March 20, 2017

LIB

David Graham

Liberal

Mr. David de Burgh Graham

Yes, Madam Speaker, I do.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   National Security and Intelligence Committee of Parliamentarians Act
Sub-subtopic:   Report Stage
Permalink
CPC

Dianne Lynn Watts

Conservative

Ms. Dianne L. Watts (South Surrey—White Rock, CPC)

Madam Speaker, I am pleased to rise to speak to Bill C-22, An Act to establish the National Security and Intelligence Committee of Parliamentarians and to make consequential amendments to certain Acts.

As a member of the Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security, I had the privilege to closely examine the legislation over the course of eight meetings. I also want to note that the committee concurrently undertook a study on Canada's national security framework. Because a significant amount of the expert testimony we heard was so relevant and crossed over to both of those studies, the committee passed a motion to include all that was heard to be included in both studies and ultimately in both final reports.

This is significant. I want to highlight the amount of work and effort that was done to examine the legislation, to hear from numerous expert witnesses, and to ensure the House was best positioned to pass the best possible legislation.

We heard from witnesses who came before the committee in Ottawa and as well from Canadians across our country during our cross country tour. We heard from experts in the morning sessions and we heard from the general public in the evening through public hearings in Vancouver, Calgary, Montreal, Toronto, and Halifax.

We heard from academics, from experts working in the national security and intelligence fields, from Canada's Information and Privacy Commissioner, from Canada's national security agencies, from the existing oversight bodies, and from groups representing different religious and ethnic communities throughout Canada. The overwhelming testimony was conclusive.

Experts agreed that while Bill C-22 was a good start, it needed several amendments to make the proposed committee truly independent, accountable, and effective. Therefore, when it came time to propose amendments to the bill, most members of the committee listened to experts and attempted to ensure the independent national security and intelligence committee of parliamentarians would have the right tools to do what would be intended and what it would be required to do.

Several amendments were proposed from committee members of all parties: the Liberals, Conservatives, and the NDP. While not all amendments were agreed to, several were.

The committee amended the legislation significantly to ensure the proposed oversight committee had subpoena powers for documents and witnesses, would be able to access all necessary information, would not grant the minister discretionary veto powers, and would be able to clearly identify whether the Prime Minister had requested that a report be revised before submission to Parliament and, if so, why the Prime Minister had requested such revisions. We as the official opposition also attempted to ensure the proposed committee's composition would be non-partisan and that its chair and members would not be appointed by the Prime Minister. However, this amendment was rejected by the Liberals.

All these amendments were aimed at making Bill C-22 more effective, more accountable, and more transparent to Canadians. However, the Liberal government had decided to reject the majority of the amendments that were adopted by the committee, therefore gutting Bill C-22, which took it back to its original form.

The Liberals promised Canadians that national security oversight would be transparent and that it would be accountable. However, Bill C-22 in its current form proposes an oversight committee that has little review powers, that is not transparent, and is not accountable to Parliament. In short, the Liberals are proposing a committee that is an extension of the Prime Minister's Office.

The Prime Minister appointed the chair of the committee, the member for Ottawa South, in January 2016. This was a full six months before Bill C-22 was even tabled before Parliament.

It has now been over a year since his appointment, and we are still debating the legislation. Well, we were debating it until the time allocation today. This is a key example of the Liberal government's unwillingness to be open to any changes or to strengthen the level of transparency and accountability. In spite of what the Liberals may say in this House and to Canadians, the Liberal government has decided to ignore the changes made by the Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security, a committee made up of a majority of Liberal MPs I might add, and proceed with a version of the bill that very closely resembles the original one.

The Prime Minister will still appoint the chair of the committee; the minister will still be able to decide what information the proposed committee receives and what it does not; and the committee will continue to have no powers to subpoena information or witnesses, even though this is a privilege currently enjoyed by other parliamentary committees. In short, the committee will continue to be controlled by the Prime Minister and the Minister of Public Safety. It will not be transparent, not be accountable, and it will not have the tools necessary to do its job.

