December 13, 2016

LIB

Francesco Sorbara

Liberal

Mr. Francesco Sorbara (Vaughan—Woodbridge, Lib.)

Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the 12th report of the Standing Committee on Finance in relation to Bill S-4, an act to implement a convention and an arrangement for the avoidance of double taxation and the prevention of fiscal evasion with respect to taxes on income and to amend an act in respect of a similar agreement. The committee has studied the bill and has decided to report the bill back to the House without amendment.

Topic:   Routine Proceedings
Subtopic:   Committees of the House
Sub-subtopic:   Finance
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CPC

Tom Lukiwski

Conservative

Mr. Tom Lukiwski (Moose Jaw—Lake Centre—Lanigan, CPC)

Mr. Speaker, if you will indulge me, I just have a few words to say before I table this report. Several months ago, the Minister of Public Services and Procurement and I had a conversation, at which time she indicated her desire to have a widespread consultation with Canadians about the future of Canada Post. Although, as members know, ministers cannot direct committees to undertake any study, I thought it was a very legitimate observation that the government needed to consult on one of our most iconic government institutions. Therefore, I took the suggestion back to our committee, who agreed that a widespread consultation would be appropriate. From there, we decided to conduct our study. It was an extensive study, and we travelled to 22 communities across Canada—communities both urban and rural, large and small, remote and first nations communities—in fact, 22 communities in all 10 provinces plus the Northwest Territories, in a three-week period.

It was an exhausting time for all of us on the committee, so I would like to offer my very sincere thanks to all of those who assisted: our clerk, our analysts, the PVO officials, the translators, the logisticians, and most particularly the committee members themselves. We found out, as you would know, Mr. Speaker, having been a parliamentarian for several years, that one way we can determine the true character of people is to put them in cramped quarters for three weeks and force them to interact with one another. We had a prime example of how parliamentarians of all different political backgrounds were able to come together. Yes, there were disagreements at times, but they were respectful and at all times professional. I want to offer my very sincere thanks to all of those who assisted me in this undertaking.

With those brief words, I would like to say that I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the following report from the Standing Committee on Government Operations and Estimates: the fourth report, entitled “The Way Forward for Canada Post”. Pursuant to Standing Order 109, the committee requests that the government table a comprehensive response to this report.

Topic:   Routine Proceedings
Subtopic:   Committees of the House
Sub-subtopic:   Government Operations and Estimates
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CPC

Kelly McCauley

Conservative

Mr. Kelly McCauley (Edmonton West, CPC)

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to table the opposition's dissenting report on the Standing Committee on Government Operations and Estimates' Canada Post study, in both official languages.

I, like the member for Moose Jaw—Lake Centre—Lanigan, thank the committee clerk, translators, analysts, and my fellow committee members who spent so many days on the road hearing from Canadians.

The Conservative members on the committee cannot, in good conscience, endorse the vast majority of the recommendations contained in the Liberals' report. The report does not address the serious financial shortfall that Canada Post faces, and it rejects several initiatives that would tangibly improve Canada Post's financial stability.

After ignoring the evidence-based findings of many experts, the majority recommendations veer off the road of reality and on to a highway of jargon and nonsensical recommendations, such as having taxpayers subsidize international mail into Canada, subsidizing Canada Post through other government departments, changing pension rules for independent crown corporations, and my personal favourite, turning Canada Post into an Internet and telecom provider.

These are out of touch with reality, as they are not concrete proposals to improve Canada Post's financial situation. Rather, they demonstrate that the Liberals are intent on going out of their way to ignore the findings of the task force discussion paper and the vast amount of Canadians surveyed, the committee's consultations, and public opinion, just for the sake of putting taxpayers on the hook yet again for an ill-conceived Liberal campaign promise.

The reality-defying majority report also includes value statements, repetitious buzzwords, and recommendations that Canada Post ignore the changing reality of the digital world and simply maintain the status quo. In fact, less than half of the majority's recommendations are actual calls for action for Canada Post, with the rest being examples of feel-good statements that cannot help Canada Post improve.

