House of Commons Hansard #350 of the 42nd Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was quebec.


Budget Implementation Act, 2018, No. 2Government Orders

6:50 p.m.

Seamus O'Regan

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order. I want to remind members of the invitation they would have received from my office last week to the unveiling of the plaque commemorating Lieutenant Colonel Sam Sharpe at 12:15 tomorrow afternoon. While the Centre Block may be closing shortly for renovations, this plaque will find a permanent home here when it reopens. It is important that during Remembrance Week, we commemorate veterans and their visible and invisible injuries.

The House resumed from September 26 consideration of the motion that Bill C-393, An Act to amend the Canadian Multiculturalism Act (non-application in Quebec), be read the second time and referred to a committee.

Canadian Multiculturalism ActPrivate Members' Business

6:50 p.m.


Gabriel Ste-Marie Bloc Joliette, QC

Mr. Speaker, the bill introduced by my colleague from Montcalm would remove Quebec from the Canadian Multiculturalism Act. It is clear and simple.

Contrary to the absurd comments of some members of the House, removing Quebec from multiculturalism does not mean we would be closing ourselves off from others. It just means that we want to welcome others in our own way and not as Canada does.

In the words of Boucar Diouf, we are a tightly knit diverse nation. We want to truly live together, not just tolerate one another. It takes a little bit of effort on both sides. We must each take another small step towards one another. We need a minimum of shared values on which we agree well enough that we can understand one another when we talk. We need a language we all understand, a common language.

That is the model for managing diversity that is right for Quebec society. We will interact, mix and be a tightly knit diverse nation. We will live together, not just side by side, and together we will build the Quebec that we love so much. Together we will continue this great adventure of building an original society on this North American land.

To achieve that, we, as Quebeckers, must be the ones to decide how we will interact with one another and how we will manage our differences in order to live together harmoniously. The bill introduced by my esteemed colleague from Montcalm is simply intended to allow that. Nothing else.

Forty years ago, the Lévesque government and the Trudeau government signed the Cullen-Couture agreement. The Government of Quebec became responsible for welcoming and integrating immigrants to Quebec. In spite of this agreement, Quebec remains a prisoner to Canada's model of integration through multiculturalism, but we still feel it is our right to welcome new Quebeckers and manage our diversity to ensure everyone's full participation in Quebec society.

If the House recognizes Quebec as a nation, which is supposedly the case, the least it could do is respect our right to choose our own integration policy. However, based on what I see here in the House, it seems as though most members do not recognize that my people, who are a minority in this country, exist and have rights.

Canadian Multiculturalism ActPrivate Members' Business

6:55 p.m.


Deepak Obhrai Conservative Calgary Forest Lawn, AB

Mr. Speaker, this bill aims to withdraw Quebec from the Canadian Multiculturalism Act.

To be absolutely clear, I have nothing in agreement with the Bloc Québécois. I do not agree with its philosophy. I do not agree with whatever it says because that party wants to take Quebec out of Canada. To put it simply and being straightforward, Quebec is part of Canada.

As I said in the House in May 2014, a Canadian is a Canadian is a Canadian.

Whatever I heard the member say, Quebec society is very large. It is represented by other parties as well. They do not agree with the vision of the Bloc Québécois about Quebec being excluded. Rather, those members are looking at the past when they say that Quebec is changing.

Quebec is part of Canada and Canadian laws do apply. However, Quebec has also been given a lot of leeway. It is recognized that it has a lot of decentralization issues.

We respect the Quebec jurisdiction. However, when it comes to major issues like multiculturalism, which applies all across the country, I had the honour and privilege to go to Quebec during the leadership race. I spoke in French because I recognized that French was very important. I thoroughly enjoyed visiting Quebec. I love Quebec culture. I love the French culture there. I really enjoyed it and felt very proud that this culture was part of our larger mosaic, the Canadian culture, and part of our society.

Therefore, Quebec's culture and its French culture is a very important part of Canadian multicultural society. For my hon. colleague, indigenous Canadians are part of the multicultural society. They live in Quebec as well as a lot of other communities.

Indeed, I find it a little strange when it is said that because we have immigration coming here, we have a changing face of Canada. It is not only immigration that represents the changing face of Canada. Quebec is also changing as young Quebeckers leave and become more learned and multicultural within other countries. Quebec itself is probably like the rest of Canada.

To be very honest with members, Acadians in New Brunswick have their own thriving culture. There are francophones in Calgary, Alberta and they are thriving. Because we have this policy of multiculturalism, they can practice their own culture in Calgary and share it with us.

