police; the member for Selkirk—Interlake—Eastman, National Defence.

The House proceeded to the consideration of Bill S-3, An Act to amend the Indian Act (elimination of sex-based inequities in registration), as reported (with amendment) from the committee.

Speaker's RulingIndian ActGovernment Orders

4:30 p.m.

NDP

The Assistant Deputy Speaker NDP Carol Hughes

Motions Nos. 1 to 4 will be regrouped for debate and voted upon according to the voting pattern available at the table.

The hon. member for Saanich—Gulf Islands has informed the Chair that she does not wish to proceed with Motion No. 1.

Motions in AmendmentIndian ActGovernment Orders

4:30 p.m.

NDP

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

moved:

Motion No. 2

That Bill S-3, in Clause 2, be amended

(a) by adding after line 4 on page 2 the following:

“(a.1) that person was born prior to April 17, 1985 and is a direct descendant of the person referred to in paragraph (a) or of a person referred to in paragraph 11(1)(a), (b), (c), (d), (e) or (f), as each provision read immediately prior to April 17, 1985;”;

(b) by adding after line 18 on page 5 the following:

“(4.1) Section 6 of the Act is amended by adding the following after subsection (1):

(1.1) The purpose of paragraph (1)(a.1) is to entitle to registration under paragraph (1)(a) those persons who were previously not entitled to registration under paragraph (1)(a) as a result of the preferential treatment accorded to Indian men over Indian women born prior to April 17, 1985, and to patrilineal descendants over matrilineal descendants born prior to April 17, 1985.”

Motions in AmendmentIndian ActGovernment Orders

4:30 p.m.

Green

Elizabeth May Green Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

, seconded by Mr. Beaulieu, moved:

Motion No. 3

That Bill S-3, in Clause 2, be amended

(a) by adding after line 4 on page 2 the following:

“(a.1) that person was born prior to April 17, 1985, and is a direct descendant of the person referred to in paragraph (a) or of a person referred to in paragraph 11(1)(a), (b), (c), (d), (e) or (f), as each provision read immediately prior to April 17, 1985;”;

(b) by adding after line 18 on page 5 the following:

“(4.1) Section 6 of the Act is amended by adding the following after subsection (1):

(1.1) The purpose of paragraph (1)(a.1) is to entitle to registration under paragraph (1)(a) those persons who were previously not entitled to registration under paragraph (1)(a) as a result of the preferential treatment accorded to Indian men over Indian women born prior to April 17, 1985, and to patrilineal descendants over matrilineal descendants born prior to April 17, 1985, including, in particular, persons who were not entitled to be registered on the ground that

(a) they were female persons who were married to a person who was not registered;

(b) they were persons whose mother was registered but whose parents were not married to each other at the time of their birth;

(c) they were female persons whose father was registered but whose parents were not married to each other at the time of their birth; or

(d) they were female persons who were married to a person who was enfranchised under this Act as it read immediately before April 17, 1985, or under any former provision of this Act relating to the same subject matter.”

Motions in AmendmentIndian ActGovernment Orders

4:35 p.m.

NDP

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

moved:

That Bill S-3 be amended by deleting Clause 10.

Madam Speaker, [member spoke in aboriginal language]

[Translation]

First, I could not help reiterating my disappointment in the Speaker's ruling on the question of privilege raised by the member for Winnipeg Centre. I am going to accommodate the House and repeat my message in both official languages.

It is all the more disappointing that it has been decided, with unprecedented and delicate irony, on the eve of National Aboriginal Day, that I will no longer have the right to speak my own language here in the House of Commons. This is frustrating, not to say insulting, because my language has been spoken for 7,000 years. It was spoken before a word of French or English was ever spoken in this country that we now call Canada.

I am going to accommodate the House.

This afternoon, the Speaker rendered his ruling on the question of privilege that was raised by the member for Winnipeg Centre, which is extremely disappointing, especially on the eve of National Aboriginal Day.

On the very eve of National Aboriginal Day 2017, in this country that you now call Canada, I am told that there are only two official languages in this place, and that I cannot speak the language that has been spoken in this country, on this territory, for the last 7,000 years, even before a single word in English or French was heard in this place. In this country, that you now call Canada, I am told that I cannot use my language. Allow me to express my disappointment.

Tomorrow is a sacred day for all indigenous peoples in this country. It is so sacred. However, hearing this ruling from the Speaker was the most terrible thing I have heard in this chamber in the six years that I have been sitting in this place. In fact, if members want to know, the words in Cree for the Speaker of the House is [Member spoke in Cree] which means “the boss of those who speak in the House”.

However, I rise again on Bill S-3, which is a bill that should eliminate any gender inequities in the Indian Act.

In doing so, I need to refer to a couple aspects of where we are at this moment as we speak. As we know, there were important amendments that stemmed from the work of the Senate, important amendments that not only attempted to respond to the Quebec Superior Court ruling in the Descheneaux case, but also addressed the other inequities and discriminations that exist under the Indian Act.

That was the purpose of the amendments submitted by the Senate. Unfortunately, the majority Liberal members of the Standing Committee on Indigenous and Northern Affairs decided that those amendments were unacceptable. That is very unfortunate, because discrimination in this country should not even be allowed in 2017. That is so unjust. That is one aspect that I will be talking about in the remaining time I have.

There is also the aspect of the liability of the crown, which needs to be addressed. It is one of the most important calls to action of the TRC. It is number 26 of the TRC which deals with this aspect. Again, it is a provision that is included in the amendments that are before us. I believe it is a proposition to accept human rights violations that were done in the past and accept them in 2017. In all conscience, I as an indigenous person will never accept that proposition. We cannot justify past wrongs, past human rights violations in this place in 2017. Wrongs of the past are wrongs. We cannot say today to forget about them and move on. That is not how it works.

The other aspect I would like to address in the couple of minutes I have left is the fact that the government is telling us to trust it, that there is a second phase coming up, and it will deal with the other concerns that we are talking about six months after this bill is ratified by the Senate. Again, who else is asked that their human rights be delayed once again? Indigenous women in this country have waited for so long. Now we are asking again to do away with their human rights, that we will deal with them later on. That is absolutely unacceptable. On this side of the House, that cannot be accepted.

Let me quote one of our expert witnesses who came before us, Pam Palmater. She had this to say to our committee:

How many more times are you going to require that indigenous women spend their entire lives trying to get equality, in a country where equality is actually the law?

We do not have a choice here. This issue should in fact be moot. There is a very clear message here. The fact the government or any committee would be wondering or considering delaying equality for one more day shows exactly how ingrained sexism and racism is in this country, and especially for indigenous women.

The provisions that were truncated from the proposed Senate amendments were once accepted by both the Minister of Indigenous and Northern Affairs and the Minister of Justice. In fact, this is what the Minister of Justice said to Parliament back in 2010. She insisted that Parliament eradicate discrimination wherever and whenever possible. Now she has changed her mind. The proposition that I have before us is the very minimum that we need this House to adopt.

Motions in AmendmentIndian ActGovernment Orders

4:45 p.m.

Conservative

Mark Strahl Conservative Chilliwack—Hope, BC

Madam Speaker, I would like to thank the member for Abitibi—Baie-James—Nunavik—Eeyou for his work on this file. I have worked with him on committee in the previous Parliament. I remember his eloquent words as a survivor of residential schools, and I listened to his eloquent words again today in three languages, which we appreciate here because of the work he is doing with respect to languages. Once a language is lost, we know that it is lost forever. Therefore, I hope we can all work together in this place to find solutions to the issues that he has raised.

I want to ask the member a question with respect to the decision by the government not to seek an extension of the July 3 deadline for the implementation of this bill, when it was offered by the court, and when the plaintiff had gone back to court to seek an extension on behalf of the government. Could he comment on the failure of the government to seek that extension, and what are his views with respect to that decision?

Motions in AmendmentIndian ActGovernment Orders

4:45 p.m.

NDP

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

Madam Speaker, what I understand from what is going on here is that we are heading toward a battle between the Senate and the House as we speak, because this is what the Senate wants, but it is not what the government wants. Second, the government has botched the obligation that we have to correct the Indian Act. The Liberals did not move on this after they were elected. They waited 18 months before doing anything about it, and here we are today hard-pressed to adopt what they think should be adopted.

Finally, I know that hearings were held yesterday and today, and that the Quebec Superior Court dismissed the motion to extend Parliament's deadline for eliminating sex discrimination. However, the judge, Chantal Masse, emphasized that she remains available to hear another motion for an extension before the deadline of July 3. That is important to know, because what we have before us as we speak, which was proposed by the current majority government, is a botched proposal, and we need to start over again.

Motions in AmendmentIndian ActGovernment Orders

4:45 p.m.

Labrador Newfoundland & Labrador

Liberal

Yvonne Jones LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Indigenous and Northern Affairs

Madam Speaker, I want to thank my colleague not only for his speech today but also for his contributions to the debate on this bill. He understands this very well. He knows the time limits the government is working toward. Therefore, in his opinion, should the government not honour the court ruling, and move forward with the acceptance of the 35,000 individuals who have currently been waiting up to two years for this?

Motions in AmendmentIndian ActGovernment Orders

4:50 p.m.

