House of Commons Hansard #114 of the 43rd Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was gba.


6:55 p.m.


Jag Sahota Conservative Calgary Skyview, AB

Madam Speaker, I am pleased to speak today on Motion No. 58.

The member's motion mentions recruitment and retention targets for under-represented groups in the Canadian Armed Forces. The Conservatives completely support this.

As a matter of fact, the Standing Committee on the Status of Women has recently been studying our Canadian Armed Forces, and the issue of recruitment and retention has come up several times. However, what we have found is rather interesting. It explains why women have not been joining the Canadian Armed Forces, and why they are leaving so early.

For months, Canadians have been shocked by the revelations of sexual misconduct in our Canadian Armed Forces, and in the highest positions. Early this year, we learned that General Vance, the former chief of defence staff, had been under investigation since as early as 2018. He was being investigated for inappropriate relations he was having with women under his command, particularly one relation that had been ongoing for 30 years.

When that individual made an appearance before the committee, she mentioned how she had asked questions about who would have the ability to investigate the actions of the chief of defence staff and if the CFNIS would be the appropriate body. The response the general gave this witness was that he was untouchable because he owned the CFNIS.

It was deeply concerning to hear that someone would actually believe they were above the law, was willing to create an unsafe work environment and had considered that they could not be investigated. To this day, this woman believes that she is not going to get justice for herself. However, she also believes that it was important for her to come forward so the issue could be dealt with, and so other women in the military would be able to get justice. For that, I applaud her.

We heard from another witness who had reported an incident, and even with all of the redactions and personal information removed, there was still enough information left that it was easy for someone to identify her. The report on the incident was openly discussed among her peers and even with her superiors, so she had no confidence in the system.

So many witnesses, women in particular, came forward to our committee to express this lack of confidence and trust in our system. They did not feel that the military had their backs. We even had a witness who gave a very interesting perspective on the double standards that the military justice system has towards women and men.

This witness discussed how, when she was deployed in Afghanistan, an investigation had been conducted into a consensual relationship she had had with a U.S. officer, who was not in her unit but of the same rank. She admitted that the relationship was against the regulations, and she pleaded guilty to the charges. She was fined, repatriated from the theatre and posted out of her unit. She accepted this as her punishment.

However, as a result, she was called demeaning names and was told that she was not worthy of leading soldiers. She said that she was also threatened with violence by a commanding officer and was repeatedly chastised by other officers. She was sent to work alone in an office managing a single Excel spreadsheet, and it quickly became very clear to her that her career in the Canadian Armed Forces was over. When she left the military, she had originally been given an offer to go into the reserves, but that was revoked when the commanding officer told her that she was not the type of leader he wanted in his unit.

She said the biggest failure in her life were the actions for which she was pushed out of the armoured corps, and for that she continues to carry immense shame. However, this was precisely the type of leadership displayed by the former chief of defence staff, who was the longest serving chief of defence staff. This brings into question what kind of environment allows for this double standard, for sexual misconduct to be so prolific in the Canadian Armed Forces, and for women to be always treated as the wrongdoers, even when they are the victims.

The status of women committee was overwhelmed by the evidence and testimony that so many of these women came forward with, and the fact that the military had multiple reports on sexual misconduct in the Canadian Armed Forces, most recently in 2015 with the Deschamps report. However, we continue to see, time after time, the government talking about wanting to stand up for women and talking about how we need to get to the root cause of this, yet never implementing recommendations made in the Deschamps report. It is not listening to the previous status of women committee, which made recommendations on how to address the culture within the Canadian Armed Forces, and it is now launching another review into this very same topic, less than 10 years from the last one.

We do not need more reports to tell us what we already know. We can act on the things we already do know. For example, the Deschamps report talks about reviewing government policies and directives, and putting them through a gender-based lens. It was one of her recommendations.

This is not something new. As a matter fact, it is part of the Minister for Women and Gender Equality’s mandate letter that she work with her cabinet colleagues and ensure these things are done. It was mentioned in this report, and it wasn't until explosive revelations, two house committee studies and another report that the Minister for Women and Gender Equality and the Minister of National Defence made the decision that they were going to work together to address this.

In the report by Justice Deschamps, she talks about the directives that defined what sexual misconduct was in the military, and mentioned how out of step it was with Canadians' understanding of sexual misconduct and with the Criminal Code. However, it was not until November 2020, 5 years after her report came out, that the chief of the defence staff amended the order as to how sexual misconduct is defined. Just recently, in the latest Justice Fish report that was just tabled, we saw that even he says the new version does not even do this issue justice.

The motion we are debating today recognizes the fact that women are under-represented in our military, but doing a gender-based analysis is only one step in addressing this. I would even go as far as saying this motion does not even do enough, because there are no metrics attached to it. There is no measurable way for us to say whether this is being successful. There needs to be something we can measure; there needs to be a failure or success report on this. I am interested to see if the member opposite would be willing to add this to his motion. I know that on our side we would be very grateful to see that.

We need to do more for women to attract them and retain them in the military. We can do that by actually addressing the culture in the Canadian Armed Forces and actually dealing with the issue at hand, not doing another report. For every report that has no action to it, it is yet another year and another decade that women go mistreated, under-represented and treated as less than their male counterparts.

Canadians, and particularly Canadian women, who serve proudly in our Canadian Armed Forces deserve much more from the government than just its words. They deserve real action. I am proud of the fact that our committee members have worked really hard on the status of women committee.

I hope that the government is listening to the various reports and to the opposition members and Canadian women and men in uniform who are calling for these changes. I hope it does not treat this as just another partisan issue and will instead address it, because everybody has the right to feel respected and treated equally in the workforce. That includes those in our military, whether they are civilians or in uniform.

7:05 p.m.


Andréanne Larouche Bloc Shefford, QC

Madam Speaker, today I am speaking to Motion No. 58 as the Bloc Québécois critic for the status of women.

