March 19, 2019

IND

Celina Caesar-Chavannes

Independent

Mrs. Celina Caesar-Chavannes (Whitby, Lib.)

Mr. Speaker, my hon. colleague mentioned a staggering number of 52% of children in care. When we look at the overrepresentation of children in Ontario's child protection system, it is black children. In the work conducted by Kike Ojo that looked at Toronto specifically, 42% of children in care have at least one black parent. That is more than five times the population of black children in that system.

Therefore, could the hon. minister talk about the lessons learned through this legislation that could translate to other communities that are really affected by a child welfare system that disproportionately impacts the most vulnerable in our communities?

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   An Act Respecting First Nations, Inuit and Métis Children, Youth and Families
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?

Hon. Seamus O'Regan

Mr. Speaker, it is startling to think that of the $1.2 billion toward child and family services since 2016, 80% of that goes toward what we call protective services, which is a nice way of saying apprehension or some may call it abduction. The idea behind this is recognizing and affirming the inherent right of indigenous groups to child and family services and in working with them to build that capacity so they do not see their children apprehended and taken away to places where they are not able to embrace their culture. The legacy of these apprehensions will live on for decades and we must put an end to them now.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   An Act Respecting First Nations, Inuit and Métis Children, Youth and Families
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CPC

Cathy McLeod

Conservative

Mrs. Cathy McLeod

Mr. Speaker, when the government speaks about principles, they are often very sound, but when it has translated principles into legislation, there has been huge challenges. Bill S-3, the gender equity bill, had so many mistakes and flaws that it was basically a disaster. I can look at the indigenous language act. The government is tabling 30 amendments as we head into clause-by-clause, and that is unheard of. We have important principles, but already we are hearing significant concerns from people who will be impacted by the bill.

Would the minister consider not only tabling the charter and constitutional compliance statement that is part of any legislative process, but also commit today that the Liberals will be open to appropriate amendments as we move forward?

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   An Act Respecting First Nations, Inuit and Métis Children, Youth and Families
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?

Hon. Seamus O'Regan

Mr. Speaker, I fundamentally agree with the hon. member in the importance of consultation and of getting it right. I will quote from Perry Bellegarde, the national chief of the Assembly of First Nations, who said:

This legislation is first and foremost about First Nations children and their safety, their security and their future....The tragedy of thousands of First Nations children in care tells us we need a new approach. This legislation will recognize First Nations jurisdiction so they can build their own systems based on their own governance, laws and policies. Our focus has to be on prevention over apprehension, and keeping children close to their cultures and families. We need investments to support this work, and we need everyone to support this approach. The time is long overdue for First Nations to finally regain responsibility over our children.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   An Act Respecting First Nations, Inuit and Métis Children, Youth and Families
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NDP

Linda Duncan

New Democratic Party

Ms. Linda Duncan (Edmonton Strathcona, NDP)

Mr. Speaker, it is good that we finally get to debate the bill, although there is great concern that we have the budget coming down this afternoon and we presume there will not be any new monies because we do not have this enacted yet.

More an a year and a half ago, the former attorney general undertook that going forward all federal legislation would incorporate the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, yet here we again have a bill directly impacting indigenous Canadians and it simply stops at the preamble that is non-binding.

Why does the government still refuse to make the United Nations declaration binding in Canadian law?

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   An Act Respecting First Nations, Inuit and Métis Children, Youth and Families
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?

Hon. Seamus O'Regan

Mr. Speaker, the most important thing we can do is to listen to indigenous groups and we have done that, having read Perry Bellegarde's quote on his reaction to this legislation.

I will also speak to President Natan Obed of the Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami, who said:

I am encouraged by ITK’s relationship with...the Department of Indigenous Services and anticipate further discussions between Inuit leadership and government as this legislation moves forward...With today’s announcement, the level of ambition of both Inuit and government have aligned to do more to protect Inuit children.

President Chartier from the Métis National Council said:

Time is of the essence in acting on the crisis of Métis children in care and ensuring the right of Métis governments to establish and maintain their own child welfare agencies....The proposed legislation is a necessary and long overdue first step to achieve that.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   An Act Respecting First Nations, Inuit and Métis Children, Youth and Families
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CPC

Cathy McLeod

Conservative

Mrs. Cathy McLeod (Kamloops—Thompson—Cariboo, CPC)

Mr. Speaker, I too am very pleased to rise in the debate on Bill C-92 today. I note there is concern that the the bill is arriving so late in this parliamentary agenda. There are only 10 weeks left. This was promised a number of months ago, and it finally was tabled just recently.

