April 11, 2017

LIB

Matt DeCourcey

Liberal

Mr. Matt DeCourcey (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Lib.)

Mr. Speaker, on behalf of the Minister of Foreign Affairs, and pursuant to Standing Order 32(2), I have the honour to table, in both official languages, the treaties entitled “Agreement Between Canada and the Cook Islands for the Exchange of Information on Tax Matters”, done at Wellington on June 15, 2015, and “Amendment of the Trade Policy Review Mechanism”, done at Geneva on January 27, 2017.

An explanatory memorandum is included with each treaty.

Topic:   Routine Proceedings
Subtopic:   Foreign Affairs
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CPC

Kevin Sorenson

Conservative

Hon. Kevin Sorenson (Battle River—Crowfoot, CPC)

Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the 22nd report of the Standing Committee on Public Accounts in relation to the committee's study of the main estimates for fiscal year 2017-18.

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

John Barlow

Conservative

Mr. John Barlow (Foothills, CPC)

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-351, an act to amend the Importation of Intoxicating Liquors Act and the Excise Act, 2001 (importation).

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to introduce my first private member's bill.

If passed, this bill would amend the Importation of Intoxicating Liquors Act limiting its reach to only liquors being imported into Canada and not those sold between provinces. This legislation would allow producers to sell their products directly to consumers anywhere in Canada without the permission of a provincial liquor board. However, the provinces would still have control over who can produce alcohol or sell alcohol products on the shelves of provincially approved retailers within their borders. This legislation would also make it legal for a person to transport alcohol from one province to another for personal use.

Craft brewers, distillers, and winemakers were excluded from the Canada free trade agreement. I am honoured today to stand in support of these Canadian businesses, these Canadian entrepreneurs, who are using fine Canadian products and creating Canadian jobs. Free trade in Canada is our constitutional right. It is time to free the beer.

(Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed)

Topic:   Routine Proceedings
Subtopic:   Importation of Intoxicating Liquors Act
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?

Sheila Malcolmson

NDP

Ms. Sheila Malcolmson (Nanaimo—Ladysmith, NDP)

moved:

That the Fourth Report of the Standing Committee on the Status of Women, presented on Wednesday, June 15, 2016, be concurred in.

Mr. Speaker, I had not appreciated that it has been almost a year since this report was tabled in the House. This was a unanimous report of the all-party Standing Committee on the Status of Women. It reported to this Parliament that after successive Auditor General reports that had denigrated both Liberal and Conservative governments' abilities to implement gender-based analysis as had been a commitment 20 years ago to the United Nations, progress had stalled.

The committee came together and made constructive recommendations to the government. First and most, it followed from how we interpreted the Auditor General's disappointment that until there is legislation requiring the government to actually run all of its policy and budget decisions through a gender test, the Auditor General will not have the teeth to say that the government failed to uphold its own law. A commitment to the United Nations is not the same as legislation.

Of the most striking consensus recommendations of the all-party committee, one is that the federal government introduce legislation by June 2017 setting out the obligations of federal departments and agencies with regard to implementation of gender-based analysis.

Recommendation 17 went into more detail:

Gender-Based Analysis Plus (GBA+) is applied to all proposals before they arrive at Cabinet for decision-making;

GBA+ is a mandatory portion of Privy Council Office, Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat and Department of Finance submissions for all departments and agencies;

The Privy Council Office and Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat are mandated to return policies and programs that do not demonstrate the application of GBA+.

The third striking recommendation is that the Government of Canada create the office of the commissioner for gender equality based on the model of the Office of the Commissioner of Official Languages.

There are many other recommendations in the report, but those are the three most meaty ones.

We did have a response from the minister some months later saying that it was good work, that the government is doing lots behind the scenes and that it will get back to us in 2018 about whether or not it will bring in legislation. It is certainly a great disappointment that there was not even a commitment about when legislation would be tabled. The committee was convinced by the arguments that with the current government's backlog of legislation and all the work that needs to be done to repair some of the damage done during the Conservatives' tenure in power, plus the unprecedented spending announced by the Liberal government, all of the policies, laws, and budgets should go through a gender test to make sure that women and men are benefiting equally and at least that there are not unintended consequences.

The New Democrats submitted a minority report saying that we agree with the spirit of the entire committee recommendation, but we think that the need is greater and the speed should be faster. We asked that the legislation be tabled in December 2016. That deadline has passed, and the government has already told us that the June 2017 deadline for legislation will not be met and in fact this may not be legislated at all.

