House of Commons Hansard #62 of the 43rd Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was languages.

Topics

Economic Statement Implementation Act, 2020Government Orders

10:45 a.m.

Liberal

Mark Gerretsen Liberal Kingston and the Islands, ON

Madam Speaker, to answer the member's question about who Canadians trust, according to Abacus Data on February 6, 71% of Canadians said they approved of the job that the government is doing in supporting the economic needs of Canadians. It is clear that Canadians trust this government to help them out.

As to the specific question, he talked about the amount of deliberation and reflection on the bill that the opposition members need before they can vote on it. Fair enough; that is legitimate. They need it to do their job. Could the member give us an indication as to how much time they need? Will the end of today be good? Do they need another week, or perhaps two weeks? If we could at least get a timeline, that certainly would be helpful.

I really wish Canadians understood the dynamics of the delay tactics that happen in here. Inevitably a member from the other side is going to stand and put forward an amendment, which resets the roster on everybody speaking again.

Could the member give us an indication of how much time is required?

Economic Statement Implementation Act, 2020Government Orders

10:45 a.m.

Conservative

Tom Kmiec Conservative Calgary Shepard, AB

Madam Speaker, I have the benefit of giving a short answer. I have the benefit of having been elected as caucus chair for the members on my side, and I look to them. They are the ones who will decide how long we should present ideas from our constituents to the House so that the government can listen to them, because it has not been listening to them.

We heard of one poll on one day. Ruling by polling is not the way to do things. We want things to work out for the best interests of Canadians over the long term. That is what Canadians want. Our constituents expect us to come here and represent them and their views as they call us and email us to complain about the various government programs that have botched the government's vaccine rollout.

Economic Statement Implementation Act, 2020Government Orders

10:45 a.m.

Bloc

Yves Perron Bloc Berthier—Maskinongé, QC

Speaking of trust, Madam Speaker, I just want to start by telling my colleagues that the Bloc Québécois is who Quebeckers trust. Fortunately, we are here to talk about the content of the bill, so that is what I am going to do, because the Bloc Québécois works for everyone.

Of course, the Bloc Québécois will vote in favour of Bill C-14 because it contains some positive measures. Among other things, it amends the Children’s Special Allowances Act to allow for a one-time increase, which seems like a good thing to us. The bill also makes adjustments to the Canada emergency rent subsidy to make an expense payable a qualifying rent expense, which is also a good thing.

However, there are still pieces missing. The Liberal Party should have paid more attention to the opposition's constructive suggestions. We have been proposing for a long time that assistance be provided to property owners, something that is still missing from the bill.

We also think that interest relief for students is a good idea. It makes sense to help students. However, Quebec has its own program, so we expect to receive equivalent compensation.

The bill amends the Food and Drugs Act to essentially facilitate the importation, development and approval of vaccines during research phases. We think that is good.

Something important is missing, however. There is no amendment to the Patent Act and nothing to facilitate domestic vaccine development. We all know that, unfortunately, it is too late to develop a vaccine domestically this time around, but we can look to the future and learn from the appalling mistakes that are still being made. Look at what happened with Dr. Gary Kobinger of Université Laval, who developed a vaccine very quickly with the first $1 million the government gave him. His request for an additional $2 million was turned down. In response, the Prime Minister had the nerve to say that he did get help with that first $1 million.

At some point, we have to see these projects through and we have to trust our people. Does the government not want to see any initiatives or a sense of pride in Quebec? Would it rather that we remain dependent on foreign countries? Would things not be better if we could stand on our own two feet in this area? The answer is pretty obvious. The Premier of Quebec thinks the project makes sense and decided to fund it, even though it is not up to him to do so. The federal government should be taking care of its affairs and properly funding projects under its jurisdiction, instead of interfering in the jurisdictions of the provinces and Quebec.

Extending the regional relief and recovery fund is another positive step. However, less than 25% of the funding will be awarded to tourism businesses. I will talk about that in a minute.

