House of Commons Hansard #427 of the 42nd Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was housing.


Health Care Delivery in Rural CanadaPrivate Members' Business

June 5th, 2019 / 6 p.m.


Christine Moore NDP Abitibi—Témiscamingue, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would first like to clarify something about the motion. Although the federal government does have jurisdictional powers over certain aspects of heath care, including that of ensuring that all Canadians have equal access to health care services, the actual implementation of health services is a provincial responsibility.

The federal government provides health transfers to the provinces, but it is up to the provinces and the provinces alone to decide how to use those funds. Managing all health services falls under the exclusive jurisdiction of the provinces. This motion is aimed at improving the delivery of health services. It therefore interferes directly in a provincial jurisdiction. The member himself even admitted it. Strategies and communications technologies pertain to health care management, so this motion extends beyond the federal government's general jurisdiction. Only the provinces can deliver health care directly to Canadians and are able to develop the strategies needed to change health care management.

The NDP recognizes the importance of respecting provincial jurisdiction, especially in Quebec. That is why we adopted the Sherbrooke declaration, which acknowledges Canada's asymmetry and affirms Quebec's right to opt out with compensation. The member's motion directly interferes in an area under provincial jurisdiction.

Let me say that the timing of this motion is peculiar. When the member answered my question, he said that he did not choose when to present his motion, but the fact is, he most certainly did have a choice. He could have chosen to present any number of measures over the past four years.

For example, I myself presented a number of bills and motions that I believed merited the attention of the House even though I was well aware they would not be debated. Unfortunately, members have only one chance to introduce a bill of their own, and that is if they are lucky. The member presented the motion a month ago knowing full well it would probably never be voted on. This motion would have to go to committee, but that will never happen.

If the member truly wanted to improve the health outcomes of rural Canadians, which, I recognize, is a very important issue, he could have chosen measures that do not overstep federal jurisdiction. For example, he could have asked that federal health transfers be increased by the amount requested by the provinces. The Quebec health minister has said that the federal government must stop meddling in provincial jurisdictions and that it start by increasing our health transfers.

Lack of money is one of the biggest obstacles to the implementation of different technologies that could help rural Canadians. Hospitals are already accumulating deficits because they pay nurses a lot of overtime due to the shortage of staff and staff burnout. Unfortunately, the increase in health transfers is not enough to meet provincial needs. That is one thing that the member could have requested and that would have fallen within federal jurisdiction.

With respect to the labour shortage, there is another useful measure that falls within federal jurisdiction: improving the immigration process and the recruitment of foreign professionals. I have often been told by hospital administrators that they had found a very interesting candidate, a specialist from abroad. The specialist was interested in the position but was discouraged by the process and chose to settle in another country where procedures are much less complex. The process is expensive and very complicated. Also, immigration services do not exist in rural regions.

A hospital board that wants to recruit abroad does not even have access to services in its region where it can get help and support and find out the most effective way of handling the process. If the board wants access to those services, it has to manage by telephone, by Internet or by talking to agents who do not really understand all the ins and outs of the process. It is extremely complex. The member could have asked for immigration services to be set up in rural areas. That would also have helped in terms of recruitment.

To help improve care and services in rural areas, the member could have done something about travel. Patients often have to travel long distances, which gets expensive. That is difficult from a financial perspective.

In order to be entitled to the medical expense tax credit, which can include travel expenses, a person must be making a certain income. If that person did not pay any taxes, he or she is not entitled to the tax credit. In the end, we are not helping those who would benefit the most from this help, those who cannot afford to pay for travel expenses.

There are quite a few concrete measures that the member could have chosen instead of moving a motion calling for a committee study that will never be done. That is why the motion does not sit well with me. I can see that the member is genuinely concerned about health care in rural areas, but I am having a hard time understanding why he chose such an ineffectual way to address the issue. It is most unfortunate, especially considering he has been an MP for four years. Some of us have been here longer, but the member has been in the House of Commons for four years. He could have sought advice. He knows enough about how things work that he should have realized this was not the best way to proceed.

If the member is really interested in what has been going on with new technologies, he could have asked the research service for help. All MPs have access to the services of the Library of Parliament for conducting research. For instance, the member could have asked the Library of Parliament to perform an exhaustive search for different strategies that have been used in various regions across Canada or around the world to improve services in rural areas. That would have generated plenty of fascinating reading material for him.

When new technologies become established, scientific, medical or nursing journals often publish articles highlighting their positive impact. The data on the methodology are already available and accessible to anyone who is interested.

Once again, I understand the member's desire to improve health care services in rural areas, but I do not think that we should be trying to make improvements by interfering in provincial jurisdictions.

I suggested a number of ways to find a much more effective solution for our rural areas. These methods fall within federal jurisdiction.

I strongly urge my colleague to talk to his colleagues and to listen to Quebec's minister of health and social services. She has suggested that the current government stop interfering in provincial jurisdiction over health care and immediately increase federal transfers to the provinces so that they can implement the measures that are already on the table but cannot be implemented because of a lack of money and commitment from the federal government.

Health Care Delivery in Rural CanadaPrivate Members' Business

6:10 p.m.


Darrell Samson Liberal Sackville—Preston—Chezzetcook, NS

Mr. Speaker, it gives me great pleasure to speak to Motion No. 226, concerning health care delivery in rural Canada. This is a very important motion.

A good part of the riding of Sackville—Preston—Chezzetcook in Nova Scotia, just on the outskirts of Halifax-Dartmouth, is rural. In Nova Scotia, all surveys indicate that 24% to 26% of Nova Scotians feel that this is a top priority for Nova Scotia and so it is a big issue. One reason is that 70% of our communities in all of Atlantic Canada are rural. Therefore, we have some challenges and this is a good example of the challenges we have.

In my riding in the eastern shore area, the residents have been looking for a doctor and nurses for a number of years. We are in dire need of supporting the communities and helping them to find solutions. This discussion is moving that agenda forward. I and members of the Nova Scotia caucus have had discussions with the minister to try to find different incentives and strategies that we could put together to move this forward.

I like the motion that my colleague has brought forward. It would allow for various solutions to come to the table. Recruiting high school students from rural communities to get into medical school and bringing them to practise and do their residency in their rural communities, those factors could help act as different incentives. Again, I want to thank the member for Kenora for drawing this to the attention of the House. I also want to recognize his hard work on this agenda because he has been a strong member of the Liberal rural caucus for four years.

This motion has two major objectives. One is to have the committee conduct a study and bring witnesses to find solutions. In the second objective, the member calls on the government to further address and improve health care delivery in rural Canada by working with provinces and territories and stakeholders. When people talk about jurisdiction, we are all in here together. It is the responsibility of all levels of government, even if an area belongs to a particular jurisdiction, to work together to find solutions to make life better for Canadians right across this country. That is the opportunity this motion brings.

Although the percentage of Canadians living in rural Canada has continued to decrease over the centuries, there has been a major shift within Canada's economy from an agricultural-based and industrial-based economy. We can agree that rural Canada continues to be a very crucial part of Canada and contributes directly to Canada in many ways. That is why we have to find doctors, we have to bring in broadband and we have to do more for rural Canada and bring that lens. This is why our government just appointed a new minister for rural Canada. That guarantees us that we will focus even more on these issues.

Canadians take pride in the fact that we live in a country where we are fortunate enough to have a world-class medical system. However, while the health care system is successful, our government recognizes that there are some discrepancies that exist, especially in the rural context.

The Canadian institute of health 2006 report, “How Healthy Are Rural Canadians? An Assessment of Their Health Status and Health Determinants”, found that rural Canadians have higher death rates, higher infant mortality rates and a shorter life expectancy than their urban counterparts. These health disparities are even more pronounced in indigenous communities located in rural areas. First nations men and women have average life expectancies that are 8.4 and 7.9 years shorter, respectively, than other Canadians. The determinants of health in rural populations in Canada differentiates their health needs and outcomes from urban populations. Health-related factors, such as higher proportions of smokers, lower consumption of fruit and vegetables, and obesity disproportionately affect rural residents.

The availability of medical professionals in rural areas is also a very important issue. A recent study of the medical profession, conducted by the Canadian Institute for Health Information, found that in 2017 only 8% of physicians was working in rural communities when 18% of Canadians lived there. Once again, for indigenous peoples living in rural communities the situation is even worse. According to a 2015-16 regional health survey, 22.6% of first nations people over the age of 18 face even more barriers in trying to find an available doctor.

The statistics demonstrate that the recruitment and retention of health care professionals, such as physicians, is a significant challenge in rural communities. This may be because personal and professional considerations, such as social isolation and longer work hours, are factors that disproportionately affect rural medical professionals compared to urban counterparts. Despite the challenges associated with rural medicine, there are many solutions available to us.

While primary responsibility for the provision and delivery of health care services falls under provincial and territorial governments, the Government of Canada recognizes that we also have a role to play and welcomes constructive feedback to help move this agenda forward.

For instance, it has been shown that medical graduates from rural backgrounds or who have practised or have had residencies in rural communities are more likely to stay. In order to retain more physicians in rural communities, governments could explore providing greater levels of support for high schools students, such as inviting them to take on the sciences, and increasing the acceptance rate of medical school applicants for rural areas. That would be a big help as well.

In 2018, a pre-budget submission of the College of Family Physicians of Canada, entitled “Advancing Rural Family Medicine”, also argued that more needed to be done to support specific competencies for rural family doctors and rural specialist medicine and to provide support for obtaining these competencies through physician training and practices.

Once again, I cannot enforce this point enough. It is very important to get together and get this job done to help rural communities with health care.

Health care delivery in rural areas is extremely important. Moving this agenda forward will require more research and coordination across all jurisdictions. Let us find out how we can help these communities on the ground.

I would like to thank my colleague from Kenora again for bringing the motion forward. I would also like to thank the House for providing me with the opportunity to speak to this important issue.

Nova Scotians, Atlantic Canadians and rural communities across the country need our support. It is our responsibility to work with the provinces and territories to find solutions so we can ensure we have more medical doctors and nurses in our rural communities.

Health Care Delivery in Rural CanadaPrivate Members' Business

6:20 p.m.


Ben Lobb Conservative Huron—Bruce, ON

Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to rise in the House of Commons today. As a lifetime resident of a rural community, it is a pleasure to talk about rural health care and rural issues.

Just talking with different health care providers in the riding, talking to farmers in our communities and what we see in the news, mental health issues in our rural communities are probably the most significant we have ever seen. I do not mean to point farmers out, but people in the agriculture sector feel this due to the stresses of finances, crop prices, trade, last year's harvest and this year's spring planting. Therefore, when we look at the entire package of health care, mental health needs to be a priority. Of course, the proposed study will not happen in this Parliament, but hopefully it will in the 43rd parliament.

Youth suicide is another issue. The youth suicide rate in rural communities is higher than anywhere else. Any information or strategies we can put together to dovetail mental health and youth suicide rates would be very important.

Another topic is addiction. There is an opioid addiction crisis from coast to coast in our small communities. Opioids are a big issue as is crystal meth. It does not really matter what part of the country we are in at this point in time, it is in every one of our communities. Therefore, addiction and mental health treatment and having facilities that are world class and state of the art would help people of all ages deal with these issues, but primarily in a rural area where one has to go so far. People cannot just go down the street for their treatment; it could be several hours away.

Another issue is the number of health care providers who provide a certain service. If we look at mental health, people may require treatment, but they might be told it could take three months to get an appointment. When people are at the point where they have come forward and have asked for help, to tell them that can get that help in three months is not a solution to the problem. Getting hard data to put into this report would be fantastic and would build out these action plans. I know there is lot of it out there, but we need to hammer this home.

In rural Ontario, where I am from, there have been higher rates of diabetes, heart disease and obesity for years and decades. Numerous strategies have been put together with respect to this, but we need proactive health care in our rural communities. We need facilities that will promote a healthy lifestyle and get people out exercising.

COPD are is unique to communities as are some forms of cancer. We need further information on that moving forward.

Baby boomers are getting to the age where they have a different set of health care requirements than they once had. In my community, there is now a geriatrician, which is a vital specialist, to provide help to our aging population. I am from a rural community, Huron County and Bruce County, which is on Ontario's west coast. It is a favourite destination for retirees to head to when they are of that age. We have a higher proportion of seniors than other communities. Therefore, a geriatrician is a vital physician.

A couple of weeks ago, one of our beloved members from British Columbia talked about the issue of palliative care doctors. We could use a lot of palliative care doctors in our rural communities, which would help provide a fitting tribute to some of our hard-working Canadians.

Doctor attraction and retention has been an issue in our rural communities. Going back 20 years ago, for example, Goderich, with a population of over 10,000 people, needed doctors. It put together a great doctor attraction and retention program.

Many may know of Gwen Devereaux from Seaforth, Ontario. From coast to coast, she has been educating and informing Canadians on how to attract doctors to rural communities. She has been on CBC and different radio stations, talking about what she has done.

Someone else mentioned that having a beautiful state-of-the-art clinic would attract physicians to the area. Spouses having meaningful employment would go a long way in attracting a physician to a certain community. The provision of services, which can be as basic as broadband Internet or a community centre with a fitness centre, would also help. All of these things contribute to attracting well-educated physicians, nurses, radiologists or whatever position to go into communities, plant roots and live there.

When most doctors and other health practitioners make a commitment to rural communities, they love it and want to stay, and people are happy to have them.

There has been a lot of improvement with e-health records from coast to coast. It defies logic to look at our phones and see what the technology sector can do, yet health continues to lag behind. It is making innovations, but it is lagging behind. Another good innovation is the Ontario Telehealth Network, which we are happy to have. It is changing outcomes in people's lives.

I think we can all agree that we need hard infrastructure. For example, communities need CT scanners. For people who have strokes or heart attacks, scanners can make a difference in their lives. However, does it make sense that a community has to fundraise to have a CT scanner in its hospital? It defies logic. When we talk about ways the federal government can work with all jurisdictions, why make a community pay for that? There may be strategic ways to provide funding for CT scanners.

Something else communities desire are hospices. They are few and far between. Communities have to fundraise to build them. In Ontario, where I am from, if communities are fortunate enough to have funding for the land, which is only 60%, they have to continue to fundraise in perpetuity for the other 40%. The federal government could play a role in working on a national plan to change this and be a little more fair to communities.

It is the same thing for long-term care. Many long-term care facilities are way out of date and need serious upgrades. There are no addiction treatment centres in my area. They are regional, yes, but there is a whole pile of changes we could make to that.

