House of Commons Hansard #283 of the 42nd Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was 2018.

Topics

Canada Summer Jobs ProgramPetitionsRoutine Proceedings

3:15 p.m.

Conservative

Bev Shipley Conservative Lambton—Kent—Middlesex, ON

Mr. Speaker, I have a similar petition that talks about section 2 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. It identifies, among other things, that freedom of conscience, thought, and belief is a fundamental freedom and says that the Government of Canada must defend the rights of Canadians, regardless of whether the current government agrees with the specific views held by individual Canadians. The petition asks the government to withdraw the attestation requirement for the Canada summer jobs program.

Canada Summer Jobs ProgramPetitionsRoutine Proceedings

3:15 p.m.

NDP

Linda Duncan NDP Edmonton Strathcona, AB

Mr. Speaker, I too have a petition, from Edmontonians, calling upon the government to remove the attestation, based on the views of various faith-based applicants.

Canada PostPetitionsRoutine Proceedings

3:20 p.m.

NDP

Marjolaine Boutin-Sweet NDP Hochelaga, QC

Mr. Speaker, I have the honour of presenting a petition signed by a number of my constituents. Considering that Canada Post is an essential public service, that service cuts are affecting seniors, people with reduced mobility, the self-employed, and small businesses the most, and that the Prime Minister promised during the last election campaign to restore door-to-door mail delivery, this petition calls on the government to reject Canada Post's service reduction plan and explore avenues for updating the crown corporation's business plan.

PharmacarePetitionsRoutine Proceedings

3:20 p.m.

Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux Liberal Winnipeg North, MB

Mr. Speaker, it is with pleasure that I table today a petition signed by many residents of Winnipeg North that once again raises the issue of pharmacare. It is the desire of the petitioners, and many of my constituents, to see a national pharmacare system implemented across Canada that allows prescription drugs to be incorporated into the Canada Health Act.

Canada Summer Jobs ProgramPetitionsRoutine Proceedings

3:20 p.m.

Conservative

Mel Arnold Conservative North Okanagan—Shuswap, BC

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to present a petition, signed by hundreds of members from my riding of North Okanagan—Shuswap, stating that the revised application process for the Canada summer jobs program denies citizens rights under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. The petitioners are calling upon Parliament to remove the condition on employers to attest to reproductive rights and abortion within the 2018 Canada summer jobs program application.

VeteransPetitionsRoutine Proceedings

3:20 p.m.

Green

Elizabeth May Green Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

Mr. Speaker, it is an honour to rise today to present a petition from residents throughout the riding of Saanich—Gulf Islands, from Victoria to Gabriola and Mayne Island to Salt Spring. It pertains to the issue of unfairness to veterans.

Through the Canadian Forces Members and Veterans Re-establishment and Compensation Act, the government has obligated Canada to show “just and due appreciation to members and veterans for their service to Canada.” Petitioners draw particular attention to the problem of time lags in reviewing claims. Re-evaluating disability benefit claims can take a tremendously long time, but the department has put in place a five-year statutory limit on back-pay eligibility. We are essentially unjustly treating veterans because of the delays of the bureaucracy. The petitioners ask that the limits on back-pay eligibility be removed.

Canada Summer Jobs ProgramPetitionsRoutine Proceedings

3:20 p.m.

Conservative

Kerry Diotte Conservative Edmonton Griesbach, AB

Mr. Speaker, I have the honour today to present a petition relating to the banning of groups from accessing the Canada summer jobs program due to their private convictions. The petition is calling on the Canadian Parliament and the government to defend their freedoms by removing the attestation requirement from the Canada summer jobs application and to thereby restore the confidence of Canadians that all constitutional rights and freedoms are respected by the government.

Questions Passed as Orders for ReturnsRoutine Proceedings

3:20 p.m.

Winnipeg North Manitoba

Liberal

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

Mr. Speaker, if a revised response to Questions No. 1515 and 1535, originally tabled on April 16, 2018, could be made orders for return, these returns would be tabled immediately.

Questions Passed as Orders for ReturnsRoutine Proceedings

3:20 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Geoff Regan

Is it agreed?

Questions Passed as Orders for ReturnsRoutine Proceedings

3:20 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Question No. 1515Questions Passed as Orders for ReturnsRoutine Proceedings

3:20 p.m.

