House of Commons Hansard #328 of the 44th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was information.


The House resumed from February 14 consideration of the motion in relation to the amendments made by the Senate to C-234, An Act to amend the Greenhouse Gas Pollution Pricing Act.

Greenhouse Gas Pollution Pricing ActPrivate Members' Business

11 a.m.


Dave Epp Conservative Chatham-Kent—Leamington, ON

Mr. Speaker, it is an honour and a privilege again to rise in this place on behalf of the people of Chatham-Kent—Leamington to speak to the gutting of Bill C-234, arguably one of the most contentious amendments introduced into the House this session. Why is it so contentious?

I opened my remarks as I usually do. It truly is an honour and a privilege to bring the voices of our constituents to this place. In fact, the bringing of those voices of Canadians to this place is the role that all 338 of us are supposed to do, through the process of debate, committee and voting in this chamber. Therefore, it is not a throwaway comment that I make when I begin my interventions.

I am speaking with the weight of the vast majority of my constituents and of Canadians when I speak to the amendment that would restore the intent of the original Bill C-234 to exempt on-farm propane and natural gas for grain drying and for barn heating.

This amendment would remove the most contentious part of the amended bill that came to us from the other place, and it reflects what Canadians want.

This was a billion-dollar bill, a billion dollars worth of carbon tax cost that was to be avoided with the passage of C-234, and this cost would be borne by our farmers and, ultimately, by consumers by 2030. The amendment brought back to this chamber by the other place, which guts the bill, would cut this relief to farmers and ultimately to consumers by $910 million, or 91% of that, according to the Parliamentary Budget Officer. That is gutting.

A recent Leger poll confirms that the vast majority, seven out of 10 Canadians, support this exemption for farmers using natural gas and propane, because there simply are not viable alternatives for the farmers. Let us put this in perspective. Canada contributes 1.6% of the world's greenhouse gas emissions, and agriculture only contributes 8% of that 1.6%, so this carbon tax is only a virtue-signalling exercise that drives up the cost of food.

The carbon tax is a tax plan and not an environmental plan. Therefore, I do hope that the other place, the place of sober second thought, takes note of what the will of the people is and ignores the browbeating they received from the Prime Minister when they considered this bill a sober second time.

Before going on to the significance of the bill to my constituents, I want to take note of a few observations made by the independent PBO, and that is a gagged PBO, by the way. The PBO reports that Canadians will pay, in addition to the carbon tax, another $486 million, so another half a billion dollars, in GST on top of the carbon tax by 2030. This is a tax on a tax. In 2022, the carbon tax also cost $82.6 million just to administer. That cost was for 465 federal employees. Since 2019, this cost taxpayers nearly $200 million, or a fifth of a billion dollars, just to administer.

I am going to focus the remaining of my time on two industry groups that do not immediately come to mind when we are thinking about the removal of barn heating from the carbon tax exemption. I am sure my colleagues who will follow with their interventions will speak to the more traditional aspects of barn heating.

The bill is of particular significance to my riding, as Chatham-Kent—Leamington is home to 60% of Ontario's greenhouses, 2,730 of Ontario's 4,000 acres. In fact, the greenhouse acreage in CKL is larger than the entire U.S. greenhouse industry combined, making it the largest concentration of greenhouses in North America. Total farm gate represents $1.2 billion. Therefore, naturally my constituents are gravely concerned with the consequences of the Senate amendments.

Greenhouse farmers did receive an 80% carbon tax exemption in the original 2016 Greenhouse Gas Pollution Pricing Act. Why? Because they grow food and because they recycle much of the CO2 back into the greenhouses, because, as we learned in high school science, plants grow better with CO2, tax or no tax applied. However, even with that exemption, Ontario greenhouse farmers will pay over $18 million in carbon tax this year, and that will rise to $40 million a year by 2030. Cumulatively, Ontario greenhouses alone will pay almost a quarter billion dollars in carbon tax by 2030, and this is with the 80% exemption, but as I said earlier, it is ultimately the consumer who pays. These are big numbers.

At a time of high food insecurity across Canada and the world, the gutting of Bill C-234 is just another example of the Liberals' virtue-signalling ideology that will inflict more financial hardship on farmers and, in turn, subsequently on Canadian consumers.

However, as difficult as it is for greenhouse farmers, it is that much worse for our mushroom farmers. They did not receive any consideration in 2016, so they are paying the full carbon tax plus HST. Let us think about this for a moment. A greenhouse cannabis producer gets an 80% carbon tax exemption, but a mushroom farmer gets no consideration. Is that virtue signalling?

Carleton Mushroom Farms co-owner Mike Medeiros summed it up best when he said, “Instead of it being a staple, it's going to be a luxury item and it's going to affect sales. By affecting sales, I may have to cut back my farm, make it smaller.” Mr. Medeiros paid $150,000 last year in carbon tax and is on track to be out of pocket another $173,000 this year. By 2030, he estimates it will reach $450,000. This is on top of his heating bills.

This mushroom farmer is an example of Canadian farm families setting the gold standard in efficiency, innovation and sustainability. He uses heavily insulated boilers that are powered by natural gas. Mushroom farmers in Canada will pay $7.4 million this year because of the tax, and by 2030 that bill rises to $16 million.

Another mushroom producer, one that I am even more familiar with, is Highline Mushrooms. It operates 10 farms across Canada and is headquartered in my hometown. Almost all the farms are near the U.S. border, so they compete with U.S. producers for retailers both in Canada and the U.S. Of course, U.S. producers do not pay a carbon tax and so, logically, industry expansion in this industry could very well go to the U.S.

Similarly, back to the greenhouse, its industry representatives recently testified at an agriculture committee hearing. They said that the U.S. industry was becoming a much more attractive alternative for expansion; this by our very own Canadian producers.

This Canadian carbon tax is also directly contributing to food insecurity. Under pressure from high food prices, a 2023 Agri-Food Analytics Lab survey showed that almost half of Canadians were prioritizing the cost of groceries versus the nutrition of their groceries.

Food Banks Canada backs up these figures with some startling figures of its own. Last year, food banks had to handle a record two million visits, and they expect another million new users this year. One in 10 people in Toronto is having to rely on food banks to survive.

This past weekend, I, together with the Leader of the Opposition, visited the Waterloo regional food bank. It has experienced a 50% increase in usage over the past year, and a fivefold increase in the past decade. That should not happen in Canada.

The Conservatives have introduced an amendment to reject the Senate amendments and demand that the bill be passed in its original form, which would support our farmers and our families. When we tax the farmer that grows the food and we tax the trucker that delivers the food, we ultimately tax the Canadian consumer who consumes and buys the food.

I call on our NDP and Bloc Québécois members to hold to their original vote on this bill and reject the Senate amendments. It is high time that the government puts aside its ideological agenda and does what is best for Canadians, as Canadians are calling for. Better yet, it should step aside and let the Conservatives restore hope and sanity to our country, uniting our country and our home; my home, our home, let us bring it home.

Greenhouse Gas Pollution Pricing ActPrivate Members' Business

11:10 a.m.


Kody Blois Liberal Kings—Hants, NS

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order. I would like to seek unanimous consent to call this question to a vote.

Greenhouse Gas Pollution Pricing ActPrivate Members' Business

11:10 a.m.


