House of Commons Hansard #122 of the 44th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was food.

Topics

Immigration and Refugee Protection ActRoutine Proceedings

November 1st, 2022 / 10 a.m.

Orléans Ontario

Liberal

Marie-France Lalonde LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Immigration

Mr. Speaker, pursuant to subsection 94(1) of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act, I have the honour to table, in both official languages, the 2022 annual report to Parliament on immigration.

Pursuant to Standing Order 32(5), the report is deemed referred to the Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration.

Royal Canadian Mounted PoliceRoutine Proceedings

10 a.m.

Oakville North—Burlington Ontario

Liberal

Pam Damoff LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Public Safety

Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to table, in both official languages, the 2021 annual report on the RCMP's use of the law enforcement justification provisions.

This report addresses the RCMP's use of specific provisions within the law enforcement justification regime, which is set out in sections 25.1 to 25.4 of the Criminal Code. The report also documents the nature of the investigations in which these provisions were used.

Office of the Correctional InvestigatorRoutine Proceedings

10 a.m.

Oakville North—Burlington Ontario

Liberal

Pam Damoff LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Public Safety

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to table, in both official languages, the 2021-22 annual report of the Office of the Correctional Investigator, as required under section 192 of the Corrections and Conditional Release Act.

Royal Canadian Mounted Police ActRoutine Proceedings

10 a.m.

NDP

Alistair MacGregor NDP Cowichan—Malahat—Langford, BC

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-303, An Act to amend the Royal Canadian Mounted Police Act.

Mr. Speaker, allow me to briefly explain the why, what and how of this bill.

We have all seen the allegations of political interference with regard to the RCMP. I think a big reason for that is the way the RCMP Act is currently written. Currently, subsection 5(1) of the RCMP Act provides for the appointment of a Commissioner, “who, under the direction of the Minister, has the control and management of the Force”. This archaic provision has been and continues to be a recipe for lack of clarity and controversy.

The bill I am introducing today would amend the Royal Canadian Mounted Police Act to clarify the scope of the directions that the Minister of Public Safety and the Minister of Emergency Preparedness can issue to the commissioner of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. Specifically, the minister shall not issue direction in respect to the following: any operational decisions, any matters respecting law enforcement decisions in a specific case, such as those relating to investigations, arrests and prosecutions, and any matter that would interfere with the commissioner's powers or authority. It would also require that all directions be issued in writing, tabled in Parliament and published in the Canada Gazette.

I would like to thank my colleague, the member for Hamilton Centre, for seconding this bill. I urge all parliamentarians to support this legislative initiative so that we have clarity of direction for the RCMP.

(Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed)

Guaranteed Livable IncomePetitionsRoutine Proceedings

10 a.m.

Liberal

Rob Oliphant Liberal Don Valley West, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to present a petition forwarded to me from the residents of Toronto—St. Paul's, the riding neighbouring Don Valley West.

The petitioners call on the Government of Canada to begin immediate negotiations with the Government of P.E.I. for the development and implementation of a guaranteed livable income project for Prince Edward Island. I have heard from many residents of Don Valley West about affordability, and this petition highlights the importance of continued support for Canadians during our post-COVID economic recovery.

Falun GongPetitionsRoutine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.

Liberal

Mark Gerretsen Liberal Kingston and the Islands, ON

Madam Speaker, I am pleased to rise to present a petition, like so many others who have stood before the House, asking the government to establish a resolution to stop the Chinese communist regime from systematically murdering Falun Gong practitioners for their organs, to amend Canadian legislation to combat forced organ harvesting and to publicly call for an end to the persecution of Falun Gong in China.

Questions on the Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.

Winnipeg North Manitoba

Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Madam Speaker, I ask that all questions be allowed to stand.

Questions on the Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.

Liberal

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

Is that agreed?

Questions on the Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Opposition Motion—ArriveCAN Application Performance AuditBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

10:05 a.m.

