House of Commons Hansard #118 of the 43rd Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was quebeckers.


Federal Dental Care PlanPrivate Members' Business

6 p.m.


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

The hon. member for Steveston—Richmond East will have seven minutes for his speech.

The hon. member.

Federal Dental Care PlanPrivate Members' Business

6 p.m.


Kenny Chiu Conservative Steveston—Richmond East, BC

Madam Speaker, our country’s health care system is nationally seen as a source of great pride. Canadians deserve and have come to expect a health care system that meets their needs and that does not leave anybody behind. I believe the government should always strive to improve the care Canadians receive while maintaining fiscal responsibility.

It has been made particularly clear over the last year that oral health and overall health are inextricably linked, as we saw people with poor oral health fare worse during COVID-19. We Conservatives believe the citizens of this country deserve the best care possible, in order to live a happy and healthy life, that our nation can afford to provide within our means. We believe in empowering Canadians to be able to look after themselves and trust them to make responsible choices. Rather than an Ottawa-knows-best approach, Canadians should be able to make decisions regarding their health, and our government should be able to support them without breaking the bank. For example, the previous Conservative government under Prime Minister Harper had made strides toward sufficient Canadian health care. His government refined the Canada health transfer to create a stable and predictable increase in funding Canadians need while restoring a balanced budget.

With that said, it has been shown through various reports that our health care system lags far behind those of other developed nations, such as the U.K. and Australia, which is made all the more damning when we take into account that Canada and Australia share a similar percentage of GDP spent on health care and dollars spent per person.

Currently, the federal government transfers roughly $42 billion to the provinces each budget year. However, during that same time, even with a historically low borrowing rate, we still pay over $20 billion in interest payments alone on our ballooning national debt, a simply unnecessary waste of $20 billion in tax dollars that could be beneficially repurposed elsewhere, had our Liberal government had the foresight to act responsibly in preparation for hard times. It is therefore obvious that the health care challenges we are facing are not a resource problem.

How is it that Canada cannot seem to adequately provide for its people or responsibly manage our fiscal resources? Better yet, what can we do about this? These are two of the many questions I doubt my NDP colleagues could answer.

The Parliamentary Budget Office has weighed in with an analysis of the cost of the proposed program. It estimates that financing the plan would cost almost $10 billion over the next few years. Even that estimation, however, does not necessarily reflect the true price we might have to pay. The report released by the PBO states that its assumptions and calculations reflect moderate uncertainty as it is difficult to predict how behaviours might change from an increase in demand.

With that said, it can be understood where the NDP is coming from. After seeing how the current government spends money like it is an eight-year-old playing a game of Monopoly, it is no wonder the New Democrats are not worried about the potential cost of their proposal. After all, they must be thinking what does a few more billion spent matter when we had accumulated close to $100 billion in debt pre-pandemic, lost our nation’s AAA credit rating and are now almost $1.3 trillion in debt. Motion No. 62 proposes a measure that would bring a health benefit, but likely at a cost, which would require unfortunate austerity elsewhere, or worse yet, transferring even more debt to future generations.

The Conservatives cannot support being so cavalier with our hard-earned taxpayer dollars. We believe in approaching the issues of inadequate access to dental coverage from a practical and realistic perspective.

What other concerns might the NDP not address? Most obviously, there is policy that fails to recognize the important separation of powers that exist in our country. In Canada, the operation and funding of health care programs fall under the authority of the provincial governments. This way, the specific needs of individual provinces are met without interference. An Ottawa-knows-best approach breaches the fundamental partnership that is supposed to exist between the federal and provincial governments.

The framework proposed by the NDP fails to allow for provincial participation, and instead eliminates what is supposed to be a collaborative agreement between the two levels of management. This is particularly the case given that the provinces are the ones that best understand the needs and intricacies of their respective health care systems. As such, a solution should work to support existing provincial programs or increase health transfers to the provinces for them to be better able to meet the needs of their constituents.

We have also heard from major stakeholders that say the NDP’s plan misses the mark. The Canadian Dental Association, CDA, which is the national voice for dentistry, representing tens of thousands of dentists across the country, has voiced its concerns. Although the association agrees that any steps taken towards addressing issues of oral health are commendable, a bad proposal with the best intent may cause more harm than good. This is just like when the dentist gives a child a sugary lollipop after her visit.

The CDA further notes that they believe a superior approach to increasing access to oral health care would be to improve funding for existing public programs. This speaks volumes, as it means that the largest organization in Canada authorized to speak on the behalf of dentists from coast to coast to coast does not endorse the proposed policy. Why would the NDP purport to believe it knows better than the dentists themselves what would constitute an improvement to the current system?

Conservatives believe that there exist better options for improving access to dental care instead of the NDP’s proposal. COVID-19 has negatively impacted the global economy and has greatly increased near-term uncertainty. Historically Canada’s health care expenditures have dwindled and grown with the status of our economy. Given the magnitude of health care spending brought forth by this pandemic, we may be in a position to see this trend change. However, this change will be because we take steps to secure Canada’s future.

In short, national dental care, like national pharmacare before it, is an NDP proposal we could not afford before, and we certainly cannot afford it now. Though personally, I do hold hope for a future where we can.

Federal Dental Care PlanPrivate Members' Business

6:15 p.m.


Jack Harris NDP St. John's East, NL

Madam Speaker, I am very pleased to rise today to conclude debate on this very important motion, which calls for the establishment of a federal dental plan for all Canadian families with a family income of less than $90,000 a year and who do not currently have a dental care plan. It envisages free coverage for those with incomes less than $70,000 and a sliding pay scale for those over. This would be an interim measure toward the inclusion of full dental care in Canada's health care system.

I want to thank those who have spoken in favour of the motion, and especially my colleagues, the member for Vancouver Kingsway and the member for Vancouver East. I also want to thank all the people and organizations from across the country who have been working so hard on this issue and have been supportive of this motion.

Canadians are justly proud of our health care system because universal medicare is a defining element of our society. When we ask about it in public opinion polls, it is regarded as a national treasure. Our system ensures that regardless of social status, income or where in the country people live, they are entitled, as a matter of right, to access physicians and hospital care and treatment. However, dental care is not included. It was supposed to be. The vision of Tommy Douglas, who is considered to have provided the inspiration for medicare in Canada, was for a comprehensive system that included dental care.

The Royal Commission on Health Services, which laid out the plan for our current system, reported in 1964 and called for universal public dental services as part of a national health care plan. However, it noted that the shortage of dentists was so acute at the time, it would be impossible to implement a universal system, though it was a priority. That is no longer true, yet today most dental care is not covered by any public insurance plan. In Canada, 94% of spending on dental care is private and only 6% comes from government programs. This is the second-lowest level of government spending on dental care among the OECD countries. As a result, many are left behind and do not get care.

About 35% of Canadians have no dental coverage at all, and more than 20% of Canadians avoid going to the dentist because of the cost. Left untreated, poor dental hygiene is linked to many chronic health conditions that would largely be prevented with proper dental care.

The Parliamentary Budget Officer estimates that this plan would benefit over six and a half million people in Canada who are not covered by dental insurance and are unable to afford the cost. That includes more than half of Canadians with low incomes and seniors over 60 years old, and more than 25% of women. Some 30% of young people would benefit from this program. These are young adults who are no longer covered by their family plan or who never had a plan in the first place. Unsurprisingly, low-income and marginalized Canadians are hurt the most, with Canada's most vulnerable population having the highest rates of dental decay and disease and the worst access to care. The sustained cost for this program has been estimated by the PBO to be $1.5 billion annually. It is not a small sum, but it is less than one-half of 1% of Canada's current health care costs.

Some have opposed the plan on the grounds that health care is a provincial responsibility under the Constitution, but that is mistaken. The Supreme Court of Canada has defined it as a shared jurisdiction. Hospitals fall under provincial jurisdiction, but health care is shared, and the federal government can provide for a dental service.

The Conservatives have suggested that rather than having a national plan, we should support the status quo patchwork of dental coverage. However, millions of youth, seniors and low-income families are falling through the cracks. Dental care as a part of health care must be accessible for all people in Canada.

The Liberals have said that we do not have enough data or the right kind of data, and that it will take until 2024 to get there and we need more studies. However, we know there is a desperate and urgent need for dental care, which is all we need to know to take action. This is an interim measure that we can put in place immediately while we collect the data and work out the details with the provinces for a universal system.

This is a health issue. This is a social justice issue. This is an equality issue. It can be put in place right now. It is a practical solution to address the significant health care inequality in our country. This is a problem we can fix and we must fix.

I want to urge all members of Parliament, each of whom has access to excellent health and dental care benefits through the House of Commons, to vote in favour of this motion. As I said, it is a problem that we can fix and we must fix.

Federal Dental Care PlanPrivate Members' Business

6:20 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 would invite them to rise and indicate it to the Chair.

Federal Dental Care PlanPrivate Members' Business

6:20 p.m.


Charlie Angus NDP Timmins—James Bay, ON

Madam Speaker, we would like a recorded vote.

Federal Dental Care PlanPrivate Members' Business

6:20 p.m.


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

Pursuant to order made on Monday, January 25, the division stands deferred until Wednesday, June 16, at the expiry of the time provided for Oral Questions.

Pursuant to order made on Thursday, June 3, the House shall now resolve itself into committee of the whole to consider Motion No. 7 under government business.

I do now leave the chair for the House to go into committee of the whole.

(House in committee of the whole on Government Business No. 7, Mrs. Alexandra Mendès in the chair)

Members Not Seeking Re-election to the 44th ParliamentGovernment Orders

6:20 p.m.


The Assistant Deputy Chair Liberal Alexandra Mendes

Before we begin this evening's debate, I would like to remind hon. members of how proceedings will unfold.

Pursuant to order adopted Thursday, June 3, each member speaking will be allotted 10 minutes for debate. No time will be allotted for questions and comments, and members may share their time with another member. The Chair will receive no quorum calls, dilatory motions or requests for unanimous consent.

We will now begin tonight's take-note debate.

Members Not Seeking Re-election to the 44th ParliamentGovernment Orders

6:20 p.m.

Honoré-Mercier Québec


Pablo Rodriguez LiberalLeader of the Government in the House of Commons


That this committee take note of members not seeking re-election to the 44th Parliament.

Members Not Seeking Re-election to the 44th ParliamentGovernment Orders

6:20 p.m.


Wayne Easter Liberal Malpeque, PE

How come I am the first one up, Mr. Speaker?

Members Not Seeking Re-election to the 44th ParliamentGovernment Orders

6:20 p.m.

Some hon. members

Oh, oh!

Members Not Seeking Re-election to the 44th ParliamentGovernment Orders

June 15th, 2021 / 6:20 p.m.


Wayne Easter Liberal Malpeque, PE

Will you bring this place to order, Mr. Speaker.

Madam Speaker, who was there before, is my floor mate on the 12th floor of the Valour Building. Congratulations to her in her role in the chamber.

It does seem rather strange to be making this kind of statement virtually rather than in the chamber, where I am so honoured to have served for nearly 28 years. As members know, I am currently the third-longest serving member of the House, a whole four hours ahead of the member for Vancouver Centre, my oftentimes seatmate and wonderful colleague for all those parliamentary sessions in government, in official opposition, as the third party and again in government now. I will not say anything about her shoes, the ones we pretty much need sunglasses for to sit beside her.