The government has just tabled a budget that it described as a gender budget, but because we do not have legislation in place, we do not have the transparency to know how the government made its measures, what the criteria were, and whether the policy was actually upheld. These all happen at the cabinet level, and cabinet confidence means we do not get to peak in. Although it was much lauded as a gender budget, it was more a list of the various discriminations against women in Canada, which we are certainly well aware of, in particular, the gender pay gap. Many of us are wearing red today to recognize that this is the day in Ontario that women get out of the red. Women are working for free up to this point in the year.

This is pay equity day in Ontario. I recognize all of the labour and social justice activists who are pushing the cause forward. The government still has not committed to pay equity legislation. That is a 40-year-old commitment. The first Trudeau prime minister made that commitment, and it still has not been implemented.

The budget did not fund child care this year. It did not fund the operation of domestic violence shelters, something that women's groups call for again and again. All of these pieces point out to us repeatedly that gender-based analysis legislation would give the transparency and accountability this country needs if it is to fulfill its human rights commitment that genders be equal.

The well-documented history in the committee's report is that multiple studies have identified the need for action and the failure to implement. In 2009, a departmental action plan was established on gender analysis in response to the Auditor General's report. No real action was taken on that. In 2012, the House of Commons Standing Committee on Public Accounts tabled a report saying that gender-based analysis should be a priority. Again, there is still no legislation. In 2015, the Minister of Status of Women's mandate letter said that this was a priority, and I applaud that.

In 2016, the Auditor General's report concluded that selected departments were not always performing gender-based analyses to inform government decision-making and the departments that had implemented the GBA framework were not always conducting complete or high-quality analyses. The committee concluded in this area, “despite the long history of work on the topic of GBA and GBA+ as outlined above, a great number of recommendations from the aforementioned reports have not been implemented, and as a result the federal government’s 1995 commitment has still not been fully realized.”

On March 31, the minister tabled an interim report on the implementation of gender-based analysis, which again is happening at the cabinet level, so we are not able to see how that is working.

Just this morning, the Standing Committee on the Status of Women debated a motion that I brought forward on behalf of New Democrats that the minister come before the committee and discuss her March 31 interim report, so that she can answer questions and explain more completely the government's commitments and progress on implementing GBA in the absence of legislation.

I am very sad to say that the Liberal members of the committee voted that motion down. I would have thought that if the government had a good news story to tell about gender-based analysis and why it could do this without legislation, it would be willing to bring the minister forward to have that discussion. We were not able to get consensus, I am very sad to say. That is a mistake on the government's part. If it has good news, it should want to shine a light on it.

I will wrap up by saying that since 1995, Canada has been committing to put its budget and legislative decisions through a gender lens to make sure that men and women benefit equally, to make sure programs and policies are designed in a way that men and women have an equal opportunity to benefit and that we do not have unanticipated consequences. For example, megaproject development can have impacts related to work camps that are predominantly male. Women may lose good jobs in that region. There may be unanticipated consequences around gender violence. This has been well amplified by organizations such as KAIROS and Amnesty International on projects happening in our own country.

The government, with its commitments on indigenous rights, sustainable development, and environmental protection, should want the transparency that gender-based analysis legislation would bring. The Standing Committee on the Status of Women unanimously recommended that this be legislated and that there be a gender commissioner to oversee the implementation. We are disappointed that a year later, these key recommendations have not been acted upon.

I continue to commend the committee's 2016 report to the government. If the Liberals really did want to walk the talk, if they really wanted to put their words into action, they would cede to the committee and would want to return to the committee to discuss how to make a gender lens apply to everything this Parliament does.

Topic:   Routine Proceedings
Subtopic:   Committees of the House
Sub-subtopic:   Status of Women
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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 am pleased to recognize that at least when the members across the way chose to do a concurrence in committee report, they picked an issue that is such an important one for our Prime Minister and, in fact, our government.

When it comes to the issue of gender equality and moving towards that, there are numerous examples. I hope to be able to provide some comment on some of those examples, if I am afforded the opportunity to speak.

I would like to question the member on one example she made reference to. For the first time in the history of Canada, we actually had a gender-based analysis done on the introduction of budget 2017-18.

My colleague is right to clap, because that is a significant achievement. Liberals have been in government now for less than two years, and we have moved forward on a number of fronts and advanced some very important issues, especially dealing with gender equality.

I wonder if the member across the way would at the very least acknowledge that for the very first time this is a significant achievement, looking at the different government departments, the different cabinet ministers, and a Prime Minister who is truly committed to having a gender-based analysis when it comes to dealing with Canada's multi-billion dollar budget.

Could the member provide her thoughts, given that this is in fact the first time? This is the budget we have been talking about for the last little while.

Topic:   Routine Proceedings
Subtopic:   Committees of the House
Sub-subtopic:   Status of Women
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?