Therefore, I thoroughly oppose this bill because it makes it look like Quebec is not a part of Canada. I have always said, since coming to the House, that Quebec is part of Canada.

As a parliamentary secretary for foreign affairs, I have been all around the world. I have seen the great respect granted to Canada, and that includes Quebec. Also, Quebec ministers were part of the many journeys which I went on. There is immense respect given to Canada because of our ability to be together.

This bill is a dangerous precedent that says, “I will dictate”. No, it will not dictate; the law will dictate. The law says that every Canadian is a Canadian is a Canadian and is equal.

Henceforth, taking that into account, I want to say to my colleagues in the Bloc Québécois that I do understand that they are now having a complete review of their party because they seem to have lost touch with Quebec society.

Nevertheless, I strongly encourage them to look at it. I also view them as Canadians. I respect their culture. I respect their language, but it is part of the multicultural mosaic that has been built in this country, which is a strength.

I find it very strange to hear the member say that multiculturalism is a weakness. That is wrong. Multiculturalism is our strength wherever we go. My former colleague the member for Beauce said extreme multiculturalism. There is no such thing as extreme multiculturalism in this country. Our laws give respect to every Canadian irrespective of what his or her religion is.

During the leadership race, one of the candidates raised the question of Canadian values, which we then questioned. What are Canadian values? They are evolving values. As Canada grows, we evolve, so Canadian values evolve, but they are still very strong. It is respect for everyone.

I must say to my colleague who has brought the bill before the House that honestly, they are moving backwards. They want to go back to the old days. Everybody would like to go back to the old days, but the old days are gone. They are gone the way of the dodo bird.

We all maintain our culture. We all maintain what we share with everyone else. Canada has room for everyone.

I say very strongly that I and my colleagues will oppose this legislation.

Canadian Multiculturalism ActPrivate Members' Business

7 p.m.


Frank Baylis Liberal Pierrefonds—Dollard, QC

Madam Speaker, it is a great pleasure for me to rise today to give my excellent speech.

Canada is built on multiculturalism. When people think about our country, they think about French Canadians, English Canadians, and indigenous Canadians, who all have their own languages, religions, cultures, and nations. That shows that the country has always been the same. Canada has been a multicultural country for over 250 years.

The French fact in Canada starts in northern New Brunswick and Acadia and crosses into Quebec, the centre of the French Canadian nation. It continues to northern Ontario and down into southern Manitoba. In fact, in Manitoba, two nations, French Canadians and indigenous peoples, united, creating a new nation with a new culture, the Métis. Canada really has been a multicultural country for centuries.

Some people might ask me what this has to do with Quebec. The idea of multiculturalism was born in Quebec and it began with Quebec's first governor, James Murray. He implemented the first treaty of peace and friendship with the Algonquin people. Approximately 28 years ago, the Supreme Court of Canada found that that treaty was still valid. James Murray also did something unique in the British empire of his day. He made sure that the right of French Canadians to their language, religion and civil code was enshrined in the Quebec Act. He gave francophone culture a place in Quebec in the Quebec Act.

The idea of a multicultural country appeared 250 years ago with James Murray. This idea was born in Quebec. We have seen this idea of multiculturalism throughout Quebec's history. We saw it in 1847 when Irish orphans were welcomed by French-Canadian families in Quebec. These people told the orphans they could keep their family name. They were integrated, they were taught French, but they were able to keep their own culture. We recognize those names today. We recognize the names O'Neil and O'Hara. Those are names of francophones. There are also names like Johnson or Ryan. Those who are interested in politics will recognize these Irish names that are Québécois too.

Take for example the flag of Montreal, which goes back to 1939, 80 years ago. On that flag there is the fleur-de-lys, which represents the French fact of the founders of the city of Montreal.

The Rose of Lancaster is also depicted to represent the English who founded the city of Montreal. That is not all. The thistle is there to represent people of Scottish origin. Lastly, the flag also has a shamrock, because the Irish also took part in the founding of Montreal, which is indeed multicultural.

That is not all. A little over a year ago, the City of Montreal changed its flag. It changed the flag because, when it was first designed, one of the great nations that took part in the founding of the city of Montreal was left out. The city decided that it was time to demonstrate that first nations should also be be included as founders of the city of Montreal. The white pine, which represents peace for first nations, was therefore added to the flag.

When I look at the flag of Montreal, I see a flag that demonstrates the multiculturalism that exists between the French, English, Scottish, Irish and first nations. It is a fact that proves that multiculturalism is alive and well in Quebec. It began 250 years ago and is still alive today.

Perhaps my colleagues would like further proof that Quebec is multicultural?

