House of Commons Hansard #325 of the 42nd Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was affairs.

Topics

Opposition Motion—VeteransBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

1:45 p.m.

Liberal

The Assistant Deputy Speaker Liberal Anthony Rota

Resuming debate, the hon. member for Brandon—Souris. I want to remind the hon. member that he will have 10 minutes to give his speech, and the questions portion will take place after oral questions.

Opposition Motion—VeteransBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

1:45 p.m.

Conservative

Larry Maguire Conservative Brandon—Souris, MB

Mr. Speaker, today our Conservative caucus is shining a giant spotlight on an egregious error that needs to be rectified.

Since the news that a convicted murderer is receiving assistance from Veterans Affairs Canada, the reaction from veterans and everyday Canadians has been swift and overwhelmingly negative. Some were in shock that such a thing could happen. One would think that the person who approved his paperwork would have immediately took this up the chain of command and said that something must be done. I would hope that he or she said that the policy should be changed and the decision must not stand. No one faults the original crafter of the policy, as who could have ever imagined that Veterans Affairs funding could ever flow to a convicted murderer. There is never a wrong time to do the right thing. The House is now seized with this issue. We are here now. Let us deal with this matter once and for all.

When the news went public about what had happened, I thought there had to be a terrible mistake. I agree with the Minister of Veterans Affairs when he said that people are frustrated with how this happened. I know he understands that this is inappropriate, but what I do not know is if he wants to change the policy.

Like most Canadians, I shake my head and wonder how a convicted murderer could be able to receive funding from Veterans Affairs Canada so he could go through private treatment while in jail after he brutally killed an off-duty police officer, but somehow it happened. Veterans Affairs Canada is actually paying for his private treatment. Somehow the promised review of why this was carried out is taking weeks to finish.

Somehow the Prime Minister saw fit to stand in this House and refuse to answer questions. Well, I have news for the Prime Minister. Not only will our Conservative caucus continue to stand up and ask the tough questions, but we will force him to vote on them. We want the Prime Minister and the entire Liberal caucus to support our motion to revoke the Veterans Affairs funding that is going to pay for the private treatment of a convicted murderer, someone who never served a day in the Canadian Armed Forces, who never wore the uniform, who never served our country, and who most certainly is not entitled to any private treatment paid by Veterans Affairs.

With this motion we want the Prime Minister to send a strong message to the entire veterans community that what happened is wrong and must be fixed immediately. It will also be an opportunity for every member to be on the record as to where he or she stands, and if the member wants to fix this egregious application of Veterans Affairs policies. We have to seriously think about if we do not revoke this funding, what sort of message it will send to every veteran out there who is wondering how this could have happened.

I will quote retired sergeant Colin Saunders, who organized a protest this year on Parliament Hill over veterans benefits:

In this circumstance, I find it really hard to chew on that we're spending taxpayers' money like that to help someone when we also have veterans that are having a really hard time getting treatment through VAC. Certainly, there's lots of veterans whose family members need help or need services and they're not getting it.

He is right. Sadly, there are those who are currently appealing decisions on why they are not receiving benefits, yet Veterans Affairs has the funding to pay for the PTSD treatment for a convicted murderer.

To stress the failure of how this happened, if the convicted murderer had in fact served in the Canadian Armed Forces, he would have been kicked out with a dishonourable discharge and probably would never have received benefits. However, in this case, because the convicted murderer was not actually a veteran, he gets to continue to receive assistance.

I will quote another veteran, Medric Cousineau, who is the founder of Paws Fur Thought, which helps place service dogs with veterans who need them. He said:

How can you have a department who will bend over willy-nilly and yawn to support that, who will drag its feet toward supporting service dogs for veterans.

He is absolutely right. This is the government that had almost three years to ensure that veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder could be paired with service dogs, and we just learned there will be further delays as a result of their inaction. Our veterans deserve programs and benefits designed to meet their ever-evolving needs, and yet under the Liberal government we have seen nothing but more backlogs and delays.

