House of Commons Hansard #63 of the 43rd Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was industry.


The EnvironmentAdjournment Proceedings

7:55 p.m.

Winnipeg South Manitoba


Terry Duguid LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Economic Development and Official Languages (Western Economic Diversification Canada) and to the Minister of Environment and Climate Change (Canada Water Agency)

Madam Speaker, as the Government of Canada continues to protect and support Canadians through the COVID-19 pandemic, it is also important that the country look to the future. We can build back from the pandemic in a way that addresses climate change and delivers a strong, inclusive economy.

That is why on December 11, 2020, the Government of Canada announced “A Healthy Environment and a Healthy Economy”, Canada's strengthened climate plan. It is a plan to achieve both our environmental and our economic goals. It is a credible plan to exceed our 2030 greenhouse gas emissions target and it is a cornerstone of the government's commitment to create over one million jobs, restoring employment to pre-pandemic levels.

Canada's strengthened climate plan includes 64 new and strengthened measures and $15 billion in new investments, bringing the government's total committed funding for climate change and clean growth to about $100 billion since 2017.

The plan's five pillars are these: making the places Canadian live and gather more affordable by cutting energy waste; making clean, affordable transportation and power available in every community; continuing to ensure pollution is not free and that households get more money back; building Canada's green and clean industrial advantage; and embracing the power of nature to support healthier families and more resilient communities.

Implementing Canada's strengthened climate plan will enable Canada to exceed its current 2030 GHG target, but we will not stop there. We are committed to bringing forward an updated 2030 target this year, and while Canada's strengthened climate plan is focused primarily on additional steps that the federal government is taking, the Government of Canada is committed to working with provinces, territories and indigenous peoples to advance shared priorities that will further lower emissions, including on a regional and bilateral basis.

The Government of Canada welcomes the return of the United States to the Paris Agreement. Canada and the U.S. agree that the climate crisis requires increased and bold ambition, as well as coordinated action in the lead-up to the COP26 climate conference in November of 2021. Canada looks forward to co-operating with the U.S. on the global stage and in a bilateral context on numerous opportunities, including methane emissions, zero-emission vehicles, clean energy transmission and attaining net-zero emissions. Canada welcomes the U.S. plans to host a climate leaders summit on Earth Day, April 22, as the hon. member mentioned, to build momentum toward COP26.

With respect to the hon. member's point that Canada was required to improve its target within the 2020 calendar year, I would like to clarify that under the Paris Agreement, this requirement only applies to countries with 2025 targets. Canada and countless other countries set a 2030 target. Nevertheless, we intend to meet and exceed our Paris Agreement commitments and bring forward a new, more ambitious 2030 target this year.

I would like to thank the hon. member for her commitment to increasing climate action. She knows that I am a great admirer of her long-standing interest and advocacy on this issue, and I look forward to working with her and all House members to tackle climate change, which knows no borders.

The EnvironmentAdjournment Proceedings

8 p.m.


Elizabeth May Green Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

Madam Speaker, I congratulate my friend from Winnipeg South on the appointment to double duty, as he is now the parliamentary secretary for environment and climate change. However, I am afraid that whoever advised him that paragraph 24 only referred to countries with a 2025 end year was incorrect. I recommend they go back and read it. Here is the problem: We do not have a target that is remotely near what we committed to in Paris. We committed to hold 1.5°C. We are now on track for 3°C to 5°C.

I hate to say this in a 30-second statement, but it could not be more serious. The scientists of the world are advising that we are coming very near the point where we will not be able to rescue human civilization from our own actions. This is not a time to be coasting and self-congratulating.

Right now, the Prime Minister of this country is about to look very bad in comparison with Biden. We coasted looking good compared with Trump. Right now is the time for Canada to actually start taking the climate emergency seriously.

The EnvironmentAdjournment Proceedings

8 p.m.


Terry Duguid Liberal Winnipeg South, MB

Madam Speaker, I want to assure the hon. member that Canada remains committed to increasing our climate ambition.

On November 19, 2020, our government tabled the Canadian net-zero emissions accountability act, which, if passed, would legally bind the government to a process to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050. It would make our 2030 target legally binding and set five-year emission reduction targets until 2050 to improve accountability and transparency. I look forward to working with all parties to pass this important legislation and strengthen our 2030 target.

