House of Commons Hansard #207 of the 42nd Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was mpas.

Topics

2:05 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Geoff Regan

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

[Members sang the national anthem]

NunavutStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Independent

Hunter Tootoo Independent Nunavut, NU

Mr. Speaker, last fall I committed to visiting every community in Nunavut over the coming year. Today I am proud to say that I have visited 23 of the 25 Nunavut communities, with Arctic Bay and Grise Fiord scheduled for early next month. I have travelled from Kugluktuk in the west to Qikiqtarjuaq in the east, Sanikiluaq in the south, to Resolute Bay in the north.

Although each of Nunavut's communities are unique, the thoughts and concerns raised by my constituents in every community were similar. Concerns about Nunavut's suicide rate, a lack of mental health facilities and services, the high cost of living, and the broken nutrition north program were voiced territory-wide. These issues are not new. They are serious and have been significantly affecting the quality of life for Nunavummiut for far too long. We expect and deserve meaningful action on these issues as soon as possible.

AquacultureStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Liberal

Pam Goldsmith-Jones Liberal West Vancouver—Sunshine Coast—Sea to Sky Country, BC

Mr. Speaker, a key opportunity for our economy is the exploding global demand for high-quality protein. Canada's open-net aquaculture industry is a key contributor to our seafood exports, but the industry faces some serious constraints. Growing public concern for the health of the environment and for wild stocks, attenuating support from indigenous peoples, the lack of new licences, and massive losses globally due to sea lice, viruses, and even Washington State's complete net-pen collapse suggest that we need to alter our course. We should recognize these threats and embrace the exciting opportunity. British Columbia has a moratorium on licences, and our government should support that.

There is nothing more perfect or more respected on the west coast of Canada than wild salmon. It is time to deliver on our innovation economy and grow our agrifood exports through land-based salmon aquaculture.

TaxationStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Conservative

Blake Richards Conservative Banff—Airdrie, AB

Mr. Speaker, today is World Tourism Day. As we all know, tourism is one of the most important sectors in the Canadian economy. This is especially true in my riding of Banff—Airdrie. Tourism is a $90-billion-per-year industry and accounts for one in every 11 jobs in Canada.

Most tourism operations are small businesses, the backbone of the Canadian economy. Nearly 10% of small and medium-size businesses in Canada operate in tourism. Over the past month, I have heard from hundreds of tourism operators, such as campground owners, who are concerned and outraged that the Liberals are branding them as millionaire tax cheats and comparing them to Marie Antoinette. Tourism depends on factors outside their control to be successful. These tax changes will make it harder for Canadians working in tourism to save for a rainy day or to plan for their financial futures. We should be doing everything possible to lessen their tax burden, not to increase it.

Today, on World Tourism Day, the Liberals should do the right thing to help ensure the viability of tourism operations by cancelling the proposed small-business tax increases.

Fall FestivalStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Liberal

Peter Schiefke Liberal Vaudreuil—Soulanges, QC

Mr. Speaker, this October 7th to 9th, the historic town of Rigaud will be celebrating its 20th annual Festival des couleurs.

The festival is an opportunity for families, friends, and all those who form a part of our community to come together to celebrate the coming of fall and take in our dazzling displays of colour, arts, and culture, as well as delicious food and fun activities for the whole family.

I encourage all those who live in Vaudreuil—Soulanges to join my family and me at the 20th annual Festival des couleurs to celebrate the beauty of our community, which is what makes it so strong. This year, more than ever before, Rigaud is where the action is.

Gilles PlanteStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

NDP

Matthew Dubé NDP Beloeil—Chambly, QC

Mr. Speaker, it is with mixed emotions that I rise to recognize the political career of Gilles Plante, mayor of McMasterville and reeve of the Vallée-du-Richelieu RCM. Along with the residents of McMasterville, I learned on Monday that Mr. Plante will not be seeking a new term.

Mr. Plante served his community for 28 years, first as a municipal councillor from 1989 to 1993, and then as mayor from 1993 to 2017. That is incredible. He has also been the reeve of the RCM for 14 years. As a mentor he gave the best of himself, demonstrating discretion, humility, and strength of character. His advice and dedication have helped me become a better MP. His legacy is the vibrant city he helped create, a city beloved by young and old alike. However, there comes a time for every politician to put their family first.

I am sure that Bernadette and their entire family will be happy to have him to themselves. On behalf of the residents of McMasterville and everyone in Vallée-du-Richelieu, thank you, Gilles.

Hamilton, OntarioStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Liberal

Bob Bratina Liberal Hamilton East—Stoney Creek, ON

Mr. Speaker, my city of Hamilton has benefited greatly from our government's handling of the economy. In the past year, employment has grown from 308,000 to 429,000 people with jobs in the Hamilton CMA.

In my riding, we have a railcar manufacturer whose workforce more than doubled in recent years, much of which is being trained through company programs, and its products are exported throughout North America. Another company makes equipment for the oil industry in Canada and the United States and struggles to keep pace with demand. Another makes infrared heating devices for customers worldwide, including the United States, Germany, and China, despite that country's 20% tariff on its products. These companies range from 30 to 2,500 employees, with the potential for more hiring in a strong economic environment.

I am sure Hamilton's success story will be repeated throughout Canada if we stay the course on our management of the economy.

TaxationStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Conservative

Bob Saroya Conservative Markham—Unionville, ON

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to share that this weekend, in my riding of Markham—Unionville, I will be hosting a round table for small businesses and professionals.

I have received numerous calls and emails from residents of Markham—Unionville who are concerned about what these new tax changes will mean for their families. Many local business owners and professionals will be meeting this Sunday to discuss the government's proposed tax changes, which will make it harder for them to be successful. These are the entrepreneurs who take risks and create jobs in our country. Professionals, entrepreneurs, and small businesses, men and women, are the backbone of our economy. I will remind them that I will continue to fight against this tax hike every step of the way.

Newmarket Honorary Citizen AwardStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Liberal

Kyle Peterson Liberal Newmarket—Aurora, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am proud to rise today to pay tribute to an outstanding individual who has done so much for so many in Newmarket. I want to personally congratulate Jackie Playter on receiving the Newmarket Honorary Citizen Award. The award is presented by the town in recognition of an individual's outstanding service and commitment. I cannot think of a better recipient of this prestigious award.

Jackie is exceptional. Her accomplishments are too lengthy to list, but I will name but a few of the organizations she has helped: Belinda's Place, Victim Services, the Newmarket Farmers Market, the Newmarket Historical Society, and the gala for the arts. She volunteers her time for Terry Fox, Easter Seals, MS, and Inn from the Cold. She is a tireless and effective promoter of her beloved Main Street, a jewel in our town.

I was proud to attend the ceremony with Jackie and her family and friends on Saturday at Fairy Lake.

We congratulate and thank Jackie. She is indeed the queen of Newmarket.

AutismStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Liberal

Ken Hardie Liberal Fleetwood—Port Kells, BC

Mr. Speaker, many people in this place and many right across the country have been touched by autism. It is something we do not know a lot about, but here is what we do know. One in 68 kids is somewhere on the spectrum, they say, and that has doubled in the last 10 years. We also know about the financial and emotional hardships it brings to families. We need to hear their voices on the way forward, which is why I will be holding a town hall this Saturday at the Fleetwood Recreation Centre from 3 to 5 p.m. It will be live-streamed on Facebook for those who want to tune in.

We are going to have Autism BC; Paula Williams, a mom who has lived the challenges and who has also made a great contribution to the national conversation on this issue; and Dave Hurford, who is working on a policy that he believes will move the government and the country forward.

We need to hear more. We need to do more. That is the focus. That is why are doing this town hall on Saturday.

Communities in BloomStatements By Members

2:15 p.m.

Conservative

Cathay Wagantall Conservative Yorkton—Melville, SK

Mr. Speaker, Communities in Bloom is a Canadian non-profit organization committed to fostering civic pride, environmental responsibility, and beautification through community involvement in a national program to enhance green spaces. The lovely town of Naicam, Saskatchewan, in my riding of Yorkton—Melville, was recognized with a 5 Leaves award in the Canada 150 category.

The success of the project was spearheaded by two groups from the town's high school, with funding from the local thrift store. One group, the Goat Getters, was founded two years ago to sponsor a World Vision gift of a goat to a family, and the second was the Grade 9-10 art students. In their evaluation, the judges said that this was a wonderful display of initiative, volunteering, creativity, gardening, restoration, and youth involvement, a tribute to those who give back willingly to help others.

Please join me in congratulating the town of Naicam, Saskatchewan.

NavratriStatements By Members

2:15 p.m.

Liberal

Ramesh Sangha Liberal Brampton Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, during the month of September, Hindus from all over the world are celebrating Navratri, a nine day festival. This is considered to be a cleansing period for the body and soul.

The ultimate goal of this festival is to attain virtues over vices, and become victorious in the battle of good over evil. This festival is now very visible in Canada as it has been all across India and the rest of the word. This is another example of cultural diversity that makes our country strong.

On behalf of my family and my constituents of Brampton Centre, I wish all of those who are celebrating a happy Navratri.

Let us continue to make the world a place of one family.

Tree CanadaStatements By Members

2:15 p.m.

Liberal

Joyce Murray Liberal Vancouver Quadra, BC

Mr. Speaker, Tree Canada is our country's leading national tree-planting charity, and I rise today on National Tree Day to offer my warm congratulations on the occasion of its 25th anniversary.

For 25 years, Tree Canada has been growing better places to live all across Canada, by planting and caring for trees in our communities, reforesting rural areas, and by celebrating the environmental, social, cultural, economic, and spiritual benefits of trees.

As a former tree planter and reforestation business owner, I was honoured to join Tree Canada president Michael Rosen and his staff, volunteers, and board in planting their 82 millionth tree in Ottawa near Parliament Hill this afternoon.

I would like to thank Tree Canada for what it does. I also thank the Minister of Natural Resources for being there.

Finally, I would like to thank the thousands of Canadian tree planters across the country for their hard work in restoring Canada's forests in communities and remote regions across the country.

Happy National Tree Day.

Human RightsStatements By Members

2:15 p.m.

Conservative

Andrew Scheer Conservative Regina—Qu'Appelle, SK

Mr. Speaker, the Conservatives are deeply committed to a foreign policy that advances freedom, human rights, democracy, and the rule of law, and in particular that advances the rights of religious and ethnic minorities.

Last night, you, Mr. Speaker, granted our request to convene an emergency debate to discuss the ethnic cleansing of Muslim Rohingya in Burma. I would like to add my voice to those of other members, calling on the Burmese government and Burmese military to stop this vicious assault on fundamental human rights.

I also call on the Government of Canada to do more to respond. Canada should have done more, earlier, but in any event we can do more now. The Liberal government needs to raise this issue more forcefully with all levels of the Burmese government.

We regret that the government did not act earlier, that the Prime Minister did not raise this issue during his speech to the United Nations, and that the Liberals eliminated the Office of Religious Freedom. We, the Conservatives, will continue to present constructive proposals for how the government can move forward. Canadians expect us to stand up for the most vulnerable, and we will continue to urge the Prime Minister to do just that.

World Alzheimer's MonthStatements By Members

2:15 p.m.

Liberal

Angelo Iacono Liberal Alfred-Pellan, QC

Mr. Speaker, I want to begin with a special thought for my mother who would have celebrated her 90th birthday today.

[Member spoke in Italian]

[Translation]

September is World Alzheimer's Month. On September 21, we acknowledged World Alzheimer's Day. In Canada, more than one million people are affected by this form of dementia.

This disease is life-altering to those affected and their families. Research into preventing the disease continues.

I want to take this opportunity to acknowledge the work of the Alzheimer Society Laval in Alfred-Pellan. That organization works tirelessly to help and support people affected by Alzheimer's disease. It also provides respite care and accommodation to help the families. Its work deserves our utmost admiration.

Thank you and continued success to Alzheimer Society Laval.

Take Back the NightStatements By Members

2:20 p.m.

NDP

Tracey Ramsey NDP Essex, ON

Mr. Speaker, Take Back the Night is an annual event held on colleges and university campuses, and in communities throughout our country. The event includes rallies, marches, and vigils where survivors and supporters alike unite to protest against sexual violence. It is a grassroots event for women to take to the streets and reclaim their right to be without fear, for women to stand strong and united against all forms of sexual violence and oppression.

Our actions work to make our communities safer, standing with survivors fighting for education and awareness of the realities Canadian women face. We also work in solidarity with our indigenous sisters, fighting against the violence through which they survive.

Every year, women in Windsor and Essex gather downtown to reclaim the streets, with moving speeches by survivors, as attendees bear witness to their struggles and their victories. Men join us as allies, lining the streets and holding candles in support.

There is nothing more empowering than strong women standing in solidarity with our sisters, mothers, daughters, neighbours, and friends. This Saturday, women in Windsor and Essex will take to the streets once again, because in Canada gender-based violence exists and it must end.

Sears CanadaStatements By Members

2:20 p.m.

Conservative

Dean Allison Conservative Niagara West, ON

Mr. Speaker, I rise today on behalf of concerned workers and pensioners who are worried about Sears Canada sliding into bankruptcy. A decision on Sears will be made this week, a decision that could cost 15,000 Canadians their jobs.

The Wall Street Journal has reported that Sears chairman, Mr. Brandon Stranzl, has made a bid to rescue the company and save jobs. His long-term commitment to Canada, and Sears Canada, is real and measurable. I hope the government's long-term commitment to saving jobs is also real and measurable.

Under liquidation, major banks and law firms stand to make millions of dollars. The government should do more than simply say that this matter is before the courts. I hope the government will communicate to the Bank of Montreal, and the other interested parties, that we must support the people who have helped make Sears Canada part of our country's rich history. We support those 15,000 Canadian jobs.

Canada's Economic and Employment Development NetworkStatements By Members

2:20 p.m.

Liberal

Randy Boissonnault Liberal Edmonton Centre, AB

Mr. Speaker, this week, the Réseau de développement économique et d'employabilité du Canada, known as the RDEE, is celebrating its 20th anniversary.

Bilingualism defines us as a country. As a proud Franco-Albertan and former president of the Conseil de développement économique de l'Alberta, I am quite familiar with issues pertaining to francophone minority communities, and I assure the House that the RDEE has been dedicated to supporting the vitality and development of our communities. The RDEE strengthens the economies in francophone communities across the country and improves the quality of life of Canadians.

Congratulations to the RDEE on doing an excellent job supporting the economic development of francophone minority communities. Thanks to its 20 years of work, we can now bring together francophone, francophile, and “franco-curious” business owners, who all help promote the francophonie here in Canada and around the world.

Canadian HeritageOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Regina—Qu'Appelle Saskatchewan

Conservative

Andrew Scheer ConservativeLeader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, approximately six million Jews perished at the hands of the Nazis during the Second World War. It was an incredibly dark moment in human history, and serves as a reminder to all Canadians that we must continue to fight anti-Semitism wherever we find it.

Many are persecuted here and around the world for simply being a Jew. I trust all members agree that we must all stay vigilant to protect their fundamental human rights.

Today I will be joining the Prime Minister at the dedication of Canada's national Holocaust memorial. Could the Prime Minister inform the House about the importance of working together on this issue, and will he join me in congratulating all those who helped make the dream of a memorial a reality?

Canadian HeritageOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Papineau Québec

Liberal

Justin Trudeau LiberalPrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, I want to congratulate all members of the House from all parties who came together to make sure that this monument got built. This is an important commemoration of the six million Jewish men, women, and children, as well as the five million other victims, who were murdered during the Holocaust.

It will recognize those who survived, many of whom made their way to countries around the world, including Canada, and it will stand as a reminder of the dangers of hatred, racism, and intolerance, while affirming respect for human rights, dignity, and resilience.

With this monument, we all stand together and say solemnly “Never again”.

TaxationOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Regina—Qu'Appelle Saskatchewan

Conservative

Andrew Scheer ConservativeLeader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, at yesterday's meeting of the Standing Committee on Finance, experts confirmed that the Prime Minister's plan to raise taxes on local businesses is going to hurt the middle class.

Meanwhile, the Prime Minister has admitted that his own family fortune will not be touched by these tax hikes. It is hardly surprising that small business owners are up in arms.

When is the Prime Minister going to stop taking money away from local business owners and start listening to them instead?

TaxationOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Papineau Québec

Liberal

Justin Trudeau LiberalPrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, we are listening to small businesses and to Canadians. They tell us that they want our tax system to be fair and equitable.

It is not fair that wealthy Canadians are able to incorporate so they can pay lower tax rates than middle-class Canadians. That is why we made a commitment during the election campaign to raise taxes for the wealthy, cut taxes for middle-class Canadians, and help the middle class, including small businesses, succeed in our economy.

TaxationOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Regina—Qu'Appelle Saskatchewan

Conservative

Andrew Scheer ConservativeLeader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, yesterday tax experts confirmed that the Prime Minister's unfair tax hikes would include “terrible disincentives that will stall innovation and hurt the middle class”. They also condemned the Liberals' “negative tone” and “offensive branding of business owners as tax cheats”, and even the Liberal member for Edmonton Centre agrees with that one.

Will the Prime Minister listen to entrepreneurs, experts, and even his own caucus members, apologize to business owners, and stop this unfair tax grab?

TaxationOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Papineau Québec

Liberal

Justin Trudeau LiberalPrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, the issue is not with people not following the rules, because people are following the rules. The problem is that the rules favour wealthier Canadians over the middle class. Those are the rules we inherited from the Conservatives, and that is part of why Canadians chose this party, this government to make those changes to the system.

The first thing we did was lower taxes on the middle class and raise them on the wealthiest 1%. We then delivered a Canada child benefit that would help nine out of 10 Canadian families with the high cost of raising their kids by not sending those benefits to millionaire families.

TaxationOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Regina—Qu'Appelle Saskatchewan

Conservative

Andrew Scheer ConservativeLeader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister is raising taxes on the middle class. He has cancelled popular tax credits, everything from public transit to children's activities. He is threatening a carbon tax that will raise the cost of everything. Now, on top of payroll taxes that will make it harder for businesses to hire and expand, he is threatening them with a cash grab, but protecting family fortunes like his own and the Minister of Finance's.

That is not fair. Nobody voted for that in the last election.

When will the Prime Minister finally listen to all those who create jobs in our communities, and stop his unfair tax grab?

TaxationOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Papineau Québec

Liberal

Justin Trudeau LiberalPrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, Canadians have seen this movie before. It was the 2015 election campaign when the Conservatives were focused on me and on protecting wealthy Canadians. We were focusing on listening to Canadians and helping the middle class and those working hard to join it.

For 10 years that party gave tax breaks and advantages to wealthy Canadians and did not worry about the middle class. We changed that, and we will continue to change that. No matter how much the Conservatives shout, we will keep standing up for the middle class and those working hard to join it.

TaxationOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Regina—Qu'Appelle Saskatchewan

Conservative

Andrew Scheer ConservativeLeader of the Opposition

It is not just us who are upset, Mr. Speaker. We are here as the voice of the millions of Canadians who are going to be hurt by his tax cuts.

The Conservative record on this is clear. Even the parliamentary budget officer agreed that Conservative changes “have been more progressive overall”, and that under the Conservative government, “low and middle income earners have benefited more, in relative terms, than higher income earners.”

Let us talk about the wealthy. The Prime Minister spent Monday with a Chinese billionaire, and last week he met for the third time with the CEO of BlackRock.

Why does the Prime Minister love spending so much time with his billionaire friends, but then he locks the door on hard-working middle-class Canadians?

TaxationOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Papineau Québec

Liberal

Justin Trudeau LiberalPrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, I was pleased to talk on Monday about the opportunities that small businesses across this country have to sell to the growing market in China.

Our government is working hard to be able to ensure that small producers, whether they be ice wines or cherries, lobsters or apparel, be able to pierce the Chinese market, and get good returns for their communities, for their country, and grow the economy.

These are the kinds of things we are busy working hard on to benefit directly the middle class, those working hard to join it, workers across this country, and yes, small business owners, who we know are the heart of growth in this country.

TaxationOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Regina—Qu'Appelle Saskatchewan

Conservative

Andrew Scheer ConservativeLeader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, so many families in Atlantic Canada rely on local businesses—

TaxationOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Geoff Regan

Excuse me, but I understand the member has already asked five questions.

The hon. member for Outremont.

Aerospace IndustryOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

NDP

Thomas Mulcair NDP Outremont, QC

Mr. Speaker, thousands of Canadians are worried about their jobs. Yesterday, we had a reality check with the Trump administration in Washington when it imposed ridiculously high tariffs on Bombardier, but it is not just the employees of Bombardier who are worried. Across Canada, companies that are part of its supply chain have every reason to be concerned.

What concrete action will the Prime Minister take to save those Canadian jobs?

Aerospace IndustryOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Papineau Québec

Liberal

Justin Trudeau LiberalPrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to inform the House that our Minister of Foreign Affairs brought up this issue directly with trade representative Lighthizer today during the NAFTA negotiations.

We will continue to stand up for Canadian jobs every step of the way, defend our workers in the aerospace industry in Quebec, and right across the country. We know the punitive actions taken by Boeing are completely unfounded and without merit. We continue to stand by the Canadian aerospace industry, and we will fight for it every step of the way.

Aerospace IndustryOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

NDP

Thomas Mulcair NDP Outremont, QC

Watching the government deal with Trump is like watching Bambi deal with Godzilla, Mr. Speaker. It is not an even fight.

Is that the Prime Minister's answer? Tens of thousands of jobs across the country are in jeopardy.

When will the Prime Minister finally stand up and fight for aerospace jobs here in Canada?

Aerospace IndustryOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Papineau Québec

Liberal

Justin Trudeau LiberalPrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, we stand up every day to defend jobs here in Canada, and we will continue to do so.

In our dealings with the U.S. and countries around the world, we know that standing up for workers' interests and for the Canadian economy's ability to be innovative and grow is essential for the future success of Canada and the world.

We will continue to defend aerospace jobs across Canada, and we will continue to stand against the irresponsible actions of Boeing and the U.S.

Access to InformationOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

NDP

Thomas Mulcair NDP Outremont, QC

Mr. Speaker, from the Liberal platform, “We will make Parliament open by default. We will ensure that access to information applies to the Prime Minister’s and Ministers’ offices.”

From an audit released today on how open the government truly is, “...even worse than in the latter years of the former Stephen Harper government.”

Yesterday, the Access to Information Commissioner said she was “very disappointed” with the government.

As a former teacher, what grade would the Prime Minister give his government's performance on access to information?

Access to InformationOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Papineau Québec

Liberal

Justin Trudeau LiberalPrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, we continue to raise the bar on openness and transparency by bringing forward the most significant changes to access to information since 1983.

We are empowering the Information Commissioner to order information to be released. We are expanding the act to include a system of legislative proactive disclosure for ministers' offices, the Prime Minister's Office, administration institutions that support Parliament, and others.

We have committed to making Parliament more open, accountable, and accessible to Canadians, and that is exactly what we are doing.

Access to InformationOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Geoff Regan

Order. I know it is Wednesday, and people are in a good mood. I know they are enthusiastic. I ask that they contain their enthusiasm, so we can all hear the answers, and especially so I can tell if somebody is breaking the rules.

The hon. member for Outremont.

Access to InformationOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

NDP

Thomas Mulcair NDP Outremont, QC

Mr. Speaker, just a quarter of the requests were answered within the normal 30-day time limit, and a third of all the requests included in the audit received no response. When journalists do get answers, the documents are totally redacted, pages and pages of black ink.

Open by default is what we were promised. Will the Prime Minister admit that he messed this up?