As far as health is concerned, there are plans for additional payments, including for long-term care. We know what Quebec needs and it is not a one-time additional payment. Quebec needs ongoing payments, health transfers.

The amounts borrowed and the financial forecasts are starting to be worrisome. The Parliamentary Budget Officer shared his concerns about the Minister of Finance having a massive capacity to borrow even more money. We have questions about the $100 billion for the recovery. We still do not know who will get this money and how they will get it. We have no information about that.

The Bloc Québécois has some ideas about the recovery. I invite people in the Liberal Party to look at our little blue document, drafted in the fall, that outlines our party's COVID-19 recovery plan. During the summer, we spoke with real people on the ground, taking all necessary precautions, of course. It is important to mention that the needs are real. The recovery will be a promising opportunity to solve some long-standing problems.

One specific example is the pyrrhotite crisis in the Mauricie region. Just before Christmas, the Government of Quebec announced two new measures to help pyrrhotite victims, in response to the findings of a working group made up of representatives from the Government of Quebec and from the federal minister's office. The federal government was not part of that announcement. I hope that the recovery plan will allocate funding for programs like this one to address the long-standing issues from which people are suffering.

More than two months ago the government announced a highly affected sectors credit availability program. Once again, we cannot get any details. It is unbelievable. People in the tourism, hospitality, arts, culture and events sectors need assistance and are asking us questions. We do not have any answers for them, since we cannot get answers from the government. We are prepared to work together. I am reaching out, I am open to working together, but the government needs to help us if it wants our help. Let us work quickly.

We raise case-by-case needs in the House, such as the local outfitter that could not access the wage subsidy because its facilities were flooded in 2019. I talked about that case in the House and worked with the Minister of Finance's office, but all the nice things that were said in the House and the positive reception did not amount to much in the end. Campground and sugar shack owners still do not have access to the subsidy either, and their industry is going through very tough times.

Nothing has been done for the aerospace industry yet. Is the government bent on destroying this industry? Does it realize that Montreal is one of the only places in the world where an aircraft can be built from start to finish? Is the government trying to dismantle this sector as it did with the pharmaceutical industry, making us even more dependent on other countries?

I have talked about independence in my speech. If Quebec were free to manage its own affairs, it would do so more efficiently. At the moment, by doing nothing, the federal government is hurting everyone in the aviation sector. The feds still have not forced airlines to refund plane tickets for trips that people had paid for in good faith. Now those people's savings are being used to finance multinational companies in the form of interest-free loans. The federal government is also not providing any assistance to the aerospace industry, even though it really needs helps. There is something wrong with this picture.

I want to come back to health transfers. The federal government was originally funding 50% of health care costs, but now it funds only 22%. It is absolutely ridiculous. In the 2020 fall economic statement, the government announced nearly $1 billion for long-term care homes, on condition that those facilities provide detailed spending plans. That is out of the question. Health is a provincial jurisdiction. The federal government needs to sign the cheque and send it off to Quebec City, and it is up to Quebec and the provinces to manage it, whether the centralist New Democrats and Liberals like it or not. I urge my colleagues to read the constitutional contract that was signed without Quebec.

On the topic of long-term care homes, I want to come back to the Canadian Armed Forces report, which was very clear. Everything should have gone well, but the problem was that the institutions could not comply with the standards in effect because of a lack of staff, resources and money. The solution in this case would be to increase health transfers. I do not know how many times we will have to repeat this. People in the hardest-hit sectors need help quickly. As I mentioned, the federal government does not have the right to impose conditions, and the military's report on long-term care homes is clear.

I will now speak about the tourism industry. I would like the government to understand the importance of this industry. It employs 400,000 workers and contributes $15 billion to Quebec's economy. This industry needs help, and the government must get going. Changes need to be made. Earlier I spoke about commercial rent relief, but there is also the Canada emergency business account. We have already raised the case of farmers who incurred expenses in the fall of 2019 but are not eligible for this emergency account. We have been telling the government for months that it makes no sense, but nothing has been done yet. In my view, that is not right.

