House of Commons Hansard #425 of the 42nd Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was news.


Opposition Motion—News Media IndustryBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

1:15 p.m.


Pierre Nantel NDP Longueuil—Saint-Hubert, QC

That will not be easy, Madam Speaker.

I thank my colleague. I know he means well, and I appreciate his province taking the lead.

He is absolutely right. This definitely demonstrates how pathetic it is that this government does not to have the guts to do the obvious and just apply the GST to a service like this. He is right that we all need to work together. As a result of the government's inability to show federal leadership and persuade the telecom giants to join the comprehensive review, the stakeholders are left to watch as the system falls to pieces. They are petrified of being swallowed up by Big Brother, Google, GAFA and others.

Opposition Motion—News Media IndustryBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

1:15 p.m.


Daniel Blaikie NDP Elmwood—Transcona, MB

Madam Speaker, it is a pleasure to rise to speak to today's motion, because it addresses something that I think is an important public policy issue. It is a matter that touches the public interest. At the very least, I think we all agree that having an independent and well-resourced media is an important part of any well-functioning democracy. That is why it has been concerning over the last number of years to see newsrooms closing down and journalists being put out of work because of the revenue challenges among more traditional media.

As much as news is circulating more than ever on social media, social media is not a content generator. It does not write the stories. Fewer and fewer journalists are writing the stories that are being circulated ever and ever wider, but that is not an increase in the amount of quality journalism that is happening; it is just a wider audience for the smaller amount of journalism that is happening.

The lack of funding, or the inability of news organizations to be able to hire journalists to do proper investigative reporting, is a serious problem. I think it is a public interest problem. That is where I disagree with the member for Thornhill, who has said on a number of occasions that, essentially, government should be blind to this problem and not engage with it or that there is no room for some kind of public policy fix. If we simply leave this to the market, what we have seen is that the market is failing to support good journalism. There is a need for a solution. If the market can provide one, so be it. It is just that we are not seeing that, and we are running out of time as more and more newsrooms close down and we have fewer people doing the good work journalists do in Canada.

We in the NDP agree that something needs to be done. We have been calling for that for a long time. Part of our frustration is that this is kind of an 11th-hour solution, if we can call it that. It is an 11th-hour proposal by the Liberal government to finally start, maybe, doing something about a problem that has existed for a long time and that has been allowed to get to a point where it is actually becoming quite serious. To drop it at the end of this Parliament is unfortunate.

We do not all agree on various components of this debate, but the fact that there is so much contention about the solution is evidence that we needed a longer timeline if we wanted to try to find some kind of consensus, or least a meeting of the minds, among the parties in this place. We needed more time to be able to do that. To have the proposal come out just recently, when the end of Parliament is only a few weeks away, really does not bode well for finding a solution that as many political actors as possible could sign on to. That is important.

The NDP has known for a long time that big corporate money has played a role in media, and we have often been on the receiving end of what that means in terms of editorial opinion, the kinds of stories that are covered and the angles of the stories that are covered. We on this side know all about what money means to the media and the frustration of finding people who are ideologically opposed to a point of view and do not want to see it succeed.

We have had a lot of people in the media over the years. We are celebrating the 100th anniversary of the Winnipeg General Strike this year. We have heard lots of stories about the coalition between business leaders and newspapers and what they did to demonize strikers and misrepresent their position. We have seen that carry on through the last 100 years, too.

There are great journalists doing independent work. There has always been the question of money in media. As long as we have a solution on offer, and the government is going to be providing subsidies, the NDP has no objection to workers being at the table. Unifor represents over 12,000 workers in the industry. We know, because we are not outside unions looking in, that Jerry Dias can have his opinion, and Unifor, as a larger union, can have its position when it comes to an election.

Brad Honywill is an established, retired journalist who worked for the Sun Media chain, which, incidentally, is not known for giving the Conservatives an unfair hearing. Members here who have read the work of the Sun Media chain will not feel, if they are giving an honest assessment, that the Sun Media chain does not fairly communicate the views of the Conservative movement of Canada.

That was his career. He can speak on that panel with a sense of independence, as a retired journalist, and that is fine. That is separate from the political activities of the union. It may be that there is some misunderstanding on the part of Conservatives as to how large democratic organizations work. However, to have somebody from Unifor, with a long history and experience in the industry, being named as one member of eight on the panel to make recommendations about what the rules will be, and to further nominate a second independent panel, is not the end of the world.

