House of Commons Hansard #6 of the 43rd Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was need.

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Resumption of Debate on Address in ReplySpeech from the Throne

4:20 p.m.

Milton Ontario

Liberal

Adam van Koeverden LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Diversity and Inclusion and Youth and to the Minister of Canadian Heritage (Sport)

Madam Speaker, while I had the occasion to stand up in the House yesterday, I would like to take this opportunity to thank my neighbours in Milton for the opportunity to serve here, congratulate you on your nomination as Deputy Speaker, and congratulate every member in this House for their election to the 43rd Canadian Parliament. I would like to reiterate the sense of honour and privilege that I feel in having the opportunity to serve my neighbours in Milton.

My neighbours and I ran a really long campaign, over a year. We knocked on doors for about 400 days. We spoke to a lot of our neighbours, and those are the first people I want to thank, the people who sent me here to represent them.

I would also like to thank my campaign manager, Geoff Carpenter, a team of volunteers, my mother Beata, my dad Joe, my brother Luke and my dog Cairo. He is an Egyptian street dog and he is a bit temperamental. A lot of the volunteers will recognize that. Sometimes when they came into the office, he was a bit “barky”. I also thank the neighbours who put up with some of the barking, because it was a bit trying at times.

I would also like to thank the former member who represented Milton, Lisa Raitt. She did a great job of representing Milton for nine years, and I know that I have big shoes to fill.

I made a promise to my neighbours to bring their voice to Ottawa and not just amplify my own or Ottawa's voice in Milton. I am going to go through a couple of the things that I heard at my neighbours' doors or during appointments with people at my office since I have been elected. I would like to talk about a couple of those issues, because I think they are really important.

Whether it was at the door, at a town hall with Fridays for Future in Milton or with GASP, a lot of people in Milton want to talk about the environment, because it is a global crisis, as many of the questions earlier today raised.

I would like to read a quote from a climate scientist named Professor Katharine Hayhoe:

Does a thermometer give us different answers depending on if we're Liberal or Conservative?

Of course, the answer is no. If a thermometer is telling us that the planet is warming up, then we need to do our job in order to make a switch to clean energy and find cleaner sources of energy with more efficient ways of using it. We need to lower our emissions.

We have a responsibility to youth, particularly youth like Greta Thunberg and the thousands of young people she has inspired to be young activists, to do a better job as legislators and users of that energy.

As somebody who studied science in university, I want to take an evidence-based, scientific approach to some of these solutions. Carbon pricing has won a Nobel Prize in economics because it is a very, very effective solution. I am glad that our government has stepped in to make sure that everybody follows a carbon pricing scheme. Investments in green energy and green infrastructure across the country will continue to bring our goal of being at zero by 2050 all the closer.

There are some local resource extraction projects, aggregate mines, and a proposed intermodal infrastructure project, which my neighbours are vociferously opposed to. I will ensure that their perspectives are heard in this House.

Second, the topic of immigration came up a lot. When I was 26 years old, I had the honour of carrying our flag into the opening ceremonies of the Bird’s Nest stadium at the Olympic Games. When I was the flag-bearer for Team Canada at the Olympics and one of my teammates started singing “O Canada”, quickly about 300 of my teammates and sporting heroes joined in. As I turned around and raised the flag, my eyes swept across the parade of athletes from different countries around the world, and I noticed something: Team Italy looked like Italians and Team Norway looked like Norwegians. When I faced Team Canada, much like this House, we looked like the world. That diversity is something that I do not think we can take for granted. It is something for which we have got to be consistent champions.

My profile as an athlete and my platform as an athlete allowed me to do a lot of great work with organizations like Right to Play and WaterAid as an athlete ambassador and somebody who could bring light to really important projects around the world.

I was a little bit disheartened to hear in other platforms a commitment to lower the amount of foreign aid that we give to other countries and the work that we do there. I think foreign aid is a really important investment in global security. It is an investment in our own security here in Canada and it is an acknowledgement that we have it really good in Canada. We live in one of the greatest countries in the world and we are very fortunate. Part of recognizing that is recognizing the obligation that we have globally to do a little bit of work around the world.

The best part of campaigning was learning so much about other cultures. I travelled a lot as an athlete, but my year at people's doors was a totally new look into what diversity and multiculturalism looks like in Milton. I want to thank all the different communities that welcomed me in whether they were Pakistani, Cameroonian or Nigerian. Whether I was welcomed into their kitchens, churches, temples, gurdwaras, mosques or hockey rinks, it was a really cool experience. I got to know a lot of people from different cultures whom I probably would not have known otherwise. I am more prepared than I ever have been to express their needs, concerns and issues here in the House of Commons.

Individuals and families are coming from all over Canada, and they would like to start a life in Milton. Not only is that great for the diversity of our country, but it is also great for our economy. It is one of the reasons we have grown so quickly in the last four years.

I am happy that our government is renewing our commitments to NATO, foreign aid and the United Nations peacekeeping efforts. We are focused on decreasing gender inequality around the world.

A lot of the work that I did with WaterAid and with Right To Play seized upon ensuring that girls and young women have access to education, to sport and, most notably, to hygiene and sanitation. WaterAid is doing incredible work, and I am happy to be able to highlight that today.

Diversity is the strength of this nation, and whether it is through my role as MP for a diverse community like Milton, or as the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Diversity and Inclusion and Youth and to the Minister of Canadian Heritage for Sport, I will continue to be a champion for all of these values.