The Liberals have repeatedly demonstrated they do not intend on honouring all the promises they made to veterans during the 2015 election campaign. While we are not here debating the promises the Liberals have failed to implement, we are here to rectify a very serious error in the application of veterans benefits.

This decision is wrong on so many levels, and the longer it takes to fix it, the more veterans and Canadians will continue to lose faith in the system. They are losing faith in the Prime Minister who had the gall to tell veterans, “They are asking for more than we can give.”

Not only did he make that flippant remark, he refused to apologize for it. The reason that comment stung and made people's blood boil is that we see waste and out of control spending on a weekly basis. The topic of today's debate is just another example of misplaced spending that should never have happened.

While the Liberal government just wrote a $4.5-billion cheque to a Texas oil company, it has a very difficult time keeping the promises it made to our veterans, and the veterans community is paying attention. They will not soon forget the Prime Minister's comment or overlook payments to provide private treatment to a convicted murderer. They are deeply upset that after the Prime Minister promised not to take veterans to court, he did exactly that. They are angry that he did not keep his promise to establish lifelong pensions as an option for injured veterans.

While I know the Prime Minister does not like facing these tough questions, that is what Parliament is for. He can continue to throw insults and downplay the whole fiasco, but we will not stay silent. We are here to hold the government's feet to the fire and make it accountable for its actions. Shrugging this off and pretending that it does not matter will not make the problem go away. We want the funding to cease immediately, and we want the policy changed so this situation never happens again. We would be shirking our responsibilities as parliamentarians if we did not fix this in the most expeditious manner.

I implore my Liberal colleagues to vote in favour of this motion, to stand with us and send a strong message that funding meant for veterans should never go to convicted murderers. Let us be united in condemning what has transpired and pledge to never let it happen ever again.

Opposition Motion—VeteransBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

1:55 p.m.

Liberal

The Assistant Deputy Speaker Liberal Anthony Rota

The hon. member for Brandon—Souris will have five minutes of questions coming to him when we resume debate.

Indigenous AffairsStatements By Members

1:55 p.m.

Green

Elizabeth May Green Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

Mr. Speaker, it is an honour to rise today in this place, beginning by acknowledging that we are on the traditional territory of the Algonquin people.

It is also a tremendous honour because, today, at the University of Victoria, a historic program is being launched.

The university has launched the world's first degree-granting program in indigenous law. I could not be more honoured to recognize that today. I would like to be there with them. John Borrows, who holds a Canada research chair in indigenous law, and Val Napoleon, who is also engaged with this issue as the law foundation chair in aboriginal justice and governance, are launching a program that is rooted in the earth, looking to indigenous law as well as common law to direct Canada's future.

To them, I say,

[Member spoke in Sencoten].

[English]

I raise my hands to them. All honour.

National Coaches WeekStatements By Members

1:55 p.m.

Liberal

Mona Fortier Liberal Ottawa—Vanier, ON

Mr. Speaker, this is national coaches week.

I would like to ask my honourable colleagues this week to thank their coaches for all they do for our kids and our communities. As a mother of three children who all have marvellous coaches, I have seen first-hand how important they are in shaping our youth.

Coaches work hard to help make Canada a healthy place to live.

Whether we are playing for fun or competing at the Olympics, our coaches are always there to support, inspire and guide us, not only in sport but in life as well. We know that most coaches are volunteers who contribute their time to help our youth from across the country to learn.

This week, it is our turn to encourage coaches. Let's all express our heartfelt thanks for everything they do.

For all of those reasons, we encourage all members to celebrate coaches using #ThanksCoach.

AgricultureStatements By Members

2 p.m.

