January 31, 2017

BQ

Rhéal Fortin

Bloc Québécois

Mr. Rhéal Fortin (Rivière-du-Nord, BQ)

Mr. Speaker, last year, the Prime Minister went to Washington to meet with President Obama. They took nice pictures, but pictures do not put food on the tables of our agricultural and forestry producers in Quebec. The Prime Minister buckled to the Americans by allowing them to breach NAFTA as they see fit. Today, a meeting is imminent: the Prime Minister will be meeting with Donald Trump in the United States.

Will the Prime Minister stand up this time and defend Quebec producers and their businesses?

Topic:   Oral Questions
Subtopic:   International Trade
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LIB

Chrystia Freeland

Liberal

Hon. Chrystia Freeland (Minister of Foreign Affairs, Lib.)

Mr. Speaker, our government has an outstanding track record in serving Canadians well when it comes to trade. Under our government, Canada signed CETA. In December 2015, our government had the U.S. labelling law scrapped. We have obtained greater access to the Mexican and Chinese markets for beef. We have obtained greater access in China for canola producers. We continue to work tirelessly to grow the middle class. We will vigorously defend our national economy—

Topic:   Oral Questions
Subtopic:   International Trade
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LIB
BQ

Luc Thériault

Bloc Québécois

Mr. Luc Thériault (Montcalm, BQ)

Mr. Speaker, I will give the Prime Minister an opportunity to redeem himself and answer the question.

The United Kingdom, France, Germany, Sweden, the Netherlands, and Belgium are just a few of the countries that have taken a stand against Donald Trump's order banning refugees from around the world and people from seven Muslim countries. Those countries openly and unequivocally condemn the order. Will the Prime Minister follow suit rather than continue to wallow in diplomatic complacency?

Topic:   Oral Questions
Subtopic:   Foreign Affairs
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LIB

Ahmed Hussen

Liberal

Hon. Ahmed Hussen (Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship, Lib.)

Mr. Speaker, we are very proud of our record of being open and welcoming to refugees and immigrants as a way to meet our international obligations, but also viewing immigration as a great ingredient for our economic prosperity. We will continue that tradition. We will make sure that we continue to be open to people and ideas. We will continue to thank Canadians for their generosity and continue to welcome Syrian and other refugees.

Topic:   Oral Questions
Subtopic:   Foreign Affairs
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LIB

Geoff Regan

Liberal

The Speaker

January 30 marked the 25th anniversary of the return from space of Canada's first female astronaut. I would therefore like to draw to the attention of hon. members the presence in the gallery of Dr. Roberta Bondar.

Topic:   Oral Questions
Subtopic:   Presence in Gallery
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LIB

John McCallum

Liberal

Hon. John McCallum (Markham—Thornhill, Lib.)

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleagues for that wonderful response. Perhaps I should simply sit down, which I will, in just a few minutes.

I would like to begin by expressing my shock and horror at the terrorist act committed in the Quebec City mosque. I want to express my sincere condolences to the families of those who were killed or wounded.

As I stand in this place for the last time, I naturally do so with mixed emotions. Having had a few days to think about it, I also believe that this China assignment is the perfect job for me. I am grateful to the Prime Minister for his confidence.

I am going to Beijing with a great teammate, Nancy, my wife of 36 years. I think she deserves applause, if only because she has had to put up with me for 36 years. Nancy will be a great partner, but she also has her life in Canada. She, like I, will miss our three sons. She will spend part of her time in Canada, but she will be a huge asset as well in China.

I am also pleased to share this opportunity with the member for Saint-Laurent, who has been a colleague of mine for decades. We met as classmates at university in Montreal, and we served together as MPs and ministers. I would be very pleased if we were to remain colleagues as ambassadors. I would enjoy that, but it may not come to pass. It is a mystery. We will find out soon.

Passing right along.

I would also like to thank the citizens of Markham for their support in six elections and over 16 years, as well as the volunteers who have given me their strong support over the years. No politician is better than his assistants, so I would like to extend a big thank-you to my assistants, past and present, for their loyalty and their excellent work.

I know that members from all parties will agree with me that Ali, Bernie, Lisa, Kyle, and Kerry have all done fantastic work on immigration files, and I thank them very much. They have not had to put up with me for 36 years but three of them have for more than 10 years, Hursh, Lisa, and Wendy. I thank them all.

I also know members will be equally well served by my successor. I really want to warmly congratulate the member for York South—Weston now that he has become Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship. As members saw in question period today and yesterday, and in his first press conference over the weekend, my successor is a quick study. He is doing a great job. He has a warm heart. Immigration is in good hands.