This dissenting report lists five recommendations: first, that we should recognize Canada Post as an independent crown corporation, and the Government of Canada ought to refrain from limiting Canada Post's autonomy; second, that Canada Post focus on its traditional purpose, which is to provide high-quality, affordable postal services to all Canadians; third, that Canada Post find innovative and yet reliable ways to remain sustainable, while staying true to its traditional core mandate; fourth, that Canada Post consider implementing the sustainable operation measures proposed in the task force report; and fifth and finally, that Canada Post ensure that any steps taken to modernize its operations remain revenue neutral for the sake of taxpayers.

Our recommendations are simple, evidence-based ones that respect the ability for Canada Post to continue operating as an independent organization while accounting for the concerns and comments we heard throughout the various recommendations and consultations. In contrast to the Liberal fantasy report, our recommendations recognize that Canada Post faces significant financial challenges in the short and long term.

While the Liberals are intent on covering up poorly chosen campaign promises using rhetoric and uncosted ideas, our recommendations focus on solutions rooted in what Canadians want. While the Liberals seem content putting forward a report that ultimately puts taxpayers on the hook for hundreds of millions of dollars, our recommendations are good first steps to put Canada Post back on track, while focusing on its core mandate.

The overwhelming consensus we heard from financial experts, task force members, and Canada Post itself is that Canada Post cannot continue without substantial changes. Conservatives members, always happy to table sound, evidence-based ideas, submit this dissenting report today.

Topic:   Routine Proceedings
Subtopic:   Committees of the House
Sub-subtopic:   Government Operations and Estimates
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LIB

Gary Anandasangaree

Liberal

Mr. Gary Anandasangaree (Scarborough—Rouge Park, Lib.)

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to present petition e-482, a petition organized by my friend, who is now a senator, Kim Pate, of the Canadian Association of Elizabeth Fry Societies, in both official languages. This petition calls upon the Government of Canada to review and remedy all cases of women prisoners held in administrative segregation over the past five years.

I believe this is a very important petition to bring forward because of some undeniable facts: first, women with mental health issues are still being held in administrative segregation at alarming rates, despite the findings of the 2007 Ashley Smith inquest; second, indigenous women and women with debilitating mental health issues are the fastest growing prison population and the groups most affected with being harmed or dying in segregation; third, many international and national organizations, including the United Nations, have called upon the government to remedy the excessive use of solitary confinement in our prisons; and finally, in a 2011 report, Juan Mendez, a UN special rapporteur on torture, concluded that solitary confinement can constitute torture. In his opinion, prolonged solitary confinement in excess of 15 days should be subject to an absolute prohibition.

It is in this context that I present this important petition this morning.

Topic:   Routine Proceedings
Subtopic:   Petitions
Sub-subtopic:   Justice
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LIB

Geoff Regan

Liberal

The Speaker

I remind hon. members that petitions is a time to present the petition and maybe refer to what it says, but not to indicate their views about the petition. It is not a time for debate.

Topic:   Routine Proceedings
Subtopic:   Petitions
Sub-subtopic:   Justice
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CPC

Michael Cooper

Conservative

Mr. Michael Cooper (St. Albert—Edmonton, CPC)

Mr. Speaker, I rise to present a petition signed by several thousand Canadians, including dozens of my constituents, calling on the government to amend section 241 of the Criminal Code, as well as the Civil Marriage Act, to ensure that persons of faith and faith-based institutions are protected from the provisions to which they object on the basis of freedom of religion and freedom of conscience.

The petitioners further call upon the government to establish a policy to review any new legislation to ensure that it does not impinge upon the freedoms of religion and conscience guaranteed under the Canadian Bill of Rights and the Charter of Rights of Freedoms.

Topic:   Routine Proceedings
Subtopic:   Petitions
Sub-subtopic:   Freedom of Conscience
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NDP

Wayne Stetski

New Democratic Party

Mr. Wayne Stetski (Kootenay—Columbia, NDP)

Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to present three petitions today on behalf of my constituents from Kootenay—Columbia, and I thank them for caring about Canada.

