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.


Telecommunications IndustryOral Questions

12:05 p.m.

Mississauga—Malton Ontario


Navdeep Bains LiberalMinister of Innovation

Mr. Speaker, that is a very thoughtful question on an issue that we campaigned on. We were very clear that we are going to reduce cellphone bills by 25%, and this is above and beyond the actions we have taken to help consumers. We brought forward a policy directive that makes it very clear to CRTC to make affordability front and centre. We have also dealt with consumer-related issues when it comes to high-pressure sales tactics, which has led to a new wireless code of conduct, as well as an Internet code of conduct.

We are going to remain committed to making sure that we use spectrum in a strategic way to help consumers.

PrivacyOral Questions

12:05 p.m.


John Williamson Conservative New Brunswick Southwest, NB

Mr. Speaker, U.S. Customs and Border Protection continues to open and review Canada Post mail going to Campobello Island. Campobello is Canadian territory but is only accessible year-round by driving an hour through the state of Maine. The ongoing mail search by U.S. officials is an invasion of our privacy rights. It also challenges Canada's sovereignty. It is unacceptable.

What is the federal government doing to safeguard the privacy rights of Canadians living on Campobello?

PrivacyOral Questions

12:05 p.m.

Saint-Maurice—Champlain Québec


François-Philippe Champagne LiberalMinister of Foreign Affairs

Mr. Speaker, this is something that the member brought to my attention yesterday. We will be looking at this matter and will have further things to say on it in the future.

National DefenceOral Questions

12:05 p.m.


James Bezan Conservative Selkirk—Interlake—Eastman, MB

Mr. Speaker, the Liberal government secretly slashed health care funding for our troops, leaving them vulnerable when they need help the most. Because of these Liberal cuts, in Ontario alone, hospitals are out of pocket by over $10 million and may start turning away military personnel seeking treatment.

The defence minister owes our brave men and women in uniform a straight and simple answer. Will he restore full funding to military health care right across this country and reverse these callous cuts, yes or no?

National DefenceOral Questions

12:05 p.m.

Vancouver South B.C.


Harjit S. Sajjan LiberalMinister of National Defence

Mr. Speaker, I assure this member and all members of this House that the health and well-being of our Canadian Armed Forces members is a top priority.

Every member who is in need of medical services will get top priority and the full support that is required. We are in discussions with the province when it comes to how members are charged. We will work with the province. One thing we will make sure of is that for every single member, if there is a need for any type of health care service, it will be the top priority and top class.

Post-Secondary EducationOral Questions

December 6th, 2019 / 12:05 p.m.


Tim Louis Liberal Kitchener—Conestoga, ON

Mr. Speaker, I would like to take the opportunity to thank the residents of Kitchener—Conestoga for allowing me the privilege of serving here in Ottawa.

There are many students in my riding of Kitchener—Conestoga who are excited about the work of making post-secondary education more affordable. They re-elected us to keep working so that more Canadians could afford higher education.

Could the Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Disability Inclusion share with the House what progress we have made?

Post-Secondary EducationOral Questions

12:05 p.m.

Delta B.C.


Carla Qualtrough LiberalMinister of Employment

Mr. Speaker, we know that education is vital to succeeding in our workforce. We are investing in Canadians so they reach their full potential. We started by giving students more support through Canada student grants. We expanded the eligibility for student loans and grants. We introduced a six-month interest-free and payment-free grace period, and we lowered the interest rate on student loans.

That is not all. In our platform, we committed to further increasing Canada student grants by $1,200 and extending the grace period to two years. This is how we are making sure that every Canadian has the opportunity to succeed.

Post-Secondary EducationOral Questions

12:05 p.m.


Lindsay Mathyssen NDP London—Fanshawe, ON

Mr. Speaker, the government talks about the importance of equal access to university and college, but it is only that, talk. Action is needed to ensure fair access to education based on a desire to learn, not on an ability to pay.

While provinces are raising tuition fees and the government has happily written off billions in debt owed by big corporations, why is the government still gouging students and charging interest on federal government loans?

Post-Secondary EducationOral Questions

12:10 p.m.

Delta B.C.


Carla Qualtrough LiberalMinister of Employment

Mr. Speaker, I repeat, we know what a burden student loans put on Canadian students as they enter the workforce, and we are taking steps to make sure that we lessen that burden.

That is why we are committed to increasing the grace period for repayment to two years and increasing the amount of money an individual has to be making before they even start making these payments, from $25,000, which was an increase in our past mandate, to $35,000 this year.

Parliamentary Budget OfficerRoutine Proceedings

12:10 p.m.


