House of Commons Hansard #10 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

10:15 a.m.

Liberal

Rachel Bendayan Liberal Outremont, QC

Madam Speaker, we know the importance of start-ups to the future of the Canadian economy and we are there for start-ups. In fact, just a few days ago, we announced additional funding for the regional relief and recovery fund. This fund, as the member knows, is available to all small businesses, including very small businesses that might not otherwise be eligible for the CEBA loan or the wage subsidy. It is important to be there for all of our hard-working entrepreneurs in Canada, and we are there for them.

Resumption of Debate on Address in ReplySpeech from the Throne

10:15 a.m.

Conservative

Greg McLean Conservative Calgary Centre, AB

Madam Speaker, I want to ask about the record-low interest rate that the government is borrowing at currently. The policy rate of 0.25% was set by the bank. The government seems to be taking credit for this low interest rate, although it is incredibly short-term and it was set by an organization that belongs to the Government of Canada.

Would the member agree that it would be great to give that 0.25% financing to our small businesses so they could address some of the financial stress they are feeling through this COVID period? Right now, that is not available to them as they seek options of how to get through this pandemic.

Resumption of Debate on Address in ReplySpeech from the Throne

10:15 a.m.

Liberal

Rachel Bendayan Liberal Outremont, QC

Madam Speaker, we have locked in these historically low interest rates for decades, and we have done so because we know that it is better for Canadians that the government take on this debt than for Canadian families to take on debt. We have acted and spent so that Canadians not only survive this pandemic, but also avoid being in debt for decades to come.

I would add that the supports we have provided to small businesses, including, for example, the CEBA loans, are interest-free. We are supporting entrepreneurs with interest-free loans, which include a grant, to make sure they can see through this pandemic to the other side.

Resumption of Debate on Address in ReplySpeech from the Throne

10:20 a.m.

Liberal

Majid Jowhari Liberal Richmond Hill, ON

Madam Speaker, it gives me great pleasure to rise in the House today to speak in support of the Speech from the Throne. The Speech from the Throne lays the foundation of our government's direction and goals, and how we will work to achieve them.

Before I begin, I want to recognize the hard work the front-line workers in my riding of Richmond Hill have continued to provide throughout the pandemic. Grocery store clerks, health care workers, law enforcement officers, first responders and small business owners are some of the many who have been the backbone of our community at this time. I want to thank them for their services.

In this time of need, members of our community have also been coming together to ensure they are not alone in the fight to flatten the curve. I have seen communities in Richmond Hill organize food drives, create handmade masks for local centres or donate their time and money to local organizations that serve our most vulnerable. It is my honour to represent the people of Richmond Hill and to continue to advocate for them.

This speech was created with everyday Canadians like the residents of Richmond Hill, in mind: Canadians who are working to support their families, who have local businesses, who give back to the community and who rely on the government to provide them with public services that empower them and their families.

Through the four major pillars of our speech, we told Canadians that their voices and advocacy had been heard, and that their opinions, indeed, matter. The four pillars are fighting the pandemic, supporting Canadian businesses, addressing the gaps in our social systems and standing up for who we are as Canadians. These will guide our government to best support the people of Canada and create a stronger, more resilient country.

The COVID-19 pandemic has shown us that when people are suffering, the onus is on the government to ensure that they remain stable and are equipped to fight this virus. From the outset of COVID-19, our government has had a plan to tackle the challenges brought on by the crisis.

Our first step was to ensure that Canadians and Canadian businesses were protected. This was why we introduced the Canada emergency response benefit. Our response ensured Canadians did not have to worry about putting food on the table or paying bills by providing direct support to them. The CERB was a temporary program that helped close to nine million Canadians through a very difficult time.

We ensured that businesses could keep their employees on the payroll by introducing the Canada emergency wage subsidy. The wage subsidy protected over 3.5 million jobs and preserved our nation's small businesses.