As I look back over the last 16 years, I can think of some good times in this job and some not so good times, some pretty bad ones, actually. However, I thought what I would do is save my description of those bad times for my next speech in this chamber, which might be in some future life.

In terms of the good things, I only want to mention a couple: the nomination of Nelson Mandela to be an honorary citizen back in 2001 and, in particular, the Syrian refugees.

I am certainly glad that we have more than accomplished the task. In particular, I would like to thank the dedicated officials with the Department of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship.

However, what makes me really proud is not that we got the job done, although that is good, but that at a time when so many countries around the world are closing their doors to refugees, ordinary Canadians across this land have come out and have welcomed our newcomers with open hearts. That is what makes me very proud to be a Canadian.

Three days ago, the Prime Minister sent the following tweet:

To those fleeing persecution, terror and war, Canadians will welcome you, regardless of your faith. Diversity is our strength.

I remember, very happily, that when we came up with this refugee initiative, all of the opposition parties supported us. I hope very much that in that same spirit all of the opposition parties would support the sentiments expressed in that tweet, especially about “irrespective of faith”. I believe very strongly that those sentiments reflect not just Liberal values but Canadian values.

I am going to China to work for broader and deeper ties between our two countries, with the ultimate objective of creating jobs and growth for middle-class Canadians. This is partly, but by no means exclusively, about free trade discussions. It being 2017, I know that a successful trading relationship must not only pass some economist test, but it must also be demonstrably job creating and prosperity creating for hard-working Canadians. It is in that spirit that I will be offering my advice on trade with China to the government.

Canada and China have enjoyed a strong friendship that began with Norman Bethune in the 1930s, and continued with John Diefenbaker and the export of wheat, and with Pierre Elliott Trudeau and the diplomatic recognition of China.

[Member spoke in Mandarin.]

[English]

As I said in Mandarin, Canadians and Chinese are good friends.

One of my projects is to improve my Mandarin.

However, when China and Canada have disagreed on something, and this sometimes happens, all three prime ministers I have served have drawn on this friendship to speak respectfully but frankly to their Chinese counterparts. I know this long tradition will continue.

One last thing about China. One of the jobs of any ambassador is to help vulnerable Canadians who have run into some of trouble in a foreign country, in this case, China, a little like the refugees. I commit to you, Mr. Speaker, that I will work as hard as I can to help those vulnerable Canadians in China. That will be a very important part of my job.

In conclusion, and I am not one of those who says “in conclusion” 17 times, not having anyone in mind who says that, I will miss this place and all the people in it, from my closest colleagues to my severest critics, who are usually not so severe, and quite nice most of the time.

My final message to members collectively is to have the capacity to govern our country well and have the wisdom to make Canada even better in years to come.

Topic:   Routine Proceedings
Subtopic:   Resignation of Members
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LIB

Stéphane Dion

Liberal

Hon. Stéphane Dion (Saint-Laurent, Lib.)

Mr. Speaker, as someone who grew up in Quebec City and who is proud of the Muslim community in his riding, I denounce ignorance and hate, which cut lives tragically short. I mourn for the victims, express my sympathy to their families and loved ones, wish a speedy recovery to those who were injured, and congratulate the police for arresting the alleged perpetrator of these senseless killings.

Since this is the last time that I will rise in the House after having had the honour of representing the magnificent communities of Saint-Laurent and Cartierville for 21 years, I would like to take the opportunity to make a last plea for the cause that I have served with all my might, that of a united, more prosperous, fairer, and greener Canada that plays its proper role in the world.

Our country is a world treasure. Canada is as big as a continent and awe-inspiringly beautiful. We enjoy among the highest quality of life of any country, with two international languages recognized as our official languages, a strong indigenous people who remind us of our history, and a multicultural population that allows us to influence the world. Our roots are in Europe, we form part of the Americas, and we are open to Asia. We have never deployed our brave troops abroad for any reason other than to courageously serve the causes of peace, democracy, and justice. For all of these reasons, billions of people see Canada as a universal ideal of openness, tolerance, and generosity, and we must always strive to live up to that image.

In order to be effective in our pursuit of that ideal, we need to draw on our linguistic duality, which was forged by our history and is essential to our future. The French language is also key to our future success.

My dear colleagues, let us do our part by choosing party leaders that can speak both official languages.

In order to be effective in our pursuit of the Canadian ideal, we need the full participation of Quebeckers. We Quebeckers worked alongside other Canadians to build this country from the ground up. Quebec's autonomy and a federalism that respects provincial jurisdiction are important, but we also need to share Quebec's know-how with the rest of Canada.

