House of Commons Hansard #7 of the 43rd Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was pandemic.

Topics

Resumption of debate on Address in ReplySpeech From The Throne

6:15 p.m.

Liberal

Francis Scarpaleggia Liberal Lac-Saint-Louis, QC

Mr. Speaker, there are two points here. This is a throne speech. There will be a budget and these policy proposals will be fleshed out.

One of the strengths of the government's response to this pandemic is that it listens. It listens to opposition parties and stakeholders, and it adjusts policies to make sure they fit the needs, so I am anticipating some very positive news with respect to the wage subsidy.

The wage subsidy prevents employees from leaving. It prevents a break in the relationship between employers and employees. It allows a company to be set for a resumption of economic activities, so it preserves jobs and allows companies to then grow and create jobs, whereas they might go bankrupt if they lost all their employees—

Resumption of debate on Address in ReplySpeech From The Throne

6:20 p.m.

Conservative

The Deputy Speaker Conservative Bruce Stanton

We will continue with questions and comments.

The hon. member for La Pointe-de-l'Île.

Resumption of debate on Address in ReplySpeech From The Throne

6:20 p.m.

Bloc

Mario Beaulieu Bloc La Pointe-de-l'Île, QC

Mr. Speaker, my colleague did not say much about seniors. Over the past few days, we have heard the Liberals say that seniors are a priority, since they have suffered the most during the crisis. Meanwhile, we have been suggesting a way to help seniors since at least the last election. We have been calling for old age security to be increased by $110 a month.

In 1975, the OAS was worth 20% of the average salary. Today, it is worth 13% of the average salary. At this rate, millennials will get 8% of the average salary. An increase of $110 a month would bring it back up a few percentage points. The OAS would be worth 15% of the average salary. Then there would be indexing.

If seniors are a priority to the Liberals, why not increase old age security starting at age 65?

Resumption of debate on Address in ReplySpeech From The Throne

6:20 p.m.

Liberal

Francis Scarpaleggia Liberal Lac-Saint-Louis, QC

Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. member for the question.

Making seniors a priority means intervening in many different ways. For example, it means protecting seniors in long-term care centres. It means increasing the old age security pension. That is for sure.

It is a multi-pronged approach. In a crisis situation, protecting the health of seniors is worth a lot.

Resumption of debate on Address in ReplySpeech From The Throne

6:20 p.m.

NDP

Brian Masse NDP Windsor West, ON

Mr. Speaker, thank you for your work on the Great Lakes during COVID-19. We made some progress and I appreciate the support you provided.

My question for my colleague is this: Does he support the current government's program for family reunification related to COVID-19? It is a simple question. Does he support what is taking place right now, or does he believe it needs to be changed to allow for more family reunification with accountability?

I see the parliamentary secretary is now talking to the member and providing some coaching.

I ask the member what his thoughts are. Is he for the actual policy right now, or should it be changed?

Resumption of debate on Address in ReplySpeech From The Throne

6:20 p.m.

Liberal

Francis Scarpaleggia Liberal Lac-Saint-Louis, QC

Mr. Speaker, like the hon. member, I have interacted with many constituents who are suffering because they cannot see loved ones, whether it be fiancés, boyfriends or girlfriends. I think that ideally, yes, we would obviously like there to be more movement across borders. I have a lot of faith in the government and the minister with respect to consulting public health officials and trying to craft policy that will help the situation and not cause us to slide backward, which would bring about worse consequences than the situations we are facing now. I hope that a way can be found to reunify more families. I know, for example, with respect to—

Resumption of debate on Address in ReplySpeech From The Throne

6:20 p.m.

Conservative

The Deputy Speaker Conservative Bruce Stanton

We will have to leave it at that. The time has expired.

We will now go to resuming debate.

The hon. member for Charlesbourg—Haute-Saint-Charles.

Resumption of debate on Address in ReplySpeech From The Throne

6:20 p.m.

Conservative

Pierre Paul-Hus Conservative Charlesbourg—Haute-Saint-Charles, QC

Mr. Speaker, I will share my time with my colleague from Red Deer—Mountain View.

I am very pleased to be here today as the Conservative Party's new public services and procurement critic and very happy to have this opportunity to reply to the throne speech.