This chamber is a place of history and of decisions, good and sometimes not so good, that have built this country to what it is today, a country that is recognized as one of the best places in the world in which to live. Sometimes we, from all parties, often through strenuous debate and sometimes late-night votes, have the opportunity to influence the legislative mandate and governance of this country. We may not always get our way, but this is the place, in this chamber, where we can have our say. It is intimidating in the chamber and inspirational at the same time. I have been honoured, as we all have been honoured, as one of a small percentage of Canadians over time who has called the House his workplace.

When I ran for the Liberal Party nomination for Malpeque in June 1993, it was a fairly active nomination that went into the wee hours of the next morning. I must thank each and every one of the candidates who has actively supported me ever since. The Malpeque executive, the campaign managers, the campaign teams, the people in communication and supporters are every bit as responsible for me achieving nine electoral victories as I am. I sincerely thank them for their active support and encouragement.

To the constituents of Malpeque, what can I say? It has been an honour to serve as their MP for the past three decades. Their support is very much appreciated, from my heart. Their active involvement, whether through visits to the office or on the streets, always meant good advice to keep me grounded and in touch with issues that matter in Islanders' lives.

Sometimes a constituent would go a little overboard, like the time during an election that a farmer friend of mine put a four-by-eight plywood sign along the highway demanding that the minister of agriculture and I get our butts over to the GATT negotiations and protect supply management. We did and we were successful, but he was very, very demanding.

Words cannot be found to express my appreciation to my family for their support. I was not supposed to get emotional. As all members in this place know, as MPs our time is really never our own. Worse, families may have to put up with our political procrastinations, which sometimes we think on first blush are brilliant, but that may not be true.

I give a huge thanks to Helen, my spouse, our children Kimberley and Jamie, and their extended families with Marc and Gaya. We are fortunate to have four grandchildren born during my time as a member: Alexander, Sophia, Ila and Fiara. Immediate family members always were, as they still are, available with advice, even when it was not asked for.

The unsung heroes for any member of Parliament work in our constituency offices: our constituency and Hill staff. At the constituency level, they deal with real-life issues that impact people daily on the ground such as EI, CPPD, immigration, seniors issues and many more. Casework is what we call it. There are too many past employees to name, but I thank them along with current folks Robin Moore, Alan Waddell, Kim MacDonald and Krystal Rice for their work on behalf of Islanders.

Much appreciation goes to Hill staff for their efforts in casework, research, legislation and a multitude of responsibilities in support of my efforts at committees on issues, legislation and the Canada-U.S. IPG. I give a big thanks to current staff James Auer and Jeremy Wains for their work on behalf of Canadians. There were many late nights spent working on those issues on Parliament Hill.

I also appreciate all the work my previous employees on Parliament Hill have done and I want to mention one: Michael O'Neill, who passed away following the 2015 election. We worked together for 22 years and he was always happiest when we were challenging our own government. There are many employees on Parliament Hill who assist us in our work, from parliamentary pages to clerks, security guards, cafeteria staff and janitors, translators, interpreters and analysts with the Library of Parliament. Their work does not go unnoticed, and I thank them on behalf of all Canadians.

I want to recognize one Library of Parliament analyst whose work with the Canada-U.S. IPG over many years has made possible the personal relationships many of us have with our American counterparts today, which truly assist in leading to cross-border solutions. I know I speak for my co-chair, Senator MacDonald, and past co-chairs Rob Merrifield and the late Gord Brown. I want to thank June Dewetering for her exceptional service to Canadians as a result of her knowledge of U.S. politics and her friendships with congressional and Senate leaders.

I have been fortunate to have served in many roles in Parliament. I have served on numerous committees, and as parliamentary secretary to fisheries and parliamentary secretary to agriculture. I thank Prime Minister Chrétien for appointing me to cabinet as Solicitor General. I remember vividly the call to Attorney General John Ashcroft when cabinet made the decision not to join the war in Iraq. That was an interesting chat with my U.S. counterpart.

It has been my privilege to serve under three prime ministers while in government: Prime Minister Chrétien, Prime Minister Martin and the current Prime Minister. They carry a heavy responsibility, as all prime ministers do. I have sincerely enjoyed chairing the finance committee and working with members of all parties.

I will say that I came with tremendous experience from having been president of the NFU, and I had seen much of Canada. I firmly believe that Canada as a country can be stronger than the sum of its parts. I have seen the country from coast to coast, and I want to give a bit of advice. Members of Parliament have to know this country, and we are a little too restrictive on the travel that MPs are allowed to do. When I first started, before there was the Internet, members were able to take tours of the country. We could see it, meet people on the ground, understand it and see their lives in real life. This place has to get back to that again to give MPs the opportunity to know their country.

Lastly, Mr. Speaker, I want to recognize you and all of the previous Speakers for attempting to keep order in the House, mostly successfully, although one Speaker cut me off during the chicken dance I was doing with the member for Carleton.

Let me close with this. I said yesterday in remarks, and you say in your prayer, Mr. Speaker, that we are fortunate to have the freedom, opportunity and peace that we enjoy in Canada. That is so very true. It has been my honour to work with and serve the residents of Malpeque, and it has been my honour to work with all members across political lines. It is the discussion, it is getting to know each other and it is the debate that, at the end of the day, makes for better policy and a better country.

Members Not Seeking Re-election to the 44th ParliamentGovernment Orders

6:30 p.m.


The Speaker Liberal Anthony Rota

The Speaker is not supposed to take sides or show any partiality. The next person is someone I have had the pleasure to work with for the last six years. He has been an amazing Deputy Speaker. He is a gentleman, and I mean a gentleman by every meaning of the word.

Colleagues, the hon. member for Simcoe North.

Members Not Seeking Re-election to the 44th ParliamentGovernment Orders

6:30 p.m.


Bruce Stanton Conservative Simcoe North, ON

Mr. Speaker, it is very difficult to believe that this is my last official speech in the House of Commons. Since 2011, I have generally participated in the debates in this august House only as the Chair occupant.

What a journey these last 15 years have been. My interest in politics started about a year or so after I graduated and joined the family business. As a young man I attended this huge nomination meeting for local federal Conservatives. There were more than 2,000 members in attendance, seven or eight candidates, speeches, placards and a political buzz that I had never seen or experienced before. After that, I was hooked.

That nomination event replaced the retiring member of Parliament, Philip Rynard, who had been the MP for my riding for eight consecutive terms. The candidate they chose to carry on after him was the Hon. Doug Lewis, who would go on to serve in former Prime Minister Mulroney’s cabinet until 1993. Doug remains a valued supporter and confidant, and I thank him for blazing the trail and being a great mentor to me.

Oddly enough, only one MP separated Doug and me. That was the Hon. Paul DeVillers, who served here from 1993 until just prior to my election. I quickly learned that the high standards of service they all provided set the tone for what kind of work would be expected of me.

I say all this because I am only the fourth member of Parliament for Simcoe North in my lifetime. The next MP for this amazing riding would be well advised to heed the lessons that Rynard, Lewis, DeVillers and I learned from the great people of Simcoe North.

May I take this moment to thank them all profoundly for the honour of being their voice in Parliament these 15-plus years.

I would now like to make some other acknowledgements. One of the things that I am very grateful for is having the opportunity to learn French. Since 2006, I have taken courses from the language training service, here, in the House of Commons. I have spent two hours per week to keep up my comprehension and vocabulary as well as to improve my language skills over time.

Thanks to Roseline Lemire, my teacher for 15 years, I can speak and understand this beautiful language. I thank her and the entire language training team very much.

I also want to thank Lorraine Bergeron, who was my part-time teacher in my riding.

They opened my heart to the richness of the francophone culture in my riding and across the country. I will always be proud of this particular life achievement.

I want to properly thank the people of my riding who helped me win these five consecutive elections. All of us, as MPs, can look back to the volunteers who helped fundraise, put up signs, knocked on doors, phoned and got the vote out.

I salute the hundreds of them who helped me win. I want to give special mention to several who led those efforts with extraordinary commitment: Wayne Edgett, Rod Williams, Phil DeBruyne, Steve McFadden, Claire and Dave Dusome, Charlene Anderson, Avery Bassett, Diane Bell, Kirk Farquhar, Alison Stoneman, Frank Takacs and Jim Hutchinson.

After serving these many years, I have inevitably had exceptional volunteer leaders in my campaigns who are no longer with us. I think, in particular, of George German, Edna Parker, Scott Macpherson, Andy Durnford and my eminent adviser and counsel, Dave Anderson. There is a quote attributed to Abraham Lincoln that says, “I'm a success today because I had a friend who believed in me and I didn't have the heart to let him down.”

As I reflect on these amazing women and men who gave their valuable time and energy to my success in politics, I am moved beyond words by their unfailing support.

When it came to the essential work of being a member of Parliament, I do not have to look any farther than the talented people in my riding and my parliamentary offices. For my constituents, these were the first people they would see: They were the first smiling faces, the first voices that would greet them and the first impression they would take of the courtesy and services of our office.

They earned the praise, the kind notes and the small gifts of chocolate and candies that constituents would leave for them, whether after solving a tough case or even for their simple courtesies. They are the best, and I am going to miss working with them.

I have to name some of them. Here in Ottawa right now is Connie Kennedy-Pearsall. Prior to Connie were Ashley Peyrard, Sarah Pendlebury and Linda Rudd. All of them helped me here on the Hill immensely. In the riding, Kurtis Schlueter, Christine Elsdon, Judy Fulsom, Kelly Banks, David Dalrymple and Diane Bell have been doing yeoman's work these past years and building upon the outstanding work of former staff members James Nicol, Judy Forma, Brooke Leishman and the volunteers and interns who helped along the way.

Mr. Speaker, you will realize that working as a presiding officer in this chamber teams you up with an impeccable group of professionals always on the administrative aspects of the House. I thank you, Mr. Speaker, and our fellow Chair occupants, the hon. members for Algoma—Manitoulin—Kapuskasing and Brossard—Saint-Lambert, for their advice and friendship. What a pleasure it has been to work with you all.

Since 2011, we have had the honour to work with these remarkable clerks and table officers of the House. Their learned counsel, their deference to parliamentary traditions and practices and their untiring devotion to their work provides a constant source of confidence and integrity to the operations of the House. It is unbelievable each and every day what they do.

To the pages and page supervisors, you are an irreplaceable support to the work of presiding officers. I thank you for your kind and capable service, not just to us but to all members of the House.

To sergeants-at-arms, interpreters, TVOs and journals staff, who are not here but down below, I thank you for your quiet and meticulous attention literally to each and every second of our proceedings. While I am at it, may I finally salute all those in the operations of the parliamentary precinct, food services, maintenance, security and administration, who make this a safe and proficient workplace, even when the unusual or the perilous threatens to disrupt our work.

However, I could not have done this work without the support of family, especially my wife and best friend in the world, Heather. When we started, she was just finishing her teaching degree at York University. We did not know really what we were getting into, but we managed as best we could. Thank you, honey, for your love and devotion and for assuming the role of, by the way, a superb public servant by association these last 15 years, and for the support of your parents, Ian and Joan MacDougall.

Our kids have been incredibly patient and kind of proud of their old man in some ways. They helped us on campaigns, accepted weekly absences and busy weekends and were always completely supportive of the work that often put some distance between us.