The Speaker Liberal Greg Fergus

I heard “no” even before the Speaker had the opportunity to put the question, so there is no unanimous consent for that. I encourage all members to, please, when they do seek unanimous consent, that they engage in negotiations with all the parties involved so that we do not use up the time of the House.

Resuming debate, the hon. member for Stormont—Dundas—South Glengarry.

Greenhouse Gas Pollution Pricing ActPrivate Members' Business

11:10 a.m.


Eric Duncan Conservative Stormont—Dundas—South Glengarry, ON

Mr. Speaker, there are not too many bills that go through Ottawa where their number becomes synonymous with an issue. Over the course of the last couple of years, Bill C-234 is known in every farm in every part of our country. I get asked very often, when I am out in my tours not just in my part of eastern Ontario but across the country, what the status is of the Conservative bill that was passed in the House of Commons quite a long time ago. When will the Liberal-NDP government listen to what farmers have been saying, listen to the Conservatives and listen to what a majority of members in the House have said, and pass this bill in its original form?

We are here still debating this because of deliberate attempts by the Liberal government, thePrime Minister, Liberal cabinet ministers, trying to gut the bill and minimize the positive impact this could have on the pocketbooks of Canadian farmers. Once the bill was passed here by opposition parties, despite the opposition from the Liberal government itself, as only a handful of Liberal MPs joined our cause, it went over to the independent Senate.

All of a sudden we found out, as things started to percolate and go on, that the environment minister, who is quite well known and not very well received by Canadian farmers, I would argue, was lobbying independent Senators to oppose and gut the bill. It got stuck in the Senate. It just dragged on and on and, sadly, it was amended to gut the bill that we had in place to try to minimize its impact. They took the exemption of having to pay the carbon tax off of buildings and greenhouses. If we accept these amendments, this is going to cost farmers hundreds of millions of dollars. That is wrong. It is going to drive up the cost for barns on our farms and the cost for greenhouses in the country.

It is so important that Canadians hear these numbers, not just from me or Conservative MPs, but from the independent Parliamentary Budget Officer, who is not on too friendly terms with the Liberal government these days. It has a carbon tax cover-up on the report he wants to release about the broad impact, the full impact, the carbon tax is having on all Canadians.

I want to highlight the report that the PBO was able to publish. It shows that if we do not pass this bill, Bill C-234, in its original form, which has passed the House, and have these amendments from the independent Senate rejected, it will mean that Canadian farmers between now and 2030 will be paying one billion dollars in carbon taxes, zero rebate, by the way. Farmers do not get any rebate on what they will be paying. There is nobody in the country who says that we can add a billion dollars in cost to Canadian farms over the course of the next few years and not have that increase the price of food and farming.

If that does not trigger Canadians enough, they should always remember that the government does not just charge the carbon tax. Here is the proof that it has a tax-and-spend problem in Ottawa under the Liberals and NDP. The government taxes the tax. It puts GST and HST on the carbon tax as well, further driving up the cost, with zero rebates.

If there is an irony about how out of touch and just tired the Liberal-NDP government is after nine years, it is its approach and inability to reason with science and fact when it comes to greenhouses. The leader of our party has raised this several times, because it is in his own riding of Carleton, SunTech Greenhouses in Manotick, as well as Carleton Mushroom Farms in Carleton county in the south part of Ottawa as well.

Greenhouses pay carbon tax. The CO2 that comes from the greenhouses that are paying and getting nailed for the carbon tax goes into the plants to grow them and sell them close to home. It is shown that if we do not get this passed in its original form and stop the amendments that the Liberals were driving the independent Senate to try to remove, it is going to be $250 million that greenhouses are going to pay in carbon taxes by 2030. No one can tell me that is not going to drive up the price of tomatoes and mushrooms in Canada. It has been those businesses that have shared their stories of frustration.

SunTech Greenhouses is now saying that it is cheaper for grocery stores in Ottawa to buy tomatoes from Mexico than it is from Manotick, and it is only going to get worse. The carbon tax is going to quadruple on the price of gas. It is going to nearly triple on natural gas and propane in the coming years.

Carleton Mushroom Farms, south of Ottawa, last year paid $150,000 in carbon taxes alone. That is not its entire bill. That is the carbon tax portion of its bill. It expects the carbon tax amounts for 2024 to be about $175,000. When all is said and done, in the Liberals' current plan, if we do not give this exemption that Canadian farmers are desperately calling for to help with food prices, Carleton Mushroom Farms, one business south of Ottawa, is going to be paying $450,000 in carbon taxes alone. The government is out of touch. If it is already cheaper for a grocery store in Ottawa to buy Mexican tomatoes and have them shipped up here, just imagine what is going to happen when the carbon tax bills triple for greenhouses in this country.

There is an irony to it, is there not? In the name of the environment, we have to charge a carbon tax. First of all, the Minister of Agriculture, through the agriculture committee, and Agriculture Canada do not even quantify and explain how these carbon taxes are going to lower emissions and help Canadians. They cannot even quantify it, and refuse to, but worst of all is the irony of taking a tomato from Mexico and shipping it all the way up here by truck or ship, whatever it may be, in the name of the environment because the carbon taxes are too high to be competitive right in our own backyard in eastern Ontario. Do members not find that the height of irony?

The local food movement means having as much food as possible grown here in Canada and consumed by Canadians, and maybe shipped around the world, which would be a great thing too. We are now hearing stories, right here in the backyard of Parliament, of companies saying they are going to have to shrink their production and footprint because they cannot compete with food coming in from around the world, when we have some of the best lands for agriculture in all of the country right here in eastern Ontario.

Why is it so hard for the Liberal government to accept common sense? It should give the exemption to Canadian farmers that they deserve, and take the carbon tax off buildings, dairy farms, all farms across the country, greenhouses and the drying that happens in this country. There is so much frustration right now, and it is not just the carbon tax. The Liberals are increasing other taxes and making it more difficult for farmers to do the important work that they do. It is just common sense.

The House of Commons has voted on this. I would tell any Liberal or NDP member of Parliament, because the NDP is waffling big time on whether it is going to accept the amendments as part of its coalition deal, that we want assurances, and I think we could get them. If Liberal MPs spoke to greenhouses in their regions or ridings and spoke to farmers in their yards as they are drying grain to get a true understanding of the costs and how punitive this carbon tax is, they would agree to keep Bill C-234 in its original format and stop the radical environment minister from calling up independent senators and lobbying them to gut this bill. Instead, let us provide Canadians some relief on food prices, which are already at record highs and going up this year. This is a tangible way the federal government can provide relief to lower the costs.

It is very clear that we are ready for a carbon tax election right now. We have been very clear with Canadians that we would axe the tax entirely. We would not need to do these carve-outs on home heating. We would not need to do these carve-outs for farmers. We are ready for the election right now, and Canadians are, too. They have had enough. I am ready to get my running shoes on and go door knocking, not just in Stormont—Dundas—South Glengarry but, I can assure members, in rural ridings across this country. I will be speaking to farmers to make sure they know that after years of effort and after the bill passed in the House of Commons, it was gutted in the Senate and is being delayed by the government. Liberals are refusing to provide relief at a time when they know Canadians are hurting because of food prices and farmers are frustrated.

It is common sense. We need to reject these amendments and pass the bill in its original form. Let us give farmers the true relief they need after nine years of the NDP-Liberal government.

