House of Commons Hansard #188 of the 42nd Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was cannabis.


Criminal CodeRoutine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.

Vancouver Granville B.C.


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

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-51, An Act to amend the Criminal Code and the Department of Justice Act and to make consequential amendments to another Act.

Mr. Speaker, I would like to table at this time, in both official languages, a charter statement related to the bill just tabled, an act to amend the Criminal Code and the Department of Justice Act and to make consequential amendments to another act.

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

Foreign AffairsPetitionsRoutine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.


Pierre-Luc Dusseault NDP Sherbrooke, QC

Mr. Speaker, it is my honour to present an online petition signed by hundreds of people. This petition is about Raïf Badawi, who is imprisoned in Saudi Arabia.

One of the reasons why the government has refused to take action is that Mr. Badawi is not a Canadian citizen. The petitioners therefore call on the government to give him honorary citizenship because they feel it would make more diplomatic resources available to press for his release.

Tax EvasionPetitionsRoutine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.


Pierre-Luc Dusseault NDP Sherbrooke, QC

Mr. Speaker, I also have the honour of presenting a petition signed by hundreds of people from Sherbrooke, who are calling on the government to do more to fight tax evasion and to put an end to penalty-free amnesty deals for tax cheats.

Hundreds of people signed this petition because they want the government to work harder to fight tax evasion. The petition also calls for an end to secret deals, such as the KPMG affair, that give some people preferential treatment and let them off the hook with minimal consequences for very serious actions.

The petitioners are disappointed in the Government of Canada's current measures and want it to do more to fight tax evasion.

Water QualityPetitionsRoutine Proceedings

June 6th, 2017 / 10:10 a.m.


Denis Paradis Liberal Brome—Missisquoi, QC

Mr. Speaker, in the spirit of Environment Week, I rise to present another petition regarding Lake Champlain.

Lake Champlain supplies the entire population of Bedford, in my riding, with drinking water that is supposed to be potable. However, Lake Champlain has a cyanobacteria problem. When it gets hot in the summer, the water is like pea soup. It is terrible, and people are forced to boil their water. We have had a treaty with the United States on boundary waters since 1906.

Budget 2016, which passed here in the House, invested $7.5 million in Lake Champlain and the Richelieu River. People from my region, specifically in Bedford, are calling on the Minister of Foreign Affairs to issue a mandate letter to the International Joint Commission to ensure that a portion of the $7.5 million allocated for flood relief is also used to address Lake Champlain's water quality.

Indigenous AffairsPetitionsRoutine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.


Linda Duncan NDP Edmonton Strathcona, AB

Mr. Speaker, I have a petition from Edmontonians calling on the government to end the discrimination against first nation children. They are calling on the government to comply with the historic Human Rights Tribunal ruling to fund systemic shortfalls in first nation child welfare and to end the systemic discrimination against first nation children.

Hearing Loss in InfantsPetitionsRoutine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.


Peter Julian NDP New Westminster—Burnaby, BC

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise to present a petition signed by nearly 12,000 Canadians online and on paper.

The petition supports an ongoing campaign called Tiny Ears, which is organized by the Hearing Foundation of Canada. It calls on the federal government to put in place a national mandate around early infant screening and intervention.

Thousands of children born in our country every year are deaf or hard of hearing. Therefore, having an early infant screening program would actually assist those children to grow up and have the kind of life they should have in our country.

All children should have the right to a good start in life, so they may enjoy a healthy life with a bright future.

I am hoping that the federal government will respond positively to this petition, which is signed by nearly 12,000 Canadians, to put in place early infant screening in our country.

Immigration, Refugees and CitizenshipPetitionsRoutine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.


Irene Mathyssen NDP London—Fanshawe, ON

Mr. Speaker, as many in this House know, the President of the United States has signed into effect executive orders that prevent refugees and immigrants who have already been accepted by the U.S. from entering the country. That has put in doubt the reunification of families and the ability of immigrants to come to North America. The undersigned of this petition are very upset about the fact that, in addition to that, the United States of America has moved to adopt policies that contravene the 1984 convention against torture and are in violation of the Canada–U.S. safe third country agreement. Therefore, the petitioners call upon the Government of Canada to revoke the designation of the United States of America as a safe third country under the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act until the United States returns to compliance with respect to torture, and to acceptance of immigrants and refugees.

Human RightsPetitionsRoutine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.


Elizabeth May Green Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

Mr. Speaker, I am honoured to rise today to present two petitions.

The first has to do with human rights in China, particularly those of Falun Dafa and Falun Gong practitioners. This petition calls on the Government of Canada to do more to press the Chinese government to protect human rights.

Shark FinningPetitionsRoutine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.


