House of Commons Hansard #392 of the 42nd Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was children.

Topics

Public AccountsCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

10:40 a.m.

Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux Liberal Winnipeg North, MB

Mr. Speaker, absolutely, members can count on it. I guess the NDP members are feeling somewhat neglected by my comments.

At the end of the day, Canadians had the opportunity to base their votes on the Harper-style tactics being used. They made that decision. In that decision and that election, they chose the opportunity to have a change in government that would actually see positive, progressive policies, whether it was legislation or budgetary measures, that would provide more hope and that would ultimately see Canada's economy do well, after many years of the Harper administration.

My colleague across the way asks how this is relevant. I believe people need to understand the tactics and the motives behind what the Conservatives are trying to do. They have consistently, even prior to the last federal election, made this a very personal thing against the Prime Minister. That is what this SNC-Lavalin issue, in good part, is about.

Things are going quite well economically. The Prime Minister made reference to 900,000-plus jobs in three and a half years. By working with Canadians—

Public AccountsCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

10:40 a.m.

NDP

Peter Julian NDP New Westminster—Burnaby, BC

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order. I have to agree with my colleague from Timmins—James Bay. The hon. member is not addressing the issue of the Auditor General report or the report that came out of the Standing Committee on Public Accounts. He is not addressing anything that is actually before the House.

He can make any rant he wants against opposition parties. I would agree with some of his comments about the Conservatives. However, he has to be relevant to what is before the House. He has shown no inclination so far to actually do that, to actually address the concurrence report that is before the House of Commons.

I would ask you, Mr. Speaker, to direct the parliamentary secretary to be relevant to the discussion we are having.

Public AccountsCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

10:40 a.m.

Liberal

The Assistant Deputy Speaker Liberal Anthony Rota

I would like to ask the hon. parliamentary secretary to maybe indicate how he is going to get back to a relevant topic or to the topic at hand. I will leave it with the parliamentary secretary.

Public AccountsCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

10:40 a.m.

Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux Liberal Winnipeg North, MB

Mr. Speaker, if my friend does not understand the relevance, there is a very strong direct connection as to why we are debating this issue today. If the member had been listening to the Conservative speakers, he would understand that it has been nothing but criticism toward the government with respect to SNC, and I am very clearly demonstrating that the official opposition, from virtually day one, has been consistently critical of the personalities within the Government of Canada. That is completely relevant to what we are talking about, and I would hope that the points of order, whether the previous ones or any in the future, will not be deducted from my time, because at the end of the day I do have a number of concerns that I think are critically important for members to be aware of.

This is one of the tactics that the Conservatives are using that I believe are not in the best interests of Canadians. When we talk about the manipulation that is being used by the Conservative Party, let me highlight it with respect to SNC. Conservatives talk about the justice committee, which I am going to get to. I am going to get to that, because that is all part of the tactics that the Conservative Party is using.

When we think of SNC and the Champlain Bridge, which is actually in the report, we need to realize that it was the former Conservative government that arrived at that agreement. It was the former Conservative government that initially got into the agreement with respect to the Champlain Bridge, yet now Conservative members are trying to give Canadians the impression that the Government of Canada has a special relationship with SNC and that is the reason that there is this agreement with regard to the Champlain Bridge. That is not true.

Yes, members of the government, including the Prime Minister's Office, have had dealings with SNC. That is not new. We all know that. We also know that the leader of the New Democratic Party and other New Democratic MPs also met with SNC. We also know that the leader of the Conservative Party has also met with SNC, as have many others.

The member across the way said that the leader of the official opposition met with SNC to tell him to take a hike. What about the 9,000 jobs and the pensions and those who are receiving money? Did the leader of the official opposition really tell SNC to take a hike?

I think Canadians should be concerned that in the past Stephen Harper said “yes” to SNC and started the agreement, and now the leader of the official opposition has told SNC to take a hike, along with the 9,000 affiliated jobs. I think that maybe the justice committee should meet with the leader of the official opposition. Did he really take SNC to take a hike? I find that interesting.

We know that it is really important to invest in Canadian infrastructure. We have seen significant commitments by this government, historical commitments to invest in Canada's infrastructure, whether it is bridges in Quebec or water treatment in other jurisdictions. Even in Winnipeg North, we have seen significant dollars invested. Last summer I was walking down McGregor by Selkirk Avenue, where there is a lot of road reconstruction. We recognize the value of infrastructure dollars.