NDP

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

Madam Speaker, I understand the parliamentary secretary's question and where she is coming from. However, one of the things she fails to mention in her question is that the Quebec Superior Court judge said that we needed to look beyond fixing the issue with respect to the Descheneaux case, so it does not preclude the possibility of fixing other things that are problematic in the Indian Act.

The parliamentary secretary fails to understand that. However, I understand it. I do not think that discrimination should continue in this country. This is a country that recognizes equality for all. That includes indigenous women. If she thinks we should not proceed right away with that, and that we need to consult with respect to the human rights of indigenous women and indigenous women alone, that is problematic for me, and goes against the rule of law in this country.

As members of Parliament, we are called upon to uphold the rule of law. That includes respecting the Constitution, which includes the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, and section 35 rights as well. Therefore, there is a lot of work that needs to be done. That is where I am coming from. I know she has a limited view of how we should proceed.

Motions in AmendmentIndian ActGovernment Orders

4:50 p.m.

Green

Elizabeth May Green Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

Madam Speaker, it is an honour to rise in this place to put my views forward following the member for Abitibi—Baie-James—Nunavik—Eeyou. He said exactly, in much clearer, more passionate language and with greater depth of experience, the reasons that I am also putting forward amendments to try to repair Bill S-3, so that it does not perpetuate gender-based discrimination against indigenous women and their descendants.

As members know, Bill S-3 comes to us as a result of yet another court case raising the issue of discrimination under the Indian Act. Let us step back for a moment and acknowledge the Indian Act itself is a monument to discrimination. The Indian Act is a racist piece of legislation, and I grieve that we are not as a Parliament taking on the challenge of eliminating the spectre of a piece of legislation about which many Canadians may not know. It was a piece of legislation on which South Africa modelled apartheid. It needs to be replaced, it needs to be gone, but what we have before us is a slice of that discrimination that is embedded in a discriminatory act which treats indigenous women and their descendants quite differently than it treats indigenous men.

The case was brought to the Quebec court by Stéphane Descheneaux. The court set a deadline, the case was heard and resolved in 2015. The deadline was extended once, and as we just heard in my hon. colleague's comments in response to a question, just today the plaintiff returned to court, and asked if Madam Judge Masse would extend that deadline once again. As the deadline now sits, this Parliament needs to resolve the matter by July 3, or there will be consequences in the issuing of status cards, and there will be unacceptable consequences. On the other hand, it is certainly distressing and incomprehensible to me that given how flawed the bill is that the Government of Canada has not gone to the court to ask for an extension.

Should we be able in this place now to accept either my amendment, or the amendment put forward by the hon. member for Abitibi—Baie-James—Nunavik—Eeyou, then at least we have a piece of legislation which does not perpetuate gender discrimination. If we accept those amendments and the government feels it creates a tremendous chaos out there, we are not sure where we are going to go next. It does not have to move forward on the legislation, all it has to do is go to the judge and ask for an extension.

The Quebec court in this matter has made it very clear as of less than an hour ago, when the press conference from the plaintiff took place, that it is ready and willing to give an extension. The judge was not willing to given an extension on the deadline today on an application from the plaintiff, because she did not want to put the Quebec Superior Court in the position of arbitrating between the Senate of Canada and the House of Commons. It is very clear, very fresh and pertinent, and timely information that the extension could be had if the government seeks it. I would wish the government would seek it.

However, let us go back to why these amendments really matter. It is a question of justice. It is a question of discrimination, and it is a question of whether we can draw a line in the sand and accept all the historical wrongs that happened if someone was a descendant based on relationships before 1951. Before 1951, we are just going to say that it does not matter anymore, and we are going to limit it to 35,000 people, because that is a manageable number. This is something I have never seen before in any debate on rights, that we only give fairness to X number of people, and we are not prepared to extend it to all the people. It is unconscionable.

I want to go back, and my colleague has already mentioned the testimony of Professor Pam Palmater, who is uniquely qualified in this debate not only because she is a distinguished lawyer and professor, and comes from the territory of the Mi'kmaq First Nation in Nova Scotia, but she has written a book which directly bears on this. Her book is Beyond Blood: Rethinking Indigenous Identity.

Her research has shown that, for example, and I will quote her:

The hierarchy of Indian status between section 6(1) and 6(2) have and continue to disproportionately impact Indigenous women and their descendants since its creation in 1985. It is an unconscionable formula based on racist ideas related to blood quantum that were designed to legislate Indians out of existence.

She is referring to sections of the Indian Act. She goes on to say:

As a result, Canada's own demographer can pin point with relative accuracy the extinction dates of each First Nation in Canada based on birth, death and out-marriage rates.

Some might wonder what out-marriage means. The essence of this discrimination is that, if a first nations man marries a non-indigenous woman, their children continue to be recognized as Indians for the purpose of the Indian Act, but if a first nations woman marries a non-indigenous man, the children are not recognized. Further, with respect to children of unwed mothers who are not willing or able to name the father, or fathers who deny paternity, we go through a whole hierarchy of subtractions, subtraction of indigenous women's rights through a hierarchy of different classes of people.

If my amendment or the amendments put forward by the NDP are accepted, we could restore at least those pieces of Bill S-3 that were put forward in the Senate. They were supported by the Senate but removed from the bill by the government. They are what would make it possible to support Bill S-3 and get it through the House. With those removed, we are back in a situation where the defence that I hear from the government is that there will simply be too many people and we will not know quite how many there are. As I said, this cannot be a question of numbers.

Again, from evidence that was heard in the Senate committee, if the estimate is 200,000 people instead of 35,000 people who have rights through ancestry and parenthood once historic discrimination against women is removed, that is roughly equivalent to the number of new immigrants we take into Canada every year. We need to put 200,000 into some context. Why would we deny rights based on the question that this might be too many new people?

The fundamental crying need in this area of law is to get rid of the Indian Act, and then we could be talking about how to move forward from here. However, we are dealing only with this piece based on the court decision and the court case brought by Stephane Descheneaux. It seems to me that we do not have any choice other than to eliminate gender-based discrimination.

In the minute I have left, I want to turn again to the words of Professor Palmater, because it could not be clearer. She said:

There is no reason to consult on whether to abide by the law of gender equality. The laws of our traditional Nations, Canada and the international community are clear on gender equality. There is no optioning out of equality, nor can it be negotiated away. Traditional Indigenous Nations did not permit inequality between genders. The constitutionally-protected Aboriginal right to determine one’s own citizens is conditioned on section 35(4)’s guarantee of equality for Indigenous men and women.

Of course, that is section 35(4) of the Canadian Constitution.

UNDRIP which provides extensive protections for indigenous peoples also guarantees these rights equally between Indigenous men and women.

I want to underscore this sentence from Professor Palmater's testimony, “There is simply no legal mechanism by which to consult out of gender equality.”

She went on to say:

Discrimination is discrimination—whether five layers of discrimination are piled on top of us or “only” one layer—Indigenous women and our descendants bear an unfair burden of trying to convince others it should end.

I urge every member of the House to vote for the amendments, and then we can pass Bill S-3 with a clear conscience.

Motions in AmendmentIndian ActGovernment Orders

5 p.m.

NDP

The Assistant Deputy Speaker NDP Carol Hughes

The hon. Minister of National Revenue on a point of order.

Motions in AmendmentIndian ActGovernment Orders

5 p.m.

Gaspésie—Les-Îles-de-la-Madeleine Québec

Liberal

Diane Lebouthillier LiberalMinister of National Revenue

Madam Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 32(2), I have the honour to table, in both official languages, the 2016 report on exports of military goods from Canada and the 2016 annual report to Parliament on the administration of the Export and Import Permits Act.

Motions in AmendmentIndian ActGovernment Orders

5 p.m.

Labrador Newfoundland & Labrador

Liberal

Yvonne Jones LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Indigenous and Northern Affairs

Madam Speaker, I want to ask a question for the member opposite. The Minister of Indigenous and Northern Affairs has said time and time again that it is her intention to correct all of the discriminatory pieces that are contained within the Indian Act over a two-phase process. Will the member opposite support that process to ensure proper consultation with all people who have asked to be involved and to ensure that their voices are heard as we move to stage two of the changes that need to be made within the bill?

Motions in AmendmentIndian ActGovernment Orders

5 p.m.

Green

Elizabeth May Green Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

Madam Speaker, first let me just say once again that there is no need for haste. We do not need to deal with this now. We merely need to ask the court. The court has made it clear that it is more than willing to give an extension, but on this concept of phase two, again I want to turn to the testimony of Professor Palmater:

If we don't address gender equality now, it will never be addressed. Canada's plans to shove "complex" gender issues to Phase ll under the impossible standard of "consensus" means we'll never see full gender equality.

I thought the whole intent of reconciliation was to do better by indigenous peoples. If this is the case then we have no real choice but to remedy all gender discrimination in Bill S-3. That is what I am committed to. I am trying to remedy the gender discrimination in Bill S-3.

Motions in AmendmentIndian ActGovernment Orders

5 p.m.

Conservative

Cathy McLeod Conservative Kamloops—Thompson—Cariboo, BC

Madam Speaker, my colleague said we simply need to ask for an extension. I think the government deserves lots of criticism on this particular file. I think there is lots of room where things could have and should have been done better, but there was an extension requested and the government was given five months. To be frank, the five months did not allow the opportunity to do the work that needed to be done.