We also took further action by creating the made in Canada initiative, which invested in domestic PPE manufacturers and provided support to Canadian scientists researching and developing a vaccine. By investing in Canadians, we will fight the virus. As the throne speech highlighted, that support will continue. The Canada emergency wage subsidy will be extended until next summer so that businesses like Benson Lock in Richmond Hill can continue to keep workers employed.

Many Canadians in Richmond Hill benefited from the CERB, and the improved employment insurance program will continue to support them during this time. For those who do not qualify for EI, the Canada recovery benefit will help get them back on their feet.

To recover our economy, we must invest in our vulnerable industries. I have heard first-hand from those in the travel and hospitality industries, which have been hit the hardest. By expanding the Canada emergency business account to help businesses with fixed costs, and improving the business credit availability program, we are providing direct support to most vulnerable industries.

We are also investing in communities. The safe start agreement allocated $19 billion to municipalities to start their economies. Richmond Hill received $4 million to address associated start-up costs and protect the community. This funding for my riding ensured that safety measures were in place and public services could be maintained. It also enabled the municipal government to prepare for what is now the second wave of the virus.

As we prepare our municipalities, it is also imperative that we consider the long-term impact of the initiative and how it affects our environment. Climate action is a key component of our government's mandate. After consulting with climate activists and organizations in my riding, including Neighbours for the Planet, BlueDot and Drawdown, I understand the urgency of a comprehensive plan to fight climate change. The government will create millions of jobs for Canadians by retrofitting homes to save energy costs for families and by supporting investment in renewable energy and clean technology solutions.

We will also invest in our cities to deliver on fast public transit. As the representative of a thriving suburban community, my constituents rely on convenient and affordable transit options to go to work. We will transform the way we power our communities through the clean power fund and become a world leader in clean technology.

As we work to protect our planet, we must also do the same to protect the most vulnerable in our communities. That is why addressing the gaps in our social security system is a key priority for this government. Our nation's seniors have worked hard to build this country, and we owe it to them to provide the best long-term care. By working with the provinces and territories to create a new national standard for long-term care, we will allow our seniors to receive the best support possible.

We will also increase old age security once a senior turns 75, and boost the Canada pension plan survivor benefit.

These initiatives will benefit many seniors' organizations and long-term care centres in my riding. Seniors program organizations in Richmond Hill, such as Community and Home Assistance to Seniors, CHATS, and The Mariann Home are able to provide quality support and care to Richmond Hill seniors.

Next I would like to acknowledge another aspect of the speech that resonated with my riding and me. I have had the chance to work with organizations within Richmond Hill that address homelessness in our community, and the commitment to eliminate chronic homelessness in Canada is of great importance. The government's historic national housing strategy will increase investments in rapid housing in the short term, and will partner with not-for-profits and co-ops to find the best solution. The government will work with organizations like 360° Kids in my riding, which provides support to homeless youth in the York region.

This week is Mental Health Awareness Week. On the subject of mental health, our government understands that the mental health crisis in our country has reached a tipping point and it is urgent that we invest in community programs. As the chair of the parliamentary mental health caucus, I have worked with various stakeholders to advocate for more investments and resources in mental health research and support for those struggling. We will invest in people like Kathy Mochnacki from Home on the Hill Supportive Housing, whose organization provides resources for individuals with mental illness.

I am so glad to see a commitment to increasing intersectional wellness resources so more people can receive the support they need. I believe that supporting and recognizing the diversity of those in our community is crucial to uniting us as Canadians.

The last point I would like to mention is our government's plan to combat racism. The pandemic has exaggerated and highlighted what many of us already know: there is still much work to be done in the fight against systemic racism. I represent a riding that is incredibly diverse. Of the population of Richmond Hill, 60% identify as a visible minority and 57.4% are immigrants. The need for a comprehensive strategy to address racism is long overdue, and this government has proved that it will do that by continuing to fight hatred and discrimination, as well as by economically empowering disadvantaged communities so we can all succeed. The recently announced Black entrepreneurship loan fund, as well as initiatives aimed at strengthening indigenous communities, show that this government is committed to addressing systemic discrimination and empowering all Canadians.