Furthermore, the Liberal government does not want to discuss or have debate on this issue. Prior to my speech, the House voted on time allocation as put forward by the Liberals to shut down any and all debate on Bill C-22. This means that not only does the Prime Minister not want to have a national security oversight committee that is accountable to Canadians, that is transparent, and that is effective, but now he also wants to make sure that the House has as little time as possible to debate it. The Liberals are shutting down debate on this legislation because they decided over a year ago, when they appointed the chair, that they wanted this committee to be controlled by the Prime Minister and the Minister of Public Safety.We need to ensure that an appropriate structure and review process of our national security agencies is in place, and we also need to make sure that it is accountable to Canadians.

The public safety committee, including the five Liberal members, made significant changes to Bill C-22. We heard from experts and the general public. We did our job. However, these amendments were not what the Liberal government wanted, because it had already predetermined the outcome of what it wanted in the bill. It is not listening to experts, and it is not listening to the public safety and national security committee. It is insulting the parliamentary process and Canadians by extension.

I urge my colleagues in this House to vote against the changes proposed by the Liberal government, which ignore expert testimony, ignore the committee, and gut the legislation. Independent oversight of Canada's national security agency is critical, and Canadians deserve better from the Liberal government.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   National Security and Intelligence Committee of Parliamentarians Act
Sub-subtopic:   Report Stage
Permalink
LIB

Marco Mendicino

Liberal

Mr. Marco Mendicino (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada, Lib.)

Madam Speaker, I want to thank my hon. colleague for her comments this morning, as well as for her work on the Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security. I had the honour of serving with her on that committee.

In the context of those deliberations on Bill C-22, I am proud of the work that the committee did to ensure there was a broad mandate for this committee of parliamentarians to investigate any matter of national security; to ensure there was robust access to disclosure, the absence of which would trigger the committee's opportunity to use the bully pulpit to hold the government to account; and to be sure there was an appropriate composition of this committee. There will be nine parliamentarians, which is an increase of nine from the number zero. Why do I say that? It is because for 10 years, on the subject of openness and transparency, the last government did nothing to significantly advance that matter. This government has taken concrete steps.

I wonder how the hon. member can reconcile this government's action with the absence of action from the last government.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   National Security and Intelligence Committee of Parliamentarians Act
Sub-subtopic:   Report Stage
Permalink
CPC

Dianne Lynn Watts

Conservative

Ms. Dianne L. Watts

Madam Speaker, I appreciate the work that my colleague did on the committee.

There is oversight on some of the national security agencies. It has been in place for 20 years. It is not in the form as is proposed in Bill C-22. As we have heard, and as I said in my speech, this is a starting point, and that is all it is.

If the committee does not have the tools to do its job, it will not succeed, it will fail.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   National Security and Intelligence Committee of Parliamentarians Act
Sub-subtopic:   Report Stage
Permalink
CPC

Garnett Genuis

Conservative

Mr. Garnett Genuis (Sherwood Park—Fort Saskatchewan, CPC)

Madam Speaker, my colleague pointed out quite well that the bill leaves all of the cards in the Prime Minister's hands. Not only does he appoint the chair, but he appoints all the members of the committee. There is nothing in the legislation to require that someone be appointed, for example, from the official opposition. It says that up to a certain number of members can be appointed from the government. This is a smokescreen. This is the government maintaining all of the cards in its own hands while pretending to expand oversight. We see across the board great claims of transparency, but the devil is always in the details.

