House of Commons Hansard #430 of the 42nd Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was internet.


The House resumed from May 10 consideration of the motion that Bill S-203, An Act to amend the Criminal Code and other Acts (ending the captivity of whales and dolphins), be read the third time and passed.

Ending the Captivity of Whales and Dolphins ActPrivate Members' Business

11:05 a.m.


Rachel Blaney NDP North Island—Powell River, BC

Mr. Speaker, I am very proud to speak to this important issue today.

I want to thank the member for Saanich—Gulf Islands for bringing Bill S-203 to the House. The bill looks at the reality of phasing out the captivity of dolphins, whales and porpoises.

The riding that I represent, North Island—Powell River, is along the ocean, and these are beings that we live with. That interaction is very important to us. I think of the times I have spent watching this wildlife engage with us in their free natural state. It is important that we are talking about this issue here today.

I also want to take this opportunity to thank my caucus colleague, the member for Port Moody—Coquitlam, for his dedication to the country's oceans, rivers and streams. His commitment to protecting the wildlife that lives within them has resonated with people across Canada. He will not be sitting in the House with us much longer, so it is important to acknowledge the work he has done on files like this one.

I also want to take this opportunity to thank the member for Skeena—Bulkley Valley. The member for Skeena—Bulkley Valley has always had a special place in my heart because he represents the area where I grew up. I really respect his connection with the communities in that largest of ridings in British Columbia.

A couple of weeks ago, the member came to my riding to talk about his private member's bill on zero waste packaging. That issue is a huge concern in my riding. Packaging made of plastic takes so long to deteriorate and we know the impact it is having on our oceans.

Without that member's work we would not be standing here today debating Bill S-203. I understand that he is working with the minister right now to push forward his important piece of legislation around zero waste packaging. It deals with an important issue to make sure we do not fill our landfills with plastics anymore.

If it were not for the member for Skeena—Bulkley Valley accepting a letter from me, the member for Courtenay—Alberni, the member for Cowichan—Malahat—Langford, the member for Esquimalt—Saanich—Sooke, our colleague from Victoria and Laurel Collins asking him to give up his spot on today's private members' hour, we would not be debating this bill today. I want to acknowledge that and thank him for continuing to work so hard on his zero waste packaging legislation. He will not give up, which is something that I appreciate deeply about the member.

Bill S-203 proposes to phase out the captivity of whales, dolphins and porpoises in Canada, except in situations like rehabilitation or rescue.

New Democrats will always support the ethical and useful research of these beings in the water, but the research can take place in the wild. Scientists in the wild environment can get a realistic view of the natural behaviours of these animals without causing a lifetime of pain and suffering, which we know is the reality when they are held in captivity.

What we have heard from scientists is that these beings suffer in confinement. They suffer a sense of isolation, serious health problems, reduced lifespans, high infant mortality rates, sensory deprivation, as well as trauma from the transfer to other parks and calf separation.

This bill speaks to an important issue where we can get it right and do the right thing. Given the evidence, captive facilities cannot provide for these beings' social or biological needs.

Keeping them in captivity is cruel. They are intelligent social animals. They are acoustically sensitive marine beings that spend their time in the vast oceans. They dive deep down to places many of us will never see.

When we look at their freedom in the wild, to swim freely, to dive deeply, when we think about their confinement, it is so much less. We have heard it is less than 1% of the range that they are used to. Can members imagine that? None of us in this place can imagine being in our environment, doing the things that we do, and suddenly being put into a small box and told that we have to be successful and perform for other people. We cannot ask these beings to do that.

It reminds me of what Maya Angelou said, “When you know better, do better.” This is an opportunity in this House to move forward because we now know better, so it is time for us to do better.

Unlike many issues, this really is not a partisan issue. It is a moral issue. It is a bill that is supported by science. We know that whales, porpoises and dolphins in captivity suffer in a way that cannot be justifiable. We know that this bill, Bill S-203, is a reasonable one. It is a balanced piece of legislation. It grandfathers the process and it gives zoos and aquariums time to phase out this practice. This is the right thing to do and I hope everyone in this House takes the opportunity to support this.

When we think about the grandfathering process out of captivity that Bill S-203 proposes, we know it will do important things. It will ban live captures under the Fisheries Act, except for rescues when some being out there needs help. Currently, captures are legal if they are licensed. We all need to pause and take a moment to think about what that means. We know that the last capture that happened was belugas near Churchill in 1992, so it is a practice that is not being implemented. However, the fact that it is still there is very concerning, and this bill would remove it.

Bill S-203 also bans imports and exports, except if licensed for scientific research. This is a hard one, but we want to see an open water sanctuary. We want to see the process happen in a way that is best for the whale, the dolphin or the porpoise. We want to make sure it is under the Wild Animal and Plant Protection and Regulation of International and Interprovincial Trade Act. These are important factors that this bill can bring forward.

Finally, this bill would ban breeding under the animal cruelty provisions of the Criminal Code. This is also very important.

Right now there is a bill before the Senate, Bill C-68, that would prohibit the captures but it would not restrict imports or exports by law nor would it ban breeding. This is why we need this bill. This is why I will be supporting it. This is the action that needs to be taken to complete what is happening already.

Twenty marine mammal biologists from around the world released a letter supporting Bill S-203. They said, “At a minimum, the maintenance of odontocetes”, in other words, toothed whales, dolphins and porpoises, “in commercial captive display facilities for entertainment purposes is no longer supported or justified by the growing body of science on their biological needs.”

We know it is the right thing to do and it is time to make sure that people have the opportunity to see these beautiful animals in the wild, to respect what they need and to create a new relationship. Keeping them enclosed is not the right way to go.

When we look at the wild, we know that dolphins, whales and porpoises travel up to 100 miles daily feeding and socializing with other members of their pods. The pods can contain hundreds of individuals with complex social bonds and hierarchies. That is their natural state. In captivity they are in small enclosures and unable to swim in a straight line for any distance. They do not have the ability to dive deep. Sometimes they are housed alone or housed with other animals they are not naturally used to being with. When we look at that isolation with this concern in mind, we know this is the right thing to do.

I look forward to seeing support from all members in this House. We can do the right thing. Today is the day and I look forward to seeing a positive vote.

Ending the Captivity of Whales and Dolphins ActPrivate Members' Business

11:10 a.m.


Ken McDonald Liberal Avalon, NL

Mr. Speaker, as the chair of the Standing Committee on Fisheries and Oceans, I am proud to speak in support of Bill S-203, an act to amend the Criminal Code and other acts, also known as the act for ending the captivity of whales and dolphins.

I also realize that I am speaking to the bill two days after World Oceans Day. Canada has the longest coastline in the world, and this past weekend, Canadians across the country raised awareness and celebrated our magnificent oceans. I took part in two community cleanups in Conception Bay, where I live.