Valerie and Lauren were age 10 and 7 when we started here, and now they are off on their own careers. Our older children, Stephanie and her husband John, and Jason and his wife Amanda, have families of their own, and we can hardly wait to spend a bit more time with them. To Carter, Sienna and Vivian, and to Lyla, Jack and Leo, nana and granddad are going to be around a little more in the years ahead, and what a blessing that will be.

My brother, Doug, and sisters Sandra and Dianne may be watching this. I want them to know how much I have appreciated their constant encouragement. They will know that our dad, Ron, was the inspiration for my entry into politics. Dad passed away in 2014, and I know he was immensely proud of my work and service. They know that his legacy lives on in us, and my mom has continued that interest and affection for public service that he taught us so well.

Now, as the late Jim Flaherty would say, I have probably gone on about as long as it seems, so let me finish by simply saying what an incredible privilege it has been to serve here since 2006, to work alongside and learn from the energy and dedication of members of Parliament from across our country, to be in our parliamentary caucus with Prime Minister Harper and party leaders since, Rona Ambrose and the honourable members for Regina—Qu'Appelle and Durham, and my fellow members of caucus who leave no task wanting when it comes to keeping our rather intricate Conservative coalition united and ready to serve as Canadians call upon us to do.

I will be taking my leave when the next election comes, whenever that may be, but I will always remember the friends that we made along the way and the special honour it has been to be a humble servant of this House and the member for Simcoe North.

Members Not Seeking Re-election to the 44th ParliamentGovernment Orders

6:45 p.m.


Louise Charbonneau Bloc Trois-Rivières, QC

Mr. Speaker, I want to start by thanking you and your colleagues, the Deputy Speaker of the House and the two Assistant Deputy Speakers of the House, for the dignity and efficiency with which you have honoured the function of Speaker of the House. Thanks to your vigilance and impartiality, you have enabled me, a 70-year-old novice, to speak in this place on behalf of the people of Trois-Rivières and defend their interests. Thank you for that.

I would like to thank all the House of Commons employees, the interpreters and the IT staff, who are doing amazing work in every way during these pandemic times.

I also want to mention the work my incredible riding office team has done, the one that was with me when I started as an MP and the one that is with me now. Some of them believed in me before I even put my name on the ticket. Their loyalty, their unconditional support and their confidence shaped me as a politician. Gabriel, Nicolas, Josée and André have dedicated themselves to serving constituents. They have done whatever it takes to meet our constituents' needs. An MP could never do this job alone without her team. I thank them from the bottom of my heart.

Because of the pandemic and the adjustments required as a result, this term will certainly have been one of the most extraordinary in recent years. I would even say that this term will go down in history. I am very proud to have been able to help many of my constituents before and during the pandemic.

I also had to adapt to the new reality imposed by the lockdowns. Specifically, I had to learn to use the technology needed to sit virtually and to vote using facial recognition. None of this is easy at my age. Because of COVID-19, I will miss out on the experience of typical parliamentary life on the Hill, which I must admit is something I will regret. That is why I wanted to be here, in the chamber, for my farewell speech.

This term has been especially difficult for me in many ways. This year, I lost my sister, Danielle, to COVID-19. It has also kept me away from my children, grandchildren and family. On top of that, one of my staffers is still suffering from the effects of two cancers after 50 weeks.

Despite this very difficult context, I have nevertheless noticed some wonderful things during my parliamentary activities.

Among other things, I have been pleased to see the considerable strides women have made for several years now in politics, but I also see how much work is left to do. I still hold the conviction that this different, feminist, open policy is the way of the future. I very much hope that the new generations will follow suit.

During parliamentary work and the periods of confinement, I learned, and I realized one thing: I still have so many dreams to fulfill. Being a member of Parliament was one of my biggest. In that sense, I still consider myself blessed. I still have tremendous energy that I will use in other areas of life. Thus, the reason behind this decision not to pursue a second mandate is an urgency to live. However, rest assured, my passion for politics remains intact. I intend to pursue my work as a member of Parliament with the same diligence, until such a time as the citizens of Trois‑Rivières are called to the polls and my successor is elected.

Of course, I have a special thought for the men and women who, by participating in the electoral process, chose to place their trust in me and afforded me the honour of representing them in the House of Commons. To the people of Trois‑Rivières, thank you.

On a more personal level, I am so grateful to my husband for his unconditional support through the hectic pace of political life. He has been there for me throughout my career as a canvasser, as president of the executive, as campaign director and, finally, as candidate and Bloc Québécois member of Parliament for Trois-Rivières. Thanks a million, Michel.

Thank you to my family, my friends, my fellow canvassers in Trois-Rivières, Nicole Philippe, and the Bloc Québécois executive, all of whom have supported me through this wild ride in politics.

Lastly, I want to thank my colleagues in the Bloc Québécois with whom I have had the honour and privileged of serving the people of Trois-Rivières. I do not think the House will mind if I acknowledge my mentor, the francophone dean of the House of Commons, Louis Plamondon. His leadership and advice were a huge help to me here, and it was his Plamondism, as I like to call it, that helped me stay connected to my constituents throughout the pandemic lockdowns. I have very much missed that feeling of closeness and human connection to my constituents during this time.

I also want to express my appreciation for my colleagues. I have been blown away so many times by their knowledge of the issues, their genuine commitment, their passion, their sincerity, and their hard work on their own files, all in the name of improving the lives of Quebeckers.

I will always cherish my memories of each of them.

Finally, I would like to give a shout-out to my leader, Yves‑François Blanchet, who continued to impress me every day with his public speaking and analysis skills and his leadership. He proved time and time again, both before and during the pandemic, that he is a true head of state, and he will go down in history as such. Thank you for everything.

In closing, I am very proud of what I have accomplished. I have changed and grown a lot since I was elected in 2019 and since I was sworn in as the Bloc Québécois member for Trois‑Rivières. I am proud of the woman and politician I have become. I am entering this final stage with enthusiasm and optimism. Like one of my friends often tells me, “Make a nice life for yourself”.

That is what I intend to do. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Members Not Seeking Re-election to the 44th ParliamentGovernment Orders

6:55 p.m.


Jack Harris NDP St. John's East, NL

Mr. Speaker, I want to thank you, the House leaders and the whips for organizing this event this evening, to give me and the others who are not running again an opportunity to speak to Parliament and to make what has been called a farewell speech. However, a few things about that seem a little funny or odd to me. We may of course all be here again in September if there is no election, so it is a bit of an “in case” speech. Also, it is a farewell speech made from 1,500 miles away through Zoom and it is also for some of the people who I have not really come to know since 2019, when I was once again elected. It is a little unfortunate in that way because of the pandemic.

We have been hard at work despite the lack of personal contact, doing a lot of great things. We are continuing to do that even today when I had the honour of concluding the last speech on a private member's motion on dental care for Canadians. We have just completed a report that will be presented to the House on racism and policing in Canada, which I had the honour of initiating with others last July. We are very busy. We were very much enjoying our work in these last few days that we voted to stay open until midnight. One wonders who would want to leave all of this. It is so much fun and so dedicated, and we seem to be enjoying our work.

One might ask why would we want to leave. For me, part of the answer is that I came to the House in the 33rd Parliament, having been elected in a by-election when Ed Broadbent was in his prime as leader of the NDP and Brian Mulroney was the prime minister. At that time, I learned very early as a parliamentarian, and I think the member for Malpeque made note of this, that I could play a role even in a majority Parliament and be effective in amending legislation or contributing to the debate and influencing the course of events under debate in the House.

We had a very strong group of members of Parliament under Ed's leadership. I do not think anyone from the 33rd Parliament remains here. I know Wayne has 28 years of service, but he started in 1993. I am sorry to hear from the member for Malpeque that Mike O'Neill has passed away. He was my legislative assistant in 1987-88. The member for Malpeque had a great man to work with him. He understood Newfoundland and Labrador pretty well too. I am glad he served him for so long. I saw him many times over the years.

I was then defeated in the 1988 general election and I was not to return to the House as a member for 20 more years.

I will tell one little story. When I first ran in 1987, the seat I ran for was St. John's East. No New Democrat since Confederation in 1948 and hardly any Liberals had been elected to that seat. Maybe once or twice back in the sixties a Liberal was elected. I had offered myself to the nomination.

I was practising law at the time. When I went to see a judge to sign some papers, the judge, who had served provincially, said to me, “Well, Mr. Harris, I hear you're going into politics, if it could be said that running for the NDP was going into politics.” I was supposed to laugh because it was supposed to be a joke. Then he spent the next 45 minutes telling me what a great honour it was to be a politician. A “noble calling” he called it, to play a role in making the laws that govern our people. He talked about his experiences with Joey Smallwood, etc.

He was not right about the question of whether I was going into politics, although I never believed I would have the kind of career I did, with 10 years in the federal Parliament and 16 years provincially, but I never have forgotten the phrase “noble calling”, that we are here to serve our people, that we have a role to play, that it is an important one and it is a big honour to do that.

When I was defeated in 1988, I did not really think of a pause in the parliamentary sense. I took what I learned in Parliament and I brought it to the House of Assembly in Newfoundland and Labrador in 1990. I was elected five times, serving for nearly 16 years, most of which as leader of the New Democratic Party in the province of Newfoundland and Labrador.

I came back in 2008 at the behest of Jack Layton. I was here until 2015, serving mostly as the defence critic, with stints as public safety critic and justice critic. I really enjoyed the inspirational leadership of Jack Layton who brought us to official opposition status. He then very sadly and tragically died and was replaced by Thomas Mulcair, who, as we know, is considered one of the most effective opposition leaders in modern times.

I was, unfortunately, defeated again in 2015 and had a four-year hiatus as a former member of Parliament, but I did enjoy some time with the Canadian Association of Former Parliamentarians. I highly recommend that to anyone who is leaving the House. It is a great group of people and it is a good way to keep in touch with former colleagues as well as some people who we did not serve with but got to know. Whether we leave voluntarily or otherwise after the next election, it is a good idea to keep in touch with those with whom we have served.

I came back in 2019, which is why I am here today. I did not really want to belabour this story except to provide some background to my unique parliamentary experience with bookends that span a total of 34 years. The member for Malpeque served 28 years, but they were consecutive. He did not have the variety I had. He is a seasoned member of Parliament, having served all his time here. He had more significant experience to draw on in the House.

I have enjoyed all my years as a member of Parliament. It has been a great experience and, as everyone else who is to speak I am sure will say, it is an honourable profession. It is also a big honour and privilege to serve constituents in the House of Commons. We cannot do that without their support, and I thank very sincerely all the voters of St. John's East. Whether they voted for me or not, they were my constituents. I thank them for their support over the years, for the privilege of serving them in the House of Commons and being their voice, and doing my best to do that.

I also represent the people of Newfoundland and Labrador as the only New Democrat from our province, and, right now, I am the only opposition member from the province of Newfoundland and Labrador. The voters and the constituents are the heartbeat of politics. We communicate with them, work with them and help them when we can. I have always loved and enjoyed very much the people part of politics.

Ten minutes is not much time to say a lot other than to thank people, thank to the volunteers, campaigners and donors who made this possible. We also have to thank our families. Without the kind of support we get from them, we would not be able to do our jobs.