Carleton Ontario

Conservative

Pierre Poilievre ConservativeLeader of the Opposition

moved:

That, given that,

(i) the cost of government is driving up the cost of living,

(ii) the Parliamentary Budget Officer states that 40% of new spending is not related to COVID-19,

(iii) Canadians are now paying higher prices and higher interest rates as a result,

(iv) it is more important than ever for the government to respect taxpayer dollars and eliminate wasteful spending,

the House call on the Auditor General of Canada to conduct a performance audit, including the payments, contracts and sub-contracts for all aspects of the ArriveCAN app, and to prioritize this investigation.

Madam Speaker, I will begin by saying that I will be sharing my time with the hon. member for Calgary Forest Lawn.

I am rising today in the House of Commons at a time in history where more Canadians than ever are saying that they are worse off financially than they were last year. In one month, 1.5 million Canadians had to use a food bank, and 20% of Canadians polled said that they had to skip meals because of the cost of groceries. To top it all off, the Jane and Finch food bank was forced to relocate because the landlord raised the rent. More Canadians are using food banks because of inflation, which is affecting food prices, and food banks have to relocate because of inflation, which is affecting the cost of rent. What is causing this phenomenon? Obviously the cost of government is increasing the cost of living. A $500-billion inflationary deficit is driving up the cost of the goods we purchase and the interest we pay.

Inflationary taxes further increase the cost of production of goods and services for our businesses, farmers and workers. That is “justinflation”. The government says that it was impossible to avoid this spending, which was entirely related to COVID-19. However, the Parliamentary Budget Officer told us that almost 40% of the spending announced since 2020 had nothing to do with COVID-19. Rather, it was related to discretionary decisions made by the government to spend more money.

Even some of the COVID-related spending was wasteful. The government continued to pay benefits to keep people off work, despite the fact that there were almost a million vacant positions. It also sent cheques to inmates and to public servants who were already employed but were still receiving the benefit. Lastly, there was the wastefulness of ArriveCAN, which we are discussing today.

We know that this was a huge waste of our money. The government spent $54 million on an app that could have been developed over a single weekend for $250,000. Moreover, we know that the app was unnecessary. Canadians have been able to cross the border without it for decades, and even centuries. Why did this app suddenly become necessary?

According to some, it was needed to show people’s vaccination status. Personally, I was against that requirement. However, even if I believed in the requirement, it was not necessary to develop an app. There were other ways of providing that information. In short, it was not necessary, it did not work, and it could have been developed at a cost of $250,000 instead of $54 million.

Also, we do not know where the money went. We asked that question here in the House of Commons, and the government tabled documents with a list of companies that received contracts, including ThinkOn, which was purportedly given $1.2 million. The problem is that, a few days later, the company said that it never received the money. Ernst & Young was supposedly paid $120,000, but, there again, the company said that it never worked on ArriveCAN.

A few weeks later, the government said that it was a mistake, that it thought it had paid these companies, but it was other companies instead who received that payment. There is obviously something fishy going on. The government does not want Canadians to know the truth. That is why the Conservative Party is introducing a motion in the House of Commons that calls on the Auditor General of Canada to investigate so that Canadians can know the truth.

We will find out the truth. The government will have to answer to Canadians. In fact, at a time when Canadians are unable to pay their bills, it is an outrage to force them to pay $54 million for such a useless waste of money.

As I stand in the House today, 20% of Canadians are skipping meals because they cannot afford the cost of food and 1.5 million of them are going to food banks in a single month. Speaking of food banks, one food bank at Jane and Finch was forced to move because the rent doubled. Food price inflation is driving people to the food bank and rent price inflation is driving food banks out of the neighbourhood. Meanwhile, Canadians tell pollsters that they are in their worst financial situation ever.

How did we get here? The cost of government is driving up the cost of living. A half-trillion dollars of inflationary deficits have bid up the cost of the goods we buy and the interest we pay. Inflationary taxes have increased the costs for businesses to produce those goods and services. The more they spend, the more things cost. It is just inflation.

