House of Commons Hansard #2 of the 43rd Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was need.

Topics

Resumption of Debate on Address in ReplySpeech from the Throne

1:05 p.m.

Bloc

Yves-François Blanchet Bloc Beloeil—Chambly, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am overjoyed to answer yes.

I will even go further. When measures are proposed that could potentially have a real impact on reducing greenhouse gas emissions to fight climate change, we will be there. We have even proposed some ourselves, including a bold law that would require Canada to meet its own targets, which amount to nothing more than a slogan right now.

We will go further. We will also tell Canada to stop being inconsistent and stop being a petro-state that emits far more than its share of greenhouse gases while it tries to hide that fact behind a facade of climate action. If they do not mind, we will keep the facade and make a smart, gradual move away from oil.

Resumption of Debate on Address in ReplySpeech from the Throne

1:05 p.m.

Conservative

Pierre Poilievre Conservative Carleton, ON

Mr. Speaker, I was told that the Bloc Québécois was a sovereignist party. That is why, for 15 long years, I was so surprised to hear the demands of the Bloc Québécois in this place. It calls for federal programs to help the media, federal programs for culture and more generous federal equalization programs. Now it is also demanding broader environmental programs, which are still federal programs. Those programs give the federal government the authority to get involved in the environmental decisions of the provinces, even outside Quebec.

I find it very interesting that this party is called the Bloc Québécois. It should be called the “Centralist Bloc”, because day after day it keeps calling for an increasingly large and costly federal government.

Will the leader of the Bloc Québécois therefore accept the new title that I am proposing, namely leader of the “Centralist Bloc”?

Resumption of Debate on Address in ReplySpeech from the Throne

1:10 p.m.

Bloc

Yves-François Blanchet Bloc Beloeil—Chambly, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would gladly agree to that if the Conservative Party would agree that, from now, we will say that there are two conservative parties, many conservative parties, fragments of conservative parties. However, as I just explained, the Bloc Québécois is a separatist party. If we are that annoying, then people need to stop lying to everyone and let us leave. It is quite simple.

Obviously, there is some propaganda going on here since that is part of politics, but if we are such a heavy and disagreeable burden with the bad habits of speaking French and not wanting public servants in positions of authority to wear religious symbols, then we can come to some other sort of agreement. Canada can sit on one side of the table and Quebec on the other, and, as two sovereign nations, we can come to an agreement that would likely be more productive than the current situation.

However, in the meantime, last time I checked my pay stub, I was still paying taxes in Canada so, as long as Quebeckers are paying taxes in Canada, Quebec will claim, require and occupy more and more seats on this side and maybe a few more on the other side too, if no one minds.

Resumption of Debate on Address in ReplySpeech from the Throne

1:10 p.m.

NDP

Alexandre Boulerice NDP Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie, QC

Mr. Speaker, I want to congratulate the member for Beloeil—Chambly on being elected, on his first questions here today and on his speech.

Throughout the entire campaign, the Bloc Québécois presented itself as the greatest defender of Quebec's interests. That practically became their trademark. Sometimes they even made it seem they had a monopoly on defending Quebec's interests.

When the Liberal government brought down its throne speech yesterday, the Leader of the Bloc Québécois rushed to the mic to say that he would support the throne speech delivered by the Liberal Party of Canada. That is a mystery. I thought it must have included some amazing gains for Quebec. There must have been something in there in the best interests of Quebeckers that we simply missed.

Compensation for supply-managed producers was announced before. As for the suggestion that oil was not mentioned in the throne speech, I just want to say that when the Liberals talk about diversifying export markets for natural resources, they mean the Trans Mountain pipeline.

Still, there was no mention in the throne speech about setting higher greenhouse gas reduction targets for 2030, nothing for the aerospace industry or the Davie shipyard, no employment insurance reform, nothing about taxing web giants, nothing about the crisis plaguing local and regional media, no pledge to tackle tax havens and no response to any of the Quebec government's demands.

That brings me to a very simple question: How can the leader of the Bloc Québécois vote in favour of a throne speech that does not even include the word Quebec?

Resumption of Debate on Address in ReplySpeech from the Throne

1:10 p.m.

Bloc

Yves-François Blanchet Bloc Beloeil—Chambly, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would say that we are essentially doing the NDP a favour. However, I thank the member for Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie for reiterating the essence of my speech. Not too long ago, the NDP had a virtual monopoly on the interests of Quebec. There is not much left.

It would be intellectually dishonest to claim that everyone who is not on the other side would want to get back in election mode tomorrow morning. No one would benefit if we failed to fulfill the mandate given to us by Canadians and Quebeckers. This means that we must try to work together.

This will, of course, be difficult in some instances. I do not believe that we will agree with the Conservatives tomorrow morning, but we do have a duty. I would even say that in some respects we are not too far off from the NDP, aside from the party's centralizing tendencies. We are able to work with everyone.

I also see a lot of common ground with the Green Party agenda. We are able to work together and that is what Quebeckers have asked us to do, without abandoning Quebec's demands. I am not sure where the hon. member was, but I talked about those demands in every one of my speeches. We will keep raising the demands and the consensus of Quebec's National Assembly with the federal Parliament because until further notice, some topics that affect Quebec fall under federal jurisdiction.

Resumption of Debate on Address in ReplySpeech from the Throne

1:15 p.m.

Liberal

Steven MacKinnon Liberal Gatineau, QC

Mr. Speaker, on behalf of the government party, I sincerely welcome our colleagues from the Bloc Québécois and of course their leader. We thank him for his support for the government's agenda and his vote in favour of the Speech from the Throne. We appreciate his reaching out to the government and the Liberal Party in a spirit of collaboration.

Today is not the day to engage in partisanship. There will be enough time for that. We simply want to welcome him and say to him that on election night it turned out that Quebec chose us both.

Resumption of Debate on Address in ReplySpeech from the Throne

1:15 p.m.

