House of Commons Hansard #76 of the 43rd Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was committees.

Topics

The EnvironmentOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

NDP

Jagmeet Singh NDP Burnaby South, BC

Mr. Speaker, as a nation, we are dealing with the crisis of the pandemic. On top of that, the climate crisis continues to persist. We have the Conservatives, a party that denies there is even a problem, and the Liberals who continue to delay taking any real action to fight the climate crisis. More than just delay, we have a Prime Minister who is all for show. He bought a pipeline, he continues to exempt the biggest polluters and he continues to subsidize the fossil fuel sector.

How can Canadians trust the Prime Minister to take on the climate crisis?

The EnvironmentOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

North Vancouver B.C.

Liberal

Jonathan Wilkinson LiberalMinister of Environment and Climate Change

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the question on such an important day when the Supreme Court has upheld the constitutionality of Canada's approach to pricing carbon pollution, because carbon pollution should not be free anywhere in this country.

Canada brought forward a strengthened climate plan in December. It is one of the most detailed and comprehensive climate plans anywhere in the world. It provides a detailed path through which we will not only meet but exceed our current Paris Agreement targets. We have indicated that we will be bringing forth a new target that we will be announcing at the Earth Summit in April.

This government takes climate change very seriously. It is an existential threat, but also an enormous economic opportunity for this country.

National DefenceOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Conservative

Gérard Deltell Conservative Louis-Saint-Laurent, QC

Mr. Speaker, the chief of the defence staff of our armed forces is facing allegations of sexual misconduct involving a female member of the Canadian military, which is very troubling. That is why it is important to get to the bottom of this and determine who in the government knew what and when.

One key figure in this matter who has not yet testified is the former chief of staff to the Minister of National Defence. Will the Prime Minister allow that individual to testify before a parliamentary committee so these matters can be studied thoroughly?

National DefenceOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Honoré-Mercier Québec

Liberal

Pablo Rodriguez LiberalLeader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, my colleague knows full well that departmental responsibility is a fundamental principle.

Ministers are there to answer questions, whether in the House or in committee. I find it very serious that the opposition is trying to use its majority to bring in people who are here in good faith to work hard for Canada, to intimidate them, to mistreat them in committee and to disrespect them. Ministers are here to answer questions. It is the very principle of departmental responsibility, and we are going to follow it.

National DefenceOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Conservative

Gérard Deltell Conservative Louis-Saint-Laurent, QC

Mr. Speaker, “very serious”, “mistreat”, “intimidate”: is the minister aware of the nonsense he just spouted?

We have to get to the bottom of this. This person, the former chief of staff, is at the heart of the government, the army and the Prime Minister's Office. That person has to say what she knows. That is why we want her to appear. Will the government allow this person to testify before a parliamentary committee so that the whole truth can be told?

National DefenceOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Honoré-Mercier Québec

Liberal

Pablo Rodriguez LiberalLeader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, as I said, in our parliamentary democracy, it is a member of cabinet who is accountable to Parliament, it is a member of cabinet who is accountable to committees, not their employees.

It is something the Conservatives have always supported. I clearly remember when the leader of the government at the time, Jay Hill, defended departmental responsibility tooth and nail. A number of people sitting on the opposition side today were there, applauding it and were in full agreement. I am very surprised that they changed their minds today.

EthicsOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Conservative

Pierre Poilievre Conservative Carleton, ON

Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister claims that his office had nothing to do with the half-billion dollar grant to a group that had paid his family half a million dollars.

However, there is something about the timeline that does not add up. I have the contribution agreement that gave WE the half-billion dollars. It was signed on June 23. However, the Kielburgers got authorization to start spending taxpayer reimbursable money on May 5, six weeks earlier.

Did the Kielburgers speak to anybody in the PMO on May 5?

EthicsOral Questions

March 25th, 2021 / 2:30 p.m.

Waterloo Ontario

Liberal

Bardish Chagger LiberalMinister of Diversity and Inclusion and Youth

Mr. Speaker, as committee members have requested, I have testified at committee and provided this information. As we have confirmed, the contribution agreement was negotiated between the professional non-partisan public service, and this information is all on the public record.

The member opposite seems to be very concerned about students and youth. It would be great if his Conservative colleagues would stop holding back Bill C-14 so that we could help students with interest relief and Canadians from coast to coast to coast, as we are still in the midst of the pandemic and have a lot of work to do.

EthicsOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Conservative

Pierre Poilievre Conservative Carleton, ON

Mr. Speaker, the question was whether or not the Kielburgers spoke to anyone on May 5.

They had to have found out somehow they were eligible to spend taxpayer funds on May 5, and it certainly was not from the contract, which was signed by that minister on June 23, unless they have some telepathic abilities.