If anyone were to try to force us once more into the grave mistake of choosing between our two wonderful identities as Canadians and Quebeckers instead of embracing them both, it would have to be with clarity, under the rule of law, under our constitutional framework, with a desire for justice for all. Those are the fundamental rights protected by the 1998 Supreme Court opinion and by the Clarity Act that gave it effect. However, I am convinced that, as Quebeckers, we will always also choose to remain Canadians.

To come closer to this ideal that Canada represents in the world which I have just described in French, we need to build on our democracy's pluralism and our political parties' respective strengths. The Liberal Party, which I had the honour to once lead, strives to reconcile economic, social, and environmental challenges, rather than placing them in conflict. The Liberal Party believes that economic growth comes from more social justice, not less, and more effective environmental policies, not less. Canada must be at the forefront of this fight which is so vital for the future of humanity, finding the path of inclusive growth and sustainable development.

We need more Canada. We hear that all over the world. I am proud to have contributed my voice this past year to our country's role as a determined peace builder, defending our own interests and those of our allies, and promoting everywhere the universal value that all human beings, regardless of their nationality, are entitled to the same dignity.

Those are the battles I have fought for my country as a parliamentarian for 21 years. I can never adequately thank those who gave me the opportunity to do so. If I had the time, I would name them all: prime ministers, colleagues, associates, constituents. However, let me just name my family, Janine and Jeanne, who have made enormous sacrifices and to whom I owe everything.

In recent weeks, I have had to choose between my two passions, teaching and public service. My thanks go to the Université de Montréal for offering me a visiting professorship under really outstanding conditions. I very nearly said yes, because, in my eyes, there is no finer calling than that of teacher. However, within these walls, I do not need to explain the addicting rush of adrenaline that comes from action, or to describe how irresistible is the call of public service, especially when that call comes from one's Prime Minister.

This is all the more so because of the large responsibility the Prime Minister has offered me. I am pleased to say, after the MP for Markham—Thornhill—

Topic:   Routine Proceedings
Subtopic:   Resignation of Members
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LIB

Justin Trudeau

Liberal

Right Hon. Justin Trudeau (Prime Minister, Lib.)

Mr. Speaker, today it is my profound privilege to stand before this House and offer thanks to two of its esteemed members, both personally and on behalf of grateful Canadians.

The members representing Saint-Laurent and Markham—Thornhill have each given decades of service to Canada. There is no doubt that I, like all Canadians are, am stronger for it.

Thanks to their efforts, Canada is more united and has a greater appreciation for the diversity that is our strength. Today, we are more committed than ever to continue the work that they started and to build a Canada where every person has an equal chance to succeed, regardless of where they are born in Canada or elsewhere in the world.

I want to begin by saying a few words about the hon. member for Markham—Thornhill, one of the hardest-working people I know both inside and outside the political sphere. He devoted his career to serving Canadians, and first as a professor. As some of you may know, our paths first crossed when he was my dean at the Faculty of Arts at McGill University, and later when he was chief economist at the Royal Bank of Canada.

During my time at McGill, I was never quite overachieving enough to reach the dean's attention, but then I was never quite bad enough to either, and flying under the radar served both of our purposes very well.

It is in his record of public service that we see how deeply he cares about Canada and Canadians. Around the cabinet table, he has served as minister of national defence, minister of veterans affairs, and minister of national revenue, but most recently as minister of immigration, refugees and citizenship, he helped to fulfill one of the government's most important promises: to bring home nearly 40,000 new Canadians from Syria.

Mr. Speaker, you might think that after such a distinguished career, retirement would be next, but you would be wrong. The member will continue to serve our country as Canada's ambassador to China where his expertise and deep cultural ties will continue to strengthen and renew that important relationship.

I thank my friend for all that he has done and all he will continue to do in service to Canada and Canadians.

Thank you. Merci. Xiè xie. Zhù ni chénggong. My Chinese is worse than his.

Topic:   Routine Proceedings
Subtopic:   Resignation of Members
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CPC

Rona Ambrose

Conservative

Hon. Rona Ambrose (Leader of the Opposition, CPC)

Mr. Speaker, first let me clarify for the member for Markham—Thornhill that I actually will not be giving his goodbye speech. It will be the member for Calgary Nose Hill, who is immigration critic, and I am sure he is very happy to hear that. She won the arm wrestle. She wants to say a few words one last time to her sparring partner for the last year.

However, I will say that when I one day leave this place and I want to make a big announcement about my future, I am not going to invite him to come to speak. This also leads me to say that I am just a little worried about our secrets about the government in China. We need to work on secret-keeping.