Bloc

Yves-François Blanchet Bloc Beloeil—Chambly, QC

Mr. Speaker, here is our modus operandi: preaching by example, even though I have not always been perfect, and demonstrating that Parliament really can be a collaborative space. It is the same kind of collaboration, the same kind of attitude we will adopt the day we agree to sit across the table from each other to talk about our needs, our hopes and our demands so that, as friends, we can define the things it can be hard to define when we have to share a room and one of us snores.

There will be an agreement one day, and when that day comes, we will continue to be extraordinary partners and collaborators.

Resumption of Debate on Address in ReplySpeech from the Throne

1:15 p.m.

NDP

Jagmeet Singh NDP Burnaby South, BC

Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister and the Liberal government touched on a number of important areas in the throne speech, but they just touched on them. They touched on the climate crisis, but they did not include any new targets. They did not include any new commitments to boldly tackle the crisis that we are in.

They said it is a crisis, but they did not come up with any bold measures to tackle it.

The Liberals did not mention in the throne speech something that in the past they promised to do, which is to fully end all fossil fuel subsidies. There is no path to achieving something that they committed to. The Liberals touched on the climate crisis, but they did not deliver on any sort of vision to achieving meaningful action to tackle it.

We want to fight the climate crisis like we want to win it. For the kids we met who were fighting in the streets in the climate actions that took place across Canada, where thousands and thousands of people said they need and they demand more action, the government has not delivered.

The Liberals touched on health. They touched on pharmacare, a very important issue, but they just touched on it. In fact, the way the throne speech rolled out, the government mentioned national pharmacare, a step back from what it proposed during the campaign, which was universal pharmacare. To be clear, I do not expect a 15-point plan in the throne speech, but I do expect that the government would, at a minimum, accept its own report commissioned by the government and written by Dr. Hoskins, which states that the way to move forward that will help out all Canadians is a universal, single-payer pharmacare for all. This means that no matter where they live in this country, there should be no barrier for those who need medication.

People in this country need medication. We need a system that enables everyone to access medication.

What we are proposing is this. If people need medicine, no matter where they live in this country, they should use their health card, not their credit card. This is something we can achieve. We are the only country in the world that has a universal health care system that does not include access to medications.

We know that by doing this we can address some of the concerns raised by premiers. By having access to a universal medication program, everyone could get the medication they need and we would save money for the federal government and for the provinces. It would also save money for businesses. It would make Canada more competitive and it would help out millions of Canadians, some of whom have coverage but, because the deductibles are so high, they effectively do not have coverage. For the millions of Canadians who do not have coverage at all, this would mean such a difference in their lives.

While campaigning, I met many people who talked about those stories. They told me they spend thousands of dollars on medication each month, which means tens of thousands of dollars a year. I met people who said they cannot afford medication. Therefore, they gamble with their lives every day because they cannot afford the heart medication that they need. We know what happens when people cannot treat an illness. They get more and more sick and end up in the hospital, putting further strain on our health care system. We could avoid all this with a universal health care system that includes medication coverage.

The Liberal government touched on student debt. This is a very important issue, but the Liberals just touched on it. The government is profiting from student debt. There is a question of choices. The Liberal government chose, last year, to waive billions of dollars, as much as $7 billion, in corporate debt. It waived that entirely. However, on the backs of students, over four years, the Liberals made $3 billion in interest. While the Liberals talked about student debt, a simple step they could have taken is to say that they would do what is right and waive the interest on student debt.

The time for talk is past. Now it is time to take concrete action.

I agree that the government is addressing important issues, but it is not doing enough. We need concrete action now to help people tackle the climate crisis and to help students pay back their loans.

The Liberal government touched on cellphone and Internet services and said that it would take steps to make them more affordable, something I support and is encouraging. Its attempt to do that is basically to have a conversation with the cellphone companies. However, having a conversation is not going to lower the cost of cellphone services.

Just to put a point on this, in Canada we pay some of the highest cellphone and Internet fees in the world, and it is not a coincidence. Governments have allowed the telecommunication companies to do so. The New Democrats proposed a solution that did not make its way into the throne speech, a very clear solution, fully within the federal government's mandate. We have the power to do this. In fact, other jurisdictions around the world have done the very same thing, with great success, by putting a price gap in place. If our price is so high, let us put a price gap in place like the United States and Australia have done. The result is that it drives down the cost of cellphone services.

To highlight how important this is, we know in this modern age, access to Internet and cellphone services is not a luxury; it is a necessity. People need it for work. People need it for their education. People need the Internet to access services for their families. The cost of cellphone and Internet services is impeding people in their day-to-day lives. It is hurting families that need it for work, for education and for accessing services and the government has the opportunity and the power to do something about it.

However, in the throne speech, I was not expecting a 20-point plan, but I was expecting the government to say that it understood something needed to be done. Canada is paying the highest rates in the world and there is no excuse that makes sense. We are a large country; so is Australia. We have remote communities; so does Finland. Both places have far cheaper prices for cellphone and Internet services because the government did what we expect government to do. When an industry takes advantage of people, then government has to stand up and defend them.

Canadians are seeing the Liberals defend the profits of the powerful industries instead of helping people and families that actually need their assistance. That is why their priorities are wrong.

There are some things that the government went beyond just touching on. It did include some more details on justice for indigenous people. I acknowledge the government touched on truth and reconciliation, which is incredibly important, and we have to implement the recommendations. The New Democrats are committed to doing that and we are going to ensure the government actually does it.

We have seen for far too long that the Liberal government is great at announcing things and making promises, but not so good at following through on those. We know we need to go beyond that.

It was also very encouraging to hear the government mention not only the calls to action, but also the recommendations put forward by the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls, which is incredibility important and would save lives. It is vital that we do not just mention it but follow through by implementing those important recommendations.

Where I fail to follow the logic is when the government talks about the importance of following through on these vital recommendations and calls to action, but at the same time continues to take indigenous kids to court. It continues to delay the funding the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal has pointed out is not just discriminatory, but wilful and reckless.

The Canadian Human Rights Tribunal stated that the current government willfully and recklessly discriminated against indigenous children. Therefore, it must immediately stop taking indigenous children to court.

