House of Commons Hansard #45 of the 43rd Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was chair.

Topics

12:05 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Anthony Rota

Colleagues, before we begin our proceedings, I would like to say a few words regarding the special measures in place today.

Pursuant to order made on Tuesday, May 26, 2020, the application of Standing Order 17 will be suspended for the current sitting to allow members to practise physical distancing. Members desiring to speak and address the Chair may do so from any seat in the House.

Additionally, as members know, this will be a hybrid sitting of the House. Some members will be participating via video conference and some will be participating in person.

I remind all members that in order to avoid issues with sound, members participating in person should not also be connected to the video conference. I would like to remind those joining via video conference that when speaking, you should be on the same channel as the language you are speaking.

I ask that all members who are tabling a document or moving a motion to sign the document and bring it to the Table themselves.

Finally, I want to remind members that construction on the Hill is increasing and that while you are in the West Block, you may feel and/or hear rock blasting. This is essential work for the Centre Block rehabilitation program and will continue for quite some time, three to five times during the work day. While a warning siren is sounded prior to the blast on the work site, it is not heard well inside West Block or the surrounding buildings.

I mention it so that no one is startled when it happens.

Explosion in Beirut

12:05 p.m.

Liberal

Fayçal El-Khoury Liberal Laval—Les Îles, QC

Mr. Speaker, there have been discussions among the parties, and I believe you will find unanimous consent for the following motion.

I move, seconded by the member for Edmonton Manning:

That the House: (a) mourn the loss of life following the tragic explosion in Beirut on August 4, 2020; (b) stand in solidarity with the Lebanese people, particularly the families of the more than 150 people who have died, the more than 6,000 hospitalized, and the estimated 300,000 who been rendered homeless by the explosion; and (c) commit to helping and accompanying the Lebanese people in their desire for reform and to sustainably rebuild and continue to stand with the Lebanese community both in Lebanon and here in Canada at this most difficult time.

Explosion in Beirut

12:05 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Anthony Rota

Usually when there is a request for unanimous consent, the Chair asks members to respond in the affirmative to determine whether there is agreement.

This being a hybrid sitting of the House, were the Chair to proceed in this fashion, if there were any dissenting voices, particularly for members participating via teleconference or video conference, they may not be audible. Therefore, for the sake of clarity, I will only ask for those who are opposed to the request to express their disagreement. In this way, the Chair will hear clearly if there are any dissenting voices and I will accordingly be able to declare whether or not there is unanimous consent to proceed.

All those opposed to the hon. member moving the motion will please say nay.

The House has heard the terms of the motion. All those opposed to the motion will please say nay.

There being no dissenting voice, I declare the motion carried.

(Motion agreed to)

Romani People

12:05 p.m.

Liberal

Sameer Zuberi Liberal Pierrefonds—Dollard, QC

moved:

Mr. Speaker, there have been discussions among the parties and if you seek it, I think you will find unanimous consent to adopt the following motion:

That the House:

(a) officially recognize that the Nazis and their collaborators systematically murdered over 500,000 Romani during the Holocaust and that this atrocity constitutes a genocide against the Romani people;

(b) pay tribute to those Romani who were murdered as well as the Romani survivors of persecution by the Nazis; and

c) recognize August 2 as the official date to commemorate the Romani Genocide, also known as Porajmos and Samudaripen, to never forget the atrocities committed against the Romani people, the harrowing stories of victims, and the incredible strength of survivors.

Romani People

12:10 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Anthony Rota

All those opposed to the hon. member moving the motion will please say nay.

The House has heard the terms of the motion. All those opposed to the motion will please say nay.

There being no dissenting voice, I declare the motion carried.

(Motion agreed to)

Business of the House

12:10 p.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

moved:

Mr. Speaker, there have been discussions among the parties and if you seek it, I think you will find unanimous consent to adopt the following motion:

That, notwithstanding any standing order, special order or usual practice of the House, today, Statements by Ministers, pursuant to Standing Order 33, shall be taken up immediately following the adoption of this order; members may participate in this rubric either in person or by videoconference; a member of the Green Party be permitted to comment briefly on the statement; and, following Statements by Ministers, the House shall resolve itself in a committee of the whole, pursuant to the order adopted on Tuesday, May 26, 2020.

