House of Commons Hansard #70 of the 43rd Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was targets.


Canadian Net-Zero Emissions Accountability ActGovernment Orders

6:35 p.m.


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

The hon. member for Saskatoon West.

Canadian Net-Zero Emissions Accountability ActGovernment Orders

6:35 p.m.


Brad Redekopp Conservative Saskatoon West, SK

Madam Speaker, I am honoured to rise today to speak to this issue in the House and I want to start by going back through a bit of history. I want to go back to the eighties, when I was growing up.

In the eighties, the big issue was the ozone layer. There was talk about the fact that it was thinning, that there were holes in it and that the sun's rays were causing damage. Prime Minister Brian Mulroney got together with some other countries. He brought 24 countries together, and they were able create the Montreal protocol in 1987. That put the wheels in motion to solve this problem. He worked with Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher, and now, if we look at the Government of Canada website, we see that ozone-depleting substances are decreasing and that it says ozone will be back to its normal state by 2050.

Around the same time, acid rain was another problem. There was literally acid falling from the sky. It was causing health problems and it was also causing problems with vegetation. Again Brian Mulroney was able to work with the U.S. president, and they made an air quality agreement that reduced the pollution that causes acid rain. Today we do not hear anything about acid rain because that problem has been solved.

During the time from Mulroney through to Prime Minister Harper, there were 10 different national parks created, including the Rouge River park in Toronto, and in 2015, Prime Minister Stephen Harper set the greenhouse gas reduction target to 30% below the 2005 levels by 2030. The common thread in all of these environmental successes is Conservative leadership. In 2006, in fact, Corporate Knights magazine named Brian Mulroney the greenest prime minister ever.

Of course, today Mr. Harper's targets have not been achieved by the Liberals. Even though they have been running the country for five years, they have not been able to move toward that. They are still many, many points away from hitting the targets that were set back then, so I will take no lessons from the Liberal government on environmental issues. They can brag about things when they have actually accomplished something for the environment.

What we need to hear is a made-in-Canada solution. I am a tall person, and that means I am good at certain things and not so good at some other things. For example, when a light bulb needs to be changed in our house, I am good at that. My wife is a shorter person, and when she needs something off the top shelf, I am very good at that. The point is that we all have strengths and we all have weaknesses, and that is true for countries also. Countries have strengths and countries have weaknesses.

What we always tell our kids is that they cannot become something that they are not. We have to be proud of who we are and use the skills and talents that we have to contribute to the world. For Canada it is a challenge, because we have higher greenhouse gas output per capita than lots of other countries, but there are reasons for that. Canada is a very big country. When a truck needs to move from Saskatoon to Nova Scotia, it is a long distance. There is a lot of energy required to do that. Flying across our country takes a lot of energy.

Canada is cold. We have to heat our homes. If we do not heat our homes, people will literally die, so it is something that we just have to do. We also produce lots of resources and lots of food, and those are very energy-intensive industries. It requires a lot of energy to produce those things, so we should not feel bad about that. It is who we are, and we should be proud of that. We should find ways—and we do find ways all the time—to utilize the skills that we have to make the world a better place.

This also translates into strengths. Our resource sector is a huge strength, and we can use those strengths to help the world. We all know that Canada has significant quantities of resources, all the different types of minerals, forestry and agricultural resources. We have lots of quantity that we can help the world with. We also have the best ethical and human rights records and laws in the world. We have the highest labour standards anywhere. We also have very high environmental standards. All of these things make our Canadian resources the best in the world.

We also used to have a very stable market-based economy, and once the Conservatives come back into power, we will make sure that we get back to that stable market-based economy that Canada is so used to.

We have a lot of technology to offer the world. We have carbon capture and storage. In my home province, that is a skill we have developed, and we lead the world in it. Canada leads the world in nuclear power. We have all kinds of advances in the agriculture sector. I worked at a company for many years that perfected zero tillage, which is a way of farming that uses less resources and keeps more carbon in the ground, making agriculture more efficient.

These are things that we have not only developed in Canada, but we have exported all around the world to help others in deal with that.

Of course, our oil and gas industry produces significant finances for our country. We are the fourth-largest producer in the world, we employ hundreds of thousands of people and billions of dollars come back to our economy and to our governments through the oil and gas industry. The challenge is to preserve our environment without sacrificing the jobs and our economy.

I like the proposed legislation, Bill C-12. The reason I like it is that it is a made-in-Canada solution to greenhouse emissions. It is far better than a carbon tax, in my view. The carbon tax penalizes farmers, business owners and people who are heating their homes. All of these people get penalized through a carbon tax. The carbon tax does not reduce demand unless the amount of the tax goes way up. Of course, we know that the government is planning to increase it to $170 a tonne, but that is not enough to make a significant difference in the consumption.

The carbon tax is based on a fundamental assumption that there are one of two possible outcomes. The first outcome is that things stay status quo, greenhouse gases continue to rise and that causes trouble in our environment. The other outcome is that we have to make drastic changes to our lifestyle. We have to turn our thermostat temperature down from 21° down to 15°. We have to get rid of anything that uses fuel. We have to make drastic changes in our lifestyle. It looks as though those are the two options we have.

However, I would suggest there there is a third option. Canadians are very resilient, creative and smart, and I have a couple of examples that I want to share.

In Saskatchewan, there is a company called Gibson Energy. This company recently expanded its production capacity by 25% with a zero increase in greenhouse gases that go with it. This company found a way to increase production, yet keep greenhouse gases the same.

Right next door to my province, in Alberta, there is another company called Enhance Energy. It captures carbon from the Sturgeon Refinery and the Nutrien fertilizer facility and transports that carbon and sequesters it underground in old wells. So far, in less than 10 years, it has sequestered carbon equivalent to taking 350,000 cars off the road. This is a significant improvement and accomplishment.

What is even better is that we can take this technology and this knowledge that we have and export it around the world. We have our portion of greenhouse gases that we can affect in Canada, but if we can take our technology and leverage it by sending it around the world, we could punch above our weight. We could actually reduce greenhouse gases and help the rest of the world, which would achieve an even better result than just what we could on our own.

We can have a significant impact in the world and we can punch above our weight, and that is what Canadians do. Canadians are resilient and very smart, Canadian companies are very creative and that is where we can really make a significant difference.

As I conclude, I want to come back to a question I get a lot, which is, what would the Conservatives do?

There are two things we would do for sure. First, we would get rid of the inefficient, economic-killing carbon tax. Second, we would instead focus on made-in-Canada solutions like the Gibson Energy and Enhance Energy examples. We would allow Canadians to innovate, to be creative and to make a real, significant difference, not just in Canada but all over the world. As we export these ideas and share them with the world, we will also make the world an overall better place and help everyone reduce their greenhouse gas emissions.

Canadian Net-Zero Emissions Accountability ActGovernment Orders

6:45 p.m.