I cannot wrap my head around how a government can, on one side, talk about the importance of reconciliation, of justice and of fairness, while on the other side, ignore a Human Rights Tribunal ruling, delay funding to end discrimination and continue to take indigenous kids to court. Those two things do not coincide. They do not make sense. That is why I will continue to call on the Liberal government to stop taking these kids to court, to pay the fee that is required to ensure that justice is served and to make sure that this injustice ends, that the kids who have been discriminated against have fairness in their lives, and that no other kids face this unfairness in the future.

The impact of this discrimination is not an academic discussion. It is not just the fact that there was discriminatory funding. Indigenous children have died because of the lack of funding and they will continue to die unless the government does something about it.

The government did put one encouraging addition in the throne speech. It accepted what we have been pushing for, which is national dental care, and that is vitally important.

When we were in communities across this country, we spoke with people who were deeply concerned about health care and the cost of medication. Many people could not imagine a future where they could get dental services. There are so many people right now who do not consider it an option to take care of their teeth. Dental care is one of the major gaps in our health care system. People can go into the hospital if emergency surgery is required for their hearts. They could have complex surgery that would put them back together involving their entire body, their lungs, issues with the joints, but if they have a problem with their teeth they have nowhere to go. Millions of Canadians do not get the dental care they need, yet we know that unhealthy teeth can impact the rest of their health.

During the campaign we called on the Liberal government and all Canadians to imagine a future that included a national dental care program. It can be achieved. We can do it and it would not cost us too much money. The plan the NDP has laid out and that we are asking the government to consider would be less than $1 billion a year and could cover 4.3 million Canadians immediately. It would be a federal program that would cover Canadians across this country and give them access to dental care. It would mean a massive change in people's lives.

I remember a woman on the streets of Vancouver who ran up to me and said she had heard my announcement on dental care, and her hand was covering her mouth. She said that she was so embarrassed of her teeth and she had not been able to afford dental care. She was stuck in a job and was too afraid to apply for a new job because she did not think anyone would hire her with the way she looked. She was afraid to go out in public. She said she was even afraid to talk to me because of her teeth. She should not have to feel that way. She should not have to worry about the way her teeth look. However, this is the reality for far too many Canadians who cannot afford dental care and whose teeth are not in a healthy state. We know this impacts overall well-being. We know this impacts overall health. We have to do something about it.

While it is encouraging that the government mentioned it, if you read between the fine lines it says that national dental care is something that Parliament should explore. I call on the government to take a step toward ensuring we have national dental care. That is what we need.

There is a path forward. While we New Democrats are not satisfied with what we heard in the speech, we do not lack confidence in the government simply because we do not think it is good enough. We have met with people and spoken to people across this country, and they have told us that this is not good enough. This is not going to make sure people's lives get better.

One of the most pressing crises people are faced with in their lives is housing. The government said in the throne speech that it is going to continue to do what it is doing on housing. What does that mean? That means the Liberals will continue to spend 19%, as a portion of GDP, less than the Conservatives before them.

How can they claim that they are doing something to tackle the crisis when they are spending less than the previous Conservative government? They continually said in their campaign that Canadians should be afraid of the Conservatives because they would make things worse, but the Liberals are doing worse than they did.

The crisis people are faced with in this country is such that people cannot find places to live. In large cities across the country, young professionals and families and people who earn good salaries cannot find places to rent, let alone buy. In rural communities, people cannot find anything, rental or housing.

It is not even a question of affordability in some communities. It is a question of availability. There is just nothing there. People are living on the streets. There is homelessness and people who need supported living, and the government thinks that it is okay to continue to do what it is doing. It is not okay. It is not going to make people's lives better and it is because it is not going to make people's lives better that New Democrats are saying it is not good enough.

However, here is the thing. I am calling on the Prime Minister and the government to sit down and have a chat with us. If Liberals want to make life better for Canadians, we are ready to work with them. If the Liberals want to stay in power, it is clear they have some options.

If they want to make things better for Canadians, if they want to lift up people who cannot find housing, if they want to lift up people who cannot afford their medications, if they want to make a real difference in people's lives and implement national dental care then, yes, they can count on New Democrats.

However, if they think this throne speech is good enough, it simply is not. I know you can do better, but you are not going to do it on you own. That is why New Democrats are here. We are going to push you. We are going to make sure you do it right.

Resumption of Debate on Address in ReplySpeech from the Throne

1:35 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Anthony Rota

I am sorry to interrupt. I know the hon. member comes from the Ontario legislature where members are allowed to say “you”. In this House, “you” means the Speaker. I can assure the member that I will not be taking part in a lot of the stuff that is taking place on the government side. I am neutral. I want to make sure the hon. member speaks through the Speaker and not to the Speaker. I would not want to let the member down.

The hon. member for Burnaby South.

Resumption of Debate on Address in ReplySpeech from the Throne

1:35 p.m.

NDP

Jagmeet Singh NDP Burnaby South, BC

Mr. Speaker, I have no doubt in your ability to keep the House moving and make sure things are fair. Thank you for that clarification.

In closing, I want to again point out that there is a powerful opportunity.

We now have an opportunity to work together to make progress on issues that will improve the lives of people, and that is our goal. That is what we want to do for all Canadians. We know that Quebeckers and Canadians—all people across Canada—want to move forward together, and we can do it. We have a plan and, if the government wants to implement a plan to truly improve people's quality of life, we will be its partner. However, if it only wants to remain in power, it should not count on us.

We can do what needs to be done, but every time we take action we must think of how it will help ordinary Canadians.

That is going to be New Democrats' focus in this Parliament. That is going to be our focus in all of the work we do. We are focused on one thing: making sure that government works for people, not for the powerful; that government works for families, not for the powerful corporations. We are here for the people who need help the most and we are going to continue to fight for them.

Resumption of Debate on Address in ReplySpeech from the Throne

1:35 p.m.

Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux Liberal Winnipeg North, MB

Mr. Speaker, I have had the opportunity for almost 20 years of being an MLA in the Manitoba legislature. When I was the health care critic, one of the important issues was medicines.

For the first time, in the last three or four years, we have a national leader, who happens to be the Prime Minister, and a government that have made significant moves toward a national medicare system for prescribed medicines. The constituents I represent and, I believe, Manitobans and Canadians as a whole, would love to see a national pharmacare program. It is something our ministers of health have been working diligently to put in place.

Would the Leader of the New Democratic Party acknowledge, especially as he was a provincial legislator previously, that Ottawa cannot do it alone? There is an obligation on our part to work with the provinces and other stakeholders to ensure we implement a truly national program.

We could click our heels and do all those wonderful things, but until we recognize there needs to be that co-operation among different levels of government, it will be extremely difficult to achieve what we on this side want and what Canadians want.

Would the New Democratic leader agree that there is an obligation to work with the provinces to get a national pharmacare program?

Resumption of Debate on Address in ReplySpeech from the Throne

1:35 p.m.

NDP

Jagmeet Singh NDP Burnaby South, BC

Mr. Speaker, we absolutely need to work together to achieve anything in this country.

In order to make advancements in health care, we absolutely need to work with our provincial partners, provincial premiers and governments. However, here is the thing. To be able to work together with provinces, we need to have a vision, and the federal government has not provided that clear vision.

One of the things the government could do very easily is accept its own report. The government commissioned a report. The report found that the best way to ensure we implemented pharmacare was to ensure that everyone in the country was covered. To me it seems pretty simple. The government could say yes, that is will move toward national pharmacare, and this is what that means. It could say that it will accept the report that it commissioned.

The report backs up what all experts are saying, that if we want to lift up people, save money for provinces, save money for the federal government so it can reinvest in health care to ensure people get the type of health care they need, it has to be a type of pharmacare that covers every Canadian, that is public, single-payer and truly allows us to take on the powerful pharmaceutical companies.

I am asking the government to do that. We need to work together, but the federal government has to provide leadership. Right now that leadership is lacking. I am going to push the government to provide the right type of leadership to achieve the right type of plan.

Resumption of Debate on Address in ReplySpeech from the Throne

1:40 p.m.

Conservative

Warren Steinley Conservative Regina—Lewvan, SK

Mr. Speaker, as this is the first I am able to rise in the 43rd Parliament, I want to thank my constituents for putting me here, I want to thank my wife and my family for allowing me to do this job. I also want to thank everyone who gave me their confidence to represent them in the House of Commons.

The New Democratic leader talked about hard-working Canadians. I have 1,000 hard-working Canadians at the EVRAZ steel plant in Regina. These constituents are wondering if they can get support from the NDP to ensure those good-paying jobs stay in Regina. These Canadians make a world-class product. They do a fantastic job. They make some of the most environmentally sound steel in the world. They have great technology, ensuring their steel is at the top of environmental standards.

Will the New Democratic leader use his position to ensure these hard-working Canadians have good-paying jobs now and into the future?

Resumption of Debate on Address in ReplySpeech from the Throne

1:40 p.m.

NDP

Jagmeet Singh NDP Burnaby South, BC

Mr. Speaker, my congratulations to the member on his election.

Absolutely, we need to support families and working people across the country. The company that the member is speaking about produces some of the best steel in the world. However, ensuring that those jobs remain in Canada is a problem.

The problem is that many of the projects that the member's party speaks about do not require Canadian-made products. The problem is that without making sure or requiring that Canadian infrastructure uses Canadian steel or Canadian workers, it is meaningless to talk about infrastructure projects. We need to make sure that the infrastructure projects that we are moving forward with require made-in-Canada content.

I would go beyond that. Something we announced during the campaign and now continue to push for is to make sure our manufacturing sector is strong in Canada. I believe that when we are using public procurement and using public dollars to purchase something for public Crown corporations, we should require made-in-Canada content there as well. Without the stipulation that made-in-Canada content is required, those good hard-working people at EVRAZ steel will not get jobs. If it is simply a question of making infrastructure without requiring that the jobs remain in Canada and that there be a benefit to Canadians and a benefit to Canadian workers, then no, they will not get the jobs.

However, that is why we have New Democrats. It is because we are not going to talk about infrastructure unless we talk about benefits to communities and jobs in communities. We require made-in-Canada content because we are proud of Canadian workers and we want to make sure that they get to work and that we get the benefit of their quality products.

Resumption of Debate on Address in ReplySpeech from the Throne

1:40 p.m.

Bloc

Yves Perron Bloc Berthier—Maskinongé, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would first like to address the people of Berthier—Maskinongé and thank them for putting their trust in me. I will do my best to fulfill my responsibilities.

My colleague from Abitibi—Témiscamingue did a good job of raising this issue yesterday. The throne speech contains statements about compensation for the agricultural industry. We will work together to ensure full compensation for the farmers in every agricultural sector who were sacrificed in the trade agreements signed.

However, there is something important missing from the throne speech. It does not include any guarantee that the government will never again touch supply management. The Bloc Québécois intends to put forward proposals in that regard. We intend to be very proactive. The government's response yesterday seemed evasive to me.

Quebec has an outstanding and effective system for ensuring that our farmers have a decent standard of living while providing high quality products at stable prices. The Bloc Québécois thinks that we should promote this system abroad instead of using it as a bargaining chip.

Can we count on the support of the New Democrats as we try to get this minority government to act in the interests of the common good, for the greater benefit of our farmers and to preserve the future of our local agricultural model, which is the best in the world?

Resumption of Debate on Address in ReplySpeech from the Throne

1:45 p.m.

NDP

Jagmeet Singh NDP Burnaby South, BC

Mr. Speaker, farmers can count on us. It was our party that said that agreements with other countries must protect supply management. That aspect is missing from the new NAFTA. We had pointed out three problems with that agreement.