As members can tell, this plan is ambitious, but it is necessary to protect and support Canadians. The benefits outweigh the costs, and keeping Canadians on their feet is the most important goal of our government. To quote the speech:

It is no small task to build a stronger, more resilient country. It will take hard work.

The hard work is what this government is prepared to do. I hope we can gain the support of all members on this goal and work together to build back our great country.

Resumption of Debate on Address in ReplySpeech from the Throne

10:30 a.m.

Conservative

Damien Kurek Conservative Battle River—Crowfoot, AB

Madam Speaker, I appreciate the member's speech. He talked about the need to work together and the need to build back better. I am curious about his thoughts of whether that is consistent with the fact that his government prorogued Parliament for six weeks. Certainly members on this side of the House were ready to keep working for Canadians. The Liberal government, the Prime Minister, shut down the ability for parliamentarians to do just that for six weeks at a time when Canadians expected their elected officials to come together to do what was best for them. Certainly, in a parliamentary sense, it was not even necessary to do the so-called legislative reset that the Liberals promised.

I wonder if the member has any thoughts on that.

Resumption of Debate on Address in ReplySpeech from the Throne

10:30 a.m.

Liberal

Majid Jowhari Liberal Richmond Hill, ON

Madam Speaker, let me share with members what I did during those six weeks. About 154 of my colleagues and I reached out to our constituents, small businesses, parents, seniors and not-for-profit organizations. We held consultations and round tables with them. We understood what their concerns were.

We communicated those concerns through various channels to government, whether it was through the ministers' offices, departments or our sub-regional caucuses. We made sure that the issues at the forefront of Canadians' minds were communicated. I am glad, as I said in my speech, that our government heard those concerns.

Could the hon. member share with us what he did during those six weeks?

Resumption of Debate on Address in ReplySpeech from the Throne

10:30 a.m.

Bloc

Luc Thériault Bloc Montcalm, QC

Madam Speaker, my colleague said that the government listened to the voices of Canadians and kept their interests in mind in its throne speech.

How does he explain the fact that the government turned a deaf ear to the call to increase health transfers, when 81% of Quebeckers and 73% of Canadians are calling for an increase and all the experts who appeared before the committee told us that the chronic underfunding over the past 25 years has weakened our health care systems' ability to deal with this pandemic?

Is that what it means to listen to the voice of the public and stand up for their interests in a throne speech?

Resumption of Debate on Address in ReplySpeech from the Throne

10:30 a.m.

Liberal

Majid Jowhari Liberal Richmond Hill, ON

Madam Speaker, I take the opposite view of the hon. member. Our Prime Minister met with premiers multiple times prior to the throne speech. As a result, $19 billion was injected into the provinces through the safe restart agreement. I can assure the member that some of that $19 billion made it to his riding, because $4 million of that made it to my riding. It has made a big difference.

Resumption of Debate on Address in ReplySpeech from the Throne

10:30 a.m.

NDP

Richard Cannings NDP South Okanagan—West Kootenay, BC

Madam Speaker, the hon. member very quickly mentioned long-term care centres and the tragedy that has unfolded there. He also mentioned national standards. Standards are obviously important. The trouble is that none of the provinces are meeting the standards they have already set. The problem is assured funding.

The NDP has put forward a proposal to bring long-term care centres into the health system we have in Canada, so that in working with the provinces, we can provide the funding. The problem is that we cannot staff these centres to the level that is needed, and we cannot pay them enough. These people deserve to get better pay. They need to get better pay or we will not be able to hire them.

I am just wondering what the hon. member thinks of the NDP proposal to bring long-term care centres into the national health care plan.

Resumption of Debate on Address in ReplySpeech from the Throne

10:35 a.m.