It turns out they do not have telepathic abilities, but they do have a telephone. They spoke to Rick Theis, top adviser to the Prime Minister and cabinet, on May 5, the day they started spending money.

Will they let Mr. Rick Theis be nice and testify at committee to answer questions?

EthicsOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Honoré-Mercier Québec

Liberal

Pablo Rodriguez LiberalLeader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, ministers are accountable to Parliament, not staffers. It is a long-standing tradition, something my colleagues supported at the time. That is why our ministers are in question period and appear at committees to answer questions.

Let me quote Jay Hill, government House leader under Stephen Harper:

When ministers choose to appear before committees to account for their administration, they are the best source of accountability and they must be heard. Public servants and ministerial staff support the responsibility of their ministers. They do not supplant it. They cannot supplant it.

My colleague agreed with that at the time. Why did he change his mind?

EthicsOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Conservative

Michael Barrett Conservative Leeds—Grenville—Thousand Islands and Rideau Lakes, ON

Mr. Speaker, here we are in the middle of another series of Liberal cover-ups, all to protect the Prime Minister. It is in the middle of a pandemic when other countries have governments spending their time making sure they get their economies back on track, and these Liberals are looking to cover up corruption. Canadians want a great Canadian comeback, and with these Liberals, they are focused on a great Canadian cover-up.

Will the Prime Minister allow these staff to testify on what they knew about sexual misconduct in the military and the half-billion dollar WE scandal?

EthicsOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Honoré-Mercier Québec

Liberal

Pablo Rodriguez LiberalLeader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, I think the Conservatives are trying to cover up for the mistakes they made during their convention this weekend and the important decision by the Supreme Court today, so they want to switch channels. They are getting into petty politics. They know very well that there is a principle of ministerial responsibility. At the time they formed government, they fought very hard for this principle.

I remember the MP for Carleton and other colleagues sitting there in the House and how much they believed in and fought for this principle. What happened? Have they changed their minds all of a sudden?

EthicsOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Anthony Rota

Before we go to the next question, I want to remind hon. members who are joining us virtually to adjust their microphone so that it is either slightly above, between their nose and their upper lip, or slightly below, between their chin and their lower lip, so we do not get any popping sound. Our interpreters do yeomen's work and we do not want to jeopardize their health.

The hon. member for Leeds—Grenville—Thousand Islands and Rideau Lakes.

EthicsOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Conservative

Michael Barrett Conservative Leeds—Grenville—Thousand Islands and Rideau Lakes, ON

Mr. Speaker, even adjusting the equipment would not improve the quality of the answer by that minister.

It is the same old song and dance. They shut down Parliament, filibustered committees for the equivalent of 20 meetings alone at the ethics committee, and yet they are talking about another party trying to change the channel? It is a cover-up of corruption of the highest magnitude.

Members of the Prime Minister's family got a half-million dollars and then they gave that organization a half-billion dollars. The chief of the defence staff is alleged to have perpetrated sexual misconduct against the soldiers he was entrusted to lead and protect, and the minister and Prime Minister knew about it. They gave him a raise and did not protect the enlisted men and women who serve our country.

These people need to come testify. We expect the staff to testify. Will the Prime Minister let them?

EthicsOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Honoré-Mercier Québec

Liberal

Pablo Rodriguez LiberalLeader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, I would like to remind the Conservatives that we are right in the middle of a pandemic, that Canadians are suffering and dying, and people are losing their jobs and we should be debating that today. How can we help Canadians, how can we help workers, small businesses, families and seniors? Instead, what do the Conservatives do? They fall into petty, partisan politics and personal attacks, like my colleague just made. That is a shame. There is a principle that they know and defended, the principle of ministerial responsibility, and now they have changed their minds? Seriously?

HealthOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Bloc

Gabriel Ste-Marie Bloc Joliette, QC

Mr. Speaker, it is crazy. The Prime Minister refused to acknowledge the need to increase health transfers, but eventually said we could discuss it after the pandemic.

Today there was an announcement that the federal government will be increasing health transfers slightly during the pandemic. They have a hard time understanding, but they get there in the end.

Does the Minister of Finance understand that a permanent, substantial increase to health transfers is needed immediately, and will she include that in her upcoming budget?

HealthOral Questions

2:40 p.m.

Honoré-Mercier Québec

Liberal

Pablo Rodriguez LiberalLeader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, funnily enough, the Bloc usually wants to hear a yes, but it does not want to hear a yes this time. We already told them that yes, we will increase health transfers.

We are in a pandemic right now. We are working very hard with all the provinces and Quebec in particular. We are focusing our efforts on helping the provinces get through the crisis, either by providing equipment and vaccines or bringing in various measures.