Elizabeth May Green Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

Mr. Speaker, the second petition is on the subject of shark finning. Shark finning is a practice leading to the endangerment of many species of sharks around the world. It is illegal in Canadian waters. However, we still allow the trading, selling, and marketing of shark fins in Canada. The petitioners ask that the Canadian government take steps to end the sale, distribution, and trade of this so-called delicacy that is leading to massive extinctions.

Impaired DrivingPetitionsRoutine Proceedings

10:15 a.m.


Mark Warawa Conservative Langley—Aldergrove, BC

Mr. Speaker, I am honoured to present a petition from Families for Justice, a group of Canadians who have lost a loved one, killed by an impaired driver. They believe that Canada's impaired driving laws are much too lenient. They want the crime called what it is, vehicular homicide. It is the number one cause of criminal death in Canada. More than 1,200 Canadians are killed every year by a drunk driver. They are calling on the Prime Minister to honour his letter to support legislation for drunk driving, which would include mandatory sentencing.

Commemorative MedalsPetitionsRoutine Proceedings

10:15 a.m.


Peter Van Loan Conservative York—Simcoe, ON

Mr. Speaker, I have several petitions to present, all on the same subject, which is the government's unfortunate cancellation of a commemorative medal for the 150th anniversary of Confederation. Commemorative medals have been issued by the Government of Canada on significant milestones in Canada's history, with the objective of recognizing the contributions of outstanding Canadians to their own communities. This was done in 1867, for the year of Confederation; in 1927, for the year of the silver jubilee; for the centennial in 1967; and for Canada's 125th anniversary. However, as part of the Liberal war on history, there will be no medal this year honouring outstanding contributions of Canadians to their communities.

The petitioners call upon the government to respect that tradition and reverse its cancellation of the medals, the plans for which were very far advanced. The petitions come from Botwood, Newfoundland; Lake Country, British Columbia; Oyama, B.C.; Bishop's Falls, Newfoundland; Alder Flats, Alberta; Buck Lake, Alberta; Drayton Valley, Alberta; Scotchtown, Nova Scotia; New Waterford, Nova Scotia; and Sydney, Nova Scotia.

Questions on the Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

10:15 a.m.

Winnipeg North Manitoba


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

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

Questions on the Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

10:15 a.m.

The Speaker

Is it agreed?

Questions on the Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

10:15 a.m.

Some hon. members


Rights of Non-Recognized Parties—Speaker's RulingPrivilegeRoutine Proceedings

10:15 a.m.


The Speaker Liberal Geoff Regan

I am now prepared to rule on the question of privilege raised on May 4, 2017, by the honourable member for Montcalm concerning the effect of the proposed changes to the Standing Orders on the rights and privileges of members from unrecognized parties.

I would like to thank the hon. member for having raised the matter, as well as the hon. Parliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons, the member for Saanich—Gulf Islands, and the member for Joliette for their contributions.

In raising this question of privilege, the member for Montcalm alleged that the government’s proposed approach to parliamentary reform will violate the rights and privileges of members of unrecognized parties. Specifically, he argued that their freedom of speech will be violated by any discussions held in the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs, as members of unrecognized parties are not entitled to be members of committees, and that the proposed increased use of time allocation in the House will likewise affect these members disproportionately. In addition, he decried the government’s expressed intent to bring into effect rule changes without a consensus, as well as the inequitable treatment of members of unrecognized parties who were notified of the government’s parliamentary reform proposal later than members from recognized parties.

In response, the Parliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons enumerated opportunities that members of unrecognized parties have to participate in committee deliberations, as well as the fact that debate time in the House is limited for all members, which in any case, is beyond the Speaker's purview to judge. He also challenged the belief that changes to the Standing Orders should be made only with the consent of all parties, citing instances of rule changes achieved without the support of opposition parties.

As the member for Montcalm rightly suggests, as Speaker, I am the custodian and defender of members’ privileges, regardless of their political affiliation. The member is looking to the Chair to ensure that there will be no abrogation or willful disregard of the rights of individual members as the House determines if and how it should change its rules.

The privilege of freedom of speech is undoubtedly the most important right accorded to members of this House. At the same time, there is an important distinction to be made between the right to freedom of speech and the right to participate in the proceedings of the House and its committees. Asked to rule on the right of members to make statements in the House pursuant to Standing Order 31, my predecessor stated on April 23, 2013, at page 15800 of Debates:

…there are inherent limits to the privilege of freedom of speech. Aside from the well-known prohibitions on unparliamentary language, the need to refer to other members by title, the rules on repetition and relevance, the sub judice constraints and other limitations designed to ensure that discourse is conducted in a civil and courteous manner, the biggest limitation of all is the availability of time.