From the outset I want to state that our party will vote against this motion. Nevertheless, I want to reiterate loud and clear in the House that I am a feminist.

It is clear that this motion is completely useless since the government has already asked the Department of National Defence to integrate GBA+ into its policy development. We are also studying this integration at the Standing Committee on the Status of Women.

The motion states that GBA+ provides a rigorous methodology for assessing systemic inequalities. However, there is no data indicating that it really works nor is there anything to confirm that this analytical process is a failure.

I will approach this topic by providing a brief history of GBA+, by talking about organizations where the problem is still quite serious and by sharing a few of my hopes for a safer future for women.

Here is a brief overview. In 1971, Canada created the position of minister responsible for status of women, then, in 1976, it created the Office of the Coordinator of the Status of Women. In 1981, Canada ratified the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women, which was adopted by the UN in 1979. In 1995, the federal government launched a plan to eventually implement GBA, but without the “+”, in all federal agencies and departments. In 2004, the Standing Committee on the Status of Women was established with the support of all parties, including the Bloc Québécois. In 2009, the Auditor General released a report at the request of the Standing Committee on the Status of Women indicating that the GBA had not been properly implemented in various departments. In 2011, the government transitioned to GBA+ where the “+” included other factors, such as gender identity. The Auditor General released another report in 2016 in which he stated that more had to be done. Budget 2018 was intended to be a feminist budget that sought to achieve results and improve oversight with respect to attaining gender equality.

As it happens, that was around the same time that the Prime Minister and the Minister of National Defence completely ignored the allegations of sexual misconduct against former chief of the defence staff General Vance.

The Department of National Defence has a team of 23 employees who are already working on integrating GBA+ into the department and the Canadian Armed Forces. The 2017 defence policy entitled “Strong, Secure, Engaged” stated that the department must integrate GBA+ in all defence activities across the Canadian Armed Forces and the department, including the design and implementation of programs, services that support our personnel, equipment procurement and operational planning.

However, six years after Justice Deschamps released her scathing report on sexual misconduct within the Canadian Armed Forces, the government is under tremendous pressure from the opposition for not having addressed the allegations against General Vance.

Essentially, this motion is completely pointless. If the government wants to increase the number of women and minorities in the Canadian Armed Forces, it should start by proving a safe work environment free from sexual misconduct and assault.

However, the facts continue to speak for themselves. Let us then examine the numerous examples that speak to the inaction of Liberal and Conservative governments, who have consistently failed to fight sexual harassment and sexual misconduct, whether it be in the Canadian Armed Forces, in penitentiaries, in the RCMP or, of course, in the Canadian Border Services Agency.

As a matter of fact, I spoke about this just this afternoon before the Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security. The government showed it was incompetent at handling cases of sexual misconduct in the Canadian Armed Forces, the RCMP, penitentiaries and the Canadian Border Services Agency. The Prime Minister and the Minister of National Defence turned a blind eye to allegations of sexual misconduct against the former chief of the defence staff, General Vance.

The government is trying to protect its image as a feminist government, but the Liberals are not taking any concrete action to deal with systemic problems, apart from spouting talking points. Their veneer has scraped off and is badly chipped. If the Liberals want to increase the percentage of women in the Canadian Armed Forces, they must start by offering them a work environment free from harassment and sexual misconduct.

Liberals have had the Deschamps report in their hands since 2015. However, according to former Justice Deschamps herself, they have yet to implement the measures it recommends. This motion will do absolutely nothing to help victims of sexual misconduct, sexual harassment and racism.

The federal government has consistently failed to protect women and other groups. The government has demonstrated its utter incompetence in addressing sexual misconduct in the military. It has had the Deschamps report since 2015 and still has not implemented its key recommendations.

We know how that turned out. Senior officers have been abusing their authority and several generals are accused of sexual misconduct.

The Prime Minister and the Minister of National Defence have known about General Vance, the former chief of the defence staff, since 2018 but did absolutely nothing until the media broke the story in February 2021.

This was clearly demonstrated in 2015 by former justice Marie Deschamps who released a scathing report on sexual misconduct in the Canadian Armed Forces, where she found a sexist culture that turns a blind eye to many instances of misconduct.

The RCMP has also been plagued by allegations of sexual misconduct, including a scathing report by former justice Michel Bastarache. In that report, Justice Bastarache wrote that the culture of the RCMP was toxic and tolerated the misogynistic and homophobic attitudes of some of its leaders and members. He found that the problem was systemic and that addressing the situation would require a major overhaul.

In October 2020, the Office of the Correctional Investigator of Canada issued a devastating report on sexual violence in federal penitentiaries. It determined that the organization was indifferent to this reality. According to the correctional investigator, Dr. Ivan Zinger, Correctional Service Canada, CSC, turned a blind eye to the situation because the organization considered this to be normal behaviour in prison. The correctional investigator also noted that LGBTQ+ groups, women and persons with disabilities were more likely to be assaulted, but CSC had no strategy.

In May 2020, Radio-Canada reported that the Canada Border Services Agency had conducted more than 500 investigations into allegations of misconduct by its officers, including allegations of theft, corruption, abuse of power, criminal association and sexual harassment. As an example, some officers were using their position to get the phone number of women crossing the border.

We can only hope that the government takes meaningful action. For now, there is still no report on the horizon on cases of misconduct in the Canadian Armed Forces at the Standing Committee on National Defence. As for the Bastarache report, it is lingering at the Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security.

Fortunately, we are now studying this report on sexual misconduct in the Canadian Armed Forces at the Standing Committee on Status of Women. We can only hope that the government takes meaningful action. However, no report has been produced yet.

The Liberals had no problem filibustering to prevent Liberal staffers Zita Astravas and Elder Marques from appearing in committee. I know this because I was filling in for another member at that committee when it happened.

