House of Commons Hansard #81 of the 43rd Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was peoples.


(The House divided on the motion, which was agreed to on the following division:)

Vote #92

Economic Statement Implementation Act, 2020Government Orders

3:20 p.m.


The Speaker Liberal Anthony Rota

I declare the motion carried.

(Motion agreed to, bill read the third time and passed)

Oral QuestionsPoints of OrderGovernment Orders

3:20 p.m.


Fayçal El-Khoury Liberal Laval—Les Îles, QC

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order. When I asked my question to the minister, accidentally a microphone was open and the answer of the minister was not heard properly.

Is it possible to allow me, please, to re-ask the question to the hon. minister in order that everyone can hear the question properly?

Oral QuestionsPoints of OrderGovernment Orders

3:20 p.m.


The Speaker Liberal Anthony Rota

It was a very slight interruption, but we will ask the House.

All those opposed to the hon. member moving the motion will please say nay.

Agreed. The House has heard the terms of the motion. All those opposed to the motion will please say nay.

We will go ahead, and the member can ask the question once more.

Please go ahead.

Oral QuestionsPoints of OrderGovernment Orders

3:25 p.m.


Fayçal El-Khoury Liberal Laval—Les Îles, QC

Mr. Speaker, this government knows that it is extremely important to strengthen our relations with Canada's allies and is committed to expanding Canada's global trade ties. The Minister of Small Business, Export Promotion and International Trade recently led a virtual trade mission to France.

Could the minister talk more about the importance of empowering Canadian businesses to diversify and expand their presence on the world stage?

Oral QuestionsPoints of OrderGovernment Orders

3:25 p.m.

Markham—Thornhill Ontario


Mary Ng LiberalMinister of Small Business

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the hon. member for Laval—Les Îles for this important question.

Two weeks ago, I led a trade mission to France, bringing together over 300 entrepreneurs, of which 36% are majority women-owned businesses, 20% youth-owned businesses and 20% visible minority-owned businesses. This is inclusive trade in action.

Taking advantage of Canada's trade agreement with the European Union through CETA, our government will continue to promote inclusive and sustainable growth through trade, building back a greener future and a sustainable economic recovery.

Oral QuestionsPoints of OrderGovernment Orders

3:25 p.m.


The Speaker Liberal Anthony Rota

It being 3:25 p.m., pursuant to an order made on Wednesday, April 14, the House will now proceed to statements by ministers.

His Royal Highness The Prince Philip, Duke of EdinburghRoutine Proceedings

3:25 p.m.

Beauséjour New Brunswick


Dominic LeBlanc LiberalPresident of the Queen’s Privy Council for Canada and Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs

Mr. Speaker, today Canadians join Her Majesty the Queen, members of the royal family, citizens of the Commonwealth and people around the world in mourning the loss of His Royal Highness The Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh. This sad occasion gives us an opportunity to reflect on and celebrate a life given in the service of others.

His Royal Highness's life of service began when he joined the Royal Navy just before the start of the Second World War. An accomplished naval officer who was recognized for his bravery, the Duke of Edinburgh's contribution to the women and men of the armed forces of the United Kingdom, Canada and other realms would continue for 70 years after the end of the war. His relationship with the Canadian Armed Forces, and particularly his service as Colonel-in-Chief, was an enduring one. It was so enduring, in fact, that in recognition of his unwavering support His Royal Highness was appointed honorary general of the Canadian Army and the Royal Canadian Air Force, as well as honorary admiral of the Royal Canadian Navy.

From his first visit to Canada with Princess Elizabeth in 1951, the Duke of Edinburgh made connections across the country. He was there for some of our most important milestones, including our centennial celebrations and the proclamation of the Constitution Act, 1982.

In every province and territory, His Royal Highness had the pleasure of meeting Canadians from every corner of our vast country over the course of his 60 visits to Canada. His deep commitment to Canada was even recognized when he was named the first extraordinary Companion of the Order of Canada. He served as patron or president of nearly 800 organizations, more than 40 of which were in Canada. These organizations reflected his interest in science and technology research, environmental conservation, and most notably his love of sports and dedication to young people.

The Duke of Edinburgh's International Award, a program he founded in 1956, embodies his desire to help young people succeed. The award is a personal challenge that is tailored to the interests and abilities of each participant. The program is not meant to be competitive. Instead, it seeks to develop youths' skills and perseverance and helps set goals to achieve them. The Duke of Edinburgh wanted a program that was accessible to all regardless of the background of the participants. The award has challenged, empowered and recognized millions of young people around the world and has left them better prepared to succeed. Since 1963, more than half a million Canadians have benefited from the program. The award program alone would qualify as a most important legacy.

However, when we think of the Duke of Edinburgh's legacy of service, we of course remember His Royal Highness for his decades of devotion to Her Majesty our Queen. The longest-serving consort attended tens of thousands of official engagements, either with Her Majesty or on her behalf. He was a participant in, and a witness to, the great progress we have made as a country over the course of Her Majesty's reign. In fact, one of his last public events was to attend Canada 150 celebrations at Canada House in the United Kingdom in 2017, where former governor general Johnston presented the Queen with a Sapphire Jubilee gift on behalf of all Canadians.

The Interim Clerk of the Privy Council, Janice Charette, recently spoke to me fondly about his Royal Highness's visit to Canada House at that time, when she was our high commissioner. Even after retiring from public duties at the age of 96, his Royal Highness continued to be an important figure for the royal family and particularly for Her Majesty the Queen, who described him as her “strength and stay all these years”.

I hope his memory will encourage more of us to serve our community in whatever capacity we can, that it will remind us we all gain when we help others realize their full potential, that providing opportunities in the most inclusive way possible brings us together, that we must support our youth to ensure their success, that when our country calls, we should be ready to serve, and that in times of joy and sorrow, we must be there for our families.