Speaking of agriculture, I want to talk about a number of issues, including the compensation arising from the signing of new trade agreements. In a time of pandemic and crisis, businesses need cash flow. It would really help them. Why have dairy farmers had to resort to taking out newspaper ads to beg for the money they were promised? I just saw one earlier in The Record, a Sherbrooke newspaper, saying that dairy farmers are essential and that the government made them promises.

Horticultural producers are calling for bankruptcy protection. This would not cost the government anything, but it is turning a deaf ear. Farm businesses need cash, and the quick and easy solution would be to inject 5% into the AgriInvest program without requiring matching contributions and without needing to create a new program, but the government is turning a deaf ear. The emergency processing fund for the agri-food industry was too small and had very specific criteria. As a result, some businesses made investments but ended up not qualifying for reimbursement.

The government is failing those businesses, and it needs to get moving on these files. In closing, I would like to remind members that the Bloc Québécois is still calling for the creation of a committee that would examine COVID-19-related spending. We all remember the WE Charity scandal. We all want to help people, but we just want to make sure that the money is helping ordinary people, not friends of the government.

Economic Statement Implementation Act, 2020Government Orders

February 19th, 2021 / 10:55 a.m.

Bloc

Andréanne Larouche Bloc Shefford, QC

Madam Speaker, I thank my colleague from Berthier—Maskinongé for his passionate speech on Quebec.

It illustrated once again that the parties in Ottawa, with the exception of the Bloc Québécois, have a dangerous tendency to interfere in the jurisdictions of Quebec and the provinces and to not be transparent.

At the end of his speech, my colleague addressed the issue of lack of transparency by referring to WE Charity. Sometimes we are told that there might not be enough money for certain sectors, but maybe that is because of the government's bad choices or poor investments. There are things we do not know, and a committee on the WE Charity scandal could shed light on money that could be invested elsewhere. I am thinking about the specific sectors my colleague mentioned, sectors that have been hit hard by the pandemic and are not receiving any targeted assistance. I am thinking about culture, for instance, which is so important to Quebec and to my riding of Shefford.

What does my hon. colleague think of these sectors that are so important to Quebec but that have been abandoned by Ottawa?

Economic Statement Implementation Act, 2020Government Orders

10:55 a.m.

Bloc

Yves Perron Bloc Berthier—Maskinongé, QC

Madam Speaker, I thank my esteemed colleague.

Simply put, the government needs to release support programs right away. What these businesses need is cash flow. My colleague mentioned the culture sector. Event spaces and theatres are still closed because people are staying home.

This is tragic for artists, yet they have been largely forgotten here. The real tragedy we will see in this sector is a brain drain. Stage technicians and crew members do not have the greatest working conditions. After a year of staying home, they have left this sector for other jobs. Will they come back?

I fear that some of our big institutions will have to close down. This sector is in urgent need of a cash injection.

Economic Statement Implementation Act, 2020Government Orders

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, what is very clear is that the Conservative Party of Canada and the Bloc Party do not support national standards of any form when it comes to long-term care. That is in contradiction to what many Canadians from coast to coast to coast want to see. Through the pandemic, we have recognized there is a need for a national role when it comes to long-term care.

I wonder if my colleague from the Bloc could at least recognize that even in the province of Quebec there is a desire to see the national government play a stronger role when it comes to standards for long-term care in Canada.

Economic Statement Implementation Act, 2020Government Orders

11 a.m.

Bloc

Yves Perron Bloc Berthier—Maskinongé, QC

Madam Speaker, I am very pleased to see that at least one government member understands that we want nothing to do with national health standards. Health falls under provincial and Quebec jurisdiction. It is set out in the contract that was signed without us. That is the first thing I wanted to mention.

Second, I would be very curious to ask Quebeckers what they think, to find out who they trust to manage their hospitals and long-term care facilities.