Liberal

Majid Jowhari Liberal Richmond Hill, ON

Madam Speaker, the health of our seniors and the support of our health care workers who support these seniors are of the utmost importance to us. We made a commitment for an additional $2.5 billion to support eligible seniors. We are working with the provinces and territories to support—

Resumption of Debate on Address in ReplySpeech from the Throne

10:35 a.m.

Liberal

The Assistant Deputy Speaker (Mrs. Alexandra Mendès) Liberal Alexandra Mendes

Resuming debate, the hon. member for Calgary Forest Lawn.

Resumption of Debate on Address in ReplySpeech from the Throne

October 6th, 2020 / 10:35 a.m.

Conservative

Jasraj Singh Hallan Conservative Calgary Forest Lawn, AB

Madam Speaker, the Prime Minister and the Liberal government have framed the Speech from the Throne as a necessary and updated vision for the country. Before I address the speech directly, it is important for Canadians to remember that we are debating a new Speech from the Throne because the Prime Minister prorogued Parliament for six weeks to avoid accountability. All of the committees that are investing his WE scandal were shut down, and that was the point.

With a new session of Parliament, the Prime Minister is hoping that all 7,000 of his fluffy but empty words in the throne speech will distract Canadians from his corruption and the WE scandal. I believe that Canadians are a lot smarter than the Liberals give them credit for. This necessary reset, as the government prefers to frame it, was supposedly required to respond to new realities exposed by the pandemic. In actuality, Parliament was perfectly capable of responding to the pandemic prior to prorogation and the Liberals only wasted valuable time.

The Conservatives will continue to hold the Prime Minister and the government accountable, and we will keep fighting for the answers that Canadians deserve.

To respond to the details of the throne speech, I note the government has tried to sell the throne speech as a bold and ambitious vision for Canada. However, the speech has completely missed the mark and is only more proof of the government's reckless economic policy and poor grasp of Canada's economic strengths.

The government has signalled that it will be taking on more debt but has yet to provide a fiscal framework. We have no idea of how the Liberals plan to pay it all back. The government does not seem to understand that debt incurred by the government is debt incurred by everyday taxpaying Canadians. These are people like our grocery store clerks, our nurses, our teachers and so on. Without a fiscal framework, how can we be assured that our children and the future generations of Canadians are not going to be overwhelmed by the government's debt?

The throne speech claims that the government is “guided by values of sustainability and [fiscal] prudence”, but the absence of a fiscal framework thus far proves otherwise. We have a government spending recklessly without a fiscal plan as Canadians navigate the challenges of a global pandemic. The Liberals are racking up a credit card without telling Canadians how or when it will all be paid back.

At the same time, the throne speech reveals a flawed plan for economic recovery. Canada is at a major crossroads in its development. There are some very clear choices that confront us right now. These choices are even more important in light of the economic crisis brought on by the COVID-19 shutdown. The government has chosen to effectively shut down our economy by restricting resource development and exports, with economic policies like carbon taxes, Bill C-69, which restricts new pipelines from being built, and Bill C-48, which is preventing exports of crude off the west coast, and generally discouraging investment in Canada's resources.

Exports are the lifeblood of the Canadian economy. In 2018, 56% of Canada's exported goods were directly from our resource industries. The government seems to think that it can replace these core industries with pixie dust. Despite expressing a commitment to economic recovery, the government has continued to neglect and even hinder resource development in this country during a time when we need these resources the most.

It has been akin to a hockey team benching its all-star players while trying to come back from being down six goals. These industries drive our economy, provide the jobs that Canadians depend on and provide the government revenues that keep our health care and education systems alive. These industries have made Canada the great nation that it is today, yet there was zero mention of supporting struggling resource workers. There was just a continued promise to sacrifice their lives by killing their industries with more taxes and regulations, an added double carbon tax hiding as the Canadian fuel standard and more. Do members knows what the worst part is? It is that the government is taking the tax dollars paid by hard-working Alberta oil and gas workers and giving those dollars away to subsidized competitive industries that aim to end their existence. That sounds fair, does it not?