Sheila Malcolmson

NDP

Ms. Sheila Malcolmson

Mr. Speaker, that is a good question that the member opposite asks, but in the absence of any transparency or any legislation, on this side of the House we have no idea. Women in Canada have no idea.

The pre-budget media got top-of-the-fold headlines that this was going to be a gender budget, but when we actually open it up, we see it gives a whole long list of all the economic injustices against women in the country. It is well known that there is a sustained and widening gender gap, that women do not have access to high-paying jobs, that they are not on corporate boards, and that they are not even on the crown corporation boards that the House and the government oversee. We are still one of the few G7 countries that does not have a universal child care program, and elderly women continue to retire in poverty.

Instead, the budget had some programs, it is true, but a number of them, as detailed at great length, do not provide access for women who actually need the help. Now women can get 18 months of parental leave, and that is nice, but they still only receive the same amount of money to spread over a longer period of time.

This is why I brought a motion to the status of women committee this morning that the finance minister come to this committee and describe the benefits of the budget for women. The Liberal members of the committee voted it down.

We thought that, if the minister had a good news story to tell, he would have wanted to come to the committee and explain why, in the absence of gender-based analysis legislation, his version of a gender lens on decisions—inside cabinet, not transparent—was working. The Liberal committee members refused to have him appear, and so we remain in the dark.

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

Garnett Genuis

Conservative

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

Mr. Speaker, one of the issues that is very important to Conservatives is the issue of criminal law reforms around violence against women. It is something we were able to move forward in a non-partisan way to get our leader's bill to committee to be studied. It deals with the education of judges around this area. However, there are many other issues; for example, relatively low conviction rates for people who are charged with sexual assault.

I wonder if the member has thoughts about reforms that this House should be looking at to ensure that, when gender-based violence happens, there is actually a greater likelihood that it is going to lead to a conviction.

Topic:   Routine Proceedings
Subtopic:   Committees of the House
Sub-subtopic:   Status of Women
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?

Sheila Malcolmson

NDP

Ms. Sheila Malcolmson

Mr. Speaker, the question is timely because this morning at committee we are studying Bill C-337, which is to require sexual assault training and gender sensitivity training for judges, following on the just terrible headlines. The few women who report sexual assault, the few women who get police to agree that their assault was real and that there should be criminal charges, then have these terrible headlines about judges who show disrespect, who do not understand the law. We are very afraid that this is going to have an inhibiting effect on women's willingness to report. It is so important that this is an all-party commitment that we get judicial training right.

The evidence we heard at committee this morning is that the judicial training is really great right now and that it is going to be a lot better in the next few months, which is awkward, honestly, because if it were really being done well, we would not have these calamitous headlines about how some victims and survivors of sexual assault have been treated.

However, it does remind me of the testimony we heard at the same committee around gender-based analysis, which is the focus of this report, that although successive Auditor General reports had given both Liberal and Conservative governments a fail on implementing gender-based analysis, the current government now had taken internal measures and things were going a lot better inside some of the government departments.

I will say again that, until this is legislated, we will not have the transparency we need to know how the government is making its decisions in relation to its gender commitments.

Topic:   Routine Proceedings
Subtopic:   Committees of the House
Sub-subtopic:   Status of Women
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?

Marjolaine Boutin-Sweet

NDP

Ms. Marjolaine Boutin-Sweet (Hochelaga, NDP)

Mr. Speaker, any conversation about gender equality must also be a conversation about pay equity. The so-called feminist government has postponed pay equity for at least a year, if it ever happens at all.

For example, if a woman earns 70% of what her husband earns, she is the one who stays home with the kids because she earns less than her husband. That means she ends up working fewer years.

She will collect a smaller pension because she will have spent less time in the labour market and earned less money. As everyone knows, women live longer than men and are poorer in retirement.

Does my colleague think the government could help women by making pay equity a reality much faster?

Topic:   Routine Proceedings
Subtopic:   Committees of the House
Sub-subtopic:   Status of Women
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?

Sheila Malcolmson

NDP

Ms. Sheila Malcolmson

Mr. Speaker, I was so proud as a brand new MP last February to have the House endorse the New Democrat opposition day motion that this government implement the recommendations of the 2004 Liberal task force on pay equity, and then last year to have the all-party committee recommend to the House that pay equity be legislated. Those were very powerful moves and very powerful commitments by this place.

Three weeks ago we were at the United Nations for its annual convention on the status of women, and almost every issue about women's economic place in the world was connected to pay equity. Every country talked about it. The coffee sleeves in the United Nations cafeteria all had #payequity on them. I felt among friends. However, it is discouraging to come back to this place. Although the all-party committee recommended that June 2017 be the date that legislation be brought to the House, the government is now saying late 2018.

