House of Commons Hansard #270 of the 42nd Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was c-69.

Topics

Temporary Foreign WorkersOral Questions

Noon

GPQ (ex-Bloc)

Monique Pauzé GPQ (ex-Bloc) Repentigny, QC

Mr. Speaker, farmers were the first to sound the alarm, and now the Government of Quebec is doing the same.

The temporary foreign worker program is not working, and this is undermining Quebec's development. Our high-tech companies cannot find skilled labour, so they are losing out on contracts and all of Quebec suffers.

When will the government recognize that one-size-fits-all federal programs do not work and that Quebec urgently needs some flexibility so that it can thrive?

Temporary Foreign WorkersOral Questions

Noon

Cape Breton—Canso Nova Scotia

Liberal

Rodger Cuzner LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Employment

Mr. Speaker, I agree with my colleague that the one-size-fits-all model does not work as it was imposed under the past Conservative government. We believe that Canadians deserve the first crack at jobs in this country. We believe that there can be no wage suppression or downward pressure on Canadian wages. We believe that workers who come in have to be protected by the laws of this country. We believe that companies need to have access to a skilled workforce, something that was set out of balance with the past government.

Natural ResourcesOral Questions

12:05 p.m.

GPQ (ex-Bloc)

Monique Pauzé GPQ (ex-Bloc) Repentigny, QC

Mr. Speaker, not only are Quebeckers not well served by one-size-fits-all federal programs, but they are also not well served when it comes to the budworm.

The government listens to Irving lobbyists far more than it does to Quebeckers. Irving had 31 meetings with government ministers and managed to secure $75 million to combat the budworm ravaging its forests in the Maritimes. Irving owns 4.5 million acres in New Brunswick. However, Quebec did not receive one cent to address this same epidemic affecting an area even larger than New Brunswick.

They allocated $75 million to the Maritimes—

Natural ResourcesOral Questions

12:05 p.m.

Liberal

The Assistant Deputy Speaker Liberal Anthony Rota

The hon. Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Natural Resources.

Natural ResourcesOral Questions

12:05 p.m.

Northumberland—Peterborough South Ontario

Liberal

Kim Rudd LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Natural Resources

Mr. Speaker, as I said earlier, our government has invested millions to support the forestry sector in Quebec. We invested $87 million to support scientific research, including funding to combat spruce budworm, and more than $23 million in funding to Quebec to support innovation and transformation in the forestry sector. Most recently, in budget 2018, we provided $191 million to support softwood lumber jobs. That is in addition to our softwood lumber action plan of $867 million, which we are providing to support workers, families, and communities against the unjust punitive American duties.

Public Services and ProcurementOral Questions

12:05 p.m.

GPQ (ex-Bloc)

Gabriel Ste-Marie GPQ (ex-Bloc) Joliette, QC

Mr. Speaker, I did not hear an answer to the question about the budworm. Why is the government giving money to the Maritimes but not to Quebec? That is unacceptable.

Quebeckers, especially Davie workers, are extremely disappointed in the 2018 federal budget tabled this week.

If I were a Quebec MP on the other side of the House, I would be embarrassed. This is yet another budget with nothing at all for Davie, but surprise, surprise, millions more for Irving.

The federal government is clearly not treating everyone equally, and nobody seems willing to speak up on Quebec's behalf, nobody.

When will the government give Davie its fair share of contracts? Is it waiting until condos take over the shipyards?

Public Services and ProcurementOral Questions

12:05 p.m.

Gatineau Québec

Liberal

Steven MacKinnon LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Public Services and Procurement

Mr. Speaker, the government is definitely taking steps to provide the Canadian Coast Guard with the ships it needs to serve the Canadian people.

The government is pleased to be working with the Davie shipyard, which did very good work on the Asterix, to find a solution that will meet our icebreaking needs. Icebreakers stimulate the Canadian economy because they make it possible to transport goods along our waterways and they protect communities by helping prevent floods.