I wonder if the member could comment on just how deceptive this legislation is and the total failure of the government to respond to our legitimate concerns about it.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   National Security and Intelligence Committee of Parliamentarians Act
Sub-subtopic:   Report Stage
Permalink
CPC

Dianne Lynn Watts

Conservative

Ms. Dianne L. Watts

Madam Speaker, when we heard from so many witnesses about the independence of this committee, about the tools that the committee should have, the committee did do its work. We incorporated those into the amendments. Unfortunately, one of the Liberal members of Parliament was removed from the committee. However, to have the government now gut the legislation when we were in agreement with so many of the amendments takes it back to square one. It does not reflect what the expert witnesses and the Privacy Commissioner put forward in testimony.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   National Security and Intelligence Committee of Parliamentarians Act
Sub-subtopic:   Report Stage
Permalink
LIB

Michel Picard

Liberal

Mr. Michel Picard (Montarville, Lib.)

Madam Speaker, I now have the pleasure of being a member of the Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security with my colleague, and her current position surprises me.

The existing committee is proposing a solution based on consultations and several years of experience, primarily in Great Britain. The formula currently before the House is therefore an improved version in terms of powers as well as the committee, and the committee's needs are clear. I would like to understand how the bill in its current form is a weaker version of the solutions already in place.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   National Security and Intelligence Committee of Parliamentarians Act
Sub-subtopic:   Report Stage
Permalink
CPC

Dianne Lynn Watts

Conservative

Ms. Dianne L. Watts

Madam Speaker, I enjoyed my colleague's input at the committee. We looked at different models that have been up and running and that have been changed over the years as well. The most important piece was around independence. When we have the Prime Minister appointing the chair—as I said, it has been a year now—when the minister has veto powers and can determine what the committee will hear and will not hear, this is not openness, this is not transparency. It is incumbent upon all of us, and if we want to do the job right, we need to make sure the tools are in place and the framework is in place.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   National Security and Intelligence Committee of Parliamentarians Act
Sub-subtopic:   Report Stage
Permalink
LIB

Ralph Goodale

Liberal

Hon. Ralph Goodale (Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness, Lib.)

Madam Speaker, I am pleased to have this opportunity once again today to address the House on Bill C-22, legislation that will at long last establish a parliamentary body to scrutinize the work of all our national security and intelligence agencies. This is something that has been called for by parliamentarians, academics, other experts, commissions of inquiry, by the Auditor General, and many others, going back for more than a decade.

The committee that will be created by this bill is key to our efforts in ensuring that our national security framework keeps us safe while protecting our rights and freedoms.

When the initial version of this legislation was introduced last June, experts such as Professor Craig Forcese from the University of Ottawa noted that it would put in place “a stronger body than the UK and Australian equivalents”, and that it would be “a dramatic change for Canadian national security accountability”. Since then, the public safety standing committee of this House has studied the bill extensively and proposed a number of amendments. I thank the committee for its work and support many of its amendments to help ensure that the mandate, authorities, and access of the new national security and intelligence committee of parliamentarians will be extensive, effective, and appropriate.

Let me pause here to note that the title of this new entity is quite a mouthful, so during my remarks today, to save time, I may well use the acronym NSICOP.

With respect to the amendments that have been proposed by members of Parliament, the government has agreed to add a whistle-blower clause in clause 31 of the bill, requiring the committee to inform the appropriate minister, as well as the attorney general, if it uncovers any activity that may not be in compliance with the law. We also agree on a change that would restrict the chair of the committee to voting only in the event of a tie rather than having the chair vote as a matter of course.

We agree on amendments that would deal with the NSICOP's annual reports. MPs on all sides of the House have concluded that the Prime Minister should have the authority to redact certain sections of those annual reports if necessary, to safeguard vital national security interests or solicitor-client privilege. However, it would be mandatory for these reports to indicate the extent of and the reason for any such redactions. This is a reasonable and responsible approach, and I thank committee members for putting it forward. In essence, it mirrors the practice in the United Kingdom.

We are also agreed on amendments to the section dealing with NSICOP's mandate. Accordingly, the authority of a minister to determine that an examination would be injurious to national security and therefore fall outside the mandate of the committee would apply only to ongoing operations. What is more, the minister would have to explain that determination to the committee, and would be bound to alert the committee as soon as the determination changes or as soon as the operation is no longer ongoing.

