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44th PARLIAMENT, 1st SESSION

EDITED HANSARD • No. 295

CONTENTS

Monday, April 8, 2024




Emblem of the House of Commons

House of Commons Debates

Volume 151
No. 295
1st SESSION
44th PARLIAMENT

OFFICIAL REPORT (HANSARD)

Monday, April 8, 2024

Speaker: The Honourable Greg Fergus

    The House met at 11 a.m.

Prayer


  (1100)  

[English]

Vacancy

Elmwood—Transcona 

    It is my duty to inform the House that a vacancy has occurred in the representation, namely Mr. Blaikie, member for the electoral district of Elmwood—Transcona, by resignation effective Sunday, March 31, 2024.

[Translation]

    Pursuant to paragraph 25(1)(b) of the Parliament of Canada Act, the Speaker has addressed a warrant to the Chief Electoral Officer for the issue of a writ for the election of a member to fill this vacancy.

Orders of the Day

[Privilege]

[Translation]

Privilege

Witness Responses at Standing Committee on Government Operations and Estimates  

    The House resumed from March 22 consideration of the motion and of the amendment.
    Mr. Speaker, I am sure everyone here sends their best wishes to Mr. Blaikie and his family.
    We were debating this question of privilege right before we all left for the two-week constituency break.
    I first want to say that the NDP was shocked that Mr. Firth would not answer questions. When asked to answer questions before the Standing Committee on Government Operations and Estimates, he refused. That is unacceptable in our Parliament. That is why we think it is important that Mr. Firth be summoned to the bar of the House of Commons so that we can ask him questions.
    The problem is that the original motion did not include all the steps we would have to follow to question Mr. Firth. The Conservatives' motion is basically an empty shell. It does not explain the process. The last time this process was used was in 1913. That was a long time ago. There was no simultaneous interpretation in the House back then. We did not have microphones in the House, or even television.
    The Conservatives' proposal does not provide for any structure, and that is unacceptable. That is why the NDP tried to convene meetings of the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs over the past two weeks. We felt it was important to have a framework in place. For the time being, there is no framework. There are ongoing discussions with House leaders. I am optimistic that we will come to an agreement. That is what matters.
    At the end of my speech, I will explain how the NDP will contribute to the debate if no agreement is reached. We do think it is important to call Mr. Firth to the bar. The Liberals moved an amendment just before the House adjourned for the two-week constituency break. However, that amendment is not acceptable either because it would be several weeks before we would get a chance to question Mr. Firth.
    The Conservatives have not proposed any sort of procedure. The Liberals are proposing an unacceptable timeline. The NDP is proposing something that will shorten the whole process, if we do not manage to reach an agreement by the end of the day. It is important that we ask questions. Given how much money this cost taxpayers, we need to set up a time for those questions to be asked. That is extremely important.
    In a few moments, I will explain how other committees managed to ask for and get those answers. Mr. Firth, who refused to provide answers that are extremely important to the committee, to Parliament and, of course, to Canadian taxpayers, must be compelled to provide answers to all of the questions that are asked.

  (1105)  

[English]

    Sixty million dollars is a lot of money. The ArriveCAN app is a controversy that we have been struggling to get to the bottom of. Our representative on the government operations committee, the member of Parliament for Skeena—Bulkley Valley, has done an extraordinary job. When we see all the articles about ArriveCAN, the questions he has asked are the questions everybody has asked.
    In the past, we have seen these kinds of scandals. I remember the ETS scandal under the Harper government, which cost Canadians $400 million. Because it was a majority government, there was no opportunity for parliamentarians to get those kinds of answers. It was basically shut down.
    In this case, in a minority Parliament, the $60-million charge to taxpayers needs to be fully investigated. The fact is that Mr. Firth appeared before the government operations committee numerous times and refused to provide the answers that are so important for Canadians to obtain. The Speaker, in his ruling just prior to us rising for the two weeks in our ridings, saw this as a question of privilege, showing a profound lack of respect to parliamentarians. It is not the parliamentarians that count; it is the profound lack of respect to Canadians. When a witness comes before committee and refuses to answer those questions, it is our obligation to put in place a process so that those answers are obtained.
    We support the question of privilege. We support the idea of bringing Mr. Firth before the bar of the House of Commons, to oblige him to answer those questions that are so relevant in this scandal, as it was relevant under the Harper Conservatives and the ETS scandal, $400 million that basically disappeared.
    The fact that, in a minority Parliament, we have the ability to do this is fundamental. That is why New Democrats believe minority Parliaments simply govern better. There is more of that ability to get the transparency and to get the answers for which so many Canadians are asking.
    We have a $60-million scandal. We had the half owner of the company GC Strategies come before committee and refuse to answer questions, including from my colleague, the member for Skeena—Bulkley Valley, that were relevant, pertinent and extremely important overall.
    Perhaps, Mr. Speaker, you could ask my colleagues for order. I would appreciate that.