Labour organizations and women's justice organizations that have been pushing this for a long time say it would make a huge difference to federally regulated employees, and the government says it is going to wait until 2018. There is no rationale, no justification. We need to make this change now so that women can start to benefit from it. We cannot wait until the eve of the next federal election. If the government really believed its words on gender equality and on feminism, then it would act and legislate. It would drop the talking points and it would bring legislation to the House to make a real difference in the lives of women.

Topic:   Routine Proceedings
Subtopic:   Committees of the House
Sub-subtopic:   Status of Women
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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, it is always a pleasure to rise and address the House on what I believe are some very important issues.

Maybe I can first provide a bit of a commentary as to why I think we are where we are this morning. Although I would never want to give the impression of downplaying the importance of the report we are dealing with this morning, I think it is important to recognize that, through our rules and our processes, there are a number of reports that could ultimately be raised, and there are other mechanisms that could be used to raise what members across the way—in fact, all members, but specifically opposition members—can do through things such as opposition days, and so forth. I would really encourage them to look at using an issue such as this to ensure that there are possibly even votes at the end, where there is more direction coming from the opposition party to look at ways it could use those opposition days. I suspect it could in fact be a fairly effective way of getting some things done.

I do not say that lightly but rather in the sense that it was not that long ago that we had the issue of pay equity raised by members of the New Democratic caucus across the way. I happen to have that particular opposition day motion where the NDP called upon the House.

I would like to recite the motion itself. It states:

That the House (a) recognize that the government must take action to close the unacceptable gap in pay between men and women which contributes to income inequality and discriminates against women; (b) recognize pay equity as a right; (c) call on the government to implement the recommendations of the 2004 Pay Equity Task Force Report and restore the right to pay equity in the public service which was eliminated by the previous Conservative government in 2009;

I want to emphasize (d):

...appoint a special committee with the mandate to conduct hearings on the matter of pay equity and to propose a plan to adopt a proactive federal pay equity regime, both legislative and otherwise, and (i) that this committee consist of 10 members which shall include six members from the Liberal Party...provided that the Chair is from the government party, (ii) that in addition to the Chair, there be one Vice-Chair from each of the recognized opposition parties, (iii) that the committee have all...

It is a small font, Mr. Speaker.

...accompanied by the necessary staff, subject to the usual authorization from the House, (iv) that the members to serve on the said committee be appointed by the Whip of each party depositing with the Acting Clerk of the House a list of his or her party’s members of the committee no later than February 17, 2016, (v) that the quorum of the committee be as provided for in Standing Order 118, provided that at least one member of each recognized party be present, (vi) that membership substitutions be permitted from time to time, if required, in the manner provided for in Standing Order 114(2), (vii) that the committee report to the House no later than June 10, 2016.

This is an issue where the Liberal Party, the government of the day, has been very supportive: the issue of pay equity. It should come as no surprise to members across the way. In fact, for many years it has been talked about and debated. Some governments have been more effective at ensuring that there is some, let us say, forward movement. Has it gone fast enough? I would argue that, no, it has not. Over the last 10 or 15 years, it would have been nice to see more significant gains on this particular front. Unfortunately, that has not been the case.

Let us recognize that we now have a Prime Minister who has done so much more in terms of recognizing the importance of not only the issue of pay equity but also the gender equality issue.

As a feminist, the Prime Minister is constantly up on his feet, whether it is inside or outside this House, in Ottawa or in other regions of the country. In fact, he has been a guest speaker on many occasions outside of Canada on this very important issue.

We have a Prime Minister who is committed to improving conditions on a wide spectrum of issues. I would like to comment on some of those issues.

Let me go back to the motion I just finished reading. This government, in listening to what was being proposed by the NDP at the time, agreed with the motion, and we actually voted in favour of the motion. It was interesting that one of the comments during that debate was a recognition that in 1981, Canada actually ratified the Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination against Women, which recognizes women's right to equal remuneration and equal treatment in respect of work of equal value.

It has been quite a while since then, but it is important that we recognize that these groundbreaking pay equity commitments were made by Pierre Elliot Trudeau. As has been pointed out, sometimes progress on the file has not be done as quickly as we would like. I can assure the House that from this Prime Minister's perspective, it could not go fast enough. However, we have seen, I would suggest, in a relatively short period of time, less than two years, significant gains.

What gains are we talking about? One of the very first actions this Prime Minister took was recognizing that we needed to have a cabinet with equal membership of men and women. We were the first government in the history of Canada to have a gender-balanced cabinet, something we are very proud of. It makes a significant statement, not only to Canadians but beyond our borders. I can recall, from a personal perspective, that my daughter Cindy and my wife felt so good about that simple statement the Prime Minister made that it was important to look at the year we were living in and that it was about time we addressed this issue more seriously.