While our oceans are vast and full of life, we also recognize the peril many of our ocean friends and marine ecosystems face due to threats from climate change and, of course, pollution. More than ever, we must work together to ensure that our oceans are clean and healthy for the many species that call them home, and to support our communities that depend on them.

Let us imagine whales and dolphins, which are used to having the ocean as their playground or feeding ground, being put in a cage not much bigger than a large outdoor swimming pool. Let us imagine the effect this would have on their ability to survive and flourish if they ever were released again. Let us imagine ourselves being put in a room which is 10 feet by 10 feet and being told that is where we have to live out the rest of our days. It certainly would have drastic effects on anyone, or on any animal, for that matter.

The bill has been strongly supported by my constituents of Avalon, and several members of the House have also supported the bill moving forward. I would like to thank the hon. member for Saanich—Gulf Islands, who has been strongly advocating for the bill to move forward in the House, and all the other members who have spoken on the necessity of the bill for the protection of our whales and dolphins.

As many members know, the bill comes to us from the Senate, first by retired senator Wilfred Moore, who originally brought the bill forward in 2016, and then sponsored by Senator Murray Sinclair. The work of these senators cannot go without mention. I would like to thank them for their leadership when it comes to the protection of our oceans and the species that call them home.

Whales and dolphins are part of our Canadian wildlife, and we are very lucky to have them live in our waters. In Newfoundland and Labrador, whales are a major tourist attraction. We see many visitors each year and if they are not coming to see the icebergs, they are coming to see the whales.

Canadians know how important it is to preserve our marine wildlife. That is why our government is not only supporting Bill S-203, but through Bill C-68, making amendments that also strengthen the bill.

Over the years, we have come to learn more and more about the nature of whales and dolphins and the conditions required for their livelihood. Research has told us that these animals undergo an immense amount of stress when taken into captivity, and this stress persists throughout their life. That is why Canadians and this government support the bill banning the captivity of whales and dolphins.

I want to thank the House leadership team, especially the member for Waterloo, for working so hard to get the bill through the House at this time. Again, I commend the member for Saanich—Gulf Islands, Senator Moore and Senator Sinclair for their leadership on the bill and this issue, which is important to so many Canadians. I support the bill and look forward to its passage.

Ending the Captivity of Whales and Dolphins ActPrivate Members' Business

11:15 a.m.


Rob Nicholson Conservative Niagara Falls, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am rising in the House to speak to Bill S-203. Despite good intentions, this legislation is flawed in its current form. It should come as no surprise that there are many issues with this bill. In the short time it has been before the House for consideration, one of the major problems identified is an English-French language conflict in the text of the bill.

As we all know, Canada is a bilingual country. Our two official languages are French and English, and all legislation drafted and passed in Parliament reflects this. Anyone who has ever read these documents knows that the English text is on the left side, while the French text is on the right. We also know that Canadian laws and legislation must be applied in the same manner for all Canadians, regardless of language. This is fundamental for ensuring a fair justice system, which is key to our democracy. Otherwise, it would be grossly unfair and inhumane for a state to subject its citizens to different laws and penalties based on the language they speak. I hope in this place, and across Canada, we can all agree on that.

That is why I believe the mistake in Bill S-203 was an unfortunate oversight made by the Standing Committee on Fisheries and Oceans. Issues like this are more likely to happen when legislation is rushed through the process without being subject to a thorough study. As members may know, Bill S-203 was given only two meetings before it was pushed ahead without amendment.

It began on March 18, 2019. In a meeting of the Standing Committee on Fisheries and Oceans, the government member from Miramichi—Grand Lake identified an important and significant language conflict in the text of Bill S-203. The following is a quote from the Evidence, as the member questioned a department official on this issue:

Another thing that would need to be clarified for me is clause 4 of Bill S-203 to prohibit the importation to Canada of living cetaceans as well as cetacean tissue or embryos, subject to a special permit. Apparently the English text of the clause refers to permits issued pursuant to proposed subsection 10(1.1) of WAPPRIITA [the Wild Animal and Plant Protection and Regulation of International and Interprovincial Trade Act] while the French version of the text is silent on the type of importation permit required. That sounds very odd. I wouldn't know of any other piece of legislation in which the French version would be different from the English version.

The departmental official replied, “I am not completely sure about the two clauses you are referencing. I haven't done a comparison of the English to the French so I don't have a response for you on that.” In response, the member asked, “Do you think we should clarify that?” The departmental official replied, “It would be important to make sure that the intent in both the English and the French is the same.”

Interestingly, it was a member of the current government, from a bilingual province, who flagged this critical language concern. It is also interesting how the department official stressed the importance of getting the language right.

The story does not end there. It continues.

On March 26, 2019, the Honourable J.C. Major, a former Supreme Court justice, penned a letter to all members of the Standing Committee on Fisheries and Oceans. He, too, identified the same language conflict as the member did. However, rather than merely stating his concern, he elevated the issue to be a constitutional matter. In addition to that, he informed the committee that this part requires amendment.

This is what the Honourable J.C. Major wrote to the members of the committee in his letter:

I have reviewed the proposed Section 7.1 which is scheduled as an amendment to Bill S-203 of the Wild Animal and Plant Protection Regulation of International and lnterprovincial Trade Act (WAPPRIITA).

In addition I have reviewed the French to English and English to French review certified by...ABCO International which on review concludes that the wording of Section 7.1 between the French and English version is starkly different. The question raised is whether the difference is so material that compliance is affected. In my opinion the differences are material and confusion is inevitable and an amendment is the only remedy that will clarify the intent and purpose of Section 7.1.

Canada, by virtue of the Federal Government's legislation, confirmed by the Supreme Court of Canada and evidenced by the Charter of Rights, is officially bilingual. In addition, under S.18 of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms (Part 1 of the Constitution Act 1982), both English and French are made equally authoritative.

Given that both languages are authoritative and that differences between the French and English drafting of Section 7.1 are materially different, it is apparent that revisions by way of amendment of that section would by its uniformity confirm Parliament's intention as the section would then be clear to parties affected by it and invaluable to the judiciary.

The latter consideration is important as explained below as case law is replete with decisions evidencing the difficulty the courts in all provinces have from time to time reconciling statutory conflicts and either succeeded in doing so or entering an acquittal.

Section 7.1 of Bill S-203 is an enforcement provision under the Act. Given the conflict in the English and French versions of the proposed legislation its passage without a clarification amendment would, in the event of an illegal violation and subsequent prosecution, present a dilemma to the court. An obvious example being that an application under the English version would be required to meet the conditions set out in s. 10(1.1) whereas an application adhering to the French version would not. In the result the same law would be different depending on the site of the application. Should a charge be laid under the proposed Section 7.1 the difficulty described would be left to the court then to attempt a reconciliation of the conflict in the language and if not possible to strike down the section and order an acquittal.