Business of the House

12:10 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Anthony Rota

All those opposed to the hon. member moving the motion will please say nay.

The House has heard the terms of the motion. All those opposed to the motion will please say nay.

There being no dissenting voice, I declare the motion carried.

(Motion agreed to)

Pursuant to order made earlier today, the House will now proceed to statements by ministers.

LebanonRoutine Proceedings

12:10 p.m.

Burlington Ontario

Liberal

Karina Gould LiberalMinister of International Development

Mr. Speaker, last week, a devastating explosion rocked Beirut's port and city centre, killing at least 158 people, injuring 6,000 others and leaving over 300,000 people homeless. According to estimates, 90,000 homes and buildings, including hospitals and other health care facilities were damaged or destroyed.

Lebanon was already dealing with multiple crises before this incident occurred. The country is facing an unprecedented economic and financial crisis that has already left nearly half of the population in poverty, all in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. Canadians across the country are deeply saddened by the devastating effects of this tragedy and the situation that Lebanon is facing.

I know many Lebanese Canadians are deeply touched by this tragedy. I think I can speak for all parliamentarians in extending our sincere condolences to all those who have lost loved ones.

The Lebanese-Canadian community is vibrant and dynamic right across the country, and it is a community that is bearing a heavy weight and feeling a huge loss. It is also a community that has rolled up its sleeves and sprung into action to help and to mobilize support, and its efforts have been exceptional.

The Government of Canada has also been seized with the disaster. Within 24 hours, Canada announced an immediate initial contribution of $5 million in humanitarian assistance, including $1.5 million for the Lebanese Red Cross, in the first 24 hours following the explosion. On Saturday we launched the Lebanese matching fund for donations collected directly from Canadians. Every dollar donated by individual Canadians between August 4 and August 24 will be matched by the Government of Canada, doubling the impact of each contribution. In recognition of Canadians' incredible generosity to date, we have increased the match from $2 million to $5 million.

The fund will be implemented through the Humanitarian Coalition, a group of experienced Canadian organizations present on the ground in Lebanon and delivering critical assistance. I want to assure Canadians that all Canadian assistance is provided through trusted NGO and multilateral partners.

On Monday, the Prime Minister announced that Canada would increase its support by an additional $25 million to support our trusted partners in responding to immediate needs and supporting early recovery efforts in the aftermath of the crisis, bringing our total response to $30 million, which is in addition to the existing humanitarian and development support we already provide to the people of Lebanon.

I thank all Canadians who have opened their hearts to the Lebanese people and so generously contributed to the relief effort. I encourage Canadians to donate to the Lebanon matching fund to help save lives and meet the urgent needs of the affected population.

Canada has a long and deep partnership with the Lebanese people. We have a strong Lebanese-Canadian community, and Canada will be there every step of the way, from immediate response to long-term recovery. Canada stands together with Lebanon.

Canada stands with the people of Lebanon.

LebanonRoutine Proceedings

12:15 p.m.

Conservative

Ziad Aboultaif Conservative Edmonton Manning, AB

Mr. Speaker, last week the world was shaken by the devastating news of a massive explosion at the Port of Beirut in Lebanon.

On the morning of August 4, the people of Beirut were going about their normal daily routines without any inkling of what was to come. They were shaken from those routines by horrific explosions that devastated the city, claimed at least 171 lives and left over 6,000 wounded. People lost their homes, their businesses and their livelihoods. Entire neighbourhoods were destroyed. We understand that Lebanese officials continue to investigate the cause of the explosions, and we look forward to the outcome of those efforts.

Of course, many Canadians of Lebanese descent have family, friends and loved ones in Beirut and throughout Lebanon. Canada is proud to stand with our Lebanese community during this difficult time as they process the tragedy and remember and honour the victims. We have heard heartwarming stories of Lebanese Canadians joining forces to organize aid deliveries and to offer any support they can, which speaks to the spirit of the community.