  (1110)  

    Order. I know that there are a number of conversations going on in the chamber. I would ask that the ones who are close to the hon. member speaking to perhaps take their conversations outside or try their best to speak as low as they possibly can.
    The hon. member for New Westminster—Burnaby.
    Mr. Speaker, this is extremely relevant. We need to bring Mr. Firth before the bar, but we need to do it in a way that is structured, not a free for all.
    In 1913, we did this at a time when we did not have simultaneous translation in the House of Commons. The French language was not recognized the way it is today. We did not have microphones. We did not have television. In all those evolutions over the course of the past century and more, we have put into place a variety of procedures that help to carry the messages and the discussions we have on the floor of the House of Commons right across the length and breadth of this land.
    We cannot agreed with the idea that the Conservatives have, which is to simply put it in front of the House of Commons without any sort of framework. We agree with the principle of bringing Mr. Firth before the bar. We do not agree with the idea that it be done without any sort of structure. That is why my colleague, the member for London—Fanshawe, really pushed to have meetings at the procedure and House affairs committee over the two-week time when we were in our constituencies so that we could have a framework in place. That has not happened yet.
    There are discussions among the House leaders, who are all honourable colleagues, and I am hoping that we will come to a resolution through the course of the day. That would be a good thing.
    However, the reality is that if we do not come to that resolution about putting a framework in, the NDP is then faced with what we saw originally, a motion that did not provide for any sort of procedural process for Mr. Firth to come before the bar and the Liberal amendment that essentially would put it off for a couple of weeks. Given our House calendar, it would be a month delay before Mr. Firth would be brought before the bar of the House of Commons. That is not acceptable either.
    What the NDP would do, if we cannot come to an agreement, is shorten both periods. We would give the procedure and House affairs committee a very short period of four days to come up with the procedure so we could have Mr. Firth before the bar next week, and shorten the period that the Conservatives asked for. In their motion, it is a three-day period before Mr. Firth is convened. We would shorten that to 48 hours.
    In both ways, we would be putting in place that framework, doing it in a short time frame that is required, given the extent to which Mr. Firth was unco-operative in the government operations committee, and ensuring Mr. Firth would come before the bar and provides those responses that are so vitally important.
    This is not a process that has been used often. Since 1913, we have not seen somebody brought before the bar to answer questions. We had the president of the Public Health Agency brought before the bar to be admonished. This is a step up in terms of procedural complexity in ensuring that Mr. Firth can provide those answers that Canadians are looking for around the ArriveCAN app.
    This would allow us to get to the bottom of things in a way that we were not able to with the ETS scandal under Mr. Harper, the hundreds of millions of dollars that were wasted at that time, because of a majority government. The Conservatives simply did not want to get the answers for which Canadians were looking. Now, in a minority Parliament, we have the ability to get those answers, and that is fundamentally important.
    The role the House of Commons plays and the powers that it has are extensive. It is unfortunate that often, with majority governments, we do not see those powers exercised in the public interest. I mentioned the ETS scandal as one example of that. With the ArriveCAN app and getting to the bottom of those questions, we have the ability now in a minority Parliament to decide, as members of Parliament, to convene Mr. Firth before the bar of Parliament.
    I am familiar with another example where it did not come to that because the people who were convened and subpoenaed before committee understood the importance of responding fulsomely to the committee and not try to hedge or stonewall for any protracted period of time. I am referring to the Hockey Canada scandal and the Canadian heritage committee.