There was also a very large issue that the Prime Minister completely skipped in the Liberals' reset: western alienation. These Liberals stand up in the House day after day and completely deny that anyone in western Canada, in particular anyone in Alberta, feels alienated from Ottawa and the central government. I am here to say, as many of my colleagues have previously, that it is real and it is growing. The Liberals stand to say they are giving more money to Alberta than former prime minister Harper did. They accuse us of making up this crisis. We could not create this even if we tried. The alienation of Alberta is caused by the current government's antienergy, antiwest, anti-Alberta far-left policies that are causing this divide.

Albertans have never wanted a handout or to be bought. They just want the government to get out of the way. We want to be allowed to get back to work doing what we do best: extracting minerals and other resources from the ground, adding incredible value to them and selling them to the world. We have amazing resources and opportunities in this country, but the government wants to ignore them until they go away, because resource development does not fit into its ideological framework.

So many people have said this before me, but let me add my voice. Canada's oil and gas producers, miners, farmers and, in fact, everyone who participates in this economy care about the environment. Canada is leading the world when it comes to environmental sustainability. The investment in innovation and clean technology is incredible. I am fortunate enough to live among those who are leading this incredible innovation, which is taking place not just in the oil sands but in all of our extractive industries.

The Prime Minister likes to talk about balance, but he has achieved none of it. When hundreds of thousands are out of work and suicides are skyrocketing, that is an indication that the Liberals do not care about the economy side of this equation. We do not need to pit one region of this beautiful country against the others when we share common goals. A strong economy and environmental protection can go hand in hand, and we have already seen this happening in Canada. I wish that the government would stop listening to the far-left voices that are opposed to all resource development and seek that balance, even though these voices are also at the government's own cabinet table.

We are so blessed to live in a region flush with resources that Canada and the world require to maintain our high standard of living. Hundreds of thousands of people are employed in resource development. These same industries employ a significant number of first nations Canadians, as high as 6% of the oil and gas workforce. More and more first nations are taking ownership positions in large projects. All Canadians have a mutual desire to see these succeed.

Unfortunately, all we have heard from the government is its desire to ban single-use plastics. Where would we be during this pandemic without plastics? In literally every room in a hospital they are crucial. Masks are single-use, as are the gloves that so many people are wearing when they go out.

If the Liberals are truly interested in a team Canada approach in responding to the global pandemic, the government must provide a fiscal plan that ensures fiscal stability for future generations and an economic recovery that does not ignore our country's core strength of resource development. However, it seems the Prime Minister is only interested in racking up the credit card—

Resumption of Debate on Address in ReplySpeech from the Throne

10:45 a.m.

Liberal

The Assistant Deputy Speaker (Mrs. Alexandra Mendès) Liberal Alexandra Mendes

Questions and comments, the hon. parliamentary secretary.

Resumption of Debate on Address in ReplySpeech from the Throne

10:45 a.m.

Winnipeg North Manitoba

Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the President of the Queen’s Privy Council for Canada and to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Madam Speaker, the Prime Minister and this government are very much interested in Canadians in all regions of the country. That is why we have developed these programs to support Canadians every day during this very difficult time of the pandemic.

I find it interesting that the member says we are not doing enough for oil development in the province of Alberta. The Bloc says that we are doing too much in the provinces like Alberta with respect to resource development. When I reflect, I think of the days when I was the opposition. When Stephen Harper was prime minister, the Conservatives did not build one inch of pipeline to take resources to coastal waters. It is important for people know this.

I wonder if my friend could provide his thoughts as to why Stephen Harper was such a failure—

Resumption of Debate on Address in ReplySpeech from the Throne

10:45 a.m.

Liberal

The Assistant Deputy Speaker (Mrs. Alexandra Mendès) Liberal Alexandra Mendes

The hon. member for Calgary Forest Lawn.