This very same limitation, time, which is a limit for all of us in this life, is equally relevant to other proceedings, including those that may be involved in any review of the Standing Orders.

As has been well established, the Speaker has no authority to judge the adequacy of those time limits agreed upon by the House, nor decide when and if an issue has received sufficient debate; that authority rests solely with the House.

House of Commons Procedure and Practice, Second Edition, states, at page 648:

When asked to determine the acceptability of a motion to limit debate, the Speaker does not judge the importance of the issue in question or whether a reasonable time has been allowed for debate, but strictly addresses the acceptability of the procedure followed. Speakers have therefore ruled that a procedurally acceptable motion to limit the ability of Members to speak on a given motion before the House does not constitute prima facie a breach of parliamentary privilege.

The honourable member for Montcalm has asked whether or not the Speaker should be empowered to determine which procedure the House must use to effect parliamentary reform. The rules and practices of the House provide different approaches, procedurally speaking, to changing the Standing Orders. The Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs, whose permanent mandate includes “the review of and report on the Standing Orders, procedure and practice in the House and its committees”, has frequently been the originator of Standing Orders changes. The House has also tasked special committees in the past to study the Standing Orders and report recommendations back to the House. In other cases, the House has been seized of motions to change the Standing Orders that have been sponsored either by the government or by private members.

Regardless of the means chosen, ultimately the Standing Orders can be amended only by way of a decision of the House. House of Commons Procedure and Practice, second edition, at pages 256 and 257, states:

Such a decision is arrived at either by way of consensus or by a simple majority vote on a motion moved by any Member of the House.

The Chair has been asked to determine if potential or future courses of action with respect to the review and reform of the Standing Orders will negatively impact the privileges of individual members. As the member's claims are more speculative in nature at this point, it would be premature and presumptive for the Chair to rule based on assumptions of what might transpire.

I can assure the member for Montcalm, and the whole House, that the Chair has found no evidence that the rights of members from unrecognized parties have been breached nor that they have been impeded from fulfilling their parliamentary duties. Therefore, I cannot find that a prima facie question of privilege exists in this case.

I thank members for their attention in this matter.

Canadian Foreign PolicyGovernment Orders

10:25 a.m.

University—Rosedale Ontario


Chrystia Freeland LiberalMinister of Foreign Affairs


That the House (a) recognize that the government is committed to a foreign policy that supports multilateralism and rules-based international systems, human rights, gender equality, the fight against climate change, and economic benefits being shared by all; (b) recognize that further leadership on the part of Canada is both desirable and required; and (c) support the government’s decision to use the foregoing principles to guide Canadian foreign policy.

Mr. Speaker, here is a question. Is Canada an essential country at this time in the life of our planet? Most of us here would agree that it is, but if we assert this, we are called to explain why and we are called to consider the specifics of what we must do as a consequence.

International relationships that had seemed immutable for 70 years are being called into question. From Europe to Asia, to our own North American home, long-standing pacts that have formed the bedrock of our security and prosperity for generations are being tested. New shared human imperatives, the fight against climate change first among them, call for renewed, uncommon resolve.

Turning aside from our responsibilities is not an option. Instead, we must think carefully and deeply about what is happening and find a way forward. By definition, the path we choose must be one that serves the interests of all Canadians and upholds our broadly held national values. It must be one that preserves and nurtures Canadian prosperity and security, and that contributes to our collective goal of a better, safer, more just, prosperous, and sustainable world, one we can pass on to our children and grandchildren with a sense of having done the right thing in our time.

This is no small order. It is what I would like to spend a few minutes talking about today.

Since before the end of the Second World War, beginning with the international conference at Bretton Woods in 1944, Canada has been deeply engaged in, and greatly enjoyed the benefits of, a global order. These were principles and standards that were applied, perhaps not perfectly at all times by all states, but certainly by the vast majority of democratic states, most of the time.

The system had at its heart the core notions of territorial integrity, human rights, democracy, respect for the rule of law, and an aspiration to free and friendly trade. The common volition toward this order arose from a fervent determination not to repeat the mistakes of the immediate past. Humankind had learned through the direct experience of horror and hardship that the narrow pursuit of national self-interest, the law of the jungle, led to nothing but carnage and poverty.

Two global conflicts and the Great Depression, all in the span of less than half a century, taught our parents and grandparents that national borders must be inviolate; that international trading relationships created not only prosperity but also peace; and that a true world community, one based on shared aspirations and standards, was not only desirable but essential to our very survival.

That deep yearning toward lasting peace led to the creation of international institutions that endure to this day with the nations of western Europe, together with their transatlantic allies, the United States and Canada, at their foundation.