The foregoing is a brief response to the difficulties that are inevitable if there is no amendment clarifying the intent of the legislation.

It is of value to consider the unequivocal recommendation number 35 of the Uniform Law Conference of Canada which concluded “the English and French versions of a bilingual Act must be identical in substance”.

My observation is that the member and the former Supreme Court justice both share the same concern: There is a language conflict in the bill's text. That common ground should be encouraging. However, what happened next in the committee at clause-by-clause was anything but. My party brought forward two amendments. One would make the English text read the same as the French, and the other would make the French text read the same as the English. Both amendments were rejected by the government, and Justice Major's legal opinion was ignored.

My second observation at committee was about the four government amendments that the member for Miramichi—Grand Lake suddenly withdrew at clause-by-clause. The withdrawals came as a surprise to the opposition members, because they were sensible amendments. Their intent was largely to coordinate Bill S-203 with the Liberals' own Bill C-68, which I can understand. Both bills share overlapping objectives, and if both were to pass, their implementation could clash or create confusion. In short, it made little sense for the member to make those withdrawals, especially when the changes were responsible ones that the Conservatives were prepared to support.

Here we are then. This is the second hour of third reading of Bill S-203. This bill is flawed. A former Supreme Court justice was called in. Bill S-203 is a constitutional challenge in waiting, and the scariest thing is that this bill is about to come into force.

This is as good a time as any to remind all members of the House that it is our responsibility as parliamentarians to ensure that the bills we pass are constitutional and legally sound.

Given the government's majority position, this decision ultimately weighs on the Liberal government to do what is right. It must act in the best interests of Canadians. That action is passing legally sound and constitutional legislation.

So here we are, at the second hour of third reading debate. The bill, in its current form, is flawed. A former Supreme Court justice has weighed in on the constitutionality, and those changes needed to be made. Now is a good time to remind all members of the House that it is our responsibility as parliamentarians to ensure that all laws we pass are constitutional and legally sound.

Given these reasons, I hope the government reconsiders its position on Bill S-203.

Ending the Captivity of Whales and Dolphins ActPrivate Members' Business

11:25 a.m.


Gord Johns NDP Courtenay—Alberni, BC

Mr. Speaker, it is a huge honour to speak today in the House of Commons. With this bill and with the support of my hon. colleagues, Canada is on the cusp of making history and ending cetacean captivity and making sure it is a thing of the past. Not only is this important to me, but it is important to the people of my riding, to people right across this country from coast to coast to coast, to countless environmental stewards who have fought hard on this issue, and certainly to the Nuu-chah-nulth people and indigenous people across this country.

I have heard from many of them. Many Nuu-chah-nulth people see the orca, in their language the kakaw’in, as a spirit animal and as an animal that is a reflection of their ancestors. To think of their ancestors being held in captivity is certainly something they do not want to see happen again.

If we pass this bill, it would do a couple of things. First, it would give us credibility and legitimacy to take it even further, to push for a global ban on having cetaceans held in captivity. We know that cetaceans held in captivity suffer in a way that is not justifiable. Bill S-203 is a reasonable, balanced piece of legislation.

Let us look at the life of a captive whale, dolphin or porpoise. In captivity, conditions are spartan and prison-like. Cetaceans suffer confinement, isolation, health problems, reduced lifespans, high infant mortality rates, sensory deprivation and trauma from transfer to other parks and calf separation. Given the evidence, captive facilities cannot provide for their social or biological needs. They need to roam widely and dive deep in order to thrive. The range of captive orcas is only 1/10,000th of 1% the size of their natural home range, and 80% of their time is spent at the surface, looking for food and attention from their trainers, who make the choices for them when they are held in captivity. Captive-born animals are often forcibly weaned and shipped to other facilities, away from their mothers and the only companions they have ever known. It creates unnecessary trauma. It is cruel.

Let us compare that to wild cetaceans. They spend approximately 80% to 90% of their time under the water. They have the freedom to make their own choices, sometimes travelling up to 100 miles per day, following food and the members of their family. Many of these species, like the orcas, live in complex societies with their own cultures and dialects, maintaining close ties with family and friends. Some remain in family groups for life. For wild orcas, their pod is critical to their survival.

I want to add that I am excited that we just had a baby orca in the pod off Tofino, witnessed by my good friends Jennifer Steven and John Forde. It is another reminder of the importance of our orcas being able to roam freely in the wild and knowing that a baby orca will not be taken and put into captivity. It is a relief to all of us.

We know that keeping cetaceans is cruel, given the scientific evidence about their nature and behaviour. They are intelligent, social and acoustically sensitive marine animals.

New Democrats believe in the power of research, and we know that the continued study of cetaceans can be done ethically in the wild. There, scientists can get a realistic view of their natural behaviours without causing a lifetime of pain and suffering.

Our party also understands the need for legislation to be measured, and Bill S-203 does balance a fair transition for the two remaining facilities that hold captive cetaceans. It grandfathers in existing animals and gives the zoo and aquarium community a long phase-out period. It is not asking these facilities to close overnight. Certainly we will not be supporting the movement of cetaceans or sale of cetaceans anywhere from those facilities.

There are a few people we need to thank today. First of all, we need to thank the hundreds of thousands of Canadians who brought their voice to all elected officials, whether in the House of Commons or in the Senate, calling for this legislation to be passed; the environmental groups and animal rights organizations for mobilizing people; and indigenous communities for raising their concerns, which led to the bill and today's debate.

Also, there are people in the House whom we need to thank, for coming together and showing this is not a partisan issue; it is a moral issue. First, I want to thank my colleague from Skeena—Bulkley Valley. He had a very important piece of legislation to end zero-waste packaging, with which we hope the government will move forward. It made some announcements today in response to my motion, Motion No. 151, around phasing out single-use plastics. I would like to congratulate the government on that first step, and I look forward to seeing more momentum and movement, especially around industrial-use plastics, and rethinking how we use plastics.

I thank my colleague from Skeena—Bulkley Valley because his bill was supposed to be in the House today, and he gave up his spot so we could move forward with this piece of legislation, knowing the only way we could save it was for it to be in the House today. I also want to thank Terrace's Ben Korving. He is the one who helped my colleague from Skeena—Bulkley Valley bring the bill forward on zero-waste packaging through a contest held in his riding to ensure Canadians' voices were heard in the House. We have not lost sight of Ben's work. We have ensured the government heard the proposal that Ben brought forward. I want to thank them both.

