House of Commons Hansard #255 of the 42nd Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was workers.


Speaker's RulingCanada Elections ActGovernment Orders

1:35 p.m.


The Assistant Deputy Speaker NDP Carol Hughes

There are 11 motions in amendment standing on the Notice Paper for the report stage of Bill C-50.

Motions Nos. 1 to 11 will be grouped for debate and voted upon according to the voting pattern available at the table.

Motions in amendmentCanada Elections ActGovernment Orders

1:35 p.m.


Blake Richards Conservative Banff—Airdrie, AB


Motion No. 1

That Bill C-50 be amended by deleting Clause 1.

Motion No. 2

That Bill C-50 be amended by deleting Clause 2.

Motion No. 3

That Bill C-50 be amended by deleting Clause 3.

Motions in amendmentCanada Elections ActGovernment Orders

1:35 p.m.


Nathan Cullen NDP Skeena—Bulkley Valley, BC


Motion No. 4

That Bill C-50 be amended by deleting Clause 4.

Motions in amendmentCanada Elections ActGovernment Orders

1:35 p.m.


Blake Richards Conservative Banff—Airdrie, AB


Motion No. 5

That Bill C-50 be amended by deleting Clause 5.

Motion No. 6

That Bill C-50 be amended by deleting Clause 6.

Motion No. 7

That Bill C-50 be amended by deleting Clause 7.

Motion No. 8

That Bill C-50 be amended by deleting Clause 8.

Motion No. 9

That Bill C-50 be amended by deleting Clause 9.

Motion No. 10

Bill C-50 be amended by deleting Clause 10.

Motion No. 11

That Bill C-50 be amended by deleting Clause 11.

Madam Speaker, I appreciate the opportunity to rise to speak to this bill and these amendments. As a member of a political party and a member of Parliament, I certainly understand the importance of fundraising for our ability to campaign. Without it, we certainly could not carry out the activities that we do for our campaigns and our political parties.

However, there is certainly a difference between fundraising by asking supporters or friends to chip in $10 or $20, $50 maybe, to help buy some lawn signs or pamphlets to distribute door to door, and, for example, a swanky $500-a-plate dinner at a law firm attended by top Bay Street lawyers, with the Minister of Justice as the special guest. I cannot imagine how the Liberals cannot see the issue of lawyers being able to buy access to the Minister of Justice, for example.

That is exactly what was happening before the Liberals hastily introduced this bill. They were caught with their hands in the cookie jar and had to scramble to come up with an excuse. Bill C-50, or as I have called it in the past, the “got caught with my hand in the cookie jar so I am blaming the cookie jar” act, is their excuse. This is what they are using as their cover. They have broken their own pledge of having an open and accountable government. The legislation that has been introduced is certainly incredibly underwhelming.

In a document entitled “Open and Accountable Government”, one of the general principles listed for ministers and parliamentary secretaries when fundraising and dealing with lobbyists states, “There should be no preferential access to government, or appearance of preferential access, accorded to individuals or organizations because they have made financial contributions to politicians and political parties.” That is a pretty clear statement. Who was that document signed by? It was signed by none other than the Prime Minister himself. This is hardly shocking to Canadians, as this government is well known for being all talk with, at best, very little action.

Apart from explicitly stating that there is to be no preferential access to government by people who have made financial contributions to politicians and political parties, the document also clearly states that there should be no appearance of that. “Appearance” is a word that I am sure the Liberal government is quite familiar with. Does having a $500-a-plate fundraiser at a Bay Street law firm, attended by the justice minister, pass the appearance test? I would say it does not.

Does having Chinese nationals with business interests in Canada attend a Liberal fundraiser with the Prime Minister and then provide six-figure donations to the Trudeau Foundation pass the appearance test? I would say no.

Does the Prime Minister vacationing on a billionaire's private island in the Bahamas, a billionaire who heads an organization that actively lobbies the government, pass the appearance test? I think I know the answer to that one, too, and it is no. It did not just fail the appearance test; it also failed the Ethics Commissioner's test, and the Prime Minister became the first one to have broken ethics laws. For the record, there are many ways to have a vacation on a private island that do not require selling access to the government. By all means, if that is the lifestyle that the Prime Minister likes to enjoy, I can certainly connect him with a number of travel agents across the country who could help him with his next trip.