We also extend our sympathies and condolences to the family and colleagues of Nazar Najarian, a Montreal businessman who was tragically killed, and to all those injured, including a member of the Canadian Armed Forces. We are praying for their speedy recovery.

As we know, much of the city is devastated and in dire need of help. I know that Canadians will answer the call. We will support the people of Lebanon as they work to clear the debris and search for people affected by this tragedy. Throughout their history, Lebanese people have endured great hardships and yet, through their incredible strength and resilience, they have always overcome them. I know that this time the outcome will be no different. Over the coming days, weeks and months, their strength will see them through this latest hardship.

On behalf of my family and the entire Conservative caucus, I would like to offer my deepest condolences to all those affected by the tragic incident in Lebanon. We will continue to closely monitor the situation and we are here to provide any assistance we can to those recovering from this tragedy.

LebanonRoutine Proceedings

12:20 p.m.

Bloc

Stéphane Bergeron Bloc Montarville, QC

Mr. Speaker, it has been one week since the explosion of roughly 2,750 tonnes of ammonium nitrate that was stored for God knows why in the Port of Beirut for several years, a disaster that cost the lives of some 170 people and injured more than 6,000. We are talking about one of the largest explosions in history. It was one disaster too many for a country that has been going through an economic, financial and social crisis for several years, not to mention the current health crisis that, unsurprisingly, has thrown every country and their population into a state of uncertainty.

The Bloc Québécois wants to express its condolences to the families of the unfortunate victims of this explosion, its best wishes for a rapid recovery to the injured, and its solidarity with all the Lebanese people. The courage and resilience they have shown in overcoming this new ordeal, as well as the many challenges they have met throughout their history, is something to behold.

I commend the government's decision, in response to the call by the Bloc Québécois, to commit to matching Canadians' and Quebeckers' donations and to launch the Lebanon Matching Fund. Quebec was deeply moved by this disaster, which is reminiscent of the Lac-Mégantic tragedy that the Leader of the Bloc Québécois and I witnessed first-hand, since at the time we were Quebec's ministers of the environment and public safety respectively. Quebec has a large Lebanese community, so it is only natural that we ask the Canadian government to show a bit of the same generosity as Quebeckers and Canadians.

Initially we identified the Red Cross, whose expertise and effectiveness in this type of situation are world-renowned. The government instead chose to transfer a portion of its aid through a coalition of humanitarian organizations with contacts on the ground. No matter, the important thing is that the aid gets to the people who need it.

That said, why did the government cap the amount that could be paid out by that group at $2 million, and why did it restrict the time for accepting donations to between the 4th and 24th of August? Why did it take the government over 24 hours to announce any assistance, which was initially rather modest? Why limit access to just 12 Canadian-based international aid agencies and not include local NGOs, which, facing the inertia of public authorities, are already on the ground and mobilized as we speak, ready to provide the medical assistance and the food needed by the people? Why was the Canadian Red Cross not included on that list?

The solidarity shown by everyone, people of all political stripes, over the past week has been remarkable. However, solidarity is not enough. Adequate, responsible, direct assistance is needed to help the Lebanese people, who will certainly figure out how to overcome this new hardship, as they have always done, supported by the steadfast friendship and support of Quebec, Canada and all caring nations.

LebanonRoutine Proceedings

12:20 p.m.

NDP

Jagmeet Singh NDP Burnaby South, BC

Mr. Speaker, like many people, we were devastated by the images we saw out of Beirut and Lebanon a few days ago. On behalf of all New Democrats and all Canadians, we send our love to the Lebanese people and to those affected around the world and here at home by this terrible explosion.

As has already been said, sending our love is simply not enough. We need to send support, we need to send relief and we need concrete commitments to supporting the rebuilding efforts. The initial amount proposed by the government was insufficient. When we talk about Canada being back, this is an opportunity to show that Canada is back by actually building and delivering the support that the people of Lebanon need at this moment.