From the testimony of Elder Marques, we learned that everyone around Trudeau was aware, but Trudeau continues to deny it. When other staffers were summoned by the House—

7:15 p.m.


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

The hon. member knows that she must not use the names of current members of Parliament.

7:15 p.m.


Andréanne Larouche Bloc Shefford, QC

I understand, Madam Speaker.

The Liberal government continues to deny the facts. When other employees were summoned by the House, the Liberals chose instead to send the Minister of National Defence and said that they would prevent their employees from testifying.

Members should recall that the Conservatives had already caught wind of allegations against General Vance. However, they still appointed him as chief of the defence staff even though the Canadian Armed Forces had just been roundly criticized for their management of sexual misconduct cases and pervasive sexist culture.

In another report by the Standing Committee on the Status of Women dealing with women living in rural communities, we saw that the recommendation to apply GBA+ was already in the mandate letter of the Minister for Women and Gender Equality. However, not enough attention was given to the needs of women, especially those with special needs in rural, remote and northern communities.

The recommendation is not clear on whether there should be a comparative or feminist analysis or one based on the differences with respect to urban areas. In short, it is not clear whether this analysis can truly help fight the culture of toxic masculinity in the various federal institutions in our regions.

To conclude, given that it is now 2021, it is unacceptable that too many women and gender-diverse people continue to be victims of violence. Too many reports have been shelved for too long by different federal departments and agencies. To be able to take action and restore women's trust, and to reduce cases of assault, we must take action and that will take more than just applying GBA+ analysis.

7:15 p.m.


Lindsay Mathyssen NDP London—Fanshawe, ON

Madam Speaker, before I begin to discuss Motion No. 58, I need to briefly speak about the incredible loss that the people of London have suffered. An act of terror that occurred a few days ago took the lives of Salman, Yumna, Talat Afzaal and Madiha Salman and left Fayez recovering in hospital.

The heartbreak in our community is palpable, and that grief will take a long time to heal. It reminds me that every time I rise in this place I must keep the people I fight for in London—Fanshawe at the heart of what I say and what I do, the people who sent me here to bring their concerns forward, to deliberate on legislation and policies, to make sure those decisions will care for, treat fairly and improve their lives and, in fact, the lives of all people living in Canada. It must be beyond words that we work here in the House. Actions, after all, speak louder than those words.

To move the discussion on to the motion here today, one of those policies that can have a positive impact on the people in my riding is gender-based analysis plus. This analytical process, which provides an assessment method of systemic inequality as well as a means to assess how diverse groups of women, men and gender-diverse people may experience policies, programs and initiatives, is something the NDP supports fully.

The “plus” in GBA+ acknowledges the substantial differences, the multiple characteristics and intersections that contribute to who we are. GBA+ considers many other identity factors, such as race, ethnicity, religion, age and mental or physical disability and how the interaction between these factors influences the way we might experience government policies. New Democrats believe this, too, is a key part of the necessary analysis the government and all of its departments must apply.

In 2015, when the government committed to applying GBA+, including by mandating the minister of status of women to ensure that government policy, legislation and regulations are sensitive to the different impacts that decisions can have on men and women, we too were supportive.

Today, of course, we support the private member's motion, Motion No. 58.

I sit as a member of the Standing Committee on the Status of Women. We have spent the last few months studying sexual misconduct within the Canadian Armed Forces. We have heard clearly that the forces exist in a toxic culture and that without proper supports in place and without directly addressing the significant cultural issues within the military, many people will not want to enlist and retention will continue to be an issue.

In March 2021, Lieutenant-Colonel Eleanor Taylor, the deputy commander of 36 Canadian Brigade Group and a distinguished veteran of combat in Afghanistan, publicly resigned, saying in a Facebook post, “I am sickened by ongoing investigations of sexual misconduct among our key leaders. Unfortunately, I am not surprised. I am also certain that the scope of the problem has yet to be exposed. Throughout my career, I have observed insidious and inappropriate use of power for sexual exploitation.” That is an incredibly powerful statement.

We heard testimony at the status of women committee from several witnesses that in fact one cannot apply a GBA+ lens onto the military in this country because the culture of toxic masculinity is so pervasive that it is not taken seriously.

Christine Wood, chief of strategic engagement at It's Just 700, a volunteer-run organization that provides confidential peer support and information to members of the Canadian military who are survivors of work-related sexual trauma, appeared before our committee in April. When asked about GBA+ for programs to help military members, she said, “It's that point where we talk about GBA+. It doesn't start with GBA+. Everyone kind of checks it as a box at the end of their design.” Ms. Wood also said, “I feel like women have never had a level playing field in the forces; we were mandated to be included.”

In 2016, the Office of the Auditor General published a report, “Canadian Armed Forces Recruitment and Retention”. The Auditor General said:

We found that although the Canadian Armed Forces had established a goal for the representation of women among its ranks, it set this overall goal with no specific targets by occupation. We also found that despite the fact that achieving this goal depends heavily on increased recruiting, the Canadian Armed Forces had not implemented any special employment equity measures. The goal was 25 percent during the audit period; meanwhile, women represented 14 percent of the Regular Force.

In 2019, the Canadian Armed Forces told the Standing Committee on the Status of Women that, as of February, women accounted for 15.7% of the Canadian Armed Forces workforce. Not only is the Canadian Armed Forces, with mandated targets on retention, not meeting its goals, but for those who are recruited, the toxic environment they are surrounded by creates trauma and forces women and people from many other backgrounds, abilities, sexual identities and orientation to be victimized, often repeatedly.

My concern in all of this, and the questions we must ask here are: Will the motion bring much-needed change to the armed forces? Will it push the government, the military or the Department of National Defence to do anything differently or to go further to implement GBA+ in retention and recruitment within the department or within our military? Will it actually help to create a healthy environment for the people recruited, or will we continue to see the exodus of those who gave up years serving their country and defending others because they can no longer deal with the violence, ridicule and trauma they face, and because they have to defend themselves as a matter of survival instead?