I was very pleased to be with my leader, the member for Durham, yesterday during his response to the throne speech. His reply was nearly an hour long and was very heartfelt. He was down to earth, as we say back home. I am sure Canadians will pick up on the difference in terms of vision between the current Prime Minister, the leader of the Liberal Party of Canada, and the leader of the Conservative Party of Canada.

I could spend my time today talking about the government's gaffes, its bad management, its duplicity and, according to some, its corruption. We could also talk about how badly its female cabinet ministers have been treated, its ethical breaches and its bungled border management. The Prime Minister tends to be dictatorial in managing his team and in his approach to Canadian politics.

What bothers me the most is that so many of his cabinet ministers refuse to say anything. They are like statues; they say nothing, turn a blind eye and let their Prime Minister do as he pleases. Of course, it is easy to criticize and I could go on all night. We have five years of experience behind us. Early on, the Liberals lamented the fact that the Conservatives had been in power for 10 years, but the Liberal record for the last five years is far more complicated and bleak than anything the Liberals could say about us.

Today I want to talk about our position on the Speech from the Throne, our vision for Canada and the positive proposals we would like to put forward. What we are proposing to Canadians is an agenda and vision that are realistic, honest and transparent. The word “transparent” is very often misused on the Liberal side. The Conservatives are going to make sure that that word becomes meaningful once again.

As my leader said, the dangerous and ideologically driven economic decisions made by this government over the past five years have resulted in the decline of Canada's competitiveness. We will restore Canadians' trust by working with small businesses, major industries, innovators and not-for-profits to help move this country forward. We will establish a financial plan to balance the budget in a way that is prudent and compassionate towards the disadvantaged. On the one hand, we must look after the most vulnerable and, on the other, we must get Canada's finances back on track.

Financial visions are often diametrically opposed. Those on the far left will bust the budget to give more to everyone, even if it means ending up in the red. At the other end of the spectrum, those on the far right will tighten the screws as much as possible. However, it is possible to strike a balance, and that is the Conservative approach. We must be compassionate and take care of the most vulnerable while properly managing our finances. We must avoid spending and creating pointless programs purely as an illusion. We must deal with real life, not the abstract. We want to be compassionate, but we must also think about everything that is happening and the deficits.

Everyone agrees that the spending and investments associated with COVID-19 were necessary. We supported the various measures taken to help Canadians.

Let us forget COVID-19 for a moment. As of January 2020, the Liberals had been in power for four years and had added $100 billion to Canada's debt. That is a problem. Who is supposed to pay for that? Money does not grow on trees. Taxpayers will have to pay back these deficits through taxes. Of course, with the pandemic, the deficit is becoming even bigger.

We need to show compassion for taxpayers. We must always consider the people who pay for all the government's spending. Take young people, for example. My kids are teenagers. My daughter wants to do some things, my son wants to do others. What does the future look like in the next 10, 20 or 30 years? We certainly need to think about it. We have a duty and responsibility to do so. Every government should make this a standard priority. It will be the priority of a Conservative government.

When it comes to taxes in Canada, there is a problem: it is very complicated. There are lots of tax rules. People who have the means or know tax experts and lawyers find ways to pay less tax, but workers and small business owners who do not have the resources keep on paying taxes. They do not know how the system works because it is too complicated. The next Conservative government will simplify the Income Tax Act.

We will also take a look at barriers to interprovincial trade, which have been preventing free trade within Canada for too long. We negotiate free trade agreements with other countries, yet selling Quebec products in British Columbia and vice versa is difficult. That makes no sense. We need to remove interprovincial barriers. Our confederation is supposed to include an economic union, and we will make sure Canada can operate that way. A confederation is the number one place where things should be done intelligently.

Canada must never again be caught off guard by a crisis like COVID-19. We need to have a domestic stockpile of personal protective equipment, key essentials and medicines. These items are important for any country to have, and Canada must always be prepared. This is an important lesson, and we have taken note. There is no question that one of the next Conservative government's priorities will be to ensure that Canada has all the essentials it needs and does not have to rely on other countries.

