House of Commons Hansard #5 of the 43rd Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was pandemic.

Topics

Proceedings on the bill entitled An Act relating to certain measures in response to COVID-19Government Orders

4:20 p.m.

Bloc

Alexis Brunelle-Duceppe Bloc Lac-Saint-Jean, QC

Madam Speaker, I will be brief.

This government has no clue about the jurisdictional boundaries between the federal government, the provinces and Quebec. It is not complicated, but the government does not understand how it works. The Liberals should reread the Constitution and stop interfering in matters under our jurisdiction.

Proceedings on the bill entitled An Act relating to certain measures in response to COVID-19Government Orders

4:20 p.m.

NDP

The Assistant Deputy Speaker NDP Carol Hughes

The hon. House Leader of the Official Opposition on a point of order.

Alleged Premature Disclosure of Contents of Bill C-7PrivilegeGovernment Orders

4:20 p.m.

Conservative

Gérard Deltell Conservative Louis-Saint-Laurent, QC

Madam Speaker, I would like to briefly respond to the comments made by the Parliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in response to the question of privilege I raised some time ago.

The parliamentary secretary argued that because the question of privilege was raised when the House opened on the second sitting day after the throne speech, the requirement to raise the question of privilege in a timely manner was not met.

One of the precedents I stated concerning past Speakers who reviewed findings of prima facie cases of privilege was the ruling given by Speaker Milliken on February 6, 2004, at page 243 of the Debates. That ruling was given in immediate response to a question of privilege raised that morning on the fourth sitting day following the opening of that session.

With all due respect to my colleague, if Speaker Milliken ruled that four days were enough, then we believe two days are also enough.

Alleged Premature Disclosure of Contents of Bill C-7PrivilegeGovernment Orders

4:25 p.m.

NDP

The Assistant Deputy Speaker NDP Carol Hughes

I thank the hon. member for this additional information. The Chair will take it under advisement and make a decision later after reviewing everything that has been presented.

Resuming debate. The hon. member for Beauport—Limoilou.

The House resumed consideration of the motion and of the amendment.

Proceedings on the bill entitled An Act relating to economic recovery in response to COVID-19Government Orders

4:25 p.m.

Bloc

Julie Vignola Bloc Beauport—Limoilou, QC

Madam Speaker, for the past several months, we have been living through an unprecedented crisis, the likes of which we have never seen at any time in our history.

In the throne speech, the government announced the implementation of three new benefits to replace the Canada emergency response benefit or CERB. They are the Canada recovery benefit or CRB, the Canada recovery sickness benefit or CRSB and the Canada recovery caregiving benefit or CRCB. I am going to speak about these three benefits.

With the historic changes that have been made to make employment insurance more flexible, most of the people who until just recently were receiving the CERB will now be able to receive EI benefits. However, even with the more flexible criteria, some 900,000 people will be left without an income once the CERB comes to an end. The CRB is made for those people and that is good news.

This spring and summer, I toured my riding of Beauport—Limoilou. Organizations and businesses alike feared that the CERB would stop all of a sudden. I met with representatives of the Chambre de commerce et d'industrie de Québec, the Jeune chambre de commerce de Québec, the Regroupement des gens d'affaires de Beauport and the Société de développement commercial 3e Avenue de Limoilou.

Business people all lamented that the CERB and the benefit for students, the CESB, were not flexible from the outset, like EI. In their initial form, the CERB and the CESB put businesses—dozens, if not hundreds of them in my riding, and likely in most ridings—in the position of having to single-handedly prop themselves up by replacing employees who did not show up for work.

That was one negative impact we called out from the start. Those businesses are winded, exhausted and at their wits’ end. If they do not make it, our entire economic recovery is at stake. We do not talk about it enough, or say it loudly enough, often enough.

Two questions remain for these business people. Why was the CERB not flexible from the outset? Also, what was keeping the CERB from being flexible and having the same rules that have been applied to EI for years?

Despite these legitimate questions, both business people and organizations are pleased to see that the CERB will not end suddenly. Quebeckers are happy, too. Many of them came to me and asked what they would do if their sector did not resume and the CERB ended. How were they going to put food on the table? How were they going to keep a roof over their heads. They are relieved.

I would, however, give a word of warning to my constituents. In 2021, they will have to pay a lot of taxes, an arm and a leg. Not only is CERB taxable, but the taxman will charge them 50¢ for every dollar they earn over $38,000. As a result, they will have to plan ahead. They will have to do some calculations to ensure that they will be able to afford to pay what they owe the government when they file their income tax returns.