On Saturday, Canadians will have the opportunity to remember His Royal Highness the Duke of Edinburgh at a commemorative ceremony to be held in Ottawa.

Although we will not be able to gather in person, this will be an opportunity to remember a remarkable person who reminds us of what it means to serve. It will also be the last opportunity for Canadians to express their deep sadness.

As we mourn the loss of this public figure, we should remember that the Duke of Edinburgh was a husband, father, grandfather and great-grandfather. We acknowledge the profound loss felt today by Her Majesty the Queen and members of the royal family.

To the Queen, I respectfully express my deep sympathy for her loss. We share in her sorrow. It is my sincere hope that Her Majesty will take comfort in the knowledge that His Royal Highness inspired generations of young people in Canada and around the world to reach their full potential, achieve excellence and give their lives in service to others. Through his tireless work, he has forever earned our respect and admiration.

As Her Majesty the Queen best expressed, we “owe him a debt greater than he would ever claim, or we shall ever know.”

His Royal Highness The Prince Philip, Duke of EdinburghRoutine Proceedings

3:35 p.m.


Alex Ruff Conservative Bruce—Grey—Owen Sound, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am honoured to rise in the House today on behalf of all Conservatives, the constituents of Bruce—Grey—Owen Sound, many Canadians and many current and former members of our Canadian Armed Forces to pay tribute to the life of service by Field Marshal, His Royal Highness The Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh on his passing. We all share our deepest condolences to Her Majesty the Queen and all members of the royal family.

I am going to focus my comments on the prince's impact on our Canadian military and, I will admit, skewed toward his service as the colonel-in-chief to the Royal Canadian Regiment for 68 years, why I fully recognize he served in this capacity for other Canadian Army regiments, including the cadets, was an admiral for the Royal Canadian Navy, captain general of the Canadian Army and general of the Royal Canadian Air Force. As such, I am going to read into the record not my own words, but quotes from some key Canadian military leaders on His Royal Highness's passing.

The Colonel Commandant of the Royal Regiment of Canadian Artillery said that His Royal Highness's life of devotion, service and duty in war and in peace “will remain an enduringly worthy example for us all.”

On behalf of the Royal Canadian Regiment, the Right Hon. David Johnston, the 28th Governor General of Canada and the Colonel of the Regiment, “We share a deep sadness on the passing of His Royal Highness, The Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, a man who personified service before self. We wish to extend our sincere condolences to Her Majesty, the Queen; the entire Royal Family, as well as His Royal Highness' friends and colleagues in this most difficult time.”

From Major-General Steve Whelan, the senior serving within the RCR, “The RCR was privileged to have His Royal Highness, The Prince Philip, wear the cap badge of Canada's oldest regular force infantry regiment for 68 years. He served as a role model of service to country that no other will likely ever surpass. His leadership will be missed.”

From Colonel (Ret'd) Joe Aitchison, and former colonel of the regiment:

No description of Prince Philip's connection to The Royal Canadian Regiment would be complete without reference to an event that occurred well before he was appointed Colonel-in-Chief, but became known only 70 years after the fact.

On October 1942, young Philip had just been promoted to the rank of Lieutenant and appointed First Lieutenant of HMS Wallace, notably the youngest officer of the Royal Navy to hold such an appointment at the time. HMS Wallace was assigned to support Operation HUSKY, the allied invasion of Sicily that began on 10 July 1943.

The Royal Canadian Regiment was one of the units that took part in the invasion landing as part of the 1st Canadian Division. The regiment's objective was a small airfield near Pachino on the southeast area of Sicily. The second in command of the anti-tank platoon on the day of the landing was a young Royal Canadian, Sherry Atkinson.

Fast forward 70 years:

At the breakfast reception preceding the presentation of the new Regimental Colour of the Third Battalion in Toronto on 27 April 2013, the Colonel-in-Chief, the reviewing officer, met Mr. Atkinson by design. In the course of their conversation, they established that on the day of the landing they had been roughly at the same place at the same time, the Prince offshore and Sherry onshore, with the former providing naval gunfire support to the activities of the latter. When they established this connection, it became very difficult indeed to separate them.

This is the kind of connection that existed between Prince Philip and The Royal Canadian Regiment over the entire 68 years of his appointment as its Colonel-in-Chief. The connection can perhaps be best described as a relationship between warriors, unquestionably of different generations and background, with shared values and ethos.

I fully agree with these esteemed Canadian military leaders' words that clearly highlight His Royal Highness's dedication to service. Further, I would add that I had the honour to meet the prince in person during the same visit in 2013 as the commanding officer of the Second Battalion of the Royal Canadian Regiment Our interaction was likely only 10 seconds in duration, but I still count myself fortunate to have had this privilege. Watching the prince work the room, showing his accustomed ability to relate to whomever he was speaking to, be that a private soldier or the Governor General, his remarkable stamina, his close eye to detail and his overwhelming charm was incredibly impressive.

Next, I would like to focus on the Duke of Edinburgh's Award. These awards will be one of the most significant legacies that will immortalize Prince Philip and his encouragement of youth. Established in 1956, it came to Canada in 1963. Today, the Duke of Edinburgh's international award operates in over 130 countries and territories globally. Over 500,000 Canadians have benefited from the program since its inception.

It recognizes young people between the ages of 14 and 24, and encourages those youth to develop universal skills, such as creativity, problem-solving, communication and decision-making.

The award's aims include improving mental health, employability and earning potential, physical fitness and health; and increased engagement with charitable and community causes.

The award program is comprised of four sections. The service section is intended to develop a sense of community and social responsibility. The adventurous journey section aims to cultivate a spirit of adventure and discovery, and an understanding of the environment. The skills section develops cultural, vocational and practical skills. The physical recreational section encourages improved performance in fitness.