I will focus my comments on the member for Saint-Laurent.

I am pleased to rise to pay tribute to our colleague, the member for Saint-Laurent.

A loyal member of the House of Commons for the past 20 years, the member for Saint-Laurent has proudly held almost every role in Parliament: MP, minister, party leader, leader of the opposition, and minister once more.

The member opposite has seen three prime ministers and more than a dozen party leaders come and go. He needs to write his memoirs.

He has seen the government change hands twice, and three different parties take the reins in opposition, and has spoken thousands of words in defence of his most deeply-held beliefs in this very room, sometimes with allies and sometimes with challengers. It is in his career that we find the rarest of political virtues, and that is patience.

It would be an understatement to say that I and my colleagues were not often in agreement with many of the positions the member for Saint-Laurent held throughout his career, but I know that I and my colleagues have never failed to be impressed by his steadfast commitment to his principles.

That is rare in Canadian politics. There are days when ordinary Canadians do not see everything we do here in the House, but they want and need passionate people to represent them, people who are ready to come to work every day, understand the issues in minute detail, and vigorously defend their positions. The member opposite epitomized all that and more.

I am proud to say that we have a bit in common. We have both held the dubious distinction of being leaders of the opposition in exciting times in our parties. We have both had the distinct honour of defending and strengthening Canada's precious natural beauty as ministers of the environment, though I know our approaches may have differed. I know he loves Kyoto so much that he named his dog after it, which is wonderful.

Most of all, I know that we both have the ability to shock and amaze our colleagues when the veneer of calm poise gives way to the occasional fiery question period performance.

His many years of dedicated service have earned the member for Saint-Laurent the respect of many people in his province, Quebec, and the respect of millions of Canadians across the country.

His career should be admired for its many accomplishments, but perhaps most admired of all will be his determined advocacy for our very unity as a country through a turbulent moment in our history, which helped to ensure that we remain a strong, enduring nation.

On behalf of our caucus, present and many who served with the member for many years past, we want to wish him all the best. I know the member likes to fish, so I hope he gets some time to do some fishing and spend more time with his family, and of course, we know that he will defend the Canada-EU trade agreement vigorously in his new role.

On behalf of the Conservative caucus, I wish him and his family all the best for this next stage in his career.

Topic:   Routine Proceedings
Subtopic:   Resignation of Members
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CPC

Michelle Rempel

Conservative

Hon. Michelle Rempel (Calgary Nose Hill, CPC)

Mr. Speaker, there are times in this place, in the heat of the moment and in the pursuit of justice and progress, that we forget sometimes that we are indeed human beings. In the broader world of politics, this phenomenon is even more pervasive. As we seek to enter this place and to serve our communities, others often seek to define who we are and to define our proclivities and our intent.

Given this, and as our mythology grows for good or for ill, the question we often ask ourselves is this: What will my legacy be after my time in this place is finished? I would argue that the most fair measure of this would the impact of our actions, and so to the member for Markham—Thornhill as he finishes his time in here today.

Much like the Prime Minister, I actually encountered the member for Markham—Thornhill in my time in academia. I remember being an undergraduate economics student and reading a paper about home bias in the trade puzzle. It was actually written when I was 15 years old. I am just saying. Nonetheless, it was storied academic fact by the time I entered that portion of my life.

I have to say that in terms of action, for someone with the CV and the gravitas of the member for Markham—Thornhill to enter public service is a statement on the importance of what we do in this place. The fact that this place has attracted someone of his calibre also speaks to his actions.

I also think that when we leave this place, we need to reflect upon the weight of public service and the offices we carry, and the member for Markham—Thornhill has carried some significant offices: defence minister, veterans minister, and citizenship and immigration.

I do not think there is anyone in this place who would ever, having gone through this, have the right words to describe the loneliness we sometimes feel when we are carrying out an action that is not popular but is the right decision. To that, the member for Markham—Thornhill will be remembered for his actions as well.

In that journey, in that loneliness, when there is a day when one's name is all over the media and one just wants to curl into bed and put the covers over one's head and pretend nothing else has happened—the Prime Minister made a comment, and I would echo his sentiment, but it would be uncouth of me to repeat here—I do say this. In that lonely time, it is so important to have a partner, and in that we owe Nancy a debt of gratitude.

There is also compassion. We are measured by the compassion of our actions. While certainly the member and I have had our arguments around how and why and when and the mechanisms by which we welcome people into this country, I do not think there is anyone in this place who would argue the fact that Canada is a compassionate nation and that first and foremost, we seek to reflect our compassion in our immigration policy. In that, the member for Markham—Thornhill should be remembered for his actions.