I grew up in community housing in north Oakville. Co-ops are not a place where poverty exists at all. Co-ops are a solution to poverty, and the Chautauqua Co-op where I grew up is evidence of that. Just in June of this year, my co-op, my home, Chautauqua Co-op, paid off a 35-year mortgage. That means that, for the last 35 years, the Chautauqua Co-op has been providing a safe and secure place for over 80 families to live, every single year.

We need to create more affordable housing in this country. As I said, I am a co-op kid. My mom has been building co-ops and managing co-ops for over 30 years. I sat on the board of directors at a co-op when I was 13 or 14 years old, and I realized that one of the ways that we can relieve poverty is to ensure that there is less profit and that when people pay the rent, they do not need to ensure that somebody else is making a buck. It is a really great solution, and I am always going to be a vocal advocate for co-op housing.

Parents should not have to pick between paying the rent, putting food on the table and sending their kids to sports. I can honestly say that I would not have competed at the Olympic Games if it were not for co-op housing, and I hope kids in the future will continue to have those opportunities and parents will not have to make tough decisions about putting food on the table or sending their kids to sports. There should not be any financial barriers between a healthy and active lifestyle and the goals and aspirations of Canada's youth. I believe that developing physical literacy is just as important as reading, writing and math.

I am glad that we have a $40-billion housing strategy in the Liberal Party platform, and I am really excited to be working on it.

I would like to touch on some issues around national universal pharmacare.

Just last week would have been my friend Simon Ibell's 43rd birthday. Simon Ibell was a man who committed his life to fighting for opportunities, but he also talked a lot about rare disease advocacy and the orphan drug program. Canada needs a rare disease platform, and it should live within our national universal pharmacare.

In addition to Simon's story, I touch upon my dad's story. My dad, Joe, has Parkinson's disease. As a retired guy, he has difficulty in accessing some of the affordable medication that he needs to carry on with his life.

I would like to talk about some of the parents in my riding, who have talked about some of these issues as well.

Brandon and Chrissy's son has spinal muscular atrophy, and there is a heavy price tag on the treatment for this rare disease. We need pharmacare for Wyatt and other children too, like Chloe, Lennon and Eva, as well as retired adults like my dad. A young girl I met at the door named Chloe has type 1 diabetes. There has to be a solution for young girls like Chloe. A young boy named Liam in my riding has cystic fibrosis, and the medicine costs upwards of $100,000 to treat his disease.

While it is not directly related to pharma, I heard from parents of autistic kids like Max, Dante and many others, who desperately want to see the federal government take on a national autism strategy. I was heartened to hear the Prime Minister mention that recently in a speech.

The highlight of my campaign this summer was actually on the water. I went up to Camp Oochigeas and I sat down for breakfast. Oochigeas provides a camping experience to young kids whose lives have been affected by cancer. I was really excited to see that I was sitting next to a young boy named Matteo, whose mom I met at the doors. Mateo is recovering from cancer. I was thrilled to take him on the water in a canoe. We had a really good day.

As an athlete, I worked with my colleagues and teams from other countries for our mutual benefit. Whether people live in Pond Inlet, Nunavut; Prince George, British Columbia; Fredericton, New Brunswick; Trois-Rivières, Quebec; or Milton, Ontario, they deserve a government that is fighting for them and Canada harder than it works for election or re-election. Members will notice that I fit in a riding from each of the parties.

The election is over. It is time that we stop fighting about team red, team orange, team green and team blue, and start fighting for team Canada. We as parliamentarians have an obligation to perform our duties with respect and integrity, and I believe it is possible to disagree without being disagreeable. We ought to conduct ourselves in this distinguished House with conduct becoming of the office that we are all privileged to hold. Sportsmanship is just as important to me in the House as it was on the water.

With that, I wish every member of the House and everybody watching a merry Christmas, a happy holiday and a prosperous new year.

Resumption of Debate on Address in ReplySpeech from the Throne

4:30 p.m.

Conservative

Kelly McCauley Conservative Edmonton West, AB

Madam Speaker, I appreciate the fact that you gave the member a few extra seconds to finish.

I thank my colleague for his speech. It was wonderful for him to have recognized Lisa Raitt and also his father, and I thank him for doing that.

However, regarding pharmacare, the member mentioned that he had spoken with a person who was suffering from type 1 diabetes and another person who had autism. I wonder if he is aware that his own government attacked people suffering from type 1 diabetes and autism by withdrawing support and forcing them to requalify for the tax benefit they used to receive. The government actually went out and disqualified innumerable people who were receiving the disability tax credit for type 1 diabetes and autism.

Resumption of Debate on Address in ReplySpeech from the Throne

4:30 p.m.

Liberal

Adam van Koeverden Liberal Milton, ON

Madam Speaker, I, like my Liberal colleagues, am proud of investments that we have made in health in the last four years, and proud of the investments that we will continue to make.

I met with people from advocacy groups, from the Diabetes Coalition as well as others, over the course of the last year, and I am sorry, but it was not the Liberals that they were complaining about. The provincial cuts that my neighbours and others are experiencing are the reason they are complaining. I have not heard the complaints that the member mentioned from any of my constituents. However, if the member would like to meet for a coffee, in the vein of sportsmanship, I would be happy to listen.

Resumption of Debate on Address in ReplySpeech from the Throne

4:35 p.m.