Conservative

Bev Shipley Conservative Lambton—Kent—Middlesex, ON

Mr. Speaker, we know that agriculture is the backbone of the Canadian economy. The International Plowing Match was held last week in Chatham-Kent near Pain Court on 850 acres of land in Lambton—Kent—Middlesex. This annual event is one of the best in Canada that celebrates our agriculture industry and provides learning experiences for urban and rural folks and thousands of school children. It would not have been possible without the help of 1,000 volunteers who dedicated time, land and resources.

In particular, I want to thank Jean Marie and Lucile Laprise, the host farmers, and the co-chairs Leon Leclair and Darrin Canniff. The IPM was a great opportunity to showcase one of the most productive agricultural areas in Canada and to talk about career opportunities in our agriculture industry. Thanks again to all of the volunteers.

Wesley OakeStatements By Members

2 p.m.

Liberal

Scott Simms Liberal Coast of Bays—Central—Notre Dame, NL

Mr. Speaker, I rise today in memory of a truly great man, Reverend Wesley Oake, who passed away on September 16 at the age of 96. Growing up in Notre Dame Bay, Reverend Oake was one of the last World War II Veterans from Newfoundland and Labrador, having served in the 166th (Newfoundland) Field Regiment. He fought mainly in Italy, but was also active in England and Africa. He spoke openly about the time he spent serving and provided us with honest stories about and the hard truths of what wartime was like.

After serving in the war he was ordained as a minister in the United Church, for 22 years serving God and his congregation. One thing that Reverend Oake will always be remembered for is a fundraiser he held for Gander's Heritage Memorial Park. He raised $35 000 at the age of 92. At 92 he also went skydiving at 10,000 feet.

He leaves behind his wife Myrtle, whom he would have celebrated his 72nd wedding anniversary with today. We will always miss him. We give our thanks to Reverend Oake for making this country better and safe

TelecommunicationsStatements By Members

2 p.m.

NDP

Daniel Blaikie NDP Elmwood—Transcona, MB

Mr. Speaker, people in northeast Winnipeg are fed up with scam phone calls. They are among the thousands of Canadians who are harassed by unscrupulous con artists by phone every year. Some fall victim to these schemes, losing their life savings and their sense of trust in the world around them. My office is receiving more and more reports of these calls. The people on the line pretend to be in a position of authority and threaten legal action if their target does not agree to pay a bogus fee. Some people are getting one or more calls a day and are reaching their wits' end.

While Canadians are encouraged to report these scams to the RCMP's Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre, too often they are met with a busy signal. When that happens, the information that should help international law enforcement find and shut these guys down does not get to where it needs to go. Clearly, the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre needs more resources to do its job protecting Canadians from these ill-willed and irritating invasions of their privacy. I call on the government to do so.

Dystonia Awareness MonthStatements By Members

September 25th, 2018 / 2 p.m.

Liberal

Mark Eyking Liberal Sydney—Victoria, NS

Mr. Speaker, September is Dystonia Awareness Month. It is estimated that 50,000 Canadians have this disease, which is the third-most common movement disorder following tremors and Parkinson's disease. Those with dystonia suffer from painful involuntary muscle contractions of any part of their body, including arms, legs, face and vocal cords. On top of this physical pain, those with dystonia often experience depression, anxiety and social phobias. There is low awareness of dystonia, and the biggest challenge can be getting the proper diagnosis. There is no known cure for the disease, but we must raise awareness of it.

This disease has been brought to my attention by a fellow Cape Bretoner, Jason Young. He was instrumental in getting the world's largest fiddle in Sydney lit up blue for the month of September to raise awareness. Those who live and fight this battle should know they are not alone. It is my hope that together we can promote, educate, and find a cure for this terrible disease.

Foreign AffairsStatements By Members

2 p.m.

Conservative

Ziad Aboultaif Conservative Edmonton Manning, AB

Mr. Speaker, over the course of the summer I had the pleasure of speaking to thousands of constituents. One such group was the Nicaraguan community, whom I had the pleasure of meeting with recently. The situation in Nicaragua has continued to deteriorate over the past months, and the Ortega regime continues to resort to violent oppression of Nicaraguans and their rights. Enforced disappearances, assaults and even murder are tragically being employed to prevent people from protesting.