People look first to the Government of Quebec. If you ask any Quebecker to name their head of government, they will answer “François Legault”. They will not give the name of the leader of the Liberal Party, who I would be pleased to name, but, unfortunately, am not allowed to do so here in the House.

I invite my colleague to look carefully at the polls. Quebeckers think that the Government of Quebec is able to take care of this. However, Quebeckers want their money. That is the big difference.

Economic Statement Implementation Act, 2020Government Orders

11 a.m.

Bloc

Sébastien Lemire Bloc Abitibi—Témiscamingue, QC

Madam Speaker, in his speech, the member for Berthier—Maskinongé said that he had plenty of ideas. I would like him to prove it.

What does he want to do about help for farm work, for example?

Our farmers need help and resources. How can we provide them with tangible assistance?

Economic Statement Implementation Act, 2020Government Orders

11 a.m.

NDP

The Assistant Deputy Speaker NDP Carol Hughes

The member for Berthier—Maskinongé for a brief response.

Economic Statement Implementation Act, 2020Government Orders

11 a.m.

Bloc

Yves Perron Bloc Berthier—Maskinongé, QC

Madam Speaker, it is too bad you are asking me to be brief because I was elated at the prospect of giving my colleague a long list, but I will stick to a quick summary of what I said earlier.

Right now, farmers need cash. Among other things, we are asking for an additional 5% investment in AgriInvest with no matching requirement for businesses.

How would that help?

It would enable farmers, the people who are literally on the ground and know what their businesses need, to decide what to do with their money rather than spend eight hours a day filling out forms only to be told no because they did not check the right box on the right form.

That is one concrete way to help people. Also, our horticultural producers—

Economic Statement Implementation Act, 2020Government Orders

11 a.m.

NDP

The Assistant Deputy Speaker NDP Carol Hughes

Order.

Time is up. We will move on to statements by members.

The hon. member for Vaudreuil—Soulanges.

Sharon BraunsteinStatements by Members

11 a.m.

Liberal

Peter Schiefke Liberal Vaudreuil—Soulanges, QC

Madam Speaker, today I rise to honour the life of Sharon Braunstein. Sharon was best known for being a pioneer in Canada's beauty industry, bringing an unprecedented level of commitment and passion to her craft. For decades, she was focused on one thing, which was lifting, empowering and supporting the women around her.

However, that was not her only legacy. Throughout her life, Sharon wanted to help build a better community around her in any way she could. Whether it was organizing large beauty bashes, benefiting Hope & Cope, volunteering with B'nai Brith, or organizing countless private events for the underprivileged, those who were sick and children, she lived her life with purpose and kindness.

Among the hundreds of messages that poured out following her passing, perhaps this one summed up her most important attribute: “Anytime I was in her presence I felt her warmth and kindness. Sharon truly made everyone feel special.”

I offer condolences to her children, Tracy and David; her grandchildren, Joshua, Jason, Alexandra and Jacqueline; and all her family and friends. She was an incredible person who will be missed by so many.

Rodney BollStatements by Members

11 a.m.

Conservative

Robert Gordon Kitchen Conservative Souris—Moose Mountain, SK

Madam Speaker, I rise today to pay tribute to Mr. Rodney Boll of Fillmore, Saskatchewan, who unexpectedly passed away on January 28.

Rod left an incredible legacy in his experiences as a world-class trap shooter. He represented Canada in the men's double trap event at the 1996 Summer Olympic Games in Atlanta, one of the biggest achievements in his sporting career. Rod also represented Canada at the Pan American Games in 1995 and 2003.

He captured four international, 23 Canadian national and 47 Saskatchewan trap shooting titles, with the most recent national championship in 2019. Rod competed in trap shooting competitions across the globe. He is also an inductee in the Saskatchewan Sports Hall of Fame. Rod was a proud farmer, a community advocate and an RM councillor. He loved the small-town lifestyle of Fillmore, Saskatchewan.

To his wife Terry, his sons Schön and Kahl, and the rest of the Boll family, I extend my sincere condolences on his loss. Rest assured that Rod and his legacy will never be forgotten.