We are committed to making sure the Coast Guard has the equipment it needs and to making Davie part of the solution.

The EnvironmentOral Questions

12:05 p.m.

Green

Elizabeth May Green Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

Mr. Speaker, we have alarming news from the front lines of the climate emergency. The dispatches are deeply worrying. The defences are falling against what protected our Arctic and kept it cold. The polar vortex is eroding, and like an advancing army, the warm air from the south has occupied our Arctic, driving temperatures up 25° Celsius above normal in a sunless winter. No sun has warmed that ground for months, yet the Arctic is in a heat wave. The time for complacency, pat answers, and fossil fuel appeasement is over.

When will the government increase our targets and our ambitions to meet this accelerating threat?

The EnvironmentOral Questions

12:05 p.m.

Ottawa Centre Ontario

Liberal

Catherine McKenna LiberalMinister of Environment and Climate Change

Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the member opposite for her tireless advocacy on climate change.

I was in the high Arctic this past summer with Inuit youth, and they talked to me about the very real impacts of climate change. It is extraordinarily worrying what we are seeing right now. I am working extremely hard to bring Canadians together on climate action. We are putting a price on pollution, and we are phasing out coal. We are making historic investments in public transit, on energy efficient social housing, on investments in clean technologies. We need to be working with the world.

We are all in on climate action. I would encourage all the parties opposite to do the same.

Transport, Infrastructure and CommunitiesCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

12:10 p.m.

Liberal

Bernadette Jordan Liberal South Shore—St. Margarets, NS

Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the 22nd report of the Standing Committee on Transport, Infrastructure and Communities, in relation to Bill C-64, an act respecting wrecks, abandoned, dilapidated or hazardous vessels and salvage operations. The committee has studied the bill and has decided to report the bill back to the House with amendments.

This bill was built on my Motion No. 40 and will address environmental and economic concerns that have plagued our coastal communities for years. I look forward to the final vote on this bill in the House, and hopefully the full support of all members.

FinanceCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

12:10 p.m.

Liberal

Greg Fergus Liberal Hull—Aylmer, QC

Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the 22nd report of the Standing Committee on Finance in relation to the supplementary estimates (C), 2017-18.

Environment and Sustainable DevelopmentCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

12:10 p.m.

Liberal

Deb Schulte Liberal King—Vaughan, ON

Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the following two reports of the Standing Committee on Environment and Sustainable Development: the 12th report, which relates to supplementary estimates (C), 2017-18, and the 13th report, which relates to interim estimates 2018-19.

I am also presenting, in both official languages, the 14th report of the Standing Committee on Environment and Sustainable Development, in relation to Bill C-374, an act to amend the Historic Sites and Monuments Act (composition of the board). The committee has studied the bill and has decided to report the bill back to the House with amendments.

Government Operations and EstimatesCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

March 2nd, 2018 / 12:10 p.m.

Conservative

Tom Lukiwski Conservative Moose Jaw—Lake Centre—Lanigan, SK

Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to table, in both official languages, the following two reports of the Standing Committee on Government Operations and Estimates: the 13th report, on the topic of the votes in supplementary estimates (C), 2017-18 that were referred to the committee, and the 14th report, on the topic of the votes in interim estimates 2018-19 that were referred to the committee.

Canada Summer Jobs ProgramPetitionsRoutine Proceedings

12:10 p.m.

Conservative

Diane Finley Conservative Haldimand—Norfolk, ON

Mr. Speaker, I rise in the House today to table two petitions from 114 constituents. The petitioners call to the government's attention that, as it is now written, the application to the Canada summer jobs program forces employers to choose between their charter-protected freedoms and eligibility for government programming. They are calling on the government to remove the discriminatory attestation requirement from the Canada summer jobs application and respect the charter rights of all Canadians, even though those may be different from the political agenda of the government of the day.