Statements and condemnation by the international community have done very little, which has frustrated many of my Nicaraguan constituents. That is why I was happy to sponsor their petition e-1804, calling on the government to sanction members of the Ortega regime under Canada's Sergei Magnitsky law. I encourage all Canadians to support this important petition and concrete steps to end the tragic events in Nicaragua.

Franco-Ontarian DayStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Liberal

Andrew Leslie Liberal Orléans, ON

Mr. Speaker, today, September 25, is Franco-Ontarian Day. For those who may not be aware, Franco-Ontarians are Canadians who live in Ontario and speak French. It is a day to celebrate the francophone community and its history, which dates back over 400 years. It is also a day to look back on our past.

At the beginning of the 20th century, Franco-Ontarians were not allowed to speak French in schools after Regulation 17 was passed, a regulation decreeing that English would be the only language of instruction in all Ontario schools. Fortunately, Franco-Ontarians fought back and created their own school system, to counteract the negative impact the regulation was having on their communities. Today, our Franco-Ontarian identity is vibrant and strong thanks to those who speak French.

Franco-Cité Secondary SchoolStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Liberal

Marc Serré Liberal Nickel Belt, ON

Mr. Speaker, I want to share some amazing news about a recent achievement by Franco-Cité, my old high school.

They beat out 1,400 applicants from Canada and the U.S. in being selected as the recipients of the Riddell 18 in 18 smarter football program. The school was offered congratulations by arguably one of the NFL's greatest quarterbacks, Mr. Peyton Manning.

Mr. Manning is the program's ambassador, and he personally sent a video congratulating the school on winning the grant.

The smarter football program is a grassroots movement that recognizes and rewards teams for implementing smarter tactics on and off the field. I wish to congratulate the faculty and the students at Franco-Cité.

On behalf of everyone here, I want to wish the best of luck in the year ahead to Franco-Cité, the high school of choice for francophone athletes.

Go Patriotes, and happy Franco-Ontarian Day.

Public SafetyStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Conservative

Robert Sopuck Conservative Dauphin—Swan River—Neepawa, MB

Mr. Speaker, on the evening of August 29, RCMP corporal Graeme Kingdon was shot while responding with his partner to a reported break and enter at a rural property near Onanole, Manitoba. Corporal Kingdon was transported by ambulance and then in a STARS helicopter to receive treatment in Winnipeg. Fortunately, the gunshot wound was not life threatening and he is now back at home with his family.

Many people deserve recognition for their work that day: the emergency medical responders, STARS Air Ambulance, the Riding Mountain National Park wardens, the rural municipality of Harrison Park, and the RCMP communications team. I also want to acknowledge the strength of local residents who rallied in support of their community during this dire time, and law enforcement officers.

Finally, I need to recognize the many brave RCMP officers who conducted a dangerous manhunt through the night, resulting in the arrest of four suspects. I am grateful for the bravery of each of them, along with Corporal Graeme Kingdon and all the other officers in my constituency. I want to thank them for all that they do to protect our communities.

New Brunswick ElectionStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Liberal

Matt DeCourcey Liberal Fredericton, NB

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to offer my sincere thanks to all New Brunswickers who participated in last night's successful provincial election.

First of all, I want to congratulate all the candidates for their hard work over the past few weeks. I also want to thank all the poll workers for being there for our candidates and political parties. Lastly, I want to thank all the volunteers who worked so hard over the past few weeks.

Volunteers help our candidates so much during an election campaign. Volunteers donate their hard-earned dollars, volunteers make sandwiches and cook dinner, and volunteers provide energy and support for candidates who are tired as they knock on doors and make phone calls. Everyone in the chamber I know appreciates the work of volunteers who support them on the campaign trail.