I do not know many people who can afford to wake up one morning and write the government a cheque for thousands of dollars. People need to plan ahead. In Quebec, a person earning the average wage and receiving the maximum amount allowed under the CERB will have to write a cheque for roughly $5,000 to $6,000 next April. People need to mark my words and plan ahead.

I often think out loud, so here are my reflections. I am not interested in nitpicking; I want solutions. Could claimants have declared their income every week, every two weeks or once a month, and could the infamous 50¢ over a certain amount be taken directly off their cheque, instead of pushing the deadline back to April of next year?

To what extent will today's assistance become tomorrow's economic and financial nightmare?

The Canada recovery sickness benefit will provide real relief to anyone who has to self-isolate for 14 days either as a preventive measure or if they test positive. This benefit responds to concerns I have heard from many people. People have asked me what would happen if they had to self-isolate again since they cannot afford to be without any income or lose their job. This benefit responds to their concerns, and it is a good measure.

I have another question. If people have to self-isolate twice over the next few months, can they receive this benefit twice or are they eligible only once? Are people eligible every time they have to self-isolate, or is it a one-time measure?

The third CERB replacement measure responds to the concerns of parents, whose child might be sent home from school at any time. I will speak for a mother I spoke with over the phone a couple of weeks ago. Her 15-year old daughter was suddenly sent home to self-isolate because the entire class was in isolation after someone tested positive. She told me that according to the government, she had to leave her sick daughters home alone for two weeks because they are teenagers. She added that this was not about a cold, and if one of her daughters' condition started quickly deteriorating while she was gone, the government would put her between a rock and a hard place because her daughters are over 11. She would have to choose between taking care of her sick daughters and working to put food on the table and a roof over their heads.

That woman, that mother, is right to ask questions. Every child is different and every person reacts differently to the illness. It is not for the government to decide whether a child is able to stay home alone to take care of themselves. It is up to the parents. Let's expand the measure to youth 16 and under and give the parents the right to assume their responsibilities and make their own decisions.

To summarize, the amounts proposed will benefit many Quebeckers and Canadians. However, I would like to make two suggestions. First, we have to come up with measures that will not put people in a financial stranglehold come next April. I will give an example to explain my second recommendation.

Imagine a parent whose 14-year-old tests positive. In the morning, the parent goes out and leaves their child with some acetaminophen, a glass of water, some soup and an emergency phone number. Everything is there. At noon, the parent calls, no one picks up, and they decide to call later as their child might still be sleeping. When they calls again, there is still no answer. Concerned, the parent rushes home and finds that their child is in respiratory distress.

No one wants that to happen, but if parents cannot stay home with their teenager, this could happen. Let us extend the benefit to adolescents as well. That is the least we can do.

Proceedings on the bill entitled An Act relating to economic recovery in response to COVID-19Government Orders

4:35 p.m.

NDP

Matthew Green NDP Hamilton Centre, ON

Madam Speaker, I have had the privilege of serving alongside the hon. member in government operations. I have known her to be a very caring and compassionate member of that committee.

In her speech, she outlined ways in which people, in the long term, continue to get left out of this particular bill. Would the hon. member not agree with extending supports to people who are currently left out? In the long term, not knowing the effects of COVID and the potential for long-term disabilities associated with it, does it not make sense to potentially look at deeper ways in which we can provide critical supports for people living with disabilities or disabled people?

Proceedings on the bill entitled An Act relating to economic recovery in response to COVID-19Government Orders

4:35 p.m.

Bloc

Julie Vignola Bloc Beauport—Limoilou, QC

Madam Speaker, I thank my colleague for his question.

People with disabilities are, indeed, too often forgotten. We can help them, and temporary measures may not be enough. We will have to take time to think and dig into these questions so that we can meet these people's needs, instead of simply doing what we think is best.

Proceedings on the bill entitled An Act relating to economic recovery in response to COVID-19Government Orders

September 29th, 2020 / 4:35 p.m.

Conservative

Chris Lewis Conservative Essex, ON

Madam Speaker, the hon. member spoke about entrepreneurs and how they were tired. We could really hear the passion in her speech about that.

A family farm, a local flatbed truck operator and a mechanic in my riding of Essex do not qualify for the CEBA because they operate their businesses through a personal bank account. However, these same businesses, using these same accounts, pay their taxes and collect HST.

Would the member agree that proroguing government for six weeks was perhaps even more detrimental for these small businesses of which she so graciously spoke?

