May 30, 2019

LIB

Paul Lefebvre

Liberal

Mr. Paul Lefebvre (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Natural Resources, Lib.)

Madam Speaker, we are taking action to ensure that our forestry sector remains a source of good, middle-class jobs across the country and is prepared to compete globally.

The programs, loans and loan guarantees made available through the $867-million softwood lumber action plan are actively supporting workers and communities.

This past fall, we also announced $100 million for forestry through the strategic innovation fund. Building on our work to date, budget 2019 includes an additional investment of over $250 million, which will help the sector to innovate, diversify and grow.

Topic:   Oral Questions
Subtopic:   Forestry Industry
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LIB

Majid Jowhari

Liberal

Mr. Majid Jowhari (Richmond Hill, Lib.)

Madam Speaker, the construction industry is a critical part of the Canadian economy and a source of good, middle-class jobs for many Canadians. Contractors and subcontractors need prompt payments from clients in order to sustain their operations and support the significant costs involved in construction projects.

Could the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Public Services and Procurement please update the House on the work our government will be doing to ensure that contractors and subcontractors in the construction industry are paid in a timely manner on federal projects?

Topic:   Oral Questions
Subtopic:   Public Services and Procurement
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LIB

Steven MacKinnon

Liberal

Mr. Steven MacKinnon (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Public Services and Procurement and Accessibility, Lib.)

Madam Speaker, we have very good news. Unlike the Harper Conservatives, we have listened to contractors on the need for federal prompt payment legislation. We know these businesses provide good, middle-class jobs to many Canadians from coast to coast to coast, and they deserve to be paid promptly.

As announced in budget 2019, we will put forward legislation that ensures payments reach construction suppliers and their employees quickly and efficiently.

We are standing up for workers, and we are standing up for contractors.

Topic:   Oral Questions
Subtopic:   Public Services and Procurement
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NDP

Carol Hughes

New Democratic Party

The Assistant Deputy Speaker (Mrs. Carol Hughes)

Order. I want to remind members that when somebody has the floor, that person should have peace and quiet in the House so that everybody can hear what he is saying.

The hon. member for Selkirk—Interlake—Eastman.

Topic:   Oral Questions
Subtopic:   Public Services and Procurement
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CPC

James Bezan

Conservative

Mr. James Bezan (Selkirk—Interlake—Eastman, CPC)

Madam Speaker, Manitobans deserve the right to sell their resources abroad. Minnesota is willing to buy the clean hydroelectric power that Manitoba proudly produces. The National Energy Board has approved the transmission lines, but the Prime Minister is overruling the decision and is trying to stop the project. It is clear that the Prime Minister is holding a grudge against Manitoba because it will not go along with his carbon tax.

Why will the Prime Minister not let Manitoba sell its clean energy?

Topic:   Oral Questions
Subtopic:   Natural Resources
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LIB

Paul Lefebvre

Liberal

Mr. Paul Lefebvre (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Natural Resources, Lib.)

Madam Speaker, Canadians understand that for good projects to move ahead and grow our economy, we must protect our environment and respect the rights of indigenous peoples. Our government has been hard at work consulting with indigenous communities on the Manitoba-Minnesota transmission project in order to fulfill our duty to meaningfully consult. Our focus remains on getting it right.

Our government has extended the timeline for a decision on this project until June 14, 2019. We have issued the short extension to ensure that the Crown has sufficient time to fulfill its legal duty to consult and come to the right decision.

Topic:   Oral Questions
Subtopic:   Natural Resources
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BQ

Xavier Barsalou-Duval

Bloc Québécois

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

Madam Speaker, commercial shipping is causing bank erosion along the St. Lawrence River. Riverside residents between Montreal and Lake Saint-Pierre are losing up to two metres a year. Even worse, Ottawa abolished the riverbank protection program 20 years ago and will not let these residents do rehabilitation work. Marine shipping has economic benefits, but the government has completely abandoned these Canadians to deal with the consequences.

Will the government finally take responsibility, or will these residents have to take it to court?

Topic:   Oral Questions
Subtopic:   Public Safety
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LIB

Marc Garneau

Liberal

Hon. Marc Garneau (Minister of Transport, Lib.)

Madam Speaker, of course we empathize with those affected by this year's flooding. We know that water levels are very high. There has been a lot of rain and flooding this year in the Great Lakes area, and that water eventually makes its way to the St. Lawrence. The Government of Canada has imposed speed restrictions to avoid creating waves along the banks in the Lake Saint-Pierre region.

We are very aware that it is important to put these restrictions in place, and we will continue to monitor the situation.

Topic:   Oral Questions
Subtopic:   Public Safety
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BQ

Xavier Barsalou-Duval

Bloc Québécois

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

Madam Speaker, this is not about flooding. This is about erosion happening all year long.