That does not mean that this is the best model. This has been coming like a slow train wreck for years and years, as my hon. colleague from Longueuil—Saint-Hubert said very well, and I commend him for all the work he has done on this, over years. This has been coming for a long time. As my hon. NDP colleague from Saskatoon pointed out earlier, the reason this is happening is because of a kind of structural issue within the industry. It has to do with the fact that this is an industry that heretofore has been funded through ad revenue. The problem is that ad revenue for traditional media is drying up because it is going to new media. When businesses or any advertisers spend money on ads through Facebook, Google or another Internet company, they are not charged the same tax that they would be if they were advertising in Canadian media. They are not charged the sales tax, the GST. Therefore, these social media platforms already have a number of inherent advantages in terms of their reach and being able to target.

On top of that, government policy offers further incentive to advertise with those companies by helping to make it cheaper by not applying a sales tax. Those who advertise in Canadian print publications can write off their taxable revenue as a business, but they cannot do that if they are advertising in print in U.S. or international publications. However, when it comes to the Internet, even though Facebook and Google are American-based companies, they are treated as Canadian companies. Therefore, Canadian advertisers are able to get the same tax advantage for advertising with Facebook and Google as they are in Canadian print publications.

Those are two taxation measures that incentivize advertising with foreign-based advertisers as opposed to Canadian publications. That is at the root of the crisis of revenue that is causing newsrooms to shut down or to lay off journalists and run on a skeleton crew. What is odd about this proposal is that it does not cut to the core of the structural incentives that government policies have created to advertise with non-Canadian advertisers online. Why would the government come up with a band-aid solution when there are clear structural issues? There are recommendations from a number of different parliamentary committees and other independent groups that name that problem, so why the Liberal government would not be concerned with addressing the structural issue rather than slapping a Band-Aid on it is anyone's guess.

I have not been here for as long as some, but it is coming up on four years. What I have seen, when it comes to pharmacare, for instance, is that there are clear proposals for how to move forward, such as expanding coverage for Canadians to save billions of dollars every year, and Liberals are not prepared to do it. Why is that? It is because that would hurt the corporate profits of their buddies.

When we look at climate change and some of the real things that need to happen to effectively combat climate change from the Canadian perspective, we run up against the Liberals' desire to protect the profits of the oil and gas industry. They continue to offer subsidies. They bought an old pipeline. They did not build a new one, but spent $4.5 billion on an existing pipeline to pay out Kinder Morgan's shareholders, because that was consistent with protecting the profits of their corporate friends.

We again have a model where, instead of allowing new media start-ups to be eligible for this funding, because a lot of people are interested in that, this is a program that favours the established print industry. It did not have to be that way. That was a decision that the Liberals made, once again, no coincidence, and that benefits established corporate interest over everyone else. There is definitely a pattern. Unfortunately, it has had an influence on this. They waited too long to present a real solution, so we are finding it hard to find agreement before the next election. That is unfortunate if it causes Canadians to feel less trustful of journalism during an election.

Opposition Motion—News Media IndustryBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

1:25 p.m.

Winnipeg North Manitoba


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

Madam Speaker, I really wanted to ask a question of the previous speaker, but time did not permit.

However, I think it is important that the NDP gets a better understanding of the situation when it comes to our culture and arts. We have spent well over $2 billion, which is a record investment in culture and arts. This government does not need to be lectured by the New Democrats on that issue when we have delivered historical amounts of money.

In regard to the media, this is not the first time we have responded to the changes that have been taking place within our media. We have spent, likely in the neighbourhood of $50 million in terms of assistance. This tax credit program is going to go a long way in providing for, in many ways, its survival. In other ways, it will be complementing, allowing for other forms of compensation to potentially take place in other sectors, whether it is private advertising or whatever else it might be.

This is something that I believe has been well received, and some of the strongest advocates for it were in fact union members. Would the member not agree that is a good thing?

Opposition Motion—News Media IndustryBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

1:30 p.m.


Daniel Blaikie NDP Elmwood—Transcona, MB

Madam Speaker, I think a good thing would have been to have a plan that first of all addresses the structural issues that are causing this upheaval within the industry. It would not just be a one-year to a five-year funding fix on a model that is not working. I proposed some ways that the government could address that structural deficit.

The second thing good thing would have been for the Liberals, instead of sitting on their hands for four years, to have presented this plan much earlier in the Parliament. There would have been opportunities to make changes and tweaks, in light of criticism that is bound to come up, to try to get closer to something that more people from more sides of the political spectrum could wholeheartedly endorse. We could find a way to ensure that Canada continues to have quality independent journalism, which is important for our democracy, and to do it in a way that is the least politicized as possible, because that is an inherent part of that project.

Opposition Motion—News Media IndustryBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

1:30 p.m.


Tom Kmiec Conservative Calgary Shepard, AB

Madam Speaker, I sat on the finance committee, and this bailout is embedded in an omnibus budget bill. I think it deserves mentioning, again, that this is something the government promised not to do.