We are also supporting several big amendments to clause 14, which is the section that lists the type of information to which the NSICOP would not have access. We have removed from this exclusions list, information about ongoing defence intelligence activities supporting military operations, privileged information under the Investment Canada Act, and information collected by the Financial Transactions and Reports Analysis Centre of Canada. All of these areas would have been excluded from NSICOP under the initial version of the bill. Those three blanket exclusions are now gone.

As we can see, the legislative process on Bill C-22 has been unfolding in a constructive manner. The government put forward a bill, the bill was studied in committee, amendments were proposed, and the government, after careful reflection, has agreed to accept a majority of what the standing committee requested. However, in all fairness and candour, there are also certain points on which we disagree with the committee, which is why the government House leader introduced amendments at report stage on Bill C-22.

For one thing, the government sincerely believes that giving blanket access to information about the personal identity of human intelligence sources and people in witness protection, as well as ongoing police investigations, is wrong. It could put lives at risk.

Certainly I do not expect parliamentarians to be indiscreet with this kind of information, but the risk grows each time we widen the circle of those who know the identity of a protected witness or intelligence source. The NSICOP is certainly able to do its job of scrutinizing the work of security and intelligence agencies without personally identifying individual protected witnesses or sources.

With respect to ongoing police investigations, I have two primary concerns. One is the simple importance of avoiding the perception of political interference in criminal investigations, which could appear from having politicians oversee police work in real time. The other is the potentially harmful impact of requiring law enforcement to divert resources from operations on the ground in order to keep parliamentarians apprised of their work while that work is actually happening.

On this point, the CSIS director gave the standing committee the very good example of last year's police operation in Strathroy, Ontario, in which a possible terrorist attack was effectively thwarted. In that kind of fast-paced, resource-intensive situation, requiring resources to be assigned to send information to the committee of parliamentarians “would have been a distraction from the operation in progress” and could have constituted a public safety risk.

We are also proposing to reinsert clause 16, which allows a minister to determine that certain information, narrowly defined, should be withheld from NSICOP on security grounds. I would point out that this is entirely in keeping with the way that these kinds of committees work in other countries, in the U.K., New Zealand, and Australia specifically.

In the U.K., for example, a minister may prevent information from being shared with the committee on the grounds that it is too sensitive and should not be disclosed.

In New Zealand, a witness may decline to provide information on the grounds that it is sensitive and that disclosing it would not be in the national interest, and then it is up to the prime minister to overrule the witness and force disclosure. Incidentally, in New Zealand, it is the prime minister who chairs the committee.

In Australia, ministers can issue certificates preventing witnesses from giving evidence to prevent disclosure of “operationally sensitive information”.

Therefore, as members can see, clause 16, as we have proposed, is very consistent with the best practices of our allies. Their ability to share information with Canada could be jeopardized without clause 16.

However, in other ways the NSICOP to be created by Bill C-22 would go well beyond the scope that exists in other countries. The British committee requires a memorandum of understanding with the prime minister in order to examine anything beyond the work of three specific agencies: MI5, Ml6, and GCHQ. In Australia, the committee is limited to conducting statutory reviews of legislation and examining the administration and expenditures of particular agencies. A parliamentary resolution or ministerial referral is required for the Australian committee to even look at any other issues related to those agencies. The Canadian committee, by contrast, would be able to look at any activity carried out by any government department or agency that relates to national security and intelligence, and it would be able to follow the trail throughout the federal government. That is a far broader scope than exists in most other countries.

In other words, the national security and intelligence committee of parliamentarians created by Bill C-22 would have more access and more teeth than its counterparts elsewhere in the world. That was true even before the amendments made by the House standing committee, most of which the government is accepting, and it is certainly more true with those amendments now in place.