In that same spirit, I want to thank my colleague and friend from Saanich—Gulf Islands for the considerable work she has done on this issue and the stewardship she has shown by taking on this bill, working with us to find a path forward and showing a non-partisan approach when it comes to ensuring we do the right thing for cetaceans, which do not have a voice. We are their voice and this is an opportunity to demonstrate what we are going to do to look out for them.

I want to thank my colleague and friend from Port Moody—Coquitlam, the former vice-chair of the Standing Committee on Fisheries and Oceans, who helped move this bill through committee and worked very hard on it. I also want to thank my friend and colleague, the chair of the Standing Committee on Fisheries and Oceans, the member for Avalon, who has done some great work to help ensure the passage of this bill. I really mean that, because without his help, working with all of us in the House, we would not have got this done. I commend him for his work on that.

This bill would not have made it this far without the courageous and bold efforts of Senator Wilfred Moore. We sometimes raise concerns about the Senate, and I certainly have my doubts right now on a number of pieces of legislation, so I will take it away from the Senate and give it to a human being who is a huge champion, and that is retired senator Wilfred Moore. He has been a champion of this bill. He tabled this bill in the Senate and stayed on this bill even beyond his retirement, showing his dedication and commitment, and we owe him a round of applause. I thank him for being completely committed and devoted to seeing this through.

I thank Senator Murray Sinclair for taking on and championing this bill in the Senate, bringing the really important wealth of indigenous knowledge and his connections across this country and ensuring those voices were also heard in the Senate.

In closing, I hope this bill passes very quickly. I thank the hundreds of thousands of Canadians who have been the voice of cetaceans, which do not have a voice, and look forward to Canada having legitimacy and credibility on the international stage when it comes to fighting for cetaceans and ending the captivity of whales internationally. I hope that is the next step for our country.

Ending the Captivity of Whales and Dolphins ActPrivate Members' Business

11:35 a.m.


Blaine Calkins Conservative Red Deer—Lacombe, AB

Mr. Speaker, it is interesting that I rise today to speak to Bill S-203, which on its surface seems to be popular and appeals to the emotional drives behind it. Like many Canadians, I have gone and seen cetaceans in captivity at places like SeaWorld and the Vancouver Aquarium; and at places like Marineland, where personally I have never been. I just want to put this in context.

This bill is designed to shut down one business in Canada. There is only one business in Canada actively pursuing or using cetaceans right now for the purpose of entertainment. That is what I want to talk about in this bill.

I am not against the notion that, if Canadians are by and large against having cetaceans in captivity, we can have that conversation. Of course we can have that conversation. It is the approach that this piece of legislation is taking that concerns me. It concerns me because I am a hunter and an angler. I am a guy who grew up on a farm and used animals every day at every stage and walk in my life. I am a guy who represents two areas of my constituency. One area hosts the Ponoka Stampede and one area hosts the Canadian Finals Rodeo in Red Deer.

I am also a conservationist. I have a zoology degree. I am pretty sure the guys who are laughing at me right now probably do not. I am going to ask that they just sit and think about this for one second. Many scientists appeared before the committee in the Senate and the committee in the House of Commons. They were people with not just bachelor of science degrees in zoology but with Ph.D.s. They were very concerned by the precedent that this piece of legislation would set. I asked the question in the committee whether we could end cetacean captivity in Canada in a simpler way, such as by just ending the permits of this particular business. We could do that by making a small change to the Fisheries Act and to the plant and animal transfer act.

However, this bill would change three things. It would change the Criminal Code of Canada and would do some interesting things. The bill is not about how humans handle animals or about the welfare or treatment of animals in people's care. The bill would, for the first time ever, make it a criminal act in Canada to keep an animal in captivity. That is the first time in our legislation anywhere that having an animal in captivity would be considered an illegal act. It would be illegal in the Criminal Code of Canada to breed animals, and these particular cetaceans—

Ending the Captivity of Whales and Dolphins ActPrivate Members' Business

11:35 a.m.

An hon. member

Oh, oh!

Ending the Captivity of Whales and Dolphins ActPrivate Members' Business

11:35 a.m.


The Assistant Deputy Speaker Liberal Anthony Rota

I will ask the member to stop. I will not mention who the hon. member is.

One of the things we have to look at in this chamber is that, when somebody is speaking, whether we agree with the individual or not, out of respect, we deserve to hear what that person has to say. I just want to remind the hon. members that decorum is something we want to keep. Shouting out or laughing while somebody is reading is not proper decorum.

I will let the hon. member for Red Deer—Lacombe continue and, hopefully, we will continue in a respectful manner.

The hon. member for Red Deer—Lacombe.

Ending the Captivity of Whales and Dolphins ActPrivate Members' Business

11:35 a.m.


Blaine Calkins Conservative Red Deer—Lacombe, AB

Mr. Speaker, all I am asking for is the same respect I granted the speakers from other political parties while I sat and listened to them.

The problem, as I and the people I represent see it, is with the Criminal Code amendments as well as the follow-through and execution of this piece of legislation, which creates a framework and structure whereby anybody can add onto that by simply adding a comma into the legislation and saying that horses can no longer be kept or used for breeding or for purposes of entertainment. I am not saying that is going to happen, but the structure is actually there in the legislation to do it. One has to ask the question why this would need to be done. Why do we need this sledgehammer in legislation to effect the change we are looking for?

We are known by the company we keep. If we look at the organizations that are publicly and vocally expressing support for this bill, we see they call for the end of things like rodeos, fishing, eating animals and raising animals on a farm. These organizations, like Animal Justice and some SPCAs, call for these kinds of things. This is the company that this piece of legislation is keeping.

As I said, I am actually okay with it. I understand the science behind cetaceans and that not all cetaceans do well in captivity, but we also have to be logical. We have to think with our heads too about whether this is the right way to go. I will give an example. Dr. Laura Graham, who has a Ph.D., testified at committee and said there is no actual definition of cruel anywhere in this bill. As I said, it would create new definitions. For the very first time, it would make it illegal and criminalize the breeding of animals. This is something that is a very dangerous precedent for anybody involved in animal husbandry or any of these industries.

Dr. Laura Graham says that the definition of cruel is not anywhere in this bill, and as a scientist, she finds the lack of objective assessment troubling. She has also observed that the people pushing this bill are dismissing the importance of zoos and aquariums in educating the public and eliciting a concern for conservation and saving the planet.

As a matter of fact, she highlighted a very specific case about Vaquita dolphins down in the Gulf of Mexico, of which there are about 10 left; that is all that is left. If we were to use the facilities in Vancouver, Marineland and various SeaWorld installations as something other than entertainment, but rather as a conservation tool, through captive breeding programs we could potentially some day get to the point where we could release a viable population of Vaquita dolphins back into the wild.

