House of Commons Hansard #380 of the 42nd Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was language.


Indigenous Languages ActGovernment Orders

1:30 p.m.


Mark Strahl Conservative Chilliwack—Hope, BC

Madam Speaker, of course our members on the Canadian heritage committee will be looking at the testimony that is presented by witnesses. We always work with our colleagues on all sides of the House to determine ways that we can improve legislation. Therefore, we will very carefully examine any reasonable proposals to amend the bill to make it stronger and more reflective of what the experts say it needs. It would not be doing our jobs as parliamentarians to commit to supporting something that we have not yet seen, and before a single witness has been heard.

Indigenous Languages ActGovernment Orders

1:30 p.m.


Mel Arnold Conservative North Okanagan—Shuswap, BC

Madam Speaker, the member for Chilliwack—Hope was being pressured about getting the bill through the House quickly, and I want to reflect on some of the consultation that I did in the riding of North Okanagan—Shuswap. I toured an indigenous immersion school. The school is having to develop its own books and curriculum and all of its program, but it does not have the funding to do that. That is going to be a big piece of this bill and why we want to take a bit of time to look at it and the costs that could be involved.

I want to have a comment from the member on why we want to really look at the bill.

Indigenous Languages ActGovernment Orders

1:30 p.m.


Mark Strahl Conservative Chilliwack—Hope, BC

Madam Speaker, I would like to thank the member for North Okanagan—Shuswap for his excellent work representing his communities and for bringing this forward.

All of us are going home at the end of this week to spend a week in our constituencies, and this is a great opportunity for members who represent indigenous communities to engage with them on this very important file, as I know the member has done and I know all of us will want to do. We will take the time necessary to review the legislation and do it the right way.

Indigenous Languages ActGovernment Orders

1:30 p.m.

Arif Virani Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada and to the Minister of Democratic Institutions, Lib.

Madam Speaker, I will be splitting my time with the member for Winnipeg North.

Chi-meegwetch, which means “thank you very much”. I start my remarks in Algonquin, cognizant that I speak today in the House of Commons, which is located on unceded Algonquin territory and also cognizant of this occasion.

Today, I rise to speak in support of Bill C-91, the indigenous languages act. This legislation is the first of its kind in Canadian history. It begins to turn the page on 400 years of colonialism in this country and systematic efforts by successive governments to sever the ties of indigenous people to their mother tongues.

I will start with a preliminary comment, which is that all of us fortunate enough to be elected into this place come here with a sense of purpose or an objective in mind. For me, given my background in human rights and constitutional law, I came here wanting to work on issues that relate to fighting for and promoting equality and inclusion. I had in mind certain policy goals that I wanted to pursue. However, I quickly realized that sometimes in this place, we seek out an issue and sometimes an issue seeks us out. I will explain.

In January, 2017, I was asked by the Prime Minister to serve as the parliamentary secretary to the then minister of heritage. I was then asked by the minister to assist her in the co-development of Canada's first-ever indigenous languages act. I will admit to everyone in this chamber that at first I was very puzzled by this request. I am not a linguist nor am I an expert in anything related to indigenous persons. However, in retrospect, that one request actually changed the direction of my parliamentary career. Why? It is because it simply opened my eyes.

On arrival here, because of my legal background, I fancied myself a pretty knowledgeable fellow about most human rights issues. However, the reality was that I actually knew very little about the plight of indigenous persons on this land. Tasked by the minister to engage with indigenous leaders, elders, teachers and experts right across the country about what they would like to see in the new legislation, I actually learned a great deal. Most of all, I learned about how little I actually knew and had been taught about indigenous persons, their histories, traditions, languages, and most importantly, their trauma. I learned about the size, scope and extent of the residential school system, its pernicious impact on indigenous people in Canada and the lasting trauma it created.

Like many in this chamber, I am a parent. Together with my wife, and like many parents in this diverse country, I try to inculcate a sense of culture and tradition in our own little kids, Zakir and Nitin. As a south Asian household, we made efforts to connect our two little boys to the Indian subcontinent by teaching them some language skills, which in our case is Hindi. While the results have not always been perfect, and I will readily admit that the kids still prefer subtitles when they watch Bollywood films, it has not been for a lack of effort on our part.