The Speaker Liberal Anthony Rota

Pursuant to section 79.2(2) of the Parliament of Canada Act, it is my duty to present to the House a report from the Parliamentary Budget Officer, entitled “Economic and Fiscal Outlook November—2019".

Human Organ TraffickingPetitionsRoutine Proceedings

12:10 p.m.


Garnett Genuis Conservative Sherwood Park—Fort Saskatchewan, AB

Mr. Speaker, I congratulate you for taking on the role of Speaker, and I would like to thank my constituents for sending me here again.

This petition is on Bill C-350 and Bill S-240 from the last Parliament. They dealt with the scourge of forced organ harvesting and trafficking. This petition is in support of legislation that would have made it a criminal offence for a Canadian to go abroad to receive an organ without consent and also dealt with the admissibility to Canada of foreign nationals involved in this abhorrent trade.

There is no doubt the petitioners hope that this issue is taken up in the 43rd Parliament and that we are finally able to get legislation passed to address this terrible situation.

Status of WomenPetitionsRoutine Proceedings

12:10 p.m.


Jenica Atwin Green Fredericton, NB

Mr. Speaker, this petition calls on the House of Commons to recognize that violence against women remains a critical problem in Canada and disproportionately impacts indigenous women, as reflected in the crisis of missing and murdered aboriginal women; that striving for pay equity and equal participation for women in leadership roles must be political priorities for all members of Parliament; and that shifting a cultural attitude toward women and gender minorities in our society requires structural changes to education and socialization.

HomelessnessPetitionsRoutine Proceedings

12:10 p.m.


Gord Johns NDP Courtenay—Alberni, BC

Mr. Speaker, I would also like to congratulate you on your election as Speaker, and I thank the people of Courtenay—Alberni for sending me back here.

I am presenting this petition on behalf of constituents from Port Alberni, Courtenay and Vancouver Island. They cite that there is an estimated 235,000 people in Canada experiencing homelessness in every riding of the country. They are calling on the government to follow through with its commitment to reduce homelessness.

They state that the government's plan to reduce homelessness by 50% over 10 years falls short. That would still leave 117,500 Canadians homeless each year, and that is unacceptable. They call on the government to officially recognize that housing is a human right and to develop a plan to end and prevent homelessness in Canada once and for all.

Veterans AffairsPetitionsRoutine Proceedings

12:15 p.m.


Pat Kelly Conservative Calgary Rocky Ridge, AB

Mr. Speaker, I too want to take my first opportunity to speak in the House to thank my constituents and all of the volunteers in my campaign.

I rise to present a petition signed by a number of my constituents, as well as other individuals from many parts of Canada. They are concerned about veterans being able to access medical care for PTSD and about a change to the medical form that has made it more difficult for veterans to access this type of care. They call upon the government to either revert to the old form or amend the existing version of the form.

Child WelfarePetitionsRoutine Proceedings

12:15 p.m.


Peter Julian NDP New Westminster—Burnaby, BC

Mr. Speaker, on this first regular day of Parliament, I would like to thank the voters in New Westminster—Burnaby for returning me to this place to work on their behalf.

To this end, I present several dozen names of constituents and representatives in cities like Chilliwack, Surrey, Langley and Abbotsford who have joined with activists from the Elizabeth Fry Society to call on the government to change the way it provides funding for children. As we know, we have not met the standards set by the United Nations to recognize the barriers within our current government services for direct payments to family systems. Therefore, funded services like the homelessness partnering initiative do not provide support to all children, particularly those living in irregular family situations where their parents are homeless or in prison.

All of these constituents join their names with the thousands of people across the country who have already called on the government to regularize the system in Canada so that every child in this country can benefit from the funding system in place and the funding supports that exist for Canadian families.

Status of WomenPetitionsRoutine Proceedings

12:15 p.m.


Paul Manly Green Nanaimo—Ladysmith, BC

Mr. Speaker, on this day when we remember the lives of women who were murdered in a heinous terrorist act of misogyny, I would like to bring a petition forward to oppose gender discrimination and violence against women.

The petitioners want the House of Commons to recognize that violence against women remains a critical problem in Canada that disproportionately impacts indigenous women, as reflected in the crisis of missing and murdered aboriginal women; that striving for pay equity and equal participation of women in leadership roles must be a political priority for all members of Parliament; and that shifting cultural attitudes toward women and gender minorities in our society requires cultural changes to our processes of education and socialization.

The House resumed consideration of the motion for an address to Her Excellency the Governor General in reply to her speech at the opening of the session.

Resumption of Debate on Address in ReplySpeech from the Throne

12:15 p.m.