Bloc

Sylvie Bérubé Bloc Abitibi—Baie-James—Nunavik—Eeyou, QC

Madam Speaker, I thank my colleague for his speech.

This is the first time I am rising to speak in the House. I want to thank my family, as well as the people of Abitibi—Baie-James—Nunavik—Eeyou who elected me. I am proud to represent them.

I attended a networking event for indigenous communities and mayors in my riding. It was a productive day focused on business. I want to commend Dr. Ted Moses for working hard to improve relations between the north and the south. The first-ever Cree law was adopted, and their independent governance is fascinating.

More than ever, we need to make sure that we are respecting treaties and their interpretation, if we are to break free from the colonialism that this country's first nations suffered and still suffer to this day. This should be one of the priorities in the throne speech.

Resumption of Debate on Address in ReplySpeech from the Throne

4:35 p.m.

Liberal

Adam van Koeverden Liberal Milton, ON

Madam Speaker, I did not hear much of a question in my hon. colleague's remarks, but I am happy to stand up and talk about the importance of indigenous inclusion.

I am grateful to Inuit people for providing a boat that I used for many years. As a white guy from Oakville, I always express gratitude to indigenous people for the artifacts that we often use. Many are not aware that lacrosse, for example, is an indigenous sport, and kayaking as well. I think acknowledging that is a very important aspect of truth and reconciliation.

I am happy to talk more on that topic, because our government's track record speaks for itself on truth and reconciliation, although there is far more work that needs to be done by all parties in this House.

Resumption of Debate on Address in ReplySpeech from the Throne

4:35 p.m.

NDP

Taylor Bachrach NDP Skeena—Bulkley Valley, BC

Madam Speaker, I would like to begin by congratulating my friend, the hon. MP for Milton, on his election.

In response to the Speech from the Throne, my question deals with the situation facing west coast wild salmon.

The riding I represent, Skeena—Bulkley Valley, is named after the Skeena River, which is one of British Columbia's great wild salmon systems. Many people in the House will be familiar with the story of my colourful predecessor, Jim Fulton, who at one point took a wild fish, brought it across the aisle and slapped it on the prime minister's desk.

Skeena wild salmon are in crisis. A recent study showed that salmon numbers have dropped by three-quarters over the last century, yet in the throne speech there was not a single mention of the situation facing British Columbia's wild salmon.

My question is this: Does the member not agree that this was an egregious omission?

Resumption of Debate on Address in ReplySpeech from the Throne

4:35 p.m.

Liberal

Adam van Koeverden Liberal Milton, ON

Madam Speaker, I thank my friend and colleague across the floor. I would also acknowledge that we mutually hold ridings that were held by great former members. We both have large shoes to fill, in the case of Nathan Cullen, of course.

As a kayaker, I have spent a lot of time around salmon. Also, my riding of Milton has a few creeks, and salmon also spawn up a creek all the way to Milton, to the Mill Pond.

I acknowledge that there are a lot of endangered species, but I do not recall hearing of any animals mentioned in the throne speech, other than humans, and I do not mean to devalue or delegitimize the importance of the west coast salmon. I think it is a very important topic of discussion. In the spirit of environmental conservation, I think our record is also quite good. We have conserved more terrestrial, marine and coastal waterway than any other party in history.

I would be more than happy to talk with my colleague about salmon, perhaps over some lox.

Resumption of Debate on Address in ReplySpeech from the Throne

4:35 p.m.

NDP

The Assistant Deputy Speaker NDP Carol Hughes

It is my duty pursuant to Standing Order 38 to inform the House that the questions to be raised tonight at the time of adjournment are as follows: the hon. member for Edmonton Strathcona, The Economy; and the hon. member for Northumberland—Peterborough South, The Environment.

Resumption of Debate on Address in ReplySpeech from the Throne

4:35 p.m.

Liberal

Vance Badawey Liberal Niagara Centre, ON

Madam Speaker, I will take this opportunity to wish all a merry Christmas, a happy Hanukkah and a happy new year. I hope that members spend much quality time with their families, friends and neighbours in their communities.

I am honoured to rise today in response to the Speech from the Throne. It is my first time rising in the House in the 43rd Parliament. I would like to take this opportunity to thank my constituents for putting their faith in me to represent them once again in the House. I truly believe that by working together, we can make all our communities that much better. I thank my team that worked tirelessly day in and day out. I thank all of the volunteers who supported me, knocked on doors, installed signs, made phone calls and everything in between. I truly would not be here if not for many individuals who helped me over the past few months.

I thank my family. I thank Leanna, my rock in life, for coming along on this journey with me. I thank Logan, Jordan, Tyler and Jake and my grandson Hudson for supporting me. I thank my mom Claudette and my father George Wayne for not only being there for me and helping me, but also continuing to be there for me on a daily basis. I would not be in this House representing Niagara Centre if it were not for all of the people close to me, especially those throughout my community and the nation. From the bottom of my heart, I say to each and every one of these individuals those two words that we, quite frankly, do not say enough, “thank you”. I would be remiss if I did not extend congratulations to all members who have been elected to represent Canadians in this House and all who ran for those positions in the past year.

The Speech from the Throne is a blueprint for the government to show Canadians where we are and where we want to be. It is an opportunity for all of us in the House to discuss with vigour and passion the role and direction of this government, but equally as important, the role of all 338 members of the House of Commons.

