House of Commons Hansard #92 of the 44th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was firearms.


The House resumed from April 6 consideration of the motion that Bill C-245, An Act to amend the Canada Infrastructure Bank Act, be read the second time and referred to a committee.

Canada Infrastructure Bank ActPrivate Members' Business

11:05 a.m.


Ken McDonald Liberal Avalon, NL

Mr. Speaker, after two years hampered by a global pandemic, Canadians are starting to rebuild. Communities large and small across the country are looking to a brighter, sustainable and inclusive future.

The Government of Canada is committed to bolstering that rebuild. The Canada Infrastructure Bank is playing an important role in that effort. The bank's innovative approach is empowering the work by provinces, municipalities and indigenous communities to bring key projects to fruition. It is doing so, from planning to design to delivery, with the added benefit of a reduced reliance on public dollars.

By leveraging the expertise and capital of private and institutional investors, the Canada Infrastructure Bank brings its investment, advisory and know-how to all orders of government, including indigenous investment partners. This is a partnership that is transforming how infrastructure is planned, funded and delivered to Canadians.

That means bringing innovative financing tools to the table. It means getting more projects built. It means advancing Canada's demonstrated success in leveraging public-private partnership, or P3, models to bring better trade and transportation, public transit and green infrastructure to Canadians, and to further broadband connectivity, develop clean power and support indigenous projects.

The G20 and OECD have for several years encouraged countries to promote more long-term private investment in infrastructure. Moreover, there are large pools of private and institutional capital available for investment, including our pension funds, that are looking to support long-term public policy priorities. The Canada Infrastructure Bank works to attract this capital to help address public policy objectives in the infrastructure space, particularly in projects that generate revenue, such as transit fares, electricity rates and other forms of revenues that support service delivery and provide the underpinning of the new innovative financing structures.

These influential organizations are now looking to Canada as a global leader in advancing the P3 model and the next generation of innovative financing and partnerships with the private sector. Stakeholders are watching and learning as the Canada Infrastructure Bank moves to deliver on its important mandate.

To date, the Canada Infrastructure Bank is actively involved in 33 projects, including the commitment of over $6.8 billion in capital, while attracting over $7.2 billion in private and institutional investment. This investment is making a real difference for projects such as rural broadband in Manitoba, zero-emission buses in communities across the country and energy retrofits in Quebec with the Société de financement et d’accompagnement en performance énergétique.

The Canada Infrastructure Bank is also supporting the advancement of key projects such as high frequency rail, helping to find innovative ways to transition Atlantic Canada off coal through clean power transmission with the Atlantic Loop, and supporting Manitoba fibre's plan to provide broadband access to tens of thousands of additional households and businesses. Realizing these vital projects will mean connecting Canadians, creating good jobs and helping us to reach our climate goals as we navigate a path to net-zero emissions by 2050.

To advance the government's commitment to close the indigenous infrastructure gap and support the prosperity of indigenous communities, the government has set a target for the Canada Infrastructure Bank to invest at least $1 billion in total across its five priority sectors for revenue-generating projects that benefit indigenous people. The Canada Infrastructure Bank has developed and implemented its indigenous community infrastructure initiative, which provides low-cost and long-term debt for indigenous community-based projects.

This initiative is designed to bring results to indigenous communities through projects that can bring greater renewable, sustainable and reliable hydro power to Canada's north and projects that support connections, such as through the maintenance and modernization of Tshiuetin Rail Transportation, the first indigenous-owned and operated railway company in Canada. The Canada Infrastructure Bank is a key resource for driving Canada's recovery and a key partner to investors banking on Canada.

Moreover, since its introduction in 2017, the Canada Infrastructure Bank has succeeded at adapting its role and priorities to respond to evolving circumstances and opportunities, enabling the bank to better support Canada's response to the pandemic and the transition to a low-carbon economy. The Canada Infrastructure Bank has done so under the stewardship of a board of directors that is skilled, bilingual and diverse, a board that benefits from indigenous representation, gender parity and representation from across Canada. Members of the board of directors are appointed through a transparent, merit-based and competitive process.

The Canada Infrastructure Bank represents a crucial conduit for communities, provinces, territories and indigenous partners seeking to get things done for Canadians. It is making a difference by enabling a number of projects to be planned, financed and constructed.

It is an innovative and effective way to spur investment in key projects, to build confidence in our economy after two years of unprecedented challenges and to work with Canadians to ensure a strong, inclusive recovery that works for everyone. It is a crucial resource to promote improved infrastructure, with a reduced need for public dollars, through collaborative efforts that leverage the expertise of each partner to meet clearly defined public needs through the appropriate allocation of resources, risks and rewards.

For Canadians this is a win-win. It is an arm's-length Crown corporation working co-operatively with all levels of government and indigenous communities to facilitate and accelerate the delivery of high-quality infrastructure through new and innovative investment models. Also, through the Canada Infrastructure Bank's innovative financial tools, it is a means to reduce the burden on taxpayers and constrained government budgets, while expanding private sector investment and promoting innovation.

It is working for investors, workers and communities. It is working for Canadians.

Canada Infrastructure Bank ActPrivate Members' Business

11:10 a.m.


Kelly McCauley Conservative Edmonton West, AB

Madam Speaker, I am very pleased to rise on Bill C-245, especially after about three hours of sleep due to a late flight. Thanks Air Canada. I wish we were debating something about Air Canada. I am in the mood for that right now.

Bill C-245 would nominally change Canada's failed Infrastructure Bank from a colossal, failed boondoggle that is wasting taxpayers' money to a potentially massive failure that is also wasting taxpayers' money but in a different way and under different leadership.

Bill C-245 wants to change infrastructure investment to something that is in the public interest and relates to climate change mitigation or adaptation, except we already basically have a department for that. It is called Infrastructure Canada. The idea is that we are going to take $35 billion from the failed Infrastructure Bank, move it from one failed institution and hand it over to another poorly led institution.

It reminds me a bit of the even-steven Seinfeld episode where Jerry Seinfeld always ends up even at the end of the day. He gains a friend and loses a friend. He takes $20 out of his pocket and throws it out the window, then grabs a jacket and finds $20. That is all this is. We are shuffling things from one failed department to another failed department.

We have immense problems at Infrastructure Canada. The old PBO, Jean-Denis Fréchette, who is retired now and beekeeping, and I wish him well, noted often that billions could not be found from infrastructure spending. The 2018 PBO report showed the federal government was able to reduce its deficit in 2018, which is shocking, I know. It is almost heresy for the government. However, that was only because it did not spend the infrastructure money that was set aside.

I want to read a quote from the PBO report:

The PBO has published 4 reports regarding [Infrastructure Canada]. Our previous findings indicated that data gaps existed in the tracking of federal money; planned spending lagged; job creation and economic growth was lower than anticipated; and, increases in federal spending were partly offset by decreases in provincial money.

There is limited evidence that increased federal money resulted in increased provincial spending (while federal...transfers increased by $1 billion...overall provincial [transfers] decreased by $733 million).

The Senate did a report on infrastructure spending, and it said that the only measurement for success for all this spending on infrastructure was not actual results. It was not whether it actually helped the economy. Was it whether it helped the environment? No. Was it about productivity improvements? No. The only measurement of success the Senate was able to find for Infrastructure Canada was whether dollars were spent. This bill wants another $35 billion spent by the same people, who just want to spend the money, and the only metric of success is spending the money, not achieving results.