I suggest they look around this chamber. There are francophones with French names among the members from Quebec. They undoubtedly represent the majority of Quebec's population. There is also a francophone member with an Irish name sitting opposite me. He is a francophone Irishman. There are also people like me, anglophones with English names. That is not all. In the House, there are members from Quebec with names of newcomers, names that originate in Asia. There is more. In the House, there is a member who is from the Cree nation, a branch of the Algonquins, who always speaks his own language and French.

We see that Quebec's multiculturalism is vibrant and that it is represented in the House. We cannot ignore that fact.

Canada's multiculturalism originated in Quebec. The fundamental idea was born in Quebec. The idea that the 1988 Canadian Multiculturalism Act affects Quebec is ridiculous. The terminology did not exist 250 years ago. The concept existed and still exists, and that is a fact.

Quebec was born with James Murray, who accepted the Hurons, and both the French and the English. This continued with the orphans who were welcomed and retained part of their culture and their names. It continued with the flag of Canada's great city, Montreal, and continues today in the House. It makes no sense to deny this fact. Quebec is multicultural.

Canadian Multiculturalism ActPrivate Members' Business

7:10 p.m.


Monique Pauzé Bloc Repentigny, QC

Madam Speaker, I want to start my comments on multiculturalism by sharing the words of Boucar Diouf, a columnist, biologist, oceanographer, comedian and radio host. Obviously, he is a man of many talents. I want to share some excerpts from a column he wrote less than a year ago entitled “The Problems with Multiculturalism”:

There are so many walls in multicultural western societies that you would need an iCloud Keychain to remember all of the communities you have to pledge allegiance to. People are divided by ethnolinguistic group, country, sub-region, continent, race, religion, etc.

With so many walls, how can we even envision celebrating a national identity and shared values?

It may be idealistic to dream that community divisions will disappear someday, but there is no denying that confining people to these virtual fortresses, so typical of Canadian multiculturalism, does not allow for cultural osmosis. On the contrary, these virtual fortresses breed and feed discrimination and racism in the shadows.

Although the intercultural model seems unattainable and does not knock down these walls, it does make them shorter and create shared meeting places.

A little further on, he talked about Quebec:

Quebec is far from perfect, but does the rest of Canada really embody this model of tolerance that prompts certain members of the press to point an accusing finger at it on a regular basis?

He cites Washington Post articles by Mordecai Richler, Jan Wong and, more recently, Mr. McCullough, whose perspective he describes like this:

In their view, Quebec is home to the most intolerant people in the country.

He goes on to say:

More surprising still is that 60% of the rest of Canada believes that immigrants should abandon their culture and adopt Canadian culture....

The big difference between the intercultural model that the majority of Quebeckers aspire to and the model that the political and media elite in the rest of Canada hold up as the ideal is that, in the rest of Canada, there is a disconnect between the vision the media promotes and what people really think. Dig a little deeper, as the survey did, and you will uncover suppressed frustrations that are bound to surface sooner or later.

These are the very same demons whose existence everyone denied but that nevertheless drove the people of the United Kingdom, the cradle of multiculturalism, to vote for Brexit, and that are partly responsible for Trump's rise to power.

Those are not my words. I am still quoting Boucar Diouf, who concluded with these words:

It is impossible to live together without truly embodying the word “together”. Multiculturalism is much more like living side by side and harbouring frustrations with one another, with results that fall far short of the ideal presented by politicians.

We think that those who choose to live in Quebec appreciate its unique character just as Boucar Diouf does. In another article he wrote as an open letter to people who want to immigrate to Quebec, he said, and I quote:

You are getting ready to move to the most open and peaceful nation in North America. You are moving to a nation whose women are among the most assertive and equality-seeking in the western world, a nation that is allergic to the mere mention of the religious right, a nation where the right to abortion is non-negotiable, where men have the right to parental leave, where marriage is no longer a sacred institution and one in two couples divorce when their marriage stops working, where teenagers are allowed to kiss and date, where gays and lesbians are able to clearly express their identity and have the right to marry....

Boucar Diouf was not born in Quebec, but I think he grasped its essence. He would say that we may not be perfect, but we are definitely not racist.

I do not know about my colleagues, but we think that Boucar Diouf is an enlightening and inspiring personality. He is one of the most popular and well-loved public figures in Quebec. As members have heard, he is not a fan of what he would call the British model of multiculturalism, which he believes is doomed to failure.

There are also others. Jean-Pierre Charbonneau, former minister and speaker of the Quebec National Assembly, recently said, and I quote:

...a major challenge in Quebec and throughout the western world is and will be how to successfully integrate immigrants so that they become people from here, who accept not only our collective future, but also our society's past, which is the product of a singular and unique cultural path made up of many fruitful interminglings, as we must remember.