Conservative

Harold Albrecht Conservative Kitchener—Conestoga, ON

With regard to the purchase of “likes” on Facebook by government departments, agencies, Crown Corporations, or other government entities since January 1, 2016: (a) what are the details of all such purchases, including (i) amount, (ii) date, (iii) number of “likes” purchased, (iv) title of page or post which received the likes; and (b) what is the total of all expenditures in (a)?

(Return tabled)

Question No. 1535Questions Passed as Orders for ReturnsRoutine Proceedings

3:20 p.m.

Conservative

Mark Warawa Conservative Langley—Aldergrove, BC

With regard to the February 2018 New Delhi reception invitation which was issued to Jaspal Atwal: (a) on what date did the Prime Minister’s Office become aware of the invitation; and (b) what departments or agencies were aware that Mr. Atwal received an invitation and when did each department become aware of the invitation?

(Return tabled)

Questions Passed as Orders for ReturnsRoutine Proceedings

3:20 p.m.

Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux Liberal Winnipeg North, MB

Mr. Speaker, furthermore, I ask that all remaining questions be allowed to stand.

Questions Passed as Orders for ReturnsRoutine Proceedings

3:20 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Geoff Regan

Is it agreed?

Questions Passed as Orders for ReturnsRoutine Proceedings

3:20 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Access to Canada Summer Jobs Program—Speaker's RulingPrivilegeRoutine Proceedings

3:20 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Geoff Regan

I am now prepared to rule on the question of privilege raised on March 27, 2018, by the hon. member for Langley—Aldergrove concerning the government's Canada summer jobs program.

I would like to thank the member for Langley—Aldergrove for having raised this matter, as well as the member for Cypress Hills—Grasslands for his comments.

When raising the issue, the member for Langley—Aldergrove explained that many people and organizations in his constituency are not on this year's list of recommended projects for the Canada summer jobs program due to their beliefs, faith, personal conscience, or opinion, which are guaranteed under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. This, he argued, impeded his ability to administer the program on behalf of his constituents and thus constituted a contempt of Parliament.

Members will remember that, immediately prior to the matter being raised, I reminded the House and, in particular, the member for Langley—Aldergrove, that a requisite condition for a prima facie matter of privilege is that it is raised at the earliest opportunity. House of Commons Procedure and Practice, Third Edition, explains at page 145 what is expected of members in terms of the timeliness of raising a question of privilege:

The matter of privilege to be raised in the House must have recently occurred and must call for the immediate action of the House. Therefore, the Member must satisfy the Speaker that he or she is bringing the matter to the attention of the House as soon as practicable after becoming aware of the situation.

While the member stated that he “just received the list” as proof of the timeliness of the issue, he gave a very detailed account of his communications with Service Canada about the program, which would indicate that he had been aware of the issue for quite some time.

I also recall the member speaking to the issue in the House on several occasions before giving notice to the Chair of his intent to raise a question of privilege, including during statements by members, back on February 13; during the debate on his party's supply day motion of March 1; and during the budget debate on March 20. It is therefore very difficult for the Chair, then, to accept that this matter could not have been raised earlier. As Speaker, I am no more persuaded to do so by the argument of the member for Cypress Hills—Grasslands that they did not want to waste my time.

To be clear, the condition of raising a question of privilege at the earliest opportunity is not an arbitrary one. In a ruling delivered on January 30, 2018, I addressed this at page 16516 of the Debates:

There is a tacit understanding that, if a matter goes to the heart of a Member’s or the House’s privileges and immunities, or that contempt is involved, it is of the highest importance and should be addressed urgently.

Speaker Sauvé also explained it well in a ruling on May 26, 1981, when she stated at page 9924 of the Debates:

There has to be a balance in relation to a question of privilege. If an hon. member has a question of privilege, then it has to be dealt with very rapidly. If we defer questions of privilege for several days and they are serious, then I wonder what the meaning...of a question of privilege is. If it is urgent, it is urgent and therefore has to be heard immediately.

On that basis alone, the Chair cannot find that this question of privilege constitutes a prima facie contempt of the House.

As for the substantive arguments brought forward, a close review reveals that the member for Langley—Aldergrove is effectively taking issue with the eligibility criteria of a government program.

What is being challenged is neither a rule nor a practice of the House and is thus an issue to which the authority of the Chair does not extend. On November 22, 2016, I stated at page 7084 of the Debates:

It is equally clear that when members request redress with respect to rules external to the House, as Speaker I can neither interpret nor enforce them. It has long been the case that the Speaker's role is limited to ensuring that the body of rules and practices that the House has adopted are respected and upheld.