Mark Gerretsen Liberal Kingston and the Islands, ON

Madam Speaker, I have heard two Conservative members talk about Brian Mulroney. However, that is not the Conservative Party of Brian Mulroney. It is a conglomerate of the old Reform and Alliance Parties. If that Conservative Party had half the interest in doing something about climate change and global warming that Brian Mulroney did, it would be light years ahead.

I will read what Brian Mulroney said as recently as 2019 in an article in the National Post. He said.

As difficult as the process may be to arrest and to mitigate the effects of global warming, the work cannot be left to the next fellow. The stakes are too high, the risks to our planet and the human species too grave.

I would be hard pressed to get half the members of the Conservative Party to utter the words “global warming” in the context that it actually exists.

Does the member really believe that the current Conservative Party is the same as the old Progressive Conservative Party of Brian Mulroney and members of Parliament like Flora MacDonald, who came from my riding?

Canadian Net-Zero Emissions Accountability ActGovernment Orders

6:50 p.m.


Brad Redekopp Conservative Saskatoon West, SK

Madam Speaker, I find it interesting that the member refers to not leaving things to the future. When I look at the legislation before us, when does it start? When is the first review? When are the first requirements required? Are they even going to be impacted by the member opposite? Is he even going to still be in the House?

If we look at the legislation, those requirements are way in the future. There probably will be two or three more prime ministers by the time the House has to even deal with the consequences of that. I do not have a whole lot of faith or warm feelings coming from that.

The Liberal government has done exactly that by punting this far into the future so it will never have to deal with it.

Canadian Net-Zero Emissions Accountability ActGovernment Orders

6:50 p.m.


Yves Perron Bloc Berthier—Maskinongé, QC

Madam Speaker, I look forward to the day when we can have debates where members are not perpetually campaigning, or trying to lay blame on others, or point to who did this and who did that. Let us be constructive. Let us talk about the bill.

In his speech, the member said that we generate a lot of greenhouse gas emissions because we are a big country and we should not feel bad about it. This is not about feeling bad. It is about reducing those emissions. He seems to be saying that every country has strengths and that it is not our fault if we create more pollution than other countries. I hope I misunderstood that part of the debate.

There has been a lot of talk about oil. However, the world is unanimous. Even investment companies are pulling out of oil.

Some may not like it, but that is what is happening. This is no longer the time to be in oil.

Does the member not agree that we should not start any new oil projects and that, rather than insisting on doing so, we should start a new transition?

Of course, that transition will take place by helping—

Canadian Net-Zero Emissions Accountability ActGovernment Orders

6:50 p.m.


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

The hon. member for Saskatoon West for a brief response.

Canadian Net-Zero Emissions Accountability ActGovernment Orders

6:50 p.m.


Brad Redekopp Conservative Saskatoon West, SK

Madam Speaker, I want to clarify my remarks. In no way am I saying that we should not be trying to reduce greenhouse gases. I am just saying that we have to look at it a little differently. We cannot compare ourselves to Bermuda, or India or wherever. We need to create a made-in-Canada solution that not only reduces greenhouse gases, but is able to help the world.

Canadian Net-Zero Emissions Accountability ActGovernment Orders

6:50 p.m.


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

It being 6:52 p.m., the House will now proceed to the consideration of Private Members' Business as listed on today's Order Paper.

The House resumed from December 1, 2020, consideration of the motion.

Irish Heritage MonthPrivate Members' Business

6:50 p.m.


Marilène Gill Bloc Manicouagan, QC

Madam Speaker, I am very pleased to rise in the House today to discuss my colleague's motion about Irish heritage and celebrating the contributions of the Irish immigrant community to Quebec and Canada. Doing so is our duty and our pride.

A few years ago, the papers said that everyone in Quebec is Irish. As many as 40% of Quebeckers say that Irish blood flows in their veins. That speaks to the significant contribution of the Irish to Quebec as well as to Quebeckers' love for Ireland, the Irish, and all those who have been part of the story of Quebec.

I hear my own name spoken in the House with the correct pronunciation. My name, Gill, is an English name with Gaelic roots. Gill means “stranger”. We are all strangers to each other until such time as we become part of a shared history. My Gaelic roots became English. My ancestors then migrated to what is now the United States and from there to an indigenous Abenaki community near Trois-Rivières. Now I am here in the House. Clearly, Ireland has gotten around. As with many peoples, we are its conduit.

I am therefore very proud to talk about this today. I said that half, if not all, Quebeckers have Irish blood. There is a real love affair between the Irish and Quebec. It was not always easy at first, particularly because of the language barrier. History tells us that there were already Irish immigrants raising families in Quebec when it was still New France.

Over the years, with other waves of immigration, Quebeckers felt very close to their Irish brothers, who practised the same religion as they did at the time, Catholicism. They also shared a similar way of life because most Irish people who settled in Quebec were labourers, working-class people, much like many Quebeckers.

I spoke about that time and reminded members that Irish blood runs in the veins of Quebeckers. There comes a time when we feel as though the other has become a part of us, because we have embraced their culture and way of life. I enjoy literature, and perhaps this is a misrepresentation, but if we study literary, cultural, artistic and architectural history, we see how the Irish contributed to building the Quebec society we know today. We owe a lot to Ireland, and that includes folk music.

We see it in those expressions of Irishness that have become perfectly natural to us. We no longer say that something is Irish, because it is part of who we are. We no longer make the distinction. It is part of who we are, but we still admire it.

I mentioned traditions. This admiration is also part of our collective psyche in Quebec. Ireland is an integral part of our culture, in a very down-to-earth way, through its history and all we can learn from it, by its geneology, by what we have taken in, by what is as real as our blood, and by our collective imagination, in other words, that which escapes us.

It is also all these people we see around us every day. Just think of La Bolduc—I will refrain from singing—born Mary Travers, a great Quebecker of Irish origin. There are others, such as the actress Debbie Lynch-White, who is now in Quebec: two moments in time, two different centuries.

Clearly, these are two women who have left their mark on Quebec, who have left their mark on the essence of Quebec, two women who are adored by Quebeckers.

I have been talking about people, but there is also our way of life. In hockey, for example, the Irish had the Montreal Shamrocks. The way of life is the same. I could drop some other names. One was mentioned earlier in other circumstances, but I could also talk about Mr. Mulroney. I am the member for Manicouagan. We have political figures. The boy from Baie Comeau is from my region. He is also part of the heritage.

There are many others, of course. I thought perhaps I would stand in this House and quote one of the great Irishmen. He has Irish ancestors, but sometimes people forget that. He is one of our great Quebec poets of the late 19th and early 20th century. He is in our imaginations. People quote him, sometimes without realizing who it is. This shows that we need to be grateful to them, that we must bear witness to their existence, to their contributions.

Sometimes, fates collide. I am very happy because one of my ancestors, Charles Gill, was also a poet and painter and a friend of Émile Nelligan. Now, I am going way back with this ancestor. I am not friends with this poet, but it is interesting to see how fates can collide.