Our experience is not any different from countless parents of all different backgrounds around this country, such as Greek, Italian, Arab, Somali, Tibetan, Ukrainian and Polish parents. All parents in this country strive to do much the same in this multicultural nation. However, there is one glaring exception to that list, and that is the experience of indigenous parents and their children in this country, because for indigenous people on this land, their efforts for 150 years to impart their language, and through it their culture, to their children were actively obstructed by the federal state.

The Government of Canada made it a policy to remove their children from their homes and put them in schools, sometimes hundreds of kilometres away, where those kids were forced to assimilate. If they dared speak Algonquin, Cree, Ojibwa, Dene or Inuktitut, they were beaten. That is the horrible legacy of the residential school system in this country. It is a system that was constructed to literally “take the Indian out of the child”.

That is where this legislation comes in. The proposed indigenous languages act has, as its express goal, the objective of supporting, promoting and revitalizing indigenous languages in this country. It is an effort to start the long journey toward restoring the vitality of indigenous languages on this land and reversing the ugly legacy of colonialism.

The teaching of language by any parent in this chamber, by settlers or indigenous persons, is always motivated by the same rationale, that in providing children with language, we connect them to who they are, to their culture. We make them knowledgeable of who they are and where they come from, knowing that in doing so we build up their self-esteem and confidence, and empower them for success. It is so intuitive that we take it for granted that by teaching a child about their culture, they will inevitably do better in terms of their education, economically, and even their health.

However, in my time spent working as the parliamentary secretary to the minister of heritage on the development of this very bill, I also came across empirical evidence. It was so startling that it has stayed with me for well over two years.

We have heard many times in the House about the crisis of mental health and in particular the grave concerns about youth suicide in Canada, particularly indigenous youth suicide.

One study put all of this into very sharp focus. Conducted in British Columbia, the analysts determined that indigenous youth in that province with a conversational knowledge of their indigenous language had a suicide rate of 13 per 100,000, a number well below the provincial average, which includes non-indigenous youth.

However, when the researchers removed indigenous language knowledge from the analysis, the youth suicide rate jumped sixfold, to 96 per 100,000, a number exponentially higher than the provincial average. This amply demonstrates that language knowledge not only connects indigenous youth to their culture but can actually help save lives.

For parliamentarians, there can be no stronger impetus than this for getting on with the critical work of passing this bill into law, yet there are other imperatives that inform this proposed legislation.

For one thing, there are the sentiments expressed to me by my constituents and by people I heard from right across the country. People in Parkdale—High Park told me they want reconciliation not to be simply a symbolic term, but rather one that materializes in concrete legislative action.

As well, there is the sheer weight of the statistics. Some 90 different indigenous languages are spoken in this country, and shockingly, not a single one of them is considered safe by UNESCO. Fully three-quarters of them are critically endangered. In addition, there was a near 50% drop between 1996 and 2011 in the number of indigenous persons in this country who reported knowledge of an indigenous mother tongue. This clearly illustrates the threat to the survival of many languages posed by an aging population of fluent elders.

I can also speak directly to what I heard when I was given the opportunity as parliamentary secretary to engage with indigenous communities across the country. From Halifax to Victoria to the Northwest Territories, what I heard was very similar. It was the sense of rupture, the sense of disconnection from one's culture experienced by so many indigenous persons victimized by the residential school system.

I recall very vividly a meeting in Saskatchewan during which an indigenous man, who may have been about 50 years old, told the group about being forcibly taken from his family and his community at the age of five, and how he was prohibited from speaking his mother tongue. When I asked him what success would look like a few years after legislation came into force, he said to me simply, “Success would be being able to enter the sweat lodge and actually understand the words being spoken by the elders.”