Greenhouse Gas Pollution Pricing ActPrivate Members' Business

11:20 a.m.


Larry Maguire Conservative Brandon—Souris, MB

Mr. Speaker, it is an honour to rise in the House today to address the critical issue affecting not just farmers in Westman, but every farmer across our great nation, which is the impact of the Liberal carbon tax.

The carbon tax is not just an environment plan, like the Liberals tried to sell it for many years. It is a tax grab that punishes our livelihoods, our food security and our economy. Today we debate our Conservative bill, Bill C-234, an act to amend the Greenhouse Gas Pollution Pricing Act.

The bill was intended to axe the carbon tax on fuels used in certain farm settings where there are no current, imminent viable alternatives, areas where the Liberal carbon tax not only makes zero sense, but straightforwardly penalizes farmers for doing their job. Let me be very clear about this. The Liberal government is punishing farmers with this carbon tax, yet it is not even measuring the impact of the tax on emissions.

The NDP-Liberal coalition members love to repeat their talking points that their tax grab is designed to change behaviour, but when there are no alternatives to power, heat or cool farm activities, equipment and buildings, it just takes away the very capital farmers would be able to invest in their own operations to adapt to the various challenges nature brings to their farming operations.

That is why Canadian farm organizations from coast to coat to coast stand united in their support for our legislation proposal, recognizing its importance for the economic and environmental sustainability of Canadian farms. Rarely has a single piece of legislation garnered such unanimous support. Moreover, Bill C-234 was duly passed by the House of Commons and sent to the Senate in March 2023, reflecting a non-partisan effort with backing from all opposition parties and even several Liberals at second and third readings.

According to the polls, the majority of Canadians want the carbon tax on farms scrapped. They recognize the burden this tax places on our agricultural sector. The Parliamentary Budget Officer himself reported that the carbon tax on propane and natural gas used for greenhouses, heating and cooling livestock barns and drying grain will cost farmers nearly $1 billion by 2030. This is a staggering figure that highlights the need for immediate action.

The PBO also reported that Canadians will pay $486 million in GST on the carbon tax this year alone, and this figure is projected to exceed $1 billion by the year 2030. The administration cost of the carbon tax is another area of concern. In 2022, it cost nearly $83 million to administer the tax. Since 2019, it has cost taxpayers nearly $200 million just to manage this tax.

According to the 2023 food price report, the carbon tax will cost a typical 5,000-acre farm $150,000 by 2030. This is an unsustainable financial burden for farmers. The Canadian Federation of Agriculture stated in 2022 that growth in expenses such as the carbon tax outpaced the rise in farm income.

Total farm operating expenses increased by almost 20%, the largest gain since 1979. Fertilizer prices for Canadian farmers increased by over 50%; commercial feed expenses for livestock producers increased by 20%; and machinery fuel expenses increased by more than 50%. The reality on the ground is even more dire. We have heard that 44% of fresh fruit and vegetable growers are already selling at a loss, and 77% cannot offset production cost increases.

Even with an 80% exemption on carbon tax from natural gas, one Canadian pepper farmer still pays $150,000 a year in carbon taxes. Meanwhile, mushroom farms do not get this exemption, but greenhouses growing cannabis do. This makes no sense. The carbon tax currently costs greenhouse operators $22 million a year, and they will pay between $82 million and $100 million by 2030 when the carbon tax quadruples.

The numbers speak for themselves. There are 145,000 farms in Canada, and 15,000 of those are in Manitoba. According to the PBO, Manitoba farmers paid $3 million last year in carbon taxes on natural gas and propane to dry grain, heat and cool livestock barns and grow food. On April 1, the carbon tax increased by 23%, and Manitoba farmers will pay another $3 million in carbon taxes over the next year. Cumulatively, by 2030 they will have paid $37 million in Manitoba in carbon taxes on natural gas and propane.

Long story short, our Conservative bill, Bill C-234, will help our farmers, growers and ranchers, and widespread support is clear. Despite the decision by the majority of elected MPs, the Senate introduced amendments to Bill C-234 that severely undermine its effectiveness. These amendments, passed after prolonged procedural hurdles and frequent adjournments, removed relief for heating and cooling livestock barns, greenhouses and other growing structures. Furthermore, the amendments impose a sunset clause of just three years, which does not provide adequate time for viable alternative fuel sources to emerge.

The PBO estimates that the Senate's amendments to Bill C-234 will cut carbon tax relief to farmers by $910 million, with dozens of millions of those in Manitoba, which would help consumers immensely. The actions by senators appointed by the Prime Minister effectively pick winners and losers within the agriculture community, exacerbating the challenges faced by our farmers.

Farmers, growers and ranchers demand that Bill C-234 be passed in its original form, with no changes proposed by the Prime Minister and his radical environment minister, who used the Senate in a very ugly campaign that cost Canadians in their everyday cost of living.

Let us do a quick recap of what happened in the Senate. The Senate agriculture committee held an unprecedented seven meetings to study the bill, which had been passed by the elected House. Liberal senators introduced amendments identical to those that the Liberal MPs failed to pass on our side of the Parliament. Knowing their flaws, the Prime Minister then announced that the carbon tax on home-heating oil would be paused for three years for Atlantic provinces, targeting 3% of Canadians whose support the Liberals were desperate for at that time.

Right after that, the committee report was presented in the Senate, but a majority of senators voted against the proposed amendments, marking a tactical victory of common sense. Then, in came the environment minister, who threatened to resign over Bill C-234 and asked the Prime Minister's Office to call senators in an effort to defeat the bill.

We Conservatives launched a massive campaign, including an opposition day motion, to force the Liberals to let senators work independently. Conveniently enough, at this point in time, the Prime Minister decided to appoint four new senators. Days later, the Liberal senators reintroduced defeated amendments. This time, they had just enough votes to pass them. It is unbelievable.

A majority of farmers, elected MPs and all Canadians support this bill, but one radical environment minister and a few senators decided that they know better. That is why we Conservatives will keep fighting for Bill C-234 to be passed without any amendments.

Manitobans are among the 97% of Canadians already left out in the cold by the Liberal government, which voted down our Conservative motion that would have removed the carbon tax on all forms of home heating. Now Liberals want to continue their plan to quadruple the carbon tax on farmers, a tax that will continue to increase the cost of food, making the cost of living crisis tougher every year.

The Parliamentary Budget Officer has made clear that this bill will save farmers $1 billion by 2030, reducing the food prices for Canadian families currently struggling to afford groceries. When the government taxes the farmer who grows the food and the trucker who transports the food, it taxes the single moms, seniors and all others who buy the food. All we are seeking with this bill is to get a carbon tax carve-out for farmers, like the one the Liberals have already given for a smaller number of Canadians on home heating.

Recently, during testimony at committee, the Parliamentary Budget Officer stated that the government had provided him with a copy of its own estimates of the impact of the carbon tax but had put him under a gag order not to talk about it. Even in the few instances where Liberals claim to have some data, they will not share it. We Conservatives will keep fighting to axe the tax on everything for everyone for good.

In conclusion, our farmers deserve better. They deserve a government that understands the critical role they play in feeding our nation and supports them in their endeavours. The current carbon tax policy is a burden that our farmers cannot bear, and it is time for us to take decisive action to relieve them of this undue pressure.