However, let us get back to the serious issue at hand, which is simply this. How can Canadians trust a government that pledges to take accountability seriously and then fails its own appearance test at every single turn?

In an attempt to change the channel, Bill C-50 was introduced. It is like letting the foxes guard the henhouse. The Prime Minister is supposed to lead by example, but if his cabinet ministers see him enjoying a vacation on the private island of someone who lobbies the government, they probably think to themselves that there is nothing wrong with fundraisers attended by people who are going to lobby them. Therefore, it is no surprise that this bill was introduced.

There is only one thing this bill would do. It would bring these fundraisers into the open. The bill would not end the question about how appropriate it is for ministers of the crown or even the Prime Minister himself to attend fundraisers where they are being lobbied. No, it would not do that at all. The bill would simply move it into the public eye. Again, it is about appearance.

At least the bill would fulfill one aspect of the “Open and Accountable Government” document. The Liberals think that if the public can see it, everything is just fine. That is the logic they are going on. However, let us be clear. Cash for access does not become ethical simply because it is conducted in public. The Liberals should not need rules or laws to know that cash for access is unethical. That should simply be clear. There should not be a need for any rules or laws to make it clear.

Special interest groups and lobbyists should not have preferential access to very powerful figures simply because they can afford $1,500 for a fundraiser ticket. To the Liberals, bringing these fundraisers into the public eye is enough, but is it really? Have we come to expect so little of our government that simply doing the bare minimum, simply having the appearance of doing the right thing, is acceptable?

Someone once said this:

Most of all, we defeated the idea that Canadians should be satisfied with less, that good enough is good enough and that better just isn’t possible. Well, my friends, this is Canada, and in Canada better is always possible.

Who said that? It was none other than the Prime Minister himself, on election night in 2015.

Well, if better is always possible, according to the Prime Minister, then we need to do better than this bill, to be more accountable to Canadians. Certainly the Liberals need to do better.

Better does not mean a PR stunt where the actual issue is not addressed. Again, that is what Canadians have come to expect from this Liberal government: PR stunts that give the appearance of something being done, but in reality nothing changes. In this case, which is one of many examples, wealthy lobbyists will still be able to gain access to the Prime Minister and to senior cabinet ministers by simply buying a ticket for a fundraiser. That is what they have to do, put out a little cash and get some access. The Liberal government has missed a great opportunity to address this issue. Instead, the Liberals have chosen to duck and hide.

There is a very simple solution to this. If the Liberals would just take a moment to listen to the opposition, we can fix this. The Liberals should simply follow their own guidelines and stop attending these fundraisers, and that includes the Prime Minister. That is all it would take. We do not need a piece of legislation to figure that out. It is common sense.

By attempting to pass this underwhelming legislation, all the Liberals are doing is ensuring that the Prime Minister gets to continue to charge $1,500 for wealthy and connected insiders to meet him and discuss government business. Perhaps they meet him and then make big donations to the Prime Minister's family foundation.

At this point, one thing is clear. The Prime Minister does not believe that the rules should apply to him. A new law would not make the Prime Minister's cash for access fundraisers ethical. He does not respect even the laws we have now. What in the world would make us think that he would respect this law?

The Prime Minister knew that the vacation he took was not allowed, yet he did it anyway. Then he just apologized because he was caught. Clearly, the Prime Minister believes that these laws are meant only for regular Canadians and not for him. That is why we have an issue with this bill. It is simply a PR stunt designed to cover up the fact that the Liberals are engaged in unethical behaviour, and it does not do anything to actually address the problem.

Motions in amendmentCanada Elections ActGovernment Orders

1:45 p.m.

Halifax Nova Scotia


Andy Fillmore LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Democratic Institutions

Madam Speaker, I am not surprised that the member's party is not interested in improving openness and transparency in fundraising. I am curious about one thing, though. Given his party's new-found esteem for the Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner, I wonder if he might find it interesting that she said, “I support the direction of this proposed legislation. As I've said on previous occasions, transparency is important for any kind of regime that touches on conflict of interest.” She went on to say, “The amendments to the Canada Elections Act proposed by Bill C-50 promote transparency with respect to fundraising activities.”

