House of Commons Hansard #416 of the 42nd Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was chair.

Topics

JusticePoints of OrderOral Questions

3:10 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Geoff Regan

Does the hon. member have the unanimous consent of the House to move the motion?

JusticePoints of OrderOral Questions

3:10 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

JusticePoints of OrderOral Questions

3:10 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Geoff Regan

The House has heard the terms of the motion. Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?

JusticePoints of OrderOral Questions

3:10 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

JusticePoints of OrderOral Questions

3:10 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Geoff Regan

(Motion agreed to)

Canada–Madagascar Tax Convention Implementation Act, 2018Government Orders

3:10 p.m.

Liberal

Mark Eyking Liberal Sydney—Victoria, NS

Mr. Speaker, fellow MPs and parliamentary staff, I rise today to say goodbye. I have come to know many of you over the last 19 years here. We have spent many long days and late nights right here working together for Canadians right across our wonderful country.

Over 338 of us have the honour to sit in this chamber representing and working for our constituents back at home. Today I would like to recognize the ones who helped me get to this special place.

First, I would like to recognize my parents, John and Jean Eyking. I am so fortunate that they emigrated from their homeland, the Netherlands, not only to come to Canada but to start a new life on the beautiful island of Cape Breton. They raised 10 of us while being successful in business. They contributed to major projects in Cape Breton, and helped many in need. They will be recognized next week in the Cape Breton Business and Philanthropy Hall of Fame.

My parents cherished democracy and told us that voting is very important, but it was close friends of our family, George and Sharon Unsworth, who encouraged me to enter politics. I will never forget the day George came looking for me in the broccoli field and asked me to run.

I feel so fortunate that I became part of the Liberal team. Prime Ministers Chrétien, Martin and our Prime Minister today not only helped me achieve so much for Cape Breton Island but also gave me the opportunity to work with all Canadians, whether here in Canada or internationally. I look forward to more great work done by our Prime Minister after October.

I would like to thank so many back in Cape Breton who helped me get here. I cannot name them all, because we would end up sitting here until midnight, but I recognize the teams that worked on the ground to get me elected six times.

I thank Meryl Buchanan and the Victoria County team; Bob Jardine and the northsiders; Vince MacLean and Gerard MacNamara, from the Sydney team; Chief Leroy, from the Eskasoni team; and the dynamic duo, Dave Wilton and Mary Woodman and their New Waterford team. Of course, we can never forget our sign guys, Stan and Charlie. I thank the team for not only getting me re-elected but for putting on fundraisers every year to pay the bills.

I would especially like to thank everyone from my riding of Sydney—Victoria who had faith in me and checked off my name at the ballot box. Through my years of representing them, I had the opportunity to meet them in their kitchens, community centres, places of worship, and of course, workplaces. I was fortunate to represent such a diverse group of people with so much compassion and resilience.

When I was elected, my mom said, “Work hard for Cape Breton, and behave while you're up there.” One might say that is a bit challenging when I was sharing Cape Breton and living with Rodger. I know I am not supposed to call him Rodger. I am supposed to call him the member for Cape Breton—Canso, but we are too close for that. We not only pulled off a lot for people back home, we had a lot of fun doing it. I stand here today to recognize him, along with all my fellow MPs, who through the years supported me every step of the way.

All of us in this chamber get a lot of credit when we succeed in doing important work for our ridings, but we all know that our staff is one of the keys to our success. They must respond at all times not only to us but to our constituents when challenges arise.

My staff, John Patrick, Elizabeth, Ann, Meghan, Ryan and Sean not only take care of things back home but keep things running smoothly up here on the Hill.

I would also like to thank my previous staff who helped me: Darlene, John Coady, Diane and Kirby.

Every day our office faces new challenges. Some days it is helping a constituent. Other days it is assisting communities with projects or dealing with emergencies. We had the tar ponds and we had the major floods during Thanksgiving.

We have a workload at home and also in Ottawa, whether it is the work in this chamber or at committees. In our caucus it is crucial for bringing this country forward, and it all comes from our staff.

There are so many on the Hill who also deserve recognition. Whether they work in departments or help me get to the Hill by cab or get me on the airplane, they all help to get the job done, and I thank them all very much.

Over my 19 years, one of my biggest focuses has been the extension of the EI sickness benefits from 15 weeks to 50 weeks for those who need it the most. I would like to thank my staff for the important research and all the organizations that supported me in this pursuit. I would like to thank all the members in this chamber for unanimously passing my motion last week, Motion No. 201. We know the extension of EI sickness benefits is not only the right thing to do, but the smart thing to do.

