House of Commons Hansard #190 of the 42nd Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was world.

Topics

Information CommissionerRoutine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Geoff Regan

I have the honour, pursuant to Section 38 of the Access to Information Act, to lay upon the table the report of the Information Commissioner for the fiscal year ended March 31, 2017. Pursuant to Standing Order 108(3)(h), this document is deemed to have been permanently referred to the Standing Committee on Access to Information, Privacy and Ethics.

Commissioner of Official LanguagesRoutine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Geoff Regan

I have the honour, pursuant to section 66 of the Official Languages Act, to lay upon the table the annual report of the interim Commissioner of Official Languages covering the period from April 1, 2016, to March 31, 2017.

Pursuant to Standing Order 108(3)(f), this report is deemed permanently referred to the Standing Committee on Official Languages.

Commissioner of LobbyingRoutine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Geoff Regan

I have the honour to lay upon the table, pursuant to section 11 of the Lobbying Act, the annual report of the Commissioner of Lobbying for the fiscal year ending March 31, 2017. Pursuant to Standing Order 108(3)(h), this document is deemed to have been permanently referred to the Standing Committee on Access to Information, Privacy and Ethics.

Conflict of Interest and Ethics CommissionerRoutine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Geoff Regan

Pursuant to paragraph 90(1)(b) of the Parliament of Canada Act, it is my duty to present to the House the annual report of the Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner in relation to the Conflict of Interest Act for the fiscal year ended March 31, 2017.

Pursuant to Standing Order 108(3)(h), this document is deemed to have been permanently referred to the Standing Committee on Access to Information, Privacy and Ethics.

Interparliamentary DelegationsRoutine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.

Liberal

Rob Oliphant Liberal Don Valley West, ON

Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 34(1), I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the report of the Canada–Africa Parliamentary Association respecting its participation at the bilateral mission in the Republic of Zimbabwe and the Republic of Botswana in Harare, Zimbabwe, and Gaborone, Botswana, from March 26 to 31, 2017.

Public AccountsCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.

Conservative

Kevin Sorenson Conservative Battle River—Crowfoot, AB

Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the following two reports of the Standing Committee on Public Accounts: the 29th report, entitled “Report 7, Operating and Maintenance Support for Military Equipment—National Defence, of the Fall 2016 Reports of the Auditor General of Canada”, and also the 30th report of the committee, entitled “Report 5, Canadian Armed Forces Recruitment and Retention—National Defence, of the Fall 2016 Reports of the Auditor General of Canada”.

Pursuant to Standing Order 109, the committee requests that the government table a comprehensive response to each of these two reports.

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 11th report of the Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security concerning Bill S-233, an act to amend the Customs Act and the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (presentation and reporting requirements).

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

Business of SupplyRoutine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.

NDP

Marjolaine Boutin-Sweet NDP Hochelaga, QC

Mr. Speaker, there have been discussions among the parties, and if you were to seek it, I think you would find that there is consent to adopt the following motion:

That, at the conclusion of today's debate on the opposition motion in the name of the member for Laurier—Sainte-Marie, all questions necessary to dispose of the motion be deemed put and a recorded division deemed requested and deferred until Monday, June 12, 2017, at the expiry of the time provided for oral questions.

Business of SupplyRoutine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Geoff Regan

Does the hon. member have the unanimous consent of the House to move the motion?

Business of SupplyRoutine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Business of SupplyRoutine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Geoff Regan

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

Business of SupplyRoutine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Business of SupplyRoutine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Geoff Regan

(Motion agreed to)

Eating DisordersPetitionsRoutine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.

NDP

Carol Hughes NDP Algoma—Manitoulin—Kapuskasing, ON

Mr. Speaker, I rise to table petitions from individuals across the country who share our growing concern for the millions of Canadians affected by eating disorders, some as young as seven years old.

Despite people with eating disorders having the highest mortality rate of all people with mental illnesses, people with these treatable conditions are left to suffer with unreliable and insufficient care. These disorders are identifiable if one knows what to watch for and the importance of early treatment. Teaching people to watch for these indicators could save a loved one's life.

Eating disorders are misunderstood, inadequately treated, and underfunded, which is why these signatories are calling on Parliament to pass Motion No. 117. The petitioners are asking the government to work with territories and provinces to create a nationwide network dedicated to the prevention, diagnosis, treatment, support, and research of all eating disorders.

The petitioners call on the government to commit to a pan-Canadian strategy against eating disorders.

Palliative CarePetitionsRoutine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux Liberal Winnipeg North, MB

Mr. Speaker, I have a petition that I would like to share with members that deals with the issue of hospice palliative care, which is an approach that improves the quality of life for patients and their families facing the problems associated with life-threatening illness.

The petitioners call upon the national government to play a strong leadership role in dealing with this particularly important issue and to look for ways in which we can expand upon it.

Nuclear DisarmamentPetitionsRoutine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

NDP

Murray Rankin NDP Victoria, BC

Mr. Speaker, on this important day when the House will be considering an NDP motion on nuclear disarmament, I am pleased to present a petition from my constituents in Victoria.

The petitioners call the attention of the House to Canada's recent opposition to a UN resolution to begin negotiating a treaty prohibiting nuclear weapons. These constituents call on Parliament to take a position independent of NATO and the United States, and support a treaty to prohibit the development, production, transfer stationing, and use of nuclear weapons.

They call on us to set as our goal the elimination of these weapons and to support a framework to achieve that end.

Questions on the Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

Winnipeg North Manitoba

Liberal

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

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

Questions on the Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Geoff Regan

Is that agreed?

Questions on the Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Opposition motion—Nuclear DisarmamentBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

10:10 a.m.

NDP

Hélène Laverdière NDP Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

Motion

That the House:

a) recognize the catastrophic humanitarian consequences thatwould result from any use of nuclear weapons, and recognize those consequences transcend national borders and pose grave implications for human survival, the environment, socioeconomic development, the global economy, food security, and for the health of future generations;

(b) reaffirm the need to make every effort to ensure that nuclear weapons are never used again, under any circumstances;

(c) recall the unanimous vote in both Houses of Parliament in 2010 that called on Canada to participate in negotiations for a nuclear weapons convention;

(d) reaffirm its support for the 2008 five-point proposal on nuclear disarmament of the former Secretary-General of the United Nations;

(e) express disappointment in Canada’s vote against, and absence from, initial rounds of negotiations for a legally binding instrument to prohibit nuclear weapons; and

(f) call upon the government to support the Draft Convention on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, released on May 22, 2017, and to commit to attend, in good faith, future meetings of the United Nations conference to negotiate a legally binding instrument to prohibit nuclear weapons, leading towards their total elimination.

She said: Mr. Speaker, I will be sharing my time with my colleague from Edmonton Strathcona, who, I would like to point out, has been doing excellent work on this file. It is an honour for me to share my time with her.

I am truly honoured to rise in the House today to move this motion and talk about the very timely issue of nuclear disarmament.

As the Secretary General of the United Nations has reminded us, nuclear weapons continue to pose a serious threat to humanity and our planet. Right now, there are approximately 170,000 nuclear weapons in the world, and just one of them could cause unthinkable damage. This problem is not going away. Countries are modernizing their weapons, the new American president wants to increase the strength of his country's nuclear arsenal, and then there are countries like North Korea. That is a major concern.

It is likely because of that concern that the House unanimously adopted the following motion in 2010:

That the House of Commons:

(a) recognize the danger posed by the proliferation of nuclear materials and technology to peace and security;

(b) endorse the statement, signed by 500 members, officers and companions of the Order of Canada, underlining the importance of addressing the challenge of more intense nuclear proliferation and the progress of and opportunity for nuclear disarmament;

I will shorten it a little, since I do not have much time.

(c) endorse the 2008 five-point plan for nuclear disarmament of Mr. Ban Ki-Moon, Secretary-General of the United Nations...

(d) support the initiatives for nuclear disarmament of President Obama of the United States of America; and

(e) ...encourage the Government of Canada to deploy a major world-wide Canadian diplomatic initiative in support of preventing nuclear proliferation and increasing the rate of nuclear disarmament.

Canada did not follow through on this major diplomatic initiative. That said, a major diplomatic initiative is being undertaken at the United Nations right now, and Canada is opposing this motion, which was supported by many members across the aisle and adopted by unanimous consent. Not only did Canada fail to take the initiative and support this, but it is actually fighting it, which I find completely unacceptable.

I would really like to know what has changed, exactly, for my colleagues across the way who supported this motion in 2010. Is the current U.S. government pressuring them to not take part in this effort? That would be terrible.

Let me read another text that states:

WHEREAS there are still at least 17,000 nuclear weapons [I cannot remember what number I gave earlier] in the world, whose very existence constitutes an unprecedented threat to the continuation of life on Earth as we know it;

WHEREAS nuclear weapons are the only weapons of mass destruction not yet banned by international agreement;

WHEREAS as a member of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons...Canada has an international treaty obligation “to pursue negotiations” for the total elimination of nuclear weapons...;

WHEREAS the International Court of Justice ruled on July 8, 1996: i) that this [non-proliferation treaty] commitment is a legal obligation under international law, and ii) that it is generally illegal to use nuclear weapons, or even threaten to use them;

BE IT RESOLVED that [in the House, I guess] the Liberal Party of Canada urge the Government of Canada to:

comply more fully both with its international treaty obligations under the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, and with the International Court of Justice ruling of July 8, 1996, by playing a pro-active role in achieving a nuclear-weapon-free world;

emulate the Ottawa Process (which led to the banning of land mines) by convening an international conference to commence negotiations for a Nuclear Weapons Convention that would ban nuclear weapons — akin to the Biological Weapons Convention...and the Chemical Weapons Convention.

The motion I just read was adopted by the Liberal Party of Canada last year. Not only are some of the members opposite turning their backs on what they supported in 2010, but they are turning the backs on their own party and supporters. This is quite unacceptable. I have raised this issue in the House several times, and each time I was told that Canada is working on a convention on fissile materials.

I am not opposed to working on such a convention, but I am not sure that this has anything to do with what I am talking about. It is a bit like if I said that this month I was going to breathe so I will not really have any time to eat. We can do both. What is stopping us from doing both?

Two days ago, in her foreign policy speech, the minister told us about the importance of multilateral systems and major international instruments. Here we have a multilateral process involving over 130 countries, and an international instrument, ratified by Canada, calling on all parties to take part in these kinds of negotiations, but Canada is missing in action.

Throughout her speech, the minister talked about all of Canada’s great accomplishments. Interestingly, she failed to mention one thing: the anti-personnel mine ban convention, signed in Ottawa. Setsuko Thurlow, a Hiroshima survivor, was here yesterday and showed us books on this convention written in Japanese. It made Canada famous.

I do not know why the minister refused to mention the anti-personnel mine ban convention, but I sometimes get the impression that she is afraid of drawing parallels with the nuclear disarmament negotiations. The situation is quite similar. It is not easy; some countries do not want to participate, but leadership means taking the initiative. While certain countries did not want to participate in the anti-personnel mine ban convention, it created a catalyst, moral suasion and a movement. It is a great achievement for Canada.

With the negotiations underway, we are truly witnessing a historic moment. There is never an ideal time for such a convention, but if we do not start, we will not reach the finish line. Right now there is a momentum that we need to capitalize on. In what little time I have left, I will quote in English the letter signed by 100 members of the Order of Canada, including former ambassadors, a former minister of foreign affairs and former ambassadors for disarmament, calling on the Government of Canada:

It states:

Lead an urgent call to end provocative rhetoric and sabre rattling over North Korea in favour of a return to sustained engagement and negotiations in pursuit of a denuclearized Korean peninsula.

Urge the US and Russia to publicly reaffirm and act on their “unequivocal undertaking,” as agreed at the 2010 NPT Review Conference, “to accomplish, in accordance with the principle of irreversibility, the total elimination of their nuclear arsenals.”

Unfortunately, I will not have the time—

Opposition motion—Nuclear DisarmamentBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

10:20 a.m.

NDP

The Assistant Deputy Speaker NDP Carol Hughes

Order. The member will have a chance to elaborate further during questions and comments.

Questions and comments.

The hon. member for Beloeil—Chambly.

Opposition motion—Nuclear DisarmamentBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

10:20 a.m.

NDP

Matthew Dubé NDP Beloeil—Chambly, QC

Madam Speaker, I appreciate my colleague’s comments, and I congratulate her on her motion, which she moved the same week that we were treated to a grand speech in the House of Commons about the role the government claims to want to play on the international stage.

As we have seen all too often in matters of foreign affairs, and I dare say my colleague knows this better than I, this government is all talk and very little action, and that applies to nuclear disarmament too.

Yesterday, the Prime Minister said there was no need to participate in this process, which he called “useless”, because we are already participating in another process, which is why I would now like my colleague to tell us why there is indeed a need to participate in this one.

Why is it so important for us to engage in this process if we really want to be able to say that Canada is back?

Opposition motion—Nuclear DisarmamentBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

10:25 a.m.

NDP

Hélène Laverdière NDP Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

Madam Speaker, I would like to thank my colleague for his question. This is so disappointing.

President Obama was in Montreal a few days ago. We all remember his legendary words, “We can do it.” In contrast, this government is saying, “We cannot do it.” Words are not enough. What we need is action.

Individuals are awarded the Order of Canada because they have the courage of their convictions, because they have risen to challenges that are not always easy, and because of their extraordinary accomplishments. Over 100 members of the Order of Canada wrote to the Prime Minister to ask him to:

Respect and support multilateral efforts to rid the world of nuclear weapons by ending Canada's boycott of the current UN General Assembly negotiations of a treaty to ban all nuclear weapons and by joining the next session of talks (scheduled for June 15 to July 7).

Opposition motion—Nuclear DisarmamentBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

10:25 a.m.

Conservative

Dianne Lynn Watts Conservative South Surrey—White Rock, BC

Madam Speaker, I wonder if my colleague could elaborate. We know that North Korea has clearly stated that it will not disarm. We know that Iran is working with North Korea. We have seen what is going on with Russia. What strategy would the member have for dealing with those countries that have specifically said they will not, if all the other countries are going to look at disarmament?

Opposition motion—Nuclear DisarmamentBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

10:25 a.m.

NDP

Hélène Laverdière NDP Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

Madam Speaker, based on my experience in foreign affairs, there is never one simple solution to any problem. We must negotiate directly with North Korea and continue to impose sanctions, if necessary.

It is interesting because, initially, North Korea would not take a position on this proposal to negotiate a nuclear weapons disarmament convention, while Canada opposed it. North Korea was a better state player than Canada, in a sense, which is a little worrisome.

Tools like this convention can lay the groundwork for working with other countries, whether they are member countries or not. In fact, NATO has issued a document listing the positive repercussions that such a convention would have on non-signatory countries.

We saw this in the case of landmines. Some countries that were major producers and users of landmines, particularly our neighbours to the south, did not sign the convention, but it nevertheless affected them directly and helped reduce the number of landmines in the world. This is really in the same spirit. That is why it is so disappointing that Canada is not at least at the table.

Opposition motion—Nuclear DisarmamentBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

10:25 a.m.

NDP

Linda Duncan NDP Edmonton Strathcona, AB

Madam Speaker, it is my honour to share this time with the former diplomat, and my dear colleague, the member for Laurier—Sainte-Marie.

Yesterday we were honoured to have two very special guests on the Hill, as the member mentioned, who have been tireless advocates for action on one of two global crises the UN Secretary-General has called for action on. One guest, Setsuko Thurlow, a survivor of the Hiroshima bombing, has dedicated her life to ensuring that no other community experiences that catastrophe to humanity.

The first crisis, climate change, the Canadian government is beginning to tackle. The second, the nuclear threat, it is not, yet both crises pose equally significant threats to humanity, both to our environment and to life.

Nations are deeply concerned about the catastrophic humanitarian consequences posed by nuclear weapons. The threat, like climate change, transcends national borders. It has grave implications for human survival, the environment, the global economy, food security, and the health of future generations.

Since my election in 2008, l have become engaged through the Parliamentarians for Nuclear Non-Proliferation and Disarmament, a global association of elected officials and civil leaders advocating for nuclear disarmament. A few months back I attended the UN negotiations for a convention on nuclear disarmament. This convention is being premised on the principles and rules of humanitarian law and is considered directly consistent with the binding terms of the non-proliferation treaty.

Despite voting for the motion calling for Canadian engagement in these negotiations, Canada not only continues to boycott this global initiative but is counted among the few nations that last year voted against even commencing the negotiations. Why is this troubling? Canada is a party to the nuclear non-proliferation treaty. That multilateral treaty compels our country, along with the other signatories, to negotiate and complete a convention on a nuclear ban.

Nuclear weapons are the only weapons of mass destruction, as my colleague mentioned, not yet prohibited. Canada played a key role in global actions to ban chemical and biological weapons and landmines, yet our government is boycotting actions to ban nuclear weapons. Do the Liberals not share the global concern that the nine states possessing 15,000 nuclear weapons are determined to modernize or make it easier to deploy those weapons, not dismantle them? What is puzzling is that we have a Prime Minister and a government that claim to the world that they are back at the UN and are committed to a multilateral approach to addressing global crises. They seem to find that of value on climate change. Why not on the threat of nuclear war?

Last March, a majority of nations gathered in New York at the UN to draft a convention on the prohibition of nuclear weapons. I went to New York to observe first-hand these negotiations. What I heard in the speeches by state delegates, including, for example, the Netherlands and Ireland, was profound concern about the threat posed by nuclear weapons and a determination to stand together to call for their prohibition. It is anticipated that a final version of this convention will be completed this July.

In the wake of the government's decision to boycott, I travelled to hear first-hand and was inspired by the sense of commitment among these nations to pursue a common end to nuclear weapons. The very purpose of the UN, as pointed out by UN Secretary-General Guterres, is to prevent war and human suffering. We are reminded in a book by the former ambassador for disarmament, Douglas Roche, that the UN charter begins by saying that the purpose of the organization is “to take effective collective measures for the prevention and removal of threats to the peace”.

Former UN secretary-general Ban Ki-moon issued a five-point proposal for nuclear disarmament, including a call to ratify and enter into force a comprehensive nuclear test ban treaty. In 2010, this call, as my colleague mentioned, was unanimously endorsed by this place on a motion by the NDP. It called for Canadian engagement in these negotiations on a global convention and for kick-starting a Canadian diplomatic initiative to prevent nuclear proliferation. As my colleague has also pointed out, many have expressed support for this convention, including the lnter-Parliamentary Union, hundreds of Order of Canada appointees, and many former Canadian diplomats.

It is noteworthy that the Liberal Party, at its recent convention, adopted a resolution calling on the government to convene a conference to commence negotiations. That action is already happening, absent the government. What excuse has the government given for refusing to participate in the negotiations? Liberals argue that they are engaged in discussions on a fissile material ban to put a stop to the production of new fissile materials that could be used to make nuclear weapons.

However, unlike the open and transparent process at the General Assembly to negotiate a convention, that process is behind closed doors and requires consensus. There is little likelihood that those opposed, for example, Pakistan, China, Russian, Iran, Israel, Egypt, will agree, and to date have not. These nations, I am advised, have huge supplies of fissile material, regardless of any ban eventually negotiated for no new production.

It is not too late for Canada to come forward and join world nations in pursuit of this humanitarian action. Negotiations recommence this month in New York. For the sake of our children, for the sake of the planet, we implore the government to step forward to join the efforts of nations threatened by nuclear weapons, not those determined to retain and potentially deploy them.

Opposition motion—Nuclear DisarmamentBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

10:35 a.m.

Conservative

Gérard Deltell Conservative Louis-Saint-Laurent, QC

Madam Speaker, I thank both of my NDP colleagues for their excellent remarks, which deserve serious thought.

Something that was said earlier really stuck with me. As we have heard, and the facts are there, on a very important motion, Canada voted against the nuclear disarmament initiative and North Korea abstained, meaning that North Korea's position was better than Canada's.

I have a very straightforward question. Do the NDP members believe that North Korea is a serious, credible country? When it takes a neutral position, should we believe it, yes or no?

Opposition motion—Nuclear DisarmamentBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

10:35 a.m.

NDP

Linda Duncan NDP Edmonton Strathcona, AB

Madam Speaker, indeed, my understanding is that Korea is not at the negotiations at the UN, but that has not stopped the majority of nations around the world from agreeing to get together. They hold in common the equal threat by those who hold nuclear weapons and, from time to time, threaten to use them. We simply look to the situation in Ukraine. Even NATO nations are leery to step forward because of the threat of nuclear weapons that could be deployed by Russia.

This is not a reason not to step forward. The reason to step forward is that the government when in opposition voted to proceed and help commence these negotiations. It did nothing, the previous government did nothing even though it voted for that, and the negotiations are already proceeding. Therefore, is it not better to stand with the nations that are trying to move forward on delivering their commitments, their obligations under the non-proliferation treaty, rather than standing back and doing nothing?

Opposition motion—Nuclear DisarmamentBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

10:35 a.m.

Whitby Ontario

Liberal

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

Madam Speaker, in 2016, Canada rallied 159 other countries to support the fissile material cut-off treaty. This is a concrete step toward our engagement and support of nuclear disarmament. The NDP is calling for us to immediately join this ban treaty and work with countries without nuclear weapons. What we have done works with both sets of countries, with and without nuclear weapons.

Could the member clarify that or talk to whether she thinks the way in which Canada is going, by taking these concrete steps, is a valuable step toward a world of nuclear disarmament?

Opposition motion—Nuclear DisarmamentBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

10:35 a.m.

NDP

Linda Duncan NDP Edmonton Strathcona, AB

Madam Speaker, I spoke to that in my speech. There is nothing stopping Canada from being involved in all the measures to which it has committed. In fact, it is compelled to do so under the nuclear non-proliferation treaty. The Liberals voted for it at their own convention and they voted for it in a motion in the House in 2010. There is nothing stopping Canada from being engaged in the process of non-expansion of fissile materials and at the UN. The Liberals claim to be back at the UN, but they are not. They talk a big line. They have gone nowhere on the fissile materials and are unlikely to because there has to be consensus. The very nations that hold these nuclear weapons and want to expand fissile materials are blocking that.

We should continue on that, but at the same time the Liberals can easily be at the UN helping to negotiate this treaty to ban nuclear weapons.

Opposition motion—Nuclear DisarmamentBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

10:35 a.m.

NDP

Hélène Laverdière NDP Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

Madam Speaker, I am amazed that so many Order of Canada recipients have written to the Prime Minister to ask him to stop boycotting the negotiations. Those are their words.

Does my colleague not find that striking? Order of Canada recipients are people who have worked hard, shown great courage, and overcome challenges, even when it was not easy. Is it not interesting to see the contrast between all of those Order of Canada recipients and the government, which thinks that this may not work and will not be at the negotiating table?

Opposition motion—Nuclear DisarmamentBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

10:40 a.m.

NDP

Linda Duncan NDP Edmonton Strathcona, AB

Madam Speaker, people do not receive the Orders of Canada, and they should not, unless they have done incredible work in our country on matters that are very difficult to achieve. These are the very people who have stepped forward, as well as our former diplomats, who know how important it is to participate.

What is so troubling is that the government likes to brag that it is brave, that it is taking on the challenge of addressing climate change, and that it is joining nations around the world. However, it is cowering in the face of this nuclear threat. We would like to see the government give equal attention to the two crises facing our planet.

Opposition motion—Nuclear DisarmamentBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

10:40 a.m.

Orléans Ontario

Liberal

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

Madam Speaker, I am pleased to have this opportunity to discuss our government's position and actions on nuclear disarmament. This is a vitally important issue that affects both Canada and the world. It also comes at a critical juncture for the international community, where our diverging views about the path forward.

Before going any further, I had the great privilege of meeting Mrs. Setsuko Thurlow, a Hiroshima survivor and wonderful Canadian who has dedicated her entire life toward bettering the world and ridding it of nuclear weapons systems.

In that context, let me assure the Canadians that advancing nuclear disarmament in a meaningful way remains a priority for the Government of Canada. Canada strongly supports concrete efforts toward nuclear disarmament. That is why we are taking meaningful steps to achieve nuclear disarmament, which in turn means doing the hard work in real and meaningful results. Members will note that I have used the term “meaningful” three times in two sentences.

We absolutely recognize the great consequences of even an accidental nuclear detonation, which could have catastrophic human impacts that transcends borders, harms the environment, the global economy, and even the health of future generations. Nuclear disarmament should be the goal of every country and of every government. It is certainly Canada's goal. That is why our government is fully committed to pursuing pragmatic initiatives that will lead to a world without nuclear weapons. We owe it our children and to future generations.

Let me remind the House that Canada gave up its nuclear weapons capability, which, in essence, acts as a role model for the rest of the world.

In 2016, for the first time ever, Canada rallied 159 states to support and pass a resolution calling for the fissile material cut-off treaty. With the support of nuclear and non-nuclear countries, Canada is chairing this high-level group to help phase out nuclear weapons, a meaningful contribution.

Recognizing the important work that has been done on the path towards nuclear disarmament, it is more important than ever that we make these pragmatic approaches to this very complex international issue as clear as possible. During the late 1980s and 1990s, the world witnessed a dramatic, almost 80%, reduction to the numbers of nuclear weapons, those primarily held by the United States and the former Soviet Union. A number of countries abandoned their nuclear weapon development programs and joined the nuclear non-proliferation treaty, NPT. The NPT is now almost universal, with only four countries remaining outside of its obligations, which aim at achieving a world free of nuclear weapons.

The 1990s also saw the signing of the comprehensive nuclear test ban treaty, CTBT, which prohibits the testing of nuclear weapons. Although still not yet in force, it is being partially implemented. Obviously there are some exceptions. Countries around the world, including those that have not ratified, have already built 116 monitoring stations to quickly identify a nuclear detonation anywhere in the world. While the treaty may not yet be in force, it has effectively established, in essence, a taboo on such testing. Only one country in this century, North Korea, has dared to break this taboo and faced global condemnation.

In terms of international security, the world does not become a safer place, unfortunately. Crises in Ukraine, Syria, Iraq, Yemen, and I could go on for quite some time, continue to undermine regional and global stability. Irresponsible and reckless acts by North Korea, in defiance of United Nations Security Council resolutions and its own international obligations, leaves the global community struggling to contain its behaviour and to assure their populations of their continued security. This is why Canada is taking meaningful steps that will deliver tangible results for all.

Many countries, including Canada, believe that this uncertain environment is not conducive to expediting disarmament. Historically, non-proliferation efforts and disarmament, or arms reduction, only occurred when the main stakeholders participated in the discussion. That was true in the case of the negotiations regarding landmines and cluster munitions, to give just two examples.

Significant progress requires a good dialogue and trust between the governments involved in the negotiations. Unfortunately, since that is currently not the case, we need to focus on measures that rebuild that trust and make it possible to open a dialogue.

Other countries believe that the current context warrants a more radical approach to total nuclear disarmament, but such an approach has very little chance of success in the near future. I am thinking of the initiative to negotiate an agreement to ban nuclear weapons. While we obviously appreciate the good intentions behind that initiative, unfortunately, it is not the right approach. We believe that the current negotiations are premature and ineffective, and that they could create divisions and complicate the path to nuclear disarmament.

Let me explain this further.

First, we believe the negotiations are premature because, in the current security climate, countries with nuclear weapons regard them as essential for their security. That is their point of view, and they are the ones that possess the nuclear weapons. It is unrealistic to expect countries to disarm when they face very real threats, including from nuclear weapon proliferators like North Korea. Only when these countries have the confidence in their security, without the need for nuclear deterrence, will they be ready to reduce and ultimately eliminate their nuclear weapon stockpiles. This is a pragmatic and realistic approach.

Second, we expect that the draft convention will be ineffective. Without the participation of states possessing nuclear weapons, it is certain that not a single nuclear weapon will be eliminated through this process. In this context, these negotiations will provide nothing else than a declaratory ban, as the countries participating in them are already prohibited from possessing these nuclear weapons through their obligations under the nuclear non-proliferation treaty. In other words, any additional prohibitions that apply only to states party to the ban will not help to achieve a world free of nuclear weapons.

Further, we are concerned that the treaty does not include credible provisions for monitoring and verification. Countries that are expected to give up their reliance on nuclear weapons will want to be assured that others are not able to cheat. We have already seen, in the very recent past, a nation that has cheated repeatedly. Unfortunately, the current discussions do not encompass such verification measures. As well, much technical work remains to be done in order for disarmament verification to be credible and effective, and Canada is currently actively engaged in advancing some of this work.

Finally, the proposed treaty is likely to be very divisive. Without any meaningful disarmament or verification measures, it will stigmatize nuclear weapons, with the aim of establishing customary international law prohibiting their use. In order to prevent this, countries with nuclear arms will become persistent objectors.

We all abhor nuclear weapons and their potential to be used. However, if it is going to create a divisive wedge, then it should be thought through extraordinarily carefully. Quite frankly, this is already creating an adversarial dynamic. Instead of striving to seek common ground on mutually agreed objectives, like happened between the former Soviet Union and the United States 20 years ago, this process will only reinforce the differences between nuclear weapon states and non-nuclear weapon states, making further progress on nuclear disarmament even more difficult because there will be no continuation of the dialogue.

These concerns are not new. Indeed, Canada participated extensively and constructively in the process leading up to the current ban treaty negotiations. This included active involvement in the three conferences on the humanitarian impact of nuclear weapons and the United Nations open-ended working group on nuclear disarmament. Throughout these processes, Canada worked to shape the dialogue and arrive at recommendations that addressed the security interests and disarmament objectives of all countries. We even hosted our mission in Geneva, a framework forum round table, to facilitate the work of the open-ended working group, with great results. Unfortunately, despite considerable efforts by Canada and others, the working group could not come to a consensus on its final report, and instead established the basis for the United Nations resolution of last fall, which authorized the current negotiations.

It is a long and complicated tale, but the bottom line is that the concerns raised by Canada and many of our like-minded partners were not addressed in the recommendations of the final report from the open-ended working group. We could not therefore support the UN resolution establishing these negotiations. Moreover, as we expect their outcome to be a merely declaratory document targeting important elements of our collective security obligations under NATO, we cannot participate in these negotiations in good faith.

Canada's approach recognizes that despite a problematic international security environment, there is great opportunity to pursue effective nuclear disarmament efforts over the longer term. The current ban treaty negotiations pit nuclear weapon states against non-nuclear weapon states, forcing both sides to entrench their positions. Leadership on nuclear disarmament demands the opposite, bringing actors together to realize concrete progress where it is possible and not merely driving groups of them apart. This is where Canada has its focus, as do our allies, 41 of which did not participate in the ban treaty negotiations.

What marks real, tangible action? In contrast to ban treaty proponents as suggested by the members opposite, Canada and her allies maintain that nuclear disarmament can only realistically be achieved through an approach that takes into account the views and security interests of all states. Our position is that the most effective approach is a step-by-step process, which includes the universalization of the nuclear non-proliferation treaty, a fully enforced comprehensive nuclear test ban treaty, a negotiated fissile material cut-off treaty, and only as the ultimate step, a credible and enforceable convention or ban on nuclear weapons. We must act in a systematic, logical, progressive fashion to tackle this complex and hideously dangerous issue.

In keeping with the 2010 motion adopted unanimously in both Houses of Parliament here in Canada, encouraging the Government of Canada to deploy a major worldwide Canadian diplomatic initiative in support of nuclear disarmament, I am proud to say that is precisely what Canada is doing.

As the Minister of Foreign Affairs said a few days ago, in December 2016, Canada rallied 159 states, including those with nuclear weapons, to adopt a United Nations resolution calling for a fissile material cut-off treaty. Banning the production of fissile materials for nuclear explosives is almost universally recognized as the logical next step.

This resolution establishes for the first time an expert preparatory group, which will develop aspects of an eventual treaty. This group will enjoy input from open-ended, informal consultative meetings with all UN member states. Canada is chairing this process. Under our leadership, the success of the process will be a major step toward nuclear disarmament. The vast majority of countries with nuclear weapons are participating in the preparatory group, which is key to its success.

In addition to our work in this regard, Canada is supporting work on the technical issues that will need to be addressed in order to establish a credible nuclear weapons disarmament regime. This includes engagement with the international partnership for nuclear disarmament verification, which aims to develop measures for the verification of nuclear disarmament, of which I spoke earlier.

Verification systems and methods are crucial to managing risks and mitigating threats related to weapons of mass destruction, and these, especially for nuclear weapons, are essential for providing assurance that all parties are in compliance with their obligations under the regime. Doubts and mistrust can and have stalled non-proliferation, arms control, and disarmament talks in the past. Transparency and confidence provided by independent verification can be a true motivator, as seen by the 116 stations of which I have spoken.

Understandably, the global skills and knowledge base for nuclear disarmament verification is limited, resulting in significant capacity gaps. Through, however, a cross-regional partnership of over two dozen countries, including the United States, the Russian Federation, the United Kingdom, France, and the People's Republic of China, countries are now working collaboratively to develop in detail the measures required to address the technical challenges related to the monitoring of nuclear disarmament and to ensure that disarmament commitments are being faithfully implemented. This is progress.

In addition to providing a nuclear disarmament policy and technical expertise, Canada is finalizing a project, through its weapons of mass destruction threat reduction program, that contributes to the Nuclear Threat Initiative, an organization that is hosting and facilitating a variety of meetings. This financial contribution will help the important work being undertaken through this initiative. Through this financial contribution, we will help the international partnership for nuclear disarmament verification continue its critical work.

We also support Norway's initiative to create a group of government experts on nuclear disarmament verification, one of the most challenging obstacles to nuclear disarmament. Concerted and inclusive action is necessary if we are to make genuine progress.

To conclude, let me reiterate that Canada is firmly committed to achieving a world free of nuclear weapons. There is no doubt about it. However, rather than symbolic gestures, which can and will be divisive, Canada is staying focused on the pragmatic and on what will actually achieve concrete results toward global nuclear disarmament, emphasizing efforts that have broad support.

Canada and our allies are supporting practical efforts that will require time and effort, of course, but the outcomes are much more likely to be meaningful, enduring, and effective. Canada's determined leadership on nuclear disarmament initiatives, including on several panels, and on technical issues, such as verification, will achieve the results that will best serve all countries.

Once again, let me be clear. We strongly support concrete efforts toward nuclear disarmament. We welcome them, but we are taking meaningful steps to achieve this, and that means doing the hard technical work to deliver real and lasting results. The work we are currently doing will have a positive impact toward nuclear disarmament worldwide, and it is something to be proud of.

Opposition motion—Nuclear DisarmamentBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

10:55 a.m.

NDP

Linda Duncan NDP Edmonton Strathcona, AB

Madam Speaker, the hon. member listed all the mythologies that are being presented by Russia, the United States, and now Canada, against participating in the required negotiations for this convention. Canada signed on to the non-proliferation treaty, and one of its obligations under it is in fact to participate in these negotiations, which the hon. member failed to mention.

There is absolutely nothing preventing Canada from stepping forward, like most of the nations of the world, in participating in all of these initiatives, which are required under the non-proliferation treaty. It is interesting that the argument is being made that it is premature for nations to sit down and negotiate a convention to ban nuclear weapons. When precisely is a perfect time? Should it be the same thing as on climate change, because the United States has now pulled out? No, it should not. Canada has said “we are there” even stronger.

The arguments are so specious. I find it an incredible slight to the many nations, including Ireland and the Netherlands, which is a NATO country, who are participating there and speaking from their hearts and doing the hard work to protect the nations that are at risk from a nuclear war.

I wonder if the member could say which camp the Liberals are in. Are they in the camp that believes the only path to security is to have nuclear weapons, or are they in the camp of the majority of nations in the world that are saying the continuance of having nuclear weapons and moving to modernization for easier deployment of them is not the way to go?

Opposition motion—Nuclear DisarmamentBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

10:55 a.m.

Liberal

Andrew Leslie Liberal Orléans, ON

Madam Speaker, in the main, Canada absolutely believes in the principle of nuclear disarmament. As a former soldier, and one who is trained in the NATO systems, and who many years ago took a nuclear fire planning course to employ tactical weapons systems in conjunction with our American allies, I am fully aware of the potential tragic impact that such weapon systems, if ever utilized, would bring not only to local battlefield circumstances but indeed the world.

Having said that, Canada's approach is pragmatic, realistic, and is going to be effective in conjunction with our friends and allies. It is illogical to expect friends and allies who do possess nuclear weapons, and on whose shoulders the whole idea of deterrence has rested for many decades, to actually be able to co-operate meaningfully with those who are just interested in making statements. That is why our efforts, which involve providing technical skills, scarce resources, and money to those technical aspects involved in establishing the frameworks for future dialogue are so important.

Nuclear disarmament is an excellent ideal, but unfortunately, tragically, because of international security conditions and rogue states, such as North Korea, it is not possible over the short term.

Opposition motion—Nuclear DisarmamentBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

11 a.m.

Conservative

Dave Van Kesteren Conservative Chatham-Kent—Leamington, ON

Madam Speaker, I have a great respect for the hon. member, the work that he did, and his knowledge.

However, when I look at the motion, I do not expect him to answer all of these questions, but in terms of (a) to (e), I would assume that you would agree with those things.

Opposition motion—Nuclear DisarmamentBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

11 a.m.

NDP

The Assistant Deputy Speaker NDP Carol Hughes

I would remind the member to address the questions to the Chair.

Opposition motion—Nuclear DisarmamentBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

11 a.m.

Conservative

Dave Van Kesteren Conservative Chatham-Kent—Leamington, ON

Madam Speaker, when I look at those first parts of the motion, they are very agreeable. The problem is probably the fourth part of the motion.

In light of the fact, and I know the hon. member would agree with this, that the most horrific thing we have done as human beings is to produce a bomb and a weapon of such total destruction, is this not in the best interests of all of us? I understand the member, and I have listened to his argument that the government believes that this would be an exercise that would be futile. However, is it not in our best interest to do everything possible to rid us of this scourge and plague that has come upon us as mankind? I wonder if the hon. member could answer that.

Opposition motion—Nuclear DisarmamentBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

11 a.m.

Liberal

Andrew Leslie Liberal Orléans, ON

Madam Speaker, I would like to remind the House that Canada is one of the very few nations in the world that gave up its nuclear weapons capability. It was the Bomarc system, of which I think most are well familiar. This was groundbreaking. It represented the will, the desire, and indeed the need of Canadians to take a firm stand, all of which was highly admirable.

However, in that context, as members of NATO, we have relied on and stood on the shoulders of others who have nuclear weapons deterrent capabilities, which, for good or bad, I think mainly good, prevented an outbreak of nuclear war until now. Where the nuclear doomsday clock stands in terms of its hands moving toward midnight is a matter of scientific opinion. However, the point is that it obviously has not crossed that threshold of midnight.

In that sense, although it has been a hideous expense, and of course we are well aware of the two tragic utilizations of nuclear weapons under wartime conditions, specifically in Japan, and the horrific casualties that ensued, we have brought peace and stability under a very fractious world system. Unfortunately, right now, international security circumstances are such that those nation-states that do have nuclear weapon systems are probably not going to be convinced in any way, shape, or form by motions through this government to disarm. Instead, we have chosen to put skills, expertise, personnel, and money into those technical aspects.

Opposition motion—Nuclear DisarmamentBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

11 a.m.

Whitby Ontario

Liberal

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

Madam Speaker, I would like my colleague to elaborate on the importance of this responsible approach of engaging countries without nuclear weapons, particularly in the context of the fissile material cut-off treaty, and accountability.

Opposition motion—Nuclear DisarmamentBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

11 a.m.

Liberal

Andrew Leslie Liberal Orléans, ON

Madam Speaker, I would like to thank my hon. colleague for the great question and the chance to lay out the pragmatic approach to which she referred that Canada has taken to achieve worldwide nuclear disarmament in co-operation with our friends and allies, both those who have nuclear weapon systems and those who do not.

Our government believes that in order to convince nuclear powers to get rid of their weapons we must take this step-by-step approach. We are leading on a UN resolution that is doing just that, bringing nuclear powers to the table and working gradually toward disarmament. Not only do we lead through the UN system to make sure we advance toward this goal, we are also taking concrete actions. For example, Global Affairs has a program with respect to the mass destruction non-proliferation treaty with a view to prevent weapons of mass destruction from falling into the hands of terrorists. This program is called, not surprisingly, the weapons of mass destruction threat reduction program, and receives funding of $73 million per year.

We also support Norway's initiative to create a group of government experts on nuclear disarmament verification, something that is needed. These stations, which I referred to earlier with respect to monitoring, need support, sustenance, networking, and cannot be stand-alone. Without this weapons verification system ability to track explosives, very few of the nuclear states will disarm.

As well, in 2016, for the first time ever, Canada rallied 159 states to support and pass the resolution that my hon. colleague referred to, the fissile material cut-off treaty. With the support of nuclear and non-nuclear countries, this was a first and we chaired it.

Opposition motion—Nuclear DisarmamentBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

11:05 a.m.

NDP

The Assistant Deputy Speaker NDP Carol Hughes

We have time for a brief question.

The hon. member for Salaberry—Suroît.

Opposition motion—Nuclear DisarmamentBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

11:05 a.m.

NDP

Anne Minh-Thu Quach NDP Salaberry—Suroît, QC

Madam Speaker, I have a question for the member opposite.

Does he not feel it is time to live up to his word and show some leadership? In 2010 a motion passed unanimously, including the Liberals, calling on Parliament to join negotiations for a nuclear weapons convention. As well, in 2016, Liberal delegates voted in favour of a resolution for Canada and a nuclear-weapon-free world, which included the following:

WHEREAS as a member of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT)(1970), Canada has an international treaty obligation “to pursue negotiations”…

Despite all this and the fact that Canada signed the treaty and that delegates asked the Liberal Party to oppose nuclear weapons and take part in negotiation, Canada is still standing in the way of negotiations.

Does the member not feel this somewhat contradicts the position of his own party and its supporters?

Opposition motion—Nuclear DisarmamentBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

11:05 a.m.

Liberal

Andrew Leslie Liberal Orléans, ON

Madam Speaker, of course, we support nuclear disarmament agreements.

What my hon. friend is proposing is to negotiate a nuclear weapons ban without those countries that have nuclear weapons participating. That would be pointless. This is not something that would result in real change.

Of course, our goal is nuclear disarmament and we are doing what it takes to achieve it. This means working hard to get tangible results. In this respect, I am very proud of Canada’s approach.

Opposition motion—Nuclear DisarmamentBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

11:05 a.m.

Conservative

Peter Kent Conservative Thornhill, ON

Madam Speaker, I will be sharing my time with the member for Selkirk—Interlake—Eastman.

I would like to begin by taking members and folks viewing us across the country in the safety and security of their homes back to a moment in history: 16 minutes past eight o'clock in the morning of August 6, 1945. That was the instant when an atomic bomb, three metres in length, weighing barely 4,000 kilograms, containing less than 64 kilograms of uranium-235, and dangling from a descending parachute, exploded over Hiroshima, Japan. In that instant, some 80,000 people died in the blazing blast under a rising mushroom cloud of fire and smoke. The co-pilot of the American B-29 bomber, looking back, said to his fellow crewmen, “My God, what have we done?” What the Americans did that terrible day, and with a larger plutonium bomb three days later over Nagasaki, Japan, effectively ended the Second World War and far greater casualties, with Japan's surrender the next week.

We know that, since 1945, although there have been a number of close calls, nuclear weapons have not again been used in conflict. In the early years of the Cold War came the concept of mutual assured destruction, developed as a defence policy during the Kennedy administration. MAD essentially involves the United States stockpiling a huge nuclear arsenal, which in the event of a Soviet attack would have provided the U.S. with enough nuclear firepower to survive a first wave of nuclear strikes and to strike back at Russia and its Warsaw Pact partners. The resulting enduring theory of nuclear deterrence to this day meant that it would be unthinkable for either side to launch a first strike because it would inevitably lead to its own destruction.

Toward the end of the Cold War, 1987 to be exact, Margaret Thatcher said:

A world without nuclear weapons may be a dream but you cannot base a sure defence on dreams. Without far greater trust and confidence between East and West than exists at present, a world without nuclear weapons would be less stable and more dangerous for all of us.

Prime Minister Thatcher then offered a quote by Winston Churchill, and again this goes back to the period just after the Second World War when Churchill said, “Be careful above all...not to let go of the atomic weapon until you are sure and more than sure that other means of preserving peace are in your hands.”

Today, almost three decades after the Cold War ended, and despite the voluntary decommissioning of thousands of nuclear weapons, there are still more than 10,000 nuclear weapons of all sorts, bombs and warheads, worldwide. Eight countries have successfully detonated nuclear weapons: the United States, Russia, Britain, France, India, Pakistan, North Korea, and Israel. We know Iran is close to achieving nuclear capability. Five NATO member countries share nuclear weapons: Germany, Belgium, Italy, the Netherlands, and Turkey. The nuclear non-proliferation treaty, ratified by Canada decades ago, aims at “sharing the benefits of peaceful nuclear technology and the pursuit of nuclear disarmament and the ultimate elimination of nuclear arsenals”. However, North Korea left the treaty; Israel, India, and Pakistan have never joined; Iran did join decades ago but, surprise, was found to be in non-compliance and brags today about its dark nuclear intentions.

In the past decade, our previous Conservative government worked multilaterally to improve international nuclear security and to address the threat posed by nuclear terrorism. We worked with our international partners to prevent the acquisition of fissionable materials by any individuals, entities, or countries that might threaten Canadian national security, which brings me to the NDP motion before us. Conservatives do not disagree with paragraph (a) of the motion; we have no doubt of the catastrophic humanitarian consequences that would result from the use of atomic weapons.

At the same time, we in the official opposition agree with our democratic allies that possess nuclear weapons as a vital defence deterrent, the United States, Britain, France, and Israel; and our NATO partners that share them, Germany, Belgium, Italy, and the Netherlands, like Canada; which do not possess nuclear warheads. These countries all disagree with the talks to ban nuclear weapons, talks aimed at achieving total nuclear disarmament, which have absolutely no chance of success.

Russia and China, both nuclear powers, both veto-wielding permanent members of the Security Council, are not part of the democracies boycotting group, but they too see no reason to participate in the nuclear weapons ban talks. The Russian foreign minister has said that the 120 countries that are participating in the talks are trying to coerce nuclear powers into abandoning nuclear weapons, and he said it is absolutely clear that the time has not come. As well, President Obama during his presidency held essentially the same opposition to participation in the nuclear ban talks. That is because the world today is arguably in a much more dangerous place than it was during the Cold War and MAD. It is not because of the several hundred Russian and American weapons that are still on what is called hard alert, ready for launching within minutes of a perceived attack, but because of the nuclear weapons in the hands of a belligerent North Korea, because of the nuclear weapons still in development in Iran and that regime's continuing commitment to one day make a nuclear strike on Israel, and because of nuclear weapons at the ready today in Pakistan and in India, not to mention the fissionable material salvaged from Soviet era weapons believed to be accessible to international terror organizations.

While we Conservatives share with the NDP and peace-loving people around the world the dream of a nuclear weapons free world, while we agree that there are a couple of elements in the 2008 UN Secretary-General's five-point proposal that are still today worth pursuing—such as the call for the establishment of a central Asian and African nuclear weapons free zone treaty, the proposal for greater accountability and transparency by nuclear weapon states in documenting the size of their arsenals and weapons stocks, and continued efforts against other weapons of mass destruction—we in the official opposition do not believe that there is any benefit to participating in a marathon, wishful-thinking talkathon. There are more meaningful ways to work for greater peace and stability, fundamental human rights, and opportunities for those in the developing world and undemocratic states.