Having said that, we intend to be productive and proactive in supporting this, at least in principle, and seeing where we can go. Again, the government has a history of having important principles, but those principles have not always translated into legislation.

We all know the tragedy and the genesis for that, based in the residential school system, based in the sixties scoop, and it predates many of those issues. Again, I always like to reflect on my own experiences.

In the 1980s, as a nurse moving into a community, I was told that social and child welfare workers were not welcomed on reserve because they took their kids and so they could not come onto the reserve. In actual fact, the social workers of the provinces did not go onto the band lands at that time.

I look at where British Columbia, as an example, has come since that time, from a place where it was a very tense, taut relationship that could have ended in violence had people entered band lands. It ended up in a better place. Every province is a bit different in where people have ended up.

In the riding I represent in Kamloops, Secwépemc Child & Family Services now provides services both on and off reserve for its community members. For those people, this bill would be another step forward in the evolution of what the service is doing and how it is doing it. Certainly I want to congratulate the communities for coming such a long way from the 1980s to where we are in the 2000s. Things are not where they need to be, but they are certainly much better than they were.

I want to also make a contrast. We do not know the whole story, but many of us saw the video at Christmas time, showing the removal of a newborn baby from her mother and her family. Again, we do not know the back story, but we all looked to that and felt grief and wondered what had happened and what needed to be done to make it better.

The minister talked about the social workers and held them up with respect to working under the structures of the day, for which the government needs to be responsible. I also want to acknowledge adoptive parents across the country who opened up their hearts and their homes. Maybe they could not have a family of their own and they wanted one to love. They wanted to do the right thing. I want to hold them up because many families adopted children and many fostered children. In the community I represent, many of these families tried their best to ensure the children remained connected with their culture and kept the ties.

As we move forward, this is not about not respecting the work that social workers have done and not about not respecting the families that have adopted children. It is about knowing we can do better, that there are ways we can focus on prevention and do better for the children. Keeping them and supporting them connected to their culture and community is absolutely critical.

The Minister of Indigenous Services acknowledged the work of the former minister. In January 2018, an emergency meeting was held with Indigenous Services, the federal and provincial counterparts.

At that time, they all recognized that they needed to shift the programming focus to prevention, early intervention, supporting communities to draw down the jurisdiction and exploring the potential for co-developed child legislation, which is, of course, what we are here to talk about today.

Before I talk specifically about some of the technical details in the proposed legislation, I think it is important to reflect on the past government's record in this area. The Liberals like to portray themselves as the only people who have ever cared about this issue, the only group that has actually moved forward, recognizing that this is an important issue. It has been an evolution. I explained how it was in the 1980s. However, I will look at what the record was in terms of the evolution of the former government.

We signed a bilateral agreement with B.C. in 2012-13 to reimburse B.C. for the child welfare services that it provided to the 72 first nations. The funding streams were similar to what first nations and child and family services agencies received under directive 20-1, which goes way back. It provided a lot more flexibility with respect to the funding arrangement and the increased amount of funding that was available.

We also started what we called the enhanced prevention focused approach, which was launched in 2007 in Alberta, Saskatchewan and Nova Scotia; Quebec and P.E.I. in 2009; and Manitoba in 2019. This EPF approach was intended to provide a more flexible funding model and refocus child welfare to a family-centred practice with child-centred outcomes. It relied on a more intensive involvement of social workers to provide support before families reached a crisis. It was intended to reduce the need for placement of children, but where placement was necessary, it also explicitly favoured kinship and community placement over foster care and institutional care. It also started tracking meaningful performance indicators.

Members can see that we had taken some principles that had been evolving over time. Again, some provinces are certainly more advanced in working in partnership with their first nations communities and the federal government. However, we put it into legislation. Moving those principles into legislation and reaffirming the jurisdiction cleared up a whole lot of confusion that might have been there in the past.

Again, there was talk about the funding. The funding did change significantly over that time. Of course, it needed more enhancement, but there was a 50% increase in funding. However, more important is that there were some results. We saw the percentage of children who were placed in foster care decrease. I would find it very valuable to get from the minister the trend line to see if it is still heading in the right direction. The percentage of children in kinship care increased and, again, we saw some changes in the proper direction. My point is that we are talking about what has been too slow an evolution, but certainly, hopefully, an evolution in the appropriate direction.

What would the bill before us actually do? This is where I think there is going to be a lot scrutiny, not only in the House at second reading debate but, importantly, in committee where we get those experts to come and share with us what is good about the bill and where it has not been crafted in a way that would do the job.