In each of these evolutions in how we humans organize ourselves, Canadians played pivotal roles. There was Bretton Woods itself, where the Canadian delegation was instrumental in drafting provisions of the fledgling International Monetary Fund and the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development. A few years later, in 1947, a Canadian, Dana Wilgress, played a leading role at the meetings in Geneva that led to the development of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade, the precursor to the WTO.

It is a Canadian, John Humphrey, who is generally credited as the principal author of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which was adopted by the UN General Assembly in 1948. That was the first of what became a series of declarations to set international standards in this vital area.

Let us not neglect the great Canadian, perhaps best known for advancing the cause of humanitarian intervention, Lester B. Pearson. He was awarded the Nobel Prize for his leadership during the Suez crisis in 1956, for the creation of modern peacekeeping.

These institutions may seem commonplace today. We may take them for granted. We should not. Seventy years ago, they were revolutionary, and they set the stage for the longest period of peace and prosperity in our history. It was the same appreciation of the common interests of the human family in caring for our common home that led us to the acid rain treaty of the Mulroney era. It was what led us to the Montreal protocol of 1987 to phase out CFCs and preserve the ozone layer. It is what led us, ultimately, to Paris with 194 signatories at our side. That is global co-operation.

It is important to note that when sacrifice was required to support and strengthen the global order, military power in defence of our principles and alliances, Canada was there. In Suez, in Korea, in the Congo, in Cypress, in the first Gulf War, in the Balkans, in Afghanistan, up to and including today in Iraq, among many other places, Canada has been there. As the Prime Minister has often said, that is what Canadians do. We step up.

Today, it is worth reminding ourselves why we step up, why we devote time and resources to foreign policy, defence, and development, and why we have sent Canadian soldiers, sailors, aviators, diplomats, aid workers, intelligence officers, doctors, nurses, medics, and engineers into situations of danger, disaster, and chaos overseas, even at times when Canadian territory was not directly at risk.

Why do we spend billions on defence, if we are not immediately threatened? For some countries, Israel and Latvia come to mind, the answer is self-evident. Countries that face a clear and immediate existential challenge know they need to spend on military and foreign policy, and they know why.

For a few lucky countries, like Canada and the United States, that feel protected by geography and good neighbours, the answer is less obvious. Indeed, we could easily imagine a Canadian few who say that we are safe on our continent and we have things to do at home, so let us turn inward, let us say, “Canada first”.

Here is why that would be wrong.

First, though no foreign adversary is poised to invade us, we do face clear challenges. Climate change is a shared menace, affecting every single person on this planet. Civil war, poverty, drought, and natural disasters anywhere in the world threaten us as well, not least because these catastrophes spawn globally destabilizing mass migrations.

The dictatorship in North Korea, crimes against humanity in Syria, the monstrous extremists of Daesh, and Russian military adventurism and expansionism also all pose clear strategic threats to the liberal democratic world, including Canada. Our ability to act against such threats alone is limited. It requires co-operation with like-minded countries.

On the military front, Canada's geography has meant that we have always been able to count on American self-interest to provide a protective umbrella beneath which we have found indirect shelter. Some think, some even say, we should therefore free ride on U.S. military power. Why invest billions to maintain a capable, professional, well-funded, and well-equipped Canadian military? The answer is obvious.

To rely solely on the U.S. security umbrella would make us a client state. Although we have an incredibly good relationship with our American friends and neighbours, such dependence would not be in Canada's interest. That is why doing our fair share is clearly necessary. It is why our commitment to NORAD and our strategic relationship with the United States is so critical. It is by pulling our weight in this partnership, and in all our international partnerships, that we, in fact, have weight.

To put it plainly, Canadian diplomacy and development sometimes require the backing of hard power. Force is, of course, always a last resort, but the principled use of force, together with our allies and governed by international law, is part of our history, and it must be a part of our future. To have that capacity requires substantial investment, which this government is committed to making. The Minister of National Defence will elaborate fully on that tomorrow. I know he will make Canadians justly proud.

Whatever their politics, Canadians understand that as a middle power living next to the world's only superpower, Canada has a huge interest in an international order based on rules, one in which might is not always right, one in which more powerful countries are constrained in their treatment of smaller ones by standards that are internationally respected, enforced, and upheld. The single most important pillar of this, which emerged following the carnage of the First and Second World Wars is the sanctity of borders, and that principle today is under siege. That is why the democratic world has united behind Ukraine.

The illegal seizure of Ukrainian territory by Russia is the first time since the end of the Second World War that a European power has annexed, by force, the territory of another European country. This is not something we can accept or ignore.