Papineau Québec


Justin Trudeau LiberalPrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, as I said, it is extremely important that in the House we engage substantively in robust debates, which is why I am pleased to be responding to the Leader of the Opposition's speech in response to the throne speech.

I have structured my speech to follow through the various points made by the Leader of the Opposition, highlighting a few omissions in the first part of the speech.

I want to continue with many of the things Liberals are doing to improve affordability for Canadians and address the Leader of the Opposition's second point, which was about keeping Canadians safe.

Keeping Canadians safe is obviously a priority for any government. That is what we have been doing for the past four years and what we will continue to do.

The Leader of the Opposition talked about China. We will continue to stand up to protect the interests of Canadians. Securing the return of the two Canadians detained in China is obviously top of mind. We are continuing our diplomatic and other efforts to keep the pressure up in order to bring those Canadians home safely.

While continuing to defend human rights and express our concerns regarding the Uyghur people and the citizens of Hong Kong—we hope to see those disputes resolved and the two-system policy maintained—we will also be there to protect our farmers and our exporters, including our canola producers, whom the member for Regina—Qu'Appelle forgot to mention.

Of course we will continue to defend the interests of our exporters while working to ensure continued access to Chinese markets.

As for Russia, which the member also mentioned, we will continue to stand up for Ukraine and protect its sovereignty. We will also maintain our presence in Latvia, to help protect NATO's eastern flank.

We have increased our defence expenditures over these past years. Indeed, our defence policy review, “Strong, Secure, Engaged”, looks at increasing by 70% our investments in the men and women of the Canadian Forces, because we know that being strong abroad, being engaged in keeping peace and security around the world, is a way of keeping Canadians safe at home.

When we talk about keeping Canadians safe in an uncertain world, we also talk about working in partnership with our most important trading partner, the United States. That we were able to renegotiate a new and improved NAFTA is extremely important for Canadians and also keeps Canadians safe.

When we talk about keeping Canadians safe, particularly on the 30th anniversary of the École Polytechnique massacre, we also need to talk about what we are doing here at home to keep Canadians safe. That involves moving forward on fighting gender-based violence, including a strong response to the national public inquiry on missing and murdered indigenous women and girls, and it means moving forward on gun control. Strengthening gun control is what Canadians expect and need. We will be banning the type of assault weapons used in the École Polytechnique massacre 30 years ago. We will continue to move forward on strengthening gun legislation, including by giving cities the opportunities to work with their provinces to ban and restrict handguns even further. We know that keeping Canadians safe in their communities continues to be a priority for Canadians, and that is why, on this side of the House, we are resolutely determined to do just that.

The third point that the Leader of the Opposition made was around jobs.

We recognize how critical a good job is to economic security and also to the well-being of families and individuals across the country. For that reason we are proud to say that Canadians created more than one million jobs over the past four years. We recognize that we still have a lot of work to do, and we will continue to do it.

Whether as a result of international trade or our actions, Canada is now the only G7 country that has a free trade agreement with all the other G7 countries. We will continue to create opportunities for our exporters, our workers and our entrepreneurs to succeed in this global market while ensuring that we make progress on trade within Canada.

We have taken concrete action, and we will continue to work with the provinces and territories to better harmonize regulations and approaches to ensure better worker mobility and flow of goods and services throughout the country. It is important for Canadians and it is important for workers.

When it comes to standing up for our workers, when the United States brought in punitive and unfair section 232 tariffs on Canadian steel and aluminum, we responded with countervailing measures that ended up lifting the steel and aluminum tariffs for Canadian workers entirely. That is standing up for workers right across the country.

I am happy to point out to the Leader of the Opposition that part of standing up for workers means respecting trade unions and the labour movement in this country. We have been a solid partner to labour over these past years and we will continue to be. A very timely example is that we believed in the collective bargaining process and were able to see the CN Rail strike come to a rapid conclusion without having to take any of the measures that the members opposite suggested around legislating against workers in that situation. We know that working with labour unions is an essential part of moving forward.

On top of that, we recognize that the workplace is changing and that new skills are always needed, which is why we are introducing the Canada training benefit, which will allow people to take courses to upgrade their skills. Whether they are in small businesses or larger industries, they will be able to take time, covered by EI and direct grants, to up their skills and be able to stay competitive in a transforming world. It is about reassuring people over the anxiety they feel about whether their jobs will carry them through to retirement. We have heard that people are worried about their path forward in a changing world, and these are concrete measures to help people out as we move forward into a world where there are going to be new types of jobs created, and new abilities, new responsibilities and new capacities will be needed to succeed.