There are so many aspects to be addressed when discussing immigration, integration and diversity. I am speaking through the words of other authors who have pointed out that the politics of division that relate directly to multiculturalism are an ideology whereby individual rights supersede collective rights and the common good. Multiculturalism also has a real legal predominance, and other rights and freedoms must be interpreted through that lens.

Every opinion matters, and that starts with dialogue. In the summer of 2017, I met an Italian diplomat while I was travelling. He had stopped in Toronto and wanted to gather people from all walks of life around his table. He said no one would talk to anyone else. Everyone was suspicious of everyone else. No one would start a dialogue. He said that multiculturalism was like building a bunker for each culture. The word he used was bunkerism.

Quebeckers are people of goodwill. They are peaceful people with good judgment. However, that can be tested when people try to manipulate us. We refuse to categorize certain segments of the population according to their origins and social or religious practices because that systematically affects the harmony of a society that considers itself to be free, democratic and secular. Every one of us is obligated to demonstrate reciprocity and it is required by a real process of integration. Quebec must freely establish the rules for living together based on what it is, its history, concerns and culture. That is what compels us to sit down together rather than retreating into bunkers and putting ourselves in separate bubbles. That is what my colleague is proposing with his bill.

We are not ashamed of our vision. On the contrary, we are proud of having introduced this bill in the House of Commons.

Canadian Multiculturalism ActPrivate Members' Business

7:20 p.m.


Mario Beaulieu Bloc La Pointe-de-l'Île, QC

Madam Speaker, I will begin by reacting a bit to the historical context that my colleague from Pierrefonds—Dollard provided because it is appalling. It is a surprisingly revisionist take on history.

First, multiculturalism, or the component of Canada's diversity, goes back further than 250 years. It goes back at least 400 years. There were the first nations, then New France. The Quebec Act that my colleague referred to was a compromise to prevent the Canadians, descendants from New France, from joining forces with the Americans, who were at war for their independence. It was not an act of generosity in the least.

Then, as soon as there was a majority of English-speaking Canadians in Ontario, there was the Act of Union, then Confederation, or the British North America Act. Then, every province that was to become predominantly English-speaking prohibited institutions from using French as a language of instruction, especially where francophones were concerned. That is why provinces like Alberta have villages today with people named Boudreault or Goudreault who no longer speak a word of French.

The multiculturalism policy was created in the 1960s. It was brought in by Pierre Elliott Trudeau in response to the commission on bilingualism and biculturalism. It is a policy that was widely criticized in Quebec because it trivialized the identity of Quebec and Quebeckers as a people.

Today, Quebeckers are a unique people in the Americas with a history, culture, vision for the economy and national language. This unique identity was shaped by all those who came here, by the descendants of New France, but also by the first nations, with whom we intermixed, the Scottish, the Irish, and all those who made Quebec their home over the years.

Multiculturalism is a model for managing diversity and newcomers. It is the Canadian way of seeing things, not the Quebec way. Quebec has developed its own integration model, which we sometimes refer to as an intercultural or cultural convergence model, that seeks to include everyone in Quebec's public space. It is a shame that our colleagues do not seem to understand that.

For some Conservative members, Canadian multiculturalism is like a social norm, a religion that one must not exclude lest they be identified as racist or xenophobic. They apparently have no idea that there are other ways to integrate diversity. Quebec has a unique model. We are a minority people. We are the only francophone state in America. We are a pluralist, secular state where the rule of law prevails. We have basic values even though we sometimes shy away from the word “value”. We have our own way of doing things, and we have found ways to include newcomers in this space.

We also need to consider the Charter of the United Nations, which speaks of self-determination, the right of a people to make its own decisions. That right includes the right to ensure our economic, social and cultural development. To achieve that, we need to make our own decisions about the intercultural diversity and integration model, which conflicts with the Canadian multicultural model that was imposed on us in the 1960s.

What we want is to do our own thing and make our own decisions about integration policies. That is part of our right to self-determination as a people.

Of course, newcomers who settle in Quebec tend to want to side with the majority. As long as Quebec is part of Canada, the majority is the English Canadian majority. It is the English majority in North America. If we do not have our own model of integration, we will not be able to successfully ensure our survival as a people, to ensure our development or to thrive as a people.

That is why it is so important that Quebec be able to choose its integration policies for itself, that Canadian multiculturalism not be imposed on Quebec, so that it can thrive and manage its diversity. We do not want a model that applies to people based on their ethnic origin and promotes divisiveness and silos. As everyone knows, English Canada has a massive majority. By adopting an individualist approach that treats people based on their ethnic origin, this leads to assimilation into the majority culture.