This brings the total number of petitioners signing this petition to 145.

Canada Summer Jobs ProgramPetitionsRoutine Proceedings

12:10 p.m.

Conservative

Bob Saroya Conservative Markham—Unionville, ON

Mr. Speaker, I have two petitions, one signed by 75 people, and the other signed by 550 people. All the petitioners call upon the Prime Minister to defend the freedom of conscience, thought, and belief, and to withdraw the attestation requirement for applicants to the Canada summer job program.

Canada Summer Jobs ProgramPetitionsRoutine Proceedings

12:10 p.m.

Conservative

Stephanie Kusie Conservative Calgary Midnapore, AB

Mr. Speaker, I am proud today to table a petition signed by Canadians who oppose the Liberal government's application of a values test to the 2017 Canada summer jobs program. These individuals ask the Prime Minister to uphold the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, which protects our right to freedom of conscience, thought, and belief, and to withdraw the attestation requirement for this government program.

TaxationPetitionsRoutine Proceedings

12:10 p.m.

NDP

Richard Cannings NDP South Okanagan—West Kootenay, BC

Mr. Speaker, I am happy to rise to present petition e-1311, signed by hundreds of Canadians. They point out that cancer treatment centres and major medical recuperative centres are located in densely populated cities across Canada, and people from rural areas have to travel long distances to those centres for their care. They often incur crippling travel costs. This affects more than half of all Canadians.

The petitioners point out that while medical travel costs are deductible, they are deductible only in the year they are incurred. These people are seriously ill or hurt, and they are not working in that year or are working very little. They point out that the costs cannot be deducted during that year and ask the government, therefore, to allow medical travel costs incurred in Canada to be deductible against all future taxes payable.

RCMPPetitionsRoutine Proceedings

12:15 p.m.

NDP

Daniel Blaikie NDP Elmwood—Transcona, MB

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise on a day when there are some hard-working advocates for the RCMP on the Hill. I am pleased to present a petition signed by thousands of RCMP members, their family members, friends, and concerned Canadians. They want the government to address pay issues within the RCMP and support collective bargaining to address a number of long-standing issues that continue to be extant around understaffing, a lack of good equipment for RCMP members that they need to do their job, and support for their spouses, who often have trouble finding work as their partners move across the country doing their work, as well as a number of other issues.

I am glad to bring those issues to the government's attention on their behalf.

Girls' EducationPetitionsRoutine Proceedings

12:15 p.m.

Liberal

Ken Hardie Liberal Fleetwood—Port Kells, BC

Mr. Speaker, every day, over 130 million girls around the world are not in school. In Canada, we know that education is key to individual and community prosperity and well-being. On behalf of the ONE campaign, which is here in Ottawa right now, I am very pleased to present a petition calling on the government to mobilize support to better fund girls' education internationally.

As our budget 2018 demonstrates, we believe that when women do better, we all do better. That principle applies not just here at home, but globally. The ONE campaign wants Canada to support that principle around the world.

PharmacarePetitionsRoutine Proceedings

12:15 p.m.

Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux Liberal Winnipeg North, MB

Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to present yet another petition reflecting the desire of my constituents to see a national pharmacare program. They are calling on the government and the Prime Minister to look at ways we can work with the different levels of government and put into place and incorporate a national pharmacare program into the Canada Health Act.

I was really encouraged the other day with the national budget, which is a good step in that direction.

Questions on the Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

12:15 p.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

12:15 p.m.

Liberal

The Assistant Deputy Speaker Liberal Anthony Rota

Is that agreed?

Questions on the Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

12:15 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Access to Information on Prime Minister's Trip to IndiaPrivilegeRoutine Proceedings

12:15 p.m.

Conservative

Erin O'Toole Conservative Durham, ON

Mr. Speaker, I rise under Standing Order 48(2) on a question of privilege, notice of which was given this morning in accordance with the Standing Orders.