Émile Nelligan is one of the great poets of Quebec. I am so happy and honoured to share a poem of his in the House. I think it fits right in with the spirit of this motion and I would also say that it is a declaration and expression of love.There was a mighty ship, of solid gold 'twas wrought:
Its masts reached to the sky, over oceans unknown;
The goddess Love herself, flesh bare and hair wind-blown,
Stood sculpted at its bow, in sunshine desert hot.
A treach'rous shoal it struck one dark and stormy eve,
Where sailors sirens' songs unwitting sweetly lull,
And then a shipwreck dread did sink its golden hull
Into the murky depths, grave granting no reprieve!
There was a ship of gold, and through its ghostly side
Such riches it revealed, for which fell pirates vied,
Neurosis, Hate, Disgust, among themselves, those three.
Ah, what remains, now that the storm no longer teems?
What has my heart become, thus set adrift at sea?
Alas, that ship has sunk in an abyss of dreams!

On behalf of the Bloc Québécois, I want to say that we will vote in favour of this motion, and I thank all of the Irish Quebeckers of yesterday, today and tomorrow.

Irish Heritage MonthPrivate Members' Business

7 p.m.


Richard Cannings NDP South Okanagan—West Kootenay, BC

Madam Speaker, first off I would like to thank my friend and colleague from Etobicoke—Lakeshore for tabling this motion to make March Irish heritage month. Secondly, I will admit that I am not Irish, or at least my claims on Irish heritage are weak. My mother's grandmother's family, the McCurdy family, originated on the Isle of Bute in Scotland, but did flee to Ireland in the 1600s. They lived there for about 100 years before they left for Nova Scotia. Other than that, my genealogical heritage is basically English and Scottish.

I have been to Ireland. I have drunk Guinness in Dublin. I have seen the green hills of Kildare and the beautiful barrens of County Clare. I have not kissed the Blarney stone. When I was in Ireland I had no plans to go into politics, so I did not realize the benefits that Blarney might bring.

From the early 1600s to the early 1900s, over seven million Irish left their homeland for foreign shores. In the late 1800s alone, immigration cut Ireland's population in half, and many of those people found their way to Canada. The earliest immigrants, starting in the 1500s and 1600s and continuing for two centuries after that, were those who came to Newfoundland for the cod fishery. A considerable number ended up in New France in those early years as well, and many Irish immigrants, especially those who came during the famine of 1847 and the years after that, came to Canada in destitute circumstances, but this was not always the case. Many Irish immigrants, both Catholic and Protestant, did well within a few years after they arrived in Canada.

One was John Carmichael Haynes, who was born in County Cork in 1831 and emigrated to Victoria, British Columbia, in 1858. After a series of jobs as constable throughout the southern interior of B.C., including postings at Rock Creek, Osoyoos, and the Similkameen Valley, he settled in Osoyoos in 1872. Here he was a justice of the peace and a customs agent. He quickly assembled 20,000 acres of land and 4,200 cattle.

Thomas Ellis was born in Ireland but emigrated to B.C. at the age of 19 in 1865. He soon moved to South Okanagan and bought a section of land in what is now the City of Penticton. By the 1890s he had 20,000 head of cattle and 31,000 acres of land from the South Okanagan all the way to the U.S. border.

I will not go into the background of how Tom Ellis and Judge Haynes amassed that land for their cattle operations. Some of it involved shifting land out of first nations reserves, a practice that happened all too quickly when settlers were moving into unceded territory, but the fact remains that these two Irishmen played a large role in shaping the future of the Okanagan Valley. Ellis's ranch was later subdivided to create Penticton, and much of Haynes's lands were eventually subdivided to create orcharding opportunities around Oliver for veterans returning from World War I.

On the other side of my riding in West Kootenay is the city of Castlegar. It was founded by Edward Mahon, who came to British Columbia with his brothers seeking their fortune in mining and real estate. They owned several claims around Nelson in the Slocan Valley, and in 1891, Mahon bought a ranch at the confluence of the Columbia and Kootenay Rivers. In 1897 he had the land surveyed for a new town site. Eventually the town of Castlegar was created, named after the home of Mahon's family in County Galway. It means “short castle” in Gaelic.

The most Irish part of Canada is clearly the island of Newfoundland. Some have called it the most Irish place outside Ireland. My maternal grandfather's family came from Newfoundland, but those ancestors, the Mundens and the Munns were English and Scottish.

I lived in Newfoundland in the mid-1970s to get a masters degree in biology from the Memorial University of Newfoundland. Indeed, I am wearing my MUN tie today for this occasion. It was in those years that I really learned about the Irish heritage of that wonderful rock. For much of one year, I lived at Cape St. Mary's, a lighthouse at the southwestern tip of the Avalon Peninsula.

Cape St. Mary's is the central namesake of the Cape Shore, and I think it is the most Irish part of Newfoundland. I love the drive down the rocky road south from Placentia past Little Barasway, Great Barasway, Ship Cove, Gooseberry Cove, Patricks Cove, Angels Cove, Cuslett, St. Bride's and on to Branch. These are all communities first settled in the late 1700s and early 1800s by Irish immigrants, mainly from around Wexford and Waterford. Each cove is a patch of fertile ground along a rocky shore, and several of these communities were first settled by farmers. However, quickly those in Cape Shore quickly concentrated on fishing the incredibly rich resource of cod found off that coast.

The Cape Shore was thoroughly Irish Catholic, through and through. When I first moved to Cape St. Mary's, I quickly learned that the head lightkeeper and his family were, by their reckoning, the only Protestants on the Cape Shore. They had come from Grand Bank, on the other side of Placentia Bay on the Burin Peninsula. The assistant lightkeeper was from Point Lance, just around the corner, east of the cape. The two lightkeepers often claimed that they could not understand each other at all because one spoke a Burin dialect from the West Country of England while the other spoke Cape Shore, an old Irish dialect. I was often called in, jokingly I am sure, to translate.

The road through the Cape Shore is now paved and even continues on around St. Mary's Bay to the southern shore and on to St. John's, passing many outports where most of the inhabitants have a strong Irish background. The remoteness of the Cape Shore preserved its Irish heritage and it is rich in stories and music that go back centuries.

My friend Tony Power grew up in Branch before it had electricity, and the long nights were filled with storytelling, song and dance. I remember walking through the stunted firs with Tony once, talking about bird conservation, and then, with the barest twinkle in his eye and in all seriousness he pointed toward a cavity under an overturned tree and said, “That's where the fairies live.”

Newfoundland and Labrador celebrates Irish heritage every day, but especially on St. Patrick's Day, which is a public holiday in that province. I remember going over to the Strand pub in the Avalon Mall on the morning of St. Patrick's Day, making sure that we were early enough to get a seat to enjoy the music and merriment all day long. One of my roommates was studying folklore at MUN, and one of his classmates was Denis Ryan, who led a fantastic trio of musicians called Ryan's Fancy. They were always the stars of the Strand in those days, and it was great to hang out with Denis and his bandmates Fergus O'Byrne and Dermot O'Reilly.