First of all, the measures to protect workers and the environment are not binding. Second, it will raise the cost of drugs. The third problem has to do with the breaches in supply management. This is completely unacceptable, and that is what the government is doing. It talks about the importance of farmers, but it does not walk the talk. Breaches in supply management have hurt our dairy farmers, especially in Quebec.

The member is right, however, when he says that we also need to think about all of the producers across agricultural sectors. This issue is especially important to me, since my parents were farmers. We must always protect our farmers, for they are the ones who feed the entire country. If we want to have a sovereign nation, we must have a strong agricultural sector, and the NDP will always protect and promote our agriculture.

Resumption of Debate on Address in ReplySpeech from the Throne

1:45 p.m.

Liberal

Wayne Easter Liberal Malpeque, PE

Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to take this opportunity to say a few words on the Speech from the Throne, but first I want to recognize your election as our new Speaker. I congratulate you and wish you well in a Parliament where I think there is a real opportunity to do great things for Canadians. There is a real opportunity to come together as members of Parliament.

I firmly believe that every party has some good ideas in its platforms. We have to draw those out and work together, because Canadians sent us a message that they want this Parliament to work. They do not want to see the kind of division that we saw during the election campaign, the personal attacks and the misinformation that seemed to filter out in the election, which was unbelievable. They want to see us work together in the interests of all Canadians. The leaders of all parties and all of us as parliamentarians need to try and achieve that in this 43rd Parliament. I wish you well, Mr. Speaker, in your endeavours trying to manage that.

I also give my thanks to the people in the riding of Malpeque, Prince Edward Island, for their support. This is my ninth term that I have been fortunate enough to be a member of Parliament and it is always an honour. No matter how often one gets up to speak here, this place is somewhat intimidating. Not many people get the right to stand here and state their remarks, challenge others in debate and be challenged themselves by others who may question them. This is what democracy should be all about, the give and take within a Parliament where there are views on all sides, but we come together and as a result make better policy.

I think that the debates in this place were more open quite a number of years ago. They were more forceful and not always written by speech writers and others. That is the kind of place I really believe this place should be, where we get up and spout our ideas, even though we may have to give up on some of them. When I first came here 26 years ago, I thought I had all the ideas and all the answers. I know today that I did not. In fact, I have fewer answers today than I thought I did then. However, we need to have that discussion and that debate, because everybody has some good ideas, and constructive criticism is what should take place in this parliamentary chamber and in committees.

For the new members here, it really is at committees where the work gets done. At committee, we travel together and get to know each other on a more personal level. Away from the partisanship and party lines, that is when the real work gets done, when ideas come out. We build friendships across the aisle, which is two sword lengths wide. We build friendships and move forward together. That is what this place should be all about. I hope in this 43rd Parliament that is what we can do in this chamber and at committee.

I will now turn to the throne speech and read a few sentences from the opening:

This fall, Canadians went to the polls. And they returned a minority Parliament to Ottawa. This is the will of the people, and you have been chosen to act on it.

And so we open this 43rd Parliament with a call for unity in the pursuit of common goals and aspirations.

As I said a moment ago, I know this will be a challenge. I have been through nine elections. I found that in my riding, on the ground, this was the most bitter and divisive election I have ever been in, as I have heard from many others. There was an awful lot of false information out there. When false information is produced enough times and never challenged, it becomes the truth in some people's minds. We faced a lot of that during this election campaign, and it was very bitter.

We have seen divisions across the country as a result of what I think is false information. There is the simple naming of a bill, Bill C-69, as the “no more pipelines” bill. It is not a no more pipelines bill. There may be some difficulty with it, but from the government's perspective it was a way to deal with environmental issues. It also gave us the opportunity to put pipelines and other natural resource measures in place without the constant challenge of going to court further down the road. That was the intent, but the simple naming of the bill put up a flag in front of many people and it became divisive. In this Parliament we have to try to get away from that kind of wording, stick to the facts and try to make this place operate better.

Let me turn to the first section of the Speech from the Throne, which talks about fighting climate change:

Canada’s children and grandchildren will judge this generation by its action—or inaction—on the defining challenge of the time: climate change.

From forest fires and floods, to ocean pollution and coastal erosion, Canadians are living the impact of climate change every day. The science is clear, and it has been for decades.

I know there is a strong difference of opinion on this, but there is the scientific community and the so-called experts. We have to be careful with experts, as they are not always as expert as they think they are, but the science is that a carbon tax makes sense generally. The Prime Minister talked about it extensively today. With the carbon tax in place, which is thought to be one of the best solutions to fight climate change in the world, people on the ground will actually do better and we will protect our environment for future generations. We have to move there. The fight on the bill on carbon tax has been fought, and it is wrong for the Leader of the Opposition to stand in this place with the objective of saying he is basically going to take the government down.

We have been sent here to do a job, to work together. Let us do it. Let us deal with the environment and build on our natural resources in other ways as well.

In our platform we talked about a number of things regarding environment and climate protection and building our economy. I want to name them so that members in the opposition know what we said. I expect they all have our platform anyway, but they need to hold the government to account and make sure that we address the things we said we would as a government. I expect this from my own party.

We want to make Canada a net-zero emitter by 2050, cut taxes in half for businesses that produce clean-tech zero-emissions technology, interest-free loans up to $40,000 for homeowners and landlords who want to make their properties more efficient, increase the amount of ocean and land that is protected to 25% and plant two billion trees while creating 3,500 jobs a year in doing so. Those are some the measures we proposed.

During the election campaign, I stopped at a constituent's place who had just built what is called a “passive house”. This is one of the things that we can do. This passive house has walls that are probably 18 inches thick, or maybe a little thicker, with heavy insulation and an inner wall and an outer wall. In Prince Edward Island, which does not exactly have kind winters like the ones in Vancouver and Victoria, my constituent and his wife will be able to heat that house for $300 a year because of the way it is built. That shows what is possible when the right things are done.

I was in another passive house that has been in place for about six years, and the owners have been heating the 2,000 square foot house for $340 a year. The rest of us, who are using oil on the same-sized house, are probably paying about $6,000 a year and producing a lot more greenhouse gases. This shows what is possible if the government is willing to assist with infrastructure and housing, which is what Liberals proposed to do in our platform.