As he mentioned, sometimes I am not a nice person. To the member's wit, I must confess that I did want to say this in the House of Commons at one point, so I am going to say it today. When he told me to smile more, my initial reaction was to ask him if he was smiling because his conversion efforts with Anakin Skywalker had been bearing fruit.

With that, I will close with something positive. The actions of a parliamentarian are often when iron sharpens iron, and some of the best experiences I have had in the House of Commons have been when someone whose ideology I do not necessarily agree with comes to the job with a position of seeking to better the country and then brings that passion and that philosophy to this place. That is when we do something that resembles work here, and that is something Canadians look forward to.

This is not a eulogy. The member has a great path ahead of him. He has a great weight of responsibility in his new role. Our relationship with China is one of the most important foreign national relationships we have. It is one of our greatest trading partners. It is an economic powerhouse, so the member's new role will bear great responsibility.

In closing, I leave him with his own words:

I believe we should always seek to expand the rights of our fellow citizens as long as we do not thereby reduce the rights of others. We should seek to ensure that no group is denied full participation in society. As members of Parliament, we should not ask the question, why should we extend this right? Rather our question should be, why should we not extend the right? Let the burden of proof be on those who wish to limit fundamental rights.

I thank the member for Markham—Thornhill on behalf of the Conservative caucus and, indeed, all Canadians for his service here.

Topic:   Routine Proceedings
Subtopic:   Resignation of Members
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NDP

Thomas Mulcair

New Democratic Party

Hon. Thomas Mulcair (Outremont, NDP)

Mr. Speaker, today I rise on behalf of the NDP to bid farewell to two colleagues who, together, have served the Canadian people in the House for almost four decades: the hon. member for Saint-Laurent and the hon. member for Markham—Thornhill.

It is a privilege and an honour to be elected to this place, but it is also often a tumultuous path. They served through good political times and bad, which is something that many of us can relate to. They also served with so much dignity that they are models for every person in the House. It is with gratitude and respect that we return that honour to them today.

The hon. member for Saint-Laurent was made a minister by Jean Chrétien in 1996 after winning a byelection. He has won a seat in every federal election since then. He has held the positions of leader of the Liberal Party, minister of the environment, minister of intergovernmental affairs, and minister of foreign affairs. He has been a long-time advocate of electoral reform, which was one of his priorities, and he has extensively studied proportional representation, which, as members know, the NDP staunchly supports.

He is admired by everyone for his dedication, passion, and commitment to public service, and we are deeply grateful for his contribution to our country and to the House.

The hon. member for Markham—Thornhill was elected to this place in 2000. A brilliant economist, he has served as minister of national revenue, minister of immigration, refugees and citizenship, minister of national defence, and minister of veterans affairs. A real progressive, he was also, very early on, a strong advocate for same-sex marriage.

We seldom meet gentlemen like him. We will miss him very much.

It was he who successfully nominated Nelson Mandela as the second honorary citizen in Canadian history, and anyone who knows him will say that he is incredibly hard-working and seems to be everywhere one goes on the Hill. He is a member emeritus of the smokers' club at the back door, and that caucus has just lost one of its longest-standing members.

His tenacity is widely appreciated and his fluent bilingualism and willingness to reach across party lines to work together are respected by all members of the House. He is a man of strong principle, who has always served the public first and foremost.

On behalf of the entire NDP caucus and all Canadians, I thank both of them for their dedication. They have left their mark on this place. We will miss them, but we wish them all the best in the future. I am convinced, knowing them as I do, that we will be hearing about them and we will follow with great interest their future endeavours.

On behalf of all of us, thank you again and we wish you all the best.

Topic:   Routine Proceedings
Subtopic:   Resignation of Members
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LIB

Geoff Regan

Liberal

The Speaker

The hon. member for Bécancour—Nicolet—Saurel has asked for the unanimous consent of the House to add his voice.

Is it agreed?

Topic:   Routine Proceedings
Subtopic:   Resignation of Members
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BQ

Louis Plamondon

Bloc Québécois

Mr. Louis Plamondon (Bécancour—Nicolet—Saurel, BQ)

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the House for allowing me to say a few words as two members of the House depart. Although I would use the same words as others have to describe these two people, I will not repeat them. I will say that they are both individuals who have truly made their mark in Canada's history, particularly in Quebec's political landscape, in the case of the hon. member for Saint-Laurent.

I will always remember the conversations I had with the hon. member for Markham—Thornhill, especially when he was a member of the opposition, because he was my office neighbour at the Justice Building. When we walked down the hallway together, he told me about his experiences as an economics and finance professor at the Université du Québec à Montréal in French.