  (1115)  

     The reason I reference this is that last Saturday night, I was fortunate to be the keynote speaker, the guest speaker, for the Burnaby Minor Hockey Association in Burnaby, B.C. Attendees wanted to know all of the details around the Hockey Canada scandal. Members will recall that Hockey Canada was convened by the Canadian heritage committee following the horrific revelations of sexual assault in the spring of 2022. It was an all-party agreement. That consensus was one of the moments in parliamentary history when parliamentarians all worked together for the public interest.
    On June 20, 2022, Hockey Canada was convened. Scott Smith, the former CEO, and other members of Hockey Canada were asked to answer questions. They stonewalled the committee, but further revelations came out, for example, the fact that there was an national equity fund that was being used to provide funding not to support the growth of hockey but rather to pay off, with non-disclosure agreements, many of the victims of horrific violations of a sexual and physical nature. The fact that the information came out after the appearance on June 20, 2022, meant that the Canadian heritage committee then reconvened the same witnesses on July 27, 2022. At that point we asked for and received answers that allowed us to identify that the national equity fund had identified and made payments to 20 victims.
    There were further revelations following the meeting on July 27, 2022. Members will recall that on October 4, 2022, we convened Hockey Canada for a third and final time. We have the ability as parliamentarians to do that. It was an all-party consensus. We subpoenaed its members, demanding that they come to answer questions. They were forced to reveal information not only on the national equity fund but also on the legacy fund, a second fund that used the money of hockey parents across the country, who scrimped and saved to put their daughter or son into hockey, sometimes at a cost of $1,000 a year, which is a lot of money. The funds were directed to Hockey Canada and spent in a very inappropriate way. All of that came out on October 4, 2022. Members will recall that on October 11, 2022, the entire board of directors of Hockey Canada and the CEO, Scott Smith, resigned.
    That is an example of parliamentarians' coming together in a unanimous way, in the public interest, to ensure that answers are provided to Canadians.
    What happened with Mr. Firth at the government operations committee is the opposite. He has been convened a number of times. He has simply systematically refused to answer the questions. Why is that? One can only speculate. In the example of Hockey Canada, it was because answering the questions fulsomely ultimately led to the demise of the CEO and the board of directors. The fact is that they were making decisions that were untenable.
    That is why it is so important that Mr. Firth be convened before the bar of the House of Commons and be obliged to answer the questions. Whether or not they reflect on himself or he is concerned about somebody else, whatever the reason is, he has refused to answer questions that are absolutely fundamental. It is important for Canadians to get the answers, and it is important that we exercise the powers we have as parliamentarians.
    Speaking with one voice, as I believe that all members of Parliament will support the question of privilege provided we have the right framework, and hopefully working with the government House leader, the House leader of the official opposition and my colleague from La Prairie, we can come up with a framework that makes sense as to how we structure this somewhat historic precedence not used since 1913, which is extremely important to use today. That is why putting in place the structure is so fundamental.
    Canadians were shocked by the Auditor General's report with respect to the $68 million. A number of members of Parliament, such as the member for Edmonton Griesbach and the member for Skeena—Bulkley Valley, have contributed to the important work that the government operations committee and other committees have undertaken to get to the bottom of this. However, when there is an uncooperative witness, it is difficult to get the information that Canadians need to have.

  (1120)  

    That is why the motion before us today, with, if needed, an NDP subamendment that would cut all of the procedural times considerably so we could do this as early as next Wednesday, is an important step forward. Provided that we have consensus, we could move forward with alacrity in getting the answers Canadians are looking for.

[Translation]

    That is a significant step. It is extremely important that we work together if we want to get answers to the questions Canadians have about GC Strategies and ArriveCAN. Over the course of the day, members will be raising points of debate and asking questions. There will be some debate, but hopefully at the end of the day, we will have a consensus, one way or another, on how to set up this unusual procedure.
    The last time this procedure was used was before Parliament had simultaneous interpretation and French had an equal presence here. It was also before proceedings were televised and microphones were installed in the House. Back then, people had to project their voices, which was easier for some than for others. All that to say, it was a long time ago. Now we need to modernize the procedure. Most importantly, we need to summon Mr. Firth so we can get answers and real information, with complete transparency. That way, every Canadian can draw their own conclusions about this scandal.