This is also a kind of three-package deal. In it, there is a panel that is going to oversee a tax credit. I cannot find any other tax credit the government has which has a government-appointed panel that decides on it. Typically, we let the Canada Revenue Agency decide who meets the eligibility criteria that is set out in the law.

Does the member know of any other tax credit where the government basically appoints a panel to decide who is in or out? If he knows of any, I would love to hear it.

Opposition Motion—News Media IndustryBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

1:30 p.m.


Daniel Blaikie NDP Elmwood—Transcona, MB

Madam Speaker, the short answer is no, I do not. However, I thank the member for bringing up the fact that this is couched in an omnibus budget bill.

Whatever anyone thinks of this, whether they think it is the greatest thing since sliced bread or that this is a horrible end to Canadian democracy, and more likely it is somewhere in between, what people should be able to agree on is that it is significant to have this amount of government funding available to media organizations. It is the kind of thing that deserves a real debate.

However, the government said, for instance, that it was going to put the practice of omnibus budget bills in the past. It criticized the previous government for making unilateral changes to the Elections Act, which the current government subsequently did. It said it would not move forward with unilateral changes to the rules of Parliament, but then tried to do exactly that.

This is another industry that touches on the very fundamentals of Canadian democracy. We should have had more of an effort by the government to bringing people on all sides of the political spectrum onboard, that this would be done in a way that people expect. Instead, the government has taken the same ham-fisted approach it has taken to changes to Parliament, changes to the Elections Act and to implementing its budget bills.

I would note that in that same budget bill, the government is adopting the Conservatives' misguided approach to immigration. That in itself deserves real and sustained debate. Instead the government is tucking it into the back of a budget bill. There certainly is not time to debate both of these significant changes that are under the auspices of a single bill, let alone the other content of the bill that we have not touched on in today's debate.

Opposition Motion—News Media IndustryBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

1:30 p.m.


Michelle Rempel Conservative Calgary Nose Hill, AB

Madam Speaker, I will be splitting my time with the member for Sherwood Park—Fort Saskatchewan.

The institution of freedom of the press is an underpinning of any democratic nation. It is the principle by which we understand that journalists or those in civil service investigate policy, politicians, and comings and goings, and shed light and perhaps different viewpoints on what is going on in our country. This is in order to ensure that we have the best public policy and work toward equality of economic opportunity. Regardless of political stripe, I hope we all agree that the institution of freedom of the press is very important.

I want to contrast the institution of freedom of the press with something that my colleague just said, which was on the industry of journalism. The institution is different from the industry. The institution of freedom of the press does not imply that somehow someone has to make a profit off of this. What we are talking about today is the state interfering in the industry of the press and whether or not that is appropriate in terms of the ability for the institution in Canada to survive.

In 2013, PwC's report, “Online Global entertainment and media outlook 2013-2017”, predicted that newspaper revenue would drop by 20% by 2017. This was not attributed to a lack of consumer demand for journalism, but was attributed directly to a rise in advertising revenue being shifted from print media to online media. It will be no surprise to anyone in this room, or anyone listening at home, that it is because the way we consume information has changed dramatically in the last several years. Many of us consume information on our phones. We consume information with short video blogs. We consume information from content that it is pushed to our phones.

The industry of journalism in Canada knew, through its own corporate forecasts and reports like this one, that its business model was failing. It begs the question of why the taxpayers of Canada should have to bail out a business model that was failing, which is print journalism. These organizations should have known, as any industry does, that they would have to adapt in order to survive. Anyone who owns a business knows that business models can change. For example, look at taxi companies when Uber came in. When something is disruptive to an industry, one has to adapt or one does not survive.

We are now debating whether the government should be bailing out a failed business model, or a failed industry. Unfortunately, what the government has chosen to do in answer to that question affects the institution of freedom of press. Anyone of any political stripe should be concerned about this. A partisan political actor should not be allocating tax dollars in such a way that it could harm the independence of the institution of free press in Canada.

How does that happen? What the Prime Minister has done is to allocate $600 million, which is a lot of money that could be used for a lot of things, to a select group of industry actors in journalism, based on criteria that the government selects and doles the money out on. If those industry actors are not sympathetic to the government of the time, are they inherently credible in terms of actors in the institution of free press? That is what is at stake here.

Anybody who votes Liberal, Green or NDP should be as comfortable with a Conservative-led government selecting those criteria as they are their own. They would have a very hard time standing here arguing for, let us say, Stephen Harper having control over the Canadian media. If an argument does not work both ways from political strife, then we actually have a big problem. Somebody who votes NDP or Green should have a huge concern.

Let us park, for a second, whether Canadian taxpayers should bail out a failed industry that has failed to transition to digital online. This is really about the credibility of anybody at any journalistic institution who takes money out of this fund and for those who choose not to take funds or who are not eligible to take those funds, whether they will be able to compete with people who now have a partisan interest, and they do have a partisan interest.