While we recognize the idealism of the NDP motion, we do not believe that the current precarious state of the world justifies Canada's engagement in these specific UN disarmament talks to ban nuclear weapons.

Opposition motion—Nuclear DisarmamentBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

11:15 a.m.

NDP

Linda Duncan NDP Edmonton Strathcona, AB

Madam Speaker, I appreciated the comments by the member and remind him that he was probably also in the House, perhaps still a journalist, when his party voted for our motion, for which there was unanimous support, to move toward negotiating this very treaty.

There are already 17,000 nuclear weapons in the world, as the member has pointed out. It is very clear that the fissile material ban treaty has very little opportunity of success. The member has repeated what the Liberals are saying, which is “That is a waste of time, they are just sitting around talking, and we should do credible actions like negotiate fissbans”. However, what they are not telling this place is that the very ones who hold the nuclear weapons are refusing to sign on and are very unlikely to sign on to the fissban treaty. So much for concrete action.

Surely the member does not believe that a sound reason to refuse to participate in the ban negotiations is that Russia feels threatened by these nations who are in fact threatened themselves by the fact that these nuclear weapons continue to proliferate.

Opposition motion—Nuclear DisarmamentBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

11:15 a.m.

Conservative

Peter Kent Conservative Thornhill, ON

Madam Speaker, as I say, we recognize the idealism of the NDP motion. With regard to the first part of her question and the symbolic unanimous consent on December 7, 2010, I was in Parliament. I was not in the House. I have voiced my concerns and reluctance to support unanimous motions at any time, except in the most exceptional circumstances, and this was another one. It was a unanimous motion put by Bill Siksay, a former NDP colleague, after question period, at 3:45 in the afternoon, when the House had fewer members than it has at this moment. It was a symbolic motion. It was a motion that supported the dream we all share of a world one day free of nuclear weapons, but it is unrealistic to expect today.

Not to trivialize this matter, but the reason our democratic allies are refusing to lay down all their nuclear weapons today, the reason our historic adversary, Russia, will not lay down its, is the unpredictability of the new nuclear states and the nuclear rogue states. It comes down to the rather trite saying, “You don't bring a knife to a gunfight.”

For the foreseeable future, we have to contend with a—

Opposition motion—Nuclear DisarmamentBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

11:15 a.m.

NDP

The Assistant Deputy Speaker NDP Carol Hughes

I have to allow time for another question.

Questions and comments, the hon. Parliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons.

Opposition motion—Nuclear DisarmamentBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

11:15 a.m.

Winnipeg North Manitoba

Liberal

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

Madam Speaker, the horrors of war are very well documented. Being a member of the Canadian Forces and having participated in parades with war vets, I get a very clear vision of many of the horrors that took place during WWII.

There is a role for government to play. Last fall Canada played a leadership role with 159 other countries in bringing forward a UN resolution that brings nuclear powers to the table to work pragmatically toward disarmament through a fissile material cut-off treaty. I wonder if the member would provide his thoughts on that.

Opposition motion—Nuclear DisarmamentBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

11:20 a.m.

Conservative

Peter Kent Conservative Thornhill, ON

Madam Speaker, as I said during my remarks, we recognize the government's action to contain fissionable materials and to work for further decommissioning the still huge arsenals that exist in Russia and the United States. We recognize that many of the former Soviet republics, such as Ukraine, Belarus, and others, voluntarily relinquished their nuclear weapons, laid them down. Our previous Conservative government worked to achieve those same ends.

These talks will continue, I regret to say, for years, I believe, but there is no reason to not continue with meaningful talks with our nuclear-possessing democratic allies, and the others, in the enduring hope of one day having a nuclear-free world.

Opposition motion—Nuclear DisarmamentBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

11:20 a.m.

NDP

The Assistant Deputy Speaker NDP Carol Hughes

Resuming debate. The hon. member for Selkirk—Interlake—Eastman.

Opposition motion—Nuclear DisarmamentBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

11:20 a.m.

Conservative

James Bezan Conservative Selkirk—Interlake—Eastman, MB

Madam Speaker, it is indeed a--

Opposition motion—Nuclear DisarmamentBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

11:20 a.m.

Conservative

Kevin Sorenson Conservative Battle River—Crowfoot, AB

Madam Speaker, in the last round of questions, you did not come back to the Conservatives. We heard from the hon. member for Edmonton Strathcona in her speech this morning. After two other speeches, she had lengthy questions, which prohibited others from standing and asking questions.

When the Liberal member gave his speech, you made the full circle and took a Liberal question. When we came back to the Conservative member, we had the NDP again stand and give a mini-speech, which prevented the Conservatives from asking their own member a question.

Just for further and future--

Opposition motion—Nuclear DisarmamentBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

11:20 a.m.

NDP

The Assistant Deputy Speaker NDP Carol Hughes

I just want to remind the member for Battle River—Crowfoot that when the Liberals did their round, there was 10 minutes for questions and comments. These have been 10 minutes, with five minutes for questions and comments.

When it is five minutes for questions and comments, we generally have time for only two questions. Because it is an NDP motion, the NDP get first crack at the questions when it is anyone else, except them, that is making the speech.

I have a clock. I try to be extremely fair. The member will also remember that there was a statement made by the Speaker in the House that basically indicated that when it is that party that is delivering the speech, the opportunity will be afforded to the other members to ask the questions first, in all fairness.

The hon. member for Selkirk—Interlake—Eastman.

Opposition motion—Nuclear DisarmamentBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

11:20 a.m.

Conservative

James Bezan Conservative Selkirk—Interlake—Eastman, MB

Madam Speaker, I rise today to join with my colleagues, the Conservatives, especially the foreign affairs critic, the member for Thornhill, who clearly articulated why this motion is unrealistic.

I know that New Democrats have a utopian view of the world. They would like to get to a peace-loving and homogeneous situation where everyone gets along. It is very unlikely that we will ever get to that state. We know that there are many bad players out there today. We have worked for a long time to try to reduce nuclear weapons, but an all-out ban, which the conference in the motion the NDP has brought forward is calling for, is unattainable.

The Conservative government worked hard over its 10 years to reduce the number of nuclear weapons in the possession of foreign governments and other international actors. It worked to prevent not just nuclear weapons but chemical weapons and biological weapons because of the traumatic effect they have on the lives of the innocent.

There have not been nuclear weapons on Canadian soil since 1984, and that goes back to the work done by Prime Minister Brian Mulroney and the Conservative government of the day to make sure that nuclear weapons were no longer stored on Canadian soil. Since then, government after government, Conservative and Liberal, have signed treaties and international agreements at the UN and with a number of organizations, including NATO, the G8, the International Atomic Energy Agency, and the Conference on Disarmament, to reduce the number of nuclear weapons available in the world.

We definitely need to work on stopping proliferation, but that is not happening. We need to work at reduction. That worked for a while between Russia and the United States, but now we are seeing the number of nuclear weapons increase.

Of course, we all want their eventual elimination, but this is not Shangri-La. We have to continue to drive ahead to try to reduce nuclear proliferation and to make sure that fissionable materials are not there for rogue states and terrorist organizations to get their hands on to produce nuclear warheads. The reality is that we cannot do it through an all-out ban. That is why the agreement the NDP is asking the government to support is unrealistic. Our NATO allies, western democracies, and the major UN nations that possess nuclear warheads are not participating in these talks. What is the purpose of it, then?

I am a member of Parliamentarians for Nuclear Non-Proliferation and Disarmament, an organization that represents more than 800 parliamentarians from 80 countries. It is something I am proud to belong to. However, it is about stopping proliferation, and that is not happening.

As I mentioned, the threat environment is still there. Not only is North Korea continuing to test its ballistic missiles with nuclear warheads but Iran still desires to produce its own nuclear warheads, and of course, aim them at the state of Israel, the United States, and other western allies. We know that the Iranian regime has the ability to ramp up its nuclear production, nuclear testing, and ballistic missile development in a very short period of time. The P5+1 agreement that was signed, which released all the cash held in escrow by the international community against the Iranian regime, did not take away Iran's ability to produce nuclear warheads. All it did was pause it, and Iran mothballed 85% to 95% of its production capacity. It can very quickly ramp up its testing, development, and ultimately, the use of a nuclear warhead.

I also have to point out what is happening in terrorist organizations. All we have to do is look not just at the proliferation of nuclear warheads but the proliferation of cruise missiles. In the conflict we see today in Yemen, the Houthi rebels are fighting the Yemen government that is supported by Saudi Arabia. They came into possession of cruise missiles. We are talking ballistic cruise missiles that have the capability of carrying nuclear warheads. They fired a cruise missile at a U.S. destroyer, not once but twice, and the U.S. navy was able to take out the truck from which they launched it.

People need to realize that we need the ability to defend ourselves. When our major partners, the United States, France, Great Britain, and Israel, possess these nuclear warheads and the ability to shoot them down, then we have to be aligned with them. As was pointed out by the member for Thornhill, other members of NATO also hold the same position.

We also have to look at the threat environment because of President Vladimir Putin from Russia. The Russian state continues to rattle its nuclear sabre. Putin has been bragging about having the most nuclear warheads in the world. He has also said that he wants to move nuclear warheads into areas where he wants to protect the Russian population. In 2016, he said, “We need to strengthen the strategic nuclear forces”. He wants to put them in Crimea. He wants to put them in the Baltic states in the Russian oblast of Kaliningrad, which is nestled right in there with Estonia, Lithuania, and Latvia. We are putting our troops into Latvia as part of our NATO mission. He said that he would do it, that he had talked with colleagues and told them that it was their historic territory, that Russian people lived there, they were in danger, and they could not leave them. He is going to put in nuclear warheads to do that.

That is one of the most telling factors of why we need to have deterrence measures, not just by putting troops in Latvia, not just by providing air policing, not just by having more NATO members spend more money on national defence and our collective security. It means that some members of the NATO alliance need their own nuclear weapons so it does not become a one-sided fight.

If the western democracy and NATO allies took away all of our nuclear weapons, as the member for Thornhill said, “You don't take a knife to a gun fight”, it is more like what we would call surrender. We need like power and the ability to defend and deter, first and foremost. That is what nuclear weapons were used for in the Cold War and in the recent past.

There was success under the Reagan administration to reduce the number of nuclear weapons. Ukraine of course gave up all of its nuclear warheads. Unfortunately, Russia today, under Vladimir Putin and his oligarchs and his kleptocrats, continues to move forward with investments in developing more nuclear warheads.

As has already been pointed out, nuclear powers like the United States, France, the UK, South Korea, Turkey, Russia, China, and almost 40 other countries have boycotted the negotiations for such a treaty because it is naive and it is unattainable. It is also at a time when North Korea continues to try to launch its own ballistic missiles with the capability of carrying nuclear material.

Ballistic missile defence has matured. The technology is great. It is effective to deal with North Korea, or Iran, or a non-state actor firing up a ballistic missile. However, it cannot deal with a bombardment of nuclear weapons from China or Russia. For anyone who thinks there is a shield out there that can protect North America from incoming nuclear weapons from Russia or China, I am sorry to say that it is not possible. There are not enough interceptors in the U.S. arsenal or in the arsenals any of our allies to shoot down that many warheads. It becomes a situation where we need the deterrents and our own potential of threat by our allies to possess these nuclear warheads.

I will close with this quote from the U.S. ambassador to the UN, Nikki Haley, who said this about these talks:

We would love to have a ban on nuclear weapons, but in this day and time we can't honestly say we can protect our people by allowing bad actors to have them and those of us that are good trying to keep peace and safety not to have them.

It is just about balance. We need to continue to have that to reduce the risk.

Opposition motion—Nuclear DisarmamentBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

11:30 a.m.

NDP

Pierre-Luc Dusseault NDP Sherbrooke, QC

Madam Speaker, I thank my colleague for his intervention.

I have a question for my colleague regarding his highly pessimistic arguments about a nuclear-weapons-free world. It is strange to be insulted as being too idealistic and wanting an ideal world. My question is about agreements similar to the one on chemical weapons, which are regulated by several international agreements.

In the case of chemical weapons, my colleague supports preventing their proliferation and use. There are consequences for countries that use them, such as Syria.

When it comes to nuclear weapons, why would it not be possible to sign similar agreements in order to prevent their use? Can he tell me why agreements work in one case but not the other?

Opposition motion—Nuclear DisarmamentBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

11:35 a.m.

Conservative

James Bezan Conservative Selkirk—Interlake—Eastman, MB

Madam Speaker, biological, nuclear and chemical weapons have similar effects. They are all weapons of mass destruction.

Main states within the UN Security Council already have agreed to reduce, eliminate, and ban chemical and biological weapons. Our problem has been with the minor state actors, like Bashar al-Assad and Syria and how he has used chemical weapons. Even the Russians denounce it whenever that has occurred, although they often try to deflect and blame other people for using those chemical weapons.

When the main world powers are in agreement, things become a lot easier. We do not have that with nuclear weapons. We have a situation where China and Russia, in particular, continue to build up their arsenals, not reduce them. There needs to be a balance there.

The nuclear option must be the last resort in any national defence talks, and only be used when all else fails. I pray that never, ever happens. As Canadians, as a government, whether it is Conservative or Liberal, we will have to do what we have always done in the past, which is use diplomatic means to assist world powers in the de-escalation of conflict and work with our allies and partners on the non-proliferation of nuclear arms to ensure they are effective, safe, and responsibly used.

Opposition motion—Nuclear DisarmamentBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

11:35 a.m.

Brampton West Ontario

Liberal

Kamal Khera LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of National Revenue

Madam Speaker, I want to thank the hon. member for highlighting the importance of engaging with our partners and allies that possess nuclear weapons. That is the only way to work toward nuclear disarmament. Could the member please explain what consequences could take place from failing to engage our partners and our allies?

Opposition motion—Nuclear DisarmamentBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

11:35 a.m.

Conservative

James Bezan Conservative Selkirk—Interlake—Eastman, MB

Madam Speaker, the treaty that the NDP wants Canada to sign on to is absent of our allies, is absent of powers that possess nuclear warheads. There can be no discussion or dialogue when they are not at the table.

We can do a lot of things, such as the Sergei Magnitsky law. That can be brought in and there can be sanctions. There is global isolation on those state players and individuals that are responsible for the proliferation of nuclear warheads. There is the opportunity to continue to work through the G7, to work through NATO, and OSCE, as organizations that bring more pressure upon those nations that refuse to participate.

Through economic sanctions, through travel bans, through active engagement with our allies, we can ensure that countries that refuse to be responsible partners on the world stage are isolated, countries like the Russian Federation, Iran, and North Korea that continually try to upset the balance of power, trying to redraw international boundaries, and sponsor terrorism in other parts of the world. We have to be more engaged from a principled point of view, which is to isolate them on a global level, sanction them when needed, and ensure they act and behave responsibly.

Opposition motion—Nuclear DisarmamentBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

11:35 a.m.

NDP

Cheryl Hardcastle NDP Windsor—Tecumseh, ON

Madam Speaker, I am very pleased to rise today on our NDP opposition motion and to stress the enormous opportunities being lost for Canada to play a role. It is the role that the Prime Minister alluded to when he termed “Canada is back”.

On the idea that Canada stands on principle for human rights and human security issues, whether it be development, nuclear armament, disarmament, environmental protection, and the advancement of human rights, Canada has never attempted to impose a solution. The crux of the argument today is this. The way to impose solutions is not a hard stance approach. It is to work creatively and publicly to bridge conflicting positions so solutions emerge collectively. In the international community, that is of the utmost importance. People who are elected and placed in the highest of these positions have a role and responsibility to fulfill those kinds of responsibilities. That is why they get paid the big bucks.

The exertion of ideas strengthens the notion that together we can create what has been called a middle power. The idea that we can work and build on the elements of soft power versus hard power needs to be finessed. It is being dismissed over time because might is right.

I will take the rest of my time today to talk about how we restore a human rather than a mechanistic response to the instruments of mass murder. Nuclear weapons are just that.

The idea of nuclear weapons or human rights is a values debate. I hear this idea being brought up today. It is being turned into a very simplistic debate about might versus right. One member even quipped in his speech “you don't bring a knife to a gunfight”. This indicates to me that I need to spend more time talking about the crux of the matter and the importance of engaging in treaty obligations, being active participants, not sitting on the sidelines. That way, we play a key role in the future. By saying we do not want to have to sit and pay attention and do some of the nuancing and finessing required to be active members of this exclusive club, which is now emerging, because it is too much trouble, and we will just dismiss it as Shangri-La, is concerning. It would be funny if it were not so poignantly disastrous. We need to think about what really happens with nuclear weapons.

We are having a values debate that civil society has already had and is being very persistent about. There is a way that we can be aggressive with this insistence for placing human rights first. How can all of us reconcile our moral and spiritual values for human rights, knowing that the horrible consequences of such weapons are at the very crux of whether we are active participants in our treaty obligations? That means sitting and participating in discussions.

We need a reminder every so often of exactly what a nuclear weapon does. Earlier a member quipped “the NDP are idealistic” and “you don't bring a knife to a gunfight”. This is alarming.

There is a clear and utter lack of comprehension about what we are talking about. To suggest that we should not trouble ourselves with partaking in international treaty obligations because there is no Shangri-La, as one member stated, is naive. That is actually unattainable.

I am going to segue into another aspect of my speech, and at this time, it is appropriate for me to stress again that I will be splitting my time with the member for Sherbrooke.

To equate this issue with bringing a knife to a gunfight, to me, suggests that there is a need in this place for an unvarnished understanding of nuclear destruction, nuclear famine, nuclear winter, and nuclear mass murder. Unless nuclear weapons are abolished, these are the realities we are talking about.

Rather than using finesse, rather than developing our relationships and building bridges, rather than tapping into diplomacy and the art of consensus, rather than understanding and using our soft power, and there is a lot of talent for soft power here in this place so we know we have the capability to use it, to suggest that, instead of doing that, we would not partake in discussions because somebody else has a nuclear weapon that they might use is such a false logic that it is very saddening for humanity.

It was Carl Sagan who first coined the term “nuclear winter” decades ago. This was when people were starting to describe the unvarnished descriptions of the devastation and destruction of a nuclear weapon. We have to thank astounding and exemplary advocates like Setsuko Thurlow, who was here yesterday, a Hiroshima survivor. People talk about the incredible waves of heat and that people drop instantly like flies and then some of them writhe like worms that are still alive. These are actual descriptions. I am paraphrasing the actual wording of people who have given testimony on nuclear destruction.

However, a lot of people do not realize that the term “nuclear famine” talks about the aftermath because it is not just in that moment. Nuclear famine refers to the starvation that would ensue after a nuclear explosion. Even a limited nuclear war in one region, for example, would result in millions of deaths, firestorms with soot rising up into the troposphere, cooling temperatures, and a significant decline in food production.

Now we would have a famine. We would have mass migration, civil conflict, and war, not only because of resources that are being destroyed but because what resources are left are being competed for.

A “nuclear ozone hole” describes another consequence of nuclear war. Soot from burning cities in a nuclear war would severely damage the Earth's protective ozone layer. Large losses of stratospheric ozone would permit more ultraviolet radiation to reach us, with severe consequences, such as skin cancers, crop damage, and destruction of marine phytoplankton. The effects would persist for years.

My point is that the ripple effect of nuclear destruction has only been talked about in very distant terms. We need to bring the humanity back. If we do not do that, we will never have a meaningful debate in this place about what it would take and what the substance would be of our role in a treaty obligation, instead of dismissing it and saying, “Oh, somebody else has this weapon, so we're not going to be bothered.” That is what it boils down to for me.

Let us understand this so that from now on, as we debate today, we can actually be talking about what the crux of developing our soft power would be, how we can finesse our talents as diplomats here, how we can—

Opposition motion—Nuclear DisarmamentBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

11:45 a.m.

NDP

The Assistant Deputy Speaker NDP Carol Hughes

Unfortunately, the member's time is up. Perhaps she could continue during the questions and comments period.

Questions and comments, the hon. member for Calgary Rocky Ridge.

Opposition motion—Nuclear DisarmamentBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

11:45 a.m.

Conservative

Pat Kelly Conservative Calgary Rocky Ridge, AB

Madam Speaker, while the member did spend a fair bit of her speech responding to the member for Thornhill, I will ask a question that I would like her to think about, or give us her thoughts and comments on, with respect to government policy.

We on the Conservative side, and I hope all of us, are deeply concerned with the issue of nuclear proliferation: the proliferation of delivery systems, the proliferation of fissile material, and the proliferation of the capacity to build a bomb. I would like the member's comments on that. I would like to know what she thinks of the current government's response so far to this threat, particularly with regimes such as North Korea and Iran, which have expressed their intention to acquire nuclear weapons for use against other people in the world.

Opposition motion—Nuclear DisarmamentBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

11:50 a.m.

NDP

Cheryl Hardcastle NDP Windsor—Tecumseh, ON

Madam Speaker, I was collectively responding to some of the comments that were made. However, these are attitudes that I knew had to be addressed from the beginning.

The question is also a good example of why that needs to be addressed, because we are skirting the issue. Of course that has to be addressed. Of course we have to be active and play an active role in that. I applaud that. However, we have to go one step further because we are out of the loop. We are not optimizing the work that we could be doing with respect to innovation, and becoming the vanguard leaders we could be. We cannot do these things if we are not in the loop and part of all of these other progressive discussions that are happening to advance this. We have to have this holistic approach.

This is what has been happening. It is being split and categorized because it is so incredibly difficult. I get that. What we are saying is to let us work together and take it one step further. We cannot skirt the issue and have a debate on one aspect of it, in one room, and not include the other people in the discussion. It is an isolating factor. I think we could be optimizing the initiatives that are boldly taking place that I do applaud.

Opposition motion—Nuclear DisarmamentBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

11:50 a.m.

Winnipeg North Manitoba

Liberal

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

Madam Speaker, the Government of Canada has been active and proactive. Canada has led 159 countries in bringing forward a UN resolution that brings nuclear powers to the table to work pragmatically toward disarmament through a fissile material cut-off treaty. That is being proactive and taking a tangible action and moving forward. We are very much concerned about it, and we are seeing actions taken by this government.

What time frame does the member across the way believe we are in with respect to a nuclear-free world? When does she believe that will take place?

Opposition motion—Nuclear DisarmamentBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

11:50 a.m.

NDP

Cheryl Hardcastle NDP Windsor—Tecumseh, ON

Madam Speaker, that is the kind of question that can only be answered with true and full-on participation. If we want tangible results, if we think we are being active as a government, then we have to be able to go all out and participate in all of these different aspects.

The talking points presented through that question are why, in our opposition day motion, we have included section (e), which states, “express disappointment in Canada’s vote against, and absence from, initial rounds of negotiations for a legally binding instrument to prohibit nuclear weapons”.

That being said, expressing that disappointment means that we see that there is a hopefulness and that we need to optimize the opportunities that are taking place right now. This is something that can be done. It is feasible. It is not Shangri-La. The importance of our having a full and expansive participation does not negate the work that is being done, but we have to see some tangible results when we are doing this all together. Ultimately, I can give you a timeline once we are actively participating in those talks. Therefore, support—

Opposition motion—Nuclear DisarmamentBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

11:50 a.m.

NDP

The Assistant Deputy Speaker NDP Carol Hughes

I want to remind the member that she is to address her comments to the Chair and not to individual members.

Resuming debate, the hon. member for Sherbrooke.

Opposition motion—Nuclear DisarmamentBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

11:50 a.m.

NDP

Pierre-Luc Dusseault NDP Sherbrooke, QC

Madam Speaker, I am very pleased to rise today in the House to speak to the important issue of nuclear disarmament and the nuclear issue in general. This issue is important to all members no matter what they have said about it. There seems to be consensus for a world free of nuclear weapons. However, there seems to be a divergence of opinions among Conservatives and Liberals on how to achieve that.

This is a fine example of how we can work constructively as members in the House. I was elected to do constructive work.

I am pleased to take part in this debate and support the motion moved by my colleague from Laurier—Sainte-Marie. The hon. member for Edmonton Strathcona and my colleague worked hard to move this motion today. I thank them because this is a good example of constructive work by the opposition; we are proposing something instead of always opposing things. This is a good example of the good work that the NDP does to advance ideas and propose tangible measures, in this case on the nuclear issue.

In my opinion, this is one of the most important issues for humanity. This is about the survival of our species and that of every other species on earth. This is a sensitive topic for me given all the many victims nuclear weapons have claimed around the world in the past—a not so distant past, at that. One victim would have been too many, but tens of thousands of people were affected and continue to be affected. The fallout from these weapons can still be felt years, generations after they were deployed.

I cannot begin to fathom why states and governments continue to fund nuclear weapon development, on top of defending the notion that this is a question of self-defence and, as such, countries should be able to keep stockpiling these weapons and fighting fire with fire. Amassing even more nuclear weapons is not really the way we want to go.

The current narrative seems to almost encourage nuclear proliferation. Countries produce nuclear weapons in the hopes of protecting themselves, fearing one will be used against them. That does not make sense to me. Continuing in that direction is much too dangerous. I am not an expert on the topic, but I assume that states with these weapons have adequate means of protecting them.

There is nonetheless a risk that these weapons could fall into the wrong hands. Some could decide to use them in the near future. Knowing that those weapons could fall into the hands of very ill-intentioned people is a major concern for our country, for the entire world, and for me.

Clearly, one has to be of ill intent to use nuclear weapons. There is no way to use such weapons for good, but some might use them anyway. These weapons falling into the wrong hands would certainly put humanity in jeopardy. The danger is real, as we have seen other types of weapons fall into the hands of terrorist groups. That is why the possibility of nuclear weapons falling into such hands is so worrisome.

I am also very surprised today to see the Liberals using the same argument the Conservatives used regarding international agreements to fight climate change. They claimed that these agreements would be of little to no value without the participation of major powers like China and the United States. That was the argument used by the Conservatives on climate change. That was also the reason we withdrew from the Kyoto protocol. They claimed it would be ineffective without the major players.

Today, the Liberals are using the same argument. They say some people like to sit around the table to discuss important topics and dream, but that, in the end, it changes nothing. If we had had the same attitude about climate change, we would never have had an agreement like the Kyoto protocol, much less the Paris accord.

We will never make any progress by constantly saying that we will wait for someone else to start the work before joining in. That is a very disappointing attitude from the Liberals. They wait for others to do the work and for the biggest players to sit at the table and, in the meantime, they leave the real power in the hands of the other powers.

As a country, we can work constructively on negotiations. That is why we propose that Canada return to the table to do constructive work that will finally show results. That is what we did with climate change, and we are all happy that that worked and led to the Paris accord.

We must have the same vision and work together, as we did on climate change. We were able to bring almost all powers to the table, and that actually gave results.

I would also like to point out that there are other types of treaties, such as those on chemical weapons. The Conservatives and Liberals say that an agreement on nuclear disarmament would never work, while the chemical weapons treaty shows that the work was quite effective. We can therefore draw on the work done in that negotiating forum to ban the use of chemical weapons and punish those who use them.

I humbly propose that the House examine this issue and draw inspiration from what has been done on that file. We were able to bring the major powers to the table and they agreed to ban chemical weapons. That is certainly something that the members can draw on.

The Minister of Foreign affairs said that Canada wanted to engage anew in multilateral and international forums, naming almost all of them, and go against the approach of the Conservatives, who primarily favoured bilateral relations. Well, today, she has the opportunity to engage in multilateral negotiations on nuclear disarmament.

Now we are told that it is not necessary and that it will not work, when two days ago the Minister announced that she wanted to engage anew in multilateral forums. There is therefore a contradiction. I hope that the Liberals will act on that new engagement by the Minister and support this motion to engage in negotiations.

I would be pleased to answer questions from my colleagues.

Opposition motion—Nuclear DisarmamentBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

12:05 p.m.

Brampton West Ontario

Liberal

Kamal Khera LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of National Revenue

Mr. Speaker, our government is strongly supporting concrete efforts toward nuclear disarmament. We are taking meaningful steps toward achieving it .

In 2016, for the first time ever, Canada rallied 159 states to support and pass a resolution calling for the fissile material cut-off treaty. With the support of the nuclear and non-nuclear countries, Canada is chairing this high-level group to help phase out nuclear weapons. That is real action that will have a positive impact towards nuclear disarmament.

We need all our allies and all our partners at the table to make this happen. The immediate ban is an empty process that excludes essential players and may actually set back nuclear disarmament. Would the hon. member not agree?

Opposition motion—Nuclear DisarmamentBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

12:05 p.m.

NDP

Pierre-Luc Dusseault NDP Sherbrooke, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am very disappointed to hear once again what I have just denounced in my speech. The government uses the same arguments as the Conservatives on the issue of climate change. They say that, if the essential players are not there, it serves no purpose. If the United States and China are not part of the agreement, it will achieve nothing.

Well something was finally achieved, because people had the courage to do it and to go all the way in the case of agreements such as Kyoto and Paris. It is also because leaders, like Canada, played an important role.

In this case, Canada could again become a leader on the nuclear weapons file, tackling another important problem for humanity. We currently see that the Liberal government has decided to throw in the towel and leave it to others. Once again, they reiterate what the Conservatives said: leave it to others, it does not concern us, and we wash our hands of it.

Opposition motion—Nuclear DisarmamentBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

12:05 p.m.

NDP

Pierre Nantel NDP Longueuil—Saint-Hubert, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank my colleague from Sherbrooke, who has a great interest in this topic. He documented his speech very well and I am proud that our party is raising this topic before the House. Indeed, we can obviously agree on one thing: there is frustration with the previous Conservative government. Canada has always had a reputation of being a progressive actor that strived for healthy agreement between the major countries. That leads me to ask my colleague a question.

How can we explain that this government has decided to adopt this incredibly short-sighted approach? It withdraws from such discussions, which are necessary and progressive, with partners who are equally short-sighted. Is it just a terrible error in managing priorities or is it simply very dangerous doublespeak?

Opposition motion—Nuclear DisarmamentBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

12:05 p.m.

NDP

Pierre-Luc Dusseault NDP Sherbrooke, QC

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for his question. It is hard for me to explain what the Liberals are saying today. In this case, they have simply decided to drop the ball. However, the Liberal Party should have been a leader in these discussions.

It must also be remembered that the members of the Liberal Party themselves supported the same type of request that we are making today, to engage anew in negotiations. It is really too bad to see the government MPs decide to reject their members, their volunteers, and the people who help them during election campaigns. Those people adopted a resolution at the 2016 Liberal Party convention. Today, the Liberal MPs decided to turn their backs on their members and their opinions. I find that totally unacceptable.

I am very surprised to see the Liberal Party reject all of their members in that way, members who had supported a motion similar to ours. Some will be very disappointed, particularly those who sponsored such a resolution at the Liberal convention.

Opposition motion—Nuclear DisarmamentBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

12:05 p.m.

Liberal

Francis Scarpaleggia Liberal Lac-Saint-Louis, QC

Mr. Speaker, in 1962, for 13 days, the world was at the brink. I was very young at the time. I was unaware of developments. Therefore, I, like many children, was spared the angst that no doubt others who were more aware of the situation, parents and other adults, were experiencing. Fortunately, a terrible Armageddon was avoided, but tensions around nuclear weapons continued throughout the Cold War. During the 1980s, for example, children, and I believe my own wife, in fact, when she was in high school, protested against nuclear weapons. Films like The Day After impacted individual and collective psyches as well.

Today we are in a very different situation, but there are nuclear tensions with rogue states like Iran and North Korea. Therefore, the permanent goal, if we are ever to have global peace of mind, is the elimination of nuclear weapons. However, it is a daunting task, which to many may seem unattainable. It is a daunting task because the nuclear powers also happen to be the permanent members of the Security Council, for example. When we think of the U.S., Russia, Britain, France, and China, they are all among the first nuclear powers, and they are the permanent members of that international decision-making body.

The challenge, however daunting it may be in the short term, does not deter activists and proponents of disarmament, like Judith Quinn, one of my constituents, Judith Berlyn, another Montrealer, or the late Joan Hadrill, who was a constituent of mine. Many years ago, she created a very small organization called WIND, West Islanders for Nuclear Disarmament. Joan Hadrill's favourite maxim was drawn from Margaret Mead, the cultural anthropologist: “Never doubt that a small group of...committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.” Joan Hadrill had that printed on her business card.

Earlier this week, we heard a visionary foreign policy speech from the Minister of Foreign Affairs. She emphasized the importance of international law for maintaining a stable and peaceful international order. She also mentioned that, as a middle power, Canada's greatest influence is not through economic or military might, but through the pursuit and application of legal instruments which provide small powers a measure of equal protection with larger ones, even superpowers.

Nowhere is the pursuit of legal international instruments perhaps more crucial than in the area of nuclear arms control. As a middle power with a strong humanitarian tradition and track record, Canada is well placed to be a moral voice and practical advocate for a world that is free of nuclear weapons, and to work for that goal through international legal arrangements. Let us not forget the role we played in bringing the land mines treaty to fruition. It is also true that as a principled and ambitious middle power, we can contribute to the attainment of meaningful international objectives, including in the area of peace and security. We can do that if we act wisely and strategically, among other things to maintain credibility with the actors whom we wish to influence toward a good and noble end. Indeed, this is how we are acting on the nuclear weapons front.

We are acting concretely to advance the disarmament agenda. In 2016, Canada rallied 159 states to support and pass a resolution calling for the establishment of a fissile material cut-off treaty expert preparatory group, which is an essential step towards a ban treaty.

We have also rallied the support of 166 states to pass a resolution creating a group of government experts to carry out an in-depth analysis of treaty aspects. This is important groundwork. We also supported Norway's initiative to create a group of government experts on nuclear disarmament verification. Verification, as we all know, is one of the most challenging obstacles to disarmament. All of these things that we have done in the international sphere in attempting to eliminate nuclear weapons in the long term are crucial steps. They are building blocks. We could say that Canada is helping to engineer and build the foundation of a nuclear weapons ban treaty.

There are a number of benefits to a fissile material cut-off treaty. I will read four very briefly. First, restricting the quantity of fissile material available for use in new nuclear weapons programs or for existing ones would be a significant tool for combatting horizontal proliferation, which means the spreading of nuclear weapons technology between countries, and vertical proliferation, which means the advancement of existing nuclear weapons technology in an already-nuclear state.

The second benefit of such a treaty would be limiting the pool of available fissile material, to reduce the risk that terrorist groups or other non-state actors could acquire these materials, thereby enhancing global nuclear security and preventing nuclear terrorism. Third, the fissile material cut-off treaty would also advance nuclear disarmament by providing greater transparency regarding the fissile material stockpiles of states possessing nuclear weapons. A future multilateral nuclear disarmament agreement will require a baseline of fissile materials by which nuclear disarmament efforts can be measured. By establishing this necessary baseline, the fissile material cut-off treaty would be the critical foundation of future multilateral nuclear disarmament agreements.

Finally, the FMCT would promote non-discrimination in non-proliferation and disarmament. In particular, and this is very important, a prohibition on the production of fissile material for nuclear weapons could apply equally to the five non-proliferation treaty nuclear weapon states, the 185 non-proliferation treaty non-nuclear weapon states, as well as the four states that remain outside the NPT framework. Those are the benefits, the concrete tangible benefits, of a fissile material cut-off treaty.

If we wish to maintain influence in the international community, we must work with allies and Security Council members like the U.K. and France, who at this point are not part of current negotiations toward a nuclear weapons ban. Perhaps Canada can slowly lead these nations in that direction over time. Could we do more? The Prime Minister has repeatedly said that better is always possible. I encourage Canadians like Judith Quinn and Judith Berlyn, inspired no doubt by the example of the late Joan Hadrill, to continue to advocate and push the government to work toward a nuclear weapons convention that would ban nuclear weapons.

At the end of the day, in a democracy, true to Margaret Mead's maxim, persistent public attention and pressure on any given issue is the only way to move that issue forward. It is important that committed and concerned Canadian citizens continue to draw public attention to the need for progress on nuclear disarmament and continue to remind our government of its duty to work toward this vital objective. We must keep this issue alive in the newspapers and in communities across the country. I do not think it is an exaggeration to say that the nuclear disarmament debate, unfortunately, is not front and centre in the media these days, but that should not stop Canadians, especially committed Canadians, from taking part in assiduous efforts to keep the issue burning.

Meanwhile, our government must pursue a focused, step-by-step, realistic, concrete strategy within international institutions to create the building blocks and the foundation that are necessary if we are, in the long run, to achieve a nuclear weapons ban treaty.

Opposition motion—Nuclear DisarmamentBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

12:15 p.m.

NDP

Linda Duncan NDP Edmonton Strathcona, AB

Mr. Speaker, no less than the UN High Representative for Disarmament Affairs, Ms. Nakamitsu, has just expressed this concern for exactly the position the Liberals and the Conservatives are taking.

She is concerned with the resurgent drift back to Cold War era positions, including the rhetoric about the utility of nuclear weapons, and is concerned about arguments to shelve discussions on nuclear disarmament until the climate improves. She says it lacks credibility. She is saying that it is not a vague hope or aspiration but a concrete contribution to a safer, more secure world, to come forward and participate in these negotiations.

No one on this side of the House, in my party, is disrespecting the actions taken by the government on the other aspects of the nuclear proliferation treaty. What we are saying is that the government is refusing to come to the table on this piece that it actually voted to move forward on, and its members support, which the United Nations is asking them to come forward and support.

Opposition motion—Nuclear DisarmamentBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

12:20 p.m.

Liberal

Francis Scarpaleggia Liberal Lac-Saint-Louis, QC

Mr. Speaker, it has been a while since the hon. member and I have had a chance to work together on a committee, but we did very good work at the environment committee a number of years ago. We produced some good reports on some important energy and environmental issues.

No one is suggesting that discussions should not go on toward a nuclear weapons ban treaty, and I do not think the reason Canada is not participating in those discussions at that level in that forum is a financial one. We can always afford to send somebody to be part of those negotiations.

Canada is taking a strategic approach here, which is that as a middle power we want to build relationships and credibility, especially with those nuclear powers that are we are going to need to bring into a nuclear weapons ban treaty in the future.

There is some merit, in terms of building credibility and building Canada's image as a credible and effective middle power, to having a focused approach, which at the moment should be on the fissile materials cut-off treaty. We gain a lot of credibility by focusing our energies and our efforts and working with the nuclear powers in that context.

Obviously the ultimate goal is to have a nuclear weapons-free world. We want to be part of that process. The step-by-step approach has merit in and of itself.

Opposition motion—Nuclear DisarmamentBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

12:20 p.m.

Conservative

David Sweet Conservative Flamborough—Glanbrook, ON

Mr. Speaker, I did not hear any mention of Iran in the member's speech. One of the best ways to stop nuclear proliferation, to make sure that we march one day to disarmament, is prevention.

I am not in agreement with the government's position on how it is dealing with Iran right now. However, in the government's conversations with the Iranian regime, one of the most tyrannical regimes there is, with regard to human rights and exportation of terror, is it pressuring the Iranian regime to stop its nuclear program, to make sure Iran is not added to the list of countries that have nuclear capability and can harm others?

Opposition motion—Nuclear DisarmamentBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

12:20 p.m.

Liberal

Francis Scarpaleggia Liberal Lac-Saint-Louis, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Iranian regime is a problem, of course, in many regards. The world has been seized of the danger of that regime acquiring nuclear weapons.

I am not privy to the diplomatic discussions that go on between Canada and Iran. I do not think it was particularly constructive to pull our consular officials out of Iran. We saw that the previous U.S. administration worked very hard to have a constructive dialogue with the aim of preventing Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons.

At the end of the day, dialogue must always be a part of any strategy for dealing with any kind of danger. I am sure the government, the foreign affairs minister, and our consular officials, being as professional and as wise as they are, understand that.

Opposition motion—Nuclear DisarmamentBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

12:25 p.m.

Winnipeg North Manitoba

Liberal

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

Mr. Speaker, I wonder if my colleague could comment on Global Affairs' move toward dealing with weapons of mass destruction. There was the funding for the threat reduction program of $73 million. There are different ways the government tries to ensure that we have a more peaceful world going forward. One of those ways is through Global Affairs and the whole issue of weapons of mass destruction.

Perhaps he could provide some of his thoughts in regard to how important it is that we look at it in a broader view of other types of weapons, and that there are budgetary measures there to ensure Canada continues to play a leadership role. That would be the core of the question, the importance of Canada's leadership role in these important matters.

Opposition motion—Nuclear DisarmamentBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

12:25 p.m.

Liberal

Francis Scarpaleggia Liberal Lac-Saint-Louis, QC

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member brings up a good point. While the focus today is on nuclear weapons, there are other weapons of mass destruction that are actually causing havoc today in certain conflict zones. There are weapons like chemical weapons, which to our horror, have been used in the Syrian conflict.

A global strategic approach to the nuclear weapons issue would have as a corollary a need to focus on all weapons of mass destruction, and therefore, we can bring all of those issues into our diplomatic dialogue with nations around the world, especially those that have these weapons and might be tempted to use them.

Opposition motion—Nuclear DisarmamentBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

12:25 p.m.

NDP

Sheri Benson NDP Saskatoon West, SK

Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. member for his comments and the sincerity with which he spoke. We have a lot in common about our wanting governments to move forward and get to a time in the world, which I have not lived in, where the threat of nuclear war is absent.

I was disappointed yesterday when the Prime Minister referred to the talks at the UN, of folks around the table, around a treaty to ban nuclear weapons, as sort of useless. That term is not helpful. There are more than 120 countries around the table. We are asking the government to be there to play a leadership role.

I would ask my hon. colleague to encourage and advocate that we acknowledge that every single effort any country makes that moves us forward on a ban is important, and that he continue to advocate within his party so that Canada could be at that table providing leadership.

Opposition motion—Nuclear DisarmamentBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

12:25 p.m.

Liberal

Francis Scarpaleggia Liberal Lac-Saint-Louis, QC

Mr. Speaker, what I think the Prime Minister was trying to say is that, if we want to make a tangible short-term contribution to advancing this issue, there is a lot of merit in focusing on the fissile material cut-off treaty at the United Nations level. Obviously, in diplomatic circles there is constant and ongoing discussion about all issues, and whether we are part of the more than 100 nations that are discussing a nuclear weapons ban, or whether we are not, I am certain that our officials and NGOs are very present at the international level in discussions of all kinds around a nuclear weapons ban.

Opposition motion—Nuclear DisarmamentBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

12:25 p.m.

NDP

Sheri Benson NDP Saskatoon West, SK

Mr. Speaker, I will be splitting my time with the member for Nanaimo—Ladysmith.

I would like to dedicate my remarks today to the late Dr. John Bury and his wife Betsy Bury, both local constituents of mine who have been working for peace for the past 60 years. Their efforts, a lifetime of dedication to peace and particularly nuclear disarmament, were recognized and honoured in our city when the couple were awarded the 2014 Joanna Miller Peace Prize.

The Joanna Miller Peace Prize in Saskatoon was established in 2013 to honour the late Joanna Miller for her years of activism, for peace, both within the Saskatoon community and globally as well. She was the president of UNICEF Canada, an active member of Project Ploughshares, and of particular note, because of the conversation we are having today, a special adviser on disarmament to the Canadian delegation to the United Nations.

Both John and Betsy were veterans of World War II. Because of this shared experience, they realized we must work for peaceful resolutions to world conflicts. They were longtime active members of the Saskatoon branch of Veterans against Nuclear Arms.

Betsy no longer has John by her side. John died at the age of 92 this past Christmas. The Saskatoon community will miss John and his thoughtful, well-researched letters to the editor in the Saskatoon StarPhoenix. I know Betsy and many others in my community will continue to work for peace and disarmament in his honour. Therefore, it is a privilege for me to rise today to have an opportunity to speak to the opposition day motion and of course support it wholeheartedly.

I am sure my colleagues in this House have noticed that all around us, frantic preparations are under way for the big Canada Day party that will be held on Parliament Hill in a couple of weeks. As Canadians celebrate our nationhood and the country we call home, it behooves us to also reflect on our role on the world stage, past, present and future. It is a matter of immense pride to Canadians that we have worked for peace, an end to apartheid, and disarmament, no matter the party in power.

It is true that Canada has lost some stature over the last decade or so. With the election of the Liberals in 2015, we heard the claims that Canada was back. Sadly, it does sound like another piece of empty rhetoric. Canada cannot be back if we continue to boycott the talks for a nuclear ban treaty.

In the much-anticipated “reveal” of Canada's new foreign policy direction, the Minister of Foreign Affairs stood in the House and trumpeted that Canada would chart its own course, no longer in lock-step with the United States, and in defiance of President Trump's wishes if it went against the best interests of Canada.

The Minister mentioned the United Nations last after mentioning nine other multilateral forums the Liberals would support. There was absolutely nothing about the threat of nuclear weapons in her entire speech. Is this really how the government intends to win on the UN Security Council?

If Canada is to get a seat on the UN Security Council, we need a campaign that is bold, global and pertinent. Leading a global effort on nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament should be a cornerstone of that campaign. Instead, there has been a deafening silence and a refusal to attend negotiations for a nuclear ban treaty.

The need to act on nuclear disarmament is clear. Nuclear weapons threaten our collective existence, especially in the hands of non-state actors, such as Daesh, also known as ISIS or ISIL, and belligerent countries, such as North Korea. The financial cost to build, maintain and refurbish nuclear weapons is totally unsustainable. The proliferation of nuclear weapons also raises the risk of false alarms that could lead to inadvertent use.

In the late 1980s and 1990s, incredible global progress was made in the reduction of nuclear weapons, leading to a period of peace and prosperity, then the momentum was lost in the early 2000s following 9/11.

In 2007, there was a resurgence of optimism with a surprisingly idealistic op-ed by George Shultz, William Perry, Henry A. Kissinger, and Sam Nunn. Titled “A World Free of Nuclear Weapons”, this bipartisan offering pleaded with the world to get serious about nuclear disarmament. This was followed in April 2009, by President Obama's historic speech in Prague that echoed President Reagan's vision, and then UN Secretary Ban Ki-moon's five-point plan on the subject in August of that same year. Sadly, since that time we have seen very little, if any, progress.

The world needs leadership and action on nuclear disarmament and Canada more than any other country is well positioned to move things forward. It is important to remember the political and historical capital we have to make a significant impact on nuclear disarmament. As a country that has never developed nuclear weapon, we have some credibility. As a G7 nation and a member of NATO, the Commonwealth, and the Francophonie, we have global connectivity. We have some of the best experts in diplomacy, science, and verification of nuclear weapons. No other country can make these claims.

In the face of this challenge are we ready to put forward serious ideas that will allow Canada to take its place at the UN Security Council and contribute to a more stable world? I hope and think the answer must be yes.

Yesterday, I was honoured to listen to a survivor of Hiroshima, Setsuko Thurlow, speak and advocate for a world without nuclear weapons. We all know the powerful and destructive impact these weapons have. Every high school student studies the end of the Second World War, and every August, we remember the victims and events that led to the use of these devastating weapons.

We live in a world where nuclear arsenals are multiplying. Ninety-five per cent of nuclear weapons are held between the United States and Russia. Furthermore, other nations strive to obtain these weapons as a measure of strength. Nine nations, including our allies, hold over, as has been mentioned but it is worth mentioning again, 15,000 nuclear warheads. A single one can kill millions of people and destroy the surrounding environment for decades.

We lived through the fear that permeated the Cold War and now live in fear of non-state actors acquiring these weapons. Unregulated, uncontrolled, and unmonitored nuclear development leaves Canadians, leaves our world, vulnerable.