Some people ask how I got through so many challenging situations over the last 19 years. It is because my team helps me get the job done. As I said, we do not get through politics alone. There are many sacrifices in politics, and many proud moments. I encourage all Canadians to get involved, whether by putting their name on the ballot or by encouraging and supporting someone who wants to put their name forward. People who do that are so important. We live in the most beautiful country in the world, whether it is our landscape or our culture and diversity, but without a solid democratic foundation, it is all for naught.

I am now going to thank the person who made my life complete.

Forty years ago, my wife Pam and I met. It started after a dance. She came back to the farm with me that evening because we had just received 10,000 new baby chickens. She helped me feed them. Her being from Dartmouth and my being from Cape Breton made for a lot of travel back and forth to see each other, and we are still doing that today.

Pam and I started a vegetable farm, and we were very successful. We received many awards. We had wonderful, hard-working employees who helped us achieve success, people like Joe King, Eldridge, Sissy and of course our special Whitty Mom.

I was not the only one to be successful in getting elected. Pam was elected the MLA for Victoria Lakes. Again, we worked hard together to accomplish many projects in our region, especially the one we are most proud of, doing a makeover of the world-famous Cabot Trail.

We were blessed with four wonderful children, Mieka, Josh, Bethany and Jonah, and along with their spouses Christian, Natalie, and Wade, we now have six beautiful grandchildren and one on the way. This is one of the main reasons that I am leaving this wonderful place. I am so happy that two of my grandchildren have joined me on the Hill today, Lucienne and Davie.

I would like to say goodbye with my personal definition of how to be fulfilled in one's life: May you live in the place that you love; may you do the things that you enjoy; and most importantly, may you be surrounded by those who share those goals with you.

I was truly blessed.

Canada–Madagascar Tax Convention Implementation Act, 2018Government Orders

3:20 p.m.

Conservative

Randy Hoback Conservative Prince Albert, SK

Mr. Speaker, I promise I have a very important question for this member, which I will get to rather shortly.

When I was asked to speak here today, I was told to say some nice things about Mark. I said, “Okay.” Then I asked Rodger, and he said, “I don't know.” I said, “He was a farmer, so he has to be a good guy.”

Seriously, I first met the member for Sydney—Victoria at the agriculture committee. He was in opposition and we were in government. The member for Malpeque also joined us on the agriculture committee, and we had some great battles—but respectful battles. One thing we always knew about this member is that when he fought a battle, it was for the right reason. It was for a farmer or an issue very important to him and his constituents. He fought hard and fought well. I respect him for that.

I think it was in the second year I was elected that I decided I was going to take some Spanish lessons in a little place called Bocas del Toro. Bocas del Toro is hard to get to. It is in Panama on a little island on the Caribbean side. I was in Bocas del Toro taking these Spanish lessons and staying at a hotel. One morning I got up, went out on my balcony, looked over and saw the member for Sydney—Victoria standing there in the middle of Panama. I said to myself, “What the heck?”

It was actually a couple of good days. We got to know him and Pam. He explained to me how he had done some work in Panama when he was younger, helping to develop the greenhouse industry so that people could be more self-sufficient and earn a living. He had come back just to check up on that. He thought that would be something to do. I think it is something he has planned in the future. I encourage him to continue doing that, because he has a gift for doing that type of work.

Then I got to know the member at the trade committee. He was the chair of the trade committee, and I will say this: He ran a good committee. It was a civil committee. It was a committee that actually functioned. I have to say we have some good memories from being on that committee as we travelled around the U.S. on the CUSMA. Even last week, we were down in Washington working together. I think a lot of Canadians would be proud of that committee and how we put our partisan differences aside, left them here in Ottawa, and went down there and did what we had to do for Canadian businesses and Canadian voters.

I think, Mr. Eyking, you can take pride in knowing you were part of that and helped move the yardsticks to make it better. I definitely want to highlight that factor also. I hope you will remember those types of trips, because we had some really good times together.

I want to thank Pam and her family. She shared a great guy with Ottawa. She allowed him to serve. She allowed him to do what was honourable. She gave up a lot of time so he could be here with Rodger.

Seriously, when members travel here on a Sunday, are gone until Thursday or Friday, then travel home to do two or three events on the weekend and then do it all again, it is a huge sacrifice. We tend to forget that it is not only the members who are making the sacrifice, but also their families. We thank his family for allowing him to do that, because allowing him to do that meant that he was able to do some great things here in Ottawa.