Access to InformationOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Papineau Québec

Liberal

Justin Trudeau LiberalPrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, we are enhancing government openness and transparency by bringing in the most significant changes to the Access to Information Act since 1983.

We are empowering the Information Commissioner to order government information to be released. We are expanding the act to include a system of legislated proactive disclosure for ministers' offices, the Prime Minister's Office, and others. We are making key information, such as question period notes and briefing books for new ministers, available to all Canadians without anyone having to make an access to information request. When it comes to openness and transparency, we—

Access to InformationOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Geoff Regan

Order. The hon. member for Richmond—Arthabaska.

TaxationOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Conservative

Alain Rayes Conservative Richmond—Arthabaska, QC

Mr. Speaker, more and more people are standing up against the Liberals' ad hoc tax reform: our local businesses, business associations, chambers of commerce, the provinces, and now even some Liberal members on that side of the House.

Will those members across the aisle have the courage to stand up and tell this Prime Minister that enough is enough, that he must not raise taxes on business people, who create jobs for themselves and their employees?

TaxationOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Papineau Québec

Liberal

Justin Trudeau LiberalPrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, for 10 years the Conservative government tried to create economic growth by giving tax breaks to the wealthy, but that did not work. That is why Canadians asked our government to fix the system, to make it fairer and more equitable, by raising taxes on the wealthy and lowering them on the middle class.

We will always support the middle class. We will always support our small businesses, but we want our system to be fair. That is why we are asking the wealthy to pay more.

TaxationOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Conservative

Alain Rayes Conservative Richmond—Arthabaska, QC

Mr. Speaker, the reality is that 81% of middle class families pay more taxes today than they did under the previous Conservative government. Now the Prime Minister is directly attacking our local businesses. His tax reform will destroy jobs across Canada by taking more money from small businesses and the middle class.

Is the new slogan of the Liberal Party and the Prime Minister, who will not even be affected by his own tax reform, “do as I say, not as I do”?

TaxationOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Papineau Québec

Liberal

Justin Trudeau LiberalPrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, if the hon. member wants to talk numbers, then let us be clear. There are 1.8 million private corporations in Canada. Of those 1.8 million, 30,000 hold 80% of the net investment. We think that those 30,000 corporations should pay their share of taxes. That is why we are making the system fairer. We are supporting the middle class, we are supporting small businesses, but we are going to ask the wealthy to pay their fair share.

TaxationOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Conservative

Candice Bergen Conservative Portage—Lisgar, MB

Mr. Speaker, the government House leader said this about the about the Liberal tax hikes: “The longer we're talking about this, the more people are concerned that they will be impacted, which is really raising a fear.” Well, she is right.

Entrepreneurs, small business owners, farmers, and their employees are worried sick about the impact of these Liberal tax changes. Here is the real slap in the face: these tax changes will have no impact on wealthy investments like those of the Prime Minister's.

Why are the Prime Minister's investments and business revenues untouched by these tax changes?

TaxationOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Papineau Québec

Liberal

Justin Trudeau LiberalPrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, Canadians watch these Conservatives stay focused on me, while I stay focused on Canadians. We are focused on small business owners who need help.

TaxationOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Some hon. members

Oh, oh!

TaxationOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Geoff Regan

Order. It is getting much too noisy.

The right hon. Prime Minister has the floor.

TaxationOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Liberal

Justin Trudeau Liberal Papineau, QC

Yes, Mr. Speaker, these Conservatives love to talk about me, but I want to talk about Canadians. I want to talk about those small business owners. I want to talk about hard-working Canadians who did not get a break for 10 years under a Conservative government.

We are going to continue to create benefits for the middle class and those working hard to join it, not just because it is the right thing to do but because that is what grows the economy. The Canada child benefit and the tax break for the middle class, these are the things that have led to the economic growth we are seeing now.

TaxationOral Questions

2:40 p.m.

Conservative

Candice Bergen Conservative Portage—Lisgar, MB

Mr. Speaker, there is a pattern with the Prime Minister talking about himself. He takes away child care benefits from families across Canada saying wealthy families like his do not need help with their child care. Then, he gets two full-time nannies paid for by, guess who, the taxpayer. He then says the rich should pay more, and he taxes all of our local businesses while his investment is protected.

Why is the Prime Minister always creating policy that protects him, and making hard-working Canadians pay his bills?

TaxationOral Questions

2:40 p.m.

Papineau Québec

Liberal

Justin Trudeau LiberalPrime Minister

Again, Mr. Speaker, we see that the Conservative Party has one approach: personal attacks. We are not going to engage in that. We are going to focus on helping Canadians—

TaxationOral Questions

2:40 p.m.

Some hon. members

Oh, oh!

TaxationOral Questions

2:40 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Geoff Regan

Order. I would ask members to try to control themselves and their colleagues, and ask them to calm down. Otherwise, there is a danger of losing questions.

The right hon. Prime Minister has the floor.

TaxationOral Questions

2:40 p.m.

Liberal

Justin Trudeau Liberal Papineau, QC

Mr. Speaker, we are going to stay focused on what Canadians asked us to do: fix the system, so it is fairer; make the changes to the system that the Conservatives refused to make; and help the middle class and those working hard to join it. That is our focus.

We are going to be supporting small businesses. We are going to be supporting hard-working Canadians. Let the Conservatives continue to fight for wealthy Canadians. We know that we grow the economy from the centre out.

TaxationOral Questions

2:40 p.m.

Conservative

Mark Strahl Conservative Chilliwack—Hope, BC

Mr. Speaker, these Conservatives will always call out rank hypocrisy when we see it.

We know that under the current Liberal government, the middle class is paying higher taxes. Farmers, tradespeople, and small business owners across Canada are worried, and crippling new tax proposals from the government could see them paying even more. They pay more while the Prime Minister, the finance minister, and their family fortunes will remain untouched.

Why should hard-working farm families see their taxes increase, when the wealthy elites, like this Prime Minister, will continue to have their family fortunes sheltered?

TaxationOral Questions

2:40 p.m.

Papineau Québec

Liberal

Justin Trudeau LiberalPrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, the Conservatives cannot help themselves, they keep talking about me.

I am going to stay focused on Canadians. I am going to stay focused on the fact that 80% of the money in passive investment in private corporations across this country is held by less than 2% of those private corporations.

We know, Canadians all know, that the system gives advantages to wealthy Canadians. It encourages wealthy Canadians to use private corporations to pay lower tax rates than middle-class Canadians. That is not fair, and that is what we are staying focused on.

TaxationOral Questions

2:40 p.m.

Conservative

Mark Strahl Conservative Chilliwack—Hope, BC

Mr. Speaker, these Liberal tax proposals were carefully crafted to protect those who matter most to the Liberals, themselves. Under the current Liberal government, wealthy insiders are always taken care of. The finance minister's billion-dollar family business, Morneau Shepell, is protected. The Prime Minister's family fortune and taxpayer-paid nannies will be sheltered while small businesses are forced to pay more.

Can the Prime Minister confirm he will not lose a single cent of his family fortune because of these Liberal tax changes?

TaxationOral Questions

2:40 p.m.

Papineau Québec

Liberal

Justin Trudeau LiberalPrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, what we see from these Conservatives are the politics of fear, anxiety, insecurity, and scaremongering.

We stand here to commit to Canadians that we will support the middle class and those working hard to join it, that hard-working small business owners will get benefits, and that the wealthiest will pay their fair share. That is what Canadians asked us to do. That is what we are staying focused on, despite the tactics of the opposition.

TaxationOral Questions

2:40 p.m.

NDP

Thomas Mulcair NDP Outremont, QC

Mr. Speaker, in 2015, Canadian companies hid nearly $40 billion in tax havens, which cost Canadian taxpayers between $5 billion and $8 billion in unpaid taxes. The Liberals claim to want a tax system in which everyone pays their fair share.

When are they going to crack down on companies that take advantage of tax havens?

TaxationOral Questions

2:45 p.m.

Papineau Québec

Liberal

Justin Trudeau LiberalPrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, this government takes tax evasion and tax avoidance very seriously. In the past two budgets, we invested nearly $1 billion to help the Canada Revenue Agency counter tax evasion and tax avoidance.

We recognize that there is still work to be done, but we are working on it. We take this very seriously. Like all Canadians, we want our tax system to be fair and equitable for everyone.

TaxationOral Questions

2:45 p.m.

NDP

Thomas Mulcair NDP Outremont, QC

Mr. Speaker, here is what the Liberal platform promised: “an overdue and wide-ranging review of the over $100 billion in increasingly complex tax expenditures that now exist”. That is precisely what we in the NDP are calling for, to widen the consultations and go after tax havens and stock option loopholes like the Liberals promised, but the government refuses. The Minister of Finance said that “that issue is not something that we've backed away from. It's just not something we've moved forward on.”

Will the Liberals respect their own platform and finally go after tax scams for the rich?

TaxationOral Questions

2:45 p.m.

Papineau Québec

Liberal

Justin Trudeau LiberalPrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, I can understand the NDP members' impatience. They always seem to be impatient about everything.

We are working very, very hard to get just that. We have put close to one billion dollars to address tax avoidance and tax evasion by giving the Canada Revenue Agency the tools to be able to counter that. We continue to work hard on making our tax system fairer. That is why we put forward proposals that will ask wealthy Canadians to stop using the advantages that the system currently gives them. That is why we are changing the system. I would love to hear the NDP supporting us in that measure.

TaxationOral Questions

2:45 p.m.

Conservative

Pierre Poilievre Conservative Carleton, ON

Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister has gone across the country accusing our small businesses of avoiding paying their fair share, attacking them as “wealthy cheats”. Those are the words of the Prime Minister. Now he wants us to cry crocodile tears for him because people are asking questions about the bills that he is going to have to pay under these proposals.

Under the proposals, a small business owner will pay as much as 73% of his passive income, whereas the Prime Minister will pay almost one-third less on his public pension. How is that fair?

TaxationOral Questions

2:45 p.m.

Papineau Québec

Liberal

Justin Trudeau LiberalPrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, it is always a question whether the Conservatives actually believe what they are saying or they just choose to make it up as they go along, because the numbers they put forward have absolutely no basis in reality.

We are focused on the fact that the system we inherited from the Conservatives encourages wealthy Canadians to use private corporations to pay lower tax rates than middle-class Canadians, and that is not fair. We are going to fix that because that is what Canadians expect of this government. That is what we are going to stay focused on.

TaxationOral Questions

2:45 p.m.

Conservative

Pierre Poilievre Conservative Carleton, ON

Mr. Speaker, if he has a problem with our numbers, this is a Prime Minister who said he would raise $3 billion in additional taxes from the wealthy, but just last week his own finance department produced a report showing that revenues from the wealthiest taxpayers actually went down by $1 billion. In a report this week, the Fraser Institute showed that taxes actually went up by $800 for the average middle-class family. Why is everything that should be going down going up, and everything that should be going up going down?

TaxationOral Questions

2:45 p.m.

Papineau Québec

Liberal

Justin Trudeau LiberalPrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, if the members opposite want to talk about how Canadian families are doing, they need to acknowledge the Canada child benefit, which the Fraser Institute completely overlooked. The Canada child benefit delivers more money to nine out of 10 Canadian families, and it has been doing so for over a year now. Not only is it lifting hundreds of thousands of kids out of poverty across this country, reducing child poverty by 40%, but it is also creating growth in our economy by putting more money in the pockets of the middle-class families who need it. These are the things we are doing that the Conservatives never did, and that they opposed.

TaxationOral Questions

2:45 p.m.

Conservative

Pierre Poilievre Conservative Carleton, ON

Mr. Speaker, nobody saw their child care benefit increase more than the Prime Minister, who now has two taxpayer funded nannies, despite the fact that he has a massive, multi-million dollar family fortune. A small business person earning just $50,000 a year would, under the proposed plan, pay a tax rate of 60% on his passive income. The Prime Minister would pay 53% on his passive income. Why is a small business person paying so much more than this millionaire Prime Minister?

TaxationOral Questions

2:50 p.m.

Papineau Québec

Liberal

Justin Trudeau LiberalPrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, one should not be able to stand in the House and just make things up.

TaxationOral Questions

2:50 p.m.

Conservative

Pierre Poilievre Conservative Carleton, ON

Mr. Speaker—

TaxationOral Questions

2:50 p.m.

An hon. member

Every time you stand up you get stood up.

TaxationOral Questions

2:50 p.m.

Some hon. members

Oh, oh!

TaxationOral Questions

2:50 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Geoff Regan

I guess we are going to have to go on.

The hon. member for Outremont.

The EnvironmentOral Questions

2:50 p.m.

NDP

Thomas Mulcair NDP Outremont, QC

Mr. Speaker, no one talks a better game than the Prime Minister when it comes to climate change, at the UN and during NAFTA negotiations, name it. The Liberal Party promises that Canada will respect its commitments, but there is a problem. In order to meet our obligations under the Paris accord, our greenhouse gas emissions actually have to start going down at some point.

After increasing greenhouse gas emissions during his first two years in office, can the Prime Minister promise Canadians that these will decrease over the next two years, yes or no?

The EnvironmentOral Questions

2:50 p.m.

Papineau Québec

Liberal

Justin Trudeau LiberalPrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, what Canadians understand is that in order to grow a strong economy we need to protect the environment, and in order to protect the environment we need to grow the economy. We need to do them both together.

Members on the opposite side of the House have picked one or the other. They do not understand that we need to do them both together. That is why at the same time we are moving forward on an economic plan that creates good jobs and gets our resources to new markets, we are bringing in a national carbon pricing framework. We are creating a world-class oceans protections plan. We are incentivizing the creation of renewable energy—

The EnvironmentOral Questions

2:50 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Geoff Regan

The hon. member for Outremont.

The EnvironmentOral Questions

2:50 p.m.

NDP

Thomas Mulcair NDP Outremont, QC

Mr. Speaker, there it is. The Liberal government will actually be increasing greenhouse gas emissions.

The Prime Minister is fond of lecturing everyone else, but he is the process of following Stephen Harper's plan, on Stephen Harper's timeline, using Stephen Harper's targets. However, he will never be able to meet them, because he has no plan for reducing greenhouse gases. If we do not reduce greenhouse gases, anything else we do will be pointless.

When is the Prime Minister going to be able to look Canadians in the eye and say, “Yes, we are going to reduce GHGs in this country”?

That is the question. He needs to stop dodging.

The EnvironmentOral Questions

2:50 p.m.

Papineau Québec

Liberal

Justin Trudeau LiberalPrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, once again, the New Democrats think we are doing too much to create economic growth, and the Conservatives think we are doing too much to protect the environment.

We are moving forward with a responsible plan that acknowledges our commitments under the Paris agreement as well as our responsibilities towards our children's future, and we are protecting the environment in a responsible way by creating the jobs of the future.

That is what Canadians expect, and that is what we are always going to do.

ScienceOral Questions

2:50 p.m.

Liberal

Geng Tan Liberal Don Valley North, ON

Mr. Speaker, my constituents understand the importance of having sound evidence on which to base our decisions, the decisions that will affect the health and safety of Canadians. Our government was elected on a promise to restore evidence-based decision-making, beginning with the appointment of a chief science advisor, a position abolished by the previous government.

Could the Prime Minister update the House on the important developments with this position?

ScienceOral Questions

2:50 p.m.

Papineau Québec

Liberal

Justin Trudeau LiberalPrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, yesterday, I was proud and delighted to announce, along with the Minister of Science, Canada's new chief science advisor, Dr. Mona Nemer. Dr. Nemer is a distinguished Canadian health researcher and a leading academic executive at the University of Ottawa. As chief science advisor, she will provide impartial scientific advice to me and the Minister of Science so we can make better decisions, based on evidence, on health and environmental issues that affect all Canadians.

TaxationOral Questions

2:55 p.m.

Conservative

Pierre Poilievre Conservative Carleton, ON

Mr. Speaker, if I were defending that plan, I think I might just sit down and be quiet as well. This is a plan that would impose a double tax on the passive savings that small business owners use to fund their retirement. That tax can reach as high as 73%. That double tax would not apply to the millionaire owners of multinational companies trading on Bay Street. Why not?

TaxationOral Questions

2:55 p.m.

Papineau Québec

Liberal

Justin Trudeau LiberalPrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, we are proud that Canada has competitive corporate tax rates. Indeed, it is part of our advantage. If the members opposite want to propose to raise corporate tax rates, they can do so in their next election platform. Until that time, we will continue to focus on growing the economy, supporting small businesses, and helping the middle class and those working hard to join it. That is what Canadians asked us to do. That is what we are going to continue to do.

TaxationOral Questions

2:55 p.m.

Conservative

Pierre Poilievre Conservative Carleton, ON

Mr. Speaker, we do not believe in raising taxes on anyone. The member across the way believes in raising them on middle-class small business owners, putting them at a comparative disadvantage versus the wealthiest multinational corporations that trade on Bay Street, companies like Morneau Shepell. Those companies will now be able to outbid our middle-class small business owners and farmers for assets in the marketplace. Why is the Prime Minister creating distortions that favour the wealthiest elite at the expense of the middle class?

TaxationOral Questions

2:55 p.m.

Papineau Québec

Liberal

Justin Trudeau LiberalPrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, the only distortions are the ones brought forward by the member opposite, who is trying to scare small business owners and torque an issue to defend the approach the Conservatives have always taken of benefiting the wealthy and ignoring the hard-working Canadians who will work every day to build this country.

We committed to help the middle class and those working hard to join it, and that is what we are doing.

I might ask the member opposite why he voted against lowering taxes on the middle class and raising them on the wealthiest 1%. That is something we are proud we did. Unfortunately, the members opposite voted against it.

TaxationOral Questions

2:55 p.m.

Conservative

Pierre Poilievre Conservative Carleton, ON

Actually, I did not vote against that, Mr. Speaker; I voted against a plan that has seen the wealthiest Canadians pay less and the average middle-class Canadian pay $800 more.

What I voted in favour of was the previous government's plan to lift a million people off the tax rolls altogether and to reduce the tax rate on people earning $30,000 a year by 80%. That is what I voted for.

The Prime Minister is imposing a plan that will apply to every single person who owns a private business, including those with low income. It does not apply to the wealthiest shareholders, including those in his cabinet. Why not?

TaxationOral Questions

2:55 p.m.

Papineau Québec

Liberal

Justin Trudeau LiberalPrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, the member opposite has been listening to the consultations, as we have, and has been talking with Canadians and engaging in a broad range of listening activities with folks. However, it disturbs me that he still thinks that we are applying this to every single small business owner. We are looking at the fact that wealthy individuals use private corporations to pay lower tax rates than middle-class Canadians. That is not fair.

We are going to continue to support small businesses and help middle-class Canadians. It is what we got elected to do. It is what we are going to stay focused on, despite all the fears from the other side.

TaxationOral Questions

2:55 p.m.

Conservative

Pierre Poilievre Conservative Carleton, ON

Mr. Speaker, can the Prime Minister please point to the section or the clause in his proposed legislation, or the sentence in his consultation paper, in which it clearly states that no one earning less than $150,000 a year will pay any of these new taxes?

TaxationOral Questions

2:55 p.m.

Papineau Québec

Liberal

Justin Trudeau LiberalPrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, we are happy to engage in ongoing consultations with Canadians on the details of how to move forward in the best way so that we make the tax system fairer. However, at the core of this government is a promise to support the middle class and those working hard to join it, and to help small businesses succeed in an increasingly disruptive globalized world. We are focused on helping Canadians, because for 10 years that government focused on the wealthiest.

Indigenous AffairsOral Questions

2:55 p.m.

NDP

Thomas Mulcair NDP Outremont, QC

Mr. Speaker, does the Prime Minister really want us to look at the promises he has made? Let us look at another one of his promises. The Canadian Human Rights Tribunal ordered the Prime Minister three times to put an end to the racial discrimination against first nations children.

Rather than comply, the Prime Minister insists on fighting indigenous children.

Why is the Prime Minister so determined to perpetuate his government's discrimination against first nations children?

Indigenous AffairsOral Questions

3 p.m.

Papineau Québec

Liberal

Justin Trudeau LiberalPrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, no relationship is more important to this government than our relationship with first nations and indigenous people. That is why we allocated an unprecedented $8.4 billion in our first year and $5 billion the following year to provide services to indigenous youth and to address the completely unacceptable gaps in these services.

We know that there is a lot of work to do, and we will keep on doing it. Our new Minister of Indigenous Services has my full confidence; she will continue to keep that long-awaited promise and give our indigenous youth a better future.

Indigenous AffairsOral Questions

3 p.m.

NDP

Thomas Mulcair NDP Outremont, QC

Mr. Speaker, here is the reality. The Prime Minister promised a nation-to-nation relationship and to stop taking first nations children to court. Rather than comply with the Human Rights Tribunal's three separate rulings, two years into his mandate he is still spending millions of dollars to fight first nations children in court. That is the reality.

What those children want to know is this: why is the Prime Minister still fighting them in court?

Indigenous AffairsOral Questions

3 p.m.

Papineau Québec

Liberal

Justin Trudeau LiberalPrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, we have significantly increased support to first nations education and to young indigenous people in difficult situations, but we know there is a lot more work to do. That is why we have taken the historic, concrete step toward moving beyond the Indian Act once and for all by separating Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada into two distinct departments, one for the nation-to-nation relationships and the other for indigenous service delivery.

This is a meaningful, concrete step that is going to make a real impact in the lives and the future of millions of Canadians across this country.

Indigenous AffairsOral Questions

3 p.m.

Conservative

Rachael Harder Conservative Lethbridge, AB

Mr. Speaker, the Liberal government paid $437,000 to former Liberal candidate Cynthia Wesley-Esquimaux for only a few months of work. This former Liberal candidate is very unapologetic with regard to this gesture. However, Cindy Blackstock described this half-million-dollar cash grab as nothing more than a public relations exercise. There appears to be a discrepancy in viewpoints here.

Does the Prime Minister agree with his former candidate or with Cindy Blackstock?

Indigenous AffairsOral Questions

3 p.m.

Papineau Québec

Liberal

Justin Trudeau LiberalPrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, our government is committed to completely overhauling child and family services in full partnership with first nations communities. The minister's special representative has met with over 26 chiefs, experts, officials, advocates, and individuals with lived experience from coast to coast to coast to inform our commitment to first nations child welfare reform.

We look forward to receiving her report and recommendations on how we can transform the system to better support and reflect the needs of first nations children and put their well-being first.

Indigenous AffairsOral Questions

3 p.m.

Conservative

John Brassard Conservative Barrie—Innisfil, ON

Mr. Speaker, close to half a million dollars is an extraordinary amount of money for what appears to be a public relations exercise. That is what Cindy Blackstock said when trying to understand the payment of $500,000 to a failed Liberal candidate and Liberal Party donor for eight months of work. The Prime Minister rewarded his entitled friend with a gold-plated contract, while indigenous children continue to go without needed care.

Will the Prime Minister admit that $500,000 would have been better spent directly on the needs of Canada's indigenous children, rather than going into the pocket of a Liberal insider?

Indigenous AffairsOral Questions

3 p.m.

Papineau Québec

Liberal

Justin Trudeau LiberalPrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, moving forward with a nation-to-nation relationship in the spirit of reconciliation means consulting. It means listening to the affected people to understand how best to move forward.

That is why the special representative has met with 26 chiefs, experts, officials, advocates, and individuals with extraordinary lived experiences from coast to coast to coast to inform how we are moving forward on completely renewing child and family services for first nations communities.

Government SpendingOral Questions

3 p.m.