The government has appointed Unifor to the panel of people who will select the criteria by which the government doles out the funds. Unifor has a publicly stated, publicly funded campaign against a political party in this place. This weekend on the political talk shows, the leader of Unifor said that he should be on that panel because he had a score to settle. He said that other industry and media had endorsed the Conservatives before and why should he not be able to settle the score.

What we are debating here is which partisan actor is better suited to influence the industry on which the institution of freedom of the press is based in Canada. That is disgusting.

We have had a lot of discussions in this place about foreign influence in our election and fake news. It is the individual responsibility of every Canadian to understand how to critically evaluate information presented as news. There is no way the government can regulate that. Many of the existing actors in Canadian industry have responded to this drop in online content by trying to build their own media platforms and responding with clickbait. We do not have a lot of print journalism that I would constitute as journalism anymore. There is some, but a lot of it is editorialization on both the right and the left. Why would Canadian taxpayers perpetuate a failing industry that has such strong ramifications for Canadian democracy?

I know why the Liberal government is doing this and I know why the NDP supports it. When people control the press, they control people. That is what is happening here. Jerry Dias said that he had a score to settle. People cannot control the press through the state. Let us vigorously debate policy and let us even want to throttle each other over differences in public policy. However, to somehow argue with any sort of a fig leaf that this is anything other than the state controlling the press is shameful.

Columnists who have written about the fact that any journalist who works for an organization that takes money from this fund will have to work ten times harder to be credible are right, and they are brave for saying that.

At the end of the day, this bailout will not save print journalism in Canada. The only way that is saved is if these organizations figure out how to transition to the new digital reality, which many of them have failed to do.

In the strongest possible terms, I oppose any sort of interference in this regard. We need to have a conversation about what the state's role is in funding news writ large in Canada. We need to oppose partisan political actors being involved in the doling out of tax dollars to save an industry on which the institution of freedom of speech in our country is underpinned. I refuse to stand here, partisan hat off, and say as a Conservative that I would be excited about that level of control. No, we should have vigorous debate that challenges dogma, not that perpetuates a monopoly that is controlled by partisan actors. It is wrong and it needs to stop.

Opposition Motion—News Media IndustryBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

1:40 p.m.

Winnipeg North Manitoba


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

Madam Speaker, I listened very closely to the member opposite. I cannot help but think of the word hypocrisy. During the time of Stephen Harper, his government invested tens of millions of dollars annually in print or news magazines.

On the one hand, former Prime Minister Harper and his government recognized that they needed to support news magazines. Now that member has made it very clear that this is a bad idea, a dumb idea. I do not know if she represents the entire Conservative caucus when she says that. Stephen Harper recognized it.

It seems to me that the Conservative Party is even going further to the right, getting closer to the Doug Ford mentality with respect to policy. Is the position of the member opposite the same as the Conservative Party and Doug Ford?

Opposition Motion—News Media IndustryBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

1:45 p.m.


Michelle Rempel Conservative Calgary Nose Hill, AB

Madam Speaker, my colleague opposite has committed two logical fallacies.

One is tu quoque, we are doing it too. He is comparing himself to a Conservative government. The policy he talked about was perpetuated under a Liberal government. Frankly, yes, I disagree with it. I do not think we should be funding failed business models. I do not think we should be bailing these organizations out, and we should stop it.

The other logical fallacy that he committed was a red herring. As opposed to refuting any of my argument with regard to the fact that the government's motive was to control the press and undermine freedom of speech, he tried to divert the argument with crass partisan politics. This topic deserves more than that. It deserves real, intelligent debate. For anyone watching, I offer my condolences for having to watch that debate failure.

Opposition Motion—News Media IndustryBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

1:45 p.m.


Guy Caron NDP Rimouski-Neigette—Témiscouata—Les Basques, QC

Madam Speaker, there is one element in my colleague's speech with which I agree. It is that this crisis was foreseeable. We knew that the media, especially the print media, was in trouble, but that trouble was compounded by the fact that social media such as Facebook, Twitter and so on, were using, for free, the content created by that media. That accelerated the crisis. That acceleration took place when the Conservatives were in power and they did nothing about it.

I am not saying that what the Liberals are proposing is perfect. I am not saying this it is what we would proposed. However, leaving that crisis for the private sector to solve would be extremely dangerous for the future of our democracy and the future of the independence of the press. There would be very little protection of its independence.

I remind my colleague that we are not only talking about the independence of the media, which I agree is critical, but we are also talking about the viability of the media. We need to find a way to help the media transition to a different model. I would like to ask my friend how this Parliament, the government and the House of Commons can help the media sector to do this.