Mark, I want to thank you for your service. You served well. You have integrity, served with honour and showed respect to everyone. I can honestly say that your constituents and the people around you are very proud of you because of the way you conduct yourself here in Ottawa.

I will get to the last question at this point in time. The chair of the international trade committee promised the members of the committee one last lobster dinner. Can the member please inform this House when that dinner will take place?

Canada–Madagascar Tax Convention Implementation Act, 2018Government Orders

3:25 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Geoff Regan

The hon. member for Sydney—Victoria has agreed that we can have the various questions and comments, and then he will wind up at the end. Perhaps that will give him time to contact some lobster fishermen in his riding and arrange a shipment or something.

The hon. member for Cape Breton—Canso.

Canada–Madagascar Tax Convention Implementation Act, 2018Government Orders

May 14th, 2019 / 3:25 p.m.

Cape Breton—Canso Nova Scotia

Liberal

Rodger Cuzner LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Employment

Mr. Speaker, this is a great opportunity for me to thank the member for Sydney—Victoria. We served together for 19 years, we lived together for 13 years and I have taken lessons from him out of both experiences.

The greatest lesson in perseverance I have learned would be in the energy, effort and tenacity he showed on the project that was the Sydney tar ponds. North America's toughest and biggest environmental tragedy was the Sydney tar ponds. When he came to this place, he was seized with making sure that the people in our community were able to deal with that. It was not easy.

He was like Diana Ross and with Senator Al Graham, I was like one of the Supremes, but he pushed that through Nova Scotia caucus and Atlantic caucus and through Ontario and national caucus to the finance minister and the Prime Minister's Office to get $280 million to clean up North America's worst toxic site. The people in Cape Breton and Nova Scotia should always be very thankful. I am very proud of the job he did on that particular file.

Of course, as I said, I lived with him for 13 years. As far as cleaning up goes, he was much better as an MP than he was as a roommate.

I had the great opportunity to spend a bunch of time with his great family, Pam and Mieka and Josh and Jonah. Josh and Jonah moved in with us for a little bit, and in the Eykings, they were like earwigs: They were everywhere. I said that I had to get out of that place.

However, it was beautiful because his boys were older than mine. When we first started, the member had sort of a curly Afro. Then Josh hit his teens, and it disappeared soon after. He used to always say, “Listen, bulldog, don't worry; your time will come” as my boys got older, and they did. He was able to mentor me on how to deal with problem children. He has turned out to be a loving husband and a great father.

We did have a great deal of fun, but one of the first things we had to do as rookie members of Parliament was get on a flight to Cape Breton to deliver the message that the federal government was getting out of the coal mining business. That was a tough one. For friends, family and the whole community, there was a nervousness and a fear coming out of that. It was a tough one for us to deliver.

The current Minister of Public Safety was in natural resources at the time, and with Prime Minister Chrétien and finance minister Paul Martin, we were able to put the supports and transition measures in place that allowed the community to shoulder the impact of that tough decision.

We went through a lot of stuff together, and the Harper Conservatives gave us a lot of stuff to work with. It was sort of a veritable buffet when they closed the Veterans Affairs office and made cuts to CBC. We were able to stand together with our communities and take those things on.

Through all this, know that there is no finer family man and no greater gentleman in this chamber. There is no greater guy in this place. There have been all kinds of good people who have come through here and provided us with the opportunity to meet so many wonderful people.

I know that the member for Sydney—Victoria is retiring only from Parliament and that he will lead an active life in his retirement. I know he will enjoy it, and he deserves it. It has been fabulous getting to know him. I consider him a friend.

All the best.

Canada–Madagascar Tax Convention Implementation Act, 2018Government Orders

3:30 p.m.

NDP

Charlie Angus NDP Timmins—James Bay, ON

Mr. Speaker, I rise to pay special tribute to the member for Sydney—Victoria.

When I was first elected to the House, I was on the agriculture committee. The Liberal government was trying to get through a very contentious bill on agriculture, and there were a lot of problems with it, as there are with a lot of legislation. At the time, there was a minority government, so every vote counted.

At committee, we did one round of voting on some of the clauses, and the member for Sydney—Victoria voted with the opposition. The next day, the whip came down and he was out of that committee, replaced with someone who was more than willing to do whatever the PMO said. I had just been elected, and this really impressed me.

As much as we are here for partisan reasons, at the end of the day, we are here to represent the people who sent us. Farm and rural people sent him here, and he knew the files really well. The fact that the Liberals let him become a committee chair afterward is a testament to the credibility he has in the House.