This is right from GC InfoBase on the Treasury Board's website on results: In 2021, Infrastructure Canada only achieved 25% of its goals for 2020-21. If we think about that, this bill wants to add $35 billion more to Infrastructure Canada to not achieve targets.

I have some of the missed targets for Infrastructure Canada. Again, this is right from the government's website, GC InfoBase. It missed out on the value of infrastructure spending. It failed to achieve its goal on projects that it was committed to. Here is a good one: It failed in its goal on changes in GDP, or increases in GDP attributed to spending. Again, what is the point of spending all this money when it is failing on its goals? Now it wants to add another $35 billion.

There is another good one, and the NDP should be interested, especially given where the riding of the member for Churchill—Keewatinook Aski is. The Liberals failed on the percentage spent toward clean drinking water and percentage spent on improving transit. Again, these failures from the government and failures on infrastructure are certainly telling us we should not be moving money from this failed boondoggle to another group that shows it can fail quite spectacularly. There is another good one: The Liberals actually failed on their projects for reducing GHG emissions.

That is Infrastructure Canada. Let us move on to the other half of our Laurel and Hardy pairing, the Infrastructure Bank. The Infrastructure Bank, when we look at it, is certainly in the competition for the most inept government department.

The Canada Infrastructure Bank has a lot of competition for this top ranking, including of course PSPC, Public Services and Procurement Canada, which has managed to bungle the jet fighter procurement and the ship procurement. We found out about its buying 100 million dollars' worth of vaccines that went to waste.

Another runner-up is, again, Public Services and Procurement Canada, on Phoenix. It has been six and a half years since the Liberals pushed the start button on Phoenix and we are still dealing with that.

The Canada Infrastructure Bank is in a tight race for the most incompetent with the CRA. Of course, this was before it started taking people three hours to finally get through to a CRA agent only to have the agent hang up on them. During the pandemic, the CRA managed to send CERB cheques to dead people and send cheques overseas.

Of course, recently, number one or number two would be Global Affairs. Despite Russia committing genocide, murdering children and women and targeting civilians, Global Affairs sent a top official to the Russian embassy tea party last week.

Service Canada, of course, wants to be recognized for its incompetence with respect to passports. We gave it months of notice. I rose in this same seat several months ago with respect to the complaints. The health minister got up and commented on how hard the staff were working. We found out that two-thirds of them are still sitting at home. They may be working from home, but probably not as efficiently as is needed to get passports to Canadians.

Rounding that out with another competitor, we have CATSA through Transport Canada, which ironically oversees the Canada Infrastructure Bank. With respect to the results of its departmental plan, through the public accounts we found out that one-quarter of CATSA funding for screeners had lapsed. It kept all the bureaucrats working, but not the screeners, the ones who are hired on contract to take a look at and screen the luggage that goes through, a vitally important cog in the scheme of airports. Twenty-five per cent of that lapsed, even though in January, February and March, the final three months of the fiscal year, the department produced numbers that very clearly showed that the number of Canadians being screened was growing exponentially. I think at one point it was within 70% of prepandemic numbers, but the department let the money lapse and let the screeners stay at home. Then we found out, just last week, that the department was unprepared for the increase. It had actually released its own numbers showing exponential growth in air travel, but it was caught unawares.

Apparently, the government was also caught unawares with respect to Service Canada and passports. Who would have known 10 years ago that a 10-year passport would be expiring at this time? I certainly would not have expected a 10-year passport to expire in 10 years. Who would have possibly known that we would see an increase in travel with the pandemic? The government said it was caught off guard.

The Canada Infrastructure Bank, knowing it had tough competition, doubled down for the goal of most incompetent government department. It has been over five years and it does not have a single project built. One more year, and the Canada Infrastructure Bank will be eligible for an MP pension. Like most MPs, it also has not done much in five years. There has been $35 billion into the Canada Infrastructure Bank, and nothing has been completed. One year it actually spent more money on termination benefits for executives than on salaries in its own department. The Canada Infrastructure Bank was set up to guarantee decent returns for large for-profit companies and investment firms, not to look after Canadian taxpayers. Those companies would be guaranteed profits, while the taxpayers would be guaranteed any risks or losses.

The main project the Canada Infrastructure Bank is so proud of, the urban rail project in Montreal, has been a disaster, which is no surprise. People do not want it. The actual construction does not look at all like the design. The cost has been $7 billion and growing, and this is its best product.

I understand the intent of the bill, but I have to say it is rather silly to take money from one failed government department to give it to another failed government department. Therefore, I will not be supporting it.

Canada Infrastructure Bank ActPrivate Members' Business

11:20 a.m.


Jean-Denis Garon Bloc Mirabel, QC

Madam Speaker, it is a pleasure to see you today, as always, and it is very interesting to debate Bill C-245 and the Canada Infrastructure Bank.

The bank is a newly designed institution. It has only been around for a few years and, even though it is still in its infancy, there is already talk about a lack of transparency and changes to the management approach and the board of directors. This institution has hardly been around for any time at all and we are already talking about the many problems with it.

The Bloc Québécois's position has always been clear. This bank never should never have existed, for the very simple reason that we did not need it. To date, the bank has basically been a failure, not because it did not fund any projects, but because it failed to do its job properly and to ensure that projects were carried out. To understand why the bank makes no sense, we need to look back at the past.

Let us go back to 2015. The current Prime Minister was on the campaign trail. He said that there was an economic slowdown and that we had to invest, in particular in infrastructure, since it was urgent that we help Quebec, the provinces and municipalities.

When things are urgent, the thing to do is to sit down with partners and finance projects. However, the government’s Liberal reflexes took over. It decided that, instead of taking action, it would waste time: It would create a new institution with various layers of public servants and invest in a big machine in Ottawa instead of delivering for Canadians.

That was what it announced in the 2015 electoral campaign and again in 2016. In 2017, the bank was legislated into being. However, it was still not in operation, and it was finally up and running when the economy was no longer in a slowdown.

So far, they have not learned from their mistakes. Since then, we have had a pandemic and another slowdown. The bank has not changed since then, and has not met its objectives. The government is once again behind in its projects. This is an example of poor service delivery and an inappropriate investment vehicle.

With his banker’s mentality, the finance minister at the time, Mr. Morneau, said that taxpayers would benefit. He said that the bank would drive job creation and economic development and that, for every dollar invested by taxpayers, it would draw four, five or six dollars in investments from the private sector. It was supposed to be a windfall.

Finally, nothing much happened, except for a few small projects that could very well have been financed more quickly using other methods, such as bilateral agreements.

If we look at the three-year growth plan of the Canada Infrastructure Bank, we can see that, by 2028, $2.5 billion will be invested in clean energy. We have a list of emergencies. At the same time, the Liberals tabled a budget in which they plan to invest—surprise, surprise—$2.5 billion a year, and not by 2028, in dirty energy. They are investing $2.5 billion in clean energy through the Canada Infrastructure Bank with their right hand and doing five times worse with their left.