Conservative

Peter Kent Conservative Thornhill, ON

Mr. Speaker, here is another question on the Liberals' wastage of hard-earned tax dollars in trying to cover up political problems. There was $10 million in an attempted secret payoff to Omar Khadr, millions to fight indigenous children and women in court, and almost half a million dollars to a defeated Liberal candidate for a PR campaign to fight a tribunal ruling in favour of indigenous children.

Why is the Prime Minister robbing the middle class to pay for Liberal profligacy?

Government SpendingOral Questions

3:05 p.m.

Papineau Québec

Liberal

Justin Trudeau LiberalPrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, I understand the member opposite's outrage at the settlement in the Omar Khadr case. I understand Canadians' outrage. I understand how angry I am that we had to settle that.

The fact is that we should all be outraged, and remain outraged, that Canadian governments violated a Canadian's fundamental rights. If we stay angry enough for long enough, maybe no future government will ever violate a Canadian's fundamental rights that way again.

SportsOral Questions

3:05 p.m.

Liberal

Emmanuel Dubourg Liberal Bourassa, QC

Mr. Speaker, the World Anti-Doping Agency is located in Montreal. It is a very important organization, given its mission. Not only does it create good jobs in Montreal, but it also enhances its reputation on the world stage.

Could the member for Papineau, the Prime Minister, please tell the House and Canadians about what the government has done to ensure that this agency stays in Montreal well into the future?

SportsOral Questions

3:05 p.m.

Papineau Québec

Liberal

Justin Trudeau LiberalPrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague from Bourassa for his question.

The World Anti-Doping Agency is an important organization for Montreal, Quebec and all of Canada. The Minister of Transportation, the Minister of Global Affairs, the Minister ofInnovation, Science and Economic Development, as well as the Minister of Sport and Persons with Disabilities, along with the Government of Quebec and the City of Montreal, are working hard to ensure the agency keeps its headquarters in Montreal.

There is still work to do, but I am pleased to hear that the agency's executive committee is in negotiations to keep its headquarters in Montreal after 2021 for another 10 years.

TaxationOral Questions

3:05 p.m.

Regina—Qu'Appelle Saskatchewan

Conservative

Andrew Scheer ConservativeLeader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, hundreds of people across Atlantic Canada have been coming out to town halls and public consultations because they are legitimately concerned about the Prime Minister's own proposals.

They know this is going to have such a negative impact, because so many of them are local business owners. These use these measures legitimately to pass on the family farm or the fishing boat.

Today, all four Atlantic opposition leaders are denouncing the Prime Minister's plan, because they know that under his administration, middle-class Canadians are paying more. It is even worse in Atlantic Canada, where provincial Liberal taxes are already killing jobs and opportunities.

Will the Prime Minister finally listen to his Atlantic Canadian friends, and even his own caucus, and cancel these unfair tax hikes?

TaxationOral Questions

3:05 p.m.

Papineau Québec

Liberal

Justin Trudeau LiberalPrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, this government is always proud to stand up for, and stand with, our friends from Atlantic Canada.

We know that creating economic growth and boosting small businesses that create economic opportunity across Atlantic Canada is a priority that this government shares with all Atlantic Canadians.

That is why we are moving forward to make our tax system fairer. It is so that we can support small businesses as they work hard to grow our economy right across the country, and we can make sure that everyone pays their fair share of taxes.

Canada PostOral Questions

3:05 p.m.

NDP

Thomas Mulcair NDP Outremont, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister himself made a campaign promise to restore home mail delivery to those who lost it. Ten months ago, the House of Commons committee that includes a number of his MPs recommended restoring the service, but since then it has been radio silence from his government.

Why will the Prime Minister not just admit that he broke his promise to restore home mail delivery?

Canada PostOral Questions

3:05 p.m.

Papineau Québec

Liberal

Justin Trudeau LiberalPrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, Canadians expect quality service from Canada Post, and that is what we have promised to deliver. We all know the world is changing. We placed a moratorium on new community mailboxes. We recognize the need for more conversations about how best to serve Canadians and to ensure that Canada Post is meeting our expectations and fulfilling our responsibilities. We are working very hard on that.

Fisheries and OceansOral Questions

3:05 p.m.

Liberal

Pat Finnigan Liberal Miramichi—Grand Lake, NB

Mr. Speaker, we all know that our oceans are absolutely essential to our planet's health.

As Canadians, we are all connected to our oceans, which are significant to our heritage, our culture, and of course our economy. Canada is committed to protecting 5% of our marine and coastal areas by the end of this year, and 10% by 2020.

Can the Prime Minister update this House on the government's progress toward these targets?

Fisheries and OceansOral Questions

3:10 p.m.

Papineau Québec

Liberal

Justin Trudeau LiberalPrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, we are deeply committed to achieving our marine conservation targets. I am pleased to announce in this House today that we are taking one more step toward reaching our goal by creating two marine refuges on the east coast, including one in Miramichi Bay, in my colleague's riding.

This is just one more example of our real action to protect our oceans for future generations.

TaxationOral Questions

3:10 p.m.

Conservative

Peter Van Loan Conservative York—Simcoe, ON

Mr. Speaker, 100 years ago, the wartime government of Robert Laird Borden introduced an income tax. Believe it or not, Liberals actually opposed the new tax—but wait: Liberals opposed the new income tax because it was not high enough.

The Liberal whip of the day said that it would be “a mere flea-bite”, and complained that the new tax “does not take from men enough to make it hurt.”

I give them full marks for consistency, but after 100 years of Liberals continually pressing to raise taxes, is it not time to stop making it hurt so much?

TaxationOral Questions

3:10 p.m.

Papineau Québec

Liberal

Justin Trudeau LiberalPrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, over the past two years we have seen, after 10 long years of Conservative governance, positive signs of growth, job creation, and an economy on the upswing. A large part of that is because of the investments we made in our communities, in the middle class, and because we lowered taxes on the middle class and raised them on the wealthiest 1%. We brought in the Canada child benefit, which puts more money in the pockets of those who need it by not sending money to those who do not need it. We continue to be committed to making our tax system fairer for Canadians. That is exactly what we are doing with the recent measures we are discussing.

Indigenous AffairsOral Questions

3:10 p.m.

Independent

Hunter Tootoo Independent Nunavut, NU

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Prime Minister. The Prime Minister's speech to the UN General Assembly stressed the humiliation, neglect, and abuse that many indigenous people have suffered as a result of colonialism in Canada. The trauma experienced by those of us who attended residential schools has resulted in transgenerational addiction and mental health issues in Nunavut. These issues have contributed and continue to contribute to a suicide rate in Nunavut that is 10 times the national average. Can the Prime Minister inform the House of the government's plan to address this crisis?

Indigenous AffairsOral Questions

3:10 p.m.

Papineau Québec

Liberal

Justin Trudeau LiberalPrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, we are committed to a renewed nation-to-nation relationship and to closing the gap in health and mental wellness outcomes for first nations and Inuit peoples. We are investing more than $300 million each year in community programming to help address the mental wellness needs of first nations and Inuit populations. Budget 2017 also included $118.2 million over five years to supplement existing mental health programming for first nations and Inuit. There remains much more to do, but we are committed to supporting local communities in a true Inuit-to-crown relationship.

Presence in GalleryOral Questions

3:10 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Geoff Regan

I would like to draw to the attention of hon. members the presence in the gallery of Her Excellency Malu Dreyer, President of the Federal Council, the Bundesrat, of the Federal Republic of Germany.

Presence in GalleryOral Questions

3:10 p.m.

Some hon. members

Hear, hear!

Presence in GalleryOral Questions

3:10 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Geoff Regan

The hon. member for Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie on a point of order.

Aerospace IndustryOral Questions

3:10 p.m.

NDP

Alexandre Boulerice NDP Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie, QC

Mr. Speaker, I believe you will find unanimous consent for me to move the following motion:

That the House acknowledge the importance of the aerospace industry and the fact that Bombardier is a major employer in Quebec and elsewhere in Canada, as well as reiterate the importance of standing up to protect the industry and jobs against Boeing’s unjustified complaint and the United States government’s preliminary decision.

Aerospace IndustryOral Questions

3:10 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Geoff Regan

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

Aerospace IndustryOral Questions

3:10 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Aerospace IndustryOral Questions

3:10 p.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?

Aerospace IndustryOral Questions

3:10 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed

Aerospace IndustryOral Questions

3:10 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Geoff Regan

(Motion agreed to)

Aerospace IndustryOral Questions

3:10 p.m.

Conservative

Pierre Poilievre Conservative Carleton, ON

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order. It is standard practice that whenever members make reference to government documents in the House of Commons, they table them. Earlier on during the debate, I made reference to the “Annual Financial Report of the Government of Canada”, which showed that the wealthiest Canadians paid less tax in the government's first full fiscal year in office, revenues from that group falling by roughly $1 billion. I quoted directly from page 16 of that document.

The Prime Minister said that was all false. I am here today to table the document in question, and trust I will have unanimous and enthusiastic consent from the government.

Aerospace IndustryOral Questions

3:15 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Geoff Regan

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

Aerospace IndustryOral Questions

3:15 p.m.

Some hon. members

No.

Foreign AffairsRoutine Proceedings

3:15 p.m.

Fredericton New Brunswick

Liberal

Matt DeCourcey LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Foreign Affairs

Mr. Speaker, on behalf of the Minister of Foreign Affairs and pursuant to Standing Order 32(2), I have the honour to table, in both official languages, the treaties entitled “Agreement on Enhancing International Arctic Scientific Cooperation,” done at Fairbanks on May 11, 2017; “Acts of the 26th Congress of the Universal Postal Union,” done at Istanbul on October 6, 2016; and “Modifications in Part IV, Section II in Schedule V of Canada to the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade 1994, pursuant to the Ministerial Decision on Export Competition,” adopted in Nairobi on December 19, 2015. An explanatory memorandum is included with each treaty.

National DefenceCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

3:15 p.m.

Saint-Jean Québec

Liberal

Jean Rioux LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of National Defence

Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 109, I have the honour to table, in both official languages, the government's response to the 4th report of the Standing Committee on National Defence entitled “Protection of our Military Personnel”, tabled in the House of Commons on April 6, 2017.

Interparliamentary DelegationsRoutine Proceedings

3:15 p.m.

Liberal

Leona Alleslev Liberal Aurora—Oak Ridges—Richmond Hill, ON

Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 34(1) I have the honour to present to the House, in both official languages, the report of the Canadian delegation of the Canadian NATO Parliamentary Association respecting its participation at the 62nd annual session of the Parliamentary assembly, from November 18 to 21, 2016, in Istanbul, Turkey.

Pursuant to Standing Order 34(1), I have the honour to present to the House, in both official languages, the report of the Canadian delegation of the Canadian NATO Parliamentary Association respecting its participation at the joint meeting of the defence and security, economics and security, and political committees in Brussels, Belgium, from February 18 to 20, 2017.

Canadian HeritageCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

3:20 p.m.

Liberal

Hedy Fry Liberal Vancouver Centre, BC

Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the 7th report of the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage entitled “Canadian Women and Girls in Sport”.

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

Immigration, Refugees and CitizenshipPetitionsRoutine Proceedings

3:20 p.m.

Liberal

Jati Sidhu Liberal Mission—Matsqui—Fraser Canyon, BC

Mr. Speaker, this is a petition to the Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship.

The petitioners call upon the Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship to repeal the decision to remove Elsje and Ronel to South Africa and grant them landed immigrant status to Canada. They are seeking a safe place to become productive members of our open and welcoming society.

TaxationPetitionsRoutine Proceedings

3:20 p.m.

Conservative

Cheryl Gallant Conservative Renfrew—Nipissing—Pembroke, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to present a petition signed by campers who stayed at the Bevaline Cottage Resort in Barry's Bay, a quiet, carefree, and relaxing destination in the riding of Renfrew—Nipissing—Pembroke.

The petitioners call on the government to ensure that campgrounds with fewer than five full-time, year-round employees will continue to be recognized and taxed as small businesses. They are especially concerned that now with the full assault on small businesses, some of their campers, like those who have construction companies, will also be hit with the definition of being a small business, requiring them to have a minimum of five full-time, year-round employees as well.

UkrainePetitionsRoutine Proceedings

3:20 p.m.

Conservative

James Bezan Conservative Selkirk—Interlake—Eastman, MB

Mr. Speaker, I have two petitioners to present today, which came in over the summer months.

The first is electronic petition no. 968, which received almost 600 signatures. It is in relation to Ukraine and the conflict in Donbass and Crimea.

The petitioners call upon the government to do a number of things, including signing the Canada–Ukraine Defence Cooperation Arrangement, which the government did, by the way, after a year and a half delay; government reinstate RADARSAT-2 imagery to the Ukraine military, which the Liberals took away and which President Poroshenko asked to receive back, and provide lethal equipment to support the Ukrainian military; and, finally, add Ukraine to the Automatic Firearms Country Control List, which the Conservatives have called on the government to do for quite some time.

Falun GongPetitionsRoutine Proceedings

3:20 p.m.

Conservative

James Bezan Conservative Selkirk—Interlake—Eastman, MB

Mr. Speaker, the second petition is in relation to the Falun Gong and the ongoing persecution of those individuals.

The petitioners ask that the Government of Canada condemn the illegal arrest of a Canadian citizen, Ms. Qian Sun, who practises Falun Gong. She was arrested in China on February 19. They call for her immediate and unconditional release.

Falun GongPetitionsRoutine Proceedings

3:20 p.m.

NDP

Fin Donnelly NDP Port Moody—Coquitlam, BC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to table a petition signed by residents of British Columbia, including constituents from my riding of Port Moody—Coquitlam.

The petitioners call on the Government of Canada to condemn the illegal arrest of a Canadian citizen and call for the immediate and unconditional release of Ms. Qian Sun.

Airline IndustryPetitionsRoutine Proceedings

3:20 p.m.

Conservative

John Brassard Conservative Barrie—Innisfil, ON

Mr. Speaker, Barrie—Innisfil is commonly known as “Terminal 4”. My riding is home to many pilots, flight crews, and many industries that support Pearson International Airport, commonly known as YYZ.

Today, I present e-petition no. 1051, a petition that has generated much conversation around flight safety and flight duty time. I have met with air carrier owners and representatives, pilots' associations, and pilots themselves. This petition has also made it possible for some of these stakeholders to be aware of the changes proposed by Transport Canada. All want to make air travel the safest in the world.

The petitioners ask the government and the Minister of Transport to seriously consider the input of all concerned, and address the proposed flight fatigue rules. The petition has 9,056 signatures. I support this petition, and proudly present it in the House today.

The EnvironmentPetitionsRoutine Proceedings

3:25 p.m.

Conservative

Pierre Poilievre Conservative Carleton, ON

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to introduce petitions.

The first petition is from almost 2,000 Canadians who demand an end to the carbon tax coverup and ask for simple, straightforward answers on what the carbon tax will cost them.

TaxationPetitionsRoutine Proceedings

3:25 p.m.

Conservative

Pierre Poilievre Conservative Carleton, ON

Mr. Speaker, the second petition is from hundreds of Canadians who are outraged by the government's unfair tax changes.

The petitioners call on the government to cancel these tax increases and lower the small business tax rate.

Electoral ReformPetitionsRoutine Proceedings

3:25 p.m.

Conservative

Pierre Poilievre Conservative Carleton, ON

Mr. Speaker, the third and final petition is from some constituents requesting changes to the electoral system.

Religious FreedomPetitionsRoutine Proceedings

3:25 p.m.

Conservative

Diane Finley Conservative Haldimand—Norfolk, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to present a petition on behalf of people in my riding of Haldimand—Norfolk who are deeply concerned with clause 14 of Bill C-51. As it stands, clause 14 will remove the only provision in the Criminal Code that directly protects the rights of individuals to freely practise their religion, whatever that religion may be.

The petitioners call on the government to remove clause 14 from the proposed legislation and to protect the religious freedom of all Canadians.

Immigration, Refugees and CitizenshipPetitionsRoutine Proceedings

3:25 p.m.

NDP

Matthew Dubé NDP Beloeil—Chambly, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to present a petition signed by residents of Beloeil—Chambly. They are calling on the Minister of Immigration to grant permanent resident status to my constituent Sophie Thewys and her son Louis Pollack. She had been originally granted that status but then it was rescinded when her partner Nicolas tragically died. We hope that her case is resolved soon and that she can get some good news.

This petition shows the community's solidarity with this person. We have been supporting her since the tragic event occurred and we hope to see the light at the end of the tunnel.

On a lighter and less serious note, I am pleased to say that this is the 1,000th electronic petition.

Pierre Elliott Trudeau Airport in MontrealPetitionsRoutine Proceedings

3:25 p.m.

Conservative

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

Mr. Speaker, some of my constituents are here in Ottawa today for the presentation of this petition.

This petition has to do with employees of Montréal–Pierre Elliott Trudeau airport. In March, an investigation by TVA and the Journal de Montréal showed that four airport employees had been radicalized. Two of these employees were fired, but the two others remained employed by Montréal–Pierre Elliott Trudeau airport.

The petition calls for these employees to be removed from their jobs, which are quite important. Radicalized individuals should not be able to work at the airport and on the tarmac. This petition, signed by more than 700 people across Canada, calls for these employees to be removed and for the government to take action.

Questions on the Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

3:25 p.m.

Winnipeg North Manitoba

Liberal

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

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

Questions on the Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

3:25 p.m.

Conservative

The Deputy Speaker Conservative Bruce Stanton

Is that agreed?

Questions on the Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

3:25 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Motions for PapersRoutine Proceedings

3:25 p.m.

Winnipeg North Manitoba

Liberal

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

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

Motions for PapersRoutine Proceedings

3:25 p.m.

Conservative

The Deputy Speaker Conservative Bruce Stanton

Is that agreed?

Motions for PapersRoutine Proceedings

3:25 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

BombardierRequest for Emergency DebateRoutine Proceedings

3:25 p.m.

Bloc

Gabriel Ste-Marie Bloc Joliette, QC

Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 52, I am asking for an emergency debate on the decision by the U.S. Department of Commerce to slap Bombardier C Series aircraft with 220% tariffs. Members will recall that, last May, Boeing falsely claimed that the C Series aircraft had been illegally subsidized. Boeing claimed that Quebec's flagship aerospace company was selling aircraft at below-market price to Delta Air Lines, a process called dumping. Boeing claimed that this dumping was hurting the company, so it asked the Department of Commerce to impose 80% tariffs on C Series aircraft entering the United States.

Yesterday, the U.S. Department of Commerce decided to drop a nuclear trade bomb and imposed tariffs that are three times higher than what Boeing was asking for. This is a completely ridiculous decision. Delta was paying $20 million for an aircraft that it will now have to pay $60 million for. This decision is particularly worrisome because it has absolutely no basis. The government's participation in the development of the C Series is in no way considered a subsidy. It is an investment, and Quebec and Canada accepted their share of the risk in this project. They will be reimbursed from sales revenues.

What is more, Boeing remains unscathed because it was not even on the list for the Delta Air Lines contract. At a time when NAFTA renegotiations are ramping up, we might legitimately question the wisdom of negotiating agreements with those who are undermining the agreement and the process. Quebec is a much more technologically advanced society than the rest of Canada in large part because of its aerospace sector. While Boeing and Airbus traditionally shared the global airliner market, Bombardier and Quebec play in the big leagues. Clearly our talent, our ingenuity, and the quality of Quebec's aerospace industry is starting to be perceived as a threat to our neighbours to the south. That in itself is good news, as long as we do not allow the United States to get away with breaking the law and violating trade agreements to prevent the 21st century from entering their aviation market. Urgent action is needed. The punitive duties that Washington announced yesterday are not in effect yet. It is vital that no punitive duty is slapped on the aircraft when delivery of the C Series planes begins in the United States, likely in spring.

The House of Commons needs to send a strong message. Hon. members need to have the opportunity to share the concerns of the people they represent. That is why an emergency debate would also allows us to offer the government some solutions for dealing with this situation.

That is why, Mr. Speaker, I ask that you please grant an emergency debate as soon as possible.

Speaker's RulingRequest for Emergency DebateRoutine Proceedings

3:30 p.m.

Conservative

The Deputy Speaker Conservative Bruce Stanton

I appreciate the arguments of the hon. member for Joliette.

I must say that this request does not meet the necessary requirements for an emergency debate.

TaxationRequest for Emergency DebateRoutine Proceedings

3:30 p.m.

Conservative

Pierre Poilievre Conservative Carleton, ON

Mr. Speaker, this morning I wrote you requesting an emergency debate, in accordance with Standing Order 52. The finance minister's unfair tax changes will lead to dire consequences for our local businesses and family farmers. The government has allotted exactly zero hours to debate them before the end of the consultation period on October 2.

Parliament, and not the government, is the final authority on taxation. The government cannot tax what Parliament does not approve. Despite this, the government has not even given the opportunity to members of the House, the House of the common people, who will pay the bill for this tax increase, to hold a debate on the costs. In the spirit of non-partisanship and co-operation, our House leader, the member for Portage—Lisgar, asked for the government's consent for a take-note debate on this subject. Unfortunately, the government refused. Therefore, we are appealing to you, Mr. Speaker, to schedule an emergency debate.

These consultations were announced in the middle of the summer, with just 75 days of feedback from Canadians, including during a time period when our farmers were in their fields harvesting their crops, unable to defend themselves against a tax change that will give major advantages to large international corporations seeking to take over the family farm.

Every day the House has heard statements from affected Canadians, delivered through members of the opposition: from farmers who plan to hand down their farms to their sons and daughters but who now will face a much larger tax bill for doing so and whose kids may therefore be turned into tenants of foreign corporate landlords; from the local grocer, who saved for his retirement and protected himself against a downturn in his business; and from small-business owners, who played by the rules while the government referred to them as tax cheats.

Canadians are concerned, and they deserve answers. This matter is urgent, not only because of the consultation period closing just next week but also because the minister plans to impose this taxation retroactively to when the consultation was released on July 18. It would set a dangerous precedent to allow the government to impose retroactive taxation without any debate or scrutiny in the House.

To conclude, these proposed changes have been subject to intense media and opposition scrutiny for almost two months outside of this chamber. They deserve to have the same kind of scrutiny inside the chamber, where the final decision on them will be made. Therefore, I ask you to schedule an emergency debate on this subject, to take place prior to the October 2, 2017, consultation deadline.

Speaker's RulingRoutine Proceedings

3:35 p.m.

Conservative

The Deputy Speaker Conservative Bruce Stanton

I thank the hon. member for Carleton for his intervention in this regard and his arguments in respect of the matter. I must indicate that the requirements of the emergency debate proposal do not quite meet the exigencies of what is necessary to begin an emergency debate, so we will leave it at that.

We will carry on with orders of the day.

Oceans ActGovernment Orders

3:35 p.m.

Beauséjour New Brunswick

Liberal

Dominic LeBlanc LiberalMinister of Fisheries

moved that Bill C-55, an act to amend the Oceans Act and the Canada Petroleum Resources Act, be read the second time and referred to a committee.

Mr. Speaker, it is a privilege for me to speak in the House on this important legislation at the beginning of second reading debate. It is the first chance I have had as Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard to speak on a piece of government legislation in my portfolio, so you can imagine how pleased I am to be standing in the House today and to have a chance to talk to colleagues about an important element of our government's agenda.

Canada is uniquely blessed with an abundance of freshwater and marine coastal areas that are both ecologically diverse and economically significant. Our government knows that we have a responsibility to steward these resources for future generations.