I would ask you, Mr. Speaker, after my brief remarks, to make a prima facie finding of a breach of my parliamentary privilege and refer the matter immediately, because of the time-sensitive nature of the breach, to the House of Commons Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs.

The breach of my parliamentary privilege relates both to my individual rights as a member of Parliament and to my rights as the shadow minister for foreign affairs. As well, I will highlight why I think there is also a collective breach of the rights of all members of the House of Commons. As I am sure you know, Mr. Speaker, there are individual rights that each member of Parliament has, regardless of side of the House, as well as collective rights that all 338 members and yourself have. These are founded within the Constitution Act of 1867, as well as within the rules of this place and several generations of decisions from the Chair.

I will reference the most recent one that is germane to this request. At the heart of the issue of parliamentary privilege of a member of Parliament is for the member of Parliament to be fully able to deliberate, debate, legislate, and most importantly, especially for members of the opposition, hold the government to account. That is at the heart of our parliamentary democracy, and it has been impeded. Anything that impedes my ability to fulfill my functions is a breach of my privilege.

Specifically, that breach was highlighted yesterday by the Minister of Public Safety, who acknowledged that confidential information related to the Prime Minister's trip to India was shared with members of the press gallery, who do not sit in this place but may be above it or observe it. That same information is not being shared with me, as a member of Parliament.

Furthermore, we do not have the ability to question the national security adviser, Mr. Jean, who shared that information with members of the press gallery. He is not able to appear before a committee of this place or a committee of the upper house, further stymying our ability to fulfill our requirements and obligations as members of Parliament to hold the government to account.

I highlight this specifically. Yesterday, the Minister of Public Safety suggested, to many journalists, including one of the journalists briefed by the national security adviser, that the national security adviser could share information he deemed to be confidential with reporters. However, the Minister of Public Safety was not willing to share that same information with members of the House of Commons. That, in itself, is a prima facie breach of my privilege as a member of Parliament.

As I said, these rights have been adjudicated by various chairs since the founding of our Confederation. This inhibits my ability as an individual to have freedom of speech and information to inform and colour my deliberations and debates in the House.

There is also a critical individual freedom that members of Parliament have, and that is the freedom from obstruction or interference in the fulfillment of their duties. Not only as a member of Parliament who has a background in defence, security, and these affairs, I have additional duties to hold the Minister of Foreign Affairs to account with respect to Canada's role in the world and its diplomatic function.

In the last week, this chamber has been seized with the largest diplomatic incident Canada has witnessed in a generation. Yesterday, the Minister of Public Safety acknowledged information relating to the government, in particular the Prime Minister's specific claims that a partner, the Indian government, is somehow involved in this crisis. It is now named the “Atwal affair”, the diplomatic crisis of a convicted attempted assassin, who tried to kill an Indian parliamentarian on Canadian soil, being invited to formal prime ministerial events. That is a foreign affairs crisis.

Yesterday, the minister confirmed that information with respect to the Prime Minister's defence in this House of those claims was shared with members of the press gallery, who the government knew would publish it in their newspapers, online, or on television, thereby waiving any confidentiality claims. That is the same information they are withholding from me as a parliamentarian, who is charged with holding the Liberals to account. It is astounding, and far worse than the judgment from former Speaker Milliken, who I am going to refer to shortly. Not only does it breach my individual privileges as a member of Parliament in several ways, it is a breach of our collective rights.

I am sure even members of the Liberal caucus who were not on this Indian junket trip are offended by what happened. They, as government members, have a right collectively to institute inquiries, call witnesses, and demand information to this chamber. Therefore, not only are my individual privileges as a member of Parliament being stymied by the Liberal government, the admission by the Minister of Public Safety, who yesterday said the government is not prepared to share here the same information it shared with journalists, in itself is a prima facie indication it is violating privilege.