During the years he was teaching, that university was a bastion of sovereigntists. Imagine arriving as an English-speaking professor from another province. It was a bit funny, but he told me about what a great time he had teaching there and the great friendships he developed with the university students. This shows that he had the same strong character in teaching as he has in politics.

The member for Saint-Laurent was one of the giants of the Chrétien era. Those of us working for independence recall a time when we were bitter adversaries, a time when politicians did each other no favours. When he was a Royal Bank executive, our other colleague became involved in the 1995 referendum, thereby also becoming our adversary.

We recognize that they were worthy adversaries, with deep convictions, as well as good debaters. In that sense, we may say that they contributed to the cause of Quebec independence because they forced us, as supporters of independence, to refine our discourse and better develop our arguments. Therefore, thanks for giving us a hand there.

When our opponents force us to step up our game, we can only improve. As we agreed on so little at that time, I believe that we improved a lot.

However, since the distinguished member for Saint-Laurent mentioned the Clarity Act just now, I would like us to remember that the act was denounced unanimously in the National Assembly of Quebec and so, in combatting it, we represented the entire population of Quebec. It is funny, but I have to tell him that we would have preferred the Clarity Act to leave us before he did.

On a more serious note, I would also like to point out their genuine commitment to the public when they made the leap to active politics. Politics is an extreme sport. It takes dedication and conviction to survive in this kind of crazy universe for so long. Although our viewpoints were diametrically opposed on the Quebec nation's place in the world, we must acknowledge the important work of the two MPs who are leaving us, the work of the member for Saint-Laurent in the environment and the work of the other hon. member in immigration.

On behalf of my colleagues and myself, I wish them success in their future careers and the best of luck and friendships. I would also extend my regards to both families who have always supported them.

Topic:   Routine Proceedings
Subtopic:   Resignation of Members
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GP

Elizabeth May

Green Party

Ms. Elizabeth May (Saanich—Gulf Islands, GP)

Mr. Speaker, it is a great honour to add a few words. The members for Markham—Thornhill and for Saint-Laurent have been my friends for a long time now. It is funny to think back and realize that our relationship started because of the Sydney tar ponds on Cape Breton Island.

It started off that I got to know the member for Markham—Thornhill in 2001, which was when we first started having a real friendship, and it was because I was not in politics. I was the executive director of the Sierra Club, and I was on a hunger strike right in front of this building.

New members will not know that before 9/11, we could be right in front of the members' door, and I had permission to sit there and be on a hunger strike. That lasted 17 days. By the way, if I had known when I started that it would take 17 days for Allan Rock to crack, I would not have done that.

The member for Markham—Thornhill spent a lot of time chatting with me, and this was not because he was interested in the Sydney tar ponds. It was because it was a great place for a smoke break, and that is how we got to know each other.

He used to sit right over here, as he was just remembering. The current Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard used to call this the smoking section, the little group we had over here. However, over all the years, I was never so glad to have laid a foundation of friendship with this wonderful man. I loved sitting with him when the Liberal caucus was over here. As the hon. member for Calgary Nose Hill quite rightly pointed out, he has an immense knowledge, an immense background, a stunning academic CV. I could run over and check economics; it was very handy.

However, he became minister of immigration and did the magnificent job on behalf of the Prime Minister and the commitment of Canadians to open our arms to Syrian refugees. He will know that I had many specific families, and I went to him over and over again begging, and he always listened and took action. I am so deeply grateful, as are nearly 40,000 families who live in Canada now because of his enormous effort.

I worried about his health then. I thought he was working himself down to nothing, and I know his wonderful wife Nancy shared some concerns, but now I think he will just have an easy time. I think his workload will be enormous, but there is one thing that will not happen in China: he will not be allowed a place as a smoker any more, so perhaps we can wish him good luck and that he still try to give up the smoking, and take care of Canada's interests.

I will now say a few words about my friend and hero the minister who was the MP for Saint-Laurent and who is now saying goodbye in the House. For me, he is a hero because of the work he did as minister of the environment in 2005.

That was the last good conference of the parties of all those that led right up to Paris, and it was not easy. It was 24-hour, round-the-clock work. People do not understand what it is like to take that stress, and as minister of the environment in 2005, the current member for Saint-Laurent worked tirelessly to get Kyoto confirmed, and against the objections of the Bush administration. It was not easy. I do not say this just out of friendship. I do not just have admiration for people across party lines without it being deeply deserved.

From there he went on to be leader of the Liberal Party, a colleague again.