In 2010, Parliament unanimously passed a motion to seek a way to negotiate an end to nuclear weapons. The majority of countries in the world are really fed up with the foot dragging on disarmament and they are orchestrating an end run around the nine nuclear states. The UN negotiations are a long-sought breakthrough for the disarmament community and the countries that feel held hostage by weapons they do not possess.

Former parliamentarian Douglas Roche, like many in the Canadian disarmament community, said that there was only one thing wrong with the UN talks, “Canada isn’t taking part. “I see this exercise in very positive terms, and it’s shocking that Canada is not going to participate.”

The two greatest security threats in our world today are cyberwarfare and terrorism. The proliferation of nuclear weapons makes it all the more likely that somewhere, eventually, a country's system will be without the cyber-defence measures needed to protect it from attack. All the more likely is that a nuclear weapon will be lost or stolen and end up in hands that would choose to use it.

I am looking for the government to lead again in the world community towards peace and nuclear disarmament. If ever there were a time and a place for Canadian leadership, it is now, at the UN, at the table, negotiating a ban on nuclear weapons.

I implore all Canadians, the majority of whom believe in a ban, to contact their MPs and talk to the government so we can once again take a seat at that important table.

Opposition motion—Nuclear DisarmamentBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

12:35 p.m.

NDP

Linda Duncan NDP Edmonton Strathcona, AB

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank my colleague for mentioning Setsuko Thurlow. I first heard her in New York and she inspired me to bring her here so those on the Hill could also hear her words. She was a survivor of Hiroshima and told the story of her young nephew who was reduced to a cinder. It reminded everyone, who gave her a standing ovation to her, and all nations of the world of the sad incident in Aleppo. I think it will wake up more people if they hear Setsuko.

I wonder if the member could speak to the fact that the UN representative in disarmament is speaking out and chastising nations that are saying that it is just a specious, non-concrete action to come together to negotiate the convention. She has said that negotiating a convention is the best path. She says, “Disarmament breeds security. It is not a vague hope or aspiration but must be a concrete contribution to a safer and more secure world.”

Does the member agree with the position of the UN official?

Opposition motion—Nuclear DisarmamentBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

12:40 p.m.

NDP

Sheri Benson NDP Saskatoon West, SK

Mr. Speaker, I want to thank my colleague for sharing those very timely remarks on the value of being at the table to work toward concrete actions around the ban on nuclear weapons.

We heard some Conservative colleagues talk about us being idealistic. On the other hand, I also heard another one of my Conservative colleagues say that they were praying that an accident never happened. I would agree. We are also praying that nothing like that happens.

However, there is nothing more concrete than to look back over the years and say that nothing mattered or that all of those talks were not important. If people always came to the table and said that not everyone was here or that it would take a long time, that is now how we have moved forward, particularly in the area around peace and disarmament. It is important, as my colleague mentioned, to be at the table, to lead the way, and not to fall into that false logic of if they are not there, we are not there. Canadians expect our government to lead.

Opposition motion—Nuclear DisarmamentBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

12:40 p.m.

NDP

Anne Minh-Thu Quach NDP Salaberry—Suroît, QC

Mr. Speaker, I want to thank my colleague for her very informative speech on the issue of nuclear disarmament, which is extremely crucial right now.

We know that there are over 17,000 nuclear weapons around the world and that they cause humanitarian, environmental and public health devastation. We cannot allow their proliferation, especially since Canada signed the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons Treaty, which came into force in 1970.

How is it that the Liberals are now using the same arguments as the Conservatives, that we cannot get involved because the major countries are not there? I think the member just said it. This is not a valid reason. The United States withdrew from the Paris agreement, but Canada has shown leadership and said it will continue to press forward.

Why are the Liberals unable to stand up on this issue, when last year their own delegates voted for a resolution calling on Canada to take a stand, show leadership, and join nuclear disarmament negotiations?

We should remember that in 2010, the House unanimously voted in favour of such action. How does the member see this lack of leadership from the Liberals?

Opposition motion—Nuclear DisarmamentBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

12:40 p.m.

NDP

Sheri Benson NDP Saskatoon West, SK

Mr. Speaker, I want to thank my hon. colleague for bringing up a point that many of us are making. Many of us in the House today are wondering what is going on. We can lead, remain a part of the Paris agreement because it is important, and we know why we are there. This is equally, if not on par with that. We cannot say that we will not be there because others are not. We can lead, and must lead, in both places if we are to find a world that is safe and a better environment for all.

Opposition motion—Nuclear DisarmamentBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

12:45 p.m.

NDP

Sheila Malcolmson NDP Nanaimo—Ladysmith, BC

Mr. Speaker, I am honoured to stand to speak to Canada's role in peace and security and restoring our reputation on the world stage. I thank my New Democrat colleagues who initiated this debate and everyone who is participating in it today.

Where we must start is that human rights are not optional. If the government wants to show that Canada is a leader in human rights, then it needs to ensure that we are indeed walking the talk.

Canada was once a leader on nuclear disarmament issues. I honour the shoulders we stand on. When I was a young woman in Toronto, I was especially inspired by the work of Dr. Rosalie Bertell and Ursula Franklin, women with amazing minds who worked very hard to push Canada to take the important action we needed to on the world stage. However, the international community is now negotiating a nuclear weapons ban convention, and Canada is boycotting the process. It is a shameful position. With this, Canada has effectively removed itself from nuclear disarmament diplomacy.

We do not understand how Canada can “be back”, in the words of the Prime Minister, on the international scene when we are turning our backs on the most important international negotiations in years. Arguably, with the election of U.S. President Donald Trump, who has pledged to increase the nuclear arsenal in the U.S., and the troubling actions taken by North Korea, the threat of nuclear war is so present on the international stage right now that it is even more important that the international community work together at this time.

The world is watching Canada. This motion today gives the government an opportunity to reaffirm Parliament's support for nuclear disarmament. We certainly hope cabinet will follow, in line with the motion, to re-support Parliament in that initiative.

On the waterfront of Nanaimo, one of the communities I represent, there is an annual honouring of the anniversary of the Hiroshima bombing on August 6. Members of the Women's International League for Peace & Freedom, a long-standing activist organization across the country, with particularly strong roots in my riding of Nanaimo—Ladysmith, were talking about the UN vote that was coming up at that time on nuclear disarmament. They shared my optimism that given the campaign commitments the Liberal Party had made on peace, security, and restoring Canada's international reputation on the world stage, our Prime Minister was going to direct Canada to vote in favour of negotiations to end the nuclear weapons trade. We were all stunned when Canada voted against negotiations for a global treaty banning nuclear weapons. It was seriously a shock to all of us.

These negotiations have been called for by former UN secretary-general Ban Ki-moon. Sixty-eight countries voted in favour of the motion, so Canada was completely outside the international consensus. The vote was called the most significant contribution to nuclear disarmament in two decades by one of the UN member countries, and Canada was not on board.

That vote by the Canadian Liberal government also flew in the face of a 2010 resolution of this House encouraging the Canadian government to join those negotiations. I will talk more about that in a few minutes. I want to say what a sad point it was that government did not follow through. Now that is has the power, why would it not carry through with that commitment? It would have made us all proud on the international stage.

We want to move forward in a more positive way, and there is even more United Nations consensus that Canada could move on theoretically.

Canada's responsibility in this area is particularly strong. At a session that two of my New Democrat colleagues hosted yesterday on the Hill, I was reminded of Canada's special responsibility with respect to nuclear weapons. The bombs that fell on Hiroshima and Nagasaki were made from uranium that was mined in Great Bear Lake in the Northwest Territories. It was refined in Port Hope. As well, Canada has sold CANDU reactors around the world, which have a unique design capability that makes them particularly susceptible to nuclear weapons uses. They are of course not designed for that. It is a design flaw and an unintended consequence. This is how Pakistan and India got the bomb. It was by using Canadian power-producing technology.

Our responsibility is deep. We are reminded by the CCNR, the Canadian Coalition for Nuclear Responsibility, in the summary of a book written in the eighties, that:

Through its dealings with other countries, Canada has played a major role in fostering the proliferation of nuclear weapons [around] the world. This brief history concerns itself with Canada's involvement as a supplier of nuclear reactors and uranium, leading to both “vertical proliferation”—the ever-accelerating competition for bigger, better, faster and smarter bombs among existing nuclear powers—and “horizontal proliferation”: a more insidious process whereby dozens of national and subnational groups are slowly but surely acquiring a nuclear weapons capability.

CCNR has been raising the alarm on this for decades, and the danger is greater for us right now.

It is powerful to be reminded of the human toll when a nuclear bomb falls on a community. Yesterday we heard the testimony of Setsuko Thurlow, a Canadian citizen but a Japanese schoolgirl, age 13, when the bomb fell at Hiroshima. She said that there were mostly children, women, and elderly people who were vaporized, incinerated, contaminated, and crushed in the wake of the bomb at Hiroshima, again, that Canada was complicit in.

She described her four-year-old nephew transformed into blackened, melted flesh. She said the family was relieved when he died. It is an appalling image she has carried her whole life. She said they made a vow to their loved ones at that time that his death would not be in vain, that all the deaths in her community would not be in vain.

Now, as a Canadian citizen, she says she is deeply disturbed by the absence of the Canadian government at the negotiations. She said she felt betrayed by Japan, of course, but also by her adopted country of Canada.

We have a responsibility to honour Canada's complicity in this and also the opportunity we have to enter the negotiations and make ourselves proud again on the international stage.

As New Democrats, we have been asking the new Canadian government to participate fully in the nuclear weapons ban multiple times since September. It has consistently hidden behind the excuse that it is working on the fissile material cut-off treaty, which is important and related but is not a nuclear weapons ban. That is what we are holding out for, and this is what we have the opportunity for on the world stage right now.

We had a unanimous vote of the House in 2010 committing Parliament to take this action. We had a very powerful vote by the Liberal Party at its last convention just a short time ago. It campaigned on this issue also.

The Liberal government has made multiple promises that are not being upheld. At a time when Canada is proclaiming its commitment to peace and security, its commitment to the United Nations, we see, on this side of the House, that Canada is not honouring its commitments to the United Nations. It is not too late, though. I urge the Liberal side to vote in favour of this motion to move forward in good faith, to have the country move forward, and for us to do the right thing collectively.

Please let us make Canada proud on the world stage again.

Opposition motion—Nuclear DisarmamentBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

12:50 p.m.

Liberal

Anita Vandenbeld Liberal Ottawa West—Nepean, ON

Mr. Speaker, it is a mischaracterization to suggest that anyone in the House is not completely opposed to the use of nuclear weapons. It is simplistic logic to say that because we do not support a full ban treaty, which none of the countries that have nuclear weapons are participating in the dialogue on, we somehow are not against nuclear weapons. We all want a world that is free of nuclear weapons, and that is why Canada has been leading the world. The fissile material cut-off treaty is something Canada is chairing. Canada is leading the world. We led 159 other countries to support this. That is going to prevent the availability of the explosive material in nuclear weapons.

We are focused on non-proliferation. We are working with our allies. None of our key allies are part of this discussion. We need to be realistic and look at what will accomplish the goal. What will accomplish the goal is a step-by-step approach and the leadership Canada and this government are taking.

Would the hon. member please comment on the steps the government is taking in the world on non-proliferation and the fissile material cut-off treaty?

Opposition motion—Nuclear DisarmamentBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

12:55 p.m.

NDP

Sheila Malcolmson NDP Nanaimo—Ladysmith, BC

Mr. Speaker, with all the talent in the House, including my friend, who I know has been involved in United Nations work for a lifetime, I know the government can walk and chew gum at the same time. These are both important, but they do not replace each other, and that is why the United Nations is taking both tracks. Canada's presence at one table but not the other is inconsistent with positions of this Parliament and with resolutions passed by the Liberal Party itself.

In relation to the argument that there is no point in Canada joining in negotiations without the participation of all nuclear states, Canada itself is not a state that has nuclear weapons, but that has not prevented it from being involved in other processes. All international negotiations worth their salt are difficult and have to bring members in. The Ottawa treaty on land mines took political will. The creation of the International Criminal Court had people outside and inside the process. Nevertheless, it prevailed. Work on the Kimberley Process took political will, and not all states participated in those negotiations, but we got results. Canada was proud to be a participant in all those processes. Canada, in every case, adopted an ambitious approach and took the lead on the international stage.

The process my colleague describes is one element, but it is not a nuclear weapons ban. That is the negotiation happening right now, and Canada, to our embarrassment, is outside that process.

Opposition motion—Nuclear DisarmamentBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

12:55 p.m.

Liberal

The Assistant Deputy Speaker Liberal Anthony Rota

The hon. member for Sherbrooke has time for a very quick question.

Opposition motion—Nuclear DisarmamentBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

12:55 p.m.

NDP

Pierre-Luc Dusseault NDP Sherbrooke, QC

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

I will be brief. I would like his opinion on the Liberals’ double-talk. On one hand, the Minister of Foreign Affairs delivered a wonderful speech saying that Canada is re-engaging on the world stage, in multinational forums such as the United Nations and so forth. On the other hand, a few days later, we hear that the forum on nuclear disarmament is not important and that Canada will not get involved in negotiations.

Could my colleague try to reconcile these two views, that of re-engagement announced by the minister and of disengagement from negotiations?

Opposition motion—Nuclear DisarmamentBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

12:55 p.m.

NDP

Sheila Malcolmson NDP Nanaimo—Ladysmith, BC

Mr. Speaker, it is not too late for Canada to take this step. The negotiations start again in another couple of weeks. Canada would be lauded the world over. We were reminded yesterday that a great number of Canadian NGOs, in the absence of the Canadian government, have been participating in the negotiations. The statement by the International Committee of the Red Cross supports Canada being involved. Mining Watch, Project Ploughshares, and a lot of experts in Canada have been fighting this fight for a long time. Were Canada to step back into it and take full responsibility, it would be well supported and lauded on both sides of the House.

Opposition motion—Nuclear DisarmamentBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

1 p.m.

Liberal

Julie Dzerowicz Liberal Davenport, ON

Mr. Speaker, I will be sharing my time with the very hon. member for Glengarry—Prescott—Russell.

It is an honour to rise in this venerable House to speak on a topic of great importance, not only to the residents of my riding of Davenport, but to Canada, and indeed the world. Before I give my prepared speech, I want to say that on the surface, by the government not supporting this NDP motion, it seems that the government is saying we do not support nuclear disarmament, that this is not an issue of great importance to the government. Nothing could be further from the truth.

The federal government, which I am proud to be a part of, is strongly supportive of taking concrete action toward nuclear disarmament. We are taking a leadership role and meaningful steps toward achieving a world that is free of nuclear weapons. The bottom line of why we are not supporting the motion is that we think the current discussions on this convention are premature. I will give more context over the course of the next nine minutes about why we are on the current path we are on today, and why engaging this draft convention is not the right step at this moment.

In 2008, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon outlined his signature five-point plan addressing the topic of security in a world that is free of nuclear weapons. I am going to outline those five points in his proposal, because we are largely following it. We believe it is the right step-by-step approach toward a nuclear arms free world.

The first point he outlined is that all parties to the nuclear non-proliferation treaty, especially the nuclear weapons states, should fulfill their obligation to enter into negotiations on effective measures leading to nuclear disarmament. He suggested the negotiation of a comprehensive nuclear weapons convention. He circulated and updated a document called the “Model Nuclear Weapons Convention” to UN member states earlier that year. This model convention was 80 pages long, with 20 articles, and five separate indexes. It was quite extensive, and it outlined the use, possession, development, testing, deployment, and transfer of nuclear weapons. Most importantly perhaps, it would mandate the internationally verifiable dismantlement of nuclear arsenals.

In contrast, the draft convention on the prohibition of nuclear weapons, which is currently what we are talking about, and currently under negotiation at the United Nations, is a mere eight pages long. Unlike the comprehensive convention that I just mentioned, the proposed convention concentrates primarily on legal prohibitions. It contains no provisions to eliminate even a single nuclear weapon, or any verification measures. Moreover, as mentioned, no nuclear weapon states are participating in these negotiations, because they do not take into account the current international security context of Russian military expansionism, or North America's testing of nuclear devices and ballistic missiles, designed to threaten the whole Asia-Pacific region, including North America. Sadly, this convention is premature and will be ineffective in advancing tangible nuclear disarmament.

Let me be clear: Canada strongly favours the negotiation of a nuclear weapons convention or ban, but as the final step in a progressive step-by-step approach to nuclear disarmament. We believe that there needs to be three other steps first: the universalization of a nuclear non-proliferation treaty, entry into force of the comprehensive nuclear test ban treaty, and the negotiation of a fissile material cut-off treaty. We believe these are mutually enforcing steps and mutually enforcing instruments. This approach aims to halt the spread of nuclear weapons and nuclear explosive testing, reduce existing nuclear weapons and fissile material stockpiles, and build the trust and confidence to verifiably and irreversibly eliminate nuclear weapons.

This is why Canada, last year, led a very successful UN General Assembly resolution to establish a high-level expert participatory group, to clear the path for the eventual negotiation of a fissile material cut-off treaty, or FMCT, to ban the production of the explosive materials used in nuclear weapons. By pursuing the important technical work of a FMCT in the 25-member UN preparatory group that we chair, Canada hopes to be able to present the conference on disarmament with draft treaty provisions that will enable this body to commence negotiations on this important agreement.

The Secretary-General also identified the need for more investment by governments in disarmament verification research and development. I am pleased to let Canadians know that the Government of Canada has actively responded to this call by providing expert input to the International Partnership for Nuclear Disarmament Verification.

Officials and experts from Global Affairs Canada, the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission, and the Canadian Nuclear Laboratories are making important contributions to addressing the technical challenges of nuclear disarmament verification. This important work is aimed at building global nuclear disarmament verification capabilities. It is essential for the successful implementation of a comprehensive nuclear weapons convention and is a key element of our pragmatic step-by-step approach to disarmament.

I am also pleased to announce that Canada, through Global Affairs weapons of mass destruction threat reduction program, has just provided a financial contribution to help support the work of the international partnership over the next year. Not only are we saying that we are getting engaged, not only are we actively involved in it, but we are actually funding this commitment.

The second point of the Secretary-General's five-point proposal was his call for the nuclear weapons states to assure non-nuclear weapons states that they will not be the subject of the use or threat of use of nuclear weapons.

These assurances are also known as negative security assurances, NSAs. Canada has been a proponent of such guarantees. We are the leading participant in the 12-member non-proliferation and disarmament initiative, NPDI. We have worked closely with our partners to develop ideas in the form of papers, and to promote these assurances in the international arena, most recently in the 2017 preparatory committee for the 2020 nuclear non-proliferation treaty review conference meeting in Vienna in May.

The third point in the Secretary-General's plan is a very important one. It calls for existing nuclear arrangements and agreements, like the comprehensive nuclear test-ban treaty, CTBT, which prohibits the testing of nuclear weapons, for instance, nuclear weapons free zones, and strengthened safeguards, which need to be accepted by states and brought into force.

In support of this approach, the former minister of foreign affairs joined the ministerial meeting of the friends of the comprehensive nuclear test-ban treaty at the UN General Assembly in pointedly calling for the remaining eight states to ratify the agreement immediately to bring it into force.

For our part, we have passed legislation to implement the CTBT when it enters into force, and we have completed the installation of 16 monitoring stations as part of this agreement.

The fourth point that the Secretary-General made is on his call for nuclear powers to expand the amount of information they publish about the size of their arsenals, stocks of fissile materials, and specific disarmament achievements. Members will be pleased to hear that Canada has taken a leading role in promoting greater transparency by the nuclear weapon states in their reporting of their nuclear weapons stocks. Within the non-proliferation and disarmament initiative, Canada has developed a standard reporting form, which we are asking nuclear weapon states to use for their regular reports on the implementation of their nuclear disarmament obligations under the nuclear non-proliferation treaty.

We firmly believe that reporting is an effective instrument for increasing transparency on nuclear disarmament activities and for greater accountability. More needs to be done, of course, and Canada and our partners in the NDPI are committed to working with the nuclear powers to improve their reporting through concerted follow-up efforts.

The Secretary-General's final point is that in addition to nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament efforts, complementary measures are also needed. Such measures include the elimination of other types of weapons of mass destruction, for example, chemical and biological weapons. New efforts need to be undertaken to prevent weapons of mass destruction terrorism; limit conventional arms; and ban new types of weapons, including missiles and space weapons.

Canada is a leader in pursuing these types of efforts. The government is making good on its commitment to accede to the arms trade treaty, and investing $13 million to allow Canada to implement the treaty and further strengthen its export control regime.

Canada is firmly committed to achieving a nuclear weapons free world. In conformity with the UN Secretary-General's five-point plan, we are pursuing a pragmatic step-by-step approach aimed at building the necessary confidence and trust needed for nuclear weapons to no longer be considered necessary for security.

I am proud to be able to say today that Canada is continuing its long tradition of leadership on disarmament issues, including strongly supporting this five-point plan.

Opposition motion—Nuclear DisarmamentBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

1:10 p.m.

NDP

Linda Duncan NDP Edmonton Strathcona, AB

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to see so many people participating in what I consider a very important debate.

We are glad that the Liberal members are noticing the five-point plan by former head of the UN, Ban Ki-moon. That was the plan that was endorsed by the Liberals and all those in the House. What they are failing to notice is what the current head of the UN and the majority of people in the world are saying, which is that they are no longer confident in the step-by-step approach. They want action on all of the commitments under the non-proliferation treaty, which Canada is signatory to. One of those obligations is to participate in negotiations for a ban treaty. Indeed it is great that the Liberal government is participating in an array of activities, and we commend them for that. However, the Liberals are not giving any credible argument for why they are refusing to participate in this action that they claim to support: multilateral treaty negotiation at the UN.

I wonder if the member could speak to why they absolutely refuse to speak to the essence of our motion today. That is, not only their failure to participate, but to boycott negotiations among the majority of nations in the world, which were endorsed by over 100 recipients of the Order of Canada and almost every one of the former diplomats who have been appointed to speak on disarmament for our country.

Opposition motion—Nuclear DisarmamentBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

1:10 p.m.

Liberal

Julie Dzerowicz Liberal Davenport, ON

Mr. Speaker, as our Right Hon. Prime Minister said the other day in question period, all Canadians strongly support concrete actions toward nuclear disarmament. We believe that the step-by-step approach where we are engaging with those states with nuclear arms is the best way forward for us to move toward a world that is free of nuclear arms. We are taking action. We are taking leadership. We are putting the proper amount of financing behind each of our actions. We feel that this is the best approach in order to move forward as expeditiously as possible. We are taking meaningful steps to achieve nuclear action. As we mentioned, we are doing the hard work of leading and rallying 159 different states to support and pass a resolution calling for the fissile material cut-off treaty. We led that late last year.

Opposition motion—Nuclear DisarmamentBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

1:10 p.m.

Brampton West Ontario

Liberal

Kamal Khera LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of National Revenue

Mr. Speaker, I thank my friend for highlighting the importance of engaging our nuclear and non-nuclear partners toward nuclear disarmament. Can the member please elaborate to this House what consequences can take place if we do not engage our partners and allies in this discussion towards nuclear disarmament?

Opposition motion—Nuclear DisarmamentBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

1:10 p.m.

Liberal

Julie Dzerowicz Liberal Davenport, ON

Mr. Speaker, this is an issue that, as soon as I heard it was coming up for debate in this venerable House, I wanted to make sure I was a part of it. I personally am very passionate about nuclear disarmament. I feel very proud when I read about the former UN Secretary-General's five-point plan and about Canadian leadership in each of the areas of the plan. That is not only our leadership, but steps we have taken, both in terms of our departments and of moving the game plan forward. It is important to make sure that we are engaging states who have nuclear arms to be a part of the conversation. We want to make sure that there is transparency, accountability, and proper funding. I know we are moving as quickly as possible. It is a thoughtful plan, a great plan, and I am very proud of our government for the leadership we are taking on this.

Opposition motion—Nuclear DisarmamentBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

1:10 p.m.

Liberal

Francis Drouin Liberal Glengarry—Prescott—Russell, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise today to speak to nuclear non-proliferation and the comprehensive nuclear test ban treaty.

Since the advent of nuclear weapons, the international community has had various practical, multilateral instruments to try to stop their proliferation and help to eventually eliminate them. Global non-proliferation and disarmament regimes were designed to be the foundation for the careful management of nuclear weapons in the interests of international security.

The cornerstone of these regimes is the nuclear non-proliferation treaty or NPT. This treaty plays a fundamental role in guiding international mobilization on the most dangerous weapons in the world. The NPT outlines a three-part bargain: the nuclear weapon states commit to work toward nuclear disarmament; non-nuclear weapon states undertake not to acquire or try to acquire such weapons; and all state parties can continue to enjoy the benefits of peaceful uses of nuclear energy.

Canada maintains that these three key commitments are mutually reinforcing. The progress that has been made in nuclear disarmament, non-proliferation, and peaceful uses of energy support the NTP overall and help to create a dynamic in which the treaty's laudable goals can be achieved.

Canada continues to support concrete, practical efforts in favour of nuclear disarmament. As set out in article VI of the NPT, nuclear weapon states should continue to take concrete measures to reduce the number of strategic and non-strategic weapons and to reduce their reliance on them in their security doctrines.

We note that progress has been made in that regard in recent history. At the end of the Cold War, significant steps were taken to reduce the world's nuclear arsenal, particularly in the United States and Russia. The United Kingdom and France took additional unilateral reduction measures. The global number of nuclear weapons dropped from 80,000 at the height of the Cold War to about 16,000 today. This is not insignificant. We will continue to further reduce the number of nuclear weapons through bilateral, plurilateral, or multilateral measures. Canada remains engaged in various international forums to encourage and support additional progress in that regard, particularly through the NPT review cycle.

While we remain firmly committed to working towards building a world free of nuclear weapons, we recognize that disarmament cannot happen in a vacuum and that it must take the strategic context into account as well as the practical issues associated with that commitment.

It is crucial to ensure that states with nuclear weapons participate in international processes to reduce the number of nuclear weapons or eliminate them entirely. We must also maintain the mutual trust among the parties involved as they move in the direction of reducing and eventually eliminating weapons stockpiles, a process that includes nuclear disarmament verification. Canada is steadfastly committed to the goal of nuclear disarmament.

The second pillar of the NPT makes a vital contribution to the international safety framework by limiting the number of nuclear-weapon states and strengthening our ability to detect inappropriate activity on the part of non-nuclear-weapon states. Thanks to its impressive system of safeguards, the International Atomic Energy Agency, dubbed the “nuclear watchdog”, conducts a number of activities, such as on-site inspections, to ensure that states comply with their non-proliferation obligations. Canada applauds and actively supports the IAEA's efforts to keep its safeguards up to date and enhance their efficiency and effectiveness.

Here is a practical example of international nuclear non-proliferation action: Canada also supports the joint comprehensive plan of action, the JCPOA, an international agreement signed by Iran and the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council—China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States—plus Germany in July 2015.

The JCPOA represents an important diplomatic achievement that helped in re-establishing the integrity of the global non-proliferation regime. As part of the JCPOA, Iran agreed to significantly curb its nuclear program and to comply with comprehensive international inspections. Canada continues to have serious doubts regarding Iran’s long-term nuclear ambitions given its history regarding nuclear proliferation and ballistic missile programs.

We join with our allies in supporting efforts to contain Iran’s nuclear program. Canada firmly supports the mandate given the International Atomic Energy Agency to conduct inspections. Furthermore, since 2015, Canada has made voluntary contributions totalling $10 million through Global Affairs Canada’s weapons of mass destruction threat reduction program.

A complementary element to non-proliferation is the right of all states signatory to the nuclear non-proliferation treaty to use nuclear energy in a peaceful manner. States that fully comply with their non-proliferation obligations can legally have access to specific applications of nuclear energy so as to promote sustainable socio-economic development. These include activities pertaining to human health, agriculture and food safety, water and the environment, energy, radiation technology, and security and safety. Canada is a world leader in nuclear energy and we will continue to expand our network of nuclear partners for mutual and beneficial co-operation.

We have made major voluntary contributions as part of the International Atomic Energy Agency’s Peaceful Uses Initiative, which supports the agency’s activities to achieve sustainable development and mitigation of climate change objectives.

The NPT remains the cornerstone of the non-proliferation and disarmament regime as well as the central element at the basis of Canada’s global commitment on these important issues. Through our commitment to the relevant multilateral fora, we will continue to strengthen each of these three pillars.

Whereas the efforts made internationally to curb the proliferation of nuclear weapons remain essential, we must work to eliminate nuclear tests forever through the signing of a legally binding treaty. Since being adopted in 1996, the comprehensive nuclear-test-ban treaty, or CTBT, has helped strengthen the de facto international standard on nuclear testing. Among other things, this treaty has helped put in place a solid verification system that makes it possible to gather evidence of nuclear tests conducted anywhere in the world.

In fact, the international monitoring system has made it possible to detect each of the nuclear tests conducted to date by North Korea. The CTBT still needs to be ratified by eight countries to come into effect. Canada continues to play an active role in efforts to get other countries to ratify the treaty so that it can come into effect and be universally enforced. During a visit to New York in September 2016, the former minister of foreign affairs implored the eight countries in question to ratify the treaty so that it can come into force.

Regarding direct aid, Canada continues to promote concrete programs in support of the CTBT organization's activities, including by providing airborne radiation detectors, on top of other financial contributions.

In February 2017, field testing in cold weather was carried out in Ottawa, Canada. This test also involved the use of the detector mentioned above. Canada is also working to construct, test and certify a radionuclide monitoring station as a contributing national facility to strengthen the capacity of the international monitoring system to verify compliance with the treaty.

Recognizing that nuclear weapons are a clear and real danger, the international community developed a set of practical measures that help to stop proliferation, limit nuclear testing and work toward the goal of eliminating nuclear weapons. Canada actively supports multilateral institutions established in support of achieving these goals.

We will continue to work with our foreign partners to achieve these laudable goals.

Opposition motion—Nuclear DisarmamentBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

1:25 p.m.

NDP

Linda Duncan NDP Edmonton Strathcona, AB

Mr. Speaker, I would like to put a question to my colleague across the way. It is important to go back to our motion today to understand what it is we are discussing. We are discussing the fact that Canada has boycotted ongoing United Nations negotiations toward a nuclear ban treaty. It is important to keep in mind that, as the member is aware, as a party to the non-proliferation treaty, one of our binding obligations is to participate in those exact negotiations.

We have not said anything against action on all the other obligations under that treaty, far from it. However, what is puzzling is the continued discussion about Canada bringing forward the motion on the fissile material. At the very meeting where Canada tabled yet another version of this measure with a new name, that was when it voted to oppose proceeding with the very negotiations that it is obligated to participate in under the non-proliferation treaty.

It is important to know that in fact there has not been progress on the fissile treaty, because the very same countries that they say make it purposeless to be at the negotiation with the UN are opposing the fissile ban. That includes Pakistan, China, Russia, Iran, Egypt, and Israel.

I would like to hear the member speak to the very purpose of the motion, which is a response to Canada's refusal to participate in its obligation to participate in these ongoing negotiations at the UN.

Opposition motion—Nuclear DisarmamentBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

1:25 p.m.

Liberal

Francis Drouin Liberal Glengarry—Prescott—Russell, ON

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for his question. I would understand that if Canada were alone in its position, but Canada’s position is the same as that of the United Kingdom, Germany and France, as well as Norway. Many of our multilateral partners have adopted the same position as Canada.

I believe we are taking the right multilateral approach with our G7 partners, and with Norway. I think that that is the correct approach in this file.

Opposition motion—Nuclear DisarmamentBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

1:25 p.m.

Brampton West Ontario

Liberal

Kamal Khera LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of National Revenue

Mr. Speaker, I thank my hon. colleague for highlighting how our government is taking concrete action to achieve nuclear disarmament, such as rallying 159 states to support and pass a resolution calling for a fissile material cut-off treaty, ensuring a high-level group to help phase out nuclear weapons.

Would the member not agree that an immediate ban is an empty process that excludes essential players and may actually set back nuclear disarmament?

Opposition motion—Nuclear DisarmamentBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

1:25 p.m.

Liberal

Francis Drouin Liberal Glengarry—Prescott—Russell, ON

Mr. Speaker, I have to say I agree with my colleague. What is the point of negotiating nuclear disarmament if the players are not at the table?

We are working with our allies on this and working with communities in the multilateral countries that actually have nuclear weapons so that we can create concrete action on these issues. I thank her for her important question. It highlights what Canada is all about. We are not about just talking at a table without the players. We want to make sure that when we propose concrete actions to disarm nuclear weapons, those who own them are actually at the table.

Opposition motion—Nuclear DisarmamentBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

1:25 p.m.

NDP

Pierre Nantel NDP Longueuil—Saint-Hubert, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank my colleague for his speech.

Obviously, this is a fascinating subject for everyone, and no one is against virtue, that goes without saying. However, last week, the minister announced that Canada would sit on eight additional committees. I would like to know if the same logic, to follow our allies, applies here and why Canada cannot be the leader that it has already been in this area?

Opposition motion—Nuclear DisarmamentBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

1:25 p.m.

Liberal

Francis Drouin Liberal Glengarry—Prescott—Russell, ON

Mr. Speaker, Canada will always be a leader in the world. This has been the case for climate change. The Minister of Environment has done a good job working alongside with other partner countries around the world, to sign the Paris agreement. I am glad that all members of Parliament, except one, voted in favour of it.

Canada will always adopt a multilateral approach when it comes to international issues.

Opposition motion—Nuclear DisarmamentBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

1:30 p.m.

NDP

Randall Garrison NDP Esquimalt—Saanich—Sooke, BC

Mr. Speaker, I will be splitting my time with the member for Victoria.

I am pleased and proud to rise today to speak in favour of this motion calling on Canada to support the draft convention on the prohibition of nuclear weapons. Some of the things I will say at the beginning of my remarks are well known.

There are more than 15,000 nuclear weapons in the world, and about 95% of those are owned by the United States and Russia, but there is good reason to believe that the U.K., China, France, India, Pakistan, North Korea, and Israel also possess nuclear weapons.

It is important to note the second thing that most people who are tuned into this topic are aware of, that nuclear weapons are the only weapons of mass destruction that are not explicitly prohibited by an international treaty. That is why I am both shocked and appalled, although that phrase may sound trite, by the attitude of the government on this question.

More than 120 countries are participating in the negotiations. Yesterday I sat here during question period and I heard the Prime Minister call the negotiations “sort of useless”. His reason for calling these talks “sort of useless” was that the states that possessed nuclear weapons are not participating.

How will we make any progress on this issue if we do not apply pressure from the rest of the world on those countries that hold nuclear weapons? How will we get any of them to understand the necessity of renouncing not only the possible use but the possession of nuclear weapons?

There are really only two threats right now to the existence of humanity on this planet. One of those threats is global warming, and we have participated and the government claims leadership. Canada has participated in all of the international conventions to attack this main threat to humanity's existence.

We have not said that we will no longer participate in the Paris agreement because some leader of a country close to us does not believe that we should participate. That would be the same logic the Prime Minister used for not participating in the draft convention talks for the prohibition of nuclear weapons. It makes no sense to me. It is also a cavalier attitude that treats this issue as trivial. I would submit that this is anything but trivial, because it is the second threat to the existence of humanity on this planet.

Thinking back to Hiroshima and Nagasaki and the use of nuclear weapons at that time, these were very small weapons in comparison to what exists today. We found out later that they were the only nuclear weapons in existence at that time There were no great stockpiles and, if they had not worked, there were not lots more to try to use.

Today, 15,000 nuclear weapons exist and there is no guarantee, with the proliferation that has already taken place, with the number of countries that already have access to this technology, that we are going to be able to control this. There is no guarantee that we will be able to stop these weapons from falling into the hands of groups at a sub-state level, groups that we might want to label as terrorist groups. Who knows who might get access to these weapons because of the broad distribution of the technology at this point?

It is incumbent on us to take every action we can to make sure that nuclear weapons are destroyed and no longer available for use by anyone on this planet. It is like firefighting. We train firefighters. We get them to work as hard as they can on fire prevention as well as putting out fires. Firefighters do not just go to fires and turn on the hose. They work every day to try to educate the public and to identify threats. In this case, it would be far too late if we waited until nuclear weapons were used to then say it was tragedy and we should have done something.

This is like fire prevention. This is like disease prevention. I cannot understand not just the Prime Minister but other members on the other side whom I've heard saying just recently that this is a waste of time. One of the things we are short of is time. We are short of time on climate change. We are short of time in banning nuclear weapons. We need to make the best use if whatever efforts we can to make sure these weapons are destroyed.

New Democrats have long held this position. It is not something new for us. Canada previously held this position, and Canada previously has been a leader in trying to work against the proliferation of nuclear weapons. Canada is part of the international treaties to prevent the proliferation of nuclear weapons.

It makes no sense to me that the government is not participating in these talks, and not just participating, but we should be leading the talks. We should be applying the pressure on those of our allies who have nuclear weapons, and we should be offering whatever support they need to make that decision. Is there some way, through this convention, that we can offer greater security to those who feel so threatened that they feel they need nuclear weapons? Let us have Canada stand up diplomatically and try to solve those problems, to provide the leadership on those problems so that countries no longer feel so threatened that they have to possess these weapons of mass destruction. Again, it is not just participating; it is being a leader. lt is putting forward the ideas through this treaty and through surrounding actions that will get us to a place where we no longer face this threat.

Yesterday, I had the privilege of standing with Hiroshima survivor Setsuko Thurlow, a Canadian citizen who, as a child growing up in Japan, was severely injured and lost many family members and friends as a result of that nuclear explosion. I am very proud of her and the campaign that she carries on. She received a standing ovation at the United Nations. I would challenge the Prime Minister to tell Setsuko Thurlow that her campaign is useless. I would challenge him to do that.

However, the government would not even meet with her. Liberals would not even show up when she was here to hear what she had to say. With her was Cesar Jaramillo, the executive director of Project Ploughshares, which has worked tirelessly against all kinds of weapons, but in particular against nuclear weapons. I challenge the Prime Minister to tell Cesar Jaramillo that the work he does for Project Ploughshares is useless work. It is beyond belief that we have a prime minister who was so cavalier about this issue in question period yesterday. It is beyond belief after the speech that the Minister of Foreign Affairs gave in the House saying that, given the instability of the world, it was incumbent on Canada to step up and take a leadership role and that, because the United States is withdrawing from its responsibilities, it is going to be a more dangerous world. A day after that the Prime Minister stood and said here is something we are not going to lead on; we are not going to lead on trying to get rid of nuclear weapons.

A day after that we had the new defence strategy released. I am a somewhat naive member of Parliament sometimes. Having heard the Minister of Foreign Affairs say we are are going to step up to take a leadership role, I actually expected to see that in our defence strategy. Instead, the defence strategy has not one new dollar for the Canadian military in this fiscal year, but promises for increased funding that are 10 and 20 years down the road.

The crises we face of international insecurity are now, not 10 years or 20 years down the road. Do not get me wrong. I have no complaint about a government that is going to plan for our future needs and equipment and that is going to cost those out properly. The problem I have is the gap between those promises and the reality we face every day in the Canadian military. We are about to take on a NATO mission in Latvia, which I and my party fully support. It is important to send a message to both Putin and Trump that the Baltics are NATO members and an attack on one is an attack on all. That is a very important mission for us.

We have also promised to take on a peacekeeping mission in Africa, another mission that I very much look forward to hearing about even though we are about six months late. How is the Canadian military going to take a leadership role in both those missions when its budget increase this year was less than the rate of inflation? We are asking it to take on new duties, which I am very proud of, with fewer resources than it had last year.

I am a bit confused about the government's real attitude to international affairs. What does it expect Canada to accomplish if we are going to leave the obvious avenues for leadership vacant? I call on all members of the House to think very seriously about the implications of Canada continuing to be absent from these negotiations that would lead to a treaty that would make nuclear weapons illegal and that would lead to a much safer and secure world. Yes, the task is hard, but Canada did not shrink from this when it came to the Ottawa treaty to ban landmines. We did not shrink from this when we advocated for the International Criminal Court. Why are we shrinking from that responsibility to lead at this point? I have no answer to that question, and I would like the government to explain to me why it is not taking that leadership role.

Opposition motion—Nuclear DisarmamentBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

1:35 p.m.

Liberal

Anita Vandenbeld Liberal Ottawa West—Nepean, ON

Mr. Speaker, I want to pick up on the analogy that the member used about a fire. Our government is trying to reduce the matches, accelerant, and lighters, so people will not be able to sell them. That is what is going to stop the fire, not talking to others who do not have matches while not engaging with people who have the capability of starting a fire. We want to prevent it. This is why we have led the world on the fissile material cut-off treaty. We led 159 countries. We are taking leadership and making sure that the very materials that can cause the explosives in nuclear weapons will not be used and there is no proliferation. What we are trying to do is realistic and will reduce nuclear weapons. Simply talking to those without nuclear weapons and saying there will be a ban is not going to get rid of one single nuclear weapon.

Would the hon. member please comment on the fact that what we are trying to do will have impact?

Opposition motion—Nuclear DisarmamentBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

1:40 p.m.

NDP

Randall Garrison NDP Esquimalt—Saanich—Sooke, BC

Mr. Speaker, I do not want to give a flippant response—although it is very tempting to say “How's that going, eh?” when it comes to the fissile treaty—because I believe that is a good thing for us to be doing. I would love to see progress on that treaty, but is the member honestly saying that we can only do one treaty at a time and we have no resources to pursue anything else while we are making very little progress on that treaty?

Using a view of history, I would dispute that it is useless, as the government continues to say, to hold talks to ban weapons when the nuclear powers are not there. We will absolutely be able to do this if we bring the pressure of the entire world to bear on those seven countries and, as I said, if we provide additional leadership in trying to cool off the conflicts that make those countries so fearful that they have to possess nuclear weapons. It is not a question of doing one or the other or saying that, because we are doing one thing, we cannot do any of the rest.

Opposition motion—Nuclear DisarmamentBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

1:40 p.m.

Conservative

Garnett Genuis Conservative Sherwood Park—Fort Saskatchewan, AB

Mr. Speaker, I certainly enjoy working with my colleague on human rights issues. There are cases when we agree, but I do not think this is one of them, unfortunately. In principle, Conservatives would reject the idea of unilateral disarmament. We certainly favour the idea of seeking disarmament on a multilateral basis, but when certain nations that are more likely to respect international law unilaterally disarm, that potentially puts them at risk relative to other nations.

I will read a quote from Margaret Thatcher and ask him to reflect on it. I am sure he is a big fan, by the way, as she was a strong female prime minister. She said:

A world without nuclear weapons may be a dream but you cannot base a sure defence on dreams. Without far greater trust and confidence between East and West than exists at present, a world without nuclear weapons would be less stable and more dangerous for all of us.

She said this in 1987. Is she not right that we create greater risks for ourselves through unilateral disarmament if we then give a strategic and military advantage to countries that do not share our values and do not have any regard for international law?

Opposition motion—Nuclear DisarmamentBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

1:40 p.m.

NDP

Randall Garrison NDP Esquimalt—Saanich—Sooke, BC

Mr. Speaker, I enjoy working with the hon. member, but he should know me well enough not to cite Margaret Thatcher to a gay man or expect me to agree with her on almost anything. I will say that she was absolutely wrong on most things, and I would include her quote on this as one of the things on which she was wrong.

When the member asks what the point is, he is sounding an awful lot like the Liberals, and it is one of the things I am getting used to in the chamber, these two parties sounding very much alike, even though one claims to have brought change. In response to his question, that is not the way diplomacy works. I would say that, even if I am naive and even if New Democrats are well meaning in their attitude to other countries, if the result of the negotiations was that one country gave up nuclear weapons, we would be one step closer to a safer world.

Opposition motion—Nuclear DisarmamentBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

1:40 p.m.

NDP

Murray Rankin NDP Victoria, BC

Mr. Speaker, it is always such a pleasure to follow my colleague from Esquimalt—Saanich—Sooke. His eloquent speech is inspirational to me.

I would like to read another inspirational quote, from the high representative for disarmament for the United States. She said, on June 2, “Disarmament breeds security. It is not a vague hope or aspiration but must be a concrete contribution to a safer and more secure world.” She concluded that this ban treaty is a “core component” of mechanisms under the United Nations for “our collective security.”

She is so right, and that is why it is so deeply disappointing for me as a Canadian to stand in this place and observe the Liberals walking away from the leadership role that this country has played in the past.

Here is an anecdote. When I was a much younger high-school student, a gentleman came to my high school. It was probably the proudest moment of my life to that point. That gentleman was Lester B. Pearson. I was head of the student council, and he came and talked about peacekeeping. He won the Nobel Prize for peacekeeping. How proud I was that day of a Liberal prime minister leading the world to create a safer place for children in that audience and for our children today.

I think of Mr. Axworthy and the Ottawa treaty. He is another Liberal who stepped up and showed leadership when it was claimed it would make no difference, just another silly United Nations paper exercise. Now the Liberals brag about that, and justifiably.

Here we are today, talking about why Canada should walk away from over 100 other countries in the United Nations who are trying to create a safer world for the next generation. Here we have the top five—I could not find 10—list of why the Liberals think this is a joke and should not be proceeded with.

I want to go there, but first I want to tell members about what happened yesterday in a very emotional meeting that was organized where Ms. Setsuko Thurlow, a survivor of Hiroshima, came to speak to parliamentarians. I must say I was moved by what she had to say. She was a young girl when they dropped that bomb in Hiroshima and watched her nephew melt away before her very eyes in 4,000-degree heat. Canada is her adopted country. She is a social worker now in Toronto.

What was the most concerning to me as a Canadian is that she said she has been “betrayed” by her adopted country, Canada, for failing to be part of this historic United Nations meeting that's considering the legal ban on nuclear weapons. Ms. Thurlow reminded me—and I confess I did not know this, but I looked it up and she is absolutely right—that the bomb that was dropped on her family and her neighbours in Hiroshima was fuelled by uranium from Great Bear Lake in the Northwest Territories and refined in Port Hope, Ontario, so Canada has been part of this story, sadly, from the get-go.

Nothing in the mandate letters of the former minister of foreign affairs or the current minister even talks about nuclear disarmament, even though we know we are leading the way with weapons of mass destruction. Be they biological or chemical weapons or the landmines treaty, Canada is right there. However, when it comes to nuclear weapons, what happened to Canada? What happened to that leadership I talked about before?

My colleague from Laurier—Sainte-Marie, the critic for the NDP on foreign affairs, stood in this place, how many times, to ask about the government's participation in the UN talks that are soon to be under way? She stood seven times and seven times got a non-answer, which is no answer whatsoever.

Therefore, it might be helpful if I could, in the interest of time, go to the top five Liberal reasons for doing nothing.

Number one is the fissile material cut-off treaty, and it is an important thing. What did someone just say? If we do not have the matches, we are going to prevent the fire, so that is a good thing. Yes, it is sort of like saying that gun control efforts should be abandoned because they undermine progress on bullet control. I suppose that is the logic that the Liberals use.

I am entirely in favour of the fissile material cut-off treaty. Who would not be? Good for Canada for stepping up, in that context, and trying to prohibit the further production of weapons-grade uranium and plutonium. That has to be a good step. However, that does not mean we cannot do other things with the over 120 countries on this planet that want to make progress on this. If we are talking about a straw man argument, that would be one: hiding behind the fig leaf of justifiable work on the fissile material cut-off treaty. That is argument number one.