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, I suspect that those following the debate could appreciate that the government is just as anxious as any other political entity inside the House of Commons is to get answers. We have seen a great deal of transparency coming from the government towards ensuring a higher sense of accountability.
    The member is familiar with the amendment that was proposed by one of my colleagues the other day, which talks about PROC, and we are not saying that it has to be PROC. We are very interested in how the House can best ensure a sense of accountability and the privileges of members, and in individuals who come to committee being compelled to be straightforward and more honest with committee members. It is a fundamental necessity in terms of our parliamentary system. The parliamentary success of being able to deal with issues of this nature depends on honest, straightforward answers coming from committees. Could the member give us his thoughts in regard to that?
    Mr. Speaker, there are two parts to that question.
    The first part is putting a framework around how Mr. Firth comes forward. I think there is unanimous support for this. Parliament rises to the occasion; it certainly did in the Hockey Canada scandal I mentioned. I think it is doing so here as well and that there will be an all-party consensus to convene Mr. Firth before the bar.
    I would hope that we have consensus around how to do it. As I mentioned in my speech, the NDP member for London—Fanshawe tried to convene the procedure and House affairs committee so we would actually be ahead of the ball and the committee could have presented a framework for how Mr. Firth would appear. That did not happen. I am hopeful that discussions today will lead to a unanimous agreement on how to structure it.
    Where I think I would be in disagreement with the Liberal amendment is the period of time, 10 more days. In real parliamentary terms, that puts it off for the month. I believe, and I think all members agree, that we need to do this as quickly as possible. I am suggesting next Wednesday. I believe we could meet that. This is something that would allow us to get the fulsome answers that the member is speaking about. We all want the answers from Mr. Firth, and this is the way to achieve it.

  (1125)  

    Mr. Speaker, one of the key concerns that was raised by the Auditor General in the ArriveCAN report was the lack of documentation. The Auditor General herself said that the most surprising thing for her was what she did not find: documentation. She did not find copies of contracts confirming this.
     However, the other thing that has come out of the investigation is the idea and the concept of double dipping, where active public servants are also securing contracts, sometimes with the department they actually work for. Last week at the public accounts committee, we heard from CBSA officials who said that, yes, they had contractors working for them who were also public sector employees, but they could not really give us an answer.
    I wonder whether the member for New Westminster—Burnaby shares our concern about double dipping and whether we need further answers from the public service on the number of double dippers in the public service.
    Mr. Speaker, I have worked with my colleague before. Concern around double dipping is something that the member for Courtenay—Alberni and the member for Skeena—Bulkley Valley have raised repeatedly. It is a concern. There is a broader concern as well, which is that with a dedicated public service of people who are very qualified in their positions and who do terrific work on behalf of Canadians, we are increasingly contracting out. It is certainly something that started with the Harper government, has continued under the current government and seems to be increasing every year.
     I believe, as the Auditor General has pointed to, that what we see is that often money ends up going to the corporate sector when it should be more properly invested in building the kind of public services that Canadians can depend on. We have a public service that is incredibly dedicated, and I think the member would agree with me on that. We see people each and every day who are profoundly loyal to this country and put in enormous amounts of time and effort and contribute their talents and labour to the country. Why are we farming out functions that should properly be done by the public service to corporations that often are inflating their prices? We are not getting value for money for the taxpayer.
    Mr. Speaker, my colleague, the member for New Westminster—Burnaby, highlighted the ETS scandal of the previous government, a $400-million scandal that dwarfs the current scandal by a factor of six. It is important to underline that, because the Conservative Party likes to look back just eight years, but during its time in government, it demonstrated quite clearly that it was just as capable of running roughshod over basic principles of parliamentary democracy, basic accounting principles, and fairness and accountability for taxpayers. The member was here during that time, so he has first-hand knowledge.
     I am glad that during his previous intervention, the member touched on the problem that the current government and many governments have had with consultants. We do have a dedicated public service, but we have many consulting firms that are really acting like vampires, leaching off billions of dollars every single year for items that the public service, a very dedicated group of people, could do. I was hoping my hon. colleague could expand on that a bit further because this is obviously a systemic problem that both Liberals and Conservatives have had to deal with and have not properly fixed. Does my colleague have any ideas about what an NDP government would be able to do, and the principles that we bring forth when dealing with this very important issue on behalf of taxpayers?