The atrocities of Daesh directly challenge both the sanctity of borders and the liberal international order itself. They create chaos, not only because of the carnage they perpetrate on their innocent victims but because of the humanitarian crises and migratory explosions that follow. This is why the world has united against this scourge. Violent extremism challenges our very way of life. We will always oppose it.

Another key benefit for Canada from an international system based on rules is, of course, free trade. In this sphere as well, beggar-thy-neighbour policies hit middle powers soonest and hardest. That is the implacable lesson of the 1930s and the Great Depression. Rising trade barriers hurt the people they are intended to help. They curb growth, stifle innovation, and kill employment. This is a lesson we should learn from history. We should not need to teach it to ourselves again through painful experience.

The international order an earlier generation built faces two big challenges, both unprecedented. The first is the rapid emergence of the global South and Asia, most prominently China, and the need to integrate these countries into the world’s economic and political system in a way that is additive, that preserves the best of the old order that preceded their rise, and that addresses the existential threat of climate change.

This is a problem that simply cannot be solved by nations working alone. We must work together.

I have focused these remarks on the development of the postwar international order, a process that was led primarily by the Atlantic powers of North America and western Europe. But we recognize that the global balance of power has changed greatly since then and will continue to evolve as more nations prosper.

The G20, in whose creation Canada was instrumental, was an early acknowledgement of this emerging reality. The countries of Latin America and the Caribbean, Africa, and Asia are ascendent, delivering ever-increasing living standards to fast-growing populations bursting with innovation, creativity, and enterprise.

This is not a trend any of us should fear. It is one we should embrace. Let us recognize that the peace and prosperity we in the west have enjoyed these past 70 years are desired by all and are increasingly within reach of all. As Canadians, let us be agents of that change. Let us seize the great opportunity we have now to help the people of the world's fastest-growing countries join the global middle class and the multilateral system that supports it. Peace and prosperity are every person's birthright.

The second great challenge is an exhaustion in the west of the belief among working people, the middle class, that the global system can help them better their lives. This is an enormous crisis of confidence. It has the potential, if we let it, to undermine global prosperity itself. At the root of this anxiety around the world is a pervasive sense that too many people have been left behind, betrayed by a system they were promised would make them better off but has not.

Here is the key. It is true that the system is flawed. However, international trade is the wrong target. The real culprit is domestic policies that fail to appreciate that continued growth and political stability depend on domestic measures that share the wealth.

Admittedly, this is a complicated problem. If there were easy solutions, everybody would be applying them. However, let us be clear on this point: it is wrong to view the woes of our middle class as the result of fiendish behaviour by foreigners. The truth is that the nature of work has changed because of profound, and generally benign, global economic innovation. This transformation, driven primarily by automation and the digital revolution, is broadly positive.

Managed fairly, it has the potential to increase prosperity for all, not just the global one percent. That means supporting families, supporting pensioners, and supporting education and retraining, as the Minister of Finance did in his recent budget.

By better supporting the middle class, and those working hard to join it, Canada is defining an approach to globalization that can be a model. At the same time, we strongly support the global 2030 goals for sustainable development. The world abroad and the world at home are not two solitudes. They are connected. Likewise, by embracing multiculturalism and diversity, Canadians are embodying a way of life that works. We can say this in all humility, but also without any false self-effacement: Canadians know about living side-by side with people of diverse origins and beliefs, whose ancestors hail from the far corners of the globe, in harmony and peace. We are good at it.

We say this in the full knowledge that we also have problems of our own to overcome, most egregiously the injustices suffered by indigenous people in Canada. We must never flinch from acknowledging this great failure, even as we do the hard work of seeking restoration and reconciliation.

It is clearly not our role to impose our values around the world. No one appointed us the world's policemen. However, it is our role to stand firmly for these rights, both in Canada and abroad. It is our role to provide refuge to the persecuted and downtrodden to the extent we are able, as we are so proud to have done for more than 40,000 Syrian refugees.

It is our role to set a standard for how states should treat women, gays and lesbians, transgendered people, racial, ethnic, cultural, linguistic, and religious minorities, and of course, indigenous people.

We can and must play an active role in the preservation and strengthening of the global order from which we have benefited so greatly. Doing so is in our interest, because our own open society is most secure in a world of open societies, and it is under threat in a world where open societies are under threat.

In short, Canadian liberalism is a precious idea. It would not survive long in a world dominated by the clash of great powers and their vassals struggling for supremacy, or at best, an uneasy détente. Canada can work for better. We must work for better.

Let me pause here and address the United States directly. As the Prime Minister said last week, Canada is deeply disappointed by the U.S. federal government's decision to withdraw from the Paris agreement on climate change.

That said, we will continue to seek opportunities for constructive progress on the environment, wherever we can find them, with our counterparts in Washington and across the great United States, at all levels of government and with partners in business, labour, and civil society.