Many people come here. Some swallow the Kool-Aid, and some become bitter. I have never seen the member for Sydney—Victoria lose his incredible sense of humour and warmth. Maybe he treated me nicely because my aunts were nuns in the convent on Whitney Pier. My family was in the first wave of Cape Breton coal mine closures, and that is why we ended up in northern Ontario.

Through it all, he has been a really good presence in the House. Along with his partner in crime, the other Cape Bretoner, he has brought a sense of decency and a sense of community to this place.

I want to pay special tribute to his family as well. People read in the newspaper that we are going to make Parliament more family-friendly, but it is not. It is a terrible life for families.

I am interested in the member's work with greenhouses. When I ran for the leadership of the NDP, I sat down with my wife and told her that it would affect our family and we should talk. She said, “Spare me. I've heard all the promises. Here's the deal. You run for the leadership, and win or lose, you build me a greenhouse.” When I lost, I did not get angry; I came home and built the best damn greenhouse. Now all these people in the north want a greenhouse from me. When I retire, maybe the member and I can go into business together.

We have talked about his great sense of humour and the fact that he is a great parliamentarian. People may not be aware that he is also a great humanitarian and, as I understand, an animal rights activist.

There have been a lot of rumours over the years about the poor beaver that was out on the road when the hon. member for Sydney—Victoria and the member for Cape Breton—Canso were coming home. This could not have been at two in the morning, so they were probably at a caucus meeting.

The way I heard the story, they found the poor beaver on the road and managed to get it down to the river. That is somewhere in the ether of legend, and I would like the hon. member to confirm what happened to the beaver. Did the member for Cape Breton—Canso end up in the river alongside the beaver while trying to help? For the record of Parliament and what is going to be in Hansard 150 years from now, I ask him to stand up, unashamed, and tell us the truth. What happened to that beaver?

Canada–Madagascar Tax Convention Implementation Act, 2018Government Orders

3:35 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Geoff Regan

I thank the hon. member for Timmins—James Bay.

In a few moments I will let the hon. member for Sydney-Victoria defend himself on that. Of course, my understanding is that it might have been a bit late in the evening, and the hon. member for Cape Breton—Canso was directing traffic while the hon. member for Sydney—Victoria did the real hard work of getting down on all fours to corral the beaver and get it moving. It was kind of resistant throughout the whole thing, as I understand. I look forward to hearing about that.

The hon. member for Niagara Falls.

Canada–Madagascar Tax Convention Implementation Act, 2018Government Orders

3:35 p.m.

Conservative

Rob Nicholson Conservative Niagara Falls, ON

Mr. Speaker, I too want to convey my congratulations to the hon member for Sydney—Victoria. I thank him for all his service to Cape Breton and to this great country. When he was talking about the members of his family and his grandchildren, I could not help but think that they will forever remember the hon. member's service to this country and to Cape Breton. It is something they will be very proud of for generations to come.

I wish him all the very best, but I have one small favour to ask him. As he is aware, I think slightly more than half the people in Sydney—Victoria are related to me. When he goes back to thank them for all their support, he should tell them that now that he is leaving, they can consider other political parties to support. I wish he could do that.

Canada–Madagascar Tax Convention Implementation Act, 2018Government Orders

3:35 p.m.

Green

Elizabeth May Green Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

Mr. Speaker, to my dear friend, the member of Parliament for Sydney—Victoria, as a Caper myself from Margaree, I remember his first political action as the hon. member for Sydney—Victoria, which was very green. It was fighting the Point Aconi coal-fired power plant that was going to suck the water out of the farms on Boularderie Island, which it did. However, that was when I first came across the hon. member for Sydney—Victoria. As members have heard, his actions as a member of Parliament have continued to be green.

We worked on the Sydney tar ponds issue. I well remember, as some members would, that in the spring of 2001, right around this time of year, which was before 9/11 and so protesters were allowed to sit right by the members' entrance, I was there on a hunger strike. I thought two or three days and Allan Rock would crack. I never thought I would have to be on a hunger strike for 17 days to get the commitment to clean up the Sydney tar ponds. However, the hon. member for Sydney—Victoria, who had been a member of Parliament for something like six months, came outside and talked to me. He said, “Geez, this place. I don't know if I'm ever going to figure out how to make this place work so I can get things done. I knew how to work when I was home on the farm.”