My predecessor also made this point on May 12, 2014, at page 5220 of the Debates , when he stated:

It is equally clear that it is not within the Speaker's authority to adjudicate on government policies or processes....

[T]he distinction between governmental procedures and House procedures remains and must be acknowledged.

Additionally, for privilege to be involved, it must be demonstrated that members, or the House as a whole, were impeded in the performance of their parliamentary duties as they relate to a proceeding in Parliament. As Bosc and Gagnon state at page 119:

In instances where Members have claimed that they have been obstructed or harassed, not directly in their parliamentary roles, but while being involved in matters of a political or constituency-related nature, Speakers have consistently ruled that this does not constitute a prima facie case of privilege.

Accordingly, I cannot find this constitutes a prima facie contempt of this House.

I thank all hon. members for their attention.

The House resumed consideration of the motion that Bill C-74, an act to implement certain provisions of the budget tabled in Parliament on February 27, 2018 and other measures, be read the second time and referred to a committee, and of the amendment.

Budget Implementation Act, 2018, No. 1Government Orders

3:30 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Geoff Regan

The hon. member for Sarnia--Lambton has seven minutes remaining in her speech.

Budget Implementation Act, 2018, No. 1Government Orders

3:30 p.m.

Conservative

Marilyn Gladu Conservative Sarnia—Lambton, ON

Mr. Speaker, I will recap briefly for those who missed the brilliance of my remarks earlier. I said I suppose I should consider myself lucky to be speaking to the budget bill. Many of my colleagues will not have that opportunity because the Liberal government once again has shut down debate on an omnibus bill. This one has more than 540 pages. Once again the Liberals are breaking another one of their election promises.

The first issue that I raised was with respect to infrastructure. The government promised to spend infrastructure money in municipalities. Currently, the Liberals have not even spent 40% of the money that was promised and they took $15 billion away from municipalities to create the infrastructure bank.

I gave some specific examples from my riding. Members will recall that $10 million was spent to build an ice rink here on Parliament Hill. To spend that same $10 million in my riding, the government could have provided $6 million for the oversize load corridor to create 3,000 well-paying jobs, $2 million to restore a border crossing that would allow trade with the United States of America, and $2 million for rural Internet to completely fill the gap that exists with high-speed Internet in my riding.

I find it hard to believe that the government is committed to spending infrastructure money when there are projects like the ones in my riding that are so good and have such great outcomes that are not supported. I can only assume that partisan politics are at play here and not any kind of reason or logic.

I did not see anything in the budget for seniors. Fifty per cent of the people in my riding are over the age of 55. Many of them have difficulty affording to live. The government has come forward with a totally inadequate response to help seniors in my riding and the rest of the country.

As the shadow health minister, obviously I have some comments about the health content in the budget. I am really disturbed to see that the words “palliative care” were removed entirely from the budget.

My private member's bill on palliative care received unanimous support of the House. The government pledged $6 billion over 10 years for home care and palliative care, and I think mental health was another $5 billion. Now we find it is only home care and mental health that will receive any money. Where did the money for palliative care go, especially since my bill has been passed into law? By June 11, the government has to meet with the provinces to determine the services that will be provided, the levels of training for the different service providers, and come up with a consistent plan so all Canadians can get access to palliative care. I have heard no mention of that. There is no money at all for that in the budget. That is concerning to me.

There is a huge amount of money being spent to legalize marijuana. There is $800 million in the budget to legalize marijuana. This may seem a bit hypocritical, because on the one hand in the budget there is $80 million to get people to stop smoking tobacco, but on the other hand, there is $800 million to get them to start smoking marijuana. Something is wrong with that.

The other thing that is really wrong is that only a fraction of the money the government is spending to legalize marijuana is being spent to address the opioid crisis in this country. Thousands of people are dying every year and the government's response has been totally inadequate in order to stem the flow of deaths from opioids. For the families who have lost somebody to this opioid crisis, it is insulting to see the government spending more money to legalize the smoking of marijuana than to address the deaths that are happening from the opioid crisis.

Mental health is a crisis in this country. The government has pledged $4 million in the budget going forward every year for dementia. Four hundred thousand people in Canada suffer from dementia. This is a totally inadequate response to the huge problem that exists.

Our colleague from Prince George brought forward a private member's bill on PTSD and it was unanimously supported. However, when we look at the budget, we see a very small amount, $10 million, for PTSD and only for public safety officers. What about first responders? What about all of the problems we are seeing among our veterans? This is an inadequate response to be sure.