My wife Ann and our three children, Amelia, Sarah and John, have been a great support for me. They have encouraged me and have enjoyed my work. I thank my staff who helped me do my job. I could not do it without them. I thank my constituency staff and Ottawa staff who have helped my constituents as best they can. It is amazing what we can do for constituents in the system we have.

We also have great staff on the Hill. The Library of Parliament's resources have been fabulous for me and have helped with our committees, and we all know that.

I want to reiterate what the member for Malpeque said about our Parliament. It is not perfect. A lot of work needs to be done to make our world perfect and our Parliament perfect. However, it is a great system for the voices of the people to be heard, to work together with other parliamentarians to try to make things better. As I said, it is a noble calling.

I want to encourage young people who are thinking about a career in politics to take the torch, to carry the torch and to do the job. It is a noble calling. It is worth doing and it is a worthy way to work to make our country better and to try to make the world better and safer. There are plenty of things to do and not enough people to do them, so please take up the cause.

Members Not Seeking Re-election to the 44th ParliamentGovernment Orders

7:05 p.m.


Navdeep Bains Liberal Mississauga—Malton, ON

Mr. Speaker, over the years I have risen to speak on many timely topics and pressing issues, including the pandemic we are dealing with, but today is different. Today will be the last time I address the House. I would like to share some reflections on my time in politics and what I have learned along the way as the member of Parliament for Mississauga—Malton.

I will begin by expressing how grateful I am to have had the opportunity to serve my vibrant community and this beautiful country for over 13 years.

First, I want to thank the people of Brampton and Mississauga, who put their faith in me as their federal representative on five separate occasions. I have tried to be worthy of their trust and never ever took it for granted.

As hon. members know all too well, politics is something that we do not do alone. It is a team sport, and I have been blessed with fantastic teammates throughout my career. I thank my colleagues in the House for their friendship and their guidance; my hard-working staff and our top-tier public servants; the relentless commitment shown by my riding association; and the hundreds of volunteers who donate their time to make this country a better place. I owe them more than I can express.

I would like to especially thank the Right Hon. Prime Minister for his confidence and friendship over the years. Serving as a member of his cabinet has been the honour of a lifetime. I am pleased to have had such a direct role in crafting economic policies and programs for all Canadians.

Politics is not easy on families. I want to single out my amazing, beautiful wife, Bram, and my remarkable daughters, Nanki and Kirpa, for all of the sacrifices they have made to make my service possible. I thank them very much. Their love and support have meant the world to me, and any possible reservations I have about leaving this place disappear when I think about spending more time with them together.

When my parents immigrated to Canada in the 1970s, they could never imagine in their wildest dreams that their son would end up here. My father moved to Canada from India, from a small village in Rajasthan. He spoke very little English and had five dollars to his name, but he came here for better economic opportunities. In a few years, my father learned carpentry from an Italian Canadian cabinetmaker who called him Vincenzo, which he thought sounded better than Balwinder. My father wore that handle as a badge of honour.

My mother worked the night shift at a cookie factory so that she could be home each morning to help make breakfast for my brother Harjot and I and help us tie our patkas, which is a head covering for young Sikh kids. She knew how important it was for me to play sports, and I loved sports. To do so confidently, I needed my patkas tied well. She worked all night but always made it home in time so that I could go to school feeling sure and confident about myself.

They both worked hard and did well, and my father eventually bought a cabinet company of his own and moved the family from Jane and Finch to Brampton. Even with that success, I do not think he ever expected our family to go from cabinetmakers to sitting at the cabinet table. Only in Canada.

My parents instilled in me at an early age the understanding that this country has been so good to us that we must give back to it. It was our responsibility to help create the same opportunities for others. That is not to say that I did not face my share of challenges. Looking a bit different as a kid, I had my share of unwelcome remarks and teasing. However, I grew up in the era of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

For me, a pivotal moment was the Baltej Singh Dhillon case, where an observant Sikh RCMP officer was granted the right to wear his turban with his uniform. There was controversy, for sure, but for a young Sikh boy, the message I heard was that I belong and I can play a meaningful role in our institutions. Looking back, I can see that these changes were the realizations of an inclusive and multicultural society that was the hard-fought vision of former prime minister Pierre Elliott Trudeau and many others. It showed a gradual willingness to accept, evolve and celebrate.

When I decided to run for office, I chose the party of the charter, the Liberal Party, as my political family. However, even there, I encountered those who felt I should hide my identity. “Don't put your picture in the brochure”, one very senior party voice told me. At that moment, I was taken aback, but I just took it in and stayed silent. However, I am pleased to report that my silence did not last too long and not only did I not take that advice, but I decided to put my picture in every single brochure. My view was that if I was going to be on the ballot, I wanted people to know the person they were putting their faith into. I was not going to hide my identity or conceal who I was. By the way, in case people were wondering, I won the first election with 57% of the vote, the widest margin in the region of Peel. It was not the first time I had stood up for equality, and it would not be the last.

Soon after my first election, the same-sex marriage debate tested my commitment to stand up. Many of my constituents did not agree with same-sex marriage, but to me the choice was clear: People love whom they love and we cannot decide what rights go to which people, end of story. I took a lot of flak for that position, but I am proud that I made it. For someone who has always looked different, I knew there was no other option. That is also how I defended it to those who would complain about their own discrimination in one breath while advocating discrimination against others in the next.

When I was appointed the Minister of Industry, I was acutely aware that I was the first person of colour to hold that role, and I was absolutely determined to leave the door open wider for others. While there were many initiatives that we took to create jobs and accelerate science and innovation, I am most proud of speaking up for equality and equity among decision-makers. I was proud to introduce the 50-30 challenge. This initiative asked that organizations in the private and public sector aspire to two goals: gender parity on Canadian boards and among senior management, and significant representation, at least 30%, among those same leaders representing under-represented groups, such as Black Canadians, persons living with disabilities, LGBTQ2S, and our first nations, Inuit and Métis people. To date, more than 1,000 Canadian organizations have taken up the challenge to move the under-represented into positions of economic influence and leadership.

While things are objectively better in this country for those marked as different, we still have a long journey ahead of us. I, like many Canadians, was heartbroken when I heard the tragic news about the 215 children found at a former residential school in Kamloops. It should remind all of us that there are still those on the outside looking in, and that Canada is very much a work in progress and we have much to do on reconciliation.

As we are dealing with this historic tragedy, we were horrified to see in London, Ontario that hate is alive and well. Hate is poisonous, and it is a thing that lashes out at those whose only crime is being different. I also wear my faith for the world to see, and that could have been my family.

While I know there is not a person in this House who would not condemn these crimes, we must remember that every time we stoke division, the seeds of hate are planted and watered. The country looks to us in these moments, but what we say and what we do in between these moments has just as much impact.

There are those in this country who claim to still serve the public interest by passing laws on discrimination and pitting Canadians against each other. That approach will end up failing, as it always has, but we need to make our leaders understand that this is not something that will be tolerated in today's Canada. Our diversity is our strength. To once again quote the former prime minister, “A society which emphasizes uniformity is one which creates intolerance and hate”.

I requested an additional 30 seconds to make this final remark, so I am grateful for the indulgence.

I am tremendously optimistic for the future. I see that my daughters' generation already thinks very differently about these challenges, and it brings me hope. Politics has taught me that progress is not linear. It happens when enough good people fight long enough and hard enough to make things right.

The most important lessons are the ones we learn again and again, and that surprised me. The advice I have for my daughters, despite all my experiences, boils down to what my parents taught me, which is to be thankful for all we have been given and to return the favour by lifting others up. Believe in yourself, but remember it is not all about you. Be kind to others and understand that those without kindness are the ones who need it the most. Finally, in politics, as in life, try to leave things a little better than they were found.

I hope, colleagues, that in our service we left our community and country better off for our efforts. I am confident that those who sit in this chamber and those who will fill these seats long after we are gone will do the same.

Members Not Seeking Re-election to the 44th ParliamentGovernment Orders

7:20 p.m.


David Sweet Conservative Flamborough—Glanbrook, ON

Mr. Chair, for almost 16 years, I have had the honour of speaking in the House of Commons chamber to represent the interests of Canadians. As the adage goes, all good things must come to an end. On the day of the next election, I bid you and my colleagues adieu and express my appreciation for the many individuals who have made it possible for me to serve as a member of Parliament and to serve my country.

First and foremost, my thanks go to my amazing and beautiful bride of almost 40 years, Almut Sweet. She has had to tolerate too many absences, interruptions and stress that, unfortunately, our partners must endure for us to be present in Ottawa. In Almut's case, she also endured two cancer surgeries and the tragic loss of our daughter, Lara. My sweetheart not only has my undying love, but also gratitude and deep respect for her willingness to sacrifice for my service and for our country.

My next thanks go to all my children, who, along with my wife, suffered many absences due to my being here in Ottawa. All of them have been so gracious. They always referred to my absences as a mission they approved of and were thankful for my work representing our country. I am so looking forward to spending more time with them, more time with Theresa, Christopher, Lucian, Reuben, D.C., and grandchildren, far too many names to name.

Next are the constituents of Flamborough—Glanbrook, but also those of Waterdown, Westdale, West Hamilton, Dundas, and Ancaster, whom I served for quite some time as well. I ask them to accept my heartfelt thanks for placing their trust and confidence in me to represent them here in this House of Commons. Their vote gave me a privilege very few Canadians have been able to experience throughout the history of our great nation, and for that they have my sincere, undying gratitude.

I hope my colleagues forgive me, because one of the missions we had in my office was to launch young people into successful careers in politics. My staff over the years, and the list is long, deserve to be named: Doug, Carolyn, Diane, Steph, Laurie, Erin, Justin, Kesha, Michael, Katherine, Rebecca, Justin, Jacob, James, Nathan, Rachel, Monica, Alicia, Sandra, Lewan, Chris, Jacob, Colin, Tracey and presently Patricia, Liz, James, Simon, Denise, Alex and Dan.

All members should readily admit that without hard-working, dedicated, patient staff, they would accomplish very little. I thank team Sweet for all they did to make me look good, and more importantly for all they do for Canadians. They are a gift to our nation.

As I just said, all of my staff are amazing, but there are very special staff who believed in me and were with me from the very beginning, and they deserve special mention. Doug and Carolyn Brown took on the task of shepherding me through the process of establishing a constituency office, and by so doing they set the standard remarkably high for all future staff. Their professional, mature approach to constituent service meant that we had a stellar reputation throughout the entire greater city of Hamilton and consequently were able to successfully sort out the problems of thousands of people, everywhere from rescuing Canadians from despot dictatorships around the world to those dreaded CRA files. I am in Doug and Carolyn's debt for the rest of my days for their service and friendship. Canada is a better nation for them.

Stef Rose was my first legislative assistant, who had such a drive to excel that he interviewed many senior staff on the Hill to make sure he was able to serve in his capacity with excellence, and he sure did. Stef, three times, rewrote legislation for me that became one of the few private members' bills to pass with all-party support, the Fairness for Victims of Violent Offenders Act. He managed committee work and so much more, but ultimately always stood out because he was ready to go the extra mile. I am so happy that my friend Stef is where he always wanted to be, and Canada is a better and safer place due to his efforts.

Somehow I convinced a fine man named Dan Muise that I was the candidate who needed to be elected to serve Canadians alongside Stephen Harper. Dan started his career as a special assistant to Jean Charest, when he was elected as a member of this House.