There is also a collective violation inherent in this withholding of information. I suggested today in question period that often the cover-up can be worse than the crime. I do not think there is a crime here. I am using that as an expression. However, there was a diplomatic incident that has caused Canadians great concern, great international embarrassment, and today members of the Conservative caucus raised how it is already impacting our pulse farmers. We as members of Parliament are not able to have the same degree of information that the Prime Minister's Office offered to journalists, in trying to defend or explain away a crisis with respect to the Atwal affair.

I refer you to the seminal case from the Supreme Court of Canada in New Brunswick Broadcasting Co. v. Nova Scotia, where parliamentary privilege must be “absolute” and necessary.

All of our legislatures and our federal Parliament must respect the absolute privilege of its members to be informed, to have debate, deliberations, and to hold the government to account. That is the core of our parliamentary democracy. For the Minister of Public Safety to suggest the national security adviser had the ability to share this information with journalists but not share it with the House, that in itself suggests the information he shared was not confidential.

If the Liberals are going to share information as damage control, clearly it is not information about which CSIS was saying, “Stop. You're jeopardizing our national security.” That is why this side of the House feels that the Prime Minister's Office engaged the national security adviser in a media smokescreen attempt to deflect attention from the Atwal affair. I am sure that is the case, because I am being stopped from performing my duties as a member of Parliament. The Minister of Public Safety, the Prime Minister, and the Prime Minister's Office, because we all know it is there, are not sharing the same information with me that they have shared with journalists to suggest that they were not to blame for the Atwal affair. However, I have no ability to see that information.

I will quote Speaker Milliken on April 28, 2010, in the Afghan document decision, on a similar type issue, where confidentiality and national security were part of the debate. He states:

It is the view of the Chair that accepting an unconditional authority of the executive to censor the information provided to Parliament would in fact jeopardize the very separation of powers that is purported to lie at the heart of our parliamentary system and the independence of its constituent parts.

This chamber, the men and women who stand in this chamber, sit in this chamber, and participate in the debates of our nation are the most important constituent part of our parliamentary system. Speaker Milliken, probably one of the most profound writing Speakers, said that specifically when the executive, the Prime Minister's Office, suggested confidentiality would prevent parliamentarians from exercising their absolute privileges. All four corners of that Speaker's decision apply to this case. In fact, the Minister of Public Safety, as I raised in question period today, highlighted that breach of privilege yesterday to the media when he confirmed the national security adviser, we believe at the request of the Prime Minister's Office, shared information with journalists that they are now preventing us from having, with claims of confidentiality.

Here is an interesting sidebar. Everyone knows, especially the deputy House leader, that I love to look back into the history of things. When the Milliken decision in 2010 came out, the then-Liberal leader, Michael Ignatieff, was quite happy with this decision. Speaker Milliken recommended a compromise, because there actually was confidential information. Here, the waiving of confidentiality by allowing the national security adviser to brief the media shows it is a red herring in this case. However, in the Afghan documents case, it was a real concern so the Speaker's decision recommended a compromise so that the parties could get together and make sure the privilege of MPs was not impeded.

Who did Michael Ignatieff charge to work on behalf of the Liberal Party to make sure that privilege was maintained? It was the House leader for the Liberal Party at the time. Who was that? It was the Minister of Public Safety.

Sometimes when one is here a long time, one sees everything, and so that minister has seen everything. He has seen this. He knows that not providing us the very same information the Liberals provided journalists, and his work on the Milliken decision and the compromise out of it shows this, the production of documents, the provision of information, and even witnesses to allow a proper deliberation, debate, and holding of government to account, is a breach of privilege. That decision dealt with not just the production of documents and information to allow for that deliberation, that debate, that holding to account. It also dealt with the issue of tampering or impeding witnesses from being part of the parliamentary inquiry. Therefore, I would refer the Chair to the Milliken decision with respect to that.