In Quebec, we want to continue to exist as a people, as a nation. We therefore demand the right to continue to choose our integration policies for ourselves.

Canadian Multiculturalism ActPrivate Members' Business

7:25 p.m.


The Assistant Deputy Speaker NDP Carol Hughes

The hon. member for Montcalm has a five-minute right of reply.

Canadian Multiculturalism ActPrivate Members' Business

7:25 p.m.


Luc Thériault Bloc Montcalm, QC

Madam Speaker, the bill I am honoured to introduce in the House has one simple objective. Quebeckers should be able to make their own choices about how they want to live together in their society.

Ottawa has no right to decide what integration should look like in Quebec. The House has recognized the Quebec nation. That could have meant something. It could have meant that Quebeckers exist. It took Ottawa a long time to realize that, but it did not take long for that phony recognition to be revealed as strictly symbolic. It was a sham.

During the two hours of debate on this bill, I heard members of other parties say some really outlandish things. To hear the NDP tell it, our bill, as the member said, “is a blatant attempt to fan the flames of anti-immigration and anti-refugee rhetoric”. The Bloc Québécois wants Quebec to be exempt from the Multiculturalism Act so it can make its own decisions about integration and how people live together in our society, and the NDP accuses the Bloc of being anti-immigration. Why? Are they suggesting that anyone who does not like multiculturalism is racist or pro-Trump? Are they suggesting that anyone who prefers to organize their society some other way is xenophobic, chauvinistic, anti-immigration and anti-refugee?

That kind of statement is revolting. It reeks of disdain for Quebec and Quebec-bashing. The member should apologize, but I will not even ask her to.

In Quebec, we make it clear that we like being tightly woven. We like living together. We consider diversity a wealth that should be shared. More than just tolerate people, we welcome and respect them. We like to get to know others and grow from being with them, not just living next to one another.

The Liberals tried to be more conciliatory. They talked to us about the Cullen-Couture agreement and assured us that multiculturalism and interculturalism coexist very well together. That is not the issue.

Quebec must not work on harmonizing the Quebec population within the parameters of multiculturalist dogma. Quebec should be setting its own integration model. That could very well be interculturalism, cultural convergence, common culture, cultural match, or even multiculturalism, although that would not be my choice, but it is up to Quebec.

Integrating newcomers, our choices for ensuring openness to the other, promoting the diversity of the different cultures that create Quebec culture, must not be subjected to the political objectives of the Government of Canada.

I acknowledge that the Conservative Party touched on something. In the words of my colleague from Richmond—Arthabaska, the Multiculturalism Act “seeks to recognize that multiculturalism is a fundamental characteristic of the Canadian heritage and identity and that it provides an invaluable resource in the shaping of our country's future.”

There you have it. The Liberals, NDP and Conservatives see questioning multiculturalism as an attack on Canadian identity. For the three federalist parties, multiculturalism is a state religion. This is not the case in Quebec because the act sends a mixed message to newcomers. While Ottawa is promising them that they will not have to change anything, Quebec is saying, “Here, we speak French; here, gender equality is non-negotiable; here, there is a separation of church and state.”

I can see that our bill will not pass second reading, which is disappointing. However, when members deny Quebec its right to choose how to live together, make assumptions about racist intentions, and force us to abide by a model we do not identify with, it is clear to me that we are not at home here.

Quebec is our only country, and the federal parties made that quite clear in this debate.

Canadian Multiculturalism ActPrivate Members' Business

7:30 p.m.


The Assistant Deputy Speaker NDP Carol Hughes

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

Canadian Multiculturalism ActPrivate Members' Business

7:30 p.m.

Some hon. members



Canadian Multiculturalism ActPrivate Members' Business

7:30 p.m.


The Assistant Deputy Speaker NDP Carol Hughes

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

Canadian Multiculturalism ActPrivate Members' Business

7:30 p.m.

Some hon. members


Canadian Multiculturalism ActPrivate Members' Business

7:30 p.m.


The Assistant Deputy Speaker NDP Carol Hughes

All those opposed will please say nay.

Canadian Multiculturalism ActPrivate Members' Business

7:30 p.m.

Some hon. members


Canadian Multiculturalism ActPrivate Members' Business

7:30 p.m.


The Assistant Deputy Speaker NDP Carol Hughes

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, November 7, immediately before the time provided for private members' business.

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

The EnvironmentAdjournment Proceedings

7:30 p.m.