In my mandate letter, I was asked by the Prime Minister to increase the proportion of Canada's marine and coastal areas that are protected to 5% by the end of 2017 and to 10% by 2020. I am pleased and proud to say that thanks to the efforts of so many people and so many organizations, we will meet these targets. It is a commitment we made to Canadians, and Canadians should know that we will meet this important obligation.

Internationally, Canada's commitment to meet the 10% target was confirmed when we signed on to Aichi target 11, under the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity, and again, in 2015, when we supported the UN General Assembly's 2030 sustainable development program. These efforts have garnered multi-party support over many years, and I want to thank colleagues on all sides of the House for their commitment to protecting Canada's marine resources.

Our approach to achieving Canada's marine conservation targets includes creating marine protected areas and networks, and is guided by three foundational principles: science-based decision making, transparency, and advancing reconciliation with indigenous groups.

Co-operation is essential to advancing our marine protection work, and we are working with the provinces and territories, indigenous groups, industry, and other environmental stakeholders to establish networks of marine protected areas.

We are committed to furthering reconciliation while these zones are being established. We strive to work more closely with indigenous groups, including Inuit communities, of course, to inform the process and make the most of their traditional knowledge.

Our government has a clear plan to reach these marine conservation targets. Not only is this plan guiding our domestic efforts, it is also helping us reclaim Canada's position as an international leader in ocean conservation. We are making excellent progress. We have now protected 3.63% of Canada's marine environment. At over 200,000 square kilometres, this new total includes long-term fisheries area closures, which the Prime Minister referred to a few moments ago in question period.

The first piece of our plan is to finish what was started, to complete the designation of marine protected areas that were already in the regulatory process. We currently have 11 Oceans Act MPAs in all three oceans. This year alone we have announced the establishment of the Hecate Strait MPA, off British Columbia, which provides protection for globally unique glass sponge reefs, which are thousands of years old. We also created the St. Anns Bank MPA, off Cape Breton, which is home to many endangered species, such as the leatherback turtle. There is more on the way as we progress with the establishment of, for example, the Laurentian channel and Banc des Américains MPAs as well.

Last month, my colleague the Minister of Environment and Climate Change announced the final boundaries of the Lancaster Sound national marine conservation area. This was a very significant step, obviously in partnership with the Inuit people. The boundaries of this marine conservation area, the largest in Canada, were developed by the federal government in collaboration with the Government of Nunavut and are located in the Northwest Passage. This area is of particular importance, as it is home to one of the largest narwhal populations in the world.

The second point in our plan is to protect large offshore areas. In May, a new area of interest in the offshore Pacific was announced. This new area of interest will protect underwater seamounts and a series of hydrothermal vents, recognized as unique marine ecosystems in our offshore.

Our development of this network of MPAs speaks to the third point in our plan: to protect areas under pressure from human activities.

We have made great progress on the fourth part of our plan, which is to develop guidelines to identify other effective area-based conservation measures. These other measures are an important part of our marine conservation tool kit, which is recognized by the Convention on Biological Diversity and the International Union for the Conservation of Nature. Thirty-two closures of fishing areas reflect our rigorous criteria and will help us meet our conservation targets. Other measures will be proposed in the future.

The final point in our plan addresses the need to establish marine protected areas faster under the Oceans Act, but without in any way sacrificing scientific research, socio-economic activities, and our consultation and co-operation efforts with our partners.

Bill C-55 speaks directly to that last point. The proposed amendments will streamline the process of creating new marine protected areas while guaranteeing their protection. These amendments are collaborative, in that they will require the participation of indigenous groups, provinces and territories, industry, and other stakeholders in the process of creating and managing MPAs.

For instance, pursuant to the minister's new authority to delegate enforcement powers, indigenous groups like the guardian watchmen or other environmental groups could be granted enforcement powers to monitor protected areas in their waters. The amendments can improve our marine protected areas, though not at the expense of our working relationships, of course.

In short, Bill C-55 proposes amendments to the Oceans Act to more clearly reflect my responsibility, as Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard, to establish a national network of marine protected areas.

I would like to focus on a few major changes, if I may. Currently, it takes seven to ten years to officially designate an Oceans Act MPA. Through all those intervening years, the potential MPA gets no protection at all. The solution we propose in Bill C-55 is to provide interim protection for these vital, unique areas in Canada's oceans by means of a ministerial order. This will be done after the scientific assessments and the initial consultations, in just 24 months, while the rest of the federal regulatory process to designate the MPA unfolds over the following five years. It may still take up to seven years for an MPA to be fully established, but interim protection could be provided within the first two years.

Currently, an Oceans Act marine protected area can only be designated through Governor in Council regulations, which do not offer any protection to an area of interest until the final designation regulations are published.

The lengthiness of this current process is due in part to the time required to take scientific assessments and broad consultations. These are important steps that ensure an MPA achieves its intended objectives while supporting the local culture and obviously, the local economy.

However, we know there is often a clear understanding from the beginning of what needs to be protected. For example, we may know that a species reproduces only in a certain area of the ocean, or that glass sponge reefs are a priceless natural wonder that need to be protected, even if we may not yet know all of the specifics of how these species are affected by surrounding ecosystems, boat traffic, or fishing activities.

Establishing boundaries and conservation objectives through an interim protection MPA would mean a much shorter timeframe, ensuring that while scientific research and stakeholder engagement continues, the essential elements of these important ecosystems are, in fact, protected.

An interim protection MPA would protect an area by effectively freezing the footprint of ongoing activities until the final regulations are completed, as I said, within five years. Only ongoing activities, those activities that had taken place, for example, within the preceding year, would be allowed to continue. Allowed or prohibited activities would be determined by the class of the activity, not according, obviously, to the individual or company conducting those activities.

This bill would require application of the precautionary principle when deciding whether to designate new MPAs. The precautionary principle means that the absence of scientific certainty should not be used to postpone decisions where there is a risk of serious or irreversible harm. Under this legislation, incomplete information, or a lack of absolute certainty could no longer be used as a justification for avoiding the establishment of a marine protected area where there is a significant and immediate risk.

Bill C-55 also updates, modernizes and strengthens enforcement powers, fines and penalties.

Provisions relating to enforcement, fines, and penalties will support the people who manage and monitor marine protected areas.

Enforcement officers will get the tools and authority they need to manage marine protected areas.

Bill C-55 also proposes amendments to the Canada Petroleum Resources Act that would complement the freeze-the-footprint process of an interim marine protected area. These would provide the competent minister the authority to prohibit authorized oil and gas exploration or development activities, like, for example, seismic testing, drilling, or production, within a designated marine protected area.

Proposed amendments to the Canada Petroleum Resources Act recognize that where there interest of an oil and gas exploration and development overlap with a marine protected area, ambiguity and uncertainty in the effectiveness of the prohibitions could sometimes result. Natural Resources Canada and Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada would continue to discuss with all of our partners how this principle could best be operationalized.

I would like to briefly describe what we have been doing to engage with our regulatory partners, indigenous groups, and other interested parties, familiarize them with proposed changes to the act, and address their concerns.

In recent months, we have met with provincial and territorial representatives, indigenous groups, and stakeholders in the fisheries, marine transportation, and oil and gas sectors, as well as environmental groups and a number of other Canadians.

On the whole, we have received broad support for the proposed changes. For the most part, Canadians are happy with what we are doing to protect our unique and precious marine ecosystems.

I would like to talk about something this bill does not set out to do.

The proposed changes are not meant to short-circuit the development of reliable scientific data or deprive Canadians of the opportunity to contribute to the creation of interim marine protected areas. Our government knows that the effective management of Canada’s oceans depends on an in-depth understanding of the marine environment acquired through peer-reviewed science, the traditional knowledge of indigenous peoples, as well as information from the fishing industry and local communities.

This kind of comprehensive study and mobilization takes time, something that certain vulnerable areas of the ocean might not have. That is why we are proposing the implementation of the precautionary principle, in conjunction with the option to use ministerial orders to ensure immediate interim protection. In light of the concerns of industry stakeholders, we will apply the precautionary principle judiciously.

Many people fear that we do not have sufficient scientific resources to carry out the work needed within the five-year timeframe following the ministerial order, or that the precautionary principle could serve as an excuse for not doing any research at all. That is false. Our commitment to science and data collection remains unwavering. We have heard people's concerns, and we agree that our fundamental principle of science-based decision making must not be compromised under any circumstances.

In conclusion, if Bill C-55 would speed up marine protection without sacrificing science, or the ability of Canadians to shape this important process, then I hope all members of the House would join our government in enacting this legislation. This is a powerful step forward that our government is making on one of the key commitments we made to Canadians by protecting 5% our marine and coastal areas this year, and by 10% in 2020.

I am happy to be participating in this important debate today. I look forward to working with colleagues on all sides of the House, and members of the standing committee should this legislation get to committee, to ensure we have all of the details of this important legislation right. We look forward to hearing from Canadians in the committee process of not just this House but also the other place.

If we work together on the shared objectives that Canadians care deeply about, such as protecting our marine resources for future generations, then Canadians can be proud of the work that this Parliament is doing, and we can improve not only the protection of valuable ecosystems but also the economic livelihood of coastal communities all across the country.

Oceans ActGovernment Orders

3:55 p.m.

Conservative

Todd Doherty Conservative Cariboo—Prince George, BC

Madam Speaker, at the tail end of the minister's speech he said that he looked forward to hearing feedback through the committee work of this House and indeed the other place. However, while the committee is working very hard, and I will admit that all colleagues on each side of the House are working very hard to get this right, the government continues to move forward with its very aggressive targets. Just this week we heard from one of the minsters from Nunavut, Johnny Mike, who said the current government has failed in its due diligence to consult with the minister and the constituents in Nunavut.

Has the minister addressed the concerns also raised by Premier McNeil in Nova Scotia, and by our territorial governments, with respect to the Liberal plan for the MPAs?

Oceans ActGovernment Orders

3:55 p.m.

Liberal

Dominic LeBlanc Liberal Beauséjour, NB

Madam Speaker, we recognize and have said many times that the participation of provincial and territorial governments is critical in order to achieve these objectives. I have had numerous conversations with my provincial and territorial counterparts, as recently as late June at our federal-provincial meeting, which was held in Yukon.

I had a chance to talk to Premier McNeil, when we were together at the memorial service for the late Honourable Allan J. MacEachen, as recently as 10 days ago not only about the importance of these areas but about the importance of collaborating with his government.

The industry that talks to provincial and territorial governments, as well as our government, has understandable concerns. It is looking for details of our plan. It wants to understand the whole plan with respect to what areas on every coast of Canada are being considered.

We plan to share that in a very open and transparent way with all of our partners. As my hon. colleague noted, the provincial and territorial partners are key to its success. They have to be very blunt. They have been valuable and reliable partners for us in this exercise, and we very much hope that continues.

Oceans ActGovernment Orders

3:55 p.m.

NDP

Fin Donnelly NDP Port Moody—Coquitlam, BC

Madam Speaker, Canadians recognize the importance of protecting marine areas and the marine ecosystem, not just in Canada but around the world. In fact, it was 25 years ago that the world came together and identified in an agreement that each member nation should look to protect at least 5% to 20%, and identified a timeline for that. Canada is well behind that timeline. However, the current government has made a commitment to move us toward those protection targets of 5% and 20%, and the bill before us, I think, is a step in that direction.

My question is on minimum standards. We have not yet moved toward identifying minimum standards of protection with MPAs. I wonder if the hon. minister could comment on that.

Oceans ActGovernment Orders

3:55 p.m.

Liberal

Dominic LeBlanc Liberal Beauséjour, NB

Madam Speaker, I thank the member for Port Moody—Coquitlam for his constructive efforts on so many shared priorities. Obviously, protecting Canada's ocean territory is one of them.

The member is absolutely right that successive governments going back a quarter of a century or more have formally made these commitments internationally, and I share my colleague's concern that we are not where we should be when we stand here in the House in 2017. However, as I outlined in my comments, by following what we think is an ambitious but aggressive plan, we will reach or exceed the targets that we set for ourselves at the end of this year and, most importantly, the one for 2020. I look forward to working with the member, people from his province, and many other Canadians in achieving these important objectives.

With respect to minimum standards, I very much share my hon. friend's concern about the importance of establishing minimum standards in MPAs. I have had discussions with environmental groups, industry, and provincial governments as to what these might look like. I think there is an opportunity to put in place a floor of basic protections that would apply to all of these areas. I look forward to working with him and others in the coming weeks to set up a process that would give Canada those exact minimum standards that so many people properly expect us to have.

Oceans ActGovernment Orders

4 p.m.

Conservative

Mel Arnold Conservative North Okanagan—Shuswap, BC

Madam Speaker, I thank the hon. Minister of Fisheries and Oceans for his presentation on Bill C-55. I also recognize the point by the member for Port Moody—Coquitlam that these targets have basically been in place for 25 years now.

There is a reason that the targets have not been met. It is because these marine systems are extremely complex, difficult to understand, and it takes a long time to consult with whoever may be affected. However, the bill would impose a five-year limit on whether an area would be permanently protected or not, and there is no wiggle room: either it is, or it is not after that five-year timeframe.

If there is a need for more consultation, more consideration, why not allow for that possibility in the bill?

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4 p.m.

Liberal

Dominic LeBlanc Liberal Beauséjour, NB

Madam Speaker, I share the concern of my hon. friend from North Okanagan—Shuswap with respect to the time frame and the amount of time it has taken successive governments of all political stripes to achieve these designations under the current Oceans Act. This is why we are asking Parliament to consider these amendments, which we believe would offer a more expeditious path to freezing the footprint and protecting what needs to be protected urgently, while at the same time allowing the final regulatory process to have the necessary consultation that my hon. friend so correctly points to.

I do recognize the certain contradiction. We say on the one hand that we are not where we want to be, and my friend and others have said that, but on the other hand we say that we need to ensure that we can consult. However, I think that five years of consultation with two years of preliminary consultation leading to one of these interim orders should be enough time, if there is good faith, enough resources, including scientific resources in the Government of Canada, in my department and at Environment and Climate Change, to achieve this result. Therefore, I am very hopeful that we have the balance right.

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4 p.m.

Liberal

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

Madam Speaker, I thank the Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard, his team, and all departmental officials, who are doing remarkable work on research and on protecting the oceans.

This summer, I had the opportunity to welcome the minister in my riding, to announce a huge $27-million investment in the Maurice Lamontagne Institute, a world-renowned francophone ocean research institute. On top of this $27-million investment, the minister also announced that the government would be creating of a number of jobs in my riding, to increase the department's research capacity.

In his excellent speech, the minister spoke about the progress our government has made in the past 23 months. Given the importance of the matter, I would ask that he once again tell the House and all Canadians what progress our government has made on protecting our oceans in the past 23 months.

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4 p.m.

Liberal

Dominic LeBlanc Liberal Beauséjour, NB

Madam Speaker, I thank my hon. colleague from Avignon—La Mitis—Matane—Matapédia for his comments and for working tirelessly to support scientists at the Maurice Lamontagne Institute, which is world renowned and which does very important work for our government.

I also congratulate my colleague on his unwavering support for the fishery. My colleague understands, as does our government, how important it is to support the inshore fishery and to acknowledge that independent ship owners, for example, are vital to the economies of communities like the one he represents.

I look forward to working with him. We recently talked about some ports and other pieces of infrastructure. There is no need to mention Carleton-sur-Mer or others, since I hope to have good news and to visit his amazing riding with him to make the announcements and to continue our work.

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4:05 p.m.

Conservative

Todd Doherty Conservative Cariboo—Prince George, BC

Madam Speaker, it is an honour to rise today to speak to Bill C-55, an act to amend the Oceans Act and the Canada Petroleum Resources Act. I want to start my speech today by saying that we all agree that there are things that we can do better. We want to keep our rivers, lakes, streams, and oceans pristine, not just for today but for the future.

Today I want to talk a bit more about the process. I will start with a quote because the minister spoke about the three or five-point plan that the government has with respect to its MPA process. One of those points was about the use of scientific data. We have had a number of witnesses at committee and time and again we heard similar stories.

I will start with this. Looking at some of the previous testimony, it was claimed that there was overwhelming scientific proof that MPAs are beneficial and wildly successful. I think that was a misrepresentation of the actual science. My colleague just cited some of the studies that found that MPAs are not broadly successful. Enforcing MPAs would be hugely expensive and unlikely to be an effective scientific tool. They are not easily replicated. When we put in an MPA, its effectiveness is subject to a great degree of what we call, “location and time”. One cannot just create a nice experiment where we have three of the same type of MPAs in one place and then three control areas in another place, because they are wide open to outside perturbations and environmental changes that are not within our control.

If we want to build on a process of trust and goodwill, we should not ignore what our stakeholders say and consult on only a minority of the protected areas being recommended. I offer that comment from Professor Sean Cox of Simon Fraser University. We have more.

One of the other points that our hon. colleague brought up was indigenous consultation and reconciliation. As the Hereditary Chiefs’ Council of Lax Kw’alaams, from our neck of the woods in British Columbia, states:

...we categorically reject interference of outside environmental NGOs (especially those foreign-based) who appear to be dictating government policy in our traditional territory.

My speech will not counter what our hon. colleague said and not step away from the importance of making sure that we are doing everything we can to protect our rivers, lakes, and streams. Rather, we will talk about the notion of consultation, which we like to discuss a lot in this chamber. As we have seen from the very beginning, it is just a word to the government. The action depends on who is there. The government likes to say that it is consulting.

Our hon. colleague stood in the House and said that it is important that the government is working collaboratively with the provinces and territories. However, is the government really listening, because we are still hearing from so many stakeholders that it is alienating them? Whether it is indigenous peoples or those whose livelihoods depend on these areas in remote coastal communities across Canada, the government is forgetting these people.

Whether it was on the electoral reform process, access to information reform, or the most recent proposal by the Liberal government to implement tax changes that will significantly harm the competitiveness of small business, we often hear it say that it wants to be the most open and transparent government in Canadian history. However, when it comes down to consultation, it is really just about ticking that off in a box to say that it did the consultation, that it met with those concerned. It did not really listen to them, but it ticked the box.

It has no real intention to make changes for the betterment of our communities or for the people who will be affected by the contents of its bills, like the one we are debating today. Our hon. colleague mentioned the spirit of working collaboratively with the provincial and territorial governments.

I believe he said, and it was a Liberal campaign promise, that they are going to work with all parties in the House to be more collaborative, yet we still get announcements through question period. Indeed, some of the Liberal MPs are finding out about government initiatives through the media.

Going back to the closure of our salmon enhancement program and the potential Coast Guard closures, some of the Liberal backbench MPs who are part of our committee found out through the media. Again, that is just not open and transparent.

Bill C-55 in its current state will have serious consequences for our tourism, shipping, and fishing industries. This is yet another nail in the coffin for our small communities and the businesses in our communities that rely on our waterways from coast to coast to coast.

Bill C-55 stems directly from the mandate letter to the Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard, which instructs him to work with the Minister of Environment and Climate Change to increase the proportion of Canada's marine and coastal areas that are protected to 5% by 2017 and 10% by 2020.

Bill C-55 will allow for an interim designation of significant or sensitive areas, again defined by scientists through consultation with indigenous people, local communities, and others interested in the area. That is what they say.

Immediately when the Liberals start this, there is a five-year ban. Is it going to be a complete stop? Does it mean there will be no take at all? Is there any activity that will be restricted? These are things that have not been communicated to the communities and to the fishers and families that depend on this industry for their livelihoods.

Once this interim protection is in effect, the minister would have up to five years to recommend that a permanent MPA be put in place. From the previous Conservative government's work on marine protected areas and from the committee testimony, we know that the average time to declare a single protected area ranges from roughly five to seven years. That is not to be debated. We know that. That is what is required to get it right, to make sure that true consultation takes place.

We had a professor from California who talked about a series of MPAs that they had instituted off the coast of California. They talked about true consultation. I sat through this presentation by this gentleman, and I thought, “Now, there is a group that got this right.” They started early on. They communicated what their objectives were to their stakeholders right from the start, including the indigenous groups, industry, communities, environmental groups, and NGOs. They brought them all to the table and they set out what they wanted to do off the coastline of California.

They set out what the goal was and tasked the stakeholder groups to go and really talk to people, engage the communities, and find a way to holistically reach their goal. That was one of the testimonies that really stood out. We always talk about Conservative this or Liberal this, but this non-partisan person came in to speak about the science behind the MPAs and said that it has to be right, that we have to look at the total, holistic process of the MPA and look at the ecosystems. Fish do not know where the marine protected areas are. They do not know that there is an imaginary boundary. They move.

They looked at a series of marine protected areas off the coast of California and they had buy-in from everyone. It is probably the most successful marine protected area testimony that we have seen to this point.

We also know that the Liberal government is taking measures to speed up the MPA designation process, because it knows that it will not be able to meet its political targets and timelines outlined in the mandate letters. It has missed promises from the campaign. The minister said himself that this is one that the government can say it finished, but it is going to come at a cost to those economies, those local communities that desperately rely on fishing and trade for their local economies, and indeed at a cost to Canada's economy.

Liberals know that if they do not ram this through, it will add to their mounting pile of broken promises.

In addition to speeding up the designation process, the Liberal government is also proposing amendments to the Canada Petroleum Resources Act that would prohibit oil and gas activities in marine areas where interim protection is in effect. To move this forward, they would allow the Minister of Natural Resources and the Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs the power to cancel companies' oil and gas interests.

We have talked about the process and we have talked about how these companies and stakeholders are not part of the process. We have asked a number of times that the minister sit in on the committee meetings and listen to the testimony, because the stakeholders are pleading, even stakeholders that one would think would be on the side of the government. Liberal members are saying that they are finding out stuff in the media and in QP announcements, and in their own communities in Atlantic Canada or on the Pacific coast they are hearing from their constituents.

In my riding, if there is an issue with small business or tourism, I hear about it and I bring their voices to Ottawa. There are 30-some Atlantic Canada MPs and outside of committee, they have not really been standing up. I think they are afraid to voice their opinions, but we are hearing it. We are hearing it in sidebar conversations.

We have already seen, in the last little while, further uncertainty in terms of business development. Whether it is the northern gateway or the Pacific NorthWest LNG, businesses are being spooked by the uncertainties, primarily by the Liberal government, because it does not know which way the wind is blowing or where the goalposts are anymore. Giving a minister the ability to say yes or no or “Wait a second; this might be a Liberal insider here, and we are going to say yes to this one”, is unacceptable. That is shameful.

Mr. Brian Clark, an environmental adviser and registered professional biologist in the Pacific northwest had this to say at committee:

...there is a lack of clear process for integrated coastal planning that leaves proponents to develop strategies in an information vacuum. Where are the no-go zones? What are the thresholds for impacts? ... ...we need specific plans for coastal areas of high industrial activity. The Pacific NorthWest project [was] located in a federal port within an industrial zone, yet there are no accepted activities to streamline environmental assessment processes. ... [In addition], there is a tremendous lack of scientific examination and resources to set baselines and determine thresholds on the north Pacific coast.

We all agree that some of the federal agencies need more funding, but Mr. Clark said, “...but don't overlook the knowledge database of proponents.”

Industry and communities are all doing their part. Industry has now become more keenly aware than ever that everybody has a cellphone. Whether it is the shipping industry, the cruise industry, or the fishing industry, everybody has a cellphone. We all want to make sure that we are doing our part, and industry is doing its part. Time and again we have heard at committee that it has offered up its findings, offered up the technology it is using, only to have that offer fall on deaf ears in the government. It is the “Thanks, we got it” type of thing. That is unacceptable.