The riding was known as Ancaster–Dundas–Flamborough–Westdale in those days, and, beginning in 2004, Dan helped me with virtually every aspect of my parliamentary career, including when I was able to dump my frustrations on him after particularly rough days.

Dan has served this country in ways that many will never know, and he will never be adequately rewarded for it, yet Dan is not the kind of person who does what he does for reward. His dedication to Canada is his love for the same. I thank Dan for his service, hard work and dedication, and for our deep friendship.

Then there are our best friends who help us keep our feet on the ground and bring us a better perspective to life than what we get within this thing we call the Ottawa bubble. They are the ones who helped us early in life, and who know who we are and who we are becoming. Bob Baxter and Reid Meyers have both departed this world for eternity, but they mentored a young man who had a fleet of tow trucks back in 1982 and encouraged him to grow in character, intellect and spirituality.

My best friends, Larry and Leslie Brune, have assisted me and my family in every imaginable way. Their generosity, hospitality, dedication and kindness are, in no small way, one of the substantial reasons I am here today. These two individuals I speak of have quietly helped hundreds of people, and they have done it so humbly and quietly that few know the amazing impact they have had on large groups of Americans and Canadians. Their selfless efforts to serve others is so great, the human language falters at trying to explain their love for others.

I extend a special thanks to my friend Franc, a reserve officer in the Israel Defense Forces, who always welcomed me to Israel. He is such a good friend and brother, who I get to see so seldom. I wish peace and protection to Franc and his family.

My thanks go to so many supporters and donors who gave of their time, their talents and their money to make sure I could continue to wage successive successful campaigns. Their assistance is so important in our democracy, and it often goes unnoticed, but they really are the engine behind every candidate and determine their ultimate success. I thank them.

I would now like to give a message to my colleagues. All of us in this chamber should reflect often on the magnitude of responsibility we have and the fact that we live in a nation that still, for the most part, elects individuals on their merit and not on their social status or their wealth, as we see in some other nations. We are blessed to live in a country where voters determine the outcome of an election and not individual political parties with the right to establish lists for voters or a regime of evil elites who tell voters how they should vote. This is a rich gift that has been carefully protected by past generations. It has been fought for with Canadian blood in past conflicts.

No matter which party members are from in this chamber, their individual responsibility as a member is to guard this cherished institution. That is exactly why we are obliged to swear an oath to Her Majesty the Queen of Canada. We do not protect this institution because we are privileged. We guard and protect this institution because this chamber is where critical issues that concern individual Canadians are debated and resolved.

I thought I had a good handle on what I was just talking about until the evening we were to vote on whether we would sustain our troops in Afghanistan. I knew the issues, and I knew the good work our troops had accomplished. I knew about the young girls and women who had never experienced freedom until our troops arrived.

However, when the bells began to ring, the weight of what we were about to vote on reached a much higher level of severity than it had in my entire life. I realized that my vote would not only allow a continued effort by our troops to accomplish their good work, but it also meant that our young men and women were going to continue to be placed in harm's way, and it meant Canadians would die.

There were many poignant times in my career that were transformative and gave me a deeper clarity regarding the magnitude of our responsibilities, but sustaining our troops in one of the most dangerous areas of Afghanistan, areas other countries had abandoned, was the most sobering. I encourage all of my colleagues to think for themselves, bearing in mind the oath we have taken, and their concerns for their constituents and all Canadians.

Political parties are great institutions in and of themselves, and I am very grateful for my party, the Conservative Party of Canada, and my band of brothers and sisters, my colleagues. Consequently, I want to encourage all members from all parties to, yes, be a team player but also be ready to think through all issues and steward their own integrity. Members want that confidence when they look in the mirror every day, that they are their own person.

Some of my colleagues have become good friends, and I will keep them long past politics.

The member for Niagara West is such a good friend. He phoned me up after I was elected and said, “Come on up here. I'm going to show you the ropes so you can hit the ground running and you're not going to have to figure everything out for yourself”. He has been profoundly generous, and I want to give Dino my gratitude.

The member for Brantford—Brant is a great gentleman, and I have appreciated his character and candour. When we have colleagues we can disagree with, debate and still be friends, it is priceless.

Dave Van Kesteren retired before the last election, but for all the time he served with me and was my seatmate, we became great friends and sorted out a lot of important issues, and we had a lot of fun.

The member for Coast of Bays—Central—Notre Dame made our trip to London and Scotland a special treat as did the member for Gatineau in joining me for the most scenic jog in my life down the River Thames in London.

For almost 15 years, I served with the member for Lanark—Frontenac—Kingston on the Subcommittee on International Human Rights and with two fine Liberal members, Mario Silva and Irwin Cotler. We worked together to stand up for people who were being jailed, persecuted, tortured and killed. We were able to save many lives working together. I am so grateful for their co-operation and work with me.

Finally, some have asked me why I am leaving Parliament. Well, the truth is, I am not fully well. I want to take this opportunity to encourage others who are not well to get help.

I thought a lot since January, when I made the decision not to run in the next election, about what caused my mental health jaundice. I do not know if it was the four years of incarceration in a juvenile institution when I was 12. It may have been when I was attacked by a knife-wielding assailant in Lockport, New York; or the betrayal of business partners when I was a young businessman; or losing two children, one who died in my hands while I was trying to deliver her and another who took her own life. Maybe the terrorist attack here on Parliament Hill played a role and the too many funerals I planned, because I was always looked to as the guy who could handle it. The fifteen years of hearing the worst stories of human suffering in the human rights committee, I know, played a role. Likely, the entire lot played a role as did the current draconian lockdowns.

We should all respect that everyone has a limit, and that it is different for everyone. Thankfully, there are many who have greater limits than us, like many who are in the Canadian Forces, and for those individuals, we are so grateful.

All of us need to be conscious of what our limit is and ensure that we get relief and help when needed well before it becomes crippling. This is what I am doing, and I encourage all those who can hear my voice and need help to seek it and be relentless to get what they need. They need not feel any shame. We all need help sometimes.

I also plead with those who do not currently need help to be patient and help others. Just this past weekend, my friend, Nicholas Lauwers, a psychotherapist himself, was there for me and helped me to get back on track just by being willing to listen. I thank Nick for that.

My final but most important thanks goes to the Lord Jesus Christ. The reconstruction of my life that happened after I made a commitment to Christ is what animates every aspect of my life. Of all I am grateful for, my gratitude to God is far beyond all the other thanksgivings I can give.

On the Centre Block arches are three scriptures, “Where there is no vision, the people perish; “Give the king thy judgments, O God, and thy righteousness unto the king’s son”; and on the other, “He shall have dominion also from sea to sea”.

These are words that guided principled people as imperfect as they were to build a nation that people from the four corners of the world want to get to, to call their home. People are not staying up all night thinking they have to plot and scheme on how to get to Iran. They are not saying if they could just get to Russia, everything would be okay.

All around the world, people are plotting, scheming and thinking if they could just get to Canada.

May God continue to bless Canada and make it glorious and free.

Members Not Seeking Re-election to the 44th ParliamentGovernment Orders

7:35 p.m.


Pat Finnigan Liberal Miramichi—Grand Lake, NB

Mr. Speaker, this is to my hon. colleagues, my dear constituents and supporters, my hard-working team and my beloved family and friends.

I saw this day coming for many months, but I have been feeling somewhat sad about it.

For over five and a half years, I have had the privilege and honour to sit in this House and represent the good people of Miramichi—Grand Lake. I am very proud of what our government and I have been able to accomplish for our riding, but of course, there is still a long list of more things that need to be done. However, that will be passed on to our next Liberal MP from Miramichi—Grand Lake to pursue and deliver because today I wish to announce that I will not be the candidate for the next general federal election, but I will remain their MP until such a call is made.

It is always risky to thank people and acknowledge their work, because most of the time we end up forgetting people we really should have thanked. I hope that, if I forget anyone, they will forgive me. I will always be very grateful to them.

At this stage of my life, six years is really but a small portion of the time I have been up on my feet. Most of my life I have spent in my community with my family, building our business and being involved in local, provincial and national organizations.

The voice I brought to this House was not one of an acclaimed politician or one with tremendous legal or political science background, which I respect and admire, and such expertise is absolutely necessary in the House. No, my voice, which I believe is just as important, was one of rural, smart, hard-working people, including our vibrant indigenous communities.

I am glad that I was able to have it heard in so many different ways, such as with the privilege of sitting as a member of the fisheries and oceans committee and the agriculture standing committee, which I had the opportunity and honour to chair throughout my time as MP.

I was also able to have my voice heard in the many conversations and meetings with our cabinet ministers, my caucus colleagues and as chair of the New Brunswick caucus with my provincial colleagues.

Finally, I had the great privilege to have my voice heard by the right hon. Prime Minister, who I want to thank personally for putting his trust in me and for his strong support and confidence during my time as member of Parliament for Miramichi—Grand Lake. He made many visits to my riding in times of crisis to provide commitment and support, such as during the 2017 ice storm and the dark days of the payroll centre in my riding, but he also dropped in many times just to meet and have conversations with the people of Miramichi—Grand Lake.

Thank you so much, Prime Minister.Thank you for your guidance and for carrying us through this awful pandemic.

I must also recognize that I have learned and benefited so much from the many conversations and debates with all members of the House, whose friendships I will cherish always.

Our government accomplished some great things for our country and for my riding of Miramichi—Grand Lake. Even though there is still a lot more to do, our region experienced a great period of economic and social growth during my term.

I would like to list a few of those many accomplishments that we have been able to achieve in my riding. Of course, again, the payroll centre, which had just been opened by the previous government in my riding and, everyone will agree, was totally dysfunctional. We were able to secure and stabilize it with an additional 400 local federal jobs in my riding and proper investments to fix it and make it work.

Just a few of the many investments the government and I were able to secure are the refurbishing of the Minto town hall in my riding; Chipman water sewage treatment; the Chatham wharf; the new Napan Agricultural Show building; the new Miramichi Airport terminal; the auditorium, the hall dedicated to Lisa LeBlanc in my community of Rogersville; the roof for the Neguac Sportplex; the refurbishment of the Tom Donovan Arena in Renous; the new Anderson Bridge; the new water system for the the Village of Doaktown; an elementary school for our indigenous community of Elsipogtog; water and sewage for the villages of Neguac, Minto and Rogersville; and the renovation of Kouchibouguac National Park.

On the strategic economic front, my riding also benefited greatly from millions of dollars invested in our fishery sector with processing-plant upgrades, small craft harbours and stability funding for our fishers. There were millions of dollars of investment in our primary sector, in such areas as peat moss, the forestry sector, agriculture and also great investment in our summer and winter tourism industry.

On the social front, unprecedented investment in the Canada child benefit brings over $3 million to over 5,000 families in Miramichi—Grand Lake every month, along with our increased new horizon program and disability accessibility program to name a few. The doubling of the Canada summer job program, mental health investments, housing and immigration programs are all record high investments.

Although much remains to be done, our steady work with our first nations in housing, clean drinking water, language and culture teaching, and work on truth and reconciliation has made great strides. Of course, I am so proud of our unwavering commitment for the environment, whether it is our oceans protection plan, polluter-pay legislation and our plastic bans, and also our commitments to net-zero emissions by 2050. These measures will secure a livable planet for the next generation.