Companies in all regions of our country participate. I believe that SNC has jobs in the province of Manitoba. Once all is said and done, the people of Montreal will benefit from the Champlain Bridge through the support for SNC and other stakeholders. They have been waiting for it for many years. We now finally have a government that is seeing it through, even though, as I pointed out, Stephen Harper initiated it with SNC.

In addressing this motion, members opposite spent a great deal of time talking about the current situation with SNC and the Government of Canada. As we saw yesterday, the opposition members are solely focused on trying to prevent the government from being able to do the many other things that we could be doing, as they want to focus on SNC.

Some of the allegations that are made in the House are of considerable concern. Members talk a tough line on things such as the rule of law and make allegations against this government in terms of the independence of the judiciary. They need to reflect on the reality, because when I sat in opposition, I saw the Stephen Harper government introduce legislation that Conservatives knew full well was in contradiction of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, but that did not prevent them from doing that.

What about the attempt by Stephen Harper to put into place a Supreme Court judge, Mr. Nadon? He had his knuckles rapped in commentary from legal opinions across the country that said he was interfering in the process.

There is an interesting quote in regard to that issue by John Ibbitson, who is the biographer of Stephen Harper. He described the “nadir” incident of the former prime minister by saying: “Not only—”

Public AccountsCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

10:50 a.m.

Liberal

The Assistant Deputy Speaker Liberal Anthony Rota

The hon. member for Dauphin—Swan River—Neepawa is rising on a point of order.

Public AccountsCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

10:50 a.m.

Conservative

Robert Sopuck Conservative Dauphin—Swan River—Neepawa, MB

Mr. Speaker, I hate to interrupt my fellow Manitoban, but talking about Supreme Court appointments is clearly ridiculously off topic. It is not relevant to this debate, and I would ask you to direct the speaker to stay relevant to the topic.

Public AccountsCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

10:50 a.m.

Liberal

The Assistant Deputy Speaker Liberal Anthony Rota

I would like to remind all the speakers who have been up and are about to be up to be relevant. The topic we are debating today is “Report 4—Replacing Montréal's Champlain Bridge—Infrastructure Canada” of the 2018 spring report of the Auditor General of Canada. I remind the hon. parliamentary secretary of what we are debating, and hopefully everyone who will be speaking later is listening and will be reminded that this is what we will hopefully be debating and asking questions about.

The hon. parliamentary secretary.

Public AccountsCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

10:50 a.m.

Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux Liberal Winnipeg North, MB

Mr. Speaker, it shows the sensitivity of the Conservatives when they have to reflect on their past performances inside the House. In this debate, the two previous Conservative speakers talked about SNC and serious allegations. Now when I challenge them on those allegations, we find that they are very uncomfortable, and justifiably so, because if we compare Stephen Harper and his administration on the issue of judicial independence to this government, it is ultimately night and day, with Harper being the darker side. A vast majority of individuals would recognize that. We only need to look at some of the appointments that were made or attempted under that administration.

I want to provide some thoughts in regard to the standing committees. It was not that long ago when there was a memo sent out by the Conservatives at the time. They wanted to deliberately obstruct committees. That is something that has not changed with the Conservative Party. If we want to get into the details of what is taking place here in Ottawa, I would summarize it by saying that the official opposition is continuing to follow the memo that was issued many years ago to deliberately obstruct committees.

Standing committees can contribute in a very valuable way to the proceedings of this House, and so can the proceedings that take place in this chamber. Preventing debates, such as debate on Bill C-92, is a disservice to Canadians. The Conservative opposition needs to get back on track and start thinking and acting on what is in the best interest of Canadians, as opposed to the best interest of the Conservative Party of Canada.

Public AccountsCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

10:55 a.m.

Liberal

The Assistant Deputy Speaker Liberal Anthony Rota

Questions and comments about the Champlain Bridge report, the hon. member for North Okanagan—Shuswap.

Public AccountsCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

10:55 a.m.

Conservative

Mel Arnold Conservative North Okanagan—Shuswap, BC

Mr. Speaker, I will try to keep this on the Champlain Bridge report, but the member opposite, the parliamentary secretary, has superfluous verbiage on this topic. Ten minutes of questions and answers on his 20-minute speech are not enough to cover the topics that he brought up during his intervention, and I hope other members here get a chance to question him on this.