The Liberal government has had numerous opportunities to work with energy proponents that want to ensure the health of our marine areas. With Bill C-55, we have another example of the government's heavy-handed, anti-development approach to our resource and marine industries.

I have to admit that when I took over the fisheries and oceans shadow portfolio last year, I remember thinking that the targets outlined in the Liberal mandate letters were ambitious. The previous Conservative government set the protection target at 10% by 2020. That was the previous Conservative government's target: 2020. We wanted to make sure that we got it right.

Do members know that Canada has one of the largest coastlines in the world, if not the largest coastline in the world? Disproportionately so, the north and the Pacific are going to face the brunt of these MPAs. We are hearing that over and over again.

The primary difference was that we were not intent on meeting these targets if it meant forsaking the needs of the local coastal communities across the country that depend on the ocean for their livelihoods.

Having recognized that the minister of fisheries and oceans might look to designate MPAs without proper consultation, my colleague from North Okanagan—Shuswap tabled a motion to study the issue further at committee. We began this study prior to the minister's tabling of Bill C-55, just days before the House adjourned for the summer. Unfortunately, it seems he has failed to take a look at the testimony that has come forward from this important study.

I remember the words in his speech when he said he was looking forward to hearing the testimony of Canadians, industry, and stakeholders. He acknowledged the hard work and great work the committees are doing in this House and in the other House. I can see folks in the gallery nodding their heads. They heard the same.

However, the government has continued to disregard the testimony we heard from stakeholders, from witnesses that one would think would be on the side of the government.

Over the past several months, we have had the opportunity to hear from a significant number of academics, industry professionals, commercial and recreational fishing groups, NGOs, and environmentalists. Many of them had one thing in common, and that was their inability to support the government's rushed timeline with regard to the MPA designation process. They all said one thing: “Get it right.”

One of the main issues we heard time and again was the deeply flawed nature of the consultation process. One witness, Mr. Leonard LeBlanc, the managing director of the Gulf of Nova Scotia Fleet Planning Board, had this to say:

The process DFO used to approach harvester associations and consult on the areas of interest for designation was unorganized and totally not transparent. They indicated that the process to establish MPAs is typically a lengthy process over many years, yet they seemed to be rushing the process along to meet strict deadlines....

Later he said:

Finally, this consultation process on the area of interest for MPA designation...perpetuated the lack of trust between industry and DFO. The lack of inclusion and answers during the consultation phase, the lack of real scientific evidence for reasoning behind the area of interest, and the lack of guarantees that traditional fisheries could continue all led to further distrust of DFO's consultation and decision-making process.

The testimony did not stop there. Jordan Nickerson, an independent fish harvester who was speaking on behalf of his family business, said this:

This current directive to protect the ocean leaves me with more questions than answers. As [a] harvester and processor, I would like to know how I, my business, my employees, and our shared future will be affected. What are our goals for MPAs...?

Canada should be a leader in listening to its people, taking the time to listen, spending money, and doing the proper science before coming to a huge decision such as establishing MPAs, supposedly based on science. Time and again we have heard that this is not being done. As a matter of fact, I have a quote from Christina Burridge of the BC Seafood Alliance, who says, “On the west coast, we're not seeing a lot of evidence-based decision-making. It's beginning to look like political decision-making.”

I am going to pare some of my comments down because I know my time is winding down.

Nunavut cabinet minister Johnny Mike used his member's statement just last week to speak specifically to the Liberal government's lack of consultation when it came to Bill C-55. He said:

[My residents] are well aware of the potential in our offshore areas which are used for economic opportunities today by interests from outside of Nunavut.

He continued:

This proposed bill for marine management and petroleum industry sector management which is being developed seemingly turns its legislative back on the people of Pangnirtung.

The federal government never consulted any northerners or my constituents on what concerns they may have about this proposed bill.

We are not against MPAs. We are against the fact that their consultation process, the process as a whole, is a sham.

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4:25 p.m.

Beauséjour New Brunswick

Liberal

Dominic LeBlanc LiberalMinister of Fisheries

Madam Speaker, I want to compliment my colleague from Cariboo—Prince George on the difficult work he did in regard to to the forest fires in his province. I was on the other coast of Canada and watched the work that he was doing, as well as many other members of Parliament who were deeply affected by that very difficult circumstance. I just wanted to compliment him publicly.

I have heard from a lot of people, maybe some of the same people whom my colleague referred to, who appeared at the standing committee before the introduction of the bill. I have taken note of the testimony, and my parliamentary secretary and my colleagues on the committee have talked to me at length and in detail about the witnesses and the work the committee has done.

What is the view of my colleague from Cariboo—Prince George on the precautionary principle and the importance of ensuring that we have the available tools necessary in the case of a pressing need to act to protect a sensitive or threatened marine ecosystem in a provisional or interim way? Does the member not think that the application of the precautionary principle is something that many people in his province would support?

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4:25 p.m.

Conservative

Todd Doherty Conservative Cariboo—Prince George, BC

Madam Speaker, I thank my hon. colleague for his comments about the wildfire situation that we had in the province of British Columbia. I can say with complete sincerity that the utter devastation that my community and my riding, as well as others, are seeing will be felt not only in the immediate future but years down the road.

The minister brought up the term “precautionary principle”. At any given time, we always have to make sure that we are doing whatever we can to maintain our waters. I think I said that. I am not going to repeat myself. We are under the agreement. However, we always have to engage our stakeholders. We have to use scientific data with that. We also have to look at the social and economic sides of it.

However, to go back to the premise of my speech in regard to consultation, the process is flawed to this point. We have heard witness after witness. If my hon. colleague asks me that question, I would throw it back and just ask if he is willing to extend the period of consultation and perhaps not make these areas no-take zones as we move forward.

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4:25 p.m.

NDP

Fin Donnelly NDP Port Moody—Coquitlam, BC

Madam Speaker, I want to ask my hon. colleague from Cariboo—Prince George about one specific thing he talked about in terms of the efficacy of MPAs. Do they work? I would add that around the world, governments, first nations, scientists, environmental organizations, and fishing organizations have come together to say that marine protected areas do in fact work and that they are one of the best ways to protect the marine ecosystems and to help restore fisheries and protect endangered marine species. In fact, the IUCN, the International Union for Conservation of Nature, spells out not only a clear definition of MPAs but also provides evidence-based examples from around the world of where protected areas have shown remarkable benefits in terms of protection from harmful activity.

Does the member not agree that MPAs must be one of the tools in our tool box to restore our damaged oceans?

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4:25 p.m.

Conservative

Todd Doherty Conservative Cariboo—Prince George, BC

Madam Speaker, we have heard a lot of testimony over the course of our study, including unequivocal testimony that MPAs are not the only tool, and maybe not the only tool before us, as he suggests. Therefore, we need to have other tools in our tool box to preserve our oceans and rivers, lakes, and streams. However, right from the very beginning, we need to look at how the process is done.

I would also throw this back to our hon. colleague, that from the start the process must be done right if it is going to be effective. We have heard before that if MPAs are to be truly effective, the process has to include true engagement, that consultation has to be there, and that from the start it has to be done right.

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4:30 p.m.

Liberal

Ken Hardie Liberal Fleetwood—Port Kells, BC

Madam Speaker, I am pleased to join the discussion with the member from the Standing Committee on Fisheries and Oceans and the hon. member for North Okanagan—Shuswap, who actually initiated a study that is under way right now. We looked at the criteria that should be reviewed when it comes time to put in place a marine protected area. Could the hon. member, for the benefit of the House, replay some of the things he has heard so far about those criteria, one of which has to be consultation, but also the other things that we need to consider to ensure that a marine protected area does what it is intended to do?

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4:30 p.m.

Conservative

Todd Doherty Conservative Cariboo—Prince George, BC

Madam Speaker, I thank the hon. member for Fleetwood—Port Kells for his work on the committee. At times he challenges the government and all of us to do better and continue to do the good work that our committee is doing.

Some of the criteria we heard included the need for true consultation with our indigenous peoples 100%. Another criterion is the use of scientific data, but we have also heard that scientific data is not 100% accurate. Again, fish move. The boundaries are there. There has to be a holistic approach. There are also criteria looking at what our goals and objectives are for the MPAs in their entirety. How do we do that?

Again, going back to the science, going back to what we have learned from previous MPAs, the only MPA that has been brought forward as a successful to this date is the one off the coast of California, and it took more than seven years to get right. It included true consultation and engagement right from the start with all stakeholders.

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4:30 p.m.

Conservative

Robert Sopuck Conservative Dauphin—Swan River—Neepawa, MB

Madam Speaker, when it comes to the term “protection”, it always implies it is black and white. It is either a protected area or it is a totally exploited area. However, the devil is always in the details. If the goal of a marine protected area is to protect the ocean bottom and the vertebrates that happen to live there, perhaps ocean going traffic would be allowed on the surface. Perhaps a certain kind of pelagic fishery would be allowed, and those kinds of things.

In the case of a locally productive angling area cherished by the local community, if that were completely sewn up so that no recreational angling could take place, it would cause great economic harm to the region, as happened in California because of the lack of consultation in the California establishment on the marine protected area. I had the honour of sitting on the fisheries committee while this topic was being debated.

It goes back to my hon. colleague's comments about consultation, because it is the local people who know the complexity of the area. Has there been enough consultations with local people, and how valuable is that consultation with local communities?

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4:30 p.m.

Conservative

Todd Doherty Conservative Cariboo—Prince George, BC

Madam Speaker, that is a great question by my hon. colleague who has served for seven years on the fisheries committee and did yeoman service for us, and did Canadians, fishers, and our committee a great service from coast to coast to coast.

I will say categorically 100%, no, that local knowledge is not being taken up, again going back to the industry, whether it was in regard to the Atlantic salmon, northern cod, or indeed Bill C-55. Local knowledge is being offered but not being taken up. It is being pushed aside for whatever reason. In the quote I read earlier from the Lax Kw'alaam hereditary chiefs, they believe that foreign interests are being looked at before local interests.

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4:35 p.m.

NDP

The Assistant Deputy Speaker NDP Carol Hughes

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 Saanich—Gulf Islands, Education; the hon. member for Calgary Nose Hill, Ethics; the hon. member for Essex, Steel Industry.

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4:35 p.m.

NDP

Fin Donnelly NDP Port Moody—Coquitlam, BC

Madam Speaker, I rise today to speak in favour of Bill C-55, an act to amend the Oceans Act and the Canada Petroleum Resources Act, and to offer a few suggestions on how the bill could be improved.

Let me say at the outset that I share the government's commitment to the international community and to the protection of 5% of Canada's marine areas by 2017 and 10% by 2020, with the aim of protecting our oceans by halting the destruction of marine ecosystems. However, since signing the 1992 Convention on Biological Diversity, consecutive Liberal and Conservative governments have failed to take meaningful action to make good on this international commitment.

In the protection of marine areas, until very recently Canada lagged behind China at 1.6%, and is still behind Japan at 5.6%. Australia and the United States are much further ahead, with 33.2% and 30.4% of their oceans protected respectively.

This legislation would provide some much-needed new legal tools to speed up the creation of marine protected areas, but it falls far short of Canada's international commitments to protect our marine biodiversity.

While it has been encouraging to watch repeated announcements this past year of new marine protected areas, Canada is playing catch-up. The best parts of the bill will help us get there. The problem is that in the rush to meet our international commitments, the government has prioritized quantity over quality in the areas protected. That is a big mistake.

Most Canadian MPAs are not meeting international conservation standards and this legislation will do nothing to address that deficiency. It fails to set minimum protection standards and targets for zoning of marine protected areas, which renders the designation inconsistent at best and meaningless at worst.

It goes without saying that ecological integrity should be the foremost priority of MPA management. However, due to a lack of minimum protection standards, at this point Canada's MPAs offer an insufficient level of protection of sensitive ecosystems.

In its report, “Linking Science and Law Minimum Protection Standards for Canada's Marine Protected Areas”, West Coast Environmental Law states that ecological integrity should be a top priority for MPAs. The report states:

Decisions on activities permitted within marine protected areas should be required to prioritize maintenance of the protected ecosystems' processes, and functions.

The Canada National Parks Act (CNPA) and associated regulations require the prioritization of “the maintenance or restoration of ecological integrity” to guide decisions on allowable activities.

The national parks policy elaborates this in principle, stating that “national park ecosystems will be given the highest degree of protection to ensure the perpetuation of natural environments essentially unaltered by human activity” and that “human activities within a national park that threaten the integrity of park ecosystems will not be permitted.”

The CNPA also gives the Minister the power to designate Wilderness Areas in “any area of a park that exists in a natural state or that is capable of returning to a natural state”, and when that designation is made, the Minister may not authorize any activity to be carried out in a wilderness area that is likely to impair the wilderness character of the area.

Including requirements to maintain ecological integrity of protected marine ecosystems within Canada's Oceans Act would ensure adherence to protection standards and thus link science to legal practice.

A concern that we are hearing more and more about is ocean plastics and marine debris. We firmly believe that the government needs to implement a strategy and to fund programs that will preserve the ecological integrity of our MPAs from this growing hazard.

Some current and proposed MPAs allow harmful activities like oil and gas exploration and extraction, mining exploration, industrial fishing, including bottom trawling. Banning these activities from protected areas should be the obvious choice.

When we compare MPAs to the protections offered to terrestrial parks it becomes even more striking. In the words of World Wildlife Fund President David Miller:

Oil and gas extraction is not compatible with conservation and should never be permitted inside a protected area. National parks on land have long had this in place as a minimum standard. It seems outrageous that a marine area could be designated as protected and yet an oil and gas platform could still be placed there, but that's exactly what going to be allowed in the Laurentian Channel unless the government of Canada changes course. The channel is a critical migration route for some of our most endangered whales, and oil and gas exploration and extraction threatens them with noise pollution, habitat disturbance and physical injury from seismic blasting.

This situation is an appalling double standard. We would not allow oil and gas exploration in a national park on land, so why would we allow it in a protected area in our oceans? The answer to this problem is clear. A strong set of protection standards, in line with the International Union of the Conservation of Nature, and legislated protection targets should be adopted by the government in order to meet our international commitments.

This is exactly what 59 scientists from across the world requested in an open letter to the fisheries and oceans minister and the environment and climate change minister. The letter stressed that scientific studies have shown repeatedly that stricter protection provides greater biodiversity benefits. They argue, at minimum, we should ban the most damaging activities to marine biodiversity, such as oil and gas activity, undersea mining, ocean waste dumping, and industrial scale fishing. Marine protected areas are home to countless at-risk species, and by definition, those ecosystems are in great need of protection.

This is important. We cannot allow a lack of legal rigour and haste to prevent us from accomplishing the goal we have agreed to. The government has made much of its commitment to science-based public policy, but with Bill C-55, it has again chosen to ignore the best available conservation science. The Liberal government should listen to the scientists within the scientific community, and not let the bill be another broken promise to Canadians.

Unfortunately, the government's environmental record is a string of broken promises and unfulfilled campaign commitments. It begins with the stunning approval of the Kinder Morgan pipeline, with the promised review of public consultation and environmental assessment. The people of British Columbia did not vote for a seven-fold increase in the number of oil tankers in Vancouver harbour, and they certainly did not vote for the accompanying risk of an oil spill that would devastate our coast.

It continues with no action on their promise to restore essential environmental protection legislation. On the campaign trail, Liberals promised to restore the Fisheries Act, the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act, and the Navigation Protection Act. While we wait, they have approved the construction of the now defunct Pacific NorthWest LNG terminal on critical salmon spawning grounds, and cleared the way for development of the Site C dam under the weakened legislation.

The Liberal record of saying one thing and doing another is why we should all be concerned that the bill gives the minister far too much latitude to decide what activities are permissible in an MPA.

Ministerial discretion has become a red flag for Canadians. Too often, the government has promised one thing in regard to environmental protection and climate change, while using ministerial discretion to accomplish the exact opposite. Recently, the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans made an exemption to the Fisheries Act to allow one of the potentially most destructive projects on the planet to move forward, the KSM mine in British Columbia.

KSM will be the largest open pit mine in North America. Building this mine will require destruction of upper tributaries of the North Treaty and South Teigen Creeks, which flow into the salmon-bearing Nass and Bell-Irving rivers, for tailings storage. Alarmingly, KSM will store more than 27 times the amount of tailings stored at the Mount Polley Mine, using the same technology that failed three years ago.

We need clear legislation with strong guidelines to constrain ministerial discretion. These powers should be used to forward the ecological integrity of a marine protected area rather than permitting harmful activities. Recent research shows MPAs that permit harmful activities are less effective at achieving biodiversity than those with large no-take zones where extractive activity is banned.

Dr. Susanna Fuller, from the Ecology Action Centre, believes that MPAs core no-take zones should encompass 75% of a given MPA. Canada is nowhere close to reaching that high bar. Right now, the minister has the discretion to determine what activities are allowed in an MPA, and how restrictive each zone in an MPA can be.

So far, Canada's fisheries minister has implemented a no-take zone in only five MPAs to date, and those areas are tiny in comparison to the overall MPA. Canada should follow international examples, and make no-take zones the rule rather than the exception in MPAs.

I would like to speak for a moment about opportunities for co-governance of MPAs between indigenous nations and the crown in Canada.

West Coast Environmental Law has published a paper entitled “An Ocean of Opportunity: Co-governance in Marine Protected Areas in Canada”. It states:

Indigenous peoples have been governing marine territories using their own legal traditions since time immemorial. For the most part, indigenous legal orders have not been recognized or upheld in the governance of marine protected areas (MPAs) in Canada. The current Government of Canada has committed to “a renewed, nation-to-nation relationship with indigenous peoples, based on recognition of rights, respect, co-operation, and partnership.” Co-governance arrangements in MPAs are one way of achieving a true nation-to-nation or Inuit-to-Crown relationship by creating space for the healthy interaction of Canadian and indigenous laws. With the Government of Canada’s renewed commitment to protect at least 10% of Canada’s oceans by 2020, there is a unique opportunity to implement co-governance arrangements in both new and established MPAs.

The report states that Canada has an opportunity to become a world leader in recognizing and implementing meaningful co-governance in MPA law, and I agree.

In closing, Canada's New Democrats understand there is no one-size-fits-all solution to marine protected areas, and we recognize that different MPAs are going to require different types of protections. Canada is large and geographically diverse. Local context must be taken into account. While uniform standards may not make sense for all coasts, minimum protection standards absolutely do, and that is what is missing from the bill.

The government needs to listen to scientists, first nations, working fishers, the provinces and territories, and concerned Canadians, so that we make the necessary improvements to Bill C-55.

Oceans ActGovernment Orders

4:50 p.m.

Beauséjour New Brunswick

Liberal

Dominic LeBlanc LiberalMinister of Fisheries

Madam Speaker, I thank my colleague for the many shared objectives that certainly I, and I think the government, have with the positions he enunciated. He mentioned the Laurentian Channel MPA, and referred to comments made by the WWF chair David Miller. I have also taken note of those comments.

Of the thousands of submissions we received from Canadians after the first publication of the draft regulations with respect to the Laurentian Channel, the vast majority of them understandably expressed significant concerns around this question of oil and gas. I would ask my friend to be patient. When the second and final version is made public, I hope that many of those concerns can properly be answered. I said that at the time, and I certainly want to reiterate it now in light of his comments and the comments our government has received.

My question for our hon. colleague might be on this notion of minimum standards. As I said, in response to a question he asked after my remarks a few moments ago, I certainly share the concern people have about not establishing the right mix of minimum standards that would apply to all MPAs.

Does he have specific suggestions as to how we could quickly establish those minimum standards? One suggestion that was made was the idea of an expert scientific panel in partnership with others, not to delay but to quickly define what those might be. I would welcome his specific suggestions, and I would be anxious to work with him and others on getting those minimum standards right.

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4:50 p.m.

NDP

Fin Donnelly NDP Port Moody—Coquitlam, BC

Madam Speaker, I appreciate the comments from my colleague, the minister. He has emphasized that we, Canadians, and the community should be patient when citing the Laurentian Channel. However, I will take that back. We will be patient. We have gone from 25 years of only achieving essentially just over 1% protection of our oceans to now wanting to, in less than two years, achieve up to 5% and 10% by 2020.

Therefore, we essentially are making a huge change in a short order so, yes, with due respect, Canadians can be patient. However, they want to see action. They have been waiting for two-and-a-half decades. They want to see action now, not just with respect to the St. Lawrence but all coasts. Therefore, I encourage the minister to take those comments seriously, which I know he does, and to push his department to act quickly.

In terms of specifics with minimum protection standards, the scientific panel is one potential suggestion. That, I believe, can be quickly constructed and brought together.

We also need to remember our local organizations, whether it is the provinces and territories or first nations on the coast. They need to be included in the consultations to define exactly what those minimum standards should be within those marine protected areas.

If we look to organizations like West Coast Environmental Law, it has already produced tables on how to move quickly to establish not only definitions of what should be protected in an MPA but how to move to protect fisheries—

Oceans ActGovernment Orders

4:50 p.m.

NDP

The Assistant Deputy Speaker NDP Carol Hughes

Maybe the member can finish his thought with the next question.

Questions and comments, the hon. member for North Okanagan—Shuswap.

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4:50 p.m.

Conservative

Mel Arnold Conservative North Okanagan—Shuswap, BC

Madam Speaker, the member for Port Moody—Coquitlam is a passionate member on the fisheries committee with a number of us here in the House. He always speaks about the science that is needed and basing decisions on science. I know that his party is very much focused on that part of it. Therefore, I would like to ask him to provide his thoughts on proposed section 35.2 of this bill, which states:

The Governor in Council and the Minister shall not use lack of scientific certainty regarding the risks posed by any activity that may be carried out in certain areas...as a reason to postpone or refrain from exercising their powers or performing their duties and functions under subsection 35(3) or 35.1(2).

What are the member's thoughts on being able to go ahead with a lack of science, when he is always quite strong on speaking about the need to follow science?

Oceans ActGovernment Orders

4:55 p.m.

NDP

Fin Donnelly NDP Port Moody—Coquitlam, BC

Madam Speaker, just to finish, one other organization I referenced in my earlier remarks was the IUCN. It has clearly done scientific studies and has a wealth of knowledge the minister could rely on.

I would like to thank my colleague from North Okanagan—Shuswap, a member of the fisheries and oceans standing committee. He has often asked excellent questions and has offered very good suggestions to the government and the committee on moving forward. He points out the exact concern I raised in my speech. I share that concern about ministerial discretion when there is a lack of a scientific basis. Ministers, especially fisheries ministers in the past, have gotten into problems when they have made decisions without the basis of science behind them. That is absolutely why I feel that the government should move forward with caution in giving this kind of ministerial power.

I share the member's comments, and I caution the government on moving forward without addressing minimum standards with a scientific basis behind them. That is what is necessary.

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4:55 p.m.

Liberal

Ken Hardie Liberal Fleetwood—Port Kells, BC

Madam Speaker, I have two quick questions. First, the fisheries and oceans committee heard from jurisdictions that have, on the surface, been very successful in setting up marine protected areas, but then the other shoe drops. I wonder if the hon. member would comment on the experience in other areas when it is not done well.

Second, with respect to his last comment on the lack of scientific evidence, I am wondering if he would consider whether it is the precautionary principle that should really rule how we go forward.

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4:55 p.m.

NDP

Fin Donnelly NDP Port Moody—Coquitlam, BC

Madam Speaker, the member for Fleetwood—Port Kells is also a member of the fisheries and oceans standing committee, and I have often appreciated his comments and questions to his own government and to the committee.