I think all members of the House would agree the Duke of Edinburgh's Award is a program that is just as applicable today, if not more so, than when the program was established in 1956.

Tied to my own riding of Bruce—Grey—Owen Sound, I would offer this unique piece of history tied to the Duke of Edinburgh's Award winners and the official opening of the Bruce Trail in 1967 by Lord Hunt. Lord Hunt was the director of the Duke of Edinburgh's Award program and was the leader of the climb of Mount Everest with Sir Edmund Hillary. In August of 1967, Lord Hunt joined 27 of the Duke of Edinburgh's Gold Award winners from 13 different Commonwealth countries for the start of the hike on the Bruce Trail from Tobermory to Owen Sound, which included five Canadian gold award winners.

As a side note, I have learned that during the initial planning for this event it was suggested that a then young Prince Charles and possibly Prince Philip would accompany the group. The original plan was to have them flown in by helicopter with an RCMP detail. Apparently, the local committee was aware of this and told it was top secret. Committee members were then surprised when on their way to a Duke of Edinburgh meeting in Toronto they heard on CFOS, the local radio station back in the riding, that Prince Charles might accompany the group. That announcement ended any talk right then of Prince Charles or Prince Philip coming to the hike with the group. I guess maintaining confidentiality has been an ongoing problem for more than just political parties. In this case, it is very unfortunate, as I am sure both Prince Charles and Prince Philip would have enjoyed the hike on the magnificent Bruce Trail.

In closing, His Royal Highness The Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, lived a life of service and public duty. As a consort to Her Majesty the Queen, he was an unwavering, loyal companion in supporting her as monarch. His service as a warrior, leader and public figure for his entire life is hard to fathom. He serves as an example we can all learn from.

On behalf of all Canadians and the Conservatives, I offer Her Majesty the Queen our deepest condolences on the passing of the prince. May he rest in peace. Pro Patria.

His Royal Highness The Prince Philip, Duke of EdinburghRoutine Proceedings

3:40 p.m.


Alistair MacGregor NDP Cowichan—Malahat—Langford, BC

Mr. Speaker, I am here today to express condolences on behalf of New Democrats to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II and to the entire royal family on the death of His Royal Highness The Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh.

For me personally, during the entirety of my almost 42 years on this planet, there has always been a Prince Philip as the Queen's consort, so in some respects, his passing marks the end of an era. For most of my fellow parliamentarians, it is the same.

Born on June 10, 1921, on the Greek island of Corfu, Prince Philip was part of Danish and Greek royalty. His father, Prince Andrew, was the son of King George I of Greece and the grandson of King Christian IX of Denmark. This lineage was reflected when, in response to a comment on the quality of his French, he earnestly informed former prime minister Jean Chrétien that he was not an Englishman.

It would be a gross understatement to simply say that over the course of Prince Philip's lifetime the world has undergone great change. At his birth, the British still ruled an empire that stretched across the globe, and today, after a decades-long and often painful process of decolonization, the United Kingdom is a small island nation that is struggling to define its place in Europe.

The monarchy, too, has seen significant changes both in its formal role and in the public perception of it. From the time of his marriage to Princess Elizabeth in 1947, and through his elevation to consort of the Queen in 1953, Prince Philip was witness to many tumultuous decades in support of his wife's important role.

I want to acknowledge and pay my respects to Prince Philip's service as a World War II naval veteran, enlisting as a cadet in 1939, advancing to midshipman in 1940, sub-lieutenant in 1941, lieutenant in 1942 and soon thereafter second in command of the destroyer HMS Wallace. Prince Philip served on many different ships and saw service across the globe, from protecting Australian convoys in the Indian Ocean to seeing battles in the Mediterranean. He finally saw the end of the war with service in the British Pacific Fleet.

Among the many honorary military positions held from around the world, he was also recognized as admiral of the Royal Canadian Navy, a general of the Royal Canadian Air Force and a captain-general of the Canadian Army.

As my colleague the member for Esquimalt—Saanich—Sooke mentioned earlier this week, Prince Philip will be remembered not only for being the longest-serving consort in the history of the British monarchy, but also for being the person he was. Yes, he was known for many gaffes and for being an expert at opening his mouth and putting his foot into it, referring to it personally as “dontopedalogy”.

We should also recognize that he was dedicated to encouraging young people to set high goals and work hard to achieve them through the Duke of Edinburgh's International Award, which has the goal of challenging, empowering and recognizing young people and motivating them to set goals and challenge themselves to take control of their lives and futures.

He recognized the importance of the conservation movement and the importance of keeping our world habitable. He helped found the World Wide Fund for Nature and promoted conservation issues at the highest government and corporate levels. He spoke powerfully and committedly on issues such as biodiversity loss long before they entered the mainstream where they are discussed today. He recognized that if nature does not survive, neither will humans.

He was a dedicated public servant, keeping an active schedule well into his 90s. The stamina required for this active involvement was reportedly fortified by his adherence to the daily, full-body strength and flexibility regime known as the five basic exercises, which was developed to help get members of the Royal Canadian Air Force into shape without the need for equipment or much space.

Last, but certainly not least, he was there to support a powerful and strong partner in her duties as Queen.

Canada has hosted Prince Philip and Queen Elizabeth many times over seven decades, when he came to know the full splendour of our country's geography from coast to coast to coast. I know many Canadians join me today in expressing our deep and sincere condolences to Her Majesty the Queen and to the entire royal family for their loss of Prince Philip.

May he rest in peace.

His Royal Highness The Prince Philip, Duke of EdinburghRoutine Proceedings

3:45 p.m.


Elizabeth May Green Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

Mr. Speaker, it is an honour to join in the tribute today to a remarkable human being, a royal, and someone who cared deeply about Canada, and the nature and wildlife of this country.