Another critical ingredient in Irish heritage is laughter. Perhaps it is the result of centuries of struggle, but it is clear that comedy is something the Irish do very, very well. Again, when I was living in St. John's, I had the great opportunity to see the team from Codco in person. That was Newfoundland comedy with a definite grounding in Irish heritage.

While much of the history of the Irish diaspora has been a history of hardship and often tragedy, it has provided Canada with a hard-working community that has played an important role in creating the society we know today. In the face of adversity, it has given us music and laughter. In the face of opportunity, it has given us visionary leadership.

So I say, go raibh maith agaibh, thank you, to all those with Irish heritage who have enriched our country for centuries. I will happily raise a glass of Guinness to them all: Slàinte.

Irish Heritage MonthPrivate Members' Business

7:10 p.m.

Milton Ontario


Adam van Koeverden LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Diversity and Inclusion and Youth and to the Minister of Canadian Heritage (Sport)

Madam Speaker, it is a real pleasure to speak on behalf of everybody in the House who does have Irish heritage. I cannot claim to have such heritage, but it is a real privilege to discuss this private member's motion, Motion No. 18, to proclaim Irish heritage month in Canada. If passed, this motion will establish March as a month of recognition to commemorate and celebrate the historic legacy and many contributions of the Irish community in Canada.

Irish settlements in Canada date back to the 1600s, much earlier than commonly believed, due to the great famine of 1847, which drove large numbers of Irish to seek a new future away from their birth homes.

The Irish newcomers arriving in Canada first settled in Newfoundland, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island. Their heritage is still strong and proud in communities across the Atlantic provinces, and certainly beyond as well. Quebec also received large numbers of Irish immigrants, with passenger ships carrying them as far inland as Quebec City and even Montreal, which was as far down the St. Lawrence that was possible before the construction of the Lachine Canal, an incredible feat of engineering built largely by Irish migrant labourers.

As time went on, the Irish community would slowly move west. By the early 1850s, roughly a quarter of Toronto was Irish Catholic. In recognition of its Irish heritage, Ireland Park on Toronto's lakeshore features sculptures directly mirroring those across the ocean at Dublin's Famine Memorial.

Over the years Canadians of Irish descent became more established. Their influence began to be seen and felt across the country. With grit and courage, Irish people seized their opportunities and prospered in their new homes. Through their skills and energy, they and their descendants made a profound and lasting impact on the character and development of Canada.

In 1851, the Irish in Quebec City founded the Quebec Ship Labourers' Benevolent Society, which functioned as a labour union and is considered by many to be the first labour union in Canada.

It was Emily Ferguson Murphy, the first woman in the British empire to be appointed a magistrate, who led the legal challenge that led to the Supreme Court's ruling that allowed some women to be recognized as legal persons under the British North America Act. In fact, Canadian politics has had its share of notable Irish figures, including Sir Guy Carleton, Thomas D'Arcy McGee, and former prime ministers Lester Bowles Pearson and Brian Mulroney, to name just a few.

While Irish people were coming to Canada to seek new opportunities in a new land, they never forgot where they came from. The traces of their origins and their traditional music and dance never left them. They were just ways to bring a small piece of home with them wherever they went.

St. Patrick's Day is a day when those with Irish heritage wear it proudly on their sleeves, while many others turn into Irish folks on that day. It still holds very strong significance for Canadians. There has been a celebration every year in Montreal since 1824. Toronto's celebration, one of the largest in North America, typically sees about a quarter of a million people line the streets to watch the parade.

St. Patrick's Day is also of extra special significance to two of my neighbours in Milton, and probably more, but in particular Neil and Mel Teague. That story requires a little bit of a history lesson. Back in 1964, a young police officer named Roy Teague and his wife Kathy decided to leave Derrygonnelly, County Fermanagh in their native Ireland. With all the turmoil in northern Ireland at the time, they wanted a safer and more peaceful place to raise their boys. Roy's Uncle Jimmy had already emigrated to Canada, which got good reviews, so the rest of the Teagues followed. Kathy and Roy settled in Omagh between Milton and Oakville and Roy was immediately hired by the Oakville police and served honourably in many capacities with the Halton police services throughout his career. Their boys, Neil and Colin, enjoyed softball, and so he learned enough about the game to become a really good coach. Roy and Kathy live in Burlington now and recently celebrated their 57th wedding anniversary. I will take a moment to congratulate them on that.

Neil continued with the game of softball, eventually playing for Team Canada, and is a member of the provincial softball hall of fame, as well as our very own Milton sports hall of fame, the class of 2019. Neil has coached their kids, Aaron, Sydney and Aidan, and hundreds of other of Milton's athletes, and can often be found at the M3 baseball academy. That is Neil's baseball and softball training facility here in town.

Why is St. Patrick's Day so extra special for Neil and Mel? Mel also has Irish heritage on both sides of her family, so it is only appropriate that Neil and Mel got married on St. Patrick's Day. Next week they will be celebrating 16 years together. I want to congratulate them as well for their 16 years, and say hi to Neil and Mel.

The history of the Irish community in Canada stretches back centuries, and their influence and contributions are undeniable. Without Canadians of Irish descent like Roy, Kathy, Neil, Colin, Mel and so many others, Canada would not be the country that we know and love today.

This is why I am so glad to stand in support of the private member's motion, Motion No. 18, to declare March as Irish heritage month so that an opportunity can be provided to all Canadians to celebrate and learn about the rich and proud history of Canadians of Irish descent, as I did in writing this speech today.

Irish Heritage MonthPrivate Members' Business

7:15 p.m.


Kerry-Lynne Findlay Conservative South Surrey—White Rock, BC

Madam Speaker, I am honoured to speak in support of recognizing the month of March as Irish heritage month, a month in which we are encouraged to go green on St. Patrick's Day.

I would first like to thank my friend and colleague from across the aisle, the member for Etobicoke—Lakeshore, with whom I have the pleasure of working on the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights, for moving this motion to highlight the many contributions Irish Canadians have made to our country and to celebrate Canada's Irish heritage. While I may not always agree with him at the justice committee, I am pleased that we could find some common ground across the Atlantic. As MPs, we share that we have all been said to have kissed the Blarney Stone from time to time.

I debated beginning my remarks today by singing Too-Ra-Loo-Ra-Loo-Ral, a lullaby I often sang to my children, or a verse from when When Irish Eyes are Smiling, but I am told the Right Hon. Brian Mulroney, also very proudly of Irish descent, beat me to it, plus I understand that my friend, the member for Saskatoon—Grasswood, did enough singing for both of us when he spoke in support of this motion back in December.