Last, and probably most important, if we do this study in the 43rd Parliament, the Gateway Centre of Excellence in Rural Health should be invited. It is in my riding and it is the only research facility like this in Canada. It was modelled on a U.S. idea. It does rural health research in partnership with universities. The best and brightest minds come to my community every year to do rural health research, and people are so happy for it. Again, they do it on their own dime. It would great if the federal government and the provinces could come together and provide operational funding to different research facilities like this, which provide great research to rural Canada and, in some cases, encourage these bright, young minds to stay in the area.

I look forward to coming back in the 43rd Parliament. I am sure my colleagues across the way would like otherwise. Regardless of the outcome, it would be great if the health committee would do this study and look at moving beyond jurisdictions.

National defence provides health care and we provide all sorts of health care to indigenous Canadians. There is a role for us. If we all work together, we could rise above the partisan lines.

I wish all my colleagues the very best this summer and in the election in October.

Health Care Delivery in Rural CanadaPrivate Members' Business

6:30 p.m.


The Deputy Speaker Conservative Bruce Stanton

The time provided for the consideration of Private Members' Business has now expired and the order is dropped to the bottom of the order of precedence on the Order Paper.

[For continuation of proceedings see part B]

[Continuation of proceedings from part A]

Members Not Seeking Re-Election to the 43rd ParliamentGovernment Orders

6:30 p.m.


The Deputy Speaker Conservative Bruce Stanton

It being 6:31 p.m., pursuant to order made on Tuesday, May 28, the House will now proceed to statements by members not seeking re-election in the 43rd Parliament.

Before we begin this evening's debate, I would like to remind hon. members of how the proceedings will unfold.

Each member speaking will be allotted 10 minutes. No time will be allotted for questions and comments.

The order also prescribes that tonight's debate will be interrupted after three hours or when no member rises to speak.

We will begin with the hon. member for West Vancouver—Sunshine Coast—Sea to Sky Country.

Members Not Seeking Re-Election to the 43rd ParliamentGovernment Orders

6:30 p.m.


Pam Goldsmith-Jones Liberal West Vancouver—Sunshine Coast—Sea to Sky Country, BC

Mr. Speaker, dear parliamentary colleagues, I believe in a policy of inclusion and engagement.

In public life, I try to practice adaptation, reconciliation, obligation, understanding and compromise. I believe this is how we achieve lasting change, and today I would like to share some outcomes of this past term as a result.

Picture being on the west coast of Canada. In the Pacific northwest, salmon probably arrived first. Salmon best describe the co-evolution of human life with the natural world. They are the ultimate statement of being in this world together, which we all are.

In 2015, I was worried about the survival of the DFO lab on the waterfront in West Vancouver, because under the previous government, the property faced the very real possibility of being sold. Under the new name of the Pacific Science Enterprise Centre, which was just a name, we reached out to science partners, community leaders, the Squamish, Tsleil-Waututh, and Musqueam nations, and local DFO staff to create a vision for renewed investment and scientific research. Our ideas had to gain acceptance from the minister and staff at DFO as well as from Public Services and Procurement Canada to justify a long-term reinvestment.

For me, working with staff behind the scenes in two departments in Ottawa was very challenging. I was asking them to create a major culture shift, and they were amazing.

The following are absolute firsts in the history of DFO.

The Coastal Ocean Research Institute has moved 18 scientists into the lab who use the new lab space for research into ocean plastics. West Vancouver's Streamkeepers and multiple stewardship groups use the facility now all the time.

The West Vancouver School District developed a senior curriculum, and the first class will graduate this June with high school diplomas in environmental studies, having spent all year long accessing the ocean, the creeks, the waterfront and the DFO scientists who work at the lab.

Squamish Nation children and elders have returned home with their ocean-going canoes, and there is a lineup of partners wishing to work with the Pacific Science Enterprise Centre.

Ocean plastics, glass sponge reefs, underwater vessel noise, habitat loss, cetaceans, ocean warming and marine protected areas: We know now that solving complex environmental challenges takes off when the federal government opens up.

In the same spirit, I am particularly proud that our government honours the knowledge of local governments. Investment in infrastructure means equality for all Canadians through clean drinking water, waste water treatment, public transportation, secure housing and access to digital technology. The national agenda has benefited from the inclusion of local priorities.

In health, collaboration and research is fundamental. I chair the all-party juvenile diabetes caucus, which garnered a $15-million federal investment. Matched by a $15-million contribution from the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, a $30-million health research partnership formed between JDRF and the Canadian Institute for Health Research, which was another first.

It is also obvious when we are missing the spirit of understanding and compromise, perhaps most profoundly felt today in the disconnect between British Columbia and Alberta. Western Canada needs to stick together. We matter: for our innovation, our enterprise, our experimentalism and our strong environmentalism. The hope for our energy future lies with innovation by the clean tech sector. It lies with companies that understand that a price on pollution drives innovation, with indigenous communities that want to work together to transition Canada to a clean energy future and share in the ownership and management of resource companies, and with investors who are already moving us toward a low carbon future. No amount of yelling comes close to innovation and inclusion.

Obligation means that no one should be afraid to expose money laundering in Canada. The Pacific caucus stressed this to the minister in 2015, and early studies began. I am very pleased that Minister Eby, in B.C., is pursuing this and that our government is supportive.

Our housing strategy responds directly to the values of equality and inclusion, as does the Canada child benefit.

I have always and will always be working toward truth and reconciliation. For me, we should be more afraid of exclusion than inclusion.

Turning to global affairs, I would like to thank two ministers of foreign affairs who I have had the privilege of serving as parliamentary secretary.

In 2015, on the first day I met with minister Dion, he said three things: one, I must know my files; two, I must not let him down in the House of Commons; and three, I must tell him one thing I wanted to achieve, and he would support me.

I said I would like to work on women, peace and security. Women play a marginal role, at best, in bringing peace in international conflict situations. It is short-sighted in the extreme. The research is clear: when women are involved in peace-building, peace negotiations, peace talks and the implementation of peace processes, outcomes are better. Today, under the leadership of our current Minister of Foreign Affairs, Canada's foreign policy is a feminist foreign policy, as is our international development policy.

The Government of Canada is committed to improving opportunities for women in defence and for women in policing. The Government of Canada has just launched the equality fund to leverage the philanthropic community and the private sector to build gender equality.

I would like to thank and extend my gratitude to the current Minister of Foreign Affairs. She leads with considerable knowledge and experience, with pragmatism and with understanding.

I would also like to thank the former minister of international trade because he placed his trust in me. He credited his whole team with our successes, and he led an effort that built and broadened free trade agreements with Europe and the trans-Pacific region. We worked hard to engage around the world, and our negotiators kept inclusivity and accommodation top of mind.

There seems to be a belief that a member of Parliament cannot speak up or deviate from the party. I can think of some occasions when I deviated. When the Minister of Finance brought in tax reforms that were not popular at home, I told him that I, no doubt, would be very engaged in serious public consultations. Over that summer, and as a result of expert advice, we submitted 10 solutions, of which eight were accepted by the minister.

When it comes to transitioning away from open net pen fish farms on the coast of British Columbia, I voted against our government. Everyone knows that, and my work to transition to closed containment will be ongoing.

I respect the leadership of the Prime Minister. In my experience, he encourages differing views, especially when offered in the spirit of compromise and a better way.

It will not surprise members to know that I am deeply disturbed by the stultifying and soul-destroying House of Commons rules that stipulate that the House sit on Fridays every week, or until midnight, or all night long. This is not democratic. This is not even humane. We should all be here in the House of Commons as our best selves, energized, not sleep deprived; optimistic, not frustrated.

Finally, no MPs can give their very best without a great staff team. Stephanie, Deanna, Marjan, Lucie, Natasha, Rav, Diana, Alexandre and Morgan, and in global affairs, Jillian, Joshua, Jim, Kyna, Sher and Isabella, have all worked as an incredible team. Gruelling schedules, mountains of material, stressful conditions and multiple demands on their time somehow brought them together. I admire all of them. I thank them for the standard they have set for all we do.

As with most MPs, we have also been very pleased to support four interns over four summers, Marjan, Clio, Claire and Nicola. We throw them in the deep end and encourage them with every new ripple that comes along. May the four of them go on in their lives to ask: Who have I not included? What am I not seeing? Am I accommodating? Am I bringing a solution? If they do that, then Canada is in good hands, and they, and I, and those who hold the public trust in their daily work, will have been worthy of the office and the honour.

My heartfelt thanks to the people of West Vancouver—Sunshine Coast—Sea to Sky Country for the opportunity to serve them and for our opportunity to serve Canada. My personal commitment to them will never end. I will see them at home. À bientôt.

Members Not Seeking Re-Election to the 43rd ParliamentGovernment Orders

6:40 p.m.


John Oliver Liberal Oakville, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am thankful for the opportunity to present a retiring statement.

It has been an honour to represent the residents of the riding of Oakville and to have served as a member of the 42nd Parliament. I want to begin by thanking the residents of Oakville for this opportunity.

It has been fascinating to be part of our democratic legislative process and to have worked beside, and sometimes against, other parliamentarians as we have debated and sought the best path forward for Canada. I have never gotten over the sense of responsibility that overcomes members as we walk up to the Parliament building, enter the door and take our seats in the chamber. I have also never gotten over the feeling of gratitude I have for the residents of Oakville for entrusting this responsibility to me.

I am proud of what our government has accomplished over this term. From renegotiating NAFTA, to supporting middle class families, to fighting climate change, to lifting 825,000 Canadians out of poverty and stimulating the creation of over one million new jobs, the government is making real and positive change in the lives of Canadians.

I entered this role with a focused set of priorities. I want to reflect on those briefly tonight, but I also want to talk about the unexpected things that have happened to me over the past years that have enriched my understanding of my community and, surprisingly, of my family.

When I was elected, at the top of my list was working to protect the Canadian health system. It was an honour to be asked by the Prime Minister to serve as the parliamentary secretary to the Minister of Health and to speak on her behalf with Canadians and in the House of Commons. I was delighted to be part of the Standing Committee on Health. We issued numerous reports and recommendations on issues affecting the health of Canadians.

Another big priority for me was my concern that coverage of essential medicines is not part of our universal health care model. Canadians should not be denied access to essential medicines because they cannot afford them. I was part of the standing committee that issued a clear recommendation that universal, single-payer coverage is critical to ensuring that all Canadians have equal access to essential drug therapy. I was overjoyed to see provisions in the 2018 budget to appoint a council to study the implementation of national pharmacare and to see provisions in the 2019 budget to create a Canadian drug agency and to take steps toward the development of a national formulary.

I was honoured to chair the all-party health research caucus, which worked with Research Canada to profile in Ottawa the amazing health research that is happening across Canada.

Besides health, I was focused on jobs and ensuring that the government was creating the right conditions for success in the advanced manufacturing industry. In Oakville, Ford Canada is the largest employer. I was honoured to have chaired the Liberal auto caucus and to have fought hard for appropriate funding to stimulate innovation in the sector, including in zero emission vehicles and autonomous operations.

As vice-chair of the Canada-Europe Parliamentary Association, I participated in and once led a mission to promote trade between Canada and the EU.

Finally, with the leadership of Andrew Quinn, my executive assistant, I was happy to see our motion, Motion No. 168, protecting net neutrality in Canada, receive unanimous support in the House. To Andrew, I say, “Velociraptor.”

These are the things I set out to accomplish when I was elected, and I am happy with those achievements. However, what about the unexpected experience that I did not anticipate?

Here on the Hill, in the House, I have been struck by the integrity of all parliamentarians in representing their ridings and speaking passionately about their beliefs and aspirations for the future of Canada. Likewise, I have been impressed by the breadth and scope of committee work. This activity is invisible to most Canadians, yet I learned that it is at committee where most non-partisan discussions are held to amend legislation and make thoughtful recommendations to government. I will miss the collegiality and the give and take with my fellow parliamentarians.

Some of the most unexpected experiences and learning happened in the riding of Oakville.

I was invited as the member of Parliament to tour many businesses. I had no idea of the diversity of manufacturing enterprises in the riding. Do members know that every time people land at the Ottawa airport, it is highly likely that the landing gear that drops down and safely puts them on the tarmac was manufactured and assembled in Oakville? Every time a person buys a glazed donut product or fruit-filled product at Tim Hortons anywhere across Canada, the glaze and filling came from Oakville.

The restoration of the Pickering and Bruce nuclear plants was dependent on parts from Oakville. The raw products for Crisco, Becel margarine and other famous edible oil products are refined in Oakville. Of course, we also have the Ford assembly plant, which assembles over 270,000 vehicles a year and supports a rich ecosystem of parts manufacturers.

I move on now from learnings about the diversity of industry to learnings about the diversity of faith.

I am a long-time member of the United Church, and I was honoured to be invited and warmly welcomed at mosques, the synagogue, the temple, the gurdwara and the many churches of my community. I learned first-hand that although religious observances are different, people are drawn to their houses of worship for the same reasons: to seek a closer relationship with a sacred, holy spirit; to ask for atonement and reconciliation; to be part of a community of faith; and to unite their families in long traditions of religious celebration.

Then there is Sheridan College, a world-class education facility right in my backyard, producing Academy Award winners in animation and acting as a crucible to develop world-renowned artistic shows like Come From Away. What an amazing opportunity we have as MPs, and what a luxury to be introduced to so many aspects of our home community and to have those shared with us so openly. I wish everyone had that opportunity.

I mentioned learnings about my family. My wife's family members are refugees. They fled Poland in the early 1980's, when my wife was about 12 years old. They sought refuge in Austria for about six months and then received permanent refuge in Canada. My wife's younger sister married a Vietnamese gentleman who, along with his family, was likewise a refugee, so when I sit down to eat supper with my wife's family, I am the only non-refugee at the table, yet they do not think of themselves as refugees. They are Canadians who are hard at work building their families, running businesses, and in my wife's case, being a school board trustee.

While I have long known my wife's background, it was not until I met with refugee families from Syria and elsewhere in the world in Oakville that I fully realized the hardship and challenges the parents were facing: language barriers; unemployment; separation from family, loved ones and networks; and learning new cultures.

I want to say a huge thanks to Barbara and Waldemar Krasowski for having the courage to leave their homeland and for persevering through these challenges to seek a better opportunity for their children. Through them, I thanks to all the refugee and immigrant parents who have known these challenges and shown such incredible courage and sacrifice. I hope they all know the successes that my wife's family has enjoyed.

ln closing, I would like to say thanks and acknowledge the tremendous contributions made by my staff: Fiona Fraser, director of operations; Andrew Quinn, executive assistant; Nancy Buchan-Terrell; Valerie Campbell; Hannah Wieler; Lori Weston; and Mala Sharma. They have provided superb support not only to me but, more importantly, to the community we served over these past four years. I could not have done any of this without their tireless work. Most have been with me and supported me from the very beginning; way back when I sought the Liberal nomination. I thank each of them so much for their support and steadfastness.