Resumption of Debate on Address in ReplySpeech from the Throne

10:45 a.m.

Conservative

Jasraj Singh Hallan Conservative Calgary Forest Lawn, AB

Madam Speaker, I want to point out that four pipelines were built under the Stephen Harper government. It is very clear to see, through my hon. colleague's words, that unity is the last thing the Liberals want in Canada. They are literally pitting one region against another, and we heard that through his own words.

I wish the government would step up and understand the frustrations of Albertans and my constituents and how we need to take a team Canada approach to help our struggling resource sector.

Resumption of Debate on Address in ReplySpeech from the Throne

10:45 a.m.

Bloc

Mario Simard Bloc Jonquière, QC

Madam Speaker, I listened carefully to my colleague's speech, which would raise the eyebrows of any environmental stakeholder.

I think that making a connection between the environment and the oil sands is not just slightly off base, it is dead wrong.

My colleague also spoke about western Canada's feeling of alienation, which immediately brought a question to mind.

Does my colleague know that, from 2017 to 2020, western Canada received $22 billion for the oil and gas industries alone, while in that same period Quebec's forestry industry received only $827 million?

We are talking about $22 billion for one industry and $827 million for the other. I am wondering why western Canada feels alienated when Alberta, in particular, is the province that receives the most money from the federal government.

Should the government not be working to ensure that the forestry industry receives just as much federal funding as the fossil fuel industry?

Resumption of Debate on Address in ReplySpeech from the Throne

10:45 a.m.

Conservative

Jasraj Singh Hallan Conservative Calgary Forest Lawn, AB

Madam Speaker, I agree that we need to support our resource sector, and no doubt we all can agree on that. However, to say that western alienation is not happening is very inaccurate. The billions of dollars that were transferred from my province of Alberta, because of the resource sector, ensured that other provinces had rich health care, resources and services. It is because of the great amount of support that our oil and gas sector has provided that we see so many health transfers to Quebec.

Does the hon. colleague think that importing oil from other unethical countries makes more sense than supporting our own industries in Canada?

Resumption of Debate on Address in ReplySpeech from the Throne

10:50 a.m.

NDP

Alistair MacGregor NDP Cowichan—Malahat—Langford, BC

Madam Speaker, the member's speech illustrates why it is so important for us to start investing in a just transition. We do not need to read the tea leaves to see where international investment in oil and gas is heading. If we are going to honour these workers, we need to start making those investments now.

The Conservatives seem to be worrying so much about the spending. Is it their position that they would rather have small businesses take predatory bank loans or have individuals use their credit cards at 21% rates of interest?

Resumption of Debate on Address in ReplySpeech from the Throne

10:50 a.m.

Conservative

Jasraj Singh Hallan Conservative Calgary Forest Lawn, AB

Madam Speaker, we want to have less government in the way of small businesses. We need to support more small businesses. Let us make the economy more robust so people can be successful and we can have more support for our services sectors.

Resumption of Debate on Address in ReplySpeech from the Throne

10:50 a.m.

Conservative

Damien Kurek Conservative Battle River—Crowfoot, AB

Madam Speaker, it is an honour to enter into the debate on the throne speech and to express some very serious concerns I have with it.

The throne speech, at least in English, was nearly 7,000 words, with many catchphrases and talking points but very little substance.

I would like to address two themes. The first is why the government felt that it was even necessary to have a throne speech. Second, I would like to point out some specific challenges I have with the throne speech itself.

Regarding the prorogation of Parliament, I find it incredibly disturbing that the government felt it should shut down Parliament, and not just with the prorogation. The last eight months were bad enough, but in the middle of several concurrent investigations into the Prime Minister's conduct, Parliament was shut down. It shut down committees, members of Parliament and Canadians, truly. There is one place in the country that allows all the voices of Canadians to be heard, and that is within the hallowed walls of this chamber. The Prime Minister, in an extraordinary abuse of executive authority, used a legitimate parliamentary mechanism to shut down investigations into his own conduct, and that is shameful.