Finally, with the passage of Bill C-22 we will fix an anomaly in our security architecture and have a form of parliamentary scrutiny that this country deserves.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   National Security and Intelligence Committee of Parliamentarians Act
Sub-subtopic:   Report Stage
Permalink
CPC

Tony Clement

Conservative

Hon. Tony Clement (Parry Sound—Muskoka, CPC)

Madam Speaker, I thank the hon. minister for his interventions, but I also want to remind him about some of the other testimony we heard at the committee stage from people Liberals like to call experts and like to defer to. I am thinking of Professor Roach, for example, and others in the privacy realm, who said that this bill—and it is only reinforced by the amendments the Liberals are proposing—actually creates a triple lock on the ability of the committee to do its job properly. It is a lock that is dictated by the Prime Minister's Office and is further dictated by the minister, and it prevents the committee from gaining access to information in a timely manner to do its proper job of oversight.

Would the minister care to comment on that?

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   National Security and Intelligence Committee of Parliamentarians Act
Sub-subtopic:   Report Stage
Permalink
LIB

Ralph Goodale

Liberal

Hon. Ralph Goodale

Madam Speaker, the expert witnesses who either appeared before the committee or made comments in public made the very strong point that a piece of legislation like Bill C-22 is long overdue in the country and that it does represent a major step forward in improving the oversight, review, and scrutiny architecture within the Canadian national security and intelligence system. They made a number of recommendations for making the provision even better, and a number of those recommendations have been accepted by the government. They are being embodied in Bill C-22.

Bill C-22 was a major step forward before the amendments. The amendments have made it better, and the end result is that we have a more successful piece of legislation now, thanks to the representations of the expert witnesses and thanks to the hard work of the parliamentary committee. I thank both for their contributions.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   National Security and Intelligence Committee of Parliamentarians Act
Sub-subtopic:   Report Stage
Permalink
NDP

Matthew Dubé

New Democratic Party

Mr. Matthew Dubé (Beloeil—Chambly, NDP)

Madam Speaker, I have a question for the minister. He mentioned ongoing investigations as an example and the fact that it would be inappropriate for parliamentarians to have access to that information. However, all through the committee testimony, two investigations that this committee would not have the right to oversee kept coming up. They were Air India and the Afghan detainees. Those two files are extremely important; the investigations are technically still open and, in our view, this committee would be required to verify them in order to ensure the necessary oversight of national security agencies.

In the previous Parliament, his colleague, the member for Vancouver Quadra, introduced Bill C-622, which was the same kind of bill, but one that created a committee that would have had much more access to information, even after the amendments that the government is proposing today. The Prime Minister and the minister himself voted for that bill, not to mention all the other Liberal members who were present at the time.

Can the minister tell us why he has changed his mind?

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   National Security and Intelligence Committee of Parliamentarians Act
Sub-subtopic:   Report Stage
Permalink
LIB

Ralph Goodale

Liberal

Hon. Ralph Goodale

Madam Speaker, as has been universally stated by expert observers, both in the parliamentary process and beyond the parliamentary process in the public media and elsewhere, Bill C-22 is a major step forward. Thanks to the amendments that are being accepted in dealing with some of the issues that were raised by hon. members in the last two questions, the bill is stronger now than when it began, and it will be a major innovation in our national security architecture.

I would point out that many of the experts we consulted, both here in Canada and around the world, said it was very important to ensure that the new committee would have the time and opportunity to earn the trust and confidence of the very agencies it would have to oversee and scrutinize, as well as the Canadian public. According to many of these expert advisers, it would therefore be prudent to start in a cautious manner, learn from experience, and then make the appropriate changes when we in Canada have gained that experience.

