House of Commons Hansard #269 of the 42nd Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was organizations.

Topics

Interparliamentary DelegationsRoutine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.

Liberal

Francis Drouin Liberal Glengarry—Prescott—Russell, ON

Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 34(1), I have the honour to present to the House, in both official languages, two reports of the delegation of the Canadian Branch of the Assemblée parlementaire de la Francophonie.

The first is respecting its participation at the meeting of the Cooperation and Development Committee of the APF, held on Réunion Island, France, from March 2 to 4, 2017.

The second is respecting its participation at the meeting of the APF parliamentary network on HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria, held in Rabat, Morocco, on November 21 and 22, 2017.

Liaison CommitteeCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.

Liberal

Judy Sgro Liberal Humber River—Black Creek, ON

Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 107(3), I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the seventh report of the Liaison Committee, entitled “Committee Activities and Expenditures: April 1, 2017--December 31, 2017”.

Procedure and House AffairsCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.

Liberal

Larry Bagnell Liberal Yukon, YT

Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the 54th report of the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs. The Committee advises that, pursuant to Standing Order 91.1(2), the Subcommittee on Private Members’ Business met to consider the items added to the order of precedence on Monday, February 5, 2018, and recommended that the items listed herein, which it has determined should not be designated non-votable, be considered by the House.

Procedure and House AffairsCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Geoff Regan

Pursuant to Standing Order 91.1(2), the report is deemed adopted.

Canada Summer Jobs ProgramPetitionsRoutine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.

Conservative

Alice Wong Conservative Richmond Centre, BC

Mr. Speaker, I rise in the House today to table a petition signed by many concerned constituents who are calling on the government to remove the discriminatory attestation requirement from the Canada summer jobs application.

The attestation prevents youth across the country from gaining invaluable work experience because of beliefs that may be different from the political agenda of the government of the day.

Temporary Resident VisasPetitionsRoutine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.

NDP

Marjolaine Boutin-Sweet NDP Hochelaga, QC

Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present a petition signed by several hundred people that was initiated by a resident of my riding of Hochelaga. Her name is Natalia Lepleyskaya. I would like to thank her for her very hard work.

Between November 4, 2015 and December 6, 2016, over one million temporary resident visa applications were denied by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada. According to a World Economic Forum report, Canada ranks 120th out of 136 countries with respect to visa-granting policies.

This petition is calling on the federal government to improve and simplify the temporary resident visa application process by making it transparent, simple, fast, and differentiated.

Bicycle PathsPetitionsRoutine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.

NDP

Alexandre Boulerice NDP Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to rise in the House to present a petition signed by nearly 2,000 people who are very concerned because they want to be able to ride their bicycles year-round. We talk about ways to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, promote active transportation, and encourage people to move to stay healthy, and yet bicycle paths on federal bridges are not cleared in the winter.

These 2,000 people want all bicycle paths on federal bridges to be cleared year-round. I am pleased to table this petition on their behalf today.

Canada Summer Jobs ProgramPetitionsRoutine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.

Conservative

Rosemarie Falk Conservative Battlefords—Lloydminster, SK

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to table a petition from hundreds of residents in my riding of Battlefords—Lloydminster.

The petitioners are calling upon the Prime Minister to withdraw the attestation requirement for applicants to the Canada summer jobs program, and to defend fundamental freedoms of conscience, thought, and belief. It is important to them that Canadian charter rights are protected.

Human RightsPetitionsRoutine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

Liberal

Marwan Tabbara Liberal Kitchener South—Hespeler, ON

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to present two related petitions. Petition e-1264, signed by 531 Canadians, reminds the House that approximately 25% of Canada's population are non-believers, and calls upon the House to request that the Minister of Justice and the Minister of Canadian Heritage, together with the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights and the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage, investigate systemic discrimination against non-believers in Canada's laws and regulations.