Persons with DisabilitiesAdjournment Proceedings

February 22nd, 2021 / 8 p.m.


Tamara Jansen Conservative Cloverdale—Langley City, BC

Madam Speaker, the parliamentary secretary said, back in late November, that “the issue of sensitivity toward persons with disabilities is central for all parliamentarians in the House.” I could not agree more. He also stated that the Liberals “are crafting a piece of legislation that ensures the autonomy, dignity and competence of individuals.” I wish that were the truth.

What has been crafted is a bill that declares that some lives are not worth living. In fact, Bill C-7 has shocked and terrified those in the disability community. Why has a policy generated so much fear among so many vulnerable citizens?

First and foremost, it is because they understand the inherent discrimination in this bill. To state that people who are bedridden or are dependent on others for hygiene or feeding have lost their dignity is a marginalizing and ableist myth. This is the perspective of the “worried well,” such as my hon. colleague and his friends at Dying With Dignity. Dignity is never lost, but it can be either affirmed or denied.

Speaking of myths, let us deal with the idea that Bill C-7 is not discriminatory. The fact is Canadian disability organizations, mental health organizations, indigenous organizations and the U.N. all say that Bill C-7 is discriminatory. This bill singles out vulnerable Canadians and offers them physician-assisted death without offering adequate disability supports or treatment to help them live full lives free of the suffering caused by poor health care, poverty and stigma. It singles out persons with disabilities who are not terminally ill as fit for suicide completion. This will become a choice of desperation, not autonomy.

Let us understand what discrimination really is. It is pretending that all Canadians are equal in all ways. The obvious reality here is that some of us face profound life challenges. We need laws that protect the disadvantaged. A law that offers death to one group, and support and treatment to all others is the paradigm of discrimination.

This law proclaims that a disabled Canadian should consider death instead of recovery. Vulnerable patients need protection from politicians and doctors who want to make it easier for them to die, while simultaneously denying access to appropriate health care supports. This is true discrimination.

The second myth that needs to be countered is the idea that Bill C-7 must be passed right away, because suffering Canadians need relief through MAID as fast as possible. Let us face it: if this were true, then it is also true that adequate palliative care, disability supports, and mental health care must be available as fast as possible, because it is the absence of these that makes people suffer so much that they want to die rather than live.

If it were not for the COVID pandemic, Parliament Hill would see the largest protest of disabled Canadians ever assembled. If it were not for poverty and marginalization and the fact that most Canadians are unaware of the shocking push for state-sanctioned suicide, those protestors would be joined by millions more.

I have listened to the wealthy and healthy politicians opine on what they would wish for if it were them in such a terrible position. They say, with a straight face, that we must hurry to act to stop this horrible suffering, not because they are suddenly seeing what has always been in front of their eyes, but because of the realization that it could be them some day.

This bill would ensure that disabled Canadians would be treated as second-class citizens. I beg the parliamentary secretary, for the love of God, will he join me in voting firmly against this Frankenstein bill?

Persons with DisabilitiesAdjournment Proceedings

8:05 p.m.

Parkdale—High Park Ontario


Arif Virani LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada

Madam Speaker, medical assistance in dying is a complex and difficult issue. It calls on us to reflect on some fundamental interests and values, such as the protection and support of our most vulnerable. We need to reflect on the meaning and inherent value of life, and we need to consider how to balance an individual's right to make important decisions for themselves with the responsibilities we all have to others.

Many aspects of Bill C-7 generate opposing views. We have just heard some of them from my hon. colleague from the official opposition. The witnesses who appeared before the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights took different views on proposed amendments, such as the exclusion of persons whose sole medical condition is a mental illness and the proposal to allow for the waiver of final consent, to name just a couple. This is to be expected on an issue as complicated as this one. It is also a reflection of the vibrancy of our public discourse in the health care sector and of our civil society.