The bill would affirm the jurisdiction of indigenous peoples in relation to child and family services, which has always been a very difficult grey area because the provinces have said that, under the Constitution, we need to be responsible and the federal government has been inconsistent in its role. Sometimes the government says it provides services on reserve but does not have responsibility off reserve, so it is very confusing. The bill needs to affirm the jurisdiction and to get rid of the confusion between the provinces and the federal government.

The bill sets out really important principles, such as the best interests of the child, cultural continuity and substantive equality, which is applicable on a national level to the provision of child and family services in relation to indigenous children.

The key elements of the bill that we have talked about are that it would affirm the jurisdiction of indigenous peoples to make laws in relation to child and family services, along with the authority to administer and enforce these laws consistent with the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. It would commit to not interfering with existing rights in self-government agreements enacted by indigenous governing bodies regarding child and family services. That is an area we need to delve into. If relationships have already been established, we need to make sure it does not erode things that are working well and moving forward.

The area that Conservatives are concerned about is that it be binding on the provinces and territories. I do not think there are any challenges in terms of communities on reserve taking care of their memberships off reserve where they have drawn down services, but I hope the Liberal majority will allow constitutional experts and the provincial ministers to talk about the constitutionality of that particular issue. When a province provides services, is there agreement with all of the provinces in terms of the bill and is it constitutional to impose it on them when they have the jurisdiction for delivering services? I am not a legal expert, but it is a question I have about the bill and a legitimate question to ask. We need clarity. We need to make sure we are being consistent.

The bill includes a rule of precedence, which would stipulate that where indigenous governing bodies have made laws with respect to child and family services, they would have precedence over other laws relating to child and family services where conflicts arise. This is among the key elements.

Again, I am disappointed. I am disappointed that it has taken so long to table the bill. There is an agreement in the House that when a bill is tabled on a Thursday, my caucus gets to look at that bill on Wednesday so that all of my caucus members have the benefit of understanding what the bill looks like before it is debated in the House. That agreement is pretty fundamental to the proper functioning of the House and the Liberal government violated that agreement with this legislation. It was tabled on a Thursday and there has been no caucus meeting since. There was a commitment that we would discuss the bill after we had caucus meetings.

This is following a pattern. Because the Liberals have not been able to manage their House time, it does not constitute an emergency on our part and they should be respectful. If they want co-operation, they need to respect these basic elements and provide us an opportunity. For many years, members have respected the Wednesday rule and Liberals regularly violate it.

My other concern I talked about before. When Bill S-3 was introduced, it was great. The bill was a response to gender inequity in some legislation and the Liberals guaranteed us there would be technical briefings. In the House, they guaranteed they had fixed the problem. What happened? When we went into committee, we started to identify flaw after flaw after flaw.

The indigenous languages legislation was tabled in the House. The Liberals said it was co-developed and everything was great. We started to hear witnesses at committee, and there was flaw after flaw after flaw. There were 30 amendments, and I have said this a number of times today. It is unheard of for a government to have to make 30 fixes to its own legislation, and those 30 fixes were tabled late. It did not even meet the deadline. They have to table it in committee on the day we are heading into clause-by-clause. It is unheard of incompetence.

We support the principle. We want the legislation to move forward. We want to see things improve. However, we are a little leery of the ability and the competence of the government to get it right.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   An Act Respecting First Nations, Inuit and Métis Children, Youth and Families
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LIB

Geoff Regan

Liberal

The Speaker

The member will have four minutes remaining, following question period, when the House next engages in this topic.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   An Act Respecting First Nations, Inuit and Métis Children, Youth and Families
Permalink
LIB

Hedy Fry

Liberal

Hon. Hedy Fry (Vancouver Centre, Lib.)

Mr. Speaker, this year marks the 50th anniversary of MacDonald, Dettwiler, a B.C. company that launched Canada as a world leader in space, telecommunications, earth observation and robotics.

In 1963, UBC engineers were able to map the ionosphere when NASA could not. Two of them began MDA, and its contributions to the aerospace sector have been groundbreaking. MDA's robotics capabilities led to the invention of the Canadarm, the first-ever in-space servicing system. They then went on to develop the Cassiope system for rapid uploading and downloading of massive data.

Today, MDA is a global leader in space technology, dedicated to a resilient, rich and competitive industrial base across Canada.

I would like to wish a happy 50th anniversary to MDA. As Canada recommits to space exploration, we know MDA will be there to boldly go where no one has gone before.

Topic:   Statements By Members
Subtopic:   MacDonald, Dettwiler and Associates
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CPC

David Sweet

Conservative

Mr. David Sweet (Flamborough—Glanbrook, CPC)

Mr. Speaker, every year I send out a survey to my constituents, asking for their thoughts on important issues. In the spirit of budget day, I want to share some of what I have heard so far from this year's survey.