That is the reason there is a provision in the bill to require the legislation to be reviewed in five years. It is so that we will have the chance to learn from that experience and in five years will have the obligation to make the appropriate upgrades and updates to the legislation to keep it in the forefront of such legislation around the world.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   National Security and Intelligence Committee of Parliamentarians Act
Sub-subtopic:   Report Stage
Permalink
NDP

Matthew Dubé

New Democratic Party

Mr. Matthew Dubé (Beloeil—Chambly, NDP)

Madam Speaker, normally I would say that I am pleased to rise in the House to take part in the debate on Bill C-22, a bill that the NDP supported at second reading. However, under the circumstances, with the rejection of most of the changes that were made in committee, contrary to what the minister claims, and only one hour after the adoption of a time allocation motion, I am far from pleased to take part in the debate on this matter.

Bill C-22 is important, especially for the Liberals, considering it is central to the intellectual backflips they have been doing for three years now to justify their support for Bill C-51, passed in the last Parliament under the Stephen Harper government. The Liberal government has been in power for almost a year and a half now and we have barely completed this stage. It is worth mentioning, even if this is an issue for another debate on another day, that there is still no legislative measure on the table to right the wrongs created by Bill C-51 regarding rights and freedoms.

That said, this is still a very important matter. Since Bill C-51 was passed and, I would venture to say, even before, many commissions of inquiry have been formed after various incidents in connection with the work of national security agencies. There is one very clear finding: Canadians have lost a great deal of confidence in our national security agencies. This issue obviously affects our rights and freedoms, as well as our privacy, given the rapid advances in technology. However, this is also a matter of national security because, after all, if the public has no confidence in its agencies, it is difficult for them to do their work effectively and appropriately.

In principle, Bill C-22 is a good first step, and I can say that the minister is right about that. It is something that we should have had for a very long time. That said, very serious problems with the bill were raised in committee. A number of amendments would have gone a long way—even though they would not have made the bill perfect—to at least allowing parliamentarians to do their work better and to start off on the right foot.

We can see that, and we have often heard the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness and the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons come back to one point. They say that this is new for Canada, that other countries have had more time to learn, and that we have to give ourselves some time. We are already some way ahead compared to other countries, but there is a problem. For example, look at how the chair of the committee is elected. In Great Britain, the committee chair is not only elected, but he is also an opposition member. As justification for not electing the committee chair, we are told that, in Great Britain, the committee has existed for a number of years now and that they decided to make changes only after a certain period of learning and becoming used to it. Here, clearly, as we have just heard, the minister is relying on a legislative review that will take place in five years.

However, why not apply now what we learned from our allies? Why relearn the lessons of the past? I have a theory, without wanting to spread conspiracy theories. When this nice job, which comes with a salary on top of an MP's salary, is announced a year in advance, it is difficult for the Prime Minister to break his promise to the Liberal member who had the good fortune to secure this great position. Therefore, I would say that this is why we were not listening to the opposition amendments or the testimony of the chair of the British committee who offered this extremely important point for the credibility of the committee. All the technical issues on the form could be addressed, but credibility is also very important, to get back to the point I made at the outset, which is the public trust in our national security agencies.

It is not just me saying this. I want to come back to the column in The Globe and Mail, co-written by professors Wesley Wark, Kent Roach and Craig Forcese, professors the minister likes to quote to talk about the importance of this first step that has been completed. In speaking of the amendments passed in committee, they said:

Should the government choose to force a return to the restrictive original bill, it risks potentially undermining a new and historic Parliamentary ability that it has enthusiastically championed. Failure to reach agreement with Parliament

—not the Liberal caucus, but Parliament—

on this issue also imperils non-partisan support for future national-security reforms and changes to other elements of the review system for national security.

When we hear that and with the majority of the amendments having been thrown out and a time allocation motion having been thrown in to boot, it is difficult to see a path forward that would allow the committee to have that credibility and non-partisan environment it so desperately needs. The committee needs that not only to do its work, but also, as I said and it is worth repeating, in order to gain the public's trust so the public can begin trusting the work that is being done by the national security agencies. This is a key element and the government is clearly failing on that front.

I want to come back to the two examples I mentioned in the questions I have asked the government since the debate began this morning, specifically regarding the time allocation motion and the bill itself. The issue of ongoing investigations has often been raised. That is one of the restrictions we tried to lift through our amendments.