Additionally puzzling is that the opposition party's leader first concealed the fact that he had held a private fundraiser. Later, when presented with evidence about that fundraiser, he said that he should not be held to the same standard of transparency as the Prime Minister, when in fact one must presume that he aspires to be prime minister one day.

Could the member explain why, in light of these revelations, his party is not in favour of openness and transparency in fundraising?

Motions in amendmentCanada Elections ActGovernment Orders

1:45 p.m.


Blake Richards Conservative Banff—Airdrie, AB

Madam Speaker, actually, we are the ones talking about the need for openness and transparency, but we have a government that simply thinks it will throw this out in the open and do it in public but still take the cash for access. Does that somehow make it ethical? In what world does that meet the smell test? It certainly does not.

I have lots of constituents in my riding who would love the opportunity to tell the Prime Minister exactly how they feel about certain pieces of legislation. What do they have to do? I guess they go and pay $1,500 to the Liberal Party. Then they get to attend a fundraiser with him and can give their ideas there. That is what the government is telling them.

The Liberals say it is okay because they would let it be known when the fundraiser is going to occur and put it on a website somewhere, and that would make it all better. However, they would still take the cash for access, no problem. In what world does that make any sense? It sounds to me like just a PR stunt. That is all it is.

Why do they not actually start following the rules that are already in existence? They do not need to create new laws, just follow the rules that exist. They should follow the guidelines they put out for themselves. Does the Prime Minister believe that there should be one set of rules for everyone else and a different set for him and his cabinet? They know better than that.

Motions in amendmentCanada Elections ActGovernment Orders

1:50 p.m.

Eglinton—Lawrence Ontario


Marco Mendicino LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada

Madam Speaker, it would be one thing if the Conservative Party of Canada had a completely unblemished record on the matter of fundraising, but of course this is the party with the record of in-and-out scandals, of robocalls, of taking illegal contributions, and my hon. colleague knows that.

However, let us assume for a moment that there has been an epiphany, a turning of the leaf. Why did they not act in the face of those scandals to introduce legislation, as this government is doing? Through the passage of this legislation, fundraising events would be published with more notice, contributions over $200 would be disclosed in a timely manner to Elections Canada, and everyone, including the press, would be welcome to attend.

Does anyone think that under the last administration a fundraising event hosted by the Conservative Party of Canada would see the press attend? I do not think so. Does my hon. colleague agree?

Motions in amendmentCanada Elections ActGovernment Orders

1:50 p.m.


Blake Richards Conservative Banff—Airdrie, AB

Madam Speaker, if the member wants to stand and be proud of a piece of legislation that is simply a PR stunt, I guess that is up to him. If I were him, I would be much prouder to stand up and say that we are actually going to fix the problem. However, they are not doing that. They are simply saying that they would put this on a website somewhere and people would know when it would occur. That is all wonderful.

He mentioned the media being invited. There are a few media members who might disagree with that, because they were told to get the heck out of the room on some of these occasions, but that is another story. It is all out there. They can check that out for themselves.

What this boils down to is that we have a Prime Minister who does not want to follow the rules that already exist. He does not want to follow the laws. We already discovered that. He has now broken four of them. Why does he not just start by following the rules? We do not need to have a piece of legislation that says that we will put this on a website somewhere. Let us actually see the Liberals stop taking cash for access and start following their own rules. There is no one set of rules for everyone else and another for the Prime Minister and the cabinet. They should be treated the same as everyone else. It is time for the Prime Minister to wake up and figure that out.

Motions in amendmentCanada Elections ActGovernment Orders

1:50 p.m.


The Assistant Deputy Speaker NDP Carol Hughes

Before I recognize the next speaker, unfortunately there will have to be an interruption for question period. There will be a little time remaining after question period.

Resuming debate, the hon. Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Democratic Institutions.

Motions in amendmentCanada Elections ActGovernment Orders

1:50 p.m.