Opposition Motion—News Media IndustryBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

1:45 p.m.


Michelle Rempel Conservative Calgary Nose Hill, AB

Madam Speaker, my colleague is arguing that it is the role of the state to bail out a failed business model. It is not. His premise is flawed.

These organizations have failed to transition to a digital online model. He is talking about content being shared on Twitter. There are organizations in Canada that are profitable. Blacklock's is an example that uses a paywall. People will pay for the information they want to consume. Those platforms are not stealing that advertising. When people share content, they get driven to online platforms and absorb the advertising there.

The failure of industry to respond in an already highly regulated market to the demand of the consumer does not mean it is the role of the state to bail them out. Therefore, my colleague's premise is completely flawed. It should be the role of the private sector to figure this out. It is incumbent on every Canadian to determine how he or she will consume information and reward those who respond to that demand accordingly.

We could be using that $600 million for any other purpose, but to use it and undermine the freedom of the press is an abdication of our fiduciary responsibility to Canadian taxpayers.

Opposition Motion—News Media IndustryBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

1:45 p.m.


Garnett Genuis Conservative Sherwood Park—Fort Saskatchewan, AB

Madam Speaker, today we are discussing a proposal by the government that is transparently ridiculous. I think my six-year-old daughter could well understand why it is ridiculous and government members should as well. It is a $600 million government bailout fund for some journalists and media organizations. The distribution of that fund is to be controlled by a committee that includes Jerry Dias and the leadership of Unifor. Unifor's leadership has made it clear that it will use workers' funds for electoral purposes. It will campaign to defeat the Conservatives in the next election and for the re-election of the Liberal government. It calls itself “The resistance” to the Conservatives.

Overtly partisan people are responsible for meting out dollars to journalists; that is for determining who is a journalist and who is not for the purpose of this funding and for determining who gets the money and who does not.

Our contention on this side of the House is that in defence of an independent press, we should not have overtly partisan individuals or entities responsible for meting out funds on the basis, supposedly, of supporting non-partisan journalism. This should be very clear. Having people who are actively involved in campaigning for one particular outcome in the election and also determining who is a journalist for the purposes of receiving funding is outrageous. It is beyond outrageous. I think members across the way would understand this very easily if the shoe were on the other foot.

That is why thus far in this debate members of the government are trying to avoid the real conversation about the real issue by all means necessary. They are making all sorts of other points that do not really address their decision to have partisan mechanisms handing out funding and deciding which journalists get funding.

Government members have talked about the important role that journalists play in our democracy. Of course we strongly agree with that. However, the most important tool that journalists have in their toolbox is a recognition of their credibility. Why do people choose to get their information from credible media organizations as opposed to blogs? Why do people go to as opposed to to get their media? It is because of credibility. People understand. They hope that when they go to a media organization they trust, they can expect the information to be credible, accurate and non-partisan.

When the government intervenes by determining who gets funding and who does not, it is undermining the perception of credibility in the press by the public. Thus, it makes the job of independent professional journalists that much more difficult. The government is eroding public confidence in the fourth estate and it is doing so for its own interests.

If the government really cares about defending the vital work our independent press does, it should actually listen to what members of the press are saying about the proposal.

Don Martin from CTV says, “The optics of journalism associations and unions deciding who picks the recipients of government aid for journalism are getting very queasy.”

Andrew Coyne says, “It is quite clear now, if it was not already: this is the most serious threat to the independence of the press in this country in decades.”

Jen Gerson from CBC says, “If any of these associations or unions could be trusted to manage this “independent” panel, they would be denouncing it already.”

David Akin says, “I am a Unifor member and had no choice about that when I joined @globalnews. Unifor never consulted its membership prior to this endorsement. Had I been asked, I would have argued it should make no partisan endorsements.” He says, “ Jerry: I invite you to visit with Unifor members who are also members of the Parliamentary Press Gallery. I’ll set the meeting up. You will learn first-hand how much damage you are doing to the businesses that employ us, to our credibility and how terribly uninformed you are.”

Chris Selley, from the National Post, says, “Liberals' media bailout puts foxes in charge of the chickens.”

Chantal Hébert says, “Among the ranks of the political columnists, many fear it is a poison pill that will eventually do the news industry more harm than good.”

That is quite a list of intelligent, thoughtful journalists who comment on a range of different issues and who are known and have recognized names in Canadian democracy.

If the government says that its goal is to defend independent journalists like Don Martin, Jen Gerson, Andrew Coyne, David Akin and Chantal Hébert, then maybe it should listen to those independent journalists, because they understand that when the government pursues policies that undermine their perceived credibility in the eyes of the public, it makes it more difficult—not easier, but more difficult—for independent journalists.