I believe that too often the Liberal government says what it knows people want to hear, but then it breaks promises and does not take the real action necessary to make a difference. I believe the government is too often concerned with only checking the box. This motion cannot serve as only checking a box. There are things the government must do here today, and even though it has already had six years, it could create real and substantive change. I have received so many emails and calls, and I have heard too many stories, from people impacted by this toxic culture not to act.

As I said earlier, New Democrats support this motion because we support a GBA+ approach to meeting recruitment and retention targets for underrepresented groups. The supports CAF members need go far beyond this motion, and despite the many additional reports and reviews the government may call for, it could act immediately.

The government could create a special program within the Canadian Armed Forces in the recruitment of women and underrepresented groups as recommended by the Auditor General in 2016. It could strengthen the federal Employment Equity Act to attach employment equity measures to all Canadian Armed Forces recruitment and retention programs. It could introduce legislation to establish a military ombudsman as a permanent and independent officer of Parliament. It could create an independent centre of accountability for sexual assault and harassment, entirely outside of the forces. It would be responsible for receiving reports of inappropriate sexual conduct and for preventing it, as well as for coordinating and monitoring training and victim support, monitoring accountability and research, and acting as a central authority for the collection of data.

The government could ensure that parents who are members of the Canadian Armed Forces have access to affordable child care services that meet their needs. It could create an inclusive, safe and respectful workplace for all members of the Canadian Armed Forces, and it could provide mandatory, comprehensive trauma-informed survivor-centred sexual misconduct training for members at all levels, including senior leadership, delivered by experts regularly and applied with a GBA+ lens.

The government could also reverse the decisions it has already made when it comes to the privatization of military services, as these have negative impacts on all members. It could stop outsourcing service contracts to private companies at military bases, which costs the government millions of dollars more than if it were to provide full-time unionized jobs. It could reinvest these millions of dollars by bringing federal public service jobs back to DND and into the Canadian Forces to provide services such as upgrading inferior housing, training personnel and developing genuine efforts to tackle systemic racism, discrimination and sexual harassment within the forces.

The government could reinvest this money to purchase equipment designed for women. It could implement the recommendations of not only the Deschamps report, but also those of the PSAC report released last November, entitled, “In the interest of safety and security:?The case for ending the privatization of Department of National Defence services.”

In conclusion, this motion is a drop in the bucket of what is actually required for substantive change in the Armed Forces. The Canadian government has a long way to go to ensure gender equality, and the enforcement of GBA+ must not only be considered a box to check. This motion cannot simply pay lip service to the incredible people who depend upon us to create responsible policies and legislation. The government must work harder to do what is truly necessary.

7:25 p.m.

Ottawa West—Nepean Ontario


Anita Vandenbeld LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of National Defence

Madam Speaker, I would very much like to thank the hon. member for Marc-Aurèle-Fortin for this valuable motion that would help national defence and the Canadian Armed Forces meet recruitment and retention targets for underrepresented groups.

My hon. colleague has been a staunch champion of ensuring that these issues in the Canadian Armed Forces are heard and challenged. I fully support this motion. Our government is working to build a public service that is more inclusive and effective. Gender-based analysis plus is essential to both of these goals.

GBA+ looks at how diverse groups of women, men and gender-diverse peoples may experience policies, programs, legislation, regulations and other initiatives differently. It goes beyond an examination of just the impacts on gender and considers all of the different factors that simultaneously make up people's identities, such as age, sexual orientation, gender, geography, language, race, religion, ethnicity, socio-economic status and other factors, and how those intersect.

It involves understanding who is affected, determining how we can adapt our efforts to address their diverse needs, and reducing barriers to access or support. This analysis is essential for building a public service that meets the needs of all Canadians. We have to be fair, equitable and inclusive.

To this end, the Department of National Defence supports the use of GBA+ in all defence activities, including recruitment and retention. We are facing an increasingly more complex, challenging and interconnected world. State and non-state actors are competing for influence and challenging the rules-based international order that underpins our prosperity and democracy.

At home, the military has answered the call time and again to help Canadians in need, whether during natural disasters or during the COVID-19 pandemic. To remain strong at home, secure in North America and engaged in the world, National Defence must be agile. It must be able to adapt to new circumstances and innovate. Diversity and inclusion are essential to that. We need people from all different backgrounds who bring unique perspectives to the table and who can work together to find creative solutions to the problems we face.

National defence must also maintain the trust and confidence of the people we serve. That means upholding the highest ethical and professional standards. Treating all people with dignity and respect must be at the core of our culture, a culture that is currently undergoing a complete overhaul to better reflect the values Canadians expect.

GBA+ must be included in all of our work. One important area for this is recruitment. Recruiters are front and centre in bringing top talent to the Canadian Armed Forces. They are often the first face in uniform that potential recruits meet, so it is essential that they embody the values and principles that Canadians hold dear, and that they understand the value of inclusion and representation. All Canadian Forces recruitment group members go through rigorous training on diversity, inclusion, racism, human rights, employment equity and GBA+. They apply these principles in their work as they bring in the next generation of Canadian Armed Forces members.

GBA+ is a vital part of Operation Generation, the CAF's multipronged mission to meet growth requirements and employment equity goals. By using GBA+, we can better understand how perceptions of the military and attitudes toward joining may differ among various groups. We need to find and address any barriers.

Although there has been a slight increase in the number of women recruited into the Canadian Armed Forces over the past three years, we have not yet met our recruitment targets. GBA+ research shows that certain groups of young women are not aware of the career options that are available in the Canadian Forces or have concerns about work-life balance.

GBA+ research has shown how people of all genders from racialized communities have different perceptions about a military career, so we need to overcome these perceptions and speak to what motivates people from various communities.