Proceedings on the bill entitled An Act relating to economic recovery in response to COVID-19Government Orders

4:35 p.m.

Bloc

Julie Vignola Bloc Beauport—Limoilou, QC

Madam Speaker, I thank my colleague for his question.

Was it a bad idea to prorogue Parliament during a crisis like the one we are experiencing? Indeed, it was. It was a bad idea not only for our farmers, who need our support, but also for the public and for democracy as a whole.

We have the right and the duty to speak on behalf of our constituents, not for ourselves or our party, but for everyone.

Proceedings on the bill entitled An Act relating to economic recovery in response to COVID-19Government Orders

4:35 p.m.

Bloc

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

Madam Speaker, I listened to my colleague's wonderful speech, in which she spoke about all kinds of important amendments that should be made to the bill. In my opinion, these are worthwhile amendments.

However, we barely have enough time to study the bill. The government wants to rush it through, which means that we will not have time to examine these very important issues. What does my colleague think about the fact that we do not have time to make these amendments?

Proceedings on the bill entitled An Act relating to economic recovery in response to COVID-19Government Orders

4:35 p.m.

Bloc

Julie Vignola Bloc Beauport—Limoilou, QC

Madam Speaker, I thank my colleague for his question.

Earlier, I was saying that the prorogation was a bad idea for democracy. Closure is also a bad idea for democracy.

This is not about going on and on about a bill for 25, 30 or 40 weeks. It is simply a matter of making proposals so that the government and the opposition parties can come to a consensus.

I have been here for two days and for two days I have been hearing the government say that we should work together. We want to do that, but the Liberals are imposing a gag order. That is not democratic, period.

Proceedings on the bill entitled An Act relating to economic recovery in response to COVID-19Government Orders

4:40 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

Madam Speaker, I would like to touch on a number of areas.

The first thing I will do is pick up on the last question and answer and on some of the comments made by the members, particularly the Conservatives, about prorogation. It is interesting that the last questioner said that we shut down the House for six weeks. On the surface, one might think that is a terrible thing to do. However, when we understand what really took place, most Canadians would support what the government has done.

When we talk about the prorogation, it meant that instead of coming back on the Monday, we came back on the Wednesday, so we lost those two days. We also lost one day in August. However, keep in mind that this is the first government in the last 30-plus years to have the House sit in July and August. We sat more days in July and August than we lost in the prorogation.

A member across the way has said that this is not true, but it is true.

Members have to stop listening to the Conservative spin and see the reality of what we face today. Instead of listening to their constituents, they are listening to the Conservative spin and that is a serious problem. It is one of the reasons we are doing what we are today.

I give credit to the NDP and the Green Party members, who can be pretty brutal with some of their comments on the floor of the House. They are not necessarily friendly in all matters toward the government of the day, but they recognize that this is important. They recognize what the motion is trying to accomplish. They understand it and they appreciate it. They might have some issues with it, but they are supporting it. Unlike the Conservatives and the Bloc, they believe it is in the best interest of all Canadians that we remain focused on their needs and ultimately see legislation pass. We should not look at it as a possible option; it is absolutely critical that it pass.

I take exception to many of the comments from members who are saying it is undemocratic. I was in opposition in the far corner for a number of years when Stephen Harper was the prime minister. If members want to talk about assaults on democracy, they just need to go back to the Harper era.

Let us look at what has taken place with the pandemic. Virtually from day one, the Prime Minister has been very clear. He wants the House to focus on the pandemic and do what we can to protect the interests, health and well-being of Canadians. From day one, that has been the issue with this government. In the last number of weeks, we have talked a great deal about the economy and restarting it.

When we talk about accountability, I challenge any one of the members of the Bloc or the Conservatives to stand in his or her place when it comes time to ask a question. I would like those members to tell me when was the last time they met on the floor of the chamber and were afforded the opportunity to ask not just hundreds, but probably thousands of questions of the government of the day.

Opposition members had a wonderful opportunity to convey their thoughts and ideas with respect to the pandemic, share their concerns with the government and press the government on those issues in the months of July and August, which, at least in my 30 years as a parliamentarian, I do not ever recall being provided to opposition members.

Going back to my days in opposition, we would get a question and might get a supplementary one. What was provided here for opposition members was they could go five minutes steady, have three quick questions, a long question, a preamble and then go back-and-forth and the minister was obligated to respond in that same time frame.

