House of Commons Hansard #345 of the 42nd Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was elections.

Topics

Elections Modernization ActGovernment Orders

1:25 p.m.

Conservative

John Nater Conservative Perth—Wellington, ON

Mr. Speaker, free and fair elections are a fundamental part of our Canadian democracy. Unfortunately, the entire democratic institutions file has been a failure since the Liberals took office.

One of the greatest promises they made in the last election was that the 2015 election would be the last election under first past the post. There was no asterisk. There was no disclaimer. There was no fine print that said it would be the last election under first past the post unless, of course, they did not get the type of electoral system they wanted that would benefit them, “them” being the Liberal Party.

There was no such asterisk. There was no such small print. Nonetheless, the Liberals walked it back, and they blamed everyone else for their failure. They blamed the opposition. They blamed the committee itself. They blamed the multi-party committee, which came to a general consensus. They blamed that committee, which included Liberal members, for its failure. They blamed the general public for not having a clear consensus on what an alternative electoral system ought to be. However, the failure rests with the Liberal Party. It is, and it continues to be, the Liberal Party's failure.

While the Liberals were failing at the electoral reform committee, they also introduced Bill C-33, which they claimed would implement many of the recommendations from the Chief Electoral Officer following the 2015 election. Here are the facts. Bill C-33 was tabled at first reading on November 24, 2016, nearly two years ago. Today that bill remains at first reading, unmoved and unloved. We have to question the motivation of the current Liberal government in introducing that bill, then allowing it to sit at first reading and never once bringing it forward for debate in this august chamber.

In testimony at committee, when the eminent political science scholar, Dr. Paul Thomas, questioned the very motive of the Liberal Party, he said:

The government's management of this file has been very poor, in my opinion. If [Bill C-33] sits on the Order Paper for 18 months, it says something about the commitment of the government to get this moving ahead

However, that is exactly what has happened. The Liberals introduced legislation for window dressing and allowed it to sit idly by.

There are other failures in the democratic institutions file. Take cash for access, for example, and the ethical lapses of the current Liberal Party when it comes to fundraising. The Liberal government had barely been sworn in when it was already using its ministers to fundraise, using lobbyists who were registered to lobby their own ministers to fundraise from them. Rather than admitting that they were wrong to be fundraising from access to federal ministers, the Liberals tried to legitimize this practice by introducing Bill C-50. Of course, being Liberals, they left a great big loophole, what we call the Laurier Club loophole, allowing their well-funded Liberal donors to continue to have unfettered access to Liberal decision-makers, as long as it happened at Laurier Club events. They might as well have named that clause the Laurier Club loophole, because that is exactly what it is. Rather than dealing with the issue, rather than dealing with the unethical nature of selling access to senior ministers of the Crown, the Liberals simply used legislation to try to legitimize their bad practices.

The Liberals' failures do not end there. The Liberals even failed in the appointment process for the Chief Electoral Officer, the person in charge of ensuring that our elections run smoothly and appropriately, free from all interference.

The former chief electoral officer, to his great credit and foresight, announced that he would retire early from his position. He announced this in the spring of 2016 to allow whoever succeeded him as CEO to have enough time to get familiar with the job and to prepare for the 2019 election. However, at the end of December 2016, when he formally resigned and retired as chief electoral officer, there was no replacement in the offing. In fact, there was no replacement until this spring, nearly two years after Mr. Mayrand announced his retirement.

Even when they finally replaced the Chief Electoral Officer, they could not do it without failing. The media reported that a new Chief Electoral Officer had been chosen on April 4, 2018. They noted that someone had been selected, that the consultation had been done with the Leader of the Opposition and the leader of the third party.

Lo and behold, weeks later, we found out that the original name circulated in both the media and to the opposition was in fact not the new Chief Electoral Officer. Rather, the very competent interim Chief Electoral Officer was appointed as the permanent replacement. I have to wonder how the Liberals could have waited nearly two years to appoint the person who was already doing the job. It is yet another example of the Liberal government's failing on the democratic institutions file.