As I have said, we Canadians can rightly be proud of the role we played in building the postwar order, and the unprecedented peace and prosperity that followed.

Even as we celebrate our own part in that project, it is only fair for us to acknowledge the larger contribution of the United States, for in blood, in treasure, in strategic vision, in leadership, America has paid the lion's share. The United States has truly been the indispensable nation. For their unique seven-decades-long contribution to our shared peace and prosperity, and on behalf of all Canadians, I would like to profoundly thank our American friends.

As I have argued, Canada believes strongly that this stable, predictable international order has been deeply in our national interest, and we believe it has helped foster peace and prosperity for our southern neighbours too, yet it would be naive or hypocritical to claim before the House that all Americans today agree. Indeed, many of the voters in last year's presidential election cast their ballots animated, in part, by a desire to shrug off the burden of world leadership. To say this is not controversial; it is simply a fact.

Canada is grateful and will always be grateful to our neighbour for the outsized role it has played in the world. We seek and shall continue to seek to persuade our friends that their continued international leadership is very much in their national interest, as well as that of the rest of the free world. We also recognize that this is ultimately not our decision to make. It is a choice Americans must make for themselves.

The fact that our friend and ally has come to question the very worth of its mantle of global leadership puts into sharper focus the need for the rest of us to set our own clear and sovereign course. For Canada, that course must be the renewal, indeed the strengthening, of the post-war multilateral order.

We will follow this path with open hands and open hearts extended to our American friends, seeking to make common cause, as we have so often in the past, and indeed, as we continue to do now on many fronts, from border security, to the defence of North America through NORAD, to the fight against Daesh, to our efforts within NATO, to nurturing and improving our trading relationship, which is the strongest in the world. At the same time, we will work with other like-minded people and countries that share our aims.

To put this in sharper focus, those aims are as follows.

First, we will robustly support the rules-based international order and all its institutions, and seek ways to strengthen and improve them. We will strongly support the multilateral forums where such discussions are held, including the G7, the G20, the OAS, APEC, the WTO, the Commonwealth, La Francophonie, the Arctic Council, and of course NATO and the UN.

A cornerstone of our multilateral agenda is our steadfast commitment to the transatlantic alliance. Our bond is manifest in CETA, our historic trade agreement with the European Union, which we believe in and warmly support, and in our military deployment this summer to Latvia.

There can be no clearer sign that NATO and article 5 are at the heart of Canada’s national security policy.

We will strive for leadership in all these multilateral forums. We are honoured to be hosting the G7 next year, and we are energetically pursuing a two-year term on the UN Security Council. We seek this UN seat because we wish to be heard, and we are safer and more prosperous when more of the world shares Canadian values.

Those values include feminism and the promotion of the rights of women and girls. It is important, and historic, that we have a Prime Minister and a government who are proud to proclaim themselves feminists. Women’s rights are human rights. That includes sexual reproductive rights.

That includes the right to safe and accessible abortions.

These rights are at the core of our foreign policy. To that end, in the coming days, my colleague the Minister of International Development and La Francophonie will unveil Canada’s first feminist international assistance policy, which will target the rights of women and girls as well as gender equality.

We will put Canada at the forefront of this global effort. This is a matter of basic justice and also basic economics. We know that empowering women overseas and here at home makes families and countries more prosperous. Canada’s values are informed by our historical duality of French and English; by our co-operative brand of federalism; by our multicultural, multi-ethnic, and multilingual citizenry; and by our geography, since our country bridges the Atlantic, Pacific, and Arctic.

Our values are informed by the traditions and aspirations of the indigenous people in Canada, and our values include an unshakeable commitment to pluralism, human rights, and the rule of law.

Second, we will make the necessary investments in our military, not only redress years of neglect and underfunding but also to place the Canadian Armed Forces on a new footing with the equipment, training, resources, and consistent, predictable financing they need to do their difficult, dangerous, and important work. We owe this to our women and men in uniform. We will not let them down.

Canada’s broader interest in investing in a capable, professional, and robust military is very clear. If middle powers do not implicate themselves in the furtherance of peace and stability around the world, that will be left to the great powers to settle among themselves. This would not be in Canada’s interest.

Third, we are a trading nation. Far from seeing trade as a zero-sum game, we believe in trading relationships that benefit all parties. We look forward to working with our continental partners to modernize the North American Free Trade Agreement and to making a great partnership even better.

We will intensify our efforts to diversify Canadian trade worldwide. We will actively seek new trade agreements that further Canadian economic interests and that reflect our values, with the Canada-EU trade agreement as our template.