The government said it had no choice but to add this half-trillion dollars to it. It had no choice but to double the debt or add more debt than all other governments in Canadian history combined. However, we know that is not true because the Parliamentary Budget Officer said that 40% of new spending announced in the last two years alone had nothing to do with COVID. It was discretionary spending.

On top of that, the money that was linked to COVID was often wasted. The government paid CERB benefits to people, even when there were a half-million vacant jobs and the economies had been totally reopened by provincial governments. It paid CERB cheques to prisoners. Even federal public servants who were employed managed to get their hands on CERB cheques at the same time.

We also know that the government tried to give half a billion dollars to the WE Charity, only to be caught by Conservatives who held it to account. Now we learn that it spent $54 million on an app that we did not need, that did not work and that could have been designed for $250,000.

We looked into this. We wanted to know where the money went and who got rich. The government tabled documents in the House that showed us that among the contracted companies, one was ThinkOn, which was paid $1.2 million for QR code experimentation. The only problem was that the company, ThinkOn, said the government should dream on as it did not get the money. It said, “We have received no money from the CBSA”. The government has since put out a correction saying it thought it gave ThinkOn $1.2 million, but it turns out it did not.

It is a strange mistake to make. It is kind of hard to envision it happening. Did the government put a cheque in the mail and send it to the wrong address? Did it get an invoice from the company asking for reimbursement for costs and accidentally wrote the wrong name on the invoice? These are curiosities.

Opposition Motion—ArriveCAN Application Performance AuditBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

10:15 a.m.

Liberal

Mark Gerretsen Liberal Kingston and the Islands, ON

Conspiracies, not curiosities.

Opposition Motion—ArriveCAN Application Performance AuditBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

10:15 a.m.

Conservative

Pierre Poilievre Conservative Carleton, ON

Madam Speaker, no, they are not, but they may well be. In fairness, Napoleon said to never ascribe to malice that which can be explained by incompetence. That is a plausible theory for the government. At the same time, we need to know the truth.

When $54 million goes out the door and government officials cannot get their stories straight about where it went, the least we can do is to have an audit. Put the Auditor General in charge. Look into these costs. Find out who got the money, who got rich and why we spent $54 million on an app that could have been designed for a quarter of a million dollars.

Why did we waste this money when Canadians are paying so much? How could the government be so out of touch? We need answers. We need the truth. Support this motion and let us get to that truth.

Opposition Motion—ArriveCAN Application Performance AuditBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

10:15 a.m.

Kingston and the Islands Ontario

Liberal

Mark Gerretsen LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons (Senate)

Madam Speaker, the Leader of the Opposition raised a very acute and real reality that many Canadians are facing right now. They are facing extreme hardships as a result of global inflation and as a result of what is going on throughout the world right now.

I will put to him the question that he has been asked several times in the House by the Prime Minister: Why did the Conservatives choose not to vote in favour of Bill C-31? That is the bill to give important relief to Canadians, in particular Canadians who needed it the most, Canadians he referenced in his speech.

Would the member be willing to share with the House now why Conservatives voted against that very important measure?

Opposition Motion—ArriveCAN Application Performance AuditBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

10:15 a.m.

Conservative

Pierre Poilievre Conservative Carleton, ON

Madam Speaker, we have since learned that measure would largely be gobbled up by administrative costs. As with so many Liberal initiatives throughout this pandemic, they have cost too much and delivered too little.

Insiders, bureaucracies and special interest groups have become fabulously wealthy over the last seven years and, in particular, the last two years. We know the WE Charity is one example. We know Frank Baylis, a former Liberal MP, got a special contract. We know that the SNC-Lavalin company, a favourite of the Prime Minister, got contracts to produce field hospitals that were never used.

There are countless examples of insiders getting rich while Canadians get poor. Conservatives will never vote for that.

Opposition Motion—ArriveCAN Application Performance AuditBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

10:15 a.m.