Rapid response capacity is important. Recently we saw that some countries were able to approve saliva tests quickly, while in Canada, it is going to take months. That is not normal. Health Canada and every government department need to take a hard look at their operations in order to speed up the process. The response has to be rapid and immediate. We cannot allow the bureaucracy to prevent Canada from getting out of this crisis faster than another country. We have to overcome these problems.

We also have to think about protecting the food supply. Canada has a cold climate. Foods like fruits and vegetables often have to be imported, except in the summer. We need to find ways to develop structures that will enable us to have greenhouses where we can grow food year-round. All essential products should come from Canada as much as possible.

When it comes to foreign investment, Canada must protect itself. Certain countries and foreign corporations have their sights on our land, our mines and our high-tech companies. We need to make sure that Canadian interests are protected first and foremost. National security checks are important to ensure that we do not let any part of Canada get into the hands of malicious foreign actors.

The Conservative government was in office during the great recession and crisis of 2008-09. The Harper government faced the crisis, and most importantly, it was able to overcome it. Yes, we had to make the necessary investments. Those investments often went against basic Conservative principles, but it was the right thing to do. The Conservative government then got Canada back to a balanced budget. Actually, I would remind the House that Canada returned to a balanced budget in time for the 2015 election.

Resumption of debate on Address in ReplySpeech From The Throne

6:30 p.m.

Liberal

Peter Fragiskatos Liberal London North Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, I have great respect for the member opposite. I served with him on the Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security in a previous session.

However, I want to ask him a question. Hundreds, if not thousands, of his constituents received the support of the Canada emergency response benefit, CERB. What does he think of that initiative? Is the member in favour of something like the CERB? Does he think it was a good idea?

Resumption of debate on Address in ReplySpeech From The Throne

6:30 p.m.

Conservative

Pierre Paul-Hus Conservative Charlesbourg—Haute-Saint-Charles, QC

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

As I said at the beginning of my speech, I spoke about the deficits racked up by the Liberal government during its first four years in office, but I said that we approved of initiatives like the CERB.

Could we have done better? Would we have used a different model? Yes, and we even proposed a different model, particularly for the CERB, which created a serious problem. We talked about it in debate before the CERB took effect.

It is important to point out that the Conservative Party has always been ready to help Canadians in the fight against COVID-19.

Resumption of debate on Address in ReplySpeech From The Throne

6:30 p.m.

Bloc

Andréanne Larouche Bloc Shefford, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would first like to congratulate my colleague for his appointment as shadow minister for public services and procurement.

In his speech, he talked a lot about honesty, transparency and taxpayers. I would like to hear what he has to say about the Bloc Québécois' proposal because, as a result of the CERB, there are going to be a lot of problems come tax time.

I am not talking about the cheaters who made false claims. I am talking about the people who filed a claim for the CERB in good faith and who are going to have trouble making ends meet at the end of the month. They were barely getting by during the pandemic. Putting money aside to pay back the CERB will be extremely difficult for them.

What does my colleague think about our proposal to offer an eight-month grace period to try to help these people who are struggling and who will need help to get through the crisis?

Resumption of debate on Address in ReplySpeech From The Throne

6:35 p.m.

Conservative

Pierre Paul-Hus Conservative Charlesbourg—Haute-Saint-Charles, QC

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for her question.

Earlier I mentioned compassion. We are capable of compassion. Some people like to label the Conservatives as being cold and heartless, but that is entirely untrue.

Some CERB recipients were not able to save money to pay their taxes or did not know that they would have to pay taxes. A lot of things can happen, and these people will have problems.

I certainly do not feel sorry for people who accessed the CERB even though they knew that they were not entitled. However, I am open to some sort of grace period for people who have problems, for whatever reason.

Resumption of debate on Address in ReplySpeech From The Throne

October 1st, 2020 / 6:35 p.m.

NDP

Alexandre Boulerice NDP Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie, QC

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

It was not surprising to hear him talk about public debt. The Conservatives often forget to talk about how we could increase revenue by reducing inequality.

I want to talk to him about another kind of debt, though. He spoke about children and the future. I want to talk about environmental debt. The Conservatives are not doing much, aside from tossing billions of dollars at new pipelines and subsidizing fossil fuels, even though there is no future in fossil fuel energy.