I do not know if the hon. member remembers those conversations, but he certainly did figure out how to get things done. From that early first time of being elected, I think in the fall of 2000, until today, he has gotten a lot done. We did not always agree on the way we should clean up the Sydney tar ponds, but we sure did make a big improvement.

My hon. colleague for Cape Breton—Canso is a cousin to my sister-in-law. It is all very cozy at home. I want to put it on the record, as leader of the Green Party, to certify and satisfy some of the earlier questions. This may not be in Hansard, but in the annals of Hinterland Who's Who members will find the hon. members for Cape Breton—Canso and Sydney—Victoria for their daring midnight rescue of the beaver in the middle of Wellington Street and getting it down to the water.

The hon. member for Sydney—Victoria first flashed across our TV screens in Cape Breton many years ago, as this handsome young farmer speaking on behalf of chicken farmers everywhere and, with a great big smile, saying, “Get cracking”. It was a good ad, and here he is all these years later.

The hon. member for Sydney—Victoria has accomplished a great deal, and I will really miss him around here, assuming I can get re-elected. He is a dear friend, a solid citizen and a wonderful family man. In the language of Gaelic in Cape Breton, go raibh maith agat; in the language of the Mi’kmaq, wela'lin; and a good dose of Dutch, dank u wel.

Canada–Madagascar Tax Convention Implementation Act, 2018Government Orders

3:40 p.m.

Winnipeg North Manitoba

Liberal

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

Mr. Speaker, I have had the opportunity to get to know the member for Sydney—Victoria over the last number of years, and it is safe to say, as my friend said, that he is a class act. He genuinely is a classy guy.

When I think of him, I think about agriculture and trade, and I have this wonderful story. When he was the critic for agriculture for the Liberal Party, he said he was coming to Manitoba and would like to take a tour of a chicken farm and so forth. I called a chicken facility and said that the agriculture critic for the Liberal Party was coming over and I wanted to impress him. I asked if we could come and watch some chickens being slaughtered. The response was dead silence on the phone, until finally the person said, “We don't slaughter chickens; we process chickens.” However, when the member visited Manitoba, we had a wonderful tour of this facility, and I learned a lot from him that day.

I think it is fair to say that for many of his colleagues who have had the opportunity to get to know him throughout the years, two things come to mind. One, they would all come to a consensus that he is a classy guy. Two, he always had something to share, and what he shared was done in such a fashion that it was educational, with information that would definitely be sustained and retained, because he is also a very wise man.

We are going to miss him very much. He has always been a fabulous asset to this House and to the caucus, and a good friend.

Canada–Madagascar Tax Convention Implementation Act, 2018Government Orders

3:40 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Geoff Regan

I hope the House will indulge me while I reminisce for a second or two about the times we have had together, Mark. We got to be friends after we came in 2000. I was coming back after my involuntary sabbatical, but we came together.

I had the great pleasure of working with you over that time on many issues and many things. It has been wonderful to have you around. We had to deal with the hon. member for Cape Breton—Canso; that could be a challenge of course. The two of you were sharing an apartment for a long time, and everyone referred to it as the Cape Breton embassy because there were so many visitors from Cape Breton there. Many of us were upset that you decided to divorce, to split up and move into separate places. However, you reconciled later so everyone was pleased. On all sides of the House, people were pleased to see that.

We appreciate your sense of humour, all of us do, and your hard work. I know you care very deeply about the people of Sydney—Victoria, Cape Breton and all of Canada. I know you care deeply about your family. I want to wish you and Pam and your magnificent family the very best in the future.

Canada–Madagascar Tax Convention Implementation Act, 2018Government Orders

3:40 p.m.

Liberal

Mark Eyking Liberal Sydney—Victoria, NS

Mr. Speaker, there is so much love in this room that I think I am going to stay.

I do not want to challenge the Speaker; I never did in my 19 years. However, I am challenging him on this one. We are not divorced. We are just separated because of the kids, and we are all right.

I would like to make a few comments, and I guess I will start with the member for Saanich—Gulf Islands. I have to confess that not everybody in our family votes Liberal. There is one in our family who has a crush on her, but he has to let that go because she is married now. We have a Greenie in our midst.

I wish good luck to the member from Niagara, with Hayes MacNeil and Vince MacLean, his cousins. They are pretty entrenched back there, so good luck getting one of the MacNeils and MacLeans to run, but I appreciate it. There is so much Cape Breton connection here.