When we sit around the cabinet table in a Liberal government, we are looking at a cabinet that is made up of an equal number of men and women. I was somewhat disappointed at the time that some members of the opposition said that some were junior and some were more senior, and all this kind of stuff. All cabinet ministers, every one who sits around that cabinet table, are, in fact, equal ministers.

In terms of legislation we brought forward to ensure that the principle of equality in cabinet was actually put into the law, members of the opposition saw fit to oppose that. I would suggest that the opposition parties, collectively at times, need to get a better understanding of the impact some of their actions have.

We did not stop there. The Prime Minister did not just say that we will have a gender-neutral cabinet. I want to go to this particular budget, the budget we are debating today, a budget that continues along the same lines as our first budget.

Before I comment on the first budget, I cannot help but make reference to the Minister of Finance and the cabinet's decision to have a gender-based analysis of the budget. Again, it is the first time in the history of this country that we have had such a thing done in a national budget. This is a significant achievement, and it was implemented by this government in its second budget. That was not an easy task to accomplish, but it was because of the commitment of the Prime Minister and the Minister of Status of Women that it was done.

Why is that important? The many different departments within the federal government literally spend billions of tax dollars every year. Those dollars have an impact, and in many ways, they impact genders differently. We need to look at how that money is being spent, the areas in which it is prioritized, and the impact it is having on our population.

This gender-based analysis is long overdue. I would like to think that the members opposite, as opposed to saying they want more transparency on the issue of the gender-based analysis, would recognize that this as a significant step forward. Instead of acknowledging the accomplishment, they are looking at ways to find some problems with that announcement.

Canadians are pleased that our government is determined to deal with formulating a budget that will ensure that there is a better sense of gender understanding. Our government will have a more positive impact on the issue of gender equality than Stephen Harper's government or any other government before us, because we have a Prime Minister who has made a commitment, and a Minister of Status of Women who has taken a proactive approach, to ensuring, as much as possible, that this lens is applied in every way.

We have done so much more, and I want to provide some comments on those things.

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

Dianne Lynn Watts

Conservative

Ms. Dianne L. Watts

Oh, please, more, more.

Topic:   Routine Proceedings
Subtopic:   Committees of the House
Sub-subtopic:   Status of Women
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LIB

Kevin Lamoureux

Liberal

Mr. Kevin Lamoureux

The Conservatives are begging for more so I will not disappoint them. I will give them more, Mr. Speaker.

In some of the comments across the way, reference was made to child care and how important it is. I sat in opposition for over four years. I can remember that when we were talking about the importance of child care, New Democrats and Conservatives agreed that child care is good. It was the NDP a little bit more than the Conservatives. At that time, I could not help but reflect on the 2004-05 budget of Paul Martin. He did an exceptional job of working with the provinces. He actually achieved an agreement with the provinces on a child care program that would have seen the injection of millions of dollars and the creation of thousands of daycare spots. I want to remind members, particularly my New Democratic colleagues across the way, that the New Democrats voted with the Conservatives to kill that plan. That is the reality. There was a national consensus, but that was defeated because of an agreement between New Democrats and the Conservatives to kill that child care plan.

A number of years have gone by, and we see once again an historic commitment to a multiple-year budget that deals with child care. It will create thousands of additional daycare spots in every region of this country.

Having said that, we have the NDP asking what we are doing this year for child care. It is important to recognize that when in government, it is very beneficial to have a multi-year budget on certain items, and child care is one of those items. Our government has made a commitment to child care. Is there room to improve? The Prime Minister himself would say that there is always room to be better and to look at ways to improve the situation. However, at the end of the day, what we are seeing here is yet another budget item that provides opportunity for potential growth, going forward, on what is an important issue.

I made reference to the fact that I would like to comment on the first budget. There are the benefits in terms of the Canada child benefit program and its impact. I would like to think that if we applied a gender analysis to our first budget, we would have seen some amazing things occurring, in particular with the Canada child benefit program. The hundreds of millions of dollars, going into the billions of dollars, being provided for the Canada child benefit is literally lifting tens of thousands of children out of poverty. It is also helping many of those individuals who are finding it challenging to meet the needs of the home and perhaps have to limit their work opportunities because they have to be at home. This provides that extra bit more. It is a good step in the right direction.