At the same time, we need to recognize that innovations in technology and advances in environmental protections will require new skills to be developed. That is why we are going to work with energy resource industries to ensure that people have those opportunities as we move forward.

We recognize that people are looking for and expecting a lower-carbon economy, and we need to be there for workers in the energy industry, not just to support them but to have them able to support this movement toward a brighter future. We know the solutions that Alberta and Saskatchewan energy workers have put forward over the years in improving energy efficiency and technologies and in developing the kind of future we are living in now and need to keep moving toward will be essential. We look forward to partnering with workers right across the country as we build a better future, not just for workers and their families but for all Canadians and for the entire world.

When the Leader of the Opposition unfortunately talked about the approach against climate activists and foreign activists, we recognized as well that the Conservative Party is choosing to double down on an approach that failed to get resources to new markets under previous governments. We cannot build pipelines without recognizing environmental responsibilities, recognizing the partnerships necessary with indigenous peoples and recognizing the very real concerns of communities across the country about how we are moving forward. That is why we have put in place measures that are allowing us to get the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion built. As we speak right now, there are shovels in the ground and thousands of workers being hired to work on the Trans Mountain expansion to get resources to new markets.

The failed approach of blaming climate activists for not getting pipelines built does not work. The Conservatives have been hurting the west by insisting on that kind of fearmongering instead of working together to build the projects that will get us to markets other than the United States. We will continue to work in responsible ways to make sure that Canadian workers have all the opportunities they need to succeed.

That brings us to the fourth point that the Leader of the Opposition brought up, which is the impact of climate change and the protection of the environment. Right now, across the country, we are feeling the impacts and the costs of climate change, whether they be forest fires, floods, changing temperatures or infestations of our forestry areas. We know we are going to be facing more extreme weather events. We need to both support Canadians and prevent further climate change and extreme weather events. That will happen by having a responsible plan to fight climate change.

We have that plan.

We need an ambitious climate plan, and that is exactly what 60% of Canadians asked for. Furthermore, 60% of Canadians asked us to find responsible ways to get our resources to new markets. We listened. Everyone in the House must listen to Canadians and take meaningful climate action.

We put a price on pollution across the country, and we made sure that middle-class Canadians see positive changes in terms of affordability and cost of living. We must continue to help families transition to a cleaner and greener world.

We also recognize that nature-based solutions are essential to fighting climate change. That is why we committed to plant two billion trees over the next 10 years and to protect 25% of our lands and oceans by 2025 because nature also has an important role to play in the fight against climate change.

Furthermore, we know that investments in the green industry, zero-emission vehicles and new technologies are essential. That is why we are making Canada a global centre for innovation in zero-emission technologies by proposing tax cuts for businesses that innovate in this area. We are therefore very pleased to be able to work with the various parties in the House on an ambitious plan that will both protect the environment and create economic growth.

Finally, the Leader of the Opposition spoke about the importance of Canadian unity. Obviously, I could not agree more with that concern. That is why we are working with the provincial premiers, the various parties and all parliamentarians in the House to respond to people's very real concerns about their future, their economic situation, their children, their grandchildren and their communities.

It will be very important to tone down the political debate surrounding those issues.

People are suffering. People are hurting. People are worried about their future and their family's future in various regions across the country. We need to work to allay those fears. We need to do things like point out that the Trans Mountain pipeline is being built as we speak, which many people in the Prairies still do not know about. We need to move forward on getting those resources to new markets and talk about the investments we are making.

We need to talk about the fact that the price on pollution will actually leave families in Alberta, Saskatchewan and elsewhere across the country better off than before we put the price on pollution. That is hundreds of dollars more per year for average families in Saskatchewan, Alberta, Manitoba and Ontario.

We know there is much more to do to listen to people's concerns and work with them on reassuring them that this place works hard for them. Anyone who is worried that minority governments are not places where things get done concretely for Canadians need only to look at the history of what minority governments have been able to deliver for Canadians. Universal health care, official bilingualism, the Canada pension plan and the legalization of same-sex marriage all happened in minority parliaments. Therefore, there is no reason for us in this place to not be extraordinarily ambitious in our desire to serve Canadians.

Let me end with this: it is important for us to work together and to treat each other with respect. Various parties will come up with good ideas. In the last election, Canadians asked us to work together to serve them, and we can do that. That is exactly what we on this side of the House intend to do. I think that participating in debates, listening to speeches by members opposite and addressing their concerns directly will put us on the path to doing exactly what Canadians asked us to do.

I am very eager to work with all MPs as we build a better future for Canadians, a future in which they will be more prosperous, safer, and more confident about what lies ahead in this magnificent country.