Mr. Speaker, petition e-763, signed by 1,536 Canadians, calls upon the House of Commons to repeal the religious exemption regarding hate propaganda found in paragraph 319(3)(b) of the Criminal Code of Canada. This paragraph permits the incitement of hatred against identifiable groups if the incitement is an expression of “opinion based on a belief in a religious text”.

The EnvironmentPetitionsRoutine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

NDP

Gord Johns NDP Courtenay—Alberni, BC

Mr. Speaker, I am honoured to rise today to table a petition on behalf of coastal residents to call on the government to create a national strategy to combat ocean plastics and to create a fund for ongoing cleanups for marine debris and emergency cleanups for marine debris.

The United Nations has said that plastic will soon outweigh fish, and that is what we are on course to do by 2050. The petitioners call on the government to regulate single-use plastics, stormwater outfalls, and microplastic pollution; create a national strategy to clean up derelict fishing gear; extend producer responsibility; and address the root problem to redesign the plastics economy, as well as education, outreach, and beach cleanups. Our oceans are precious. In coastal British Columbia, we rely on the ocean for our food security, economic security, and recreation.

Questions on the Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

Winnipeg North Manitoba

Liberal

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

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

Questions on the Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Geoff Regan

Is that agreed?

Questions on the Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Access to Briefing on Bill C-69PrivilegeRoutine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

NDP

Ruth Ellen Brosseau NDP Berthier—Maskinongé, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am rising to add my thoughts on the question of privilege that was raised earlier this week by the hon. member for Abbotsford. I would like to thank him for his intervention on Monday as it does raise important questions about the work we do in this place on behalf of Canadians.

This type of event, in various incarnations, has been the subject of numerous questions of privilege over the years during my time as a member of Parliament, and I know how hard it is for members to establish the burden of proof required by the Speaker to rule that there is a prima facie breach of our privileges here.

I would argue that the prima facie, or first glance, impression that I have been given, based solely on the remarks of the member for Abbotsford, is that there is a case for you, Mr. Speaker, to rule that the minister or her staff have shown contempt for the House and its members.

One point that I found particularly enlightening from the member's remarks is that the Chair does not actually have to find that members have been obstructed or impeded from doing their work. In fact, the Chair only has to believe at first glance that the incident in question is an offence against the dignity of members. The description of events from the member should be taken at face value. You, Mr. Speaker, and just about every Speaker before you, have cited the convention that MP statements should be treated as facts.

The member went out of his way to ask the minister's office if he could attend a briefing on an important bill that is before the House. He was denied access for no other reason besides the fact that he is an MP. I submit that the dignity of the member and the House in which he holds membership was offended by that action. I am offended on his behalf as well, and I trust that you, the duly elected guardian of our collective dignity, will be offended too.

Finally, I have to say that I am really saddened by the fact that the minister will not simply apologize for the event in question. The approach of her department in this case is obviously problematic. Perhaps if she reconsiders and issues a sincere apology, even at a later date, on behalf of herself and her department, the member for Abbotsford will consider the matter closed, but if she does not, Mr. Speaker, I think that you will have no choice but to rule favourably on the member for Abbotsford's claim that an offence occurred against the dignity of the House and its members.

Access to Briefing on Bill C-69PrivilegeRoutine Proceedings

March 1st, 2018 / 10:15 a.m.

Winnipeg North Manitoba

Liberal

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

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to respond to the question of privilege raised by the hon. member for Abbotsford on February 26, 2018, with respect to the briefings that were provided for Bill C-69. I contend that in fact no breach of privilege has been committed.

The crux of my hon. colleague's argument is that the minister “impeded every single member of this House”, and that someone “tried to withhold information from the House”.

Mr. Speaker, I will refer to the decision given by your predecessor on March 3, 2014, regarding a technical briefing from the minister of state for democratic institutions. In that case, the Speaker ruled with relation to the technical briefing, where deficient interpretation was considered by a member as “preventing parliamentarians from participating fully in subsequent debate on the bill”. The member went on to note that the protection of the official languages in the House is fundamental to ensuring equality among all members.