Of course, our former prime minister is not the lone distinguished Irish Canadian. We can thank Ireland for blessing Canada with many acclaimed artists, authors, athletes and business leaders: Stompin' Tom Connors, W.P. Kinsella, Connor McDavid, Michael J. Fox, Eugene O'Keefe and Shania Twain, to name a few.

I too am one of the more than 4.6 million Canadians whose ancestors hailed from Ireland. In fact, I am named after the beautiful green County Kerry in the southwest of Ireland, which is geographically the closest part of Ireland to Canada. My mother's name was Nora, meaning honour, another well-recognized Irish name. My maternal grandmother, Elizabeth Clinch, and her parents, John Clinch and Mary Moran, proudly stated their race as Irish in the census after moving to England. She came to Canada on a ship with my grandfather in 1910 and settled in St. Marys, Ontario, not too far from where we are today.

My grandmother lost twin red-haired brothers in World War I, a war Canada fought alongside its allied partners. Her brothers tragically passed within 24 hours of each other during the war and were both laid to rest in Belgium. That Irish red hair continues to show in two of my daughters and many cousins and nieces.

My grandmother's sister later followed her to Canada, and much of my family continues to live in southern Ontario. Some are on a dairy farm and others work in London, but of course my smartest relatives moved to British Columbia, where I was born and raised. My grandmother had five children, all born here in Canada, and passed away in her mid-sixties in B.C., where she worked dipping chocolates for Purdys, an enduring and celebrated chocolatier and confectionery based in Vancouver.

Decades later, my eldest daughter, Hanna, was so proud of her Irish heritage that she married a descendant of Joseph Plunkett, a famous Irish nationalist and poet who helped orchestrate the 1916 Easter rising and died as a martyr to his cause. He in turn was a descendant of the 1600s Irish saint, Saint Oliver Plunkett, also martyred, whose head remains on display in a golden shrine at St. Peter's Church in Drogheda, Ireland.

Yes, these connections can get people a free Guinness in any Irish pub.

My daughter and her husband John named their children Ronan, meaning “little seal”, and Aidan, meaning “the fiery one”, both traditional Irish names, and yes, they both share red hair and blue eyes with their mom and less than 2% of the world's population. I might add that somehow John thinks Irish rugby is more important than the CFL, and that is where I draw the line.

My family's story of migration is a familiar one for most Canadians, whether from Ireland or elsewhere. The Irish first began migrating to Canada in the 17th century, long before Confederation. Migration would continue in the 18th century, with mostly small groups settling on the east coast, and a big wave of Irish migrants came to Canada in the 19th century at a time when Ireland faced economic troubles and the Great Famine.

By the 1870s, the Irish had become the most populous ethnic group in most Canadian cities. Because of the high number of Irish migrants and the shared language and religion they had with the English and French who arrived before them, the Irish, along with the Scots—which is the other side of my family—had a considerable impact on Canadian culture and values at a time when our great nation was beginning to take shape.

Irish migrants also played a critical role in both Canada's politics and the economic expansion of the mid-19th century. However, it was not always easy. The Canadian-Irish often faced discrimination and poor working conditions. Despite this unfair treatment, they helped build critical infrastructure, like the Rideau Canal, and impressive architectural feats, like Montreal's Saint Patrick's Basilica.

One particularly large contribution by an Irish Canadian came from Thomas D'Arcy McGee, a Conservative minister of agriculture, immigration and statistics, and a father of Confederation, who attended the Charlottetown and Quebec Conferences of 1864 as a Canadian delegate. McGee was a strong advocate for Confederation. He famously said, in 1860, “I see in the not remote distance one great nationality bound like the shield of Achilles, by the blue rim of ocean.... I see within the ground of that shield the peaks of the western mountains and the crests of the eastern waves.”

As Monday marked the celebration of International Women's Day, a day that I have decided I should celebrate all week, I must mention the tremendous contribution of Irish Canadian Nellie McClung in her role as a member of the Famous Five. This group of intelligent, resilient women fought to have women recognized as qualified persons within the Constitution Act, 1867, or the British North America Act, which allowed women to be appointed to the Senate.

After initially losing in the Supreme Court of Canada, where justices took an originalist view of the meaning of the phrase “qualified persons”, the Famous Five took the case across the ocean to the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council, our highest court of appeal at the time. In 1929, the court of last resort held that women did in fact fit within the meaning of “qualified persons”, clearing the way for women like me, and the 100 women who presently serve as members of Parliament, to hold political office.

The strong bilateral relationship Canada and Ireland enjoy today is based not just on our shared history and strong familial and cultural ties, but also on our bilateral trade. Governed by CETA, trade between our countries has been steadily increasing in past years. Canada exported 672 million dollars' worth of products to Ireland last year and imported products worth nearly $3.2 billion. As for B.C., nearly $20 million of exports were sent to Ireland in 2019, including iron, steel tanks, plywood, lumber and more.

Tourism is critical to the local economy in the Lower Mainland. It is an industry that I have continuously advocated for and that I hope will rebound from the challenges it continues to face amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

I am eagerly awaiting the day when it will be safe to travel internationally again and Canadians and the Irish alike can visit each other's beautiful countries, experiencing all the wonderful things our cultures have to offer, and I can finally visit County Kerry, Ireland. I also look forward to when it will be safe to celebrate my Irish roots in person with the wonderful folks at the Irish Club of White Rock, in my riding.

In the meantime, I hope everyone will join me in celebrating Canada's proud Irish roots and the many contributions made by Irish Canadians, like my grandmother, who sailed across the Atlantic and made Canada my family's home for generations, by voting in support of the motion. I toast all those celebrating St. Patrick's Day next week. There is certainly no shortage of good Irish beer, so put on some U2 and enjoy it responsibly.

Finally, I want to say that there is someone else of Irish heritage making a mark in our country right now. I am speaking of the member for Durham, the leader of Canada's official opposition and Canada's next prime minister.

Irish Heritage MonthPrivate Members' Business

7:25 p.m.


Christine Normandin Bloc Saint-Jean, QC

Madam Speaker, I am pleased to speak to Motion No. 18, which seeks to declare the month of March as Irish heritage month. I unfortunately do not have the pleasure of having any Irish ancestry, at least as far as I know. That does not prevent me from knowing how proud Irish descendants are of their heritage.

Take for example my uncle's partner. I lived with them while I was in school. With Joe, it was impossible to ignore St. Patrick's Day celebrations. On March 17, Irish stew was a must. It was prepared with love the evening before, and you could smell the heavenly aroma all night as it simmered. The chocolate Guinness cake, which was a little less traditional, became a mainstay over the years. In all circumstances, a good whisky or a good stout were always close at hand. If the family was even a little unlucky, I might decide to take out my tin whistle, as I had tried playing it for a few years. If the family is listening today, I want to extend my most sincere apologies.

As I was saying, I have no immediate family with real Irish ancestry, but over the years and with my uncle Joe, who we adore and became part of the family, it has become somewhat of a tradition to celebrate St. Patrick's Day with lots of people, including the extended family and cousins.