The member talked about distraction and the attempts of this opposition party to distract from today's budget bill. I would suggest that perhaps today's budget is, hopefully, a distraction for the Liberals so that they can get away from the SNC-Lavalin issue that this member mentioned so much in his intervention. With the challenges that the government faces, over the past few weeks the Liberals have been continuously throwing out issue after issue, hoping that the public will pick up on these other issues and be distracted away from the corruption that seems to be apparent in the SNC-Lavalin issue.

The member talked about infrastructure. We have heard numerous times from across the country that the infrastructure money that is promised, such as for this Champlain Bridge project, has not been flowing, because the government has not made it possible. It has thrown roadblocks in the way and it does not have the program up and running. I question where the parliamentary secretary is going with the distractions and tactics that he has been using in his long intervention here, when this opposition party is actually holding the government to account for its failures.

Does the parliamentary secretary feel confident in his Prime Minister when the rest of Canada and all Canadians are saying that they have lost trust in the current government and the Prime Minister?

Public AccountsCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

10:55 a.m.

Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux Liberal Winnipeg North, MB

Mr. Speaker, that is just not the case. I do not believe for a moment that the Prime Minister has lost the confidence of Canadians.

I understand that the Conservative Party does not support our Prime Minister. It is the official opposition, and I guess that is to be expected. No matter how many times Conservatives repeat their spin on the issue, Canadians want us to debate the important issues we are facing today, such as jobs, health care, crime, safety and having a better, healthier environment. Those are the issues that are top of mind with Canadians. Because the government is doing relatively well on those points and so many others, the Conservatives choose to exaggerate an issue that has been properly vetted and is being addressed in different forums.

At the end of the day, Canadians will once again be presented with a budget that is progressive and positive for Canada's middle class and those aspiring to be a part of it. The budget will provide opportunities for Canadians from coast to coast to coast and give them hope.

Public AccountsCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

10:55 a.m.

NDP

Peter Julian NDP New Westminster—Burnaby, BC

Mr. Speaker, the member talked about the government wanting to move to Bill C-92. It has made commitments for years that it finally tabled in a flawed bill. That bill could be improved and do the job it is supposed to do if the government is willing to accept amendments to it.

As we know, the government has all of these tools in the tool box, which is the Standing Orders of the House of Commons. The member protested that he wanted to move to debate on Bill C-92, but during the entire half-hour speech, he did not move to adjourn the debate and go to orders of the day. He has in his possession a whole range of tools that he chose not to use.

My question is very simple. If the Liberals really believe in going to Bill C-92, which Canadians have been waiting years for, why did he not use any of the tools he has? Is that incompetence, or is it because the government actually does not want to go to Bill C-92?

Public AccountsCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

March 19th, 2019 / 11 a.m.

Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux Liberal Winnipeg North, MB

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the question, even though the Champlain Bridge was not incorporated in it.

Having said that, I am glad there is support and encouragement for the government to use the tools within the Standing Orders so we can get this important legislative agenda, in particular Bill C-92, through the House. That means at times we will have to move to Government Orders and use time allocation to do that, because as has been demonstrated yesterday and today, the Conservatives, and we will have to wait to see about the NDP, continue to filibuster.

As a result, the member is right; there are tools within the Standing Orders, and I hope that when the time comes for us to use those tools, the NDP House leader will be behind us in making sure they are effective in enabling us to pass the legislation, because it is obvious the Conservatives do not want us to pass anything. They have demonstrated that through obstruction, both here and in our standing committees.

Public AccountsCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

11 a.m.

Liberal

Julie Dabrusin Liberal Toronto—Danforth, ON

Mr. Speaker, I was born in Montreal and my family lives there, so I am very familiar with the Champlain Bridge.

I understand how important that bridge is to the city. People in the city care deeply about this project, but I am not sure this debate advances anything in respect of that project. I also know that people in Montreal and people in Toronto, the area I represent, care deeply about the indigenous child welfare legislation that we were supposed to debate today.

What does my colleague think is the most effective use of our time, not only for the bridge but in moving forward on the important issue of indigenous child welfare legislation?

Public AccountsCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

11 a.m.

Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux Liberal Winnipeg North, MB

Mr. Speaker, that is an excellent question. We should have started the debate on Bill C-92 yesterday.