That brings us to this bill itself, Bill C-76. Both the former and current Chief Electoral Officers were very clear about the need to have this legislation tabled and implemented early so that they could be prepared for the next election. In fact, when the acting, now permanent, Chief Electoral Officer, Stéphane Perrault, appeared before committee, on April 24, 2018, he stated:

When I appeared last February, I indicated that the window of opportunity to implement major changes in time for the next election was rapidly closing. That was not a new message. Both Monsieur Mayrand and I had previously indicated that legislative changes should be enacted by April 2018. This means that we are now at a point where the implementation of new legislation will likely involve some compromises.

What did the Liberals do? They sat on their hands for nearly three years and then finally tabled Bill C-76 on April 30, 2018, the same day the Chief Electoral Officer said he needed legislation fully enacted, with royal assent. The Liberals only introduced it on April 30 and then expected the opposition and the third party to simply roll over and allow this legislation to pass expeditiously.

We cannot ignore the fact that this very debate we are having in this chamber is under the guillotine of time allocation. Frankly, I am shocked, because it was the Liberal Party and the Prime Minister who introduced and supported a motion that would have amended Standing Order 78 so that:

No motion, pursuant to any paragraph of this Standing Order, may be used to allocate a specified number of days or hours for the consideration and disposal of any bill that seeks to amend the Canada Elections Act or the Parliament of Canada Act.

Here we are with a bill that has 401 clauses and 352 pages. It is a bill the Liberal Party itself accepted as being flawed by introducing 65 amendments during the committee analysis, because it recognized that despite waiting nearly three years, it was rushing at the last minute to try to get some legislation on the books, and it tried to correct its own legislation this past summer.

We see that work has yet to be done in the Senate, in the other place. I am intrigued to see what amendments it will be relying on to fix some of the concerns expressed about this piece of legislation.

This legislation is flawed, and we will be voting against it.

Elections Modernization ActGovernment Orders

1:40 p.m.

Liberal

Larry Bagnell Liberal Yukon, YT

Mr. Speaker, I have great respect for the member opposite. I think he is more knowledgeable about the bill than a vast majority of people in this Parliament. He expressed this very accurately and cogently, and he cannot use this in his election material.

Therefore, I am disappointed with his speech. He is one of the few people who knows the details, yet he spent his entire speech not making one substantive comment on what was wrong with the bill. It was more crying over spilled milk about past schedules, which is fine.

However, it would be great if he could use his answer to say something substantive about what is wrong with the bill. I know he has a good appreciation of both the positive and negative things in the details of the bill.

Elections Modernization ActGovernment Orders

1:40 p.m.

Conservative

John Nater Conservative Perth—Wellington, ON

Mr. Speaker, the member for Yukon chairs the procedure and House affairs committee. I have to give him credit. He is an exceptional chair when it comes to a very difficult file and ensuring the committee remains on track, especially during clause by clause. Therefore, I thank him. and I say that legitimately. It is a tough job.

The member asked for a specific example. I will use the issue of foreign financing. We heard recommendations at committee from none less an authority than Dr. Lori Turnbull, who was at one point a senior adviser to the Privy Council Office on democratic institutions. She recommended that there be segregated bank accounts for third parties to ensure that every dime spent in Canada by third parties would be from domestic sources, from Canadian sources that were legally entitled to donate to Canadian political entities, including third parties. The Conservative opposition introduced that amendment and it was voted down. It would have ensured a high degree of transparency and an appropriate usage of funds by a third party to ensure foreign actors would not unduly influence Canadian elections.

That is one major concern. If I had 20 minutes to talk, I could list off a number of amendments that were not approved but ought to have been approved.

Elections Modernization ActGovernment Orders

1:40 p.m.

Conservative

Garnett Genuis Conservative Sherwood Park—Fort Saskatchewan, AB

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for his important work on the issue. I want to follow up on his comment about foreign influence in our elections. Working in the foreign affairs area, I find that the government is often dangerously naive about the kinds of threats we see around the world.