The Liberal government has already shown that it is willing to make exceptions for its carbon tax when it serves its political interests. It is now time for it to demonstrate that it will accept a carve-out when it is in the best interests of everyday Canadians. Let us work together to ensure that our farmers can continue to thrive and provide for all Canadians.

Greenhouse Gas Pollution Pricing ActPrivate Members' Business

11:30 a.m.


Luc Berthold Conservative Mégantic—L'Érable, QC

Mr. Speaker, I implore members of the House to reject the Senate amendments to Bill C‑234.

The subject is simple. It is imperative that we block these amendments and get back to Bill C‑234 in its original form as quickly as possible. This is an emergency. The situation facing producers, farmers—

Greenhouse Gas Pollution Pricing ActPrivate Members' Business

11:30 a.m.


The Speaker Liberal Greg Fergus

The hon. Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance on a point of order.

Notice of MotionWays and MeansPrivate Members' Business

11:30 a.m.

University—Rosedale Ontario


Chrystia Freeland LiberalDeputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, our government wishes to see a Canada where fairness prevails for every generation.

Therefore, pursuant to Standing Order 83(1), I have the honour to table, in both official languages, a notice of a ways and means motion, and a backgrounder, which lays out our plan to make our tax system and our economy more fair for every generation.

Pursuant to Standing Order 83(2), I ask that an order of the day be designated for consideration of the motion.

The House resumed consideration of the motion in relation to the amendments made by the Senate to Bill C‑234, An Act to amend the Greenhouse Gas Pollution Pricing Act.

Greenhouse Gas Pollution Pricing ActPrivate Members' Business

11:30 a.m.


Luc Berthold Conservative Mégantic—L'Érable, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would just like to point out the disrespect shown by the Finance Minister, who could have tabled her notice in the period between two speeches. I think that is the least she could have done. I myself did so in the past, when I asked the member of Winnipeg-North if he would mind if I interrupted him during his speech. He consented. I think what the Finance Minister just did, which is to interrupt a member right in the middle of his remarks, is insulting, especially when every 10 minutes there is an opportunity to speak without interrupting anyone. I just wanted to point this out. I hope ministers will take this into account during future interventions and will refrain from such flagrantly disrespectful behaviour. There is no need whatsoever for this.

This government's lack of respect toward Canadians, however, is by no means surprising. We saw it with Bill C‑234, where amendments were brought by the Senate to amend legislation that had been duly voted on and adopted here in the House. We are talking about independent senators who were appointed by the Prime Minister and who do the work of the Prime Minister when he is unable to do things properly in this chamber. That is what happened.

At the very start of my speech, I was saying that time is of the essence for producers, because their situation is extremely difficult. After nine years under this Prime Minister, they cannot take it anymore. This Prime Minister is simply not worth the cost of taxes. Canadians do not have to take my word for it. They can read it in an article published in Le journal de Montréal about a survey of the Union des producteurs agricoles, entitled “One in five farms unable to pay their debts: a heartfelt plea from farmers”. The article says that farmers are at the end of their rope. They can no longer deal with the vagaries of weather, the interest rate explosion and the high cost of transportation—because the carbon tax does indeed add a bit to the high cost of transportation—that are preventing them from competing on a level playing field with Mexican vegetables being sold at a lower price in stores.

Think about it. It costs less to buy vegetables grown in Mexico, with all the gas and diesel it takes to get them here, than to buy vegetables produced here in Canada. It makes no sense, and the Liberals, and unfortunately the Bloc Québécois, encourage and support it. We do not understand why the Bloc Québécois did a 180 on the important issue of protecting Quebec's agricultural producers.

I will quote one agricultural producer. Philippe Leguerrier, a carrot producer in Blainville, said that he has not paid himself a salary since December. That is serious. When the people who produce food and feed Canadians can no longer pay themselves for their work, that is a sign that something is wrong with the system. Because of that, Canadians are having a harder and harder time feeding themselves. We saw that in the food banks, with 30%, 40% or 50% increases in recent years and long lines outside. Some 900,000 Quebeckers visit a food bank every month because they can no longer pay for their groceries, a direct consequence of this Liberal Bloc government's decisions, of its desire and its ideological determination to impose a carbon tax on pretty much everything.

Of course, the Bloc Québécois will say that the carbon tax does not apply to Quebec. The government still wants to drastically increase it, and not in Quebec. Everywhere else the carbon tax applies, everywhere else truckers who produce these vegetables have to export them to Quebec, they will have to pay more. Who, in the end, will be footing the bill? Obviously Quebeckers, families and workers who can no longer make ends meet at the end of the month. Clearly, with the sort of coalition it has formed with the Bloc Québécois the Liberal government has simply stopped supporting farmers.

As I mentioned, this bill is supported by every stakeholder in the agriculture sector. In committee, my colleague from Beauce had the opportunity to talk to groups from every region of the country and Quebec, and he was forced to admit that most if not all the people he spoke to are against the Senate's amendments to Bill C‑234. In fact, this morning we received a statement from the Canadian Federation of Independent Business begging members to reject the Senate amendments to Bill C‑234.

Why? It is because farmers are against the amendments proposed by the Senate. These amendments were imposed by unelected senators against the will of elected members of the House of Commons. A total of 81% of farmers say that they are against the amendments and 80% of them believe that these amendments will make the bill less effective for their business. They believe that this bill is essential to lower costs for farmers.

The agricultural industry needs a break on the carbon tax: 88% of farmers said that the carbon tax exemption on natural gas and propane used for drying grain and heating and cooling barns would be useful for their business.

That would enable them to do more and to save their farm and their business. We are talking about more than just businesses. We are talking about a way of life. Farming is a way of life in the regions of Quebec. It is a way of life in small towns. It is a way of life in communities in Plessisville, Laurierville, Thetford Mines and Beauce. Entire communities are currently wondering how they will be able to continue their primary activity, which is farming the land to feed Quebeckers and Canadians. That is where things stand right now.

Just so people understand, let us recall that this bill was sent to the Senate. It was totally gutted. Building heating was completely removed. The time allocated to the exemption for grain drying was slashed to three years. It was just pushed back. They think we will be able to replace propane and natural gas within the next three years. No expert says this will be possible.

I am about to tell the Bloc Québécois and Liberal members something that may be a secret to them. I do not think they know this, but winters in Canada and Quebec are cold—very cold, even. Although energy is needed to heat barns and dry grain, the Bloc Québécois members and the Liberals think it is a good idea to continually hike taxes. Remember, the Bloc Québécois has said repeatedly it wants to radically increase taxes. This applies to farmers too. We do not understand why, on the one hand, the Bloc Québécois claims to defend farmers, but, on the other, acts to undermine them by supporting tax hikes and these Senate amendments. It is unacceptable and incomprehensible.

My colleague's committee heard from several farmers and numerous technology specialists who were very clear. There are no viable alternatives to propane and natural gas for drying grain now, and there will not be any within the next three years, period.

A comment we too often hear from the Liberals and Bloc Québécois members, as I said, is that the tax does not apply to Quebec. This is false. We import most of our propane from Sarnia, Ontario. If we buy it in Ontario, where the carbon tax applies, we pay the carbon tax when it is imported. It is a fact, that is the math. Already, something is not quite right in the Bloc Québécois's discourse. We also pay the carbon tax indirectly when we pay for imported products delivered to grocery stories.