Halifax Nova Scotia


Andy Fillmore LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Democratic Institutions

I am pleased to rise in the House today to speak to Bill C-50, a piece of legislation introduced by our government to amend the Canada Elections Act and improve the transparency of political financing.

As all colleagues in the House can agree, political fundraising is a key element in our Canadian democratic process. Political parties must fundraise for nearly all aspects of their operations, everything from basic day-to-day functioning to political campaigns during elections. I would like to respectfully remind the House that the existing regulations around fundraising in Canada are among the strongest in the world. These existing regulations include strict spending limits, a cap on annual donations, and an outright banning of corporate and union donations.

However, our government wants to ensure that transparency is at the heart of this new legislation, which is why Bill C-50, if passed, would legislate the following. It would make public all fundraising events involving the Prime Minister, cabinet ministers, party leaders, and leadership contestants of parties with a seat in the House of Commons, when over $200 a person is necessary to attend an event.

Information about such activities will have to be posted on the political party's website at least five days before the event.

It would also require political parties to report a list of attendees to Elections Canada within 30 days after the event.

Finally, technical amendments will be made in order to harmonize the rules applicable to nomination and leadership race expenses and those related to candidates' election expenses.

This legislation would account for certain privacy considerations involving the disclosure of the names of youth under 18, volunteers, event staff, media, support staff for those with a disability, and those supporting a minister or a party leader in attendance such as security personnel. These would all be exceptions to the requirement to disclose their names on party websites.

Before I discuss Bill C-50 in detail, I would like to address the motion of the member for Skeena—Bulkley Valley that is at report stage. The member's motion asked the House to delete clause 4 of the bill. I was disappointed to see this motion put forward because clause 4 enacts a direct recommendation made by the Chief Electoral Officer in his report after the last election.

In his report, the former Chief electoral Officer, Marc Mayrand, noted that:

...the definitions of “leadership campaign expense” and “nomination campaign expense” are problematic in that they do not include expenses incurred outside the contest period, even if the goods or services are used during the contest. Nor do these expenses include non-monetary contributions or transfers. This has consequences for the coherence of the political financing regime applicable to leadership and nomination contestants.

It is the implementation of this recommendation, recommendation A36 of the CEO report, that the member for Skeena—Bulkley Valley would like to see eliminated from Bill C-50. That recommendation is to “make leadership and nomination financial transactions fully transparent and the political financing regime applicable to contestants more coherent.”

What is even more confusing is that this recommendation from the former Chief Electoral Officer received all-party support at the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs, leaving us all wondering whether the member checked with his NDP colleague on that committee before putting his curious motion forward.

Our government has set forth legislation that would increase transparency in fundraising in a balanced and efficient manner, and that is Bill C-50.

I would like to turn to the evidence that we heard at committee.

During his appearance before the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs, the current acting Chief Electoral Officer, Stéphane Perrault, stated:

...I note that the bill offers a calibrated approach. Not all parties will be subject to the new requirements and I believe that is a good thing. Similarly, the rules will not apply to all fundraising activities, but only those for which a minimum amount is charged to attend and where key decision-makers are also present.

Mr. Perrault went on to say:

There is also an important exception for party conventions, including leadership conventions, except where a fundraising activity takes place within the convention. The convention itself is exempted, but if there's a fundraiser that meets all the conditions within the convention, then that is caught by the new rules. Again, this reflects a concern to achieve a proper balance and I think it is wise.

Later in his testimony, Mr. Perrault stated:

Generally speaking, the bill increases the transparency of political fundraising, which is one of the main goals of the Canada Elections Act. It does so without imposing an unnecessary burden on the smaller parties that are not represented in the House of Commons or for fundraising events that do not involve key decision-makers.

When asked if he felt that Bill C-50 captured the right political entities for disclosure, Mr. Perrault said, “It captures a number of key decision-makers, and it doesn't capture, by contrast...people who are not key decision-makers”.

He went on to say:

This bill is carefully drafted. It avoids some of the traps we've seen elsewhere.... I would say only that it increases transparency, that it's calibrated, and that I can administer this piece of legislation, with some improvements.

Motions in amendmentCanada Elections ActGovernment Orders

1:55 p.m.