The tar ponds were also brought up. That was a really big challenge, but it was one of those things that happen where nobody in this House could disagree it had to be done. It started with a community group, with Dan Fraser and the community. They started it. At that time, there was a good Conservative premier, John Hamm, who stepped right up to the plate with the member for Cape Breton—Canso and me, and we got it done. If you, Mr. Speaker, and others in this chamber ever come to Sydney, go downtown and see this beautiful park. There is a new business there now with 300 or 400 employees. It is just a wonderful thing. It is a project that is not about me; it is about Canadians all doing the right thing and getting it done.

To the member for Timmins—James Bay, the beaver story comes up and for the record I have to straighten this out about what meeting the member for Cape Breton—Canso and I were coming from. It was a meeting at D'Arcy McGee's, and it was one of those meetings with the member for Cape Breton—Canso where I would say, “It's time to go home now.” It was April 1. God love the poor lady who was on 911 on the other end, but it was April 1. We saw the beaver and the member for Cape Breton—Canso called 911 right off the bat. He calls 911 and says we are two members of Parliament, on April Fool's Day, and we are on Sparks Street and we have a beaver. She told him he was tying up the line and all that stuff. I asked the member for Cape Breton—Canso how that was working out; well, it was not going very well. Anyway, we did get the beaver. The member for Cape Breton—Canso has some qualities. I do not think he was ever on a farm before, but he has some qualities. Anyway, we got the beaver across the road and he was not paying attention very much but we got the beaver in the river. However, he was following us back to the Cape Breton embassy and we had to go back and chase him down again, so we got the job done.

The member for Prince Albert and I came up here, and we are farmers and we worked hard for our people. There is never a day that we do not think about the fine people in this country and around the world who produce the food for us to put on the table. We always agreed on that and worked together on that. I thank him very much for being on agriculture and on trade with me. Maybe we can go down there. He knows Spanish better than I do, so maybe he can do the translation down there and we can do more projects.

Mr. Speaker, I will close. This has been such a wonderful experience for me, being in this House, as the son of an immigrant and being a business person. It is not easy for someone in business coming up here. Having so much support back home and here, I never had to worry about what was happening behind me, so I could always look ahead. I thank my colleagues very much.

Canada–Madagascar Tax Convention Implementation Act, 2018Government Orders

3:45 p.m.

Conservative

Luc Berthold Conservative Mégantic—L'Érable, QC

Mr. Speaker, after so many tributes to one of our colleagues, it is hard to get back to the debate on a bill like Bill S-6.

I want to take this opportunity to congratulate the member for Sydney—Victoria on all he has done. The kind words coming from all sides of the House prove that he was obviously very well liked and wonderful to work with all these years. I too would like to wish him all the best.

We are here today to debate Bill S-6. Our job is to talk about bills and discuss the various motions brought before the House. Bill S-6 implements the convention between Canada and the Republic of Madagascar for the avoidance of double taxation and the prevention of fiscal evasion with respect to taxes on income, and a related protocol.

The convention is based on the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development's model tax convention on income and on capital. A bill like this is introduced for two main reasons. The first is to avoid double taxation, and the second is to prevent fiscal evasion. Once this bill is implemented, it will provide relief from taxation rules set out in the Income Tax Act. It cannot be implemented until the bill is passed. We on this side of the House plan to support the bill.

Since we are talking about international relations, I want to talk about a speech that the Leader of the Official Opposition gave to the Montreal Council on Foreign Relations, or MCFR. He gave his excellent speech to a full house on May 7 in Montreal.

The Leader of the Official Opposition spoke about this country's foreign affairs, which is why I am making a link to the bill we are debating today. Maintaining healthy relations with other countries based on respect and rules is what enables us to continue to prosper and find our place in an ever-changing, fast-moving world.

Before I talk about the opposition leader's vision for foreign affairs, I want to talk about the government's track record in that regard. Shortly after the 2015 election, the Prime Minister said that Canada was back. He took credit for the good reputation that Canada had built over the years under all of the previous governments. Unfortunately, in 2019, it seems that Canada has gone nowhere. Here is what the opposition leader had to say, and I quote:

The profound arrogance of [the Prime Minister]'s words foreshadowed how the new Prime Minister would conduct Canada’s foreign affairs: with style over substance.

It is public knowledge that the government has made many serious mistakes, and they are almost always attributable to the Prime Minister's poor judgment. Let us not forget the trans-Pacific partnership. He was a complete no-show for a very important meeting. Observers said at the time that the Japanese were seething about what they perceived as a last-minute betrayal by the Prime Minister of Canada.