If he wants to listen to children and youth, I would remind him that 500,000 people, half a million Quebeckers, took to the streets of Montreal last year, demanding real action on sustainable development and the climate crisis.

If he wants to listen to youth, he should also talk about the environmental debt.

Resumption of debate on Address in ReplySpeech From The Throne

6:35 p.m.

Conservative

Pierre Paul-Hus Conservative Charlesbourg—Haute-Saint-Charles, QC

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for his question, and I would remind him that, in the last election campaign, the Conservative Party had the most detailed environmental platform. It was even more detailed than that of the Green Party.

They keep bringing up oil and Alberta. However, as far as I know, 95% or more of Canadians still drive a gas-powered vehicle, and Canada still has to import oil from other countries.

As long as there are cars, planes and boats, which will not be fuelled by electricity anytime soon, we will need oil. Why not source it in our own country, from our own natural resources?

Of course, this does not prevent us from developing other resources and tools to be more environmentally friendly. That is why we are proposing to export Canadian know-how. There are countries that need our help reducing their environmental footprint.

Resumption of debate on Address in ReplySpeech From The Throne

6:35 p.m.

Conservative

The Deputy Speaker Conservative Bruce Stanton

Before we resume debate with the hon. member for Red Deer—Mountain View, I will let him know there are only six minutes remaining in the time for Government Orders today. I will interrupt him when we get close to that time in the usual way.

Resuming debate, the hon. member for Red Deer—Mountain View.

Resumption of debate on Address in ReplySpeech From The Throne

6:35 p.m.

Conservative

Earl Dreeshen Conservative Red Deer—Mountain View, AB

Mr. Speaker, it is an honour for me to stand in the House today to speak on behalf of my constituents of Red Deer—Mountain View.

When we look at how this pandemic has affected countries around the world, we can take some comfort that despite the hardships endured by so many of our fellow Canadians, we did not experience the horror stories of overwhelming hospitalizations that were initially expected based on the realities of many European nations and some large U.S. cities. That being said, there are still many heart-wrenching stories, especially of seniors and those in institutionalized care who have suffered immensely.

On a personal note, I have been notified of many constituents whose last days were marked by isolation and whose loving families had to postpone or vastly limit their celebrations of life. To let their names live on in Hansard, let me name just a few neighbours: Betty Howell; Darryl “Dude” Hughes and Loretta Moran; lifelong 4-H ambassador, Bob Boulton; former teaching colleague, Ed Tessman; my niece, Roselie (Moore) Engman, who sadly had to hear of her husband Andy's death through her hospital room window a few months prior to her own passing; my wife's cousin Betty Wood; and my dear friend, Bob Clark, former legislator, teacher and sports builder, who I will specifically honour at a later date. To their memories and to the well-being of all my constituents, I humbly speak on their behalf.

More than a month ago, the Prime Minister chose to hide from yet another ethical scandal by completely shutting down Parliament. All the great work that the committees were doing to get to the bottom of the WE scandal came to an end, as did the work of all other committees, including the Standing Committee on Industry, Science and Technology, of which I was a member. We have just spent a few days debating the Liberal government's latest attempt to correct its mistakes. There is no question that because of the actions of the government, many Canadians are in need of the financial support, which the three new programs we recently debated will deliver.

I will turn my attention now to the Speech from the Throne.

What we heard in the Speech from the Throne cannot be called a plan at all. What we have heard is a lot of recycled promises and a continued failure to address the needs of my community as well as the needs of hundreds of communities across Alberta and right across Canada. What we have heard is a self-serving political agenda that will bankrupt Canadians for generations to come, with spiralling debt and no commitment or viable ideas about returning to a balanced budget.

The Liberal government's Speech from the Throne completely ignores our resource sector, our critical importing farming sector, our retail and service sector and our manufacturing sector, all of which account for millions of Canadian jobs and contribute billions of dollars to our economic growth.

In my riding of Red Deer—Mountain View, farmers and ranchers remain a linchpin of our economy, as they do in countless numbers of other communities across Canada. Across Canada, the agriculture and agri-food system normally employs more than two million people, which accounts for about 12% of total Canadian employment.