We have been there for the provinces, and we will continue to be there for them.

HealthOral Questions

2:40 p.m.

Bloc

Gabriel Ste-Marie Bloc Joliette, QC

Mr. Speaker, let us talk about that.

From the start of the pandemic, the federal government left Quebec and the provinces to fend for themselves. At the start of the pandemic, for every $100 it spent, the federal government invested 15¢ in health during a health crisis. With today's announcement, for every $100 spent, $1 will go to health during a health crisis. That is an improvement, but it is obviously nothing to applaud. Again today, despite the announcement, Quebec and the provinces are asking for more.

Will the government increase health transfers to 35% on an ongoing basis?

HealthOral Questions

2:40 p.m.

Honoré-Mercier Québec

Liberal

Pablo Rodriguez LiberalLeader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, there is no reason to applaud, because during a pandemic we do not applaud, we work. We roll up our sleeves and we work. We work with the provinces.

There is one thing that the Bloc Québécois may not like these days. It sees how well we are working with Quebec through the agreements reached, for example, to help Lion Électrique, or to provide Internet service in the regions. The Bloc Québécois clearly sees that the Government of Canada and the Government of Quebec are working hand in hand for Quebec and Quebeckers, and it does not like that.

HealthOral Questions

2:40 p.m.

Bloc

Andréanne Larouche Bloc Shefford, QC

Mr. Speaker, today, the Canadian Medical Association released a new study showing that the cost of elder care alone will increase by $490 billion over the next 10 years. Ottawa has responded with a single $4-billion transfer.

This study reminds us that, as the Bloc Québécois has always reiterated, seniors do not need national standards, they need health funding to increase on an ongoing basis.

What is the government waiting for to implement a significant, unconditional increase in health transfers on an ongoing basis?

HealthOral Questions

2:40 p.m.

King—Vaughan Ontario

Liberal

Deb Schulte LiberalMinister of Seniors

Mr. Speaker, I want to remind the opposition of what we have been doing for seniors.

For many months we have been providing support for seniors through tax-free payments and enhanced community supports. While the government does remain committed to implementing policies that were reaffirmed in the throne speech, at this time they know that we are focusing on managing the COVID-19 public health crisis, and we have given billions to provinces and territories to help with public health at this time of the crisis.

Seniors can be assured that our government will be there to support them.

LabourOral Questions

2:40 p.m.

Conservative

Luc Berthold Conservative Mégantic—L'Érable, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Port of Montreal has been described as the lifeblood of Quebec's and Ontario's economies. In total, $100 billion worth of goods move through the port every year.

A number of Canadian businesses rely on the Port of Montreal to import and export goods. Unfortunately, a strike seems likely because the government has failed to facilitate the negotiations on the port workers' collective agreement.

Why has the Liberal government not ensured that the two parties could come to an agreement that works for everyone?

LabourOral Questions

2:40 p.m.

Hamilton West—Ancaster—Dundas Ontario

Liberal

Filomena Tassi LiberalMinister of Labour

Mr. Speaker, we understand that the parties have not yet reached an agreement, but the good news is that the parties are back at the table. We also recognize the central role of the port and we are aware of the uncertainty of the current situation and the anxiety that it is creating in supply chains. We have heard concerns from many stakeholders in recent weeks. We understand these concerns and take them very seriously. Right now our focus is that the parties are at the table. We have supported that negotiation through providing mediation services, and we look forward to a resolution at the table.

LabourOral Questions

2:40 p.m.

Conservative

Luc Berthold Conservative Mégantic—L'Érable, QC

Mr. Speaker, a 19-day strike last year at the Port of Montreal resulted in $600 million in losses. These economic losses are unacceptable for businesses.

The Liberal government has been dragging its feet long enough. Canadians should not have to suffer economic hardship as a result of the government's inaction.

Is the Liberal government waiting for another crisis before it steps in? With the pandemic, the Canadian economy cannot withstand a new strike.

Why did the government not do more to make sure that the parties could come to an agreement that works for everyone?

LabourOral Questions

2:45 p.m.

Hamilton West—Ancaster—Dundas Ontario

Liberal

Filomena Tassi LiberalMinister of Labour

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for his question.

We have been on this file from the very beginning. These parties have been negotiating for two and a half years, and the federal mediation and conciliation service has been there at the table to support the parties. We realize the economic harm that this potentially can cause. Last month I took the extra step of appointing two senior mediators from the mediation service.

I want to assure the member that we are in close contact with the parties, we are monitoring the situation very closely, we are aware of the potential harm this could cause, and we are providing every support possible to have an agreement made at that table.