Canada's sailors, soldiers and aviators perform meaningful work at home and abroad, and can find flexibility through part-time service with the primary reserve. However, we recognize attracting people to the military is not enough. They need the right policies and structures to want to stay.

As GBA+ is important to recruitment, it is also critical in retention. For example, when we purchase equipment, we need to consider the differences in size, shape and mobility of different CAF personnel.

During the medium support vehicle system project, we found that soldiers below a certain height would have difficulty pushing the vehicle's brake pedal across its entire range of motion. We therefore worked with the contractor to move the pedal. Not only did this make the truck safer, but it meant that a group of people would not be excluded from driving it.

That is how we can set people up for success: clothes and equipment that fit their bodies, policies that fit their needs and career paths that fit their professional aspirations.

In the context of operations, the Canadian Armed Forces is currently assessing barriers to women's meaningful participation in peace support operations, and DND is exploring the use of GBA+ to help inform Canada's selection of and role in ongoing and future military operations. On the civilian side, DND implemented the civilian diversity and inclusion action plan in 2019, which aims to eliminate employment equity gaps, expand leadership representation, enhance promotion rates for all civilian diversity groups, implement inclusive practices and embed individual accountability.

To overcome our systemic barriers, we need strong and inclusive leadership. Last September, National Defence launched an executive recruitment campaign for racialized people to increase representation within our senior leadership team. This process was heavily informed by GBA+. We used research and evidence to guide our decisions, implemented new AI tools and assessment methods to evaluate candidates, and challenged legacy recruiting assessment and hiring practices to eliminate bias.

We successfully qualified 36 top-tier candidates. Some of these individuals have already been hired from this process, and others will fill future executive positions at National Defence and in the broader public service. National Defence is committed to evaluating human resource policies, programs, tools and reporting systems through a GBA+ and anti-racism lens.

We need to understand how our legacy initiatives impact people and how we can improve in the future. One example is the military spouse employment initiative. After a GBA+ review, we found that the program previously focused on a narrow scope of administrative and clerical roles. We are therefore highlighting jobs in a variety of fields to provide military spouses with a broader range of opportunities.

National Defence and the Canadian Armed Forces have made progress over the years regarding GBA+ across all lines of efforts. That said, the department recognizes that more needs to be done to build a safe, welcoming and inclusive workspace.

Let me be clear. Every person deserves to work in an environment that is free from harassment and discrimination. That is why we welcome the crucial recommendations that will come from Madam Louise Arbour's independent, comprehensive external review, and that is why we created the new chief professional conduct and culture organization, which will be led by Lieutenant-General Jennie Carignan.

Looking forward and in the spirit of this motion, DND and CAF will continue building on the foundational GBA+ work that has been done so far. We recognize that it needs to be applied through every stage of our work, from initial planning through to evaluation.

GBA+ will help us improve the way we recruit and retain people from diverse communities and improve the way we do our important work to defend Canada.

I want to sincerely thank my colleague, the member for Marc-Aurèle-Fortin, for moving this important motion. It comes at a critical time.

I also want to thank him for his ongoing commitment, for being an ally and for contributing to improving our institutions and making them more inclusive.

We support this motion without amendment.

7:35 p.m.


Stephanie Kusie Conservative Calgary Midnapore, AB

Madam Speaker, I am pleased to be here to discuss Motion No. 58 before us today.

It is always a pleasure for me to rise in the House to speak to a motion when the objective is to support women. I am always so happy to see more women in the House and more women candidates, and it is just a pleasure when they get elected and join us here in the House.

The thing I struggle with regarding this piece of legislation is that it is coming from a government that says one thing, yet does another. We have seen this repeatedly, and in particular with the Liberals' GBA+ program. We have mostly heard here today about the testimony from the status of women committee. I am very fortunate to have been on that committee for a brief period. I did enjoy my time in that committee. However, the testimony that we have heard here today is very damning of the history of the current government and certainly of the representation of women and the rights of women within the Canadian Armed Forces.

Within the testimony we have heard regarding sexual misconduct in the Canadian Armed Forces, various things have included the rollout of Operation Honour. Even with the rollout of Operation Honour, which former chief of the defence staff General Vance was responsible for, members of the military were actually heard saying it was “hop on her”: a play on words indicating the toxic culture that existed at the time. We are hearing in testimony that it still exists to this day.

Another terrible story is that after one witness appeared before the committee to share her experience, the following day, on a private military police Facebook page of predominantly men, there were comments such as “sounds like PMQs,” private married quarters, “on payday”. Another said “giggity”, in reference to a character on the adult show Family Guy who is a sex addict and a womanizer. This is the type of activity that was going on in the Canadian Armed Forces.

In fact, the man in charge of developing Operation Honour was regularly committing this offence. One witness referred to Operation Honour as “sour milk”, and the quote is as follows:

[Operation] Honour certainly got the conversation going and improved resources and education available to [Canadian Armed Forces] members, but the leadership has been wilfully ignorant—

7:40 p.m.


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

I apologize, but I have to interrupt the member at this moment. The hon. member will have six minutes and 50 seconds to complete her speech when we next come to this.

The time provided for the consideration of Private Members' Business has now expired and the order is dropped to the bottom of the order of precedence on the Order Paper.

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

The EnvironmentAdjournment Proceedings

7:40 p.m.


Elizabeth May Green Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

Madam Speaker, I am resuming a question I asked previously. The minister of fisheries answered the question, but it pertains to climate targets and climate accountability. I made the point in question period that, when we talk about climate targets, they are not political. Climate targets are deeply about the science.

The minister of fisheries replied at the time that the new targets the Prime Minister had just announced at the Earth Day summit with Joe Biden were, in fact, to be put into the law and actually reflected in part of what is called the net-zero emissions accountability act, Bill C-12. Since then, the government decided not to put those targets in the act.