It is not just children we were looking at. Imagine seniors under the guaranteed income supplement. Again, a majority of those seniors who are receiving the GIS and the substantial increase, just over $900 a year, are female. For a senior on a fixed income, with an income of only $10,000 or $11,000 a year, that is a fairly significant increase. A gender analysis done on that particular program would have been given a two thumbs up, because we lifted thousands of seniors out of poverty. That is something I am very proud of. It was something our government implemented in its first budget.

There are so many things we have been able to accomplish in a relatively short period of time. Over the many decades of progress on a series of files, I know there are expectations. Many would like to see issues resolved virtually overnight, but when problems occur over a series of years and decades, it is often not possible to resolve them overnight. However, I can say with absolute confidence that we have a government, a Prime Minister, a cabinet, and, in fact, a caucus that are committed to making a difference and making the lives of all Canadians better. We understand the importance of Canada's middle class and those aspiring to be part of it.

We know that the Conservative Party lost touch with what real Canadians were thinking. That is why Canadians wanted real change, and that is what they got. It is clearly demonstrated not only in this budget but in our first budget. I would suggest that the positive change we have witnessed, in particular on issues such as gender equality, will continue to progress in a forward motion, because this is a government that is committed to Canada.

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

Dianne Lynn Watts

Conservative

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

Mr. Speaker, I want to thank our member for an exuberant speech.

I want to address some of the issues.

They talk about a gender-based budget and how fabulous it is. However, the transit tax credit was cut from the most vulnerable; the TFSA was cut; we will not see the child care for years to come, because it is a back-ended budget; and there is no income splitting that would allow parents to stay home and not need day care.

Talk about being out of touch. I hear that the reason that the tax credit was taken away is that low-income families making $12,000 per year could not use the credit and that it is only for the rich, that the TFSA it is only for the rich, that income splitting is only for the rich.

In my riding and ridings right across this country, seniors, the disabled, youth, the most vulnerable people, all those who have been using passes will no longer be able to do so, so when I hear that this is a wonderful gender-based budget that will especially help all of these women, I think that the government really needs to take another look at it and figure out who is in touch and who is out of touch.

Topic:   Routine Proceedings
Subtopic:   Committees of the House
Sub-subtopic:   Status of Women
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LIB

Kevin Lamoureux

Liberal

Mr. Kevin Lamoureux

Mr. Speaker, it is interesting that when the Conservative government introduced that particular tax credit, it argued that it would increase ridership and would reduce emissions. In reality, neither was accomplished.

The member makes reference to the tax credit and the compiling of receipts. I represent Winnipeg North. If we take a look at the bus meters, we will find that there are loonies being put into those meters. People do not say, “Here is a loonie; now give me the receipt”, and then they compile the receipts.

The issue is that we have a government that understands and appreciates the importance of public transit . That is why we have invested billions of dollars going forward to expand our public transit system. That will have a real impact. We will see more buses on our roads. We will see expanded subway systems. That is what is going to increase ridership. That is what is going to decrease emissions. This is a government that believes in public transportation.

With respect to the tax credit, I do not know if in fact the same arguments that they used—I should not say I do not know. I am fairly confident that the arguments the Conservatives used in bringing it in just never came to fruition. It just did not happen.

It only makes sense that if we look at the numbers and we want to base our decisions on facts and we believe in public transit, then we should actually invest money up front to construct and buy the buses where we can, but it also has to be done over a period of time. We cannot just say that we are going to give a few hundred million this year and we will wait and see for next year. We have made a commitment that goes across a number of years because we have confidence in our ability to be able to expand our public transportation system.

Topic:   Routine Proceedings
Subtopic:   Committees of the House
Sub-subtopic:   Status of Women
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?

Sheila Malcolmson

NDP

Ms. Sheila Malcolmson (Nanaimo—Ladysmith, NDP)

Mr. Speaker, let us come back to the report that we are debating, which is the consensus report of the New Democrats, the Conservatives, and the Liberal majority on the committee, saying that by June 2017, the government would have tabled legislation in the House to implement gender-based analysis, a commitment that the previous Liberal government made 20 years ago. It was 20 years ago.

I am going to go to the budget in my question. Does the member not concede that his Liberal government had 14 years in which to implement a fully funded, universal child care system and that it was only at a time that the government was falling into deep corruption scandals that the government was brought down? Yes, in the final weeks the government made a commitment to child care, but it was certainly not the issue on which the government fell. They had 14 years to do it, and we are afraid that they are not going to do it again now.

There was zero money last year and zero money this year for new child care spaces, whereas when New Democrats were campaigning to form government, we said we would spend $1.2 billion in this year to create new child care spaces. The member's arguments do not hold water.

If the member's government is so committed to gender equality, why will it not introduce this June, as the committee report recommended, legislation to enact gender-based analysis so that it is transparent and available to all, not just a cabinet secret? Will the government accede to the committee's unanimous recommendation that a gender equality commissioner be established?