It is one of the greatest honours I have ever had knowing both the member for Markham—Thornhill and the member for Saint-Laurent as friends, having the enormous honour to be the member for Saanich—Gulf Islands and being able to work with them, alongside them, both in opposition and now across the aisle.

I am so glad, so grateful, that the member for Saint-Laurent has accepted the Prime Minister's offer. With COP 23 being hosted by Fiji, and Fiji not having capacity to welcome the world to negotiate, the negotiations will be in Bonn. I do hope the member, our ambassador for Germany and the European Union, will find a way to participate and help along those negotiations at COP 23, so I do not have to say au revoir, but only à la prochaine.

My heartfelt thanks to the two hon. members for all their hard work and remarkable talents.

Topic:   Routine Proceedings
Subtopic:   Resignation of Members
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LIB

Geoff Regan

Liberal

The Speaker

It is always nice to see MPs kissing here in the House. I would like to echo the sentiments that have already been expressed by my colleagues.

Both of them have been my long-time colleagues.

I have admired them for their intelligence, their dedication, and their devotion to Canada and to their work. I have also appreciated their friendship over many years, and I want to wish them the very best in their new endeavours in the diplomatic community.

Thank you very much and good luck.

Topic:   Routine Proceedings
Subtopic:   Resignation of Members
Permalink
LIB

Kevin Lamoureux

Liberal

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

Madam Speaker, it is with pleasure that I rise today to talk about important legislation that the government brought forward late last fall. To a certain degree, there was an expectation from some members, and hope from others, that members would recognize the value of trying to expedite the legislation. However, although I was one of those who hoped we could get the bill passed as early as late December, I appreciate the need of members to contribute to the discussions and debates at all times.

The Minister of Health said it best when she talked about how as a nation we recognized that the opioid crisis was just that, a very serious crisis that needed to be addressed. This government views this as an issue of the utmost importance. Day in and day out, we have seen a very proactive Minister of Health try to ensure that what can be done will be done.

A number of things have been noted. I appreciated it when one of the New Democrat speakers, and I am unsure but I believe it was possibly the critic for health, made reference to a number of things the government had done. It is important to recognize that a series of things have been done to date, and it is understandable as to why that has happened.

In 2015, it was estimated that as many as 2,000-plus people had succumbed to death as a direct result of accidental overdoses. It is a serious crisis. People are dying virtually every day. If we want to average that out, we are talking about more than one or two people dying every day in this most tragic way. We see young and old alike dying as a direct result of an overdose from opioids, fentanyl in particular.

There are a couple of things I would like to emphasize.

We have talked a lot about these supervised safe sites. The legislation would go a long way to ensure that where it is clearly demonstrated that there is a need, that need will be met somehow. I want to spend a bit of time on this because I know a number of people from the Conservative Party in particular are somewhat critical of why we want to allow for more supervised injection sites.

In certain areas of the community I represent, people can walk on some of those streets and see used needles and all sorts of instruments that have been used for drugs, and who knows what else. There are serious issues. However, it is not just in one area of the country. It throughout many of our communities. It is not just in the hard-luck areas where we find poverty. We will find it in inner cities and the suburbs. The last time I had the opportunity to speak on this issue, three individuals from the Meadows West area of the constituency I represent had overdosed. This issue crosses many different socio-economic barriers. Therefore, we have a responsibility.

In the questions I put forward, I often make reference to the fact that what we want from the national government, and what the national government has indeed provided, is leadership on the file. The minister and the government recognize that Ottawa alone cannot resolve the problem. To have the desired impact that Canadians want, we must work with the many different stakeholders to make a difference, and we saw that.

The Standing Committee on Health had the opportunity to study the issue and came up with numerous recommendations. Many of those recommendations can only be effective if multi-level governments and stakeholders come to the table and play a significant role to fight this crisis.

One of the things we have been very successful with, in a relatively short time period, is bringing those stakeholders together, recognizing what needs to get done to have the desired impact that is so very important in taking on this crisis.

In terms of the opioid crisis and saving lives, a policy is necessary to protect Canadians. We need to deal with the causes. We need to recognize that this is a health issue in so many ways. It causes so much harm to our society, not only to individuals who are addicted to these drugs but to their family and friends, and the heart of the community itself.

I understand and appreciate that what we do collectively is very important.

I have had the opportunity to ask a number of questions today on the legislation. I do believe that there is always room to improve. The Prime Minister has always challenged members of the House, of all political stripes, to bring ideas to the committee if they believe they will make a difference and if they have done the background work to demonstrate it through science or facts.

We have seen amendments made at the committee level. We are open to ideas that would make a difference if they can be incorporated. I would encourage members from all political entities to share their thoughts with the Department of Health, particularly when the bill goes to committee.