Members of the government talk about an independent press. They talk about how having Unifor on a panel that doles out government funds and determines which journalists get the money and which do not, how having overtly partisan mechanisms controlling which journalists get funding and which who do not, is somehow in defence of an independent press. That is very Orwellian. War is peace; freedom is slavery; ignorance is strength. It is Orwellian to say that government partisans doling out funding arbitrarily to media organizations of their choice is a way to maintain the independence of the press.

Canadians should be concerned about it because journalists are concerned about it. Not only is it a waste of taxpayers' money and not only is the government trying to intervene to stack the deck in its favour for the next election, but it undermines the independence of the press and it creates greater challenges for the press as they try to do their job. It makes it harder for them to fight back against those who are challenging their credibility.

In response to this, Jerry Dias from Unifor said that he is entitled to his free speech. I agree that all Canadians are entitled to free speech, but he is not entitled to use Canadians' tax dollars to promote those particular views.

Further, we expect certain positions in our democracy to be independent. We expect budgets not to be involved in overtly partisan politics. We expect the Clerk of the Privy Council not to be involved in overtly partisan politics—oops—and we expect some of these people to be outside of speaking about elections and parties. We certainly expect that the people responsible for doling out funding to journalists or deciding which organizations get the money would indeed be independent and would be separate from politics.

This is about preserving the independence of our institutions. We on this side of the House stand for preserving the independence of those institutions. It is not good enough to say it; we have to actually leave those institutions alone and not interfere with them. We should not interfere in the independence of our journalists, our public servants, or the functions of our judicial system, which is another problem. There are so many cases of the Liberals not respecting the independence of our institutions and interfering with them, and they are doing it again with respect to independent media.

The government's argument is that Unifor should be represented because it represents journalists. Here are some important numbers: Unifor is a very large union, representing over 300,000 people. There are about 12,000 journalists in that number; less than 5% of the membership are journalists, so this is not an organization that speaks uniquely and exclusively for journalists. In fact, journalists represent a very small part of the overall membership of the organization, so claiming that Jerry Dias can speak particularly for journalists in the context of public policy and advocacy widely misses the mark, especially since we hear so many journalists speaking out against this situation.

This is part of a broader pattern. We see repeatedly by the Liberal government efforts to stack the deck in its favour to undermine the independence of our institutions. We saw this first with the electoral system, when the government wanted to change the electoral system to its advantage and wanted to do it without a referendum. When the consultations came back and were different from what the government wanted, it ordered another round of consultations, again trying to stack the deck. The government tried to change the electoral system to its advantage and it failed. We called the government out on it.

The government also tried to change the Standing Orders of this place. Without the agreement of all parties, it tried to bring in automatic closure, again undermining the role of the opposition in the House of Commons. The government has tried to do this multiple times, but we successfully stood against it.

We called on the government to clamp down on foreign interference in elections; it refused to act on that.

The government has unilaterally acted to control the structure of the leadership debate. It has pushed through other changes to the Canada Elections Act that allow third party groups to massively outspend political parties in the pre-election period. The government did that to stack the deck.

Now again we see, in its efforts to undermine the independence of the media by having overtly partisan people controlling the handouts that are going to media, that the government is again trying to stack the deck in its favour.

The government does not respect the independence of the media. It does not respect the independence of Parliament. It does not respect the independence of the opposition, and that more than anything else is the reason that the Liberal government must be defeated.

Opposition Motion—News Media IndustryBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

1:55 p.m.


The Assistant Deputy Speaker NDP Carol Hughes

The hon. member will have five minutes for questions and comments after question period.

Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and GirlsStatements By Members

1:55 p.m.


Jane Philpott Independent Markham—Stouffville, ON

Madam Speaker, today the government received the final report from the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls.

I attended the closing ceremony and was moved by the powerful testimony of families, grandmothers and elders.

The report has 231 calls for justice. Let us highlight calls to which all Canadians are asked to respond.

One, read the report; two, speak out against racism, sexism and misogyny; three, hold governments to account; and four, decolonize ourselves—learn the true history of Canada.

Our response must be more than words. Governments must recognize the rights of indigenous peoples and must make investments in education, housing and restorative justice to bring about true reconciliation and stop the violence against indigenous women, girls, and two-spirited and trans people.

We all have a responsibility to act. I will be an ally—will you?

Please read the report.

Alfred-PellanStatements By Members

2 p.m.


Angelo Iacono Liberal Alfred-Pellan, QC

Madam Speaker, as the parliamentary session winds down, I want to take a moment to look back on our fantastic term in office.

On top of our Liberal government's major accomplishments, like the Canada child benefit and the free trade agreements we signed, since 2015, Alfred-Pellan has seen a 186% increase in Canada summer jobs placements, more than $184,000 for seniors through the new horizons for seniors program, nearly $115,000 for accessibility upgrades, more than $760,000 to support deaf Canadians participating and competing in sporting events, and nearly $3.5 million to support businesses in Alfred-Pellan.