Bloc

Denis Trudel Bloc Longueuil—Saint-Hubert, QC

Madam Speaker, it feels a little like Groundhog Day. The Conservative Party opposition days keep coming and they are always the same. Today, they moved a motion that is essentially the same as the ones from last week and the week before that. They talk about inflation each and every time. It is not difficult to grasp the Conservatives' rhetoric: fewer taxes and more oil. However, that approach does not work.

A Radio-Canada article this morning reported that Canada ranks second in the G20 when it comes to public investments in oil and has invested $8.5 million U.S. over the past few years. Canada approved the Bay du Nord project, bought a pipeline, and is investing $11 million a year in oil. The Liberals are ahead of the Conservatives when it comes to oil. The Conservatives should stop complaining.

Opposition Motion—ArriveCAN Application Performance AuditBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

10:15 a.m.

Conservative

Pierre Poilievre Conservative Carleton, ON

Madam Speaker, I did not hear a question, I only heard a complaint that the Conservative Party was talking too much about inflation.

Is the hon. member from the Bloc Québécois talking to real Quebeckers? When we speak with Mr. and Mrs. Tremblay, they talk about inflation. That is the reality. They are not talking about sovereignty or the king or queen, they are talking about their ability to buy bread and butter. That is the Conservative Party's priority.

Opposition Motion—ArriveCAN Application Performance AuditBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

10:20 a.m.

NDP

Matthew Green NDP Hamilton Centre, ON

Madam Speaker, despite the 2006 legislation brought forward by the now Conservative leader that he claimed would protect whistle-blowers, Canada's whistle-blower regime has been cited as being among the worst in the world.

Can the member explain why the Conservative government was not able to adequately protect whistle-blowers who raised questions about initiatives like ArriveCAN?

Opposition Motion—ArriveCAN Application Performance AuditBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

10:20 a.m.

Conservative

Pierre Poilievre Conservative Carleton, ON

Madam Speaker, we did introduce the Federal Accountability Act, which cracked down on corruption after 10 years of sponsorship scandals, billion-dollar boondoggles and other Liberal corruption.

That was dirty, illegal Liberal money.

The NDP was actually forced to support our Federal Accountability Act measures.

We will always work to make the law more strict. That is why we caught the Liberals with SNC-Lavalin, the WE Charity scandal and the Aga Khan island, on which the Prime Minister illegally vacationed. All of those scandals were exposed as a result of the Federal Accountability Act, which I was proud to shepherd through this House.

The real question is why the NDP continues to support Liberal scandal and Liberal waste today. Why does the member not start working for the people of Hamilton instead of working for the Prime Minister? We on this side work for our constituents. We work for the common people.

Opposition Motion—ArriveCAN Application Performance AuditBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

10:20 a.m.

Conservative

Jasraj Singh Hallan Conservative Calgary Forest Lawn, AB

Madam Speaker, from scandals to failed programs, spending Canadians' money is a favourite pastime for this costly coalition. In the lead-up to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Liberals had already added an additional $110 billion to Canada's debt. That alone should have raised the alarm for any reasonable members across the aisle, but obviously it did not.

Instead, the money printers kept rolling to the tune of half a trillion dollars of new debt during the last two years, over half of which was not even COVID-related spending. In the last five years, overall government spending has increased by 44% while the size of an already inflated bureaucracy has just kept growing.

The Liberals dragged out their measures longer than any of our other allies when it came to COVID restrictions, using political science instead of real science. Countries with lower vaccination rates reopened faster and they removed barriers to business and tourism. Those countries did not persecute their citizens for making personal choices. Meanwhile, in Canada, we remained restricted to much of the world as the Liberals continued spending on random testing, forcing Canadians into quarantine and keeping loved ones apart.

ArriveCAN is exhibit A of the government's failed drawn-out COVID policies. At $54 million, one would expect an app that could not only do what it was promised to do but that would prevent disruptions to people's lives by making it easier to travel. What taxpayers got instead was an app that failed at nearly every turn. ArriveCAN turned out to be arrive scam.