That is what we call an inconsistent government. The Liberals are investing $1 in clean energy and $5 in dirty energy, and then they will tour the country this summer saying that oil is green. That is our federal government for you. They are investing $2.5 billion in broadband connectivity projects. The digital transition should have accelerated during the pandemic but, because we were wasting time with the Canada Infrastructure Bank, we were unable to speed up the process.

They are also investing $2 billion in building upgrades. These projects are closest to those on the ground, closest to the people, while the federal government is the level of government farthest from the people. The government thinks it is smart to invest like that.

There were a few good projects. I know that the hon. member for Winnipeg North will be talking about zero-emission vehicles. There were also good projects in Ontario, but that is not enough.

Here is what the Liberals did: They made a list of emergencies and created a huge bank. After years of wasting time, the projects were not carried out in time. However, the Liberals told us that they were urgent. Today, when we look at the institution’s performance, we can see that all of this was so urgent that they did not meet their commitments. That is exactly what happened with the bank.

No one can ask us to like the Canada Infrastructure Bank, because we like our people, we like Quebec, we like our infrastructure projects and we like our economy. That is why we do not like the Canada Infrastructure Bank.

Today, we are in a situation where they will try to meet their targets. They have money to spend and they have to meet their targets. They are looking for projects, because there are not enough of them.

I will give the same example as the Liberal member just gave, namely the famed high-frequency rail line between Quebec City and Windsor. This is not a high-speed train. It is a bad project. Everyone wants a high-speed train, but everyone is resigned to never getting anything from the federal government. We will therefore get a tortoise that passes by twice as often and we will be told that it is a great project.

The project, which is supported by the Canada Infrastructure Bank, will prove to be a bad risk for taxpayers and a good risk for the private sector. The project’s sponsor, VIA Rail, has decided that we should privatize the public infrastructure in the profitable corridor. However, the key mission of the government, that is to say, projects that provide a public return, will be paid for by taxpayers. They will privatize the good part and leave the bad part for the taxpayers.

Things are so bad that, in the last budget, the Liberals had to set aside $400 million in public funding for the project. We asked public servants what was going to happen with the $400 million and they said it would be used to find partners for the train project. I do not know of any functioning bank that has so few projects or friends, or that operates so poorly that it has to invest that kind of money to find partners. When you have to spend $400 million to find friends, maybe you need to change the way you do things.

The same is true for the REM light rail project. It did not need the Canada Infrastructure Bank. Normally, this would have been a Quebec government project. Investissement Québec would have bought shares, and the federal government would have helped. It would have been done quickly and properly, in a bilateral manner. We have a loan for the REM here, but this could have been done more efficiently without the new layer of administration in the federal government.

That is quite the bank we have. It is slow and does not meet its objectives. The Parliamentary Budget Officer said that the Bank of Canada would likely never be able to disburse the $35 billion it has to spend by 2028. There is now a $19-billion discrepancy. This is $19 billion for emergencies, according to the Liberals, that will never be used to meet the needs on the ground for the people who really need infrastructure. The bank does not work.

Now, if we are going to have a bad bank, we might as well improve the way it operates. That is why Bill C-245 is interesting. There is a lack of transparency in the management of these funds and in the reporting to the House. Even the Parliamentary Budget Officer said that the Canada Infrastructure Bank did not provide information or respond when his office tried to evaluate its performance, on the grounds that it was keeping trade secrets confidential. The bank is becoming like Export Development Canada, which is one of the major funders of oil projects in Canada and which also hides behind supposed trade secrets.

Another positive aspect of the bill is that it requires that the board of directors include indigenous and Inuit members. The idea behind this is that we are our own best advocates. This proves that the Canada Infrastructure Bank is not listening to people on the ground, and that is the least of it. I would be surprised if the Liberals did not support this bill for that reason.

The Canada Infrastructure Bank was supposed to be a miracle. My grandfather, and I am sure many others, used to say that if something looks too good to be true, it likely is neither good nor true.

The federal government is capable of meddling in Quebec's affairs. It has been no better at delivering infrastructure through its Canada Infrastructure Bank than at managing passports, airport services, unconditional health transfers or the temporary foreign worker program, as Quebec and the provinces have been calling for.

This is a reminder that Quebec must be in charge of its infrastructure projects, that the federal government needs to be smaller and that it needs to provide the money to Quebec and the provinces.

As Quebec's national holiday approaches, I want to take this opportunity to remind members how important it is for Quebec to have all of its revenue and resources and that it be the master of its own destiny. This bank serves as a reminder that Quebec must be free. Vive le Québec libre.

Canada Infrastructure Bank ActPrivate Members' Business

11:30 a.m.


Rachel Blaney NDP North Island—Powell River, BC

Madam Speaker, I am here today to speak to Bill C-245, an act to amend the Canada Infrastructure Bank Act. I want to thank the member for Churchill—Keewatinook Aski for bringing this bill forward. I am very proud to stand in the House to speak in support of it.

The bill looks at something that is fundamentally important. It would take the Canada Infrastructure Bank Act and change it to focus on things that matter. The thing that matters most right now in this country is addressing the realities of climate change.

It is on the record since 2016 that I am not in support of the Infrastructure Bank. I am tired of seeing public money going to support private infrastructure and making the wealth of those few grow while the rest of us struggle. To me, it just makes sense that we have profound support and input into public ownership of public infrastructure, especially as we take on the crisis of climate change. If we are going to be serious about addressing this issue, we need to look at how we are going to adapt and respond in local communities, and make sure that those areas are recognized. We do not see that happening in this country right now under the leadership of the Liberals.

I come from a large rural riding, and one of the biggest challenges is transportation. A lot of people in my communities have to take one or two ferries and drive a long distance to get to the health care supports they need. There is very little support for bus services or for looking at how we are going to get people from one place to another in a safe and affordable way. This continues to be a massive concern and one that this bill addresses. This bill looks at the reality that more needs to be done, and it looks at taking the priorities of the Infrastructure Bank and supporting communities.

In the last Parliament, I put forward Motion No. 53. That motion talked about the fact that we are not seeing enough sustainable funding and resources going to smaller communities across the country to respond to the changes that we are seeing in the climate.

We are also not seeing funding to support adaptation to, and mitigation of, what is happening in the climate, or to address the issue of making sure there is sustainable employment in our areas. We need to have the climate addressed by local solutions. The people in communities and regions know what they know, and what they know often works. My motion, similar to this bill, also brought forward the idea of making sure that at every step, we acknowledge and recognize UNDRIP and look at following the leadership of indigenous communities across the country. We need the voices of rural and remote communities, and of indigenous communities, to actually be heard because they are on the front lines. As we look at what is happening in our country, we see that they are on the front lines of climate change and its impacts.

I live in B.C. Our region is seeing the impacts of climate change significantly. Last year, we saw heat domes that killed so many because we were not prepared for that level of heat in our region. We saw excessive and extreme flooding that wiped out whole highways and made areas inaccessible. We actually had to have the military fly in and take out people who were stranded in their vehicles. They could not get out because those areas were completely destroyed. We have seen forest fires eliminate a whole community and threaten so many more. This is the new reality that we are living in today, and it concerns me greatly because it is expensive and it is threatening our way of life.