Gord Johns NDP Courtenay—Alberni, BC

Madam Speaker, it is an honour to rise again today to talk about a very important issue for people of Courtenay—Alberni, and certainly across Canada.

As we know, plastic is entering our oceans and our aquatic environments at a rapid pace. Over a garbage truck of plastic is entering the environment of our waters every minute.

My Motion No. 151 has spelled out seven different reforms, based on a very solid report, “Seven Reforms to Address Marine Plastic Pollution”, developed by the University of Victoria Environmental Law Centre. This is a very important report. It was the member for Victoria who introduced me to Calvin Sandborn and the T. Buck Suzuki Environmental Foundation; they helped develop the report. It is a 100-page report that outlines different ways we can combat plastic pollution.

We know that single-use plastic is an important issue when it comes to plastic and how we can reduce the amount of plastic entering our waterways. Therefore, I was proud to rise in this House to bring forward a question on behalf of coastal people and people who live near waterways across our country. Most people live near a lake or a river or the ocean. We have the longest coastline in the world, and we have 60% of the world's lakes and 20% of the world's supply of fresh water, so that would make us stewards of a very important resource that we need to protect, and it requires some leadership.

One thing I want to touch on tonight is the issue of ghost fishing gear and derelict fishing gear because it very important to the people in my riding. There are a couple of groups that are working on cleaning it up. One is Ocean Legacy, led by Chloé Dubois and James Middleton. They take fishing gear, recycle it and repurpose it for companies like Lush that use it in their cosmetics. They make sure that we remove plastic from our environment and use it for purposes. There is another group called Emerald Sea Protection Society. It is a group of divers who go down and seek out this gear and remove it.

We know that Washington State, Oregon and California have taken great leadership on this and have removed thousands of tonnes of ghost and derelict fishing gear, so I do not understand why Canada has not used a model that is so close, especially for me. I live near the Salish Sea. We share the same sea. We share the Strait of Juan de Fuca. We could use their expertise, their knowledge and their legislation and apply it in Canada and take action that is important.

As members know, ghost fishing gear is dangerous to the mammals and species in the ocean. A lot of birds, seals, crab and even our fish get entangled in ghost fishing gear. It is very important that we explore ways to get it out. It is costly for the economy. Washington State says it costs it about $700,000 U.S. just in lost crab to crab pots that have been left at the bottom of the sea, that have escaped. The UN Environment Programme estimates about 640,000 tonnes of gear is in the ocean right now.

This is a great opportunity for us to spotlight a very important issue for all of us.

The EnvironmentAdjournment Proceedings

7:35 p.m.

Sean Fraser Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Environment and Climate Change, Lib.

Madam Speaker, I would like to begin by thanking the hon. member for his work on marine pollution. I found his comments interesting. He led by commenting that this was an issue about which coastal communities in B.C. and across Canada should care deeply. I would go one step further, and I am sure he would agree, to suggest that marine pollution, particularly plastic pollution, is an issue that has captured the attention of the entire world.

There is no question that plastics are choking our oceans, lakes and rivers, some of the most treasured that Canadians know and love. I know my colleague from B.C. has put a lot of energy into this and represents coastal communities. Some of us would be very familiar with some of the very picturesque places, like Tofino, which the hon. member represents.

Back home for me in Central Nova, we have places like Melmerby Beach, Martinique Beach and Clam Harbour that are really a sight to behold. We need to do our best to protect these gems for our kids and grandkids, so they can benefit from the marine environments we love so much.

In his remarks, my colleague acknowledges that our government is familiar with the critical problem of plastic pollution in our waterways. For quite some period of time, he has been asking us what we are doing on this issue.

I would like to take this opportunity to survey some of the actions we are taking and offer to him that we are willing to continue to work in partnership as we move forward.

As a government, we have made it a priority to address oceans health and plastics pollution under our G7 presidency in 2018. During the G7 leaders' summit in June, we launched the ocean plastic charter and the Charlevoix blueprint for healthy oceans.

We have also committed $100 million to help vulnerable regions improve their waste management practices and combat plastic pollution. This is no small thing, $100 million can go a long way to helping move the needle on this important file. In fact, while the Minister of Environment and Climate Change was recently in my home province of Nova Scotia for the G7 summit, she announced that we would be eliminating the unnecessary use of plastics in government meetings and, importantly, committed to reducing the Government of Canada's use of plastics by 75% by the year 2030.

Further to this, we regulated the manufacture, import and sale of microbeads in toiletries earlier this year. We made a commitment to procure only sustainable plastic products.