In having discussions, I am pleased the New Democratic Party has taken a fairly proactive approach to the legislation. It has recognized and been constructive in its critique. It recognizes the benefits of passing the legislation sooner as opposed to later.

It was not an easy feat to ultimately get the legislation ready based on the amount of consultation that had to take place in a relatively short time span, but we were able to bring it forward last December. I will give the New Democrats credit for recognizing the benefits of seeing if there is a way to expedite the passage of the legislation.

I request that all members give serious consideration to what we can do to, at the very least, to move the bill out of second reading to committee. The health committee could then deal with the legislation, and members could provide input there, as well as at third reading.

I have heard a number of members from the B.C. region and others talk about where this impacts Canada. It impacts every region of Canada. It is not isolated in one, or two, or three provinces. All provinces are finding it challenging. They want to see action coming from Ottawa. This is just one aspect, a very important aspect, in the fight against this national crisis.

I would like to highlight a couple of things the bill proposed to do, and they have been pointed out in some of the debates thus far. In essence, it will simplify the process of applying for an exemption that will allow certain activities to take place at supervised consumption sites, as well the process of applying for subsequent exemptions.

The bill proposes to prohibit the importation of designated devices unless the importation is registered with the Minister of Health, as well as prescribed activities in relation to designated devices. It authorizes the minister to temporarily add to a schedule of the act substances that the minister has reasonable grounds to believe pose a significant risk to public health or safety, in order to control them. Additionally, it authorizes the minister to require a person who may conduct activities in relation to controlled substances, precursors, or designated devices to provide the minister with information or to take certain measures in respect of such activities. It adds an administrative monetary penalties scheme, which is long overdue.

We are looking at streamlining the disposition of seized, found, or otherwise acquired controlled substances, precursors, and chemical and non-chemical offence-related property. We are looking at modernizing the inspection powers and expanding and amending certain regulation-making authorities to include “in respect of the collection, use, retention, disclosure and disposal of information”.

I understand my time has expired, but there might be a question so I can continue.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Controlled Drugs and Substances Act
Permalink
CPC

Colin Carrie

Conservative

Mr. Colin Carrie (Oshawa, CPC)

Madam Speaker, I have been listening to some of the things my colleague has said throughout the afternoon. I wonder if the member has actually gone to one of these injection sets and knows what it is all about.

According to my colleague, Senator Vern White, the average addict commits four to eight crimes in order to get the money to pay for his or her illegal heroin. It is usually an illegal opioid. It could be laced with anything. It could be kerosene, for heaven's sake. The addicts go into one of these injection sites, self-inject and then they are sent back out into the community to do it over and over again.

The minister has repeatedly said that these injection sites save lives, but I think everyone agrees that treatment centres save lives. The minister is renegotiating the health accord. She said she is willing to use levers. Why has the minister not encouraged the provinces to invest in detox treatment programs instead of only pushing the harm reduction measures in communities?

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Controlled Drugs and Substances Act
Permalink
LIB

Kevin Lamoureux

Liberal

Mr. Kevin Lamoureux

Madam Speaker, I disagree with what the member has tried to imply. The supervised injection sites do in fact save lives. Canada does not have very many of these sites. We have Insite and another one in the Vancouver area. There have been many other applications, but the former Conservative government went out of its way to discourage these supervised injection sites. That is to the detriment of the safety of our communities and causes a great deal of harm not only to the individuals who are addicted but to family members and the community as a whole.

By providing that environment, we are in fact allowing for the community to be healthier. If I had more time, I would like to expand on that.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Controlled Drugs and Substances Act
Permalink
NDP

Don Davies

New Democratic Party

Mr. Don Davies (Vancouver Kingsway, NDP)

Madam Speaker, when the health committee conducted our emergency study into the opioid crisis last fall, the very first recommendation we made, with all-party support, was to declare the opioid overdose crisis a national public health emergency. This would give the public health officer of Canada extraordinary powers to act immediately, primarily by flowing emergency funds where they needed it and by declaring overdose prevention units as health units to legalize them so cities could actually get supervised consumption sites operating immediately instead of waiting for the application process under the bill, which the hon. member knows will take months before it is passed.

This call was echoed by Dr. David Juurlink, the keynote speaker at the health minister's opioid summit, by B.C. health minister, Terry Lake, and mayors across the country.

In the face of the mounting death toll and his acknowledgement that supervised consumption sites save lives, why will the government not declare a national public health emergency so we can actually get these temporary emergency sites operating today and start saving lives today?

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Controlled Drugs and Substances Act
Permalink

January 31, 2017