What is frustrating to me as well is the fact that we are not seeing the level of action that we need to see from the current government. For the past six years, the Prime Minister has pretended to care about the climate crisis, but at the same time his government has looked at raising subsidies for oil companies. They are higher now than they were under former Prime Minister Harper. Over $4.5 billion in public money was used to buy a pipeline, and we do not even know where that is going to end.

Canada has the most GHG emissions per capita in the G7. Greenhouse gases emitted by the government have increased by 11%, and Canada is the only G7 country where GHG emissions have increased since the Paris Agreement: so much for our Prime Minister standing in that place saying that Canada is back. We are not back. We are not doing what we need to do to invest in a future that is safer for our children, and we are not investing in a future that leads us to opportunity for business and growth, because the future will be dealing with the climate. We have already pushed things that far.

It is time for action. It is time for a vision, and this bill addresses these very important issues. We need solutions that focus on growing and sustaining the wealth of everyday Canadians and not just the top 1%. One part I spoke of earlier that is so pivotal to this bill is following the leadership of indigenous communities in this country.

The first people of this country need to be at every single table, and this bill would assure that this is the reality. We need to listen to those voices, we need to listen to traditional knowledge and we need to accept that there is a long history of awareness in regions all over Canada that only indigenous voices can bring to the table.

We also have to acknowledge that, when it comes to adapting to climate change, indigenous communities are largely underfunded for basic infrastructure. I think of the Dzawada'enuxw in my riding up in Kingcome. It is a very remote community. They have been facing immense flooding from the river for multiple years, and they have been very clear that they need an access road so they can get to the ocean in case the community floods, as it has. I want members to understand that they have been building their houses up every year to address the fact that their whole community is being flooded, and all they need is a road so that a boat can come to get them. Right now, their only solution is to stand and wait for a helicopter to land on a pad, which means only a few people can be taken out at a time. This leads to higher risk, and we do not see any support in that. Exactly what this bill would say is that we need to address these issues.

I live in, work in and serve communities that are small, rural and indigenous, and I will tell members that the leaders of those communities are often working very hard with their staff to write the proposals and do the work that needs to be done so they can get the support they need. Often, when they are trying to find the resources to do those key things they do not have them, and the complex processes do not acknowledge the different sizes of communities.

This bill really would open the door for these communities to have a voice. We know there is $35 billion in the Canada Infrastructure Bank. This is so important, because we need to start addressing these really important issues.

I think I will end there. All I can say is that this bill would make a difference for communities trying their best to adapt to a climate that is going to win. If we do not take action soon, we are going to see devastation, and all of us will have to take a part of that responsibility.

Canada Infrastructure Bank ActPrivate Members' Business

11:40 a.m.


Taylor Bachrach NDP Skeena—Bulkley Valley, BC

Madam Speaker, I thank my friend for North Island—Powell River for that excellent speech. I also want to recognize my colleague for Churchill—Keewatinook Aski for bringing forward this important bill that we are debating today.

There are a couple of things I want to do in the next 10 minutes. First of all, I want to take us down memory lane to talk a bit about the infrastructure bank and what it has achieved, and more importantly what it has failed to achieve, over the past five years. I also want to talk about the infrastructure context and the needs of communities.

We are debating this bill in the context of an infrastructure crisis in our country. The infrastructure deficit in Canada is estimated at $150 billion. The AFN estimates that the infrastructure deficit in indigenous communities alone is at least $30 billion, and we have this deficit in the face of a global climate crisis that is pounding our country. Communities are feeling the effects more and more every year, and the damage and the implications for our infrastructure are only going to get more severe as time goes on, so this is a very important topic to be discussing.

I would also note that the Standing Committee on Transport, Infrastructure and Communities just recently tabled a report in the House with a single recommendation: to abolish the Canada Infrastructure Bank altogether. The bill we are talking about today proposes a different route. It proposes to reform the enabling legislation so that the Canada Infrastructure Bank can recover from its many failings and troubled track record, and meet the infrastructure needs of Canadian communities.

I thought perhaps we could go back to the origins of the Canada Infrastructure Bank, because I think it is very illustrative and speaks to the strategy that the Liberal government has tried to employ in addressing infrastructure. Of course, this all started with a meeting at the glitzy Shangri-La Hotel in Toronto, where the Prime Minister invited the who's who of private capital. I believe Blackrock even wrote the PowerPoint presentation for the government at that meeting. The promise was a simple one: that public infrastructure could be used as an opportunity to deliver private returns of 6% to 7% for these investors. Of course, that was a promise that this government has not been able to deliver on, I would say thankfully.

Early in the bank's five-year history, it tried to get a pilot project going in the small community of Mapleton, Ontario, to prove that its vision of public-private partnerships and using public infrastructure as a private-profit opportunity could work for communities of all sizes. Mapleton had a very important waste-water and drinking-water project that it needed funding for. The bank came in. It put $20 million on the table, and promoted the approach of bringing in a private investor to deliver these critical public amenities at a profit.

I come from a community not dissimilar in size to Mapleton, so I know how important those conversations are. Members of that municipality engaged in good faith with the bank. They spent a whole bunch of time and a whole bunch of money assessing the risk and value of the approach that the bank was proposing. In the end, they came away and said, “The risk is too great, the value is not there, and it is going to cost our taxpayers more”, so they chose to go with a more conventional financing model for that important project. Of course, they were left with legal fees of over $300,000, and at the end of the year ended up posting a significant deficit to which that contributed significantly. The private-public approach that the Infrastructure Bank was touting certainly was not a Shangri-La for the community of Mapleton, Ontario.

At the transport and infrastructure committee, we did a detailed report on the bank's track record to date. We heard from expert witness after expert witness. We heard from academics, unions and communities. Many of them were telling us that this public-private approach to infrastructure results in two things: higher costs for Canadians and longer project timelines and delays.

The PBO, in a recent report, had some very critical words about the track record of the Canada Infrastructure Bank. His report said that, “funding delays are pervasive for public-private infrastructure investors.” This should give us all pause because, of course, we know that we need infrastructure to be delivered in a timely way. Communities are depending on it.

Now the next project, of course, that we are talking about when it comes to the Canada Infrastructure Bank is high-frequency rail. My colleague here from the Bloc spoke a little bit about that project. It is incredibly concerning. The Canada Infrastructure Bank has been a part of the design of that project since the very beginning through the joint project office, so we are talking about high-frequency rail on Canada's busiest passenger rail corridor from Toronto to Quebec City.

This is a very important infrastructure project. Canada is way behind the rest of the world when it comes to rail transportation. The Liberal government insists that it has to be a part of this model, this failed model of bringing in private investors. Back in March, it put out an expression of interest for a private partner to design, construct and operate passenger rail on that critical passenger corridor between Toronto and Quebec City. Going back to the expression of interest documents, there is a very telling statement saying, “the Private Partner is expected to receive income from the farebox and other ancillary income.... These combined revenues will be used to pay for operating expenses, to service debt and to provide equity returns”.

This passenger rail corridor contributes a huge amount of revenue to Via Rail, Canada's public passenger rail provider. What is going to happen to Via Rail when the Liberal government hands over this busy passenger corridor to a private investor? We can look to the U.K. In the U.K., the House of Commons Library just tabled a report on rail privatization in that country. They found that, since rail was privatized in 1995, the cost to passengers has gone up 20% in real dollars.