As I said, we are proud of the role Canada has played in creating a rules-based international trading order. We believe in the WTO and will continue our work to make it stronger and more responsive to the needs of ordinary people in Canada and around the world. We believe in progressive trade that works for working people. That is why we are very proud that this month, Canada will ratify the last of the fundamental conventions of the International Labour Organization.

In summary, we will be tireless in pursing our national interest, tireless in upholding progressive Canadian values, tireless in working to create a rules-based international order for the 21st century. Seventy years ago Canada played a pivotal role in forming the postwar international order. By virtue of our unique experience, expertise, geography, diversity, and values, we are now called to do this again for a new century.

These are ambitious objectives. There is no guarantee of success. We set them, not in the assumption that success will come easily but in the certain knowledge that it will not. We will venture in noble and good causes. We will risk, we will enjoy victories, and we will suffer defeats, but we will keep working toward a better world because that is what Canadians do.

Let me conclude on a personal note.

A popular criticism today of the arguments I am making here is that all such ideas are abstract, perhaps of interest to the so-called Laurentian elite, or the media or the Ottawa bubble, but not at all relevant to real Canadians. That line of reasoning is the ultimate elite condescension; it is nonsense.

In reply, I offer the example of my grandfather, John Wilbur Freeland. He was born in Peace River, Alberta, the son of a pioneer family. Wilbur was 24 in 1940, and making a bit of a living as a cowboy and boxer. His nickname was “Pretty Boy” Freeland. My grandpa was the opposite of an Upper Canada elite, but in the darkest days of the Second World War, Wilbur enlisted to serve. Two brothers, Carleton and Warren, joined up too. Wilbur and Carleton came home; Warren did not. My grandfather told me they signed up partly for the excitement. Europe, even at war, was an exotic destination for the young men of the Peace Country.

There was more to it than a young man’s thirst for adventure, though. My grandfather was one of a generation of Canadians who intuitively understood the connection between their lives and those of people they had never met, whose speech they could not comprehend, who lived on a continent so far away as to constitute, back then, another world.

That generation of Canadians, the greatest generation we call them with good reason, had survived the Great Depression. They were born in the aftermath of the First World War. They appreciated viscerally that a world without fixed borders or rules for the global economy was a world of strife and poverty. They sought to prevent that from ever happening again.

That is why they risked and gave their lives to fight in a European war. That is why, when they came home, they cheerfully contributed to the great project of rebuilding Europe and creating a postwar world order. That is why they counted themselves lucky to be able to do so.

They were our parents, our grandparents, and our great grandparents. The challenge we face today is significant, to be sure, but it pales next to the task they faced and met. Our job today is to preserve their achievement and to build on it, to use the multilateral structures they created as the foundation for global accords and institutions fit for the new realities of our century. They rose to their generation's great challenge, so can we.

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11 a.m.


Garnett Genuis Conservative Sherwood Park—Fort Saskatchewan, AB

Mr. Speaker, when the hugs are finished on the other side, it must be noted that we just have been subject to a speech of breathtaking hypocrisy. The government wants to cover itself in glory on foreign affairs, but the fact is that it has consistently championed appeasement in every part of the world where it has been active.

If the minister disagrees with me, I want her to answer two very simple questions that I have asked her before in committee of the whole, to which I did not get an answer.

First, will the government finally recognize the genocide of the Yazidis and Assyrian Christians in Iraq and Syria? That would be a strong indication of whether the government cares about UN conventions with respect to genocide. Would the Liberals recognize that genocide?

Second, I have asked it twice before and have not received an answer. The Saudi government is now part of the UN women's rights commission. Does this feminist government think that Saudi Arabia's presence on the UN women's rights commission is a good thing or a bad thing?

These are two simple questions that I think will be quite revealing about what is actually going on with respect to the government's foreign policy.

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11 a.m.


Chrystia Freeland Liberal University—Rosedale, ON

Mr. Speaker, while clearly it is the job of my colleagues in opposition to find the fault in our position, I really hope and believe that it is possible for us to have a foreign policy based on broadly shared, broadly held national objectives. That is really the approach this government is seeking to take, and will continue to seek.

There are Canadian values and there is a level at which, as has been the case with Ukraine, where the House can be united in pursuing them.

On the specific questions asked by the member opposite, I have answered those many times before in the House. We are absolutely strong and clear in our condemnation of the heinous acts being perpetrated against the Yazidis, and we have been very clear in welcoming Yazidis refugees to our country.

On the question of Saudi Arabia, as the member opposite knows very well, that was not a position on which Canada had a vote. However, a reason we feel so strongly that it is the right thing for Canada to get a seat on the UN Security Council and the reason we were so disappointed at the unprecedented failure to get that seat last time around is because the Canadian voice needs to be heard at that level.