Certainly, we heard from the officials that the bill did go beyond Descheneaux and added a number of other circumstances. They indicated that all known sex-based inequities have been dealt with in the bill.

I am not convinced about simply asking for an extension, if it is five months, when there is a proposal that the next phase happen over 18 to 22 months. I do not think we would have an alignment with an extension that would be granted and really the time to do the necessary work that has to be done.

Motions in AmendmentIndian ActGovernment Orders

5:05 p.m.

Green

Elizabeth May Green Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

Madam Speaker, there is a lot of blame to go around in the handling of indigenous issues in this country. I think it is not too late to ask the court for that extension in order to ensure that, when the Liberals bring forward a piece of legislation, the questions are answered about how it would be applied.

It is clear that we know that eliminating all gender discrimination, which I think should be the goal, in this piece of legislation should not even be a question. It is a matter of law, so we should do it. However, I recognize the bending over backwards; and I also recognize, by the way, good intentions on the part of the Minister of Indigenous and Northern Affairs. I just do not think it cuts it to decide we will only go halfway on resolving gender discrimination. It requires full, historical redress for gender discrimination.

I was also remiss in not acknowledging, as I began my words here, that we are here on unceded territory of the Algonquin people.

Motions in AmendmentIndian ActGovernment Orders

5:05 p.m.

NDP

Sheila Malcolmson NDP Nanaimo—Ladysmith, BC

Madam Speaker, noting the words of Sharon McIvor, who asked why consult on whether people can continue to be discriminated against, I will ask my colleague from Saanich—Gulf Islands if there is any reason to not either adopt the perfected bill as adopted and proposed by the Senate, which was informed by indigenous women, or else ask for an extension but not adopt a flawed bill, as is put before us by the government.

Motions in AmendmentIndian ActGovernment Orders

5:05 p.m.

Green

Elizabeth May Green Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

Madam Speaker, Sharon McIvor, as a witness to the Senate committee, and with all the work she has done for all these years, has it exactly right, as do most of the witnesses who came before the committee. I certainly thank the Senate for its hard work to improve the bill.

Motions in AmendmentIndian ActGovernment Orders

5:05 p.m.

Labrador Newfoundland & Labrador

Liberal

Yvonne Jones LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Indigenous and Northern Affairs

Madam Speaker, I am rising to speak to Bill S-3 because it is a very important bill and one that, with these amendments and changes, will foster tremendous progress for many indigenous people in Canada. It is an act to amend the Indian Act, and it focuses on the elimination of sex-based inequities in registration. This is something that has been ongoing for many years. Both the current Minister of Indigenous and Northern Affairs and the current Minister of Justice have fought very hard over the years to ensure that sex-based inequities in registration would be eliminated. Today, we are bringing forward amendments that would allow that to happen. They have also both said they remain committed to ensuring we correct all discrimination contained within the Indian Act. That will be done in a stage-two process.

Members are asking today that several amendments be added. We need to understand that the bill today is about removing the discriminatory aspects that are related to sex-based discrimination and that the amendments that are currently being proposed by the members are outside the scope of the intended bill. It is important to note that, as a government, we recognize that changes within the Indian Act need to go much further than where this legislation is bringing us today. We have said that time and again. The government and the minister have committed very clearly, both in the House of Commons and in committee, that they would have a stage-two process to deal with those discriminatory pieces that have to be removed from the act.

They also said that charter compliance will be the floor of that stage-two process, and not the ceiling. In other words, the government has been clear that consensus will not be a prerequisite for action, but in the absence of consensus, it is more important that decisions are based on the foundation of meaningful consultation and credible evidence about the potential impacts of reform.

We are here today with Bill S-3 because of the Descheneaux decision. It was a case filed by the Descheneaux family, in which the court put upon the government several conditions for change that had to occur within the Indian Act. The former government was appealing those decisions. Our government said we would not appeal those decisions of the court because we need to correct those discriminatory clauses within the bill. We were the first government in the seven-year process that has been going on that has stepped up and said we are going to remove it. We are prepared to act on it. We will meet the conditions of the Descheneaux ruling. That is what we are doing today with Bill S-3.

Members opposite asked why the government does not go to the judge and ask for an extension. We did go and ask for an extension, and we were granted an extension, one that allowed us to look at other aspects of the bill, consult with a number of people, and further define within the scope of the ruling some of the changes that needed to be made. We were happy to do that. We know the other groups went to the judge and asked for a further extension, and today, although there was a caveat in the decision, I understand the judge denied that extension.

We are in the House today debating Bill S-3. It is a bill that would help us progress a step further in ending sex-based discrimination against indigenous women who are registering with the Department of Indigenous and Northern Affairs and registering for benefits. This bill alone would allow 35,000 more indigenous people to claim the benefits to which they are entitled.

For the last two years, they have been waiting to access the benefits and the services they are entitled to as indigenous people in Canada, but have not been able to because we have not defined those changes in law.

Today, we are making those changes in law. We are allowing the entitlements and benefits for these thousands of indigenous people who have been neglected for a very long time. Many of them have been waiting for years. As we know, the Descheneaux decision went on in the courts for many years and was fought by the Harper government. It would not accept any changes within the Indian Act as it was relative to discrimination.

When this bill went to the Senate, some amendments were proposed. Those amendments were struck down at the committee stage of the House of Commons. Despite supporting a number of the amendments proposed by the Senate, the government made it clear that it could not support one amendment that was put forward by Senator McPhedran and accepted by the committee. The intent of Senator McPhedran's amendment to clause one of Bill S-3 was to implement the approach commonly referred to as “6(1)(a) all the way”.

While there is no question that this amendment was put forward with the best of intentions, and I know it was, the way this clause is drafted creates ambiguity as to whether it will do what it apparently intends to do.

When the bar association testified before the Standing Committee on Indigenous and Northern Affairs, and I was at committee that day, its representative cautioned against simply inserting that proposed amendment in its current form into the legislation. In fact, the members of the Indigenous Bar Association who testified went on to say, “You run into technical problems with the language by simply inserting that into a bill because you run the risk of inconsistencies or some unintended consequences with that.”

If the clause is interpreted in a way to implement the “6(1)(a) all the way” approach, then it could potentially extend status to a broad range of individuals impacted by a wide range of alleged inequities, well beyond those that are sex-based. That approach seeks to address non-sex based issues, of which we realize some need to be addressed, but it is well outside of the scope of what Bill S-3 is intended to do.

The approach was explicitly rejected by the British Columbia Court of Appeal in the McIvor decision, where it was clear that under the current state of law, this remedy was not required to make the Indian Act registration provisions charter compliant. That is very important to note in this debate.

The Supreme Court of Canada refused leave to appeal, but this does not mean the government will not consider this as a potential approach in the context of a policy decision to address the broader registration and membership reform. When the minister testified before the Senate committee, she said:

I think it could be 6(1)(a) all the way. But we don’t have enough information to make that decision, the scholarly approach that it would take to look at the impacts and make sure that it didn’t impact others accidentally in a different way.

Our government is taking a responsible approach. We have agreed to go through a stage two approach. We do not currently have all the demographic information to understand the practical implications of such a decision at this time, but it is our job to ensure we do. We know what we are doing today is going to have profound and positive impacts on indigenous communities across Canada and many people. We also know our commitment to stage two will also have very profound and positive impacts for indigenous people.

The amendments proposed today are outside the scope of the government's agenda and its intention. We ask all members to support the bill as it is and support the direction of the government to bring justice to indigenous people.

Motions in AmendmentIndian ActGovernment Orders

5:15 p.m.

Conservative

Mark Strahl Conservative Chilliwack—Hope, BC

Madam Speaker, first, it was our Conservative government that gave women living on reserve the same matrimonial real property rights as other Canadian women living off reserve, something the Liberals voted against.

When the Liberals were in opposition, in response to Bill C-3, which dealt with McIvor case, the Minister of Justice and the Minister of Indigenous and Northern Affairs brought forward those exact same amendments, which senators have brought forward to amend Bill S-3.

Could the member tell us what has changed between now and then, other than she now sits on that side of the House of Commons?

Motions in AmendmentIndian ActGovernment Orders

5:15 p.m.

Liberal

Yvonne Jones Liberal Labrador, NL

Madam Speaker, the hon. member's question gives me the opportunity to remind people in our country that it was his government that fought against the elimination of sex-based inequities in registration for years.

The government, under former Prime Minister Harper, spent hundreds and thousands of dollars of taxpayer money fighting indigenous people and indigenous women to ensure they did not eliminate those clauses.

We removed the bill from the courts. We are making the changes that are necessary on sex-based inequities. We are going to continue with this process, into stage two, to do what is right and just for indigenous women in Canada.

Motions in AmendmentIndian ActGovernment Orders

5:15 p.m.

NDP

Sheila Malcolmson NDP Nanaimo—Ladysmith, BC

Madam Speaker, could the parliamentary secretary name a single indigenous women's organization that endorses the approach of the Liberals?

The government failed to ask anybody, any woman who had been a litigant in these cases for 40 years. They were not consulted on any element of the bill. The Senate ended up perfecting it.

Who is actually onboard in the women's movement with the government approach? At a press conference on June 8, Pam Palmater said that the The Prime Minister and INAC minister claimed to be feminists and promised to respect the rule of law, but this was inconsistent with the minister's rigid non-negotiable approach. They said, again and again, that gender rights were human rights. They are not up for consultation.