As the years passed, new traditions were added and honoured, like the baking soda biscuit competition. It was not about who could make the best dough. That was my uncle Joe's specialty. It was about who was best at cutting the dough in the shape of a shamrock. Needless to say, once they were baked they were pretty much all the same and a little misshapen. I won for the least objectionable biscuit on a few occasions.

As for St. Patrick's Day celebrations, and I mean the big parties that are slightly less family oriented, Quebec—and especially Montreal—really does it up right. The first St. Patrick's Day was celebrated in Montreal in 1759 by Irish soldiers from the Montreal garrison just three years before the first famous parade took place in New York City.

Montreal's not-to-be-missed St. Patrick's Day parade was first held in 1824. It is recognized as the oldest event of its kind in Canada. Year in and year out—except during COVID-19, of course—between 250,000 and 750,000 people attend each year. It is ranked among the 10 most impressive parades in the world by National Geographic, and that really says something.

Seeing as so many people in Quebec also celebrate St. Patrick's Day, the question we could ask ourselves as we discuss Motion No. 18 is why tack on a full month, since we already have a lot of festivities on March 17? If it becomes an excuse to eat a little more stew or drink a little more stout or whiskey that month, that in itself would already be a good reason, though I would say no one ever needs an excuse to enjoy a whiskey.

Creating Irish heritage month has a much broader purpose. While March 17 is more of a day of celebration and festivities, the entire month of March could be much more education-oriented. That is why we already have other designated months, such as Latin American Heritage Month, Jewish Heritage Month, Sikh Heritage Month and Black History Month.

Designated months like these are a time for festive events and celebrations, but their role is also, and perhaps more importantly, to provide opportunities for the public to learn more about the history and past of many people who contribute to today's society. In fact, last fall, this was the main criterion that emerged from the debate on establishing Orange Shirt Day. All the members stressed the importance of making sure this day is seen not just as a day off, but as a day to raise awareness and teach people about the dark and regrettably too well known chapter of our history involving residential schools.

If the purpose of the motion to create an Irish heritage month is to recognize the important contributions that Irish-Canadians have made to building Canada, and to Canadian society in general, and mark the importance of educating and reflecting upon Irish heritage and culture for future generations, then the Bloc Québécois is pleased to vote in favour of the motion, as it also allows us to recognize the undeniable role the Irish have played in Quebec society since the existence of New France.

The history of the Irish and French Canadians is sometimes more connected than we might think.

Without getting into generalities and shortcuts, many people agree that the two peoples have shared several similarities that have certainly contributed to the fact that the Irish influence colours Quebec identity. Let us consider the fact that many Irish immigrants who arrived in Quebec were Catholic and from poorer social classes, something French Canadians could often identify with. However, it should be noted that there were a lot of Protestant Irish and many of the Irish were quite successful in business.

The presence of the Irish here would also have an undeniable impact on our cuisine. Many of the Irish immigrants came from modest backgrounds, which explains the family-style contributions of their cuisine. Beyond the essential potato that many associate with Ireland, barley and oats are also key ingredients in many concoctions, including brotchen foltchep, a rustic soup prepared with leeks and oats.

The root vegetables and leafy greens that were already widely used in homes in the St. Lawrence Valley in the 17th and18th centuries were also a commonality. Onion, cabbage and turnip were found on both Irish and French Canadian tables to such an extent that, in many cases, it is still difficult to separate the respective influences of the two peoples. To whom do we give the credit for vegetable barley soup? We still do not know. Meanwhile, the boiled salt beef and cabbage that is still quite common in many regions of Quebec was directly inspired by corned beef and cabbage.

There were also many common influences when it comes to music. Let us not forget that, at birth, the name of true Quebec icon La Bolduc was Mary Travers and that she was the daughter of Lawrence Travers, who was of Irish descent. The rhythm and liveliness of her reels may have something to do with her Irish heritage.

A little closer to home, I am fortunate to have in my riding the beautiful little municipality of Sainte-Brigide-d'Iberville, which has a population of 1,300. It is most commonly known for its western festival and Quebec national holiday celebrations, but also somewhat less commonly known for its significant Irish heritage.

The second seigneur or “land lord” in what is now Sainte-Brigide was John Johnson, who immigrated to Canada and acquired the land following American independence. He wanted to populate it with people who spoke the same language as him. The first colonists who arrived, particularly from Europe, were therefore Catholic anglophones, including the Murrays from Scotland and the McGuires from Ireland. That is why, still today, the Sainte-Brigide crest depicts the Scottish thistle and three Irish trefoils to represent the municipality's two founding peoples.

Actually, the parish of Sainte-Brigide-d'Iberville owes its name to Archbishop Ignace Bourget of Montreal, who issued the decree of canonical erection for the new parish on March 23, 1846. He had decided to name the municipality after St. Brigid, the canonized Irishwoman known to have been the friend of none other than St. Patrick himself.

In closing, I heard many of my colleagues talk about their history and their past, a past that was sometimes very personal. They also talked about the great feats of noteworthy Irishmen. People say that to know where you are going, you have to know where you came from. My hope is that, through Irish heritage month, we may learn that we are little more Irish than we think.

Irish Heritage MonthPrivate Members' Business

March 10th, 2021 / 7:35 p.m.


Pat Finnigan Liberal Miramichi—Grand Lake, NB

Madam Speaker, it gives me great pleasure to rise today to address Motion No. 18, sponsored by my good friend from Etobicoke—Lakeshore, which seeks to have the House recognize March of every year as Irish heritage month. Over the course of our history we have seen many waves of Irish immigration to Canada. Historical records show that Irish immigrants came to Canada as early as the 16th century, when Irish fishermen first came to the Grand Banks off Newfoundland.

This shows that, contrary to popular belief, some did leave Ireland prior to the Irish potato famine. This includes my own ancestors, brothers John and William Finnigan, who arrived in Nova Scotia around 1800. Also, I would like to mention the interesting fact that the new U.S. President's mother is Catherine Eugenia Finnegan Biden. Perhaps our genealogy meets somewhere in the past.

Intensive immigration from Ireland began around 1819. At this time the majority of the thousands of immigrants who were arriving in Canada each year were from Ireland. Starting in 1845, many Irish immigrated to Canada to escape the potato famine, also known as the great hunger. The catastrophic failure of the potato crop, which the Irish depended on as a main form of sustenance, caused many families to go hungry. The primary food source for millions of people was eliminated for several years, and the crops would not recover until around 1852.

Those who could left Ireland. During this time, masses of Irish immigrants poured into Canada. They did so at great risk, by travelling on dangerous and overcrowded ships. The unsafe and unsanitary conditions in which people lived while making the journey across the Atlantic to Canada created the uncontrolled spread of disease. Thousands had their journey across the Atlantic cut short by disease, and many ended up in graves on Grosse-Île, Quebec, or Partridge Island off Saint John, New Brunswick, where the immigrants were quarantined upon their arrival.