The first petition is in relation to climate change. The petitioners are calling upon the Government of Canada to adopt a carbon policy that applies a fee to greenhouse gas emissions at their source of production in Canada or port of entry into Canada, increase the fee over time, and distribute 100% of the money raised from the fee equally amongst all Canadians.

Topic:   Routine Proceedings
Subtopic:   Petitions
Sub-subtopic:   The Environment
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NDP

Wayne Stetski

New Democratic Party

Mr. Wayne Stetski (Kootenay—Columbia, NDP)

Mr. Speaker, my second petition concerns food waste. Approximately $27 billion a year is wasted.

The petitioners are calling on the Government of Canada to declare October 20 of each year as national food waste awareness day; determine solutions to food waste through a national awareness campaign; make it easier for businesses to donate unsold food products, which are safe for consumption, to community organizations and food banks; and to reduce the environmental impact of producing food that is not consumed by encouraging more sustainable food production methods.

Topic:   Routine Proceedings
Subtopic:   Petitions
Sub-subtopic:   Food Waste
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NDP

Wayne Stetski

New Democratic Party

Mr. Wayne Stetski (Kootenay—Columbia, NDP)

Mr. Speaker, my third petition is related to democratic reform.

The petitioners are calling upon the Government of Canada to adopt a fairer proportional voting system so that the Parliament of Canada can actually reflect how voters voted.

Topic:   Routine Proceedings
Subtopic:   Petitions
Sub-subtopic:   Democratic Reform
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LIB

Pam Damoff

Liberal

Ms. Pam Damoff (Oakville North—Burlington, Lib.)

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to present this petition regarding access to the disability tax credit for people with hearing loss.

The petition calls upon the Government of Canada to amend the Income Tax Act to change the requirements for a person with hearing loss, so they can qualify for the disability tax credit in the same manner as other persons with disabilities do.

I was pleased to sponsor this petition after meeting with families in my riding of Oakville North—Burlington who brought this issue to my attention. More than 2,200 Canadians have lent their names to this petition. As the Minister of Finance works on budget 2017, I hope he keeps this petition in mind.

Topic:   Routine Proceedings
Subtopic:   Petitions
Sub-subtopic:   Taxation
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NDP

Sheila Malcolmson

New Democratic Party

Ms. Sheila Malcolmson (Nanaimo—Ladysmith, NDP)

Mr. Speaker, today I present a petition signed by constituents from Nanaimo—Ladysmith and across Canada.

The petitioners, in the spirit of continuing to support the care, treatment, and re-establishment in life of Canadian veterans, point out that veterans throughout Canada are now legally accessing medical marijuana to treat PTSD—post-traumatic stress disorder—chronic pain, and other health issues.

However, they say that oral ingestion of cannabis, although it poses certain advantages over smoking marijuana—less bronchial irritation and less impact on the lungs—is not covered. Veterans Affairs Canada does not cover the cost of marijuana extracts, but only cannabis flowers. The petitioners are urging the government to make that change.

In testament to the power of petitions and the engagement of citizens, two weeks ago the government made this exact change. I salute these petitioners. They are already successful.

Topic:   Routine Proceedings
Subtopic:   Petitions
Sub-subtopic:   Medical Marijuana
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LIB

Kevin Lamoureux

Liberal

Mr. Kevin Lamoureux (Parliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons, Lib.)

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

Topic:   Routine Proceedings
Subtopic:   Questions on the Order Paper
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LIB
?

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Topic:   Routine Proceedings
Subtopic:   Questions on the Order Paper
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LIB

Geoff Regan

Liberal

The Speaker

I have a notice of a request for an emergency debate from the hon. member for Calgary Rocky Ridge.

Topic:   Routine Proceedings
Subtopic:   Request for Emergency Debate
Sub-subtopic:   Employment in Alberta
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CPC

Pat Kelly

Conservative

Mr. Pat Kelly (Calgary Rocky Ridge, CPC)

Mr. Speaker, I rise to seek leave for the adjournment of the House for the purpose of discussing an important matter, the economic crisis in Alberta, requiring urgent consideration pursuant to Standing Order 52.