Make no mistake, it is indigenous persons that are the focus of this law. Much discussion has taken place in Canada and in this chamber about raising the awareness of indigenous languages among settler populations in this country through the passage of this bill. While that would be commendable, it remains a secondary, corollary aspect of this proposed legislation. The goal of this bill is not, for example, the promotion of Ojibwa fluency among non-indigenous folks in my riding or in any other riding in this country; the goal of this legislation is and has to be restoring language fluency and capacity among indigenous people in Canada so that indigenous people, by reclaiming their language, can reclaim their culture and overcome that sense of rupture I spoke about, the rupture caused by the official policy of assimilation that characterized the residential school system for 150 years.

This bill also relates to the TRC's calls to action, in particular calls 13, 14 and 15, which call for, among other things, an acknowledgement “that Aboriginal rights include Aboriginal language rights.” That is precisely what proposed section 6 of this bill does.

The focus of this bill is also on fulfilling the promise of UNDRIP, a document we as a government have committed to implementing. The UN declaration speaks to the right of self-determination of indigenous peoples, which includes “the right to revitalize, use, develop and transmit to future generations their histories, languages [and] oral traditions”. That statement is entrenched in the preamble to this proposed legislation.

This is precisely why we took the step of co-developing this proposed legislation with indigenous leaders and national indigenous organizations. The patriarchal days of the federal government telling indigenous people what is best for them are thankfully gone. It is indigenous people who know what is best for indigenous communities, and in this International Year of Indigenous Languages, it is high time we as parliamentarians all started listening to them.

I will conclude where I began. The protection and promotion of indigenous languages is not something that I ever contemplated working on, but it is an issue that found me. I am tremendously grateful for that, because on this journey I have learned that while there are many social justice causes worthy of pursuit in this country, all of them pale in comparison to the obligation we have as parliamentarians to redress the historical injustices perpetuated against indigenous persons on this land over the last 400 years of colonialism. The indigenous languages act is one small but very significant step on the path to reconciliation, and it deserves all of our support.

Indigenous Languages ActGovernment Orders

1:40 p.m.


Gérard Deltell Conservative Louis-Saint-Laurent, QC

Madam Speaker, I listened carefully to the parliamentary secretary, as I do with all hon. members who rise to speak here.

There seems to be great consensus on the spirit of the legislation. We want to move forward and recognize this, but this has to be done correctly. We cannot botch this because we know there are 60 or so indigenous languages to be promoted and protected. That is why we are here in the House of Commons. We will send this bill to parliamentary committee to take a serious look at it. We need to take our time and deal with this properly.

I will speak to this bill later because, with an indigenous community in my riding, I have some things to say. There are more than 100 MPs here with indigenous communities in their ridings and they will have some things to say.

Would the parliamentary secretary agree to allow all those who want to speak to this bill to do so?

Everyone agrees that this is a non-partisan issue, but we must address it properly.

Indigenous Languages ActGovernment Orders

1:45 p.m.

Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada and to the Minister of Democratic Institutions, Lib.

Arif Virani

Madam Speaker, I appreciate the intervention and comments made by my colleague opposite. I have two things to say in response.

First of all, we drafted this bill in collaboration with indigenous communities. In other words, we have already consulted them. We reviewed this bill very carefully with several indigenous communities from across Canada, including Inuit, Métis and first nations.

Second, our priority is not to simply introduce this bill, but rather we want to make sure it receives royal assent. We have already fallen too far behind when it comes to indigenous peoples. After 400 years of colonialism, we need to get this done as soon as possible.

Indigenous Languages ActGovernment Orders

1:45 p.m.


Gord Johns NDP Courtenay—Alberni, BC

Madam Speaker, I want to especially thank the parliamentary secretary for highlighting the importance of languages in saving lives.

I can testify that I heard from Timmy Masso from the Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation. He is 15. He is a language speaker. He was encouraged to learn his language when his brother, Hjalmer Wenstob, was sick. He was in a health crisis. It was language and prayers that helped to heal Hjalmer. It was not just about preventing suicide, but for health reasons.

Timmy is a great leader in our community. He wants to ensure that our language gets the important investment that it needs, not just for elders but for youth. In fact, one of our elders who is a native language holder and speaker, Levi Martin, sent a note today saying, “In our culture, first nation people do not have to be certified or have a permit to be who they are. Our people who are recognized and do a good job of teaching should be paid the same rate as other teachers. Some of our people teach teachers, so they are like professors and should be paid as such.”