How does the parliamentary secretary respond to that very strong criticism?

Motions in AmendmentIndian ActGovernment Orders

5:20 p.m.

Liberal

Yvonne Jones Liberal Labrador, NL

Madam Speaker, it goes without saying that many women out there today will benefit as a result of the changes we are making in the bill.

Will it go as far as we would like it to go at this current time? No, it will not. When representatives of NWAC testified before committee, and I was there that day, they said that they wanted to correct all the discriminatory pieces in the Indian Act, however, they would support the bill going to the House without being withdrawn at that time.

This question was put to them. Should we not proceed with this bill at this time? If I had the correct words, I would say them, but the answer was very simple, and that was that we should proceed.

Motions in AmendmentIndian ActGovernment Orders

5:20 p.m.

Liberal

Anita Vandenbeld Liberal Ottawa West—Nepean, ON

Madam Speaker, I would like to thank the member for Labrador for reiterating once again in the House the government's commitment to ending all discrimination in the Indian Act.

Could my hon. colleague elaborate on the reasons why a two-faced approach will allow us to go even further than the Senate amendment, to reduce ambiguity, to ensure there is even more inclusiveness, and to take into consideration the rights of trans or two-spirited women? Could the member also expand on why it is so important , to take the time to get it right in the second phase to ensure we do not end up with more litigation and more women being denied their rights?

Motions in AmendmentIndian ActGovernment Orders

5:20 p.m.

Liberal

Yvonne Jones Liberal Labrador, NL

Madam Speaker, if the legislation, which addresses the charter issues outlined in the Descheneaux decision, is not passed before the date that has been struck by the court, the practical implication will be that these provisions will then become inoperative within Canada, as the registrar will not be in a position to register people on the provisions found to be non-charter compliant.

As well, to the member's other question, going into stage two allows us to do full consultation to deal with all the other discriminatory pieces that are in the Indian Act and to correct them in a proper manner, with proper input from people.

Motions in AmendmentIndian ActGovernment Orders

5:20 p.m.

Conservative

David Yurdiga Conservative Fort McMurray—Cold Lake, AB

Madam Speaker, I have been a member of the House since 2014. In that time as MP, I have seen two different governments and served on three different committees. In all that time, I have never seen a bill studied and pre-studied as many times as Bill S-3. I am not sure how the government will handle phase two, considering how Bill S-3 is turning out.

Many Canadians believe the Indian Act is a good document, meant to help the indigenous people of our country. What they do not realize is how destructive, toxic, and racist this document truly is.

The Indian Act is present in the everyday lives of most indigenous Canadians, often governing their education, health care, and every service that really matters to average Canadians. With this power, the government could do a lot of good across our nation for most vulnerable people in our society. Despite the potential and outstanding recommendations of indigenous communities across the country, I have rarely heard anything good about Bill S-3 without the amendments.

When I joined the Standing Committee on Indigenous and Northern Affairs, I was joined by many new members of Parliament. Many of these members came from backgrounds and regions where indigenous knowledge was not as common. To fill the gap, the committee heard from experts across the country.

The Indian Act controls all aspects of aboriginal lives, with limitations on social, traditional, and economic activities. I can say with confidence that the majority of indigenous people across the country want either major revisions to the Indian Act or want it scrapped entirely so we can build a new solution from the ground up, with thorough consultations along the way.

When I joined the Standing Committee on Indigenous and Northern Affairs, it was my hope that I would have the ability to right some of the wrongs the Indian Act created. Bill S-3 seemed like an opportunity to do that when our committee began studying the issues almost a year ago

. When the committee began studying Bill S-3, it was clear that the government was in a rush. It had to meet a looming February 3 deadline, imposed by the Superior Court of Quebec after the government lost the Descheneaux v. Canada case. The case revolved around Indian Act discrimination against women.

What many people do not know is that the Indian Act does not categorize all aboriginals the same way. The government registry differentiates between status Indians, by categorizing them as either 6(1) or 6(2). Before 1985, people could lose their status when they married, depending on gender. Even with the changes, there were outstanding issues. This creates a situation where some cousins would have status while others did not, even though each person had one status parent and one non-status parent.

Descheneaux v. Canada arose because even with the changes in 1985, the Indian Act still robbed people of status due to sex discrimination before 1985. In the Stéphane Descheneaux case, his grandmother had lost her status by marrying a non-indigenous man in 1935 and because his mother was not status, he was not a status Indian either. If we replaced his grandmother with a grandfather, Mr. Descheneaux would be a status Indian today.

Descheneaux v. Canada also brought up the case of Susan and Tammy Yantha, which the Calgary law blog outlined as an issue created by “The version of the Indian Act in force in 1954 held that illegitimate daughters of Status Indian men and non-Status Indian women would not have Status, while illegitimate sons would have 6(1) Status.”

It was clear to the Superior Court of Quebec that changing the sex of someone in both these stories to male would mean they would have a very different relationship with Indigenous and Northern Affairs because they would be status Indian and fully entitled to the benefits that had been withheld from them.

Therefore, this was a violation of section 15 of the charter, which states:

Every individual is equal before and under the law and has the right to the equal protection and equal benefit of the law without discrimination and, in particular, without discrimination based on race, national or ethnic origin, colour, religion, sex, age or mental or physical disability.

The Indian Act is still enforcing discrimination based on sex, which is unconstitutional. Imagine if this rule were applied to being a Canadian citizen. I can assure that this would be resolved quickly. We would not need pre-study after pre-study. We would get it done immediately.

When the committee met first with Indigenous and Northern Affairs officials, the officials described the case and what the bill addressed: differential treatment of first cousins whose grandmother lost status due to marriage to a non-Indian when the marriage occurred before April 17, 1985; differential treatment of women who were born out of wedlock of Indian fathers between September 4, 1951, and April 17,1985; and differential treatment of minor children compared to their adult or married siblings who were born of Indian parents or of an Indian mother but lost entitlement to Indian status because their mother married a non-Indian after their birth between September 4, 1951, and April 17, 1985.

The assistant deputy minister of the resolution and individual affairs sector, Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development, said that this was just one part of a two-phase process that would take up to 18 months to complete. She also said that the court deadline did “not allow for sufficient time to conduct meaningful consultations”. Even though the department had not entered into meaningful consultations, the deputy minister, when asked if the bill actually did what it claimed to do—eliminate sex-based inequities in registration—said that she was confident.

The next witness was Stéphane Descheneaux, the plaintiff in the case. Right off the bat, he made it clear that he had first heard of the bill only two weeks before appearing at committee. In that short amount of time, he and others had already identified apparent flaws in the legislation.

I have heard the government lecture about consulting for hours. The Prime Minister has shaken many hands and signed a variety of documents with indigenous people across the country. He often followed up these events by repeating that he is focused on a nation-to-nation relationship and consulting. Bill S-3, to me, is an example of a bill that indigenous people should have been part of during its drafting. If the government had spent—

Motions in AmendmentIndian ActGovernment Orders

5:30 p.m.

NDP

The Assistant Deputy Speaker NDP Carol Hughes

Unfortunately, I have to stop the speaker at this point. However, the member for Fort McMurray—Cold Lake will have three minutes to finish his speech when this is back before the House, which will be later on today.

It being 5:30 p.m., the House will now proceed to the consideration of private members' business as listed on today's Order Paper.

[For continuation of proceedings see part B]

[Continuation of proceedings from part A]

Canadian Jewish Heritage MonthPrivate Members' Business

5:30 p.m.

Liberal

Michael Levitt Liberal York Centre, ON

moved that Bill S-232, An Act respecting Canadian Jewish Heritage Month, be read the second time and referred to a committee.

Madam Speaker, it is a great honour to be here today as we consider Bill S-232, an act respecting Canadian Jewish heritage month, and I am honoured to be the sponsor of this bill in the House.

I want to acknowledge Senator Linda Frum, who has partnered with me in introducing this bill, which received unanimous support in the other place. I hope today to convince members of the chamber to give it the same enthusiastic support.

I want to particularly thank the hon. members for Thornhill and Esquimalt—Saanich—Sooke for their strong multipartisan support of this bill. I also want to take a moment to recognize the efforts of my friend and mentor, the Hon. Irwin Cotler, whose tireless work as a defender of human rights is a badge of honour for the Canadian Jewish community. Professor Cotler originally introduced the substance of this bill as a motion in 2015. As I stand here today, I want to dedicate my efforts in bringing this bill before the House to Irwin Cotler's honour.

Aaron Hart, widely regarded as the first Jewish Canadian, settled in Trois-Rivières, Quebec, in 1760. In the more than 250 years since then, Jewish Canadians have been deeply involved in building this wonderful country that we are also privileged to call home. Whether coming to Canada in search of economic opportunity, freedom from persecution, or in service to the crown, Jewish Canadians from St. John's to Victoria to Yellowknife have played an active role in the unfolding Canadian story.