I also want to take the time to thank the mayors, council, businesses and local leaders from all communities in my riding for all their hard work and great co-operation.

I now want to take the opportunity to personally acknowledge and thank my office team: Ashley, Hannah, Roger, Bertrand, Christine, Marie‑Paule and Peggy, as well as my former staffer Josée and the late Louise.

I want to say a big thank you to them on behalf of myself and the people of Miramichi—Grand Lake who received absolutely professional service when they knocked on our door for help. I want my office staff to know that they helped a lot of people.

I also want to thank my campaign team and all my constituents in Miramichi—Grand Lake to whom I owe the privilege of serving in the House.

I also want to thank the House of Commons team from security to cafeteria workers, and from pages to all the support staff. I want them to know they are appreciated, indispensable and I really want to thank them from the heart. I have had great conversations with them and enjoyed my sidebars with security and everyone else. It was just great.

Finally, I want to thank the people who mean so much to me in my life and who have sacrificed a lot for me. To my daughter Vicky, her husband Gerard, my son Derek, and Sarah, and to my grandchildren Tristan, James and Joelle, I thank them and say, “pépère is back”. To my mom, my eight brothers and sisters and their extended family, I thank them for their support.

I also want to inform this House that I was not the only one serving the good people of Miramichi—Grand Lake. My wife Lise also accompanied me to so many events and took care of so many things for me so that I could do my job. She also served. Just a note to the Ethics Commissioner, she was not on the payroll, so it is fine. Her relentless work in keeping our family and business together is simply amazing. I can never thank her enough. She has been my rock, my safe harbour and my eternal love. I will say, and I hope she is okay with it, “I am back”.

Members Not Seeking Re-election to the 44th ParliamentGovernment Orders

7:45 p.m.


Simon Marcil Bloc Mirabel, QC

Mr. Speaker, here I am back again for the third time after what I thought was my last speech. If there is no election, then I will come back and give another one.

In 2015, I was elected as an MP. I was 30 years old and I had young children. I travelled back and forth for two years in order to make sure that I did not miss any part of my children's lives, and if I had the chance to do it all again, I would. My goal was always to give my children a better world and, for me, that meant giving them a country that is not Canada, but Quebec.

I have always been proud to be the member for Mirabel, but I was never proud of the land that was stolen by the federal government. The federal government took 97,000 acres of land in my riding, land that was owned by people I know, neighbours. I am proud to be the member for Mirabel and to have stood up for those people.

I thank my children for waiting for me so often. When I left home earlier, they knew I was coming here to give my farewell speech. They were looking forward to my return, but I will not see them until tomorrow morning because they will be asleep when I get home. That is okay. I thank my wife, Johanie, who has always been by my side, who has helped me and who believes in our cause.

I am not the Prime Minister, so I will not start crying, but now that I am done with my praise, it is time for a little criticism.

Canada is its own biggest problem. It claims to be a progressive state, and it jumps at the chance to write that into treaties and laws, but deep down, it is an archaic state ruled by a monarchy.

Canada's progressive message is that we are not all born equal under the law because royals are better than mere mortals and inherit their power as their birthright. That goes against democracy and everything this House claims to stand for. I understand tradition, but the metal in the House mace alone is so valuable that it could support a family for a year.

Canada claims to be a champion of human rights. It boasts all over the world about saving widows and orphans, but it is not even capable of providing clean water for the indigenous communities it is responsible for within its own borders. There are third-world conditions right here on Canadian soil. It is happening right there in front of them and they do not even see it.

Canada also created peacekeeping and boasts about its peacekeeping missions around the world. However, at the same time, the arms deals it signed with countries in the Middle East were supplying the Jeeps being used to kill civilians. Canada may be a peacekeeping country, but it is complicit with the totalitarian states that are decimating their populations.

Canada also claims to be an egalitarian state, but it refuses to enact legislation to combat tax havens and recover all kinds of lost tax revenue that could be put towards health transfers. Canada refuses to do this. That is the ethical problem. Another ethical problem is that Canada is a tax haven for mining companies because the laws do not apply.

Canada still claims it is green and says it is pro-environment, and it wants everyone to be well and for everyone to be able to breathe. It says it will plant two billion trees and that that is great. On the other hand, it is a petro-state that finances oil companies and the energies of the past, but that does not finance those of tomorrow. Quebec is greener than Canada, because we pay with our taxes.

Canada claims to be strong and unified, and says that the Canadian identity is great. However, the Canadian identity is fragile. It is a giant with feet of clay. Albertans are proud to be Albertans. Quebeckers are proud to be Quebeckers. Pierre Falardeau said to topple monuments to see the worms squirm. That is the problem.

Canada claims to be a democratic country. However, it stole the referendum of 1995—so says the Gomery commission—not to mention the sponsorship scandal and the irregularities Canada has introduced into a democratic election.

Canada also claims to be at the forefront of workers' rights, and yet this country cannot even pass preventive withdrawal legislation to protect women or legislation to protect the right to strike. There is no anti-scab legislation in Canada.

Canada's history was built on the conquest of indigenous peoples, on the will to assimilate them. Canada's founding father, John A. Macdonald, was an inveterate racist, although the member for Ahuntsic-Cartierville says he was a decent guy.

In order to create an identity for itself, Canada has usurped all the cultural symbols of Quebeckers, who used to be called “Canayens”. These symbols include the maple leaf, which hardly grows anywhere else in Canada, our music, the lyrics of the national anthem, the beaver, which Canada does not have, and even poutine. Can we agree that there is no edible poutine west of the Ottawa River? One thing is certain. The two cultural icons that remain Canadian and were never taken from anyone else are the bloody Rockies and the Toronto hockey team that just cannot win.

To quote Mononc' Serge, “Canada is not my country”. They said it in English so everyone would understand. I am a separatist MP, a member of the Bloc Québécois. I have been a separatist all my life. I want Quebec to be its own country. Vive le Québec libre.

Members Not Seeking Re-election to the 44th ParliamentGovernment Orders

7:50 p.m.


Paul Lefebvre Liberal Sudbury, ON

Mr. Speaker, before I leave this chamber for what may be the last time as the MP for Sudbury, I would like to take this opportunity to reflect on my time here in the House and the dynamic community of Sudbury that I represent.

As everyone here knows, when you go into politics, you do not do it alone. It is above all a family decision. I have been honoured to serve the people of Sudbury with the support of my wife Lyne and my children Mylène, Henri and Théo. I am proud of them and I love them.

Yesterday was my 24th wedding anniversary. I want to thank Lyne for her continuous support and for sharing this unforgettable experience with me, as we journey through life together.

I also want to thank my team, hard-working supporters and all the voters who live in Sudbury for their ongoing confidence in me. The help I have received along the way, along with the friends I have made and the lessons I have learned, will stay with me forever. I thank all of them. The list is quite long, but I would like to thank Mike and Marie-Eve, who have been there with me since day one, and my team, with Funmibi, Lynn, Sophie and Bernard. I want to thank the Prime Minister for his confidence in appointing me Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Natural Resources. It was a post I held for nearly three years.

As a member of Parliament, I have seen the amazing work that can be accomplished on various committees when partisanship is put aside. Yes, that does happen in the House. When we are all sitting here in the House on Wednesdays before the doors open, we all get together and sing O Canada. It is unfortunate that Canadians do not witness that most members of Parliament are proud Canadians first and members of political parties second.

I have also seen in this chamber the stark divisions of partisanship and the lasting damage caused by the denial of obvious facts, such as climate change and institutional racism faced by Canadians every day.

We have a duty as members to show all Canadians that we have learned from our own 153-year history and that we must all respect our differences. We must show that fear of our different languages, cultures, religions, races or sexual orientations has no place in our society.

This year has been very difficult for all Canadians, and I know the work of this government has made a very positive difference in Canadians' lives. I know my riding of Sudbury has been very well served by the programs we have put in place, and I am both honoured and humbled to have played a role in that.

To me, the role of the House and members is to listen to Canadians, to work and find the best way to help them. Having listened to Canadians and because of the changes that have been made since 2015, I have a lot of hope for Canada. Let me explain why.

First, I am hopeful because of the ingenuity of Canadians. Our governments must continue to foster the opportunities that this amazing Canadian talent offers us. Let me start with my riding of Sudbury. Our lakes were all polluted 40 years ago. The landscape was black rock and the trees were decimated because of pollution from mining. Ingenuity was building the tallest superstack in the world so that the pollution would go farther. We then planted 14 million trees on that black rock. Now, because of research, ingenuity, regulations and community, we have reduced the sulphur dioxide by 98% and all of our lakes have fish. We can drink the water, and the superstack is coming down in the next years.

We are ground zero for the environment and the economy going hand in hand.

Sudbury has become an international research centre.

In early 2016, Sudbury's SNOLAB, a world-class public-private research consortium located two kilometres underground in Vale’s Creighton mine, and its world-class team of researchers, led by Art McDonald, were awarded the Nobel Prize for physics.

In addition, many of Sudbury's mining supply companies are leading the way in electric underground vehicle technology, and new battery and energy storage tech is being pioneered in Sudbury at an industrial scale.

The mining industry is also leading the way in first nations economic partnerships. The Côté Gold Project, for example, in my neighbouring riding of Nickel Belt, which is well served in this House by my friend, the MP for Nickel Belt, includes two neighbouring first nations communities, the Mattagami First Nation and the Flying Post First Nation, as partners. In Sudbury, Wahnapitae and Atikameksheng first nations are also partners in the mining projects.

We must continue to support this ingenuity, and this gives me reasons for hope for scientific advancements, economic opportunities and jobs in Canada.

I have hope because Canadians want more to be done in the fight against climate change.

In September 2018, a young student named Sophia Mathur reached out to my office in Sudbury and asked me to participate in the first-ever Fridays for Future student strike in Sudbury. From then until now, Sophia and a dynamic group of young friends have organized more than 70 events, including sign waving, singing, Bollywood dancing and lots and lots of advocacy. These inspiring young people are leading by example, and there are so many of them in communities across our beautiful country. Sophia's message to me and to all of us in this chamber is simple: We can lead now on these important issues, or we can get out of the way.

With the price on pollution, an electric vehicle battery plan, a hydrogen plan, a Canadian minerals plan, planting two billion trees, clean fuel standards, clean-tech innovation supports, environmental accountability legislation and many more policies, we are on our way to reach our carbon targets of 2030 and 2050.

Thanks to Canadians like Sophia, I have hope for the future.

I am also hopeful because Canadians realize that now, more than ever, learning the truth and reconciliating with indigenous nations is a priority.

Another memory I have is from early 2016. I was invited to Whitefish River First Nation in northern Ontario to visit with the children of that nation. There I met Chief Shining Turtle, who filled me in on his nation's needs. He told me about his nation's water system, in desperate need of an upgrade to meet growing demand. He told me about health care in his nation, the school in his nation and how some families were being left behind. He told me his nation had waited years, sometimes decades, to have those addressed.

Working together, over time we tackled these issues. I returned to his nation in 2018 to announce an investment in the Waubetek centre of excellence for indigenous minerals development, led by Dawn Madahbee Leach. I took the opportunity to visit with the chief and saw how quickly improvements to the water system, which had been mired in red tape for years, had been made.

I saw first-hand how vital and effective Jordan's principle is to first nations communities, through the experience of children able to overcome health issues and attend school in Whitefish Lake First Nation for the first time. To them, I say chi-meegwetch.