Resumption of Debate on Address in ReplySpeech from the Throne

12:35 p.m.


Erin O'Toole Conservative Durham, ON

Mr. Speaker, I thank the Prime Minister for his remarks. I have a comment and a very important question based on them.

The Prime Minister seems to believe, with respect to the steel and aluminum tariffs, that his decision to impose retaliatory tariffs against the United States somehow led to their removal. That is a fiction. What is interesting is that, if he felt there was unfair trade action against Canada from a trade partner, a friend like the United States, and he imposes retaliatory tariffs against them, then why no action against China on canola, pork and beef? Not only has there been no retaliatory response, the government refused to even bring a WTO trade challenge with respect to these unfair practices. He seems to be tougher with our neighbour and friend than he is with China, which is detaining our citizens.

The steel and aluminum tariffs were actually removed when the Conservatives went to Washington and spoke before a committee of 100 members of Congress. In one meeting we had more members of Congress listening to the Canadian position than the minister did in a year. We made an agreement that we would support NAFTA modernization in Canadian Parliament if they removed the tariffs. They did, and we supported the bill in the last Parliament.

The agreement appears to be changing on labour and we are now hearing about changes on pharmaceuticals. If there are substantive changes to the USMCA, will the Prime Minister commit today to bring it back to the House for full debate? The deal has changed. I would note that it may change more after the Prime Minister's trip to NATO where he was caught mocking the person we are negotiating with.

Will the Prime Minister acknowledge his mistake in London, and will he commit today to bringing NAFTA and any changes to that agreement back to this minority Parliament so that we can work together in the best interests of Canadians?

Resumption of Debate on Address in ReplySpeech from the Throne

12:35 p.m.


Justin Trudeau Liberal Papineau, QC

Mr. Speaker, I think it is extremely important to highlight that the work we did on protecting steel and aluminum workers across this country was an all-of-Canada effort, absolutely, but it was the leadership of people like the member of Parliament for University—Rosedale who actually worked the hardest to ensure that the countervailing measures that we brought in on the steel and aluminum tariffs had the political impact of moving forward with the full and complete lifting of those tariffs with no extra conditions or punishments for Canadian workers. That was something this government was pleased to be able to achieve, and we do not need to engage in revisionist history on that particular approach.

I would also correct the member opposite that, in fact, we have launched a WTO challenge against China's actions on canola. We are very concerned about standing up for our workers, and we will continue to do exactly that. I would also highlight to him that we were able to get the measures against Canadian beef and pork lifted from China, because we know how important it is to stand up for our exporters. It would be great for the member opposite to actually get his facts straight before he asks a question like that.

On the issue of NAFTA, I am pleased to say that we continue to make solid progress on it, and the changes being proposed that the Democrats are asking for in order to secure support for ratification are actually very much aligned with the negotiating positions that Canada had originally asked for in the renegotiation of this NAFTA deal. Of course, as the member well knows, the process of ratification requires a vote here in this House. We look forward to the Conservatives' support as we move forward to protect workers right across this country in regards to our most important relationship with the United States.

Resumption of Debate on Address in ReplySpeech from the Throne

12:35 p.m.


Yves-François Blanchet Bloc Beloeil—Chambly, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to point out that the member for Joliette also went to Washington. It would be a little naive to think that individual action alone can produce results. Sometimes actions outside of Canada can transcend party lines. Unfortunately, things are little more complicated when it comes to blunders and human rights cases.

We have already talked about this. Every time the Prime Minister mentions human rights, the word “Catalonia” comes to mind. Just recently, he once again boasted about being a great friend to that country, a country that has imprisoned people, elected officials, for the simple crime of organizing a referendum, a country whose legitimately elected president has been forced into exile. That is a human rights issue.

I want to come back to the last topic the Prime Minister touched on, climate change. Indeed, in the Speech from the Throne there are a number of statements of intent that by all accounts can only be well received. There is a willingness to take action that just might reduce the environmental footprint of Canada's terrible greenhouse gas emissions. I agree that it is a concern shared by all Quebeckers, all Canadians and, I would add, all first nations. However, words are not enough. Science has an important role to play in all this.

I am not one of those people who is going to pretend to want to bring down the government by voting nay. Nobody wants that and it might be a convenient way to deflect attention from certain internal issues in certain parties. I think we should work together with what we have. There is no way around that.

The throne speech contains some good measures. I want to highlight the measure aimed at making it easier to get a zero-emissions vehicle. We can easily agree on that. There are some proposals. Quebec is home to the only two manufacturing plants making fully electric buses. They could help us replace our school bus fleets, since school buses are particularly well suited to electrification.