I also thank the Oakville Federal Liberal Association, under the capable leadership of Alan Johnston, and the hundreds of volunteers who worked with me during the 2015 campaign.

Finally, the real burden of a parliamentarian's job falls hardest on our families, those who are closest to us and whom we love the most. We are absent from home while in Ottawa and often absent from family activity and being with family during constituency weeks. I hope every member is blessed with family members as supportive as mine, and I thank them for their unwavering support. My family includes my loving and lovely wife, Joanna Oliver; my fabulous children, Rachel, whom I congratulate on the new job; Alexander, whom I congratulate on his film; and William, whom I look forward to hanging with; my inspirational mother, Ellice Oliver; and my sister and brother, Heather and Richard Oliver. Sadly, we lost my father, Peter Oliver, during this Parliament, but we remember him through his long-time friend Annie Chandler.

It has been said that families are the compass that guides us, our inspiration to reach great heights and our comfort when we falter. My family is my blessing. I thank each of them from the bottom of my heart for their ongoing love and encouragement.

Members Not Seeking Re-Election to the 43rd ParliamentGovernment Orders

6:50 p.m.


Kellie Leitch Conservative Simcoe—Grey, ON

Mr. Speaker, being a Canadian is a privilege almost without equal in the world. To be selected by our fellow Canadians as a representative in the House of Commons is as high an honour as there is. Thanks to the incredible people of Simcoe—Grey, who put their faith in me, I have been a member of Parliament for eight years. First and foremost, I want to thank them.

I grew up in a family where my parents, Lynne and Kit Leitch, lived certain values. My mom emphasized hard work every day. She was the most generous person I have ever known. None of my friends could leave our house without a toque on their head or a hug if they needed it. Sadly, after a strong fight, she lost her battle with breast cancer in 1989.

My dad continually challenges us to have free thoughts and develop new ideas every day. Even now, he challenges me to work harder and be better. Like so many who live and were born on the prairies, he believes that everyone is equal and should be treated respectfully. He is the epitome of tolerance.

In many ways, my parents are the embodiment of Canadian values, and these values matter. They are the reason Canada is a beacon of hope around the world for those fleeing persecution or seeking a better life. The values that Canadians share, that my parents taught us, are what make this country, Canada, the greatest country in the world, one that it has been an honour to represent.

The one question I get asked all the time as a member of Parliament is why a pediatric orthopaedic surgeon would run for office. There are three reasons.

First, my mom was insistent that public service is good for us.

Second, as a doctor, I would be helping dozens of kids every day. I loved my job, but in 2006, I was asked to chair the expert panel on the children's fitness tax credit. This opportunity allowed me to see first-hand how good public policy can have a positive impact on the health of thousands of Canadian kids, not just one child at a time, as I did as a doctor.

Third, I was asked. It was that simple. Jim Flaherty called me at the clinic one day on a Friday morning and said, “I hear you're running for office.” I said, “No.” We can see how well that worked out. On May 2, 2011, my name was on the ballot in Simcoe—Grey as the Conservative candidate the day the Conservative majority government was won.

I was appointed as a parliamentary secretary immediately after the election. As a PS, I was assigned the task to develop a new EI rate mechanism reform in the May budget. I also contributed to the creation of the Canada job grant.

As an Albertan, I heard every day from family and friends—especially my sister, who is a no-nonsense, super-smart engineer in Calgary—about the need for skilled labour. I led the consultations across the country related to this program, which revolutionized on-the-job training by providing incentives for employers to train people.

On my dad's birthday in July 2013, I was invited to meet with the Prime Minister. The PM appointed me Canada's first minister of status of women as well as minister of labour. I remember accepting and then immediately formulating in my head how to eliminate the department. I thought, as a professional woman, how ridiculous it was that the department even existed. My sister completely agreed. When I returned home that night and told my father, to my surprise he was ecstatic. He thought this was the best role ever. I thought he was crazy.

In retrospect, I will say that being the minister of status of women was one of the more meaningful and most fulfilling roles I have ever had. I learned so much, and realized that the department is in fact necessary and important. I have a strong belief that women are most successful in all aspects of their lives if they can be independent, when they can stand on their own two feet and make choices for themselves and families unencumbered by others and government. Our great team at Status of Women focused all its efforts on helping women of all backgrounds achieve this independence.

I am particularly proud of our focus on championing women entrepreneurs. Early in my term, I realized that for women to be successful, they needed three things: mentors, money and markets. As a young medical student, I benefited from mentors. Therefore, it was no surprise to me when I met with women across the country and heard they needed mentors and found it challenging to succeed without one.

The expert panel on championing and mentorship for women entrepreneurs was launched in 2013. Its work created “It Starts with One – Be Her Champion”, an initiative to provide mentors for women in all fields. As I leave public life, I look forward to continuing to support and build this program so that young women across our country can reach their greatest potential.

I have always championed children. I am told that my face lights up when a child walks into the room, so it was not challenging for me to embrace the idea of the International Day of the Girl Child at the UN and become one of the driving forces of its creation in 2013. This experience is the reason that today I am passionate about organizations that help eliminate the practice of early, child, and forced marriages around the world, such as Girls Not Brides.

Growing up in Fort McMurray, Alberta, my father ran a construction company. My talented brother Michael now runs that firm, and it has never had unionized workers, nor was there ever a desire for our labourers to unionize, so being Minister of Labour in Canada was a new place for me.

I was determined to have Canada ratify the UN ILO Convention No. 138 on minimum age for admission to employment. As a pediatric surgeon, I was somewhat dumbfounded that Canada had not ratified this basic convention, which we finally did in 2014. Our team at labour also spearheaded changes to the Canada Labour Code to ensure that interns were covered by health and safety protections and that these young Canadians received the pay they were due when they worked hard.

I believe that we as Canadians need to lead internationally by example as well as practise what we preach. The changes to these policies did both.

Politics is a rough sport. I realized that during the challenging 2015 campaign, and during my leadership campaign I learned that in spades. During the leadership campaign, I learned many things. I now have a better wardrobe and I wear makeup, and sadly, I also learned how much these material items matter. How we look is often as important as, if not more important than, our ideas or intellect, especially as women.

I also learned that not all Canadians are tolerant.

In Canada, as children we are encouraged to have new ideas, talk about those ideas and encourage debate. That is not at all what I experienced. What most Canadians saw during the campaign was people slandering me and my reputation. They saw me bullied continuously. I was subjected to the worst type of threats online. My home was broken into. My constituency office was compromised with hate banners illegally hung. My staff was intimidated. My Parliament Hill office even received long letters in which people outlined in graphic detail their plans to sadistically rape me.

This was all fuelled by people who claimed they were champions of freedom of speech, champions of women and champions of a tolerant society. I can tell members that these people are anything but that. I acutely learned that when individuals are unwilling—or, more often, unable—to debate an issue in a tolerant and respectful way, they turn to bullying, intimidation or worse. I would not wish this treatment on anyone, even on those who subjected me to it.

My campaign sparked debate on issues that Canadians wanted to talk about. I am proud to say that unlike some, I am not afraid to tackle the elephant in the room. For me, health care will be one of those topics as we go forward. We need an open and healthy debate in this country about our health care system. Today, politicians get to say when and where we get our care, but they are not accountable to deliver that care in a timely manner. Canadians are ready for a thoughtful discussion about the future of health care. As elected leaders, we need to be ready too.

Canadians have always been the most successful in all fields when we embrace our responsibilities as well-educated and tolerant people who put forward bold ideas on important subjects. Canadians elected us in the House of Commons to be leaders. We are expected to speak about issues that matter. We are not supposed to be afraid of tackling the tougher issues, and we should be able to discuss issues like health care, climate change, abortion and immigration without name-calling, without bullying, without resorting to insults or character assassinations. If we are not prepared to tackle the tough issues in a respectful manner in this place, then who is?

Leadership is about courage and about having the courage to act. As one politician once accurately outlined, most politicians, with the exception of a few with great courage, wait to see how political events are breaking before they risk their own political capital. I can say that I now understand that. Even with my challenging experience during and following the leadership campaign, I will continue to talk about issues that matter to Canadians, like the ones they talk about every day at the dinner table and at Tim Hortons. This country and the responsibility we have as Canadians to help others both here and abroad is too important to me not to.

I challenge members in the House to not shy away from bold and controversial issues. Do not be afraid of the critics and the media, the trolls and the angry people. Have courage and move forward.

It is an honour to serve in this House. I have many friends in this place and I have had many conversations, some more animated than others. No matter what our beliefs or political backgrounds, we share a common dedication to this country and to making it better. For that I thank my colleagues.

I encourage the leaders in this place to remember to take courage and bring forward bold ideas. Canadians are expecting us to do so.

Members Not Seeking Re-Election to the 43rd ParliamentGovernment Orders

7 p.m.


Jim Eglinski Conservative Yellowhead, AB

Mr. Speaker, as most of you know, I will not be running in the upcoming fall election. Tonight I will be saying goodbye to all my colleagues in this House on all sides. It is hard to say goodbye to fellow workers, to a job or a career that you really enjoy.

Retirement: this is not my first kick at the can. Over 50 years of public service have been very rewarding to me. Am I ending it now? I do not really know. I am not sure yet. I was blessed to be born in a great country and a prosperous province, Alberta. Life has been good to me. For me to give back was just natural.

I am a second-generation Ukrainian who grew up on a farm near Chipman, Alberta. After graduation, I joined the RCMP in April of 1968. I took a train and headed to Regina to be a Mountie. I think most of the farm boys did that back in the 1960s. It was a good choice for me. I served 35 years and had nine postings and five detachment commands. I went from a constable to staff sergeant and finished my career in the city of Fort St. John in B.C. Fort St. John is a great community in northern British Columbia.

I met my first wife, Stephanie, in 1968. We had two daughters, Kim and Susan. Stephanie was with me throughout my service. I lost her to cancer a month after I retired.

In 2002, municipal politics called me. I was elected to council and three years later re-elected as the mayor. This was a great place to learn about politics. I think it is the best politics. In 2004, I married Nancy, my current wife, who has been my strongest constituent, my right arm, my adviser and my critic. She loves politics. She gave me so much: time, love and support.

Nancy and I decided to move from B.C. to Edson, Alberta, in 2011. I was home again. My stepdaughter, Summer, her spouse, Brad, and grandchildren Kaylynn, Jenessa, Brayden and Tyler lived there. They live there today. We built a new home on the McLeod River, just outside of Edson, to retire.

Then we met Rob Merrifield, who was the member of Parliament for Yellowhead. The next thing I knew, he asked me to join his EDA. Then I ended up being president. I never could say “no”. I have to learn that one day.

In the fall of 2014, Rob called me on a Sunday and said, “Jim, put together a special EDA meeting for tomorrow at 6 p.m.” I asked why and he said he could not tell me. He wanted to meet with Nancy and me at 4 p.m. before the meeting. I asked why. He said he could not tell me. Was I confused? I was. As the EDA president, he was telling me nothing and I had to phone everybody.

At 4 p.m. the next day, Rob and his wife, Brenda, met with Nancy and me and Rob told us he was retiring. When? Immediately. Nancy said, “What are we going to do?” Rob replied, “Jim, I think you should run. I spoke to Prime Minister Harper and it will be a great honour for you to serve as the federal MP for Yellowhead”. I said I could not, and to look at me, I was older. “No,” he said, “You're great. You have lots of experience.” I asked how long I had to make up my mind. He answered, “Two hours” because he wanted to tell the EDA. Forty-five days later, I was the MP for Yellowhead riding.

I was so proud to serve the Yellowhead riding, and I want to thank all my supporters in Yellowhead for electing me in 2014 and again in 2015. What a year it was, with two elections and opening an office in Ottawa and an office in Edson.

I remember my first week in Ottawa, when I was walked down the corridor here by Prime Minister Harper, being sworn in. The administration gave me a set of keys and said my office was 301 Justice. I asked where that was and was told, “Down the hill”. I met with finance and was told I could only spend this, could not spend that and to be careful. I was told to hire someone to work in my office. When I asked where I would find someone, they said to look around and that I would find somebody. Then I was told, by the way, I was on the immigration committee and it sits on Tuesdays and Thursdays, so to make sure I was there tomorrow. Then it was, “Goodbye and good luck.”

How many of us did that happen to? That was day one. From there we learned as we went. I love challenges, but I have to say, thank God the men's washroom was across the hall from 301 Justice.

In politics, time quickly flies. I have flown back and forth about 100 times. I have spent around 800 days on the Hill, approximately 1,000 days in the Yellowhead riding, and 15 hours every weekend, transitioning back and forth between here and there. Will I miss it? You bet. It has been an honour to serve my riding of Yellowhead, my province of Alberta, and my country. The friendships we develop here, from all parties, I will always cherish.

The people Nancy and I met in our riding, the friendships we made, they are such great people. Yellowhead riding is large, 77,000 square kilometres. As an MP, I could not have represented this great riding if it were not for my staff in Edson. I was lucky that Rob's staff stayed on when I was first elected: Jude, Annette and Theresa. If Jude is listening, she was the nerve centre of the riding, the type of person who knows everyone and everything. She was a great help. I thank the staffers who are there today, Annette, Marsha and Sandra, and those who have moved on, Amy, Sylvie and Jude.

In Ottawa, I was lucky. I hired Jeannette. What a find and what a knowledgeable staffer. She trained me, guided me and kept me in line, and that was difficult. Her knowledge and wisdom on the Hill is awesome and I thank her. Through her, I became so much better. I hired her as an employee, but I consider her a friend. I thank Jamyn, a former staffer in my Ottawa office, and Volodymyr, who is there now, for their service to me and the Yellowhead riding. I thank the four Ukrainian interns I had during the summers.

I thank my Conservative colleagues. I have learned so much from them. It has been an honour to serve with them in the government and in opposition. I will always cherish the friendships we developed. I will miss them, all of them.

I will miss the Hill, the security people, the drivers, the people in the cafeteria, the personnel around here. I stop and talk to as many of them as I can in a day. I will miss my staff. I will miss my constituents. However, I will not miss that weekly flight riding from Ottawa to home and back.

I have been so lucky that Rob Merrifield asked me to run. I have been so lucky that my constituents supported me. I have been so lucky to have had a great campaign team. I am so lucky that my replacement candidate, Gerald Soroka is a great guy, a friend and, hopefully, he can have a good office, at 301 Justice, after the federal election when he joins our prime minister, Andrew Scheer.

I could not have done any of this if it were not for my wife Nancy. I know she is listening. I thank “Beebs” for travelling back and forth across the Yellowhead riding with me, for helping in speeches, counselling me, campaigning, etc. She is special. She represented me so many times in the riding when I was here in Ottawa, giving speeches and doing all those other things. I was getting worried because people were telling me that they were starting to like her more than me. Nancy is my soulmate, a friend, and I thank her so much.