I will get back to Dr. Graham in a second. When I was talking to Senator Sinclair at committee, I asked him about this notion of going to a national park, for example. Where I live in Alberta, there is a park called Elk Island National Park, which is not the typical national park that people think of when they go to national parks in their neighbourhoods. Elk Island National Park is a completely fenced-in enclosure. It is a captive facility for the purpose of breeding and population enhancement. People buy a park pass and go in there for the purpose of seeing that wildlife. They may have other purposes, but make no doubt about it, they go there to see the elk and the bison. There has just been a relatively successful, depending on the standards one wants to measure it by, reintroduction of bison into Yukon. There has been reintroduction of bison into Banff National Park, which would not have happened without the captive facility and the breeding program that went with it to re-establish this population.

The whole argument behind getting rid of cetacean captivity is an emotional one. I get it. Look, I have those same convictions when I look at animals in captivity as well. As a guy who goes hunting and fishing and sees all kinds of things in the wild, I get those same heartstring tugs that everybody else gets. I am not some cold and cruel individual. I get the arguments. However, as a conservationist, I also know that we need to make use of every tool available to us in order to help reintroduce wildlife lost through bad practices or mismanagement. Not everybody in the world does things as well as Canada, and we do not do some things all that well either.

However, we have an opportunity to ask ourselves if this bill is actually going to do more harm than good in the long run. It is the same emotional tug that wants us to end the captivity of whales and dolphins that never would have created these facilities in the first place. The City of Vancouver made the choice to end cetacean captivity for the purposes of entertainment without needing this big piece of legislation to do it, yet that facility is still used for rescue and rehabilitation of cetaceans.

It could just as easily use that facility to save a population of belugas, such as the population of belugas in the St. Lawrence Seaway. We know from the experience at Marineland that belugas are actually breeding quite well there. This legislation would be for the express purpose of making that breeding impossible or illegal, actually to the point that someone could go to jail for it. What is that going to do? It is going to split up that family pod at Marineland. It is going to separate the males from the females, and it is going to create the exact same issue that others are arguing captivity is causing in the first place. It is going to create divisiveness and stress in those families.

We know that belugas in captivity are quite successful at breeding. They have a very high success rate. They have a very high birth rate and a very high survival rate. We have populations of belugas right now in the world that are in trouble. If we do not get the environmental conditions right in nature, in the wild, before those populations are actually gone for good, we would have an opportunity to save those genetics. We could actually use the revenue from letting people come and watch them to help the science and research and help that captive breeding program do more good than harm in this particular case.

That is what I am asking my friends in the House to consider. Yes, it is going to be very popular to vote in favour of this bill. We have Free Willy and Blackfish and others movies that create the desire to do what we think is right.

Dr. Laura Graham talked about Dr. Jane Goodall. She had the same feeling about keeping chimpanzees in captivity, and then she changed her mind. As the habitat was encroaching on the natural range of these chimpanzees, as she saw how zoos and other captive facilities were treating these animals and as research and knowledge expanded, she changed her mind. I am simply asking my colleagues to at least consider that before passing this flawed legislation.

Ending the Captivity of Whales and Dolphins ActPrivate Members' Business

11:45 a.m.


Elizabeth May Green Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

Mr. Speaker, it is a great honour to speak today during the final hour of debate after several years of work on a bill that is important to the world's whales.

I am particularly honoured to rise this morning because we are at the point that most members in this place appear ready to see this legislation pass. The legislation was first brought forward in the last few days of the Senate sitting of 2015. It has been, to put it mildly, a long haul.

The hon. member just raised concerns, and I think all concerns by my colleagues in this place are legitimate. However, it is important for anyone watching this debate to recognize that the bill is based on science.

Many scientists testified as to why it is critical that we stop keeping cetaceans in captivity. We understand why. They are obviously not akin to livestock, for instance. Cetaceans require the ocean. They require the space. They require acoustic communication over long distances. The scientists who testified before the committee who made the case so strongly made it based on science.

Yes, Canadians care. Yes, the school children who wrote to us in the thousands were not moved by the science; they were moved because they see movies and nature films and they understand that whales, dolphins and porpoises are of a different character than other animals.

I would reassure my friend that we could not just substitute the name for another species. Bill S-203 is firmly tied to the Fisheries Act. I do not think we would find any horses in the wild in the ocean. We have tied it down legislatively in such a way that others should not worry that there will be a creeping effect.

In the time remaining, I want to say how grateful I am for the non-partisan spirit. It has been my entire honour to be the sponsor of this legislation in the House. I am enormously grateful to my colleagues.

I mentioned the scientists. Let me thank Dr. Visser, who testified at committee, coming in by Skype from New Zealand in the days right after the Christchurch killings. It was an emotional time for everyone. I would also like to thank Dr. Naomi Rose, and from Dalhousie University, Dr. Hal Whitehead. Phil Demers, a former whale trainer at Marineland, offered excellent real-life testimony as to the cruelty of keeping whales in captivity.

Certainly Senator Wilfred Moore and Senator Murray Sinclair have done an enormous amount to help. So too has the government representative in the Senate, Senator Harder.

I also want to thank the Minister of Fisheries and his predecessor for taking companion elements in Bill S-203 and embedding them in Bill C-68. Bill C-68, the reform of the Fisheries Act, remains before the Senate.

I want to take a moment to urge all colleagues in the other place to move Bill C-68 through. I also urge everyone here, if there are amendments, to move Bill C-68 through, because the Fisheries Act is critically important on many scores, as well as being companion legislation to Bill S-203.

Again, in a non-partisan spirit, I want to thank the hon. member for Port Moody—Coquitlam, who we will miss in this place, and the hon. member for Skeena—Bulkley Valley. I also want to mention his constituent, Ben Korving, who put forward the legislation regarding zero-waste packaging. I pledge, as leader of the Green Party, to take on Ben Korving's motion and make sure that it does not die in this place, because those members made a sacrifice to allow Bill S-203 to pass before we rise at the end of June.

I also want to thank the hon. member for Beaches—East York, a Liberal, and my friend from Courtenay—Alberni, who was gracious in his praise earlier.

Everyone pulled together on this. The member for Charlottetown, the parliamentary secretary, helped enormously.

I would once again like to thank my Bloc Québécois colleague, the member for Repentigny.

I know that there were Conservative colleagues who did what they could.

I cannot tell members how important this legislation is. I will close with a few words that we have not heard in this place before. They are from the book of Job. They are found in chapter 41, verse 1.

Behold, Behemoth,
which I made as I made you;...

He is the first of the works of God;...

Can you draw out Leviathan with a fishhook
or press down his tongue with a cord?
Can you put a rope in his nose
or pierce his jaw with a hook?...
Will traders bargain over him?
Will they divide him up among the merchants?...