My question is for the member. Will the government deliver much-needed urgent funding? Every day we are losing speakers who are the holders of language that is saving lives. Will the member ensure that the necessary investments go to the communities so that the communities can ensure the money goes to the right resources, so that language is passed on to the next generation?

Indigenous Languages ActGovernment Orders

1:45 p.m.

Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada and to the Minister of Democratic Institutions, Lib.

Arif Virani

Madam Speaker, I appreciate this intervention. It is critically important. We heard that over and over again in the consultations—that what we need is supports in terms of resources and what we need is stable, long-term, predictable funding.

I have a few things to say in response. First, we have set out a funding model in this legislation that could allow for five-year agreements, as opposed to one year, which is usually the norm. Second, in terms of the good faith we have already shown, through the aboriginal languages initiative and other money that was dedicated two years ago, $89.9 million was provided for a three-year spend, just as an interim gesture of good faith to demonstrate to indigenous communities around the country that we believe in support through resources.

The third response is that in this legislation, for what I understand to be the first time ever, we have included a duty on the minister responsible to actively consult with indigenous leaders about the funding. The funding is not a questionable issue and the funding is going to follow. Because consultation is a requirement, indigenous leaders are going to speak to the government about how much funding is required.

Indigenous Languages ActGovernment Orders

1:45 p.m.

Winnipeg North Manitoba


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

Madam Speaker, what a privilege it is to speak in support of this legislation. I anticipate all members on all sides of this House will eventually support it. I am encouraged by the words that have been spoken already today regarding how important it is that this legislation passes. It is just going to be a question of time. I ask colleagues from all sides of the chamber to recognize the value of the legislation. We have seen legislation pass rather quickly in the past. In fact, if the political will is there, legislation can be passed within hours. It is just an issue of the political desire for that to be the case with this legislation.

It is an important piece of legislation and it is consistent with what the Prime Minister has talked about since day one. When we talk about the importance of establishing a relationship with indigenous people across Canada, this is one of the things we can do to send a very strong and positive message.

The first individuals I would like to acknowledge and thank are the indigenous leaders, who communicated within the department and with different stakeholders to ensure we better understood how very important language is for indigenous people. I attribute the strong leadership from indigenous people for ultimately causing us to bring forward the legislation.

When the reconciliation report came out, the Prime Minister, or the leader of the Liberal Party at the time, indicated support for the many calls to action within the Truth and Reconciliation Commission's report. When we think of truth and reconciliation, we have to think about the calls to action, which is what we are addressing today. The credit goes to the individuals who made presentations for the Truth and Reconciliation Commission's report, individuals like Senator Sinclair and many others, for the fine work they did in ensuring we had these calls to action in the first place.

I have a copy of the 94 calls to action, and number 13 states:

We call upon the federal government to acknowledge that Aboriginal rights include Aboriginal language rights.

Call to action number 14 states:

We call upon the federal government to enact an Aboriginal Languages Act that incorporates the following principles:

i. Aboriginal languages are a fundamental and valued element of Canadian culture and society, and there is an urgency to preserve them.

ii. Aboriginal language rights are reinforced by the Treaties.

iii. The federal government has a responsibility to provide sufficient funds for Aboriginal-language revitalization and preservation.

iv. The preservation, revitalization, and strengthening of Aboriginal languages and cultures are best managed by Aboriginal people and communities.

v. Funding for Aboriginal language initiatives must reflect the diversity of Aboriginal languages.

Call to action number 15 states:

We call upon the federal government to appoint, in consultation with Aboriginal groups, an Aboriginal Languages Commissioner. The commissioner should help promote Aboriginal languages and report on the adequacy of federal funding of Aboriginal-languages initiatives.

That comes right from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada and the calls to action. Today, we have heard a good number of people speak about the importance of reconciliation. We understand and we appreciate just how important language is to the very fabric of our heritage. It is not too late.

This legislation, I would argue, is very timely. We heard the Prime Minister, not that long ago, make a commitment to indigenous people to establish that relationship, and we have seen actions by different departments to fulfill that. There have been other calls to action that have been fulfilled. Today, the minister of heritage has brought forward a piece of legislation, after doing the work that is necessary in working with indigenous leaders and many other stakeholders, and presented what I believe is historic legislation here in the House of Commons.