People ask me what I am going to do when I retire. There is that word again: retire. I have my health, thank God. My motor home wants to travel. My motorcycle wants to be ridden. My restoration projects are begging to be finished. My grass continues to grow. There are fish in the McLeod River that need to be caught. My deer need to be fed; I have a herd of about 15 of them.

However, mostly, I look forward to visiting my three sisters, my sister-in-law, their husbands and our four children, and spoiling our 11 grandchildren and one great-granddaughter who needs to see me more.

Canada is a great big country and I am about to hit the road, folks. Yes, I will go back to boring holes in the sky, enjoying the freedom of flight.

Members Not Seeking Re-Election to the 43rd ParliamentGovernment Orders

7:15 p.m.


Bradley Trost Conservative Saskatoon—University, SK

Mr. Speaker, first, I want to start with the thanks.

To my staff of over 15 years as a member of Parliament, I have been blessed to have wonderful, loyal staffers. Murray Heinzlmeir, Vikki Ruby and Brianne Toupin started with me 15 years ago and are still with the team today. Al Chant put in 13 years. When he retired, I was, in his words, “improving my staff” by hiring his wife Elizabeth. Mattea Merta joined the team these last few years. Denae Ferguson started out doing maternity leaves until her own maternity leave caused her to move on. I must also remember my Humboldt staff of previous years, Arlene Jule and Melanie Bain.

They have all been very loyal. I appreciate their putting up with the quirks and mannerisms of their boss. To have so many of them stay for so long has meant a lot to me.

I thank Lori Isinger, my first campaign manager, who was and is gracious and kind. She helped me put together a team in 2004 that won a riding that was considered unwinnable. I thank Ron Ardell, a very special friend, and we all miss him.

Volunteers like Denise Hounjet-Roth, campaign managers like Rod Meier, riding presidents, volunteers, supporters and donors who are too mention, in all my campaigns supported me. Thanks, my friends.

I thank my leadership campaign team, Russ, Joseph, Mike, Wally and Wayne, for all that we went through together.

I thank my family. My mom and dad were always there in each election. I thank my brothers and their families for their support. My service here was definitely a family accomplishment and the wins were theirs as much as they were mine.

Gerelt, my wife, joined me half-way through this adventure. I am not sure if it is what she expected, but she has embraced it with enthusiasm. I thank her for her support, love and encouragement. I love her very much.

I thank the voters of Saskatoon—Humboldt and Saskatoon—University for the privilege of being their voice. I have tried to serve them faithfully whether I received their vote or not. I was once told the Trost family motto should be, “A Trost is a majority of one”.

In my time in the House of Commons, I have striven to stick to the principles that I came here with. While it has been said that politics is about compromise, I have always believed politics should be about principle.

What are the some of the principles I have stood for during my years here?

Human life matters from conception to natural death. This is a fundamental right which should never be denied. To take away sweet human life as we do in our country is the greatest tragedy of Canada's history.

Freedom matters, in our economic system and in our political system. A government that is large and all-encompassing is not a government that is the servant of the people, but is the master of the people. Government aid is often to be feared more than government neglect.

Democracy matters: The price previous Canadians paid for our system of government is one that should not be forgotten. Even if we do not agree with everything this system has given us, it is still the best the world has ever seen.

Let me close my brief speech by saying something for Isabel Anu Trost and Helena Esu Trost, my two little girls. Their dad ran for office, not because he thought he could win, but because it was the right thing to do. I believe in my Canada. I believe in the values of freedom, faith, family and free enterprise. This is what has made Canada great. I have tried to uphold these values so that some day they will inherit a Canada that is moral, just and strong, a country that believes in the rule of law and the supremacy of God.

I thank everyone who has shared this journey with me. I did my best to serve. To everything there is a season and a time to every purpose under the heavens. To God be the glory.

Members Not Seeking Re-Election to the 43rd ParliamentGovernment Orders

7:20 p.m.


Anne Minh-Thu Quach NDP Salaberry—Suroît, QC

Mr. Speaker, I was first elected on May 2, 2011, as part of the famous orange wave. It came as a shock, but it was also an honour and a privilege to represent the people of my riding and stand up for my values in this honourable House.

I would like to thank the people of Beauharnois—Salaberry for giving me that first opportunity to dive into politics and have this fabulous, intense, enriching and altogether human life experience. It has been a pleasure to serve them.

My first speech in the House was on a topic that was as dear to my labour activist heart then as it is now. On June 24, 2011, Quebec's national holiday, I spoke out against the Canada Post bill. The NDP stood up to the Conservative government of the day for three days in a row so that unionized postal workers could negotiate their working conditions with the Crown corporation executives. That was my first ever three-day Thursday.

My second speech was just as emotional and powerful. In September 2011 we were debating Bill C-4, a Conservative government bill on boat people. This brought about a two-hour conversation with my mother on how my family came to Canada after fleeing persecution in the wake of the Vietnam War. She recounted their escape, the attacks by pirates, their fight to survive, their life at the refugee camp, their arrival in Salaberry-de-Valleyfield and the welcome they received. This is the Canada I know, a Canada that gives a family of refugees the opportunity to prosper and that allows their daughter to become a two-term member of Parliament.

As one of the few members of Parliament of Vietnamese origin, I had the opportunity to meet with diverse Vietnamese communities in Canada and to work with them to acknowledge how much the Vietnamese have contributed to the diverse Québécois and Canadian culture and to fight for human rights in Vietnam, in particular. During my eight years in the NDP, I was mentored by some formidable and passionate members of Parliament, colleagues with whom I grew up and with whom I learned to be more self-assured. Most of all, I laughed a lot in all of our battles here in Parliament. It takes a healthy dose of humour and self-deprecation to alleviate the stress of this frenzied political life.

My first challenge was to discover my riding. It took time and effort to understand the challenges of the different regions and also to discuss subjects that I knew little or nothing about: the world of agriculture ever present in the riding, the business world, which scared me to death, the Mohawk Nation at Akwesasne.

After the riding boundary was changed, the region of Soulanges was another area to be studied and understood. I travelled around the RCMs by bike, on foot and by car. I thank the 400 community organizations who work hard with limited means. I thank the mayors of the 31 municipalities who are the foundation of our democratic fabric and without whom nothing works, and the entrepreneurs, whom I found so intimidating at the beginning. I thank them all for giving me material for my speeches, for advising me, often at the last minute, when I was drafting my bills, or for turning my attention to the issues they were concerned about.

I thank all the constituents who attended the countless public consultations or sent comments on my work by responding to the monthly mailings. Their contribution was invaluable to democracy and my ability to represent them in House of Commons every day. I hope they will continue to be as active and involved with the next MP. I thank them for placing their trust in me a second time in the 2015 election. To me that second election was an acknowledgement of my ability to stand up for the interests of the riding.

When it comes to agriculture, I fought tooth and nail with my NDP colleagues to protect supply management in its entirety and ensure that dairy farmers received compensation every time they were sacrificed in the signing of free trade agreements. We worked hard with my colleague from Berthier—Maskinongé and others and used pressure tactics against diafiltered milk. Unfortunately, this could come up again because of the treaty negotiation with the United States and Mexico.

One of my personal victories is the agriculture investment announced in the last budget. My team came up with the slogan: at the federal level, we eat locally. For more than six years now, I have been fighting to get a local foods procurement policy. I introduced two bills on this and in the March 2019 budget, we finally see investments to buy local food in schools and to develop and support distribution channels such as public markets. Through the support of many organizations, nearly 3,000 signatures on my petition, and emails of support, we were able to put enough pressure on the government to agree to include these measures in its recent budget.

This is a step in the right direction, but I still dream of seeing a buy local policy take shape someday.

Lastly, an important aspect of my work has been solving problems, whether it is a constituent not getting a service they were entitled to or an issue like the Kathryn Spirit, which was a problem 114 metres long and weighing 12,300 tonnes. My office has handled over 1,500 constituent cases, problems involving the Canada Revenue Agency, old age security or the guaranteed income supplement, and temporary foreign worker files. More and more Canadians are calling their MPs for help when they are unable to get a response through the usual channels. After all the public service cutbacks, that is the unfortunate reality.

One major case was the Kathryn Spirit, my region's biggest headache. This huge wreck had been towed into Lake Saint-Louis in 2011 without proper authorization by the company Groupe St-Pierre. This was blatant proof that corporate self-regulation does not work. The wreck was resold to a Mexican company and then abandoned. This case also highlighted the limits of the federal government, which declined to get involved every time, up until the very last second. At the end of the day, the polluter won. The company that had brought in the vessel ended up with at least $11 million of public money in its pockets. As they said on Infoman, this is like someone dumping trash in the neighbour's yard and then getting paid to take care of the mess they made. All in all, this incompetence and mismanagement of public funds cost taxpayers $24 million. Fortunately, thanks to the efforts of Canadians, elected officials and local journalists, this problem is now behind us.

Now, let's talk about struggles and victories in Ottawa. As a young woman who has served in the House since 2011, I know what a challenge it was to get people to take women and young people seriously.

In 2014, four NDP female colleagues and I had to fight to have the right to bring our children inside Parliament and breastfeed them until the age of 18 months. We won that fight.

The next fight was to get a family room in Parliament. We won that one too. I would like to thank my colleagues, including Nycole Turmel, the former whip, for fighting alongside us and not only making this room a reality, but also creating better conditions for mothers who want to go into politics.

I am also proud to have launched the women in the lead event, which, since 2016, has welcomed 80 to 150 women every year to share what they have experienced in decision-making positions and talk about female leadership. There is still a lot of work to do to attract more women to politics, especially in terms of work-life balance. It is hard when we must vote or sit until midnight, like we do at the end of each session. There has been some progress, but we need to keep going.

It is also important to highlight my efforts to promote the French language. I am proud to have debated in French in committee and in the House of Commons over the past eight years. I am also proud of having created the Réseau des jeunes parlementaires de la Francophonie.

I would be remiss if I did not talk about youth and their passionate commitment to a number of issues. It is often said that young people are the segment of the population that is the most active and involved in the community right now. That is true, and we need to listen to them, because they challenge our ways of thinking and doing things. However, our decision-making structures are still lacking in young voices. That is why I introduced a bill in the House of Commons to create a commissioner for young persons.

I also want the government's youth policy to include an action plan, instead of just paying lip service. I want the Prime Minister's Youth Council to let young people say what is going well and what is not without having to go through the Prime Minister's communications office.

Lastly, I want to talk about the environment, an issue that is of vital importance to young people. This issue has no colour. It is not green, red, blue or orange. It really is everyone's responsibility. I think the work that the NDP did by unveiling its green platform last week is very ambitious and worth exploring.

I am very proud to have started the first forum on clean energy and industry in 2014 with my colleagues from New Westminster—Burnaby, Drummond and Edmonton Strathcona.

In closing, I am honoured to have served as the member for Beauharnois—Salaberry and Salaberry—Suroît for eight years. I am going to get very emotional when I leave this place in a few weeks. I could never have done this work without the invaluable help of the dedicated assistants I have had the pleasure and privilege of working with over the past eight years.

I want to thank my current staff, Edith Gariépy, Glen Cyr, Amélie Leduc, Jean-Marc Fagelson and Katherine Massam.

I also want to thank everyone who has worked for me over the past eight years, including the assistants, volunteers and interns who made my work look good every day, in good times and bad. I also want to thank the teams in the House leader's office and the whip's office, who work behind the scenes and look after us so well every day. I will miss them, but I will see them again.

I will close by thanking my friends, my family and my in-laws for supporting me throughout this wonderful adventure. I will be eternally grateful to my love, my beloved, my sidekick, my poet, my confidant, Mathieu, who agreed to be a stay-at-home dad for the past five years so I could thrive as a woman, an MP and a mother. I want to thank my daughter, Mila, who often had to share me and did not always understand why, if I was my own boss, I was not staying at home to play with her instead of going to work. Mila, I will be home soon.

Members Not Seeking Re-Election to the 43rd ParliamentGovernment Orders

7:30 p.m.


Nathan Cullen NDP Skeena—Bulkley Valley, BC

Mr. Speaker, this is quite an occasion for me, personally, and for my family. What a rare privilege this is, to stand, at any point, in the House of Commons, a place I consider sacred in our democracy. It is a privilege, as well, to be able to talk about life in politics.

This is called a farewell speech. I looked around, and I quite like this quote from Steinbeck:

Farewell has a sweet sound of reluctance. Good-by is short and final, a word with teeth sharp to bite through the string that ties past to the future.

I like the idea of farewell. The last number of weeks and months have been quite a strange experience for me. It has been a bit like being at my own funeral, actually. People come up to me and talk about how they feel about me, good and bad, and I get to hear comments that I think we do not share with each other nearly often enough.

I had some reluctance about giving this speech. I did not want to do it at all. My wife, Diana, said, “Don't be stupid”, which is often the advice she has for me. How do I sum up 15 years in politics in a 10-minute speech? How do I, in a 10-minute speech, properly sum up all of the proper thanks that I have for the many volunteers, the staff, the people who support us and make what we do possible? How can I properly express, in a 10-minute speech, the gratitude I feel for the privilege and the opportunity to be a member of Parliament?

I can recall my first speech, which, to no surprise of my parents, Marguerite and John, I was late to. I was rushing to the House. I was a new MP and was told that my staff would write my speech, and then I would read it. I bolted into the House, and as soon as my backside touched the seat, the Speaker said, “The member for Skeena—Bulkley Valley”. I popped up and started to read the text that had been prepared over many diligent hours by my staff, Gerry. Within the first paragraph, I was bored out of my mind. I thought that if I was bored, it was very unlikely that anybody else would be interested in what I was saying, so I turned the page over, and I just spoke as best as I could.

It was a bit intimidating, because in the front row, at the time, was Ed Broadbent, who had come back to politics. He turned around in his seat to watch. I thought that if I could get through this trial by fire, with the steely eyes of Ed Broadbent looking at me, then I would do okay.

I know I have been here quite a while now. I knew this as I was walking through the city just last year and saw construction projects that had been started and completed during my tenure as a member of Parliament, government projects. It was shocking. I do not want anyone to look back, but it has been so long I actually had a full head of hair when I got here. I will ask that no one google that.

I thought of how to try to put this all together in my mind. A favourite quote of mine is from the great writer Thomas King, who said, “The truth about stories is, that's all we are.” I firmly believe this. I think we are all stories. We all have our past. We all have our memories, our family, our connection to this place.

My story of getting into politics was a most improbable one. I was a working-class kid growing up with a single mom in Toronto, a cashier at a Dominion food store, with no political inclinations in our family whatsoever, and I ended up in the northwest of British Columbia through a very strange series of fortunate events.