I hear from Canadians, from cultural communities especially, about the number of foreign governments trying to influence the direction of debates on politics in Canada. It is a regular concern and it connects with the reality we see in other countries, where authoritarian regimes and other powers with particular interests want to try to shape the direction of our discussion. At one point, the government seemed to verbally acknowledge this problem, but it failed to put in place some obvious concrete mechanisms that would protect Canada from this kind of influence.

The member spoke about a segregated bank account so money could not be transferred before an election and would then be used during an election. Could he talk more about the naivety of the government when it comes to foreign policy and foreign interference in our elections and what Canada can do to respond to that?

Elections Modernization ActGovernment Orders

1:40 p.m.

Conservative

John Nater Conservative Perth—Wellington, ON

Mr. Speaker, a little know fact is that I and my colleague from Sherwood Park—Fort Saskatchewan went to university together. We were classmates at Carleton University back in the day. Therefore, it is an honour to now be a colleague of the hon. member.

The member talked about the very important issue of foreign influence. We do not want to see the challenges we have seen in other countries around the world being brought to Canada. We would have hoped that the Liberal government would have taken the issue of foreign influence seriously. Our Conservative opposition introduced a number of amendments that would have dealt with this, including one that would have had an outright ban on all foreign funding to third parties that were acting in our electoral process. Unfortunately, those were denied.

However, the government needs to take this issue seriously. It needs to realize that this is not a problem that will go away on its own. In fact, this problem will get worse. A number of amendments introduced by the Conservatives were voted down. The would have added safeguards for things like foreign influence with respect to social media financing and funding to third parties. It is unfortunate, but that was the reality. Now it falls to our opposition to hold the government to account and ensure that there are meaningful safeguards to prevent the foreign influence of Canadian elections.

Elections Modernization ActGovernment Orders

1:45 p.m.

John Oliver Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Health, Lib.

Mr. Speaker, I will be sharing my time with the member for Saanich—Gulf Islands.

I am pleased to speak to Bill C-76, the elections modernization act.

I would be remiss if I did not highlight the importance of the legislation to my riding of Oakville. One of the most significant issues that was raised at the doors in 2015 was how voters felt disenfranchised by the unfair changes to the Elections Act made by the Conservatives. Voters were unhappy with the additional complications and requirements for voting. My office still hears from expats who cannot exercise their civic duty from abroad.

The proposed legislation delivers on the promises our government made to strengthen our democracy. I am proud to stand in support of legislation that would make voting more convenient and more accessible for all Canadians. Our democracy is stronger when we see the participation of as many Canadians as possible.

The bill includes proposed legislative changes that will reduce barriers to participation for specific groups of Canadians. That includes members of the Canadian Armed Forces and more than one million Canadians living abroad. We are changing the rules for Canadians living abroad by removing the requirements set by the Harper government that non-resident electors must have been residing outside of Canada for fewer than five consecutive years and that non-resident electors intended to return to Canada to resume residence in the future.

It is astounding to me that some Canadian citizens remain unable to vote in our current system despite being fully eligible. It is high time these changes are made to the Canada Elections Act to bring our electoral system into the 21st century.

In my remarks today I would like to focus particularly on the measures contained in the bill, which I believe will help in reducing barriers for Canadians with disabilities and those individuals caring for a young, sick or disabled family member who would like to run for public office. Our legislative process is stronger when we have a diversity of perspectives and backgrounds present in the House of Commons. These measures would help encourage the participation of new voices.

Running for federal office, as I think everyone in the House will agree, is an incredibly challenging effort. On top of the intense demands of a campaign, some of our colleagues from all sides of the House ran for office while raising young children or caring for sick or disabled family members. The additional pressures of this kind of responsibility may make running for office out of the question for many qualified, smart and passionate Canadians. This is a great loss to the House and to our country. By helping Canadians with the cost of care for young, sick or disabled family members, we can help ensure that every Canadian has more opportunity to put him or herself forward to represent his or her community at the federal level.

I look forward to seeing how these changes will bring new and under-represented perspectives to the House of Commons. We as parliamentarians are responsible for creating laws for all Canadians. It only makes sense that the House of Commons is comprised of people who represent the diversity of experiences Canadians face.