The Lebanese community has been a vibrant part of Canada. It has helped build up this country. We need to be allies in this moment and truly contribute.

Like many people in Canada and around the world, we were devastated by the tragedy that struck Beirut, Lebanon, a few days ago.

Our thoughts go out to the Lebanese people and everyone affected by this terrible explosion. Our thoughts, however, are not enough. We need to help the victims and assist with reconstruction efforts.

People across the country and around the world have been reaching out to help the people of Lebanon, who were already struggling under political instability, the threat of economic collapse and the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. Going forward, the people of Lebanon will require significant international support, and Canada must be there to help. By assisting with immediate food, medical and other needs, the federal government must take concrete action to assist the international community's long-term humanitarian efforts. We have to be true partners and offer support in a way that is proportional to the rest of the international community's response.

I am happy to see the Government of Canada heeded our calls for increased humanitarian support, but the government must now commit to a robust long-term plan to provide support to Lebanon and to help rebuild Beirut and the country. This plan must include support for democratic reform, food security and poverty alleviation. Together, in this difficult time, we can support the people who need our help the most. They are counting on us, and on Canadians, to be there for them.

On behalf of all New Democrats, we express our deepest condolences. We want to send the message to the people of Lebanon and to all Lebanese Canadians that we will be there for them and will fight for them, as they deserve nothing less.

LebanonRoutine Proceedings

12:25 p.m.

Green

Jenica Atwin Green Fredericton, NB

Mr. Speaker, I thank the minister and my colleagues for their important words today. It is critical that we show solidarity and compassion in these dark times.

We have a thriving Lebanese community in Fredericton with roots that run deep. As I have been learning over the past few days, these roots indeed run across the country.

I would like to highlight our wonderful Atlantic Honorary Consulate to Lebanon, Consul Fares, who cares deeply about the connection to the homeland and Lebanese Canadians. My heart goes out to Consul Fares for his work in the months to come and to all of Lebanon as it confronts this unimaginable reality. We are with them as Canadians and as citizens of the globe. We send our deepest condolences. I call for justice for the families of victims, and for a peaceful and swift national recovery with adequate support from Canada.

Child CareRoutine Proceedings

12:25 p.m.

NDP

Heather McPherson NDP Edmonton Strathcona, AB

Mr. Speaker, there have been consultations among the parties and, if you seek it, you will find unanimous consent for the following motion.

I move:

That the House recognize that reopening businesses and the economy entails taking far more action to support parents, especially women, who are worried about going back to work without knowing their kids will be safely cared for in child care and school, and therefore call on the government to increase its transfer to provinces and territories for affordable child care by $2 billion, transfer funding to provinces and territories to support a safe return to school, and work with all provinces and territories to ensure all federal funds are dedicated to the health and safety of children across the country, while ensuring the transfers to Quebec are unconditional.

Child CareRoutine Proceedings

12:25 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Anthony Rota

All those opposed to the hon. member moving the motion will please say nay.

The House has heard the terms of the motion. Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?

Child CareRoutine Proceedings

12:25 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Child CareRoutine Proceedings

12:25 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Anthony Rota

(Motion agreed to)

Beirut ExplosionRoutine Proceedings

12:30 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Anthony Rota

If I can step back before proceeding, following discussions among representatives of all parties in the House, I understand there is an agreement to observe a moment of silence.

The people of Beirut and all Canadians with family and friends in Lebanon have suffered a devastating tragedy. I hope that in the difficult days ahead they may derive some comfort from the friendship and support of the global community.

I invite hon. members to stand and observe a moment of silence in memory of those who perished and in solidarity with the people of Lebanon.

[A moment of silence observed]

Standing Committee on Procedure and House AffairsPoints of OrderRoutine Proceedings

12:30 p.m.