I was asked by a good friend, Bill Goodacre, to consider running. I think many of us have this story, of a friend saying, “You should run.” I said the appropriate thing to Bill: “You're crazy. That is a terrible idea.” He was quite skilled at convincing me that this might be a good idea.

I believe politics, at its best, is a vocation. It should be a calling, not a job. It is not something people show up to. It is something that people are called to do, to serve that calling as best they can.

My goals in coming to Parliament 15 years ago were quite modest. I wanted to leave with my health; I wanted to leave with my family; and I wanted to leave with the integrity I came with intact.

Now, those might seem like modest goals, but they are actually not that modest, as I learned, because this can be a brutal place. It can be hard on families. It can be hard on relationships. It can be hard on us as individuals, and we do not often talk about the strains of being away, the mental health struggles many of us have and do not talk about, maybe increasingly so now.

However, I am proud to represent a place like Skeena—Bulkley Valley. Those who have not been there should go, because it is a magnificent part of the world. It is vast. It is beautiful. It is breathtaking. It is the very best of our country, and even better still are the people who live there. We have an expression up north: “The people don't make the land. The land makes the people.” We are informed by that place, and I am proud of the work we have done.

In this strange life, I have had opportunities to meet great, powerful men and women, such as presidents, kings and queens. They are all impressive in their own way, but the most impressive people to me have been the leaders I have been fortunate enough to encounter in the northwest of British Columbia: local mayors, local community activists and indigenous leaders, who have let me into their hearts and their worlds to express what their vocation is.

A number of years ago, I was attending a Nisga’a celebration called Hobiyee. It is a beautiful, ancient celebration. It is the coming back of the salmon and the eulachon to the northwest. The ceremony goes on all night, and the chiefs at one point come into the hall. Members have to imagine a community hall in northwestern B.C. on a beautiful night, and the chiefs are all milling about outside in their beautiful regalia with amazing masks. One of the chiefs came to me and said, “Walk in with us”, and I said, “This is not my place. This is your hall. This is your place. I am just an observer.” He said, “We've talked about it, and you're walking with us.”

As I came into the hall for Hobiyee, the first three rows on either side were filled with women singing, and they sing into the middle, where the chiefs walk in. Outside of them are the drummers. The Nisga’a have a tradition of turning a bent wood box drum on its corner, and big Nisga’a dudes pound away in a heartbeat rhythm. I walked in with the chiefs. It is a very slow procession, and they sing to their leadership. They call their leadership forward and hold them up to represent them. I thought about what we needed to learn from that as parliamentarians, as people who purport to lead and speak on behalf of others.

I have been so blessed. We are a family, and there are many families that inform our politics. My political family is here, and in my riding in Skeena, executive and volunteers, far too many to name: Jennifer Davies, Rob Gofenay, Len and Irene, and Pat Moss. We all have dedicated Canadians who care and inform us. My political family was also Jack, whom I miss to this day.

We also have our parliamentary family, and that is not often spoken of. We, as colleagues, struggle with one another and disagree, but we also meet in this sacred place, and sometimes, not often enough maybe, we find common ground as we seek to make this country a better place.

Then I have my actual family, who are here: Diana and my beautiful boys, Isaac and Elliot. We have some plans. We have some time together, which I so look forward to.

We join together in the northwest to defend what we believe we must defend. We try to reach out across traditional political lines of interest and groups of interest to support one another and defend what is sacred to us, which is the land and the rivers that feed us, the very world that enriches us. For 15 years, the folks in the northwest have decided to put me forward as their voice, and no more of a humbling experience have I ever had.

I believe we are actors passing across the stage. We all have our moment here, and we can lose perspective as we pass across this stage, yet others will pass behind us. May we, in all of our efforts, seek to not only leave Parliament a better place, but leave this country a better place. For sure, I have been left better by this experience.

Members Not Seeking Re-Election to the 43rd ParliamentGovernment Orders

7:40 p.m.


Marjolaine Boutin-Sweet NDP Hochelaga, QC

Mr. Speaker, on May 2, 2011, I was granted the tremendous honour of being elected to represent Hochelaga. I was the first woman and the first New Democrat to represent that riding federally. The class of 2011 had to learn fast. Less than a month after we got here, the government was forcing Canada Post employees back to work.

During what Tom Mulcair called the week of four Thursdays, when NDP members fought for workers' rights day and night for 58 hours, the government misled the public by saying the strike was hurting small business, when it was really the employer that had locked employees out and had only to let them back in. In addition to forcing people back to work, the government also forced workers to accept a wage increase that was well below what the employer had offered. When it comes to interfering in the business of Crown corporations, the Conservatives cannot be beat.

My first speech in the House focused on the reason I had recently become involved in politics. I wanted to protect Canadians' rights and make their lives easier. I worked on that speech all night, but I was proud to be part of the NDP team on that day, June 24, even though it meant I would miss my first national holiday as the MP for my riding. On that day, the NDP proved beyond a shadow of a doubt that it stands up for workers and gives Canadians a voice.

I remember asking someone to sign a petition and hearing that it was the first time she felt that what she had to say was important and that she was being listened to. Listening to the public is supposed to be our job. I wanted to give the people a voice, a voice that would be heard by the Minister of Transport, so I agreed to sponsor a petition and take other steps to show that citizens are opposed to the proposed location of an overpass for trucks between the highway and the Port of Montreal in Hochelaga.

As my colleagues know very well, housing is a hobby horse of mine. My nationwide tour and my lengthy discussions with housing advocacy groups clearly showed me that the cuts and lack of ambitious investments by successive Liberal and Conservative governments are responsible for the current crisis. That is why I fought for years, using bills, motions, questions and statements, for the right to housing, the renewal of social housing agreements, an overall housing strategy and a targeted strategy for indigenous housing.

In order to properly represent Quebec's vision, I repeatedly told the minister responsible for housing that it was important to maintain a general and community-based homelessness partnering strategy. Unfortunately, the Conservatives do not believe that housing is a right, and when the Liberals finally came up with a housing strategy, they did not have the guts to make the budget choices that would have ensured its success.

In Hochelaga, an elected official who is not present in the community, who does not do his or her job, and who is not in touch with the people will soon be a former elected official. There have been many dedicated, loyal assistants who have helped build an excellent reputation for the NDP team in my riding over the years. They are François, Catheryn, Maxime, Chantal, Patrick, Philippe, Olivia, Éric, Julien, Ariane, Anne, Alexandre, Niall, Sandrine, Samuel and Émilie. I learned a lot from them. People from other ridings that I will not name regularly call us to get the help they could not get anywhere else, because they heard about the work that we were doing.

I owe a debt of gratitude to all of my colleagues. Thank you. It is because of their help that a homeless shelter was able to reopen, that Jessica got the federal funding she needed to help her take care of her children who have disabilities, and that Enet and her two young children were able to stay in Canada and escape the threats of Mexican cartels. Every year, my colleagues also helped plan the CAP St-Barnabé share store, which I believe is the largest share store on the island of Montreal and helps feed hundreds of local families in need.

With the help of some generous volunteers, including those from the NDP riding association in Hochelaga and some ingenious interns, my office has held many celebrations this year for new Canadian citizens to make them feel welcome and appreciated. We give everyone a certificate and take nice family portraits. They love this activity. Another very popular event is our lively annual brunch, where we get together and chew the fat. People talk about what their local MP can do for them and get a chance to meet their neighbours. The next one is scheduled for Saturday, and, like every year, we are expecting a full house.

We are also working on problems caused by gentrification and the opioid crisis. As you can see, we are always hard at work in Hochelaga.

I have learned a million things, and I have been very blessed in this job. I got to speak before the Council of Europe, through the Canada-Europe Parliamentary Association. I also visited every Canadian province.

I was NDP whip for three and a half years, and I had the opportunity to work with Rob, Anthony, Christian, Chuck, Theresa, Wassim and Audrey. These people are so generous and compassionate, and they are an endless source of information. With the help of them, some of my colleagues and the Speaker of the House of Commons, I was able to make Parliament more accommodating for young families, and I am very proud of that.

I must admit that we are spoiled in the House of Commons. The staff treats us like royalty, which makes our job much easier and much more pleasant. I thank them for that.

I want to apologize to my friends, and above all to my family and in-laws, for all of the events that I have missed. To my father Gilles, my mother Solange, Jacques, Elena, Michel, Karina, Claude, Sylvie, Guy, Manon, Lynda, Richard, Peggy and Marnie, I love you.

Without the support and love of my husband Doug, my sons Alec and Nicholas and their partners Lauren and Anne, I simply would not be here. They believed in me, gave me self-confidence and pampered me. Did I ever tell them I love them? Only a million times.

I urge the people of Canada to bring all these terrific NDP members, and more, back to Ottawa in October. They are here for their constituents, not for themselves. Working to make the world a better place is in their DNA. I know them well, for they have become my good friends over the years. Canadians can put their trust in them.

I thank the people of Hochelaga for being so warm, imaginative and genuine. They gave me the honour of allowing me to represent them, and they have been so delightful. I just hope I was able to help them in some way.

I will be 64 in October, so I have decided to retire. There are so many things I have not yet had time to do.

Before becoming a member of Parliament, I was an archaeologist and guide at a museum. I worked in the labour movement, but I had never been involved in politics. My uncle, Marcel Pelletier, was a clerk in the House of Commons for many years. My ancestor, Charles Alphonse Pantaléon Pelletier, served as an MNA, an MP, a senator, speaker of the Senate—no one is perfect—and lieutenant governor of Quebec. Perhaps Anne-Marie Aubert and Jack Layton sensed something, and my political career was foreordained.

Members Not Seeking Re-Election to the 43rd ParliamentGovernment Orders

7:50 p.m.


Kevin Sorenson Conservative Battle River—Crowfoot, AB

Mr. Speaker, I rise this evening to deliver my farewell speech in the House of Commons, a place that I have been honoured to be in for 19 years, close to two decades.

Although there are a number of friends and family here tonight, one person is not here who I wish was. It is my seatmate, the member for Langley—Aldergrove, who is in a hospital tonight in Langley. If he is watching or listening, our prayers are with him tonight, not just those from me and my family but those from our entire caucus.

I also have another very close friend, Dale Markwart, who is lying on a bed in a hospital in Castor, Alberta tonight. He is in a tough battle. Dale is a close friend and he means a lot to us all.

After six elections, 19 great years and various positions in the official opposition and the government, it is now time for me to spend more time with my family, which had so selflessly and stoically stood by my side through this long and demanding journey. It is time for me to return to the farm and dedicate more time to those who mean the most to me: my family, those in my community of Killam, Alberta and those in the county of Flagstaff.

However, I do so with a very heavy heart, as I have so much enjoyed the privilege of being not only a member of Parliament, but a member of Parliament for the riding of Crowfoot, which later had its name changed to Battle River-Crowfoot.

I cannot thank the good people of my riding enough for their support. For 19 years, they were my boss. Every day I have received letters, emails, telephone calls and face-to-face words of encouragement and prayers that mean more to me than they will ever know.

I was first elected in November 2000. I stood in the House, on February 1, 2001, to deliver my maiden speech, in which I said:

I thank all the people of Crowfoot for bestowing their faith in me. I promise to respectfully and truthfully represent their views and concerns here. I pledge to work hard, with the same diligence that the majority of the people of Crowfoot demonstrate daily as they go about their occupations and their careers in our predominately rural riding.

I have worked hard to keep my word. I firmly believe that is why I was returned to Parliament in 2004, 2006, 2008, 2011 and 2015.

The people of my riding are important. However, it has been my faith in Jesus Christ and the hope he offers the world. That has been at the heart of my keeping my word, staying principled, serving with humility and respect and working hard every day to earn the trust of my constituents.

When I thought about writing this speech, I thought I better go to Wikipedia to see what it said about me. It sounds a little selfish and vain, but I just want to mention some of the things Wikipedia views as accomplishments.

It says I represent “a riding that is very conservative even by the standards of rural Alberta.” Well, as my staff has reminded me, a three-legged dog could win in Crowfoot as long as it is a Conservative. It also says, “most of his territory has been held by a centre-right MP without interruption since 1935.” I love Crowfoot. It goes on:

He has won the riding by some of the largest margins ever recorded in Canadian politics. He was first elected in 2000, taking 70.5 percent of the vote, and since then has never dropped below 80 percent of the vote. In January 2006, he was re-elected with 82.5 per cent of the popular vote, the highest total recorded by a Conservative candidate in that election.

Wikipedia also notes that I chaired the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs, the Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security and the Special Committee on the Canadian Mission in Afghanistan while the Conservatives were in government. In opposition, I have received a remarkable amount of enjoyment out of chairing the Standing Committee on Public Accounts.

These opportunities, as well as being the public safety critic while in opposition, have given me such an appreciation for the institutions and traditions that have shaped this place and such respect for the many and varied stakeholders who come to us to plead their cases for change, accountability and principled policy that makes a difference in the everyday lives of average Canadians.

Being appointed to these positions as a member of Parliament has been the greatest distinction in my working career. All of it is thanks to the tremendous support of the amazing constituents of Battle River—Crowfoot, the many volunteers on my election campaigns and the dedication and the sage advice of my board of directors and executives.

I want to mention some of my campaign managers: Norman and Marian Steinwand, Bill and Judy Wilson, and for the last five elections, Steven Snider, as well as my president, Martin West. There are so many people I could thank.

I thank my current and former staff for their outstanding work and support in running my Ottawa and constituency offices: Leslie Olson; Gail Nordstrom; John Howard, who passed away while he was employed in the office; Emily Gilroy; Kirsty Skinstead-Lutz; Amy Jackson; Damien Kurek; Jeannie Smith; Linda McKay; Nancy Stewart, Dan Wallace; Melissa Johnston; and Paula Wilkie. Without them and their tireless efforts and loyalty, we could not have provided the first-class assistance that my constituents so richly deserve and have received.

I am equally indebted to my former ministerial staff led by chief of staff, Bram Sapers, who also professionally helped me navigate cabinet committees, memoranda to cabinet, departmental briefings and the onerous and exhausting budget preparations.

I have had the privilege of serving under amazing leaders. Preston Manning was the one who got me excited about politics and interested in making a change in this country. Stockwell Day showed confidence in me after one year by appointing me as the public safety, or solicitor general in those days, shadow minister.

I also need to thank our former prime minister, the right hon. Stephen Harper for the faith that he placed in me as the minister of state for finance, a position I served to the very best of my ability. I am so proud to have called the hon. Stephen Harper my Prime Minister, my leader and more importantly, my friend.