I look forward to having discussions here today and well into the future with respect to everyone's interests. First is the action on skilled trades. We have made remarkable strides in this area since being elected almost five years ago. However, as we celebrate this achievement, we know there is much more to do. Once again, to progress is by working together.

Some provinces and regions across this great nation are struggling to find workers to fill the important positions in our economy that our industries are attempting to fill. My region of Niagara is no exception. Niagara, not unlike other jurisdictions, is beginning to experience a skilled trades shortage. There is a need for welders, pipefitters, boilermakers, seafarers, tile setters, plumbers, technicians, cooks, chefs and other hands-on, hard-working skilled tradespeople.

Thanks to the efforts of the former minister of employment, workforce development and labour, our government has significantly boosted federal support to the provinces, as well as the territories, by $2.7 billion over six years. This is to help more unemployed, underemployed and those wanting to be retrained to get into the workforce, to strengthen our workforce and, therefore, to strengthen our overall national economy. We have invested $225 million over four years to identify and fill skill gaps in the economy to help Canadians be best prepared for that new economy. Additional investments in collaboration with our partners will see us collectively work to eliminate the skilled trades shortage.

We have cut taxes. We have made it more affordable for Canadians. Canadians and this government created the environment for more than one million new jobs in just four years.

With an economy that is strong and with steadily declining debt relative to the size of our economy, Canada now has the best performance and the best balance sheet in the G7. This is thanks to the efforts of all of us, once again working together toward those common goals. Together we have helped 900,000 people out of poverty. At the same time, we know that we need to be prepared for whatever challenges are to come our way in the future.

Our plan will see tax cuts for all but the wealthiest Canadians. This week our government has taken steps to amend the Income Tax Act to lower taxes for the middle class and people working extremely hard to join it. Nearly 20 million Canadians will benefit. This will save a single person close to $300 a year. For families, including families led by a single parent, the savings will be closer to $600 a year.

I have seen first-hand in my riding and throughout the Niagara region the positive impact the Canada child benefit has had on many individuals and many families. Young families are able to afford items like school supplies and sports equipment, and join different organizations. This adds to the quality of life that they well deserve as Canadians. For the very first time, the benefit gives more money every month to nine out of 10 families. It has lifted 300,000 children out of poverty. We will give up to $1,000 more to families to help when the costs of raising kids are the highest by boosting the Canada child benefit by 15% for children under the age of one. We will make sure families get more money right away by making maternity and parental benefits tax-free.

We have heard today about the new NAFTA supporting trade and strengthening our economy. Thanks must be extended to all the Canadians from every corner of this country, from all walks of life and from all political points of view, who joined this government in this effort. This includes the Prime Minister. It includes the Deputy Prime Minister. It includes the NAFTA Council and the premiers. Regardless of what party's flag is being flown, kudos to each and every one of us working together to come to this achievement. The new NAFTA represents Canadian jobs, in particular in Niagara and certainly for Canada, this great nation. This new agreement will reinforce the strong economic ties between three countries, and support well-paying middle-class jobs for Canadians.

Transportation and infrastructure are things that are key to the nation, particularly in my riding of Niagara, being a border region. Canada's national transportation infrastructure comprises 26 airports, 18 port authorities, 45,000 kilometres of track and 38,000 kilometres of roadway, as well as our Great Lakes, our St. Lawrence and, once again in our region of Niagara, the Welland Canal.

Let us dig a bit deeper into what we have in Niagara that contributes to strengthening the overall Canadian national interests and economy. In Niagara we have the Welland Canal, the Queen Elizabeth Highway, Highway 406, local airports, all located within a one-day's drive of over 44% of North America's annual income. Niagara is a perfect example of how different modes of transport integrating distributional logistics will strengthen our nation's international trade performance. The gateways for trade in goods between Canada and its trade partners are vital. Without them, our strengthened supply chains cannot flow with fluidity.

This is why I was honoured to work on the Standing Committee on Transport, Infrastructure and Communities throughout the last Parliament, to work together with all parties in the establishment of a Canadian transportation and logistics strategy.

I am looking forward to building on the progress that the committee made and will continue to make, such as the alignment of our transportation assets to strengthen, for example, the Great Lakes binational region. This will include the economies, the social and the environmental responsibilities that we have that are attached to the Great Lakes.

We put forward new abandoned vessel legislation to ensure that polluters will pay for their mess, not middle-class Canadians. We will stand up for Canadian travellers and ensure they are treated with fairness and respect by amending the Transportation Modernization Act.

We will address key bottlenecks with the national trade corridors fund. Through working together with colleagues on all sides of the House and with Canadians with respect to transport and infrastructure issues in Ottawa, I was also pleased to run on a platform that included creating a national infrastructure fund, funding public transit and ensuring that all municipalities continue to have stable and direct funding for strategies and priorities established by them. This will fund local projects based on the work done by the wonderful teams at the municipal level, the local level, the community level. We will continue to work with members of the House to improve transportation infrastructure for Canadians from coast to coast to coast.

With respect to housing, we will work hard to address affordability, taking action to invest in affordable housing and make it easier for more people to buy their first home. We have invested millions, for example, in the city of Welland in my riding to build more affordable housing and continue to work with Niagara Regional Housing to ensure we strengthen affordable housing throughout the Niagara region.