Bill C-92 affects thousands of children throughout our country; in fact, it affects hundreds of them in Winnipeg North alone. In Winnipeg North, there are hundreds of children in foster care. In Manitoba, well over 10,000 children are in foster care and many of them are indigenous. Our indigenous communities talk about reconciliation, and this is a big part of it.

However, the Conservatives are filibustering, and today we are now talking about the Champlain Bridge. Members in the Liberal caucus, like my colleague, very much want to see that bridge. We are the ones who are pushing for that bridge to be completed. We recognize the importance of the bridge to residents of Montreal, and that is why we are pushing it.

If the Conservatives want to have a debate on the bridge, then they should go to the public accounts committee, which will have future discussions about it. Is it really necessary here in the chamber, especially given that we are supposed to be debating Bill C-92? No, it is a filibuster by the Conservatives, and shame on them because they do not understand what the priorities of Canadians really and truly are. They should get back on track with Canadians and get rid of the former Harper government-style, gutter-type politics.

Public AccountsCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

11 a.m.

Conservative

Cathy McLeod Conservative Kamloops—Thompson—Cariboo, BC

Mr. Speaker, it is finally becoming clear what the government is trying to do. It was absolutely so incompetent with the indigenous language legislation that it had to table drop 30 amendments. The Liberals know that there are some real challenges with Bill C-92. They were after their friends to say it is the Conservatives who are stalling, when we know they have tools they could use today to enable us to get on with that debate.

Please keep your blame for those who deserve it, which is right on yourself. You could have moved on. Thank you very much, but please tell us why you did not do that.

Public AccountsCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

11 a.m.

Liberal

The Assistant Deputy Speaker Liberal Anthony Rota

I would remind hon. members that I try to be as neutral as possible, but I believe the member's intervention was to the parliamentary secretary. Therefore, I encourage members, when they ask their questions, to use the third person so that the question will be asked of the parliamentary secretary.

Public AccountsCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

11:05 a.m.

Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux Liberal Winnipeg North, MB

Mr. Speaker, do I have news for the member opposite. The Liberal Party, or the Government of Canada, did not make the Conservatives move that motion today. We did not make them move that motion yesterday. However, now the member is saying we should have forced it, used time allocation or gone to Government Orders.

Those are good ideas, and I will be recommending those types of ideas to the government House leader, because what we see day in and day out more and more is a Conservative opposition that is completely dysfunctional in terms of dealing with the issues that are important to Canadians. They want to fixate on attacking personalities as opposed to looking after Canadians' interests. To that I say shame on the Conservative Party.

Public AccountsCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

11:05 a.m.

Liberal

Robert-Falcon Ouellette Liberal Winnipeg Centre, MB

Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to have this opportunity to speak about the Champlain Bridge. This is a very important project for the people of Montreal, Quebec and Canada.

This infrastructure project began in 2007 when Le Journal de Montréal published an article about the need to build a 10-lane bridge across the river. A month later, Novaroute, a private firm, decided to conduct a study in order to publish a story about building a tunnel under the river. At that point, everyone had already known for more than 10 years that the bridge would have to be replaced, but the plan was several years in the making.

The Standing Committee on Public Accounts issued a report in response to the Auditor General's report. The Auditor General found that the Conservatives completely botched the job of ensuring that the bridge would be built in a timely manner and in the best interests of Canadians.

This report shows that the Conservatives mismanaged public funds. The Auditor General's report is astonishing. The report included a number of recommendations directed at the Harper Conservatives, who could have considerably improved their approach.

It is mind-boggling that the Conservatives are bringing these reports back to our attention to discuss them, but I will talk about them.

The reports indicate that, according to the Auditor General, the Conservatives did not even properly plan the bridge's construction. It is absolutely unbelievable that they did not even produce an adequate plan for getting the job done.

On October 6, 2011, the day after the announcement about replacing the bridge, an article reported that it would be a new bridge, not a tunnel, built through a P3, costing a maximum of $5 billion and that it would be ready within 10 years. Both the Office of the Auditor General and a government news release indicate that the decision to use a P3 model was made in 2011, a fact that is also supported by a news article. Deputy Minister Kelly Gillis said that the decision was made in December 2013, because that was when the government announced the accelerated timeline to replace the bridge in 2018, and the analyses carried out in 2012 and 2013 addressed the best way to complete the project quickly.