When it comes to mental health, we see the priority has been put on spending $20 million on mental health for inmates. I would say that inmates certainly need just as much mental health care as others, but when we do not have it in the rest of the country, why is that a priority? It just does not seem to be the right priority.

Meanwhile, the government is spending a lot of time and energy on doing things like working on the food guide. The Liberals have been consulting and consulting, but there is nothing coming forward with it.

The Liberals are implementing a new program to change how the PMPRB approves and prices drugs to make the process even longer. All the stakeholders and people who have been commenting are saying that this is going to be a problem. Not only is it going to eliminate the clinical trials that are being done in Canada, but it will actually prevent Canadians from having access to the new drugs that are being developed.

When I look at this budget, it seems to me that the government has its priorities wrong. It is spending an inadequate amount of money to address crises that exist. Of course when it comes to my riding, I cannot see at all that the government is keeping any of the promises that it was elected on, such as to spend money, to go slightly into deficit, and to build infrastructure in municipalities. Certainly that is not happening in my riding.

I want to finish by saying that I was disheartened to hear that instead of the $6-billion deficit the government intended to run this year, it is now going to be $22 billion. Never has a government spent so much to accomplish so little.

Budget Implementation Act, 2018, No. 1Government Orders

April 23rd, 2018 / 3:35 p.m.

Liberal

Nathaniel Erskine-Smith Liberal Beaches—East York, ON

Madam Speaker, the member mentioned the opioid crisis. This government has expanded safe consumption sites and expanded the use of naloxone. In the most recent budget, it has invested $230 million to immediately inject $150 million in the provinces to expand treatment. It has also spent millions of dollars on a public education campaign to address the stigma associated with seeking treatment.

We know that the number one stigma associated with seeking treatment is the criminalization of low-level possession. We are not talking about legalizing production or trafficking, but we know from around the world that the single biggest way we can save lives is by removing the criminal sanction for low-level possession, and to treat patients as patients and not as criminals.

I wonder what the member would say to that.

Budget Implementation Act, 2018, No. 1Government Orders

3:35 p.m.

Conservative

Marilyn Gladu Conservative Sarnia—Lambton, ON

Madam Speaker, it is interesting that the member would bring this up, because people do talk about the decriminalization of drugs, and they cite Portugal as a place that has been successful. What they miss is that Portugal put in place huge numbers of treatment centres in advance of any of this to get people off drugs. That is where the government has totally missed the point. It is about preventing people from getting on drugs in the first place and building treatment centres, not safe injection sites where people can safely keep themselves addicted to drugs on the public dime in perpetuity.

Budget Implementation Act, 2018, No. 1Government Orders

3:35 p.m.

NDP

Charlie Angus NDP Timmins—James Bay, ON

Madam Speaker, I listened with great interest to my hon. colleague. Two weeks ago I was in a cab in Toronto, and the cab driver was a retired aeronautical engineer. He was 74 years old, and he was driving a cab because his wife had kidney failure and they could not afford the medications. I think there is something fundamentally wrong in our country when people have worked their whole lives and they have to go out and drive a cab at age 74 because our medical system cannot help loved ones who are senior citizens.

Previous to that I met a 68-year-old man who told me that he had to go back underground to work on the drills in a mine because his pension was insufficient for him and his wife to be able to pay their hydro bills.

I would like to ask my hon. colleague about the sense of priority we see from the government, which seems to think that issues facing senior citizens are maybe not cool enough, not sexy enough, or not hip enough. These are issues facing seniors who are falling through the cracks. They have worked hard, have paid their taxes, and have done everything right their whole life. They are being left behind.

I would like to hear my colleague's comments on that.

Budget Implementation Act, 2018, No. 1Government Orders

3:35 p.m.

Conservative

Marilyn Gladu Conservative Sarnia—Lambton, ON

Madam Speaker, it is absolutely true that the government has not put a priority on seniors. We see this in the fact that the Liberals removed the minister for seniors. It used to exist as a full portfolio. With one in six Canadians being a senior now, and that number going to one in four, this has to be a priority area.

My colleague is absolutely right. Some seniors have worked their whole lives and they cannot afford to live in retirement. This is happening more and more, especially among single seniors. The government's response is totally inadequate. I certainly saw this as I was door knocking. Seniors were in tears telling me they could not afford to get hearing aids, dentures, or cataract surgery, and they were really struggling to pay the hydro bill and buy food to eat.

The government needs to put a priority on seniors, and it needs to put adequate funding toward addressing the issues. These people built our country, and we have a duty to support them in return.