My community is not the only victim of shoreline erosion. In addition to marine traffic, climate change is also wreaking havoc. The Magdalen Islands are losing half a metre of shoreline every year. Almost every year, the Gaspé Peninsula and the North Shore are cut off from the rest of the world because erosion washes away parts of highways 132 and 138.

Rather than pour millions and billions of Quebeckers' dollars into dirty oil, will the government step up and help Canadians?

Topic:   Oral Questions
Subtopic:   Public Safety
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LIB

Diane Lebouthillier

Liberal

Hon. Diane Lebouthillier (Minister of National Revenue, Lib.)

Madam Speaker, we know that climate change and ocean warming are causing shoreline erosion on the Gaspé Peninsula and the Magdalen Islands.

I can assure the member that our government has ambitious plans to tackle ocean warming and climate change.

Topic:   Oral Questions
Subtopic:   Public Safety
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GP

Elizabeth May

Green Party

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

Madam Speaker, we have been debating in this place a climate emergency. We know we are in a climate emergency. It is not in the abstract; it is real and happening in real time. In the community of Pikangikum First Nation in northern Ontario right now, 4,000 people are one to two kilometres from a raging fire. Recent reports are that the Hercules aircraft cannot land because of the smoke. It is terrifying for them, right now.

Can the hon. Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness give us an update on what the government is doing to help?

Topic:   Oral Questions
Subtopic:   Public Safety
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LIB

Ralph Goodale

Liberal

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

Madam Speaker, the situation at Pikangikum was raised with the Government of Canada earlier this morning through a formal request for assistance from the Province of Ontario. The request was for Canadian Forces assets, namely aircraft, and rangers personnel, to help evacuate people from Pikangikum. The answer was, of course, yes. The assistance is being mobilized. Smoke and other local conditions are not helping with air operations, but we understand the deep angst in the community, and all levels of government will work strongly together to keep people in that community safe.

Topic:   Oral Questions
Subtopic:   Public Safety
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NDP

Carol Hughes

New Democratic Party

The Assistant Deputy Speaker (Mrs. Carol Hughes)

I would like to draw to the attention of hon. members the presence in the gallery of Professor Yoshua Bengio, co-recipient of the 2018 Alan M. Turing Award for conceptual and engineering breakthroughs that have made deep neural networks a critical component of computing.

Topic:   Oral Questions
Subtopic:   Presence in Gallery
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?

Some hon. members

Hear, hear!

Topic:   Oral Questions
Subtopic:   Presence in Gallery
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NDP

Carol Hughes

New Democratic Party

The Assistant Deputy Speaker (Mrs. Carol Hughes)

I would also like to draw to the attention of hon. members the presence in the gallery of the Honourable Arthur Holder, Speaker of the House of Assembly of Barbados.

Topic:   Oral Questions
Subtopic:   Presence in Gallery
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?

Some hon. members

Hear, hear!

Topic:   Oral Questions
Subtopic:   Presence in Gallery
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CPC

Mark Strahl

Conservative

Mr. Mark Strahl (Chilliwack—Hope, CPC)

Madam Speaker, I would like to ask the hon. government House leader if she could share with the House the business of the house for the remainder of this week and for next week.

Topic:   Oral Questions
Subtopic:   Business of the House
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LIB

Bardish Chagger

Liberal

Hon. Bardish Chagger (Leader of the Government in the House of Commons, Lib.)

Madam Speaker, this afternoon, we will resume debate at report stage of Bill C-93, an act to provide no-cost, expedited record suspensions for simple possession of cannabis. Tomorrow, we will start report stage of Bill C-97, budget implementation act, 2019, No. 1.

Currently, the intention is to have Monday, June 3 and Friday, June 7 as allotted days.

Next week, priority shall be given to Bill C-97, the budget implementation act; Bill C-93, concerning cannabis pardons; Bill C-92, an act respecting first nations, Inuit and Métis children, youth and families; Bill C-88, concerning the Mackenzie Valley; and government business no. 29, the national climate emergency.

We will also give priority to bills coming back from the Senate.

Finally, I would like to mention that following Private Members' Business on Tuesday and Wednesday evening next week, we will have three hours set aside for speeches by members not seeking re-election in the next election.

These are our current intentions, but as we know, things can always change.

Topic:   Oral Questions
Subtopic:   Business of the House
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The House resumed consideration of Bill C-93, An Act to provide no-cost, expedited record suspensions for simple possession of cannabis, as reported (with amendment) from the committee.


CPC

John Brassard

Conservative

Mr. John Brassard (Barrie—Innisfil, CPC)

Madam Speaker, it gives me great pleasure to rise today to speak to Bill C-93, an act to provide no-cost, expedited record suspensions for simple possession of cannabis. I will be sharing my time with the member for Edmonton West.

I want to start by stating unequivocally that the Conservative Party and our Conservative leader have stated unequivocally that they have no intention of reopening or again making marijuana possession illegal. That train has left the station.