In his decision, the Speaker at the time referenced two rulings. The first, by Speaker Bosley on May 15, 1985, can be found at page 4769 of Debates, and states:

I think it has been recognized many times in the House that a complaint about the actions or inactions of government Departments cannot constitute a question of parliamentary privilege.

The second ruling, delivered February 7, 2013, which can be found on page 13869 of Debates, states:

It is beyond the purview of the Chair to intervene in departmental matters or to get involved in government processes, no matter how frustrating they may appear to be to the member.

I believe there are similarities with regard to departmental matters and these rulings are pertinent. I will also note that the bill was not debated in the House until the following Wednesday, after its introduction, which means the member for Abbotsford had plenty of time to prepare his intervention for second reading debate.

While the member may feel that he was disadvantaged in some way, I do not agree with his assertion that the minister or her staff intentionally tried to impede his ability to carry out his duties. If the member feels that he needs additional briefings, I can assure him that they will be provided, as has been the practice of our government.

The member for Abbotsford was right in acknowledging that his intervention “does not fall strictly within one of the specifically defined privileges or confines of a proceeding in the House of Commons”.

This is not a legitimate question of privilege. It is a well-established convention that the Chair's role is confined to proceedings before the House and of Parliament. Although I appreciate my hon. colleague's devotion to the respect of parliamentary privilege, I will reiterate that the situation at hand does not constitute a prima facie question of privilege.

Access to Briefing on Bill C-69PrivilegeRoutine Proceedings

10:15 a.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Geoff Regan

I thank the hon. member for Berthier—Maskinongé and the hon. Parliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons for their interventions. I will look into the matter and come back to the House with a ruling in due course.

Opposition Motion—Canada Summer Jobs ProgramBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

10:15 a.m.

Conservative

Karen Vecchio Conservative Elgin—Middlesex—London, ON

moved:

That, in the opinion of the House, organizations that engage in non-political non-activist work, such as feeding the homeless, helping refugees, and giving kids an opportunity to go to camp, should be able to access Canada Summer Jobs funding regardless of their private convictions and regardless of whether or not they choose to sign the application attestation.

Mr. Speaker, I will be sharing my time with our House opposition leader.

I rise today to begin a debate on an opposition motion that calls out the Liberal government and the Prime Minister for their unconscionable attack on the sacred rights of Canadians to think for themselves, express their beliefs, and practise their faith without intervention or judgment from the government.

Last year, Canadians learned of an ominous new development in the way Canada summer jobs grants would be allocated. This is a very important program for all our constituents, regardless of region or our parties. These funds go to community organizations to allow them to hire summer students. This is critical. These organizations offer important services to their communities. They help refugees and newly settled immigrants to Canada. They provide summer camps for kids. They offer to help the disabled and the most vulnerable in our society.

For years, they have done this without intervention from any government, until December of 2017. That was when Canadians learned of this new attestation now required for applicants to this program. The attestation requires applicants to endorse the political and ideological views of the Liberal Party and of the Prime Minister personally. This is totally unacceptable in our free and democratic society. As Canadians, we enjoy and cherish our fundamental freedoms such as freedom of speech and freedom of conscience.

The government plays a vital role in protecting these and other rights and freedoms that we enjoy as Canadians. Every government in Canada chooses its own priorities, which are meant to help Canadians realize their full potential. What every Canadian government should have in common is the understanding that they should respect these fundamental charter rights and put these rights ahead of political point scoring.

That is why the Prime Minister's decision to require all groups seeking support from the Canada summer jobs program to sign an attestation declaring support for the ideological views of the Liberal Party is simply appalling. It is why Conservatives are clearly and forcefully expressing our opposition to this Liberal values test being imposed on Canadians.

Canadians expect their government to respect the diversity of opinion and belief that exists in our country. However, while the Prime Minister talks a lot about respecting that diversity, his actions tell a very different story. He chose not to listen to the many community organizations that make good use of this program and that will now be unable to provide their services this year.