According to the Office of the Auditor General, the value-for-money analyses were of little use to decision-makers and contained many flaws favouring the P3 model. What is more, the department's analyses indicated savings that were unrealistic.

It was unrealistic. The Conservatives say that they are extremely good at managing the economy and public funds, but according to the OAG, the department's analyses were unrealistic. It took a Liberal government to get this bridge built and to make sure the work was done properly.

I would also note that the Conservatives wanted a toll on this bridge that would have cost every person who crosses the bridge five days a week $2,340 a year. It is unbelievable. That is $2,340 that would have been taken or practically stolen out of taxpayers' pockets. It is terrible when we think about it. Montrealers are lucky we are here now to manage the resources. The bridge is almost finished, and there is no toll. It is a bridge for public use. It is a bridge that everyone will be able to use. The Conservatives wanted this bridge to be used only by their wealthy friends.

The following is another recommendation from the Office of the Auditor General:

After completing the construction of the new Champlain Bridge, Infrastructure Canada should create realistic benchmarks for construction costs, risk evaluation, and efficiency rates in value-for-money analyses, for use in future requests for proposals for infrastructure projects.

This seems to make perfect sense, but former Conservative infrastructure ministers Lawrence Cannon and Denis Lebel did not understand it. They did not know what they were doing. I want to share another quote from the report:

Without obtaining results of durability analyses in advance, Infrastructure Canada could not know whether the proposed bridge designs would meet the expected service life requirement before it signed a contract with the selected bidder. [For instance]...they did not fully assess several deterioration mechanisms—for example, frost damage and the compounding effect of all deterioration mechanisms. As a result, [the OAG] performed comprehensive durability analyses on the designs of key non-replaceable components of the new bridge. In [its] analysis, [it] did not find design problems that would affect the examined components’ ability to meet their expected service life.

I would like to come back to the passage stating that Infrastructure Canada could not know whether the proposed bridge designs met the expected service life requirements. The Conservatives were so inept and incapable of managing public assets that they were not even able to figure out if this bridge would last. The bridge would be built and then perhaps one day collapse. A bridge should last at least 100 years and ideally 125 years.

According to the Auditor General, the Conservatives did not know if it would last because they did not even evaluate this requirement. Ten years ago, several people died in Montreal because of how certain structures were built. It is disgraceful that the Conservatives did not even take the time to evaluate this properly. We are now here to debate this issue. It is disgraceful that the Conservatives continue to put forward the proposals of Stephen Harper, Denis Lebel and Lawrence Cannon. We are pleased that they are no longer in power. We have come out of this decade of decay and poor management of our economy and public assets. They should be ashamed.

Now, I would like to remind members that we are supposed to be debating Bill C-92.

We are supposed to be debating Bill C-92, which is about the children, youth and families of first nations, Inuit and Métis. We are not debating that right now because instead we are doing what the Conservatives want, which is to debate this infrastructure report. This is an infrastructure report that demonstrates the poor management of the Conservative Party when it was in power, regarding the public good in Montreal with respect to the Champlain Bridge. Therefore, we are not debating this very important bill concerning child welfare for our children.

When I gave my maiden speech in the House of Commons three years ago, I spoke about child welfare. The speech was about the 11,000 kids in care in the province of Manitoba.

Since that time, I have had the opportunity in my riding, one of the poorest ridings in the country, to speak with mothers and fathers who have had their children taken, such as Chantelle Hutchison, who drove all the way from Brandon, Manitoba, to see me in Winnipeg to advocate to, somehow, get her child back, her little girl. I keep this photo of the little girl above my stove so that when I am cooking in my apartment here in Ottawa I remember why I was elected. Even though we were not able to help the mother get her child back, I hope if Chantelle is listening right now she knows that this legislation we have here today is because of her hard work advocating not only on behalf of her child but for the thousands of children and families in Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta and right across the country.

This legislation is so important that I call on the Conservatives to not play games anymore and to stop debate on this report, which I am sure is very important, but this child welfare bill is so important it needs to move forward. It needs to move on through this House and to the Senate. If we spend a lot of time playing these games, this legislation will not become law and we will not effect change. We will continue doing the same things we did with the Indian residential schools.