Alberta's unemployment rate has just reached a 25-year high and continues to rise. On December 2, Statistics Canada reported that Alberta lost another 13,000 jobs in November, increasing the unemployment rate by half a per cent in that month alone, for a total of 9%. Since November last year, unemployment has increased by 52,000 Albertans.

However, the 9% of Albertans who are out of work are not the only ones affected by this jobs crisis. It has serious effects on families. The sharp and relatively rapid loss of employment has driven up food bank use across Alberta by 60%, has increased the divorce rate, has increased substance abuse rates, and has led to reports of unemployed workers turning to prostitution.

The rapid rise in unemployment has also increased the commercial vacancy rate to 30%, has collapsed or driven out over 11,000 businesses, and has diminished employment prospects for thousands of new graduates.

Furthermore, Alberta's jobs crisis is a national problem with national consequences. A crash in the energy sector lowers demand for heavy equipment manufacturing in Ontario. It lowers demand for skilled workers from Newfoundland and Labrador and the Maritimes. It lowers demand for financial services for energy projects.

In light of the precedents that have been recently raised in the House of Commons, the hardships facing residents of Calgary Rocky Ridge and all Albertans, and the national effects of a crash in Alberta's energy sector, I respectfully request that the House of Commons hold an emergency debate concerning Alberta's jobs crisis.

Topic:   Routine Proceedings
Subtopic:   Request for Emergency Debate
Sub-subtopic:   Employment in Alberta
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LIB

Geoff Regan

Liberal

The Speaker

I thank the hon. member for Calgary Rocky Ridge for having raised his request. As he knows, the Standing Order has very strict requirements, and I do not find that the request meets the requirements. As the Deputy Speaker said yesterday, I encourage members to consider alternative means to raise these matters.

Topic:   Routine Proceedings
Subtopic:   Request for Emergency Debate
Sub-subtopic:   Employment in Alberta
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LIB

Chrystia Freeland

Liberal

Hon. Chrystia Freeland (Minister of International Trade, Lib.)

moved that Bill C-31, an act to implement the Free Trade Agreement between Canada and Ukraine, be read the second time and referred to a committee.

Mr. Speaker, I hope today you will permit me to say:

[Member spoke in Ukrainian]

[English]

I am absolutely delighted to rise in the House today in support of legislation to implement the Canada-Ukraine free trade agreement. This is a historic agreement for Canadians and Ukrainians alike. I know that many hon. members, including those across the aisle, have worked hard on this agreement.

Two weeks ago, I had the distinct honour of speaking at an all-party Holodomor memorial service here in our House of Commons. It was a moving reminder for me of the broad all-party support in Canada for the people of Ukraine.

The people of Ukraine have always had very close ties to Canada. Many families, like my own, trace their ancestry to Ukraine. In fact, our countries have enjoyed a close relationship dating back more than 125 years.

It is particularly appropriate to be talking about the Canada-Ukraine free trade agreement this year, because this is the 125th anniversary of the first immigration of Ukrainians to Canada. I must say that as the weather has been turning colder this year, I have thought a lot about what those Ukrainian pioneers endured in their first winter on our Prairies. I think this agreement is a very powerful way, among many other things, to honour the tremendous work they did and the tremendous sacrifices they made, particularly in settling our prairie provinces. Today there are more than 1.2 million Canadians with Ukrainian heritage, and many have been integral to Canadian progress and history.

Multiculturalism is a core Canadian value. It is one to which Ukrainian Canadians are very proud to have contributed. They have contributed to its development as an idea and live it in their lives as Ukrainian Canadians. That multiculturalism is increasingly a value that Canada and Ukraine, as countries, share. I think the Canadian experience is very valuable for Ukraine as it develops as an independent state.

Another value that Canada and Ukraine share is our belief that government's role is to work hard for the prosperity of our people, for the middle class, and for jobs for our middle class. Both of our countries understand how essential trade is to delivering that prosperity and those jobs to our people.