Pierrette ArseneaultStatements by Members

11:05 a.m.

Liberal

René Arseneault Liberal Madawaska—Restigouche, NB

Madam Speaker, it is a privilege for me to rise today to talk about someone from my riding who is very near and dear to me.

Over the years, she has been a shining example to those she loves most in this world, teaching us to remain curious and, above all, to move forward in life without fearing the unknown. She is one of those individuals to whom all humanity will be eternally grateful for so much love and attention.

As members may have guessed, I am of course talking about a woman, a mother, my mother, Pierrette.

Today, February 19, is her birthday, so I would like to take a moment to pay tribute to her and to all the mothers of this world. I would especially like to thank her for the endless and unconditional love she has always given to her children.

Mom, on behalf of your great-grandchildren, your grandchildren, our sister who is watching over us from her star, my brothers and me, we love you very much. Happy 83rd birthday.

COVID-19 PandemicStatements by Members

11:05 a.m.

NDP

Niki Ashton NDP Churchill—Keewatinook Aski, MB

Madam Speaker, Cross Lake here in Manitoba is facing its third wave of COVID-19. There are 204 active cases and counting. Elders, children and essential workers, including water truck drivers, are sick, and self-isolation spaces are full. The community is scared and exhausted. Yesterday, nine flights left the community taking people to safety.

As overall numbers go down in Manitoba, the same is not happening for first nations such as Cross Lake. This has everything to do with the history of federal neglect. Cross Lake is a community of over 8,000 people. It has an acute housing crisis. One of the households affected by COVID has over 20 people living in it. Five years ago, the federal government promised Cross Lake a hospital; the community is still waiting.

At this time, the federal government must pull out all the stops for Cross Lake. The people need a full military response, including medical response. They need emergency infrastructure. Beyond this, Cross Lake needs an end to federal neglect. This is about saving lives.

Black Cultural Society of Prince Edward IslandStatements by Members

11:05 a.m.

Liberal

Sean Casey Liberal Charlottetown, PE

Madam Speaker, here in Canada's smallest and nicest province we have a vibrant Black community supported by the Black Cultural Society of Prince Edward Island.

The organization has taken some major steps forward in recent months. Its first-ever executive director, Tamara Steele, was recently named one of 33 Black Canadians making change now by Chatelaine magazine, and it is not hard to see why. Under her leadership, the Black Cultural Society of P.E.I. launched a camp for female-identifying youth of colour to be and grow together, petitioned the P.E.I. legislature for a racially focused review of provincial legislation and co-organized a huge Black Lives Matter march. The organization recently launched a Black business directory including caterers, photographers, dance instructors and clothing designers, all contributing to the island's culture and economy.

I thank Tamara and the Black Cultural Society of P.E.I. for their hard work preserving the island's Black history, promoting racial equity, and creating programs and partnerships to further the success of the Black community on P.E.I.

Blair WoodsStatements by Members

11:10 a.m.

Conservative

Larry Maguire Conservative Brandon—Souris, MB

Madam Speaker, last November, southwest Manitoba lost one of its stalwart individuals with the passing of Mr. Blair Woods.

Blair was dedicated to helping his family and others. He loved farming, starting as a 4-H seed club member, participating in tractor pulls, operating long-haul trucking and sharing his knowledge with countless trainees from around the world through the Canadian Host Family Association. He was a charter member of the Elgin Lions Club. Blair served as president of the board of Manitoba Snoman Inc., and was the second vice-president of the Canadian Council of Snowmobile Organizations.

However, Blair's major service was local, as an RM Whitewater councillor from 1986 to 2002, reeve from 2006 to 2014, and re-elected reeve of the amalgamated RM of Grassland in 2015.

I want to thank his wife, Ardelle, his son, Brooks and his daughter, Hilary, their partners and six grandchildren for supporting Blair's tireless dedication and service to others.

May my dear friend rest in peace.