Let me quote again from the article in Le Journal de Montréal to illustrate how, when the government taxes the farmers who produce the food, the truckers who transport it and the grocers who sell it, prices become unaffordable:

Today, the price of fuel and rising wages are hurting farmers like Philippe Leguerrier more and more. Without his wife's salary to fall back on, it would be hard to make ends meet.

In closing, I will quote my colleague from Beauce:

Canadian farmers are stewards of the land. They are very concerned about their animals and the environment. They work so hard to feed our families and support our economy.

These farmers need support from members of the House of Commons and they need us to stand against the Senate amendments and pass Bill C‑234 in its original form as quickly as possible.

Greenhouse Gas Pollution Pricing ActPrivate Members' Business

11:40 a.m.


Philip Lawrence Conservative Northumberland—Peterborough South, ON

Mr. Speaker, it is actually a bit of a trip down nostalgia lane for me when we start talking about Bill C-234 because one of the first things I did when I became elected in 2019 was bring forward private member's bill, Bill C-206. Bill C-206 was in many ways a precursor to Bill C-234. I remember initially coming here after being elected and I really did not understand the process of the private member's bill. A little bit of a humorous story is that my staffer came to me and told me that I had won the lottery. I wondered, “What lottery?” It was the private members' bills lottery. For those who do not know, the private members' bills are drawn and I think we were number 16.

We went through a significant significant consultation process because we wanted to make sure we made the most of this opportunity. We talked to stakeholders and constituents, to people far and wide, about what we could possibly bring forward that would have the most beneficial impact for the people of Northumberland—Peterborough South as well as Canada.

We were really taken by a conversation we had with a number of stakeholder organizations and a farmer and a great man, Mr. Sid Atkinson, who has since, unfortunately, passed away. He told us of the challenges that farmers were having with respect to the cost of grain drying and other expenses of the carbon tax. He made a very strong case and I will attempt to repeat it, though probably not as eloquently as Mr. Atkinson did. He told the story of the struggles that farmers were often having. Farmers are, after all, price takers; in many cases, they do not get to set their own prices. Prices are set either by exchanges in far-off lands or by large grocery stores here in Canada, so whatever price farmers have, they have to make it work. One of the new expenses they were facing was, of course, the carbon tax. Mr. Atkinson then went on to say, “I've lived on this farm and we've been on this farm for generations, so of course we care about the land, we care about climate change, but we also have to be fiscally responsible as well.” Bill C-234 would not do either because the way it is written right now, dirtier fuels, gasoline and diesel, would be exempted, but cleaner ones such as natural gas and propane would not.

Back then, in 2019, I had the naïveté to believe that this was a mistake; that I would bring this to the Liberal government and the members would say, “Of course, we have made an error here” and ask, “Why would we exempt dirtier fuels like diesel and gasoline and instead tax those cleaner fuels, natural gas and propane?” Particularly natural gas has been pointed to by many, including environmental activists, as an excellent option as a transitional fuel because it is much cleaner than fuels such as coal and other fuels.

Therefore, we brought this Bill C-206 to the House and I was very pleased at the time that my colleagues from both the Bloc Québécois and the New Democratic Party supported that. At the time, we even had the support of the Green Party, so that was fantastic, because they saw this as not necessarily a fight over the carbon tax, though Conservatives are pleased to have that argument, particularly in an election, but those members saw it as just a common-sense provision that was just trying to give farmers equal access.

Along the trail, we have actually had a couple of Liberal supporters. At the time, the member for Glengarry—Prescott—Russell was a supporter of the bill and actually voted against his party and supported this. We had a consensus of support and we actually were moving along. We got it through second reading, made it through committee and got all the way to the Senate. Unfortunately, it was the summer when the Prime Minister called the unnecessary $600-million adventure, which he called an “election”, to leave us in exactly the same spot we were in terms of the number of representatives. I should say, though, that I am pleased that we were able to be joined by the great member for Peterborough—Kawartha as well as the member for Bay of Quinte, which is tremendous. That $600-million cost unfortunately ended our debate and ended Bill C-206.

However, I was so pleased to see the member for Huron—Bruce take up the mantle and actually improve Bill C-206 with Bill C-234. Bill C-234, once again, received support from the majority of the members of the House, made it all the way from second reading to third reading to the Senate, where, unfortunately, and at least not to my recent recollection, there was an unprecedented all-out push by the Prime Minister and the Minister of Environment to get this bill amended. Let us call a spade a spade here. The bill was not amended in an effort to improve it, but so that it would not pass through the Senate and receive royal assent. When a bill is amended at the Senate, it has to come back to this place. At that point, the government has the ability to push it back and, ultimately, defeat it through the use of time, if not time alone. Despite the fact this bill, at least initially, had the support of enough senators, with the all-out pressure of the Minister of Environment and the Prime Minister, it was amended in a very unfortunate way, because it removed barn heating as well as greenhouses.

Of course, in Northumberland—Peterborough South, we have some of the best farmers, the best farms and the best farmland in all the country. I can tell members that, from numerous discussions with farmers in our riding, it is costing them thousands of dollars in barn heating and carbon tax. The thing is, as was mentioned here, there is no rebate for farmers on this tens of thousands of dollars. The reality is that, oftentimes, it is either money that these farmers have to directly give up or it gets pushed on down to the consumer. Ultimately, if the price of eggs, milk or cereal goes up, the millionaires, billionaires and wealthy individuals of this world will be okay, but it is the most vulnerable who will hurt.

I might add that our rural communities are really challenged out here in Northumberland—Peterborough South. I know the member for York—Simcoe has talked numerous times about the economic challenges that his community is facing. What is wild is the way the Liberals have even done the calculations for the rebate, because those folks who are the most vulnerable are paying these tremendously high costs and often do not even get the benefit of the rural top-up. I have been to the member's riding. It is a beautiful place. It may not be quite as beautiful as Northumberland—Peterborough South, but it is a beautiful place. It is the soup and salad capital of Canada and it is facing these costs without the benefit of the rural top-up. I encourage anyone to drive down there. If they do not think that certainly parts of it, if not the majority of it, are rural, they certainly have not been to the beautiful riding of York—Simcoe.

To bring this to a conclusion, the facts are in and the judgment is in. When we take into account the economic and fiscal impacts, the Parliamentary Budget Officer has said unequivocally, and it is right in his report, that the majority of Canadians will face a net loss. That is the reality. Those are the numbers. If anyone had any doubt about that, that doubt dissipated at the finance committee last week when the member for Whitby asked the PBO how he knew that his measure of the economic impact of the carbon tax was correct. He said that, because he had seen the homework and the federal government's analysis, it was correct based on that.

Therefore, we are calling for the end of the carbon tax cover-up. If the Liberals truly believe their own misinformation that the carbon tax is not creating a net loss and making life more unaffordable for Canadians, then they should just release the report.

Greenhouse Gas Pollution Pricing ActPrivate Members' Business

11:50 a.m.


Leslyn Lewis Conservative Haldimand—Norfolk, ON

Mr. Speaker, in Canada, we have been blessed with incredible natural resources and abundance. From sea to sea to sea, we have been so richly endowed with our land, which produces food and feeds not only Canadians, but the entire world. Our agricultural sector is world-class in sustainability and efficient farming practices, and it is the envy of the entire world.