Argument number two is that our position must be consistent with our NATO allies. Members heard it here first today. Multilateralism only seems to be what our NATO allies want and what Mr. Trump wants. I thought Canada wanted to be leading the world at the UN Security Council. Maybe I missed that, but it seems shocking—

Opposition motion—Nuclear DisarmamentBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

1:50 p.m.

Liberal

The Assistant Deputy Speaker Liberal Anthony Rota

I want to remind hon. members that debate is going on. It is nice to hear everyone getting along, but it makes it very difficult to hear the compelling argument that the hon. member for Victoria is making.

The hon. member for Victoria.

Opposition motion—Nuclear DisarmamentBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

1:50 p.m.

NDP

Murray Rankin NDP Victoria, BC

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate that.

The second argument that I guess the Liberals are putting up is that our position has to be consistent with our NATO allies.

What about The Netherlands? That is one of our NATO allies. It is going to the conference. It is not cowed by Mr. Trump. It is not getting a phone call, saying, “Please don't do what other NATO allies are doing.” It is not afraid to show the leadership that Mr. Pearson and Mr. Axworthy showed. It is stepping up. Good for The Netherlands for showing that courage, because standing up for peace usually does require some element of courage.

Argument number three is that there is no point going ahead without all nuclear weapon states on board. That is my favourite.

The minister has suggested there is no point in negotiations unless we have all nuclear weapon states on board. That is ridiculous. Past international agreements, from landmines to conflict diamonds, to the International Criminal Court, were challenged as complex and not necessary, but again, there was leadership and others came along. As Canadians on the world stage, we were proud of the work that our representatives did in those contexts. Not this time, though, now we are embarrassed.

Argument number four of the top five is that there is no point, given the global security environment. Therefore, the only time we step up for peace is when we are singing Kumbaya all together. How silly is this argument? We know the world is challenged. There is Crimea, North Korea, Syria. It is as if somehow that is an excuse, given the current security environment, to not take a more bold approach to nuclear disarmament. That is never going to be the case. We are never going to make progress if we can say that.

The fifth and last argument is that a ban would be ineffective anyway.

How do we know? The landmines one was not. The landmines treaty was effective. We managed to make progress on a number of environmental fronts, from the Montreal ozone-depleting convention, to other areas. Nobody thought that would work, and it worked. That lack of courage, lack of boldness by our government, again, in the context of such great leaders in the past who I mentioned before, both of whom were Liberal, is shocking.

We could make progress. If it is true that nuclear weapons conventions would be ineffective, which is what people are saying, then why are weapon states opposed to them? There is a contradiction here. If it is ineffective, then why are they opposed? Why do they not say it is another paper UN exercise? Is there a logic gap? I certainly think there is.

In conclusion, John F. Kennedy, one of my heroes, said the following of similar challenges in a very different time, “Let us never negotiate out of fear. But let us never fear to negotiate.”

That is what our motion today calls on Canada to do: to return to the table, to participate in good faith, as, by the way, article VI of the nuclear non-proliferation treaty, which we signed, requires us to do. Let us do what we said we would do. Let us stand up on the world stage again. Let us not be cowed by what a president says or what seems to be correct at the moment. Let us show the leadership Canada used to be famous for.

Opposition motion—Nuclear DisarmamentBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

1:50 p.m.

Gatineau Québec

Liberal

Steven MacKinnon LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Public Services and Procurement

Mr. Speaker, I stand here as a proud Liberal, in the traditions of Lester Pearson and Pierre Trudeau, and their efforts and their successes, in one obvious case, the success of winning a Nobel Peace Prize on the international front. Therefore, I do not think we will take any lessons from any party in this chamber with respect to multilateralism and peacemaking around the world.

What separates us from the New Democrats here today is their tendency to think that if we do not do things exactly as they propose, then we are not doing anything. We know that Canada is leading 159 countries in bringing forward a UN resolution with respect to the fissile material cut-off treaty. We are also spending well-nigh $73 million a year toward reducing the threat of weapons of mass destruction. Therefore, I would ask my hon. friend this. Do we always have to do it the NDP way in order for its members to congratulate us?

Opposition motion—Nuclear DisarmamentBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

1:55 p.m.

NDP

Murray Rankin NDP Victoria, BC

Mr. Speaker, I was so pleased to hear the reference to Mr. Pearson, and then to Mr. Pierre Elliott Trudeau, the gentleman who went to Washington and Moscow to seek a halt to nuclear weapons. This is not the NDP way; this is the old Liberal way.

Second, to suggest that this is somehow about the NDP, when there are 120 countries in the world that are begging us to come and show leadership at the end of June in the United Nations, seems a little flip.

Opposition motion—Nuclear DisarmamentBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

1:55 p.m.

Conservative

Garnett Genuis Conservative Sherwood Park—Fort Saskatchewan, AB

Mr. Speaker, I have a simple question for my colleague. Does he think it would be considered progress if we lived in a world where the United States, Great Britain, or France no longer had nuclear weapons but Russia, China, and North Korea continued to have nuclear weapons? Would he regard that as an improvement to the situation we have right now?

Opposition motion—Nuclear DisarmamentBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

1:55 p.m.

NDP

Murray Rankin NDP Victoria, BC

Mr. Speaker, the answer is no.

Opposition motion—Nuclear DisarmamentBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

1:55 p.m.

NDP

Hélène Laverdière NDP Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, I listened to the interesting response my colleague gave to the question from the Liberal side, which seems to be suggesting that this is somehow an NDP tactic. I appreciated his references to the elder Trudeau's policies and to the 130 countries that are asking Canada to contribute to this effort.

I wonder if my colleague did not also find it strange that following the 2011 Liberal Party convention, that party supported a resolution that said exactly what we are now proposing.

Does my colleague not think that they are betraying their own supporters, in a way, by refusing to support a motion that says the same thing as something approved at the last Liberal convention?

Opposition motion—Nuclear DisarmamentBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

1:55 p.m.

NDP

Murray Rankin NDP Victoria, BC

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague from Laurier—Sainte-Marie, who has consistently shown such enormous leadership on this file.

It is one of those things that, if I were a Liberal militant, I would find somewhat sad. Liberals go to a convention and express themselves, in such numbers, in favour of this apparently NDP initiative, only to find out that when they come back to Ottawa their members of Parliament stand up and take the exact opposite position. Actually, as I have seen that before, maybe it is not such a surprise.

However, I am not making light of this, and I do not intend to leave it on a light note. We are talking about weapons of mass destruction. We are talking about one of the two challenges facing humanity today: global climate change and disarmament requirements to restrict the expansion of the already enormous stockpile of nuclear weapons around the world. Why can Canada not be part of this, rather than watching from the sidelines and hiding behind the U.S. president, because that is what is going on?

Canada Border Services AgencyStatements By Members

1:55 p.m.

Liberal

Denis Paradis Liberal Brome—Missisquoi, QC

Mr. Speaker, in early 2015, the Canada Border Services Agency carried out a $16-million project to modernize the Morses Line border crossing in Saint-Armand in my riding.

The project was completed in late April 2015, and ever since then, one of my constituents, Nelly Auger, has been living out a real nightmare. That crossing was automated, which meant the construction of a new building that skirts her property, as well as the installation of LED lights that shine into her bedroom. No one would deny this is an invasion of her privacy.

In an email exchange between the CBSA and Nelly Auger, they agreed that a fence needed to be installed. The email is dated July 2015. This is 2017, and the matter is still not resolved. The cost of the fence is $2,611, although it was a $16-million project.

I want to know why this has not been resolved. Nelly Auger is also asking to be compensated for her home's loss in value.

Breakfast on the FarmStatements By Members

2 p.m.

Conservative

Mel Arnold Conservative North Okanagan—Shuswap, BC

Mr. Speaker, I am especially looking forward to Breakfast on the Farm in the North Okanagan—Shuswap this weekend. Agricultural producers from the area will be hosting Breakfast on the Farm. Now in its third year, this annual event is open to the public and free of charge, drawing over 1,000 people annually.

On Friday, the Serene Lea Farms, home of the Stobbe family in Mara, will host over 300 students from schools in the region. On Saturday, there is a free pancake breakfast for everyone, and a tour of a dairy and blueberry farm to experience how our food is produced. Local agricultural equipment providers will also be showcasing the latest equipment for working in the fields and in the barns.

If people enjoy breakfast each day, then thank a farmer. If people happen to be in the North Okanagan—Shuswap this Saturday, they can thank them in person at Breakfast on the Farm.

Summer Celebrations in GatineauStatements By Members

2 p.m.

Liberal

Steven MacKinnon Liberal Gatineau, QC

Mr. Speaker, entertainment will abound this summer in Gatineau for Canada 150.

Starting June 30, Jacques Cartier Park will be presenting the spectacular achievements of MosaïCanada, true masterpieces depicting our country’s 150 years of history and culture.

From July 7 to 9, Lac Beauchamp Park will host the Wonders of Sand, a festival of epic proportions for the entire family.

Then, the Cirque du Soleil will set up its big top in Gatineau, where it will hold its show Volta, which is sure to amaze young and old alike all through the month of August.

From August 31 to September 4, La Baie Park will once again be the site of Gatineau’s colourful Hot Air Balloon Festival.

Of course, our city's spirit and vitality will shine through in the block parties that will light up our various neighbourhoods all summer long.

I invite all of my colleagues on both sides of the House to enjoy the summer months in Gatineau.

World Oceans DayStatements By Members

2 p.m.

NDP

Fin Donnelly NDP Port Moody—Coquitlam, BC

Mr. Speaker, today is World Oceans Day, an international day to celebrate our oceans and encourage conservation by addressing climate change, pollution, microplastics, overfishing, and habitat destruction.

As we celebrate Canada's 150th birthday, we can take pride knowing it was Canadians who first proposed World Oceans Day at Rio's earth summit in 1992. However, Canada must do more to protect our oceans by lowering emissions, adding marine protected areas, encouraging sustainable fisheries, transitioning salmon aquaculture to safe closed containment, protecting killer whale habitat and other marine ecosystems, and removing abandoned vessels from our waters.

I encourage all members of the House to support World Oceans Day. We must come together today to protect our oceans for tomorrow.

I would like to acknowledge that today is our first World Oceans Day without one of its greatest champions, Rob Stewart. We miss him, but he will not be forgotten.

Tall Ships in Hastings—Lennox and AddingtonStatements By Members

2 p.m.

Liberal

Mike Bossio Liberal Hastings—Lennox and Addington, ON

Mr. Speaker, grab your tricorn hat. I have spotted a great event on the horizon in Hastings—Lennox and Addington. Eleven tall ships from around the world are dropping anchor in Bath this July 7th to 9th at the historic Fairfield-Gutzeit House.

This hearty celebration of Canada's 150th birthday is sure to bring thousands of visitors for a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to get an up close and personal view. There will be live music and kids' activities, and spectators will have a chance to tour the tall ships. There will even be historic naval demonstrations, including a naval battle out on the water on Saturday evening.

I am also very proud to say that Ben Bell, a sea cadet on my youth council, will also be taking part in the entire tall ship journey this summer.

I invite my honourable colleagues on the port side and the starboard side to go full steam ahead. All aboard for the tall ships in Bath.

Dominion of CanadaStatements By Members

2 p.m.

Conservative

Ted Falk Conservative Provencher, MB

Mr. Speaker, 150 years ago, our forefathers wrestled with the question, “How will we describe this vast new Canada of ours?”

The term “Kingdom of Canada” was suggested, but that did not quite fit. Then, during one of his daily Bible readings, Sir Samuel Tilley, one of the Fathers of Confederation, was struck by Psalm 72:8: “He shall have dominion also from sea to sea.”

God's hand has indeed been over the Dominion of Canada ever since. On July 1, we will celebrate Canada's 150th birthday. As we look back over the years, we are reminded that together we have come through times of war, times of peace, times of hardship, and times of prosperity.

Through it all, what has made Canada truly great are the values that the Fathers of Confederation exemplified: hard work, self-sacrifice, and integrity. This strong foundation has made Canada a land of stability and opportunity for all Canadians. This Canada Day, let us resolve to make Canada an even greater place for all of us who call it home.

Portuguese Day in CambridgeStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Liberal

Bryan May Liberal Cambridge, ON

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to celebrate the Portuguese Day festivities in Cambridge.

They started last weekend with the Portuguese Holy Spirit Festival, and many came out to support the over 10,000 Portuguese community members in my riding. The festivities continue this weekend with the Portuguese parade and flag raising. Portuguese traditions, including their dancing, food, music, and art, are woven deeply into the cultural fabric of Cambridge. I encourage everyone to come out this weekend and enjoy the best that Portugal and Cambridge have to offer.

This year we also take a moment to remember and honour long-time organizer Marina Cunha, who was taken far too soon this past year. I want to thank all the organizers and the entire Portuguese community for hosting this amazing festival.

Obrigado.

Immigration in Atlantic CanadaStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Liberal

Alaina Lockhart Liberal Fundy Royal, NB

Mr. Speaker, on November 2, 2016, I was proud to see every member of this House united and voting in favour of my Motion No. 39 to study the issue of immigration in Atlantic Canada. There was a mutual recognition of Atlantic Canada's important contribution to our country.

Sadly, it seems that the opposition's goodwill towards Atlantic Canada has since disappeared. Let me be clear: Atlantic Canadians are hard-working, unassuming people. Our region has known tough economic times, but we are working hard to find solutions. Immigration is definitely part of the solution, and the committee's study will be one more tool to help our region grow economically.

I am saddened to see members of the opposition filibuster this important study and show such disrespect for Atlantic Canada. The fact that the Conservatives and NDP are playing political games with the economic well-being of Atlantic Canada is nothing short of shameful.

I ask my colleagues opposite to end the political games, and let us all work together to support Atlantic Canada.

Alberta Great Kids Award WinnerStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Conservative

Jim Eglinski Conservative Yellowhead, AB

Mr. Speaker, in my riding of Yellowhead, grade 9 student Taija Dryden, from H.W. Pickup School, was selected along with 15 other children for the 2017 Alberta Great Kids Award, which is given to children and youth who connect to their communities and play useful roles within them.

Taija has juvenile dermatomyositis, a disease with no cure that causes a rash, fatigue, extreme pain, and weakness. Taija served as a mentor for her friends, family, and community, and volunteered within her school.

She has spent many days and months in and out of hospitals, but instead of complaining, she uses her time there to help other kids who are sick. Taija is a true example of strength, hope, and determination.

Congratulations, Taija, on being selected.

World Oceans DayStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Liberal

Ken Hardie Liberal Fleetwood—Port Kells, BC

Mr. Speaker, World Oceans Day celebrates the fact that Canada is an ocean-rich country. We have the world's longest coastline, and our oceans generate the oxygen we breathe, provide food, and regulate our climate.

This morning, our Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard announced the new St. Anns Bank marine protected area, east of Cape Breton, protecting over 100 species. It is an important habitat for several commercial fish stocks.

Earlier this year, our government designated the 9,000-year-old glass sponge reefs in B.C.'s Hecate Strait as a marine protected area, and we have identified a new 140,000-square-kilometre area of interest in the offshore Pacific bioregion, the biggest to date. We are on target to protect 5% of Canada's oceans by year's end.

As well, there is a new $75-million coastal restoration fund to restore and rebuild important habitat for the fish stocks that are so important to our coastal communities. It all adds up to a great toast to the health of Canada's oceans on this important day.

Terrorist Attack in TehranStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Liberal

Ali Ehsassi Liberal Willowdale, ON

Mr. Speaker, everyone in this House was shocked and saddened to hear of the brutal terrorist attack in Tehran yesterday. The 12 dead and dozens injured were peace-loving mothers, wives, and sisters and innocent fathers, brothers, and sons. Today we remember them, as we do all victims of senseless hatred.

I would like to thank our Minister of Foreign Affairs for her categorical condemnation of this latest atrocity.

The attack in Tehran follows on the recent heels of similarly barbaric and heart-wrenching attacks in London, Kabul, and Baghdad. Canada will always stand with the innocent victims of terrorist attacks whenever and wherever this evil scourge rears its ugly head.

Summer PartyStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Conservative

Alupa Clarke Conservative Beauport—Limoilou, QC

Mr. Speaker, it is with great pleasure that I invite the constituents of Beauport—Limoilou to my second annual summer party on July 8, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., in the magnificent Domaine de Maizerets park.

There will be treats for people young and old, like hotdogs, corn on the cob, chips and other goodies, that will be served between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m., compliments of our generous local sponsors.

In case of bad weather, there is the cabin at the Domaine de Maizerets, as well as a tent on location, so the party will go on rain or shine.

There will be events throughout the day, including music in a variety of styles and games for the young and young at heart. If there is one party everyone should attend this summer, it is this one.

I would add that, last year, the party drew close to 2,000 guests, so with the help of Mother Nature, we are expecting 3,000 this time around.

Thank you very much, and I hope to see a big turnout at the Beauport—Limoilou summer party.

Status of WomenStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Liberal

Sonia Sidhu Liberal Brampton South, ON

Mr. Speaker, as one of 92 women in this place, I want to highlight the work our government is doing to promote gender equality and especially women's empowerment. In each action we take, gender-based analysis is a key part of the plan.

I want to commend our feminist Prime Minister and our cabinet for the work they are doing on this topic.

The Minister of Finance published the first-ever gender statement in budget 2017. The Minister of Status of Women is working hard for women's empowerment. The Minister of National Defence included gender-based analysis in the new defence policy, and the Minister of Justice announced changes to our legal system to further protect women. The list goes on.

With the leadership of this government and national organizations like Equal Voice, we are on the right track toward gender equality. As a mother of two daughters, I am very proud of the difference we are making for the next generation of Canadian women.

No. 1 Saint-Hyacinthe Cadet CorpsStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

NDP

Brigitte Sansoucy NDP Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot, QC

Mr. Speaker, I want to pay tribute to the No. 1 Saint-Hyacinthe Cadet Corps, the first and oldest in Canada, which is celebrating its 185th anniversary.

This organization is very active and well-rooted in the past and the present. It represents nothing less than Canada's history. Many well-known individuals were cadets under this banner. The 20th and 21st premiers of Quebec, Daniel Johnson Sr. and Jean-Jacques Bertrand, were members of No. 1 Saint-Hyacinthe Cadet Corps.

This historic organization is the pride of my region. I thank all the volunteers who instill a sense of respect, discipline, and service in our young people. By focusing on leadership, physical fitness, and civics, this program helps young people become engaged and involved in their community. The motto of No. 1 Saint-Hyacinthe Cadet Corps is love, honour, and glory.

I thank No. 1 Saint-Hyacinthe Cadet Corps.

Community LeaderStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Conservative

Earl Dreeshen Conservative Red Deer—Mountain View, AB

Mr. Speaker, I am proud to recognize one of Red Deer—Mountain View's outstanding community leaders, a lifelong friend and neighbour, Gloria Beck.

Last week, Gloria was named Red Deer Citizen of the Year at the Rotary Club's annual gala.

As the owner of Parkland Nurseries & Garden Centre, Gloria has enriched our lives with not only the beauty of nature, but also as a shining example of how one cares for the less fortunate. She has touched the lives of so many of her fellow Albertans through her work with numerous local charities like Habitat for Humanity, the women's shelter, local food banks, and the Canadian Cancer Society. She has also been a great supporter of Red Deer College and has been an outstanding director on the Olds College board, as noted by outgoing Olds College president Tom Thompson.

Gloria was also the first female president of the downtown Rotary Club, as well as the first female president of the International Garden Centre Association.

On behalf of all Albertans, I salute Gloria Beck. She makes us all proud.

Terrorist Attack in TehranStatements By Members

2:15 p.m.

Liberal

Majid Jowhari Liberal Richmond Hill, ON

Mr. Speaker, Canada strongly condemns the recent terrorist attacks in Tehran, including those committed at the Iranian Parliament. We grieve the deaths and injuries sustained by many civilians and deplore the targeting of innocent lranians. Our thoughts and sympathies at this time are with the people of Iran.

The timing of these attacks, carried out during the holy month of Ramadan, is an offence to the spirit of this sacred period.

I join Iranian Canadians in my riding of Richmond Hill and all Canadians in condemning this attack. Canada remains unwavering in the global fight against terrorism and the hatred on which it is based.

[Member spoke in Farsi]

Foreign TakeoversOral Questions

2:15 p.m.

Conservative

Candice Bergen Conservative Portage—Lisgar, MB

Mr. Speaker, earlier this week, the Minister of Foreign Affairs gave a major speech on Canada's foreign policy, but she failed to mention Canada's foreign policy with respect to China. Now we know why.

The minister of industry was quietly approving a Chinese takeover deal of Vancouver-based Norsat International, a company which builds satellite receivers for NATO.

Why is the Prime Minister so eager to sell our military technology to Beijing?

Foreign TakeoversOral Questions

2:15 p.m.

Mississauga—Malton Ontario

Liberal

Navdeep Bains LiberalMinister of Innovation

Mr. Speaker, we take the protection of national security very seriously. We never have and never will compromise on national security.

All investments reviewed under the Investment Canada Act are screened by Canada's national security agencies. The national security community conducted a rigorous review and confirmed that security procedures and safeguards were in place that were in keeping with our high standards. We always have and always will protect our national security.

Foreign TakeoversOral Questions

2:15 p.m.

Conservative

Candice Bergen Conservative Portage—Lisgar, MB

Mr. Speaker, it gets worse. Normally any deal involving this type of satellite technology would be subject to a formal, national security review. However, in a very troubling development, the industry minister decided that a national security review was not necessary for this Chinese takeover.

Canadian national security interests are at stake here. Why did the Prime Minister allow this sale to China to go ahead without the comprehensive security review that it needed?

Foreign TakeoversOral Questions

2:15 p.m.

Mississauga—Malton Ontario

Liberal

Navdeep Bains LiberalMinister of Innovation

Mr. Speaker, the process was followed under the Investment Canada Act. As I stated before, we never have and never will compromise our national security.

When it comes to our economic agenda and our overall Investment Canada Act regime, we are being very clear that in order to grow the economy and create jobs, we must be open to investments, open to trade, open to people. This is good for Canada and it is good for our economy. We will always defend the middle class and those working hard to join it.

Foreign TakeoversOral Questions

2:15 p.m.

Conservative

Candice Bergen Conservative Portage—Lisgar, MB

Mr. Speaker, this is shocking. Hytera Communications has previously been accused of large-scale theft of intellectual property and the U.K. raised major red flags when Hytera tried to acquire a similar British company. Richard Fadden, the former head of CSIS, said that he would have recommended a full-fledged national security review of this deal.

Why is the Prime Minister allowing his fascination with China and his overwhelming desire to appease it to cloud his judgment on the national security of our country?

Foreign TakeoversOral Questions

2:15 p.m.

Mississauga—Malton Ontario

Liberal

Navdeep Bains LiberalMinister of Innovation

Mr. Speaker, under the Investment Canada Act, all transactions are subject to a national security review. Therefore, we followed the process. It was a rigorous process.

We have been very clear that when it comes to the economy, when it comes to growth and jobs, we are open to investment, trade, and people. We always have and always will ensure that we never, ever compromise our national security.

Foreign TakeoversOral Questions

2:15 p.m.

Conservative

Gérard Deltell Conservative Louis-Saint-Laurent, QC

Mr. Speaker, I think that the government does not realize what an enormous mistake it just made.

We learned about something quite serious in this morning's Globe and Mail. Norsat in Vancouver, a manufacturer of high tech components for NATO satellites, has just been sold to Chinese interests, and unfortunately the national security protocol was not followed properly or carefully.

Is this the Prime Minister's way of thanking his Chinese friends who paid top dollar to meet with him privately a year ago?

Foreign TakeoversOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Mississauga—Malton Ontario

Liberal

Navdeep Bains LiberalMinister of Innovation

Mr. Speaker, I disagree with my friend and colleague.

We have been very clear that the process was followed under the Investment Canada Act. We have always followed the law. We have made sure that we listen to our national security agencies and the experts and the advice they give us. Based on that advice and the feedback, we make decisions accordingly. We never have and never will compromise on national security.

We have also been very clear that we are open to investment to ensure we grow our economy and create good quality jobs for the middle class.

Foreign TakeoversOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Conservative

Gérard Deltell Conservative Louis-Saint-Laurent, QC

Mr. Speaker, Norsat does not make shoes. It makes high-tech components that it sells to the U. S. Department of Defense and other NATO countries. This very valuable, very sensitive information is now in the hands of Chinese investors. The worst part is that this deal was not even subject to a national security review.

Why did the government drop the ball on this?

Foreign TakeoversOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Mississauga—Malton Ontario

Liberal

Navdeep Bains LiberalMinister of Innovation

Mr. Speaker, again, I want to take this opportunity to correct the record. The member opposite is saying that this transaction was not subject to a national security review. That is not the case.

All transactions under the Investment Canada Act are subject to a national security review. We have followed the process. We have done our due diligence. We have consulted the national security agencies. We will ensure that we never have and never will compromise our national security. At the same time, we are committed to growing our economy by ensuring we are open to investment, trade, and people.

Foreign TakeoversOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

NDP

Thomas Mulcair NDP Outremont, QC

Mr. Speaker, this is an important issue for all Canadians and for our security.

I know the minister, and I know him to be an honourable gentleman, so I want to give him a chance to correct something he has just said.

In his first answers, he was particularly prudent. In his first of five answers he talked about a screening. However, he knows, and we all know, that a screening is not a national security review. He then said, “procedures were followed”, which can mean anything and nothing. At the very end, the minister started saying that there was a national security review, which had a definition.

I would like him to clarify that. Was there or was there not a full national security—

Foreign TakeoversOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Geoff Regan

The hon. Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development.

Foreign TakeoversOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Mississauga—Malton Ontario

Liberal

Navdeep Bains LiberalMinister of Innovation

Mr. Speaker, under the Investment Canada Act, all transactions are subject to a national security review and to ensure that the process has been followed. Under this transaction, and all transactions, we followed the law. We made sure we did our homework, and we did our due diligence.

Any feedback we receive from the national security agencies is taken seriously and taken into account before we make a decision. We always have and always will ensure that we never, ever compromise our national security.

Foreign TakeoversOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

NDP

Thomas Mulcair NDP Outremont, QC

Mr. Speaker, I expect the minister would have no problem sharing the national security agencies' verdicts on this deal.

In March, the Prime Minister overturned a decision that Stephen Harper made and allowed China to take over the high-tech company we are talking about. Barely three months later, he is at it again. He is refusing to subject this takeover to a national security review even though Canada uses the company's technology for its own military purposes.

My question to the Liberals is this: Why are you selling our military secrets to China?

Foreign TakeoversOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Geoff Regan

I would remind the member for Outremont to direct his comments to the Chair.

The hon. Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development.

Foreign TakeoversOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Mississauga—Malton Ontario

Liberal

Navdeep Bains LiberalMinister of Innovation

Mr. Speaker, the specific case raised by the member opposite, again, was with regard to O-Net. Let us be clear. We did not overturn a cabinet order. The previous government managed the process so poorly that it ended up in court. We made sure we did a rigorous process. We examined all the facts by our national security agencies and the law was followed.

We always have and we always will ensure that we never, ever compromise our national security.

Foreign AffairsOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

NDP

Thomas Mulcair NDP Outremont, QC

Mr. Speaker, I asked yesterday about the UN nuclear disarmament negotiations that included over 120 countries. The Prime Minister said, “There can be all sorts of people talking about nuclear disarmament, but if they do not actually have nuclear arms, it is sort of useless...”

The 1997 Ottawa treaty on landmines was initiated by Canada under a Liberal government and signed by over 100 countries that did not use landmines. Could the government now explain how that treaty was also “useless”?

Foreign AffairsOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Mississauga—Malton Ontario

Liberal

Navdeep Bains LiberalMinister of Innovation

Mr. Speaker, when it comes to nuclear disarmament, our goal has been very clear. We are taking great steps to achieve it. That means doing hard work to deliver something tangible.

As mentioned by the Prime Minister yesterday, in 2016, for the first time ever, Canada rallied 159 states to support a resolution calling for the fissile material cut-off treaty. This is a concrete step toward a phasing-out of nuclear weapons and, crucially, including both nuclear and non-nuclear countries. This is real action that matters to Canadians.

Foreign AffairsOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

NDP

Thomas Mulcair NDP Outremont, QC

Mr. Speaker, in 2016, in August in fact, the Liberals voted for the first time in our history against nuclear disarmament.

In the words of Pierre Elliott Trudeau, “Political leaders will decide whether or not a nuclear war actually takes place, yet politicians act as if peace is too complicated for them.”

Those words are all the more meaningful as the Liberals and Conservatives attack the NDP's motion on nuclear disarmament.

Do the Liberals not understand that what the current Prime Minister is saying is a direct insult to over 120 countries?

Foreign AffairsOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Mississauga—Malton Ontario

Liberal

Navdeep Bains LiberalMinister of Innovation

Mr Speaker, let me be clear. We strongly support efforts toward nuclear disarmament. However, what the member opposite is proposing is a negotiation of a nuclear weapon ban treaty without the participation of states that possess nuclear weapons. This is posturing, not practical diplomacy that can make a real difference.

Our position is consistent with our allies, Germany and Norway just to name a few. We are driving real action by working with nuclear and non-nuclear countries to achieve our ultimate goal, which is nuclear disarmament.

InfrastructureOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Conservative

Dianne Lynn Watts Conservative South Surrey—White Rock, BC

Mr. Speaker, the minister has stated that the infrastructure bank will shield taxpayers from risk, but let us be clear: Taxpayers are funding the bank, taxpayers will be paying the profits to private investors through user fees and tolls, and the minister is guaranteeing loans using taxpayer dollars. All of this additional risk is on the backs of taxpayers.

Will the minister admit that the only people being shielded from risk are the private investors?

InfrastructureOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Edmonton Mill Woods Alberta

Liberal

Amarjeet Sohi LiberalMinister of Infrastructure and Communities

Mr. Speaker, as I have often stated in the House, the bank is designed to shift the risk to the private sector, with appropriate investments that the private sector will make in any given project.

We will make sure that the experts who will be running the bank ensure that the public interest is always protected and that public dollars are always protected.

Our goal is to make sure we are building the infrastructure that our communities need to grow our economy and create jobs for the middle class.

InfrastructureOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Conservative

Dianne Lynn Watts Conservative South Surrey—White Rock, BC

Mr. Speaker, P3 Canada has been leveraging private sector dollars for infrastructure since 2009. Six billion dollars has been leveraged from an initial investment of $1.3 billion. A $35-billion investment into P3Canada would leverage $170 billion, all without guaranteeing private sector loans with taxpayer dollars. An internal report from KPMG recommended using P3 Canada's existing structure for the bank.

Will the minister reverse this decision for the bank and invest in P3 Canada?

InfrastructureOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Edmonton Mill Woods Alberta

Liberal

Amarjeet Sohi LiberalMinister of Infrastructure and Communities

Mr. Speaker, P3s will continue to play a dominant role in building infrastructure, and we support that. We are allowing municipalities to make their own decisions. We do not impose a certain procurement model on our partners. It is their decision.

As well, the PPP Canada organization has supported the creation of the Canada infrastructure bank, because it sees that both complement each other to build the infrastructure that is required by Canadian communities.

InfrastructureOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Conservative

Alain Rayes Conservative Richmond—Arthabaska, QC

Mr. Speaker, what do the former parliamentary budget officer, the former president of the Business Development Bank, the Quebec National Assembly, KPMG's internal report, and all members on this side of the House have in common? They have all spoken out against the infrastructure bank.

Will the Prime Minister and the Minister of Infrastructure and Communities finally make the right decision and remove the infrastructure bank from Bill C-44?

InfrastructureOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Edmonton Mill Woods Alberta

Liberal

Amarjeet Sohi LiberalMinister of Infrastructure and Communities

Mr. Speaker, very reputable Canadian pension funds, such as the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board, teachers, OMERS, Caisse de dépôt, the Alberta Investment Management Corporation, invest in international infrastructure. They invest in infrastructure in other countries.

We want to create conditions so that our own pension funds that manage money on behalf of Canadians can invest in our own country to build the needed infrastructure and create jobs for Canadians. What is wrong with that?

InfrastructureOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Conservative

Alain Rayes Conservative Richmond—Arthabaska, QC

Mr. Speaker, it is really unfortunate to see how stubborn the government and the minister are being about this. Even though everyone is warning them not to do it, they are headed for disaster. Who is going to pay for this? Who is going to contribute the $35 billion? It is going to come directly out of taxpayers' pockets.

Will the Prime Minister finally listen to the parliamentarians on this side of the House or will the Senate once again have to give the government a reality check?

InfrastructureOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Edmonton Mill Woods Alberta

Liberal

Amarjeet Sohi LiberalMinister of Infrastructure and Communities

Mr. Speaker, during the process to create the Canada infrastructure bank, we consulted extensively with municipalities, provinces, stakeholders, and investors.

We all understand that in order to mobilize private capital, in order to build the infrastructure, we need to create a governance structure, an arm's-length crown corporation, accountable to the government through Parliament to the people of Canada. We want to undertake projects that will serve the public interest and the public good.

InfrastructureOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Conservative

Pierre Poilievre Conservative Carleton, ON

Mr. Speaker, the member says that the infrastructure bank will be arm's length, but that arm will be long enough to reach into the pockets of taxpayers. In fact, it will be long enough to reach into their pockets for projects that are already financed by the private sector. Former Liberal minister, Sergio Marchi, now lobbying for power companies, wants loan guarantees from taxpayers to build projects that are already built by the private sector.

Will the government admit that this is not about increasing private involvement, but rather putting private profit on the backs of public risk?

InfrastructureOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Edmonton Mill Woods Alberta

Liberal

Amarjeet Sohi LiberalMinister of Infrastructure and Communities

Mr. Speaker, we have put forward a very ambitious, bold plan to build Canadian community infrastructure, tripling the investment compared to the previous government's meagre commitment to building infrastructure.

We understand that if we mobilize private capital, we can undertake projects that would never get built. That is the vision we have, and that is exactly what we want to do by mobilizing our pension funds to invest in our own country.

Access to InformationOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Conservative

Pierre Poilievre Conservative Carleton, ON

Last year, an employee of Shared Services Canada received an access to information request for all documents containing the words “Liberal Party”. The employee released 12 documents and deleted 398. It is an offence under section 67 of the Access to Information Act to destroy documents that have been requested under the act.

The matter has been referred to the Attorney General. I wonder if the Attorney General will recuse herself, given that it is a Liberal Party matter, and let the director of public prosecutions decide whether to prosecute the matter.

Access to InformationOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Gatineau Québec

Liberal

Steven MacKinnon LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Public Services and Procurement

Mr. Speaker, our government expects our employees to meet the highest level of ethical behaviour and decision-making. Shared Services Canada took this situation very seriously, immediately launched an investigation of the situation, and notified the Information Commissioner. Of course, as is normal, the matter has been referred to the Attorney General of Canada.

Government AppointmentsOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

NDP

François Choquette NDP Drummond, QC

Mr. Speaker, after the debacle with Madeleine Meilleur's appointment, I hope that the government understands that there cannot be any partisanship in the appointment of officers of Parliament.

The position of official languages commissioner is a vital one because the person who holds that position ensures respect for both official languages and the law. The commissioner works for Parliament, not for the Prime Minister.

Does the government commit today to follow the process established in the Official Languages Act and truly consult the opposition leaders?

Government AppointmentsOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Charlottetown P.E.I.

Liberal

Sean Casey LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Canadian Heritage

Mr. Speaker, we promised Canadians a new, open, rigorous, and merit-based process, and that is what we gave them.

Madam Meilleur proved that she was qualified for the job at every step of the process. She dedicated a major part of her career to defending the interests of official languages communities. We hope that she will continue to play a leadership role on this important file. More information will be available in the next few days.

Government AppointmentsOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

NDP

Irene Mathyssen NDP London—Fanshawe, ON

Mr. Speaker, after all the repetitious nonsense, can the Liberals now acknowledge that appointing a partisan commissioner, without real consultation, will result in unnecessary scandal and is a waste of Parliament's time?

After the embarrassing withdrawal of Madam Meilleur's nomination, will the Liberals work with us to make sure this never happens again? Will the Liberals do the right thing and commit today to a new process that ensures meaningful consultation before any officer of the House is nominated, yes or no?

Government AppointmentsOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Charlottetown P.E.I.

Liberal

Sean Casey LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Canadian Heritage

Mr. Speaker, our government promised Canadians a rigorous, open, and merit-based process for public appointments, and we are keeping that commitment. At no point in this process were Madame Meilleur's qualifications questioned. She has been a fierce advocate of the official languages communities. We hope that she continues her advocacy on this important file. More information will be available in the days to come.

Government AppointmentsOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Conservative

John Brassard Conservative Barrie—Innisfil, ON

Mr. Speaker, how did that work out for them?

The Liberals tried to put a Liberal donor in a position that would have allowed them to not have any real oversight. The process was a train wreck, and responsibility for it lies directly with the Prime Minister, Gerald Butts, Katie Telford, and the heritage minister. We can bet that had this appointment occurred, the dominoes would have fallen quickly to fill the other vacant non-partisan positions with Liberal insiders.

Could the Prime Minister tell us if his backroom political operatives are making new deals to fill the vacant parliamentary officer positions?

Government AppointmentsOral Questions

2:35 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 shared with all members, as well as Canadians, we have put into place a new, open, transparent, merit-based appointment process where we look at gender parity and Canada's two official languages. We are looking for highly qualified candidates. Any open positions are available online so that Canadians can apply. This is a new process that we have committed to Canadians. We will continue to deliver on our commitments.

Government AppointmentsOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Conservative

John Brassard Conservative Barrie—Innisfil, ON

Mr. Speaker, during the election, the Prime Minister promised that oversight watchdogs would be accountable only to Parliament, not the government of the day. Like many things the Prime Minister has promised, those promises are proving to be worthless.

Playing political games with these appointments calls into question the legitimacy of Liberal motives. For example, the Ethics Commissioner's term is up in 30 days and there is no word on her replacement. That makes one wonder whether the Prime Minister wants the investigation into his questionable ethics to go away with Mrs. Dawson's retirement. Can the Liberals give us a reason why they have not moved to fill this position?

Government AppointmentsOral Questions

2:35 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 will always appreciate the work that officers of Parliament do. That is why we have committed to always working with them. If there is any information required with respect to the cases, we will be more than willing to provide it. The Prime Minister has said that. I have said that.

When it comes to the appointment process, we have introduced a new, open, transparent, merit-based appointment process. I encourage all Canadians to apply for the open positions that are all posted online.

Government AppointmentsOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Conservative

Jacques Gourde Conservative Lévis—Lotbinière, QC

Mr. Speaker, given the problems with the process for appointing an official languages commissioner, Canadians have the right to know what criteria will be used to appoint future officers of Parliament. Will there be a non-partisan process, as Canadians have the right to expect, or will being a Liberal Party donor be the one and only criterion in the process for appointing the next Ethics Commissioner?

Government AppointmentsOral Questions

2:35 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 put in place a new, open, transparent, and merit-based appointment process. Our aim is to identify high-quality candidates who will help to achieve gender parity and truly reflect Canada's diversity.

Canadians can continue to apply for positions, which are advertised online.

Foreign InvestmentOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Conservative

Lisa Raitt Conservative Milton, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am going to give the Minister of Innovation one more chance on this one, because I am very troubled about how there were two answers being given in the House today.

Despite the fact that Norsat actually sells technology to Nav Canada, which is in charge of our air traffic, the minister said to The Globe and Mail that it was decided in the security screening analysis that an in-depth security review by CSIS and the Department of National Defence was not necessary. Will he tell us once and for all in this House if he is relying on a flimsy screening analysis? Why did he not allow for a full in-depth review?

Foreign InvestmentOral Questions

2:40 p.m.

Mississauga—Malton Ontario

Liberal

Navdeep Bains LiberalMinister of Innovation

Mr. Speaker, I am relying on the same process that was followed by the previous government, and by that member. I will always follow the law. Under the Investment Canada Act, the process is very clear. All transactions are subject to a national security review. We made sure that we followed the process. We did our due diligence. We did our homework. We heard very loud and clear the feedback given by national security agencies before we made any decision. We have never and we never will compromise our national security.

The EnvironmentOral Questions

2:40 p.m.

NDP

Fin Donnelly NDP Port Moody—Coquitlam, BC

Mr. Speaker, today is World Oceans Day, a day to acknowledge our important relationship with our oceans. In B.C., understanding salmon is a direct link to understanding our oceans. However, just two weeks ago, the government announced that it will end the popular salmon in the classroom education program. Over one million students have gone through this powerful program since it began. For the sake of our oceans, and our salmon, will the minister reverse this terrible decision to cut the salmon in the classroom education program?

The EnvironmentOral Questions

2:40 p.m.

Beauséjour New Brunswick

Liberal

Dominic LeBlanc LiberalMinister of Fisheries

Mr. Speaker, I am glad, on World Oceans Day, to tell members of the House that I had the privilege earlier today of announcing the creation of Canada's newest marine protected area, St. Anns Bank, off the east coast of Cape Breton, in the province of Nova Scotia.

With respect to the question about salmonid enhancement, this is a very valuable program. It is a program for which I share the member's view. It has done a great deal to protect the iconic species of Pacific salmon. We will always be there to support the important work done by those volunteers and others who have done such a great job.

The EnvironmentOral Questions

2:40 p.m.

NDP

Sheila Malcolmson NDP Nanaimo—Ladysmith, BC

Mr. Speaker, this year World Oceans Day is focused on stopping marine debris. However, Liberal and Conservative governments have failed to clean up abandoned vessels littering our coasts. These vessels are a major source of oil spills and pollution, and they threaten jobs in aquaculture, commercial fishing, and tourism.

The recent Liberal announcement is a drop in the bucket. Of the thousands of abandoned vessels littering Canada's three coasts, exactly how many will $1 million clean up each year? Can the minister give us a number?

The EnvironmentOral Questions

2:40 p.m.

Notre-Dame-de-Grâce—Westmount Québec

Liberal

Marc Garneau LiberalMinister of Transport

Mr. Speaker, we are extremely proud of the fact that we announced the oceans protection plan last November, an unprecedented $1.5-billion plan to improve marine safety. A component of that is cleaning up abandoned and derelict vessels.

Recently I announced an abandoned vessels program for small vessels. I want to assure my colleague that this is only the beginning. This is an ongoing program, and there will be more to come in the months ahead.

Immigration, Refugees and CitizenshipOral Questions

2:40 p.m.

Liberal

Sean Fraser Liberal Central Nova, NS

Mr. Speaker, this House unanimously passed a motion from my colleague, the member for Fundy Royal, to study Atlantic immigration and the retention of newcomers.

For 10 years, the Harper Conservatives ignored and insulted Atlantic Canada, and after yesterday, it looks like the NDP has sided with the Conservatives. On this side of the House, all 183 of us proudly support Atlantic Canada and our colleague from Fundy Royal.

Can the Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship please update this House on what our government is doing to support prosperity and economic growth in my region of Atlantic Canada?

Immigration, Refugees and CitizenshipOral Questions

2:40 p.m.

York South—Weston Ontario

Liberal

Ahmed Hussen LiberalMinister of Immigration

Mr. Speaker, I want to thank my 32 colleagues from Atlantic Canada for their strong leadership and advocacy.

Immigration is an engine for economic growth.

That is why our government launched the Atlantic immigration pilot program as part of the Atlantic growth strategy. This program will attract and retain skilled newcomers through an innovative partnership with employers, provincial governments, and settlement agencies.

Regardless of whether people are from Toronto, Vancouver, or Calgary, the success and vitality of Atlantic Canada is essential for all Canadians.

National DefenceOral Questions

2:45 p.m.

Conservative

James Bezan Conservative Selkirk—Interlake—Eastman, MB

Mr. Speaker, yesterday the Minister of National Defence presented Canadians with a book of empty promises. In two years the Liberals have failed to deliver a single piece of military equipment, and they do not plan on buying anything for our troops until after the next election.

The Prime Minister already believes that our troops are appropriately provisioned. The Minister of National Defence cannot explain where the money is going to come from. When the Minister of Finance was asked about this yesterday, he said, “Go ask the defence minister.” I will.

Where is the money going to come from?

National DefenceOral Questions

2:45 p.m.

Saint-Jean Québec

Liberal

Jean Rioux LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of National Defence

Mr. Speaker, I want to congratulate the minister on having led the most extensive defence consultation in 20 years, and above all, for zealously overseeing the new defence policy.

Thanks to this new policy, big changes are on the way over the next few years. The Canadian Armed Forces will be properly funded. The budget will be increased by more than 70% over the next 10 years, for a total increase of $32.7 billion.

National DefenceOral Questions

2:45 p.m.

Conservative

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

Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the Minister for accepting most of the Conservative Party's recommendations for the new defence policy.

Unfortunately, we see a little problem with the Liberal accounting architecture. Page 11 of the policy promises that the cost presentation is transparent and fully funded. Someone should tell the Minister of Finance, because he did not know that yesterday.

Can the Minister of Finance or the Minister of National Defence assure the House that the defence budget is indeed confirmed and tell us exactly where that money will come from?

National DefenceOral Questions

2:45 p.m.

Saint-Jean Québec

Liberal

Jean Rioux LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of National Defence

Mr. Speaker, our policy has been the subject of rigorous costing, and its funding is realistic and affordable. Our costing was supported by external experts, and our methodology underwent additional review by five external accounting firms.

The funding needed to support this policy was budgeted and will come from the Minister of Finance's fiscal framework.

Natural ResourcesOral Questions

2:45 p.m.

Conservative

Bob Zimmer Conservative Prince George—Peace River—Northern Rockies, BC

Mr. Speaker, the Liberals' dithering on the softwood file just keeps getting worse. We learned this week that Obama's visit, expected to result in the signing of the softwood lumber agreement, cost Canadians $4.8 million, with nothing to show for it, while hundreds of thousands of good-paying Canadian jobs are being lost and are at risk. Now we find out that lumber remanufacturers are paying twice as much as regular mills.

Why is the Prime Minister refusing to protect the softwood lumber industry, specifically our remanufacturers?

Natural ResourcesOral Questions

2:45 p.m.

Northumberland—Peterborough South Ontario

Liberal

Kim Rudd LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Natural Resources

Mr. Speaker, Canada's forest industry sustains hundreds of thousands of good-paying jobs across our country. Our government will continue to fight vigorously to defend the interests of Canadian workers and companies in the face of actions taken by the U.S. that are completely without merit. We are taking decisive and immediate action to help Canadians who are affected by these unfair and punitive damages. We are making investments to diversify forest products and markets for our producers, supporting workers, and providing financial products and services on commercial terms.

We stand firmly behind the Canadian forest industry and are supporting its long-term health and prosperity.

Softwood LumberOral Questions

2:45 p.m.

Conservative

Joël Godin Conservative Portneuf—Jacques-Cartier, QC

Mr. Speaker, when it comes to softwood lumber, we do not want just any agreement, as they say, we want an agreement that will benefit our industry. How is it that as soon as the U.S. announced its surtax the Government of Quebec was able to announce an assistance program for the entire industry the very same day, but it took Ottawa six weeks to come up with a financial assistance program? What is more, this government has been negotiating an agreement for 20 months with nothing to show for it.

How can the thousands of Canadian workers trust this Liberal government? It has been 20 months.

Softwood LumberOral Questions

2:45 p.m.

Orléans Ontario

Liberal

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

I agree, Mr. Speaker, the previous Conservative government allowed the agreement to lapse. The Department of Trade's taxable countervailing duties are punitive and unfair. We will go before the courts and we will win, as we have every time. This will be the fifth time.