What we will be doing with respect to Bill C-45 is making corrections to the bill. Obviously, the legislation was enacted last year, and it has been several months since then. I remember saying at the time that although I did not support the bill for several reasons that I stated publicly, I had concerns with respect to issues at the border.

There were also issues that I thought were hypocritical within the bill, namely, with respect to possession of cannabis by young people in this country. I was also concerned that the police were not ready for the legislation to come out given the tools they needed for enforcement of the legislation's drug-impaired driving provisions. I have talked to a lot of young people in my riding, and I still have concerns about the broader issue of the effects of marijuana as gateway drug that could lead to other drugs.

Those concerns are still valid. They still exist. However, again, this is the law of the land now, and there is no changing that. It is certainly my intent to make sure that we do not roll back the clock on this piece of legislation and that it continues.

I will also say that in the year and a bit that I was critic for veterans affairs, I really came to understand the effects of marijuana on individuals and families, and how it has helped move people away from opioid use to marijuana use. I heard many times at the veterans affairs committee and as I crossed the country to speak to veterans and their families that opioids suppressed a lot of emotion and feelings among our veterans, but when they were able to switch to marijuana, it really helped open things up. There was less paranoia from marijuana than opioids. They were able to function socially. There were other functions that became a reality to these families, as well. I became a big proponent of medical marijuana for our veterans in my time as critic for veterans affairs.

I will also say that within my family, marijuana has become important for my cousin who suffers from epilepsy. There was a time when he was smoking medicinal marijuana, and it was helping him with respect to his seizures. He was seeing fewer of them.

Those experiences really caused me to rethink my position, particularly on the issue of medical marijuana. I am strong supporter and proponent of it. As I said earlier, it is not our intention to roll back this legislation. The toothpaste has left the tube, and we are not going to put it back in.

The legislation before us today is important, as well. Those who have been charged with simple possession are really being penalized. In my office, over the course of the last three-plus years I have been a member of Parliament, I have had members of the public come to talk to me about the impact that a simple possession charge has had on their life. They are unable to cross the border, for example, and there is the cost of having the charge suspended, and there is the impact of the charge on employment.

As the legislation stands, I am prepared to support it. However, I also understand there are flaws with it. Quite frankly, in many pieces of legislation introduced over the years by the Liberals, flaws have happened regularly. That is why the legislation went to committee.

Not only were there several amendments put forward by the Conservative side, some of which were rejected, some amendments were brought forward recently. At the end of the day, we are trying to ensure we get legislation in place that works for Canadians. There has been some concern with respect to this legislation.

By way of background, the bill proposes to make changes to the pardon process and waive the fee for Canadians with a past conviction for pot possession. For the people I dealt with, in several cases the fee was quite cumbersome. In many cases, they were low-income Canadians and members in my riding who simply could not afford to pay the fee. Therefore, that fee will be waived for a past conviction of pot possession.

The legislation was introduced in October 2018. The bill seeks to assist Canadians who were criminalized for something that is now legal, without that individual having to wait the usual time to pay the fee otherwise associated with a record suspension. The fact it is now legal is an important element of the legislation. Therefore, those who have a simple possession charge should be allowed to have an expedited record suspension.

Typically, offenders must wait five to 10 years, depending on the type of conviction, after they have served the sentence. The cost of applying is $631. The legislation would amend the Criminal Records Act and references the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act, the Narcotic Control Regulations and the National Defence Act.

As I said, as the bill went through committee, several concerns were highlighted. In particular, the Canadian Police Association was a witness. It suggested two amendments, calling for the Parole Board to retain limited flexibility and discretion to conduct investigations and to ensure the small number of applications from habitual offenders would be vetted. It would ensure that these individuals would not take advantage of a process that was clearly not intended for their case. That important amendment was put forward by the Canadian Police Association.

It also talked about restoring the Parole Board's power to make inquiries to determine the applicant's conduct since the date of conviction. That was an important aspect. Oftentimes, the behaviour and conduct of an individual can change quite rapidly and what was once simple possession, could manifest itself into other areas of criminal activity. The Parole Board, in the view of not just the police association but certainly the members on our side, needed to have that discretion and information available to it to determine further penalties or justification if required.

Of some of the notable amendments introduced to this bill, this one did pass. It allows for individuals to apply for a record suspension under the legislation, even with outstanding fines. This would add a financial burden due to loss of income. It also sets an unwanted precedent regarding the seriousness of the payment of the fines.

One amendment that was defeated was put forward by our colleagues on the Conservative side. It would have allowed for record suspension applications to be made through an online portal. With technology the way it is today, everything is moving to the digital age. We felt it was important to do that.

In wrapping up, we are going to support the bill at this stage, with some trepidation and concern, to ensure those Canadians with minor offences are able to get what they need out of the legislation.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Criminal Records Act
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May 30, 2019