I would remind the House that in 2010, Canada ratified the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. One of the obligations of the convention is to ensure that people with disabilities can effectively and fully participate in political and public life on an equal basis with others. That includes the right to vote and the right to be elected.

In his report on the 2015 general election, the Chief Electoral Officer noted that electors with disabilities were a growing percentage of the voting population and faced particular hurdles when seeking to cast their vote. Working with an advisory group for disability issues, Elections Canada has developed and researched various tools and procedures to help electors with disabilities cast their vote in secret and as independently as possible. The Chief Electoral Officer has also reported on ways to increase the broader participation of Canadians with disabilities in democratic life, such as attending debates and running for office.

The report of the Chief Electoral Office on the 42nd election was studied very carefully by the committee on procedure and House affairs. Many of its recommendations, agreed to unanimously by the standing committee, are reflected in the bill before us.

Currently, the act provides that assistance to voters by an elections officer is only available to persons with physical disabilities. The act states, for instance, that “The deputy returning officer shall, on request, provide a template to an elector who has a visual impairment to assist him or her in marking his or her ballot.” This bill would make assistance available to electors no matter the nature of their disability, whether it be visual, intellectual or cognitive.

The current act uses the term “level access” to define accessibility at polling stations, for example, providing ramps for wheelchairs. This concept addresses the needs of the mobility impaired. Under the bill before us, “level access” would be replaced by the concept of accessibility, which would include a broader range of difficulties, including vision impairment.

The act would continue to allow the use of venues which would not be accessible, if the returning officer were unable to secure suitable premises. In these cases, electors with disabilities could take advantage of a number of measures. For example, transfer certificates could be made available for electors with a disability. These would enable electors to change the polling station where they would be able vote. Under the current law, transfer certificates are available for people with a physical disability when the polling is not accessible. The amendment in this bill would make the certificates available no matter the nature of the disability and irrespective of whether the polling station would be accessible.

Further, the Chief Electoral Officer would have the flexibility to determine how the process would be applied. People with disabilities would also have an option to vote at home. This bill would expand that option to include any elector with a disability no matter its nature or extent.

The Chief Electoral Officer sometimes undertakes pilot projects to explore better options for providing service to Canadians, such as greater accessibility to the polls. With this bill, we would return to the process in place prior to the Harper government's Fair Elections Act, when pilot projects required the approval of appropriate committees of both the House and the other place rather than the full chambers of both.

The bill would expand the assistance which could be provided by a person of the elector's choosing. Under the current law, the elector with a disability may choose a friend or family member to help him or her at the polling station. The same support is not available if the elector wants to vote at the office of the returning officer. Under this bill, when voting at the returning officer's office, an elector with a disability could rely upon the assistance of the person of his or her choosing.

Finally, the bill would implement the Chief Electoral Officer's recommendation that would give Elections Canada a more explicit mandate to explore assisted voting technology for the use of electors with disabilities.

I have been detailing the measures designed to remove barriers to voters on election day, but this bill goes further by introducing measures that would help people with disabilities participate more broadly in the democratic life.

Political parties can play an important part in helping persons with disabilities play an active part by making their campaigns accessible. Sign language interpretation could be provided at campaign events, for example. Campaign material could be provided in Braille. A ramp could be installed to access campaign headquarters. However, these come with costs. To encourage political parties and candidates to make these accommodations, the bill would reimburse the cost to make campaign materials and events accessible, up to $250,000 for political parties and $5,000 for candidates.

There are other measures in the bill that would encourage more candidates with disabilities or candidates who must care for people with disabilities to run for office. Currently, the additional personal expenses associated with these disabilities must be treated as campaign expenses. Under the bill before us, candidates would have the option to pay with their own funds, including child care expenses and other relevant home care or health care related expenses. The reimbursement rate for these expenses would be increased to 90% and be exempted from campaign spending limits.

I want to commend the Minister of Science and Sport for her work, in partnership with the Minister of Democratic Institutions, to see these important provisions included in the bill.