The key point I want to make today in our adjournment proceedings is about the nature of what we committed to do under the Paris Agreement in 2015 at COP 21. The key thing we committed to do was to work with all the other nations on earth to hold the global average temperature increase to no more than 1.5° above what those levels were before the industrial revolution, and to certainly hold it as far below 2° as possible.

Why does this matter? The survival of human civilization is very much at risk if we miss these targets. We are now more than 1°C in global average temperature increase above where we were as a society and a planet before the industrial revolution. Going above 1.5° is actually not a safe zone; it is a danger zone. It involves a significant risk to human civilization's survival. Going above 2° would put our future generations, our own children, very much at risk. That is why the targets are not political. They are about the science.

I am heartbroken that the government chose to put forward its so-called climate accountability legislation, which aims for a level of reductions of emissions that are not tied to the science. It actually puts us at risk. There is a lot of clamouring around Bill C-12 and the title “net-zero”, but net-zero by 2050 is the wrong target. Net-zero by 2050 does not hold to 1.5°. In the words of Greta Thunberg, net-zero by 2050 is “surrender” without short-term and near-term targets that ensure global emissions are cut in half by 2030.

I have just this moment left clause-by-clause as it ends on Bill C-12. The milestone year remains 2030, but the large problem remains that, if we do not improve what we have agreed to do, the target of 40% to 45% below our 2005 levels by 2030 referenced when I put this forward in question period is not close to being what we committed to do in Paris.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change set forth what all countries on earth have to do. Canada has a larger burden than most, because it is the only country in the industrialized world to see our emissions go up so very much since 1990 and go up since Paris.

We have a commitment to do better and to do more. That means that we should be revising our target upward and we should not delude ourselves into believing that net-zero by 2050 is anything other than a public relations gloss on what the science tells us we must do. We are in a climate emergency. We need to act like it and ban fracking, cancel the TMX pipeline and do those things in our power, as a wealthy industrialized society, to move to climate security.

The EnvironmentAdjournment Proceedings

7:45 p.m.

Winnipeg South Manitoba


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

Madam Speaker, once again, Bill C-12 is a ground-breaking piece of legislation for Canada, establishing a legal framework for Canada to achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by the year 2050 and help the globe avoid the worst consequences of climate change.

There are many years before 2050 and we know that our actions in emissions reductions in those intervening years are just as important as where we are in 2050. That is why Bill C-12 requires the government to set emissions reduction targets at five-year intervals starting in 2030 all the way until 2050, and it will also require the government to report on its progress toward achievement of those targets throughout. Of course, the requirement to develop emissions reduction plans is also an important component of the legislation.

With respect to a near-term target, a new provision was added during committee review to require the inclusion of an interim GHG emissions objective for 2026. Adding an interim objective provides a mid-point check-in between now and 2030. The 2026 objective will offer an opportunity to have a more detailed look in terms of whether we are still on track for 2030 or not, and do the course correction accordingly.

Understandingly, the previous emissions reduction commitments made by signatories to the Paris Agreement are not enough to hold global warming below 1.5°C. There has been a global call for increased ambition and climate action. Canada heard this call, and in April at the Leaders Summit on Climate, announced an enhanced emissions reduction target of 40% to 45% below 2005 levels by 2030. I am pleased to announce that because of amendments adopted by the House of Commons and the committee, this target will be embedded directly in the text of the bill.

To conclude, the measures contained in the Canadian net-zero emissions accountability act would ensure that there is a clear process in place for setting targets, as well planning and reporting on progress, including in the key period between now and 2030.

Finally, along with the reporting requirements under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, the act would ensure that the Government of Canada is committed and accountable for all the years to come in charting Canada's path to net-zero emissions by 2050.

The EnvironmentAdjournment Proceedings

7:45 p.m.


Elizabeth May Green Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

Madam Speaker, I am disappointed to tell the parliamentary secretary that clause-by-clause did not embed those targets in the act, although it had been promised.

The reality is that net zero by 2050, if achieved, does not ensure that we are holding to 1.5°C or even to as far below 2°C as possible. That is why Greta Thunberg has said clearly to the EU commissioners that net zero by 2050 is “surrender”. There is only one pathway that will lead to 1.5°C and as far below 2°C as possible. The IPCC set that out in its special report from October 2018 and that is more dramatic emissions reductions globally than anything yet anticipated.

Canada should be cutting to 60% below our 2005 levels by 2030, not a mere 40%. We must do better, we must do more and we must stop lying to ourselves.

The EnvironmentAdjournment Proceedings

7:50 p.m.


Terry Duguid Liberal Winnipeg South, MB

Madam Speaker, our recently announced strengthened climate plan, “A Healthy Environment and a Healthy Economy”, builds on our first climate plan, the Pan-Canadian Framework on Clean Growth and Climate Change, and included over 60 new measures and $15 billion in investments to advance our ambitious climate goals and strengthen our clean economy. The government has since expanded on these investments and committed an additional $15 billion for public transit and active transportation projects, and $17.6 billion in new, green recovery measures in budget 2021.

The investments made in budget 2021, along with other actions, including strengthened alignment with the United States to cut further pollution from transportation and methane emissions, means that Canada is now positioned to reduce emissions by about 36% below 2005 levels by 2030.

Post-Secondary EducationAdjournment Proceedings

June 9th, 2021 / 7:50 p.m.


Heather McPherson NDP Edmonton Strathcona, AB

Madam Speaker, on February 1, Laurentian University declared insolvency, taking many by surprise. We have since learned that Liberal members of Parliament and the Minister of Economic Development and Official Languages were aware of the issue at Laurentian University prior to this announcement. This begs the question: Why did the government choose to sit on the sidelines and watch Laurentian University fail?

However, Laurentian University is not the only post-secondary institution in trouble in this country. I must, once again, implore the government to step in and ensure that what happened with Laurentian University does not happen again in Alberta, further jeopardizing minority official language education in Canada.