It was a hot June day in 1987 when I was walking across a farmer's field in Saskatchewan and had the huge honour of meeting His Royal Highness The Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh. He was performing the kind of duties that I think he loved the most, which were helping to increase public awareness and support for endangered wildlife.

We were in the field of a farmer. I remember his name is Grant Fahlman. He was one of the first farmers in Saskatchewan to help with something called operation burrowing owl to try to preserve this very endangered bird, which has sadly become even more endangered since 1987.

However, His Royal Highness was there in his very strong engagement, as we have just heard from the member for Cowichan—Malahat—Langford, in the work of the World Wildlife Fund. His Royal Highness was there to increase awareness and increase support. His tour of Saskatchewan in June 1987 included the stop at Grant Fahlman's family farm, as well as going to Last Mountain Lake to see the endangered whooping cranes and sandhill cranes.

However, what I remark about the most when I think back on that trip was His Royal Highness's extraordinary interest in detail. He had a very sharp eye, and he did not miss a thing. I will give two brief examples. We were walking across the field when he spotted a bit of desiccated excrement, and he stooped down to pick it up and examine it. He handed it to a wildlife biologist who was with us in the field and said, “What do you suppose this is? What animal do you suppose it is?”

The biologist said, “I don't know. Maybe it's a coyote” and tossed it away casually. His Royal Highness said, “Excuse me, you don't know what it is, and you're going to discard it? Surely we should look into it.” The biologist scampered and found the piece of desiccated excrement, took it with him and promised His Royal Highness that he would study it. Nothing escaped his attention.

I was there in my capacity as policy advisor the federal minister of the environment at the time, and the burrowing owl relieved himself in the minister's hands. I very discreetly passed my boss a piece of old paper napkin from my purse, so he could wipe his hands off. Somewhat later in the day it was my turn to be presented. Tom McMillan, my boss, turned to His Royal Highness and said, “I want to present you with a member of my staff and she—” at which point His Royal Highness said, “Oh, I know, she provides you with Kleenex”. He did not miss a thing. He had the sharpest eyes I have ever seen and was absolutely attentive to detail.

He was there also fundraising for Ducks Unlimited to protect our migratory waterfowl, our wetlands and Prairie Pothole. He was there in his capacity as president of the World Wildlife International, a role he held from 1981-96. That is not a small degree of commitment. He was also the vice-president of the International Union for Conservation of Nature from 1981-88.

His Royal Highness The Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh was dedicated in a way that was more than show. It was not just the occasional event. He went to 50 different countries advocating for wildlife and preservation of key areas of ecosystems. He contributed to saving Canadian old growth in the campaign that took place in those very years to protect the area that is now Gwaii Haanas National Park Reserve in Haida Gwaii.

The member for Cowichan—Malahat—Langford referenced that Prince Philip was known for the occasional gaffe, but I think that people, wildlife and endangered ecosystems around the world owe an enormous debt of gratitude to this member of the royal family whose sense of duty was extraordinary. His inspiration and his love of the natural world was second to none.

I join with all of my colleagues today in expressing the deep condolences of the people of Canada to our Queen, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. This is an enormous loss to her and to the whole royal family. We express our condolences, and I personally want to express my thanks for the extraordinary honour of having met someone so dedicated to the wildlife, wild spaces and wilderness of Canada.

His Royal Highness The Prince Philip, Duke of EdinburghRoutine Proceedings

3:50 p.m.


The Speaker Liberal Anthony Rota

I would like to thank all those who have spoken today in tribute to His Royal Highness The Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh. His life was lived in devoted service to his Queen, his country, and the Commonwealth and its people.

Her Majesty the Queen has lost her most dedicated subject, her companion of more than seven decades. I hope she will take comfort in the admiration and affection expressed by the people of the Commonwealth.

Pursuant to order made Wednesday, April 14, 2021, the following motion is deemed carried on division:

That a humble Address be presented to Her Majesty the Queen expressing the House's condolences following the passing of His Royal Highness The Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, and its hopes that the expression of the high esteem in which His Royal Highness was held may comfort Her Majesty and the members of the Royal Family in their bereavement;


that a Message be sent to the Senate informing their Honours that this House has passed the said Address and requesting their Honours to unite with this House in the said Address.

3:55 p.m.


Gérard Deltell Conservative Louis-Saint-Laurent, QC

Mr. Speaker, as it is Thursday, I will ask the traditional question to the government about what will be happening in the next few days.

As members know, we are in a real stretch now, working here in the House of Commons for 10 weeks out of the next 11 weeks. We are very pleased to serve our people, our constituents in our ridings, here in the House of Commons.

It is with great honour, privilege and pleasure that I will ask the question. What is the plan?

3:55 p.m.

Winnipeg North Manitoba


Kevin Lamoureux LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the President of the Queen’s Privy Council for Canada and Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs and to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the question from my good friend.

This afternoon, we will complete second reading debate of Bill C-15, an act respecting the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. Tomorrow morning we will start with the debate of Bill C-6, an act to amend the Criminal Code (conversion therapy), followed by the debate at second reading of Bill C-12, an act respecting transparency and accountability in Canada's efforts to achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by the year 2050 in the afternoon.

On Monday of next week, we hope to complete second reading debate of Bill C-11, an act to enact the Consumer Privacy Protection Act and the Personal Information and Data Protection Tribunal Act and to make consequential and related amendments to other Acts. As all members are aware, at 4:00 p.m. that day, the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance will present the budget. Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday will all be days reserved for budget debate.

Finally, on Friday, we will continue with second reading debate of Bill C-21, an act to amend certain Acts and to make certain consequential amendments (firearms).

Employment Insurance Act—Speaker's RulingPoints of OrderBusiness of the House

April 15th, 2021 / 3:55 p.m.