Elections Modernization ActGovernment Orders

1:50 p.m.

Conservative

Garnett Genuis Conservative Sherwood Park—Fort Saskatchewan, AB

Mr. Speaker, I want to follow up on a question I asked one of my colleagues earlier. It was about the issue of foreign interference in elections. Seeing news around the world, all members should agree this is a concern and something we should take seriously. In fact, it is something the Minister of Foreign Affairs herself has raised with respect to various issues, for instance, things which have been said about her and her family in messages put out by other governments.

Why did the government not accept a simple fix to this issue, which would ensure there would be segregated bank accounts? If foreign funding is coming in for political activity, then it cannot go into the same bank account that will then be used during an election for third party campaigning type of activities. If we have money from abroad, perhaps from another government with its own hostile or simply distinct interest from Canada, putting money into a bank account that is then to be used during an election period will surely create all kinds of opportunities for foreign influence. A simple meaningful fix would have been to require that separation.

Why did that member's party oppose a meaningful measure to prevent foreign interference in Canadian elections?

Elections Modernization ActGovernment Orders

1:55 p.m.

Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Health, Lib.

John Oliver

Mr. Speaker, the Government of Canada is committed to strengthening Canada's democratic institutions and restoring Canadians' trust in participation in the democratic process. We believe the strength of our democracy depends on the participation of as many Canadians as possible.

By undoing the unfair aspects of the Harper government's elections act, we are making it easier and more convenient for all Canadians to vote, but we are also strengthening our laws, closing loopholes and bringing more robust enforcement regimes to make it more difficult for bad actors, such as those to which the member referred, to influence our elections.

Elections Modernization ActGovernment Orders

1:55 p.m.

Liberal

Celina Caesar-Chavannes Liberal Whitby, ON

Mr. Speaker, I have been listening to this debate for quite some time and hearing the opposition talk about time allocation and the issue with having the Chief Electoral Officer in place at a particular time.

I am hoping that my colleague from Oakville could speak to this and remind hon. members and all Canadians that we used 87% of the recommendations of the Chief Electoral Officer. We heard witnesses' testimony that amounted to over 100 hours of study of this legislation, where Bill C-23, the unfair elections act, only had less than 50 hours.

I am wondering if my colleague could speak to the dedication that we have put into this piece of legislation.

Elections Modernization ActGovernment Orders

1:55 p.m.

Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Health, Lib.

John Oliver

Mr. Speaker, Canadians want an electoral process that is more transparent and more accessible, that modernizes the administration of elections and that makes the electoral process more secure. As was commented on, this legislation addresses the work done by the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs following the Chief Electoral Officer's report after the 2015 election, as well as the study by the Standing Senate Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs on third party spending in Canada. This is a very comprehensive bill following extensive consultation.

ADISQ GalaStatements By Members

1:55 p.m.

Bloc

Monique Pauzé Bloc Repentigny, QC

Mr. Speaker, the 40th ADISQ gala was held on Sunday night, and I just want to say how incredibly proud we are of our creators.

It was a night for Quebec to celebrate the rich diversity of its music scene, honouring rising stars like Hubert Lenoir, established artists like Klô Pelgag and legends like Harmonium.

On behalf of the Bloc Québécois, I want to congratulate all the winners, as well as all the artists and creators working behind the scenes.

We are stronger as a society because of artists who have the courage to put their hearts and souls into their work. I am grateful to them for sharing themselves with us.

In closing, I want to remind all music lovers how privileged we are to have the opportunity to see these talented artists perform live in a vast network of top venues. Let us make the most of it.

Official LanguagesStatements By Members

1:55 p.m.

Liberal

Fayçal El-Khoury Liberal Laval—Les Îles, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Right Hon. Jean Chrétien was on Radio-Canada recently expressing his concerns about the erosion of the French language in Canada and Ottawa. Some of my Quebec friends share those concerns.

I would like to reassure all francophones in Canada. Every day I see this language thriving as it enjoys first-rate protections within our institutions. Our government is ensuring that French continues to be valued across the country.