Unfortunately, the actual effect of these measures is completely cancelled out by Canada's steadily increasing greenhouse gas emissions, especially from oil and gas activities, sadly. This is a challenge for science. Canada hopes to achieve zero emissions by 2050 by planting trees. However, we know full well, and the science is very clear on this, that all of the promised new trees will not cover so much as a decent fraction of Canada's current greenhouse gas emissions, which seem to be on the rise.

Does the Prime Minister believe that the plans announced in the throne speech can outweigh all of our knowledge and science, which tell us that what is going on right now in Canada's oil and gas sector cannot be offset by the proposed measures?

Resumption of Debate on Address in ReplySpeech from the Throne

12:40 p.m.


Justin Trudeau Liberal Papineau, QC

Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the Bloc Québécois leader for his question and for his reasonable approach to asking questions. He is thinking about how we can best serve all Canadians, which is our responsibility.

I want to point out that Catalonia is a Spanish domestic matter. We will always stand up for human rights around the world. We hope that a solution can be reached through dialogue, in compliance with the principles of the rule of law and the Spanish constitution.

As for climate change, we agree that we must be very ambitious with our climate plan. We must make sure that Canadians have confidence in their future and their grandchildren's future. They must have confidence in the air that they breathe and the world that they live in. They must also have confidence in the jobs that their grandchildren will have and in a better future for the generations to come.

That is why we included in our pan-Canadian climate plan an absolute cap on oil sands greenhouse gas emissions. We are convinced that, with this absolute cap, we will reach our 2030 targets. In fact, we will exceed these targets, as we will indicate next year when we increase them.

We will continue to work together in the House, with experts, indigenous peoples and all Canadians to ensure a better future where we will fight climate change with creative ideas from all sides. We will ensure prosperity for everyone across the country.

Resumption of Debate on Address in ReplySpeech from the Throne

12:45 p.m.


Yves-François Blanchet Bloc Beloeil—Chambly, QC

Mr. Speaker, by its very nature, the throne speech is a statement of principle. It contains ideas that may seem, perhaps intentionally, vague, hazy and ill-defined.

Yesterday's speech, delivered by the British monarch's representative at the Prime Minister's behest, is nonetheless very revealing. A highly detailed, specific speech full of clear, costed commitments with concrete timelines could mask its true intentions.

In contrast, if a speech is too vague, it cannot really hide just how devoid of meaning it is.

There is clearly not much there. There certainly isn't anything clear.

Yesterday I talked to the media about issues facing seniors and farmers as well as what Quebec and the provinces want. Today I will start with the most glaring omission in the speech.

I believe I speak for many Quebeckers and artists from Quebec in pointing out that there was not a single word about the arts, culture and the unprecedented crisis Quebec media are going through.

Not so long ago, the Bloc Québécois was the only party, like France, that was calling for a 3% tax to be imposed on the income of web giants. Then, one by one, every Canadian party began to adopt our position. While just a few months ago, the Liberals and the Conservatives saw this tax as a tax against the middle class, now the Liberals and even the Conservatives are more open to it.

First, I would like to point out that this alone is proof of the Bloc Québécois's relevance. Of course, we have served Quebec's artists and media, but we are also pleased to have been useful to Canada's artists and media.

This benefits everyone. The tax that web giants, such as Google, Amazon, Facebook and Apple, would pay is not actually a tax. It is a royalty, which is an amount that must be paid by anyone who is using a product that does not belong to them for commercial purposes. Given the vulnerability of creators whose content is commercialized and pirated for advertising revenue, it is the government's duty to set the terms of what is, in effect, a licensing agreement.

However, the Bloc has added two criteria to this. First, any money collected in this way must be reserved for the arts, entertainment and the media. Then, 40% of it must be reserved for francophone media, entertainment and artistic creation, as is done in the music industry.

We will not budge on these criteria. The absence of culture in the Speech from the Throne sadly speaks volumes, as does the absence of language. The fact that so many Franco-Canadians and Acadians are turning to the Bloc Québécois to have their voices heard in their language in Parliament should have tipped off the government. They are right to turn to the Bloc. We will support all of our North American francophone brothers and sisters whatever the future may bring, including the creation of the country of Quebec.

As far as culture is concerned, many people lamented the fact that the hon. member for Laurier—Sainte-Marie is not being called to work on making Canada a nation that is a bit, even just a little bit, greener.

Personally, as someone who worked for over 20 years in the world of arts, entertainment and news, I do not blame him. I do not blame him for not being able to work “Canadian Heritage” into the throne speech. Of course, for us, it would be “Quebec Heritage” rather than “Canadian Heritage”.