I ask that members across the way recognize it, as we have recognized important legislation in the past. When we have recognized that, we are seeing fit to ensure that it passes through. That is my call to my colleagues across the way.

It was just yesterday that we passed a bill on to a committee after one and a half hours of debate. Given that it was a private member's piece of legislation, it is totally different, but we have seen government legislation also pass in one day. If the political will and the desire and recognition are there, I would ask, if not this type of legislation, then what other kind of legislation merits the type of support that is being provided here?

At the opening of this session, we had some historical things take place. At the opening of this beautiful chamber, we had a smudging ceremony. The member for Winnipeg Centre, my colleague and friend, said his entire speech in an indigenous language. Earlier today, another member of Parliament spoke his entire speech in an indigenous language. That in itself is new because, for the first time in these last couple of weeks, we have actually been able to have interpretation services. If someone is speaking in an indigenous language here on the floor of the House of Commons in Ottawa, we can actually understand what that person said because it was being interpreted. We recognize that members of Parliament, on all sides of this House, value the importance of indigenous languages.

In Winnipeg North we have great diversity of indigenous languages that are spoken. I am not that good in terms of my pronunciation, but some examples are Anishinaabe, Dene, Oji-Cree and Michif. A diversity of indigenous languages can be found in Winnipeg North. The constituents who I represent come from all over the province of Manitoba and have lived on reserves throughout. My riding has high schools like Children of the Earth and many others that would welcome the opportunity to see this legislation put into place. Our educational system is so critically important in terms of participation.

Our minister and the Government of Canada are playing their role by bringing forward the legislation. We are calling upon the other stakeholders, such as the provinces, school boards and municipalities. Most important is for us to work with the strong leadership within the indigenous community. I look to people like Sharon Redsky and Cindy Woodhouse, two outstanding individuals who I have got to know and often take advice from. They both live in Winnipeg North.

We can all, I believe, contribute to reconciliation today by recognizing the value and importance of what it is that we are hoping to accomplish.

If we understand and appreciate just how important this issue is to our indigenous people, I suggest we pass it. Let us get it to committee, where we can hear other stakeholders' concerns and opinions.

Indigenous Languages ActGovernment Orders

1:55 p.m.


The Speaker Liberal Geoff Regan

There will be five minutes for questions and comments when the House next takes up this topic.

Single Tax Return in QuebecStatements By Members

1:55 p.m.


Rhéal Fortin Bloc Rivière-du-Nord, QC

Mr. Speaker, not only are the Liberals refusing to let Quebec have a single tax return, but they are belittling us as well. They are telling us they do not think we could handle it all by ourselves.

The Minister of Infrastructure, a Quebecker, actually suggested that Quebec should not be allowed to collect tax and that everything should be centralized in Ottawa. We saw how well that worked with the Phoenix system. The Minister of National Revenue, also a Quebecker, even brought up the idea of forcing Quebec to give up its tax return to the federal government. The Prime Minister, another Quebecker, went as far as to say that allowing a single tax return would be pandering to Quebec's childish behaviour. The Liberals are calling Quebec's requests childish.

We need to realize that the Liberals gave the game away with their arrogant answers about the single tax return for Quebec. They figure that trampling on Quebec boosts their image in the rest of Canada, and apparently that is the only thing that matters.

Eric HoakenStatements By Members

2 p.m.


Ali Ehsassi Liberal Willowdale, ON

Mr. Speaker, on Sunday, February 3, the legal community lost one of its most respected and celebrated lawyers, Eric Russell Hoaken. Eric's greatest love was undoubtedly his four children, Greta, Miles, Thea and Celia. His love for them was only rivalled by the adoration he had for his wife, Lisa.

Beyond family, he loved the law and the legal community, and be assured, the legal community certainly loved him back. His dedication, piercing wit and keen intelligence earned Eric much acclaim as a litigation star, yet Eric was always striving to have an even greater impact, and he devoted much energy to mentoring others. He served on the board of directors of both The Advocates' Society and the International Academy of Trial Lawyers.