Fighting climate change is the defining challenge of our time and a defining moment of this Parliament. It is a sentiment shared by Canadians. Canadians overwhelmingly voted in favour of immediate and ambitious action to combat climate change. Our environment is important to all Canadians because without a protected environment, we have no future to live in and even our health could be at risk.

Clean air and clean water are musts in this day and age. New technologies are paramount and need to be created to help us deal with the issue of climate change. We are committed to protecting the environment by setting a target to achieve net zero emissions by 2050, putting a price on pollution, protecting and conserving nature and reducing plastic pollution within our environment.

We are committed to developing new technologies. We are committed to improving the environment we live in and protecting Canadians from harmful substances. Our government cares about attaining a cleaner and safer environment for all Canadians.

With respect to seniors, Canadians are living longer than ever before. Today's seniors are also facing rising health care costs. The number of seniors who rely on monthly benefits to make ends meet rises as Canadians, our neighbours, our family members and our friends age. We lowered the age of eligibility for old age security from 67 to 65. We moved forward with this change because we know it boosts seniors' retirement savings by thousands of dollars and lets them retire at an earlier age.

To make life more affordable for people as they age, we will move forward with an increase in the old age security benefit by 10% for seniors when they turn 75 and will continue to raise it along with inflation. This will help to lift more than 20,000 seniors out of poverty, two-thirds of whom are women, and will give greater financial security to more than three million seniors every year. For most seniors, it will mean up to $729 in additional financial help every year once they reach the age of 75.

We will move forward with more help for seniors who have lost their partners. We will work with the provinces and territories to give even more support to survivors by increasing the Canada pension plan. This increase, worth up to $2,080 in additional benefits every year, will give more than 1.2 million seniors more money and greater peace of mind at a time when they need it most.

I see this in Niagara every day. Whether at Portal Village in the city of Port Colborne, at Villa de Rose in the city of Welland or Cobble Stone Gardens Retirement Residence in the city of Thorold, seniors need investment so they can retire in comfort, as they deserve. Our seniors built this country, they built our communities and they are the foundation, our guides, our place where we learn who we are and where we come from, therefore navigating where we go from here.

The Speech from the Throne is a road map for where we want to go in this new Parliament. It is our guide, working for Canadians. Yes, we have work to do. We will keep fighting for families, for our children, for climate action, for seniors, for indigenous communities, for Canada on the world stage.

With this in mind, I am looking forward to getting down to work with all 338 members of the House, Canadians with the same interests, finding mechanisms, finding action plans to then satisfy the needs of all 338 ridings throughout this great nation. We can only do this by working together toward the common goals of all Canadians.

We must never underestimate the impact we have on others, our families, friends and neighbours, all of us throughout this great nation. Whether it be from the House of Commons, or within our communities, or representing an organization, or as a member of provincial parliaments or territories, or as mayors, councillors or volunteers, we must never underestimate the impact we have on others. It could be one word, one sentence or one action in a mall, on a sidewalk or in the halls of the House of Commons that can change someone's life forever. The responsibility we have as Canadians is to affect others in a positive way, and we have that opportunity.

Within the House, we as parliamentarians must adhere to a mindset of equality for all 338 ridings throughout our great nation. Regardless of who represents those individual ridings or what party they may belong to, we need to meet the expectations of Canadians.

We are Canada. As President Obama said in the House, “The world needs more Canada”. With that, it is therefore incumbent upon us to ensure we are nationally together strengthening the Canadian values, leading by example in this great nation, but, equally important, internationally, standing shoulder to shoulder as Canadians. However, it starts with vision, followed by working closer together as a stronger nation. Only we as leaders within our communities, beginning in the House of Commons, and working with our partners can we achieve and therefore become a better nation because of what we achieve here together.

Resumption of Debate on Address in ReplySpeech from the Throne

4:55 p.m.

Bloc

Alexis Brunelle-Duceppe Bloc Lac-Saint-Jean, QC

Madam Speaker, you may be surprised that I agree to a certain extent with my esteemed colleague opposite. I, too, believe in the parties working together. If it is possible to work together to move forward on bills and motions, we can do it and I believe that our constituents are watching.

However, on the free trade agreement, I must disagree with my esteemed colleague because it hurts our region. People are not just saying it, they are truly worried because aluminum is the economic backbone of our region. Unfortunately, this agreement attacks our aluminum industry and fails to protect it in the same way as it does the steel industry.

I can work with my esteemed colleagues, but I represent Lac-Saint-Jean, and my constituents are watching me and asking me to take action. I cannot just sit back and do nothing. I must get to the bottom of issues and fight for my constituents, because that is what they are asking me to do.

If my colleague were in my place, what would he do?

Resumption of Debate on Address in ReplySpeech from the Throne

5 p.m.

Liberal

Vance Badawey Liberal Niagara Centre, ON

Madam Speaker, that is what we are all do here. We fight for the interests of our riding and, in this case, the best economic interests of our riding.

I give credit to the minister, the Prime Minister and, more important, the teams that were there on a daily basis, negotiating this agreement. It is a good agreement for Canada. It has prepared and strengthened us to ensure we have a better footprint with respect to our economic performance internationally.

There are great components of the agreement, which include our steel and aluminum industries. As part of the agreement, there must be a 70% content of aluminum in the product. I would only assume that over time, when we discuss the agreement five, 10 or 15 years down the road, it would be strengthened as well.