At the end of the day, opposition members were afforded the opportunity to hold the government accountable. I did not try to tell them that they should not ask questions about this or about that. We all know where they focused a lot of their attention. I do not think it was with respect to, at least not for the most part, the health and well-being of Canadians even though we were into a pandemic.

Now those members are upset, saying that they want more time to debate Bill C-4, which is why they oppose this. However, they had no reservations at all this morning to bring in a motion for concurrence on a report, which literally killed two hours of potential debate.

They have a great deal of experience and have no reservations at all in using what parliamentarians often refer to as a “filibuster”, and they are good at it. I give them full credit for that. In the last five years, I do not know how many times I have seen two members of the Conservative Party stand. After one speaks, the other one moves that another Conservative be heard to precipitate the bells to ring in order to waste more time. Another example is that they argue for debate and then move a motion to adjourn for the day.

It is not that they want to see more debate, the focus of the Conservatives is more on wanting to show Canadians that the House of Commons is dysfunctional and cannot work. It does not matter who sits in the prime minister's chair, unless it is a Conservative. The House of Commons cannot do its work. I have seen that time and time again over the last five years, with Conservatives as the official opposition.

There was a budget where one member consumed virtually 98% of the whole debate time allocated. I remember that well, and it was not me. It is not that I was jealous or anything of that nature, but having said that, again, those members have no reservations. When they stand now and say that they want more time to debate, based on what I have witnessed, that is just not true.

If the members had 10 hours, they would want 15 hours. If they had 15 hours, they would want 20 hours. They want to frustrate the government. The Conservatives consistently try to prevent the government from passing legislation or any other measures. I believe that is the reason, at least in part, why the NDP and the Green Party are having to support the type of motion we have before us. They realize that if we do not bring in motions of this nature, they would never pass. We cannot please the Conservatives.

It is not because Conservatives want more debate. I do not believe that for a moment. It seems that this is their sole purpose for existing, at least the Conservative leadership's. It is not meant as a reflection on any individual member of Parliament, but the Conservative driving force, the leadership team, if I can put it that way, its focus is not what is happening in terms of the pandemic. When I say “Conservatives”, I mean the Conservatives here in Ottawa. I believe their focus is to be as critical as they can about the Prime Minister and other ministers. They will zero in on any Liberal and point out every blemish they believe is there.

Proceedings on the bill entitled An Act relating to economic recovery in response to COVID-19Government Orders

4:50 p.m.

Conservative

Garnett Genuis Conservative Sherwood Park—Fort Saskatchewan, AB

There's a lot to point out.

Proceedings on the bill entitled An Act relating to economic recovery in response to COVID-19Government Orders

4:50 p.m.

NDP

The Assistant Deputy Speaker NDP Carol Hughes

I would remind members who are virtual to make sure they keep their microphones off. Otherwise, we will have to look at other measures if they wish to continue heckling that way. It is not acceptable. I know it is an effort to do that, and it is being purposely done. I would ask that members refrain from doing that.

The hon. parliamentary secretary has a little over eight minutes and then there will be 10 minutes for questions and comments, so I would ask people to hold onto their thoughts.

Proceedings on the bill entitled An Act relating to economic recovery in response to COVID-19Government Orders

4:50 p.m.

Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux Liberal Winnipeg North, MB

Madam Speaker, I would love the opportunity to see members from within that leadership change their attitudes, especially at the time in which we find ourselves today. People are experiencing, in all regions of our country, a wide variety of different types of hardships stemming from the pandemic. At a time in which communities throughout our country want us to be focusing on how we can improve the conditions, the Conservatives continue to be focused on their original objectives after losing the election back in 2015. They often suggest I should move on and maybe not even mention Stephen Harper. I would suggest that they need to move on. They need to realize that it is the Conservative Party, in part, that needs to change the channel and start getting on with what is taking place in our communities. Those hardships are very real.

One member across the way heckled that we caused it. I think it is a stretch to try to tell the world it was the Government of Canada that caused the pandemic. It kind of shows the silliness of the Conservative Party. We, from virtually nothing, created programs that literally put hundreds and hundreds of millions of dollars in the pockets of Canadians at a time when they needed it.

Members can imagine, through the pandemic, finding oneself unemployed as a direct result of having to stay safe, as companies had to shut down or close doors temporarily and in some cases, unfortunately, permanently. The CERB program has assisted well over eight million, and I believe it is close to nine million, Canadians. The wage subsidy program has saved tens of thousands of jobs in all regions of our country. These are programs that have had a huge positive impact on our communities. Without them, our communities and our society would have been damaged in a more significant fashion, which would have ultimately caused our economy and our way of life to suffer a whole lot more.