HochelagaStatements by Members

11:10 a.m.

Liberal

Soraya Martinez Ferrada Liberal Hochelaga, QC

Madam Speaker, when it comes to COVID-19, health workers are our first line of defence against the pandemic. Hochelaga and eastern Montreal have been hard hit. Today, I would like to commend all health care professionals and thank them for their dedication. This crisis has taken a toll on their physical and mental health, but they are still here for us.

For Valentine's Day I sent some love to health care employees at the Dante and Marie-Rollet long-term care facilities in Hochelaga by way of chocolates from our local chocolatier, Joane L'Heureux. I also recognized the invaluable work of many workers, including the staff at the Santa Cabrini and Hochelaga-Maisonneuve hospitals, clinics, dentists, optometrists, but also the work of the convenience stores, pharmacies and grocery stores in my riding whose presence is essential.

We must continue to give these people our love and encouragement and our thanks. Most of all, we must continue to protect ourselves and follow public health measures because we need to protect them as well.

Daryl GuignionStatements by Members

11:10 a.m.

Liberal

Wayne Easter Liberal Malpeque, PE

Madam Speaker, today I pay tribute to Mr. Daryl Guignion who passed away recently.

Daryl, perhaps P.E.I's most dedicated environmentalists, was one of the foremost spokesmen in his own quiet way for watershed conservation in P.E.I. His knowledge of our river systems was second to none.

With 40 years of teaching in the University of P.E.I. biology department, Daryl was famous for his field trips, visits to old-growth hardwoods and sand dune ecosystems, canoe trips to wetlands and snowshoeing in nature. His efforts resulted in the implementation of the Morell River Conservation Zone, the formation of the Island Nature Trust and protection of Greenwich, and numerous Atlantic salmon restoration projects.

Daryl received awards aplenty, but I want to conclude by thanking Rosie, his partner in life and in much of his work. It is said that pillow talk in their household was discussion of brook trout, salmon and smelts.

P.E.I. has lost one of its best. Our condolences.

ArmeniaStatements by Members

11:10 a.m.

Conservative

Bob Saroya Conservative Markham—Unionville, ON

Madam Speaker, I rise today to commemorate the 33rd anniversary of the massacre of the Armenian community in Sumgait, Azerbaijan. In 1988, when Armenians demanded their right to self-determination, Azerbaijani nationalists subjected the Armenian community living across Azerbaijan to a bloody campaign of massacre and deportation. Over 200 Armenian men, women and children lost their lives to a state-sponsored campaign of hatred against Armenians, a policy that continues in Azerbaijan to this day.

On September 27 last year, history repeated itself as the Azerbaijanis unleashed a full-scale war against Armenia and Artsakh. Thousands of Armenians are still refugees while Armenian POWs still remain under Azerbaijani custody. We must all learn from history and commit to standing up for justice and human rights all around the world.

Human RightsStatements by Members

11:10 a.m.

Liberal

Anita Vandenbeld Liberal Ottawa West—Nepean, ON

Madam Speaker, two years ago, I stood in the House to call for an end to the arbitrary detention of Senator Leila de Lima of the Philippines, who was imprisoned in February 2017 for speaking out on human rights abuses, including leading a senate inquiry into the extrajudicial killings in the Philippines' war on drugs. It is appalling that today she is still in prison.

The UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention found her imprisonment to be contrary to international law. The European Parliament has called for her release and Amnesty International has declared her a prisoner of conscience. Senator de Lima is in prison because she is a human rights defender. She has not only been deprived of her freedom, but also her right to fulfill her legislative mandate and participate in democratic debate.

I ask all members of the House to join other parliamentarians around the world in calling for Senator de Lima's immediate release.

Public SafetyStatements by Members

11:10 a.m.