Among those who will have to cut back are organizations that provide aid to refugees, run daycare programs for kids with disabilities, and offer help to at-risk youth. This is yet another example of how the government is attacking the very people it claims to help. Conservatives believe Canadians know better than the government about what is good for them. We listened and consulted with community organizations across the country, because we believe Canadians have a right to hold their own beliefs, and express themselves without fear of judgment from the federal government. No one has the right to prevent others from advocating or expressing their most deeply held personal beliefs.

The responses we received have been swift and clear. From church groups in the Maritimes and Muslim organizations in Toronto to services for the homeless in Alberta and summer camps in Vancouver Island, we have heard repeatedly how this policy will hurt local institutions and those seeking their help. Many have already been forced to make a tough decision and refuse to apply for the Canada summer jobs program this year. With the deadline passed, other groups now worry that more government programs will be subject to this values test.

Here are some of these groups' reactions to this terrible policy. For example, The Mustard Seed in Calgary offers social services for the homeless. Its CEO, Stephen Wile, said that because of this attestation, up to 300 youth in Calgary will not get to experience what it is like to work with the homeless and foster a compassionate heart.

Lindsey Villages in Ajax provides skills training to children with autism and serves as a home to those whose parents cannot afford to care for them. Dr. Rondo Thomas, their president, said that the direction this government is going is very concerning and that he is now having to consider shutting down Lindsey Villages, a home that cares for autistic children and provides them with skills training.

Kerber Applied Research Inc. is a Hamilton biotech company that is developing innovative cancer treatment technology. Its president, Tom Kerber, said that budgets are tight and the help from Canada summer jobs is critical to his company's efforts to find life-saving innovative cancer treatments. However, he refused to enable any sort of government-imposed values test, as this is not a precedent he wanted to allow.

There are so many groups that have spoken out, and the Conservatives will be sharing their stories this morning.

The Prime Minister has made the wrong decision and the grassroots organizations that have been hurt by it need to make their voices heard. Organizations applying for public programs should not be denied access to them solely because the Prime Minister does not share their values and beliefs. It makes one wonder if the Prime Minister will apply his values test to Canadians receiving other services, including organizations that receive charitable status from the Canada Revenue Agency. This prospect represents a fundamental attack on the charter rights of Canadians. It has no place in a tolerant, diverse, multicultural society.

The Prime Minister should not get his ideological veto over grants for summer jobs. The defence of these rights is what has made Canada a free, open, and tolerant country, a home for people seeking freedom from around the world. We should never compromise these freedoms. However, today too many on the government side are ready to take away these freedoms to score political points. The victims of these organizations are trying to do good in our communities, and the students are looking for work over the summer. This just is not fair.

I implore my government colleagues to support this motion and make their voices heard on behalf of all local organizations in their constituencies that will lose out because of this unfair, un-Canadian policy. It is time for all of us to speak up for the most cherished freedoms.

Opposition Motion—Canada Summer Jobs ProgramBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

10:25 a.m.

Liberal

Chris Bittle Liberal St. Catharines, ON

Madam Speaker, I know this issue raises a lot of concerns. It becomes an issue of passion. It becomes an issue of faith. However, there is a lot of misinformation that has been put out there by the opposition. They call it the “ideological views” of the Liberal Party of Canada. What this gets behind is the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. What we are behind is a constitutionally protected right for a woman to access safe abortion services if she chooses.

I was wondering if the hon. member could speak to the part of the charter that requires a government to fund an organization that seeks to undermine someone else's charter rights.

Opposition Motion—Canada Summer Jobs ProgramBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

10:25 a.m.

Conservative

Karen Vecchio Conservative Elgin—Middlesex—London, ON

Madam Speaker, I will remind my colleague to go back to the motion that we presented today. It talks about non-political, non-activist groups. I am talking today about the organizations in our communities that are impacted.