The early Jewish immigrants came predominantly from western and central Europe, followed in the late 19th century by increasing numbers of eastern Europeans. Approximately 20,000 Holocaust survivors made it to Canada, followed by Jewish refugees fleeing from the Middle East and North Africa. Throughout the 1970s and 1980s, Jewish immigration from North Africa, particularly Morocco, brought many francophone Sephardic Jews to Quebec. This group is now a large portion of Montreal's Jewish population and a small but vibrant part of Toronto's Jewish community, including la Communauté Juive Marocaine de Toronto in my own riding.

Beginning in 1990, there was a significant Jewish migration to Canada from the Soviet Union, including the Russian Jewish community. Canada is home to nearly 60,000 Russian-speaking Jews, a thriving community represented by institutions like Toronto's Jewish Russian Community Centre. In 1983, my mother Edna and I left our home in Scotland to embark on, as she explained at the time, a great adventure. She brought me to Canada to build a better life and future for us both. Knowing barely a soul, we settled in Toronto because she knew there was a thriving Jewish community that would welcome us and provide us with the support we needed.

I am a proud Canadian, I am honoured to represent the people of York Centre in this House, and I am a proud Scottish Jew, a member of a small but mighty clan whose tartan I proudly wear here today. In many ways, the diversity of Jewish Canadians mirrors the mosaic of our broader Canadian society, each of us bringing with us our own customs and traditions and making Canada even better because of it.

Today I stand in this house as the member of Parliament for York Centre. I stand on the shoulders of the dedicated, brave, and committed Jewish men and women who paved the way before me. It is in their merit that I encourage all members of this House to support this bill.

One of the most inspirational Jewish Canadians for me was the Hon. David Croll, who served as the Liberal member of Parliament representing the riding of Toronto—Spadina for a decade following World War II before being appointed Canada's first Jewish senator. Mr. Croll came to Canada when he was six years old, his family fleeing the pogroms of czarist Russia. Through hard work selling newspapers and polishing shoes, he was able to put himself through law school. In 1930, at the height of the Great Depression, Croll was elected mayor of Windsor, the first Jewish mayor in Ontario, where he instituted welfare programs for the jobless and the poor. Croll became a member of the provincial Parliament in 1934, where he served as Minister of Labour and Minister of Public Welfare, the first Jewish Canadian to be a minister of the crown.

In the first days of the Second World War, Mr. Croll enlisted with the Essex Scottish, one of more than 17,000 Jewish Canadians who answered the call to serve.

As a federal parliamentarian, Croll championed a range of social issues, from health care to pensions, from tax credits for the poor to prohibiting discrimination.

One of his greatest achievements, in my view, was in pushing for the opening of Canada's immigration regime. Between 1933 and 1948, under Canada's notorious “none is too many” policy, only 5,000 Holocaust refugees were admitted to Canada—the fewest of any western country. The most egregious example of this misguided policy happened in 1939 when Canada turned away the MS St. Louis. There were more than 900 Jewish refugees on board, seeking sanctuary here in Canada. They were turned away and forced to return to Europe, where 254 died in the Holocaust. We cannot turn away from this uncomfortable truth and Canada's part in it.

In 1949, however, Canada admitted 11,000 Jews—more than any other country, other than Israel.

Nate Leipciger is one of the survivors who came to Canada. Seventy-three years after having survived the lowest point of his life, Nate returned to Auschwitz, this time as the highest point in his life. He came back by invitation to guide and teach his Prime Minister, the head of government of his adopted country, about the horrors he endured and the lessons we must never forget. He described his return to Auschwitz last year with the Prime Minister as “triumphant”. He said, “They gave me a one-way ticket, but I returned with my wife, daughter and granddaughter and the prime minister.” He came full circle, from dehumanized to sharing some of the most poignant human moments, shedding tears with the Prime Minister.

We as Canadians must remember the lessons taught by history from this awful period. Monuments like the national Holocaust memorial, soon to be opened in Ottawa, and local ones like the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial at Earl Bales Park in Toronto form part of the legacy of survivors and their families. They came to Canada and became Canadians in their own right. Their stories are our stories as Canadians.

I am proud that my riding became home to so many Holocaust survivors, emerging from the ashes of Europe to begin building new, vibrant lives here in Canada.

Pola and Zalman Pila were two of them. They both survived the death camps and death marches and were reunited after liberation, the sole survivors of their families. They arrived in Toronto soon after, penniless, not speaking English, a married couple with an infant son. With little formal education, they worked day and night to make a life for their children and later their grandchildren. They took the shattered remnants of their lives and with faith, love, and determination built an inspiring future. Pola delivered food right to the doorsteps of those in need, visited the sick, and provided financial assistance to all who asked. Her contributions and the contributions of Jewish women to Canada have been tremendous.

Let us consider Bobbie Rosenfeld. She was known throughout the 1920s as the superwoman of ladies' hockey. In 1924 she helped form the Ladies Ontario Hockey Association, serving as its president until 1939. Rosenfeld won gold and silver medals at the 1928 Summer Olympics after setting multiple Canadian track and field records. She was also a trailblazer off the field, a strong advocate for women in sports. In 1950, Rosenfeld was voted Canada's female athlete of the half-century by The Canadian Press, which awards the Bobbie Rosenfeld Trophy to Canada's top female athlete every year.

I could go on listing the myriad contributions of Jewish-Canadian women like Tillie Taylor, the first woman to be appointed as a provincial magistrate in Saskatchewan, or Constance Glube, appointed the first female chief justice in Canada on the Supreme Court of Nova Scotia in 1980, or Justice Rosalie Abella, who was born in a German IDP camp and became the first Jewish woman to sit on the Supreme Court of Canada.

However, it is not just the individual achievements that should be celebrated. Indeed, the Jewish contribution to Canada has often been greatest when it has come as the product of communal action and furtherance of a shared purpose.

In 1868, just one year after Confederation, the Toronto Hebrew Ladies Sick and Benevolent Society was established. With no paid staff and a budget of only a few hundred dollars, these visionary women built the foundation of what would become one of the leading family service agencies in North America, Jewish Family and Child. Based in York Centre, I have had the privilege of seeing first-hand how JF&C continues to have a positive impact on the lives of thousands of vulnerable Canadians from every background. JF&C upholds the Jewish value of tikkun olam, the idea that individuals are responsible not only for their own welfare but for the welfare of society at large.

It is one of several inspiring Jewish organizations in my riding that champion this ideal including B'nai Brith Canada, which can trace its roots to 1875; the National Council of Jewish Women of Canada, the first Jewish women's organization in Canada founded in 1897; and Canadian Hadassah-WIZO and the UJA Federation of Greater Toronto, which are both celebrating 100 years of life-changing contributions to Canadian society.

These stories have played out in communities big and small across Canada. I am certain that every member of the House from every province and territory can point to the role that Jewish Canadians play in their communities. As celebrated as these stories are, a darker undercurrent of Canadian Jewish heritage must also be acknowledged. Canada has sadly not been immune to anti-Semitism, a scourge that remains stubbornly in our midst.

On June 13, Statistics Canada released hate crimes data for 2015. Jewish Canadians were once again the most targeted religious minority in the country. As a Jewish Canadian, I find this data to be doubly concerning. Throughout history, the level of anti-Semitism has been a fairly accurate barometer of the overall condition and health of a society. An attack against Jews or any minority is an attack on everyone.

In the face of this persistent problem, we must join together, and state unequivocally that when it comes to incidents of hate and discrimination in Canada, we cannot abide hate and prejudice being targeted against any group. Jewish Canadians have always been at the forefront of standing up and fighting against hate and discrimination.

Consider Canada's first Jewish parliamentarian, Ezekiel Hart, who in 1832 was instrumental in Quebec becoming the first jurisdiction in the British Empire to accord full political rights to Jews, 26 years before Great Britain. This commitment to universal equality, and the fight against hate and discrimination remains a core priority for Jewish Canadians and for me personally, standing here today as a result of Ezekiel Hart's activism.

It being pride month, I want to recognize the efforts of Kulanu Toronto, the voice of the Jewish LGBTQ community in Toronto. I had the honour of attending its pride shabbat dinner last week, a celebration of the Jewish LGBTQ community. This pride month, we can also celebrate Bill C-16, yesterday receiving royal assent affirming and protecting gender identity and expression under the Canadian Human Rights Act, and under hate crime sections of the Criminal Code. I am proud of the active role the Jewish community played in advancing this important legislation. The Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs served on the steering committee of Trans Equality Canada, a coalition that has worked tirelessly to see this initiative succeed.

The stories I have shared here today are Canadian stories. The values they reflect are Canadian values. The enactment of Canadian Jewish heritage month will ensure that the historic and ongoing contributions of Jewish Canadians are recognized, shared, and celebrated across this great country, cementing their legacy and inspiring future generations to build a better Canada. I encourage my hon. colleagues in the House to support this bill.

Canadian Jewish Heritage MonthPrivate Members' Business

5:45 p.m.

NDP

Brian Masse NDP Windsor West, ON

Mr. Speaker, Jewish heritage month is important for Windsor and Essex County. The Right Hon. Herb Gray served in my seat in this place. He was in fact the longest serving member of Parliament. Designating someone as Right Honourable has only been done a few times and Herb Gray did receive that distinguished designation. He also served as a deputy prime minister of Canada.

Education is one of the most important elements of this Canadian Jewish heritage month. Unfortunately, the reality is that we are still seized in this country with some issues with respect to anti-Semitism.