Our farmers and agricultural sector are essential to our national prosperity. However, examining the government's policies over the last nine years, so many farmers have written to me and have asked me a simple question: “Is the government trying to put us out of business as farmers?” With escalating carbon taxes, restrictive punitive regulations, onerous red tape and constantly shifting fertilizer rules, many farmers are asking if the Liberal government's objective is to destroy their farming business to advance its ideological goals.

It is clear that farmers are paying the price of the punitive carbon tax, and Canadians are also seeing skyrocketing increases in their grocery bills. What this government has failed to understand is that when we tax the farmer who grows the food and we tax the trucker who ships the food, we are essentially taxing the Canadians who buy the food. That is just basic economics. That is why Bill C-234 is back in the House and presented again. It would provide a needed carve-out for farmers from the Liberal carbon tax. This carve-out would ensure that farmers are not punished for drying grain, heating barns and essential farm operations.

The Parliamentary Budget Officer has reported that carbon tax on propane and natural gas used for greenhouses, heating and cooling livestock barns, and drying grain will cost farmers nearly $1 billion by 2030. In Ontario alone, with the April 1 carbon tax increase, farmers will pay $53 million in carbon taxes over the next year. By 2030, they will have paid $566 million in increased carbon taxes. This is just not affordable, nor is it sustainable.

Bill C-234, in its original form, would ensure that $1-billion worth of tax savings would go back into the agricultural sector so that farmers could continue to produce the food that feeds Canadians. Let us be clear, the amendments made by the Senate essentially gutted the original bill, and there is no point to this bill if these amendments are allowed to stand.

There is no evidence put forth on an environmental basis that would support not giving a carve-out to farmers. The Liberals have always defended this ideological tax by saying that, without it, carbon tax emissions will continue to go up, global temperatures will rise and Canada will burn without the carbon tax. Yet, they fail to mention that the Canadian agricultural sector already leads the world in sustainable farming practices. If this government believes that its carbon tax is working, why does it not have measures? Why does it not have a means to measure the impact of this tax on greenhouse gas reductions? Let us not forget that the whole point of this carbon tax is to reduce carbon. How can farmers and Canadians trust this government when the Liberals do not even believe in the efficacy of their own carbon tax policies? They have no means of measuring how efficient the carbon tax is at actually reducing carbon.

The reality is that the Liberal policies have directly contributed to food insecurity in Canada. Across our nation, even though we should have some of the lowest food prices, we are seeing outrageous costs for food, and it is because of the carbon tax on the farmers. Today, in Canada, we are witnessing one in four Canadians skipping meals just to get by. We are seeing families paying $700 more for food this year than they did in 2023. The unfortunate situation is that two million Canadians are actually accessing food banks every single month. This is atrocious.

In Haldimand—Norfolk, the community where I reside, the health unit came out with a report earlier this year to warn that a growing number of residents do not have enough money to buy healthy food for a healthy diet. I will quote the report. It said, “incomes are not enough to cover even basic expenses”.

Despite the suffering of Canadians, the government continues to hike the carbon tax every single year. There is no common sense in that, and there is certainly no compassion. If the Liberal government refuses to axe the carbon tax, at the very least, it must consider supporting the proposal to reject the Senate amendments to Bill C-234. The government must pass the important legislation, in its original form, so that we can get back to supporting farmers and families. Then, farmers can once again feed Canadians. That is what the bill is about.

We know that the Liberals could do this tomorrow if they had the political will. They have done it already. A few short months ago, the Liberals announced a carve-out for home heating oil. They know that most people who heat their homes with oil have no viable alternatives, so to tax them would be burdensome and completely wrong. Farmers face the same situation, and they are in desperate need of this carve-out.

Greenhouse Gas Pollution Pricing ActPrivate Members' Business



The Speaker Liberal Greg Fergus

I hate to interrupt the hon. member for Haldimand—Norfolk in the middle of her speech.

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

Opposition Motion—Foreign Interference in Democratic InstitutionsBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders



René Villemure Bloc Trois-Rivières, QC


That the House:

(a) take note of the Special Report on Foreign Interference in Canada's Democratic Processes and Institutions of the National Security and Intelligence Committee of Parliamentarians;

(b) express concern that certain elected officials may be wittingly or unwittingly working in the interests of foreign powers; and

(c) request the terms of reference of the foreign interference commission (the Hogue Commission) to be expanded to allow it to investigate Canada's federal democratic institutions, including members of the House of Commons elected in the 43rd and 44th Parliaments as well as Senators.

Mr. Speaker, I am very proud to rise today to give the opening speech for today's Bloc Québécois opposition day, which is about foreign interference. I would like to take this opportunity to say hello to my constituents in Trois-Rivières. I often discuss this subject with them because they find it interesting. People are curious, and today we are going to try to satisfy that curiosity.

Here is the motion:

That the House:

(a) take note of the Special Report on Foreign Interference in Canada's Democratic Processes and Institutions of the National Security and Intelligence Committee of Parliamentarians;

(b) express concern that certain elected officials may be wittingly or unwittingly working in the interests of foreign powers; and

(c) request the terms of reference of the foreign interference commission (the Hogue Commission) to be expanded to allow it to investigate Canada's federal democratic institutions, including members of the House of Commons elected in the 43rd and 44th Parliaments as well as Senators.

One week ago today, Canada, the Parliament of Canada and, undoubtedly, many of Canada's national security and intelligence allies lost their innocence. Despite the Liberal government's repeated denials, despite the ill-advised optimism of the so-called independent special rapporteur, despite the report by the ineffectual Rosenberg commission, the National Security and Intelligence Committee of Parliamentarians, or NSICOP, published a devastating report on June 5. The report is not devastating in its tone. It is devastating because of what it contains, which was unknown to most although suspected by many.

Despite the redaction that comes with this type of report, it is obvious that there is a problem, that we are at risk. Throughout its 178 paragraphs, the report describes the concept of foreign interference. Incidentally, I would like to point out that the concept of foreign interference is not defined in Canadian law, nor is it included in Bill C‑70, which we are currently studying. The report also describes the identity of the rogue states, their tactics, their use of cybertools and the absence of a coordinated response to these threats by the Canadian government.

Paragraph 50 and the paragraphs that follow are the ones that make the reader's hair stand on end.

First, we learn that some parliamentarians have communicated “frequently with foreign missions before or during a political campaign to obtain support from community groups or businesses which the diplomatic missions promise to quietly mobilize in a candidate's favour”.

Second, we learn that some parliamentarians have accepted “knowingly or through willful blindness funds or benefits from foreign missions or their proxies which have been layered or otherwise disguised to conceal their source”.

Third, we learn that some parliamentarians have provided “foreign diplomatic officials with privileged information on the work or opinions of fellow Parliamentarians, knowing that such information will be used by those officials to inappropriately pressure Parliamentarians to change their positions”.

Fourth, we learn that some parliamentarians have responded “to the requests or direction of foreign officials to improperly influence Parliamentary colleagues or Parliamentary business to the advantage of a foreign state”.

Fifth, we learn that some parliamentarians have provided “information learned in confidence from the government to a known intelligence officer of a foreign state.”

These are five devastating findings. This report confirms that, right now, there are members of the House who have, in one way or another, colluded with rogue states against our national interest. It is right there in black and white. If that is not foreign interference, then what is?