I want to bring up a topic with respect to the area in London where I am. The archbishop there in charge of the diocese has spoken to me, and our Liberal MPs have not even taken the time to reach out and contact him after they have made such a huge decision in our area to not apply for Canada summer jobs.

In my own riding of Elgin—Middlesex—London, there are housing organizations that are not going to be able to receive this funding. It is not because they are advocating against the beliefs this member is speaking of. It is because of their internal religious beliefs that they cannot sign something. I too would not be able to sign this attestation, and many of the businesses we have heard from have said the government has no business knowing what their beliefs are when it comes to Canada summer jobs. If we look at the Charter of Rights, we have the right to religious beliefs, we have the right to freedom, and there are different ways of doing that.

Our point today is that this is not what our motion is about. Therefore, I would ask the member to not try to dictate around it.

Opposition Motion—Canada Summer Jobs ProgramBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

10:25 a.m.

NDP

Brigitte Sansoucy NDP Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot, QC

Madam Speaker, I thank my colleague for her speech. I also had an opportunity to discuss this with representatives from the diocese in my riding. Listening to my colleague, I was thinking about the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, which has been protecting all Canadians for 35 years. We all embraced it 35 years ago.

Does my colleague not think that the reason we are discussing this motion here today is that the wording of the attestation requirement for the Canada summer jobs application was vague? The government should have been much clearer, because many organizations felt excluded.

Opposition Motion—Canada Summer Jobs ProgramBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

10:30 a.m.

Conservative

Karen Vecchio Conservative Elgin—Middlesex—London, ON

Madam Speaker, I would really like to thank my colleague, because that is exactly what we have been saying, right from the beginning.

When this attestation came out, it came to the attention of our Conservative caucus, not from within our caucus but from the people who were reading these applications, who said they did not understand. It took a long time, not just a day or two, for the Minister of Labour to respond, and at that time, the Liberals did not change the wording of the attestation. It is fine to have a dialogue in one page, but that was not what the person was signing. They were signing an attestation that had the exact same wording as what these many concerned citizens were concerned about in the first place. The issue was not, “We've come up with some understanding language, and here's a description of what we mean”. They are signing a document that people find is binding, and true to their beliefs, they will not sign it.

Opposition Motion—Canada Summer Jobs ProgramBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

10:30 a.m.

Liberal

Filomena Tassi Liberal Hamilton West—Ancaster—Dundas, ON

Madam Speaker, the supplemental information that defines what the attestation says makes it very clear. This has nothing to do with beliefs. This is not about beliefs. This is solely about activities. The attestation makes that clear, and there are examples in the attestation that set that out.

Has she not read the supplemental information that makes that attestation very clear?

Opposition Motion—Canada Summer Jobs ProgramBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

10:30 a.m.

Conservative

Karen Vecchio Conservative Elgin—Middlesex—London, ON

Madam Speaker, the bottom line is, we are not signing the supplementary; we're signing the attestation. If we were signing the supplementary that would be one thing.

You can laugh all you want, but I have organizations in my community that are not going to be providing daycare, that are not going to be out there giving out the food we need, and for people to sit there and bicker that this is not happening, I call BS on that. This is happening in our communities, and you guys better open your eyes. We are talking about—

Opposition Motion—Canada Summer Jobs ProgramBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

10:30 a.m.

NDP

The Assistant Deputy Speaker NDP Carol Hughes

Order. I just want to remind the member that I was not laughing at it, so she is to make sure her comments come directly to the Chair and not to the individual members or the government.

Could we have a very brief finish on that please?

Opposition Motion—Canada Summer Jobs ProgramBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

10:30 a.m.

Conservative

Karen Vecchio Conservative Elgin—Middlesex—London, ON

Madam Speaker, the bottom line is that the Liberals have come out with this additional information, but people are signing an attestation. For many people, that is like signing an agreement where they say this is not what they believe in. You are asking people to sign something they do not agree with.