Campus Saint-Jean, the only French-language university west of Winnipeg, is at risk because of massive provincial cuts. Campus Saint-Jean is part of the University of Alberta, and over the past two and a half years, the Government of Alberta has cut the University of Alberta's funding by $170 million. Nearly half of the cuts to post-secondary education in Alberta have happened to the University of Alberta, and as a result, 1,000 faculty members in Edmonton are losing their jobs. Tuition fees are rising as much as 50%, and the fate of Campus Saint-Jean hangs in the balance.

Campus Saint-Jean is not an ordinary post-secondary institution. It serves a unique role in western Canada, and it is vital that it be supported. Its education programs train future teachers for Alberta and other provinces in primary and secondary French immersion and French programming. Without Campus Saint-Jean, Alberta would not have qualified teachers for the needs of francophone students, of parents like me and of students who, like my daughter Keltie, are enrolled in the bilingual program.

Section 23 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms guarantees that Albertan francophone parents have the right to have their children receive primary and secondary school instruction in French. A year ago, the Supreme Court affirmed this right and more. It found that minority language communities must receive equivalent support to the majority language, not proportional support.

The implications for Alberta are very clear. Unless Campus Saint-Jean receives federal support, Alberta school boards will not be able to meet the equivalency standard. The government must not allow another French-language university to fail. The government must act now before it is too late.

The mandate of the Minister of Economic Development and Official Languages outlines the government's stated commitment to Canada's official language in minority settings and calls for investment in infrastructure to support minority communities, including schools. However, current funding is not sufficient to meet the intent of the Official Languages Act. It is obvious that we need systemic change and a structure that acknowledges the need for post-secondary education support, not just support for kindergarten to grade 12, and we need this change in the long term.

Right now there is a crisis. Right now there is an immediate need for support that does not rely on provincial governments to match, like in Ontario, where the Ford government refused to fund Université de l'Ontario français. Alberta's government is failing to live up to its obligations, and just like those in Ontario, Albertans need the federal government to step in and save Campus Saint-Jean.

The future French-language instruction and vitality in Alberta and western Canada is at stake. Will the government show francophones in Alberta the same respect that it has shown francophones in Ontario—

Post-Secondary EducationAdjournment Proceedings

7:55 p.m.


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

The hon. Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Economic Development and Official Languages.

Post-Secondary EducationAdjournment Proceedings

7:55 p.m.

Orléans Ontario


Marie-France Lalonde LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Economic Development and Official Languages (FedDev Ontario and Official Languages)

Madam Speaker, I would like to thank the member for Edmonton Strathcona for raising this very important issue. She spoke in French during her speech and when she asked a question on May 28. I wish to applaud her efforts.

My colleague has been defending Campus Saint-Jean against the Conservative threat for a long time now. We share her concerns about the way the government of Jason Kenney is making access to post-secondary education in French more difficult for Franco-Albertans and francophiles.

That is why we wrote Premier Jason Kenney last year. We asked him to reconsider his decision to reduce funding for Campus Saint-Jean. We know how vital it is for our official language minority communities to access post-secondary education in the language of their choice. Campus Saint-Jean strengthens these communities and contributes to ensuring their continued vitality. Our government has often affirmed its commitment to finding solutions to support and increase services offered by Campus Saint-Jean and to ensure its continued existence.

We have invested more than $3 million in Campus Saint-Jean and more than $15 million a year for Alberta, through our action plan for official languages. Furthermore, in budget 2021, we announced that we will invest more than $120 million to support post-secondary minority-language education. We are working on solutions. We hope that the province will work just as quickly to address this important challenge.

As the Minister of Official Languages has said many times, our government is committed to protecting and promoting French across the country, including in Quebec. That obviously includes Alberta. We want francophones to have access to post-secondary education in French, no matter where they live. We want to give francophiles an opportunity to build on their language skills. A strong and dynamic Campus Saint-Jean is a key part of that.

Once again, I thank the member opposite for her advocacy on this very important issue. Our government is committed to protecting Campus Saint-Jean and we will continue to push the Conservative government in Alberta to show its support for the university, its programs and the many students who rely on it.

I hope that the member for Edmonton Strathcona will continue to work with us on this important fight.

Post-Secondary EducationAdjournment Proceedings

7:55 p.m.


Heather McPherson NDP Edmonton Strathcona, AB

Madam Speaker, budget 2021 allocated $121.3 million over three years to Canadian Heritage to make high-quality post-secondary minority-language education available across Canada. We already know that a significant portion of these funds must be earmarked for the Université de l'Ontario français, an institution that will see its very first cohort of students this fall.

As the government has already committed more than $60 million over eight years to support French-language education at this institution in Toronto, Campus Saint-Jean, represented by the Association canadienne-française de l'Alberta, the ACFA, has been told to be patient. They have been told that the minister is working on it.

Time is running out. When will Campus Saint-Jean be notified of funding? How much funding will Campus Saint-Jean be receiving, and how will that funding be applied?

Post-Secondary EducationAdjournment Proceedings

7:55 p.m.


Marie-France Lalonde Liberal Orléans, ON

Madam Speaker, I thank my colleague for her question.

We have been quite clear that we are prepared to provide financial assistance to the Alberta government through our official languages support programs. Through our action plan for official languages, various initiatives are available to the provinces to address the financial challenges facing their post-secondary institutions.

As we indicated in our reform document on the Official Languages Act, our government intends to enhance support for the key institutions of official language minority communities, because they are essential to the future of our two official languages and are fundamental to building and maintaining the vitality of minority language communities.

Airline IndustryAdjournment Proceedings

8 p.m.


Stephanie Kusie Conservative Calgary Midnapore, AB

Madam Speaker, it is always a pleasure to be in the House speaking for the people of Calgary Midnapore.