How does the Liberal government acknowledge this fact? Quite simply, it does not. The Speech from the Throne has about 7,000 words. In all, the word “agriculture” was hardly mentioned at all. In fact, the word “Alberta” is only mentioned once. Is it any wonder that the vast majority of people living in western Canada and Alberta, in particular, feel alienated by the Liberal government?

As the Liberal government builds its biased bluster from the Speech from the Throne, there is merely one line which references farmers and producers being key partners in the fight against climate change. What could this mean? We have to look elsewhere to find the answers to that question. What it apparently means is the Liberal government's additional crippling taxes. What we will find from the Liberal government is a proposal to further cripple the sector as well as businesses across Canada by imposing another tax on top of the Liberal government's ill-conceived carbon tax. The new tax that will be hitting Canadians is the clean fuel standard.

The last thing Canadian farmers and ranchers need is yet another tax that will increase their costs. We have already seen the devastating effects of the Liberal government's first carbon tax on farm incomes. The truth is that Canada's farmers, ranchers and processors have for years demonstrated an ability to deliver meaningful reductions in emissions and safeguards for the environment through adoption of new technologies, education and innovative management practices, but the government has ignored these efforts. It ignores the science and the facts in favour of pursuing an agenda to further its own political ambition at the expense of hard-working Canadians.

The Conservatives know that climate change needs to be addressed, but increasing taxes is no solution. The Liberal government's Speech from the Throne is silent on a number of other important topics as well. There is no mention of the important role the energy sector is playing to help reduce carbon emissions. In fact, there is no mention of the words “oil” and “gas” anywhere in the Liberal government's Speech from the Throne. This is despite the fact that oil and gas companies are normally responsible for more than 10% of Canada's GDP and are normally the largest private investors in the Canadian economy and the largest investors in Canadian clean technology to produce the most valuable export.

I realize my time is getting short, so in closing I would like to note, as many economists and senior financial experts have also noted, that the Liberal government has completely abandoned its fiscal anchors and Canada's economic ship is adrift. In fact, the Liberal government's sky-high taxes, wasteful spending and massive deficits put Canada in an increasingly weak position before the pandemic had arrived. It is no wonder that friends and allies who are watching the Liberal government perform are wondering what happened to this once responsible and respected nation.

The truth is that Canada did not reach our current level of borrowing due solely to COVID-19 and the recession; it is a spending problem. If we are going to get Canada back on its feet, we need to put the Liberal health crisis opportunism aside, eliminate the barriers to our wealth-building oil and gas industries, eliminate uncompetitive programs that make agriculture and manufacturing difficult and unleash the power of true innovation in all sectors of our economy, not just the chosen few.

The Conservatives know that creating the groundwork for a solid recovery will make caring for Canadians now and in the future something we can all be proud of.

Resumption of debate on Address in ReplySpeech From The Throne

6:40 p.m.

Conservative

The Deputy Speaker Conservative Bruce Stanton

It being 6:43 p.m., it is my duty to interrupt the proceedings and put forthwith every question necessary to dispose of the amendment now before the House.

The question is on the amendment. Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the amendment?

Resumption of debate on Address in ReplySpeech From The Throne

6:45 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

No.

Resumption of debate on Address in ReplySpeech From The Throne

6:45 p.m.

Conservative

The Deputy Speaker Conservative Bruce Stanton

Pursuant to an order made Wednesday, September 23, 2020, we will not proceed to a voice vote.

And one or more members having risen:

Call in the members.

And the bells having rung:

Resumption of debate on Address in ReplySpeech From The Throne

7:15 p.m.

Conservative

The Deputy Speaker Conservative Bruce Stanton

The list of members voting by video conference has now been established for use by the table.

The question is as follows. Shall I dispense with the reading of the amendment?

Resumption of debate on Address in ReplySpeech From The Throne

7:15 p.m.

Some hon. members

No.

Resumption of debate on Address in ReplySpeech From The Throne

7:15 p.m.

Conservative

The Deputy Speaker Conservative Bruce Stanton

[Chair read text of amendment to House]

(The House divided on the amendment, which was negatived on the following division:)

Vote #7

Resumption of debate on Address in ReplySpeech From The Throne

8 p.m.

Conservative

The Deputy Speaker Conservative Bruce Stanton

I declare the amendment defeated.