The Prime Minister spoke with the President at the G7 summit and on many other occasions. We want a good agreement, not just any agreement. That takes time, but we will come out on top.

Fisheries and OceansOral Questions

2:45 p.m.

NDP

Gord Johns NDP Courtenay—Alberni, BC

Mr. Speaker, yesterday I asked the Prime Minister if he would support the marine debris cleanup currently under way on Vancouver Island. He responded that the oceans protection plan would help protect our coast. Nice words, but that is all they are. There is no mention of marine debris in the government's oceans protection plan and no money for cleaning it up. As we see more and more cargo traffic off our coast, and the level of plastic in the oceans continue to rise, why do the Liberals have no plan to clean up marine debris?

Fisheries and OceansOral Questions

2:50 p.m.

Notre-Dame-de-Grâce—Westmount Québec

Liberal

Marc Garneau LiberalMinister of Transport

Mr. Speaker, I am very proud of the fact that our oceans protection plan goes way beyond anything that has ever been done in this country. I recognize that the issue that has been brought up by the member is an issue that is occurring more and more. It is certainly something we can look at, but I am very proud of the fact that we have made an unprecedented commitment to marine safety on the three coasts of our country. This is a new first for Canada.

Dairy IndustryOral Questions

2:50 p.m.

NDP

Ruth Ellen Brosseau NDP Berthier—Maskinongé, QC

Mr. Speaker, with less than a month to go before the comprehensive economic and trade agreement, or CETA, comes into force, we still have no clue how the transition plan or the tariff quotas will work.

The Liberals promised to fully compensate the dairy industry for losses incurred as a result of CETA, but the amounts announced fall far short, so much so that the Quebec government says it is prepared to delay CETA’s implementation as long as there is no real compensation for the dairy industry.

When will the government act, stand up and compensate the dairy industry for losses caused by CETA?

Dairy IndustryOral Questions

2:50 p.m.

Cardigan P.E.I.

Liberal

Lawrence MacAulay LiberalMinister of Agriculture and Agri-Food

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate my hon. colleague's question and concern.

Our government fully supports the supply management system and will continue to support the supply management system. We have consulted the dairy farmers and processors across this country for a number of months and have come up with a program of $350 million: $250 million so our dairy farmers can innovate, and $100 million so our processors can innovate and be on the cutting edge.

This government has and will continue to make sure that our supply management system continues to thrive in this country.

Public SafetyOral Questions

2:50 p.m.

Conservative

Michael Cooper Conservative St. Albert—Edmonton, AB

Mr. Speaker, for the past week the Liberals have refused to answer straightforward questions about whether they plan to cancel a publicly accessible registry for high-risk sex offenders. What do the Liberals have to hide? Should Canadians take the Liberals' non-answer as a yes, that indeed they plan to cancel this tool for parents to keep their kids safe from high-risk sex offender, yes or no?

Public SafetyOral Questions

2:50 p.m.

Regina—Wascana Saskatchewan

Liberal

Ralph Goodale LiberalMinister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness

Mr. Speaker, public safety and the safety of children are always a priority, and I am sure that is true for all members of this House.

The national sex offender registry was created and funded in 2004 by former public safety minister Anne McLellan. It is a tool, a very effective tool, for ensuring that high-risk offenders are identified. When a potentially dangerous offender is about to be released, the correctional service alerts the police. If there is a danger, the police alert the public. Police and communities working constructively together is how best to make sure our children—

Public SafetyOral Questions

2:50 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Geoff Regan

Public SafetyOral Questions

2:50 p.m.

Conservative

Steven Blaney Conservative Bellechasse—Les Etchemins—Lévis, QC

That sounds like a no, Mr. Speaker.

Speaking about marijuana, yesterday the Prime Minister said, “...until the law is changed, the law remains the law.” Implementing a public registry of high-risk sex offenders is the law, as well.

If the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness shares the opinion of his Prime Minister, what is he waiting for to enforce the law and implement the new registry? If money is the issue, what is the hold-up? We already have a $30-billion deficit; our children's protection is certainly worth more than that.

Public SafetyOral Questions

2:50 p.m.

Regina—Wascana Saskatchewan

Liberal

Ralph Goodale LiberalMinister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness

Mr. Speaker, the law is the national sex offender registry, created in 2004 by former minister McLellan, and it works very effectively.

In 2015, the Harper government passed legislation to create another database, but it was never actually set up, and it was never funded by the previous government.

TaxationOral Questions

2:50 p.m.

Conservative

Mark Warawa Conservative Langley—Aldergrove, BC

Mr. Speaker, there they go again, protecting the criminals.

When the Prime Minister introduced his mandatory “Ottawa knows best” carbon tax, he promised Canadians it would be federally revenue neutral. That is not true. Research from the Library of Parliament clearly shows that the Prime Minister will take millions of dollars out of Alberta and British Columbia by charging GST on the carbon tax.

Will the Prime Minister stop increasing taxes on Canadians, start to keep his promises, and immediately eliminate this unfair tax on a tax?

TaxationOral Questions

2:50 p.m.

Ottawa Centre Ontario

Liberal

Catherine McKenna LiberalMinister of Environment and Climate Change

Mr. Speaker, I was very proud the other day when all members of Parliament but one voted in favour of the Paris agreement. We are showing that Canada is committed to serious climate action. We understand that as part of any serious plan, we need to have a price on pollution.

I would ask the party opposite if it supports putting a price on pollution, fostering the innovation we need to create good jobs and grow our economy.

Employment, Workforce Development and LaboursOral Questions

2:55 p.m.

Liberal

Doug Eyolfson Liberal Charleswood—St. James—Assiniboia—Headingley, MB

Mr. Speaker, this month, young Canadians in my riding of Charleswood—St. James—Assiniboia—Headingley and across the country will be graduating from high school and getting ready to start the next phase of their education. Demand for skilled tradespeople is growing in our country. A job in the skilled trades is a promising career.

Would the Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Labour please update this House on actions our government has taken to help youth enter the skilled trades?

Employment, Workforce Development and LaboursOral Questions

2:55 p.m.

Thunder Bay—Superior North Ontario

Liberal

Patty Hajdu LiberalMinister of Employment

Mr. Speaker, our government recognizes that an education in the skilled trades leads to good-paying jobs in our country. Earlier this year, I attended the regional Skills Canada competition event in my hometown of Thunder Bay, and just last week I was in Winnipeg for the national competition, where over 500 youth from across Canada competed in 40 events.

Investment in the union training and innovation program, indigenous job training, and the expansion of the student loans and grants program will help young Canadians pursue their studies in the skilled trades.

Rail TransportationOral Questions

2:55 p.m.

Conservative

Luc Berthold Conservative Mégantic—L'Érable, QC

Mr. Speaker, in April, the Minister of Transport announced 131 new rail safety projects and handed out over $20 million in grants.

Unfortunately, the only rail safety project submitted by the community of Lac-Mégantic was rejected out of hand by Transport Canada. The project would have trained first responders in case of a disaster, drawing on the experience gained from the tragedy of July 6, 2013. The minister had a unique opportunity, in his own department, to put words into action.

Why did the minister fail the people of Lac-Mégantic?

Rail TransportationOral Questions

2:55 p.m.

Notre-Dame-de-Grâce—Westmount Québec

Liberal

Marc Garneau LiberalMinister of Transport

Mr. Speaker, on the contrary, we applaud the work of the Institut en culture de sécurité industrielle Mégantic. The project is being examined with great interest. It is important to train first responders in the event of a disaster. The institute in Lac-Mégantic has submitted interesting proposals, which we are currently reviewing.

My colleague mentioned the 131 grade crossing projects. This $55-million initiative should be applauded.

Indigenous AffairsOral Questions

2:55 p.m.

NDP

Wayne Stetski NDP Kootenay—Columbia, BC

Mr. Speaker, the 2017-18 Parks Canada departmental plan says it will address the Truth and Reconciliation Commission report's call to action no. 79 by expanding the presentation and commemoration of indigenous histories and cultures in Parks Canada's heritage places, but a recent Parks Canada RFP for exhibit writing does not require a focus on indigenous history or require working with or even consulting with indigenous groups.

Will the minister withdraw the RFP and ensure that all future Parks Canada RFPs meet the spirit of the reconciliation report?

Indigenous AffairsOral Questions

2:55 p.m.

Ottawa Centre Ontario

Liberal

Catherine McKenna LiberalMinister of Environment and Climate Change

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the member opposite for his advocacy on behalf of parks but also with respect to indigenous peoples. There is no more important relationship than our relationship with indigenous peoples. We take very seriously our duty to accommodate and consult in accordance with our constitutional and international obligations. I will look into this matter and I commit to get back to the member as soon as possible.

International TradeOral Questions

2:55 p.m.

Liberal

Eva Nassif Liberal Vimy, QC

Mr. Speaker, the government is working to support the middle class by diversifying trade and updating existing agreements.

The Table de concertation de Laval en condition féminine works to promote gender equality. This week, the minister and his Chilean counterpart signed a modernized agreement that includes a chapter on trade and gender equality.

Can the parliamentary secretary tell the House why this chapter in the modernized Canada-Chile Free Trade Agreement is so important?

International TradeOral Questions

2:55 p.m.

West Vancouver—Sunshine Coast—Sea to Sky Country B.C.

Liberal

Pam Goldsmith-Jones LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of International Trade

Mr. Speaker, Canada has just marked another milestone. We are very proud of this new chapter on gender equality in the Canada-Chile Free Trade Agreement. This is a first for a G20 country.

The new chapter acknowledges the importance of applying gender perspective to trade issues to ensure that economic growth benefits everyone and of encouraging women's participation in the market.

That is what progressive trade means to our government.

Veterans AffairsOral Questions

2:55 p.m.

Conservative

Cathay Wagantall Conservative Yorkton—Melville, SK

Mr. Speaker, over the last nine months, the veterans affairs committee has heard gut-wrenching, heartbreaking testimony from many of our veterans who are suffering from the side effects of mefloquine. They have implored the government for medical help. Now that the surgeon general has finally shared his report on mefloquine, it affirms the testimony of these veterans by finally relegating mefloquine as a drug of last resort for our troops.

What remediation and assistance is the government going to provide to those who were required to take mefloquine and are now suffering the consequences?

Veterans AffairsOral Questions

3 p.m.

Calgary Centre Alberta

Liberal

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

Mr. Speaker, Veterans Affairs works hard each and every day to provide veterans and their families with the care and support they need when and where they need it. Regardless of whether veterans need help from any time they have served our country, whether abroad or here at home in service of any kind, Veterans Affairs is there to answer the phone, to support, and to help them. We encourage those who need help to come forward and we will be there to assist them through any process they wish to go through with us.

Official LanguagesOral Questions

3 p.m.

Bloc

Michel Boudrias Bloc Terrebonne, QC

Mr. Speaker, the minister has made some interesting announcements on his defence policy, such as the one on increasing the number of women and promoting diversity. However, the minister failed to say anything about French as a language of work in the forces.

For a francophone in the navy the language of work is English. In the special forces it is English. In the national training courses it is always English.

When will the Minister of Defence and his department start respecting francophones and give them the necessary units so that they can serve their country in French?

Official LanguagesOral Questions

3 p.m.

Saint-Jean Québec

Liberal

Jean Rioux LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of National Defence

Mr. Speaker, I am quite surprised by the member's statement because in the riding of Saint-Jean we announced that bilingual military training would be reinstated at the military college.

The funding for implementing this policy has already been allocated and the announcement is already bearing fruit. There are more than 70 new candidates in the college courses because they know that there will be bilingual university training at the Royal Military College Saint-Jean.

Official LanguagesOral Questions

3 p.m.

Bloc

Michel Boudrias Bloc Terrebonne, QC

Mr. Speaker, it is great that we are talking about training, but I am talking about working and operational units. From my experience in my career, Ottawa is tone deaf when it comes to French in the forces.

“If you don't understand, ask a friend.”

That is something we have heard often. French deserves to have a place and must be respected. The government puts out a defence policy every 10 years and it gets updated, but there has still not been any progress. There is not a single word about French in it.

When will the government take responsibility and give the air, land, and sea branches of the armed forces the number of French units they need?

Official LanguagesOral Questions

3 p.m.

Saint-Jean Québec

Liberal

Jean Rioux LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of National Defence

Mr. Speaker, it is vital for the armed forces and for the Government of Canada to have bilingual troops. That was obvious with all the flooding in Quebec. All the troops that were on the ground but one were francophones from Quebec, and I can say that that was very reassuring for all Quebeckers.

Oral QuestionsPoints of OrderOral Questions

3 p.m.

NDP

Thomas Mulcair NDP Outremont, QC

Mr. Speaker, according to the Standing Orders, a member of the House cannot intentionally mislead Parliament. Sometimes it is an honest mistake and that is why I wanted to give the minister of industry a chance to correct himself.

In a press release from Norsat on June 2, it said, “the Minister responsible for the Investment Canada Act...has served notice that there will be no order for review of the transaction under subsection 25.3(1) of the Act.”

There is a difference between a screening and a systematic, real national security review that has to be ordered by the minister. He knows that because he is the one who chose not to order a national security review.

I would ask you, Mr. Speaker, to look at the answers that we had from the minister, which contradict the facts, and make sure that our rights as parliamentarians to get true answers in the House are respected.

Oral QuestionsPoints of OrderOral Questions

3 p.m.

Conservative

Lisa Raitt Conservative Milton, ON

Mr. Speaker, further to the point of order raised by my hon. colleague, I would also like to point out that the letter that was actually sent to Norsat said as follows, “there will be no order for review of the transaction under subsection 25.3(1)”, which governs national security reviews.

Further, it is important that we get some evidence from the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness since this decision is taken only in consultation with him.

Oral QuestionsPoints of OrderOral Questions

3:05 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Geoff Regan

I thank the hon. member for Outremont for raising that question.

I thank the hon. member for Milton for her intervention. I will consider the matter and come back to the House if necessary.

The House resumed from June 7 consideration of the motion that Bill C-45, an act respecting cannabis and to amend the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act, the Criminal Code and other acts, be read the second time and referred to a committee, and of the amendment.

Cannabis ActGovernment Orders

3:05 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Geoff Regan

It being 3:05 p.m., pursuant to order made May 30, the House will now proceed to the taking of the deferred recorded division on the amendment of the member for Niagara Falls to the motion for second reading of Bill C-45.

Call in the members.

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

Vote #311

Cannabis ActGovernment Orders

3:10 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Geoff Regan

I declare the amendment defeated.

The next question is on the main motion.

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

Cannabis ActGovernment Orders

3:10 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

No.

Cannabis ActGovernment Orders

3:10 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Geoff Regan

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

Cannabis ActGovernment Orders

3:10 p.m.

Some hon. members

Yea.

Cannabis ActGovernment Orders

3:10 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Geoff Regan

All those opposed will please say nay.

Cannabis ActGovernment Orders

3:10 p.m.

Some hon. members

Nay.

Cannabis ActGovernment Orders

3:10 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 #312

Cannabis ActGovernment Orders

3:20 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Geoff Regan

I declare the motion carried. Accordingly, this bill stands referred to the Standing Committee on Health.

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

Business of the HouseGovernment Orders

3:20 p.m.

Conservative

Candice Bergen Conservative Portage—Lisgar, MB

Mr. Speaker, I would like to ask the government House leader if she could please tell us what business the House will be doing this week and next week. I recognize the days are long and a lot of different bills are crammed into each day. I know a lot is going on.

With that in mind, I want to remind her, and I believe I speak on behalf of the NDP as well, that we would be interested in working together with the government if the Liberals are looking at making any changes to the Standing Orders. If that were to come forward before we rise, I know it would be good for all of us if we could work together on that.

Business of the HouseGovernment Orders

3:25 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, this afternoon, we will continue the debate we began this morning on the NDP opposition day motion.

This evening, we will return to Bill C-24, an act to amend the Salaries Act and to make a consequential amendment to the Financial Administration Act. Following that, we will begin second reading of Bill C-50 on political financing.

Tomorrow will be dedicated to debating Bill C-44 on the budget.

As for next week, our hope is to make progress on a number of bills, including Bill C-6 concerning citizenship; Bill C-50 respecting political financing; Bill C-49, transportation modernization; and Bill S-3, amendments to the Indian Act.

Finally, next Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday shall be allotted days.

As the member very well knows, I always look forward to working with all members. I look forward to continuing our conversation.

Alleged Premature Disclosure of Contents of Bill C-49—Speaker's RulingPrivilegeGovernment Orders

3:25 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Geoff Regan

I am now prepared to rule on the question of privilege raised on May 17, by the hon. member for Carlton Trail—Eagle Creek concerning the alleged premature disclosure of the contents of Bill C-49, an act to amend the Canada Transportation Act and other acts respecting transportation and to make related and consequential amendments to other acts.

I would like to thank the hon. member for Carlton Trail—Eagle Creek for having raised this matter, as well as the Parliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons and the hon. member for Elmwood—Transcona for their submissions.

In raising this question of privilege, the member for Carlton Trail—Eagle Creek explained that the media had made public specific details contained in Bill C-49 before it was introduced in the House. By drawing comparisons between what was revealed in several news reports from Monday, May 15 and the contents of the bill which was introduced in the House on Tuesday, May 16, she alleged that the required confidentiality before the unveiling of the legislation in the House was simply not respected and members' privileges were breached as a result.

The member stated her belief that this was not due to a simple accidental leak but, rather, was the result of a systemic advance briefing of the media.

For his part, the Parliamentary Secretary to the Government House Leader contended that at no time had the government prematurely divulged any details of Bill C-49; rather, it had simply held extensive consultations on the review of the Canada Transportation Act, as is the government’s prerogative. He added that the minister and his staff were clearly aware of the need for confidentiality, declining to comment on any specifics of the bill when asked by the media.

The right of the House to first access to legislation is one of our oldest conventions. It does and must, however, coexist with the need of governments to consult widely, with the public and stakeholders alike, on issues and policies in the preparation of legislation. Speaker Parent explained on February 21, 2000, at page 3767 of Debates:

Although the members of the House should always be the first ones to examine legislation after it has been introduced and read the first time, this rule must be balanced against the need for the government to consult both experts and the public when developing its legislative proposals.

When ruling on a similar matter on November 1, 2006, Speaker Milliken concluded that the government had not divulged confidential information on the bill, nor the bill itself, but rather had engaged in consultations prior to finalizing the legislation in question. At the same time, he explained at page 4540 of the House of Commons Debates:

The key procedural point...is that once a bill has been placed on notice, it must remain confidential until introduced in the House.

In acknowledging this important nuance, he made room for both consultation and confidentiality, but also saw the distinction between the two.

In the case before us, the Chair is asked to determine if the level of detail reported upon by various media outlets in advance of the tabling in the House of Bill C-49 constitutes sufficient proof of a leak of the contents of this bill, and thus constitutes a prima facie breach of the member's privileges. In examining the bill, and noting the obvious similarities to the information cited in the media, the Chair can appreciate the seriousness of the matter raised.

When ruling on a similar question of privilege on April 19, 2016, I found a prima facie case of privilege in relation to the premature disclosure of Bill C-14, an act to amend the Criminal Code and to make related amendments to other acts (medical assistance in dying). In that particular case, the government had acknowledged the premature disclosure of the bill while assuring the House that this had not been authorized and would not happen again. In other words, the facts were undisputed.

That is not the case with the situation before us. The parliamentary secretary has assured the House that the government did not share the bill before it was introduced in the House but conceded that extensive consultations were conducted. Nor is the Chair confronted with a situation where a formal briefing session was provided to the media but not to members.

Finally, it is a long established practice to take members at their word, and the Chair, in view of this particular set of circumstances, is prepared to accept the explanation of the Parliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons.

In the absence of evidence that members have been prevented from conducting their parliamentary functions due to the premature release of the bill itself, I cannot find that a prima facie case of privilege exists in this case.

Statements by MembersPrivilegeGovernment Orders

3:30 p.m.

Liberal

Robert-Falcon Ouellette Liberal Winnipeg Centre, MB

Mr. Speaker, [Member spoke in Cree]

[English]

I rise on a point of privilege of prima facie.

[Member spoke in Cree and provided the following translation:]

I am proud to be here.

[English]

On May 4, 2017, I rose in the House of Commons to speak on important issues of violence being committed against indigenous women. In order to make a larger impact, it was felt that it would be appropriate to speak in nehiyo, or the Cree language. Even though I had provided documentation to the translation and interpretative services 48 hours prior to my speaking on May 4, 2017, they were unable to provide a time-appropriate translation during members' statements under Standing Order 31.

It is my belief that my parliamentary privileges have been violated because I could not be understood by my fellow parliamentarians and Canadians viewing the proceedings, thus negating the debate and point that I wished to make. I was effectively silenced, and even though I had the floor and had been duly recognized, my speech was not translated, rendering me silent and thus violating the parliamentary privileges of all MPs present in this chamber. Imagine for an instance if a French Canadian spoke in the House but no translation and interpretative services were provided.

It is is my belief that parliamentarians have a constitutionally protected right to use indigenous languages in Parliament. Subsection 35(1) of the Constitution Act, 1982 states:

The existing aboriginal and treaty rights of the aboriginal peoples of Canada are hereby recognized and affirmed.

Do language rights fall within these provisions?

Professor Karen Drake has written about indigenous language rights in Canada as pre-existing the Canadian state, and these rights have not been extinguished and are still present.

Others, like David Leitch and Lorena Fontaine, have been working towards launching a constitutional challenge, arguing that under subsection 35(1), the federal government has not only a negative obligation not to stifle aboriginal languages but a positive obligation to provide the resources necessary to revitalize those languages.

The latter claim is perhaps the most challenging, while the former is more straightforward. Though the test for establishing an aboriginal right under subsection 35(1) has ballooned into a labyrinth of steps, sub-steps, and sub-sub-steps, the core of the test has remained relatively consistent since the Supreme Court of Canada decision in Van der Peet:

...in order to be an aboriginal right an activity must be an element of a practice, custom or tradition integral to the distinctive culture of the aboriginal group claiming the right.

Many, including me, argue that indigenous languages easily meet this test. As Leitch puts it, “there is no more distinguishing feature of most cultures than their languages.”

Other arguments also focus on the inherent connection between language and culture, as illustrated by the way in which indigenous languages structure indigenous knowledge.

An additional nuance can be added to this argument. The Supreme Court of Canada's jurisprudence recognizes that the practices, customs, and traditions protected by subsection 35(1) include the laws of aboriginal peoples.

At least some aboriginal languages reflect aboriginal laws. As Doris Pratt and Harry Bone explain:

Our languages are sacred gifts, given to us by the Creator. They carry our way of life, our views of the world, our history, our laws and they bind us to each other.

Thus, at least some aboriginal languages are integral to their respective cultures, not merely insofar as to reflect those cultures, but also insofar as they reflect the laws that are included within the practices, customs, and traditions protected by subsection 35(1).

The analysis thus far may support a negative right to be free from government laws prohibiting aboriginal peoples from speaking aboriginal languages, pursuant to subsection 35(1) and subsection 52(1) of the Constitution Act, 1982.

However, the real issue is whether aboriginal peoples have the right to use their own languages at public expense; in other words, whether governments have a positive obligation to provide aboriginal peoples with government services in aboriginal languages.

Commentators have answered this question in the affirmative by appealing to the Supreme Court's jurisprudence on Canada's official languages.

According to the majority in R. v. Beaulac, 1999:

Language rights are not negative rights, or passive rights; they can only be enjoyed if the means are provided.

Additional arguments in support of a positive language right can be deduced from the section 35 jurisprudence itself. The Supreme Court has emphasized that the purpose of section 35 is to promote reconciliation between aboriginal peoples and non-aboriginal peoples in Canada. Section 35 should be applied and interpreted in the light of this purpose.

After spending six years gathering 6,750 statements from residential school survivors and others, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada concluded that reconciliation requires the preservation and revitalization of aboriginal languages, and it issued numerous calls to action on the topic, one of which states:

The federal government has a responsibility to provide sufficient funds for Aboriginal-language revitalization and preservation.

Language figures prominently in the commission's analysis because the very purpose of the residential school system was the destruction of indigenous cultures and language for the sake of assimilating indigenous peoples into a non-indigenous culture. Children were prohibited from speaking in indigenous languages both inside and outside the classroom. As Leitch notes, no other cultural group in Canada has been subject to a state-sponsored attempt to eradicate its language. Thus, the case for a positive obligation on governments in this context is compelling. The federal government took active steps to destroy aboriginal languages, and so reconciliation requires that it take active steps to revitalize these languages.

Parliament is to be the representative of the people of Canada and to uphold the highest principles. Today, the Government of Canada has stated it supports the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, UNDRIP, without reservation. Article 13 of UNDRIP states, “Indigenous peoples have the right to revitalize...and transmit to future generations their...languages”, and “[s]tates shall take effective measures to ensure this right is protected...”.

In December of 2016, the Prime Minister stated he was ready to introduce an aboriginal languages act. While there are no laws or rules specifically protecting or governing the use of indigenous languages here in Parliament, it is my belief that, since aboriginal rights are pre-existing, they should be considered a right. While that has not been exercised or supported, it is nonetheless still existing. Cree, because it is my indigenous language, nehiyo, should be considered an official language in the House of Commons. Standing Order 1 states:

In all cases not provided for hereinafter, or by other Order of the House, procedural questions shall be decided by the Speaker or Chair of Committees of the Whole, whose decisions shall be based on the usages, forms, customs and precedents of the House of Commons of Canada and on parliamentary tradition in Canada and other jurisdictions, so far as they may be applicable to the House.

The use of indigenous languages like Cree is not foreign to Canada. The parliamentary tradition has multiple examples, and I would like to enumerate a few other examples of the use of indigenous languages in legislatures in Canada. For instance, in the most recent example, the Senate of Canada provides interpretation and translation services in Inuktitut for Inuit senators. This has been under the visionary leadership of the Hon. Charlie Watt and the Hon. Serge Joyal.

In addition, there are multiple other examples, such as the Legislative Assembly of the Northwest Territories, where indigenous languages have the opportunity for interpretation services. In Manitoba, the hon. James McKay was on the Assiniboia council under President Louis Riel, where Michif, Cree, French, English, and Gaelic languages were used. This legislative assembly was integral to the entry of the Red River, modern-day Manitoba, into Confederation. An example of the openness of the time is the Hon. James McKay. He was an indigenous Métis man of Scottish origin, from a Cree nehiyo mother, and spoke many different languages, including Cree, in official proceedings of the assemblies where he sat.

In an official history prepared by the Manitoba legislature, it is recorded that indigenous languages were used in official proceedings. James McKay was a member of the Legislative Council of Manitoba, the Manitoba upper chamber, and served as its speaker until 1874. He was then elected to the Legislative Assembly of Manitoba. McKay is known to be very proud of his indigenous heritage and used indigenous languages frequently. He was also a member of the North-West Council. In the second session of the Legislative Assembly of Assiniboia, from April 26 to May 9, when discussing the hay privilege, James McKay addressed the assembly in the Cree neyiho language.

I hope these usages, customs, forms, and precedents can be considered as you, Mr. Speaker, craft a just and equitable response to my question of privilege concerning the translation, interpretation, and use of Canada's original languages in the people's chamber, the House of Commons. I am looking for not only the right to use my indigenous language of nehiyo Cree in the proceedings of this House, but that Parliament provide minimal resources so I may participate fully with other members of the chamber in all activities of the House of Commons, and that all other members of the House may participate and interact fully with me in the chamber.

Tapwe akwa khitwam.

Statements by MembersPrivilegeGovernment Orders

3:40 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Geoff Regan

I thank the hon. member for Winnipeg Centre for raising his question of privilege, and I will come back to the House with a ruling in due course.

Motion

The House resumed consideration of the motion.

Opposition Motion--Nuclear DisarmamentBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

3:40 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 Fredericton.

I want to read the very first part of the motion the NDP has put forward:

That the House:

(a) recognize the catastrophic humanitarian consequences that would result from any use of nuclear weapons, and recognize those consequences transcend national borders and pose grave implications for human survival, the environment, socioeconomic development, the global economy, food security, and for the health of future generations;

Let there be no doubt of the consequences, and we have seen this take place. It was not that long ago, during World War II, when communities such as Nagasaki, Japan, experienced it first-hand, and the horrific results of what had taken place. Weapons of mass destruction have always been a very real and tangible concern.

I had the opportunity to serve in the Canadian Forces for just over three years, and we would participate in parades. This would be in the early or mid-1980s, and we would have a good number of veterans in the parades who had participated and were engaged in World War II. I recall that as we would go to the Legion afterward or as we were concluding the march, there would be many comments and stories about the horrors of war. Let there be no doubt about how horrific it was.

There is no glory in being on that field, being shot at, having bombs dropped out of the skies, and the devastation that follows. I do not think there is anyone in a society who values life who sees war as a positive thing. We would like to be living in a society where war is nonexistent, but unfortunately that is not the reality of today. Unfortunately, there are countries at war. There are different sectors at war for a multitude of different reasons.

At the end of the day, we as legislators in the House of Commons in Canada have a role to play. W must demonstrate strong leadership on that world stage, something of which we should all be very proud. As a country of 36 million people, Canada carries a great deal of weight at the international level. We do have a considerable amount of influence.

This is a government that is not scared to use that influence to be connected with the superpowers, or those countries that do have access to nuclear weaponry. From what I understand, there are nine countries that were listed off earlier: North Korea, Pakistan, Israel, India, China, France, United Kingdom, Russia, and the United States. There are thousands of weapons of a nuclear nature out there that would cause devastation if in fact they were ever used.

When I think of the nuclear weapons and the potential devastation that could be caused, I like to believe that it is a deterrent that does keep the world safe. I would like to think that there will be a point in time when they will not be necessary. It concerns me at times when we hear from some people who would say, “We can get rid of them, we just need those good countries to disarm.” If all the so-called good countries were to disarm, it would be wrong to give an impression that we would have a safer world. Nothing could be further from the truth. At the end of the day, we need to have that balance.

I was not quite born yet when we had the Cuban missile crisis back in 1962, but I have seen the videos and documentaries. This is a very serious issue. Presidents of the U.S. and other world leaders, and countries like Canada, have been put into positions where we need to contribute our capable and able minds to address this issue. We all hope and pray, and give thought to what we can do to prevent it from happening.

I look at what we have been able to accomplish in a relatively short time span. One of the things that is most encouraging is with regard to the fissile material cut-off treaty. That is definitely noteworthy, and members need to be aware of it. It was Canada that led the initiative that would ban the production of fissile material that provides nuclear weapons with their explosive power. While the FMCT negotiations have stalled for almost 20 years, last fall Canada led with a resolution at the UN, with co-sponsors Germany and Netherlands, that created a high level FMCT expert preparatory group aimed at elaborating the elements of a future treaty. Our resolution was supported by 159 countries. This was a historic development. Canada is chairing the process, and most states possessing nuclear weapons will participate.

This is where we see a significant difference. With what the NDP is proposing, not one nuclear state is getting engaged with it. Here, under this process, the Government of Canada is working with two other nations, pushing and getting others onside. It is something that is tangible. It is happening, and it brings people, in particular some of those who have nuclear arsenals, to the table. That is very encouraging and positive.

I started off by saying, as a nation of 36 million people, and the population of the world at six billion-plus and growing rapidly, we carry a great deal of influence. That was demonstrated last fall.

There are other things we have done as government. I made reference to the importance of weapons of mass destruction. Global Affairs works to prevent weapons of mass destruction, and has a proclamation to prevent WMD terrorism through the weapons of mass destruction threat reduction program. Not only is it words, there is a commitment of $73 million this year. This is tangible and taking place. Our government not only talks about the issue, but we are walking, and in fact leading in many ways.

This is an issue that has been debated in the chamber in the past. It has been debated within our own party. It has been debated and discussed among many of our constituents. We all care about future peace throughout the world. We all like to believe we are taking strides toward it. There will be significant issues in the years ahead that we will need to overcome.

What is important is that we continue, as the Minister of Foreign Affairs says, to look at our partners in the world, co-operate and work with our partners, recognizing that Canada does have a role as a middle power, and we can have a significant impact, something that has been clearly demonstrated by this government in the last year alone.

Opposition Motion--Nuclear DisarmamentBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

3:50 p.m.

NDP

Richard Cannings NDP South Okanagan—West Kootenay, BC

Mr. Speaker, the member across the way mentioned programs to reduce the spread of weapons of mass destruction. Would he not consider nuclear warheads as the very definition of a weapon of mass destruction?

Opposition Motion--Nuclear DisarmamentBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

3:55 p.m.

Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux Liberal Winnipeg North, MB

Mr. Speaker, that virtually goes without saying. When we look at the couple of incidents, and the impact on the world that took place during World War II, it was complete devastation. Communities were literally destroyed. People are living today as a direct result of all sorts of issues, whether it is psychological or physical. It has killed so many.

Weapons of mass destruction are not just nuclear. We need to recognize that, because as much as we want to diminish the number of nuclear arsenals out there, let us not just focus on that. There are other areas where weapons are used for mass destruction, and Canada, much like it does on the nuclear side, can play a leadership role on other instruments of war that cause mass destruction.

I am very proud, for example, of what Lloyd Axworthy and Jean Chrétien, the former Prime Minister, did on the land mine treaty. These are initiatives that really make a difference.

In many ways the NDP will dream about things. They will say, “This is what we want”, but the reality is that we cannot necessarily have things the way we might ideally want to see them overnight. It takes time. It means working with the many different world partners. As I say, it was not easy, but Canada led 159 nations, bringing that group together to assist in dealing with issues related to nuclear weaponry.

Opposition Motion--Nuclear DisarmamentBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

3:55 p.m.

Green

Elizabeth May Green Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

Mr. Speaker, I completely support the supply day motion. I first raised this issue in the House on October 25, 2016, that these negotiations were to begin, and that Canada should play a leadership role. I raised it again on February 22, 2017. I am very concerned that Canada is not there.

I was one of 900 recipients of the Order of Canada who have asked that Canada play a leadership role in these negotiations, so I put it to the hon. member. He is absolutely right that Canada played a lead role in the effort to get rid of land mines, and we undertook those negotiations knowing that both countries that used land mines the most were not at the table.

The United States and Russia were not at the table. They plan to modernize their nuclear weapons regime. I was a watcher during the Cuban missile crisis. I remember it. We do not want our children to have nuclear nightmares. We must negotiate at the UN for nuclear disarmament. I hope the Liberals will reconsider.

Opposition Motion--Nuclear DisarmamentBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

3:55 p.m.

Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux Liberal Winnipeg North, MB

Mr. Speaker, the most important thing I can do in response to the member is to assure the leader we have a government that is, in fact, progressing and moving forward on the issue, as I have indicated. Canada led 159 countries in bringing forward a UN resolution that brings nuclear powers to the table to work pragmatically toward disarmament through a fissile material cut-off treaty. The fissile material is the explosive stuff. That is what causes the reactions. This is Canada playing a leadership role on the important file where we have nuclear power states at the table with us. We can all be proud of that fact.

Opposition Motion--Nuclear DisarmamentBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

3:55 p.m.

Fredericton New Brunswick

Liberal

Matt DeCourcey LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Foreign Affairs

Mr. Speaker, I would like to focus on the importance of Canada's role in multilateral institutions, but I will begin by being clear. Nuclear disarmament is our goal, and we are taking important steps to achieve it. It is this government's view that we want a world free of nuclear weapons for our children and grandchildren.

In 2016, for the first time ever, under our government, Canada rallied 159 states, including states with nuclear weapons, which all supported and passed a resolution calling for a fissile material cut-off treaty, a substantive step toward global disarmament. This is a concrete step toward the phasing-out of nuclear weapons, and crucially it included both nuclear and non-nuclear countries.

The world is evolving at an incredible pace and rapid innovation has become a global imperative.

Global interconnectedness and interdependence mean that no country can face the world’s challenges or contribute to the promotion of international opportunities alone. Given that climate change knows no borders, and neither do pandemics, cash flows, the movements of migrants and refugees, terrorism or organized crime, the countries of the world need to come together to manage their joint responsibilities and take the necessary collective action to work toward a more peaceful world that is more prosperous and sustainable.

Multilateral institutions, both at the international and regional levels, are the forums that will allow us to come together to determine the immediate actions to be taken and to pave the way to the future.

Canada is proud of its history and its contributions to multilateralism, as can be seen in our involvement in multilateral organizations such as the United Nations, the G7, the G20, the Francophonie and the Commonwealth, NATO, the Organization of American States, APEC, the WTO, the Arctic Council and international financial institutions. Evolving global dynamics foster a growing interest in leadership that is based on the values espoused by Canada.

At the recent G7 meetings in Italy, the Prime Minister reaffirmed Canada’s national and international commitments and urged member states to work toward a consensus on climate change, rules-based multilateral trade and the benefits of a properly managed immigration system.

Next year, Charlevoix, Quebec will play host to the world's most influential political leaders, so they can discuss world issues that matter most to Canadians. Drawing inspiration from Italy's presidency in 2017, Canada will use the event as a platform to promote our priorities, which are to build a solid middle class, advance the cause of gender equality, fight climate change and promote diversity and inclusion.

Each multilateral forum gives Canada the chance to make its presence felt in the world. Ahead of our G7 presidency and thanks to our campaign to get a non-permanent seat on the United Nations Security Council for the 2021-2022 mandate, we have a unique opportunity to highlight Canada's value proposition, which is to be a fair, inclusive, innovative and dynamic unifying force within multilateral institutions and defend fundamental principles. We have a lot to offer and a lot on which to draw.

When we think of international co-operation, the United Nations immediately comes to mind. Whether it is a question of establishing global health standards, maintaining peace and security, stabilizing financial markets, enforcing aviation rules, standing up for human rights, sharing reliable meteorological and climate data, helping refugees, regulating the use of outer space for peaceful purposes, taking action to address climate change or increase agricultural capabilities, the United Nations has a significant impact on the lives of ordinary people around the world every single day.

Canada is proud to be a long-time supporter of the United Nations, and this includes being one of its founding members in 1945 and one of its major financial contributors. With its 193 member states, the United Nations is the most inclusive and legitimate forum for establishing global standards, intervening on global issues, and promoting global action.

The key sustainable development goals of the 2030 agenda for sustainable development illustrate how the United Nations can convince the entire world to work together towards a common goal.

Canada’s increased commitment to international human rights has not gone unnoticed. The promotion and protection of human rights is an integral part of Canada’s constructive engagement in the world. We see human rights as universal, indivisible, interdependent and interrelated. There is a growing need for Canadian leadership on issues such as respect for diversity and the rights of girls and women.

Moreover, Canada works with other countries to establish new multilateral coalitions that are looking to adopt innovative approaches on emerging issues. For example, Canada is one of the founding members of the Freedom Online Coalition, a multilateral coalition of 30 governments whose objective is to increase awareness on human rights online and Internet freedom, as well as establishing standards in this respect.

Canada is also a member of the Community of Democracies, another multilateral coalition of 30 countries dedicated to strengthening democratic institutions and associated standards. In addition, Canada will co-chair the Equal Rights Coalition, a new international forum that advocates for the fundamental rights of LGBTQ2 people.

Clearly, there are growing opportunities for Canadian leadership at multilateral tables. To take advantage of them, we need to continue to demonstrate innovative, dynamic, and timely thought leadership.

Our view is that the next step toward a world free of nuclear weapons is the negotiation of a fissile material cut-off treaty. This is an initiative led by Canada that would ban the production of fissile material. Last fall, Canada led a historic UN resolution, with co-sponsors Germany and Netherlands, that created a high-level FMCT expert preparatory group aimed at elaborating elements of a future treaty. This was supported by 159 countries in the UN General Assembly.

To close, ultimately Canada believes that we are one people sharing one planet and that our collective peace and prosperity can only be achieved through diverse and meaningful partnerships. When it comes to a ban on nuclear weapons and all other matters, we look toward our multilateral allies to help us in this effort. In building a better world, we know that multilateralism recognizes that we are stronger when we stand together.

Opposition Motion--Nuclear DisarmamentBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

4:05 p.m.

NDP

Hélène Laverdière NDP Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, I listened to my colleague with interest. When it comes to the Liberal government, there is a lot of talk, but little action. My colleague speaks about a rules-based multilateral system. I have two questions for him.

First of all, is my colleague aware that article VI of the nuclear non-proliferation treaty, of which Canada is part, requires that Canada participate in good faith negotiations on nuclear disarmament? It would follow, then, that Canada is in breach of a convention it has ratified.

There has been a lot of rhetoric about international co-operation, and the government claims to very proud of Canada's initiative. However, while 130 other countries are ready to work on the convention, yesterday, the Prime Minister stated that what they were doing was useless. Maybe he said that because this is not a Canadian initiative?

Does my colleague believe that these 130 countries will want to do the government any favours when the time comes to vote for a seat on the UN Security Council?

Opposition Motion--Nuclear DisarmamentBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

4:10 p.m.

Liberal

Matt DeCourcey Liberal Fredericton, NB

Mr. Speaker, I thank my honourable NDP counterpart. Like me, she strongly supports Canada’s leadership within multilateral institutions.

The fissile material cut-off treaty is one example of our leadership within multilateral organizations; Canada brought together all 159 states to support and adopt the resolution establishing the treaty.

This is a concrete example of Canada assuming a leadership role as arbiter of peace; indeed, Canada never stops actively pursuing leadership roles on the international stage.

Opposition Motion--Nuclear DisarmamentBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

4:10 p.m.

Liberal

John McKay Liberal Scarborough—Guildwood, ON

Mr. Speaker, no debate takes place outside of a context, and I want to paint a picture of the context in which this debate does take place.

As an example, the Russians are refurbishing their nuclear capabilities with both bombers and missiles, and we are not even able to get them to co-operate on Syria. Similarly, China at the present time is not a particular nuclear threat, but it cannot seem to get its client state, North Korea, to back off on literally threatening the world with nuclear weapons. That is the context in which this debate takes place.

I would be interested in the hon. member's comments on, effectively, the requirement to keep up mutually assured destruction, MAD, while these negotiations take place so that we can, as a community of nations, get ourselves out of this very dangerous situation.

Opposition Motion--Nuclear DisarmamentBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

4:10 p.m.

Liberal

Matt DeCourcey Liberal Fredericton, NB

Mr. Speaker, I thank my friend for Scarborough—Guildwood and commend him on his years of service and study and advocacy on this and many other issues as they relate to Canada's role in the world. I certainly take his advice seriously whenever he willingly offers it and I ask him to continue to do that.

The member will know full well that Canada views its place in the world vis-à-vis the other so-called powers of the world with open and clear eyes. We know that in order to assure ourselves of a sustainable and lasting peace and the safety and security of our country, we must work diplomatically through official and other channels. We must also continue to support a progressive trade agenda that helps empower our own nation and other nations of the world. We must continue to invest in development and we must have a strong military. We see these pieces well on view when it comes to the leadership provided by this government.

Opposition Motion--Nuclear DisarmamentBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

4:10 p.m.

NDP

Wayne Stetski NDP Kootenay—Columbia, BC

Mr. Speaker, I will be splitting my time with the member for Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie.

Canadians have a long tradition of discouraging the arms race and the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. In fact, in my own riding of Kootenay—Columbia, two communities formed, in part, around their beliefs in pacifism.

The Doukhobors, who began to immigrate to Canada from Russia around 1900 and settled in the Kootenays a few years later, opposed military service. They became famous for their nude protests, which resulted in Canada's first laws against public nudity, in 1932.

The Religious Society of Friends, also known as the Quakers, continues to be one of Canada's most active communities on issues like nuclear disarmament. We have a large Quaker community in Argenta, on the north end of Kootenay Lake. The list of famous Canadian Quakers includes Dorothy Stowe, who co-founded Greenpeace, and Muriel Duckworth, founder of the Nova Scotia Voice of Women for Peace. Both fought for nuclear disarmament, and the Quakers in Argenta are well known for their pacifism and actions for both peace and the environment.

A number of my constituents in the West Kootenay are disenfranchised Americans who chose peace over the Vietnam War. In 2016, Selkirk College graduated its first-ever class of civilian peacekeepers, ready to work around the globe to broker peace. World peace has long been a priority for the people of Kootenay—Columbia.

In 1930, Canada ratified the Geneva protocol banning gas and bacteriological weapons. We ratified the nuclear non-proliferation treaty in 1970. We have adopted bans on nuclear weapons testing, bans on weapons in outer space, and hosted the 1997 meeting that led to the Ottawa treaty, which aims at eliminating anti-personnel landmines. As recently as 2010, the House unanimously passed a motion calling for nuclear disarmament.

Perhaps Canada's greatest contribution to peace was from former Liberal prime minister, Lester B. Pearson, whose creation of our peacekeeping forces won Canada immense international respect and earned “Mike” Pearson a well-deserved Nobel Peace Prize. I hate to imagine what Pearson would say if he could see today's Liberal government renounce nuclear disarmament.

All this leads me to wonder how far we have fallen. The Liberal foreign affairs minister, this week, renounced the U.S. administration's failure to take leadership on such issues as open trade and climate change. However, the Liberals continue to follow the Americans on their approach to nuclear weapons.

Canada, which has aspirations to the UN Security Council, is boycotting the current UN progress toward nuclear disarmament. The Prime Minister, this week, said that the process and the motion we are debating today are useless because the major countries that possess nuclear weapons are refusing to participate.

This is an unacceptable change in direction for Canada. At one time, Canada would stand up to nuclear powers and declare our opposition to proliferation. We did not accept being bullied. Instead, we engaged in leadership. By saying that Canada's intervention in this critically important matter is useless, the Prime Minister is saying that Canada has no influence on the world stage.

Former prime minister Pierre Elliott Trudeau addressed the same issue, on February 9, 1984, but with the opposite conclusion to our current Prime Minister.

He said:

We have done more than look to our defences, Mr. Speaker. We have addressed the causes of insecurity and instability, particularly in the Third World. East-West and North-South are the four points of the political compass of our modern age. The problems of the South cannot be solved in the absence of progress on global security. Massive military expenditures are distorting economic policies and diverting resources away from global economic development. This in turn is worsening Third World instabilities that ensnare East and West and add to the insecurity of us all.

He went on to say:

Canadians, therefore, have earned the right to speak. They are telling us, the Members of this House, as people everywhere are telling their own leaders, that the danger is too near. They want their leaders to act, to accept their political responsibility, to work to reduce the nuclear threat.... Nuclear weapons exist. They probably always will. And they work, with horrible efficiency. They threaten the very future of our species. We have no choice but to manage that risk. Never again can we put the task out of our minds; nor trivialize it; nor make it routine. Nor dare we lose heart."

I reject the current Prime Minister's assertion that Canada is without influence. I reject his belief that working for peace and disarmament is useless. By failing to participate in the UN's work against the proliferation of nuclear weapons, we diminish our role on the global stage and we repudiate our history as peacemakers and as peacekeepers. For the Liberal members to do so, they abandon their own party's history and shun the work of Pearson and the senior Trudeau. That is as shameful as it is shocking.

Let me close by quoting Prime Minister Pearson. He said:

And I have lived since—as you have—in a period of cold war, during which we have ensured, by our achievements in the science and technology of destruction, that a third act in this tragedy of war will result in the peace of extinction.

Let us ensure that Pearson's prediction never comes true. I ask that all members of the House support peace by supporting the motion.

Opposition Motion--Nuclear DisarmamentBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

4:20 p.m.