The Speaker Liberal Anthony Rota

In my statement of March 22, 2021, regarding Private Members' Business, I expressed my concern about Bill C-265, an act to amend the Employment Insurance Act (illness, injury or quarantine), sponsored by the member for Salaberry—Suroît.

At the time, I encouraged the hon. members who wished to make arguments regarding the need for a royal recommendation for this bill to do so, which the members for Kingston and the Islands and Elmwood—Transcona did during points of order on April 12 and 14, respectively. I thank them for the precedents and the information they shared during their interventions. I am now ready to rule on the matter.

During his intervention, the member for Kingston and the Islands argued that Bill C-265 would extend sickness benefits and would thus seek to authorize a new and distinct charge on the consolidated revenue fund not authorized in statute. He added that there is no existing authorization to cover this new and distinct charge and that a royal recommendation is therefore necessary.

Here is what it says at page 838 of House of Commons Procedure and Practice, third edition, and I quote:

Without a royal recommendation, a bill that either increases the amount of an appropriation, or extends its objects, purposes, conditions and qualifications is inadmissible on the grounds that it infringes on the Crown’s financial initiative.

Furthermore, a royal recommendation may only be obtained by a minister, the granting of such recommendation being a prerogative of the Crown.

In order to determine if Bill C-265 requires a royal recommendation, the Chair can rely on a number of similar precedents, including the ruling made by my predecessor on Bill C-269, an act to amend the Employment Insurance Act regarding improvement of the employment insurance system, and Bill C-308, an act to amend the Employment Insurance Act regarding improvement of the employment insurance system, both of which would have, among other things, extended the length of the benefit period.

A reading of Bill C-265 reveals that it would amend paragraphs 12(3)(c) and 152.14(1)(c) of the Employment Insurance Act to increase the maximum benefit period in the case of a prescribed illness, injury or quarantine from 15 weeks to 50 weeks.

Clearly, the bill’s goal is to permanently lengthen the period for employment insurance benefits, which would increase the expenditures made under the act’s system. It is, therefore, my opinion that Bill C-265 would increase an existing appropriation and must be accompanied by a royal recommendation before it can proceed to a final vote in the House on third reading.

When this item is next before the House, the debate will only be on the motion for second reading of the bill, and the question will be put to the House at the end of this debate.

I would like to thank the hon. members for their attention.

The House resumed consideration of the motion that Bill C-15, An Act respecting the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, be read the second time and referred to a committee.

United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples ActGovernment Orders

4 p.m.


The Speaker Liberal Anthony Rota

I wish to inform the House that because of the deferred recorded division and the ministerial statements, Government Orders will be extended by another 40 minutes, for a total of 70 minutes.

The hon. Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Northern Affairs has one minute remaining in her debate, and then we will go to questions.

The hon. member's camera is off. We will move on.

Resuming debate, the hon. member for Beaches—East York.

United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples ActGovernment Orders

4 p.m.


Nathaniel Erskine-Smith Liberal Beaches—East York, ON

Mr. Speaker, on behalf of Beaches—East York, I speak today in support of Bill C-15. I want to start by acknowledging the work of former NDP member Romeo Saganash. It really highlights how the importance of this issue cuts across party lines, and the significance of working across party lines to get important things done.

I have had many constituents reach out to me in support of implementing the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. Most, of course, email or write letters. Some call. Before the election in the last Parliament, when Bill C-262, Romeo Saganash's bill, was before us, I had a constituent, Murray Lumley, who came and met with me in my office and called on me to support that bill, which I did, and encouraged the government of the day to support it. Murray is a thoughtful, caring constituent. He did not vote for me; he worked against me, if I am being honest, in the last election, and I do not expect he will vote for me whenever the next election might be. However, I do want to highlight his efforts, all the same, just as I have highlighted Romeo's efforts. It is important that we emphasize just how this cuts across party lines and how all of us, regardless of political stripe, need to support this really important legislation.

When we work across party lines, we build trust. Another way we build trust in politics is by keeping our promises. I just want to highlight the platform that we ran on in the last election, which stated:

Canada’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission said that the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples charts a path “for reconciliation to flourish in 21st century Canada.”...

We will move forward with introducing co-developed legislation to implement [UNDRIP] as government legislation by the end of 2020. In this work, we will ensure that this legislation fully respects the intent of the Declaration, and establishes Bill C-262 as the floor, rather than the ceiling, when it comes to drafting this new legislation.

That promise has been kept through Bill C-15, which was introduced in Parliament in December of last year.

In substance, Bill C-15 has a lengthy preamble, including that:

[UNDRIP] provides a framework for reconciliation, healing and peace, as well as harmonious and cooperative relations based on the principles of justice, democracy, respect for human rights, non-discrimination and good faith.... [They] constitute the minimum standards for the survival, dignity and well-being of Indigenous peoples of the world....

It recognizes “historic injustices” and says that “the implementation of the Declaration must include concrete measures to address injustices, combat prejudice and eliminate all forms of violence and discrimination, including systemic discrimination, against Indigenous peoples.”

In substance, clause 5 states:

The Government of Canada must, in consultation and cooperation with Indigenous peoples, take all measures necessary to ensure that the laws of Canada are consistent with the Declaration.

Saganash rightly noted before committee that “the Minister of Justice [already] has an obligation under section 4.1 of the Department of Justice Act to make sure that any legislation, before it is introduced, is consistent with the Charter of Rights and Freedoms”, and he noted that Bill C-15 provides for an equivalent for indigenous rights and treaty rights in this country.

Clause 6 is the most important section in this legislation:

The Minister must, in consultation and cooperation with Indigenous peoples and with other federal ministers, prepare and implement an action plan to achieve the objectives of the Declaration.