On earth there is not his like,...
He sees everything that is high;
he is king over all the sons of pride.

To everyone in this place, let us think for a moment. We behold Leviathan. He belongs in the wild. He will never again be placed in a swimming pool in this country.

Ending the Captivity of Whales and Dolphins ActPrivate Members' Business

11:50 a.m.


The Assistant Deputy Speaker Liberal Anthony Rota

The question is as follows. Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?

Ending the Captivity of Whales and Dolphins ActPrivate Members' Business

11:50 a.m.

Some hon. members


Ending the Captivity of Whales and Dolphins ActPrivate Members' Business

11:50 a.m.


The Assistant Deputy Speaker Liberal Anthony Rota

(Motion agreed to, bill read the third time and passed)

Suspension of SittingEnding the Captivity of Whales and Dolphins ActPrivate Members' Business

11:50 a.m.


The Assistant Deputy Speaker Liberal Anthony Rota

The House will now suspend until 12 p.m.

(The sitting of the House was suspended at 11:52 a.m.)

(The House resumed at 12 p.m.)

Opposition Motion—TelecommunicationsBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders



Peter Julian NDP New Westminster—Burnaby, BC


That, given telecommunication services in Canada cost more than most other countries in the world, leaving far too many Canadians with unaffordable, inadequate or no service at all, the House call on the government to implement measures that will make those services more affordable, including:

(a) a price cap to ensure every Canadian saves money on their bill;

(b) abolishing data caps for broadband Internet and mandating that companies create unlimited data plans at affordable rates for wireless services;

(c) putting an end to egregious and outrageous sales and services practices through a Telecom Consumers’ Bill of Rights;

(d) revisiting the structure of the spectrum auction to make sure everyday Canadians benefit most from the revenue, rather than repeating the failures of previous Liberal and Conservative governments, which squandered almost $20 billion from previous auctions; and

(e) directing the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) to reverse their rural and remote broadband implementation policy, which condemns these areas, including many Indigenous communities, to years of substandard broadband and wireless services.

Mr. Speaker, before I begin my speech, I want to let you know that I will be sharing my time with my colleague, the fabulous member for Jonquière.

I want to praise the work of the member of Parliament for Windsor West. He has been dogged and determined in bringing fairness to the telecom charges people are paying across the country. He does an extraordinary job. He will be speaking in the House a bit later on today. Right now, he is in a press conference, ensuring that journalists across the length and breadth of the country are familiar with the NDP's five-point plan to not only save Canadians money, but also expand telecom coverage right across the country so broadband and cellular services are made available in remote areas where they are not available now.

What does the five-point NDP plan mean and what does it mean if Parliament adopts it? It could mean a savings of up to $600 a year for a Canadian. I want to go into that in some detail, because Canadians are struggling to make ends meet.

As members are aware, half of Canadians are $200 away from insolvency in any one month. Over the past few decades, we have seen more inequality and a greater struggle for average Canadian families to make ends meet. It should be a source of shame for us that the average Canadian family now has the worst family debt load in any country in the industrialized world. That means Canadians have been struggling to make ends meet and for decades, the federal government has done very little to assist them with that. We often find that lobbyists, such as the big Internet companies from the United States, which do not even pay taxes in Canada, have had an influence. The lobbyists for the telecom companies have also made a difference. Therefore, it is common sense, not rocket science, to simply have the federal government take the measures needed to make a difference in the lives of Canadians.

As we know, in the developed world, Canadians pay some of the highest prices for mobile, wireless and broadband services. It costs them a lot more per month than people who live in other countries. That means price gouging is taking place. The federal government has basically allowed big telecom to gouge Canadians with impunity. That has to end. The NDP five-point plan would put measures in place to ensure that would not happen anymore.

Let us take one example. This has come out of many studies, which have shown consistently that the average price for Canadians who have a two gigabyte plan per month for data, and I am among them, as I am sure many Canadians are, is now somewhere in the neighbourhood of $75 to $76 a month. How does that compare with plans in other parts of the world? Obviously if Canadians are paying too much, then putting measures in place to ensure Canadians are not being gouged makes a great deal of sense.

Similar studies show the difference between what Canadians pay and what people in other parts of the industrialized world pay. If we were in Toronto, a monthly plan for two gigabytes of data would cost about $75.50 a month. What is the price for a two gigabyte plan in Paris? The same two gigabyte plan would cost $30.91. That is a substantive difference. The difference can basically be summed up as the big telecom companies in Canada are allowed to gouge Canadians with impunity. In other parts of the world, governments have taken action to restrict the amount of money that can be gouged from the consumer.

In London, the same gigabyte plan, which is $30 in Paris and $75 in Canada, is $26.56 on average, which is $50 less per month than in Canada. In Rome, for the same plan, two gigabytes per month, one would pay $24.70. Those are European examples.

We can look at a country that is similar to our country, such as Australia, which is a vast land and differing infrastructure. Many parts of Australia are remote, as are many parts of Canada. Australia has put in place measures to ensure it had a cellphone and Internet broadband infrastructure. Australia has found that those same prices are substantially less than what they are in Canada. I mentioned $24.70 and that is the price per month in Australia. Therefore, it is $50 less a month for a two-gigabyte plan in Australia, which faces the same infrastructure challenges, as Canada does, with its vast expanse. It has a better degree of remote broadband and cellphone access. It has put in place a better infrastructure, and the cost per month for the average Australian is $50 a month less than in Canada.

I talked about Italy, and I misspoke a moment ago. In Rome, if one is looking at broadband and wireless access, it would cost $21.11, which is a profound difference to Canada. Canadians are paying about $50 more for a two-gigabyte plan, and this is just one of many examples.

Consumers living in France, the United Kingdom, Italy or in the vast expanse of Australia are paying $50 a month less for a two-gigabyte plan than we are in Canada. There is no other way to explain this except rampant price gouging and governments refusing to protect consumers. That ends today with the NDP five-point plan.

The motion was read earlier, but it is important to reiterate what the NDP five-point plan is proposing.

First, we would put a price cap to ensure every Canadian saves money on their bill. This is a best practice that other countries have put in place and it has saved money for their consumers.

Second, we would abolish data caps for broadband Internet and mandate that companies create unlimited data plans at affordable rates for wireless services. This abolishing of the data cap has also made a substantive difference for consumers in other countries who are paying substantially less, $600 a year less. What could the Canadian population, the middle-class, working-class families, do with that $600 more they are paying compared to the Italian, French, English or Australian consumers. There is simply no way to legitimize or justify the price gouging that is taking place.

Third, we would put an end to egregious and outrageous sales and services practices through a telecom consumers’ bill of rights.