During this time, a perhaps lesser known but equally important island also acted as a key quarantine station. This was Middle Island, located in my riding of Miramichi—Grand Lake. In 1847, the shipLoosthauk left Dublin bound for Quebec. Typhus and scarlet fever quickly spread among both crew and passengers. The ship was forced to abandon its destination and found itself on the Miramichi River. Local doctors gave up their practices to focus solely on the sick and dying patients, and local businessmen assured their safe passage to Middle Island.

In total, some 250 Irish immigrants died and are buried on Middle Island. In 1984, a Celtic cross, unveiled by Ireland's ambassador to Canada, was erected on the Island and dedicated to the immigrants who were laid there to rest. Some who made the journey from Ireland did not make it across the ocean before succumbing to disease. While there are partial records of those who died at sea during the journey to Canada, a complete record will never be known. Some immigrants' graves are marked by the Celtic cross, while others only have the ocean as their headstone.

It is certain that famine was the cause for many to flee their country, and that the journey from Ireland to Canada was harrowing for many. However, the story of the Irish in Canada is not only one of disaster. It is also one of success, and many of us are a product of this very success.

Upon their arrival in Canada, many Irish gravitated toward ports, cities and areas that offered high employment opportunities. While these areas were mainly on the east coast and in Ontario and Quebec, some did venture farther out west, as some of my colleagues mentioned earlier.

According to David A. Wilson, who authoredThe Irish in Canada, the Irish quickly adapted to Canadian life and by 1871, the percentage of Irish who were merchants, manufacturers, professionals, white collar workers and artisans was virtually identical to that of the population at large. While it would be naive to think that there were not struggles during the early decades after their arrival, as for many immigrant communities who came after them, the Irish endured and pushed forward to become an important part of the foundation of Canadian society.

I must take this opportunity to highlight the great contributions of the Irish people in my riding of Miramichi—Grand Lake. The city of Miramichi holds the longest running Irish festival. We pride ourselves on being this country's most Irish city and Canada's Irish capital, although I think some of my hon. colleagues may want to challenge us on that. We take great pride in our Irish ancestry and many Irish flags fly proudly in our region. Many people in my riding work actively to keep our Irish roots and heritage known for generations.

I must highlight my good friend Farrell McCarthy, who founded the Irish Canadian Cultural Association of New Brunswick to do just that. The association fosters awareness of the traditions, history and artistic expression of the Irish people. The Irish-Canadian history and identity is definitely born of struggles, but beyond that it is a fierce history that shows that with perseverance, hard work and faith, people can rise up and build a life for future generations. Again, many of us are proof of just that.

The establishment of Irish heritage month would provide Canadians of all backgrounds the opportunity to learn about, appreciate and celebrate the many contributions that Canadians of Irish heritage have made to Canada.

I thank hon. members for allowing me to speak on this motion that seeks to mark part of our diverse and multicultural heritage.

Irish Heritage MonthPrivate Members' Business

7:40 p.m.


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

The hon. member for Etobicoke—Lakeshore has five minutes for his right of reply.

Irish Heritage MonthPrivate Members' Business

7:40 p.m.


James Maloney Liberal Etobicoke—Lakeshore, ON

Madam Speaker, it is not really a right of rebuttal because I am going to agree with everything we have heard already.

First, I want to thank somebody from my riding, a man named Jeff who runs Branch 101, a local legion in my riding. He arrived at my doorstep just two days ago and because I had just renewed my membership, he brought me some gifts. One of them was a mask covered in shamrocks. He did not know I was doing this today or that this was happening, so perhaps it was a bit of Irish fate. In fact, perhaps it is a bit of Irish fate we are doing this today in the month of March. It could be luck of the draw or it could be luck of the Irish. Regardless, I am incredibly proud to be here and, frankly, a bit overwhelmed.

This is a motion to recognize the month of March as Irish heritage month. It has been a long time coming for me. It has been six years in the making. For others, it has been centuries. In fact, the idea was hatched in the Speaker's office. Madam Speaker, I know this is near and dear to your heart because your son-in-law hails from Galway and you have two Irish grandchildren of whom you are very proud. Therefore, I am glad you are in the chair tonight.

While we would ordinarily be celebrating all things Irish this month, this motion, I want to remind people, is not about green hats and green beer. It is my hope that from this day forward, and every year, the month of March will be known as Irish heritage month.

This motion is for those people who left Ireland for better opportunity, for those who did not make it to the shores of Canada. This motion is for those who did and devoted their lives to building our country into what it is now. This motion is for those who continue to do that today. This motion is for future generations that are proud of their Irish heritage. I think of Thomas D'Arcy McGee, our Irish founding father, for example.

Last December, in the first hour of debate, I was struck by how many of my colleagues claimed that their part of the country was the most Irish and had the strongest Irish traditions. In fact, my colleague from Miramichi—Grand Lake, if I am not mistaken, just tried to lay claim to the presidency of the United States, which is a bit of a stretch. In any event, they are all right. Whether people live in Newfoundland, Vancouver Island, Montreal or the Ottawa Valley, where my ancestors hail from, this motion is about that. We can all lay claim to having that proud Irish heritage and we can all lay claim to having the greatest Irish community in the country. We are all right.

If we think of the speeches we heard today and at first reading, they were about pride, they were about history and they were about integrity. We heard stories of hard-working heroes from our past and present who continue to make our country great. We even had some spontaneous singing in the first round of debate. It must have been spontaneous because clearly it was not rehearsed. This motion celebrates Irish spirit.

I drove through Ireland a couple of years ago with my father-in-law and brothers-in-law. It was at night and we got lost. They were concerned. I told them that there was nothing to worry about because all it meant was that we would end up in another beautiful town, with welcoming, beautiful Irish people, and we would enjoy ourselves. I was right. The same can be said throughout Canada.

We have talked about our Irish history, our Irish culture and our economic ties. I discussed that at first reading. I do not have time to go into so much today, so I will just say this. The ties between Canada and Ireland are emotional, historical, economical and genetic. It is very powerful.

I do want to name a few people. Our ambassadors, Ray Bassett, Jim Kelly and Eamonn McKee, come here as ambassadors and they leave as our friends. I want to thank them. I want to thank my friends in the Canada-Ireland Interparliamentary Group. When we are back together in Ottawa, we are going to have one heck of a bash. It is going to be the third annual and best ever.

I hope today we can adopt this motion unanimously. During this month of March, when ordinarily we would be celebrating throughout the country, we cannot, and rightfully so. Let us adopt this motion and give Irish Canadians and all Canadians something to celebrate this year, next year and every year thereafter.

Irish Heritage MonthPrivate Members' Business

7:45 p.m.


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

The question is on the motion.

If a member of a recognized party present in the House wishes to request a recorded division or that the motion be adopted on division, I invite them to rise and indicate it to the Chair.