The government needed to step up, and not only did the government step up but so did other governments. We came up with the safe restart agreement with the different provinces. Manitoba is one of those provinces. Its premier, Brian Pallister, has written a letter providing thoughts in regard to the restart program. I would like to quote a couple of items from the letter, because I think it emphasizes the important role that Ottawa and our provinces play, and we need to work together.

This is a direct quote from the Premier of Manitoba, making reference to the safe restart agreement: “This federal funding will help support work already undertaken by the Government of Manitoba to increase daily testing capacity from a baseline of 1,000 tests to more than 3,000 tests per day.”

It goes on to say:

The Government of Canada will provide $700 million to support health care system capacity to respond to a potential future wave of COVID-19. A further $500 million will address immediate needs and gaps in the support and protection of people experiencing challenges related to mental health, substance use, or homelessness. This investment will help to keep Canadians safe and healthy with the health care supports they need.

Through the co-operation and the recognition of the seriousness of the pandemic, we have cities, provinces, our national government and so many others that have come to the table, recognizing how important it is that we collectively remain focused on this second wave. That is what the bill actually deals with: how we can carry forward the types of supports that are critical to Canadians. That is why a number of my colleagues got fairly upset today when the Conservatives tried unsuccessfully to change the debate this morning to something that had nothing to do with the second wave of COVID-19.

While the members across the way continue to talk about the process for dealing with the legislation to ultimately see it pass so that we can continue that support, I would encourage them to leave the Conservative spin to the side and focus on what they believe their constituents would want them to say in the House in terms of the programs that are absolutely critical in order to be able to get Canada as a nation through this second wave. We can accomplish so much more if we do what the Prime Minister is asking us to do, which is to work together at protecting the health and well-being of Canadians while, at the same time, supporting our economy where we can.

A lot more needs to be done. The message that I want to leave those who are following the debate or Canadians as a whole is that the Government of Canada will continue to be there for Canadians until we have permanently resolved the issue of this pandemic.

Proceedings on the bill entitled An Act relating to economic recovery in response to COVID-19Government Orders

5 p.m.

Conservative

Karen Vecchio Conservative Elgin—Middlesex—London, ON

Madam Speaker, I thank the hon. member for his lengthy speech. I recognize the member is very passionate about this, but so are we, and so are the NDP, the Green Party and the Bloc. We are all passionate, because we are all working for our constituents.

We all know that these programs that were announced needed to be announced, because September 30 was the deadline. When prorogation was set, the Liberals already knew there was going to be a problem.

I am wondering, and perhaps the member could share with me, whether prorogation was to cover the butts of the government, or did the government actually think it reset the agenda? If that was the case, I am confused as to why we are having to go through this debate today, pushing through this thing. If we had done this last week, we would have been in better care. I am also having to share with my constituents that with this time frame, they will already have to wait because the government prorogued.

I am wondering if the member thought that was a good idea or not. How were Canadians going to get their benefits if the government was not working?

Proceedings on the bill entitled An Act relating to economic recovery in response to COVID-19Government Orders

5 p.m.

Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux Liberal Winnipeg North, MB

Madam Speaker, it was important for the Government of Canada to prorogue the session, turn the page and put its sole focus on the recovery and the pandemic. That was an important thing to do.

The member asked if we were trying to cover something up. She is probably referencing WE, as an example. I am wondering how many times the premier of the province of Manitoba has been questioned, because the Manitoba government has contracts with WE, so I am wondering if there is some corruption over there. Is that what the member opposite might imply? I would suggest that the Government of Manitoba should continue to focus its attention, as it has been, on the recovery and the pandemic. Maybe at some point in time, and I could be wrong, the opposition in Manitoba might look at what took place in the province of Manitoba with respect to WE and the Progressive Conservative government.

Proceedings on the bill entitled An Act relating to economic recovery in response to COVID-19Government Orders

5 p.m.

Bloc

Monique Pauzé Bloc Repentigny, QC

Madam Speaker, I thank the parliamentary secretary for his speech. I listened to it carefully. He said that help for Canadians was vital, that it was important to pass bills and that we should have done more.

I want to tell him that we could have done all of this earlier, well before the prorogation.

At the end of April, and in May and June, when we had a token version of Parliament where we could not move motions or debate or pass bills, other places in the world and even not too far away, in Quebec, were holding parliamentary committees where members could move motions and vote on bills. We could not do that here.