I would like the member to highlight some of the things that could be done during Canadian Jewish heritage month. It would be a good opportunity to focus on anti-Semitism. I used to work on behalf of youth at risk and multicultural youth. In a diverse community like Windsor, we still sadly experience some anti-Semitism. Sadly enough, there are still elements of our society who are anti-Semitic.

I thank the member for his contributions. The bill could be very successful in providing knowledge to people about anti-Semitism in our communities all across Canada.

Canadian Jewish Heritage MonthPrivate Members' Business

5:45 p.m.

Liberal

Michael Levitt Liberal York Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. member for his reflection on these issues. It is true, education is one of the most important elements of this proposed Canadian Jewish heritage month. It would provide an opportunity for communities across this country to reflect on the importance of and to reflect on the lessons from the Jewish community.

As I said in my speech, we cannot hide from anti-Semitism. It is there. Sadly, many of those who survived the worst, the Holocaust survivors that came to Canada, are dwindling in numbers, which makes it ever more important that we continue to teach, and that we continue to pass on the lessons of those survivors to our young Canadians to make sure they understand that hate and prejudice against Jews and against any minority is completely unacceptable. This month will certainly be a platform to make sure that happens across the country.

Canadian Jewish Heritage MonthPrivate Members' Business

5:45 p.m.

Green

Elizabeth May Green Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

Mr. Speaker, I want to let my friend know that I am pleased to see this piece of legislation come forward. I hope it will have, and I believe it will have, unanimous support in this place.

I was trying to search my archives to see if I could find proof of this, but I know that the synagogue at Whitney Pier near Sydney, Nova Scotia, is one of the oldest in Canada, if not the oldest. We have rich traditions, and a societal contribution that is absolutely disproportionate to the number of people within the Jewish community. It is experienced right across Canada.

I want to add that to my colleague's list of communities where the roots go deep, to around 1890. It is well over 100 years that there has been a synagogue and an active community in industrial Cape Breton where I used to live, and certainly on southern Vancouver Island where I live now.

Canadian Jewish Heritage MonthPrivate Members' Business

5:45 p.m.

Liberal

Michael Levitt Liberal York Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. member for highlighting yet another small community in Canada that has a rich Jewish tradition and legacy. That speaks to the heart of this legislation.

This legislation, which is proposing a Jewish heritage month across Canada, would give voice to all of the small communities that have rich traditions of Jewish activism, Jewish community leaders or businesses, or restaurants. It will give them a platform on which to be heard. We hear the stories from the major centres of Jewish life in Canada, but there are so many more that are untold. This legislation will provide an opportunity for communities across the country to be heard, and to add to the importance of Jewish heritage in Canada.

Canadian Jewish Heritage MonthPrivate Members' Business

5:50 p.m.

Conservative

David Sweet Conservative Flamborough—Glanbrook, ON

Mr. Speaker, it is an honour to speak in the House today regarding Bill S-232. I would like to commend my colleague from the other place, Senator Linda Frum, for her work on this, as well as my colleague across the way, the hon. member for York Centre.

In 1939, the MS St. Louis departed from Hamburg, Germany, with 937 passengers on board, most of whom were Jewish refugees fleeing the Nazi regime. The St. Louis set sail for Cuba, but upon arrival in Havana, these refugees were denied entry. Not to be deterred, Captain Gustav Schröder changed course for Florida, hoping to find refuge for his passengers in the United States, but it was not to be found.

The inaction of the Americans prompted a courageous group of Canadian clergy and academics to urge the Canadian government to offer safe passage to the St. Louis. After all, Canada was just a two-day journey from the Florida coast. However, William Lyon Mackenzie King allowed himself to be persuaded by one high-level, anti-Semitic bureaucrat, rather than the voices of the Canadian people. To our great shame, the ship was turned away, fanning the flames of the insanity of Adolf Hitler, who rationalized that if the rest of the world did not want to help the Jews, then it was up to him to solve his so-called insane Jewish problem.

In the end, some of those refugees were granted permission to board vessels travelling to the United Kingdom. The remaining 620 refugees remained aboard the St. Louis and were carried to mainland Europe. Researchers at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum did a historical trace on the fate of each passenger. In a summary of its findings, it stated:

Of the 620 St. Louis passengers who returned to continental Europe, we determined that ...254 passengers in Belgium, France and the Netherlands after that date died during the Holocaust. Most of these people were murdered in the killing centers of Auschwitz and Sobibor; the rest died in internment camps, in hiding, or attempting to evade the Nazis.

I remind the House of this blemish in our history to highlight how far we have come as a nation in our relationship with the Jewish people. Canada has long abandoned its anti-Semitic immigration policies of the second world war. Today, Canada is home to some 400,000 Jewish people, the fourth largest Jewish population in the world. Only Israel, the United States, and France have larger populations. Canada has indeed come a long way.

Tonight, we are deliberating on Bill S-232, a bill that enjoys multi-party support, whereby the month of May, in each and every year, would be designated Canadian Jewish heritage month. When this legislation reaches royal assent, Canadians will have much to celebrate in May 2018.

The contribution Jewish people have made to Canadian culture is profoundly broad. The fingerprints of the Jewish community can be found in nearly every aspect of Canadian life. I could not possibly articulate in the time provided the innumerable accomplishments and contributions the Jewish community has made to the fabric of Canadian culture, but consider this as a sampling.

In business, Jewish Canadians have proven to be more than capable job creators. Shoppers Drug Mart, Reitmans clothing, Calgary's Smithbilt Hats, ALDO shoe company, Sony stores, Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts, and the First City Financial Corporation were all founded by Canadians of Jewish heritage.

In arts and entertainment, Canada has been fortunate to have so many talented artists and performers of Jewish heritage. To name a few: actor William Shatner, most famous for his role in Star Trek; Lorne Greene of Bonanza; the game show host Howie Mandel, of Deal or No Deal; Monty Hall of Let's Make A Deal; Lorne Michaels, who created Saturday Night Live; and the Mirvish family and John Hirsch, giants in live theatre production. I wish I could name Henry Winkler, but unfortunately, he is not Canadian, but I just love the Fonz so much.

In literature, we have been blessed by the words of novelist Mordecai Richler, playwright Ted Allan, and poets Leonard Cohen, Irving Layton, and A.M. Klein.

Musical talents include composers Louis Applebaum and Srul Glick; opera singer Pauline DonaIda; singer-songwriter Corey Hart; Steven Page, former lead singer of the Barenaked Ladies; and Geddy Lee, lead vocalist of the rock band Rush. Of course, we cannot forget about world-renowned rapper Drake.

In medicine and science, the late Dr. Mark Wainberg and Dr. Éric A. Cohen have been regarded as pre-eminent HIV-AIDS researchers. Victoria Kaspi is a well-known physicist in the field of astrophysics, and Rudolph Arthur Marcus received the Nobel Prize in Chemistry for his work on the theory of electron transfer reactions in chemical systems.

In law, five justices of Jewish heritage have served on the bench of the Supreme Court.

In politics, my friend and former colleague on the Subcommittee on International Human Rights, the hon. Irwin Cotler, who my colleague mentioned earlier, served as a federal justice minister and has risen to the defence of prisoners of conscience around the world, including Nelson Mandela. Today, at the age of 77, he continues to raise concerns about the fivefold threat presented by Iran and provides legal defence to Leopoldo Lopez, the opposition political leader in Venezuela. The last federal finance minister to table a balanced budget was yet another Jewish Canadian, the hon. Joe Oliver.

The Jewish community in Canada and all Canadians can be proud of all these accomplishments, and a whole lot more. On a personal note, since first being elected to this House more than 11 years ago, I have had the distinct privilege of having a front row seat in a vibrant and active Jewish community in Hamilton. For instance, Madeleine Levy has been a fierce advocate in our community and schools, educating students on the Holocaust and teaching tolerance and acceptance.

Rabbi Baskin is a thoughtful and accomplished author and a key donor to McMaster University library, having donated 1,000 books and manuscripts and 200 pieces of art, as well.

Rabbi Daniel Green oversees Adas Israel and the Hamilton Hebrew Academy and acts as the wise father figure to the broader Jewish community. Dr. Larry Levin is the president of the Canadian Dental Association, having previously served in the same role at the provincial level. Dr. Lorne Finkelstein has made extraordinary efforts to fight racism in Hamilton, to advocate for patients, and to save young lives internationally.

Arthur Weisz, a holocaust survivor, founded the successful property management company Effort Trust. Though Arthur passed away in 2013, his legacy of successful business is being carried on by his son, Tom, who generously donates his own money while raising funds for many worthy causes at home and in Israel, including the Jewish National Fund.

Knowing first-hand the contributions of the Jewish community in Hamilton and across the country, it was easy to support a proposed project driven by Tova and Jim Lynch called the Canadian Jewish Experience. This project has officially become part of the Canada 150 celebrations. It highlights many of the accomplishments I mentioned, and many more. I encourage members of this House and Canadians visiting Ottawa for the sesquicentennial celebrations to stop by the exhibit.

With a view of history, all Canadians should be proud that Jewish people have been able to come to our nation and thrive, yet we have a long way to go. Bill S-232 is before Parliament against the backdrop of rising anti-Semitism, both in Canada and abroad. B'nai Brith has issued a report that shows that anti-Semitic events in Canada last year were the highest on record. As my colleague has said, this is unacceptable.