He led his caucus and this country with unparalleled wisdom, humility and, yes, the tough veneer that is so necessary as a respected world leader of his calibre. I was proud to stand by his side and give him unconditional support as we negotiated trade agreements, steered through the recession and balanced successive budgets to ensure the future of this country and that of our children and grandchildren.

Serving in his government was the highlight of my political career. Likewise, it is an honour to serve with our current leader, Andrew Scheer. I campaigned for him in 2004. We saw him as the Speaker of the House and hopefully as our next Prime Minister.

For many of my colleagues and I there were some negatives. We will always remember the terrible day on October 22, 2014, when we feared for our lives and the life of our Prime Minister, as shots were fired just outside our caucus room doors. Corporal Nathan Cirillo had already been fatally shot a the Canadian National War Memorial before his killer made his way up here to Parliament and into Centre Block. Shots were fired. People were hit. All parties were in the midst of their caucus meetings. It was a long and scary day that is forever embedded in one of the darkest memories that I have of Parliament.

The other was 9/11. I remember my nine-year-old daughter running onto the deck and telling me that a plane had hit a building. Less than a year after being elected and six months after being made public safety critic for the official opposition, I was tasked with responding to the ministerial statement calling on the Liberal government for anti-terrorism legislation.

Those dark days are all but washed away by the many fond memories I have of Parliament Hill and the friendships I have forged. There are so many that I need to thank.

First of all, more than anyone, I will miss my good friend and roommate for 19 years, the member of Parliament for Cypress Hills—Grasslands. David and his wife, Sheila, have become lifetime friends. Thank you for all the late-night chats as we ate pizza and popcorn, solving all the problems of Canada and the world, sometimes frustrated with political correctness. Today is his anniversary and he has been together with Sheila a little longer than he has been with me.

To my parents, Ralph and Jean Sorenson, and my in-laws Ben and Alice Redekop, I thank them for their prayers and support. They have meant so very much to me and to my wife Darlene. My father, who watches most question periods with my mom, is now 93 years old and I am not hearing anymore, “Dad, it's time to get a life.”

To my wife Darlene, and our children Ryan, Kristen and her husband Matthew, and now my grandson Kayden, words are not enough to express the deep appreciation and love I have for them all. I am so proud of each one of them. Darlene has been my partner, my sounding board, the anchor that has kept our family grounded and so much more. She has given speeches on my behalf, has campaigned and has always been there beside me. I love her more now than I have ever loved her.

Once again, and in conclusion, I thank the people of Battle River—Crowfoot for bestowing their faith in me. They are truly the best constituents in all of Canada. I will miss this place. I will miss this job. It has been an honour to serve the people of Battle River—Crowfoot.

Finally, to my colleagues here this evening, I thank them for indulging me. I thank them for helping me along the journey of being a member of Parliament. I thank them for allowing me a few moments tonight to reflect and to give thanks. I want to give God praise. God bless everyone here tonight, and may God continue to bless this great land that is the greatest country in the world: Canada.

Members Not Seeking Re-Election to the 43rd ParliamentGovernment Orders

8 p.m.


Dave Van Kesteren Conservative Chatham-Kent—Leamington, ON

Mr. Speaker, I was born in Chatham, Ontario, in 1955 and have lived there all my life. I attended school in Chatham, was married in Chatham, raised a family in Chatham and started my business in Chatham. Chatham has always been my home. I have always been proud to live in the city that was once the site of the battle that claimed the life of the great Chief Tecumseh in 1813 in the War of 1812, that was the end of the Underground Railroad, and the city where John Brown came to recruit combatants before his fateful attack at Harper's Ferry. It is also the hometown of the great Baseball Hall of Fame inductee, Fergie Jenkins.

I had no formal training for the job, but I always had a unique fascination for politics. Therefore, finally at the age of 49 after narrowly losing my first election in 2004, I found myself elected to represent the people of Chatham-Kent—Essex on the eve of January 23, 2006. I am so privileged tonight to rise to give my final remarks in the House of Commons after serving here for over 13 years.

Let me first thank the constituents of Chatham-Kent—Leamington, as it is now known, for giving me this opportunity to serve them. It is an honour to have been chosen to represent them. Of course, this would not have been possible without the help of hundreds of volunteers manning phones, pounding signs, door-knocking and donating both their time and money during the past five writ periods.

After I was elected, I would never have been able to serve without the excellent staff who worked alongside of me. Let me speak about them.

Jill Watts-Declare joined me shortly after I arrived here in Ottawa in 2006. As a new member of Parliament, I had a lot to learn. She provided the office with stable and knowledgeable expertise on how to navigate my way around Parliament Hill. She has faithfully served in her role as an experienced office manager and has mentored several other staff members throughout her years here. She is greatly appreciated for all her service. I thank Jill for all her hard work.

Peter Roos was my first campaign manager, but also a loyal friend and confidante from the beginning. Peter joined the office team in 2010, and finally decided to hang them up just before his 80th birthday last year. That has not stopped him from continuing to run passport clinics and he still comes in to help when we are short-staffed. I thank Peter.

Another one of my friends and confidantes is George Paiciovich. I know George is listening. He is one of those political hacks we find around our circles, having been around Parliament since the 1970s. He served under several MPs and was the chief of staff to Garth Turner in the days of the debt clock; that was his brainchild. Early after my election, he offered me advice and guidance and then joined the team responsible for training our younger members and serving the riding with business, municipal needs and special projects. I thank George for his friendship and his tutoring throughout these years.

I could not forget Nate Velkamp and Adam Roffel, who served as my special assistants. I thank them for their dedication and great work. They have each moved on to greater challenges and continue to serve in the community. Presently, this position is being carried out by Will Pennell, who is now in George's boot camp.

My Chatham office was served from day one by Julian Belanger, who also ran against me for the Conservative nomination. We all remember his professionalism and his political savvy, which were so important to me in those early days. Sadly, Julian was taken from us in 2014. We all miss him terribly.

Wayne Hasson has filled this vacancy, and also served as my campaign manager in the 2015 election. He is doing a tremendous job in the Chatham office, managing the constituency casework, and I thank Wayne.

Peter Bondy and Lisa Mitchell were also important leaders who served in the constituency and who helped me shape the office in those early years. I say thanks to Peter and Lisa.

Of course there is my EDA: Dale, Eldon, Bernice, Mike, Gary and so many more. They were all there right from the very beginning and are still there today. I thank them for their loyalty and their hard work.

Now let me talk about my family.

My wife Faye and I are blessed with eight children and their spouses—Jeremy and Jolene, Rachael and Justin, Mike and Angela, David and Katie, Joel and Shawna, Andrea and John, Adam and Mel, and Eric and Katie—and 39 grandchildren.

I only have 10 minutes, so I will not name them.

They were all there, helping and supporting me at every election, pounding signs, going door to door, making calls. With this devoted army, it is no wonder I have had success these past four elections. Thank you, and we do love you.

To Jeremy and Jolene, who under their leadership, and with David and Joel, grew a mom-and-pop dealership and faithfully built it into one of the finest Hyundai dealerships in the country, thank you for your sacrifice.

My wife Faye has travelled beside me these 44 years on some crazy paths, and yet has continued to support me, encourage me, advise me and keep me grounded throughout the trip. She is the one who has kept the home fires burning, tending to our children and grandchildren over all the years I was away. She is the unsung hero who helped make all of this possible. Many times I have advised those seeking political office that unless they have the full support of their spouse, they had better not consider this job. Faye, I love you and I thank you for your support.

I thank the office staff here in Ottawa who delivered the services that help make this great country work. I thank the many volunteers who make the passport clinics and other such events such a success. I thank my friends and family and supporters who have helped me through these years.

Lastly, I thank my God for giving me this opportunity to serve Him as a member of Parliament for my country. I thank God for holding me and keeping me these years. I thank God for sustaining my health when working the long hours and for protecting me on the road each week as I drove back and forth.

I know I must have forgotten to thank someone, but they should be sure to know that they are greatly appreciated. I am truly a blessed and fortunate man, and I owe it all to the goodness of others.

Now let me spend a little time on some of my experiences here in Ottawa.

This job has allowed me to travel to all parts of the world to meet with leaders and experts in many countries. I have witnessed the vibrant economy of Asia, honoured our soldiers in Europe, witnessed democracy at work in South America, encouraged peace in the Middle East, and saw extreme poverty but also hope in Africa.

I have served on many parliamentary committees—ethics, fisheries, industry, finance, foreign affairs, international trade, status of women, and health, and currently I serve as vice-chair on the Library of Parliament committee. Last but not least, I remember all the years as chair of the Ontario regional caucus.

I have shared these experiences with some extraordinary men and women. I want to talk about Steven Fletcher. Steven is a quadriplegic who overcame tremendous obstacles after an accident. He told me that he even had to relearn how to breathe. Although he does not experience sleep, he still arrived each day to serve as a member of Parliament and even achieved cabinet in the Conservative government.

I have met so many special people here, and many have become my closest friends. I will not begin to name them, as that would be unfair. Their friendship will always remain as we return to our private lives.

In closing, let me say that this has been a tremendous honour, but it is time to go back home, back to my family, back to Faye, back to the folks of Chatham-Kent—Leamington, and maybe some here will join me there soon so that Faye and I can give them some southwestern Ontario hospitality.

I thank you. May God bless you, and may God bless Canada.

Members Not Seeking Re-Election to the 43rd ParliamentGovernment Orders

8:15 p.m.


Robert Sopuck Conservative Dauphin—Swan River—Neepawa, MB

Mr. Speaker, I should point out right off the bat that you were one of my team members yesterday, and thanks to your efforts, our team won. Thank you, Mr. Speaker. It was a pleasure to serve with you on that team.

I had the honour of being elected in this House nine years ago this October. I was elected in 2010 with a minority government; again in 2011, five months after my first win, with a majority government; and then again in 2015. I have experienced being a member of a minority government, a majority government, and the opposition. I have had the honour of spending a lot of time in Centre Block. Over a nine-year career, I have been very fortunate.

Why does a person enter politics? Quite simply, it is to make a difference.

My political transformation from a wet-behind-the-ears, know-nothing teenager to a budding Conservative actually started in 1968. We lived in Winnipeg. I am of Czechoslovakian descent, and we were part of a small Czech community in Winnipeg. What happened in 1968 is the Soviets invaded Czechoslovakia. Our family took in refugees from Czechoslovakia. That gets a person thinking about the power of government and how government can be a force for evil, but if a person works hard enough, it can be a force for good.

Of course, being a Czech, we are made fun of a lot. I have been called a bouncing Czech, a cancelled Czech, a blank Czech. As long as I am not a phony Czech, I will be okay.

As the evolution of my political thought moved along, I bought a farm south of Riding Mountain National Park. I had a dream of becoming a farmer, living off the land, building a log house back in the woods, all that kind of stuff.

What went through my mind were the opportunities that this country offers. If people take risks, they can fail, but they can also succeed.

I am a Slavic person, as my mom was born in Poland. Slavic people like me have an inordinate fondness for property rights. We are visceral when it comes to owning our property. As I looked at the world around me, I could see that there were forces out there that were basically threatening my way of life and the way of life of all other property owners, and I do not just mean farmers; I mean people who have built something with their lives and how important that is to them. When government gets in the way of that, that is simply evil. People need a free society and the ability to take risks.

What comes with a free society? It is is personal responsibility. I get a little tired when people talk about crime statistics all the time. I will be quite blunt: It is as if it is my fault when somebody commits a crime.

Personal responsibility lies within the individual, so as I recite these characteristics, what political party would someone possibly join? It's the Conservatives, of course. These are the things that we stand for.

I represent a large rural area of 66,000 square kilometres. Dauphin—Swan River—Neepawa is one of the most beautiful places in Canada. My community is very diverse, with ranchers, farming, forestry, hunting, trapping, oil exploration and so on, yet with all that resource development, it remains an extraordinarily beautiful place.

Actually, conservation is one of the major activities of the communities in my constituency. People are harvesting trees in their day job, and then in the evening working with their fisheries habitat group to repair streams. Those are the kinds of people who are in my constituency, and I get very angry when people like that are attacked. Whether it is the animal rights movement, environmental extremists or people who want to take their firearms away, I get angry. We are not supposed to get angry in this job, but I simply could not help it. The injustice of what happened when those good people got attacked made me even more determined to defend that particular way of life.

I think we have a number of colleagues here who do exactly the same thing. I am very proud to be a colleague of members such as the member for Red Deer—Lacombe, the member for North Okanagan—Shuswap and the member for Bruce—Grey—Owen Sound.

I have been on the farm of the member for Bruce—Grey—Owen Sound. I would defy any environmentalist to go to his farm and see anything that he is doing wrong. He gently manages the land. He looks after it. He looks after the wildlife and cares about the world. The member for North Okanagan—Shuswap was the president of the B.C. Wildlife Federation and the member for Red Deer—Lacombe has a fisheries background just like mine, so Conservatives have absolutely nothing to apologize for in terms of our conservation ethics.

We are the people who actually get things done. Who negotiated the acid rain treaty? Brian Mulroney did. Who negotiated the ozone treaty? Brian Mulroney did. When I hear all this environmental stuff, all I know is that Conservatives can be very proud of our contributions to conservation.

I did not travel as far as my friend from Chatham-Kent—Leamington. I stayed at home and spent all my time on the fisheries and environment committees, and I very much enjoyed that. We had some very contentious bills to deal with such as Bill C-69, Bill C-68, CEAA 2012 and so on. I have to say, though, that I really enjoyed my time on the fisheries committee, because believe it or not, it worked across party lines. It is a very collegial group, and most of the reports were unanimous. I see the chair of the fisheries committee here, and I want to thank him for his efforts on behalf of Canada's fisheries.

Getting back to the constituency itself, what can I say about constituents? They place their faith in us. Nothing touches me more than when people I do not know comes up to me and says that they voted for me. Is that not something? We have all experienced that, because we cannot know everybody in our constituencies.

I want to thank my EDAs and the volunteers, of course. The late Jeff MacDonald was a mentor to me, as was Bob Lepischak. I thank all those people who worked so hard: the fundraisers, the EDA and so on.

What can I say about my family and my darling Caroline? I know she is watching—hello, darling. She was my best political adviser. As I said before, she is a spouse who praised me when it was required and made sure I knew what I was doing wrong when that was required as well.

Caroline texted me earlier. She was out today planting tomatoes in the garden. She is what we call a “bush chick”, which is a term that I use with the greatest respect. She lives in the woods and knows how to do things.

Tony and Marsha are our kids, and their spouses are Lainee and Graham. We have three absolutely beautiful grandchildren, Eden, Senon and Esmee. One of the reasons I will be heading out is to spend time with the three grandchildren on the farm. They love the farm. They love taking the guts out of a duck, cleaning a fish, driving a quad and doing all those things with papa.