We look forward to this agreement being put in place, which would connect us to the other two agreements, the CETA and the TPP. That attaches us to 1.8 billion consumers worldwide, which enhances Canada. Although our population is 38 million, our economic population would be 1.8 billion. I am sure the member's riding could take full advantage—

Resumption of Debate on Address in ReplySpeech from the Throne

5 p.m.

NDP

The Assistant Deputy Speaker NDP Carol Hughes

With respect to questions and comments, I want to remind the members to look this way so I can let them know if their time is running out.

Questions and comments. The hon. member for Cowichan—Malahat—Langford.

Resumption of Debate on Address in ReplySpeech from the Throne

5 p.m.

NDP

Alistair MacGregor NDP Cowichan—Malahat—Langford, BC

Madam Speaker, I congratulate the member for Niagara Centre on his re-election.

I want to speak about dental care. So many Canadians across this great land suffer from poor oral health and cannot afford to go to a dentist. Members of the NDP caucus met with constituents who had to cover their mouth while speaking to us because they were so embarrassed by the state of their teeth. We know that poor oral health can lead to further health complications. It is a real barrier to social mobility.

The government recently tabled a ways and means motion. The NDP has countered that proposal by making it apply to people who earn $90,000 or less, using the resulting savings to invest in a national dental care program, thereby providing some real economic relief to people who desperately need it.

Will my hon. colleague support such a measure and give that real help to the people who need it? If he is not prepared to make that commitment, perhaps he can inform the House as to how much longer Canadians will have to wait for that kind of service.

Resumption of Debate on Address in ReplySpeech from the Throne

5 p.m.

Liberal

Vance Badawey Liberal Niagara Centre, ON

Madam Speaker, that is a very important question. It was a very important issue during the campaign and in the last session in the House.

I have been discussing that issue with a lot of our different agencies. The short answer is, yes, I agree with what you are saying. I believe that over time, once we have the full pharmacare program in place in the next year or two, we will start to look at dental. I will even go as far as saying we will look at vision and hearing to be added to that as well. Therefore, over time, in a responsible fashion, especially as it relates to our fiscal responsibilities, we would have a full health care program that would include pharmacare, dental, hearing and vision.

Resumption of Debate on Address in ReplySpeech from the Throne

5 p.m.

NDP

The Assistant Deputy Speaker NDP Carol Hughes

I would remind the member to address his questions and comments to the Chair.

Questions and comments. The hon. member for Lac-Saint-Louis.

Resumption of Debate on Address in ReplySpeech from the Throne

5 p.m.

Liberal

Francis Scarpaleggia Liberal Lac-Saint-Louis, QC

Madam Speaker, the member delivered a strong and cogent speech and a strong, comprehensive statement on what our government did in the previous Parliament and what it plans to do going forward. I truly enjoyed listening to it.

The member spoke a lot about infrastructure or what I like to call hardware at this point. Of course, it is absolutely important that we invest in infrastructure, because in this day and age, if a country does not invest in infrastructure, it will get left behind.

However, there are other initiatives that our government took that could be called software, such as the investment in the Canada child benefit and the investment in the Canada training benefit. These are sometimes looked at as spending and often we are criticized because of spending items. However, they are in fact investments in the future, because healthy children grow up to be healthy workers. Parents who get the Canada child benefit can afford to invest in RESPs and so forth. Obviously, if workers can retrain, they can get the skills needed to solve the environmental and other scientific challenges we face in this modern and complex world.

I would like to hear the member's comments on that distinction and why even those expenditures that seem like soft expenditures are in fact investments in the future of the country.

Resumption of Debate on Address in ReplySpeech from the Throne

5:05 p.m.

Liberal

Vance Badawey Liberal Niagara Centre, ON

Madam Speaker, it is a great question, because sometimes we only see the face of it and do not see the residual benefits of those investments.

The member is correct. For every investment we make, whether it be through the child care benefit or old age security or whether it be infrastructure with respect to the roads, water pipes and things of that nature, there are other benefits attached. However, it is all about investing in our communities. It is all about community and investing in Canadians.

When we do make an investment in some of those programs, whether it be the Canada child benefit, or a road or waterway, it does not have just one direct effect but many more, especially when it comes to people.

Resumption of Debate on Address in ReplySpeech from the Throne

5:05 p.m.

Bloc

Martin Champoux Bloc Drummond, QC

Madam Speaker, I must begin by commending my colleague across the way and congratulating him on his speech, the tone of which was quite unifying. That is precisely the tone we hope to maintain during future discussions in the House. He can count on our collaboration.

I want to come back to the situation of seniors that he mentioned in his speech. The Speech from the Throne announced measures that talk about increasing old age security. However, the government seems to want to continue to wait until seniors turn 75 before improving their living conditions.

I would like to ask my esteemed colleague whether he thinks it would be better to lower the age to 65, as we have been proposing for some time now given that poverty does not wait until a person turns 75. Often people are in need as soon as they reach retirement age. I would like my colleague's thoughts on that.

Resumption of Debate on Address in ReplySpeech from the Throne

5:05 p.m.

Liberal

Vance Badawey Liberal Niagara Centre, ON

Madam Speaker, the one thing I did in the last term, and will continue to do, was speak with a lot of our seniors, different seniors' organizations and seniors' homes. I have made that a habit, as much as I can, when I get back to my riding. I have heard loud and clear that it is at age 75 when there is a greater need.

The member is correct that there are times at a younger age when there is a greater need. That is the reason we have other programs to fill those gaps.