Because of one glitch, over 10,000 healthy, fully vaccinated people were forced into government-mandated quarantine. Those who did not comply received threatening emails, phone calls and even visits from law enforcement. Travellers entering Canada were even fined because of the app. Seniors were threatened with $5,000 fines if they did not have the app, even when they did not own a phone.

After over 70 updates, the app still failed and never lived up to the tens of millions of taxpayer dollars the Liberals forked over. This is money that, it turns out, cannot even be accounted for. CBSA originally said that ThinkOn received a $1.2-million contract related to ArriveCAN. That was news to the company, which said it does not provide the mobile QR code scanning and verification services that CBSA said it paid ThinkOn for, and the company never received payment from the Liberals.

Now CBSA is saying that Microsoft received the $1.2 million. While the government figures out where it was spending all this money, Canadian developers were proving how big of a waste of money arrive scam really was. It took the CEO of a Toronto technology company and his friends a weekend to clone the app and show how fast and cheap it would be to build. In all, it should have taken two days and cost $250,000 to build the junk the government paid $54 million to create.

This is a symptom of a more significant problem. It again shows Liberal misspending is costing Canadians. Since taking office, the Prime Minister has had misspend after ethics violation after scandal. All of this was at taxpayers' expense. From vacations on private islands to politically interfering in the prosecution of SNC-Lavalin, resulting in the Prime Minister firing two strong women cabinet ministers, he has proven himself not to be trustworthy. It again showed when he gave the federal contract to the WE Charity to administer the almost billion-dollar Canada student summer grant program.

Liberal misspending also extends beyond arrive scam. My colleague from Calgary Nose Hill recently received a response to her Order Paper question, where we learned that the estimated cost to run the random testing at airports was at least $411 million. That was half-a-billion dollars spent on random testing in the year they were shutting it down. This spending was on top of the $150 million the Liberals gave to their old friends at SNC-Lavalin for field hospitals that were not even used. The government gave another $237 million to a former Liberal MP for ventilators that were not even used.

Even before the pandemic, the Liberals spent $12 million on new fridges for Loblaws while small businesses received higher carbon and payroll taxes. There is also the $35 billion the government spent on the Infrastructure Bank, a bank that has done nothing to help build infrastructure in Canada. Instead, this bank spent $5.7 million in short-term bonuses to 79 employees in the past five years.

There are so many other things that $35 billion could have been used for, such as addressing the housing supply shortage to prevent home prices from soaring, building energy projects to keep gas and home heating bills down this winter, and finally connecting rural Canadians to the Internet and stable cell service. Instead of showing fiscal restraint, the Prime Minister has spent and spent, and Canadians are the ones who have to pay the price.

The tourism industry, before the pandemic, was valued above $100 billion and now is down to $80 billion. After spending $54 million, we have clogged up airports and delivered a massive hit to one of Canada's largest industries, which has cost us jobs and businesses.

It is not just tourism. The inflationary spending of the government has meant higher prices, while failed policies like the carbon tax and cancelling energy projects mean more dollars chasing fewer goods. That is just inflation.

Our agriculture sector is hurting as farmers, ranchers and other food producers cannot afford to run their equipment, heat their barns or buy feed for their livestock. The energy sector continues to get squeezed by “leave it in the ground” policies and the tripling of the carbon tax.

What this means for Canadians is less money in their pockets and impossible choices between heating their homes or putting food on the table. Among Canadians, one in five are cutting back on meals or skipping them altogether. In one month alone, 1.5 million people visited a food bank in this country, and one third of them were children.

Home and rent prices are out of reach for too many Canadians and their families. Instead of addressing inflation, the government has forced the Bank of Canada to raise interest rates, making mortgages even more expensive. Meanwhile, the Prime Minister spent $24,000 in four nights on a hotel in London, the same amount that an average rent of one year costs here in Canada.

The situation is desperate for Canadians, who are doing what they can to save money however they can, yet they look at the government and see wasteful spending and scandals. It truly is more critical than ever for the government to respect taxpayer dollars and eliminate unnecessary spending, such as the arrive scam app.