I will admit that I was mean to the Conservatives. However, I will throw them what I hope is a rose. I was proud when Stephen Harper stood in the House and gave the apology for the Indian residential schools, because it was a defining moment in the history of our nation. We were able to come together in a good way. We had indigenous leaders here. We had all-party support. The apology was made and then we built a stained glass window just outside the old chamber to commemorate it, so that every time we as parliamentarians go through our door, in and out of that chamber, we remember the Indian residential schools. I think this law is like that.

Indian residential schools were about placing children in large institutions. However, back in the sixties we slowly changed how the system worked. We started to place children up for adoption. We call that the sixties scoop, the stolen generation. Then, in the eighties, we stopped using adoption and started placing them with foster families in child welfare. We continue to do that today. It is extremely sad that it continues. We are perpetuating the same mistakes of the past but in a different way. It is more diffused. Instead of concentrating children in one place, we are spreading them around society.

Therefore, I hope we can stop debate on this lovely report. I am sure the committee members worked very hard on it. I can continue hammering away on the Conservatives if they would like. I can do it all in French, with all the costs. However, what I really want to get to is this. I think the legislation, Bill C-92, should go to committee. If we can get it passed at second reading and to committee, we can have the debate, we can hear what indigenous organizations and indigenous peoples want, deal with the legislative amendments from some provincial governments and come to a conclusion.

It was mentioned in the debate about the indigenous languages legislation from last night, which is very important, how over 30 amendments were table dropped. That does not mean the government was just willing to table legislation and not see any changes at all. It means it was willing to consult and listen to people. I think it is important that things are not written in stone when it comes out of the justice department so that improvements can be made through public discussion. That is what needs to happen with this law. It is great to debate and get people on the record here in this chamber, but what we really need is to have this legislation move on to committee, because that is where we will see that change.

I am going to leave the House with a statistic. We know there are 11,000 kids in care. We know that every day in Manitoba a newborn baby is seized, a newborn baby is taken from the mother, sometimes for good reason and sometimes not. In Manitoba, if someone was in the child welfare system and they give birth, there will be a note on their health file and if they give birth in the Manitoba health care system, their child will automatically be taken.

I see men and women come into my office, week after week, trying to get a letter of recommendation, not for immigration purposes, not for a visitor visa, but to say that they are a good parent. I look at the certificates and all the training they have gone through to become good parents and to prove they are good parents. It is strange that they have to get certificates to prove they are good parents. Not everyone else has to do that. I never had to do that. I am sure most of the members here never had to prove that they were a good parent.

However, that is what happens day in and day out in this country for some of the poorest citizens who cannot afford lawyers, who cannot afford to really advocate on their own behalf, who are sometimes only 18 or 19 years old, who got pregnant and who want to love their child.

I know there are people who will say online or will write me to say that there are terrible people who need to have their children taken. The Province of Manitoba, through the Health Sciences Centre research branch published a report looking at child welfare, and 87% of all children taken are taken not because of issues related to abuse but are taken because of issues related to poverty. That leaves 13%. Incredibly enough, that 13% is where we have allegations of abuse. Of that 13%, only 12% are substantiated abuse. This means that in the vast majority of cases, there is no abuse involved. It is just because people are too poor to look after their own children, or for other issues.

That is a travesty of justice in our age. That is why it is important that we have some consensus to stop debating report 51 and move on to Bill C-92, a historic piece of legislation that will affect great change across our nation, which is needed now, before this Parliament ends, while we have the opportunity and the chance.

Do not let this occasion slip through our fingers. Whether members win in this upcoming election or not, every parliamentarian who participates in this debate on Bill C-92, who lets this legislation move forward, will be able to look at themselves in the mirror. When they are at home and wondering why they lost or won that election, they will be able to look themselves in the eye at two o'clock in the morning and know that they made a difference.

Public AccountsCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

11:25 a.m.

Conservative

Cathy McLeod Conservative Kamloops—Thompson—Cariboo, BC

Mr. Speaker, what is becoming more clear as this debate progresses is the attempt by the Liberals to distract.

What they are trying to distract from is their appalling position in terms of SNC-Lavalin, and the fact that they easily could have been debating Bill C-92 now in the chamber had they just exercised some of the tools they have at their disposal. They are trying to shift the blame. The reason the Liberals are trying to shift the blame is perhaps that the bill is as challenged as the indigenous languages bill, where they had to table drop 30 amendments, and it is unheard of for a government to have to table drop 30 amendments.