  (1130)  

    Mr. Speaker, I want to sing the praises of my colleague for Cowichan—Malahat—Langford. He has been doggedly determined in every role that he has taken on to ensure that Canadians get value for money and that Canadians get the services they really deserve. I want to congratulate him on being our long-time agriculture critic, and for fighting the good fight against corporate CEOs, who have been dramatically inflating food prices, as our food price critic. He has just been named public safety critic, so he now has three hats, but I know he will perform each role extraordinarily well.
    Coming back to the issue of food price inflation, I note that we have seen the tendency of both the Liberals and the Conservatives to rely on lobbying and have seen their refusal, really, to call on the big supermarket chains for the grossly inflated food price gouging taking place. I know the member has played a preponderant role in fighting back against that.
    In B.C., we have an expression: “Liberal, Tory, same old story”. Tragically, the ETS scandal, which was one of the most egregious scandals in Canadian history, was never really fully investigated because the Conservatives had a majority. I think it is fair to say that the Liberals have been in a minority Parliament and have been more amenable to getting to the bottom of the ArriveCAN app, which is really important. However, it is $60 million, not $400 million, but it is still important. Every million dollars that is misspent is a million dollars that cannot be spent on services to provide support for seniors, for families with kids and for a wide variety of people with disabilities. We need to ensure that we are effectively using our resources, and this is where my colleague for Cowichan—Malahat—Langford hits the nail on the head.
    More and more, we are farming out money to corporate consultants at massive expenditures. When the corporate sector takes things on, we see wildly inflated prices. We see this with food price gouging. We see this with gas price gouging with a 30¢ a litre increase over the last few weeks, which is unjustified. However, because there is only a small number in British Columbia that actually provide gas to the market, they can do that with impunity.
    The member asked what an NDP government would do differently. We are not beholden to lobbyists, unlike the two old parties. We believe in absolutely ensuring that the public gets the best possible services and the best possible supports, including consumer support.
    Before proceedings to the next speaker, I want to mention that, on Friday, one of my old colleagues, the Speaker of the Nova Scotia legislature, decided to announce her retirement. I just want to wish Karla MacFarlane, Nova Scotia's first female Speaker, a happy retirement and to thank her for the hard work that she has done for the Nova Scotians in the beautiful riding of Pictou West.
    Resuming debate, the hon. parliamentary secretary to the government House leader.
     Mr. Speaker, I would like to approach today's privilege motion in a couple of ways. The first is to deal with the seriousness of what has been raised over the last couple of days. I like to consider myself, first and foremost, a parliamentarian and someone who truly believes in the parliamentary process.
    Winston Churchill often spoke about how difficult things can be at times in a Parliament, but I believe, as he believed, that it is the best system in the world. When I think about what we do here in Ottawa, it is not just what takes place on the floor of the House of Commons. We have a number of standing committees that meet on an ongoing basis and that do a great deal of positive, encouraging work. It does not happen all the time, but I would suggest it happens quite often. Through that, the committees do a great service for Canadians.
    The NDP House leader made reference to the price of groceries. As a government, we are concerned about the issue of affordability for Canadians. It is one reason we wanted the big five grocers to go before a standing committee. Standing committees are a wonderful mechanism and can be utilized in many different ways, such as budgetary issues, legislative issues or issues of interest to a particular standing committee.
    Let us put this into the perspective of what took place during the pandemic itself. When we had the worldwide pandemic, the Prime Minister made it very clear to all Canadians that we would have their backs going through that difficult time. There was a great deal of tax dollars being spent. At the beginning, it could be seen that there was virtually unanimous support for the government on a good portion of those expenditures.
    We have, arguably, the best civil service in the world. We were able to put programs in place, such as the Canada emergency response benefit, or CERB, to provide disposable income for Canadians in every region of our country. We were able to develop programs such as loan subsidies, wage-loss programs, supports for seniors, supports for individuals with disabilities and supports for organizations that were helping Canadians through a very difficult time during the pandemic. There were hundreds of millions of dollars, billions, being spent. It was a whole lot of money to ensure that the civil servants, the contractors and the places we were acquiring the products from, like vaccines and masks, could protect the health and interests of Canadians and our economy.
    An overwhelming majority of the work, I would argue that it was over 95%, was done in such a manner that we can all take a great deal of satisfaction in how the Government of Canada stepped up to the plate. By doing that, Canada was one of the first countries not only to get out of the pandemic in decent shape, but also to rebound to the degree to which we have seen well over a million jobs generated, which is higher than the prepandemic levels. That was because we had the backs of Canadians.