NDP

Heather McPherson NDP Edmonton Strathcona, AB

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order that was raised on July 21 by the MP for Barrie—Innisfil concerning the fifth and seventh reports of the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs. The member quoted the NDP's supplementary report, at page 95 of the seventh report, where it said:

...the NDP believes that the scope of this report wavered beyond its boundaries. The committee was tasked with finding solutions for remote participation of members specifically related to the COVID-19 pandemic. Some recommendations were outside of those lines, and while the NDP doesn’t disagree with the idea of exploring other options and preparing for the future, it does not consider those to be part of the work the committee was asked to do by the House of Commons.

We would like to clarify the intent of this specific quotation. The House of Commons tasks the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs with finding solutions for the remote participation of members. The seventh report included recommendations related to in-person voting options, which the committee did not oppose, although this was outside of the committee's mandate. It was the inclusion of these in-person options that we were referencing in the supplementary report and that we consider outside of the mandate assigned to the committee by the House.

We believe that all members of Parliament need to be included in the work of the House, including those who are immunocompromised or have loved ones at risk for COVID-19. In-person options do not take the travel that would be required for MPs who live farther from Ottawa into account when considering the risks associated with COVID-19. All members, regardless of where they live, have the right to have their voices, and through them those of their constituents, heard in Parliament. That is why the NDP supports the development of virtual tools so that we can all continue our important work of getting Canadians the help they need.

Standing Committee on Procedure and House AffairsPoints of OrderRoutine Proceedings

12:30 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Anthony Rota

I will take that under advisement and report back to the House.

Pursuant to an order made Tuesday, May 26, the House shall now resolve itself into a committee of the whole to consider matters related to the COVID-19 pandemic and other matters.

(House in committee of the whole to consider matters related to the COVID-19 pandemic and other matters, Mr. Anthony Rota in the chair)

COVID-19 Pandemic and Other MattersGovernment Orders

12:30 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Anthony Rota

The committee will begin its proceedings with the questioning of ministers on matters related to the COVID-19 pandemic and other matters for a period not exceeding 95 minutes.

The Chair will call members from all recognized parties and one member who does not belong to a recognized party in a fashion consistent with the proportions observed during the special committee on the COVID-19 pandemic.

Each member will be recognized for not more than five minutes, which may be used for posing questions to a minister of the Crown, and members are permitted to split their time with one or more members by so indicating to the Chair.

Please note that we will suspend this part of the sitting halfway through for a short period to allow employees who provide support for the sitting to replace each other safely.

We will now begin, with the hon. Leader of the Opposition.

COVID-19 Pandemic and Other MattersGovernment Orders

12:30 p.m.

Regina—Qu'Appelle Saskatchewan

Conservative

Andrew Scheer ConservativeLeader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister has had enough. He is tired of accountability and facing tough questions. He does not want to explain why he paid off his friends at WE with taxpayers' money. He will not tell us about the contract that he gave to the company that employs his top staffer's husband, and he certainly does not want to tell us how big of a cheque he cut to the former Liberal MP from Montreal.

When the Prime Minister cancelled Parliament in April, May and June, he replaced it with four sitting days this summer. The Liberals could have picked any day they wanted. Can the person auditioning for the role of Prime Minister today please tell us why the Prime Minister picked today if he was not going to show up?

COVID-19 Pandemic and Other MattersGovernment Orders

12:35 p.m.

Waterloo Ontario

Liberal

Bardish Chagger LiberalMinister of Diversity and Inclusion and Youth

Mr. Speaker, first of all, the work a government does is very serious work, especially during a pandemic. We know Canadians are hurting from coast to coast and coast, and right now more than ever, Canadians need to come together.

The member of the Conservative Party talks about the Prime Minister not showing up. The Prime Minister was at committee to ensure that answers were given to committee members directly—

COVID-19 Pandemic and Other MattersGovernment Orders

August 12th, 2020 / 12:35 p.m.

Some hon. members

Oh, oh!

COVID-19 Pandemic and Other MattersGovernment Orders

12:35 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Anthony Rota

I will interrupt for a moment. I am having a hard time hearing the answer. If members could keep it down, I would appreciate that.

The hon. minister.