I rise today to support this motion to have the Auditor General conduct a performance audit on ArriveCAN. It is time that Canadians get to see where the payments really went, who really got the contracts and sub-contracts, and whether, in the end, the Prime Minister was telling the truth.

The arrive scam app is a symptom of the larger problem. Canadians cannot afford any more of the costly coalition. They are out of money, out of patience, and done with this. Liberals need to stop the pain, stop the carbon tax, stop spending and stop raising taxes.

Opposition Motion—ArriveCAN Application Performance AuditBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

10:25 a.m.

Winnipeg North Manitoba

Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Madam Speaker, if we combine the two speeches from the finance critic and the leader of the Conservative Party, we get a message that they have been consistent on for a long time.

First, there is the issue of character assassination. The Conservatives creep under a rock or get in a gutter to attack, whether it is the Prime Minister or any other minister. That is one of their objectives. The second one now is dealing with the issue of inflation. They close their eyes, dunk their heads in the sand and pretend inflation is something unique to Canada. Here is a reality check: Inflation is happening around the world.

Yes, we are concerned about inflation, and that is the reason we bring forward bills such as Bill C-31. The Conservative Party voted against that bill, even though it would support Canadians in a very real and tangible way.

I have a question for the critic of finance of the Conservative Party. Why is it that the Conservative Party refuses to reflect on reality? Yes, we have serious inflation in Canada, but it is better than in countries, such as the U.S., England, those in Europe and so many others. Why will the Conservatives not support initiatives to support Canadians?

Opposition Motion—ArriveCAN Application Performance AuditBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

10:30 a.m.

Conservative

Jasraj Singh Hallan Conservative Calgary Forest Lawn, AB

Madam Speaker, of course we are consistent. The Liberals give us enough ammo with all their corruption, scandals and wasteful spending. Of course we are going to stay on the same topic all the time. All those things are costing Canadians more money, driving more seniors, children and families into food banks, and we do not see an end to any of this spending. The Liberals need to stop the spending, stop the pain and stop sending more people to food banks.

Opposition Motion—ArriveCAN Application Performance AuditBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

10:30 a.m.

Bloc

Denis Trudel Bloc Longueuil—Saint-Hubert, QC

Madam Speaker, I will clarify the question I asked my hon. colleague earlier.

I agree with the premise. Canada and Quebec have a huge inflation problem. People are struggling to get by. Food and rent are expensive.

This morning's article revealed that Canada invests $8.5 billion in the oil industry every year. Canada's public spending on fossil fuels is the second-highest in the G20.

Does my colleague think that $8.5 billion could be better spent on things like building social housing, sending checks to struggling seniors and transferring money to health care systems in dire need, such as Quebec's?

Opposition Motion—ArriveCAN Application Performance AuditBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

10:30 a.m.

Conservative

Jasraj Singh Hallan Conservative Calgary Forest Lawn, AB

Madam Speaker, did the member walk here, or did he get here on a plane? The reality is that Canada has the most responsible energy sector in the entire world. The world needs more Canadian energy.

Opposition Motion—ArriveCAN Application Performance AuditBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

10:30 a.m.

NDP

Blake Desjarlais NDP Edmonton Griesbach, AB

Madam Speaker, the New Democratic Party will take no lessons from the Conservative Party, which sent Jason Kenney to Alberta. He became premier, and guess what? He lost $4 billion of taxpayer money.

Does the member have any answers for that?

Opposition Motion—ArriveCAN Application Performance AuditBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

10:30 a.m.

Conservative

Jasraj Singh Hallan Conservative Calgary Forest Lawn, AB

Madam Speaker, it ought to take lessons from us, because it keeps teaming up with and propping up the Liberals over and over again. It is a costly coalition, which Canadians can no longer afford, and which keeps sending more people to food banks. The NDP needs to answer to Canadians.

Why does it keep supporting and propping up this corrupt, unethical and incompetent Liberal government?