Irish Heritage MonthPrivate Members' Business

7:45 p.m.


James Maloney Liberal Etobicoke—Lakeshore, ON

Madam Speaker, I believe if you seek it, you will find unanimous consent to adopt the motion.

Irish Heritage MonthPrivate Members' Business

7:45 p.m.


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

Does the hon. member have the unanimous consent of the House?

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

(Motion agreed to)

A motion to adjourn the House under Standing Order 38 deemed to have been moved.

HealthAdjournment Proceedings

7:45 p.m.


Paul Manly Green Nanaimo—Ladysmith, BC

Madam Speaker, I would like to start by recognizing the personal and economic sacrifices that Canadians have made during the pandemic. They have stayed home, they have followed public health orders and they have done everything in their power to flatten the curve and beat COVID-19.

Families across the country are grieving the 21,000 people who have died. Now, a year into the pandemic, Canadians are exhausted and frustrated. The repeated lockdowns and restrictions have taken a heavy toll. Small and medium-sized businesses are struggling to survive. Millions of people are experiencing financial hardship. Mental health challenges, drug overdoses and domestic violence have all increased.

Despite the sacrifices, COVID-19 is still spreading in our communities, and new variants are a growing concern. Canadians are looking at what is happening in other countries, and it is not lost on them that the strategy in Canada is not working. Inadequate coordination between federal, provincial and territorial responses has failed to stop the spread of the virus.

In countries such as New Zealand, Australia, Taiwan and South Korea, the spread of COVID-19 has been arrested, case levels are down, the death toll is much lower, economies are up and running, and people are going about their lives. What can Canada learn? Where did we go wrong? How can we move forward in a way that will result in less hardship for Canadians?

Countries that have eliminated the spread of the disease share these key aspects: they had a national strategy; they closed borders; they required quarantines for citizens returning from international locations; they limited internal travel within the country; they mandated masks for indoor public spaces; they tested and used contact tracing; they continue to use circuit-breaker lockdowns to quickly stop new outbreaks; and the health minister is in charge of vaccine procurement, not the industry minister.

The key to success was to isolate outbreaks and use multiple tools to limit the spread of the virus. These are actions that Green Party MPs advocated for in the early days of the pandemic. Instead of a well-coordinated national strategy, Canadians have had a patchwork of provincial health orders that were often contradictory and confusing. In some cases, COVID-19-related decisions appeared to be driven by politics instead of science.

I appreciate the fact that the government organized an intergovernmental coordinating committee with medical health officers from across the country, but we needed more than a committee. We needed more than a patchwork of confusing protocols and mandates that changed from province to province.

Canada is a federation, and it is true that provinces have jurisdiction over health care. I understand that the federal government is reluctant to use its emergency powers to create and enforce a national strategy. Some provincial governments have at times politicized this pandemic, and such actions have been detrimental to Canadians.

Australia is also a federation with jurisdictional and political differences between the national and state governments, but they worked together successfully in a coordinated effort to stop the spread of COVID-19. The population there is much better off for that co-operation.

The vaccines are finally rolling out across the country, but with the spread of new variants, it is not certain how effective the vaccines will prove to be. We need to be prepared to stop the spread of variants that may be vaccine-resistant.

We are not out of the woods yet, and a lack of national coordination can still have dire consequences.

HealthAdjournment Proceedings

7:50 p.m.

St. Catharines Ontario


Chris Bittle LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Transport

Madam Speaker, it is disappointing that the hon. member is glossing over constitutional requirements and authority. Summoning up the Emergencies Act does not help anyone in this situation because it requires provincial consent. I am sure the hon. member has read the legislation. I do not know why he would want a constitutional crisis in the middle of a pandemic.

That being said, the federal government is committed to protecting the health and safety of Canadians, and this remains our top priority. I would like to assure Canadians that the Government of Canada has developed and is implementing its plan to respond to the pandemic on all fronts.

We are working to ensure that we have enough vaccines to vaccinate all Canadians by the end of September. The government has been hard at work negotiating with manufacturers and suppliers to secure a significant vaccine supply for Canadians and planning for a vaccine rollout. In the development of this plan, the federal government has engaged and consulted all levels of government, indigenous leaders, international partners, industry, and medical and scientific experts.

On December 8, the government published “Canada's COVID-19 Immunization Plan: Saving Lives and Livelihoods”. At the heart of the plan are six core principles: science-driven decision-making, transparency, coherence and adaptability, fairness and equity, public involvement and consistent reporting. These principles are governing and informing our vaccination rollout actions.

The plan outlines seven steps in the rollout process, which are communicating and engaging with Canadians throughout the campaign, obtaining a sufficient supply of vaccines, obtaining regulatory authorization from Health Canada, allocating and distributing vaccines efficiently and securely, administering vaccines according to a sequence of priority populations identified by experts, and collecting data to monitor vaccine safety, effectiveness and coverage. We are making progress and laying the groundwork for great gains and momentum in the coming months.

As the hon. member is no doubt aware from the news, we have procured, through advance purchase agreements, more than enough vaccines to vaccinate all eligible Canadians. Without compromising regulatory integrity, we have expedited the regulatory review of promising vaccine candidates. Vaccines that have been approved by Health Canada are currently being administered to priority populations that were recommended by the National Advisory Committee on Immunization, an independent committee comprised of health experts. During the first phase of the rollout campaign, our strategy is to vaccinate those deemed most vulnerable to infection, severe illness and death.

We are deeply grateful to the members of the Canadian Armed Forces working within the operation of the vaccine rollout task force. As logistics experts, they are playing a vital role in the success of our campaign.

In addition to the Canadian Armed Forces, we have engaged with the private sector to support the logistics of this ambitious undertaking. To assist with the administration of vaccines in the provinces and territories, we are enlisting the help of the Red Cross and other health care professionals. This is truly an unprecedented situation, and it has called for all hands on deck.

In closing, we must continue to implement the public health measures that have helped us tap down the number of cases and hospitalizations over the past difficult year. We can remain optimistic that our efforts will start to pay off if we remain steadfast.

HealthAdjournment Proceedings

7:55 p.m.


Paul Manly Green Nanaimo—Ladysmith, BC

Madam Speaker, the national strategy in Australia did not create a constitutional crisis there and I do not think it would cause a constitutional crisis here. It would have done us a lot of good.

When the pandemic was declared a year ago, the Green Party caucus made a series of recommendations to the government. We added to those recommendations as time went on and as we saw what other countries were doing successfully to combat the spread of COVID-19.

Successful countries have all had unified national strategies. There has been a lack of political courage to do what is necessary at the federal level in Canada. On both sides of the House, there is little appetite to do anything that might upset a premier, but a lack of a unified national COVID-19 strategy continues to have poor outcomes and hurts Canadians in a myriad of ways. We need stronger national coordination, and the sooner we start to do that, the better the results—

HealthAdjournment Proceedings

7:55 p.m.


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

The hon. parliamentary secretary.