I want to thank my brother and sister, Tim and Joyce, for their support over the years. I also thank the neighbours. Those who live in rural areas know how important neighbours are. When my wife Caroline is by herself on the farm, I know the neighbours are there for her. That is a very important fact.

I want to thank my mom and dad, Joe and Ida Sopuck. They have sadly passed on. They were both born in eastern Europe, dad in Czechoslovakia and mom in Poland.

I want to thank my mentors. They include Alan Scarth, an environmental lawyer from Winnipeg, who is a deeply philosophical man who helped me; Ted Poyser, who was chief of staff to Duff Roblin—and I am going to talk about Duff in a minute; Charlie Mayer, whom many members know, as he represented part of my area; and the sainted Harry Enns, who was the longest-serving MLA in Manitoba's history.

Harry gave me some really political advice. He said, “Robert, my boy, there are two things a politician never passes up: a chance to give a speech and a chance to go to the bathroom.” When one has a constituency as big as I do, one knows where all those spots are. I will leave it at that.

I thank my Ottawa staff Branden and Alex, who are in the office now, as well as Duncan, Brett, Jay, Dan, Olivier, Kyle, and the constituency staff Judy, Janell, Megan, Grace, Nellie and Valerie. I am sorry to go so fast, folks, but I do not have time to stop.

I really want to thank the House of Commons staff, the security staff and the bus drivers. They are salt-of-the-earth folks. As the member for Battle River—Crowfoot said, I was there in October when Parliament Hill was attacked, and we can never forget that these people will take a bullet for us. They deserve all of our respect.

I want to end by thanking my colleagues all around the House. I made friendships that will last for years. The value of the team is so important. I especially want to thank the Manitoba caucus, the member for Brandon—Souris, the member for Selkirk—Interlake—Eastman, the member for Portage—Lisgar and the member for Provencher for their help and support and indeed love over the years.

I too want to talk about what it was like to serve under Prime Minister Harper, who, as history will show, was one of the greatest prime ministers this country has ever seen.

It has been an honour and a privilege to serve with all members on all sides of the House as I end my political journey.

Members Not Seeking Re-Election to the 43rd ParliamentGovernment Orders

8:25 p.m.


Linda Duncan NDP Edmonton Strathcona, AB

Mr. Speaker, I hope I am not getting all this applause because my colleagues are glad to see the backside of me. I will have a few jokes about that later.

It has been a very interesting evening. It is fabulous hearing from all the members. I am really touched by the speeches of my colleagues. I thought I would start on a lighter note.

I was impressed by my former colleague, Libby Davies, who actually recounted in detail her first day as an elected member of Parliament on the Hill. I wondered how she remembered that, and then I remembered my first moment stepping onto the polished marble floors of Centre Block and almost doing the splits. My sage advice for all the new female MPs who will come in the next election is to make sure that they have rubber soles on their shoes.

I am so happy I could serve in Centre Block. I miss those stained glass windows.

I first want to thank my brother and my niece for being there for me, keeping me fed and my spirits high. The whole world deserves a brother like mine. I am equally indebted to my wonderful friend Carol, who never thinks about politics. It is a delight to come home and talk to her, because we talk about everything else: the tulips being up or a beautiful walk in the forest. That is the kind of friend a politician needs. I thank Carol, who has kept my house and garden whole.

I thank my dear friends Donna and Hans, Frances, Cheryl, Darlene and Stephen for endless friendship and support, my friends from across Canada.

I extend my deep gratitude to my amazing campaign manager, Erica Bullwinkle, and my wonderful campaign teams for all four elections. I notice that not many people have talked about their campaigns, but that is a big part of who we are. We would not be here if we did not campaign. They donated incomparable amounts of time and energy to send me to Ottawa, and what fun we had in those campaigns. It is so much fun canvassing with youth. For those who have never canvassed with young kids, they should try it out. It will change their lives.

Among my fondest memories of an election win was dancing in a pub with the visiting Mexican soccer team, excited that a socialist had been elected for Alberta. As with my colleagues, I was the first NDP and the first woman elected in my riding, but I was also the first NDP elected in Alberta in 25 years, and then re-elected and re-elected again.

I continue to thank people who say they worked on my campaign, and far too often I have to say thanks, because I did not have a chance to thank them before, because Erica kept me out canvassing 24 hours a day.

Absolute, profound accolades are sent to the dedicated Edmonton Strathcona federal constituency association, which, for 11 years, helped at every constituency event, serving refreshments, flipping burgers or sweeping hall floors. These volunteers are the source of democracy in Canada. They are the unsung heroes. They never get volunteer awards, because they are “partisan”. We need to change that.

Too often, the unsung heroes of MPs' offices are their staff. I have been blessed with the most amazing group of dedicated people in my Hill office and in my constituency. There are too many, over the 11 years, to list in my Hill office, but I thank Lorena and Michelle. It is so great to finally have an Albertan working with me on the Hill. We need more Albertans here. There were many staff before that. Angela was my first fabulous legislative assistant, and I still consider her a dear friend.

Currently holding the fort in the riding are Lisa, Melissa and Nigel. Those who have moved on are Erica, Daniel, Niki, Helen and Adi, who is now with Amnesty International. I have had so many incredible staff. I kept saying, “Why are you wasting your time here, Adi? Get out and get a law degree." He graduated from the University of Ottawa law school, organized all the rallies at the American embassy and is now articling with Amnesty International.

I thank my leaders: Jack Layton; Tom Mulcair; Nicole Turmel; and now the member of Parliament for Burnaby South. Where would we be without our leaders inspiring us?

I thank Rob, Christian, the incorrigible Anthony and Theresa, now at city hall. I know we drove her crazy, but she is in our hearts.

To my marvellous caucus colleagues, and I know they are laughing because they cannot believe I am saying this about them, but it has been my challenge to try to get them all to think like Albertans.

I like to think that I am also leaving behind a few friends from other parties.

I thank all the parliamentary officers and staff. I extend a heartfelt thanks to the parliamentary security officers, who, during the 2014 attack on the Hill, put their lives at serious risk to keep us safe. My deepest thanks to all of them.

Few Canadians fully comprehend the dual role of members of Parliament or the limitations on our capacity to tackle every need or concern constituents bring to us, despite our desire to remedy every frustration with a failed service or policy.

I must attest to the heavy hearts of my staff for our failure to resolve every immigrant or refugee claim and every request for better services or better policies that actually help people. However, we have so celebrated those moments of pure joy when our efforts helped a constituent gain long-awaited citizenship, obtain a federal grant or veterans benefit or win a dispute with CRA.

I remain surprised and grateful still when a constituent approaches me in the street, in airports, in the grocery store or when I am travelling overseas. Those Edmonton—Strathcona constituents are everywhere. They approach me to thank me for my service, and it is always unexpected and equally appreciated. It keeps me going, and I most certainly believe that is the same for all members of Parliament.

My 11 years serving as a member of Parliament were diverse and often had unexpected turns.

It has been a privilege serving on the executive of the Canada-Ukraine Parliamentary Friendship Group, supporting Ukraine through election monitoring and hosting fabulous young Ukrainian interns.

It has been my honour to represent the extraordinary Francophone community in my riding.

I was privileged as a lawyer to benefit from the support of University of Ottawa law school interns, who were invaluable in helping me craft my bills and motions. I encourage every university and every legislature to introduce the same kind of program.

I participated in many of the climate COPs, inspired greatly by the interventions of NGOs and indigenous peoples.

I had the honour of meeting with the Dalai Lama and the Tibetan government in exile during the commemoration of its 60 years in exile, and look forward to seeing the president again tomorrow here in Ottawa. I am blessed with a wonderful Tibetan Canadian intern.

I travelled to west Africa with the Governor General and to east Africa to meet with parliamentarians.

I held a remarkable array of critic portfolios: environment; indigenous affairs; western economic diversification; public works; natural resources; and international development. I do not know if I am missing any. I had a lot of them.

I advocated in the House and at the UN for a nuclear disarmament treaty and for enforceable measures for sustainability.

No surprise to those who know me well, I infused an environmental angle into every one of those portfolios. I issued a report on the impact of oil sands on water. I proposed strengthened public and indigenous rights in federal laws on toxins, impact assessments, energy regulation, navigable waters, sustainable development and trade deals.

In public works, I proposed investments in energy efficiency for federal buildings to save taxpayer dollars.

In transport, I proposed stronger measures to regulate dangerous rail cargo and engaged communities directly. That came because of my personal experience with a major CN derailment into Wabamun Lake. The government still has not taken action on that.

I have four times tabled an environmental bill of rights, and I will be tabling that bill tomorrow for the last time.

I wish to thank all the environmental community and indigenous leadership who allowed me to be one of their voices for change. It has been an honour representing my constituents and having the privilege of fighting for environmental protection from the inside.

My retirement agenda is to get a rescue dog. My brother says it is my turn.

Members Not Seeking Re-Election to the 43rd ParliamentGovernment Orders

8:35 p.m.


Murray Rankin NDP Victoria, BC

Mr. Speaker, I think I should sit down, because the hon. member for Edmonton Strathcona has said it all. All I am going to do is footnote what she has already so ably said in expressing her gratitude to so many people, on all sides of the House, the people who work here and make our lives easier every day.

Because this may be my last time to speak in the House, I want to say a few things. First, I have to thank a lot of people. Then I want to talk about some of the highs and some of the disappointments, before offering some general conclusions.

It has been almost seven years since I was elected, first in a by-election. It was not a particularly auspicious occasion. I just about lost, but I managed to squeak through, and then I happily did better the next time, in the 2015 election.

My list of people to thank must start, of course, with the people of Victoria who put their faith in me to represent them. The cliché, which has been said more than once this evening, is that it is an honour to have our fellow citizens go into a polling station and put an X beside our names, but I am so grateful to the people of Victoria and Saanich and Oak Bay, the nearby communities, who put their faith in me by doing just that. Every day I am mindful of the enormous responsibility that comes from that debt of gratitude.

In the very first speech I gave in this place, I used the Nuu-chah-nulth word eesok, or respect, because I think that has to be crucial in our role as parliamentarians every day.

The experience of being elected as a member of Parliament has really given me an enormous opportunity to know the amazing community of Victoria, where I live. I got to know people, Mr. Speaker, and I am sure it is the case for you, from all walks of life. I got to know people who make their living as so-called “binners”, people who get money from recycling bottles and cans, which is how they live, all the way to billionaires, because Victoria has both categories.

I am really proud of Victoria. I like to brag that it has the lowest unemployment rate in Canada but also has the people with the biggest hearts in Canada. It is a generous, compassionate community, and I am so proud to live there. It is quite a magic place, because it is both dynamic and gorgeous at the same time. Most people care deeply about their natural environment and about the well-being of their fellow citizens.

I promised I would thank a number of people, so bear with me.

First, I want to thank the people in my Victoria office who do the heavy lifting every day of navigating a sometimes cold and distant federal bureaucracy to help people. I want to start with Alisma Perry, Tony Sprackett and Lucy Mears.

Next I want to thank the front-line people in my Victoria and Ottawa offices over the years: Edward Pullman, Danielle Dalzell, Maura Parte, Andrew Johnson, Krystal Thomson, John Luton, Tyrone Lehmkuhl, Tabitha Bernard, Charlotte Smoley and Alana Cahill. It is quite a list.

Then I want to thank my Victoria political family: Erik Kaye, Ellen Godfrey, Samantha Montgomery, Sarah Bergen, Shannon Ash, Andrew Cuddy, Breanna Merrigan and especially the very talented Victoria councillor Laurel Collins, who I hope will succeed me as the member of Parliament for Victoria in the next election.

Finally, I want to thank my family, my two sons Ben and Mark, who I am so very proud of, my remarkably supportive spouse, Linda Hannah, who is here with me tonight, and my extended family, represented tonight by Leslie Hannah and Barry Lassiter, from Calgary, who have come all the way to be here.

I promised to say a few things I am proud of and then a few disappointments. Let me start with the good stuff.

One of the most important and meaningful things I had the pleasure to work on since coming here was to secure pensions for people who were the victims of thalidomide poisoning. It is serendipitous how this works in politics.

I got a call from a friend who was doing pro bono work for the Thalidomide Victims Association of Canada, the indomitable Mercedes Benegbi, who asked, “Can you help us?” I went to Libby Davies, which she talked about in her amazing book, and we went to Rona Ambrose, the then minister of health. We managed to get every single member of Parliament to vote in favour of long overdue pensions for people at the end of their lives suffering from the effects of thalidomide.

Then there was the debate on medical assistance in dying. I had the good fortune of having a law partner and a dear friend, Joe Arvay, who went to the Supreme Court of Canada on a case called Carter, reversed a decision of the Supreme Court of Canada on a case called Rodriguez and established a constitutional right for Canadians who were suffering interminable pain to avail themselves of medical assistance in dying.

To me, that was the finest moment in this place, with people working across parties. I want to pay particular tribute to the then minister of health and the then attorney general, the member for Markham—Stouffville and the member for Vancouver Granville. However, I would be remiss if I did not pay tribute to the member for Don Valley West who ably chaired one of the committees. There was a Senate committee, a justice committee, and we worked with senators like Senator Cowan and Senator Joyal, and my colleague from Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot who was very wise on that committee.

We ended up, despite our differences, despite profound philosophical ethical differences, coming up with something that I think serves Canadians well. I am very proud of the way Parliament worked. To me, that was its finest hour since I came here.

More recently, my work as vice-chair on the justice committee allowed Canadians to understand the revelations of the former attorney general in the SNC-Lavalin matter and remind Canadians of the crucial importance in our democracy of the rule of law.

I am also very proud of something that I cannot even talk about, which is the work I have been doing under the able leadership of the member for Ottawa South with the National Security and Intelligence Committee of Parliamentarians, which looked at a special report on the Prime Minister's trip to India. However, much more importantly, it did the first in-depth review of our security and intelligence community, which is the work that Canadians do to counter espionage, terrorism and foreign interference, and of course, to safeguard our freedoms. We spent endless hours on that work, and I am very proud of that.

I am proud of the fact that I was given the honour of being elected by my peers as one of the hardest working MPs. I am proud of the public service of Canada with which I have had the opportunity to work over the years.

On the more frustrating side, I am frustrated by question period; I do not mind saying that. I think a lot of us are. We can do much better for Canadians. The tired lines and the bad theatre is wearing a little thin. I know that I do not look forward to it, and I know people on the other side feel the same way. Surely we can do better.

I am frustrated, as all of us are, when our private member's bills are not passed. On one I did, I worked with the late federal tax lawyer, Robert McMechan, on tax reform, which did not go through, nor did the one I worked on to expunge cannabis convictions, which I still think is the right way to go. However, the government has brought in a half measure and we will see if that works.