My colleagues and I have not forgotten that French Canadians are one of the founding peoples of our beautiful country. They are an integral part of the Canadian identity.

I invite and encourage all my colleagues and the House, its employees and institutions to continue their efforts to learn, protect and promote the French language in Canadian society.

Recognition of ConstituentStatements By Members

2 p.m.

Conservative

Rachael Harder Conservative Lethbridge, AB

Mr. Speaker, today I have the privilege of honouring a remarkable individual from my constituency. This person has been a pastor for nearly 30 years and has chosen to serve selflessly. He is known for helping families through loss and grief, mentoring youth, training up leaders and opening his home to those in need of a place to celebrate Christmas. He is known for working overseas with the world's most impoverished, for teaching in places like Ethiopia and Egypt, and also for helping to raise a whole lot of money for local initiatives such as the school breakfast program, the YWCA women's shelter, and maternal health care in Equador and Nicaragua.

This man has served faithfully as a voice for the voiceless and an advocate for the weak. He is known as a hero to many. As a testament to his love for the less fortunate and his passion to see every child fed, clothed and cared for through an education, he has served faithfully on the board of Compassion Canada for 13 years and tirelessly recruits others to join him in his fight against poverty.

Today, I honour Ian Lawson for his selfless dedication to bettering the lives of others, and I thank him.

Human RightsStatements By Members

October 30th, 2018 / 2 p.m.

Liberal

Julie Dzerowicz Liberal Davenport, ON

Mr. Speaker, today I rise to draw attention to the deterioration of human rights currently occurring in Honduras, Venezuela, Guatemala and Nicaragua. As I speak, thousands of migrants from these countries are fleeing to other parts of Latin America and the United States out of fear for their lives and the lives of their children, and to seek a better future. Rampant government corruption and inaction have resulted in protestors being illegally detained, gang violence, torture and sexual violence. Millions are fleeing due to intense food shortages and a severe lack of necessities.

I am proud of our national government and the Minister of Foreign Affairs, who have condemned Honduras, Nicaragua and Venezuela for failing to protect their citizens. They have called for the end of all human rights abuses, for the perpetrators to be brought to justice, and for democratic and human rights to be restored and the rule of law followed.

I urge us all to be vigilant regarding what is happening in Latin America. Canada must continue to be a leader on the global stage and condemn regimes that fail to uphold the basic principles of democracy and do not protect the human rights of their citizens.

The EnvironmentStatements By Members

2 p.m.

NDP

Murray Rankin NDP Victoria, BC

Mr. Speaker, last week dozens of constituents came to my community office. They shared their profound concerns about the sobering report of the intergovernmental panel on climate change on limiting global warming to one and a half degrees.

Canada has a climate plan that falls far short of what science says we need. The latest climate change performance index has Canada ranked a woeful 51st out of 60 countries. That index refers to Canada as one of the largest producers of absolute greenhouse gases, as well as of per capita emissions.

Canada could be a leader in fighting against climate change, but instead we have become an international embarrassment. We must strengthen our international climate commitments and begin to build a 100% renewable energy economy that respects indigenous rights.

Also, there is no way Canada will meet its Paris commitments if it goes ahead with the Liberals' Trans Mountain expansion. We need real leadership to address climate change, and we need it now.

Hickey & Sons Fisheries Ltd.Statements By Members

2 p.m.

Liberal

Ken McDonald Liberal Avalon, NL

Mr. Speaker, in the early morning hours of Friday past, I received the sad news that the fish plant operated by Hickey & Sons Fisheries Ltd. in O'Donnell's had caught ablaze and was lost to the fire. John Hickey and his three sons, Craig, Todd and Keith, have been operating the plant, as well as their own vessel, in the community for more than 30 years. This loss is felt not only in the community of O'Donnell's but across the St. Mary's Bay region, as the plant employed almost 100 people.

On behalf of myself, all my Newfoundland and Labrador colleagues, and indeed our government, I offer our full support for the Hickey family and the community of O'Donnell's during this devastating time. Our thoughts are with them today.