This includes measures to “address injustices” and discrimination and to “promote mutual respect”; “measures related to monitoring, oversight, recourse or remedy” and accountability; and “measures related to monitoring the implementation of the plan” and annual reporting mechanisms to Parliament.

Bill C-15 does treat Bill C-262 as a floor, which is incredibly important. It goes beyond, in its preamble, and recognizes the inherent right to self-determination, including a right to self-government.

In the words of the justice minister:

Bill C-15 would create a legislated, durable framework requiring government to work collaboratively with indigenous peoples to make steady progress in implementing the declaration across all areas of federal responsibility.

Is it supported by indigenous communities? Is it supported by experts? Is it supported by the above-noted Mr. Saganash? The answer is yes, an overwhelming yes. There is a letter in support of Bill C-15, with over 200 signatures from first nations, from indigenous communities across the country, organizations, experts and activists, including Saganash, Irwin Cotler, the current NDP member for Winnipeg Centre, and many others. I know that one of the signatories is also a constituent, Kerry Wilkins, who is an expert at the University of Toronto.

They write in this letter:

Parliament has an historic opportunity to advance reconciliation.

[UNDRIP] is a consensus global human rights instrument, elaborating minimum standards for the “survival, dignity and well-being of Indigenous peoples.” Implementation of these standards is vital to improving the lives of Indigenous peoples in Canada and around the world, and to upholding Canada's solemn and urgent human rights commitments.

They go on to note that the measures in Bill C-15 are “important, practical and achievable measures that deserve the support of all Canadians.”

Two of those signatories, Alex Neve, formerly of Amnesty International, and Brenda Gunn, wrote recently, and separately:

By any measure, implementing this global declaration domestically will significantly advance reconciliation and strengthen respect for the rights of Indigenous Peoples across the country. Not automatically. And not without much hard work ahead, such as the considerable effort—in full collaboration with First Nations, Inuit and Métis Peoples—that must be invested in developing the action plan for implementation that will be required.

They go on to note that it is important as a matter of global leadership and that it “stands to advance Canada's overall commitment to international human rights.”

Speaking recently to a parliamentary committee studying Bill C-15, Romeo Saganash stated:

I fully support Bill C-15 being tabled by the federal government in the House.... Government bills can proceed more efficiently, I believe, before the House and the Senate. Bill C-15 confirms the declaration as the minimum standards for the survival, dignity and well-being of indigenous peoples.

He goes on to note that there are some amendments he would like to see, but he supports Bill C-15 and acknowledges that it meets his previous bill's commitment in Bill C-262.

Former chair of the TRC and former senator Murray Sinclair said, “Indigenous people now will be able to negotiate with a stronger hand than they ever have in the past”.

The Assembly of First Nations said, “The AFN is urging all Parliamentarians to support adoption of a strong implementation framework before the close of this session of Parliament.”

The ITK calls for the strengthening of Bill C-15, but goes on to say that it strongly encourages all members of Parliament to support Bill C-15 in order to help advance the urgent work of implementing UNDRIP.

The Métis National Council stated:

Canada now has the opportunity to assert its place as a world leader in the recognition of the human rights of Indigenous Peoples through this Bill. The Métis National Council fully supports this effort, and we urge members of all political parties to pass this legislation without delay.

Sheryl Lightfoot, the Canada research chair in global indigenous rights and politics at UBC, stated:

I am strongly in favour of the implementation model that Romeo Saganash created when he first brought...Bill C-262 before Parliament. This model, which is the foundation for Bill C-15, has a number of elements that I think are crucial.

First of all, it requires collaboration with indigenous peoples. It also requires concrete action including legal reform and...the creation of an action plan, and it requires public reporting and accountabilities.

...Bill C-15 is advancing the global conversation and setting a very positive example....

Quite simply, Bill C-15 represents the best approach to human rights implementation that I have seen from around the world, bringing all of these various elements together.

I previously noted my constituent Kerry Wilkins, who states, “Meaningful incorporation of UNDRIP into Canadian law would improve materially the circumstances, and enhance the autonomy, of Indigenous peoples dwelling here.” He goes on to provide a couple of examples. I recognize I am running out of time, so I will not get into them, unless perhaps I get asked questions.

Of course, I expect the government will look for ways of improving the bill at committee. I hope to see further testimony at committee that addresses whether a three-year waiting period for the action plan is appropriate and, if it is, whether interim measures might be useful. I am also interested to understand from testimony why the bill does not include a section on power-sharing agreements in the same way B.C.'s UNDRIP implementation legislation does.

Finally, it is really important to emphasize that so much depends upon implementation, so there are big questions in that regard. This bill is important, but it is important in its potential. Let us pass it at second reading, send it to committee, improve it at committee where possible, and let us get back to the hard work of implementing this important international framework here at home.

United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples ActGovernment Orders

4:10 p.m.


Damien Kurek Conservative Battle River—Crowfoot, AB

Mr. Speaker, the member referenced quite a few quotes, so I would also like to reference a quote from Dale Swampy of the National Coalition of Chiefs, who writes in a special to the Financial Post:

While the affirmation of Indigenous rights is always welcome, the legislation as currently drafted is likely to have negative impacts on the many Indigenous communities that rely on resource development as a source of jobs, business contracts and own-source revenues.

I have spoken to a number of indigenous leaders and individuals across my constituency and across the country who have shared concern about some of the ambiguity and possible extra layers that would reduce economic opportunities for Canada's indigenous peoples. I would like the member to comment on that.

United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples ActGovernment Orders

4:10 p.m.


Nathaniel Erskine-Smith Liberal Beaches—East York, ON

Mr. Speaker, there are a couple of different things.

One is that it is curious to me that we would get out ahead of ourselves to determine exactly how this would be implemented, because this is to be implemented in a very codeveloped way in collaboration and consultation with indigenous peoples across the country.