I am deeply disappointed with the progress Canadians have made toward reconciliation with indigenous peoples.

I am particularly disappointed in our collective failure to address the climate crisis. We have to do better. Today is World Environment Day. It has to be that we give our future generations a better planet to live on. It is going to take hard work on all sides of this House for Canada to do its job.

By way of conclusion, I am a proud social democrat. I have Tommy Douglas's picture on my wall. I think he was justly elected the greatest Canadian for his work in giving us something we now take for granted: medicare. I am hoping that the next Parliament will complete his work and bring in a comprehensive public pharmacare program for all of Canada.

Let us all recommit to a fairer Canada. Let us reduce the enormous and growing inequality between the rich and poor in our society. What J.S. Woodsworth said is still true today: “What we desire for ourselves, we wish for all”. However, Jack Layton still said it best: “My friends, love is better than anger.... So let us be loving, hopeful and optimistic.”

Members Not Seeking Re-Election to the 43rd ParliamentGovernment Orders

8:45 p.m.


The Assistant Deputy Speaker Liberal Anthony Rota

I want to take this opportunity to thank all the members who spoke this evening, sharing their successes and their frustrations, their histories and everything they have gone through since they made it here.

I am going to have to check the rule book to find out what the penalty is for bringing tears to the Speaker's eyes because many times I was listening and could not help but get emotionally involved in the story.

I thank everyone for their stories and their service. I wish them the best of luck in all their endeavours for the rest of their days.

The House resumed consideration of the motion that Bill C-97, An Act to implement certain provisions of the budget tabled in Parliament on March 19, 2019 and other measures, be read the third time and passed.

Budget Implementation Act, 2019, No. 1Government Orders

8:45 p.m.


Tom Kmiec Conservative Calgary Shepard, AB

Mr. Speaker, maybe to the chagrin of my Liberal colleagues across the way, this is not my farewell statement. They will have to put up with me a little longer. I listened to a lot of the statements made by retiring members and, again, I offer a heartfelt thanks for their service to Canada.

There are some members like the member for Victoria, whom I appreciated working with on several committees. I know that many of us will miss him. Even though he was a New Democrat, he was one we could have a decent argument with and come away still friends at the end of the day.

There is a Yiddish proverb that says, “If you want to know what God thinks of money, look at the people he gives it to.” That is what I want to start with. I know I have a 20-minute statement on the budget with questions and answers. I am not splitting my time. I do not want to do that, but I want to talk about this Yiddish proverb because the government has spent a prodigious amount of money over the last four years. We know that today's debt is tomorrow's taxes.

The government now has a total debt of $705 billion. If one includes Crown corporation debt, it is over $1 trillion. I know there will be Liberal MPs who will say to look at the previous government, which increased the national debt as well. The counter-argument is that they had the Great Recession in 2008-09. As I remember it, the Liberal Party members clamoured for more spending. They actually wrote a coalition document with the New Democrats and the separatist Bloc Québécois, demanding even more spending. The government of the day decided that it would find a middle ground and not spend us off a cliff, but that it would do what the House of Commons was indicating, which was to spend cyclically into the economy.

Budget 2019, which this bill tends to introduce and make real in the lives of people, I call it a distraction budget. Last year, I called it the refrigerator budget. There is an extra $41.3 billion of new spending over five years. The campaign promise of the Liberal Party was that there was supposed to be a surplus of $1 billion this year. It is a $19.8 billion deficit instead, $19.7 billion the year that follows, $14.8 billion in the year after, and $14.1 billion the year after that. It is successive years of deficits.

If we look at the financial statements on the—

Budget Implementation Act, 2019, No. 1Government Orders

8:45 p.m.


The Assistant Deputy Speaker Liberal Anthony Rota

I would ask the hon. member for Calgary Shepard to pause for a second.

I will ask the Sergeant-at-Arms to maybe just check on the outside. There is some clamouring going on. I am sure they are not doing it on purpose. It sounds like a very good conversation, but I am really not interested in hearing what they have to say.

We will concentrate on what the hon. member for Calgary Shepard has to say.

Budget Implementation Act, 2019, No. 1Government Orders

8:45 p.m.


Tom Kmiec Conservative Calgary Shepard, AB

Mr. Speaker, I am usually the one rising on points of order about too much noise in this new interim chamber, which is beautiful but not very functional, as I like to remind members. I have been quoted in the Hill Times as having said that.

To return to budget 2019, as I mentioned, successive budgets have increased spending. I went back to previous years' budget documents. I went all the way back to budget 2016. I looked at budget 2015. There is actually a gap in this year's spending. What budget 2015 expected to spend this year was $302.6 billion. Instead, what the government is intent on spending is $329.4 billion, which is a gap of $27 billion between what the government expected to do in 2015 and what it is now expecting to do in 2019.

One of the great problems of the current government is its inability and maybe disinterest in controlling spending. Every solution requires gobs of new spending. Every problem requires gobs of new spending. Every single year, Canada's GDP growth keeps being revised downward. In the economy, there is a cycle of 10 to 12 years and we reach a recession. Sometimes they are short recessions; sometimes they are prolonged recessions.

Again to my Yiddish proverb, if we want to know what God thinks of money, we look at the people he has given it to and look at what they have done with it. The Liberals have achieved far too little for the money that they have spent.

I want to talk about the housing proposals inside the budget and some of the housing policies and ideas the government has put forward. The Liberals are far lacking in both what they should be trying to achieve for first-time homebuyers and the damage they have done by introducing the B-20 stress test and the Minister of Finance's stress test on insured mortgages. It is an issue I have raised in the House repeatedly. I have raised it at the finance committee repeatedly. I had Liberal MPs vote me down twice on a request to do a study of the B-20 stress test. The first time it was without saying a single word. They did not rebuff my argument on why it should be done. The second time, they did have an argument but it was not very strong.

In budget 2019, the first chapter of the budget that the BIA would implement is on housing. I am glad the Liberals have a chapter on housing because young first-time homebuyers across my riding deeply care about being able to achieve the dream of home ownership.

When I lived in Edmonton and purchased my first condo, for my wife and me it was one of the great achievements in our lives that we had put aside enough money and were able to qualify for a mortgage. We got a longer amortization of 35 years. Some people say that there are now 25-year amortization periods for insured mortgages, but there are still 30 years for the uninsured market, and there is a difference between the two.

Taxes have gone up. It is harder for people to accumulate savings over time in order to have a down payment. Now we have a successive series of government decisions, with policy direction being given to the CMHC, policy direction being given to chartered banks and lenders on insured mortgages, and the B-20 stress test, an OSFI rule that is given the blessing of the government, that are hurting opportunities to get into housing, especially for young people.

What I want to avoid is a situation where we eliminate an entire generation, a cohort of people, from being able to get into the type of home that suits their needs. That is different for different people at different times in their lives. When people are younger and starting a family they need a bit more space. When they are getting toward retirement, they want to downsize so they need to sell their house and move into something smaller that suits their needs.

When the government begins to introduce different policies and legislation, that starts to gum up the workings of the real estate markets. I say “markets”, plural, because there is no such thing as a single real estate market in Canada. We do not compare a home in Vancouver to a home in Calgary, to a home in Halifax, to a home in Ottawa. Those real estate choices are very local. They are things such as schools, access to public transit or perhaps there is a baseball diamond near a home as there is near mine so my kids can go and play there. Those are the choices that really matter to people.

The decision the government made with the B-20 stress test has heavily impacted the market. I am going to be referencing a TD Canada report and a CIBC economics report to make my point. There are defects inside the BIA. There are defects inside the budget and how the Liberals are trying to address the housing problem for young people, especially for first-time home buyers.

Approximately 20% to 30% of first-time home buyers have been pushed out of the market by the B-20 stress test. The statistics have shown this, whether we use Statistics Canada, CREA, the Canadian Real Estate Association, or Build Canada. Build Toronto has shown there is a 100,000 unit gap in the last 10 years of built dwellings in the Toronto area.

When the B-20 was introduced, two reasons were given for it. OSFI said that the reason for introducing these much harsher stress tests, 2% to qualify for a mortgage, was to ensure the stability of the banks. What happened, according to TD, was that by introducing this rule, over the past year, 2018 and now into 2019, it had pushed lending to the B market, the B lending. That is not to say monoline lenders are bad, they just typically have higher interest rates, they offer different terms, and it is actually a 2% increase. In Toronto, in the GTA area, it is far higher.

What the government has done is it has moved into the unregulated market by introducing the B-20 stress test.

The second reason was given by the Minister of Finance in January. He said publicly that the reason was to reduce prices. That is not the reason this Parliament allows OSFI to regulate insurance, securitization and lending. The reason for that is the stability of chartered banks and large lenders.

OSFI regulations are not supposed to be used to manipulate prices in different real estate markets. That is mission creep. That is policy creep. It is far beyond the scope of what Parliament intended when it gave the government the ability to set regulations through this independent, autonomous regulator.

I always remind people that regulators are arm's length but within arm's reach. That is something I learned when I worked for the finance department in Alberta. They still have to abide by the wishes of the government and the general direction. The decision-making, the individual regulatory tools they have are truly up to the regulator to decide. However, this one in particular, the B-20, we know from TD Economics that the side effect was that a lot of people were pushed into mono lenders, B lenders, the unregulated market, which defeats the purpose of OSFI having introduced it.

Ahead of B-20, we know that mortgage origination started to soften well before. If we look back, and this is a CIBC economic report, going all the way back to the third quarter of 2013, we saw an increase in mortgage origination to about the first quarter of 2015, and then it started to slide downwards. It is proof apparent that this rule did not have to be introduced, because mortgage origination, people taking out new mortgages, was on its way down for well over a year before the Minister of Finance introduced his stress test on insured mortgages.

I have no idea why he would introduce a 2% stress test on insured mortgages, when it is on a fixed term. There was always a stress test on variable mortgages, because, reasonably put, if the government is offering insurance through the CMHC, or through Canada Guaranty or Genworth, two private providers, taxpayers are on the hook, because they are backing up that policy.

On variable rates, it makes sense to ensure that the lendee can actually pay it back in case something happens in the market, such as the interest rates go up. On a fixed rate, five-year mortgage, there is absolutely no reason to do that. Over a five-year period, on average, and Statistics Canada will bear this out, people's incomes go up, their ability to pay goes up, their circumstances change, but typically it is for the better.

We can look at CIBC Economics, and it is called the “Mortgage stress test: the operation was a success, but” and then it goes into all the side effects of having introduced this rule. It is by Benjamin Tal.

I have another graphic about which I want to talk. One of the things I heard, and it is in the chapter in the budget, where it talks about housing, is the a worry about affordability. It is also a worry about Canadians taking on too much debt.

I sit on the Standing Committee on Finance, and I heard this repeatedly at committee from officials, Liberal members of Parliament and the CEO of CMHC, who I will speak more of later. They worried that Canadians were taking out mortgages that were too big and were taking on too much debt. Chart 5 of the CIBC report notes that in 2012, in the third quarter, just under 50% of people had an average credit score of 751, which is an excellent credit rating. If a person's credit report says 751 or above, that is excellent.

The number has been creeping up as well. Well before B-20, it started to creep up to 50%, 51% and then to 52%. It is not that people were being irresponsible. In fact, the average credit score of those seeking a mortgage loan is going up. Nevertheless, the government has done nothing for unsecured loans. It is still just as easy to get a credit card.

Bank of Canada officials came to my office to explain the Bank of Canada's financial statements. I told them that if I got unsecured loan and spent $30,000 on a boat, the government would pat me on the back for consumer spending. If I then crashed the boat and claimed it on my insurance, the government would be extremely happy again because I might replace it with a new boat. That is $60,000 spent. However, the government is worried about mortgage debt.

In Canada, because of our culture, people are pretty conservative when it comes to borrowing, especially on their homes, delinquency rates are at historic lows. I think it is 0.15% in British Columbia and 0.23% in Ontario. Every statistic I can find from the major chartered banks and every trend line I see from economic shops show that although there was a lending problem, the lending problem was not directly related to the mortgages people were taking out; it was related to unsecured debt, such as credit cards, personal lines of credit and home equity lines of credit.

In fact, when the government introduced B-20, which is also in a report, there was a sudden spike in reverse mortgages, as people were taking more equity out of their homes. Interestingly, this number has been going up for about 10 to 15 years. It is a tool people use. Their homes are their savings so they take money out of them. There was a spike in January 2018. As soon as everybody knew the new stress test was coming, the number went up.

An interesting report came out of Toronto asking about housing. It asked what young people and their parents were doing. A third of parents admitted that they had given their kids an early inheritance gift of, on average, $50,000. This speaks to the problem of pricing in the greater Toronto area and the greater Vancouver area.

What the government and the Minister of Finance did was impose a one-size-fits-all policy, the B-20 stress test, across the board and across the country, as though every real estate market in the country has the exact same problems. Instead of introducing variants and designing a policy tool for specific problems, they went around whack-a-mole and hit everybody.

I know I have to be careful. I hear the parliamentary secretary got in trouble with Premier Doug Ford when he called for him to be whacked, although I did say “whack-a-mole”.

This is a policy tool. I am not saying people in housing should not be worried about what the government is doing in budget 2019, because the government has now given an answer to the problem. Its answer to the problem was to introduce shared equity mortgages. In the BIA, it is introducing a mechanism by which the CMHC will be a Crown agent acting on behalf of the government.

For those listening at home this late in the evening, who perhaps have insomnia, the Crown borrowing program will allow the government to borrow $1.25 billion to buy shared equity stakes between 5% and 10%, depending on whether a house is new. A new home gets 10% and one that already exists gets 5%. The government says this will help 100,000 first-time homebuyers.

When I asked Department of Finance officials where they got this number, they said from CMHC. When I asked CMHC officials where they got this number, they said from the Department of Finance. Nobody could explain to me where this 100,000 number came from. The CEO of CMHC gave it his best shot. The only way this number makes sense is if we look at insurance mortgages and assume that over the next three years, we will only be able to help about 30,000 to 40,000 people. Actually, the Minister of Finance said the same thing in Toronto.

Then I went to MLS listings online to find what kinds of properties were out there. In the greater Toronto area, I found about 500 properties out of 20,000 listings that these shared equity mortgages could potentially apply to, and I specifically excluded those with parking spots, which are very expensive in the greater Toronto area, especially downtown. They are quite expensive to get, but that is not the goal of this. We do not want anybody living in a parking spot in a tower in downtown Toronto. That is not our goal.

Budget Implementation Act, 2019, No. 1Government Orders

9:05 p.m.


Adam Vaughan Liberal Spadina—Fort York, ON

They are. They're called homeless people.