He asked a number of important questions about MPAs that have not done the proper consultation or due diligence in terms of the science to find out the specific areas or the right species to protect. That is incredibly important and can have consequences down the road. If that process is not in place, and the local community or the local area is not on-board, then absolutely, MPAs could unravel.

The precautionary principle is a fundamental principle going forward. That is the science-based kind of legislation we need to recognize. That is the caution about going to ministerial discretion. That is the concern. That would undermine adopting the precautionary approach in setting minimal standards for protection.

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4:55 p.m.

Independent

Hunter Tootoo Independent Nunavut, NU

Madam Speaker, I have a question for the member for Port Moody—Coquitlam.

I wholeheartedly agree with his comments that one size does not fit all. I come from a jurisdiction that has suffered, since it was created, from the fact that it is unique and does not fit the normal mould. I would ask him for clarification. He does not believe in one size fits all, but there should be minimum standards for everything. Much like Nunavut is unique, marine protected areas are unique, and what fits in one place may not fit in another. I am wondering if he thinks minimum standards for everything could possibly work.

Oceans ActGovernment Orders

5 p.m.

NDP

Fin Donnelly NDP Port Moody—Coquitlam, BC

Madam Speaker, that is a good question. It gets at the heart of how to apply marine protected areas in such a vast country like Canada, with the unique north and the unique Pacific and Atlantic communities. It will come down to what we are trying to protect and what the aim of the protection is. Within the scientific community, that has been identified. That is clear. We know what we are losing and we know what we need to protect.

Whether it is certain corals, sponges, reefs, fisheries, or whales, we need to identify what it is we are trying to protect and use that marine protection area as a tool to move us in the direction of flourishing oceans and rebounding marine life. We need all ideas and suggestions on how to move forward so that we again have a flourishing ocean. We do not have that, and that is why we need MPAs.

Oceans ActGovernment Orders

5 p.m.

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

Liberal

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

Madam Speaker, Canada has the longest coastline of any country in the world. For Canadians who live on the coast, there is a powerful pull and connection to the natural world. It is our identity, it is our livelihood, it is our life. Canadians are passionate about the health of the ocean. We watch and care about everything that happens on our shores, in coastal waters, and in offshore areas. Canadians have been calling for greater protections and the capacity to monitor and enforce those protections.

Bill C-55 is our government's legislation to protect marine ecosystems and to support the health of our oceans, in concert with forthcoming legislation under the Navigation Protection Act, the Fisheries Act, and the environmental assessment review.

Marine protected areas are a way to protect the ocean. These special areas seek to balance conservation and protection with sustainable use of our marine resources. They are living networks, where marine species are born, grow, reproduce, and thrive. It is by protecting these systems that we can protect the oceans and the maritime resources on which many Canadians depend.

Bill C-55 would enable the government to establish marine protected areas expeditiously, protecting critical and unique areas of our Canadian oceans as soon as within the next 24 months. These amendments would ensure that, when needed, an interim-protection marine protected area could be put in place so that new activities that could risk further harm to ocean ecosystems, habitat, or marine life would not be allowed to occur in these protected zones. The interim protection offered by the new provisions in the Oceans Act would be an important part of ensuring that Canadians who depend on fishing, whether for shellfish, finfish, or other marine organisms, could count on their livelihoods being protected over the long term. By establishing protection for critical marine habitats, we would protect the marine resources we rely upon.

A significant aspect of Bill C-55 is to strengthen the law and to lay penalties. We would ensure that enforcement officers would have the power to maintain the protected status of these marine protected areas. Under these proposed changes, the minister would have the authority to designate individuals as enforcement officers. For example, indigenous people currently working as guardian watchmen on the North Pacific coast or as members of provincial or local law enforcement could be designated the authority to enforce the Oceans Act within their waters. This provision would allow for greater collaboration with indigenous organizations and would distribute enforcement responsibilities to our partners. On the ground, this would make a significant difference to citizens, who have been begging for this kind of proper attention and collaboration.

The amendments would enable enforcement officers to make far better use of technology during an investigation. For example, an enforcement officer could require anyone being investigated to produce documents or electronic data, could examine the documents electronically, and could require that access to these devices be granted. It is hard to believe that we are talking about this in 2017, so it is important that we get with the times. These new contemporary powers are similar to those found in the Fisheries Act.

Not only would the powers of enforcement officers be strengthened but the amendments and additions proposed in Bill C-55 would be aligned with the powers of environmental protection officers under other statutes. Similar powers are found in the Canadian Environmental Protection Act. The proposed changes would better match those proposed under other natural resources laws. For example, the obligation to provide assistance to enforcement officers would be added to the Oceans Act. Under this new power, those involved would be required to provide reasonable assistance to enforcement officers during an inspection. The officer would also be able to examine, take samples of, and seize all objects that she or he had reasonable grounds to believe were obtained through the commission of an offence under the act.

Also, rights of passage would be added to the Oceans Act. When an enforcement officer needed to go through private property to inspect an area that could not otherwise be accessed, the officer would now have the right to walk through private property to gain access to the area of the ocean being inspected, such as a pier, a fishing vessel, or fishing apparatus. Ships that needed to be inspected could now be lawfully directed to or detained in any place in Canadian waters. Officers would have the authority to require this if they had reasonable grounds to believe that the ship or a person on board that ship had committed an offence related to the Oceans Act. Similar powers can be found in the Canadian Environmental Protection Act,1999, and the Antarctic Environmental Protection Act.

A new provision would also be added to the Oceans Act such that the legal owner of objects seized, locked up, abandoned, or confiscated, and persons entitled to possession of them, would be jointly and severally liable for the costs incurred by the government for their inspection, seizure, forfeiture, or disposition.

An offence under the Oceans Act could now also result in charges under other applicable Canadian legislation, such as the Fisheries Act or the Species at Risk Act. For example, fisheries closures could also be imposed in marine protected areas. A violation of such closures could expose a fisher to charges laid under the Fisheries Act, as well as charges for not respecting a prohibition in marine protected areas.

I will move on to the fines and punishments proposed under Bill C-55 to create greater certainty and administrative consistency. Under the current 20-year-old Oceans Act, contravention of the existing prohibitions can carry fines of up to $100,000 for an offence punishable on summary conviction, or $500,000 for an indictable offence. Penalties or punishments can vary, depending on the offence, and can include the imposition of monetary fines, licence suspension, prohibition orders, and creative sentencing, such as community service.

Bill C-55 seeks to align fines with those of other acts. The amount of the fine imposed on an individual would increase to between $200,000 and $300,000 for an offence punishable on summary conviction, and from $500,000 to $1 million for a criminal offence.

The bill also proposes to allow the courts to impose fines on corporations and ships. This is a measure that is consistent with other environmental laws, including the Canadian Environmental Protection Act.

We would add new factors the courts would be able to take into account when they determined the fine that would be imposed on a person, corporation, or ship if they were found guilty. These would be the following: Was the offence a continuation of an offence? Did the offender do this numerous times or over several days, weeks, or months? Was this a second or subsequence offence? Was the offender found guilty of having committed another offence in the past? Were there any aggravating factors, such as having committed the offence despite having been warned by an enforcement officer not to start or continue the activity?

The courts would also be able to take into account such matters as small revenue corporation status and the liability of directors, masters, owners, officers, agents, and mandataries. The bill would also provide the possibility of leniency under the due diligence defence. This means that if one was accused of an offence, one could explain to a court that he or she was prudent and reasonable in the particular circumstances of the offence.

There would also be more court orders in the bill, such as the ability to charge an amount to monitor environmental effects, to promote the conservation and protection of marine protected areas, to conduct research, to assist a group for its work on the marine protected area, or to support an educational institution.

Bill C-55 is an important step toward providing Canada's oceans with the protection Canadians expect and have been asking for, and for me, as a representative of West Vancouver—Sunshine Coast—Sea to Sky Country, this is an important step. It is a step toward protecting the livelihoods of many Canadians as well.

I look forward to continuing to participate in the protection of Canada's marine ecosystems from coast to coast to coast.

Oceans ActGovernment Orders

5:05 p.m.

NDP

Fin Donnelly NDP Port Moody—Coquitlam, BC

Madam Speaker, I would like to ask the parliamentary secretary if she could elaborate on Bill C-55 and ministerial discretion versus science-based evidence and how the government, through this legislation, would give that power to the minister without establishing a basis, as I spoke about earlier, of minimum protection standards?

The scientific community, around the world, has clearly identified that we need minimum protection standards if we want to see MPAs work. My colleague from Fleetwood—Port Kells asked about the consequences of getting this wrong if we do not do this right.

Could my hon. colleague comment on that?

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5:10 p.m.

Liberal

Pam Goldsmith-Jones Liberal West Vancouver—Sunshine Coast—Sea to Sky Country, BC

Madam Speaker, I thank my hon. colleague for the question and for his leadership in this arena. It is noted, and I think Canadians are very grateful for the work he has done.

The most important thing to note is that in the legislation, the precautionary principle is very important. The fact that we are providing interim measures is very important. It signals that we are trying to move as quickly as we can toward greater protections.

Second, there is no question that our government has put science, scientists, and science-based research at the heart of much of the work many departments do. The member opposite can feel quite confident that it is essential.

Third, the fact that the minister has discretion in the context of that is a testament to his leadership with regard to ocean protection.

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5:10 p.m.

Conservative

Todd Doherty Conservative Cariboo—Prince George, BC

Madam Speaker, the hon. member just answered a question from my hon. colleague from Port Moody—Coquitlam with respect to moving as fast as the government could to put those protections in place. At what cost?

We have heard committee testimony from Canadians from coast to coast to coast, stakeholders, indigenous groups, industry, NGOs, environmental groups, and scientists. They have said that the process has to be thorough. We all agree that we need to move in the right direction in the protection of our oceans, but that process has to be thorough and it has to be true.

What does my hon colleague have to say to the hundreds, if not thousands, of stakeholders across Canada that have felt alienated by her government's lack of consultation on this process?

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5:10 p.m.

Liberal

Pam Goldsmith-Jones Liberal West Vancouver—Sunshine Coast—Sea to Sky Country, BC

Madam Speaker, it is wonderful to think that we might all agree. Certainly stakeholders and our government are passionate about this. The minister in his introductory speech recognized the input he had received. He recognized that he must listen to all groups affected by this. However, the act is 20 years out of date. We fell behind in the last decade, and we are making up for that.

Oceans ActGovernment Orders

5:10 p.m.

Whitby Ontario

Liberal

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

Madam Speaker, my hon. colleague started her speech by talking about Canada being surrounded with water and it being critically important to each and every person in the chamber and across our country. From the perspective of development and sustainable development, how important is this initiative to ensure Canada continues to be a leader in our commitment to the 2030 agenda on sustainable development goals?

Oceans ActGovernment Orders

5:10 p.m.

Liberal

Pam Goldsmith-Jones Liberal West Vancouver—Sunshine Coast—Sea to Sky Country, BC

Madam Speaker, speaking as a member of Parliament from the west coast, nothing is more respected or revered than wild salmon. Protecting the habitat for wild salmon, orcas, herring, or whatever species in the chain, means that the natural abundance can come back and thrive. What sustainability really means is whether we take into account all aspects that allow the environment and the economy to proceed at the same time.

The sustainable development goals are very important to us. We feel this step is in response to that and to the interests of the community, which takes this to heart. That is what gives me such great pride to be addressing this on behalf of the minister.

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5:15 p.m.

NDP

Fin Donnelly NDP Port Moody—Coquitlam, BC

Madam Speaker, I share the parliamentary secretary's passion for wild salmon, for other marine wildlife, and for ecosystems. I appreciate her comments on that.

With respect to the question just asked, unfortunately Canada is not a leader in ocean protection. We are well behind. As we have outlined, many countries are well ahead of us. We are now at 3.5% and other countries are over 30%, so we have a lot of catching up to do.

My question is around co-governance, working with first nations, Inuit, and Métis. How does the government expect to work with those governments in moving forward in establishing MPAs on all three coasts?

Oceans ActGovernment Orders

5:15 p.m.

Liberal

Pam Goldsmith-Jones Liberal West Vancouver—Sunshine Coast—Sea to Sky Country, BC

Madam Speaker, we recognize the road ahead of us with regard to marine protection. That was why I referred to the government's recommendation for interim marine protected areas so we could state our intent, as all of the other pieces unfold, toward much greater marine protected areas of our coast. Co-governance is essential to us. Our relationship with indigenous peoples of Canada is essential to us. Frankly, this is the opportunity to demonstrate that.

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5:15 p.m.

Conservative

Mel Arnold Conservative North Okanagan—Shuswap, BC

Madam Speaker, the member for West Vancouver—Sunshine Coast—Sea to Sky Country comes from a beautiful part of the country. I know her passion for wild salmon on the west coast, and I share that passion.

What are the member's thoughts on the ability of the minister to move forward without the scientific backing on some of these closures? How can that be defendable when the world environmental community is so focused on ensuring we have the science right?

Oceans ActGovernment Orders

5:15 p.m.

Liberal

Pam Goldsmith-Jones Liberal West Vancouver—Sunshine Coast—Sea to Sky Country, BC

Madam Speaker, I would like to take this opportunity to point to two other very exciting initiatives of our government under the leadership of the minister. We have science enterprise centres in Moncton and in West Vancouver. Through revitalization and reinvestment, we are reigniting science enterprise in these flagship labs on both coasts.

When we bring the community in and bring science partners together, we can be assured that the number one priority is environmental conservation, concern for pollution of the ocean, concern for plastics in the ocean, and concern for the potential threats of open-net fish farms. These questions are being raised by the community, and our government is putting those questions directly to the two new flagship science enterprise centres to answer.

Oceans ActGovernment Orders

5:15 p.m.

NDP

Fin Donnelly NDP Port Moody—Coquitlam, BC

Madam Speaker, I want to ask for a quick elaboration on empowering other partners to do the work she talked about, which is the enforcement of marine protected areas. Could you elaborate as to who those partners are and how they will have the power to go across land, as you mentioned, into the oceans? What would that look like? Are our first nations included in this and how would this roll out in those communities?

Oceans ActGovernment Orders

5:15 p.m.

NDP

The Assistant Deputy Speaker NDP Carol Hughes

I will not elaborate on it, but I am sure it was through me that you were asking the question.

The hon. parliamentary secretary, a very brief answer please.

Oceans ActGovernment Orders

5:15 p.m.

Liberal

Pam Goldsmith-Jones Liberal West Vancouver—Sunshine Coast—Sea to Sky Country, BC

Madam Speaker, as I mentioned in my comments, examples would be the guardian watchmen, indigenous communities on the north Pacific coast, and also both provincial and local law enforcement.

I have seen this on our wonderful waterways, and I am sure many have. When citizens see things happen, there is no one to call. We feel we have such engaged partners on oceans protection that this would be very welcome. Of course, it is extended, fundamentally, to indigenous peoples but also local law enforcement.

Oceans ActGovernment Orders

5:15 p.m.

NDP

The Assistant Deputy Speaker NDP Carol Hughes

Resuming debate, the hon. member for North Okanagan—Shuswap. I will advise him ahead of time that I may need to interrupt him at some point to deal with some other orders of the House.

Oceans ActGovernment Orders

5:20 p.m.

Conservative

Mel Arnold Conservative North Okanagan—Shuswap, BC

Madam Speaker, I appreciate the opportunity to speak today, but not knowing when I will be cut off is awkward. Hopefully I can get through my speech today.

I rise today to speak to Bill C-55, an act to amend the Oceans Act and the Canada Petroleum Resources Act. The bill proposes to significantly increase the powers of the Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard so as to allow the minister to designate marine protected areas, or MPAs, for an interim period of up to five years.

The Standing Committee on Fisheries and Oceans is currently studying MPAs, specifically the criteria and process being used to identify and establish them.

Last December, I presented a motion to committee to undertake this study because it was clear to me that massive efforts and a significant amount of funding was being exerted by the government to increase MPAs, while stakeholders living and working along Canada's coasts were unaware of what was happening. At that time, it was clear that the government was exerting pressure on the established process and protocols for establishing MPAs in an effort to speed up that process. It was also clear that the government was willing to sacrifice processes of consensus-building with Canadians for the sake of expediency.

First nations, fishermen, cargo shippers, tourism operators, conservation groups, academics, and many other stakeholders continue to face consequences of the government's frantic and half-baked approach to speeding up the process of establishing MPAs.

Why is the government in such a hurry? Why is it so desperate that it needs to propose a bill that would nullify long-established processes and protocols used to establish consensus among stakeholders?

The answer is that in 2015, the Liberals set delivery dates for achieving MPA objectives that the previous Conservative government had committed to through the Aichi targets under the UN Convention on Biological Diversity, or CBD.

Through the Aichi targets, the Conservative government in 2010 committed to conserving 10% of our coastal and marine areas through networks of protected areas and other effective area-based conservation measures, not necessarily MPAs.

The objectives of conserving coastal and marine areas are worthy objectives, but the problem that thousands of Canadians working and living in coastal areas face today is that they have been cut out of the process for establishing MPAs. Why? Because the Liberal government has failed to deliver so many campaign promises that the pressure is on to deliver these commitments made by the Conservatives. The problem is that the timelines promised by the Liberals in the election were unrealistic in 2015, and they are unrealistic today.

The Liberal government has overwhelmed the established structures and processes for developing MPAs. Rather than stepping back and re-assessing its timeline, the Liberal government, through this legislation, is attempting to discard the systems, structures, and processes that have been used for years to establish MPAs in Canada.

Through the bill, the Liberal government proposes to give the fisheries minister increased powers to completely bypass established structures and processes designed to build consensus, designed to identify the right balance to strike in considering the interests of first nations, fishermen, and other Canadians affected by MPAs.

Bill C-55 would allow for arbitrary interim designation of MPAs prior to formal consultations with first nations or area stakeholders.

It is completely unacceptable in Canada, or anywhere for that matter, for the federal government to undermine structures and processes that allow citizens, including first nations, to engage and defend their interests when the government is considering a decision that could have a major effect on those citizens.

Upon reviewing the mandate letter of the Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard, it was clear the government was going to do everything it could to reach its political targets come hell or high water, pardon the pun.

Considering that the 2010 Aichi targets were given 10 years to be implemented, it occurred to me that there may be a reason for the long time frame set to reach these targets.

The Standing Committee on Fisheries and Oceans, or FOPO, as it is known here on the Hill, consists of members from across the country and the three main political parties in the House. It is an honour to sit on that committee with members who I believe share a common commitment to fish, fisheries, and their habitat.

The FOPO committee is still in the midst of this study on MPAs, and has so far heard from witnesses from many areas of Canada and abroad. The committee had benefited greatly from testimony by first nations, fishermen, conservationists, and representatives from the shipping and tourism sectors. What has been even more interesting are the common themes borne in the testimony and the evidence the committee has received.

The committee has heard that proper consultation before and during the process of establishing MPAs is paramount to establishing MPAs that are both effective and accepted, especially consultation with and by local communities. Nowhere was this more evident than in the north where MPAs have been established for the protection of our aboriginal fishing and harvesting areas. These areas were established where the local people wanted them, in the manner in which the local people wanted them, and only after appropriate consultation was completed. It was not in an arbitrary manner, absent of scientific certainty, to meet a political target.

I raise the point of scientific certainty here, because in one of the most alarming clauses in Bill C-55, proposed section 35.2 reads:

The Governor in Council and the Minister shall not use lack of scientific certainty regarding the risks posed by any activity that may be carried out in certain areas of the sea as a reason to postpone or refrain from exercising their powers or performing their duties and functions under subsection 35(3) or 35.1(2).

Now, not everyone may take the time to understand what this means. However, it means that the minister would not need the backing of science to designate a marine protected area. There would be no science necessary.

It is shameful that the current Liberal government's 2015 policy platform alluded to basing decisions on science, yet now as government, it is proposing to discard the structures and processes of consultation and science by setting the will of the minister above the needs and interests of all Canadians, including first nations.

I support marine protected areas. Canada has some of the most biodiverse regions in the world, and our coasts are truly rich in biodiversity. We need to recognize and identify where those important and sensitive areas are and take measures to protect them while at the same time recognize that we can harvest and develop sustainably, so that our country can prosper, maintain our high standards, and be able to enforce the laws and protect the areas we designate. If we choose to move forward without first knowing what it is we were trying to protect, or what industry we may be prejudicing, we will fail in our duties to the Canadians who have elected us to represent them here in the House.

Getting back to the study by the FOPO committee, I could quote from a number of witnesses who testified that the process of establishing MPAs has been rushed. For example, Mr. Ian MacPherson, executive director of Prince Edward Island Fishermen's Association, stated:

...the PEIFA understands the requirement to protect marine environments, but we do have concerns surrounding the tight timelines to accomplish these goals. The first step to designating a ministerial order MPA is to gather existing scientific, economic, social, and cultural information on the area. Prince Edward Island is a small province driven by small fishing communities. The displacement of fishers from one community—

It would appear that I am out of time. Hopefully, I will be able to continue my speech tomorrow.

Oceans ActGovernment Orders

5:30 p.m.

NDP

The Assistant Deputy Speaker NDP Carol Hughes

I am sorry to interrupt, but the member will have 10 minutes remaining in his speech the next time this matter is before the House.

The House resumed from September 26 consideration of the motion that Bill C-58, An Act to amend the Access to Information Act and the Privacy Act and to make consequential amendments to other Acts, be read the second time and referred to a committee.

Access to Information ActGovernment Orders

5:30 p.m.

NDP

The Deputy Chair NDP Carol Hughes

It being 5:30 p.m., the House will now proceed to the taking of the deferred recorded division on the motion at second reading stage of Bill C-58.

Call in the members.

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

Vote #350

Access to Information ActGovernment Orders

6:10 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Geoff Regan

I declare the motion carried. Accordingly, the bill stands referred to the Standing Committee on Access to Information, Privacy and Ethics.

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

The House resumed from September 26 consideration of the motion that Bill C-21, An Act to amend the Customs Act, be read the second time and referred to a committee.

Customs ActGovernment Orders

6:10 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Geoff Regan

The House will now proceed to the taking of the deferred recorded division on the motion at second reading stage of Bill C-21.

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

Vote #351

Customs ActGovernment Orders

6:15 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Geoff Regan

I declare the motion carried. Accordingly, the bill stands referred to the Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security.

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

The House resumed from September 21 consideration of the motion that Bill C-338, An Act to amend the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act (punishment), be read the second time and referred to a committee.

Controlled Drugs and Substances ActPrivate Members' Business

6:15 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Geoff Regan

The House will now proceed to the taking of the deferred division on the motion at second reading stage of Bill C-338, under private members' business.

Before the Clerk announced the results of the vote:

Controlled Drugs and Substances ActPrivate Members' Business

6:25 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Geoff Regan

Is the hon. member for Nipissing—Timiskaming rising on a point of order?

Controlled Drugs and Substances ActPrivate Members' Business

6:25 p.m.

Liberal

Anthony Rota Liberal Nipissing—Timiskaming, ON

Yes, Mr. Speaker. My intent was to vote in opposition to the bill, and unfortunately there was some confusion in the room. I would like my vote registered as opposed.

Controlled Drugs and Substances ActPrivate Members' Business

6:25 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Geoff Regan

In a moment I am going to be asking for unanimous consent for two people it looks like.

Is the hon. member for Saint-Laurent rising on a point of order?

Controlled Drugs and Substances ActPrivate Members' Business

6:25 p.m.

Liberal

Emmanuella Lambropoulos Liberal Saint-Laurent, QC

Yes, Mr. Speaker. I would like my vote to be recorded as opposed.