The Speaker Liberal Geoff Regan

The hon. member will have four and a half minutes to complete his speech when the House next deals with this subject matter.

Historic AgreementStatements By Members

1:55 p.m.


Gabriel Ste-Marie Bloc Joliette, QC

Mr. Speaker, last Monday, after decades of effort, a historic agreement was reached between the Atikamekw Nation and the Government of Quebec. Manawan and Wemotaci will become the first indigenous communities in Quebec to establish their own youth protection system.

This network will essentially replace the DPJ, or Quebec's youth protection services, and will allow troubled youth to remain in their own community. These youth will be looked after by a trusted member of the community in a more culturally appropriate and family-oriented environment.

Our party has always encouraged nation-to-nation relationships, and this initiative is a perfect example of that.

We can build a shared future by respecting one another's traditions and distinct realities. When it comes to education, public safety, and, from now on, youth protection, indigenous communities are in the best position to organize the public services best suited to them.

We hope that this will be the first of many such agreements.


Mae O'SullivanStatements By Members

2 p.m.


Vance Badawey Liberal Niagara Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to pay tribute to the late Mae O'Sullivan. Mae left us in December of last year after 98 wonderful years. A dedicated mother, grandmother, and great-grandmother, Mae was an inspiration to all who knew her. My thoughts and prayers are with Mae's children, her 14 grandchildren, and 13 great-grandchildren.

Mae was a pillar of the Niagara Centre community, particularly in the city of Thorold. She was a member of Our Lady of the Holy Rosary Church for more than 75 years and a dedicated political volunteer for nearly 80 years. She had a zest for life like no other, and always succeeded with grit and determination, always with a smile on her face. Many in my community requested to have Mae as a mentor over her many years. Ever the voice of reason, when Mae spoke everyone stopped and listened.

Our community is better for Mae's lifetime contribution.

Sombra Ferry Border CrossingStatements By Members

2 p.m.


Marilyn Gladu Conservative Sarnia—Lambton, ON

Mr. Speaker, on January 11, the Coast Guard escorted ships on the St. Clair River and the resulting push on the ice destroyed the Bluewater Ferry border crossing between Sombra, Ontario, and Marine City, Michigan. I immediately raised this urgent issue to the Minister of Transport, Minister of Infrastructure, Minister of Public Safety, and the Minister of Fisheries, and when they could not find funding I escalated it to the Prime Minister's Office. Despite having a ministers' retreat in London only days before and claiming to serve southwestern Ontario, they have yet to bring aid to reopen this vital border crossing.

The Liberals found two and a half million dollars to keep the ice rink on Parliament Hill open another month, but they could not find that same amount for this emergency. Liberal inaction means that the border will now be closed for eight months, or permanently, killing businesses on both sides of the border.

Today I call upon the Prime Minister to do the right thing and to restore the ferry border crossing at Sombra.

MDAStatements By Members

February 1st, 2018 / 2 p.m.


Sherry Romanado Liberal Longueuil—Charles-LeMoyne, QC

Mr. Speaker, I recently had a chance to visit the riding of my colleague, the member for Lac-Saint-Louis, to tour the Montreal facility of MDA, a proudly Canadian company with employees all over the country.

MDA is helping develop the satellites for the Canadian Space Agency's RADARSAT constellation, which will be launched later this year. Satellite imagery from the constellation will serve the search and rescue operations of the Royal Canadian Air Force.

MDA can be proud of its technology, which will help improve rescue response times, better define search and rescue areas, and reduce the risk of injury to rescue personnel.

I am rising to congratulate MDA on its vital contribution to the mission of the Canadian Space Agency.

Black History MonthStatements By Members

2 p.m.


Jenny Kwan NDP Vancouver East, BC

Mr. Speaker, February is Black History Month. It allows us to celebrate a diverse black Canadian community whose heritage traces back to the U.S., the Caribbean, and the African continent.

In Vancouver East, there was a vibrant community of black Canadians known as Hogan's Alley. While the strength of this community has never diminished, the community no longer has a geographical centre. It was destroyed to construct a viaduct in 1972, which is now slated to come down.

We need to learn from this history. What we build in its place needs to honour the contributions of the black community by ensuring vulnerable populations are housed.