To our volunteers, merci beaucoup.

Gender Equality WeekStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Liberal

Celina Caesar-Chavannes Liberal Whitby, ON

Mr. Speaker, for this first Gender Equality Week, I decided to capture the thoughts of some young people on its benefits. Johnny Chavannes, a fifth grader from Jack Miner Public School, who happens to be my son, said that Gender Equality Week allows us to ensure that all people are recognized for what they do for Canada and that people can be successful no matter their gender.

Fae Johnstone, a fierce transfeminine and non-binary Twitter follower of mine, said that it is an opportunity to applaud the progress that we have made, but also to be honest about surviving and thriving under the harsh realities of patriarchy, transphobia and other forms of oppression, and to ensure that the voices and realities of gender-diverse and marginalized communities are central in the fight for gender equality.

Lastly, Brianne Olu-Cole, a grade 6 female student at Captain Michael VandenBos Public School, said that this week is important so that society will know that no gender is superior to another and that we are all equal. Our young people get it.

Happy Gender Equality Week.

Catherine CampbellStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Conservative

Rachael Harder Conservative Lethbridge, AB

Mr. Speaker, this week we celebrate just that, women's equality, and Conservatives are proud advocates of the equal and fair treatment of women.

As we celebrate this important week, however, we are confronted by a very grave atrocity that the Liberal government fails to acknowledge. The Prime Minister has signed off on giving veterans benefits to a man who viciously killed an off-duty police officer. Over and over again in question period, the Liberals continue to defend Chris Garnier, the killer, a man who brutally murdered off-duty police officer Catherine Campbell.

During Gender Equality Week, we should be celebrating women like Catherine, a young woman who overcame barriers in order to work in the male-dominated field of law enforcement. Catherine served her community as a volunteer firefighter for 10 years and as a role model to many people, women and men alike.

In defence of equality, Conservatives will continue to call upon the government to respect the memory of Catherine Campbell. We ask the government to reverse its decision to grant veterans funding to the man who brutally took her life.

VeteranStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Liberal

Churence Rogers Liberal Bonavista—Burin—Trinity, NL

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to honour Mr. Hedley Lake, a resident of Fortune in my riding. Mr. Lake is a decorated Second World War veteran, who celebrated his 100th birthday on August 12.

Mr. Lake was in active military service for five years, from 1940 to 1945. After two years of service in the Mediterranean Sea, he went home for leave. On his journey home, Mr. Lake was aboard the SS Caribou when it was attacked by a German U-boat on October 14, 1942, and sank in the Cabot Strait. Mr. Lake went on to serve in the invasions of Sicily, Salerno, Anzio and Normandy, and at the end of the war in Europe, he volunteered to go to the Pacific, but his request was not granted and he was told, “We think you've had enough.”

On behalf of all the residents of Bonavista—Burin—Trinity and, indeed, all Canadians, I want to thank Mr. Hedley Lake for his service and wish him all the best in his 100th year.

TelecommunicationsStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

NDP

Brian Masse NDP Windsor West, ON

Mr. Speaker, in May 2016, I warned the government to protect Canadians from CRA telephone scams from India. Its inaction is obscene.

The government has over 60,000 recorded complaints about fraudulent calls from criminals impersonating CRA agents, demanding payment and threatening legal action, even incarceration. Millions of dollars have been scammed, but still nothing has been done by the Liberals. They never do the hard work.

While the Prime Minister was in India, he was more concerned about the optics of his junket and his dress, rather than doing anything to protect Canadians from fraudsters and organized criminals stealing money from Canadians. Why did he not raise this issue?

The Minister of Public Safety's indifference and incompetence with respect to Canadians' privacy and protecting these victims of scams is nothing short of scandalous and out of touch. I encourage all Canadians to call the minister at 613-947-1153 to do something about this.