Unfortunately, but not surprising, after several months of denial and flip-flopping, when the government finally figured out, I think on March 13, that the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic was actually serious and it changed course and we saw the first bill for some emergency relief measures brought forward, even though members of my party had brought up concerns about why there were no increased measures at airports or other actions being taken to ensure Canada would be better prepared to deal with the threat of this global pandemic. However, instead of it being simply about emergency relief, it was about an incredible abuse of executive power. We saw an attempted power grab, unlike anything I have seen in the country's history. The government wanted unlimited spending authority for more than a year and a half. In what democracy would that ever be deemed acceptable to even propose let alone justify it in the midst of a global pandemic? When Canadians deserved and needed help, the government looked out for nothing other than its own power. It is unbelievable.

For members opposite who are curious about some of the aspects of parliamentary procedure and who say we need this to be a legislative reset, I asked a question of one of the members from the Liberal Party here just a few minutes ago. He somehow suggested that the six weeks was necessary to ensure the Liberals could consult with Canadians on the throne speech. It is interesting that he mentioned a few examples about how he did town halls and whatnot. He also suggested other members were not talking to their constituents, which is insulting. I was asked to respond, but since I did not have a chance during the questions and comments I will respond now.

It is unbelievable and speaks to the Liberal elitist mentality to suggest that somehow their prorogation allowed them to have an inside track on influencing the future of the country in a minority Parliament. They should well know that it is this place that allows all voices to be heard, not simply Liberal Party voices. The Conservatives received more votes in the last election than the Liberals. The Liberals had a significantly reduced mandate after the last election, yet it seems they have refused to accept the will of the Canadian people when it comes to their place in Parliament and the fact that Parliament is truly an essential service.

My last point on the concerns around why we have a throne speech today is that the government seems to play quick and fast with all aspects of how it does business, such as manufacturing urgency with the passing of Bill C-2.

We could have been debating this for weeks. It could have been passed weeks ahead of the deadline, yet the government waited until the eleventh hour and showed up at a press conference. Then the Liberal House leader tweeted out that this was a confidence motion, that it must be passed or we could go to an election and Canadians would suffer as a result. It was circumstances manufactured by the government. That is typical Liberal elitism.

I digress in that regard and will move on to some of the serious concerns I have with the throne speech. I summed it up simply to my constituents when they asked me to describe in a sentence or two my feelings on it. I said that it was vague, expensive and Ottawa knows best.

On the vague aspect of it, there were few concrete measures. The Liberals talked about their four pillars of a recovery. They have a lot of catchphrases and slogans. If there was an award for catchphrases and slogans, the government would get it. It seems to be copying from various campaigns, even other election campaigns from other democracies around the world. It throws in these catchphrases and hopes that people will somehow believe they will get the job done. On this side of the House, we know that is not the case.

It is unfortunate that most of the aspects of the throne speech are simply recycled Liberal promises. I point to one example, which is its promise to plant two billion trees. It promised this in the last election, yet in the year that has passed, it has planted zero trees. However, we have an oil sands company that has planted millions. This speaks to the bigger context of the throne speech. Many promises were recycled. The Liberals seem to think that making these grand promises and having no plan for delivery somehow serves the best interests of Canadians, and that is simply not the case.

That is one of many examples. What could have been an opportunity to see many specific concrete paths forward for our country, we saw very few. This is unfortunate. It was a huge missed opportunity.

Further, it seemed to be a vanity project for the Prime Minister. He prorogued Parliament for six weeks and had the Governor General read a throne speech, a significant aspect of our parliamentary tradition that takes the focus off the politics of the country and allows our head of state to outline an agenda. However, that was not good enough for the Prime Minister. The Prime Minister had to have his face on television to continue his sorry trend of cottage chronicles, to have a televised address that simply repeated things.