We are taking serious steps forward on this important issue. The fact is that federal, provincial and territorial governments are currently working together, through the Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment, to develop a national approach that responds to the charter and moves toward zero plastic waste. Our shared goal is to keep all types of plastics out of our landfills and out of our marine environment, in particular.

This is an ambitious vision and it is going to require action by governments, industry, consumers and individuals. We are all working with these partners to identify innovative ideas to improve the design, use and management of plastic products.

I am very interested in some of the remarks my colleague made about lost fishing gear. If this is an area where we can work in partnership with him and other folks in Canadian communities, I would be pleased to do so.

There is no one solution that will allow us to completely remove plastics from the marine environment. It is going to take a varied approach, considering different aspects where we can reduce our plastics. We recognize the need to address single-use plastics in Canada, such as straws or bags, but we need to develop a more comprehensive approach to effectively address this issue. This includes evaluating all available policy options, which I am willing to do.

I genuinely welcome the member's continued effort on this important file.

The EnvironmentAdjournment Proceedings

7:40 p.m.


Gord Johns NDP Courtenay—Alberni, BC

Madam Speaker, it is great to see the parliamentary secretary so active on this file.

What we need is regulation. We need traceability, tracking and accountability when it comes to plastics in the ocean, especially when it comes to industry. We can look at salmon farming and oyster and shellfish farming. We want to support the shellfish industry, but at the same time we want to ensure there is traceability when it comes to the plastics they are using in their environment. We need legislation and regulation.

With respect to polystyrene and styrofoam, we need to stop using it in a place where it can escape and end up on our shores, breaking apart and impacting our sensitive ecosystems.

I hope the member will look forward to bringing forward solutions so we can mitigate this. I want to commend the Liberals for signing on to the Global Ghost Gear Initiative. It is a great initiative and it is a good start.

The EnvironmentAdjournment Proceedings

7:40 p.m.

Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Environment and Climate Change, Lib.

Sean Fraser

Mr. Speaker, it is my pleasure to serve as the representative for a riding that has two coasts, the beautiful Northumberland Strait and the pristine Eastern Shore of Nova Scotia. This file is near and dear to my heart. We need to protect our marine environments.

Again, to demonstrate how seriously we are taking this file, our government is finally taking action to protect our marine environment. We have a $1.5 billion oceans protection plan. We are moving forward with initiatives to protect our freshwater resources. We have helped achieve a G7 ocean plastic charter. We are knocking off 75% of the government's use of plastics by the year 2030. We are now regulating the use and import of microbeads in Canada.

I outlined a number of other measures during my remarks. I know I do not have a full opportunity now. I only hope to communicate that we are taking this problem seriously and we remain open to innovative ideas, no matter what side of the aisle they come from, to ensure plastics stay out of our oceans.

Natural ResourcesAdjournment Proceedings

November 6th, 2018 / 7:40 p.m.


Jenny Kwan NDP Vancouver East, BC

Madam Speaker, back in June, we learned that the Liberal government's financial adviser approached the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board, raising the idea of the Canada pension plan investing in the Liberal government's plan to purchase the Trans Mountain pipeline. As we know, the pipeline was already 65 years old before the Liberals bought it for $4.5 billion using public funds.

It is bad enough that the Liberal government decided to spend $4.5 billion of public funds on an old leaky pipeline. Imagine if, at the drop of the hat, the Liberals felt the need to truly back up their talk on climate change action and spent $4.5 billion transitioning Canada into a cleaner, greener economy and putting Canada on a pathway to be a global leader in green technology. Imagine what it would be like if that had happened instead.

Even worse, following the deal the senior executives of the Texas oil company the Liberal government bailed out literally laughed all the way to bank, cashing in on $1.5 million in bonuses for just continuing their jobs. It is even worse when this bailout is for a project for which the Federal Court found the National Energy Board's review failed to include the increase in tanker traffic and the negative impact that would have on endangered killer whales, and also failed in its duty to engage in meaningful consultations with first nations before giving the green light to the project.

It is inexcusable that the Liberal government is failing to follow through on its promise to scrap tax subsidies to the fossil fuel industries. Finally, it simply cannot be defended when all these bad decisions are made in the face of the greatest issue facing our generation, which is how we deal with climate action.

Whether it is unprecedented forest fires, record floods, increasingly radical weather patterns, the acidification of our oceans or the melting ice caps, we will be faced with catastrophic situations if we do not take real action now. To limit global temperature increases to 1.5°, Canada needs to lower its emissions to 325 million tonnes by 2030. According to the government's own performance report, we will only get down to 500 million tonnes. We are not even close, and bailing out Texas oil companies will not get us to our targets.