The feedback was clear. Eighty-two per cent of the surveys received back thus far express concern over deficits, and 75% do not support the Liberal carbon tax cash grab. What is tough to hear is that over 71% say life is less affordable today than it was four years ago.

Middle-class families in Flamborough—Glanbrook and across this country are juggling mortgages and increased commuting costs. They are finding it harder and harder to make ends meet.

It is clear to me what the people of Flamborough—Glanbrook do not want to see in the budget today. They do not want more deficits; they do not want more tax increases, and they do not want a carbon tax.

Topic:   Statements By Members
Subtopic:   The Economy
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LIB

Julie Dzerowicz

Liberal

Ms. Julie Dzerowicz (Davenport, Lib.)

Mr. Speaker, last Friday, I attended my first Fridays for Future rally in downtown Toronto. Fridays for Future is a movement that was started by 16-year-old Greta Thunberg, who skipped school to protest the lack of action on the climate crisis. This protest has turned into school strikes every Friday by youth across Europe and around the world, including here in Canada. In Toronto, over 200 youth and parents attended the rally to send a clear message that Canadians want action on climate change.

I spoke about what our federal government is doing to tackle climate change, which includes putting a price on pollution, making historic investments in public transit, phasing out coal, transiting to 90% green energy by 2030, and investing $1.3 billion in biodiversity, among many other actions.

Unlike the Conservative Party, which has no plan to fight climate change, we are taking action. As Greta has said so eloquently, “Yes, we do need hope...but the one thing we need more than hope is action. Once we start to act, hope is everywhere. So instead of looking for hope, look for action. Then and only then, hope will come.”

Topic:   Statements By Members
Subtopic:   Fridays for Future
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NDP

Richard Cannings

New Democratic Party

Mr. Richard Cannings (South Okanagan—West Kootenay, NDP)

Mr. Speaker, the forest industry in B.C. has had some tough years recently. Beetles and forest fires have reduced the timber supply, so we must create more jobs for every tree we cut.

There was some good news out of British Columbia last week.

First, Kalesnikoff Lumber announced that it is building a mass timber plant in my riding at South Slocan, to create cross-laminated timber panels and glulam beams. These components are at the centre of a revolution in how the world is constructing buildings. Canada is leading the pack in North America in this technology, with companies like Structurlam in Okanagan Falls and now Kalesnikoff joining those leaders.

Second, the B.C. government announced changes to its provincial building code, allowing beautiful and safe mass timber buildings to be constructed up to 12 storeys.

Along with those in my private member's bill, Bill C-354, these changes encourage the use of environmentally friendly materials in building federal government infrastructure, and will help keep the forest industry healthy.

Topic:   Statements By Members
Subtopic:   Forest Industry
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LIB

Kent Hehr

Liberal

Hon. Kent Hehr (Calgary Centre, Lib.)

Mr. Speaker, in 2013, Calgary was devastated by a massive flood. The communities I represent, including Beltline, Rideau-Roxboro, lnglewood and Ramsay were all under water. People were evacuated; lives were put on hold and the city was virtually shut down.

In 2015, the Prime Minister came to Calgary, promising to keep our city safe from flooding. It was a promise made and a promise kept. Last week, I announced $168 million from our federal Liberal government for the Springbank off-stream reservoir. Once completed, these measures and our previous investments will protect thousands of people and their homes, schools and businesses from future flooding.

The previous Conservative government invested a grand total of zero dollars in flood mitigation. We are changing that and investing in Calgary in a big way.

Topic:   Statements By Members
Subtopic:   Flood Prevention
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CPC

Len Webber

Conservative

Mr. Len Webber (Calgary Confederation, CPC)

Mr. Speaker, on Sunday, March 10, Ethiopian Airlines flight 302 crashed and claimed the lives of 157 people, 18 of them Canadians.

My eldest daughter Lauren worked for the United Nations World Food Programme. She lost seven close colleagues and a dear friend, 25-year-old Stephanie Lacroix from Timmins, Ontario. She was on a mission to Kenya with the United Nations Association in Canada.

Despite this profound loss for the United Nations community, its work will continue. It must continue, as many more lives depend on it. Every day, these brave souls sacrifice a great deal to serve their fellow human beings and to make the world a better place.

We mourn the lives ended too soon, but we must also celebrate their contributions and honour their memory by supporting the goals they worked so hard to achieve.

May dear Stephanie rest in peace. May all who perished rest in peace.

Topic:   Statements By Members
Subtopic:   Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302
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LIB

Mark Gerretsen

Liberal

Mr. Mark Gerretsen (Kingston and the Islands, Lib.)