Indeed, the two most striking examples of investigations into human rights violations that are worthy of examination by a body such as the one this bill proposes are the Air India inquiry and the Afghan detainees investigation.

These are still open investigations, so technically, they are still ongoing. Under this bill, however, the committee of parliamentarians will not have the authority or the power to gather intelligence or conduct investigations. Thus, various pieces of information revealed in the media recently and many questions raised in the House for many years now could never have been raised. That is problematic, because it undermines the committee's mandate.

Once again, this brings us to the public's confidence in the committee and its work, and by extension, in the work of our national security agencies. That is the theme of my speech, as members will soon see.

When the government talks about some of the other issues that we raised in committee, it is important to note that for us, one point that has been clear is the restriction on access to information and the obvious solution is to limit it to cabinet confidence. With respect to everything else, we have to trust these parliamentarians, and the minister alluded to that issue. These parliamentarians will be sworn to secrecy and could potentially face jail time if any of this information is leaked.

The government's approach seems to be one of not trusting the parliamentarians who will sit on this committee and who will literally never be able to talk about any national security issues in the public space. When the government House leader or the Minister of Public Safety stand and tell us not to worry because the committee can use the bully pulpit if ever it feels it is unable to do its work behind closed doors, that is just not true. It is critical for Canadians to understand that.

Moreover, we talk about compromise and the importance of this being a non-partisan process. We hear the government say, “Well, the NDP proposed 13 amendments. The Liberals proposed 16. The Bloc proposed nine. The Green Party proposed two. We adopted two of those amendments so we are in the clear and everything is all right.” It is critical that the government look at the broader picture and the public trust.

I move, seconded by the member for Jonquière:

That Motion No. 3 be amended by deleting paragraph (a).

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   National Security and Intelligence Committee of Parliamentarians Act
Sub-subtopic:   Report Stage
Permalink
BQ

Xavier Barsalou-Duval

Bloc Québécois

Mr. Xavier Barsalou-Duval (Pierre-Boucher—Les Patriotes—Verchères, BQ)

Mr. Speaker, on Saturday, the Bloc Québécois elected its first female leader. She is here on the Hill as we speak. Martine Ouellet became the leader of the Bloc Québécois by acclamation.

I can say that she was acclaimed to thunderous applause. Allow me to quote our new leader:

I truly believe this is the dawn of something great, legitimate, and important. [We are both building on the work of those who came before us, and creating something new, something different.] We are breaking the mould in order to better reinvent ourselves...with all the environmental, social, economic, and political challenges around the world, Quebec needs to be independent.

Our adversaries describe us as closed-minded, but it is quite the opposite. [We are open and we have so much to bring to the world stage.]

With Martine Ouellet, the Bloc Québécois is making a strong comeback. That is bad news for federalists, believe me. Welcome to the Bloc, Martine.

Topic:   Statements By Members
Subtopic:   Martine Ouellet
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LIB

Borys Wrzesnewskyj

Liberal

Mr. Borys Wrzesnewskyj (Etobicoke Centre, Lib.)

Mr. Speaker, a decade ago, Russian ambassador to Washington, Sergey Kislyak, visited Ottawa as Russian deputy foreign minister. Back then, I confronted Kislyak about Russia's cyber-attacks on Estonia and its use of gas supply cut-offs to intimidate Ukraine. Ten years of diplomatic resets and the result is Russia is exponentially more belligerent. Then, Russia's cyber-attacks shut down Estonia. Today, they undermine the integrity of the U.S. presidential elections. Then, Russia punished Ukraine for its pro-western policies with gas shut-offs. Today, in Russia's war against Ukraine, 10,000 have been killed and two million have been displaced.

Diplomatic engagement must include the strength of military conviction. Renewed Operation Unifier is a clear geopolitical deterrent to Russia's revanchist imperial intent.

We are proud of our 200 Canadian soldiers serving in Ukraine.