Public tax dollars funding executive bonuses instead of green energy infrastructure will not help us reduce emissions. Continuing to subsidize the fossil fuel industry through generous tax giveaways will not incentivize investment in green technology. Failing to consult with the indigenous people impacted by these ill-advised projects flies in the face of our commitments on reconciliation.

However, the government now sees fit to have its adviser make a pitch to the Canada pension plan to invest in this leaky pipeline. Not only is the government making terrible financial decisions now on climate change, but it is also trying to sell to the Canada pension plan something that would tie future generations to this bad decision. It is the wrong way to go.

Natural ResourcesAdjournment Proceedings

7:45 p.m.

LaSalle—Émard—Verdun Québec


David Lametti LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Innovation

Madam Speaker, I am pleased to answer my colleague's question more fully. First of all, this is the government that has introduced a price on pollution so that pollution will no longer be free and we can address climate change, which we agree is the most important issue of our time. We, as a government, are moving the Canadian people in the right direction by putting a price on pollution.

I am pleased to have the opportunity today to highlight the importance of the Trans Mountain expansion project to Canadians. It is a project that means thousands of good, well-paying jobs for the middle class, including in British Columbia, where the hon. member for Vancouver East comes from. It will help us to get a fair price for Canadian resources. At a time when 99% of Canada's oil exports are destined for the United States, it makes sense to seek other buyers for our resources.

In the past two months, we have reached important milestones related to the project. We had the Federal Court of Appeal's decision related to the Trans Mountain expansion project, which provided us with a way forward. We have reinitiated phase III consultations with first nations impacted by the expansion project. Through these consultations, we will ensure that indigenous voices are at the table as we move forward in the process.

Furthermore, the government appointed retired Supreme Court of Canada Justice Frank Iacobucci as federal representative to oversee the consultation process. He will ensure that the consultations with indigenous peoples are meaningful and comply with the Federal Court of Appeal ruling.

Justice Iacobucci has a great deal of experience with consultations of first nations. I am very proud because he was always a mentor when I was a lawyer, and he is also an Italian Canadian.

Our government takes our responsibilities seriously. We want to ensure that the project will move forward, but we also want to ensure that we protect the public interest. This means that there must be a guarantee of the best governance, including environmental protection, living up to our commitments to indigenous peoples and protecting investment in Canada in a responsible manner.

With regard to the hon. member's comments on the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board, I would like to remind this House that the CPPIB operates at arm's length from government. I would also like to highlight its strong investment track record. The CPPIB's 10-year annualized nominal rate of return is 8%, and Canada's chief actuary has confirmed that the legislated contribution rates are sufficient to ensure the sustainability of the CPP for at least 75 years. That is for both the base CPP and the enhanced portion of the plan.

That brings me to my second point, the enhancement of the CPP. The agreement to enhance the CPP, reached by the Minister of Finance with his provincial counterparts in June 2016, is one of this government's most important achievements. It will mean more money for Canadians when they retire so that they can worry less about their savings and focus more on enjoying time with their families.

Natural ResourcesAdjournment Proceedings

7:50 p.m.


Jenny Kwan NDP Vancouver East, BC

Madam Speaker, the current Liberal government continues to talk a big game on climate change, but its actions undermine its own rhetoric. Climate leaders do not fail to consult indigenous communities. Climate leaders do not buy 65-year-old leaky pipelines with public funds. Climate leaders do not hand out massive tax breaks for the fossil fuel industry. Climate leaders certainly do not put the retirement security of future generations at risk by pitching investments into a disastrous pipeline bailout.

The government needs to recognize that putting a stop to its excessive blowing of hot air on alleged climate action would likely have more of an impact on reducing greenhouse gas emissions than any action it is actually taking. What will it take for the Liberal government to finally stop undermining its own talk by bankrolling its corporate friends in the fossil fuel industry?

Natural ResourcesAdjournment Proceedings

7:50 p.m.


David Lametti Liberal LaSalle—Émard—Verdun, QC

Madam Speaker, climate change leaders put a price on pollution. Climate change leaders take care to protect endangered species. Climate change leaders also have a responsibility to their people to make sure that the environment and the economy go hand in hand. In that light, the Trans Mountain project is a sound investment. The government purchased the expansion because as a government, we can manage risks that in these particular circumstances would have been difficult for any private sector company to bear.

The Trans Mountain expansion project will help communities, including indigenous communities. Thanks to Canada's oceans protection plan it is a project that can be carried out while protecting Canada's coastline and waterways.

This project is an investment in Canada's future. Once operational, it will safely move Canada's oil resources to global markets, including Asian markets. This will give Canadian producers more opportunities to obtain a fair price for their products.