We all know the details of his trip to India. Certain images come to mind every time someone mentions it. As the Leader of the Opposition said before the MCFR, what is perhaps less known is how seriously that trip hurt Canadians. Bilateral trade with India totals about $9 billion annually. The Prime Minister's trip to India seriously set us back in terms of helping Canadians benefit from increased trade.

We need to look at what is behind the image and the photo ops, at the impact of these actions. As former Liberal minister Ujjal Dosanjh stated, it is disappointing that the Canada-India relationship could have gone to the next level, but we have bungled it.

More recently, we have witnessed the government's defeatist attitude toward China. A wait-and-see approach has now become the norm. China has taken totally unjustified trade actions directed against Canadian farmers, canola farmers, the pork industry, and livestock genetics companies. Unfortunately, the crisis only seems to grow worse every day.

The Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food has just returned from a G20 ministerial meeting in Japan, where she had an opportunity to talk to her Chinese counterpart and clearly state Canada’s position on the canola crisis, which is preventing Canada from exporting canola seed to China. However, this meeting on the importance of market access rules-based trade for Canadian agri-food products and opportunities was inconclusive.

According to the news release issued by the minister, she had an introductory conversation with the Chinese minister of agriculture on the margins of the G20 meeting and expressed Canada’s deep concern with the suspension of Canadian exports. The Minister of Agriculture has been asking China to allow her send a technical delegation to verify the Chinese government's allegations about the quality of Canadian canola for a month now, but she is satisfied with an introductory conversation with the Chinese minister of agriculture.

Unfortunately, the department’s news release makes no mention of the Chinese minister’s response. We do not know what he said, and unfortunately, we do not expect a technical delegation to be sent to China, since the minister surely did not want to displease her Chinese counterpart, while China is causing billions of dollars in damage to the Canadian economy.

That is not all. Today, Grain Growers of Canada called on the federal government to provide meaningful support to the Canadian agriculture industry. They want it to develop a strategy to address an increasingly unpredictable trade environment that is affecting the incomes of grain farmers. The strategy should recognize that China’s blocking of Canadian canola is politically motivated, which was acknowledged last week by the Prime Minister. However, government politicians are hesitant. The ministers refuse to stand up to China, and we are seeing the consequences. We are caught in the middle of the trade war between the United States and China. That has serious repercussions for all grain farmers in Canada.

The GGC press release also reveals that, in addition to the suspension of canola imports from Canada, soybean prices are dropping and imports to China have slowed to a trickle, reaching levels not seen in a decade. Industry and government officials have confirmed that Chinese importers are reluctant to sign contracts for other Canadian agricultural products given the uncertainty in the market.

Grain Growers of Canada chair Jeff Nielsen says the time has come for the Canadian government to aggressively defend the interests of Canada's agricultural sector in China and around the world. GGC vice chair Markus Haerle of St. Isidore, Ontario, says that the issues we are seeing with trade into China can no longer be said to be commodity-specific. As a soybean farmer, he has seen his prices plummet and markets close due to the flooding of the market by U.S. product.

The press release concludes by saying that, in addition to Chinese disruption, the loss of the Indian pulse market and the Italian durum market has added to the long list of risks that farmers are expected to manage. That is what we have been saying for months. For at least two months now, we have been telling the House that the Government of Canada has to stand up to China because it did not stand up to Italy, it did not stand up to India when that country imposed tariffs, and it did not stand up to Vietnam. The Liberal government's inaction and wait-and-see approach are causing billions of dollars' worth of damage to the Canadian economy.

When we are talking about billions of dollars in damage to the Canadian economy, we have to spare a thought for every farmer in every province of Canada. Each of them has suffered losses on the order of $10,000, $20,000, $50,000 or $100,000 since the beginning of the year because they cannot sell their product.

We asked for three things. First, we asked for changes to the advance payments program. The Leader of the Opposition had to pressure the government into tabling a plan to help canola farmers. Second, we asked for a complaint to be filed with the World Trade Organization. There has been radio silence on that from the Liberal government. Lastly, we asked the government to appoint an ambassador to China. It seems obvious to me that if we want to resolve a crisis—

Canada–Madagascar Tax Convention Implementation Act, 2018Government Orders

3:55 p.m.

NDP

The Assistant Deputy Speaker NDP Carol Hughes

Order. The hon. member for New Westminster—Burnaby on a point of order.

Canada–Madagascar Tax Convention Implementation Act, 2018Government Orders

3:55 p.m.

NDP

Peter Julian NDP New Westminster—Burnaby, BC

Madam Speaker, there are no government members in the House. We do not seem to have quorum.