Topic:   Statements By Members
Subtopic:   Operation Unifier
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CPC

David Anderson

Conservative

Mr. David Anderson (Cypress Hills—Grasslands, CPC)

Mr. Speaker, last year, students from Eastend School committed to a We project. Because area families had relied on Ronald McDonald House in the past, they decided to fundraise so others could stay there as well. Their goal was to raise $30,000.

A core group of students, headed up by Janise Michel, organized the Raising Hope Gala for their small town. They sold tickets and tables. They rounded up 180 auction items. Area restaurants and caterers volunteered their cuisine. Local entertainers and an auctioneer donated their talents.

The auction alone raised $30,000, with more than $35,000 coming from sponsors, tickets sales, and donations. The goal was $30,000, but the total was nearly $66,000.

Last week, the group went to Ronald McDonald House not just to deliver the cheque, but to serve once more. They served supper to clients of the house.

There are places and people in this world who give more than they take. I am so proud that southwest Saskatchewan is still one of those places.

Check it all out at Raising Hope RMH.

Topic:   Statements By Members
Subtopic:   Raising Hope
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LIB

Joyce Murray

Liberal

Ms. Joyce Murray (Vancouver Quadra, Lib.)

Mr. Speaker, today marks the Persian new year festival of Nowruz, which is celebrated by Persian, central Asian, Kurdish, and Ismaili Canadians. Nowruz has been celebrated since ancient times and serves as a testament to the longevity of the millennia-old Persian culture.

This is a wonderfully colourful occasion when community members come together to mark the first day of spring, an annual victory of the spirit of the sun over cold and darkness and a time when nature renews its vows with life.

The ancient Persians saw this as a symbolic moment that in the constant struggle between good and evil in all dimensions, physical, emotional, moral, and spiritual, good will always prevail.

I hope the community in Vancouver Quadra and Canadians across the country enjoy their gatherings with family and friends around the haft seen and I wish them the greatest of blessings in the new year.

[Member spoke in Persian as follows:]

Noruzetan Pyruz.

Topic:   Statements By Members
Subtopic:   Nowruz
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NDP

Robert Aubin

New Democratic Party

Mr. Robert Aubin (Trois-Rivières, NDP)

Mr. Speaker, yesterday in Trois-Rivières we kicked off the fifth International Day of La Francophonie in Mauricie.

This evening, at the Ordre de la Pléiade ceremony, Ottawa will recognize the importance of promoting French and the dialogue of cultures. Today, March 20, the francophonie is celebrated around the world. Having 274 million French speakers is good, but having 274 million French speakers who organize themselves and set up institutions to support their development is better.

The Organisation internationale de la Francophonie, the Assemblée parlementaire de la Francophonie, the Agence universitaire de la Francophonie, and TV5, are just a few of the institutions that come to mind.

The francophonie provides opportunities for cultural exchanges and, increasingly, for economic growth and sharing scientific knowledge, which allow us to envisage an even brighter future.

Topic:   Statements By Members
Subtopic:   International Day of La Francophonie
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LIB

Darrell Samson

Liberal

Mr. Darrell Samson (Sackville—Preston—Chezzetcook, Lib.)

Mr. Speaker, today we are celebrating the International Day of La Francophonie.

As my colleague mentioned, more than 276 million people speak French and are celebrating their culture and their language today.

In Canada, French and English are on an equal footing, and I have spent much of my career in education defending linguistic rights.

The strength of our francophone and Acadian minority communities truly resides in education and early childhood programs.

I would also like to point out that the Conseil jeunesse provincial de la Nouvelle-Écosse has created a very interesting initiative entitled “J'aime RIGHT ton accent” to inspire linguistic pride. It plays such an important role in educating the next generation.

I can say that the next generation of French speakers in Nova Scotia and right across the country is exceptional.

Topic:   Statements By Members
Subtopic:   International Day of La Francophonie
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March 20, 2017