Topic:   Routine Proceedings
Subtopic:   Committees of the House
Sub-subtopic:   Status of Women
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LIB

Kevin Lamoureux

Liberal

Mr. Kevin Lamoureux

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate why the member across the way said what she did in regard to the child care program. I would like to remind the member that Paul Martin was prime minister for two years in which there had been negotiations. After doing his homework, he made a major announcement that would have seen tens of thousands of child care spots created in every region of our country. He built on that consensus and made the announcement, only to have the NDP work with the Conservative Party to defeat the Paul Martin government.

Maybe the Conservatives would want to applaud that, but I suspect New Democrats would feel somewhat shameful about that fact.

Day care was not the only issue. Having said that, if we advance forward a number of years with the child care file, as I have indicated in my comments, once again we are investing more money into child care, and that is after expanding the Canada child benefit program.

In the report I believe there were 21 recommendations. I commend the membership of the committee for coming up with those 21 recommendations. I know the Parliamentary Secretary for Status of Women, a very dear friend of mine, takes this report very seriously, and I suspect members would find that the Minister of Status of Women has had the opportunity to go over the report. In fact, the Prime Minister has indicated that we value the type of work that is done at our standing committees. This is but one report before the House that, through time, we will take a look at. Where we can accept and move forward on recommendations, I suspect that we will, knowing the Prime Minister's commitment to gender equality.

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

Cathay Wagantall

Conservative

Mrs. Cathay Wagantall (Yorkton—Melville, CPC)

Mr. Speaker, I would like to go a little different direction. The member across has been very proud of his feminist PM and suggests that the impact of our actions has not been positive. I would like to suggest that his feminist PM has lost touch with what is important to women overall and has become quite selective in that feminism.

The Status of Women report gave no recognition in regard to violence against pregnant women, a time when we are most vulnerable. Nothing was mentioned in that report in regard to women in this state.

As well, the Minister of Status of Women at committee avoided the question when asked whether or not violence against baby girls through selective abortion was an attack on women as well.

I would like to have the member's comments on that, since there is this concern about feminism and I am concerned about women in all aspects of their lives.

Topic:   Routine Proceedings
Subtopic:   Committees of the House
Sub-subtopic:   Status of Women
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LIB

Kevin Lamoureux

Liberal

Mr. Kevin Lamoureux

Mr. Speaker, I am not sure whether the issue the member across the way raised was actually incorporated in any of the 21 recommendations. I suspect that it might not be directly brought up in them.

The member needs to recognize all parties actually participated and built the consensus in that report. The member might have some valid points; I do not know the exact details of what she is referring to. Having said that, I suspect the member would have had the opportunity talk with her caucus colleagues so that the issue could have been raised while they having that discussion.

I do not support the member's comments in terms of the Prime Minister. When it comes to this Prime Minister and his attitude and general directions on the issue of gender equality, I believe, as my mother would say, that the proof is in the pudding.

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

Michelle Rempel

Conservative

Hon. Michelle Rempel (Calgary Nose Hill, CPC)

Mr. Speaker, it gives me great pleasure to rise today to speak to this motion, which would concur in the unanimously written report on the gender-based analysis done by the Standing Committee on the Status of Women. There are many great recommendations in this report. It was well thought out. A lot of witnesses appeared before the committee. It was quite a refreshing read.

I will be splitting my time with the member for Yellowhead. Mr. Speaker.

I was going to speak at length about this report and its importance, but I want to respond to my colleague from Winnipeg North. He introduced the relevancy of the Prime Minister's brand of feminism in response to this motion. I think the thesis of his speech was because the Prime Minister was a feminist. Since the member introduced that as relevant to this discussion, I would like to refute some of these points.

First, the parliamentary secretary used as evidence of the Prime Minister's feminism the fifty-fifty gender-balanced cabinet. For those listening, with respect to cabinet responsibilities, in order to bring what is called a “memorandum to cabinet” to cabinet, a member needs to be a full cabinet minister. This means a cabinet minister has the right to bring a recommendation to cabinet.

The Prime Minister, when he appointed his fifty-fifty “gender-parity” cabinet, called a bunch of women cabinet ministers, but they did not have the right to bring memorandums to cabinet without a more senior minister's approval. In many cases, who was the more senior minister? A man. Is that true gender parity? I am not so sure. Has that situation been rectified? I do not think so.

Therefore, the feminist Prime Minister, with his gender-parity cabinet, gave these women cabinet positions in name only. He gave them less pay, lower office budgets, and less responsibility. That does not sound like gender parity to me. Nor did he put gender parity on cabinet committees with respect to their chairmanships. Most of the power lies in the cabinet.