I do not understand why the government is now blaming the Bloc Québécois by saying that our party does not want to help Canadians quickly, when that could have been done in the spring.

Proceedings on the bill entitled An Act relating to economic recovery in response to COVID-19Government Orders

5 p.m.

Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux Liberal Winnipeg North, MB

Madam Speaker, a number of members of Parliament were hoping that we could have some sort of voting mechanism in place that would have enabled the House to participate by following health experts' advice and providing that physical distancing and so forth, but because we could not get the Conservatives to agree to having virtual votes, it limited what we could do. The Bloc and the Conservatives have a lot of things in common; that is not one of them.

Maybe the Bloc members should be talking to some of their friends in the Conservative Party, for example, and looking at ways we can improve upon this. We have already passed through the summer, and it would have been nice had the Conservatives agreed to some mechanism that would have enabled MPs to be more empowered, but it was the Conservatives who chose not to do that.

Proceedings on the bill entitled An Act relating to economic recovery in response to COVID-19Government Orders

5 p.m.

NDP

Daniel Blaikie NDP Elmwood—Transcona, MB

Madam Speaker, the NDP has been very clear about our desire to get 10 paid days of sick leave for Canadians from coast to coast to coast on a permanent basis. We believe that the federal government could show leadership by providing those 10 paid sick days to workers in the federal jurisdiction, by amending the Canada Labour Code. The provisions we are debating today do not include those, because the government is adamantly opposed to granting those 10 days of paid sick leave within the federal jurisdiction. Why is it that the government does not believe Canadians should be entitled to 10 paid sick days on a permanent basis?

Proceedings on the bill entitled An Act relating to economic recovery in response to COVID-19Government Orders

5:05 p.m.

Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux Liberal Winnipeg North, MB

Madam Speaker, first and foremost, I would just recognize that it is encouraging to see that at least there are some political entities, such as the New Democrats and the Greens, that have actually seen the value of the legislation and are supporting us as we go through. Obviously, in a minority situation we need to have the support of more than just the government. Therefore, I do appreciate that and want to extend my thanks in particular to the leader of the New Democratic Party.

When we talk about those 10 paid days, it is in fact incorporated, in good part. Lobbying occurs. It is important to recognize that a lot of the changes that we see today come from efforts of individuals from all political parties. Many of my caucus colleagues have been lobbying in their constituencies and in Ottawa, lobbying with ministers, in particular on this file, to try to effect some changes. I am glad to say that we have seen many changes as a direct result of the fine work of members of Parliament sharing their concerns.

Proceedings on the bill entitled An Act relating to economic recovery in response to COVID-19Government Orders

5:05 p.m.

Green

Elizabeth May Green Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

Madam Speaker, it is my first time putting a question forward in this format.

I would agree with the member for Malpeque, in earlier debate today, that this was not a prorogation of the kind that challenges our constitutionality and our Westminster traditions, but it did not need to be weeks long.

I have asked the parliamentary secretary if it is not the case that stopping the work of committees is the key question that has offended us in the opposition ranks. It is not that we lost days of debates in July and August, when, I agree with him, they were not typical, but we did have all the work on committees stopped. How does he justify that?

Proceedings on the bill entitled An Act relating to economic recovery in response to COVID-19Government Orders

5:05 p.m.

Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux Liberal Winnipeg North, MB

Madam Speaker, the former leader of the Green Party seems to imply that she would have been okay with the prorogation if the committees had been able to continue. The tradition of the House of Commons is that when a prorogation takes place, committees stop. Maybe that is something that could be talked about going forward as we look at changing the rules.

At this point in time, I believe it was appropriate, given the nature of the pandemic, that we prorogue. It allowed us to bring in a new throne speech and to set a path for the next months, and possibly years. That was essential.

Proceedings on the bill entitled An Act relating to economic recovery in response to COVID-19Government Orders

5:05 p.m.

Liberal

Mark Gerretsen Liberal Kingston and the Islands, ON

Madam Speaker, the parliamentary secretary raised a very interesting point a few minutes ago when he thanked the New Democratic Party for at least, in addressing him, asking an actual question of substance in respect to policy.

We have Bloc and Conservative members who, during what they are characterizing as extremely limited time to speak, are still continuing to talk about this apparent limited time that they have to speak. That is coupled with the fact that this morning a concurrence motion was brought in that had absolutely nothing to do with this agenda, let alone this session of Parliament. What are the parliamentary secretary's thoughts on the games that are being played within the House right now?