I have much more to say, some of which I have addressed in other speeches, like the unity crisis. The fact is that we are six months into a fiscal year. I know many people who work in the Jim Flaherty building down the street, named after the former Conservative finance minister. There are incredibly intelligent and capable finance people in the department, yet the Minister of Finance said yesterday that it would not be prudent to estimate what the deficit would be. I know many of the people in the Finance Department have a good idea. I suspect it has more to do with the fact that Liberals are scared of what Canadians will think when they find out the cost and lack of accounting associated with their spending. At a time when all Canadians know we need to support those who need it, doing so without a plan is very unfortunate.

My last point is this. The Ottawa knows best mentality is best represented on page 18 of the throne speech. In talking about a national pharmacare strategy, the Liberals use a word when they talk about working with provinces to develop a pharmacare plan, of which there is no detail. They say that they will only work with “willing” provinces and territories.

When it comes to the government, it is clear that it is only willing to work with those who are willing to fall in line with its narrow ideology and perspective on what the future of our country should look like. That is driving in wedges across our country that are harming the capacity and capability of Canadians—

Resumption of Debate on Address in ReplySpeech from the Throne

11 a.m.

Liberal

The Assistant Deputy Speaker (Mrs. Alexandra Mendès) Liberal Alexandra Mendes

It is now time for questions and comments.

The hon. parliamentary secretary.

Resumption of Debate on Address in ReplySpeech from the Throne

11 a.m.

Winnipeg North Manitoba

Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the President of the Queen’s Privy Council for Canada and to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Madam Speaker, I have a question for the hon. member based on the first five or so minutes of his speech, when he talked about the prorogation of Parliament.

It is interesting. We were supposed to come back on September 21. The member is right. Instead of coming back on September 21, we came back on September 23. It was two days. For the first time in 30 plus years, we sat in the summer, with the opposition asking questions of the government, literally hundreds if not thousands of questions, and understandably so.

Why does the member believe that it was wrong for the Government of Canada to prorogue, yet the Province of Manitoba has done just that? It has prorogued. Was the Progressive Conservative premier wrong in Manitoba to have prorogued?

Resumption of Debate on Address in ReplySpeech from the Throne

11 a.m.

Conservative

Damien Kurek Conservative Battle River—Crowfoot, AB

Madam Speaker, I always appreciate it when the parliamentary secretary asks a question. In fact, I find it interesting that he has done two speeches on the throne speech. He seems to be the one that is really truly willing to defend his own government's record. Many other members do not seem to be willing to ask members on this side questions about it.

Regarding the prorogation and many of the questions that we were able to ask, it speaks to the government's attitude. It is all style with no substance. Liberals were happy to have a question period, but it did not want Parliament to actually do the tough work.

When it comes to prorogation, many provinces prorogue on a regular basis. It could have simply been a prorogation on the Order Paper for that day. In fact, in most provinces, that is what we will see. A legislature will sit in the morning, and it will then prorogue so the lieutenant governor can do a throne speech in the afternoon.

Resumption of Debate on Address in ReplySpeech from the Throne

11 a.m.

Bloc

Xavier Barsalou-Duval Bloc Pierre-Boucher—Les Patriotes—Verchères, QC

Madam Speaker, I commend my colleague on his passionate and very interesting speech.

I could have pretty much made the same speech myself. I find it amazing sometimes how much we see eye to eye on certain things, like the fact that the Liberals shut down committees and Parliament so that we would stop talking about the infamous WE scandal, or the example of the Speech from the Throne that at the end of the day did not offer anything new and was just a rehash of old Liberal promises. Then there was the infamous address to the nation, when we were told to wash our hands. The Liberals are putting on a rather odd little show.

However, one part of his speech gave me pause, and I would like to ask him about that topic in particular. He said that some oil companies have done more for the environment than the Liberals. I agree with him on that, but is that a reason to rely on the oil companies for a climate change strategy? It seems to me that with oil there is no doubt that we will produce more greenhouse gases and that we will not address the problem of climate change.