Liberal

John McKay Liberal Scarborough—Guildwood, ON

Mr. Speaker, the hon. gentleman's speech was excellent and eloquent, and in some respects, I agree with many of the sentiments. The question is the realistic context. In my view, the threat assessment comes primarily from Russia, which is upgrading its weapons systems and the ability to deliver the weapons systems. Indeed it can deliver the weapons systems undetected by our current early warning system, therefore, requiring us to do an upgrade.

Similarly, North Korea is a bit of a rogue state and threatens the immediate regional nations, and then Iran is vigorously pursuing the ability to create and deliver a nuclear weapon certainly within the region of the Middle East.

If those nations are not prepared to come to the table, does the member agree that all of the efforts that Canada has made in the last few months have been in vain, or does he think that trying to husband this fissile material treaty is in fact a worthwhile exercise?

Opposition Motion--Nuclear DisarmamentBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

4:20 p.m.

NDP

Wayne Stetski NDP Kootenay—Columbia, BC

Mr. Speaker, I certainly agree that the fissile material cut-off treaty is important to work on and to be a part of, but I do not believe that Canada gets anywhere by following bad examples. People who are not willing to come to the table are setting a poor example for world peace.

Canada is about leadership and at times we say as much when we are not speaking as we do when we are. In this case, by not taking a very active role against nuclear armament and supporting nuclear disarmament, we are setting a bad example for the rest of the world.

Opposition Motion--Nuclear DisarmamentBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

4:20 p.m.

NDP

Alexandre Boulerice NDP Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am grateful to my colleague for his sensible, thoughtful, and heartfelt speech.

The Liberal government is obviously trying to hide behind the fissile material treaty, which may reduce nuclear weapons proliferation or make it harder to acquire nuclear weapons, but that treaty should not prevent the federal government from participating in talks about nuclear disarmament. The two are not mutually exclusive. On the contrary, they go hand in hand. The government is actually contradicting itself. The left hand does not know what the right is doing.

This bears all the hallmarks of the Liberal hypocrisy we have seen on a number of issues so far. They say all the right things, but they never do a thing.

Opposition Motion--Nuclear DisarmamentBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

4:20 p.m.

NDP

Wayne Stetski NDP Kootenay—Columbia, BC

Mr. Speaker, absolutely, we need to be working on every possible front when it comes to nuclear disarmament. We need to show leadership by being at the table speaking against nuclear armament and for nuclear disarmament.

I agree that hiding behind the fissile argument does not do Canada much good in terms of the world stage and how we are perceived by people outside of Canada, and in Canada as well. My constituents from Kootenay—Columbia have long supported peace in various ways. We need to do much better as a country in demonstrating that we are doing everything we can to ensure peace.

Opposition Motion--Nuclear DisarmamentBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

4:20 p.m.

Liberal

The Acting Speaker Liberal Anthony Rota

We have time for a very brief question.

The hon. member for Laurier—Sainte-Marie

Opposition Motion--Nuclear DisarmamentBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

4:25 p.m.

NDP

Hélène Laverdière NDP Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, my question will be very brief.

Last year, at their party convention, the Liberals passed a resolution that was basically the same as our motion.

Can my colleague figure out why the government and the members on that side would turn their backs on their own party members?

Opposition Motion--Nuclear DisarmamentBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

4:25 p.m.

NDP

Wayne Stetski NDP Kootenay—Columbia, BC

Going even a little further than that, Mr. Speaker, back in 2010 the Liberals were in favour of a nuclear ban when they were in opposition. They voted for the ban both in the House and in the Senate. They followed that up at their policy convention in Winnipeg in 2016 by reaffirming their commitment to nuclear disarmament.

When we look at what is happening right now, the only conclusion I can come to is that they are once again looking to follow the lead of the United States and, quite frankly, there are a lot of things going on in the United States that we should not be following.

Opposition Motion--Nuclear DisarmamentBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

4:25 p.m.

NDP

Alexandre Boulerice NDP Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie, QC

Mr. Speaker, first and foremost, I would like to thank my colleague from Laurier—Sainte-Marie for raising the issue of nuclear disarmament in the House. Though the topic may not make the front pages, it is essential given its seriousness and potential consequences.

On August 6, 1945, and on August 8, 1945, humanity realized that it was capable of destroying itself with its own creations, with the weapons that it was able to manufacture. In my opinion, that was a turning point in the history of warfare because, until then, we were able to exterminate, to massacre, to make war, but not to the point of destroying all of humanity. Unfortunately, since 1945, we have had that collective ability, and things have not improved since.

There is no government in the world whose greatest responsibility is not to the safety of its citizens. They carry out this responsibility in many ways, through military and police forces, so we can live in the safety of our communities, with the least amount of violence possible, and where peoples' physical safety is not threatened.

However, if that is all we do and if international tensions mount to the point of all-out nuclear war, domestic security will be of little importance; we will have forgotten one part of the equation, international relations, the ability of states to make war and the types of weapons that can exist or be used.

At the risk of sounding old, I admit that I was born in 1973. My childhood and early teen years were spent in an era that no longer exists and that younger people can only imagine, the Cold War. There was the eastern bloc, a wall and the U.S.S.R., that was always looking for babies to eat and was threatening the world order.

I come from Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu, where there was a military base with hundreds, even thousands of soldiers, which was quite impressive. There was also an arms factory that made armoured vehicles near the town, making it a potential target. The military base had sirens that could sound the alarm in the event of an attack. I still remember, as a child, being terrorized by the sound of those sirens, which could be set off during exercises in the evening and even at night. The threat was more tangible at the time; watching the news, we could begin to make sense of the international context in which we were living.

Then came the collapse of the Soviet bloc, something no one saw coming. We believe that we have since enjoyed greater international security, but I believe it was a false sense of security. The dangers of nuclear proliferation are real. We would not want more countries to have this terrible weapon that can wipe out hundreds of thousands of people, even entire regions, not to mention the known medium- and long-term effects of radioactivity.

We also do not want to go back to the time of the balance of terror, as it was called. There is a theory in political science that any power that has enough weapons to completely destroy another several times over would never dare to launch an attack, fearing mutually assured destruction. To date, that theory has proven to be true. The problem is that, if it should one day cease to hold, there will be no more political scientists left to figure out what went wrong.

I have always found the term “balance of terror” to be problematic because it implies that our lives and our societies are hanging by a thread and that, on the day the thread breaks, there goes all hope of any future political theory.

On a bit of a lighter note, I remember that, in the 1980s, peace activists had a bumper sticker that said, “One nuclear bomb can ruin your whole day”. It does not take many bombs to ruin a day.

I think it is important that we fully participate in the worldwide effort to come up with an international convention that focuses specifically on nuclear disarmament. That is everyone's responsibility, especially Canada's, because we used to be a leader in that regard. I think that the current Prime Minister could learn from some of the prime ministers of the past, one of whom he must know quite well, to find the inspiration needed to make the right decisions about Canada's role in these talks.

After spending decades playing a leadership role in nuclear disarmament, the fight against nuclear proliferation, and the fight against other types weapons, such as landmines, Canada should be ashamed of coming off as the lapdog of the American government and the Trump administration.

Negotiations are taking place at the United Nations for a new nuclear disarmament treaty and Canada is not at the table. Canada is boycotting the talks. That is absolutely incomprehensible and I would like to hear my Liberal colleagues explain to us the strategy behind not taking part in such important discussions involving dozens of countries. Not only are we not taking part in the discussions, but we also voted last year against a United Nations resolution on nuclear disarmament. That is a complete contradiction of Canada’s traditional position—one it should keep, in my opinion.

There is neither precedent nor explanation for such a position. My Liberal colleague spoke of context earlier. The context is precisely that there are 15,000 nuclear warheads in the world, that nine countries have nuclear weapons, officially or otherwise, and that the current U.S. President wants to renew, modernize and reinvest in America's nuclear arsenal. That could launch a new arms race with other countries. To make matters worse, North Korea has officially lost control and is threatening its entire region, Asia. It has, or is trying to obtain, nuclear weapons and the ability to launch them over fairly long distances.

The urgency of the current context should compel us to get through these talks and negotiations as fast as possible and to work toward a plan to ban nuclear weapons. It has been a year since the NDP and my colleague from Laurier—Sainte-Marie asked the government to take part in these discussions. I think that today is an important day to tell all Canadians what the Liberal government’s position really is and to demonstrate its inaction, which is isolating us from the majority of countries around the world.

It does not make sense given our goal of having a safe and secure planet free from nuclear weapons. Moreover, from a policy standpoint, the Liberal government is looking to get a seat on the United Nations Security Council. We agree, but choosing to sulk in a corner instead of taking part and being content to simply follow the new American administration is not the way to get us the votes we need to obtain that seat, which we sadly lost in the past.

I would like to read an excerpt of a letter that was recently sent to the Prime Minister of the Liberal government. It is in English, so I will quickly read a few passages.

REMEMBERING HUMANITY

In their famous 1955 manifesto, Albert Einstein and Bertrand Russell called on us to “remember our humanity and forget the rest”, so in that humanitarian spirit, we call on your government to...

Respect and support multilateral efforts to rid the world of nuclear weapons by ending Canada's boycott of the current UN General Assembly negotiations of a treaty to ban all nuclear weapons and by joining the next session of talks....

That letter was signed by no fewer than 100 recipients of the Order of Canada, who feature among the most illustrious of our fellow Canadians. These people, who have received awards from the federal government, are now making a formal appeal to the government.

I hope that the government will heed the call and change its position, that it will contribute in a positive way to meeting one of the greatest challenges facing humanity.

Opposition Motion--Nuclear DisarmamentBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

4:35 p.m.

Liberal

David Graham Liberal Laurentides—Labelle, QC

Mr. Speaker, as my colleague from Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie knows, I come from the riding of Laurentides—Labelle. In the northern part of the riding is a former nuclear base with silos for Tomahawk missiles. The nuclear issue is real. Canada was a nuclear nation in a sense because it housed U.S. missiles. I completely agree that the world should get rid of nuclear weapons.

I have a question for my colleague: how does he plan to force North Korea, Russia, and the United States to get rid of their nuclear weapons?

Opposition Motion--Nuclear DisarmamentBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

4:35 p.m.

NDP

Alexandre Boulerice NDP Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie, QC

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for the question.

What is the NDP's plan to get Russia and North Korea to get rid of their nuclear weapons? It is simple. Canada needs to get involved in the talks, the negotiations, and the drafting of a new international nuclear disarmament convention. We are not going to come up with a solution by staying in our corner doing nothing. The solution involves multilateralism and getting engaged in the process instead of isolating ourselves like we are now. For the Liberal Party the solution entails respecting its vote on a motion in 2010 in this Parliament and respecting its own party and its supporters.

Opposition Motion--Nuclear DisarmamentBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

4:35 p.m.

Green

Elizabeth May Green Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for his very strong speech, which I complete agree with.

I am one of the officers of the Order of Canada that signed the declaration calling on Canada to join these essential negotiations for the security of the planet.

I just have come back from the United Nations for work on the Ocean Conference. The subject of Canada's absence in these nuclear disarmament talks came up. I was asked by other delegates why Canada was not participating, as under the new Liberal government it had been seen that Canada was back.

We have played a constructive role in the Paris negotiations. The absence of Canada in these talks makes people wonder why. This is a role Canada traditionally had played. Lloyd Axworthy led the negotiations for the landmines treaty, the Ottawa process, for an example. It baffles me that we are not at the table.

Does my hon. colleague have any theories as to why Canada is staying away from these talks?

Opposition Motion--Nuclear DisarmamentBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

4:35 p.m.

NDP

Alexandre Boulerice NDP Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie, QC

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for her question. I also thank her for signing the letter to the current Prime Minister. I obviously congratulate the Green Party for the efforts it has been making these past few years in the fight for world peace.

First, the Liberal government’s response was to hide behind the fissile material cut-off treaty. Working on adopting this treaty is fine. However, the negotiations on banning the production, possession and use of nuclear weapons are not a substitute for the efforts needed to achieve nuclear disarmament.

It also seems as though the Liberal government is hiding behind Canada’s membership in NATO, and right now it is giving in to pressure from the United States, which told its NATO allies to oppose the negotiations.

Canada has no reason to follow President Trump on this issue. Canada’s membership in NATO does not mean that it must vote only with the nuclear states.

Canada should learn from the Netherlands. They also belong to NATO, but they are taking part in the negotiations.

Opposition Motion--Nuclear DisarmamentBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

4:40 p.m.

NDP

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

Mr. Speaker, thank you for your indulgence. I would like to thank my colleague from Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie for his presentation. He has been very clear as to the government’s intentions.

Starting in 1984, and for two decades, I took part in various international forums and multilateral negotiations. This all happened even before my colleague was a teenager. There was a time when Canada was respected and listened to; it used to have some degree of influence with other countries, but no longer.

I find it hard to explain how, on the one hand, we can decline to participate in these negotiations, and, on the other hand, we can be trying to get a seat on the Security Council.

Opposition Motion--Nuclear DisarmamentBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

4:40 p.m.

Liberal

The Assistant Deputy Speaker Liberal Anthony Rota

The member for Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie has 45 seconds or less for his reply.

Opposition Motion--Nuclear DisarmamentBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

4:40 p.m.

NDP

Alexandre Boulerice NDP Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie, QC

Mr. Speaker, I will try. I thank my colleague for his question. I find it hard to explain this kind of strategy on the part of the Liberal government, which refuses to participate in good faith in these crucial negotiations even though it intends to seek the support of those same countries to get a seat on the Security Council. It is completely contradictory. Just because an objective is difficult to achieve does not mean we should not have the political will to achieve it.

We have seen Canada play a leadership role in the past, as it has with the Ottawa convention or the creation of the International Criminal Court. It is time for Canada to make a comeback.

If we are back, we should be back for real.

Opposition Motion--Nuclear DisarmamentBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

4:40 p.m.

Liberal

The Assistant Deputy Speaker Liberal Anthony Rota

Order. It is my duty pursuant to Standing Order 38 to inform the House that the questions to be raised tonight at the time of adjournment are as follows: the hon. member for Banff—Airdrie, Taxation; the hon. member for Edmonton—Wetaskiwin, Health; the hon. member for Saanich—Gulf Islands, The Environment.

Opposition Motion--Nuclear DisarmamentBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

4:40 p.m.

Conservative

Kevin Sorenson Conservative Battle River—Crowfoot, AB

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to participate in today's debate, and I am also pleased to be sharing my time with the hon. member for Calgary Shepard.

Make no mistake. All of us in the House wish that we could live in a world that was free of nuclear weapons. Facing the reality of the Cold War, the former British prime minister, the late Margaret Thatcher, said, “a world without nuclear weapons would be less stable and more dangerous for all of us.” She said that during the Cold War.

Is the world today even more unstable than in Margaret Thatcher's era? Today we have jihadi terrorism all around the world. Today we have rogue nations, like Iran, trying hard to build themselves nuclear weapons. There are terrorist groups that want nuclear devices to commit heinous acts of mass murder. It is believed that North Korea has nuclear weapon capability and is working diligently to develop missiles that will deliver a nuclear arsenal. We see every week a new test from North Korea. South Korea is concerned about what is happening in North Korea. The world is concerned about what is happening in North Korea.

Many countries around the world are vulnerable: Israel, South Korea, Ukraine, and many more. However, many nations continue to thrive and survive, because their enemies know that nuclear retaliation would follow an assault on any of these states.

During the Cold War, the former Soviet Union was assured that any nuclear assault it committed on the western world would have resulted in a nuclear weapon response from the west, and not necessarily equal to what they sent to the west. Undoubtedly, a larger attack would have been unleashed. This was known as mutually assured destruction, or as many have referred to it, MAD. The MAD doctrine not only worked to deter the initial use of nuclear weapons but was designed to limit the continued use of nuclear weapons, should they ever be used in a conflict.

Dr. Henry Kissinger, the former secretary of state in the Nixon administration, always insists that the United States' nuclear weapon arsenal and the MAD policy has provided the world with more decades of continuous peace than any other time in recorded history. Kissinger maintains that a greater proportion of the world has been engaged in conflict throughout history than we have had since the end of the Second World War. There continue to be conflicts, of course, and in fact there are wars going on right now, yet the longest period of world peace for the greatest proportion of humans has existed since the end of the Second World War and the introduction of nuclear weapon capability. This is the cold reality. It is a peaceful time for the world in this respect, yet the thought of the destructive capability of nuclear weapons is much of what keeps the peace. In fact, it brought an end, some would argue, to World War II.

The motion the NDP has brought forward has six parts. The first part reads:

(a) recognize the catastrophic humanitarian consequences that would result from any use of nuclear weapons, and recognize those consequences transcend national borders and pose grave implications for human survival, the environment, socioeconomic development, the global economy, food security, and for the health of future generations;

The Conservative Party does not disagree with that statement. In fact, we kept that in mind for the last three parliaments we governed.

Second, the NDP motion says that we should:

(b) reaffirm the need to make every effort to ensure that nuclear weapons are never used again, under any circumstances;

Well, we have heard a few people use the word “utopian” today. This clause, most believe, is unrealistic, given the reality of nations possessing or trying to acquire nuclear weapons. Iran and North Korea continue to develop their nuclear weapon capacity even today. India and Pakistan achieved the development of nuclear weapon capability. North Korea, Iran, India, and Pakistan have all stated clearly the circumstances under which they would use their nuclear weapons. Therefore, “under any circumstances” in the NDP motion, we believe, is unachievable.

Third, the NDP wants the House to recognize previous motions passed by the House or by the United Nations. The motion reads:

(c) recall the unanimous vote in both Houses of Parliament in 2010 that called on Canada to participate in negotiations for a nuclear weapons convention;

The House is aware of that motion from 2010, yet the current international negotiations, we believe, will not lead to a nuclear weapons convention, because Russia, the United States, and China are not participating. They are not talking the talk.

The NDP also wants the House to:

(e) express disappointment in Canada’s vote against, and absence from, initial rounds of negotiations for a legally binding instrument to prohibit nuclear weapons;

This is where we also disagree with the motion. There is no point in commencing negotiations leading to a convention to prohibit nuclear weapons without including the nations that actually have those nuclear weapons. It is a waste of time, money, and effort.

The final part of the NDP motion asks the House to support the initial draft of the convention prohibiting nuclear weapons. Again, the nations that have nuclear weapons have already made it clear why they have them, and until the threats they live under are eliminated, these nations will keep their weapons. Some of these nations are Canada's allies, and they are, in some cases, protecting Canada as well.

The question is what we can do. It is one thing to say whether we agree or disagree with the Liberal approach, but what can we do?

Our previous Conservative government worked to achieve further decommissioning of the still huge arsenals of nuclear weapons that exist in Russia and the United States. The official opposition recognizes the government's action to contain fissionable material. Meaningful talks continue with our nuclear weapon possessing democratic allies and others in the enduring hope of one day having a nuclear free world.

The coercive exercise the NDP is calling for Canada to participate in is not a good way to work toward a nuclear weapon prohibition. Our Conservative government worked hard over our 10 years as the government to reduce the number of nuclear weapons in the possession of foreign governments and other international actors. We worked to prevent not just nuclear weapons but chemical weapons and biological weapons, weapons of mass destruction. We worked with our allies.

Conservative and Liberal governments have signed treaties and international agreements at the UN and a number of organizations, including NATO, the G8, the International Atomic Energy Agency, and the Conference on Disarmament, to reduce the number of nuclear weapons available in the world. We continue to work toward reducing nuclear proliferation and making sure that fissionable material is not available to rogue states and terrorist organizations to produce nuclear warheads.

The reality is that an all-out prohibition is not on the horizon in the foreseeable future. Supporting the NDP motion is unrealistic, when our NATO allies, western democracies, and other major UN nations that possess nuclear warheads are not participating in these talks. When the main world powers are in agreement, then there can be a prohibition, but we do not have that agreement when it comes to nuclear weapons. We have a situation where China, and Russia in particular, continue to build up their arsenals, not reduce them.

As Canadians, we must continue to do what we have in the past. We must always use diplomatic means to assist world powers in the de-escalation of conflict. We must work with our allies and partners in the non-proliferation of nuclear arms to make sure they are effective, safe, and responsibly used. We can work toward a prohibition of nuclear weapons that will be accomplished, we hope, in the future. However, arbitrarily trying to coerce nuclear weapon states into giving up these arms we know does not work.

The NDP is asking Canada to sign up for negotiations that do not include our allies. These negotiations do not include the powers that possess nuclear weapons. There can be no discussion or dialogue when they are not at the table.

We can do things, including the enforcement of a Sergei Magnitsky law. We can have sanctions and global isolation of those state players and individuals that are responsible for the proliferation of nuclear weapons.

There is opportunity to work within the G7, to work through NATO, to work through other forums, and I hope that we continue to do it, whether it be through economic sanctions, travel bans, or engagement with our allies. We can make sure that we are partners with them on the world stage, but if we are to speak, let us make sure the ones who have the weapons are there at the table.

Opposition Motion--Nuclear DisarmamentBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

4:50 p.m.

Liberal

John McKay Liberal Scarborough—Guildwood, ON

Mr. Speaker, I believe the hon. member's threat assessment would be very similar to my own, which is that the threat of nuclear capability is actually increasing rather than decreasing, whether it is cruise missiles, ICBMs, ballistics, or a whole variety of platforms, whether they are submarine platforms or land-based platforms or whatever, and that only seems to have increased rather than decreased.

The real issue here is whether we can walk and chew gum at the same time, given the reality posed by the threat from North Korea. China does not seem to be able to rein in its client state, and Iran is a clear and present danger to all those in the region, including Israel, where the relationship is an existential threat.

Given his threat assessment, which I would say is similar to my own, and given the necessity and the need to continue to negotiate, would it be his view that the debate and the concerns on the ballistic missile defence need to be addressed realistically?

Opposition Motion--Nuclear DisarmamentBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

4:50 p.m.

Conservative

Kevin Sorenson Conservative Battle River—Crowfoot, AB

Mr. Speaker, indeed, that is the direction we should be going, maybe now more than ever. We see rogue states and terrorist organizations trying to get equipment and material so that they can have a dirty bomb or something that can even be carried in a suitcase. Russia and China—both nuclear powers, both veto-wielding permanent members of the Security Council—are not participating in the nuclear weapon ban talks.

The Russian foreign minister has said that 120 countries are participating in the talks, and are trying to coerce nuclear powers into abandoning nuclear weapons, but as the member asked in his question, is there a greater risk? Yes, and it is not because we see that one of the superpowers is ready to use it, but because we see countries like North Korea with an itchy finger. We see countries like Iran feverishly trying to get not just the technology but the equipment and the material to make a bomb.

Again, the threat is very clear. Whether one is President Trump or former President Obama, all have spoken about an increased threat to this type of war—not even war, but attack. We do not withdraw from everything, but certainly some exercises are very futile in accomplishing much.

Opposition Motion--Nuclear DisarmamentBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

4:55 p.m.

Green

Elizabeth May Green Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member for Battle River—Crowfoot will not be surprised that I disagree. This is not an NDP motion to engage the world in action; this is a United Nations negotiation that is taking place. It is being led by Austria, Ireland, Mexico, Brazil, South Africa, and Sweden, countries with whom we have strong relationships, countries with whom we are in strong trading relationships. It is not far-fetched that we start the negotiations and bring others in. I note that Iran is actually in these negotiations. I also note that Canada started out in the lead on land mines and cluster munitions when the countries that used land mines and cluster munitions were not in the room.

While the United Nations negotiate, what possible advantage is there for Canada? As a country, we want to show leadership in the world and not ignore negotiations when there is even a chance that the process of negotiation would bring in those countries that are now, as he said himself, modernizing their nuclear weapons and endangering our entire world.

Opposition Motion--Nuclear DisarmamentBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

4:55 p.m.

Conservative

Kevin Sorenson Conservative Battle River—Crowfoot, AB

Mr. Speaker, the Liberal government today has determined there is not a lot of benefit to being at those kinds of exercises. I am not certain why the government decided not to be engaged in them. The Liberals went to their convention where they said they were going to be involved in those kinds of exercises, and today they are saying they are not worthwhile.

In preparation for this debate, I went back to 2007 to a meeting that we had with my good friend Doug Roche, a previous Alberta member of Parliament and senator Ernie Regehr from Project Ploughshares. In response to my hon. colleague from Toronto, who spoke prior to the question by the member for Saanich—Gulf Islands, the concerns they talked about that day seemed in some regard to already have taken place, so the threat is even greater. When the threat becomes greater, we must be vigilant in what we do, but we should not be spending time on things that perhaps may not be effective.

Opposition Motion--Nuclear DisarmamentBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

4:55 p.m.

Conservative

Tom Kmiec Conservative Calgary Shepard, AB

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to be joining the debate, and speaking to the motion tabled by the member for Laurier—Sainte-Marie, with whom I have the distinguished pleasure of working on the foreign affairs committee.

To begin, I will go through different subsections of the motion to give some brief commentary and get deeper into it. I also have a lot Reagan quotes today. I find a lot of the positions taken by the New Democrats today almost make them sound like Reaganites at times. I want to draw to the attention of the House that this is where I will be focusing many of my comments today.

The motion says that the House should do some things, and then goes into details, none of which any reasonable person here would disagree with. We all know the consequences and dangers of the use of nuclear weapons, including the humanitarian consequences. There will be no disagreement from me or from others in the House.

Subsection (b) states, “reaffirm the need to make every effort to ensure that nuclear weapons are never used again, under any circumstances.” The principle and sentiment behind it is absolutely reasonable, but it is simply unrealistic, especially in an age where there are many more rogue nations that possess nuclear weapons, along with the proliferation of the technology and knowledge, and the ability to track them being very difficult.

Subsection (c) states, “recall the unanimous vote in both Houses of Parliament in 2010 that called on Canada to participate in negotiations for a nuclear weapons convention.” I do not think the motion binds the government today to undertake any talks, or any type of negotiation at the international level. That was seven years ago now. In my case, I was not a member of the House then, and I do not think parliaments are bound by such motions that direct a particular parliament's intent or will.

Subsection (d) states, “reaffirm its support for the 2008 five-point proposal...” It is not that it is pointless, but simply put, we are supporting allies in the NATO military alliance. I have many more comments about NATO's policy document, where it talks about what its nuclear deterrent will and will not do.

Subsection (e) states, “express disappointment in Canada’s vote against, and absence from, initial rounds of negotiations for a legally binding instrument to prohibit nuclear weapons.” I do not agree with that particular subsection. It is not egregious, I just disagree.

Finally, subsection (f) talks about the release on May 22, 2017, of the Draft Convention on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons. I disagree with that mostly because of the other subsections leading up to it. I just do not think it would be all that useful.

There is a Yiddish proverb, which states, “The world is big, its troubles still bigger.” Since 1945, we can all agree that the world has faced many troubles. One of the leading ones was nuclear proliferation, and the dangers of an all-out nuclear war between the two superpowers at the time, until the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1989.

I grew up in Poland. When I was very little, my parents were able to come to Canada and take us away from there. My parents would not talk about it as a point of discussion, but they remembered the drills they would have at school, which they would talk to us about. They would tell us what they had to do in case of a nuclear war.

There were these funny infomercials on Polish television telling people to cover themselves with newspapers in the case of nuclear war. The thinking was that the initial flash would burn the paper, but not skin, and people were somehow supposed to crawl somewhere. Polish people have very macabre, dark humour, and would say that after that moment, people could crawl to the cemetery. Dark humour is very common in Poland. It is still common today among Polish expats, but it gives the feeling that people had about it. This imminent danger that people felt was quite common.

I have a specific point on why some of the subsections in the motion are quite troublesome. NATO, on deterrence and defence, says in its policy document listed on its website, “Collective defence is the Alliance’s greatest responsibility and deterrence remains a core element of NATO’s overall strategy...” It goes on to list what is being defended: liberty, democracy, human rights, the rule of law. It goes on to state, “NATO’s capacity to deter and defend is supported by an appropriate mix of capabilities...” Then it goes on to list them. It concludes, “Nuclear, conventional and missile defence capabilities complement each other.” This is a core part of what NATO provides in its military alliance to all members who participate in it. Through article 5, Canada ensures our own sovereignty and national protection, but also that of our allies.

Although Canada is not in possession of nuclear weapons, our allies are. It forms what I would call a complete package of protection. That is what NATO says here. It continues, “NATO also maintains the freedom of action and flexibility to respond to the full spectrum of challenges with an appropriate and tailored approach, at the minimum level of force.”

As always, western powers, western countries, liberal democracies have never been the ones to threaten nuclear war. We have never been the ones to say that this should be the first line, that it should always be used as the first response to all types of aggression. It is always “use minimum level of force required”.

Many countries, if not most or all NATO countries, see nuclear weapons the way the population does, which is absolute last resort, preferring that under no circumstances should they be used.

In the British House of Commons, on January 2015, the secretary of state for defence, Michael Fallon, said, “It is Faslane that is truly Britain’s peace camp. Whether we like it or not, there remain approximately 17,000 nuclear weapons globally. We cannot uninvent those weapons.”

I think it speaks to the reality we live in today. The simple fact is that these weapons were invented, produced, manufactured, deployed, and now they sit as part of the nuclear deterrence that many countries use. This is not to say that the sentiment behind the motion is not appropriate. It is not to say that the principle, the thought, the idea is not something shared by many members of the House, and hopefully all members of the House.

I did say at the beginning of my intervention that I would be bringing up a lot of Reagan quotes, because Reagan was a nuclear abolitionist. I see members on the opposite side starting to smile.

On November 17, 1982, Reagan said, in an address to the nation on strategic arms reduction and nuclear deterrence, “I intend to search for peace along two parallel paths: deterrence and arms reductions” He goes on to say, “I believe these are the only paths that offer any real hope for an enduring peace.”

Reagan's example, thoughts, and his active participation in attempting to abolish nuclear weapons through different means is an example. The motion actually speaks to that sentiment as well. Again, when I read it, I immediately thought Reagan's activism.

In 1984, in an interview, he expressed the following sentiment, “I just happen to believe that we cannot go into another generation with the world living under the threat of those weapons and knowing that some madman can push the button some place.” It goes on. Again, he expresses the sentiment, the principle that New Democrats have encapsulated in their wording with some problematic kind of “what would we do with that sentiment” and “how do we make that a reality”, and then not really addressing today's reality.

Reagan was a nuclear abolitionist, but he was also a clear-eyed realist who accepted that the world was as it was. He was an unapologetic supporter of the strategic defence initiative, also known as Star Wars, and he went as far as he could. With his partner, the Soviet Union, he did what was possible.

I will just mention another idea from Reagan. With these considerations firmly in mind, he said, “I call upon the scientific community in our country, those who gave us nuclear weapons, to turn their great talents now to the cause of mankind and world peace: to give us the means of rendering these nuclear weapons impotent and obsolete.” Again, the same type of principle, the same type of sentiment behind the motion. He just believed that the reality we lived in required us to act upon it.

On some of the sections that we have in this motion, where it talks about an agreement and talking at the United Nations, Reagan said in his 1982 UN address on disarmament, “Agreements on arms control and disarmament can be useful in reinforcing peace, but they're not magic.” Therefore, we should not confuse talking at UN cocktail dinners or the signing of agreements with solving and resolving problems.

The paper castle suggested by talk shops the world over are blown away, typically by lax enforcement and aggressive rogue regimes.

Reagan never abandoned what some authors have terms as his hatred of nuclear weapons and his desire to eliminate them. If we look at Reagan from his first term to his second term, he was a strong abolitionist from the beginning, and he made it reality in the only way he knew how. It was not eliminating completely, but he did what he could with the Soviet Union, with the powers that were available to him, leading to arms reduction.

Today, though, we do not have such a situation. Proliferation is far beyond that, to countries that simply do not want to negotiate. I do not believe we should implement parts of this motion, that we should believe talk shops are enough. Aggressive enforcement of current treaties and NGOs are the way to do this. I do not think the motion achieves many of the sentiments and principles behind it.

Opposition Motion--Nuclear DisarmamentBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

5:05 p.m.

NDP

Richard Cannings NDP South Okanagan—West Kootenay, BC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to ask the member a question based on what the previous speaker said. The member brought up the name of Doug Roche, a former Conservative senator and a former Canadian ambassador for disarmament. The previous speaker implied, I think, that Mr. Roche agreed with his view on the world situation and that these talks were useless.

However, with respect to this, Doug Roche said that the current government was showing irresponsible leadership for skipping the nuclear ban negotiations at the UN. Could the member comment on that?

Opposition Motion--Nuclear DisarmamentBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

5:10 p.m.

Conservative

Tom Kmiec Conservative Calgary Shepard, AB

Mr. Speaker, I cannot comment on what Mr. Roche has or has not said in comparison to what the previous member had alluded to because I am not familiar with the commentary.

I will bring it back to Reagan. I know for the New Democrats that is sometimes a difficult comparison to make, but the principles behind the sentiment of the motion was shared by President Ronald Reagan. He actually worked actively on nuclear abolition.

This is a quote that I did not include in my remarks. In his 1984 state of the union address, Reagan admitted that, “The only value in our two nations possessing nuclear weapons is to make sure they will never be used.” It is valuable to the discussion to remember that different political leaders have expressed the right sentiment, the right belief, yet they have different ways of going about the process toward that achievement.

Opposition Motion--Nuclear DisarmamentBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

5:10 p.m.

Liberal

Michael Levitt Liberal York Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, I want to recognize my colleague's participation at the foreign affairs committee, where we spend a lot of time together. He is thoughtful, as well as a pragmatist, which is what I want to discuss here today, pragmatism with respect to dealing with these issues.

Participating in an agreement that brings none of the holders of nuclear weapons to the table requires a pragmatic approach. Our government is taking the lead in bringing 159 countries toward a UN resolution for a fissile material cut-off treaty. Do you not feel this approach will require pragmatism, working with the countries that are involved in holding nuclear weapons and showing leadership in the international community, with the hope of one day bringing this under control?

Opposition Motion--Nuclear DisarmamentBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

5:10 p.m.

Liberal

The Assistant Deputy Speaker Liberal Anthony Rota

I want to remind hon. members to address their questions through the Chair.

The hon. member for Calgary Shepard.

Opposition Motion--Nuclear DisarmamentBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

5:10 p.m.

Conservative

Tom Kmiec Conservative Calgary Shepard, AB

Mr. Speaker, with any type of agreement, we would hope the parties that are the most affected by it would be the ones leading the charge to make it happen, such as with international treaties with respect to water or migratory birds, or any of the other many issues that have transnational implications that go across international boundaries. Countries most implicated in either the pollution or water problems, and the same for the possession of nuclear weapons used as a deterrent, have to lead the charge.

In the 1980s and early 1990s, the reason the different START agreements and the arms reduction talks were so successful between President Reagan and Gorbachev was because they were the two primary powers involved. It has to start with those most affected by it. They have to be leading it. This cannot simply go down to a talk shop, like Reagan warned us in 1982 in his UN address. It is not magic, but it does take hard work.

Opposition Motion--Nuclear DisarmamentBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

5:10 p.m.

NDP

Richard Cannings NDP South Okanagan—West Kootenay, BC

Mr. Speaker, I will be sharing my time, if there is any left, with the member for Elmwood—Transcona.

Yesterday, I listened to Setsuko Thurlow, a Hiroshima survivor, speak eloquently of what it was like to have her family, her neighbourhood, and her city vaporized in an instant of mass destruction. I wish everyone in the House could have heard her very moving words.

Setsuko has devoted her life to advocating for nuclear disarmament to ensure that her experience will never be repeated. She also reminded us of Canada's role in the bomb that destroyed her city. The uranium was mined at Great Bear Lake and refined at Port Hope, Ontario.

When I was young, the names Hiroshima and Nagasaki were relatively recent reminders of the horrors of nuclear warfare. In the climate of fear in the depths of the Cold War, people worked hard for nuclear disarmament and hoped against hope that this could never happen again. Ironically, 60 years after Hiroshima, we are closer now to nuclear warfare than we were when I was growing up in the late 1950s and 1960s.

Like many kids in that era, I grew up with school air raid drills that taught us what to do if an atomic bomb was dropped on our town. Penticton, British Columbia had a population of 10,000 at that time. I am not sure why we thought we were a target, but like schools across Canada, North America, and likely much of the world, our town had an air raid siren and practised our air raid drills. There was, I admit, a U.S. air force base not too far south of us. I remember that feeling of vague dread whenever I saw a B-52 flying overhead en route to airspace over northern Canada and Alaska. There were B-52s overheard every day, every one of them laden with nuclear warheads.

Some would say that it was that threat of mutually assured destruction that kept worldwide conflict at bay through the Cold War, but the risk to the planet was, and remains,incalculable. We came so close to nuclear disaster many times, not just during the Cuban missile crisis but other events brought on by sheer accident, human error, and human folly.

Therefore, we would think that the world would have come to its senses over the past 60 years since Hiroshima and Nagasaki. However, even now, 25 years after the end of the Cold War, there are more than 15,000 nuclear warheads in the world.

Canadians have long recognized the threat of nuclear proliferation and have long called for nuclear disarmament. In 2010, the House of Commons unanimously passed a motion that called on the government to, among other things, address the progress of and an opportunity for nuclear disarmament; endorse the 2008 plan for nuclear disarmament of Ban Ki-moon, then Secretary General of the United Nations; and deploy a major diplomatic initiative to increase the rate of nuclear disarmament. The Liberal Party of Canada just last year adopted a resolution at its Winnipeg policy convention that urged its Liberal government to comply more fully, both with its international treaty obligations under the nuclear non-proliferation treaty and play a proactive role in achieving a nuclear weapons free world and emulate the Ottawa process, which led to the banning of landmines, by convening an international conference to commence negotiations for a nuclear weapons convention that would ban nuclear weapons. However, the government's actions in the past year go completely against that resolution.

I would like to back up and talk briefly about the Ottawa process, in which Canada truly led the world to a ban on landmines. This was Canada at its best on the world stage. It was difficult work, but it was the right thing to do. I am proud Canada did the heavy lifting. It was done without the main players on the stage. The United States was not there, yet we went ahead because it was the right thing to do. We need to do the same thing with nuclear disarmament.

The international community, involving over 130 countries, is currently carrying out negotiations on the convention on the prohibition of nuclear weapons, just as the Liberal Party resolution asked for. The problem is that not only is Canada not leading this process, but it is boycotting it completely. Canada is not back on the international scene. It is backing away from its traditional leadership role in promoting a more peaceful world and backing away under pressure from the United States and other nuclear powers.

It is ironic that we are debating this point only two days after the government proudly rolled out a shiny new foreign policy that tried to paint Canada as taking a path independent from the United States, when in this process we are meekly following the Trump administration.

The Netherlands is the only NATO country standing up for sanity and taking a strong role in the negotiations. These negotiations for nuclear disarmament are still going on at the United Nations, and Canada could join the process and take a real role in this important and essential project.

Instead, the government hides behind its actions on the fissile material cut-off treaty. If successful, this effort would stop the production of plutonium and highly enriched uranium, the basic elements of nuclear weapons. While this is a laudable goal, it will do absolutely nothing to bring about nuclear disarmament. It is not nuclear disarmament at all.

As I said at the start, there are more than 15,000 nuclear warheads in the world, and the nuclear powers have huge stockpiles of fissile materials. They do not need any more plutonium or highly enriched uranium to keep building, for years to come, more weapons that could incinerate the world several times over. The fissile material cut-off treaty will not stop that.

Canada is in a unique position to be a leader in nuclear disarmament. I want to point out that my riding has a long history of peace activism focused by the strong Doukhobor community with its dedication to peace and toil, and the Mir Centre for Peace at Selkirk College in Castlegar.

My predecessor in this place, Alex Atamenenko, tabled a motion asking the government to create a department of peace, and I have tabled that same motion here in this Parliament. This would create a minister responsible for promoting the non-violent resolution of conflicts at home and abroad. It would speak volumes to the high priority that Canadians place on a peaceful world.

Opponents to negotiating a nuclear ban treaty say that disarmament must happen step by step and that the time is not right for these negotiations. The world is not secure enough for the treaty. We have reached the edge of this cliff step by step over the last 60 years. The world will never be fully secure. We cannot wait for better conditions. We cannot afford to wait at all.

Yes, the nuclear powers will always oppose nuclear disarmament, but we must not bow to their wishes and blindly take their viewpoint. We need to radically change the world view of the nuclear powers. It will not be easy and it will not happen overnight, but we must be bold, live up to our convictions and our moral duty, and work tirelessly for a nuclear weapons free world.

Opposition Motion--Nuclear DisarmamentBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

5:20 p.m.

Liberal

David Graham Liberal Laurentides—Labelle, QC

Mr. Speaker, as is often the case, I find myself stuck between the fissile motion of the NDP and the facile position of the Conservatives. The last time the Conservatives ran a fighter procurement program, we largely lost our aviation industry, which took a long time to recover and we ended up with the Bomarc missile, which made us a temporary and not very effective nuclear power. I find it very consistent with the position we are hearing today, that nuclear weapons are essential for world peace, which is a position I do not necessarily agree with.

I am wondering what my colleague in the NDP thinks of that position and if he thinks the obvious logical conclusion we are hearing from the Conservatives is that, if every country had nuclear weapons, there would be world peace.

Opposition Motion--Nuclear DisarmamentBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

5:20 p.m.

NDP

Richard Cannings NDP South Okanagan—West Kootenay, BC

Mr. Speaker, I must admit it is one of the statements from the Liberals that I can almost agree with today. I have heard all day both from the Liberals and the Conservatives how we cannot start nuclear disarmament treaty negotiations because there are more and more nuclear weapons in the world every day, and more and more countries have them. We cannot start a negotiation under that situation. If we do not start it under that situation, when are we going to start it? It is not going to happen on its own.

We are not going to have the nuclear powers at the table perhaps at the start, but we can talk among the countries in the world that are concerned. There are 130 of them talking right now. We could join them and help lead that and start a process that would work toward nuclear disarmament. I do not think the world is a safer place when there are more nuclear weapons. We have 15,000 of them now, so let us get back to the table and start working toward a nuclear free world.

Opposition Motion--Nuclear DisarmamentBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

5:20 p.m.

Conservative

Pat Kelly Conservative Calgary Rocky Ridge, AB

Mr. Speaker, I am sure we all agree that perhaps one of the most frightening threats that we have in the world is the proliferation of weapons technology, of delivery systems, and of fissile material, particularly to rogue states.

Would the member care to comment on what the government is doing, or what it ought to be doing, to assist in preventing the proliferation of nuclear weapons?

Opposition Motion--Nuclear DisarmamentBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

5:20 p.m.

NDP

Richard Cannings NDP South Okanagan—West Kootenay, BC

Mr. Speaker, I agree that we should be working toward reducing nuclear proliferation as well as working toward nuclear disarmament. They are two somewhat different things. We do not have to stop one to do the other.

The government has been talking about its fissile treaty that it is leading. That is a laudable action, but it is not the same as nuclear disarmament. The world's nuclear powers are at the table probably because they would love to stop the production of fissile material because they have enough for years to come, and they want to be the only kids on the block with that.

They are two different things and both are laudable, but one is much more important, and that is the work toward world disarmament.

Opposition Motion--Nuclear DisarmamentBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

5:25 p.m.

Green

Elizabeth May Green Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

Mr. Speaker, earlier in the debate the member for Calgary Shepard described what Ronald Reagan had done as though he was happy with incremental work to remove nuclear weapons from the world.

I had the honour of working with Mikhail Gorbachev. He related a personal story to me of the moment he got frustrated with the pace of negotiations. He picked up the phone and told his staff, “I want to call the president of the United States.” Ronald Reagan personally took his call. Mikhail Gorbachev asked him, “Mr. President, do you want to get rid of nuclear weapons? I do.” Ronald Reagan replied, “Yes, I do.” Gorbachev said, “I'm afraid all our negotiators are going to do is drink vodka forever and just talk, but we need to do this.” They intended to do it.

The world's political leadership have dropped the ball. It is time for us to pick it up.

The speech given by the member for South Okanagan—West Kootenay said what I am about to ask him, but I would like him to reiterate. Why on earth is Canada not at the table with nations like the Netherlands, a NATO ally, working to raise the political momentum towards getting rid of nuclear weapons?

Opposition Motion--Nuclear DisarmamentBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

5:25 p.m.

NDP

Richard Cannings NDP South Okanagan—West Kootenay, BC

Mr. Speaker, I thank the member for Saanich—Gulf Islands for that comment, because I totally agree. We cannot get anywhere if we are not talking. The Prime Minister said the other day that he thinks these negotiations are “useless”. They are becoming more useless to Canada because we are being written off the world stage as a real player in negotiations around the diplomacy of getting rid of these weapons.

Canada has to be at the talks. We have to be working. We have to lead as much as we can. The major players will come to the table when they see the rest of the world working on this. They are all human beings, as we are. As the member said, they probably want to get rid of these weapons as well. We have to create that space, the climate to make that happen.

Opposition Motion--Nuclear DisarmamentBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

5:25 p.m.

NDP

Daniel Blaikie NDP Elmwood—Transcona, MB

Mr. Speaker, there is no more stark illustration, I think, of the folly of humankind than the fact that we have created and housed here on earth an arsenal capable of destroying the planet many times over. I do think that, if we want to safeguard the future of the planet, we need to get smart and start working toward disarming ourselves when it comes to our nuclear arsenal, and Canada should be a leader in that effort. Canada has been a leader in that effort in the past. In fact, the Liberal Party of Canada has been a leader on that file in the past. It is disappointing to see a government say it is bringing back traditional Canadian foreign policy but leave out a really vital component of Canadian foreign policy, which is to work toward nuclear disarmament.

The only other threat to the planet on that scale that we see right now is climate change. However, climate change does not have the same kind of stark and immediate catastrophic consequences that we would have if we were to deploy the world's nuclear arsenal.

Canada should be at the table. We have heard a lot in the House today, and we heard yesterday what I thought was a genuinely shocking comment from the Prime Minister that Canada going out in the world, providing leadership, and trying to rally people around the cause of nuclear disarmament was useless. I was frankly shocked that was the word he would use to describe a kind of diplomacy that Canadian governments, Liberal governments, of the past have used, whether it was on the international landmines treaty or the International Criminal Court. All great diplomatic efforts start with some kind of opposition.

Yes, it is a challenge that the major players, when it comes to our nuclear arsenal, are not at the table. However, that does not mean it is useless or meaningless to rally other countries around the world to tell those holders of nuclear arsenals that we want a world where we do not live under the threat of a nuclear holocaust.

Presumably, when the Liberals say they are proud of pursuing their fissile material cut-off treaty and they try to make it seem as if somehow we could not do that in tandem with pursuing a nuclear disarmament treaty, it is because someone is telling them that they will not get the one if they support the other. Presumably, it is the United States telling them that, if they want to make progress on the one, they cannot on the other. That, to me, says that Canada's position does matter, because the United States would not care to try to get us off the scent of pursuing a nuclear disarmament treaty unless it thought that Canada's leadership mattered. That is proof positive, I think, that the Liberals are failing Canadians who want to see a nuclear free world, and they are failing the planet.

Opposition Motion--Nuclear DisarmamentBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

5:30 p.m.

Conservative

The Deputy Speaker Conservative Bruce Stanton

It being 5:30 p.m., pursuant to an order made Tuesday, May 30, 2017, it is my duty to interrupt the proceedings.

Further, pursuant to an order made earlier today, all questions necessary to dispose of the opposition motion are deemed put and a recorded division deemed requested and deferred until Monday, June 12, 2017, at the expiry of the time provided for oral questions.

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.

Excise Tax ActPrivate Members' Business

5:30 p.m.