We absolutely think we should be looking at the child welfare legislation, but I hope it is not as dismally flawed as other legislation the Liberals have presented in the House.

How can the hon. member sit there and say that we need to talk about Bill C-92, when as a member of the government he is not exercising the opportunities that he has to make it happen?

Public AccountsCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

11:25 a.m.

Liberal

Robert-Falcon Ouellette Liberal Winnipeg Centre, MB

Mr. Speaker, I know members love to play games. I know there are all sorts of manoeuvres that can be made using the Standing Orders. Just yesterday, two motions were proposed by the Conservatives that delayed debate on Bill C-92.

We talk about relevance here, so I am going to talk about it. I do not believe the report has any mention of SNC-Lavalin, yet the member opposite raises this issue. What does that have to do with our debate?

I would like to point something out. Some believe that the justice department and its lawyers write legislation in stone and that it is so good that when it comes out of the justice department, no changes need to be made by parliamentarians. That is wrong. Parliament should have a role to play in making changes and debating those changes when they go to committee. Our role as a Parliament is to assert our power as parliamentarians to make changes in legislation.

Let us talk about the legislation on indigenous languages. Over 30 changes were made because people were willing to listen and make those changes, and that is great. Members should listen.

If this legislation, Bill C-92, requires more changes, we are willing to listen. I know some groups want to see some little differences and they want to see a little more power being given to indigenous groups. I know the Province of Manitoba has some concerns. However, these changes happen in committee and are made by the people who study this day in and day out and who are experts in this subject matter area. They have the best understanding, as they have been studying these issues for a number of years.

I trust the member opposite has a great expertise in this area and can bring great ideas to make those changes.

Public AccountsCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

11:25 a.m.

NDP

Alexandre Boulerice NDP Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie, QC

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for his speech.

I look forward to talking about the bill on the welfare of indigenous children. It would have been nice if this had come up for debate before the government's fourth year in office.

Today I want to talk about the construction of the new Champlain Bridge. I represent a riding in Montreal, and I have to say that we are very proud of the bridge and find it quite beautiful. For ideological reasons, the federal government chose to build it under a public-private partnership, a P3. The government believed its magic formula would provide protection against cost overruns and missed deadlines. Obviously it did not work that way, and the bridge was delayed. In October, the Minister of Infrastructure and Communities said that, if there were delays, there would be consequences. The private consortium is supposed to pay penalties ranging from $100,000 to $400,000 per day for construction delays.

What I want to know today is whether penalties have been paid. If so, as of what date were they paid? Did the consortium pay the full amount set out in the contract?

Public AccountsCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

11:25 a.m.

Liberal

Robert-Falcon Ouellette Liberal Winnipeg Centre, MB

Mr. Speaker, I thank the member for that great question.

Regarding consultations, I will say this. In 2014, the Conservatives decided to name the bridge after Maurice Richard. He was a great Canadian, a great hockey player, but they did not even take the time to consult his family. They forgot. The family asked that the idea be dropped.

Public AccountsCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

11:25 a.m.

NDP

Alexandre Boulerice NDP Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie, QC

That was not my question.

Public AccountsCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

11:25 a.m.

Liberal

Robert-Falcon Ouellette Liberal Winnipeg Centre, MB

Mr. Speaker, I hear the member yelling at me across the House. I am going to answer his question. On the subject of the P3 and its costs, when we took office, we were forced to continue with it, because Montreal's infrastructure, its bridges, were deteriorating at an alarming rate. We made a commitment not to charge a toll. That is a done deal. There is no toll. This is a public asset for everyone.

If we had decided to stop the work and start over from scratch, the bridge would never have been built, and we would still be stuck with the old Champlain Bridge. It is important to finish building infrastructure, especially infrastructure that is so important to the economy of Montreal, one of our biggest cities. If a bridge collapses or is closed for whatever reason, the impact on our economy could be dire. This bridge is used by many trucks carrying goods and merchandise and many people coming into the Montreal area. Losing it would be devastating to our economy. That is why it is so important that this bridge be built. It will be completed in 2019. The end is in sight.

I hope that the Minister of Infrastructure and Communities will invite me to cut the ribbon at the inauguration ceremony someday. I think I gave a pretty good speech on this report.