With over 100 boil water advisories lifted, many nations recently connected to the grid, unprecedented training opportunities for first nations and unprecedented partnerships with natural resource projects, we are on our way to learning the truth and have started the path toward reconciliation. I am hopeful that, given the immensity of this path, this House, regardless of political stripe, will not waver and will continue to follow the path along with indigenous peoples.

I am very hopeful that we can have a strong, bilingual Canada. Francophone minority communities have asked for investments in their cultural, educational and community infrastructure. I have seen the results of these investments in Sudbury, with the construction of Place des Arts du Grand Sudbury, a project spearheaded by Paulette Gagnon and Regroupement des organismes culturels de Sudbury.

We will have our community arts centre and several community organizations will ensure the viability and the vitality of our community. I have seen this happen over and over across Canada in the past five years. I am therefore hopeful.

I especially want to thank the voters of Sudbury for placing their trust in me, twice. It has truly been one of the greatest honours in my life being Sudbury's voice in Ottawa. I will be forever grateful.

Sudbury is a microcosm of Canada. For the majority anglophone population and over 45,000 French-speaking residents, Sudbury has the third-largest francophone community outside of Quebec and a strong indigenous population. Sudbury was built on the backs of waves of immigrants from Italy, Finland, Poland, Ukraine, Greece, Croatia, Serbia and many more, and more recently, a strong South Asian, Syrian and African contingent. Members can see I am proud to be a Sudburian.

I grew up in a working-class home in Kapuskasing.

My father Jean was a welder at the Spruce Falls mill for 40 years. We were a foster family and after welcoming 18 children over five years into our home, my mother Paulette got her high school diploma and her bachelor's degree in social work at Laurentian and Université de Hearst while managing the household, together with my father, for me, my sister Roxanne and my brother Denis. They instilled in me the values of loyalty and hard work, and these values will always be part of me. I am proud to be their son.

I will miss my amazing colleagues in the House. I really will. It has been an honour to serve my constituents and Canadians with them.

In conclusion, because of the inspiration of Chief Shining Turtle; because of Sophia Mathur and the Fridays for Future gang, Paulette Gagnon and René Larocque; because of the world-class people attracted to Sudbury and Canada, and projects like SNOLAB and industrial battery technology, I am eternally optimistic about our future. It is because of all of them that I leave this chamber more hopeful than I entered it, hopeful that Canada and Canadians will continue to meet the challenges of the future, and hopeful that this chamber and the wonderful Canadians who sit in it will continue to lead the way.

Members Not Seeking Re-election to the 44th ParliamentGovernment Orders

8 p.m.


Mumilaaq Qaqqaq NDP Nunavut, NU

Mr. Speaker, matna.

Every time I walk onto the House of Commons grounds and speak in these chambers, I am reminded every step of the way I do not belong here.

I have never felt safe or protected in my position, especially within the House of Commons, often having pep talks with myself in the elevator or taking a moment in the bathroom stall to maintain my composure. When I walk through these doors not only am I reminded of the clear colonial house on fire I am willingly walking into, I am already in survival mode.

Since being elected, I expect to be stopped by security at my workplace. I have had security jog after me down hallways, nearly put their hands on me and racially profile me as a member of Parliament. I know what to do in these situations. My life in Canada, and especially through this experience, has taught me many things. As a brown woman, I do not move too quickly or suddenly, do not raise my voice, do not make a scene, maintain eye contact and do not hide my hands.

Every Inuk has survival mode. We have to. Not two generations ago, survival mode meant endurance of extreme temperatures and finding food throughout the winter. Now survival mode means being able to see that warmth in shelter and affordability in livelihood, but being denied it at the hands of the federal government.

The federal institution needs to change its own policies and procedures to reflect reality instead of creating barriers for people like me. I should not be afraid of going into work. No one should be afraid of going into work. It is possible to create change. It can be started here in the House of Commons and reflected in Canada. There is a refusal and unwillingness for change, not an inability to accomplish it.

People like me do not belong here in the federal institution. I am a human being who wants to use this institution to help people, but the reality is that this institution and country have been created off the backs, trauma and displacement of indigenous peoples. Even if we are told we should run, we still face huge barriers. Young people have been told they are not experienced enough, not ready to lead. Women have been told to sit pretty and listen. Disabled individuals have been shown they are not even worth the conversation. Inuit kill themselves at the highest rate in the country. We are facing a suicide epidemic and this institution refuses to care.

During my time in this chamber, I have heard so many pretty words, like reconciliation, diversity and inclusion. I have been called courageous, brave and strong by people outside of my party. However, let me be honest, brutally honest. Nice words with no action hurt when they are uttered by those with power over the federal institution who refuse to take action. The legacy this institution continues to not only maintain but to build and fuel is nothing to take pride in. People in power have choices and consistently choose priorities that uphold systems of oppression, leaving babies sick in mouldy homes and parents missing their passed-on children because these powerful individuals do not think change is worth the money.

Recently I asked a minister what he would do in my shoes. If his riding had the highest rates of suicide, with the most homes in need of repair, if women and girls were going missing in his community and children were being taken into foster care without regard for their well-being, how would he feel? I asked if the minister would change his answer if I told him to keep waiting. He could not answer me. He said he would never even try to place himself in my shoes. That is exactly what the problem is. Inuit have been telling those with the power and ability to make change to try and survive in their shoes for one day, one week, one month. They could not.

Maybe it is impossible for ministers to understand what we go through every day, but I am urging them and telling them to listen to us, believe us and do something about it. When we tell them to act now, they need to act now. If they do understand, then shame on them, because if they do understand how much this hurts, they understand how deep it cuts. It would be easier for me to be told that I am wrong and that they disagree than to be told that I am right and I am courageous but there is no room in their budget for the basic human rights that so many others take for granted.

I do not belong here, but my presence, I hope, is starting to crack the foundations of this very federal institution that started colonizing Inuit barely 70 years ago. I realize that this is difficult for some members to hear, but it is the reality and the truth. This place was built on the oppression of indigenous peoples, people like my grandfather, who was born and raised on the land but was forcibly relocated to a settlement that was financed and built by the federal institution.

Our history is stained with blood. It is the blood of children, youth, adults and elders. It is time to face the scales of justice. On one side we have a mountain of suffering, and whenever the government gives us a grain of sand of support, it seems to think the trauma from our past has been rectified and that somehow it deserves a pat on the back. However, it will take a mountain of support to even begin the healing process. As long as these halls echo with empty promises instead of real action, I will not belong here.

Although I may not belong in this institution, I do belong in my party. The NDP has always been a party committed to uplifting the voices of all those, of all different backgrounds, who are ignored by the federal institution.

I would like to thank my leader, the member for Burnaby South, for listening to me and making me feel safe and comfortable to voice what I needed to. Members from other parties have come to me asking me to advocate for an issue their party refused to touch, but I never felt muzzled by the NDP. I could never join another party and I am a proud New Democrat.

I thank my colleagues from New Westminster—Burnaby, North Island—Powell River and especially Hamilton Centre for always having my back. Without my NDP colleagues I would not have such a great platform that is true in the want to do more, to do better and to do right.

I would also like to thank my number one supports, my mother and father, Pia and Jimmy, and my brother Lars, for everything from day one.

I give a huge shout-out to my staff. I could not have survived without then. With all the things that have come out of my office, everything that I am so proud of, I know that I could not have done this without them. I am so grateful for them.

Of course, ultimately, from the bottom of my heart, I thank Inuit and Nunavummiut who believe in me and support me. The encouraging messages have meant more than people will know. I would like to thank Pauktuutit for always standing up for Inuit women and girls like me and for speaking truth to power, even when it is inconvenient.

I will always fight for the human rights of indigenous peoples in Nunavut and across the country. I believe that we are living through a shift in this country and Canadians are starting to wake up to the reality. I am looking forward to a time when people like me can belong here, a time when we can be here. I hope another young person, Inuk person, woman or all three will follow in my footsteps and continue pushing this institution to support indigenous peoples in Canada.

I have shown the nation and the world that impossible is possible, that hope can grow where it is purposely put out and that if we work together and use our voices we can influence real change. I will always believe politics can look, feel and be different. It can, it has and it has started. We will keep it going, and we all must ensure that it does.

Members Not Seeking Re-election to the 44th ParliamentGovernment Orders

8:10 p.m.


Kate Young Liberal London West, ON

Mr. Speaker, it is with a heavy heart that I rise in the House of Commons today to give my farewell speech.

While I am very hopeful this will not be the last time I will speak in the House, I cannot be certain. Minority governments tend to be that way, unpredictable, and so I will take this opportunity to officially say goodbye.

This is not easy. Leaving something as important as this never is, but making the decision to get into politics was not easy either.

When I first started to consider running for politics in 2014, many of my friends and colleagues thought I had momentarily lost my mind, but I knew I had not. I knew in my bones that Canadians wanted change, and I wanted to be a part of that change. My only regret now is that I did not consider running for the Liberals much sooner, because it has been an absolute honour to represent the people of London West in the House, and I am proud of what we have accomplished.

When I was first elected in 2015, my twin grandsons, Harrison and Francis, were only two years old. Now they are eight years old, and I have decided to write my farewell speech with them in mind, hoping that one day they will watch this speech and understand its full meaning.

My memories of the past six years are a blur of highs and lows, of accomplishments that I am very proud of and of bitter heartache, especially after the recent horrific murder of four of my constituents, the Afzaal family, who were killed while walking along a street in London West on a Sunday night, killed simply because they were Muslim.

This terrorist attack has served to remind our community that we are not immune to hate. This hate manifested in destroying a wonderful Muslim family and leaving their nine-year-old son, Fayez, in hospital, wounded both physically and emotionally. His grandmother, Talat; mother, Madiha; father, Salman; and his 15-year-old big sister, Yumna were brutally taken from him. It is such a loss, all because of hate.

However, Londoners quickly turned hate into love. Thousands of Londoners from every culture and faith filled the streets on Friday night to pay their respects to the Afzaal family, who are forever in our hearts. Many people outside of Canada expressed shock that something like this could happen here. We are supposed to be a country that welcomes diversity with open arms, diversity is our strength, but heinous acts like this remind us how fragile that strength is. Many people in our community feel that if it can happen in London, Ontario, it can happen anywhere.

This has been an incredibly tough time for everyone in Canada. Just two weeks ago, we learned the details about the unmarked graves of 215 indigenous children at a former Kamloops residential school. These children were taken from their families and never came home. Our hearts ache as we are reminded, once again, of our callous disregard for indigenous people. So much grief to face and it would be too easy to say “Well, that happened years ago; that wouldn't happen today”, but we would be fooling ourselves. We need to reconcile our pride and our country with what we have done.

I want my grandsons to learn about Canada's true, blemished history, because we must face the truth before we can understand what it means to be Canadians. I urge all Canadians to use this upcoming Canada Day as an opportunity to reflect on how Canada can be a more loving, more educated and more accepting country.

As a child growing up in the 1960s, I was so proud of Canada as we celebrated our 100th birthday; 1967, what a glorious year. My dad drove our family to Montreal for Expo 67. My father was a new Canadian citizen and he was overflowing with love for his newfound home. What he did not know, and what we did not know, was the cost that indigenous people paid so we could be proud of our country.