That being said, I sincerely invite the member for Laurier—Sainte-Marie to collaborate with me so we can properly advocate, together if necessary, for the issues facing Quebec's creators, artisans and media. However, he will have to forgive me if, in conversation, I hark back to the days when he used to climb towers to raise awareness of threats to the environment.

There is another aspect of this speech that is worth mentioning. No one could fail to notice that the speech referred to the regions of Canada. It referred not to the provinces, territories or Quebec, but to the regions.

Let us make one thing clear: Quebec is not a region of Canada. Quebec is the territory that the Quebec nation shares with several first nations. Today's Canada is composed of provinces, territories and Quebec.

The regions that the throne speech seems to create are the provinces, territories and Quebec. Each one is perfectly real and has its own legislature and government. It is the jurisdictions of these provinces, territories and Quebec that this speech, like all speeches written by the Liberal Party of Canada, tends to encroach on.

Canada does not hire doctors, nurses and orderlies. It is Quebec that hires doctors, nurses and orderlies. Quebec and the provinces called for a 5.2% increase in health transfers on Monday. The throne speech once again exhibited the Liberal Party's habit, which it shares with the NDP, of interfering in areas of provincial jurisdiction in a centralist Canada. Ottawa has ignored the unanimous call of the Council of the Federation. The Bloc will not allow such interference and will protect Quebec's jurisdictions. If this also helps the provinces, that is good.

With a similarly united voice, Quebec and the provinces also called for environmental assessments done by Quebec and the provinces to take precedence over federal assessments. That is interesting because the Bloc Québécois introduced a bill on that very topic at the end of the last Parliament. Unsurprisingly, that bill was defeated. Of course we will introduce another bill in this session, as we promised to do. In doing so, the Bloc Québécois is voicing the will not only of the National Assembly of Quebec but also the provinces in this place. Ottawa ignored the unanimous call of the Council of the Federation on this issue, as well.

I want to make something else perfectly clear: the Bloc Québécois was given a unique mandate.

Many Quebeckers do not identify with any federalist political party. They are not all sovereignists, but they are nationalists. They have left behind the years when they were made to feel guilty about their language, their values and, generally speaking, their differences, years during which Canada sought to erode, and even drown, a proud and legitimate nation within its own system of multiculturalism. Many of these people voted for us and told us so outright because that is the urgent need of the Quebec nation, because that is the current configuration of the National Assembly of Quebec, and because Quebec needs a voice all to itself, a voice of its own.

The Bloc Québécois accepted this mandate. We will not prevent Parliament from doing its job to prove that it is does not work. We will not attempt to make Canada more dysfunctional than it already is to prove that it is. Even in an entirely functional Canada, the fact remains that a nation is better represented and served when it can exercise all of the elements of its sovereignty.

Let me be perfectly clear: although it may not be our focus this Parliament, Quebeckers know that the Bloc Québécois is a separatist party. It certainly feels good to say that out loud.

I want to get back to those three topics. The government wants to make life better for seniors, and so do we. We campaigned on this topic. We proposed that seniors should get an additional $110 a month. We believe that this extra money is necessary not only to increase the buying power of those who built the prosperous society we now live in, but also to support Quebec's regional economies and populations.

Unlike what is in the throne speech, our position on this is clear, as are many other of our positions to help seniors and retirees. We will repeat it again and again, and we will continue to explain that if the government does not satisfy this legitimate request for our seniors, they will take note and this government will soon be judged again.

Supply management is another file that has progressed. The Bloc Québécois cannot take full credit of course, but it is clear that this file, just like the web giants file, would not have progressed as much without the Bloc. There is still work to be done, however.

Paying compensation for the first year is the right decision. Producers want confirmation that the conditions will be the same for the entire eight-year payment period. Producers want to know what the compensation will be in the wake of the free trade agreement with the United States and Mexico negotiated on bended knee by this government. Processors also want to know what is being done for them.

The Bloc Québécois also called for an initiative that is important to supply-managed producers. We want legislation to be introduced to ensure that supply management is never again used as a bargaining chip, like it was this time around to support Ontario's auto industry and the Canadian economy, to the detriment of Quebec's economy. We will introduce that legislation.

Let us now talk about oil. The word oil does not appear in the Speech from the Throne.

For those who want know what I will be talking about, it is oil.

Science is very stubborn. Human activity is causing greenhouse gas emissions that continue to grow. The climate is warming. The economic and human costs are astronomical. This is only the beginning.

Canada is one of the worst performers in the world in that respect. There is no measure to fight climate change that will offset Canada's eagerness to increase the production, export and consumption of oil and gas for purely commercial reasons.