The adoption of this legislation will send the message to all Canadians that we are committed to a diverse, multicultural, and tolerant society, where Canadians, regardless of ethnicity or religion, are able to thrive. As I have said many times, Canada is a place where members of one faith can live peaceably beside members of other faiths and where members of one race can live peaceably beside members of other races.

With that in mind, I would like to return to the story of the MS St. Louis. In 2011, the Conservative government supported the efforts of the Canadian Jewish Congress to create a memorial called the Wheel of Conscience. This monument was installed at Pier 21 in Halifax to remind Canadians of the underlying attitudes that led to the St. Louis being turned away.

The memorial is a polished stainless steel wheel that incorporates four intermeshing gears, each showing a word to represent factors of exclusion: anti-Semitism, xenophobia, racism, and hatred. Inscribed on the back of the wheel is the passenger list, including the names of those who died at the hands of the Nazis.

Let that monument be a reminder of how far we have come. Truly, as a country, we have gone from darkness to light. Let us continue to build on that success and support Bill S-232. May God bless you, Mr. Speaker, may God bless our Jewish community, and may God bless Canada.

Canadian Jewish Heritage MonthPrivate Members' Business

6 p.m.

NDP

François Choquette NDP Drummond, QC

Mr. Speaker, I have the pleasure and the honour to rise today in the House to speak to Bill S-232. If it passes, as I think it will, it will declare the month of May as Canadian Jewish Heritage Month. This is a very important bill.

New Democrats strongly support multiculturalism and Canada’s unparalleled celebration of heritage, as well as the contributions of all the various ethnic and religious groups. Today, many cities and towns across the country have significant Jewish-Canadian communities that celebrate their culture and history. Consequently, the NDP supports granting this heritage and the events taking place every May all the national recognition they deserve. Canada’s rich cultural mosaic is one of the assets that make Canada what it is today, constituting a great strength that it should be very proud of.

According to the 2011 census, nearly 310,000 Canadians from coast to coast have identified themselves as having full or partial Jewish ancestry. The largest groups live in and around Toronto, Montreal, Vancouver, Ottawa, and Winnipeg. Jewish people have lived in Canada for over 250 years. The first recorded Jewish newcomer settled in Trois-Rivières, Quebec, in 1760. Many Jewish immigrants came to Canada between 1880 and 1920, arriving mostly from eastern European countries such as Romania, Poland, and Lithuania.

Immigration restrictions imposed after 1924 made it difficult for Jewish people to come to Canada, unfortunately. This situation persisted until after the Second World War. Tragically, few Jewish people were admitted to Canada during the Holocaust because of the immigration policies in place at that time. Since then, Jewish immigration to Canada has been largely tied to political conditions in their home countries.

For example, there was the arrival of Hungarian Jews and Jewish refugees from Egypt and Iraq in the 1950s, Romanian Jews in the 1960s, Jews from the Soviet Union in the 1970s, and North African Jews in the 1970s and 1980s. As a result, the Jewish-Canadian community and the culture itself are incredibly diverse across communities.

In 2006, the United States proclaimed the month of May as a designated time to celebrate the contributions of the American Jewish community. In 2012, Ontario declared May as Jewish heritage month. May is also the month that Israel celebrates Israeli Independence Day.

Since we are celebrating Jewish heritage, I would like to mark the occasion by recognizing the contributions of three important Jewish Canadians. Let us begin with the artistic, musical, and poetic spheres. Leonard Cohen was born in Westmount, Quebec, on September 21, 1934, into a family of Russian and Polish heritage that was part of Montreal's Jewish community.

In adolescence, Leonard Cohen developed a keen interest in writing, especially poetry. It was also during this critical time that the young emerging artist first learned the basics of guitar. While he was studying at McGill University, Leonard Cohen met the poet and English professor Louis Dudek, who in 1956 helped him publish his very first collection of poetry, Let Us Compare Mythologies.

Leonard Cohen found tremendous success in the 1970s. In 1977, he released Death of a Ladies’ Man, an album produced by Phil Spector with contributions from Bob Dylan and Allen Ginsberg. Musically, his 1984 album Various Positionswas a major turning point in this Montreal icon’s career. It includes several of his best-known songs, such as Hallelujah and Dance Me to the End of Love.

Leonard Cohen received numerous awards and honours throughout his prolific career. He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1991 before being named a Companion of the Order of Canada in 2003.

Léa Roback is another important figure in Canada’s heritage. She was born in Montreal on November 3, 1903. She grew up in Beauport, near Quebec City, where her parents owned a general store. She spoke Yiddish at home and English and French outside. Being trilingual meant that she could switch freely between languages.

Léa Roback’s family returned to Montreal when she was 14. Two years later, Ms. Roback began working in a factory, where she became aware of the inequality between Montreal’s wealthy anglophone families and the mostly francophone and Jewish working class.

In 1936, Thérèse Casgrain, another great Canadian feminist legendary for her work fighting for women’s suffrage and for founding the Voice of Women movement, asked Léa Roback to join in her fight. At that time, Ms. Roback was active in the International Ladies’ Garment Workers’ Union, which led the struggle to improve working conditions in that industry.

Ms. Roback was a social justice and human rights advocate for much of her life. Ahead of her time, she was renowned for her progressive work firmly rooted in solidarity. She was involved in numerous Montreal organizations, including Quebec Aid for the Partially Sighted and other humanitarian and feminist groups.

In 1991, Ms. Roback’s eventful life was featured in a documentary by Sophie Bissonnette entitled Des lumières dans la grande noirceur A vision in the darkness in English—with Les Productions Contre-Jour. Her interviews with Madeleine Parent were published by Nicole Lacelle with Les Éditions du remue-ménage in 1988.

She is another great Jewish Canadian who has shaped our heritage.

In closing, I would like to mention a major Jewish figure who has made his mark on Canadian economic history. Sam Steinberg was a Hungarian-born Canadian businessman and philanthropist. His determination and vision turned his mother's tiny grocery store into Steinberg's supermarkets, at one time the largest grocery chain in Quebec. Sam Steinberg not only became a giant in his field, he was also the head of Ivanhoe and Pharmaprix. In 1974, the National Film Board even made a documentary about him entitled After Mr. Sam.

At one time, the chain was so popular that when Quebeckers went grocery shopping they would say that they were going to do their “steinberg”. Even though they may not necessarily have been going to a Steinberg store, the expression was rooted into Quebec consciousness.

Sam Steinberg and his wife Helen Roth were great philanthropists. They contributed to a host of charitable causes, including the construction of the Judaism Pavilion at Expo 67, the Helen and Sam Steinberg Foundation's Geriatric Day Hospital, and the Sam Steinberg Award for Young Jewish Entrepreneur of the Year, given by the Jewish Chamber of Commerce of Montreal.

This shows how many great Canadians have made their mark on the history of Jewish heritage. That is why I am happy to support this bill that seeks to have the month of May henceforth known as Jewish Heritage Month across Canada.

Canadian Jewish Heritage MonthPrivate Members' Business

6:10 p.m.

Charlottetown P.E.I.

Liberal

Sean Casey LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Canadian Heritage

Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure for me to rise and speak to Bill S-232, recognizing the month of May each year as Canadian Jewish heritage month.

I will be very brief in my remarks as I know that many of my colleagues wish to speak on this bill, and my role here today is to simply put the government's position on the record.

I would first like to thank the member for York Centre for sponsoring this bill in the House of Commons. I also thank him for his hard work on behalf of his constituents.

Our government supports this bill since it gives Canadians the opportunity to reflect on and to recognize the many contributions of Canada’s Jewish community and the important role it plays across Canada.

Canadian Jewish heritage month will provide an important opportunity for all Canadians to reflect on the many and varied contributions of Jewish Canadians to the fabric of our country, and it will allow for people to share in and learn about their culture.

In conclusion, I would like to reiterate our government's support of this bill, and I hope that all members of this House will offer their support to this important piece of legislation.

Canadian Jewish Heritage MonthPrivate Members' Business

6:10 p.m.

Conservative

Garnett Genuis Conservative Sherwood Park—Fort Saskatchewan, AB

Mr. Speaker, it is an honour for me to rise today to speak in support of Bill S-232, a bill that would establish Jewish heritage month here in Canada.

As is always the case with these heritage month proposals, there is far more to be said than can be covered in 10 minutes, but that is especially true, given the length and breadth of Jewish history. Jews are one of the oldest people groups with a relatively continuous identity.

The impact of Jews on the world is, I think, most evident in what we call the Abrahamic faiths. The world's major Abrahamic faiths, which all come from a Jewish root, claim a majority of the world's population as adherents, and in many of these cases seeking a deeper understanding of faith leads individual adherents to actually seek a deeper understanding of that faith's Jewish roots.

Sometimes we speak of faith or religion as if it were a distinct and separate domain of activity, but the reality is that religion is often very much intertwined with other aspects of life. Through the spread of all of the Abrahamic faiths, Jewish cultural, social, and political ideas have also been spread throughout the world. Jewish ideas are at the root of many if not most modern polities and cultures.

Jewish religious theologizing puts its particular emphasis on reason, logic, and debate. The Jewish intellectual tradition, through Jewish religion but also quite directly, clearly infuses all aspects of western religious and intellectual life.