Fourth, we would revisit the structure of the spectrum auction to make sure everyday Canadians benefit.

Fifth, we would redirect the CRTC to stop its interpretation that is guaranteeing substandard broadband and wireless services for rural and remote communities.

This five-point plan makes sense to everybody but the big telecom lobbyists. It makes sense for Parliament to adopt it today. The result would be a $600 saving per year for the average Canadian family. It would make a difference.

Therefore, I urge all members to vote for the NDP five-point plan to reduce the cost of telecom and to expand services in the country.

Opposition Motion—TelecommunicationsBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

12:10 p.m.


Dan Albas Conservative Central Okanagan—Similkameen—Nicola, BC

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate my fellow British Columbian raising an important topic. Canadians obviously are finding life less affordable under the Liberal government and we should be looking for ways to find some relief for them.

In true NDP form, the intention is fine, but the execution is terrible. Some of the policies being presented in the motion are right out of the 1970s. The “zap, you're frozen” approach of a price cap would alter the way we can access new technologies. For example, 5G technology is coming. It will require tens of billions of dollars of new Internet infrastructure. It will allow Canadian businesses and Canadian individuals to innovate. However, with a price cap, how does the member propose that those investments of tens of billions of dollars be made?

Can the member explain how, under a price cap where the price is pushed down to a certain amount, companies will be able to unroll this 5G technology that people want?

Opposition Motion—TelecommunicationsBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

12:10 p.m.


Peter Julian NDP New Westminster—Burnaby, BC

Once again, Mr. Speaker, Conservatives are supporting the big telecom lobbyists, like they have done with big oil and gas. No matter how much money the Liberals pour into companies, for the Conservatives it never seems to be enough. Here is a case where the Conservatives could have taken action for 10 years and never did. That means every Canadian consumer, including consumers in the member's own riding, are paying $600 more than they should be because of the lack of government action. The member threw out a drive-by insult, but the reality is that other countries have put these measures in place. Other countries have protected their consumers and it is about time the Canadian government actually protected consumers.

Another point is that this would also have a profound impact on small businesses. Small businesses are being gouged, including in the member's own riding. Putting these measures in place not only helps individual Canadian families but it helps small businesses that can be competitive and create jobs in communities right across the country.

The average revenue per gigabyte in Canada is up to 70 times for big telecom than it is in other countries. We are talking about excessive windfall profits. We need some common sense and decency and we need to save money for Canadian consumers.

Opposition Motion—TelecommunicationsBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

12:15 p.m.

Winnipeg North Manitoba


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

Mr. Speaker, Canadians as a whole compared to people in other countries in the world are very well educated consumers. They understand the principles of consumption, for the most part.

I appreciated some of the statistics the member across the way gave. It is really important when drawing comparisons to compare apples to apples. I am glad the member brought up the country of Australia. Let us say the disposable income of an individual is x dollars and the average cost of housing is around 30% or 32%. Has the member across the way or the NDP done a calculation related to the average cost for communications for a consumer in Australia compared to in Canada? Just to say one bill is $60 and another bill is $50, we do not know what that works out to in terms of the percentage of an individual's annual income.

Opposition Motion—TelecommunicationsBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

12:15 p.m.


Peter Julian NDP New Westminster—Burnaby, BC

Mr. Speaker, I wish the member had listened to my speech, but he will have other opportunities as other NDP members explain it again later on.

The difference I cited is for a two gigabytes per month plan. The average cost in Canada, in places like Toronto or the member's own riding in Winnipeg, is $75.44 per month. In Sydney, Australia, for example, it is $24.70. That is what I cited in my speech and I will be reiterating it throughout the course of the day. There is simply no way to justify Canadians in Winnipeg having to pay $50 per month more for their telecom, wireless and broadband services, than an Australian pays. They have the same infrastructure challenges, apples to apples.

What has happened, though, in Australia is that the government has taken effective measures to ensure there are not these windfall profits and that consumers are not being gouged. That is what New Democrats are bringing to the floor of the House of Commons today.

Opposition Motion—TelecommunicationsBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

June 10th, 2019 / 12:15 p.m.


Karine Trudel NDP Jonquière, QC

Mr. Speaker, no one in the House would be surprised to hear that cellphone service in Canada today is amongst the most expensive in the world. This should spur us into action. This is 2019 and we live in one of the world's major economies. Canada is a G7 country, and yet we are often a laughing stock.

Canadian consumers are paying as much as tens of times more for their cellphone plans than people in Europe or Asia, so they should at least have access to quality service. In some areas of Saguenay—Lac-Saint-Jean, such as Lamarche, which is located between Saint-Fulgence and Sainte-Rose-du-Nord, on Highway 172 heading towards Lac-Saint-Jean, you sometimes have to stop your car and hope that the call does not drop in the middle of your conversation.

Access to affordable cellular and high-speed Internet services has become a necessity these days, both at home and at work. It is an essential economic tool in a large region like Saguenay—Lac-Saint-Jean.

Canadians deserve to have reliable telecommunications service, without having to pay $20, $30 or $40 more than in other OECD countries for a similar plan.

Consider this: a two-gigabyte data plan costs a Canadian consumer the same as unlimited data plans in several dozen other countries. Telecommunications lobbies have long argued that the prices are justified because of Canada's geography and its significant impact on the cost of maintenance, but that argument does not hold water. For example, Australia has even bigger geographic challenges than Canada and yet it is able to offer faster connectivity and more affordable plans than we get here at home.

It is high time for the Liberals to take action, vote in favour of the NDP motion and have the courage to stand up to the Canadian telecommunications giants to provide Canadians with affordable plans.

The way forward is clear. It is unacceptable that in 2019, several regions of a G7 country still do not have quality Internet and cellular connectivity at an affordable rate. This is even more unacceptable when we know that compared to many other countries, Canadian telecommunications companies generate obscene revenues for less service. Canadian providers pocket 23 times as much revenue per gigabyte as telecoms in Finland, and 70 times as much as those in India.

Naturally, this reality is putting off many businesses whose growth directly depends on affordable, high-quality national telecommunications services from investing in Canada. The upshot is that we are losing investors, who would rather focus on countries where wireless and high-speed Internet services are less expensive. This needs to stop.

The Liberals have nonchalantly released a report stating that there is nothing wrong with the rates, the Conservatives are shouting from the rooftops that we should trust market forces to take care of everything, but all the while, nothing is getting done.

To put an end to this farce, the NDP is moving a motion today to make our wireless and broadband services more affordable and more accessible.

Our proposal contains five components. First, we are calling on the government to implement a price cap to lower bills, especially cellphone bills. In Ontario, Rogers' 85-gigabyte plan costs $415 a month. Honestly, Europeans could get a lifetime plan with virtually unlimited data for a tenth of the price. That is just ridiculous.