Again, we are seeing evidence that this approach of trying to deliver private profits using public infrastructure has to be paid for somewhere. It is going to come out of someone's pocket, and the pockets it will come out of are those of the users of that infrastructure, the people who need to use the train to get to where they need to go, the people who need to use the infrastructure every day. We are very concerned that that project is not going to deliver what Canadians need. It is an important opportunity. We cannot take that risk.

I talked a little bit about the failings of the bank. I do not want to belabour that. I could easily use up 10 minutes just going through all of the many critiques in the media and the evidence that we heard at committee. However, the reality is that we have to get this right. We have to get the infrastructure right. That is why this bill is so important.

This bill goes into the enabling legislation for the Canada Infrastructure Bank and it does four key things. The first would be to replace the mandate of leveraging private capital and delivering private profits. It would replace that mandate with a focus on rural, remote and indigenous communities because we know that their infrastructure needs are so huge right across this country. The second would be to explicitly set out the mandate of the bank to focus on responding and tackling the climate emergency, which is probably the biggest threat to Canadian infrastructure that we face. The third would be to reform the governance of the bank so there would be indigenous representation. That is important, I think, for any of our institutions, but particularly for one that is going to focus on the needs of indigenous communities. The fourth would require the bank to report regularly to this place, so we can have accountability and ensure that the bank does not suffer from the many failings and shortcomings that we have seen over the past five years.

I represent northwest B.C. It is entirely a rural and remote part of this country. There are so many communities that have critical infrastructure needs, from the village of Klemtu, which needs to replace its power lines, to the Heiltsuk, where they need to build a governance building. They also have an ambitious climate action plan. Smithers has waste water and drinking water projects that need to be built. In Takla and so many other indigenous communities, they are struggling to build housing. There is shoreline erosion in communities such as Old Massett. Skidegate has waste water needs, and Prince Rupert, one of the biggest cities in the part of the world that I represent, has an infrastructure deficit in the hundreds of millions of dollars.

Communities need this bill. They need the Infrastructure Bank to succeed. I appreciate having had the time to speak to how that might be done.

Canada Infrastructure Bank ActPrivate Members' Business

11:50 a.m.


Mike Morrice Green Kitchener Centre, ON

Madam Speaker, it is an honour to stand this morning in support of Bill C-245, an act to amend the Canada Infrastructure Bank Act.

It is important to note that it was just over three years ago when parliamentarians in the chamber admitted that we are in a climate emergency. If it is an emergency, then we should probably act like it is one. In fact, that is what international climate scientists called for in their most recent report from April. The co-chair of an IPCC working group said, “It's now or never, if we want to limit warming to 1.5°C”. That is the internationally agreed upon maximum to ensure that we are taking action at the pace that science tells us is required.

One way to do that is to take existing Crown corporations and direct their resources toward solving the climate crisis we are in. That is why I support Bill C-245, along with the member for Saanich—Gulf Islands, and that is why I really appreciate the member for Churchill—Keewatinook Aski bringing this legislation forward as her private member's bill. The bill recognizes that communities are at the forefront of the climate crisis and, as such, it would shift the priorities of the Canada Infrastructure Bank to be explicit about supporting climate adaption and mitigation efforts. The bill would do this in three ways: one would be to remove the parts of the Infrastructure Bank's mandate that allow it to seek out private investments; two would be to increase the transparency of the bank by requiring regular reporting to Parliament; and three would be to ensure that first nations, Inuit and Métis communities have a seat at the table on the board.

As it stands today, the Canada Infrastructure Bank was established back in 2017 as arm's length from government, with a budget of $35 billion. What an opportunity that is. Last year, the Parliamentary Budget Officer reported that it would not even spend half of that amount over the next 11 years. What a wonderful way to activate those funds if we are going to follow through.

As other speakers have mentioned, communities across the country are calling out for more. Municipalities are taking a leadership role, and Waterloo region is one example of that, but if communities across the country are going to follow through at the pace that science requires, they are going to need the federal government to step up. I recognize that the Canada Infrastructure Bank, as it stands today, requires projects to generate revenue, meaning they have to charge public user fees or tolls, directly or indirectly, to meet the needs of private investors. Instead, if approved, this bill would redirect those tens of billions of dollars toward the infrastructure projects we need, whether it is helping communities move off of diesel or moving to high-speech rail, the list goes on and on.

One person I respect on this topic is Seth Klein. He has said that we should think about urgency of the climate crisis the same way that we might have thought in the past about wartime efforts. I would like to share a quote from Mr. Klein, who said, “But in response to the climate emergency, we have seen nothing of this sort. In contrast to C.D. Howe’s wartime creations, the [Liberal] government has established two new Crown corporations during its time in office — the Canada Infrastructure Bank (a vehicle for privatizing infrastructure that has thus far accomplished very little), and the Trans Mountain Corporation (an ill-advised decision that makes all Canadians the owners of a 60-year-old oil pipeline). If our government really saw the climate emergency as an emergency, it would quickly conduct an inventory of our conversion needs to determine how many heat pumps, solar arrays, wind farms, electric buses, etc. we will need to electrify virtually everything and end our reliance on fossil fuels. Then, it would establish a new generation of Crown corporations to ensure those items are manufactured and deployed at the requisite scale.”

I invite members to think of the jobs we could create in this transition, and they would be good, unionized, well-paying jobs to transition our economy to that of the future. When I reflect on Mr. Klein's words and look at what is in this bill, that is what excites me about this.

Bill C-245 would be one step along a long journey, not only aligned with Mr. Klein's vision, but also with that of climate scientists, who are telling us that this is required and that action is not in eight years. It is certainly not thinking about net zero by 2050. The action is required now, and there are bills before the House, such as Bill C-245, which would equip us to do it.

That is the most important thing. It is not what one party or another is bickering about with each other. It is not about partisanship at all. Future generations will judge us and what we did in this chamber, and whether we collectively acted at the pace scientists tell us is required, rather than giving billions of dollars in new subsidies to fossil fuels, and invested it in the infrastructure we needed.

The bill is one we should all embrace, and I am proud to support it.

Canada Infrastructure Bank ActPrivate Members' Business

11:55 a.m.


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

The hon. member for Churchill—Keewatinook Aski for has the floor for her right of reply.

Canada Infrastructure Bank ActPrivate Members' Business

11:55 a.m.


Niki Ashton NDP Churchill—Keewatinook Aski, MB

Madam Speaker, I rise today for the second time to proudly speak to my bill, Bill C-245, an act to amend Canada's Infrastructure Bank, with a plea.

Time is running out, and our communities need help. It is clear the climate emergency is here. Our region is already being hit hard. Yesterday, in Winnipeg, we saw record high temperatures. Over the last month, Peguis first nation has seen unprecedented flooding. First nations such as Tadoule Lake had winter storm warnings in June, and we are already experiencing extreme forest fires, which have caused extensive damage. In parts of Ontario and Quebec, tornados and severe storms have been wreaking havoc the last number of weeks.

The bill is rooted in this reality, the reality that communities on the front lines, particularly indigenous and northern communities, need action to survive climate change now. Since I tabled this legislation, I have heard from many indigenous and northern leaders across the country who have advocated tirelessly for federal support, support they have yet to receive. I have also heard from many who have reached out to the Canada Infrastructure Bank only to be rejected.