We cannot and must not remain indifferent in light of such a revelation. I promise that we will not remain indifferent. Of course, the government did warn us. I will give three examples of what it said. The government told us that intelligence is not truth. That answer has merit. Intelligence is not necessarily the truth. The government also told us that sometimes we have to look at the whole picture to understand the meaning, the direction and the path and to know where we are going.

That is not wrong. It is an interesting point. The report also states that the information was top secret and could not be revealed upon penalty of life imprisonment, which is also true. These three points are factual. We can agree on that.

I would like to hear and understand the justifications or answers but, in the end, the report is clear. There is currently interference in our Parliament. Instead of trying to reassure us with empty rhetoric, what did they do? What are they doing? What are we going to do? These questions remain unanswered.

After hearing the lame justifications concerning the Trudeau Foundation given before the Standing Committee on Access to Information, Privacy and Ethics, after reading the complacent report of the so-called independent special rapporteur and the damning report of the committee of parliamentarians, what are they doing? What will it take for them to do something?

Currently, the situation is tense. There is a sense of distrust. That is no good for anyone, for any party. Then, to add insult to injury, the committee of parliamentarians mentioned something very interesting in its 2023 report. The committee said that the government submitted only four of the thousand documents requested. That is four out of one thousand. That has to be read to be believed. In all fairness, I would say that some of the 996 missing documents were submitted in redacted form. Okay, but still, it is a curiously small sample.

Once the parliamentarians read the report of the Special Committee on the Canada–People's Republic of China Relationship on the Winnipeg laboratory, there were all sorts of debates in the House, and approximately 600 pages of the report were redacted, including the footnotes and page numbers.

A special committee was struck to analyze the situation alongside arbitrators, who used to serve as Federal Court judges. The arbitrators found that the redaction was excessive. It may have been preventive, but it was excessive. We saw that the report's redactions were nearly eliminated. They were not entirely eliminated because there was sensitive information in the report, but all in all, most of the redactions were done away with. We often come up against over-classification, which is to say that information is classified in too high a category. It goes from “confidential” to “secret”, from “secret” to “top secret”, and so on. It is done for preventive reasons, but perhaps not very accurately.

I would just echo the remarks of the Information Commissioner, who told us at a meeting of the Standing Committee on Access to Information, Privacy and Ethics, that this government clearly prefers darkness to light.

It is in that spirit that the Bloc Québécois is moving its motion today. The situation is worse than we could have possibly imagined to date. The report tells us not only that foreign states are interfering in our democratic process, but that parliamentarians are colluding with these states. These elected representatives are not publicly named, and the members who serve on the National Security and Intelligence Committee of Parliamentarians, or NSICOP, are bound to secrecy forever, as I was saying earlier, under penalty of imprisonment.

In other words, the names of the individuals working for foreign interests may not be revealed by the NSICOP, but they can be through other avenues, such as a broader inquiry by the Hogue commission. The commission could dig deeper and obtain new testimony as part of a broader investigation.

The Liberal government must understand that its duty is to protect us, not protect itself. It must cease its strategy of dodging serious questions and remove its rose-coloured glasses, because the year is no longer 2015. The government must also stop trivializing the situation, as the parliamentary secretary and member for Pickering—Uxbridge did last week. Before the Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security, she replied, “Boo hoo, get over it” to a parliamentarian who was querying the Minister of Public Safety, Democratic Institutions and Intergovernmental Affairs about the foreign interference.

This trivialization is unacceptable and will not be tolerated any longer. The Liberal government must also understand that not everyone is nice, that not everyone is telling the truth and that the interference is real. To get to the bottom of things, some explanations are in order. It is a given that the “top secret” security classification binds parliamentarians to secrecy for life. This is a real thing.

There is also something called cabinet confidence. Its purpose is codified in the Westminster Parliament, and that is not a bad thing in and of itself. It allows participants to perhaps be more honest with each other, with no filters and without the risk of being smeared or whatnot.

Secrecy is not a bad thing in and of itself. Cabinet confidence is not a bad thing in and of itself either. The problem lies in cabinet confidence being abused, in a way that could be described as unethical, in this instance. To make sense of it, we have to be able to distinguish between secrecy and concealment, which are very different notions. Without going into the origin of the word, secrecy is that which must not be shared. It is in a different category. Concealment is simply deception to conceal what could be shared. Concealment is a form of manipulation, a type of lying that implies a certain superiority over others, based on the fact that one knows and believes the other does not need to know. It is not very egalitarian. However, lying is mostly making people believe something and do what they would not have done had they known. That is fundamental in an election.

All lies are secret, but not all secrets are lies. This is an important distinction, and I encourage my friends across the aisle to think about it. Concealment and lies are the enemies of trust, which, I would remind members, consists in putting one's future in someone else's hands. In an election, citizens put their future in the hands of their elected candidates and they have the right to expect those candidates to earn that trust. Citizens expect that the government will protect their interests, not those of a foreign power or, worse yet, partisan interests.

However, as it stands, when one looks at everything the Liberal government has done to address foreign interference, one can only be surprised by its casual approach and its elevation of concealment as a way of life. That is why we must push harder to do away with concealment and lies and restore the trust that Canadians deserve from elected officials.

After the failure of the so-called independent special rapporteur, the Bloc Québécois placed its trust in the Hogue commission. The Hogue commission was established by the four main parties, who worked together and unanimously agreed on the commissioner and the scope and nature of the commission's terms of reference.

For the benefit of those who may not know, I will list a few elements of those terms of reference. The commission will “examine and assess the interference by China, Russia and other foreign states or non-state actors, including any potential impacts, in order to confirm the integrity of, and any impacts on, the 43rd and 44th general elections”. It will also “examine and assess the flow of information to senior decision-makers, including elected officials”. Thirdly, it will “examine and assess the capacity of relevant federal departments, agencies, institutional structures and governance processes to permit the Government of Canada to detect, deter and counter any form of foreign interference directly or indirectly targeting Canada's democratic processes.”

That is an extraordinary mission, and as they say, extraordinary problems require extraordinary remedies. The Hogue commission has extraordinary powers: It can adopt any procedures or methods it sees fit to effectively conduct the public inquiry, and it can receive and examine all pertinent documents, classified or not. That is the problem, because the commissioner admitted that she had not received certain documents or that she received redacted documents when they should not have been redacted, which brings me back to the issue of over-classification. We need to stop being afraid of being afraid. The four parties unanimously appointed a commissioner and gave her a mandate. The commissioner should be able to obtain these documents.

Foreign interference has no political stripe. Foreign interference affects every parliamentarian here in the House, every political party and every citizen. Tens of billions of dollars are stolen every year. Members of many diasporas are threatened on Canadian soil every year. The threats are real, now, here in the House. Doing nothing is not an option anymore. We must stop looking the other way and believing that the danger will go away on its own.

That is why the Bloc Québécois “request[s] the terms of reference of the foreign interference commission…to be expanded to allow it to investigate Canada's federal democratic institutions, including members of the House of Commons elected in the 43rd and 44th Parliaments as well as Senators.”

We must choose to make history rather than endure it. Great danger calls for great courage. The Bloc Québécois is moving this motion so that trust can be restored. I ask all my colleagues to have courage.