I supported many organizations, including the Alzheimer Society Laval, the Fondation du Dr Julien, la Fondation Cité de la santé and all the local festivals, as well as about seven community clean-up and tree planting events.

I am proud of the results obtained since since October 2015 and I am determined to keep on defending the interests of my constituents.

Leon DopkeStatements By Members

2 p.m.


Rob Nicholson Conservative Niagara Falls, ON

Mr. Speaker, it is my great honour to rise in the House today to pay tribute to my constituent, World War II hero Lieutenant Leon Dopke, who passed away on May 4 in Niagara.

Leon enlisted in the army at the age of 14 in response to German troops attacking and destroying the Polish Air Force. He went on to fight with the Allies in Britain, Poland, Italy, Sweden and France, culminating in the liberation of Bologna, Italy, and the capture of Mussolini.

When I was Minister of National Defence, often the topic of medals would come up. I remember bragging about Leon's array of medals. I said that if we spread them out across his chest, they would have stretched down to his elbow.

Freedom is not free, and no one knew that better than Leon Dopke. As we approach D-Day on June 6, in what may be my last S. 0. 31 in the House, I am privileged to pay homage to Leon Dopke.

I thank Leon for standing on guard for Canada. Democracy is indebted to him.

Newmarket Farmers' MarketStatements By Members

2 p.m.


Kyle Peterson Liberal Newmarket—Aurora, ON

Mr. Speaker, I want to express my heartfelt congratulations to the Newmarket Farmers' Market, which is celebrating its 20th anniversary this season.

The first market was actually held on June 1, 1871. Spurred on by this tradition, the market was revived, and the latest version began in May 1999. Every Saturday morning from May to October, a band of farmers, vendors and volunteers transforms the Riverwalk Commons into a bustling hive of activity reminiscent of the town's historic beginnings as a new market.

Thanks to the driving force of Marilyn Church, Joe Sponga and Jackie Playter, the market was revived 20 years ago. Many others, such as Margaret Koopmans, Julia Shipcott and Matt Haggerty helped ensure its early survival and later success.

Of course, a special thanks is owed to all the farmers who make the farmers' market what it is. As its motto goes, come for the freshness and stay for the fun. We'll see everyone at the market.

National Indigenous Peoples DayStatements By Members

2 p.m.


Carol Hughes NDP Algoma—Manitoulin—Kapuskasing, ON

Mr. Speaker, last year I attended a ceremony for the creation of the Missanabie Cree First Nation Reserve. This community joins 17 first nations that make up a significant part of the geography and culture of Algoma—Manitoulin—Kapuskasing.

This June, as we mark National Indigenous History Month and the contributions of indigenous peoples, I encourage everyone to visit indigenous communities, meet their neighbours and join in celebrations such as those that will take place on National Indigenous Peoples Day on June 21.

The powwow season begins in June and anyone who has ever participated in one knows how important they are.

For those interested in celebrating indigenous cultures and communities, there may be no better place than Algoma—Manitoulin—Kapuskasing, where the opportunity to do so will take people from the shores of lakes Huron and Superior to the heart of the boreal forest.

I wish my indigenous friends the very best as they celebrate their incredible history, heritage and communities. Happy National Indigenous History Month.

Canadian Armed Forces DayStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.


Darren Fisher Liberal Dartmouth—Cole Harbour, NS

Mr. Speaker, the women and men of our Canadian Armed Forces are at the core of everything we do, and Canadians are deeply proud of them.

On Canadian Armed Forces Day, I rise to thank the members who are taking part in the national sentry program, standing guard and watching over the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. They honour the sacrifice and memory of members who fought for peace and security in Canada and around the world. I thank members French, Comeau, Renzelli, Barrett, Teminksy, Gagnon, Barnes, Bryan, Hira, Power, Alfallah, Ryu, Hill, Masseo, Cook, Booth, Fenton, Parker and Conquist.

Our government will support the Canadian Armed Forces as they support all Canadians. From their efforts to help fellow Canadians facing floods and wildfires to stabilizing regions abroad, their actions are selfless, noticed and appreciated.

I ask all members of this House to rise and join me in thanking our Canadian Armed Forces members for all they do.

Air CadetsStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.


Kelly McCauley Conservative Edmonton West, AB

Mr. Speaker, this Saturday, I had the honour to attend the 60th annual ceremonial review of the 699 Jasper Place Royal Canadian Air Cadet Squadron, fondly known as the pink panther squadron. Where did the name come from? The cadets used to have white surplus RCAF flight suits. Someone had the idea of dying them a bright orange just before the cadets left to volunteer at the Abbotsford air show, and the result, in true Canadian military procurement fashion, was not as intended. The overalls came out a bright pink. It being too late to address the issue, the 699 cadets proudly wore them. Thus, the pink panthers were born.