On May 14, I asked the following question of the Minister of Transport:

Madam Speaker, the U.K. has announced its restart plan for international travel, using the traffic light system, but here in Canada we are still stuck under the Liberals' third wave—

We are still stuck in the third wave.

—and the hotel quarantine program—

We are still stuck in the hotel quarantine program.

—with no end in sight. It is not just like flipping a light off and on: Both airports and airlines will need time to get things up and running again.

When will the government do the right thing, provide some hope for Canadians and come up with a comprehensive restart strategy for air travel?

It is almost a month later. Today when I recognized I would be giving the adjournment speech regarding this question that has yet to be answered, and we have yet to see a plan provided to the airline sector, I wondered why I was doing this yet again and why I had to ask for this once again. Then I saw the news that Ed Sims, the incredible CEO of WestJet, has announced his retirement at the end of the year. I thought of what a wonderful individual and leader he is, and how he has led the industry and his company with such grace and respect. Then I thought about all of the pilots who have written to me in the last year, all of the flight attendants who have congratulated me for standing up for them, and all of the mechanics and Nav Canada employees who watched the executives receive $7 million in bonuses this week, yet they were laid off.

They are the reason I am here today demanding another answer from the Minister of Transport. It is a month later and we still do not have a plan. There is no hope. It was announced today that there is no end in sight to the hotel quarantine program even though it is unsafe and unscientific. One week after I asked this question, the minister could not give Canada a date as to when travel restrictions would end.

Canadians have done their fair part. Airline workers have done their fair part. Everyone has followed the guidelines and lined up for their first vaccines, but the terrible procurement strategy and distribution of the vaccines have in fact led to this third wave. We are all awaiting our second vaccination. I truly hope we can avoid a fourth wave with the Delta variant.

Frankly, beyond the question that I asked the minister, the government owes it to Canada to answer a question. When do we get our lives back? When do we get to go to Disneyland? When do we get to see our loved ones wherever they are? We have not been given that hope and assurance at this time. This goes well beyond the airline sector. It goes to Canadians. The problems were terrible procurement and distribution of vaccines. The most egregious issue is not having a plan. That includes a plan for the airline sector, for travel and for Canadians who absolutely deserve one.

I am calling on the minister again today to answer the question that I first asked on May 14: When will the government do the right thing, provide some hope for Canadians and come up with a comprehensive restart strategy for air travel?

Airline IndustryAdjournment Proceedings

8 p.m.

Hochelaga Québec


Soraya Martinez Ferrada LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Transport

Madam Speaker, since the beginning of the COVID-19 crisis, Transport Canada has been working tirelessly to support and collaborate with the Canadian aviation industry. We know that after the pandemic, a strong and competitive airline industry will be essential to Canada's economic recovery.

The government worked in close collaboration with its industry partners to implement this comprehensive, multi-layered system of security measures and directives aimed at protecting Canadians and people who work in the transportation sector.

In August 2020, Transport Canada unveiled Canada's flight plan for navigating COVID-19. This action plan, which was developed with governments and industry representatives, describes the measures taken in response to the pandemic to promote public health across the aviation sector, in accordance with international standards and best practices.

Meanwhile, federal officials are having regular discussions with aviation sector stakeholders on the future of the travel industry, through various channels and opportunities for direct communication, such as the working group on the post-COVID-19 recovery. Transport Canada continues to support the aviation industry and the restart of air travel with an allocation of $82.5 million in funding in 2021-22 in the 2021 budget. This funding will help major Canadian airports make investments in screening infrastructure and COVID-19 tests. The funding will be provided under a transfer payment program, a cost-sharing program similar to other federal infrastructure programs. The minister has launched consultations with international hubs and small regional airports to examine how they can benefit from this funding.

Transport Canada is also working tirelessly at the international level with like-minded partners and international organizations, such as the International Civil Aviation Organization and the World Health Organization, to ensure that our recovery measures follow international best practices and to ensure global coordination when possible.

It is important to note that the Minister of Transport and his G7 counterparts made a commitment at the G7 transport ministers' meeting on May 5 to work on a common set of principles to guide the resumption of international travel when it is safe to do so.

We are aware that other regions, including the United Kingdom and the European Union, have released plans for restarting international travel. We are examining these approaches carefully as we begin to plan Canada's recovery.

The government's top priority is to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and its variants. Any decision on reopening will be based on public health advice. We understand the need to prepare for the sector's recovery and are working tirelessly to plan for it, but such decisions can only be made at the right time.

Airline IndustryAdjournment Proceedings

8:05 p.m.


Stephanie Kusie Conservative Calgary Midnapore, AB

Madam Speaker, I thank my colleague.

They are obviously not working tirelessly, since I am here again today and there is still no plan. There is no plan for the sector and no plan regarding Canadians' travel plans. The minister is fully responsible for this, which is why I did not get an answer on May 14. I am once again asking for a plan, because the sector needs one and Canada needs one. I am waiting for a plan.

Airline IndustryAdjournment Proceedings

8:05 p.m.


Soraya Martinez Ferrada Liberal Hochelaga, QC

Madam Speaker, I want to reassure my colleague that the government is working tirelessly with the vital airline industry to bring in a comprehensive, multi-layered system of measures and directives to protect Canadians and people who work in the transportation and shipping sector.

Looking ahead, we know that Canada's economic recovery depends on a strong and competitive airline industry. We know that we must start planning now to ensure a safe and successful restart of the industry in the months to come. We also know that this needs to be done in planned stages, by clearly communicating with the public and the Canadian industry regarding which restrictions will be lifted and when, and by relying on the advice of our top public health researchers and experts.

The government's top priority is to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and its variants. Any decision on reopening will be based on public health advice.

Airline IndustryAdjournment Proceedings

8:05 p.m.


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

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

(The House adjourned at 8:09 p.m.)