However, in our dialogue with seniors and organizations such as CARP, we heard that age 75 was when greater needs started to hit and hit hard. For example, when companions pass on, survivors are left alone. That is when this would be especially needed. Those are the reasons we designated age 75 to have that program begin.

Resumption of Debate on Address in ReplySpeech from the Throne

5:05 p.m.

Bloc

Martin Champoux Bloc Drummond, QC

Madam Speaker, I will be sharing my time with my colleague, the member for Beauport—Côte-de-Beaupré—Île d'Orléans—Charlevoix.

Before getting to the subject at hand, I will take advantage of the fact that I have a little more time than I had the last time I spoke to also highlight the contribution of those close to me in this great political adventure. First, I thank the many volunteers who worked countless hours during the election campaign. Everyone here knows how absolutely crucial they are; we are all very aware of that.

I would also like to mention my trusted collaborator, who has become a friend along the way, which often happens, I think. I am talking about Gisèle, who takes care of everything in the riding with help from the wonderful Andrée-Anne and Marie-Christine. The people of Drummond will be well served.

I also want to highlight an invaluable presence in the lives of politicians: that of our spouses. To be fair, we cannot help but force a certain lifestyle upon them. It takes a great deal of understanding and support on their part to agree to get involved in the turmoil of politics, and sometimes even to pretend to like it. My beautiful wife, Caroline, did not choose to be in politics, but I thank her for accompanying me with great openness and growing enthusiasm.

As is the reality for thousands of families in Quebec these days, Caroline and I have a blended family, with a total of four children: Christophe, Alexandrine, Lily-Rose and Tom. With two boys and two girls, we have gender parity. I said “blended family”, which implies a shared parenting arrangement with another parent. I feel compelled to point out how lucky I am to have an ex-spouse who understands the dedication required to be in politics and who takes on more than her share of the responsibilities towards our children, Lily-Rose and Tom, so they do not suffer too much from the repercussions of my new life. I therefore want to thank Marilou and acknowledge the value of the harmonious relationship we have created as parents who are separated. Clearly, this places me in a minority context in my private life, too. I can confirm that things are going well and I am feeling optimistic about this Parliament.

I want to wrap up my tributes with a few words about a pair of exceptional young people who have been surprisingly impassioned in recent months. I am talking about my parents, Henriette Jolin and Louis Champoux. One should never reveal a lady's age, so I will just say that their combined ages, including months, add up to 159 years. They were so passionate and energetic during the election campaign that I would not be surprised to see them running for office next time around.

I sincerely hope they will not be running against me, and with good reason. My great-grandfather, Émile Fortin, was the MP for Lévis in the 30th Parliament. His son, my great-uncle Louis Fortin, represented Montmagny-L'Islet from 1958 to 1962. He actually took over from Jean Lesage, who left Ottawa for Quebec City. The only generation with no elected officials in my family was my father's, and I am afraid he might suddenly be inclined to remedy that situation.

All of these people, my family and friends for whom I care deeply, have played vital roles along the way. I would not be here without them.

The Speech from the Throne gave us hope that some progress would be made on the issues that matter to Quebeckers. However, there is still a lot of work to do. We need to make sure the government walks the talk, as the saying goes.

In this Speech from the Throne, there was nothing about culture, nothing about language, and nothing about support for the media, in spite of promises made in the 2019 budget. Out of sight, out of mind, as they say, but we are going to make sure that these things do not stay out of mind, and we are going to work hard.

The Bloc Québécois put out many proposals in the months leading up to the election, and, of course, we continued to promote them on the campaign trail. Those proposals can be found in our platform. To no one's surprise, many of them resonated with our voters, and others also appeared in the throne speech, albeit in bits and pieces. I see this as an open door to discussion and even, in some cases, a good opportunity to work together.

Take the tax on web giants. The government has signalled its intention to act swiftly and impose a tax on GAFA, the Googles, Apples, Facebooks and Amazons of the world. That is good, but it is not enough. The proceeds should be considered not as a simple tax, but as a royalty to be distributed to content creators, artists and media outlets. Furthermore, we want 40% of the proceeds to go to francophone content creators and media outlets, not just for Quebec, but for Canada's francophone community as a whole. Francophone culture is at stake. This is no less than a matter of cultural survival.

It is also time to show that we will not wait for the OECD decisions or the whim of the Americans to demand that our creators receive decent compensation for their content. We need to step up and charge web giants GST to put an end to unfair competition.

Print media is in the midst of an unprecedented crisis. Newspapers are shutting down across the country because web giants are snapping up their advertising revenue once again. There was a 48% drop in advertising revenue between 2003 and 2016, and the situation has not improved over the last three years. The number of subscribers continues to fall.

Once again, the government is proposing an incomplete plan, but there may be room for improvement. I want to say that we will work together with the community, and with our colleagues in the House who are also concerned about this issue. We will ensure that a plan is developed and implemented to meet the needs of the media industry and its people.

However, this print media crisis has hit hard, and we must be very careful, because a similar crisis is brewing for electronic media. Once again, we need to protect our media against the all-powerful GAFA. Our media are active members of our democracy, and even though they may not always make us look good, we must protect their independence and financial health by regulating all media sources fairly, regardless of where they come from.

Almost all my colleagues were quick to contact me to talk about problems with fibre optics and cellular coverage when it was announced that I would be my party's communications critic. I became very popular. I even recommend that all those looking for their soulmate put “communications critic” in their profile on dating sites. It works.