The potential impact of the bill on persons with disabilities is another issue that has received significant attention, and that is entirely appropriate. It is clear that national disability rights organizations do not support the core aspect of Bill C-7, which is the removal of the eligibility criterion of death that is reasonably foreseeable. Their view is that medical assistance in dying must be limited to persons at the end of life. They call the end-of-life criterion the great equalizer: Everyone will one day reach that stage. At the same time, ineligibility is also equitable: Everyone who is not at the end of life, in their view, is protected by the criminal law prohibition against people helping others to end life.

The removal of the end-of-life requirement raised the grave worry that persons with disabilities would be steered towards medically assisted death by subtle medical and societal pressures and that disabled individuals would choose medical assistance in dying not because their disability was causing them unbearable suffering but because the care they needed was not forthcoming, as was highlighted by the member opposite.

There was also the worry that the proposed amendment discriminates against persons with disabilities by singling them out as a category of persons who could obtain medical assistance in dying on the basis of their suffering.

I think what is important is to be reflective and responsive to the positions of these very important organizations and the thousands of Canadians they represent. At the same time, we need to be responsive to the views and wishes of other persons with disabilities and other serious illnesses who take a different view.

I would remind the member opposite and this chamber that in the actual Truchon decision, Monsieur Truchon and Madam Gladu were themselves persons with disabilities. They felt that their autonomy, their independence, and indeed their rights to equality under the charter were discriminated against by virtue of not being able to avail themselves of medical assistance in dying because of the requirement of needing to be at the end of life. The court in that case found in their favour, finding that the previous regime was itself discriminatory against persons with disabilities. That is the court's determination. That is what we were responding to here.

Clearly, there are many others in that camp as well, including the Senate sponsor of the bill and including a former Conservative cabinet minister, Mr. Steven Fletcher, who has echoed the exact same concern: that the rights of autonomy and dignity of all people, including all people with disabilities, must be respected and entrenched in whatever legislation is coming forward. Compassion requires that we consider their views as well.

I agree that disability groups in this country raised extremely grave and serious concerns. We must turn our attention to ways we can address them. In my view and the view of the government, there are ways to address those concerns that do not have the effect of denying others the medical service that they feel is right for them. Yes, we must do more to support persons with disabilities in this country to ensure that they have equitable access to all forms of excellent medical care, such as what was listed by the member opposite, and including things like proper housing and the different kinds of supports that they need to thrive.

Persons with DisabilitiesAdjournment Proceedings

8:10 p.m.


Tamara Jansen Conservative Cloverdale—Langley City, BC

Madam Speaker, one might think that poverty groups, disability groups and indigenous peoples could count on progressive politicians to hear and stand with them in solidarity, helping to amplify their noble voices against the shocking wall of disregard. Sadly, they are on the other side, trying to protect themselves from the Liberal government.

With the passing of the bill, their battle for respect as valuable contributors to the fabric of a healthy and inclusive society will be severely damaged. Rather than death to escape a painful death, it has become death to escape a painful life.

Persons with DisabilitiesAdjournment Proceedings

8:10 p.m.


Arif Virani Liberal Parkdale—High Park, ON

Madam Speaker, in responding to the member opposite, I would simply point out that even following the Senate's study of this very important bill, we have seen a further widening of different views with respect to the aspect of persons with disabilities, including those with mental illness. The Senate is proposing amendments that would, in fact, enlarge what we feel is already a carefully tailored bill. Clearly there is a vast diversity of opinion here.

It expands eligibility for medical assistance in dying to persons experiencing intolerable suffering who are not at the end of life. It will also respect every person's individual choices on an issue of the utmost importance.

This bill also includes the safeguards that require a physician to give expert advice, an assessment period, the review of the cause of the suffering and all possible treatment options. I am convinced that only those who truly want to access medical assistance in dying will do so. Although I fully acknowledge the concerns of advocacy groups for persons with disabilities, I believe that we can permit—

Persons with DisabilitiesAdjournment Proceedings

8:10 p.m.


The Assistant Deputy Speaker NDP Carol Hughes

I apologize to the hon. member for interrupting. I tried to give him a little more time, but we are over the allotted time.

The motion to adjourn the House is now deemed to have been adopted. Accordingly the House stands adjourned until tomorrow at 10 a.m. pursuant to Standing Order 24(1).

(The House adjourned at 8:13 p.m.)