That is why my mandate letter specifically instructs me to complete our free trade agreement with Ukraine, a significant milestone in the relationship between our two countries.

This free trade agreement is rooted in the connections between our people. I am so proud that this agreement will contribute to economic growth and will create more jobs, both in Canada and in Ukraine.

Despite its highly publicized and very real economic problems, Ukraine is a promising emerging market with many similarities to the largest European economies. The country has rich farmland, a well-developed industrial base, a highly skilled labour force, and an educated population. Ukraine also has abundant mineral resources, including iron ore and nickel.

The country also has dynamic agricultural and aerospace sectors and has long been known for its technological achievements thanks to its well-developed science and education capacities. Ukraine offers investment and trade partnership opportunities in these and many other sectors.

The Ukrainian economy is once again growing, and the International Monetary Fund projects that its gross domestic product will increase by 1.5% this year and 2.5% next year. That is a remarkable achievement for the peoples of Ukraine in a time of war.

Ukraine's trade climate is improving, as is the ease of doing business there. While much remains to be done, things are getting better.

This country offers many opportunities for Canadian businesses in areas such as aerospace, agricultural equipment, mining equipment, information and communication technologies, agriculture and agrifood, and fish and seafood. Canada has the necessary experience and expertise in all of these sectors, leaving it perfectly positioned to become a leading partner for Ukraine.

Our economy has a great deal to offer Ukrainian businesses. Indeed, Canada survived the global economic crisis very well. The future looks bright for Canada thanks to impressive prospects for growth, a low corporate tax rate, and a talented, educated, and multicultural workforce, including Ukrainian Canadians who have an advantage with respect to Canada–Ukraine trade.

In light of this vast potential and the many opportunities our two countries offer one another, of course we must work closely to strengthen our partnership. The Canada-Ukraine free trade agreement will help Canadian businesses take better advantage of a deeper relationship between the two countries and the opportunities afforded by this relationship.

By eliminating tariffs on virtually all goods currently traded between Canada and Ukraine and dealing with other types of barriers to trade, this agreement will open new doors and make Canadian goods more competitive on Ukrainian markets.

The rules of the agreement are drafted in such a way as to address non-tariff barriers, contribute to facilitating trade, make trade more predictable, and help reduce some of the administrative costs currently imposed on businesses.

Whether we are talking about seafood products from Atlantic Canada, maple products and goods manufactured in central Canada, or even pulses, pork, and wine from western Canada, this agreement could benefit a wide range of sectors in every region of Canada.

With good trade relations come good job opportunities and with one in six Canadian jobs directly tied to exports, our government is determined to expand Canada's access to foreign markets and help grow our economy for all Canadians.

The government is also working hard to promote the agreement and ensure that Canadian businesses can reap the full benefit of it. The government is currently developing communications products in order to ensure that the private sector is aware of the opportunities that are available in the free trade agreements, as well as the various support programs.

Canada's talented team of trade commissioners, of which I am very proud, will also receive training and the tools it needs to identify business opportunities created by the free trade agreement on the ground and communicate those to its clients. We are also determined to ensure that trade is inclusive and that the benefits are distributed better. Our progressive approach to trade seeks to ensure that trade growth helps strengthen the middle class, but not at the expense of the environment, labour rights, or the rights of governments to make regulations in the public interest.

Like our free trade agreement with the European Union, our agreement with Ukraine reflects strong Canadian values.

Today's world is full of challenges and immense possibilities due to the opening of new markets, the growth of developing countries, the emergence of new technologies, and progress in attaining the United Nations' sustainable development goals.

That is one of the reasons why our government opted for a progressive trade approach. It is also the reason why the Prime Minister has made the implementation of the Canada-Ukraine free trade agreement one of the priorities of my mandate as the Minister of International Trade.

Canada is deeply committed to working with the people of Ukraine to help Ukraine rebuild its economy in these very difficult political circumstances and to deepen the economic ties between our two countries in the years ahead.