Conservative

Dane Lloyd Conservative Sturgeon River—Parkland, AB

Madam Speaker, the latest Liberal gun policies are a farce in a long line of epic Liberal failures. Within days of announcing yet another attack on farmers, duck hunters and sport shooters, the Liberals have doubled down on their hug-a-thug agenda, repealing mandatory minimum sentences for violent criminals. Canadians are being killed by criminals in possession of illegal firearms, yet the Liberals plan to waste hundreds of millions of dollars on a buyback scheme. Meanwhile, gangs continue to roam our streets unopposed.

Given this threat to Canadians, Liberals should confront reality by getting tough on violent criminals and gun smugglers. Unfortunately, the Liberals do what they always do and attack hunters, farmers and duck shooters with new rules and regulations. It is time to stop attacking law-abiding firearms owners and fight gangs and violence.

Community ServiceStatements by Members

11:15 a.m.

Conservative

Eric Melillo Conservative Kenora, ON

Madam Speaker, temperatures in my riding and across northern Ontario have been around -30°C, or even colder very recently. This is especially dangerous for the homeless population. It is no exaggeration to say that this can be a life or death situation.

Volunteers with groups like Compassionate Kenora and Kenora Moving Forward have set up warming centres to shelter the homeless from this extreme cold. Other organizations like the Kenora District Services Board, the Dryden Mission and church communities across the riding continue to do great work, providing housing, compassion and opportunities for the most vulnerable. I know we are all very grateful for their selfless work during these cold winter days. I commend these local organizations who have been the lifeblood of their communities and I would like to encourage all Canadians to support their local charitable organizations in whatever way they can.

I am proud to represent the people of the Kenora riding, who consistently step up to support one another and help those in need. It has not gone unnoticed.

Single Event Sports BettingStatements by Members

11:15 a.m.

NDP

Brian Masse NDP Windsor West, ON

Madam Speaker, yet again I rise in the chamber to discuss single event sports betting, as the chamber voted overwhelmingly in favour of Bill C-218, which would permit each province to determine how to regulate legal betting, so revenues can flow, jobs can be created and the billions of dollars feeding organized crime, bookies and off-shore operators can end. The bill was originally proposed by NDP MP Joe Comartin, and later me, and I was pleased to withdraw it, to permit the member for Saskatoon—Grasswood to join the efforts, and he has done good work.

This decades-plus adventure has been an exhilarating tale. Indeed, it passed in the House before dying in the Senate, but now some members, including the Prime Minister, have changed their vote. That is not a weakness, but a strength, speaking to the urgency of fixing the problem. Among the drama has been the recent government bill, Bill C-13, introduced with some doing victory laps, chest thumping, high fives and slapping backs, yet the government scuttled its own efforts, having never brought it to the floor for debate. Ironically, I defended the government, as I think the Minister of Justice deserves credit for drafting good legislation.

As we go forward, I want to thank the members who supported the bill, including unanimously from the NDP, the bloc and the Green Party, and the Liberals and Conservatives who did not. I remain open to helping to work on this issue.

I thank David Cassidy and Ken Lewenza from Unifor 44, Mayor Dilkens, and Eddie Francis, Rakesh Naidu and Matt Marchand for being on this journey.

Donald HargrayStatements by Members

11:15 a.m.

Bloc

Rhéal Fortin Bloc Rivière-du-Nord, QC

Madam Speaker, I would like to tell the House about the initiative of a hero like no other.

When a blizzard dumped more than 30 centimetres of snow on the cars of hospital staff in Saint-Jérôme, Donald Hargray did something amazing. On the morning of Saturday, January 16, Mr. Hargray single-handedly cleared the snow off 150 cars, plus another 30 that afternoon, so hospital staff could finally go home and rest. Even though the first day was so gruelling, Mr. Hargray returned Sunday morning at 6:30 a.m. to clear off another 40 vehicles.

Armed with a squeegee, a snow brush and a shovel, this 65-year-old hero fought off winter, the doldrums and the hated virus. Mr. Hargray demonstrated that each one of us, in our own way, can do something good in unfortunate circumstances. He had no intention of drawing attention to himself, but his good deed could not go unrecognized.

Thank you, Mr. Hargray.