The second is that its incredibly important to note, because the Conservatives and that member have asked a number questions around certainty, that our Canadian law already says, with respect to the duty to consult, that it varies with the circumstances, from a minimum duty to discuss important decisions where the breach is less serious or relatively minor, through the significantly deeper than mere consultation that is require in most cases, to full consent of the aboriginal nation on very serious issues. These words apply as much to unresolved claims as to intrusions on settled claims.

Those are the words of our current Supreme Court. This notion of certainty has to be put to bed. We will get increased certainty through collaboration and consultation with indigenous people once and for all.

United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples ActGovernment Orders

4:10 p.m.


Kristina Michaud Bloc Avignon—La Mitis—Matane—Matapédia, QC

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

I applaud the tabling of the bill, but unfortunately it is a bit late coming. Our NDP colleagues have been introducing bills for the implementation of the United Nations declaration since 2007. The Liberal government has said many times that it is in favour of reconciliation with indigenous peoples. If that is what it wanted all along, why the lengthy delay in introducing this long-awaited bill?

United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples ActGovernment Orders

4:15 p.m.


Nathaniel Erskine-Smith Liberal Beaches—East York, ON

Mr. Speaker, we supported Mr. Saganash's efforts in the last Parliament. I have supported every bill that has come before Parliament, so long as I have been in Parliament, in relation to the implementation of UNDRIP. Romeo Saganash's bill should have passed in the last Parliament but for the fact the Conservatives blocked it in the Senate. That is an unfortunate circumstance, but we are rectifying that in this Parliament through leadership from this government.

United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples ActGovernment Orders

4:15 p.m.


Matthew Green NDP Hamilton Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. member for the earnestness in which he has supported the previous work of the very great and learned Mr. Romeo Saganash, a friend and mentor of mine, who provided the framework here. However, the hon. member for the Bloc raises some important questions.

I have a question of my own. I heard the member speak about the ideas of consultation, collaboration and power sharing. There are concerns that the legal frameworks that are already in place have led to scenarios like what we are seeing in Wet'suwet'en and in 1492 Land Back near my home, the Haudenosaunee Confederacy territory. We are seeing these problems exist as well in the Mi'kmaq territory out east.

Does the hon. member have confidence in the government's commitment to actually having free, prior and informed consent for the collective rights-holders of these treaties?

United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples ActGovernment Orders

4:15 p.m.


Nathaniel Erskine-Smith Liberal Beaches—East York, ON

Mr. Speaker, this comes up too often and I think this is an inference of a previous question I received from Conservatives in relation to uncertainty. Of course, I am confident that free, prior and informed consent, as referenced a number of times throughout UNDRIP, will be a key part of the collaboration and communications with indigenous peoples in setting down the action plan under Bill C-15.

What that will entail in the end, as Kerry Wilkins, the expert in my community, and as Murray Sinclair have said, is that it ought to enhance our current framework unquestionably. Let us also remember that, as Romeo Saganash has himself said and as the UN has said in its expert committee's look at free, prior and informed consent, when we are grounded in human rights, we are also looking at not absolute veto considerations, but we are looking at principles of proportionality as they relate to the interest at issue. Therefore, we will see an enhancement of our existing law through the implementation of UNDRIP, Bill C-15 and the action plan. We will also see it building upon this notion of human rights and considerations around proportionality.

United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples ActGovernment Orders

4:15 p.m.


Cathay Wagantall Conservative Yorkton—Melville, SK

Mr. Speaker, I will be sharing my time with the member for Peace River—Westlock.

I am really pleased to be working and building relationships with the people of the Cote, Keeseekoose, The Key, Fishing Lake and Yellow Quill First Nations and the Métis Nation Saskatchewan in the riding of Yorkton—Melville on Treaty No. 4 and Treaty No. 5 lands.

I am also very pleased to speak today on Bill C-15, an act respecting the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

It goes without saying that the consideration of this legislation today is a significant moment for Canada, not only because members on all sides of the House, and therefore all Canadians, want to achieve meaningful reconciliation with Canada’s indigenous people but because the Liberal government has made a critical misstep toward this goal through the introduction of the bill in its current form. It is my fear that the impact of the bill will result in the opposite of its desired effect.

The bill aims to ensure that the laws of Canada are in harmony with the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, or UNDRIP. Subclause 4(a), for instance, states that “The purpose of this Act is to (a) affirm the Declaration as a universal international human rights instrument with application in Canadian law”. Further, clause 5 charges the Government of Canada with working “in consultation and cooperation with Indigenous peoples, take all measures necessary to ensure that the laws of Canada are consistent with the Declaration.”

The House will remember calls to action 43 and 44 of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, urging the federal government to “to fully adopt and implement the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples as the framework for reconciliation” and “to develop a national action plan, strategies, and other concrete measures to achieve the goals of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. ”It was in fact the previous Conservative government that adopted UNDRIP in 2010 as an aspirational document.

Then and now, the Conservatives support the goals and aspirations of this declaration. We support treaty rights and the process of reconciliation with the indigenous people of Canada. However, we remain concerned about the Liberal government’s unwillingness to put forward legislation that clearly outlines the effect and interpretation of key terms within the declaration, such as “free, prior and informed consent”. When it comes to understanding what exactly this term means in a practical sense, the lack of consensus between the federal and provincial governments, among members of the legal community and within indigenous communities themselves is worthy of concern.

The previous Conservative government, at the time of its inception, opposed UNDRIP, because free, prior and informed consent did not align with Canadian constitutional law. That is why, a few years later, the same government adopted UNDRIP as an aspirational document, not binding law. This was a move in line with three of our Five Eyes partners: the United States, Australia, and New Zealand. It was a decision made with good reason. The wide-ranging provisions within UNDRIP, like FPIC, were found to be inconsistent with Canadian constitutional law.