It also states in the throne speech that the government will help to make energy-efficient homes more affordable, introduce measures to build clean, efficient and affordable communities and make it easier for people to choose zero-emission vehicles. That is the way we have to go to make strides on the climate change issue.

Let me turn to another section of the throne speech. The reason I quote the throne speech is that we often fail to go back to these documents after they are read and really look at what the words say. We have our own agendas that we want to push, and we have our own lines that we may want to get on the cameras with and hope our constituents hear. However, let us delve into what the government is really proposing. With regard to strengthening the middle class, the throne speech states, “As its first act, the Government will cut taxes for all but the wealthiest Canadians, giving more money to middle class families and those who need it most.”

What was proposed in the Liberals' platform was to raise the basic personal exemption amount to $15,000, which puts more money in everyone's pockets. Raising that basic exemption level helps a tremendous percentage of the population. I think the amount was $12,200 and it will go up to $15,000, so that takes taxes away from $2,800, which is good for all Canadians.

Liberals are proposing to cut cellphone bills by 25%, and that is outlined in the throne speech. We are going to try to save small businesses up to $7,500 by lowering small business taxes from 11% to 9%, which we started on in the last Parliament. We will make it easier for Canadians to purchase their first home, by giving them up to 10% of the purchase price with the first-time homebuyer incentive. Those are some of the things we are proposing to do by taking actions to strengthen the middle class.

I could also talk about the trade agreements we have signed. I could talk about some of the things done. When I was on the campaign trail, I was amazed and shocked at how many people really did not know about the Canada child benefit, even though it was coming into their homes. In my riding alone, that amounts to over $2 million a month that goes directly to families tax-free. Those are the kinds of initiatives we were able to do in the last Parliament as a government and we need to continue to build on in the 43rd Parliament.

I will not get into this in great detail, but the throne speech goes on at length about walking the road of reconciliation. There is always controversy among people over the reconciliation file with the indigenous communities. However, and the Prime Minister mentioned this as well, we have made some strides in this regard. The indigenous community is the fastest-growing sector of our population. They are the greatest human resource we have in this country to prosper for themselves and to prosper for Canadians, to build our economy, and to build safe communities and homes. There has been serious trouble in the past caused by governments and others. We need to work with those communities and build them to be safe and prosperous communities with their own culture protected in a way that they can be proud of their history and their country, and want to work together to move Canada forward for all Canadians and others around the world.

The other aspect we talk about in the throne speech relates to pharmacare and some of the health care issues. I want to quote from the throne speech, because I think it outlines the point. It states:

Too often, Canadians who fall sick suffer twice: once from becoming ill, and again from financial hardship caused by the cost of their medications.

The NDP leader mentioned this earlier today.

The throne speech continues:

Given this reality, pharmacare is the key missing piece of universal health care in this country. The Government will take steps to introduce and implement national pharmacare so that Canadians have the drug coverage they need.

It is extremely important for us to get this done. I am sure all of us who campaigned and knocked on doors met people who could not afford the pills they needed to get well, or who had other members of their family who were suffering because they were not able to have the necessary drug care, dental care or other measures to live healthy lives for their remaining time. Therefore, we need to get that done. I know that will be a strenuous debate because, as a government, we have to look at it from the cost side. Governments also have to look at what the federal and provincial responsibilities are and how to bring those two together, and how far they can go with that pharmacare program, whether it will fill in the gaps or go all the way to a full-out system. That will be a very important debate.

I see I am nearly out of time so l will close by saying this. In a former time, I was president of the National Farmers Union. In that capacity, I was given the opportunity to travel to every region of this country and live in farmhouses for quite a number of years, whether in Peace River, B.C., or Ontario. I spent a lot of time in Saskatchewan and Alberta, some time in Quebec and a lot of time in the Maritimes. There was one thing we always said within that movement, which was that when we see the country and understand the different resources and characters of each region, we have to be careful not to allow regionalism to set in as that would divide us against ourselves. There is always the ability to make this country stronger than the sum of its parts and that is where we need to go.

Given the makeup of this Parliament, that nobody has a majority, if we all work together we can make this country stronger than the sum of its parts. All of us will benefit as a result and, more importantly, so will Canadians.

Resumption of Debate on Address in ReplySpeech from the Throne

2:05 p.m.

Conservative

Dan Albas Conservative Central Okanagan—Similkameen—Nicola, BC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to congratulate the member opposite not only on his maiden speech in this Parliament, as he has given a fair number of maiden speeches, and also thank him for his work as the finance committee chair in the last Parliament. There was a report on money laundering that had the support of all parties, so I congratulate him on the work on that.

However, the member told us to take the promises made by the government in the last election seriously. The current Minister of Public Safety and the Minister of Finance showed up in British Columbia in June promising $68.9 million toward enforcement action on money laundering. B.C. attorney general David Eby said in September that there are things only Ottawa and federal police officers can do.

The moneys have not been forthcoming to allow the RCMP to work with the province to tackle money laundering in my province. Does he not believe that his government needs to start living up to the promises it made in the last Parliament before we start talking about promises made in the last election?

Resumption of Debate on Address in ReplySpeech from the Throne

2:05 p.m.

Liberal

Wayne Easter Liberal Malpeque, PE

Mr. Speaker, it was a real pleasure to work with the hon. member on the finance committee as well. We did an excellent job on the report on money laundering. I believe attorney general Eby from the government of B.C. appeared before the committee, which is who the member speaks of at the moment.

In response to his question, all I can say, and I would say this to those responsible within the executive council or the cabinet is let us get the negotiations done and get the money rolling.

Several people in the cabinet I have talked to have said that the report on money laundering was a good report. They were pleased it was an all-committee report and wanted to see it accomplished. I was told it would be a step-by-step process. Therefore, I would say to my own crowd, if I could put it that way, to let us get on with the negotiations; let us get the job done and address the money-laundering issue head-on.