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to highlight some of the great work that the students of the youth council in my riding of Kingston and the Islands are doing. They have spent months studying what the federal government does and talking about the issues that are important to them. One of the common themes was discussions about a desire to do something about our environment. These students recognize the importance of acting today, not tomorrow.

With over two million single-use plastic bags circulating worldwide every minute and over one billion plastic bags being distributed annually in Canada, they believe it is imperative that we put an end to this pollution. That is why I am happy to share that my youth council has created an e-petition asking the Minister of Environment and Climate Change to enact a ban on the production and distribution of all single-use plastics. Some may call these students the leaders of tomorrow, but I believe that through their actions they are the leaders of today.

I would like to congratulate my youth council on its hard work and ask all Canadians to consider signing the petition.

Topic:   Statements By Members
Subtopic:   The Environment
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LIB

Pierre Breton

Liberal

Mr. Pierre Breton (Shefford, Lib.)

Mr. Speaker, volunteers play an important role in our communities, and that is very true in the riding of Shefford.

I would like to pay tribute to Jean Patenaude, an exceptional man who made an enormous contribution to the development of many young hockey and baseball players in the Granby region over the past 60 years. An impressive number of people from Granby can attest to the positive impact this man made on their young lives.

That is why the City of Granby decided to name the main rink at the Centre sportif Léonard-Grondin in his honour. This well-deserved recognition was celebrated at a ceremony organized by the Patenaude family. Through his extensive involvement, Jean Patenaude has had a major, positive impact on the lives of many members of our community.

My dear Jean, the young boy in me who trained every Saturday morning at the rink wholeheartedly thanks you.

Topic:   Statements By Members
Subtopic:   Jean Patenaude
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CPC

Rosemarie Falk

Conservative

Mrs. Rosemarie Falk (Battlefords—Lloydminster, CPC)

Mr. Speaker, with detail after detail, the SNC-Lavalin scandal has shocked Canadians. Every step of the way, the Prime Minister has acted like someone with something to hide. His story has changed multiple times, and he has pointed his finger in every direction.

The former attorney general testified that she was subject to repeated pressure from the Prime Minister and his inner circle to interfere in the criminal prosecution of a Liberal-connected firm.

We know there is more, but the Prime Minister refuses to allow her to tell her whole story. Now he has directed Liberal justice committee members to stop their investigation into his government's corruption.

Meanwhile, his office has lawyered up, our allies are flagging Canada for corrupt practices, two cabinet ministers have resigned on principle, and his top political advisor and the top civil servant have also resigned, yet the Prime Minister would have Canadians believe there is nothing here.

Nobody is buying it, and Conservatives will continue to fight to get to the bottom of it.

Topic:   Statements By Members
Subtopic:   Justice
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LIB

Ali Ehsassi

Liberal

Mr. Ali Ehsassi (Willowdale, Lib.)

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to call the attention of the House to the plight of renowned Iranian civil rights lawyer Ms. Nasrin Sotoudeh.

Human rights activists around the world were appalled to hear recently that this courageous lawyer has been sentenced to 38 years of imprisonment for having merely pursued her noble calling of defending the voiceless in Iran. Most recently she acted as a lawyer for women who sought to exercise their inalienable right to remove their hijabs.

A recipient of the prestigious Sakharov human rights award for her tireless advocacy, Ms. Sotoudeh is a paragon of strength and integrity. Her baseless and arbitrary sentence is defenceless and an egregious violation of the most fundamental of human rights.

As Canadians, we have always stood tall in defending towering figures who have proven to be tireless champions for the rights of others. As such, we should be resolute and spare no effort in joining the international—

Topic:   Statements By Members
Subtopic:   Human Rights
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LIB
LIB

Joe Peschisolido

Liberal

Mr. Joe Peschisolido (Steveston—Richmond East, Lib.)

Mr. Speaker, like all Canadians, I was appalled by the terrorist attacks on two mosques in New Zealand, where 49 people were killed and many injured as they went about their Friday prayers.

I wish to extend my deepest condolences to the families and friends who lost loved ones in this senseless tragedy. Canadians join with Muslim communities around the world in their grief, and stand with them at this incredibly difficult time.

I stand in solidarity with my friends at the Jamea mosque and the Az Zahraa Islamic Centre in Richmond during this time of shock and grief.

Attacking people in a place of worship is deplorable and despicable. Hatred has no place in our society. We must confront Islamophobia and work together to create a world where all people can feel safe and secure.

Topic:   Statements By Members
Subtopic:   Shootings in New Zealand
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March 19, 2019