Second, we are calling for data caps for broadband Internet to be abolished and for companies to be mandated to create unlimited data plans at affordable rates. Together, these two steps, abolishing data caps and mandating companies to create unlimited data plans, would upend the current pricing structure by creating more affordable rates providing better value for consumers.

Every supplier would finally have an inexpensive base plan similar to what is offered in the OECD. That is not so much to ask.

Third, we are asking that a telecommunications consumers' bill of rights be created to eliminate certain unacceptable sales and service practices. This proposal is based on previous recommendations by the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission to regulate the industry.

Creating this bill of rights that clearly spells out the rights of consumers would help everyone make more informed purchases and above all would be an effective means of combatting certain scandalous sales and service practices. Agreements between operators to increase prices, arbitrary price increases and one-off discounts are a thing of the past.

Fourth, the spectrum auction system is in dire need of an overhaul to ensure that ordinary Canadians benefit fully from revenues. At present, new spectrum licences are auctioned from time to time by the Canadian government. The 600-megahertz band, for example, is prized by operators for its ability to penetrate concrete buildings in urban areas.

The problem is that ordinary Canadians do not benefit from these auctions. In 2001, billions of dollars in licences were granted to telecommunications companies, which do very heavy lobbying. None of these auctions is designed to protect consumers, to lower prices or to increase investments to ensure that Canadians in rural and remote areas have access to affordable, quality services. This must change.

Fifth, we are calling on the CRTC to reverse its rural and remote broadband implementation policy in rural and remote areas. A decision made this fall slashed speeds by half of the speeds announced by the government in 2016 for rural and remote areas. This policy condemns these regions to years of substandard service. For years now, I have been sounding the alarm to protect competitiveness in my region of Saguenay. The region needs access to cell service and high-speed Internet, but nothing is being done to make these services more accessible or affordable.

Since 2015, I have been attending meeting after meeting with local elected officials in Lamarche and Labrecque to advance the cellphone file in that area. The Liberals have always turned a deaf ear. The mayor of Labrecque, Éric Simard, announced a few months ago that approximately half the residents of his municipality were still having connection problems. That is unacceptable.

The government needs to face facts. Its connectivity plan does not meet the needs of the people of Saguenay—Lac-Saint-Jean. There was nothing in the government's last budget to finally give rural and remote areas access to reliable and affordable telecommunications services. The government is giving even more money to rich corporations so that they can expand access to high-speed Internet, but the people of Saguenay know full well that the telecom giants will never do anything to meet the needs of rural areas. These companies would rather invest in urban areas, where they can turn a higher profit.

It is time that the Prime Minister stopped finding billions of dollars just to subsidize his private sector friends. It is time that the Prime Minister had the courage to stand up to the big telecom companies and rein them in. The people of Jonquière have been waiting for years for a program to build cell towers.

When will we be able to benefit from a cellular network designed for the 21st century?

This problem is not unique to my riding. A total of 63% of rural households across the country still do not have access to broadband high-speed Internet and 0% have access in the Northwest Territories, Yukon and Nunavut, where over 70% of major roads and highways still do not have access to proper cellular service.

Opposition Motion—TelecommunicationsBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

12:25 p.m.

Nickel Belt Ontario


Marc Serré LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Rural Economic Development

Mr. Speaker, I am having a little difficulty understanding the NDP motion. Obviously we are familiar with the problems the New Democrats have raised, but I do not see any solutions in their motion. Did they read budget 2019? It includes an accelerated capital cost allowance for businesses. We also expanded the infrastructure fund, adding Internet services and cell towers to the eligible categories, which is a first. We also set aside $1.7 billion, despite the member's claim that there was nothing in budget 2019. On top of that, to support innovation, we invested in Telesat to look at the entire country. We also worked with the CRTC, which created a $750 million fund.

Did the NDP members read budget 2019 and see the concrete measures it includes?

Will they acknowledge the action we have taken to change the situation with respect to Internet access?

Opposition Motion—TelecommunicationsBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

12:25 p.m.


Karine Trudel NDP Jonquière, QC

Mr. Speaker, if my colleague had listened to my whole speech, he would have heard me list the five measures that the NDP is proposing in its motion. I am happy to reread them:

(a) a price cap to ensure every Canadian saves money on their bill;

(b) abolishing data caps for broadband Internet and mandating that companies create unlimited data plans at affordable rates for wireless services;

(c) putting an end to egregious and outrageous sales and services practices through a Telecom Consumers' Bill of Rights;

(d) revisiting the structure of the spectrum auction to make sure everyday Canadians benefit most from the revenue, rather than repeating the failures of previous Liberal and Conservative governments, which squandered almost $20 billion from previous auctions; and

(e) directing the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) to reverse their rural and remote broadband implementation policy, which condemns these areas, including many Indigenous communities, to years of substandard broadband and wireless services.

Those are the five measures that the NDP is proposing in its motion. I hope that was clear. I can spend this entire opposition day repeating it if need be. Yes, we read the budget and, in answer to the next question, I will give some examples showing that the Liberal government's investments are inadequate.

Opposition Motion—TelecommunicationsBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

12:30 p.m.


Dan Albas Conservative Central Okanagan—Similkameen—Nicola, BC

Mr. Speaker, the Liberals have done a terrible job when it comes to this issue. The Auditor General found their connect to innovate program poorly designed. The Liberals have done announcements, but less than 10% has actually been funded.

In addition, the member has suggested some alternative paths. Number one of their points was a price cap. In the Auditor General report of last fall, the Auditor General said it would take tens of billions of dollars to invest and bring up substandard Internet access, particularly in rural and remote communities. A price cap would be the fastest way to stop reinvestment, which would see rural areas receive the connectivity we all want to see.

I would simply ask the NDP member this question. Does she have a solution? If the amount of money is lowered that goes into the industry to be able to supply these things in order to have rural connectivity, where is the money going to come from? Where is the money, in the self-created shortfall the NDP is creating in investment, going to come from?

Opposition Motion—TelecommunicationsBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

12:30 p.m.


Karine Trudel NDP Jonquière, QC

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for his question about prices.

We need to give small businesses a chance to set up shop in our communities. Earlier, I mentioned the mayor of Labrecque, Éric Simard. Some people in his municipality are still isolated, because the big telecom companies do not think there are not enough people to warrant investment. This means residents cannot choose to work from home, for example, and teens who live in these municipalities and want to pursue higher education have to move to big cities to access all services at a lower cost.

In Saint-Fulgence, in my riding, I often have to pull over in my car to talk on the phone, and my calls get dropped. It is 2019, and it is unacceptable that our calls get dropped when we pull over to use the phone, and that isolated communities do not have access to Internet and other telecommunications services.