Eric's infectious spirit left a profound mark on all those who had the privilege of knowing him. His integrity and professionalism exemplified the highest traditions not only of the bar but of humanity itself.

Children's FitnessStatements By Members

2 p.m.


Kellie Leitch Conservative Simcoe—Grey, ON

Mr. Speaker, yesterday I was proud to announce my private member's bill, the new children's fitness tax credit. In 2006, I chaired the panel that recommended the children's fitness tax credit, and when I joined the Conservative government in 2011, 1.4 million families received the credit. In 2014, the credit became refundable for low-income families, and 1.8 million families were claiming it.

The initiative encourages active kids while making it more affordable for parents. Studies indicate that, from the time the credit was implemented, participation rates increased in sports and other activities.

Shockingly, the credit was eliminated by the present government in 2017. Today, I ask all members to support the bill and help make Canada the best place in the world for a child to grow up. I encourage members to support active and healthy kids. For more information, one can go to

Margaret WalshStatements By Members

2 p.m.


Mike Bossio Liberal Hastings—Lennox and Addington, ON

Mr. Speaker, it was with a heavy heart that I heard of the passing of Margaret Walsh in December, in her 96th year. She was a selfless person with an overwhelming desire to serve, and she played such a big part in so many lives in my community.

After teaching for many years, including in a one-room school house in Lonsdale, where I live, she became the first female reeve of Tyendinaga township and the first female warden of Hastings County, serving 20 years on council.

Margaret Walsh was also a close friend of mine, and she was my personal mentor from my time on council in Tyendinaga township and in our multi-decade fight against the Richmond landfill, alongside other community activists. During those days of activism, Chief Maracle of the Mohawks of the Bay of Quinte remembers fondly that he referred to her as the “rebel reeve” of Ontario, and she would just laugh. She had such an impish laugh. She was a remarkable, passionate fighter, and she will be missed.

Oldest First Nations NewspaperStatements By Members

2 p.m.


Gord Johns NDP Courtenay—Alberni, BC

Mr. Speaker, I am very proud that the Nuu-chah-nulth territory in my riding is home to Canada's oldest first nations newspaper, Ha-Shilth-Sa, which celebrated its 45th anniversary on January 24.

The driving force behind this outstanding publication was the great Nuu-chah-nulth leader, the late George Watts and was brought to life by the late Bob Soderlund, Dave Wiwchar, Debora Steel and so many others over the past four and a half decades.

Ha-Shilth-Sa has maintained the highest standards of journalism throughout its distinguished history while staying true to its mandate as a unifying force among the 14 Nuu-chah-nulth nations.

I urge all those who want to understand the day-to-day issues faced by the Nuu-chah-nulth people, while celebrating their many individual and collective achievements, to make a habit of visiting They will not regret it.

Ray WalshStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.


Churence Rogers Liberal Bonavista—Burin—Trinity, NL

Mr. Speaker, I rise today with great pride to honour the life and legacy of Ray Walsh. Mr. Walsh was a long-time musician known for his significant contribution to music in Newfoundland and Labrador. Sadly, Ray passed away on January 27 at the age of 75.

Hailing from Bay de Verde, Ray moved to Marystown to teach and joined the Marystown Band in 1961 before becoming a star on CBC's Saturday Night Jamboree and All Around the Circle from 1964 until 1975.

Famous for his work on the piano accordion and a schoolteacher by trade, he was awarded the lifetime achievement award from the Newfoundland and Labrador Folk Festival in 2013 for his contributions to the cultural fabric of our province through his talent and passion for music.

On behalf of all the residents of Bonavista—Burin—Trinity and the entire province, I offer my sincere condolences to his family and friends. I thank him for the music. May he rest in peace.

Canadian Pulse FarmersStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.


Earl Dreeshen Conservative Red Deer—Mountain View, AB

Mr. Speaker, as a farmer that cherishes the magnificent variety of top-quality food produced by Canadian farmers and ranchers, I am pleased today to recognize the contribution of Canadian lentils, peas, beans and chickpeas, otherwise known as pulses.