New Brunswick ElectionStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Conservative

Lisa Raitt Conservative Milton, ON

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to congratulate Blaine Higgs and the Progressive Conservative Party of New Brunswick on winning 22 seats last night, the most seats in the legislature.

I, like other Canadians, were watching this election closely. We see this as proof that New Brunswickers stand with Saskatchewan, Ontario and Manitoba, and would fight against the Prime Minister's carbon tax. This election is evidence that the people of New Brunswick will not be bystanders. They used their voices and chose to fight back against an unfair tax.

Blaine Higgs and his entire Progressive Conservative team worked tirelessly over the campaign trail, putting New Brunswickers first, and committed to meet their environmental obligations without digging deeper into the taxpayer's pocket.

We look forward to working with them.

Franco-Ontarian DayStatements By Members

2:15 p.m.

Liberal

Francis Drouin Liberal Glengarry—Prescott—Russell, ON

Mr. Speaker, September 25 is Franco-Ontarian Day.

Today, I got to celebrate this great day with the Minister of Canadian Heritage and Multiculturalism at L'Escale Catholic high school in Rockland. Our ancestors would be proud to see the initiative and creativity that our school boards show in organizing these celebrations.

We have come a long way since Regulation 17, since the creation of our school boards and the battle to preserve Montfort Hospital, but we need to stay resilient.

I want to thank organizations like the Prescott-Russell ACFO, the Francophone Assembly of Ontario, the CALACS, our school boards, and all the partners that play a vital role in preserving and promoting our Franco-Ontarian communities.

Today, I saw first-hand that the students of L'Escale and Ontario are ready to take up the torch and secure our place for a better future.

Happy Franco-Ontarian Day.

Veterans AffairsOral Questions

2:15 p.m.

Regina—Qu'Appelle Saskatchewan

Conservative

Andrew Scheer ConservativeLeader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister's record on veterans affairs is abysmal.

First, he forced veterans back to court in order to prevent having to pay them the benefits he promised. Then he left over $300 million in funding unspent on veterans services. The backlog for veterans waiting to have their benefits processed has risen by over 50%. To add disgusting insult to that injury, the department is now using veterans' money on a convicted killer.

Will the Prime Minister finally do the right thing and cancel these benefits for this killer?

Veterans AffairsOral Questions

2:15 p.m.

Seamus O'Regan Minister of Veterans Affairs and Associate Minister of National Defence, Lib.

Mr. Speaker, the health and well-being of our veterans is our top priority.

I have reviewed the department's findings on this issue and I am directing it to ensure that the services received by a family member of a veteran are related to the veteran's service and where they are not, that the case be reviewed by a senior official.

I am directing the department to immediately address its policy of providing treatment to family members under extenuating circumstances, such as conviction of such a serious crime.

Natural ResourcesOral Questions

2:15 p.m.

Regina—Qu'Appelle Saskatchewan

Conservative

Andrew Scheer ConservativeLeader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, the summer has passed, and after the Prime Minister guaranteed that the Trans Mountain project would be started this summer, the thousands of out-of-work energy workers in the country have been left disappointed.

We are now nearing the end of September. The Prime Minister promised that he would introduce legislation that would allow the Trans Mountain project to be built. Will he introduce that legislation today?

Natural ResourcesOral Questions

2:15 p.m.

Amarjeet Sohi Minister of Natural Resources, Lib.

Mr. Speaker, what we heard yesterday from the Leader of the Opposition was the failed policies of the Harper era.

The decade of failure was completely demonstrated yesterday when the Leader of the Opposition showed complete disregard for the courts, complete disregard for the environment and complete disregard for the consultation with indigenous peoples.

We are focused on getting this project back on track in the right way.

Natural ResourcesOral Questions

2:15 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Geoff Regan

Order, please. The hon. opposition House leader of course knows that her side has other turns, so I would ask her to wait for those and allow those who have the floor to speak and not be interrupted.