That aside, I woke up on the morning of announcement of the cabinet appointments in 2015. Even though I do not agree with the political philosophy or ideology of some of the Prime Minister's cabinet, some of the women he has appointed to cabinet have really impressive CVs. Whether we agree with them or not, we have to agree that the Minister of Justice and the Minister of Health, as two examples, are accomplished women who have worked hard and have sacrificed a lot to get to where they are in their career. They are smart women.

I do not know how I would have felt if the day before cabinet was appointed, the Prime Minister had said that he was appointing a gender-parity cabinet. I would have felt like he was saying that I was only there because I was a woman, forget about my CV. If he really wanted to make these women truly equal, he could have just let it happen. He did not have to make it about himself. That is not true feminism. For the Prime Minister to take credit for this the day before, as opposed to letting these women stand on the merit of their own CV, is the worst of tokenism.

This is the sort of stuff that degrades women and makes them not to want to do this sort of stuff. We work hard for where we are. I have worked hard to get here. I have sacrificed a lot. I really hate it when the Prime Minister's brand of armchair feminism is used as a defence for not getting anything done.

My colleague from the NDP who has raised this motion has a point. The Liberals have done nothing. They have not taken actions on the recommendations of this report. Instead, the parliamentary secretary says that it is because the Prime Minister is a feminist. Let us talk more about his feminism.

The Prime Minister had the opportunity to be a feminist when it counted. He could have, on the first instance of a motion in the House of Commons, declared the Yazidi genocide a genocide. Tens of thousands of women are being held as sexual slaves in Iraq, and for months on end, he could have said that he was a feminist, that he would help those women, and take a stand for them. However, he voted against that motion. It took months of dragging him, kicking and screaming, to the point when finally, after international pressure, after a sex slave survivor stood in the balcony and said, “You are going to do something for women finally”, did something. If he were a real feminist, he could have done that. Did he do it? No.

Then I look at things like his trip to New York last week. He was supposedly talking to women about the problems they faced as small business owners. I would argue that the Prime Minister is neither a woman nor a small business owner. Surely a woman in his cabinet could have had that conversation for him, but, no. Again, he made it all about himself and the photo op. I believe there was an article written in the National Post about this very thing, saying that it got it, that he was a “feminist” and asked why he did not now start getting the real work done for women.

When there are people on the left or the right decrying the fact that the Prime Minister's catch phrase “feminism” is not getting things done, maybe government members should stop standing in the House of Commons and using it as a defence over and over again. It is starting to get a little vomit worthy, to be honest.

The other thing I find ridiculous is this. If the Prime Minister were truly a feminist, why would he not stand and speak against things like female genital mutilation or early and forced marriage? Here is the other thing. In the last Parliament, I stood in the House of Commons and talked about matrimonial property rights, something Canada should have done decades ago. What did the feminist Prime Minister do? The feminist Prime Minister voted against giving first nations women matrimonial property rights. Is that a feminist? No, it is not.

Where the rubber hits the road with feminism does not matter what one's political ideology is. We will all have different opinions, political philosophy, or political ideas on how to get to gender parity, or how to tackle the issue of pay equity, or how to deal with the issue of child care. We all have different approaches on how to do that, but I would argue this. The least effective way to get there is to stand and say, “I am a feminist, take my picture. Isn't that fantastic?” No, that does not get things done. What gets things done is implementing the recommendations in the report today.

My colleague asked the parliamentary secretary a question about why the government's “feminist” budget had back-ended all the funding for “child care” after it cancelled the child tax credit. Canadian women know where things are at. We know what it takes to make ends meet. We know the sacrifices it takes to get ahead in our careers, or balance child care with paying the bills. In my province, women know what it is like to carry the burden of their spouses who are out of work while being out of work themselves and trying to put their kids in hockey. These are the real issues that matter to women, not the photo opportunity, disingenuous “I am a feminist” thing that happens over and over again.

I have heard the argument that if the Prime Minister is a feminist, why are we sending billions of dollars of military equipment to countries that do not allow women to drive. Where is the criticism of their regime? Where is the criticism of the practices of state governments that do not allow women to worship freely, to speak freely, or to vote? Every time the opportunity arises for the Prime Minister to do something that actually matters for women, what happens? Someone stands and says he is a feminist.

I watch him day after day in this place and make a woman answer questions for his ethics scandals. Is that feminist? I do not know, but I know this. I know the retort that this is not getting done because the Prime Minister is a feminist is not cutting it anymore.

Topic:   Routine Proceedings
Subtopic:   Committees of the House
Sub-subtopic:   Status of Women
Permalink

April 11, 2017