Tegan and Sara FoundationStatements By Members

2 p.m.

Conservative

Tony Clement Conservative Parry Sound—Muskoka, ON

Mr. Speaker, this evening I am truly proud to be one of the hosts for an event highlighting the work of the Tegan and Sara Foundation. Many colleagues will know Tegan and Sara as the Canadian indie band composed of twin sisters Tegan Quin and Sara Quin. They are amazing musicians and songwriters whom I have had the opportunity to see perform several times.

Tonight we shine a light on the Tegan and Sara Foundation, which fights for health, economic justice and representation for LGBTQ girls and women. The foundation raises awareness and funds to address the inequalities currently preventing LGBTQ girls and women from reaching their full potential. This work is critically important because LGBTQ women have higher rates of gynecological cancer, depression, obesity, suicide, and tobacco and alcohol abuse. Discrimination, provider bias, and exclusions from insurance and health coverage mean that LGBTQ women are struggling.

I invite my colleagues to join me tonight to celebrate this important work from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. in room 410 of the Wellington Building.

Canadian Francophone CommunityStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Liberal

Dan Vandal Liberal Saint Boniface—Saint Vital, MB

Mr. Speaker, unsurprisingly, recent comments once again demonstrate an ignorance of our francophone communities outside Quebec.

I want to assure my colleagues that the Canadian francophonie is quite vast, diverse, proud and thriving. Our government's recent renewing of the official languages regulations is evidence of that.

Our communities are incredibly vibrant. In Manitoba, you will hear all kinds of accents, including Franco-Manitoban, Franco-Métis, Franco-European, Franco-African, Québécois and Acadian.

Our immersion schools are seeing record enrolment, and our francophone communities are welcoming thousands of francophiles who are passionate about the language of Molière.

From generation to generation, we have been here. From generation to generation, we will remain.

A.F. Theriault & SonStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Liberal

Colin Fraser Liberal West Nova, NS

Mr. Speaker, A.F. Theriault & Son is the largest family-run boatyard in Nova Scotia, employing 225 people in the municipality of Clare.

This shipyard is an industry leader in Atlantic Canada, building state-of-the-art vessels, such as Halifax's new passenger ferries and high-speed unmanned hammerhead craft that are used in navy training exercises in Canada and around the world. Such accomplishments have played a major role in the sustainability of our area's rural communities and have contributed greatly to the region's economic prosperity.

On October 20, I had the opportunity to join A.F. Theriault & Son employees and the entire community in celebrating this company's 80th anniversary.

Please join me in congratulating A.F. Theriault & Son on this historic year of their 80th anniversary, and wishing them 80 more years of success.

Calgary ConfederationStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Conservative

Len Webber Conservative Calgary Confederation, AB

Mr. Speaker, this past weekend I was door knocking in my riding and there were still far too many people unable to find work. I heard stories of people remortgaging their homes, exhausting their savings and borrowing from family just to stay afloat.

Calgary is being left behind and neither the NDP nor the Liberals seem to care. We know that pipelines are the safest and most environmentally friendly way for Alberta to get its resources to market, but the NDP have vowed to continue fighting the Trans Mountain pipeline while thousands of oil workers continue to suffer. The Liberals bought one pipeline and promised to build another, but it failed to deliver. More and more of my constituents are telling me that we need a change.

This coming year we will see both a federal and a provincial election in Alberta. When it comes time for my constituents to vote, the failures of the NDP and the Liberals will make their choice an easy one.

Johnny BowerStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Liberal

Gagan Sikand Liberal Mississauga—Streetsville, ON

Mr. Speaker, this past weekend we recognized one of our most revered residents, the late Johnny Bower, a Canadian hockey hall of famer with the Toronto Maple Leafs who tragically lost lost his life less than a year ago. Joined by Mr. Bower's wife, son and granddaughter, the City of Mississauga renamed rink 1 at Meadowvale as “Four Rinks” in honour of his legacy.