  (1135)  

     When that kind of money is spent and those types of programs are developed, one can anticipate that there are going to be some mistakes. We have before us an excellent example of where there has been abuse. We now have, through ArriveCAN, a high level of interest from members on all sides of the House. I am concerned about it, and I am a Liberal. All members are concerned about tax dollars.
    Quite frankly, if one reads the speech by the member for Leeds—Grenville—Thousand Islands and Rideau Lakes, then one would think that the Government of Canada, the Prime Minister and the ministers are 100% at fault and are to blame. The member likes to tie the word “corrupt” to it, if one were to read his speech. I would argue that he did a disservice to the House.
    Let me give a good example of that. I want to talk about the ETS scandal that the NDP House leader raised. For those who are following the debate, we need to appreciate that within the civil service there are protocols and processes put into place to protect the taxpayer. There is nothing new there. In fact, not only did we have those types of protocols in place but so did Stephen Harper. One will find that those are put into place to protect the interests of not only the taxpayers, but also, in fact, all Canadians. The ETS scandal took place around 2007, and we are talking again about the public service and contracts to the tune of $400 million.
    I liked it when the NDP House leader made reference to the fact that there was a majority government under Stephen Harper, versus the minority situation that we are in. In a minority situation, a party has to have a majority in order to get things through. It does not mean that we are not interested in getting accountability. Whether we have a majority or a minority, I think the interest level is still there. It is a good comparison to look back at 2007. Where were the Conservatives back then when they had, using their words, a $400-million scandal at the time? One company in particular had thousands of dollars in bid-rigging fines.
    That was a Harper scandal. I could stand up and say “Harper scandal” enough in the hopes that it would get portrayed. It is a little unfair, quite frankly. I do believe there should have been a public inquiry on the issue, given the very nature of what had taken place. When some companies are being fined literally thousands and thousands of dollars, and there is an admission of bid rigging, then, I think there is some justification for an inquiry. The former prime minister, at that time, rolled over it.
    Here is the reason I wanted to bring that up. If we look not that long ago in our history, the current leader of the Conservative Party was actually the parliamentary secretary to the president of the Treasury Board during that $400-million scandal. We have the leader of the Conservative Party today being critical of the government of today, and he was responsible, at least in part, as the Treasury Board parliamentary secretary, and chose to do absolutely nothing on the $400 million. That $400 million, in 2007, was worth a lot more than $400 million today.
    Take a look at the overall expenditure in terms of contracts back then compared to today and what we did during the pandemic. This issue came up as a direct result of the government being genuinely concerned and providing the types of services that were necessary to have the backs of Canadians. Then, the Conservatives find this issue that we want to get to the bottom of, and we will get to the bottom of it.