Resumption of Debate on Address in ReplySpeech from the Throne

2:10 p.m.

Bloc

Alain Therrien Bloc La Prairie, QC

Mr. Speaker, this being my first speech in the House, I would like to acknowledge my constituents in La Prairie and thank them for putting their trust in me in the last election.

My colleague from P.E.I. spoke about divisions. He pointed out that Canada is currently divided, as very different views clash with each other. For years, the government has been marked by deep contradictions and has been dragged down by that burden. This throne speech is no exception. I want to read a paragraph that really struck me:

And while the Government takes strong action to fight climate change, it will also work just as hard to get Canadian resources to new markets, and offer unwavering support to the hardworking women and men in Canada’s natural resources sectors, many of whom have faced tough times....

We have to make a choice: either fight climate change or export oil. We are talking about oil here. This is not hockey. We cannot play along the boards. We have to make a decision. Oil sands development releases more greenhouse gases than the entire province of Quebec does. Under the Liberals, oil production increased by more than 20%. We have to make a choice. It has to be clear.

The question is simple. How can we meet targets as ambitious as the ones the government is proposing without making an effort to lower the greenhouse gas emissions from oil production?

Resumption of Debate on Address in ReplySpeech from the Throne

2:10 p.m.

Liberal

Wayne Easter Liberal Malpeque, PE

Mr. Speaker, I congratulate the member opposite on his election. I know he comes from the province of Quebec, and many of the members opposite come from areas where agriculture is key.

If there was a lesson learned from the CN strike, it was how important those natural resources are. We cannot shut them off tomorrow or we would shut off the economy. We have to find ways to balance the environment and the economy. Therefore, we need to continue to work with the oil and the natural resources industries in this country and use research and development to bring down, as we have done a lot, the amount of greenhouse gases produced by those industries, hopefully using new technology to do better.

Those natural resources, whether we like it or not, are the mainstay of our economy and are going to be needed for 30 years or longer. They create a lot of jobs in this country and we use the benefits of those resources.

Part of the plan of this government is to use the economy from those resources and those industries to work on and pay for environmental safeguards and ways of lowering greenhouses gases. It cannot be all of one and none of the other. We have to find the balance. That is the reality of the world that we live in.

They can dream otherwise, but they are dreaming. There is an old saying: Dream, but do not let dreams be the master. We have to do both, and that is what this government is trying to accomplish under our climate action plan and our efforts to build the economy.

Resumption of Debate on Address in ReplySpeech from the Throne

December 6th, 2019 / 2:10 p.m.

NDP

Mumilaaq Qaqqaq NDP Nunavut, NU

Mr. Speaker, in 2017, I stood in Centre Block and I talked about suicide in my territory. I also called on leaders with power and the ability to make change. I got tired of waiting, so here I am.

My territory has held the very unfortunate title of having the highest suicide rate in the country for years. We are looking at basic human rights. When I am talking to my constituents, that is the first conversation that comes up.

How do we talk about opportunity and having the option to thrive and strive, as we should as Canadians, when we do not have basic human rights? When will the government step up and provide housing for my constituents to be able to live and feel safe? When will the government step up and eliminate our boil-water advisories? When will the government step up and lower living costs so that people can afford to feed themselves and their families?

This is a conversation that has been going on for decades. I hope that by the end of this term we can talk about post-secondary opportunities and child care spaces.

The government needs to step up. These are our Canadians. These are our constituents. This is my riding. These are my people. These are our people. We need to step up and treat them as Canadians, which we all know. We are so proud to be Canadian, but where are our basic human rights?

Resumption of Debate on Address in ReplySpeech from the Throne

2:15 p.m.

Liberal

Wayne Easter Liberal Malpeque, PE

Mr. Speaker, I congratulate the member on her election and getting here. Her voice, as she just stated, is much needed in the House of Commons and to be heard in the country.

The member mentioned boil-water orders. The government has made some substantial progress on that but there is a lot further distance to go. The Prime Minister himself has stated clearly, in the actions that were taken in the last Parliament as well as in what was outlined in the platform and the throne speech, that he has made this perhaps his most important file.

In this file, he wants to address these difficulties and concerns and see that indigenous people right across the country gain their rightful place in this country, with a proper economy and their culture, and that they are able to prosper and share their knowledge and abilities with other Canadians.

Resumption of Debate on Address in ReplySpeech from the Throne

2:15 p.m.

Michelle Rempel Garner Calgary Nose Hill, CPC

Mr. Speaker, I want to thank my constituents in the riding Calgary Nose Hill for giving me a very clear mandate to do one thing: to stand up for them, fight for them and their voice here in this place.

I received the mandate of over 70%. I went door to door. People who I know had voted Liberal or NDP in the past looked me in the eye and we had a serious conversation at the door. They told me that they had never voted Conservative before, but they were going to vote for me because it was really bad. They needed me to fight for them. My way of thanking them is not just saying it here. It is to do that, to fight for them every day.

To the 98 new members of Parliament in this place, I want to talk about what it is like at home. I want to talk to them about what it is like to have 175,000 people who work in the primary industry of their province suddenly out of work, in a very short period of time. It is not because of commodity prices, as the Prime Minister so glibly said this morning. I will get to that. It is because of policies that were set here.

What we do here reflects on how people live in every part of the country. What happened in the last Parliament for the people in my riding meant trauma, suicide, homes lost, jobs lost and families lost. What we do here matters. I will fight for the people in my riding.

Right now in my province we are seeing some of the highest unemployment rates in the country sustained. It is happening and not because of commodity prices. If it were because of commodity prices, then why is the United States doing so well with its natural resource sector? It is because of instability and political decisions that have made it impossible for the energy sector to sustain employment. That is why. It is because of the decisions made here.

In 2017, Alberta's suicide rate was 14.9 per 100,000 people, just over three points higher than the rest of Canada. That is up really high. In 2016, there was a project by the Calgary Police Service called “Operation Northern Spotlight”. It was to help sex workers in the city. Let me read a story.