Many of Canada's black communities' contributions are not recognized in our history. Black History Month gives Canadians an opportunity to hear this history and to highlight the struggles the black community continues to address in the fight against prejudice, discrimination, and inequality; black lives matter.

With love and courage, let us continue our efforts to build a more just, equal, and inclusive Canada.

Canada 150 AwardsStatements By Members

2 p.m.


Alaina Lockhart Liberal Fundy Royal, NB

Mr. Speaker, I had the honour of presenting Canada 150 community leadership awards to 20 Fundy Royal constituents in December.

These awards showcased individuals who were not usually recognized for their work, those who continue day in and day out to work for those that are less fortunate, those who welcome newcomers to our communities, those who preserve and safeguard our environment, and those who help us recognize and reconcile with our past.

To Darryl Tozer, Scott Costain, John Whitmore, Barry Wanamaker, Andrew Fry, Ida MacPherson, Yennah Hurley, Austin Henderson, Zack Vogel, Sarah Arrowsmith, Lynda Carey, Dustine Rodier, Joan Routledge, Kharissma Williamson, Ben Whalen, Eric Cunningham, Beverley Franklin, Judy LeBlanc, Moranda Van Geest, and Phyllis Sutherland, I thank them for their service and commitment to our communities.

In 2018, let us reflect on how fortunate we are to call this beautiful country home, and remember that being Canadian means supporting each other and opening our hearts to those who need it the most.

Vernon Annual Winter CarnivalStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.


Mel Arnold Conservative North Okanagan—Shuswap, BC

Mr. Speaker, excitement is building across the North Okanagan—Shuswap as Vernon's 58th annual winter carnival opens and runs through February 11.

This year, Western Canada's biggest winter carnival theme is “Carnival in Wonderland”. Expect to see more than Alice, the Mad Hatter, and the Queen of Hearts at dozens of events around Vernon for the next 10 days. People may even run into Jopo and Jopette, the carnival's mime ambassadors.

Tonight, a new Queen Silver Star will be crowned and Saturday the big marquee parade winds its way through downtown Vernon.

Silver Star Mountain will host the “Over the Hill Downhill” event and a world class snow sculpture contest.

There will be events for everyone, including pancake breakfasts, sporting events, dinner, theatre, and pub nights, and even a grandparent-grandchild dance.

Watch out for the carnival cops, because they have been known to nab anyone from politicians to hockey players and lock them up for not wearing their carnival buttons.

I thank all of the carnival volunteers and sponsors. Without them this winter wonderland festival would not be possible.

Surrey CentreStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.


Randeep Sarai Liberal Surrey Centre, BC

Mr. Speaker, it is wonderful to be back in the nation's capital, but I am also grateful for the time I spent in my riding of Surrey Centre.

Over the holiday season, l hosted many events, but one of my most favourite events was hosting a new Canadian citizen party in the most Canadian way possible, on an ice rink. During the event, I had the opportunity to speak to many of them. I learned about their diverse backgrounds and how they continued to define what it was to be Canadian.

Since October 2015, Surrey Centre has welcomed over 2,000 new citizens. I am excited to see the contributions they will continue to make in our schools, businesses, and industries in Canada.

I want to thank all of the new citizens for choosing Surrey Centre as their home. I want them to know that I am here for them.

South Surrey—White RockStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.


Gordie Hogg Liberal South Surrey—White Rock, BC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to offer my sincere thanks to the people of South Surrey—White Rock for the confidence they have shown in me and the support they given to me. Their consistent passion for our community and our country reminds me clearly of what it means to be Canadian.

As I take my seat in the House, I would also thank my elected colleagues on both sides of the House, and in local and provincial governments across our great country. They give their energy, effort, and thought to provide perspectives that help us all to better understand what it means to live in relative harmony in a proudly multicultural and pluralistic country. We are tolerant and uniquely accepting, and our job as elected representatives is not easy.

In 1946, Albert Einstein was asked, “Why is it that when the mind of man has stretched so far as to discover the structure of the atom we have been unable to devise the political means to keep the atom from destroying us?” Albert Einstein responded, “That is simple, my friend. It is because politics is more difficult than physics.”