Controlled Drugs and Substances ActPrivate Members' Business

6:25 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Geoff Regan

Is there unanimous consent in the House for the members to change their votes?

Controlled Drugs and Substances ActPrivate Members' Business

6:25 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

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

Vote #352

Controlled Drugs and Substances ActPrivate Members' Business

6:25 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Geoff Regan

I declare the motion lost.

The House resumed from September 26 consideration of the motion, and of the amendment.

VenezuelaPrivate Members' Business

6:30 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Geoff Regan

The House will now proceed to the taking of the deferred recorded division on the amendment of the member for Durham to Motion No. 128 under private members' business.

VenezuelaPrivate Members' Business

6:40 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Geoff Regan

Could I confirm that the seven members in the back all intended to vote yes? The hon. member for Cariboo—Prince George is suggesting I name them. I am not going to do that, because they voted quietly.

I am going to assume that it is agreed.

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

Vote #353

VenezuelaPrivate Members' Business

6:40 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Geoff Regan

I declare the amendment carried.

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

VenezuelaPrivate Members' Business

6:40 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

No.

VenezuelaPrivate Members' Business

6:40 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Geoff Regan

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

VenezuelaPrivate Members' Business

6:40 p.m.

Some hon. members

Yea.

VenezuelaPrivate Members' Business

6:40 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Geoff Regan

All those opposed will please say nay.

VenezuelaPrivate Members' Business

6:40 p.m.

Some hon. members

Nay.

VenezuelaPrivate Members' Business

6:40 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 #354

VenezuelaPrivate Members' Business

6:50 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Geoff Regan

I declare the motion, as amended, carried.

It being 6:50 p.m., the House will now proceed to the consideration of private members' business as listed on today's Order Paper.

The House resumed from June 5 consideration of the motion that Bill C-345, An Act to amend the Canada Labour Code (pregnant and nursing employees), be read the second time and referred to a committee.

Canada Labour CodePrivate Members' Business

6:50 p.m.

Cape Breton—Canso Nova Scotia

Liberal

Rodger Cuzner LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Employment

Mr. Speaker, I am thankful for the opportunity to speak to the opposition bill, Bill C-345. I am pleased the bill was put forward by my colleague for Abitibi—Témiscamingue. The bill is very similar to one that was tabled in the House back in the last Parliament.

I think all members in the House share the opinion, the will, and the want of ensuring that pregnant and nursing employees are safe and supported in the workforce, as they should be.

The bill proposes to allow the Government of Canada to enter into an agreement with provinces that provide for the application of provincial preventative withdrawal provisions that are at least as favourable to the employee as those in federal legislation. It would create uneven treatment of federally regulated workers across Canada. The bill would add a new section to part II of the Canada Labour Code to allow a pregnant or nursing employee under the federal jurisdiction to access certain provisions of provincial occupational health and safety legislation.

Right off the bat, I would like to emphasize three things. The bill would not improve safety for workers. It would have unintended consequences of employers absolving their duty to keep their pregnant and nursing employees in the workforce through reassignment or modification. Of particular note, currently no other province has such a wage replacement program.

How we make changes to the Canada Labour Code is an important consideration in this debate.

Our government believes in a fair and balanced labour law, and fair and balanced labour laws are created through a tripartite process when it comes to amending the Canada Labour Code. This process has served stakeholders in the federal jurisdiction well over the decades, including employers, labour, and government.

Although I applaud the member for wanting to improve protections for pregnant and nursing workers, those workers, and all workers, in the federal jurisdiction would be better served to support the process that has helped create the Canada Labour Code, which provides some of the best protections for workers in our country.

Members of the House know provisions already exist in the Canada Labour Code to protect the health and safety of all federally regulated workers, including pregnant and nursing employees. At the moment, employees under this federal jurisdiction, no matter where they live, may request from an employer a reassignment or modification of a job function based on medical advice.

My second point focuses on the fact that the federal legislation emphasizes work modifications and job reassignments so employees can continue the work in a safe environment. This is important. I would like to stress that employers have a responsibility in ensuring that their workplaces accommodate pregnant and nursing employees. The employer's role is a key part of the discussion, which has been absent from this debate.

Work modifications and job reassignments ensure that women can continue to participate in the labour force throughout their pregnancy. This should always be a priority. If, however, a reassignment or modification of a job function is in no way possible, employees may take a leave of absence, as a last resort, for the duration of the risk and benefit from the existing job protections under the code.

I would like to highlight that the current system under the Canada Labour Code is working. There are very few complaints associated with the current federal approach to preventative withdrawal. Over the past 10 years, only 14 complaints have been received, with only three of those judged to be founded following investigation.

The province of Quebec offers a similar provision for pregnant or nursing workers, providing them with the right to request reassignment to other duties or, if that is not possible, to take leave if their working conditions may be physically dangerous to their health or that of their fetus or nursing child.

Canada is a federation of 14 different jurisdictions. It is important that all workers who are regulated by the federal Canada Labour Code are treated fairly and equally, regardless of the province in which they work. Providing access to salary replacement benefits only to certain federal employees is unfair to employees working in other provinces and territories.

For example, an airline pilot or flight attendant working for a company like WestJet or Air Canada in Alberta should have the same rights as a pilot or attendant working for the same company in Quebec. These considerations should be taken into account as we examine this bill's implications more closely.

This bill would only benefit federally regulated workers in Quebec, since it is the only province that specifically offers preventative withdrawal job protection with wage replacement for those impacted. In Quebec, if a pregnant or nursing employee must stop working because of a health risk to her, her fetus, or her child, and if the employer is not able to reassign her, this employee is entitled to preventative withdrawal leave with a wage replacement equivalent to 90% of insurable earnings.

Our government takes the physical and mental health safety of all workers extremely seriously. In budget 2017, we announced new compliance and enforcement measures for occupational health and safety and labour standards. These measures include monetary penalties and administrative fees for employers who routinely violate legislation, the authority to publicly name violators, strengthened powers for inspectors, new recourse against reprisal, and improvements to the wage recovery process. The budget also proposed amendments to the Canada Labour Code to give federally regulated workers the right to request flexible work arrangements.

These and other budget 2017 measures will help workers to better balance professional and personal responsibilities, such as caring for a spouse going through medical treatment or for an aging family member. This will benefit workers and their families.

We know that new and growing families across this country need support to help balance work and the needs of their families. One of the first actions we took as a government was introducing the Canada child benefit, which puts more money in the pockets of nine out of 10 families, helping lift hundreds of thousands of children out of poverty.

Through budget 2017, we are improving the employment insurance program to help working parents face the challenges that come with a growing family. Parents will have two options: receiving El parental benefits over a period of 12 months at the existing rate of 55%, or receiving them over an extended period of up to 18 months at a lower benefit rate of 33% of average weekly earnings. Additionally, if they choose, pregnant women will be allowed to claim El maternity benefits up to 12 weeks before their due date, up from the previous eight weeks.

Our government also amended the Canada Labour Code to ensure that workers in federally regulated sectors have the job protection they need while receiving caregiving, parental, or maternity benefits.

Let me be clear. This government is working to ensure that women across this country are supported in the workforce. Women from coast to coast to coast can depend on this government to fight for their rights and inclusion. We are taking concrete action to support women in Canadian workplaces. We introduced union training innovations, which support and recruit women in trades. We are working hard on building a proactive pay equity regime. The legislation will be tabled in 2018. We are supporting female students in STEM and business through work placements.

In conclusion, trying to improve one aspect of the Canada Labour Code for workers should not lead to inequitable treatment for others. If the central goal of this bill is to improve the protections and supports for pregnant and nursing employees working in the federal jurisdiction, those protections and supports should be the same for every mother across this country, irrespective of the province in which they live.

Labour laws are very complicated, and making changes to them can lead to unintended consequences. That is why we, as a government, are very supportive of the tripartite process. When changes in the code are made, that is what should be exercised. That is why we are unable to support this legislation.

Canada Labour CodePrivate Members' Business

September 27th, 2017 / 7 p.m.

Conservative

Karen Vecchio Conservative Elgin—Middlesex—London, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise on Bill C-345, an act to amend the Canada Labour Code for pregnant and nursing employees. As indicated in the speech by my colleague from Sherwood Park—Fort Saskatchewan, my party supports referral of this piece of legislation to committee for further review and witness testimony. I believe it is an important amendment to the Canada Labour Code and should be given the appropriate amount of time at committee stage for review.

Although the Canada Labour Code affects only 10% of the population, some of the jobs falling into this category would be of concern to pregnant and nursing mothers, including jobs in uranium mining, air transportation and airlines, and interprovincial pipelines. Each of these jobs could threaten the health of both the mother and her child.

As we move forward in Canada with the economic growth of women, we must take important things into consideration. Currently, women make up a small majority of university graduates. Women are graduating from science and technology, engineering and math, but are not remaining in those fields at the same rates. I believe, as a member of the status of women committee, that women make the choice to have children that takes them out of the workforce temporarily, and sometimes full-time. We must provide family friendly options that work both for families and Canada's economy. Policies that would work and support women during their pregnancy and while nursing need to be discussed and studied as we continue to support women nationally.

We have reviewed the policies currently in place in Quebec. These policies create a gap between Quebec employees and their co-workers in the same fields, and sometimes when they are working side by side. Providing an opportunity for the federal minister to work with her provincial counterparts and to review Labour Code issues with a gender-based lens would provide a positive and equal playing field, but we need to hear from the experts on this issue, who will study the economic benefits and negative impacts on our economy and families.

We must consider what jobs females currently do Canada. According to a 2016 Statistics Canada report on employment by industry and sex, women make up 19.5% of the employees in the forestry, fishing, mining, quarry, oil and gas sectors. According to a study completed by Mining Industry Human Resources Council on participation in the mining industry in 2011, in a variety of capacities, including operating heavy-duty equipment, welding, and truck driving, women's participation was below 15%. Therefore, we have see growth between 2011 and 2016.

It is important that we continue to support the growth of female participation by reviewing the current federal policies in time. Many women plan their careers and employment around childbirth. Families are important to the growth of Canada, and supporting families is a practical approach to this issue. Providing flexible parental leave and employment insurance benefits for parents with ill children are positive measures that the Conservative Party supports and introduced in previous legislation and in its 2015 platform.

We must always consider the risk of a job to the health of the mother and her child. According to WorkplaceNL:

Laurentian University, in consultation with Workplace Safety North...have developed a document, “Guide to Healthy Pregnancies in the Mining Workplace”.... This is a valuable resource that provides information on workplace hazards in the mining industry including: physical agents (noise, vibration, heat, radiation); chemical agents (gases, dusts, mists, vapours, metals) and other factors (ergonomics, scheduling and workplace stress).

I believe this is an opportunity to review the occupational health of pregnant and nursing mothers, and organizations like this could study and identify these risks.

To return to the bill and its financial aspects and the amendments suggested by the sponsoring member, what would be the economic impacts of these for Canadians? What is the loss of income to a family when a pregnant or nursing mother must take time off without pay due to a pregnancy? What would this bill do, what would the results be, and what would happen if it went forward?

This bill only allows for the Minister of Labour to enter into agreements with the provinces. It does not create these agreements.

Members of the Conservative Party support maternal and child health in Canada and abroad. A government MP indicated previously that legislation like this would further complicate an already complicated area, but realistically, the key priority of this legislation is the safety of pregnant women and their unborn or nursing children, and the financial impact if they cannot be accommodated at their places of work.

The Liberal government, in its 2017 budget, extended to 12 week the benefits available to women who are unable to work due to their pregnancies. On a side note, I still prefer the 15 weeks presented in a private member's bill by the member for Kingston and the Islands. Moving the date prior to the birth of the child from eight to 12 weeks is a positive thing to do, but sometimes the threats to pregnancy are longer than just 12 weeks.

Sometimes expectant mothers can have a pregnancy involving hypertension or multiple births. Many employers will do their best to accommodate their employees, but unfortunately this is not always the case, so we need to consider alternatives. Having appropriate studies that will support economic security for women in Canada must be considered, and moving this piece of legislation to committee should be supported.

Many issues need to be considered, including current agreements with employees, inequities, and estimated costs. We must find an appropriate balance that supports families while supporting our businesses, which are already feeling the impact of the Liberal government's measures, including the most recent proposed tax changes and the cancellation of the Liberals' 2015 campaign plan to allow small business tax rates to be reduced to 9%. We always have to take these things into consideration, because it is not just about the employees; it is also about the employers.

Unfortunately, we have seen small businesses being targeted by the government since the 2015 election. Although we see jobs have been created, we also see a huge threat to our economy as we move forward with these proposed tax changes. We have to always consider what else the government can throw at them, whether it is federally or provincially, and what the government is going to do to make life for small business even harder.

As we are considering these amendments, we must see who will be impacted and who will benefit from the legislation. This has to be the question. Does this piece of legislation make life better for Canadian families, mothers, and their children? Have we properly supported the economic security of women in Canada, while supporting the growth of Canadian families?

I thank the member for bringing this bill forward so that we can review these potential changes. Bill C-345 provides a vehicle for parliamentarians to study these changes and to speak to experts in different fields. We need to support families and support healthy pregnancies and children, but we also need to create a healthy economy.

Canada Labour CodePrivate Members' Business

7:10 p.m.

NDP

Anne Minh-Thu Quach NDP Salaberry—Suroît, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to support my colleague from Abitibi—Témiscamingue, who introduced Bill C-345. I admire her greatly. She is the mother of two children aged two and about five months. When she is in Parliament, she is practically a single mother since she is here by herself with her five-month-old daughter who sticks to her like glue. The baby is always here with her. She gives speeches wearing a baby carrier and holding little Florence in her arms. Right now, the baby is just on the other side of the door, in the lobby.

The member is always taking care of her daughter and representing her constituents from Abitibi—Témiscamingue. She does an excellent job and she is passionate about her work. When she had children, she fought hard. She has been fighting for the past six years so that women MPs can have access to child care services tailored to their needs, in other words, ones that will accommodate a schedule that can be somewhat unpredictable, because of votes, for example. There was no daycare on the Hill specifically for members. She fought for us to have a family room. Everywhere she goes, she fights so that women can continue to work and raise a family, regardless of their age. She really deserves a round of applause for that.

Canada Labour CodePrivate Members' Business

7:10 p.m.

Some hon. members

Hear, hear!

Canada Labour CodePrivate Members' Business

7:10 p.m.

NDP

Anne Minh-Thu Quach NDP Salaberry—Suroît, QC

Yes, I am truly proud to work with her, and I am proud to be a young female parliamentarian. If Bill C-345 were to pass, it would benefit other women facing other difficulties in high-risk work environments.

As my Conservative colleague said, passing this bill would improve working conditions for women in jobs involving pipelines and chemicals or flight attendants who have to spend long hours on their feet, allowing them to carry a pregnancy to term and even to continue caring for their child by nursing. My NDP colleague is keeping up the fight, which is very commendable. Even though it is hard for her right now, she is fighting for women in even tougher situations, so those women can keep working and living with dignity while being mothers.

I believe that being a woman should never be a disadvantage, a source of stress, or a reason to live in precarious conditions.

As my colleague, the member from Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie, already stated in one of his speeches, “In Quebec, we often boast about how we are more progressive, but that is not always true and has not always been the case.”

Women got the right to vote in 1940. Ever since, women have been fighting for full recognition of their rights. Many battles later, they won meaningful recognition of their equality.

Women in Quebec had to wait until 1979 for a maternity leave program for working women. In 2000, women marched to let the world know that they were still fighting for equality and fairness for all women. That fight is not over yet. When a woman chooses to carry a pregnancy to term, it is not because she fears the future, but rather because she is betting on the future, and hoping for a promising future for her child. She wants a better world for the new life growing inside her.

Perhaps it is time for all of us to bet on Canada's future by protecting the health of mothers and their children. That is why we are debating my colleague from Abitibi—Témiscamingue's Bill C-345 today.

The current Liberal government certainly likes to brag about being feminist, about how it wants to move forward with equity legislation and support work-life balance. This would be a very tangible step it could take toward promoting work-life balance and the integration of women into the workplace.

Bill C-345 amends the Canada Labour Code to authorize the Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Labour to enter into an agreement with the government of a province or territory that provides for the application, to pregnant or nursing employees, of certain provisions of the provincial legislation concerning occupational health and safety. We have maternity leave because unions fought for it, and not that long ago either. In 1971, the federal government expanded what was then called the unemployment insurance system to include maternity leave benefits equivalent to 66% of the mother's salary for a limited period of 15 weeks.

Subsequently, unions began pushing for longer maternity leave and a higher proportion of salary. They also began negotiating guarantees that women could return to the same job they had prior to their maternity leave, as well as paternity leave and leave for adoptive parents.

According to the Canadian Labour Congress, at the beginning of the 1960s, just over 30% of women aged 20 to 30 participated in the Canadian labour force. By the end of the 1970s, that number had doubled to just over 60%. In 2012, over 70% of young women were participating in the labour force, and today, 70% of mothers with children under five years of age are working. We still have some work to do.

As early as 1979, Quebec's Common Front, representing government, education and health workers, negotiated 20 weeks of fully paid maternity, 10 weeks' leave when parents adopted a child, and five days of paternity leave. These are just some examples that have led to our current system. Maternity and parental leave are hard-won gains, and they must be extended in order to better help women get back into the workforce.

The federal government has now decided to allow women to take 18 months of maternity leave, as my Liberal colleague was saying, but the extended leave comes with a significant reduction in income, since an employee will go from receiving 55% of her income for the first 15 weeks to getting 33% for the rest of the leave. That makes it very difficult to support the family and for single-parent families, living conditions often become very tough. Women, who earn even less money than men, end up living in poverty. That is not what I call creating the best possible conditions for a mother and child's long-term health.

The program in Quebec is more generous with weekly benefits of $900 compared to $543 from the federal program. If Bill C-345 passes and a province decides to offer a program that is better than the current federal measures, or if a province improves an existing program, the Minister of Labour would have the authority to establish a new agreement or amend the existing agreement to include the new benefit.

The federal government has to lead by example and encourage the provinces to improve this system. Canadians could then choose which program suits them best. Bill C-345 reinforces the notion that women should not have to choose between putting their health or that of their child at risk by continuing to work or losing their salary to protect themselves. Bill C-345 can protect women who work in high-risk environments and motivate employers to make accommodations to allow women to continue working when they are pregnant or nursing.

This bill also puts forth an amenable means of delivering the best possible care to women by giving the Minister of Labour the ability to consult provincial governments in order to decide whether the provincial or federal maternity benefits package will better suit constituents on a province-by-province basis.

Bill C-345 is able to provide equal pregnancy benefits to all pregnant and nursing employees across a given province once an agreement is reached between the provincial or territorial government and the Minister of Labour, regardless of whether their job falls under federal or provincial jurisdiction.

I have had the experience of being a working, nursing mother. It was a very demanding time, and my job did not involve being in an environment that would put my health or my daughter's at risk. Indeed, I was working here, in Parliament, a position I consider myself very fortunate to have been in, and I am quite aware that not everyone is as lucky as I was. Not all women have that peace of mind, and I cannot imagine the stress of being a new mother who has to learn to cope with a new baby and deal with returning to work in an environment that puts her health and that of her child at risk.

Bill C-345 also promotes greater equality between men and women in Canada and greater equality among women. It strengthens existing laws and helps men and women while making our society more productive. By helping men and women better juggle family and work responsibilities after a child is born, and by protecting women's place in the workforce, we will see our existing businesses grow stronger and new ones being created.

Both sides of the House have contributed to the development of this bill. I want to take this opportunity to thank the members for Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie and Abitibi—Témiscamingue for their monumental efforts. I hope the Liberals will have a change of heart and realize how important this bill is to all women working in high-risk occupations.

Business of SupplyPrivate Members' Business

7:20 p.m.

Waterloo Ontario

Liberal

Bardish Chagger LiberalLeader of the Government in the House of Commons and Minister of Small Business and Tourism

Mr. Speaker, I would like to inform the House that next Tuesday, October 3, and Thursday, October 5, shall be allotted days.

The House resumed consideration of the motion that Bill C-345, An Act to amend the Canada Labour Code (pregnant and nursing employees), be read the second time and referred to a committee.

Canada Labour CodePrivate Members' Business

7:20 p.m.

NDP

François Choquette NDP Drummond, QC

Mr. Speaker, it is an honour for me as well to rise in this House and speak to a bill that will benefit pregnant and nursing women and improve gender equality to boot. I therefore want to add my voice to that of the member for Salaberry—Suroît.

She just made an excellent speech in which she supported and commended the member for Abitibi—Témiscamingue for all the outstanding work she has done to promote greater family spirit here in the House.

This bill will also improve access to services and allow for greater fairness in family life.

I, too, wish to commend my colleague for introducing this bill. Bill C-345 is entitled, “An Act to amend the Canada Labour Code (pregnant and nursing employees)”. Naturally, we intend to support this bill at second reading. The NDP has a long history of working to promote women's rights across the country. Women face major challenges in the workforce.

The bill introduced by my colleague from Abitibi—Témiscamingue meets the aspirations of many women who would like to have better working conditions and increased safety for them and their children when they have to go back to a job that could be dangerous.

More specifically, Bill C-345 amends the Canada Labour Code to authorize the Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Labour to enter into an agreement with a provincial government that provides for the application, to pregnant or nursing employees, of certain provisions of the provincial legislation on occupational health and safety.

Essentially, Bill C-345 ensures that women receive the best benefits possible before the child is born and during the breast-feeding period. This will better protect women who work in high-risk work environments and motivate employers to make accommodations to allow women to continue working when they are pregnant or nursing.

Those are the main benefits of this bill. It advances women's rights and ensures greater equality between men and women, as well as fairness. This bill puts forth an amenable means of delivering the best possible care to women by giving the Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Labour the ability to consult provincial governments in order to decide whether the provincial or federal maternal benefits package will better suit constituents on a province-by-province basis.

Once an agreement is reached between the provincial or territorial government and the Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Labour, this will provide equal pregnancy benefits to all pregnant and nursing employees across a given province, regardless of their job falling under federal or provincial jurisdiction. This guarantees fairness among all workers in any given province.

This is not the first time the NDP introduces bills or moves motions to improve gender equity. We just recently moved a motion on pay equity that we are very proud of. It was adopted by the House of Commons. We asked and recommended that a pay equity bill be adopted in 2017, this year. As I already mentioned, the people in my riding are totally shocked when they learn that there is no federal legislation on pay equity. When I tell them as much, they cannot believe it.

As a result, hundreds of my constituents signed petitions calling on the House of Commons to pass legislation on pay equity. Unfortunately, the current Prime Minister's Liberal government is slow to introduce such legislation. In fact, it is going to wait until the eve of the next election to introduce this bill and argue it will have to get reelected if people want pay equity legislation. That is too bad because we should not have to wait for gender equity.

That was just an example of all the good work that we are doing to improve gender equality. We are truly a leader on this file. It is very important to us. I am very proud of my NDP colleagues' recent victory in removing the federal tax on feminine hygiene products—a significant achievement. That was certainly an unfair tax if ever there was one. More than 72,000 Canadians signed a petition calling for the abolition of this totally unfair tax. I am very proud that we were able to move this issue forward.

These examples provide a context for Bill C-345 and show that the promotion of gender equality is embedded in the NDP's mission and, indeed, in its very DNA.

I am extremely proud of my colleagues, the members for Abitibi—Témiscamingue and Salaberry—Suroît, who have changed the culture of the House of Commons and proved that it is possible to be a female MP and have young children and even nurse here while carrying out the duties of this important job. We can give these women every resource and every opportunity, and I know my colleagues have worked very hard to improve work-life balance, or what you might call House-life balance in this case. We still have a long way to go, but passing Bill C-345 would take us one step closer.