The panthers have a long history of producing community leaders, with many going on to serve our country proudly in our air force, navy and army. Their proud motto is “Never Settle”, and they do not.

Congratulations to the pink panthers on their 60th anniversary. I thank the many volunteers who help develop our cadets into our community's future leaders.

Convention on the Rights of Persons with DisabilitiesStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.


Sean Casey Liberal Charlottetown, PE

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to inform the House that Prince Edward Islander Hannah MacLellan will be representing Canada at a UN conference on the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in New York next week.

At 20, Hannah has already made her mark in P.E.I. politics. She was the driving force in the adoption of a bill known as Hannah's Bill, which passed through the P.E.I. legislature in 2016.

While working toward a degree in human rights and disability studies, Hannah has been an active member of the Carleton University Young Liberals and is a valuable employee in my office. She has been a fixture in the gallery of this place, especially during the debate on the government's bill to create a barrier-free Canada. Hannah most recently represented the riding of Cardigan in Parliament for Daughters of the Vote, where she gave an impassioned speech on Bill C-81.

I am proud to say that persons with disabilities have a formidable advocate in Ms. MacLellan. Today also happens to be her birthday. I wish Hannah a happy birthday.

Portugal Heritage MonthStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.


Peter Fonseca Liberal Mississauga East—Cooksville, ON

Mr. Speaker, in June we celebrate Portuguese Heritage Month and the great contributions made by Canadians of Portuguese descent. The Luso community in Canada numbers over 480,000 members. We thank them for their contributions in shaping our communities from coast to coast to coast.

Just last year, we welcomed a special guest, Portuguese Prime Minister António Costa, whose first state visit to Canada was a testament to the continually growing co-operation between our two nations.

Portugal Day, June 10, celebrated both in Portugal and around the world by Portuguese, honours the 16th century poet Luís Vaz de Camões, whose prose captured Portugal's age of discovery. It is a special day of pride for me, both as a Portuguese immigrant who came to Canada at the age of two with my family and as an MP who represents a riding in Mississauga, a city that 20,000 Portuguese Canadians call home.

I am proud to call June Portuguese Heritage Month.

Viva Canada. Viva Portugal.

Government PoliciesStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.


Jamie Schmale Conservative Haliburton—Kawartha Lakes—Brock, ON

Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister made a lot of promises during the 2015 election to balance budgets and support the middle class. He has failed on his promise to lower the federal debt-to-GDP ratio every single year he has been in office. He has failed on his promise to run tiny $10-billion deficits, outspending every government in Canadian history, outside of those that were fighting global wars or recessions. He broke his vow on a key pledge that the new 33% income tax bracket cuts and increases would be revenue neutral. He has not fulfilled his promise to provide a costing analysis for government bills. He broke his pledge to invest in better home care services for families struggling to support loved ones. He did not remove the GST, as promised, on new capital investments in affordable rental housing. He botched his promise to balance the budget by 2019.

Now he is making more promises for the election this fall. It is no wonder Canadians do not trust him anymore. He is simply not as advertised.

ALSStatements By Members

June 3rd, 2019 / 2:10 p.m.


Mona Fortier Liberal Ottawa—Vanier, ON

Mr. Speaker, June is ALS Awareness Month, a time to raise awareness and funds for research and support services for this devastating disease.

Approximately 3,000 Canadians are currently living with ALS, a disease that can strike anyone and that affects entire families.

We must continue to ensure that those with ALS feel supported, advocate for better awareness and promote research initiatives that will help us find a treatment.

ALS is a heartbreaking disease and we should all try to do more. This cause is very dear to me. It is important to continue to share this message.

In memory of my predecessor, the remarkable and inspiring MP Mauril Bélanger, I would like to recognize all those affected by ALS across the country. Our hearts are with them this month and every month.

Filipino Heritage MonthStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.


Kevin Lamoureux Liberal Winnipeg North, MB

Mr. Speaker, late last fall, the House of Commons passed a resolution recognizing the month of June as Filipino Heritage Month. This will be the first national coast to coast to coast celebration of Filipino heritage.

In the next year and a half, the Filipino population will be one million here in Canada, so it is a great opportunity, no matter what region of the country one lives in, to make note that June is Filipino Heritage Month. People should go out, enjoy themselves and understand and appreciate how much the Filipino community has impacted every aspect of our society, whether socially or economically, everywhere.

It is a wonderful opportunity for us to show a little love and appreciate the valuable contributions the Filipino community has made to Canada.