It is interesting in this case as well, because the national security adviser is a senior civil servant. He was charged to brief the media, thereby suggesting that there was no confidential information that they are now claiming cannot be shared with us and Mr. Jean cannot appear before the public safety committee or a committee of the Senate.

I suggest that any confidentiality or sensitivity of that information was waived, but even if it was not, what did Speaker Milliken suggest in the case with a letter from an associate deputy minister with respect to the Afghan documents? He suggested that letter provided a chilling effect on the civil servant, civil service, and the ability for Parliament to fulfill its obligation. However, this is a far worse chilling effect, because the national security adviser for Canada has never made public statements, particularly quiet, hastily arranged media briefings. This is unprecedented, and with even a more senior person than an associate deputy minister.

Therefore, the chill effect that the Milliken decision was concerned about with respect to impeding, with respect to tampering with the ability for documents and deliberations to take place in this case, also applies here. Unfortunately, unless we get some answers, I feel that the Prime Minister's Office has sullied the reputation of a fine three-decade-long civil servant. He should come before committee and confirm whether he was acting rogue here. Without the information, I am not sure, but my hunch is that this is not the case. Either way, we do not have the information and my privilege is breached.

I will end with this. Perhaps I wanted to speak a little more before we broke for two weeks, but this is very serious. The only limitations on the privileges of a member of Parliament must be self-imposed. We regulate our debates. My very capable House leader, on behalf of our parliamentary caucus, works with the government House leader and other colleagues to make sure the debate functions, to make sure that we hold one another to account, and the Chair helps us in that exercise, capably informed by the table officers.

We determine what information we see, not the Minister of Public Safety. The very fact that he was involved in the Milliken decision compromise tells me he knows that. As well, unelected officials in the Prime Minister's Office, who determine which civil servants go out, who they brief, and what information they share, if they are now trying to impede me from doing my job by not sharing that same information, they must be held to account. They are not members of this place.

We regulate our own debate, and our own respect for the privileges of this place. Further, and the Milliken decision confirms this once again, that privilege is not affected by statutes that might prohibit distribution of information. If there are real confidentiality or national security concerns, and I have said already in my remarks that I do not think that is the case here, which is what the minister is claiming, disclosure, sunshine, will show all that.

However, even if there is sensitive information or confidential documents, that does not impact my privilege to see it. The Milliken decision confirms that accommodation must be made. The public safety committee could meet in camera. The parliamentary House leaders could get together, like they did with the Milliken decision, like the public safety minister did in 2010, to make sure that Parliament is supreme.

We are not impacted by claims of confidentiality, especially what I am suggesting are false claims.

This is a very serious affair. The national security adviser of Canada is now implicated. One of Canada's most important allies in the Asia-Pacific going forward, one with which all sides of this House have taken strong work to try to improve and enhance relationships and enhance trade, and under the Conservatives two-way trade doubled, that country has now said that the Prime Minister's claims are baseless.

I cannot confirm they are baseless because I am being impeded in my function. Canada's allies are affected. Our reputation is affected. My role as a parliamentarian is affected. For all of my collective colleagues here, their ability to perform their function is affected. This is serious.

Given the nature of this affair, I would ask the Chair, relying heavily on the Milliken decision, which is totally on point, when the House returns, to make a decision so that all of us, on all sides of the chamber, can fulfill our roles as parliamentarians.

Access to Information on Prime Minister's Trip to IndiaPrivilegeRoutine Proceedings

12:35 p.m.

NDP

Ruth Ellen Brosseau NDP Berthier—Maskinongé, QC

Mr. Speaker, first off I would like to thank the member for Durham for his remarks today in the House of Commons. They are very timely.

He has raised some very important issues. We have deep concerns. This whole issue has blown up and moved very quickly. We are very concerned about the breach of privilege and respecting members' rights in the House of Commons, and making sure that we can do our job adequately on behalf of the people that we represent.

I am hoping to reserve some time to reflect deeply and come back to the House as soon as we resume work on Monday.