Canada–Madagascar Tax Convention Implementation Act, 2018Government Orders

3:55 p.m.

NDP

The Assistant Deputy Speaker NDP Carol Hughes

I will check.

And the count having been taken:

We do not have a quorum. The bells will ring to call in the members.

And the bells having rung:

We now have a quorum. Resuming debate. The hon. member for Mégantic—L'Érable.

Canada–Madagascar Tax Convention Implementation Act, 2018Government Orders

4 p.m.

Conservative

Luc Berthold Conservative Mégantic—L'Érable, QC

Madam Speaker, I am pleased to have the opportunity to address my colleagues.

I would like to remind the House of how the Liberals have managed international trade relations since the Prime Minister's trip to India. There has been the wheat crisis with Italy, the pulse crisis with India and, more recently, the canola crisis with China. The government chose not to take any action.

Canadian citizens and farmers are shouldering the burden of the government's failure to act. Unfortunately, they will have to bear that burden for a long time, because the government shows no interest or willingness to settle these disputes. The government refuses to be assertive and stand up for Canadians in international trade relations.

I will close by citing the Canola Council of Canada. This week, I received a document in which it calls for some very simple measures. The Canola Council of Canada is asking the government to take all possible measures to engage the Chinese government and come to a long-term agreement to restore canola seed exports.

They do not want introductory or preliminary meetings, they want a meeting where Canada clearly states its position.

Stable relations are vital if we want to fight tax evasion and maintain good relations with our colleagues in all countries. Unfortunately, it seems the government has no intention of moving in that direction. It is time for the government to take action on behalf of Canadian canola farmers.

Canada–Madagascar Tax Convention Implementation Act, 2018Government Orders

4 p.m.

NDP

Pierre-Luc Dusseault NDP Sherbrooke, QC

Madam Speaker, I would like to come back to the treaty with Madagascar, since that is the subject of today’s debate.

After the committee study, does my colleague think that the bill is a one-way deal?

Our economic relations with Madagascar are based primarily on Canadian mining companies operating there. However, there are very few companies from Madagascar operating in Canada. There is some trade, but this treaty is mainly a one-way affair. The Canadian companies operating in Madagascar will be the ones to benefit from it.

Is he concerned about the fact that the treaty is a one-way deal that benefits Madagascar's economy, not Canada's economy?

Canada–Madagascar Tax Convention Implementation Act, 2018Government Orders

4 p.m.

Conservative

Luc Berthold Conservative Mégantic—L'Érable, QC

Madam Speaker, I would like to thank my colleague for his excellent question.

That is why we must establish sound trade relations with all countries, including Madagascar. That is why we are encouraging the people of Madagascar to invest more in Canada.

These types of treaties will make it possible to establish clear and specific rules so that bilateral investment and tax relations are clearer, which will also promote trade between our two countries. That is what we must remember.

As we have seen, when a government is unable to maintain healthy relations with other countries in certain areas, it affects all trade relations with those countries. We have also seen that it is practically impossible to maintain trade relations with China right now, since China does not play by the rules. That is why it is important to be firm in our relations. Other countries need to negotiate and respect trade rules. That is what we should do with China, but the government does not want to take a stand.

I hope that this bill will have an impact and that it will help improve trade relations with Madagascar. I hope that this treaty will not be a one-way deal.

Canada–Madagascar Tax Convention Implementation Act, 2018Government Orders

4:05 p.m.

Winnipeg North Manitoba

Liberal

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

Madam Speaker, tax treaties and trade agreements are important things on the international scene and the federal government needs to be proactive on them. By doing that, we enhance Canada's economy, support our middle class and in fact all Canadians in all regions of the country.

I want to go specifically to the canola issue. Canola is an important industry for our prairie provinces. It is an important industry for all Canadians. The best thing the Canadian government can do is not only lobby China, but bring the science to the table. The best canola in the world is produced in western Canada, and my home province of Manitoba is an excellent example of that.

What we need to do, beyond a shadow of a doubt, is what we have done time and again, which is demonstrate very clearly to the Chinese government that the science is there, that our canola is a world-class product and to say otherwise is just not true.

Would the member acknowledge that this is not the first time we have had issues related to China? Issues related to trade with China even occurred during Stephen Harper's time.

We have to allow the professional civil servants, the scientists, to be at the forefront, and that does not happen overnight, with the snap of a finger. It takes time. We have the science to support our claims. This is the way we can support our farmers, while also ensuring them that we have their backs.