Opposition Motion—Foreign Interference in Democratic InstitutionsBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

12:15 p.m.

Longueuil—Charles-LeMoyne Québec


Sherry Romanado LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the President of the King’s Privy Council for Canada and Minister of Emergency Preparedness

Madam Speaker, I too was shocked to read the report, and I will be supporting this motion.

Is the hon. member recommending that the leaders of the political parties be authorized to read the report before they start talking nonsense in the House? Right now, we do not want to see partisanship on a matter that has to do with our national security.

Opposition Motion—Foreign Interference in Democratic InstitutionsBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

12:20 p.m.


René Villemure Bloc Trois-Rivières, QC

Madam Speaker, I thank my colleague opposite for that very relevant question.

I said it, and my colleague said it: Foreign interference has no allegiance, no political stripe. It affects everyone. The offer to get the clearance necessary to see the documents ought to be taken up and is worth following up on. People will be able to find out for themselves, within their own party, whether there is anything there or not. Of course, they will not be able to reveal the content of the report, that is clear. Still, it is worth considering.

Yes, any political party leader who respects Parliament should request that security clearance.

Opposition Motion—Foreign Interference in Democratic InstitutionsBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

12:20 p.m.


Michael Cooper Conservative St. Albert—Edmonton, AB

Madam Speaker, the Prime Minister and the Minister of Public Safety have cited protecting sensitive intelligence and other national security considerations for not making the names of the compromised MPs and senators known to the Canadian public.

However, I have to say that so often when the government cites national security and intelligence, it turns out that what it is really about is protecting the interests of the Prime Minister and the Liberal Party. Given that there is a path forward by turning over the intelligence to Madam Justice Hogue, if the government does not cooperate, can the member come to any other conclusion than that it is about protecting and covering up for the Prime Minister and the interests of the Liberal Party, not about national security and sensitive intelligence?

Opposition Motion—Foreign Interference in Democratic InstitutionsBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

12:20 p.m.


René Villemure Bloc Trois-Rivières, QC

Madam Speaker, I thank my colleague for his question. I enjoy working with the member on a daily basis.

As I said earlier, the government must protect the people, not itself. If the government is protecting itself, I will borrow an expression from my colleague who might call this “highly suspicious“.

We have to be careful. I think it is time to work together for the public interest, for the common interest, for the national interest. This is not the time to protect ourselves. We have to protect everyone.

Opposition Motion—Foreign Interference in Democratic InstitutionsBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

12:20 p.m.


Alistair MacGregor NDP Cowichan—Malahat—Langford, BC

Madam Speaker, first of all, it was a real pleasure working with the member for Trois-Rivières at committee last week. It was four days in a row of long sessions. I appreciated sitting next to him and getting through the important work of looking at Bill C-70.

When we look at the Liberal Party and the Conservative Party, we see that the Liberals seem to be hiding behind judicial process and the need for the RCMP investigation. We know there is a big gulf between intelligence and evidence; we know intelligence cannot always make its way to satisfy judicial requirements.

The Conservatives seem to be hiding behind a veil of ignorance. Their party refuses to get briefed, the leader in particular. The member answered the questions of my Liberal colleague earlier about getting party leaders briefed. When the director of CSIS was before our committee, he talked specifically about the actions that party leaders can take with respect to who gets to sit in caucus and who is allowed to run under the party banner.

I would like my colleague to share his thoughts on the power of party leaders and the actions they can take here now if they are all properly briefed. This is a very serious issue, and we want the issues to be resolved as quickly as possible so we do not have compromised candidates on the ballot in the next election.

Opposition Motion—Foreign Interference in Democratic InstitutionsBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

12:20 p.m.


René Villemure Bloc Trois-Rivières, QC

Madam Speaker, I thank my hon. colleague. We had the opportunity to work together to examine Bill C-70 in depth. His comments were always insightful.

At this time, we know that the NDP leader has gotten security clearance, that the Prime Minister has automatically received the information and the leader of the Bloc Québécois is completing the process to receive security clearance. Of course the Conservative Party does not want to do so. I like my colleague's expression, when he talks about a veil of ignorance. It reminds me of my studies in philosophy with John Rawls.

I think that we cannot afford not to push together. I repeat, interference has no political stripe. It is a real threat. It is financial, it is democratic. It is steamrolling everyone. Parliaments all over the world are interested in foreign interference. Last week, a law was passed unanimously in the European community. I think we cannot be against it. If we are against, I have serious doubts and I have a problem with that.

Opposition Motion—Foreign Interference in Democratic InstitutionsBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

12:25 p.m.


Marie-Hélène Gaudreau Bloc Laurentides—Labelle, QC

Madam Speaker, more than 70 committee meetings have dealt with this issue during the last Parliament. There have been meetings with the Canadian Security Intelligence Service, the Communications Security Establishment and the House of Commons administration. The most significant finding pertains to protocol. Each one does its work but no more than that, even though alarm bells are ringing.

We are asking that the commission set up and chosen by the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons be independent. That is where we are today, after all these months. We are calling for a truly independent commission. Does my colleague agree with me that in Canada we do not have a culture of information management to protect our citizens, as compared with other countries?

Opposition Motion—Foreign Interference in Democratic InstitutionsBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

12:25 p.m.


René Villemure Bloc Trois-Rivières, QC

Madam Speaker, I thank my colleague from Laurentides—Labelle for raising this matter. Last week's special report from the National Security and Intelligence Committee of Parliamentarians followed the testimony given by many witnesses at the Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security and the Standing Committee on Access to Information, Privacy and Ethics, as well as numerous other reports. Communication was identified as a problem, along with siloing.

Bill C-70 seeks to solve part of this problem, but we will study that tomorrow. For now, I feel we should allow a culture of intelligence sharing, but above all, we should develop a culture of protecting ourselves and realizing that interference exists in 2024, that it is already here and that, whether we like it or not, it is spreading. I am in complete agreement with my colleague. I hope this type of procedure can be put in place.

Opposition Motion—Foreign Interference in Democratic InstitutionsBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

12:25 p.m.

Winnipeg North Manitoba


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

Madam Speaker, I appreciate that the member indicated in one of his answers that it is important for us to recognize that democracies all over the world, many of Canada's allied countries, are having to deal with the issue of international interference. It is indeed a very serious issue. I am glad to see that Canada has a House of Commons, and in particular a government, that is doing what it can in order to protect democracies.

The question I have for the member is related to NSICOP, which is a relatively new standing committee. Canada is now a part of the Five Eyes countries that actually have a committee like this. The Conservatives have dissed the committee on several occasions. I am interested in knowing what the member from the Bloc has to say about the important role that NSICOP plays. We would not have the report today if it were not for that committee.

Opposition Motion—Foreign Interference in Democratic InstitutionsBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

12:25 p.m.


René Villemure Bloc Trois-Rivières, QC

Madam Speaker, I thank my colleague from Winnipeg North. I was hoping he would ask me a question. As for the National Security and Intelligence Committee of Parliamentarians, I would say it is fundamental. We cannot do without this type of structure today.

I read the report as soon as it was released last week. Given the committees I sit on, I knew some of the facts already, but I would say that, based on the way it was put together and in spite of the redactions, the report was well done.

I think it is vital that this committee continue to be allowed to receive intelligence, since some was withheld, and that it continue its fine work. I think that is a good idea.