Conservative

Mark Warawa Conservative Langley—Aldergrove, BC

moved that Bill C-342, An Act to amend the Excise Tax Act (carbon levy), be read the second time and referred to a committee.

Mr. Speaker, it is truly a great honour to have the privilege to introduce a private member's bill.

One of the first things that happens in Parliament is that we elect our Speaker. The second thing is that every member's name is drawn from a hat. I was given the great privilege of being number 70 drawn out, and here we are, almost two years into this Parliament, and my turn came up to introduce a bill.

There is a lot of thought that goes into what the important issue is that needs to be addressed in a private member's bill. In the last Parliament, I was very happy that I was able to introduce the “safe at home” bill, which required a safe distance between a victim of sexual assault and the offender. During the warrant period of sentencing, there has to be a separation to protect both physical and psychological health. This passed, which made me very happy. However, here we are in the current Parliament and I am again honoured to have a private member's bill. What should it be? I truly wanted to represent the community that I love, Langley—Aldergrove, which is one of the most beautiful parts of Canada and the world.

One day, I was checking out my energy heating bill. I am quite excited that the Conservative position always has been and in reality is the only party to stand up for the Canadian taxpayer. Traditionally, both the Liberals and the NDP have supported tax increases whenever possible. I hope that is not the case now, but one expects an action based on past performance, so I would expect the Liberals to support more and more taxes.

Canadians, as the Prime Minister has said, are willing to pay their fair share. Canadians are very fair. However, when I looked at my energy heating bill for heating my home, and I live in Langley, British Columbia, there is the carbon tax. There is a line that shows the cost of the natural gas, then other charges, the carbon tax, and two lines below that there is the GST. Suddenly, I realized that the government is collecting a tax on a tax.

There are diverse opinions on whether or not we should have a carbon tax. The government is supporting the greenhouse reduction targets, which are part of the targets of the Paris accord, and it is one of the reasons why this side supported it. Those were our targets and the Liberal government has used those targets in the Paris accord, but how do we achieve those targets? Some would like to see energy efficiency through regulation.

My colleague for Dauphin—Swan River—Neepawa has a long successful history in protecting the environment. I want to thank him for the great work that he has done. I have been honoured to work with him on the environment committee. However, he is a Conservative member of Parliament who does not believe that the government should be taking every opportunity to tax Canadians. Here is an example of where the Liberals have that right to come up with their policies, and they are going to put a price on carbon. This is how the Liberals believe they can reach those targets. We do not believe that will be successful, but that is their right and that is their policy.

However, when the Prime Minister announced putting a price on carbon, he said, for that price on carbon, it would be up to the provinces as to what they would do with those revenues. The Prime Minister promised Canadians that it would be federally revenue neutral. Yes, each province would determine how they would collect that price on carbon, but federally it would have zero effect on the revenues to the federal government. This was a promise. There are a lot of promises and a lot of statements made by the Liberal government here in the House and to Canadians. Be it in the House or out publicly at town hall meetings, there was promise after promise that it was federally revenue neutral, but that is not true.

I saw it on my bill, and I started talking to constituents, asking them to check their bills. For everyone who checked their bill, sure enough, the government was charging GST on the tax. That is a tax on a tax.

Time and time again, Canadians were shocked. They had believed the Prime Minister. They had trusted him. He had said, like Yoda trying to play the Jedi mind tricks, “High taxes, they are good for you”. Canadians were believing it until they saw the truth. What the Prime Minister was saying was from the dark side. It was not the truth. The truth is now being revealed, and Canadians are realizing they have been deceived.

We also called on the Library of Parliament and asked it to do a study and tell us if this is just a little money, because the Prime Minister has continually said this is a small cost and that we would go into a deficit of $10 billion, that it is just a little to build a strong Canada. We did the research with the Library of Parliament, and we are talking about hundreds of millions of dollars coming out of B.C. and Alberta every year. As the price of carbon goes up, so does the GST.

There must then be evidence in the budget the Liberals introduced that there are additional revenues on that line for GST. There it was. The Library of Parliament indicated hundreds of millions of tax dollars coming out of Canadians' pockets.

The Liberals believe in high taxation and lots of social programs, but as a Conservative, we are the only party in the House representing the Canadian taxpayer and saying we trust that money in the pockets and in the bank accounts of Canadians. They will use their money wisely. The Liberals on the other hand say taxes are good, this is fair, and it will be revenue neutral. That is all not true. We know from the report from the Library of Parliament it is not true, and we also now see it in their budget. There it is. It is a little hidden, but if we dig, there it is. There is a massive increase in revenues for the federal government. It is not revenue neutral.

What do we do? Being good Conservatives, representing Canadian taxpayers and low taxes, we told the truth and presented that document from the Library of Parliament in the House and asked for unanimous consent that it be tabled. Sadly, we did not receive unanimous consent. The Liberal Party did not want that made public. However, it is a public document, so we released it to the media and the Canadian media put it out there. Canadians can now see it by looking at their energy bill.

How is this going to affect Canadians? As I said, the report indicates hundreds of millions of dollars being taken out of Alberta and British Columbia. As the price of carbon expands across the country, we are talking about billions of dollars.

If we think back to the party that represented the Canadian taxpayer. The Conservative Party of Canada, in 2006, promised we were going to lower the GST from 7% to 6% to 5%. We all remember that. One of the things I really respect, and a reason I am so pleased to be a Conservative, is that Conservatives keep their promises. If they say they are going to lower the GST down to 5%, it will happen.

A lot of times, our promises are delivered even before Canadians expect it. That is what happened. We could see the economic clouds on the horizon, and instead of lowering it from 7% to 6% to 5% over a gradual phase, it was done almost overnight from 7% down to 5%. Why the GST? The Conservative government provided the lowest taxation in Canadian history, whether it was income tax or lowering taxes for corporations and small business.

That was one of the promises that was made by this party, that if we had formed government, we would have lowered small business taxes. The Liberal Party made the same promise, and of course that is another broken promise. The Liberals have refused to lower taxes.

What is the advantage of low taxes to small business? It helps businesses create jobs. We are competing provincially and locally, but also internationally. For Canada to remain competitive and for small businesses to able to expand their distribution and create jobs, lowering taxes creates a much healthier economy. However, the Liberal government made that promise, and it is another broken promise.

The former Conservative government lowered the GST. It is the tax, the one tax that affects everyone, and it benefited those living on fixed incomes and in poverty more than any other tax, but particularly those on fixed incomes who have difficulties in choosing between buying medicine, heating their homes, what they are going to have for supper, or how they are going to get around. We provided a bus credit, so that transit costs would be lower. Unfortunately, that is another thing that the Liberal government took away from our Canadian seniors.

The Liberals are deceptively moving the GST from 5% to 7% and higher. As the price of carbon goes up so does the GST. Again, billions of dollars are deceptively being taken out of Canadian taxpayers' pockets.

I have not yet met one Canadian in my riding who thinks it is fair to charge a tax on a tax. Canadians, as the Prime Minister has said, are fair. However, it is not fair to quietly, deceptively charge a tax on a tax. A goods and services tax, GST, is a tax on goods and services. Is a tax a good? No. Is it services? No. It is a tax. Maybe the government, if it is going to continue on taxing taxes, needs to rename what it is doing.

What are Canadians saying? As I said, none of my constituents think it is fair. I have not met one Canadian yet who thinks it is fair to charge a tax on a tax, in principle, except for some of my Liberal colleagues, and unfortunately, some of the other colleagues in the House. I do not want to prejudge what they are going to do, but it is fundamentally unfair.

What Bill C-342 does is, and it is very simple, it makes an amendment to the Excise Tax Act of Canada so that the price of carbon is GST exempt. There are a number of items under the GST legislation, the excise tax legislation, that are exempt. One of those should be tax. A government should not charge a tax on tax, especially when it promised that it would be revenue neutral.

It is only a Liberal government, supported by members of Parliament who think it is okay to charge tax on tax, that would oppose this. I hope I am wrong. I am prejudging from what I have heard. I am thinking of all the times the Liberals have said that providing marijuana to our children will be good for them. They have said that it is revenue neutral and higher taxes are good for us.

It is like Jedi mind control. I am thinking of a quote from Yoda, “Powerful you have become...the dark side I sense in you.” I sense that high taxes and deception are coming from the dark side.

I am proud to stand up in a party that believes in low taxes and standing up for the Canadian taxpayer. I encourage everyone to support this very important bill. Let us make the change. Let us be fair to Canadians.

Excise Tax ActPrivate Members' Business

5:45 p.m.

Liberal

Mark Gerretsen Liberal Kingston and the Islands, ON

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for his investment in this particular initiative, and for taking the time and thought to put this forward.

However, I do want to draw to the House's attention a couple of the comments he made. The member did talk about the lowering of GST from 7% to 6% to 5%, and yes, that did happen, but what you indirectly did at the time, when you were the government, is that you stopped funding and assisting municipalities. You did. I was the mayor of Kingston at the time, and we received a lot less money for very important projects during that time.

What that did is that forced municipalities to increase their taxes. Indirectly, you did not really help the situation; you just made it worse.

Excise Tax ActPrivate Members' Business

5:45 p.m.

Conservative

Robert Sopuck Conservative Dauphin—Swan River—Neepawa, MB

Mr. Speaker, on a point of order, the member should be addressing his comments to the Chair.

Excise Tax ActPrivate Members' Business

5:45 p.m.

Conservative

The Deputy Speaker Conservative Bruce Stanton

I did note that the hon. member for Kingston and the Islands was speaking in the second person mode, and it is for that reason that we ask members to speak in the third person and direct their comments to the Chair.

The hon. member for Kingston and the Islands.

Excise Tax ActPrivate Members' Business

5:45 p.m.

Liberal

Mark Gerretsen Liberal Kingston and the Islands, ON

Mr. Speaker, you are absolutely correct, and I thank my colleague for pointing that out.

At the end of the day, municipalities ended up paying citizens through a tax that is not based on one's income, a non-progressive tax, and ended up paying more. The property taxes of seniors who lived in houses increased, and it ended up costing more for municipalities to provide those basic needs. The whole point to the price on carbon is to set a price to drive industry to find new ways to lower carbon emissions. Would it not lend to that argument that if the price of carbon was lowered, the GST portion would also be lowered? In other words, if there were no price on carbon, there would be no GST.

Excise Tax ActPrivate Members' Business

5:45 p.m.

Conservative

Mark Warawa Conservative Langley—Aldergrove, BC

Mr. Speaker, the member is missing the point. The point is it is fundamentally unfair to charge a tax on a tax. The member is trying to rewrite history. I was also a member of council for 14 years before coming here for 13 years federally. It was the Chrétien Liberal government during that time, with Paul Martin as finance minister. Traditionally, it is one-third, one-third, one-third. For all of the infrastructure work, it is one-third, one-third, one-third. That all disappeared under the Chrétien Liberal government, with Paul Martin as finance minister. That is when it all changed and became extremely difficult, but it was under the former Stephen Harper Conservative government that there was a balanced budget and the largest infrastructure investment in municipalities in Canadian history. All of the improvements to Canadian infrastructure were made fairly, across every municipality, and not just favourite Liberal municipalities.

Excise Tax ActPrivate Members' Business

5:50 p.m.

NDP

Pierre-Luc Dusseault NDP Sherbrooke, QC

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for his speech and for his bill currently before the House. I do not doubt his intentions, but I am particularly concerned about the inequity this may cause among consumers in Canada's various regions.

Whenever my colleague has spoken, he has talked mainly about Alberta and British Columbia. I understand why he has considered only those two provinces, since this bill will not apply in those provinces that have carbon exchanges. That is why I am concerned about consumer fairness.

What does the member think about the fact that consumers in Quebec will not be treated the same way as consumers in British Columbia under this proposal? Can he address the question with a view to the fact that carbon pricing systems may vary from one province to another?

Excise Tax ActPrivate Members' Business

5:50 p.m.

Conservative

Mark Warawa Conservative Langley—Aldergrove, BC

Mr. Speaker, the best way to deal with that is to send Bill C-342 to committee to make sure it can be applied fairly so that all provinces benefit equally. The only way that can be ensured is if it goes to committee and is studied and, if necessary, amended. I am open to amendments. It is up to each province, including Quebec and British Columbia. Each province can determine how it puts the price on carbon.

My bill is to ensure, in the spirit of fairness, that Canadians are not paying tax on a tax. I hope the member will not oppose fairness and will support a low-tax scheme for Canadians. The people it will help the most are those on fixed incomes. A lot of Canadians can afford to pay taxes, but a lot of Canadians are really struggling. He knows that, and I am hoping the Liberals will support this bill going to committee.

Excise Tax ActPrivate Members' Business

5:50 p.m.

Ville-Marie—Le Sud-Ouest—Île-des-Soeurs Québec

Liberal

Marc Miller LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Infrastructure and Communities

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise in the House to speak to the bill proposed by the member for Langley—Aldergrove.

Bill C-342 proposes to amend the Excise Tax Act to provide that any tax on carbon pollution that is imposed by a province be excluded from the total purchase price, and consequently that it excluded from the calculation of the goods and services tax or the harmonized sales tax, the GST/HST.

Although the hon. member has good intentions, the bill presented would unnecessarily complicate our tax system without providing any significant benefits for taxpayers.

The Government of Canada wants our tax system to be as fair and as effective as possible. If we want strong and sustainable economic growth that benefits Canadians as a whole, we must have in place a tax system that is fair for everyone, especially for the middle class, which is central to our economy.

Before taking time to explain the steps and measures that the government has taken in this regard, I would like to explore the consequences of Bill C-342 as proposed by the member.

The GST and HST have always been intended as a tax on consumption. Applying that tax to a broad range of goods and services not only makes it equitable, but also gives it the additional advantage of being simpler to manage and more effective, which is undeniably of benefit to Canadian businesses and consumers.

This is how the GST and HST work: they are calculated on the final sale price of numerous goods and services that Canadians consume or use every day. I am sure that as consumers we are all subject to the tax. That final amount, to which the GST is applied, includes the other taxes, expenses and levies that may have been incorporated into the final price, such as customs duties, the tobacco tax, and other gasoline taxes.

The main advantage of this long-standing general approach is that it is simple and predictable, and that is good for Canadian consumers. It also means that it is easy to calculate for companies that do business in Canada and that it is easy for them to comply with it.

This bill would eliminate those advantages, but without offering any clear benefits in exchange.

The government believes that changes to tax laws are ideally considered to be part of the budget process, to ensure that they are consistent with the financial framework and the general uniformity of the tax system.

Making the tax system fairer and more effective is certainly an important objective of the current government. That is why, last year, we launched a broad review of tax expenditures. The objective of that review is to eliminate tax measures that are poorly targeted or ineffective. The review will also enable the government to identify cases where it would be possible to eliminate measures that unfairly benefit the wealthiest Canadians.

Budget 2017 brings in the first measures intended to implement the changes that came out of the review of tax expenditures conducted by the government. That review identified opportunities for making existing tax measures more effective, fairer, and more accessible to Canadians.

In this regard, budget 2017 provided for measures to improve the tax relief offered to family caregivers, students, and persons with disabilities. Tax fairness is a complex objective that calls for ongoing engagement on several fronts. As the government’s work in this area progresses, it will continue to aim for a fair tax system that benefits the middle class and those who are working hard to join it.

As our Minister of Environment and Climate Change has stated clearly before, pollution is not free. A successful climate change strategy puts a price on pollution, enabling Canadians to make choices about their consumption habits to ensure these choices do not come at the expense of our environment. Separating the carbon tax from the total purchase price would instantly make tax compliance more complicated.

A central component of the government's pan-Canadian framework on clean growth and climate change is the increase of nearly $2,300 in tax-free child benefits this year. We have also taken steps outside the area of taxation to help Canadians keep more of their hard-earned money and plan for the future.

A year ago, the government acted to help people retire with dignity by strengthening the Canada pension plan, reaching a historic agreement with the provinces that will increase the maximum benefit by about 50% over time.

These are real, significant actions that decisively and definitely impact the lives of Canadians.

Add to that the government's historic investment through our previous two budgets and last year's fall economic statement. These investments will help communities become cleaner and less reliant on sources of energy that pollute the air, harm the environment, and compromise our health and the future of our children.

We continue to work toward executing a single, cohesive, and comprehensive plan to improve the lives of middle-class Canadians, a plan that will achieve more than an ad hoc approach like the one proposed in this bill. Commitment to pricing carbon pollution across the country by 2018, which is in line with the federal benchmark, is based on a very basic principle of fairness: people or their proxy must pay for what they use.

When it comes to implementation, provinces that have not already done so have two broad choices. The first is an explicit price-based system. It might be a carbon tax like the one in British Columbia or a hybrid approach composed of a carbon levy and an output-based pricing system, such as the one that is in place in Alberta today. The other possibility is a cap and trade system such as the one here in Ontario and in Quebec.

The final reason the bill falls short of its intent simply comes down to dollars and cents. When we take a closer look at the savings this proposed legislation might achieve, we find that the impact of removing GST/HST on carbon taxes or levies would be relatively negligible for most fuels and would have little impact on purchasers.

For example, removing the 5% GST on the current 6.67¢ per litre carbon tax on gasoline sold in British Columbia would reduce the price per litre of gasoline by about three-tenths of a cent. On a 50-litre fill-up, the amount of relief would be only 15¢. In Alberta, removing the 5% GST on the estimated cost of $205 for the carbon levy on natural gas in 2018 for a couple with two children would result in savings of about 85¢ per month, or $10.25 in that year.

Let us contrast that with the meaningful tax cut that the government introduced shortly after taking office in 2015. Through the middle-class tax cut, nearly nine million Canadians saw a drop in their personal income taxes. Single individuals who benefit are saving an average of $330 each year, and couples who benefit are saving an average of $540 each year.

With the introduction of the Canada child benefit plan, which has been in effect since July 2016, nine out of 10 Canadian families with children will receive an average tax cut that is extremely significant.

The bill before us today proposes a tax treatment that is inefficient and fails to support our environmental objectives and priorities. We are proposing to move forward in a clear and cohesive way in co-operation with provinces and municipalities while making sure the middle class and those trying hard to join it are properly protected through a fair and equitable tax system.

For these reasons, the government opposes this legislation.

Excise Tax ActPrivate Members' Business

6 p.m.

NDP

Pierre-Luc Dusseault NDP Sherbrooke, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to speak to my colleague’s bill, Bill C-342. He is certainly well-intentioned, as he demonstrated in his speech. However, when we take a closer look at the bill’s technical details and its application across the country, not just in Alberta and British Columbia, the provinces he always mentions, there are a number of problems with it. As a parliamentarian, it troubles me to be asked to support such a bill.

I will first discuss the problems with this bill, which are why I am personally opposed to it. The fight against climate change is certainly my first priority, as a certain Liberal minister likes to say, and I hope it is also a priority for the Liberal government and all parties in the House. This issue affects my generation and future generations, so we need to take it very seriously. I am therefore happy to talk about it.

This issue relates to the bill, since it deals with carbon pricing and the polluter pays principle. There must be a price put on consuming polluting products and activities, since pollution comes with a cost. There needs to be a cost to the environmental footprint of using or buying goods and services that pollute more, so that governments can offset our pollution by investing in a greener and more environmentally friendly economy.

I wanted to demonstrate just how important this issue is to me and my party, the NDP. I am sure that I speak for my colleagues when I say that the fight against climate change is very important.

Let us talk a little more about the details of the bill now. Although it is short, consisting of only one paragraph, when we look more closely at it we see that it could be difficult to apply. Each province may decide to put a price on carbon in its own way. For example, Quebec and Ontario have created a common carbon exchange. That is one way of putting a price on carbon and pollution. On the other hand, my colleague has often spoken about Alberta and British Columbia, which have chosen another way of pricing carbon and pollution.

Under the plan announced by the federal government, by 2018 all provinces must have a method of pricing carbon and pollution. Since each province is free to choose how to do that, this bill, which proposes an exemption from the 5% goods and services tax, will have the effect of deducting the carbon tax from the GST. However, if we consider how this bill would be applied in each province, we quickly realize that it would not apply where there is a carbon exchange or some other carbon pricing or carbon levy system. We therefore cannot be sure that the member’s good intentions would materialize in those provinces.

My colleague often refers to electricity or energy bills to support his arguments and his bill. In fact, however, it would apply to much more than energy bills, if we take the example of Alberta and British Columbia. The GST is paid on a range of goods and services, not just energy. It is important to make the distinction.

My colleague said just now that applying the bill could be complicated. The example he gives regarding energy would be relatively complex. However, in other situations and for other kinds of products, it would be a complex matter to determine what portion the carbon price represented, and then exempt only that portion of the product from the 5% GST. The increased complexity involved in applying the Excise Act could cause a number of problems to its implementation in a province where someone decides to make a trade on a carbon exchange and where pollution rights may be purchased.

For example, a company may buy pollution rights and trade them. This is a cap-and-trade system. At that point, it becomes even more difficult to exempt that carbon price, when it is applied in a carbon exchange where businesses have something a little more intangible, namely a right to pollute.

However, that will not necessarily appear on consumers’ bills. Consumers may be involved in the production of a good, since we might say that part of the production is connected with pollution, and thus also connected with carbon. However, it becomes complex to administer and to truly separate out the price connected with carbon in the price of a product, and then try to exempt it from the GST.

With respect to the simplicity of our tax system, I do not think the measure makes it a lot simpler, because it is quite complicated itself.

There is also the entire question of the polluter pays principle. I am not opposed to that principle. The Conservatives want to talk about the GST on the price of carbon, but I think behind that is an effort to defeat the carbon pricing plan.

In fact, we often hear the Conservatives flatly opposing everything associated with the polluter pays principle. That is unfortunate, but it is probably what is hidden behind the intentions of the member who is proposing this measure.

When the member talks about fairness, I would like to tell him about an interesting situation that parliamentarians could consider as the debate continues, namely a way to achieve the objective.

When a carbon tax was introduced in Alberta, they also introduced a rebate system to reimburse the consumers hardest hit by it. Thanks to the NDP government of Alberta, the people with the lowest incomes have been able to obtain refunds. They receive cheques based on a rebate system connected with the carbon tax, and this makes it possible to achieve one of the objectives mentioned by my colleague. What my colleague said was that people with the lowest incomes will be the ones hardest hit by this. In Alberta, they have managed to find a good solution. I encourage my colleagues to consider that measure.

In our tax system, we already have a way of giving a rebate on the GST, and people are thus able to get reimbursed for a certain amount connected with that tax. This would be an opportunity for the federal government to examine that option in more depth, as it prepares to put a price on carbon.

We may differ on the definitions, but a price on carbon covers all forms of pricing. We could therefore consider this option for compensating low-income people, as Alberta has done. We could also give them a refund on the GST, an option that may be more generous for low-income Canadians. This would be a way of finding a compromise so that our tax system remained as simple as possible, even though it is already very complex, and at the same time achieve my colleague’s objectives, that is, not to unduly affect low-income people.

I will be very happy to hear my other colleagues' comments on this bill, and I hope to hear opinions from all sides.

Excise Tax ActPrivate Members' Business

6:10 p.m.

Conservative

Shannon Stubbs Conservative Lakeland, AB

Mr. Speaker, I thank the member for Langley—Aldergrove for this important debate today. Bill C-342 would make amendments to exclude the collection of GST and HST on provincial carbon pricing systems.

I have unequivocally opposed the carbon tax since my very first words in the House of Commons on behalf of Lakeland. Since December 2015, I have questioned the carbon tax here in the House and in committees. I was the first MP to sponsor a petition against the carbon tax, with over 10,000 signatures. I fight for oil and gas workers, for small business owners, families, and for everyday Canadians, all of whom are rightfully angry and worried about their futures. This blatant tax grab is not environmental policy. It is a tax hike, a cash grab, full stop. It is all economic pain for no actual environmental gain.

Immediately, I opposed the Liberals forcing a carbon tax on all Canadians, and I oppose the Liberals' anti-energy agenda at every step. The Liberals say provinces and territories must comply by 2018, or a carbon tax will be forced on them. I oppose the Liberals' anti-energy agenda by supporting pipelines and LNG projects, all Canadian natural resources development, and Albertans.

Last year, the Prime Minister told Canadians, “All revenues generated under this system will stay in the province or territory where they are generated.” Now, Canadians know that is not at all the case.

As recently as April 2017, internal documents show the Liberals plan to collect billions in new tax dollars by taxing the carbon tax. That is a tax on a tax. This grab will result in more revenue for the Liberals, and less money for hard-working Canadians.

There is no guarantee from the Liberals at all that provinces and territories will ensure revenue neutrality. In Alberta and British Columbia, the GST collected by the Liberals on provincial carbon taxes in 2017-2018 will be $65 million from both provinces. In 2018-2019, Albertans will pay $140 million. British Columbians will pay $110 million in GST collected from the carbon taxes, all going into federal coffers.

The Liberals' claims are just not true. It is a scam. The Liberals know they are getting new revenue by taxing the carbon tax. In fact, they admit it in their own budget projections. Budget 2016 even shows a 21% increase in GST revenues between 2015 and 2021, despite the federal GST rate staying at 5%, and despite the Canadian economy projected to only grow by 15% during the same time period. There is no doubt this increase is coming directly from this tax on a tax scheme.

Canadians are rightfully worried. They are concerned about where their hard-earned tax dollars are going, and it is just the beginning. The Liberals are hiding the details from Canadians on the long-term costs, and the full economic impacts of the carbon tax.

Environment Canada says the carbon tax would have to be $300 a tonne by 2050 in order to reach emissions targets. Canada can reduce emissions, like it did for the first time in Canadian history, under the previous government, without a carbon tax. Crushing the economy is not the only solution.

The Liberals claim the tax will be revenue neutral, but it is not. Alberta's NDP claimed its carbon tax was revenue neutral simply because it was spending the proceeds on pet projects. B.C.'s carbon tax has not been neutral since 2013.

The carbon tax grab, and now the tax on the tax scheme, will punish Canadians, especially the poor and people on fixed incomes, those whose livelihoods depend on energy and agriculture, and Canadians who live in rural, remote and northern communities. It will hurt public institutions too. School boards will need to cope with millions of dollars in extra bills.

The Elk Island Catholic School board in Lakeland has to cover an additional $82,000 in increased costs for this school year, and about $143,000 in 2017-2018, for increased transportation and infrastructure costs because of the carbon tax, gutting budgets for necessities.

Municipalities will also struggle. St. Paul works to keep spending as low as possible, knowing the carbon tax will make it even harder to stay in the black in the next few years. Vegreville projected the carbon tax will hike the town costs by more than $36,000 in 2017, and up to more than $54,000 in 2018. These are significant costs for small towns, villages, counties, and MDs.

The carbon tax will hit all Canadians. A Lakeland resident near Vermilion shared a bill on Facebook recently. It showed a cost of $778 on top of a $900 bill on a single truckload of energy products to heat his home. A Bonnyville family-owned trucking business warned he will have to fire four people. The NDP carbon tax is the biggest tax hike in Alberta's history. It is a tax grab, not environmental policy. This broad-based tax on everything will not reduce emissions. Experts say carbon taxes have to be upward of $1,200 to be punitive enough to reduce emissions.

The Liberals are using international agreements with all our allies and trading partners to justify their bad tax hikes and their damaging red tape. For example, the Paris agreement does not mandate a carbon tax on countries. It does not dictate policy for members. It does not even mandate emission limits for those countries. The Liberal carbon tax will not earn so-called social licence or approval from anti-energy extremists who will never grant it.

The federal Liberals and the the provincial NDP are manipulating caring for the environment, a priority shared by all Canadians, all Albertans, and all parties. It is crass to suggest otherwise, and it is all politics to the Liberals. The Liberals are all talk, both betraying Albertans and energy workers, while breaking promises to Liberal voters who often have usually supported the Green Party and the NDP.

The Prime Minister claims provinces have a choice. However, there is no choice at all. At the beginning of the debate on the Paris agreement, before any MP had a chance to even say a word, before any provinces were consulted, he declared they must impose the carbon tax or Ottawa will do it for them. His Paris agreement motion included a carbon tax. I opposed, and still oppose, the carbon tax.

Globally, carbon taxes have led to economic disaster. Australia's carbon tax was repealed two years after it was created. What is alarming is that its policy was $24 per metric tonne Canadian. That is roughly only half of what the Liberals are forcing on Canada. About 75,000 businesses paid the carbon tax directly or paid an equivalent penalty of duties and rebates. They almost always passed on part or all of that cost to customers, small businesses, and households, because they had to, hiking prices exponentially as a result.

However, after the economic consequences of that bad policy, Australians defeated the left-leaning government and elected a conservative coalition, which repealed the tax, and created an almost $3 billion fund for industry incentives. Australia's economy is similar to Canada's. As a result of that failed policy, Australia's natural resources became less globally competitive. Canada should heed that example.

Here in Canada, British Columbia's carbon tax is often cited by proponents as ideal. It is not a theoretical debate. It has not reduced emissions. Every year, since 2010, B.C. emissions have increased. B.C.'s carbon tax was also sold as a revenue-neutral way of encouraging British Columbians to drive more fuel-efficient cars, make fewer trips, car pool, or switch to public transit. It was also applied to home heating and electricity in hopes of promoting more energy-efficient insulation and smaller homes, plus more conservation by families. That did not happen. The average Vancouverite's commute is close to 50 minutes one way, and longer than it was when the tax was imposed.

The promised gains never materialized. According to the Canadian Taxpayers Federation, the carbon tax raises nearly $240 million a year, while the Lower Mainland's per litre transit tax raises $320 million from the Vancouver area alone. Even though Vancouver has by far the highest gasoline prices on the continent, there has been no significant reduction in gasoline purchases.

Out of necessity, British Columbians quickly adapted and returned to their old levels of fuel consumption, but with less money for essentials and the ever-rising costs of housing. This broad-based tax on everything increases the price of everything for everyone. It will rise over time, taking $38 billion away from Canadians annually by 2022.

The Liberals must be honest with Canadians. This is not about environmental stewardship. It will not earn social licence from those who are anti-energy or anti-Alberta. It is only about getting more revenue for a government that believes the budget will balance itself, that promised a so-called modest deficit, and has already racked up the largest deficit in Canadian history outside of war or recession. The Liberals started with a surplus, and two years later they are mortgaging the economic future of young Canadians. Their GST on the carbon tax is just another way for them to take even more from hard-working Canadians.

All members should support this bill. The Liberals should stop hiding the details, end this scam, and end this tax on tax.

Excise Tax ActPrivate Members' Business

6:20 p.m.

Conservative

The Deputy Speaker Conservative Bruce Stanton

Before we resume debate, I will let the hon. parliamentary secretary to the government House leader, who is up next, know that there are only about seven and a half minutes remaining in the time for private members' business. He will have the remainder of his time when the House next resumes debate on the question.

The hon. parliamentary secretary to the government House leader.

Excise Tax ActPrivate Members' Business

6:20 p.m.

Winnipeg North Manitoba

Liberal

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

Mr. Speaker, I do not know where to begin, but listening to the member we cannot let the facts confuse reality when reality is quite different from what has been portrayed by the insertion of the word fact. In fact, those facts the member is using are not correct. Let me shed some light on reality, so the member, or people who might be listening, will have a better idea of what we are talking about.

The member sponsored a bill and says, “We in the Conservative Party do not support cascading taxes”. That is what it is. I understand it because even in the Manitoba Legislature, the issue of cascading tax is a fairly common issue.

The sponsor of the bill talked about this, saying the government is bad because it is having a tax on the price of carbon coming from British Columbia. I have news for the Conservative members of this House. The carbon pricing in British Columbia has been happening for the last decade. In other words, Stephen Harper, the former Prime Minister, had the very same policy. I do not quite understand why it is different now, and why things have changed. Yet, the members made statements saying, “We Conservatives do not support increasing taxes”, when in fact that is what they did on this very same issue. Then the member tries to give the impression that the Liberals do not support tax breaks. The facts speak quite differently.

The fact is when this government introduced legislation to give the single largest tax break to Canada's middle class, how did the Conservatives vote? They voted against it. We are the only party that voted in favour of the tax break giving nine million-plus Canadians more cash in their pockets.

Their argument is beyond me, and how they get across trying to convince Canadians they are the greatest defenders of taxes and giving Canadians more breaks. At the end of the day, when it comes right down to a vote, what do they do? They vote against it.

Now that Stephen Harper is no longer the Prime Minister, they are saying that even though Stephen Harper did not do it, we think the Liberals should do it, because we are Conservatives. Why did Stephen Harper not do it?

Then they talk about the Paris agreement. If we want an issue that really demonstrates that the national Conservative Party is out of touch with Canadians, let us talk about the price on carbon. Countries and jurisdictions around the world went to Paris. That included parties of a Progressive Conservative nature, NDP and Liberals, parties of all stripes went to Paris. When they got back to Canada, they had an idea. Here in Canada, we worked with different provinces and territories. With the exception of one province, the province of Saskatchewan, they all agreed it was time that Canada had a price on carbon. Why? Because we were actually listening to what Canadians wanted. Even in Alberta, there was actually a price on carbon. That was the commitment that the government made.

The point is, it is only the Conservative Party in Ottawa that believes Canadians are wrong, that there is no need for us to give any attention to our environment. Let me be bold and make the suggestion that it could be that the Conservative Party, which is on that island--

Excise Tax ActPrivate Members' Business

6:25 p.m.

Conservative

The Deputy Speaker Conservative Bruce Stanton

Order. I would ask hon. members to restrain their comments. We will continue with the hon. Parliamentary Secretary to the Government House Leader.

Excise Tax ActPrivate Members' Business

6:25 p.m.

Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux Liberal Winnipeg North, MB

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the interjection. There are so many naysayers on the other side, and that is one of the ways they justify it. Many of those members still believe that we do not have to worry about climate change, that Canada's footprint is so small, from a world perspective, that we do not have any responsibility. A vast majority of Canadians would disagree with that. Canada needs to not only do the right thing but demonstrate global leadership. Canadians expect that of the government. It seems that only the Conservatives deny climate change.

I want to highlight a couple of points. The first is the idea that a price on carbon is going to destroy the Canadian economy. The previous speaker said that it would destroy the global economy. British Columbia is one of the most progressive provinces in Canada in terms of economic growth. One would be challenged to find another province that has done as well as B.C. economically, yet it has had a price on carbon for the last decade. This fear factor the Conservatives like to espouse is just wrong. They do not want the facts to get in the way of their fearmongering.

The member said that only the Conservatives care about the province of Alberta and the oil industry. What did Stephen Harper do for the oil industry? Under his government, there was not one inch of pipeline built toward tidewater. In 18 months we not only have a process but we have approvals for two pipelines that will generate thousands of jobs for all Canadians. All regions will benefit.

Canadians finally have a government that works with provincial entities to make things happen, and that is what will have the impact Canadians want. We will work hard for Canada's middle class and for those aspiring to be part of it. We will ultimately see more jobs and a healthier environment. There is so much more to come.

Excise Tax ActPrivate Members' Business

6:30 p.m.

Conservative

The Deputy Speaker Conservative Bruce Stanton

The hon. Parliamentary Secretary to the Government House Leader will have two and a half minutes remaining in his time when the House next resumes debate on the question.

The time provided for the consideration of private members’ business has now expired, and the item is dropped to the bottom of the order of precedence on the Order Paper.

[For continuation of proceedings see part B]

[Continuation of proceedings from part A]

The House resumed from June 7 consideration of the motion that Bill C-24, an act to amend the Salaries Act and to make a consequential amendment to the Financial Administration Act, be read the second time and referred to a committee, and of the amendment.

Salaries ActGovernment Orders

6:30 p.m.

Liberal

Dan Ruimy Liberal Pitt Meadows—Maple Ridge, BC

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to speak today to Bill C-24. Upon taking office in November 2015, the Prime Minister established a gender-balanced, one-tier ministry of equals focused on delivering results for Canadians.

The proposed amendments to the Salaries Act fulfill the Prime Minister's commitment to introduce legislation to formalize the equal status of his ministerial staff. The bill does just that by adding to the Salaries Act the five ministerial positions that are currently minister of state appointments as well as three untitled positions, for a total of eight new positions. To offset the increase in positions, the bill removes the six regional development ministerial positions.

It has been suggested by critics of the bill that removal of the regional development ministerial positions is the first step in dismantling the regional development agencies. This is just not the case. Our government is committed to supporting and promoting economic development throughout Canada. This bill would not amend, in any way, the states and Orders in Council that create the regional development agencies. The Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development will continue to be responsible for all the regional development agencies.

This government is focused on growing the economy and strengthening the middle class. The regional development agencies are essential delivery partners in the government's plan to drive economic growth through innovation. They understand the unique needs of each region as well as the opportunities for economic development and diversification.

Let me expand on just a few examples of how the regional development agencies are working to grow the middle class in all parts of our country.

We are working with our regional partners in Atlantic Canada to do just that. We recognize that Atlantic Canada possesses competitive advantages that can bring new opportunities to economic growth. The region is home to great ideas, great products, great innovators, and a great drive to succeed.

The Hon. Navdeep Bains, Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development, along with his cabinet colleagues and the four Atlantic premiers, jointly announced the launch of the Atlantic growth strategy last year. Working with all 32 MPs in Atlantic Canada, this pan-Atlantic, whole-of-government strategy will direct targeted actions to stimulate Atlantic Canada's economy. The strategy will support both innovative and resource-based industries and increase job opportunities for Atlantic Canadians.

This is an unprecedented federal-provincial partnership. The Government of Canada is working together with the four provincial governments to build a vibrant economic future for Atlantic Canada. The Atlantic growth strategy will drive economic growth in the region by implementing targeted evidence-based actions under the following five priority areas: skilled workforce with immigration; innovation; clean growth and climate change; trade; and, finally, investment.

The Atlantic growth strategy will deliver bold action items, including a three-year immigration pilot aimed at addressing the unique labour market challenges in Atlantic Canada. This pilot project will help better match the needs of local employers with the skill sets of immigrants while helping to improve the attraction and retention of newcomers in Atlantic Canada.

The Atlantic growth strategy is different from past initiatives because of our strong commitment to federal-provincial collaboration, on a pan-Atlantic level, in making strategic investments and taking the actions needed to generate long-term clean and inclusive growth, create jobs, and position Atlantic Canada as a thriving, knowledge-driven economy. We are taking bold, targeted actions to stimulate the economy.

This is just one example of how regional development agencies strengthen the government's ability to support innovative, inclusive growth in every part of our country.

In Quebec, Canada Economic Development for Quebec Regions, CED, concluded its broad 2016 engagement strategy with the release of its new strategic plan 2016 for the next five years. CED's strategic plan is aligned with the innovation and skills plan to do the following: support growing and innovative businesses that generate high-quality jobs, particularly for the middle class; support specific businesses and regions in developing and adopting new technologies in a clean-growth economy; support communities to foster economic diversification from an inclusive growth perspective involving minority groups; and finally, foster the participation of indigenous people contributing to the economic growth of Quebec by encouraging entrepreneurship and social innovation.

The plan's success will be measured and assessed in terms of its ability to contribute directly to the objectives of the innovation and skills plan using indicators that include, among others, employment rates, digital transformation, business growth, international exports, the adoption of clean technologies, and the capacity to leverage private capital and foreign direct investment.

Most recently, the Hon. Navdeep Bains was in Sudbury to announce the launch of the northern Ontario prosperity strategy, our latest measure to—

Salaries ActGovernment Orders

6:35 p.m.

Conservative

The Deputy Speaker Conservative Bruce Stanton

Order. That was the second occasion. There was a little disorder the first time, and I let it pass, but I would remind the hon. member to refer to other members by their titles or ridings.

The hon. member for Pitt Meadows—Maple Ridge.

Salaries ActGovernment Orders

6:35 p.m.

Liberal

Dan Ruimy Liberal Pitt Meadows—Maple Ridge, BC

Mr. Speaker, the targeted approach of this strategy will help the northern Ontario region prosper. The strategy will build on the opportunities offered by emerging industries to create businesses and jobs for the northern population of the province. This strategy will also focus on working with indigenous communities to support their growth. Most importantly, this strategy will be developed in partnership with all the community and business leaders of northern Ontario and the province.

In the four western provinces, Western Economic Diversification Canada activities are guided by the government's innovation and skills plan for two departmental strategic priorities, which are innovation and inclusive economic growth, aligning the west with federal priorities. WD is implementing these priorities in a few different ways. The strategic investments the department is making across western Canada focus on growing and emerging sectors such as energy, information and communication, technologies, life sciences, aerospace, agrifood, and advanced manufacturing.

Through the western innovation initiative, WD invests in businesses to help them advance innovative products, processes, and services for the marketplace in western Canada and globally. Since 2014, WD has invested nearly $97 million through the western innovation initiative and expects to create more than 1,600 jobs across the west.

The western diversification program funds strategic investments in initiatives with not-for-profit organizations that strengthen the economy of western Canada.

As a key way to create opportunities, WD convenes with stakeholders across western Canada to identify opportunities for collaboration in support of economic development, leading to a deep understanding of the unique considerations in advancing diversification goals in Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta, and British Columbia and their broad regional perspectives.

WD also actively supports inclusive participation in the economy. For example, through its Western Canada Business Service Network , WD provides small and medium-sized businesses and entrepreneurs, including indigenous peoples, women, francophones, persons with disabilities, and rural communities, with services and resources to help them succeed and grow.

WD is a nimble organization that has demonstrated its responsiveness in the recent past by leading the federal response to the Fort McMurray wildfires in 2016. It delivers unique programs, such as the drywall support program, and serves as a delivery agent in support of other federal initiatives, such as INAC's strategic partnerships initiative, which enables indigenous participation in economic development.

The government is investing over $1 billion each year through the regional development agencies to support business and community growth, in every part of Canada, toward an innovative, clean, and inclusive economy. The RDAs understand the unique needs of each region as well as the opportunities for economic development and diversification.

These regional strategies are only a few examples of how regional development agencies are working hard for Canada.

Salaries ActGovernment Orders

6:40 p.m.

Conservative

Harold Albrecht Conservative Kitchener—Conestoga, ON

Mr. Speaker, I heard my colleague reference northern Ontario, the Maritimes, ACOA, and the western economic diversification fund. He may have mentioned FedDev Ontario, but I missed that if he did. It is another very important economic development agency. I have seen first hand the incredible difference that is made by one of these regional groups. Their ears are close to the ground. They can hear what the needs are at the regional level.

It is obvious that the Liberals are handing over significant power to unelected civil servants, who are making these decisions, and also one very overworked minister from Mississauga. Even the Liberal task force itself admitted it, and I want to read from it directly:

Four to five months can be a lifetime for a business, especially for a startup. Following the approval of an application, finalizing the related contribution agreement may take anywhere from two to 12 months, further impeding a business’ opportunity to execute successfully.

It is obvious that the centralized approach that the government is taking is impeding the ability of the regions to have their unique needs taken into consideration, and at the same time, it is unnecessarily slowing down the ability to get these funds into the hands of start-ups and businesses, which really need them.

I wonder why my colleague and his party are insisting on this kind of slowing down of the process.

Salaries ActGovernment Orders

6:40 p.m.

Liberal

Dan Ruimy Liberal Pitt Meadows—Maple Ridge, BC

Mr. Speaker, I am going to have to say that, if we look back to when the previous government had ministers of state, it would have left us in a way better state than now.

When we took over, there were challenges across the board. If we look at Atlantic Canada, the problems that were there when we first started have been there for a long time. We were able to fix those problems, and now moving forward, Atlantic Canada is actually doing a lot better. ACOA is doing a lot better and reaching the needs of the people who are there.

That is my answer.

Salaries ActGovernment Orders

6:40 p.m.

Conservative

Harold Albrecht Conservative Kitchener—Conestoga, ON

Mr. Speaker, just to be clear, with all of the representation in this House from Atlantic Canada, on that side of the House there is not one person from Atlantic Canada who has the interest of Atlantic Canadians at heart to a sufficient degree to qualify to be the minister of ACOA.

I find that hard to accept. I am really surprised to see that the Liberal members from Atlantic Canada are not standing up for their region and asking that the unique needs of their Maritime region be given a higher priority.

Salaries ActGovernment Orders

6:40 p.m.

Liberal

Dan Ruimy Liberal Pitt Meadows—Maple Ridge, BC

Mr. Speaker, we have 32 extremely qualified members from the Atlantic region who do not stop advocating for their region. Day after day, inside of caucus, in the hallways, I have not stopped hearing about Atlantic Canada.

They are examples of what MPs should be doing to advocate for their region.

Salaries ActGovernment Orders

6:45 p.m.

Conservative

Cathy McLeod Conservative Kamloops—Thompson—Cariboo, BC

Mr. Speaker, I had the great honour to be the parliamentary secretary for western economic diversification, and what I was able to see is how nimble, agile, and responsive an organization could be when leadership is in the area.

What happens is, when proposals and suggestions have to be sent through another layer, which is the minister of Toronto, in Toronto, some of that on-the-ground nimble responsiveness is lost. As a member from the western provinces, I think the member should be ashamed to support a structure that has taken away the empowerment of the local people to be nimble in their decision-making.

Salaries ActGovernment Orders

6:45 p.m.

Liberal

Dan Ruimy Liberal Pitt Meadows—Maple Ridge, BC

Mr. Speaker, I am far from being ashamed.

In my career, I have opened 140 restaurants. I know leadership comes in many different forms. Just because something was done one way does not make it the best way to do it. As an MP, I work with western economic development all the time. We are able to share that information and pass it on. Leadership comes in many different forms.

Salaries ActGovernment Orders

6:45 p.m.

Liberal

Alaina Lockhart Liberal Fundy Royal, NB

Mr. Speaker, what I am hearing here today is another reflection of the disconnection that members opposite have with Atlantic Canada.

We have been very strong in advocating for the issues that are important to us and the things that our constituents are talking to us about. Just today, in fact, we talked very strongly about what has been going on in the immigration committee, the filibustering, and the disrespect of the witnesses who have appeared to try to make a difference in the economy of Atlantic Canada.

Salaries ActGovernment Orders

6:45 p.m.

Liberal

Dan Ruimy Liberal Pitt Meadows—Maple Ridge, BC

Mr. Speaker, echoing the comments of my colleague, what we see in the House and what we see in committees is shameful, to me, because we have a lot of work to do. When I see parties playing partisan politics, our constituents are the ones who are suffering. We have to be able to collaborate better than that. We came here to do a job. I came here to do a job and not to play games.

I am doing my job by reaching out to my constituents and reaching out to the people who make a difference, such as Western Economic Diversification.

Salaries ActGovernment Orders

6:45 p.m.

Conservative

Cathy McLeod Conservative Kamloops—Thompson—Cariboo, BC

Mr. Speaker, I note that the member's speech reflected on and told us at great length the responsibilities of each of the economic development organizations. However, what he did not talk about at all was the fact that this piece of legislation would create three mysterious cabinet minister positions. I wonder if he could share with the House what these three mysterious positions might possibly be and how the Liberals can justify putting forward legislation that is so vague in terms of its intent.

Salaries ActGovernment Orders

6:45 p.m.

Liberal

Dan Ruimy Liberal Pitt Meadows—Maple Ridge, BC

Mr. Speaker, that is just like the other side: let us not focus on the great things that are happening or the things that are important, but let us try to focus on things that actually do not make a difference at this point.

Yes, there are three other ministerial positions that the government is allowing for down the line, but that does not take away from what the legislation is for. In 2015, the gender-balanced cabinet was announced, and this legislation would fix the issue so that all ministers are the same, one and all. We are not separating junior ministers from senior ministers. We are focusing on a team, and that is the point of moving forward.