Science is very stubborn. We are not indifferent to the plight of western Canadians. As world citizens, we believe that we need a plan, not for reducing, mitigating or offsetting greenhouse gas emissions, but for moving away from this economic model. It will have to be done carefully, gradually, wisely and without pushing anyone into poverty, but we need to move away from a carbon-based economy within the next few decades.

We will support any initiative that will help carbon-dependent economies transition toward an economic model that is compatible with the environmental issues the planet is facing.

I want to address the rude or offensive messages I am receiving from certain parts of Canada. The example comes from the top, but I want to take this opportunity to speak to the people of western Canada.

I want to say this for the people of Alberta and Saskatchewan mostly that the Bloc Québécois, and for that matter something like the whole Quebec, offers to collaborate on a necessary transition toward an economy that will, in due course, not depend anymore on carbon, on oil or on gas.

Investing in such a transition with an open mind and compassion is an extended hand from us. However, we do not want to be part of any further contribution to any further climatic impact of an economic model of the past.

The throne speech that was read to us reveals a lot more by what it does not say than by what it does. There is nothing in the throne speech about culture, language or media. There is nothing about the fight against tax havens or about a solution to the problem that has been plaguing the families of public servants, who are still waiting to get their fair take-home pay. Contrary to what its name would suggest, the Phoenix pay system is a failure that is unable to rise from its own ashes.

While the speech does mention human rights, it fails to address the repression of Catalonia's democracy. I want to take a moment to quickly mention that, by nature, the right to self-determination cannot be subject to a constitution written by the majority or the conqueror with the goal of abolishing that same right. That does not make any sense. Even Canada did not do that.

However, the Prime Minister of Canada boasts about his friendship with Mr. Sanchez and extols the virtues of the Spanish regime, virtues that I have my doubts about. It is embarrassing. Instead, the Prime Minister should be ensuring that the President of Catalonia in exile, Carles Puigdemont, is able to travel freely to Quebec and Canada to meet with people, institutions and the media. I have had inspiring conversations with Mr. Puigdemont, and I can assure the House that he is a very peaceful, caring man who loves arts, culture and diversity.

The word “oil” does not appear in the Speech from the Throne, but the debate over oil is a profoundly divisive one in Canada, pitting those who see no solution but oil against those who insist on the urgency of ending oil dependency. Obviously, the only way forward involves collaboration and alternative technology.

I get that the Prime Minister wanted to please everyone at least a little. I understand why, as the head of a minority government, his approach was to offer vague promises and keep mum on some issues altogether.

The Bloc, in contrast, has such a clear agenda that people have often asked us why we were so specific when we obviously never intended to be the governing party. We did it because Quebeckers, Canadians and the elected members of the House know our values and our ideas. There will be no surprises. This is who we are. That is why 32 Quebec ridings elected us to bring these ideas forward.

We believe in healthy, courteous dialogue, so today we are committing to the kind of well-intentioned collaboration that will characterize our relationship the day it undergoes a profound transformation, the kind of collaboration that will characterize our relationship once we are two equal, friendly, sovereign nations.

I therefore move the following:

That the amendment be amended by deleting all the words after the words “national unity crisis, which requires” and substituting the following:

“respecting provincial jurisdiction, in particular by not authorizing any project that does not comply with provincial and Quebec laws relating to environmental protection and land use planning;

(d) underfunding of the health care system, which requires an increase in transfers;

(e) an unprecedented crisis facing media and creators, who must be supported through the imposition of royalties on web giants; and

(f) loopholes in the supply management system that must be protected by legislation”.

Resumption of Debate on Address in ReplySpeech from the Throne

1 p.m.


The Speaker Liberal Anthony Rota

The questions were a little long after the last speech. This is problematic, because I want all the parties to have a chance to ask a question. I would therefore ask members to ask shorter questions. Ideally, members have a minute and a half to speak. I hope I will not be forced to cut members off in the middle of their question.

Resumption of Debate on Address in ReplySpeech from the Throne

1:05 p.m.


Emmanuella Lambropoulos Liberal Saint-Laurent, QC

Mr. Speaker, this being my first time speaking in the House in the 43rd Parliament, I want to thank my constituents in Saint-Laurent for trusting me to represent them in the House for a second term.

I thank all my constituents in Saint-Laurent, all the volunteers who helped with my campaign and all the donors who made this possible.

Canada and Quebec both know that fighting against climate change is very important. Quebeckers know this better than anyone. This issue is the government's priority.

I would like to ask the leader of the Bloc Québécois and his party whether we will be able to count on their support when we put environmental policies in place.