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11:05 a.m.


Hélène Laverdière NDP Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would first like to thank the minister for this initiative. I think that, in these difficult times on the international scene, it is more important than ever to have frank and open debates in the House regarding Canadian foreign policy.

Obviously, the main principles of the motion resonate with us. They are the traditional principles of Canada and principles that Canada has long defended, because they address both our humanity and our interests. As I like to say, when the world is doing well, Canada is doing better.

That said, words are not enough. The minister mentioned the many Canadians who were involved in creating institutions and developing tools. We are all proud of that, obviously, but at the same time, Canada refuses to take part in negotiations on a nuclear weapons convention.

We can talk about human rights, but what is happening with Raïf Badawi and with the sale of arms to Saudi Arabia? What is happening with the creation of an ombudsman for responsible mining? What is happening with the Canada-U.S. Safe Third Country Agreement for refugees? There are many such topics, but I will keep to just two questions for the minister.

When can we expect a clear announcement regarding a Canadian peacekeeping mission and when can we expect to have a timeline for Canada to respect its commitment to allocate 0.7% of its gross national income to international development?

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11:05 a.m.


Chrystia Freeland Liberal University—Rosedale, ON

Mr. Speaker, I would like to begin by thanking my colleague for her question and for her work, not only as a member of the House, but as a diplomat.

As I have said, diplomacy is a very important part of our work in the world. My colleague asked me a lot of questions and mentioned a lot of issues, and that is absolutely fine. As for the issues regarding defence and development, my colleagues the Minister of National Defence and the Minister of International Development will speak more about those this week.

She also spoke about the United Nations and nuclear disarmament. On this issue, we may not agree. I would like to note that our goal is nuclear disarmament and that we are taking the necessary steps to achieve that. That means working hard to implement something tangible. That is the question. In 2006, for the first time, Canada rallied 159 states to support and adopt a resolution for the fissile material cut-off treaty. That is a concrete step toward the elimination of nuclear weapons, both for countries that have nuclear weapons and for countries that do not but are concerned. On this issue, I think that we must work in a more tangible manner and not just make declarations.

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11:10 a.m.


Dianne Lynn Watts Conservative South Surrey—White Rock, BC

Mr. Speaker, I want to state very clearly, just as an FYI, that the slaughter of Yazidi people is genocide.

My question is about action. I appreciate the comments on the global order and all the things that we are going to do, but I am an action-oriented person.

My question is very simple. What are you going to do about the persecution of gay men in Chechnya?

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11:10 a.m.


The Speaker Liberal Geoff Regan

Order. I would remind our hon. colleague from South Surrey—White Rock to direct her questions and comments to the Chair. I know the member does not want me to answer her question.

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11:10 a.m.


Chrystia Freeland Liberal University—Rosedale, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am sure that you would have an excellent answer to offer to those two questions.

Let me start with the Chechen question. I am very personally seized with this issue. I am very personally involved, as is our government, our diplomats, and our department of immigration. I will, in due course, have more to say about it. However, I trust that the hon. member and this entire House appreciate that this, in Russia, in Chechnya, is an extremely delicate situation, and I will not say anything for momentary partisan political gain that would endanger the lives of people who are already facing a very specific threat. I want to assure this House that this issue is very high on my personal agenda. We are working hard on it. I am afraid that, at this moment, there is no more I can say.

I do want to say one other thing. The member began her question by suggesting that the international rules-based order was some ephemeral thing and not the proper concern of an action-based person. Let me say that the international rules-based order is, not only for the entire world but specifically for a middle power like Canada, of very concrete, very direct importance to us.

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11:10 a.m.

Louis-Hébert Québec


Joël Lightbound LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Health

Mr. Speaker, I will first thank the minister for her speech and the ambitious, responsible, and humane voice that she gives or gives back to Canada. We greatly appreciate it.

I was very pleased to learn that the next G7 summit will take place in the beautiful Charlevoix region, which is not very far from my home.

We already know that Canada is an engaged partner in several multilateral forums, namely the Commonwealth, the Francophonie, NATO, the WTO, the Arctic Council, the UN and the G20.

As we prepare to assume the G7 presidency in 2018, I would like the minister to tell me what Canada’s priorities are for the important year of 2018.

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11:10 a.m.


Chrystia Freeland Liberal University—Rosedale, ON

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for his question. The Prime Minister has spoken a lot about Charlevoix with the other G7 leaders. Everyone is very pleased to have the chance to come see such a beautiful part of our country.

Regarding the G7, it is a very important opportunity for Canada during a difficult time for the world. It is an opportunity for us to assume global leadership with our international friends. It will be a very important year for Canada and for the world.