Pulses benefit Canadian farms and farmers in a number of ways. The crop makes its own fertilizer by producing nitrogen. It has very efficient water use, and pulses generally have a slightly different growing season from most crops, allowing farmers to diversify their production and workload.

For all Canadians we also know that pulses are one of many great sources of protein, fibre and other key nutrients like iron, folate and potassium.

As we celebrate the international day of pulses on February 10, we need to remind the government of the important role that all Canadian farmers, including pulse farmers, play in providing Canadians with a healthy, inexpensive and plentiful supply of top-quality foods.

Auguste ChoquetteStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.


Joël Lightbound Liberal Louis-Hébert, QC

Mr. Speaker, many great men and women have had the privilege of working in this place and serving their constituents and their country.

Today I want to pay tribute to one of those people, my friend Auguste Choquette. Son and grandson of politicians, Mr. Choquette was born into politics. He had a brilliant career as a lawyer and proudly represented the people of Lotbinière from 1963 to 1968 alongside Lester B. Pearson, with whom he had the privilege of voting to adopt the maple leaf as our national flag. He was very proud of that.

August Choquette left politics in 1968, but politics never left him. His was very involved in his community, always busy even at age 86. He was always quick to share stories, advice and insight with those fortunate enough to cross paths with him. He was exceptionally generous, clear-sighted, famously eloquent, honourable and quick-witted.

Auguste Choquette passed away on December 21, at Maison Michel-Sarrazin, in Quebec City. True to form, in lieu of funeral services he asked that people make donations to the Michel-Sarrazin hospice centre where he lived out his days in good hands.

I would like to extend my condolences to his family and friends and invite my colleagues to make a donation to Maison Michel-Sarrazin.

Canadian Junior Curling ChampionshipsStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.


John Aldag Liberal Cloverdale—Langley City, BC

Mr. Speaker, last weekend, B.C.'s Team Tardi brought home a third national gold title at the 2019 Canadian Junior Curling Championships, making it their third title in a row and the first team to ever do so.

Team Tardi consists of skip Tyler Tardi, third Sterling Middleton, second Matthew Hall and lead Alex Horvath. The coach is Tyler's father Paul. The young Lower Mainland curlers are a Langley-based team.

On Sunday, the gold-medal round was held at the Art Hauser Centre in Prince Albert, Saskatchewan, where Tardi and his team triumphed over JT Ryan's Manitoba team by the score of 7-5.

The team will be representing Canada at the 2019 World Junior Curling Championships in Liverpool, Nova Scotia, from February 16 to 23. Once again, I invite my colleagues to join me in congratulating Team Tardi in another remarkable and record-setting win, and wish them the best of luck at the World Juniors.

Carbon PricingStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.


Kevin Waugh Conservative Saskatoon—Grasswood, SK

Mr. Speaker, the residents of Desnethé—Missinippi—Churchill River cannot afford the Liberal carbon tax.

A farmer just 25 kilometres northeast of Meadow Lake is asking how much the carbon tax is going to increase his operating costs. Northern forest workers also have concerns about what the carbon tax is going to mean for their jobs. Families trying to make their household budgets last to the end of the month are concerned about the impact the carbon tax will have on their monthly grocery and electricity bills.

The Liberals carbon tax, let us be honest, is not a serious plan to cut emissions. It is simply a tax grab that will cost northerners hundreds, if not thousands of dollars a year.

When will the Prime Minister realize the damage he has done to northern Saskatchewan?

Birthday CongratulationsStatements By Members

February 7th, 2019 / 2:10 p.m.


Karen Ludwig Liberal New Brunswick Southwest, NB

Mr. Speaker, I rise today today to recognize Arnold Hawkins, who celebrated his 108th birthday on January 30.

Born in 1911, Arnold has lived his entire life near the water in Beaver Harbour, New Brunswick, and lives in the home that he built in the 1930s.

Not only is Arnold a great role model and father, he was also a hard-working fisherman for more than 40 years. Arnold fished mostly for haddock because he believed the water by Beaver Harbour had the best-tasting haddock. Arnold has seen a lot of changes over the years and can recall the first time the roads in Beaver Harbour were paved.