Sadly, I have always found physics to be most difficult. Please be tolerant.

Alberta Rural Crime Task ForceStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.


David Yurdiga Conservative Fort McMurray—Cold Lake, AB

Mr. Speaker, rural crime in Alberta is on the rise, and our Alberta Conservative caucus initiated the Alberta rural crime task force.

My colleagues and I held many meetings, round tables, and public forums to hear community concerns. Many constituents expressed gratitude to the RCMP for doing an amazing job. However, the justice system keeps putting career criminals back on street to continue their illegal activities.

While the majority of crimes we see are classic break and entering, we are now seeing more violent rural crimes. There are stories about terrible beatings, holdups at gunpoint, and in some cases, victims are victimized by the same criminal over and over. I heard stories of witness intimidation and the fear of reporting a crime, because people know that criminals will get virtually no jail time and will be back to continue the harassment.

It is time the government takes a strong stance on ensuring career criminals are kept off of our streets.

Black History MonthStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.


Celina Caesar-Chavannes Liberal Whitby, ON

Mr. Speaker, as we launch Black History Month, I would like to draw to the attention of the House a remarkable piece of literature by Robyn Maynard entitled Policing Black Lives. This book chronicles the experience of black people in Canada in a raw, exposed, and truthful place. It documents the slavery of black people in Canada, the harsh economic and social realities we faced post-slavery, and the institution on systemic practices and policies that continue to undermine us today.

Because the experience of black Canadians is seen to be not as bad as in the United does not make it okay. In fact, it is this notion that has led to the generalized erasure of the black experience in education and the Canadian proclivity for ignoring racial disparities.

I invite everyone in the chamber and across the country to learn more about black history in Canada, and this book will help them do so.

World Interfaith Harmony WeekStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.


Yasmin Ratansi Liberal Don Valley East, ON

Mr. Speaker, the first week of February, designated by the UN General Assembly as the World Interfaith Harmony Week, is celebrating its eighth year.

In Toronto, the city gave a proclamation designating February 1 to 7 as WIHW week. The WIHW Toronto's theme for 2018 is “The Promise of Inclusion”, where people of all faith groups of goodwill are coming together through dialogue, music, culture, and art to show the world that peace and harmony can exist irrespective of faith, culture, or creed. This is truly a reflection of what a cosmopolitan society should be: accepting difference and seeking to actively understand it.

I encourage all Canadians to attend any of the WIHW events in their communities and to spread the message of “Love of the Good” and “Love of the Neighbour”.

Florence KehlStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.


John Nater Conservative Perth—Wellington, ON

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to pay tribute to the life and legacy of the late Florence Kehl.

Florence was a woman of faith, love, and compassion. It was these characteristics that led her to found the Stratford House of Blessing in 1983 with the support and love of her husband Norman. Three and a half decades later, the Stratford House of Blessing stands as a tribute to Florence, an institution of caring and compassion in our community, fulfilling its mandate of serving those who are hurting and in need.

Florence was a recipient of multiple awards and commendations, including both the Queen's Golden and Diamond Jubilee Medals, the Ontario Medal for Good Citizenship, and Stratford's Citizen of the Year.

In speaking with members of Florence's family, they mentioned that she had a long list of good deeds she wanted to accomplish in the year to come. It now falls to each of us in our community to fulfill those goals in memory and honour of this remarkable woman.

Through hard work and a kind heart, Florence Kehl made this world a better place.

National AnthemStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.


Mona Fortier Liberal Ottawa—Vanier, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am proud to speak today in memory of the hon. member who held this seat before me.

Last night, I was honoured to be present in the gallery as Bill C-210, an act to amend the National Anthem Act, was voted on by senators. After sitting in the other place for 19 months, including nearly a year at third reading, I was delighted to see senators finally adopt the bill and send it for royal assent.

Our anthem will very soon be gender-neutral, promoting Canada's commitment to the equality of sexes and women's rights.

Mauril's dedication to making the national anthem gender neutral will stand as his legacy to future generations.

I am very proud to stand here today and sing along with all my hon. colleagues.