Canada stands firmly beside Ukraine in defending its borders and its sovereignty against illegal and unwarranted acts of aggression. Canada has led other G7 countries in condemning Russia's illegal annexation of Crimea, and we will continue to take action to help the people of Ukraine rebuild their economy and country.

This free trade agreement is a very important part of Canada's solidarity with Ukraine. I would like the people of Ukraine, who I hope are listening to us today, to know that Canada stands today squarely alongside Ukraine. Canada has long supported the establishment of Ukraine as a stable, prosperous, and democratic country. Since Ukraine's independence in 1991, Canada has committed more than $1.2 billion in technical and financial assistance to Ukraine. In fact, Canada was the first western country to recognize independent Ukraine at that time.

When I met with the Canadian and Ukrainian business community last June at the Canada-Ukraine business forum in Toronto, I heard optimism and hope from both Canadian and Ukrainian business leaders that this agreement would strengthen the ties between our two countries and create new opportunities for our businesses and our people to work together. Also, it is a strategic agreement as well as an economic one.

On July 11, 2016, I had the very great and very personal honour of signing this agreement alongside my Ukrainian counterpart, the minister of economic development and trade, Stepan Kubiv, in Kiev during our Prime Minister's first official visit to Ukraine. Our Prime Minister, together with President Poroshenko, were there to witness that signature.

Both of our countries understand how essential trade is to delivering prosperity and jobs to our people. By improving market access and creating more predictable conditions for trade, the Canada-Ukraine free trade agreement will generate new opportunities for Ukrainians. Canadians want to do more business in and, crucially, with Ukraine in the years ahead.

A free trade agreement between our countries is an important way to help make that happen. The agreement would provide improved access for goods and services and address non-tariff barriers to trade. It has the potential to facilitate stronger economic relations by making it easier to do business together. I strongly believe that the agreement will help the people of Ukraine in their very difficult work toward reforming their economy and asserting their independence.

Ukrainians see Canada as a partner in Ukraine's economic reforms, and this agreement, by facilitating trade between our countries and by helping Ukrainians to raise their standards in areas like labour, the environment, and trade facilitation, will be a very important tool and support for Ukraine.

The Ukrainian people have always had a friend in Canada, and our government, and I very much personally, are determined to help the people of Ukraine prosper and succeed in a sovereign, democratic, and free Ukraine. Our free trade agreement is a very concrete measure that reinforces this support and that has built on work done by members of all parties in the House.

I therefore urge all hon. members to support the legislative amendments contained in Bill C-31 and to enable us to do our part in bringing the Canada-Ukraine free trade agreement into force.

I realize that trade agreements may be controversial in some quarters today, but I really hope that this particular agreement with a country that has such strong historic and human ties to Canada and that so needs our support today could enjoy the support of all members of the House.

[Member spoke in Ukrainian]

[English]

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Canada-Ukraine Free Trade Agreement Implementation Act
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CPC

Todd Doherty

Conservative

Mr. Todd Doherty (Cariboo—Prince George, CPC)

Madam Speaker, I listened intently to the Minister of International Trade go on and on about her passion and her beliefs regarding her Ukrainian heritage.

Canada does stand with Ukraine. It should be no surprise that Conservative members on this side of the House stand with Ukraine. The minister acknowledged the hard work that our international trade team did in getting the trade agreement to this point. My hon. colleague is pushing it across the goal line.

The minister waxed on about her Ukrainian heritage. As a Ukrainian leader in cabinet, how can she stand by and watch her government shut down what I consider to be the Ukrainian capital of Canada, Vegreville? I would imagine there are approximately 280 families of Ukrainian descent in Vegreville. I have been there. I have family there. How could you stand by and not use your voice to stand up for such an important job-creating facility in what I consider our Ukrainian capital of Canada?

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Canada-Ukraine Free Trade Agreement Implementation Act
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NDP

Carol Hughes

New Democratic Party

The Assistant Deputy Speaker (Mrs. Carol Hughes)

I just want to remind the member not to use the word “you”. Questions are to be directed through the chair.

The hon. Minister of International Trade.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Canada-Ukraine Free Trade Agreement Implementation Act
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December 13, 2016