Of course, much can be said about the contributions that Jews have made to the full range of domains of life, natural and social sciences and the arts, as well as the other domains mentioned.

Recognizing the breadth of Jewish history and the impact across cultures and domains, I would like to focus the lion's share of my remarks today on 20th-century Jewish history and the history of my own family.

When I was in Israel last year, as we approached the Holocaust museum, our tour guide told us that Jews are a post-traumatic people. The Jewish community as a whole and individual communities and families in particular live in the shadow of a terrible genocide, the Shoah, in which six million European Jews were killed. That overall number is important, but it is not just a number, it is a collection of individual stories and experiences, experiences of horrors that are unimaginable to many of us.

As most members here know, my grandmother was a Holocaust survivor. She grew up in the Munster area of Germany. She had a Jewish father and a non-Jewish mother. She was never caught by the Nazis. She hid out on farms, away from her family. After the war, she caught up with her father in South America.

My grandmother rarely spoke directly about the horrors she experienced. This is likely typical of many victims of this sort of trauma, but I think it also reflected the mentality of her generation, a generation that was every bit as hopeful and idealistic as my own, but also that did not put a major emphasis on sharing their own experiences. In some ways they were too busy building the future to tell stories about their past. My grandparents would tell us certain things about their lives that they thought would be useful or helpful, and they would not tell us things that they thought were not useful or helpful. They did not feel a need to be known or understood.

Still, some stories came out in different ways. After my grandmother died, my uncle shared a story about a time when, as a child, he and a number of other boys in the neighbourhood were wrestling. He said to the other boy in the offhanded and unserious way that children sometimes do, “I'm going to bash your face in”. My grandmother apparently froze and grabbed him. “Don't ever say that again”, she said, “I saw a man bash another man's face in”.

Last week I spoke at a film screening here on the Hill about the use of rape as a weapon of war. The Nazis created forced brothels during the war, 10 at concentration camps between 1942 and 1945. There was a concern that because of my grandmother's age and complexion, if she were picked up, she would be sent to one of these brothels. Her mother prepared her for that possibility by laying out how she could maximize her chances of survival. Can members think of something so terrible, a mother trying to prepare her young teenage daughter for how to survive the possibility of sexual slavery?

Many Holocaust survivors were reluctant to share their stories, but remembering them and telling their stories is important for a proper understanding of the past and for all of us as we think about how we build a better future. I salute all of those, including my grandmother, who had the courage to share their stories, even in limited or private ways.

What does it mean to say that European Jews and perhaps in some sense all Jews are a post-traumatic people? Living in the shadow of such a terrible event has psychological impacts on victims and on their descendants. It also leaves people with a deeper appreciation of the reality of evil and the need for a strong and consistent response to it.

The descendants of Holocaust survivors are often called second-, third-, or fourth-generation Holocaust survivors themselves, and more is starting to be written and studied about the impacts of these events generations later. In this vein, I would like to quote from a 2015 article in The Guardian, which states:

Trauma research about the impact of the Holocaust on subsequent generations varies; some studies conclude there is no effect of trauma two generations on, while others claim that breast milk of survivors was affected by stress hormones that impacted on the physiology of the next generation. Some in the field of epigenetics say the intergenerational effects of the Holocaust are very pronounced and that the atrocities altered the DNA of victims' descendants, so that they have different stress hormone profiles to their peers.

Psychologist Ruth Barnett, whose Jewish father fled Germany for Shanghai, narrowly escaping the Holocaust, says she has witnessed inherited trauma in some of her clients.

“Constantly talking about events like the gas chambers to grandchildren is a way that traumatized people try to get rid of it... But unless it is processed properly, they make even more anxiety for themselves and other generations.”

My grandmother died of cancer about 10 years ago. As Holocaust survivors die, it is important to remember that the impact of the Holocaust remains, and we must remember these events and ensure that they never happen again.

As I said, these events have left many in the Jewish community with a deeper appreciation of the reality of evil and the need for a strong and consistent response to it. While fighting for the rights of Jews throughout the world, Jewish people and organizations have been and continue to be at the forefront of the fight for the rights and dignity of all people. One prominent example of this is Canada's Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs, or CIJA, which actively encourages its members to be involved in the fight for international human rights and which assists other ethnocultural communities involved in human rights advocacy.

As a Christian myself, I would like to particularly note the advocacy of CIJA for Christians facing persecution around the world. Its website notes, “Experts say Christians are the most persecuted religious group in the world. CIJA and Rabbis across the country are calling on Canada to take decisive action to help Christians in the Middle East and Africa.” This is notable, in part, because many past acts of anti-Semitism were committed by those claiming, falsely, in my judgment, but claiming nonetheless, to be motivated by their Christian faith. The present eagerness of the Jewish community here and elsewhere to advocate for the Christian community in spite of that history is a great testament to the commitment of this community to standing up for universal human rights.

I would add, parenthetically, that it is high time we heed CIJA's call and finally take action on these issues. Today, many countries in the Middle East, which had long-standing Christian and Jewish communities, have lost their Jewish communities and are now rapidly losing their Christian communities. A strong presence in Asia and Africa are also part of Jewish heritage, but many of those communities have now disappeared.

Of course, a key part of the Jewish story in the 20th and 21st centuries was the creation and continuing vibrancy of the Jewish state of Israel. In the state of Israel as well, we see the impact of the Holocaust. Because of the experience of the Holocaust, Israelis will wisely never give up the means to protect themselves. Israel will always choose survival over popularity, and it would be mad to do otherwise, but Israel has not just survived, it has thrived. It has prospered, inspired the world, and has provided safe harbour for Jews, but also for Bahá’is and other persecuted communities who cannot safely live anywhere else. It has protected the fundamental rights and dignity of all its people.

Resilience shines brightly through Jewish heritage. There have been successive attempts at extermination, and yet these people now survive and thrive, and continue to give their rich gifts to the world. May God continue to bless Israel and the Jewish people.

Canadian Jewish Heritage MonthPrivate Members' Business

6:20 p.m.

Liberal

Anthony Housefather Liberal Mount Royal, QC

Mr. Speaker, it is an honour and pleasure to rise today to speak in favour of Bill S-232.

Do hon. members know who invented the telephone? I am sure that most of them do. It was Alexander Graham Bell. However, do they know who made the telephone a workable invention? I am not sure that they do. It was a Jewish Canadian named Emile Berliner, who not only made the telephone workable, but also the microphone and created the first gramophone.

How many members know who the first Canadian world figure skating champion was? In 1891, a Montrealer named Louis Rubenstein travelled to St. Petersburg to compete in the first unofficial world figure skating championship. Instead of welcoming him, Mr. Rubenstein was put in prison by the Russians because he was a Jew, but because he carried a letter from his friend, Governor General Lord Stanley, demanding his safe conduct, the British ambassador intervened, he was allowed to compete, and he won the world championship. He returned to Montreal and created the Amateur Skating Association of Canada. He served out the rest of his life as a city councillor in the city of Montreal. These are but two examples of Jewish Canadians who, for the last 280 years, have contributed to the vibrancy of this country and this continent.

Before talking about what Jews have given Canada, I want to talk about what Canada has given Jews.

As a Jewish Canadian, I cannot begin to express how proud I am that Canada is my country, that Quebec is my province, and that I am a Montrealer.

All three of these identities are interchangeable. All three of these identities have led me and generations of my family before me to prosper.

Jews come from a history of persecution across the world, whether in Europe, North Africa, or the Middle East. Country after country has expelled Jews, has caused them to be ghettoized, and has made them wear symbols to show that they are different. However, our experience in North America, in Canada and the United States, where we arrived as equals, where we arrived and were welcomed, where we arrived and there was freedom of religion, has made Canada what my ancestors called the goldene medina, which means the golden state. That was the United States and Canada. That is why generation after generation of Jews fleeing persecution in the 19th century and 20th century came here, to create our community of more than 400,000 Jewish Canadians who call Canada home today.

I thank Canada for what it has done for me and my community. The reason we love this country and are so patriotic is that it gave us opportunities no other country ever did. Therefore, Jewish Canadian heritage month would not only celebrate the contributions of Jewish Canadians, but for Jewish Canadians it would also celebrate the country that gave us such enormous opportunity.

Contrary to what many people believe, Jewish Canadians were among the earliest immigrants to this country after our indigenous peoples. Even in the history of New France, there were Jews who came here. There was a story of Esther Brandeau who came here dressed as a man and eventually was expelled back to France because she refused to convert to Catholicism, and New France was closed to people who were not Catholic.

Jews were always part of the landscape. In 1740, a gentleman named George Hart settled in Montreal, coming from New England. He was the first Jew to settle in Quebec, not Aaron Hart, who arrived in 1760 with the British army. Quebec, Lower Canada, was the first jurisdiction in the world to grant Jews full political and civil rights in 1832, under the stewardship of Louis-Joseph Papineau.

The Jewish community contributed a great deal to the early days in my city of Montreal. David David was one of the first governors of the Bank of Montreal and sat on the first board. A gentleman named Jesse Joseph was the president of the first Montreal Gas Company, which later became known as the Montreal Light, Heat and Power Company, and he created the Montreal Telegraph Company. Moses Hayes was the chief of police in Montreal in the 1850s and 1860s.