Salaries ActGovernment Orders

6:50 p.m.

NDP

Robert Aubin NDP Trois-Rivières, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would just like to ask my colleague if he is aware that the role of the opposition, which does not control the legislative agenda, is to fine-tune bills and to shed light on the problems in this bill.

When he talks to me about equal pay for equal work, I am most certain that this is not what the bill proposes.

Salaries ActGovernment Orders

6:50 p.m.

Liberal

Dan Ruimy Liberal Pitt Meadows—Maple Ridge, BC

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague opposite for his question. I apologize that I will answer it in English.

There is a difference between an opposition that opposes and one that obstructs. When I look at how long it took in this House to settle a question of somebody getting on and off a bus, when we should have been debating merits of a budget, for instance, that is what I do not understand.

We have so many things going on in this country that we need to focus on, yet we choose to focus on things that do not help our constituents, that do not impact people out of this room. We are speaking in this hall, but people in Canada expect us to speak for them.

Salaries ActGovernment Orders

6:50 p.m.

Conservative

The Deputy Speaker Conservative Bruce Stanton

Before resuming debate, I would like to inform hon. members that there have been more than five hours of debate during this first round. Consequently, all subsequent interventions shall be ten minutes for speeches and five minutes for questions and comments.

Resuming debate, the hon. member for Kamloops—Thompson—Cariboo.

Salaries ActGovernment Orders

6:50 p.m.

Conservative

Cathy McLeod Conservative Kamloops—Thompson—Cariboo, BC

Mr. Speaker, I am honoured to stand, although I am disappointed that I did not get a 20-minute slot. Perhaps within 10 minutes I can condense and share exactly what my concerns are with this piece of legislation.

What we have is Bill C-24, which is an act to amend the Salaries Act and to make a consequential amendment to the Financial Administration Act. It focuses on three areas. I am going to talk briefly about the first two areas, and then perhaps I will go into a bit more detail on one of the most substantial concerns that I have.

The bill would actually create eight minister positions. I will talk about the five minister of state positions later, but it would create three mysterious ministerial positions. If people could imagine being a board member for Nortel or some other large corporation and the CEO came to them with a proposal stating that the company needs this many vice-presidents including a vice-president of finance, a vice-president of human resources, and that it needs three more vice-presidents but the CEO is not going to say what they are there for and what they are going to do, what do members think the response would be, as a shareholder or as a chairman of this particular organization? They would tell the CEO to go back to the drawing board and come back with job descriptions and a full analysis of why the company needs the three positions, what they are for, and what they would do. It is inconceivable, in any organization other than perhaps a Liberal-run federal government, that the organization would create three mysterious positions.

This is not just a matter of mysterious positions. There is a budget that would go along with these. If someone is a member of Parliament and is all of a sudden given a ministerial position, it comes with additional funds, so for these three positions it is probably an additional quarter of a million dollars and then a whole lot of other associated expenses like cars and drivers and office spaces. Therefore, this little piece in this legislation is probably over $1 million, and the Liberals are not telling us what it is for. It is absolutely inexcusable, and if members on that side vote for spending $1 million, or for authorizing a structure for $1 million, they should be ashamed of themselves. We have a government that has a spending problem already, and the Liberals think nothing of putting in front of us a piece of legislation that would allow for probably $1 million-plus because they need to have a bigger cabinet or cannot describe what those positions would be. Certainly the backbenchers in the Liberal government need to go back to their executive branch and ask what these positions are for. That is absolutely ludicrous.

The next area that has been alluded to, certainly in the previous speech, is the need to consolidate the regional development agencies. Sometimes a federal government in a country as large as Canada has an enormous geography and enormous variations across the country. Many of us here have had the privilege of travelling across our country from coast to coast to coast, and we see the differences. Some of the things that government does should be centralized. There are certainly important functions that are best done by a minister who represents the whole of Canada, and we can look at defence and many other departments. However, there was something about the economic development agencies. The economic development agencies were relatively small, they had a relatively small budget, and they were designed to be nimble and responsive to the culture and needs of specific areas. As members can imagine, in the Maritimes people have a very different set of challenges from what perhaps Alberta's oil patch is having right now, or those in B.C.

We still fail to see how a minister from Toronto, busy with a very large portfolio, can give the attention that is needed to make those quick, nimble decisions and be responsive. I am not sure if this structural change is in the best interests of what we do and how our economic development agencies deliver service. Again, a Toronto minister is not seeing the challenges.

The Liberals talked about how proud they were of the work they did with first nations communities. People who live in Toronto would not be as aware of these issues as would a minister from British Columbia, who understands and visits these communities all the time and recognizes perhaps some of the opportunities and the challenges that the indigenous communities face. Again, an urban minister, as good as he or she might be, would have challenges in that area. Certainly, I disagree with that part of the legislation.

However, the area I most fundamentally disagree with is making all the ministers of state positions into full cabinet positions. I want to talk about that to some degree.

I will again use the analogy of outside the bubble of Parliament. When people look at remuneration of employees, they look at their responsibilities. Responsibilities include what kind of decisions they have to make, what kind of manpower they have to supervise, and what kind of budget they are responsible for. I think that applies to every example I can think of in the public service.

In the public service in the area of health care in British Columbia there is a process. A system is used to analyze the responsibilities of the job to determine what the wage remuneration will be. That sounds reasonable to me. I believe it is commonly used within the public sector.

Let us take a look at what the ministers are doing.

The Liberals are going to create full ministers positions for a number of positions, and I will go over them specifically. However, the Minister of National Defence is responsible for the armed forces and the Department of National Defence. He stands ready to perform three key roles, which are protecting Canada and defending our sovereignty; defending North America in co-operation with the United States, our closest ally; and contributing to international peace and security. The budget was $18.7 billion over three years. Planned spending is to increase enormously. There are 22,000 people within those operations.

We can compare that to the Minister of Democratic Institutions, and I am not saying it is not a responsible position. It is an important position as we look at our democratic system. However, the department does not have an enormous budget. It does not have huge manpower for which it is responsible. To be frank, there is no way it would automatically get a large increase in its dollars. It does not make any sense.

However, when the Prime Minister swore his cabinet in, with great pride, he said he had a gender-equal cabinet. Then someone pointed out to him that while he did have a gender-equal cabinet, five members were junior ministers positions, and those five were women. In order to solve that problem, he decided to make them full ministers.

There are other ways he could have solved that problem and been reasonable and appropriate. There is no reason that the Minister of Democratic Institutions could not be a man. There is no reason that the Minister of Science could not have been male. He could have had his gender-equal cabinet without having to create new positions for the ministers of state. The whole thing is very convoluted and confusing.

A difference in the funding went toward the salaries, but also some ministers felt they had to spend over $1 million to renovate their office. This is just another example of a Prime Minister who pays no attention to taxpayer dollars. It is inexcusable.

Bill C-24 is a terribly flawed and irresponsible bill. I hope most members will vote against it.

Salaries ActGovernment Orders

7 p.m.

Whitby Ontario

Liberal

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

Mr. Speaker, the member spoke about the minister from Toronto not being able to work in the best interests of his riding. She gave the example of B.C. and not being aware of the challenges there.

I am come from Whitby. A lot of members in here represent ridings the size of small countries. Within that context, we need to listen to what various constituents have to say. I listen to constituents with disabilities. I listen to farmers. I listen to any constituent who wishes to speak to me. I bring their concerns back to the House. Ministers listen to people in various jurisdictions across the country and they bring their concerns back to the House in the same manner as I do.

Would the member opposite not agree that she has the capability to do that as well?

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7 p.m.

Conservative

Cathy McLeod Conservative Kamloops—Thompson—Cariboo, BC

Mr. Speaker, the member just made my point. She is one member of Parliament representing a huge region. I am sure she is doing a lot of work to understand the perspectives of people in her riding.

There are 338 ridings across the country. There are a lot of different regions. We are simply saying that the nimbleness, the ability to understand the regions, the ability to make decisions is best left to a minister who is very knowledgeable. No one can be an expert on everything. Sometimes we need to have that closer to home responsiveness.

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7 p.m.

NDP

Robert Aubin NDP Trois-Rivières, QC

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for her speech, which I listened to carefully and agree with on many points.

Given their so-called feminist approach, are the Liberals not simply adding insult to injury with Bill C-24? The injury is saying that women will be confined to the role of minister of state. The insult is also telling them to not bother talking about their qualifications or anything else, because they are going to get the same salary as ministers so it is a non-issue.

Men and women are known to be equally qualified and capable of being either ministers or ministers of state, and the salary should match the responsibilities of the job. This feels like a cover-up. If this had happened to me, I would not necessarily be happy to be getting a raise without having to take on the added responsibilities that would normally go along with it.

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7:05 p.m.

Conservative

Cathy McLeod Conservative Kamloops—Thompson—Cariboo, BC

I absolutely agree, Mr. Speaker. I would be insulted if I thought the reason I had a ministerial position was because I was meeting some kind of quota. I am so proud of the people on our front bench. They were not put there to meet a quota. They are there because they are capable and responsible individuals.

The Prime Minister felt he needed a gender-equal cabinet, and that is fine. However, there was no reason not to have men in those ministers of state positions. He would have had his two ministers of state and however many ministers. Instead, he put five women in those roles and then was embarrassed because people said that it was not gender-equal.

We are going to pay a lot more than $1 million to deal with the problem of the Prime Minister making promises he did not keep.

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7:05 p.m.

Winnipeg North Manitoba

Liberal

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

Mr. Speaker, in reference to the $1 million, could the member explain why Stephen Harper had 40 cabinet ministers, while we have 30? This government believes that each cabinet minister is equal. The former government, even with its 40 cabinet ministers, had unequal ministers. How can the member justify that?

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7:05 p.m.

Conservative

Cathy McLeod Conservative Kamloops—Thompson—Cariboo, BC

Mr. Speaker, I do not think the member listened to my speech. I talked about normal businesses, even the public service, and how they determined the wages. They determine it by the responsibility of the position, which includes the budget of the organization. It is quite reasonable, and it has been done for many years. There is a recognition that there is a role for ministers of state and there is a role for ministers.

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7:05 p.m.

Conservative

Alupa Clarke Conservative Beauport—Limoilou, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to speak to this subject this evening. In fact, just this morning, I attended a meeting of the Standing Committee on Government Operations and Estimates, where the President of the Treasury Board appeared as a witness to answer questions on the use of vote 1c. Since November 4, 2015, the salaries of ministers of state have been increased under vote 1c so that they earn the same as portfolio ministers who have deputy ministers and hundreds of public servants working for them.

I will explain later why the Standing Committee on Government Operations and Estimates and the Standing Senate Committee on National Finance are concerned about this.

I am increasingly disheartened by this government because it seems that, today in the House, we should not be talking about Bill C-24, which seeks to realize one of the federal government's unattainable fantasies. Instead, we should be talking about our duty as citizens, what we can do for our country, what we can do tomorrow morning to improve our community, what we can do to further honour our men and women in uniform, and how each of us can serve their country.

We could talk about regional fairness, since Bill C-24 deals with these kinds of discussions, as the Liberals decided to abolish ministers representing Canada’s various economic regions—Atlantic Canada, Quebec, Ontario, the Prairies, British Columbia, and the territories.

We could also talk about wealth creation. The Liberal government likes to go on and on about working for the well-being of the middle class. I have a problem with that, because we should instead be talking about wanting to make life better for all Canadians. I do not know why the government insists on focusing only on one class instead of talking about all Canadians. What I liked about the Right Hon. Stephen Harper is that he would always talk about all Canadian families. He did not talk just about only one social class.

That said, I am duty bound to oppose this bill today, and instead of talking about civic duty and serving one's country, I will speak to you about C-24.

Bill C-24 seeks to elevate ministers of state, some of whom do not have a portfolio or a department, to the same status as ministers who oversee an actual department with thousands of employees, deputy ministers, and teams of hundreds of officials, and all the real estate that goes with it. These are the real departments, National Defence, Public Services and Procurement, Transport, the list goes on. There are 25 actual departments, give or take.

They want to give the same minister’s salary to those who do not have drivers or real responsibilities; they want to give them the same salary as traditional cabinet ministers.

It is ironic because Bill C-24 would create eight new ministerial positions, including three “mystery” ministers, whose duties, objectives and responsibilities are not yet known. The bill would eliminate the positions of six ministers representing the regions; now, there is only one minister representing Toronto with a population of seven million; it is huge and that is a major responsibility. He will be the one now representing the Acadian people, the Acadian peninsula and their concerns about the fishery, lobster and crab. It does not make any sense.

Bill C-24 would also amend the Salaries Act, which is a good initiative. The government wants to correct a mistake in parliamentary law, or rather change parliamentary law so that it need not be in breach of it.

The very honourable senator Mr. Smith, chair of the Standing Senate Committee on National Finance, contacted me to bring the problem to my attention so I could raise it with the Standing Committee on Government Operations and Estimates. The government is using the supplementary estimates to pay the additional salaries of ministers of state, when the parliamentary rules tell us that there are three reasons for why we must not do that.

For example, Beauchesne, paragraph 935, refers to page 8601 of the Debates of March 25, 1981:

A supply item ought not to be used to obtain authority which is the subject of legislation.

Then paragraph 937 refers to page 10546 of the Debates of June 12, 1981:

The government may not by use of an Appropriation Act obtain authority it does not have under existing legislation.

This is what the government is trying to do today. It is trying to use us to obtain an authority it does not have under the Salaries Act. Lastly, paragraph 941 refers to pages 94 and 95 of the Debates of February 5, 1973:

If a Vote in the Estimates relates to a bill not yet passed by Parliament, then the authorizing bill must become law before the authorization of the relevant Vote in the Estimates by an Appropriation Act.

Therefore, parliamentary rules tell us that ministers of state in the Prime Minister’s Office should not have gotten a pay increase effective November 4, 2015. They should not have had it until Bill C-24 was officially adopted. It will not be adopted by us Conservatives, but by the majority Liberals. Good for them!

The senators put it down in black and white:

Our committee is concerned about the recurrent practice of using supplementary estimates to pay certain ministers' salaries prior to the enactment of amendments to the Salaries Act, and raises this question in the context of Bill C-24.

A Senate committee has been studying these issues for several months and spending a lot more time on it than the House of Commons.

When it comes to parity, the Liberals like to implement government policies that fit with their ideology and how they think the world should be, but some of their actions may have unintended consequences that they do not even see because they are so blinded by their ideology.

They say they want a gender-balanced cabinet, but, having given the matter considerable thought, I have come to the conclusion that this ideal could have a very unfortunate unintended consequence. If we say that cabinet must be gender-balanced, this means that there will never be a cabinet with a majority of women, yet we have seen plenty of cabinets with a majority of men over the past 150 years. Now we are telling women that they will never be in the majority in cabinet regardless of their skills, their beliefs, and their political strengths. No, now we must have parity, 50-50.

I would even add that this means cabinet will never be less than 50% male. What a paradox. They say the goal is to protect and expand women's rights, but if we examine this from a political and philosophical perspective, it looks more like a way to rein in women's progress in the political arena. Is that not an interesting thought?

Instead of talking about parity in cabinet, since I have just shown that it is nothing more than a pipe dream that actually hurts the advancement of women in cabinet, we should be talking about parity for the founding peoples. That is what is important in Canada: French Canadians, English Canadians, the fact that Quebec has still not signed the constitution, and the fact that there are demands coming from all sides, whether in the west, which has reforms it would like to see, in the maritime provinces, or in Quebec. We should be talking about parity in our country in terms of English and French culture and making sure that everyone is comfortable in the constitutional environment. Instead, we are stuck talking about a bill that is meant to correct a mistake borne of blind ideological fervour.

What I find increasingly deplorable is this government saying it is objective and bases what it does on scientific facts.

First, it is an arrogant thing to say, because it suggests the party previously in government was not. The truth is that the Liberals themselves are so fixated on their own ideology that it is preventing them from acknowledging some of the significant impacts of their legislation.

Ultimately, I would like to say that, ideology aside, the Liberals cannot pay ministers higher salaries before the bill is passed, and yet, that is what they have been doing for the past two years, which is no laughing matter.

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7:15 p.m.

Whitby Ontario

Liberal

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

Mr. Speaker, my colleague began by saying that we should be talking about our communities, ways to improve them, ways to ensure that we have jobs, and do all the great things that our communities expect us to do when we get here. However, I, along with everyone else in the House, sat through almost a week in which we talked about a question of privilege about two members who did not get here on time when everybody else could get here on time.

I wonder how the member correlates these two messages of needing to talk about communities, yet spending time talking about a question of privilege over two members who wanted to be leaders and who could not show up on time.

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7:15 p.m.

Conservative

Alupa Clarke Conservative Beauport—Limoilou, QC

Mr. Speaker, the question of privilege existed even before the creation of Canada. Without privilege in this chamber, without the secure fact of accessing this chamber, we cannot even start thinking about helping our communities. We are here first and foremost to represent our constituents, but the question of privilege is never a question that takes time for no reason. It is fundamental. It is in the convention. It is in the history of Canada and our great parliamentary tradition from Britain.

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7:20 p.m.

Liberal

Ken Hardie Liberal Fleetwood—Port Kells, BC

Mr. Speaker, what was it, five days, seven days, of hearing the same thing over and over again? I sat in the House last night not as happy as I would have been if I was at home with the dog. I heard members on the opposite side kind of grousing a little about being here talking about the bill.

I wonder if the member, looking at the totality of the bill and all of the other things that we are trying to do, would like to have some of that time back from saying the same thing about privilege time after time, so that we could have dealt with the bill when it should have been dealt with.

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7:20 p.m.

Conservative

Alupa Clarke Conservative Beauport—Limoilou, QC

Mr. Speaker, with all due respect, what the member does not say is that the privilege question of two of our members here on the Conservative side of the chamber was part of a build-up of frustration, because the government has treated the opposition basically like garbage.

The Liberals tried to repeat the same thing they did last year with Motion No. 6. They tried to cut the speaking time. The forefathers of this country were speaking for three hours here sometimes, every member, but the Liberals said 10 minutes was way too much. Can members believe that? What is the goal of being here if we cannot even speak 10 minutes? That was the situation.

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7:20 p.m.

Conservative

Harold Albrecht Conservative Kitchener—Conestoga, ON

Mr. Speaker, I want to thank my colleague for his impassioned speech and his commitment to parliamentary democracy, but I think if he would have had more time he would have probably delved into the area of these three mysterious ministers that cabinet has given approval for. They have no job descriptions. We have no idea what they are going to be doing. All we are doing is giving the government a blank cheque, and giving them a blank cheque at a time of increasing deficits is certainly not the way that my constituents want our government to work.

I wonder if my colleague would comment on how his constituents might feel about another blank cheque to a government that is going deeper into debt every day.

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7:20 p.m.

Conservative

Alupa Clarke Conservative Beauport—Limoilou, QC

Mr. Speaker, certainly my constituents feel that the Liberals have been given enough blank cheques already.

Again, the member over there spoke about respect, that we took too many days to speak about a question of privilege, which is terrible to say. The Liberals say they respect us, but they say we should just sign on to a bill that would create new ministries that they do not want to tell us about yet. They want us to vote on the bill, but they do not want to tell us exactly what is going on. This is how much respect they have for us. This is how much respect they have had for us for two years now, which is why we came to that situation in March, April, and May, and that is why we are sitting until midnight tonight.

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7:20 p.m.

Conservative

Cathy McLeod Conservative Kamloops—Thompson—Cariboo, BC

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order. I see lots of opposition, but I still do not think we have quorum right now.

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7:20 p.m.

Conservative

The Deputy Speaker Conservative Bruce Stanton

It would appear that we do have a quorum.

We will now resume debate with the hon. member for Esquimalt—Saanich—Sooke.

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June 8th, 2017 / 7:20 p.m.

NDP

Randall Garrison NDP Esquimalt—Saanich—Sooke, BC

Mr. Speaker, I have to say I am disappointed to be here tonight, sitting until midnight, spending time on a bill like this. Of course, we had some remarks in earlier questions that tried to make it the responsibility of the opposition that the government has not gotten through its agenda, which is simply absurd.

The government has had all the time in the world to get its agenda through, and the fact is that it has a very small agenda even at that. The average number of bills I have heard by this time in a government's life would be 40 or 45. We are looking at a government that has passed something like 18. There is not a lot to do, yet we are still sitting until midnight to get it done. It seems a bit absurd to me.

I had questions about why we had a motion on the Paris accord, but I came to a different conclusion. I thought it was quite useful, in the end, to have a motion on the Paris accord because it demonstrated that the Liberals' and the Conservatives' positions were exactly the same on the Paris accord. They voted together. I thought that was a useful clarification for the public that the Liberals and the Conservatives have the same targets and the same lack of action on the Paris accord. I will take back my criticism of that motion as being a waste of time. I really thought it was going to be a waste of time, but I take back my criticism of that one and I say it was actually quite useful.

On Bill C-24, the bill before us tonight, I have to tell members about the number of calls, emails, and letters I have received from constituents on the bill. It would be zero. Nobody in my constituency cares at all about this bill. The only people who care about it are people who are total insiders in the Liberal Party.

The need for the bill was totally created by the Prime Minister's faux parity that he created in his cabinet. If he was really going to have a cabinet that had parity or equity between the genders, there would have been an equal number of men and women in the real, important jobs in cabinet. Instead, the Prime Minister created a problem by appointing women to mostly junior jobs in his cabinet. Now we have a bill in front of us to fix that problem. That seems absurd to me.

Why do we have differences between the pay of different ministers? I actually think it is a good idea. If there is a full minister who brings things to cabinet and has a department to run, that is a different job from being a minister of state who does not have a whole set of programs to look after but has a reduced set of responsibilities. I can personally live with two different kinds of salaries if there are two different kinds of responsibilities, because that is the basic principle of pay equity. It is equal pay for work of equal value, and if it is different work it is fine to pay people differently.

The problem for the Prime Minister was, of course, that he put mostly women in the junior jobs and mostly men in the big jobs. Therefore, his cabinet did not look as equitable as it should have. As a result, we end up here in a midnight session debating a bill to fix the Prime Minister's political problem.

As I said, there was nobody interested in my riding. I am sure if people in my riding were watching they have already changed channels. I actually recommend that at this point, because I think the bill is a waste of parliamentary time.

We are talking about minister of state positions that would become regular minister positions: the Minister of La Francophonie, the Minister of Science, the Minister of Small Business and Tourism, the Minister of Sport and Persons with Disabilities, and the Minister of Status of Women. I think those are all important jobs. I just do not think they are the same jobs as the Minister of National Defence or the Minister of Health or the Minister of Justice. I believe there are real differences.

The bill would not change anything about those jobs. It would not give those ministers new responsibilities that are the same level as the full ministers. They might actually be able to persuade me to support this if the bill were saying that the Minister of La Francophonie would have the same full powers of a minister to bring things to cabinet and would have a department to administer, but they would not.

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7:20 p.m.

Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux Liberal Winnipeg North, MB

What don't they have?

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7:20 p.m.

NDP

Randall Garrison NDP Esquimalt—Saanich—Sooke, BC

I love being heckled on this because I do not have a whole lot to say on this, so the more heckling the better.

Mr. Speaker, another peculiar thing in the bill is that they have shoved in something that I actually kind of like, and that is the ministers of economic development agencies. I do not know what that is doing in the bill, but I guess the Liberals had to have some more to fluff it up and make it look more substantial.

Unfortunately, now the bill would eliminate the ministers of Western Economic Diversification, the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency, the Canada Economic Development for Quebec Regions, the Federal Economic Development Initiative for Northern Ontario, the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario, and the Canadian Northern Economic Development Agency. All of those have important work to do.

I just do not understand the logic, but somehow we are going to eliminate those so we can bump up these others. I guess that must be why these points got into the same bill. Again, it does not make a whole lot of sense to me tonight, but it could be because we are at 7:30 and I have been speaking on various things since 10 o'clock this morning.

I guess the real question I have to ask the government tonight is, why are we not here debating legislation to implement real pay equity for Canadian women workers across the country? We had a committee that worked on this issue, did some very good work, reported back to the House, and recommended we have such legislation. Then somebody, somewhere, seems to have said, “That is hard. We cannot do that before 18 months. It has to wait.” Instead we are debating this bill instead of a bill that would help some of the lowest-paid women workers in the country who have some of the more difficult jobs.

We have a tradition in this country when it comes to wages. We look at jobs and ask if they are dirty and done by men, and then we say that such jobs require a lot of money. However, if they are hard and require high levels of education but are done by women, such as nurses and caregivers, then they do not require a lot of money. We have things out of whack.

Why are we not standing here debating real pay equity legislation for those jobs in federal jurisdiction? That is what I would like to be working on tonight. That would interest my constituents. I would have had dozens and dozens of people talking to me about the best way to make pay equity a reality for women in this country, and not the silence I have had from my constituents on this bill.

I only have a couple more things I want to say. I am looking forward to the warning that my time is almost up.

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7:25 p.m.

Some hon. members

Oh, oh!

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7:25 p.m.

NDP

Randall Garrison NDP Esquimalt—Saanich—Sooke, BC

I am not taking this bill seriously. I have to thank the Speaker for the warning that I have a lot of time left. I am not taking it seriously, because, as I said at the beginning, it is not a serious piece of legislation. It is not something we should be spending our time on. There are so many problems for us to address in this country. There are so many things we could be putting our hard work into, and this is not one of them.

As one of six openly gay members, I am aware that the government promised an apology and promised to work on restitution for those who were harmed in their careers, harmed in their family life, harmed in many ways, perhaps by being fired from the public service for being gay or being kicked out of the military for being gay. A motion unanimously passed in the defence committee last October, calling for a revision of service records so that people who had served in the military and had already qualified for pensions but were dishonourably discharged for being gay could get the benefits they had already paid for and had already earned.

I would rather be standing here tonight talking about how we are going to implement that kind of legislation than talking about something that will only affect privileged women in cabinet. That is all this debate is about tonight, except for the Prime Minister's reputation, as I said earlier.

We have other things to tackle. In my riding, we have had some very severe problems with ocean debris. We are facing World Oceans Day coming up tomorrow. We have a government that announced a coastal protection strategy, and I cannot even remember what it was called. It does not mention debris. There are no provisions at all for cleaning up the debris.

We heard earlier today in this House what has now become one of those truisms that soon, very soon, we will have more plastic by weight in the ocean than fish. That is a pretty sad commentary on where we are going. I would rather be spending my time tonight talking about bills to help reduce the plastics in the ocean. That is something we should tackle. That is an urgent problem.

Related to that, we could be tackling the question of abandoned vessels. We have all kinds of important work to do in this Parliament. Instead, we have Bill C-24 before us. I am happy to say that I will vote against this bill, probably at every stage, and probably every time it comes up. It will not really make a lot of difference, because we have a Liberal majority government, and this government has the arrogance to proceed with bills like this instead of the real priorities for Canadians. It disappoints me greatly.

As I have said before, I am kind of naive. I often think that the government will get its priorities straight, or should get its priorities straight, and get on with the real business that should be in front of this House.

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7:30 p.m.

Liberal

Ken Hardie Liberal Fleetwood—Port Kells, BC

Madam Speaker, I enjoyed my colleague's speech, as I did before I became a member of the House. I have a lot of time for him and where he comes from, so this is a genuine question with no spice added.

We have looked at this issue from the standpoint of who has the more important job. Let us take two people. Let us take the Minister of Sport and Persons with Disabilities and let us take the Minister of Veterans Affairs. Who has the more important job?

Let us turn it on its head. I invite the member to comment on what happens when you look at the client. Does the veteran have more important needs than the disabled person? Therefore, if you are looking at the skills and the resources, you see that they may differ, but if you look at it from the client's point of view, then the whole question of equity becomes somewhat different.

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7:30 p.m.

NDP

The Assistant Deputy Speaker NDP Carol Hughes

I want to make sure that the member was addressing that question to the Chair.

The hon. member for Esquimalt—Saanich—Sooke.

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7:35 p.m.

NDP

Randall Garrison NDP Esquimalt—Saanich—Sooke, BC

Madam Speaker, I look forward to your answer.

I know that the member earlier talked about preferring to be at home with his dog. I have two dogs and a partner at home, and while they are very used to my being away at this time of the year, I would like to be there. I am not sure how they feel at this point in the year.

Seriously, this is not about the clients at all and it is not about which issue is more important. If we take the very narrow sense of the bill, it is about ministers' responsibilities. All I said is that if they have different responsibilities, I am fine with their having different pay. I think this is simply aimed at correcting the political problem the Prime Minister created for himself when he said the Liberals have gender parity in cabinet and then proceeded to assign different levels of responsibilities to men and women.

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7:35 p.m.

Conservative

Joël Godin Conservative Portneuf—Jacques-Cartier, QC

Madam Speaker, I am going to try to help my colleague. Like him, I believe the bill is a waste of time and we could have been more productive.

I would like to ask him a question. In his riding, Esquimalt—Saanich—Sooke, what will be the impact of eliminating the position of minister responsible for the economic development of the region? In his opinion, in practice, will this model be more effective or less effective than the previous one?

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7:35 p.m.

NDP

Randall Garrison NDP Esquimalt—Saanich—Sooke, BC

Madam Speaker, I thank the hon. member for that serious question about the other part of the bill. In British Columbia, I have the privilege of representing a riding that probably has the lowest unemployment in British Columbia and probably the lowest in the entire country. For my riding specifically, that office and those programs had not had a big impact. Where they do have a impact in my province is on the northern end of Vancouver Island, the rural areas of Vancouver Island where opportunities, especially for young people, are quite limited. They also have a big impact in the interior of British Columbia and the north of British Columbia, and they have a very big impact in some of the larger aboriginal communities.

I am worried that the elimination of these people with a specific focus on the areas that really do need that economic development will cause some problems for us down the road.

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7:35 p.m.

Liberal

Bernadette Jordan Liberal South Shore—St. Margarets, NS

Madam Speaker, my colleague particularly mentioned defence, health, and justice. Two of those ministers are women, I might add. Then he said that there were portfolios that were not so serious. Would he explain why he does not think women are as serious, small business and tourism are not as serious, or francophonie is not as serious as those areas?

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7:35 p.m.

NDP

Randall Garrison NDP Esquimalt—Saanich—Sooke, BC

Madam Speaker, I will assure the member I said no such thing. I said that responsibilities of the ministers differ, not that those are not important topics. There is also the amount of supervision they have to do of staff and the number of programs they have to manage, but it is not that the topics themselves are unimportant. They are very important, and I take them very seriously.

I have criticized the new position of Special Advisor to the Prime Minister on LGBTQ2 Issues. It amounts to little more than being the head gay, because it has no staff, it has no budget, it has no programs attached to it. That does not mean I do not think the topic is important. I am a gay man in this country who has faced inequality through my whole life.

It does not mean I do not think it is important; I just recognize the difference in jobs.

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7:35 p.m.

Conservative

Harold Albrecht Conservative Kitchener—Conestoga, ON

Madam Speaker, like many of my colleagues tonight, I feel it is very unfortunate that at this point, almost halfway through the government's mandate and approaching the summer months, we are sitting until midnight dealing with this kind of legislation.

Canada is entering tough negotiations with the United States regarding NAFTA. Global Islamic terrorism is on the rise. ISIS continues to control much of the Middle East. The oil and gas sector has still not rebounded, and Canadians are finding it harder and harder to buy their first home. However, we are here spending time on this, late at night: pay increases for ministers of state.

I wish I were joking, but the priorities of this government have never been more clear than right now. Liberals are committed to padding the pockets of Liberals at the expense of hard-working Canadian taxpayers. Many of these hard-working Canadians are up at the crack of dawn, or even earlier, and finish their days well after sundown. The farmers in my riding of Kitchener—Conestoga are an example. These hard-working men and women are now faced with the prospect of paying more so that ministers of state with no extra responsibilities can enjoy a pay hike. It is just so that our Prime Minister's mantra of “a minister is a minister is a minister” can have some so-called legitimacy.

The Liberal government has now spent two days' worth of regular sitting hours just this week to debate non-binding, really mean-nothing, motions. In one of them the Liberals were trying to play wedge politics, but it was unsuccessful, I might add. With the other, their goal could have been accomplished with a statement during statements by ministers, which can occur every day during routine proceedings.

I am not sure if this is a reflection of the Liberals' incompetence or the government House leader's inability to understand basic parliamentary scheduling. Whatever the cause might be, we find ourselves here, late at night, debating Bill C-24, an act to amend the Salaries Act and to make a consequential amendment to the Financial Administration Act.

Let me read a summary of the bill.

This enactment amends the Salaries Act to authorize payment, out of the Consolidated Revenue Fund, of the salaries for eight new ministerial positions. It authorizes the Governor in Council [—in other words, the cabinet—] to designate departments to support the ministers who occupy those positions and authorizes those ministers to delegate their powers, duties or functions to officers or employees of the designated departments. It also makes a consequential amendment to the Financial Administration Act.

The bill makes several important changes to aspects of ministerial roles and designations. These include the creation of new positions, the removal of several important positions, the creation of legal backup for departmental support for these new mystery positions, and the transfer of authoritative powers.

In the bill, the Liberals are attempting to justify changing the title of ministers of state to full ministers. They say that changing the names of the positions and how much each minister of state earns, with no changes in the responsibilities of ministers of state, somehow makes them equivalent to full ministers.

This is not only disingenuous; it is actually insulting to the ministers of state in question. These ministers of state are fully aware that their responsibilities do not come close to the responsibilities and demands of ministers who have departments, full staff, and deputy ministers in place.

Additionally, Bill C-24 asks Parliament to let the Liberals create three new ministerial-level positions, with portfolios—wait for it—to be determined later. They want us to authorize spending without knowing what the spending will fund. They are asking for a blank cheque. It sounds like a recipe for an even bigger deficit.

A minister of state does not have a deputy minister, does not have a dedicated department, and does not have the sort of budget that accompanies a full ministry. The implication is that the positions are equal because these ministers would have the same type of title and the same salary. This makes the positions appear equivalent on paper, but in reality they are certainly not. The Liberal government should be upfront with its ministers, upfront with its backbench MPs, and most importantly, upfront with Canadians.

On this side of the House, we cannot support these measures. I think the members opposite have not yet realized that we are at a time of out-of-control spending, broken promises on deficits, mounting debt, and complete abandonment of an election promise to balance the budget by 2019. It is time for them to wake up. We are not going to give the government any more blank cheques. Accountability for tax dollars is not just important to Conservatives; it is important to all Canadians.

The real effect of the proposed changes to the Salaries Act goes well beyond increasing salaries; it has everything to do with centralizing spending power in Ottawa and reducing democratic oversight and accountability for spending.

Instead, we need democratic accountability and financially transparent ministers, whose work can be scrutinized at the local level. We do not need an ever bigger, and more centralized government making decisions from Ottawa on behalf of our economically unique and distinct regions.

We do not need unaccountable, unelected political staff, and bureaucrats directing funds for regional development. Instead, we need attentive ministerial oversight on regional spending. We need responsible representation from regional ministers with strong ties to the communities they serve, and to whom they should be accountable.

Canada has historically drawn a distinction between ministers of the crown and ministers of state based on the scope and scale of the work of their portfolios. For example, small businesses and tourism are important components of the Canadian economy. Indeed, they are important enough to warrant a voice at the cabinet table to represent their interests. However, speaking up for small business and tourism during policy discussions in cabinet is not the same as overseeing a volume of case work, which for example the minister responsible for Service Canada supervises. Nor is it the same as being responsible for the budget overseen by say, the Minister of Immigration, Refugee and Citizenship.

Instead of heading regional development agencies with ministers from regions, the Liberals are handing over significant spending power to unelected civil servants and to one overworked minister from Mississauga. My colleague, the member for Richmond Centre, put it best in her remarks just the other day on this bill. She said:

Here is my own experience. As the minister of state, I had my own team and budget, but I worked closely with the minister of employment. The most notable difference between a minister and a minister of state is that the latter does not have a deputy minister devoted to the file. Additionally, a minister of state does not manage the same departmental budget or have the same authority as a minister.

The Liberals are claiming that the changes in this legislation are just simple changes aimed at addressing equal pay. The reality, however, is that this is just Liberals being Liberals, just like a duck that quacks like a duck and walks like a duck is a duck.

We are always open to hearing ways to make government operate more efficiently. However, removing key regional ministers is a failure to recognize the unique needs of the different regions of our country. The Liberals' top-down approach to governing does not make government more efficient. Rather, it is neglecting the very ones it claims to be helping.

In Canada, it is obvious that there are clear differences among the unique regions of our country, and in order to ensure that we function as a cohesive unit, these regional agencies work to bolster the economies of each distinct part of our country, to essentially ensure that we are greater than the sum of our parts.

I read a report prepared by the Liberal members of the subcommittee on innovation that came out earlier this year. It showed that ACOA was actually observing close to a 12-month delay in seeing some of its innovation grants being approved. It is no wonder that these delays exist, considering that approvals have all been going through the minister from Mississauga.

It is clear. Not only is the government's legislative agenda in complete shambles, its ability to control spending is non-existent, and its rhetoric of a minister is a minister is a minister is simply a smokescreen to try to fool Canadians into thinking that the ministers for sport, small business, and other ministers of state, plus three new mystery ministers, deserve more hard-earned tax dollars that are earned by hard-working Canadians.

In the best interests of all Canadians, this bill deserves to be soundly defeated.

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7:45 p.m.

NDP

Robert Aubin NDP Trois-Rivières, QC

Madam Speaker, I always listen to my colleague with great interest. I would like to ask him a very simple question.

Given this bill, which I will refrain from describing seeing as time is running out, I wonder whether the simplest solution the Prime Minister could offer us would not be a good old cabinet shuffle. It would cost nothing and would mean that women could be given ministerial positions with full powers, and honestly, that might also do us some good.

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7:45 p.m.

Conservative

Harold Albrecht Conservative Kitchener—Conestoga, ON

Madam Speaker, we have been very much aware of the genesis of this bill. It has been pointed out time and time again that in 2015, when the government was elected, it took great pride in the fact that it had a gender balanced cabinet. Then the Liberals suddenly realized, when somebody pointed out to them, that five of the junior ministers were all women, and there were no men among that group. In a last ditch attempt to correct that, the Prime Minister simply announced that they would all be equal. He forgot that they are not all equal.

They do not have departments, they do not have deputy ministers, they have different salaries, and they have huge differences in their workload. This is simply an attempt to correct a previous mistake that the Prime Minister made in haste. It is unfortunate that Canadians are going to be left on the hook to pay for the Prime Minister's mistake.

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7:45 p.m.

Winnipeg North Manitoba

Liberal

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

Madam Speaker, the member and the NDP, working together, have this all wrong. I would suggest that we have two versions of a cabinet. We have Stephen Harper, who had a cabinet of 40 ministers, who saw no benefit with respect to equality among the ministry, among the cabinet, and who saw no benefit in terms of a one-tier cabinet—

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7:45 p.m.

Conservative

Joël Godin Conservative Portneuf—Jacques-Cartier, QC

Madam Speaker, the French interpretation is not working.

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7:45 p.m.

NDP

The Assistant Deputy Speaker NDP Carol Hughes

The interpretation is not working?

It is working now.

The hon. Parliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons.

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7:45 p.m.

Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux Liberal Winnipeg North, MB

Madam Speaker, as I was saying, Stephen Harper had a different type of cabinet. He felt it necessary to have a cabinet that was 25% larger than that of the current government. He felt it necessary to have a male dominated cabinet. He felt it necessary to have a two-tier cabinet.

We currently have a government that is saying that all ministers are equal, and should be treated as such with respect to pay. When they sit around the cabinet table, one that is gender neutral, with as many women as men, Canadians see that as a positive thing. Only the Conservatives and the NDP see that as a negative thing.

I am wondering why the member is stuck on believing that the old Stephen Harper cabinet, which was larger, which cost more money, and which ensured there was more inequity, is better than a cabinet that has received accolades from every region of this country and beyond.

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7:50 p.m.

NDP

The Assistant Deputy Speaker NDP Carol Hughes

I want to remind members that when a member has the floor, they need to pay respect to that member. If they have anything to contribute, they can rise and attempt to be recognized to ask questions or make comments.

The hon. member for Kitchener—Conestoga.

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7:50 p.m.

Conservative

Harold Albrecht Conservative Kitchener—Conestoga, ON

Madam Speaker, my colleague infers that the idea of having ministers of state and ministers was somehow Stephen Harper's idea. This system has been in place for a long time. All Canadians, other than the Liberals, who are now bent on correcting this mistake that the Prime Minister made, recognize the huge difference in workload. It is one thing for members to sit around the cabinet table and give their input, that is great, but there is a lot more to being a minister than sitting at the cabinet table. To manage a department with a deputy minister and a full complement of staff is a huge responsibility.

My colleagues on this side of the House, who have served in both of those capacities, as ministers of state and full ministers, are insulted by this thinking that a junior minister, a minister of state, would now be artificially elevated to this full minister status.

My colleague talks about the great cabinet that Prime Minister Harper had. I want to congratulate him. I would ask my colleague this. Why in the world would the Prime Minister and the Liberal government not have appointed a minister for seniors at this point, almost two years into their mandate?

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7:50 p.m.

NDP

Christine Moore NDP Abitibi—Témiscamingue, QC

Madam Speaker, I am pleased to rise because I am deeply disappointed in what I see in this bill.

When the new cabinet was appointed in 2015, I was disappointed to see that the position of minister responsible for the Economic Development Agency of Canada for the Regions of Quebec had been abolished. I was extremely disappointed because even though we did not always agree with having the hon. member for Roberval in that role, at least I knew that the people who talked to him about a plan could do so in French and be understood. Now we have a minister who barely speaks any French, who is from Ontario and does not understand the nuances of Quebec, and that is who people have to deal with. In other words, we have a minister in Ontario overseeing the Economic Development Agency of Canada for the Regions of Quebec, who lacks the understanding of the dynamics—

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7:50 p.m.

NDP

The Assistant Deputy Speaker NDP Carol Hughes

Order. The hon. member for Kitchener—Conestoga.

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7:50 p.m.

Conservative

Harold Albrecht Conservative Kitchener—Conestoga, ON

Madam Speaker, would you check to see if we have quorum at this point in the deliberations.

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7:50 p.m.

NDP

The Assistant Deputy Speaker NDP Carol Hughes

We have quorum.

The hon. member for Abitibi—Témiscamingue.

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7:50 p.m.

NDP

Christine Moore NDP Abitibi—Témiscamingue, QC

Madam Speaker, one of the problems with having a minister from Ontario oversee the Economic Development Agency of Canada for the Regions of Quebec is that he does not understand the dynamics of Quebec and how it is the only province where we cannot negotiate directly with municipalities. Agreements need to be reached with the Government of Quebec. As a result of the minister's lack of understanding on this, Economic Development Agency of Canada for the Regions of Quebec programs are not going so well.

The bill proposes simply to abolish the position. First the government appoints a minister from Ontario and then it insults Quebeckers by telling them that not only is a minister from Ontario going to take care of their province's economic development, but after that the position will simply cease to exist.

This does not make sense to me. I believe that we absolutely must go back to the arrangement where the Economic Development Agency of Canada for the Regions of Quebec was the responsibility of a Quebec minister or a minister representing this region. I believe that we must absolutely go back to that.

One thing is for sure: this provision alone is reason enough for me to oppose the bill. Not only does this make absolutely no sense, but ministers of state will now be paid the same as ministers, even if they do not have the same duties, responsibilities or officials to manage.

Why are they doing this? In truth, it is not out of fairness, but simply to correct the mistake that the Prime Minister made when he unveiled his original cabinet. It is all well and good to say that a gender parity in cabinet has been achieved because there are as many women as there are men; nonetheless there is still the issue of the responsibilities given to the women. That was problematic from the very beginning.

The six most important positions in cabinet, apart from the Prime Minister, are the following: the Minister of Public Safety, a man; the Minister of Foreign Affairs, a man, Stéphane Dion, when the Prime Minister formed his cabinet in 2015; the President of the Treasury Board, a man; the Minister of Finance, a man; the Minister of National Defence, a man; and the Minister of Justice, a woman. Of the six most important positions in the Government of Canada, there was originally only one woman. A cabinet shuffle rectified this. Now, the Minister of Foreign Affairs is a woman, because they decided to send Mr. Dion abroad. There is that at least, but there is still no gender balance when it comes to the six most important positions.

There are three House officer positions. When the cabinet was formed after the election, in 2015, the chief whip was a man, the member for Orléans; the Leader of the Government in the House was a man, big surprise, the name of his riding escapes me, but he is the current Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard. Lastly, there is obviously the leader, a man; the caucus chair, although chosen by the caucus, not the Prime Minister, is also a man. Originally, the House officers were men.

The Prime Minister made a mistake. For him, gender balance is as easy as putting 15 people on one side and 15 people on the other. However, we must never forget about the responsibilities that are given to women.

Madam Speaker, your title is the assistant deputy speaker. I do not believe that you would expect to have the same salary as the Speaker of the House, because you do not have the same duties or responsibilities. However, we recognize your role and importance. The House held an election. We have to stop thinking that, for true fairness to come about, all it takes is to give everyone the same pay. Equality must also involve the responsibilities given to people. That is the problem we have at the moment.

The government did not decide to create departments and expand job descriptions so that ministers of state would be ministers in their own right who deserved the same salary. No one can tell me that the Minister of Sport and the Minister of National Defence deserve the same salary because their responsibilities, at least as they stand now, are completely different. Just think about their budgets and how many public servants they have working for them. It is obvious that they are not the same at all.

Let us also remember that there are many qualified women that the Prime Minister could have appointed. He could have made different choices. For example, the member for Vancouver Centre has been here since 1993. She has been in the House longer than any other female MP. However, the Prime Minister chose to appoint other people. Those are his personal choices. The member for Kanata—Carleton has a great deal of experience as a member of the military. The Prime Minister could have appointed her to be the defence minister instead of the member for Vancouver South, but he did not.

Now the Prime Minister needs to take responsibility for his decisions. He is the one who appointed his cabinet as he saw fit and created the inequality in the duties and responsibilities entrusted to women. The solution is simple, and it is not a bill to change people's salaries, but rather a cabinet shuffle.

If the Prime Minister would like, we could name some ministers who were so-so, such as the Minister of National Defence who decided to take credit for the success of an operation. The Prime Minister could put a woman in that position. Only once in the history of Canada have we had a woman defence minister, namely, Kim Campbell, who was appointed to the position following the massacre in Rwanda because it looked better to have a woman managing such a file.

After thinking things through over the summer, the Prime Minister could decide to appoint a woman defence minister. In fact, if he were to do so, it would bring some balance to the six top posts in the Government of Canada. There would be three women and three men, so that would be an improvement. However, he could do even better and be even more ground-breaking by appointing a woman finance minister. That has never been done before. He could decide to do that.

Rather than trying to have its bill adopted by force, by using time allocation motions, he should simply use the good old method of a cabinet shuffle, reflect on the ways he wants to distribute additional tasks, and ensure that women have real leadership roles in the Canadian government, instead of trying to raise their salaries and minimize the mistake he made when he put together a cabinet that has equal representation solely in terms of numbers, and not in terms of responsibilities.

I hope that the Prime Minister will seriously consider my question, ask that Bill C-24 be withdrawn, and do what everyone would do: shuffle the cabinet to rebalance the distribution of responsibilities between the men and women in his cabinet.

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8 p.m.

Liberal

Bernadette Jordan Liberal South Shore—St. Margarets, NS

Madam Speaker, the member mentioned the most important positions, and I am wondering how