I have heard stories of first nations that were refused funding to upgrade a community hall in desperate need of fixing because they could not show the Canada Infrastructure Bank how it would be profitable, and of a northern community that was trying to switch off from diesel and were told to apply for solar panel funding without any recognition of the infrastructure needed to transition the community.

Communities do not need band-aids. They want to work with government to build infrastructure that mitigates and adapts to the increased precarious realities they face. Two first nations in our region, Poplar River and York Factory, have been left stranded in the last few weeks. It is clear they need all weather roads.

The government might show up to put a on band-aid for a short-term solution, but that is it, and we continue slowly and surely down a path, and we know where it ends. This is not how the federal government should be governing. Canadians deserve better. Communities at the forefront of the climate crisis deserve better. Time is running out and communities need our help.

Instead of getting that help, indigenous and northern leaders, and advocates can tune into this debate and hear the Liberals tell us that the Infrastructure Bank is doing great and that nothing needs to change. It is business as usual.

What we heard from the Liberals today on the bank is pure fiction. Communities know it. Canadians know it. The bank is a corporate welfare scheme. It is not doing the job the Liberals promised it would. Ironically, this week marks five years since the bank was founded. Five years later, the bank does not have a single success story to point to. It has given plenty of ammunition to those that were critical from the beginning, and it reinforces what many of us believe, which is that Liberals are more concerned with helping their wealthy friends than standing with Canadians.

In committees, in the House and in private meeting with Liberal MPs, I have consistently heard an acknowledgement that the bank is not what the government hoped for. We in the NDP have made serious propositions to fix it so it is there for the communities that need it most. We believe that public ownership is a critical tool in taking on the climate crisis. We believe that reconciliation ought to mean investing in critical infrastructure in indigenous and northern communities.

We cannot afford to miss this opportunity. When this historic agreement between the NDP and the Liberals was signed, there was talk about our shared principles on the environment and reconciliation. The Liberal opposition to our bill flies in the face of the spirit of that agreement. It used to be that the Liberals would steal good ideas from the CCF and the NDP. Now they cannot even see the value of a good idea in front of them.

The bill has unprecedented support, and for that I am thankful, from indigenous and northern leaders, climate activists, labour leaders, economists and Canadians from coast to coast to coast. We need to wake up. The world is burning. Indigenous and northern communities are fighting to survive. We do not need the Liberal greenwashing.

Indigenous and northern leaders are fighting for a better future. We cannot miss the opportunity to create a livable future for the communities that are already on the front lines. I hope that members of Parliament will read the hundreds of letters they have received from constituents and communities on the front lines. Time is running out. Our communities need help. Bill C-245 is a step in that direction.

Canada Infrastructure Bank ActPrivate Members' Business



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

The question is on the motion.

If a member of a recognized party present in the House wishes to request a recorded division or that the motion be adopted on division, I would invite them to rise and indicate it to the Chair.

Canada Infrastructure Bank ActPrivate Members' Business



Rachel Blaney NDP North Island—Powell River, BC

Madam Speaker, we request a recorded division.

Canada Infrastructure Bank ActPrivate Members' Business



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

Pursuant to an order made on Thursday, November 25, 2021, the division stands deferred until Wednesday, June 22, at the expiry of the time provided for Oral Questions.

The House resumed from June 9 consideration of the motion that Bill C-21, An Act to amend certain Acts and to make certain consequential amendments (firearms), be read the second time and referred to a committee, and of the amendment to the amendment.

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Bob Zimmer Conservative Prince George—Peace River—Northern Rockies, BC

Madam Speaker, I will be sharing my time with the member for Yellowhead.

This is a real opportunity to speak against Bill C-21. The premise of my whole talk today will be that Bill C-21 would actually make Canadians less safe, as it spends sparse resources in ways that are ineffective and targets law-abiding firearms owners instead of the real problem, which is gangs and guns in our inner cities.

In 2018, Public Safety Canada put forward a paper, “Reducing Violent Crime: A Dialogue on Handguns and Assault Weapons - Engagement Paper”. It starts off by explaining what I am trying to explain today:

The vast majority of owners of handguns and of other firearms in Canada lawfully abide by requirements, and most gun crimes are not committed with legally-owned firearms.

It goes on:

Recent estimates indicate that there are about 900,000 handguns registered to individuals in Canada. In most cases, individuals own handguns either in the context of sport shooting activities or because those handguns form a part of a collection.

Later it states:

Any ban of handguns or assault weapons would primarily affect legal firearms owners....

It is not just Conservatives who are saying this; the former public safety minister himself actually said that he knows that handgun bans would not work. In a 2019 interview with The Globe and Mail, he said that months of consultation have led him to the conclusion that banning handguns would be costly and ineffective. Again, that is from the Liberal former public safety minister across the way:

I believe that would be potentially a very expensive proposition but just as importantly, it would not in my opinion be perhaps the most effective measure in restricting the access that criminals would have to such weapons, because we'd still have a problem with them being smuggled across the border.

I could not agree more. That is why I find it strange that the government has not imposed a handgun ban previously and has admitted that it is going to be ineffective and very expensive. Again, the premise is very expensive, and I do not even necessarily want to speak to that, because how can we quantify the life of one of our children? We cannot. They are priceless. Instead, let us actually deal with the problem in a way that would actually save lives on our streets instead of prolonging the problem.

This is a quote from a police officer. Staff Superintendent Sean McKenna of Peel Regional Police recently tweeted:

Another illegally owned firearm seized by Peel Police. This is becoming a far too common occurrence in our community. A municipal, provincial or federal ban on firearms will not stop criminals from carrying them. Root cause issues need to be addressed.

Exactly. Here is somebody who sees the problems on the streets daily and knows where the real problem lies.

Another police officer, Ron Chhinzer, tweeted, “In my time in the integrated gun and gang task force, I don't recall ever seizing a legally owned firearm from any of the investigations that I was involved in.

“The law-abiding population should never suffer or pay because of the unlawful criminal.”

Again, here is someone who is actually on the streets, seeing this first-hand. What I am going to talk about later is how we should give those police officers better resources to deal with the root problems, like recidivism. Criminals get to walk free and commit crimes all over again. We are also not dealing with some of the root causes that cause violence in the first place.

Here is another quote from another police officer, Steve Ryan, who tweeted, “I investigated 150 homicides—never seized one legally owned gun as a murder weapon. In my opinion, it makes more sense to ban legally owned kitchen knives and scissors! Those I have seized as murder weapons. Banning legally owned guns won't decrease violence. Root cause will!”

There is a consistent message coming from our police officers today: The focus should be on the problem instead of on the diversion, the law-abiding firearms community.

Chris Lewis, a former OPP commissioner who works for CTV, is a crime specialist who has been a very vocal opponent of wasting resources on gun bans. Here is a quote from Mr. Lewis: “They aren’t legally owned handguns, nor are they shotguns and hunting rifles. Taking more guns from lawful owners and putting a toothless municipal handgun ban in place will do the square root of sweet”...nothing, I will say, because he uses another word, “to impact violent crime.”