A part of the Toronto Maple Leafs last four Stanley Cup wins, he was the goalie who created the poke check. He was a great philanthropist and volunteer, and also a mentor in his community to young hockey players. Meadowvale residents filled the rink to show their support. I would like to acknowledge Councillor Pat Saito for being the driving force behind this.

Our riding honoured a great Canadian, and we know this dedication will inspire generations to come.

New Brunswick SouthwestStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Liberal

Karen Ludwig Liberal New Brunswick Southwest, NB

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to tell the House about an important recent event in my riding of New Brunswick Southwest.

Several teams of volunteer firefighters joined together from St. Andrews, St. George's Volunteer, St. Stephen, Western Charlotte Volunteer, Lawrence Station, Oak Bay, Fundy Bay, Eastern Charlotte Regional Fire Service, Simonds Fire Rescue and Hampton Fire Rescue departments, as well as an all-female team made of up volunteer firefighters from Upper Gagetown, Upper Kingsclear, and various other smaller departments. They joined in St. Andrews for a fire truck pull to raise funds for Muscular Dystrophy Canada. Their challenge was to pull a 35,000 pound fire truck across the finish line. As crowds cheered from the sidelines it was the Hampton fire department that pulled ahead and took home the win. Of course, the real winner of the fire truck pull is Muscular Dystrophy Canada. Together, I am proud to say that they raised an incredible $4,700.

I also want to recognize Blacks Harbour fire chief Dale Shaw for his 40 years of dedicated service.

I congratulate them all.

Economic DevelopmentStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Conservative

Luc Berthold Conservative Mégantic—L'Érable, QC

Mr. Speaker, today, I had the honour of welcoming to Ottawa the mayors of 25 municipalities and those responsible for economic development in the beautiful and vibrant riding of Mégantic—L'Érable. Mine is a typical Canadian riding, with its big city, small towns and even smaller communities, where factories, businesses, farmers, vacationers, hunters and fishers co-exist.

Projects are being carried out across the region. However, there are major challenges and certain tools are needed to make smaller ideas a reality.

It is hard to believe, but cellphone service is not available everywhere in my riding. Too many small businesses are stuck in blackout zones without high-speed Internet access. Many companies are putting off major job-creating expansion projects because of a shortage of labour. The list of challenges is long, and these mayors are here in Ottawa to get answers.

On behalf of my colleagues, I welcome the elected municipal officials from my riding, who did not hesitate to drive for over 12 hours to be here today to help their communities develop. I commend them for their dedication. I am proud to be their MP.

Northwest Territories Municipal ElectionsStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Liberal

Michael McLeod Liberal Northwest Territories, NT

Mr. Speaker, many places across Canada held their municipal elections for mayor and council in the past couple of weeks, just as we did in my riding of Northwest Territories. I want to express my gratitude for all those who put their names forward to represent their neighbours and their communities.

Running for election is one of the hardest job interviews, with no guarantee for success, and often coming at high personal cost, win or lose. I know this from experience, as a previous mayor.

Last week, NWT ran up some impressive and historic numbers in municipal elections. The four largest cities and towns have elected female mayors. This means the salutation for over 70% of Northwest Territories residents to use when they address their community leaders is now “Her Worship”. This can only mean good things.

I congratulate all of those who were elected. I look forward to meeting and working with them in the future.

HousingStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

NDP

Jenny Kwan NDP Vancouver East, BC

Mr. Speaker, the 2018 Vancouver homeless count found 2,181 people without a place to call home. This was a 2% increase from last year, and the highest number since the count began in 2005. That is not even counting the people who are couch-surfing. People are living in tents, on the streets, and in parks.

An average one-bedroom apartment in Vancouver rents for $2,100 a month. Vacancy rates are under 1%. Home ownership is but a dream, with the average detached home in greater Vancouver reaching $1.7 million.

Meanwhile, both the Liberals and the Conservatives refuse to acknowledge that housing is a basic right. Here is a news flash for both the Liberals and the Conservatives: The need for affordable housing is real and urgent. A national housing strategy that will not see 90% of the money flow until after the next election is absurd. They should flow the money and build the housing now, not after the next election.