Over a decade later, the Liberal government is forging ahead with infusing UNDRIP into the law of the land. However, it has failed to do its due diligence in presenting a bill that can be clearly understood by government and stakeholders. There is a lack of consultation on what purports to be a transformative piece of legislation that will have untold ramifications on our country, indigenous communities and, indeed, all Canadians.

NTC president Judith Sayers says that the consultative process for this bill lacked mutual agreement and was rushed. AFN chiefs have expressed their concern that no extensive consultations were held. The government is good at partial consultations, but the word “extensive” is mentioned here.

Late last year, six provincial premiers wrote to the Minister of Justice and the Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations to object to the six-week window provided for input on the draft bill. They stressed the need for “appropriate engagement with provinces, territories, and Indigenous partners on the draft bill” that could “fundamentally change Confederation.” I do not believe that has taken place and any that has is not clearly outlined to the House. The premiers pleaded for time for Canada to fully and meaningfully consider and address the legitimate, significant concerns that we have already raised about the draft bill in its current form.

It is unacceptable for the government to claim that the time for consultation has been satisfied. I have heard that a great deal today. Concerns expressed at the time of the previous UNDRIP bill, Bill C-262, still exist now. How can the government claim credit for a new era of trust and reconciliation with indigenous communities with such a heavy-handed and sloppy approach to this legislation?

As I mentioned earlier, the effect of free, prior and informed consent has been a long-standing concern that has not retreated from the national discourse. It generates more questions than it provides answers.

Take, for instance, the direct input of indigenous communities. The National Coalition of Chiefs and the Indigenous Resource Network have expressed its concern about ramifications, such as who would have the authority to grant it and the impact it would have on future resource projects. If grant expectations under this model are not met, how will it undermine trust between the Crown and indigenous people for generations to come? Will it deter investment, good jobs and secure incomes from reaching our shores? Indeed, the interpretation of this may lead to consequences beyond Canada's resource development.

Professor Dwight Newman of the University of Saskatchewan's Faculty of Law, speaking before the Senate aboriginal affairs committee on a previous iteration of the bill stated, “the Court’s interpretation of FPIC is nonetheless subject to uncertainties that have enormous implications for Canada”. Professor Newman's input has merit.

Again, let us focus on how indigenous communities may be impacted. Clearly, the pursuit of reconciliation and tangible progress for indigenous communities could be stagnated by opaque language like FPIC. Even considering the current constitutional model, one that outlines a duty to consult and accommodate, tangible results can be hard to come by depending on the degree of intrusion proposed. With the implementation of this model, many serious questions are raised, including who might provide their consent in any given circumstance or who speaks for any community.

Members will recall a sensitive period for our country not too long ago when the decisions of 20 band councils concerning the Coastal GasLink pipeline came into direct conflict with opposition from Wet'suwet'en hereditary chiefs. Opposing groups within the Wet'suwet'en could not come to an agreement about who spoke on their behalf. Speaking before a parliamentary committee, Theresa Tait-Day, a founder of the Wet'suwet'en Matrilineal Coalition, said that the project had been hijacked, despite 80% of the band wanting the project to proceed.

It has been argued that the passage of Bill 41 in British Columbia, in many ways a mirror of the legislation before us, led directly to the disconnect between the elected band council, hereditary chiefs and government. Many indigenous stakeholders interpreted Bill 41 as the vehicle through which UNDRIP was adopted and therefore established a right to veto construction on the line. Indigenous communities deserve better than the ambiguity that B.C.'s Bill 41 and Bill C-15 provide.

Other questions remain, such as, how will this apply in situations where indigenous rights include title or the right to occupy lands and use resources? In situations involving unresolved or overlapping land claim disputes, whose consent is required? What form will this consent take in Canadian law? There is a real concern that the government is taking steps to enshrine UNDRIP into Canadian law without a clear picture of how concepts like FPIC will be interpreted in that law.

As justice minister in 2016, the member for Vancouver Granville said, “simplistic approaches, such as adopting the UNDRIP as being Canadian law are unworkable.” She went on to say, “it's important to appreciate why Canada cannot simply incorporate the declaration "word for word" into law.”

The Conservatives have been clear and consistent. We believe that UNDRIP is an aspirational document whose goals we support. However, to adopt it wholesale without consideration for lasting consequences is irresponsible. We need a made-in-Canada approach to achieve the type of reconciliation UNDRIP outlines. Indigenous communities do not need a further barrier to achieving the best for their communities.

Dale Swampy, president of the National Coalition of Chiefs, has spent his professional life in first nations administration as well as the oil and gas industry. In a special note to the Financial Post he wrote that he “know[s] first-hand what happens when federal bureaucracy gets in the way of responsible resource development.” It is his belief that symbolic gestures of reconciliation should not come at the expense of food on the table for indigenous people.

Reconciliation with Canada's indigenous people means recognizing and affirming their dreams and aspirations to not just be stakeholders but, as I have been told, shareholders. In this case, it is the private sector that has led the way in spending on indigenous businesses.

One example of nine is Cameco, the uranium company that procured $3.8 billion since 2004 from local suppliers in the riding of Desnethé—Missinippi—Churchill River in northern Saskatchewan, whose member of Parliament is so passionately committed to seeing reconciliation truly succeed. His words I now repeat, “Advocating for jobs, owned-source revenue streams, equity ownership and financial independence is in fact the pathway to self-determination and the solution to many of the social challenges.”

The Liberals have been failing to keep their promises, such as ending long-term boil water advisories, and failing to stand up for the future of the natural resource projects that benefit indigenous communities and that they want to be part of. As it stands, this bill has the potential to sow further seeds of division across our country. If it is the government's intention to enshrine an international—