The federal government provided a program and money, but Quebec already had an effective and efficient program. It would have been much simpler to transfer the money to the Government of Quebec, which would have managed it based on priorities.

Regional Internet is not just a tale. It is the reality for many people, many small businesses and the majority of farmers, who cannot use milking machines, as do many dairy farms. That would allow them to manage their agricultural businesses much more efficiently.

Elected officials in absolutely charming small towns such as Saint-Pie-de-Guire and Sainte-Brigitte-des-Saults, or in many other places in the most beautiful of ridings, Drummond, which I recently spoke to you about, would love to attract SMEs or self-employed workers, but Internet access is so unreliable and cellular coverage is so inadequate that they cannot even consider it.

It is important to understand, to realize, that access to high-speed Internet is no longer a luxury and then to act accordingly. It is a service that is essential to regional economic development. If we want to attract businesses and create meaningful jobs in the regions, we need to accelerate the process, otherwise we will not succeed and our regions will continue to suffer.

Let me be clear. I am not throwing stones at big business. Companies work within the market parameters imposed on them. It is up to us, however, to ensure that those parameters are adjusted and adapted so that individuals and families are at the heart of our decisions and actions.

I would like to give a quick example. The municipality of Amherst, Quebec, still has to use a pager service to reach first responders in case of an emergency.

I have appealed to the government about this. The minister listened and showed that he cared about this issue. I even spoke with business people who are currently leaving the municipality. Everyone is open. All stakeholders are open to moving this file forward to enable the people of Amherst to get a more modern and effective system. All that is missing is a little goodwill and the necessary funding. This cannot wait. We cannot leave people in a municipality without access to emergency services. That is unacceptable.

In light of what I just said, it is clear that Quebec's specificity complicates the government's task in files as complex as culture and communications. That is why the Bloc Québécois will propose the creation of a Quebec CRTC, which would be better able to protect the francophone culture, language and media. Such an organization would also significantly ease the burden on the existing authority and would allow our two distinct cultures to flourish much more freely.

Resumption of Debate on Address in ReplySpeech from the Throne

December 12th, 2019 / 5:15 p.m.

Winnipeg North Manitoba

Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the President of the Queen’s Privy Council for Canada and to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Madam Speaker, there are, no doubt, a number of initiatives that take place in the province of Quebec that many other provinces could actually benefit from. One of those projects was providing a subsidy for purchasing an electric vehicle, and that was going over quite well. In the last federal budget the government provided a similar program, which then went across Canada. The take-up on that has been exceptionally good.

I raise this because so many good things happen in different regions of our country, and the federal government plays such an important role in capturing those ideas and ensuring that there is a broader national application in many different ways. Hopefully we will see the same thing now with pharmacare.

I wonder if my friend could provide his thoughts on just how important that is.

Resumption of Debate on Address in ReplySpeech from the Throne

5:15 p.m.

Bloc

Martin Champoux Bloc Drummond, QC

Madam Speaker, I thank the government member for his comment.

We certainly value collaboration and ideas from all over, and some good ideas have been copied very successfully, but some files are much more complicated. I will say that I know a lot of people who are taking advantage of the extra subsidy the federal government introduced in addition to what the Government of Quebec was already offering.

Some files are a lot more complicated and sensitive though. Telecommunications and high-speed Internet access in the regions, for example, might be managed better if responsibility for and oversight of these programs were transferred to the provinces.

Resumption of Debate on Address in ReplySpeech from the Throne

5:20 p.m.

NDP

Heather McPherson NDP Edmonton Strathcona, AB

Madam Speaker, I would like to bring up another thought that I have in terms of the throne speech.

In 2015, I was working at an NGO in the international development sector, and I was delighted when the Prime Minister said that Canada was back. What I did not realize at the time was that Canada was back, way back, in the list of OECD donor countries.

Today, Canada is in the bottom half of donor countries. Currently, Canada gives approximately a quarter of 1% of gross national income, the lowest we have been at in over 50 years. Embarrassingly, despite the platitudes and good words from the Liberal government, we currently invest even less than the Harper government did in making the world a safer and more prosperous place.

Canadians like my constituents in Alberta are proud of Canada's history of punching above its weight on the world stage. When will this government commit to significantly increasing ODA, finally reaching the 0.7%, as promised by Lester B. Pearson and achieved by many countries around the world, including Ireland and Norway?

Resumption of Debate on Address in ReplySpeech from the Throne

5:20 p.m.

Bloc

Martin Champoux Bloc Drummond, QC

Madam Speaker, I appreciate my opposition colleague's very worthy comment.

Indeed, Canada has alway had an excellent reputation internationally. While I appreciate the merits of the comment as well as the question itself and my colleague's good will, I do not think that question was really directed at me.

Resumption of Debate on Address in ReplySpeech from the Throne

5:20 p.m.

Bloc

Luc Thériault Bloc Montcalm, QC

Madam Speaker, I want to congratulate the member for Drummond on his eloquence and aplomb in responding to the Speech from the Throne. The people of Drummond have themselves an MP who will do an excellent job of speaking on their behalf in the House.

After a hard-fought election, the Liberals and Conservatives joined forces on Tuesday to vote against what my colleague from Westmount calls our number-one priority: health.

I would like my colleague from Drummond to comment on that.