There it is. Even the former commissioner is saying the same thing.

I will go on. I have a few more quotes, and then we will get into more discussion. I am sure there will be questions.

The deputy chief of the Toronto Police Service, Myron Demkiw, stated, “The City of Toronto's experience is that guns are not from law-abiding citizens that are being used in crime. They're guns being smuggled from the United States. Those engaged in handling those firearms are not law-abiding, licensed gun owners; they are criminals with no firearms licence.”

I am a firearms owner. I have my RPAL. I know that it is a very rigorous process to purchase a firearm in Canada, whether it is a non-restricted firearm or restricted. It is very difficult. There is training that is involved and there is a vetting process that is involved, and every day they look at our records to make sure that we can still legally and safely own our firearms.

I will go on to a quote from somebody who is very important. This was part of the recent public safety study. It is from Marcell Wilson. He is the founder and president of the One By One Movement, an organization founded by former gang members, extremists and organized crime members to help identify, address and research strategies on effective social programming for youth outreach.

He explained:

...when speaking on gun control, when we hear the phrase, it should always be synonymous with illegal gun crime and illegal gun trafficking as over 80% of the gun violence we [witness is] committed with illegal firearms smuggled in from the USA.

It has not just been me. I always like to quote other individuals with expertise a lot of better than my own, such as actual police officers on the streets. This is from Marcell Wilson, former gang member, who is really trying to fix the root problem of the issue of kids dying on our streets as the result of illegal firearms.

I think that as Conservatives, this is where we take quite a different position from the Liberals across the way. We Conservatives actually support dealing with the real problem. We saw a Liberal long-gun registry that cost $2 billion the last time. We have another bill, Bill C-21, that is part of resurrecting another long-gun registry and a confiscation regime too. It is going to be in the billions.

My argument is always to just take even a fraction of that money and put it into places where it is going to be effective, such as giving border agents better resources to inspect containers as they cross the border. I do not even want to say the percentage of the containers that are actually inspected, but how about we triple that, or even increase it times 10 to an exponential number of inspections to actually deal with these firearms and stop them right at the border? How about we give inner city police the tools to crack down on illegal firearms and gang activity? How about we give resources to help these police officers deal with these young gang members and try to get them out of those gangs and into productive lives?

We support stopping the revolving door. We even saw recently, with Bill C-5, that the Liberals want to let people who are convicted of firearm crimes out the door sooner than they should be, just to recommit those crimes. Why do we not deal with all of those situations? That will actually cause a real effect, a real, positive change in safety in our inner cities and on our streets.

At the end of the day, I started off by saying that the bill actually makes our country less safe. What the Prime Minister is touting is a bait and switch. Just because he is talking about guns and getting rid of them does not mean he is talking about the right guns to get rid of. He needs to get rid of the illegal firearms on our streets. Once he starts tackling that and stops misleading Canadians about what really will make a change, my hope is that he will finally realize what that is, but I think he uses this issue to divide Canadians. I would rather see us tackle the real problem with illegal firearms on our streets.

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12:10 p.m.

Oakville North—Burlington Ontario


Pam Damoff LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Public Safety

Madam Speaker, I thank the hon. member for mentioning the excellent study that the public safety committee did on guns and gangs. I wonder if the hon. member is aware that the government is actually investing $250 million into community groups exactly like the One By One Movement that the hon. member mentioned. By no means is the bill intended to be the one solution for gun violence; it is meant to be comprehensive.

In Saskatchewan, the people who are dying by firearms are actually white, rural, older men who are dying by suicide. I am wondering if the hon. member supports the red flag provisions that are in Bill C-21.

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12:10 p.m.


Bob Zimmer Conservative Prince George—Peace River—Northern Rockies, BC

Madam Speaker, the member across the way highlights the problem. She said there was $250 million to basically deal with the issues in inner cities and to support folks like Marcell Wilson, but it is a fraction of what is necessary.

She is talking about spending probably upwards of $5 billion on tackling the wrong problem, a problem that really does not exist, because lawful firearms owners are not the problem. She is saying that we should keep spending that $5 billion and only spend $250 million on this other problem. How about we spend all that money on what the real problem is? We would be in agreement and would probably support the bill. When the Liberals constantly say they are going to protect Canadians by making laws more difficult for law-abiding firearms owners, it is just ill-focused.

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12:10 p.m.


Elizabeth May Green Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

Madam Speaker, because I know the member is very knowledgeable as a gun owner, is there any part of Bill C-21 he finds useful as a reform and that would be beneficial? If the bill would go to committee, where would we want to look for making amendments?

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12:10 p.m.


Bob Zimmer Conservative Prince George—Peace River—Northern Rockies, BC

Madam Speaker, I will answer the question by answering the previous member's question on red flag laws. We already have a very robust system for checks and balances in our firearms owners community. Again, I am a firearms owner. Every day, my name gets sifted through a database to see that I am still capable and safe to own firearms. That already happens. To have more applied to that just to make it more robust is not necessary. We already have that.

What I am saying, and this is maybe what the member is alluding to, is she might believe it is necessary to have Bill C-21, but I do not. I do not see anything that is really of value in Bill C-21 to make Canada more safe. Again, it is misleading the country to say the Prime Minister is doing something positive about firearms. He is not. He could, and I wish he would.

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12:15 p.m.


Rob Morrison Conservative Kootenay—Columbia, BC

Madam Speaker, the member's speech was an evidence-based speech from investigators who have been investigating criminal activity, especially with firearms.

How or why did the government start using evidence from, maybe, politicians to start looking at seizing legal firearms from legal firearms owners when that is not the problem, as he clearly stated?

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12:15 p.m.


Bob Zimmer Conservative Prince George—Peace River—Northern Rockies, BC

Madam Speaker, again, that is the mystery, is it not?

I do not see what the rationale is. The following is from the Prime Minister himself, who said, “The long-gun registry, as it was, was a failure and I'm not going to resuscitate that”. The current Prime Minister also said, “There are better ways of keeping us safe than that registry which has been removed.”

Here is a person who is in our House today and is bringing forward other rules to probably, I believe, divide Canadians, which is what he does and how he wins. If he really wants to actually crack down on illegal firearms crime and make our streets safer in this country, he needs to look at what the Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security has looked at, what some police officers are saying and what some of the anti-gang task force are saying to do, and to follow what they are saying to do. He should not spend those scarce and much-needed resources on the law-abiding firearms community. We are not the problem.

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12:15 p.m.


Gerald Soroka Conservative Yellowhead, AB

Madam Speaker, I am pleased to rise in the House today to speak on Bill C-21, an act to amend certain acts and to make certain consequential amendments with a particular focus on Canadian firearms legislation. It is yet another bill that proves this NDP-Liberal government's incompetence and vendetta against Canadians by being too soft on crime, particularly gun crime, while being punitive towards law-abiding Canadians.

The main premise of the bill is generally to ban the future legal sale of handguns in Canada and increase the allowable penalties for gun smuggling and trafficking. Bill C-21 also outlines an untested buyback program based on a similar approach attempted by New Zealand. The program proved to have numerous substantial issues that the NDP-Liberals conveniently omitted from the contents of the bill. Ultimately, the government claims to advance laws to protect Canadians. However, upon closer inspection, Bill C-21 is riddled with contradictions and faulty premises that are simply an attack on Canadians' safety and security. How can the government claim that it is keeping guns off our streets when the bill itself is grounded in unfounded statistics and a faulty premise from a country that implemented a similar approach, and claim that the increase of maximum penalties will deter crime?