A woman who entered the sex trade in 2016, and it has gotten worse since then, said, “I never thought I would be here. I never thought I would have to hide from my family, telling them that my cleaning job runs late every night. I am here because this would have been an easy $350. I had a great job, then the jobs crisis hit and I got laid off. Two weeks later, my husband lost his job as well. The bills did not stop coming.” The problems have not stopped in my riding.

I will be splitting my time with the member for Battle River—Crowfoot.

We sit here, and yesterday's throne speech was a slap in the face. I got scrummed in the media yesterday. I heard, “It was more of a tone-setting document.” If it were a tone-setting document, it was tone-deaf for every person in my riding. It did not say anything about what the government was going to do to reverse the policies that create the instability that puts the people in my riding out of work. That needs to change.

If we are not willing to change that, then what is happening in my province is going to continue to grow. My province is saying it does not see itself in this country, our country does not have our back, and asking why it should be part of it. It will continue to fester. It is because of the decisions that are being made to put the people in my riding out of work.

People in this place say that it is a dirty industry and that the province should diversify its way out. Then they go fill up their car with Saudi oil, while they drink their kale smoothie with its component parts imported from California, while they promote their industry, like aerospace, with planes that create greenhouse gas emissions, or the auto sector, with cars that create greenhouse gas emissions, or while they go to Walmart and buy a cheap Chinese T-shirt that is created where there are the some of the highest greenhouse gas emissions in the world.

They are hypocrites. Anybody who says that the people in my riding have dirty jobs and do not have the right to work is a hypocrite, because nobody is willing to take climate action individually in this country. They are putting the entire responsibility on the people in my riding and saying that it is good, that this is what it is going to take to get this job done, and it will not.

The people in my province have a right to work. They have a right to prosper. I am sick and tired of this debate. Nothing on climate change is happening while my province and the people in it bear the entire cost and responsibility, and we do nothing. It has to stop.

I am going to tell you one thing, Mr. Speaker: It is going to stop one way or another. One way or another, it is coming to a head.

To everybody in here who thinks that what is happening in my province is just a separatist movement, just a few fringe people, I say that it is not just a fringe. People do not feel that they have a place in this country. They do not feel like they have a fair deal. Do colleagues know what they see? They see the hypocrisy that I just mentioned. They see a Prime Minister who fights for jobs with SNC-Lavalin and stands alleged of bribing Moammar Gadhafi's son with prostitutes. They see the former fisheries minister signing special deals over clam fishing that brought him ethics commission violations. They see scandal after scandal, special deal after special deal.

Then there are the people who say that people in their riding have been out of work. In Alberta, there are 175,000 people.

I do not know how many lobster fishers there are in this country, but when something happens to fisheries, we get angry. We all do here. We say that we have to fix this. They cannot stay out of work. When something happens in the auto sector, we do not say that cars create greenhouse gas emissions and we should just let that industry die. We do something about it.

When has it become acceptable to let an entire province's industry die while the rest of the country looks like a hypocrite? It has to stop. Otherwise, we will face a national unity crisis. We are in one.

I want to let the people in this House know what that looks like. The premier of my province is rightly talking about a fair deal for Alberta, and autonomy, and I support him in that.

Here is what Alberta opting out of the CPP looks like. We are the net contributor to the CPP in the country. Having higher premiums across the country means that people will not be able to retire until later ages, and that is because the Prime Minister has put them in this position.

We need to scrap Bill C-69. We need to scrap Bill C-48 and we need to understand the wealth that the energy sector creates. It creates receptor capacity for clean technology. It displaces energy from Saudi Arabia and Venezuela and if we are talking about transition and climate change, Canadian energy and what my province does are at the heart of that equation. It should not be killed. Why would we kill the heart of what Canada can contribute to when it comes to this?

Enough is enough. I will stand here for however long this Parliament lasts. I will stand up for the rights of my province because that is why I am here. Colleagues stand up and give their thanks for having been sent here, but I was not sent here to just collect a salary or stand up and just seal-clap and vote. Constituents sent us here to fight.

I am going to fight for my province and the people of my riding. If that means saying we need more autonomy and we need the equalization payment formula looked at, then I will do that. If everybody here says that they will not do that, that they will not give my province a fair deal, then I am going to tell them right now that the people in my province are going to say enough is enough. The choice is for every single person in this House. It starts here and it ends here.

I implore the people in the House to realize that what was in that throne speech was not good enough. It is not going to cut it. It is not going to fix it. It is going to take smart, tough conversations; otherwise, it is over.

My colleague from Malpeque just made an appeal for unity, and I want to tell him this: I am not here and the people on this side of the House are not here to make life politically expedient for the Liberals in a minority situation. We are here to fight for the people of our provinces, and our provinces are Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, B.C., Ontario, and every part of this country that sees Alberta as a strong part of Confederation. We will not let this continue.

I ask people who are watching today to support me by signing petition e-2303 at e2303.ca, which would send a message to every person in the House to do just that. Let us talk about setting a tone. It is time for Alberta to have a fair deal.

Resumption of Debate on Address in ReplySpeech from the Throne

2:25 p.m.

Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux Liberal Winnipeg North, MB

Mr. Speaker, I would ask the member where that passion and fight was during the 10 years of Stephen Harper's government, which failed to build one inch of pipeline to our tide-waters. In fact, when Stephen Harper became the prime minister, 99-plus per cent of the oil was going via the United States. When he left office as prime minister, that same percentage was still there.

Where was the Conservative government when it came to investing in western diversification funds? Those members failed to show up at the table. When we talk about infrastructure and working with governments to ensure that Alberta and the west got good, solid infrastructure projects and dollars, it was this government that materialized on that.

However, there is room for us to work collaboratively for the west. I am a very proud Manitoban. I was in the military when I served in the province of Alberta. My wife is from Saskatchewan. I have many family members in Saskatchewan. All of us have some sort of a connection. I love and care for my country, and I do care deeply about the west.

Does my colleague from the west agree that it is time to put the high political partisanship aside and start working for the Prairies and all Canadians?