I cannot sit in the House without feeling the weight of decisions made by members who sat here in the past, who somehow thought they were doing the right thing, taking children away from their families to force them to be assimilated to our way of thinking because they believed they were right, and they were so very wrong. What a shame, what a national shame, and I am so very sorry.

Despite all of this sadness, Harrison and Francis, I am proud to be Canadian, and I am so proud to have had the honour to sit in this House with good people and pass good laws. To be a member of Parliament during a pandemic is not something any of us expected, but despite this challenging time, we have accomplished so much. I do not have time to list everything, but I do want to talk about some of the areas I was most involved with.

I am very proud to have pushed our government to earmark $30 million to support childhood cancer research. Too many children are dying from cancer, and we need to do more research to determine how to treat them, so they can live long, healthy lives.

I am proud to have co-sponsored a study on indigenous housing in rural, urban and northern communities that will hopefully be a catalyst for changes that will ultimately see indigenous people get the housing they need and deserve.

People with disabilities have always been a focus of mine, even before I came into politics, and so I am proud of working to help pass the Accessible Canada Act through the House and the Senate. This act will pave the way for a more accessible Canada for this and future generations.

How we treat our seniors has always been important to me, and it struck me as odd that we did not have a seniors minister who would focus on their issues. As members of the seniors caucus, we pushed to have the Prime Minister name a cabinet minister who would work solely on issues facing this group of Canadians. On this World Elder Abuse Awareness Day, I am proud that we have launched consultations on this growing issue.

We know how important non-profits are to the fabric of our society, and I have been a strong advocate for our government to do more for groups that support thousands of Canadians across the country. COVID-19 shone a light on all the good work this sector has been doing throughout Canada, and we cannot let them falter. Therefore, I am proud to be part of a working group of MPs that continues to push our government to strengthen our support for charities and non-profits. Our latest budget proposes to spend $400 million to help charities and non-profits adapt and modernize, so they can better support the economic recovery in our communities.

As well, I am humbled to have been in place, serving as parliamentary secretary to science, when our government restored scientists to their rightful place in our decision-making. I want to thank the former science minister for always pushing to do what is right, no matter the obstacles. I thank the minister responsible for people with disabilities for showing me never to underestimate human potential, and also the economic development minister for teaching me that politics is filled with good people who want to do what is best for our country. I also want to say merci to her for pushing me to learn French. While I was not as successful as I had hoped to be, I do have a new-found appreciation for the French language, and I encourage anyone interested in getting into politics to start learning French now.

Of course, I want to thank my constituents of London West for putting their faith in me over the past six years. Going door to door and speaking to you about the things that really matter to you was a true joy, and I thank you for your support over the years. Whether you voted for me or not, thank you for allowing me to be your voice in Parliament.

Together, we have done great things for the city of London. We have opened our hearts, our arms and our homes to families from Syria, who are building new lives in our city. Construction of a new Maple Leaf Foods plant is under way, thanks to federal government funding. Sticking with the food industry, we are strong supporters of The Grove in London, an agriculture hub that will help us become a leader in agriculture manufacturing, and we cannot forget the millions of dollars in investments to the Greenway waste-water treatment plant, a critical infrastructure project for London West.

There are so many people to thank. To my family, who were supportive right from the beginning, my son, Billy; daughter-in-law, Kelly; daughter, Lauren; and soon-to-be son-in-law, Marc, you have been unwavering in your support and understanding. To my brother, Bill, and sister-in-law Johanna, thank you for reminding me how proud mom and dad would have been of what I have accomplished.

To my husband, Brian Meehan, thank you for being at my side as we ventured this path together. I cannot imagine doing this job without a supportive spouse, and he has been my cheerleader, a confidant and a shoulder to cry on. We really had no idea where it was going to take us, but he was there every step of the way and helped me make this final decision to step back.

I thank my staff, Devin Munro, Elaine Furie, Mack McGee, Pat Shanahan and Brendan Edge, for always being there for me and our constituents, to answer their calls and their emails day in and day out. It has not been easy, but they made me look good. I consider all of them friends and cannot imagine doing the job of an MP without their support.

Finally, I thank my grandsons, Harrison and Francis, who always find ways to make me smile. When I told Harrison that I was not going to run for re-election and that he would not have to go door-knocking with me again, he turned to me and said, “Does that mean you won't be going back to the Liberal tower ever again?” The Liberal tower. When he came to Parliament Hill two years ago for what was officially our last sitting day in the old place before the renovations began, he would have walked up to what would have seemed like a massive tower, the Peace Tower. I was a Liberal, so in his mind it was the Liberal tower.

One day, when the renovations are complete, I hope to return to the Liberal tower with my grandsons and marvel at the history of it all. Maybe they will look up and say, “Grandma Kate tried her best to make Canada a better country for everyone”.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Members Not Seeking Re-election to the 44th ParliamentGovernment Orders

8:25 p.m.


Scott Duvall NDP Hamilton Mountain, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am rising today as the proud member of Parliament for my community of Hamilton Mountain. It has been my immense privilege and honour to serve my constituents over the past six years as their MP, and for nine years before that as their city councillor for Ward 7. I have spent more than 15 years serving the people of Hamilton Mountain as an elected representative. It has been an exciting and rewarding experience to hear from my community, advocate on their behalf and fight for Hamiltonians as their representative at city hall and here in Ottawa.

It is now time for me to leave room for others to continue this important and great work. After leaving politics, I plan on spending time with the people I love deeply and care about, and will volunteer to help seniors in need. I also want to work with my grandchildren in my shop to help them build things.

This may be one of my last opportunities to speak in the House, so I want to take this opportunity to talk about what my caucus and I have championed over the six years during my time in Ottawa and what prompted me to run in the first place.

I came to Ottawa to fight for the people of Hamilton and for Canadian workers and pensioners. I am a proud steelworker, and my roots in the labour movement advocating for workers is why I am a New Democrat. Given my time at Stelco on the production line, then as a union steward and then as president of USW Local 5328, the labour movement has been my life. Protecting workers has been a priority during my time as an MP.

What we have seen in the House shows why we need a strong voice fighting for workers and for labour. We have seen several efforts by the government to legislate striking workers back to work and damage their ability to bargain for a fair deal with their employers. We have seen the government refuse to act on scab labour. We have seen the government refuse to protect the pensions of workers during bankruptcy and insolvency, and instead put big banks and investors at the top of the list. This is why it is so important that we continue to fight for workers in this place.

I went through the bankruptcy at Stelco back in the day, and I will never forget Judge Farley's advice, because I thought it was disgraceful how workers were being treated in the bankruptcy protection process. He said, “I don't like doing this, Mr. Duvall, and if you want to change it, go to Ottawa and change the legislation.” That is another reason I am here.

We have all seen an effort by the government to create a two-tiered system of “junior seniors” and “senior seniors” by only giving an increase in OAS payments to some and not others. We have also watched them fail to act to protect single seniors and allow them to continue to pay substantially more taxes than seniors in a couple with the exact same income. During my time in Ottawa, it is has been my priority to fight for seniors, to advocate for them and to push our government to do better.

In the House, I have sponsored a number of bills and pushed forward many initiatives. I have championed antiscab labour legislation aimed at protecting unions during labour disputes and preventing employers from undermining their collective bargaining. I have fought against government action to legislate striking workers back to work, taking away one of the strongest tools they have at their disposal to collectively bargain for a fair deal. I have pushed to protect the pensions of workers during bankruptcy and insolvency proceedings, and to make sure that payments of the unfunded portion of pension plans come before payments to big banks and investors.

I hope that before our Parliament is dissolved, quite possibly because of an unnecessary election call by the Liberals, we can pass through the House the best shot we have at protecting retirees and pensioners: Bill C-253.

During the pandemic, the time spent at home has reminded me of the importance of family and loved ones. As members of Parliament and as public servants, we are often forced to put our duties and responsibilities first and our families second. The toll this can have is immense, and I am so lucky to have had my family by my side the entire time.

I want to thank my wife Sherry; my kids, Laurie, Mandy and Megan; and my entire family and grandchildren. They have given me so much support and have made many sacrifices that have allowed me to do this important work and serve our community. I am so excited to spend more time at home with Sherry, and hope she will be excited to have me there with her, our family and grandkids.

I want to remind all of my colleagues in the House of the importance of our families and loved ones and the role they play in supporting our work. Our families and loved ones make just as many sacrifices as we do, if not more, to allow us to serve our community. We miss a lot of important moments in their lives while we serve, and when we leave public service, it is my belief that we owe it to them to make up for that lost time and to cherish our families.

I want to thank my incredible team of staff, both here in Hamilton and in Ottawa. In no particular order, I would like to say to Val, Rose, Bill, Tony, Kathleen and Aiden, and my former team members Chris, Erin and Jackie, that I thank them for everything they have done to support me, for their dedication and loyalty, our work throughout the years and their service to the people of Hamilton. Their dedication to our constituents shows how important it is for an MP to have a great team fighting for our community. They made me look good each and every day.

I want to thank the people behind the scenes supporting the whole NDP caucus, the team in the NDP lobby, particularly Anthony and Christian, who have made the time serving as a member of Parliament and being in the House so much easier and more effective. Their dedication is what allows us to be an effective caucus and do the work that we do best. They have provided so much guidance to us, and their contribution to our team is something I will never forget.

I thank my NDP caucus colleagues for fighting with me to protect workers, pensioners and seniors. I am proud to have served in a caucus that worked hard every day to protect people. I am grateful for all of their support, friendship and shared knowledge that made me a better MP.

I thank my leader, the hon. member for Burnaby South, for the guidance he has given our party. I cannot wait to see him become Prime Minister and demonstrate that an NDP government is the one that will put people first. Canadians can put their trust in New Democrats to fight for them.

I thank those in the labour movement who have supported my work and helped champion the causes I have taken on. In particular, I want to thank the incredible team at United Steelworkers, and Canadian director Ken Neumann and District 6 director Marty Warren for their faith in my fight to protect workers, retirees and pensioners. Their work and activism show that the Canadian labour movement is strong and will not quietly fight for the rights of workers across Canada, but will be loud until they are heard.

I want to thank the members of the Hamilton Mountain NDP and all the volunteers, supporters and activists who came out during each election and fought to make sure that Hamilton Mountain is represented by a New Democrat and by a party that will fight for them.

I also want to thank Monique Taylor, the MPP for Hamilton Mountain. From the time she was my assistant at City Hall to now, when we are working together representing Hamilton Mountain provincially and federally, we have been a great team. I am so proud of her work to fight for our community, and I cannot wait to see what more she does.

I want to thank the people of Hamilton. Without them and their support, I would not have had the honour of sitting in the House of Commons or the important duty of fighting for all of them. Every day that I spent serving the people of Hamilton was a privilege, and I was humbled by the trust they put in me to represent them.

I again want to thank my wife Sherry of 47 years. I am going to be home this time.

Mr. Speaker, it has been my greatest honour to be a member of Parliament. I thank you and I respect you.

I want to thank all the people in the House and I want to thank all the members. I have become friends with many of them. I really appreciate it. I have had a great time and I am going to miss a lot of people.

Members Not Seeking Re-election to the 44th ParliamentGovernment Orders

8:35 p.m.


The Speaker Liberal Anthony Rota

There being no further members rising, pursuant to Standing Order 53.1, the committee will rise.

(Government Business No. 7 reported)