I recently worked on another campaign spearheaded by one of my colleagues. This campaign, which I continue to support, is for free prescription birth control. Once again, it is often women who bear the entire financial burden of this responsibility. Prescription birth control is not a choice. When a doctor recommends one contraceptive over another to a woman, it is often because the other contraceptive is not suited to her physiology. Unfortunately, the recommended alternative can often cost hundreds of dollars, which can have an impact on women like single mothers, young students, and low-income workers.

Prescription birth control is already free in 25 countries. That is why hundreds of my constituents have signed petitions calling for free prescription birth control. This would be one more way to contribute to gender equality in Canada.

I want to thank the member for Abitibi—Témiscamingue for bringing this bill forward, and I commend her for everything she does in the House to demand better access to services in order to achieve a better balance between family life and parliamentary duties. Her efforts will benefit all women going forward. Let us hope we will keep moving in this direction.

Canada Labour CodePrivate Members' Business

7:30 p.m.

Conservative

The Deputy Speaker Conservative Bruce Stanton

The hon. member for Abitibi—Témiscamingue has up to five minutes for her right of reply.

Canada Labour CodePrivate Members' Business

7:30 p.m.

NDP

Christine Moore NDP Abitibi—Témiscamingue, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to respond to arguments against my bill, particularly those made by the Liberals. I strongly encourage them all to listen closely to be sure they understand.

They say that we already have an employment insurance program that allows women to leave work 12 weeks prior to their due date. However, pregnancy lasts 40 weeks. That means women get nothing for 28 weeks. Miscarriages and congenital malformations are much more likely to occur during the first two trimesters, which is when there is no protection available to women.

That is why we need preventive withdrawal programs that provide an income for women, especially when other women in the same province have access to that kind of program. They argued that a woman living in Ontario would not have the same protection as a woman living in Quebec even if they worked for the same employer, but that is already the case for parental leave benefits.

A House of Commons employee who lives in Quebec does not get the same benefits as her colleague who lives in Ontario. One collects benefits under Quebec's parental insurance plan, and the other collects employment insurance. We already have different provinces doing different things when it comes to parental leave benefits, so why not adopt the same approach for preventive withdrawal? The same logic should apply.

Furthermore, I have been told that the only province where women could benefit from this is Quebec. That is true, but other ministers are currently working on similar programs, because they realize how important this is. Alberta and British Columbia have progressive governments that are examining this issue and understand just how crucial a preventive withdrawal program can be in family planning. Yes, it is true that only women in Quebec would benefit from this, but that could change soon. I hope things will change.

The government could introduce a Canada-wide federal program, except that 85% of employees work under provincial jurisdiction. That is why it makes a lot more sense to leave it up to the provinces to create their own programs and for us to align with provincial programs to ensure that all employed women in a given province can benefit from the same protections.

As members can see, there is clearly no reason to vote against this bill, particularly at second reading, when it still has to go to committee. Even the Conservatives understand that this is about women's rights and that the bill will protect pregnant and nursing women. They were able to put partisanship aside to support my bill, even though we all know that we have very different opinions on a number of issues. The Liberals therefore have no reason to play politics and deny rights to pregnant and nursing women. Women deserve to have a safe pregnancy and some assurance they do not end up in financial difficulties.

I hope that the Liberals will understand what is at stake and that they will send this bill to committee because it is a matter of women's rights. We need to take action.

Canada Labour CodePrivate Members' Business

7:35 p.m.

Conservative

The Deputy Speaker Conservative Bruce Stanton

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

Canada Labour CodePrivate Members' Business

7:35 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

No.

Canada Labour CodePrivate Members' Business

7:35 p.m.

Conservative

The Deputy Speaker Conservative Bruce Stanton

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

Canada Labour CodePrivate Members' Business

7:35 p.m.

Some hon. members

Yea.

Canada Labour CodePrivate Members' Business

7:35 p.m.

Conservative

The Deputy Speaker Conservative Bruce Stanton

All those opposed will please say nay.

Canada Labour CodePrivate Members' Business

7:35 p.m.

Some hon. members

Nay.

Canada Labour CodePrivate Members' Business

7:35 p.m.

Conservative

The Deputy Speaker Conservative Bruce Stanton

In my opinion the nays have it.

And five or more members having risen:

Pursuant to Standing Order 93, the recorded division stands deferred until Wednesday, October 4, 2017, immediately before the time provided for private members' business.

A motion to adjourn the House under Standing Order 38 deemed to have been moved.

EducationAdjournment Proceedings

7:35 p.m.

Green

Elizabeth May Green Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

Mr. Speaker, I rise tonight to pursue a question I asked on a very memorable day, which was April 12 this spring. We were gathered here just hours after this place was electrified by the inspiring speech of Malala Yousafzai. She was extraordinary. I think we all remember her ability, her adept touch at humour, her compelling life story, and her challenge to Canada: to help, and make a priority, in the education of women and girls.

In question period that day, I asked the Prime Minister a question, and used the challenge that Malala Yousafzai had put to us. We will recall that her address laid out very clearly the case, the absolutely rock solid case, that educating women and girls was the best investment one could make in peace and security, and bettering the whole world.

As she said, “Secondary education for girls can transform communities, countries and our world.” However, she went on, “But around the world, 130 million girls are out of school today.” Her challenge to the Prime Minister, was “Dear Canada, I am asking you to lead once again”. She had very specific questions. Would the Prime Minister:

...make girls' education a central theme of your G7 Presidency next year...use your influence to help fill the global education funding gap...Host the upcoming replenishment of the Global Partnership for Education...prioritize 12 years of school for refugees.

The Prime Minister's answer was entirely positive, but as in the case with many answers in question period, it lacked specificity. Clearly, the Prime Minister spoke of the enormous honour of welcoming Malala Yousafzai. He agreed that we needed to do more. He agreed that in Canada's G7 presidency, which will begin next year, there would be a strong emphasis on gender equality and opportunity for women and girls.

However, since that time, unfortunately the world has fallen short. There have been a number of disturbing developments. Again, one of these things still lies in the future, which is the G7 presidency for Canada.

The G7 meeting just months later, in June of this year, in Italy, was extremely disappointing. A much-anticipated report on education was shelved. Malala Yousafzai and her supporters, the Malala Fund, within 48 hours, generated more than 27,000 allies and individuals who mobilized in 134 countries, demanding the report be released. It was not.

Meanwhile, funding for the education of women and girls has dropped, particularly large funders. The United States and the United Kingdom, particularly, have reduced their funding. There is now less funding to meet this critical sustainable development goal for education than there was just a year ago. Another thing that was very specific in the challenge was whether Canada would step up to host the global replenishment, but, no, Senegal and France stepped up.

This is not a failure. This is not a broken promise, not yet. However, I ask the government, I ask the Prime Minister, and I ask the parliamentary secretary this. Will Canada step up and deliver on the promises we made to Malala Yousafzai?

EducationAdjournment Proceedings

7:40 p.m.

Whitby Ontario

Liberal

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

Mr. Speaker, before I begin, I was to attend a toast to the late Jim Flaherty from my riding of Whitby this evening in support of the Abilities Centre, a project that he and his wife Christine worked hard to ensure came to fruition, so I want at this point to raise a toast from this venue to the late Jim Flaherty in honour of his work on the Abilities Centre.

To answer my hon. colleague's question, we believe that every girl and boy should be able to go to school and complete primary and secondary education, regardless of their circumstances or refugee status. This is in line with Canada's commitment to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development adopted by the United Nations in 2015.

We also believe that gender equality, the empowerment of women and girls, and the promotion of human rights are key Canadian values. Canada integrates attention to gender equality into all issues of development programming and reduces barriers to girls' education. We are providing community-based education, training teachers to address gender discrimination, and preventing gender-based violence in schools.

Canada is also working to end child, early, and forced marriage and to meet girls' water, sanitation, and hygiene needs by providing $75 million to UNICEF for the WinS for Girls initiative. These initiatives emphasize our holistic approach to education, because girls cannot study or do well in school if these issues are not addressed.

Canada also supports increased access to education for girls, including in Kenya and Pakistan, as well as for Syrian refugee girls in Lebanon and Jordan. Canada is supporting a multi-donor initiative to meet the Government of Jordan's commitment to ensure that girls and boys, including refugees, have access to public school.

In addition to supporting girls' education, Canada is concerned about the gaps in education for crisis-affected children and refugees. We are providing $20 million to the Education Cannot Wait Fund for emergency education. Under the new Middle East strategy for 2016-2019, our government has so far committed $180 million to education initiatives for children affected by the Syria and Iraq crises.

In addition, Canada is providing $120 million to the Global Partnership for Education to strengthen education systems in 65 developing countries, actively participating in its board and committees, and supporting its work at the country level.

With respect to our work to address the education funding gap in developing countries, Canada was engaging with our G7 partners on the G7's Taormina progress report, which will demonstrate Canada's meaningful progress on education. This includes progress in areas where education outcomes have a direct impact on gender equality, health, inclusive growth, and peace and security. While it is too early to specify what themes Canada will prioritize next year during its G7 presidency, we certainly will build on efforts to strengthen gender equality and women's empowerment, which cannot be achieved without education.

EducationAdjournment Proceedings

7:45 p.m.

Green

Elizabeth May Green Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

Mr. Speaker, I join the parliamentary secretary in her toast to Jim Flaherty and thank Christine for their work for the Abilities Centre.

What we are looking at in terms of the education of women and girls remains urgent. I know we share a lot of the concerns in this place about that issue. To give the House a sense of the scale, Canada provided $20 million for the Education Cannot Wait Fund, but the fund aims to raise $3.85 billion. We have donated essentially a drop in the bucket. We can do better.

We provided $120 million to the Global Partnership in Education Replenishment campaign. The gap is huge. It needs to raise $3.1 billion for the period 2018-2020.

I know these are challenging things. There are multiple priorities that press on the government, but Malala Yousafzai is a Canadian citizen. I want her to be proud of her country. I want us to lead.

EducationAdjournment Proceedings

7:45 p.m.

Liberal

Celina Caesar-Chavannes Liberal Whitby, ON

Mr. Speaker, we both agree that the gap is huge. As I mentioned in my speech, we are taking a holistic approach to ensure that girls and boys have the education they need within crises and conflict in fragile zones.

With our new feminist international assistance policy, we are taking a comprehensive approach and ensuring that we are listening to local actors, that we are allowing for programming that listens to women and girls who are on the ground to ensure that once we make those investments in education, things like water and sanitation are also addressed. They also impact whether or not a girl could go to school and effectively thrive in that environment, whether a girl could reach her full potential because she will not be subjected to other acts of violence toward her. We want to make sure that we are looking at this issue comprehensively to ensure that girls can grow and reach their full potential.

EthicsAdjournment Proceedings

7:45 p.m.

Conservative

Michelle Rempel Conservative Calgary Nose Hill, AB

Mr. Speaker, the question I am asking tonight has to do with the Prime Minister's vacation that he took, I believe last Christmas, which now is subject to an investigation by the federal Ethics Commissioner, related to his use of private aircraft.

The questions I raised, though, were more to get a sense of where his head space was at in this. I will try to make it relevant to the people in my community.

Alberta is going through a really hard time right now. There are many people out of work in Calgary, and many things have happened in the last two years that have essentially been a kick while they are down. We have seen a carbon tax put in place. We have seen punitive policies from the federal government on the energy sector, such as changing the rules for an environmental assessment midstream.

They are very political decisions, essentially designed to shutdown the energy sector. There are municipal property tax increases, changes in the wage floor in Alberta, and now the small business tax increase. Many people in my community are saying the government is taking a lot from them, but the Prime Minister was taking a vacation. I wanted to know why the Prime Minister thought it was okay to do this, and to give him a chance to explain to my constituents how he thought this was right.

The response that I got was nowhere close to satisfactory. If the Prime Minister was going to take those sorts of actions, he should be able to explain them, and he did not do that. When I told a friend about this situation, he said, “Wow, that's a real super-Gucci vacation that the guy took”, and I agreed with him. It is a bit out of character.

The Prime Minister has asked Canadians to make many sacrifices, and they have not gotten much to show for it. He is kind of saying, “Do as I say, not as I do”, with the Caribbean vacation thing. I am trying to make this very serious.

I know the Prime Minister's parliamentary secretary will be responding to this question. Could the parliamentary secretary tell me how he feels about this? I know he also represents a large number of constituents.

Does he feel like he can stand up in this place, and defend the Prime Minister's actions with regard to this vacation, especially in the context of the small business tax? The data is showing the federal debt is increasing, our GDP is not growing, and people are not getting more jobs.

What is it like for the parliamentary secretary to have to defend a Prime Minister who is under investigation by the Ethics Commissioner, will not answer questions about it, and frankly, took a very expensive and high profile, super-Gucci vacation on the taxpayer's dime?

EthicsAdjournment Proceedings

7:50 p.m.

Winnipeg North Manitoba

Liberal

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

Mr. Speaker, I am somewhat disappointed that the member across the way tries to portray something that is just not true.

Alberta is a province that has gone through a great deal over the last couple of years. This is a government with a very compassionate heart. It has not only expressed its desire to see the province of Alberta move forward but has invested tremendous amounts, hundreds of millions of dollars, through infrastructure. As a government, we are actually seeing pipelines being approved. Both of these examples are things Stephen Harper was not able to achieve.

The member across the way is trying to paint a picture of a bleak future for the province of Alberta. We believe that Alberta is a critical component of Canada's future prosperity and the prosperity of our middle class and those aspiring to be part of Canada's middle class.

This government has worked very hard, day in and day out. The member wants to defend giving tax breaks to the wealthiest Canadians while not supporting tax breaks for Canada's middle class or the other wonderful initiatives this government has undertaken to ensure that we have a growing and healthier middle class. The middle class and those striving to be a part of it are in fact building our country. Thousands of jobs have been created under this administration, and many are in Alberta.

We recognize that there is so much more we can do, and we will continue to move forward. To try to give the false impression that we have a Prime Minister who is not listening to the province of Alberta or any other Canadian is just wrong.

Regarding the question that actually brought us to this point today, I think it is fair to say, as the Prime Minister has said in his answers previously, that this was a personal family vacation with a friend he has known for a very long time. The Prime Minister will answer any questions the commissioner has.

Our government's top priority is to make smart and responsible investments to strengthen the middle class, grow the economy, and prepare Canadians for the economy of tomorrow. Over the past year, our government has put in place a plan to grow the economy in a way that works for the middle class and those working hard to join it. This is a government that has clearly demonstrated, even in the member's own backyard, that there is so much more that we are going to do. To try to give the impression that this government has done anything less than what the Conservative government did in 10 years is just wrong. We have a done a great deal for Albertans, and we will continue to do that.

We recognize the importance of all provinces and territories in our great nation. We will continue to build the economy. We have seen hundreds of thousands of jobs generated under this government in just two years.

We are not giving up on the province of Alberta. Many of the Conservative MPs might have chosen to do that, but rest assured, we are a government that cares deeply about the economy, our middle class, and those who are striving very hard. The policies members will see from this government will clearly demonstrate support for the types of initiatives that are going to make a real difference for all Canadians.

EthicsAdjournment Proceedings

7:55 p.m.

Conservative

Michelle Rempel Conservative Calgary Nose Hill, AB

Mr. Speaker, I think a lot of Albertans who would listen to that and listen to the question I asked would wonder how the member opposite can justify the Prime Minister's lavish vacation, and the Ethics Commissioner's investigation, with this massive word salad of spin, which is blatantly false and does not apply to them. Albertans are not fooled, and that was just a foolish response. It was not even respectful.

My colleague opposite has been a parliamentarian for a long time. He has done a lot of work in the House. His daughter is running for a senior position in the Manitoba legislature.

How does the member live with himself when he has to stand up and defend the Prime Minister's lavish vacation, when the Prime Minister will not defend it himself in the House, given all of the tax increases the Liberals have put in place, and especially given the constituents he represents? Very simply, how can the member opposite defend the Prime Minister taking a lavish Caribbean vacation, which he is now under an ethics investigation for?

EthicsAdjournment Proceedings

7:55 p.m.

Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux Liberal Winnipeg North, MB

Mr. Speaker, I can defend it very easily. The member asked how we can justify taking holidays considering what is taking place in the economy, and she then went on to give misinformation about the economy.

What I tell residents of Winnipeg North is that we did put a special tax on the wealthiest 1%, but we also put into place the most substantial middle-class tax break in decades in this country that affects thousands of constituents in the riding I represent.

Our government substantially increased the Canada child benefit and put it on a sliding scale. Why would we provide a tax break to millionaires when there are individuals in Canada who are making less than $30,000 and are finding it difficult to make ends meet? The Canada child benefit program benefits thousands of my constituents.

We also increased the guaranteed income supplement, which takes some of the poorest seniors in our country out of poverty.

It is with pride that I say that our government has done so much to improve the quality of life for many people in this country, but there is still a lot more to do and we plan to do it.

Steel IndustryEthicsAdjournment Proceedings

7:55 p.m.

NDP

Tracey Ramsey NDP Essex, ON

Mr. Speaker, I rise tonight seeking answers to a question I originally asked last April regarding China's dumping of steel. In my riding of Essex, good-paying, high-skilled jobs at Atlas Tube rely on the Canadian government standing up to these unfair practices.

China is unfairly dumping steel at prices that undercut and hurt Canadian producers. Our steel industry, including its partners like the Canadian Chamber of Commerce, local chambers like the one in my community of Windsor/Essex, and the United Steelworkers, is urging the government to strengthen Canada's trade remedy rules. Sadly, we have only heard empty rhetoric from the Liberal government.

The government has started to discuss a potential free trade agreement with China, and this raises many concerns about how Canada plans to address China's shortfall on human rights, environmental rights, and labour rights, as well as its record on currency manipulation and, ultimately, the unfair trade practices of the kind I mentioned, such as steel dumping and over-production.

In other trade agreements China has insisted that its partners grant it market economy status, which will make it even harder for our steel producers to compete, and extradition treaties, which will force us to turn a blind eye to the numerous outstanding human rights violations.

When I originally asked my question, the Prime Minister responded by stating that he had already addressed the issue with the Chinese leadership. However, in the five months since I raised this issue in the House, nothing has changed.

As a member of the Standing Committee on International Trade, I asked that we study the Canadian steel industry's ability to compete internationally. Our report was tabled in the House of Commons last June, and we put forward many recommendations. While the NDP supports the report's conclusion and recommendations, we believe the report should have gone further in emphasizing the need to work in close partnership with the United States and the need for urgent action by the government to defend and grow Canada's steel industry. The majority of our recommendations asked the government to defend our domestic steel industry against the unfair steel dumping practices of countries like China.

In addition, as a member of the all-party parliamentary steel caucus, I travelled to Washington last June to discuss the significant risks to Canada's steel sector if Canada and the U.S.'s trade remedy systems diverge. If the U.S. government, through buy American policies or otherwise, imposes restrictions on steel imports or applies tariffs to Canadian steel as a result of the section 232 investigation, the federal government should urgently seek an exemption from these restrictions or tariffs on Canadian steel.

Furthermore, the government must actively work in close partnership with the U.S. to address global steel dumping and must demonstrate to the U.S. the importance of working together, not against one another, on this very critical issue.

President Trump's repeated rhetorical attacks on key Canadian sectors such as auto, dairy, steel and, most recently, aerospace are deeply worrisome for the hundreds of thousands of Canadians whose jobs depend on the strong, integrated Canada-U.S. relationship. Aside from these attacks, the U.S. has, of course, gone ahead with countervailing duties on Canadian softwood lumber exports and the 220% duty now levied on Bombardier. These duties will devastate communities, mills, and workers across Canada.

The federal government's response to this point has been extremely weak. Requests for assistance and support have been met with silence. The Liberals talk about progressive trade that benefits Canadians. Now it is time to walk the walk.

Canadians want fair trade that benefits all Canadians, not just a few at the top. They want a government that has a plan for protecting Canadian jobs. They cannot afford another government that believes that bending to the will of a larger, richer nation is the way to go.

I would really like to hear from the parliamentary secretary on these issues. Canadian Steel producers and workers in the industry deserve an assurance that the government will get a commitment from China that it will stop unfair steel dumping in our country.

Steel IndustryEthicsAdjournment Proceedings

8 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, as the Prime Minister has indicated with regard to our interaction with China on the question of steel exports to Canada, this issue has certainly been raised by Canada by both the Prime Minister and the Minister of International Trade.

The issue of overcapacity was discussed at length by the G20 leaders at their meeting in Hamburg last July. China heard very clearly our concerns on this issue, which we take very seriously. The G20 leaders, including President Xi, agreed that all major steel producing countries must present solutions to ministers this fall through the G20 Global Forum on Steel Excess Capacity.

I would also like to mention that Canada is raising the issue of overcapacity at the World Trade Organization. In April, Canada, along with the United States, the EU and Japan, presented a paper on this issue to the subsidies committee and called on the committee to examine the subsidies that could lead to the problem of overcapacity.

The government has also responded to the steel industry's request for changes to our trade remedy law.

The government has consulted Canadians on additional steps to modernize and strengthen Canada's trade remedy system, and to ensure that Canadian companies are competing on a level playing field with foreign exporters.

Informed by these consultations, budget 2017 announced legislative and regulatory amendments to improve enforcement of trade remedy measures, address the circumvention of duties, better account for market and price distortions, and provide unions with the ability to participate in trade remedy proceedings.

Legislative amendments have passed, and the government is working on the regulatory amendments required to operationalize these new tools, which will provide Canadian producers with a more rigorous response to unfair trade and better align Canada's trade remedy system with those of our major trading partners.

Steel IndustryEthicsAdjournment Proceedings

8 p.m.

NDP

Tracey Ramsey NDP Essex, ON

Mr. Speaker, the issue is not that the government is not talking about the problem or does not understand the problem. The issue is that the government is not acting on the problem, and this is costing jobs. This is costing potentially our footprint in Canada with respect to steel. We have seen incredible jobs leave our country. We have seen communities like mine in Windsor-Essex, certainly in Hamilton and, when we look to the north to, the Sault devastated by the losses they have felt from the impact of this Chinese steel dumping.

It has been two years since the government came to office and it is beyond time for it to act to ensure that good-paying jobs that sustain communities are protected. Many voices are joining in this and, to be honest, they are quite unanimous in what they propose: do not grant market economy status to China.

I would like to hear from the parliamentary secretary some dates on when we can expect this very unfair steel dumping to end, as well as whether the government is considering to grant that market economy status to China.

Steel IndustryEthicsAdjournment Proceedings

8:05 p.m.

Liberal

Pam Goldsmith-Jones Liberal West Vancouver—Sunshine Coast—Sea to Sky Country, BC

Mr. Speaker, the government is actively engaged on steel. Canada has trade remedy measures on 15 different steel products originating from 23 countries, and China is covered in almost all of them.

As long as some exporters or countries use unfair trade practices, we will not hesitate to use these tools. We have one of the best systems in the world, and as we have shown in the latest budget, we are working to make it even stronger. This is of course important for steelworkers whether they are in Hamilton, Sault Ste. Marie or Regina.

I thank my colleague for her passionate interest in this issue.

Steel IndustryEthicsAdjournment Proceedings

8:05 p.m.

Conservative

The Deputy Speaker Conservative Bruce Stanton

The motion to adjourn the House is now deemed to have been adopted. Accordingly, the House stands adjourned until tomorrow at 10 a.m., pursuant to Standing Order 24(1).

(The House adjourned at 8:06 p.m.)