It is incredibly contradictory that the government is introducing Bill C-21 to pair with the equally problematic Bill C-5, further proving that the government prioritizes political gain over the protection and security of innocent, hard-working Canadians already being subjected to the government's ineffective draconian rule.

For the sake of brevity, I will focus my speech on the following: one, the flawed statistics that the government based its argument on in the first place; two, the equally faulty premise riddled with issues from New Zealand's Arms Amendment Bill; three, the government's focus on protecting offenders while punishing law-abiding, licensed Canadians; and four, the NDP-Liberal government's critically misdirected approach to address gun crime and firearms legislation through Bill C-21.

Going back to numerous statistics, gun crime has climbed steadily since the government has been in power and, unsurprisingly, even more so with its “spend-DP” allies. Together, they managed to spend more to achieve less, and Bill C-21 is no different. The foundation of the bill is in reference to a series of records from Statistics Canada. Statistics Canada highlighted that firearm-related violent crime only represents a small proportion of police-reported crimes in Canada, accounting for 2.8% of all victims of violent crime reported by police in 2020.

Furthermore, Statistics Canada states that the numbers upon which the bill is founded are lacking in numerous areas. It quotes gaps in its records such as, but not limited to: one, the types of firearms used in these crimes; two, whether or not the owner of the firearm was licensed to bear arms in the first place; three, where the firearm was procured from to commit the offence; and four, whether or not the firearm was properly or improperly stored. With these piecemeal statistics, I want to know how the government has the gall to insist that it is getting tougher on crime by relying on punitive approaches to licensed gun owners over addressing the real issues of gun-related violence from gangs and their members in our communities.

Bill C-21 did introduce increasing maximum sentencing for certain offences, but increasing maximum penalties will give no reprieve when the minimum penalty would be Bill C-5's option for house arrest under conditional sentencing. Furthering the theme of faulty premises, the government introduced a buyback program that was loosely based on a similar approach adopted by New Zealand in 2019. It was called the Arms Amendment Bill. The recommendation highlighted that handguns would be sold off to authorized parties so long as they were accepted, and then the previous owner would be adequately compensated. This approach should have also highlighted the issues found by New Zealand in adopting such a program: issues the government conveniently omitted from discussions.

Considering that the government is introducing a similar approach, it could be reasonably inferred that Canada would be plagued by similar obstacles. Under New Zealand's Arms Amendment Bill, the program lacked fair and reasonable compensation for gun owners who had legally obtained their firearms from a reputable source, thus leaving some licensed owners scrambling to sell their firearms to select establishments that would accept them.

Inevitably, the limited market of firearms purchasing would leave it oversaturated, with firearms circulating through the buyback program, leaving gun owners undercompensated and frustrated. Ultimately, this would result in significantly more egregious gaps in the already spotty records outlined from Statistics Canada. Without an accurate track of handguns in circulation and sold or procured through the program, how can we accurately account for firearms in Canada?

This program would not account for illegally obtained or smuggled firearms. It would not contribute to the accuracy of statistics we have on firearms-related offences in Canada, and it certainly would not protect and preserve the safety and security of vulnerable and innocent Canadians comprising our communities. Instead of investing in an untested firearms program in Canada, the government should invest in improving support systems and resources for anti-gun violence.

Why is the government pampering actual offenders who are wreaking havoc in our streets with illegally obtained firearms? It should scrap the program, as outlined in Bill C-21, and reinvest the funds into anti-gun-violence resources, provide rehabilitation for demographics prone to gang involvement, and strengthen our border security to avoid the infiltration of firearms in our neighbourhoods. The lack of these common-sense solutions in Bill C-21 only proves that the government is not serious about keeping firearms off our streets. It only knows how to mismanage taxpayers' money to advance its ineffective NDP-Liberal agenda.

The lack of a grandfathering clause in Bill C-21 would force firearms owners to either surrender their firearms to the limited dealers allowed to store firearms, as noted through Bill C-21, or retain their ownership. Either way, this would do nothing to solve the issue of firearms-related crimes in Canada.

If anything, the lack of a grandfathering clause would only contribute to more backlogs and waiting times that plague the country. Canadians do not need another NDP-Liberal manufactured disservice. Regardless of all the other questionable aspects outlined in Bill C-21, the lack of a grandfathering clause would be punitive toward law-abiding folks who have done their due diligence in their licence acquisition to bear arms.

This would only punish the wrong people and enable the criminals who illegally procure firearms in the first place. Where is the government's dedication to offenders' rehabilitation, support for victims and survivors, and conviction to take corrective actions to guarantee the integrity of our judicial system?

Conservatives believe that minimum sentencing should be sustained for heinous crimes, including crimes involving firearms, not only through the enactment of maximum penalties of 10 to 14 years in a correctional facility, but also by shunning the proposal of conditional sentencing, such as house arrest, for offenders. Moreover, Bill C-21 would establish no systems to deliver support or resources to survivors or potential victims of gun violence.

This is not a right-to-bear-arms speech. We Conservatives simply advocate for putting Canadians first and enforcing pragmatic, common-sense solutions to get guns off our streets and limit gun violence in Canada, while protecting the safety and security of our communities.

I now welcome questions or comments from my colleagues.

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12:25 p.m.

Oakville North—Burlington Ontario


Pam Damoff LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Public Safety

Madam Speaker, I notice that Conservatives, when they speak about gun control, always neglect to mention suicides, which account for 75% of people who die by firearms, and gender-based violence, because we know that access to a firearm increases the risk of femicide by 500 times.

I am wondering this. Could the hon. member speak to the provisions of Bill C-21 that would deal with gender-based violence when it comes to restraining orders?

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12:25 p.m.


Gerald Soroka Conservative Yellowhead, AB

Madam Speaker, once again, there is the problem. The issue is actually the mental state of our society, and instead of addressing the mental state of our society, what are the Liberals doing? They are trying to ban legal handguns, which is going to do nothing to help society.

In order to make a better society, we need to make sure we improve the quality of people's lives, and mental health is a big issue. The government did promise during its own election a few months ago that it was going to invest more in mental health. Unfortunately, it did not follow through on its own commitments, as is usual with the Liberal government.

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12:25 p.m.


Marie-Hélène Gaudreau Bloc Laurentides—Labelle, QC

Madam Speaker, we are all trying to reduce crime. We have repeatedly proposed a registry of criminal organizations.

I would simply like to know what my colleague thinks about the Bloc's proposal.

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12:25 p.m.


Gerald Soroka Conservative Yellowhead, AB

Madam Speaker, that is what we have been talking about. We know for a fact that the biggest issue is illegal guns and the criminal activities of gangs. If we are not going to address the main problem of the crime- and gang-related issues, how are we ever going to tackle the issue of murders or anything of that sort? We need to make sure that these criminal organizations are documented and that we have enough resources for police officers financially and enough officers in order to make sure we are able to address this. If we do not, it is just going to keep escalating, as it continually has under the Liberal government.