I would like to share my best wishes to my oldest constituent in New Brunswick Southwest and my best wishes to his family: his five children, 14 grandchildren and 25 great-grandchildren.

I wish Arnold a happy 108th birthday.

200th Anniversary of Province HouseStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.


Andy Fillmore Liberal Halifax, NS

Mr. Speaker, this year Province House, home to Nova Scotia's legislature, turns 200 years old. I quote:

It stands, and will stand, I hope, to the latest posterity, a proud record of the Public Spirit, at this period of our History: And as I do consider this magnificent work equally honorable and useful to the Province, I recommend it to your continued protection.

Those are the words of Lord Dalhousie, governor of Nova Scotia, at the opening of Province House 200 years ago.

More than the symmetry of its Palladian architecture, its locally quarried sandstone or the fine quality of its ornamental plasterwork, Province House has been an esteemed home to history for two centuries. It is where Joseph Howe fought for freedom of the press. It is where Nova Scotia peacefully established the first responsible government in the British Empire. It is where we joined Confederation in 1867.

It is where future generations of Nova Scotians, again in the words of Lord Dalhousie, will continue in “this magnificent work”.

Government PrioritiesStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.


Shannon Stubbs Conservative Lakeland, AB

Mr. Speaker, life is expensive enough. The Prime Minister's policies are making it worse and Canadians are paying for his mistakes.

The Prime Minister broke his own ethics law by accepting a lavish vacation and left taxpayers with the bill. Even with his NAFTA rollover, the Prime Minister could not get U.S. tariffs on Canadian steel and aluminum removed, a hit to Canadian businesses and consumers. The Prime Minister will not stop illegal border crossers. That bill keeps on climbing, and so too do Canadians' taxes, just to pay for Liberal mistakes.

The Prime Minister's never-ending deficits will mean tax hikes after the election, if he gets another chance. Because of him the wealthiest pay less while the middle class pay more and he thinks low-income Canadians pay none. He is wrong. The Prime Minister has never had to worry about money. That is why he does not worry about Canadians' money.

Our leader understands the struggles families face, because he has faced them himself. He has a plan to control spending, balance the budget and lower taxes so that Canadians can get ahead, not just get by.

This year, Canadians can stop paying for Liberal mistakes and choose Conservative leadership to get ahead.

Syrian EntrepreneursStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.


Salma Zahid Liberal Scarborough Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, from Peace by Chocolate in Antigonish to Aleppo Savon in Calgary, Syrian refugees are making a difference by opening businesses and creating jobs for Canadians. I would like to recognize a Syrian newcomer business in my riding of Scarborough Centre: Aleppo Kebab.

Zakaria Al Mokdad was a restaurant owner in Syria before fleeing the civil war with his family and coming to Canada. He spent a year improving his English before working at Paramount Fine Foods, a restaurant chain founded by another successful immigrant entrepreneur, Mohamad Fakih. Two weeks ago, Zakaria opened Aleppo Kebab, offering delicious Syrian food to the people of Scarborough and he is paying it forward, offering jobs to other newcomers to Canada. The customer favourite is the Aleppo kebab, with its unique blend of Syrian spices. It is my favourite, too.

These Syrian newcomer success stories are proof of what we all know: immigration matters.

Paul DewarStatements By Members

2:15 p.m.


Hélène Laverdière NDP Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am profoundly sad to rise today to pay tribute to our colleague and friend Paul Dewar, who passed away yesterday.

Paul was a courageous man who was determined to build a better world for everyone. Paul was a strong, compassionate voice on topics like nuclear disarmament, human rights, peace and justice.

Paul dedicated his life to public service as a teacher, union leader and as a parliamentarian. Even in his last year, while battling cancer, he still poured his spirit into his legacy initiative to empower young Canadians, Youth Action Now.

We love Julia, Nathaniel and Jordan. Our entire New Democrat family grieves with them.

Let us heed Paul's final message to us:

...may we be bound together by joyous celebration of life.
We are best when we love and when we are loved.
Shine on like diamonds in the magic of this place.