  (1140)  

     At the same time, the lead critic, the leader of the Conservative Party, feels that he can go out and about, calling this a $60-million scandal and trying to tie it directly to the Prime Minister. I suggest the member is living in a glass house. He should go to the washroom, where he might find a mirror. He should look at his reflection and think about what he did when he was the parliamentary secretary of the Treasury Board, which provides the rules, at least in good part, that ensure things of this nature do not happen. What did he do at that time? I would love to hear the Conservatives talk about the ETS scandal and remind the House what their leader did and what his contribution was.
    I did not get a chance to look over Hansard from back then. I would not be surprised if today's Conservative leader said no to looking into the matter at hand at that time, although he supported it going through the court process, no doubt. I do not know that for sure. As I said, I have not gone back into Hansard.
    Hansard will show how many times I have stood in the chamber to say that the Conservative Party's sole focus is not about Canadians or having the backs of Canadians. It is about character assassination and looking for bumper stickers for votes. That is the Conservative Party of today. If members doubt what I am saying, they should read what the member for Leeds—Grenville—Thousand Islands and Rideau Lakes had to say when speaking about this motion for privilege.
    We have what is arguably the best civil service in the world, with many countries around the world looking to Canada for ways they can duplicate many of the wonderful things that our civil servants provide to our citizens. However, I think we need to recognize that, sadly, we have some bad apples at times. We see that every so often. At times, unfortunately, that can lead to a substantial cost to the taxpayer.
    The issue is what to do when that information becomes available. What I have seen is a government, at least in good part, wanting to get to the bottom of the issue. Whether it is from the individual minister, the many different caucus discussions that take place, or the debates that take place either here or at the standing committees, I can tell the House that the interest is there.
    I started off talking about what I believe as a parliamentarian and the importance of the institution. When someone is invited to provide testimony before a committee, the expectation of every member in the House, all 338 members, should be that the witness will tell the truth and avoid playing games. We all know that politicians will play games at committees. At the end of the day, we want to ensure that those people who come before committees are providing nothing but the truth. There is clear evidence that that has not been the case in this situation, so what should we do as a House?

  (1145)  

    As I indicated earlier, the government is genuinely open to how we could best resolve the issue. Unfortunately, once again, this is costing taxpayers a great deal of money. We want to see justice on the issue. It goes beyond the issue of the day to include where we go from here.
    The last time something of this nature was brought up was over 100 years ago. As has been pointed out by the NDP House leader, we did not have the modern chamber that we have today.
     It is important that, if we are calling someone to the bar in a situation of this nature, we afford an opportunity for questions and answers. That is the reason we are looking for a way to ensure that there is strength in the precedent we are setting, whether for tomorrow or 10, 15 or 20 years from now, and that we have a much more modern process to ensure the importance of our standing committees and the House itself.
    I want to see Mr. Firth called to the bar. I want members of Parliament to be able to ask questions and feel confident not only that those questions would be answered but also that the answers would be truthful.
    I just want to emphasize that, at the end of the day, unfortunately, things of this nature do take place, and there is a need to have corrective action. That is what we are looking for.
    On the issue of contracting out, for those who are following the debate, all legislatures, every province and all political parties, whether it is the national government or provincial governments, rely in part on contracting out. We all have mechanisms in place, protocols and so forth that need to be followed.
    When a violation takes place, there has to be a certain level of comfort in knowing that there is going to be accountability for that. This is something that I want to see and that I know the government wants to see. At the end of the day, we look to the Speaker and, hopefully, the House leadership teams of the respective political parties to come up with some sort of consensus.
    Let us put the Parliament and the interests of Parliament ahead of the politics. Even given my earlier comments, I believe that we can do that. On this particular issue, we need to start focusing on how we could improve the system. Unfortunately, things of this nature have happened in the past, and there is no absolute guarantee that we can prevent them in the future. However, there are actions we can take to ensure that any future non-compliance or violations could be marginalized or minimized. I am very interested in that, because every tax dollar is an important tax dollar, from my perspective.
     At the end of the day, the government's expenses during the pandemic were well-justified, even recognizing the hope that we can get some of that money back. Canadians, as a whole, have been a beneficiary because of the government, and I should not just say “the government”, because we did have the support of other political entities for much of the expenditure we put forward during the pandemic.

  (1150)  

    Mr. Speaker, it is kind of confusing to me, in a way, to hear the parliamentary secretary talk about perhaps moving this into different areas.
    It was in front of a parliamentary committee. The committee exercised its obligation and its will to get to the bottom of what Canadians are now seeing as a significant and gross misuse of public funds. Public opinion is in agreement with that.
    Even during committee and with the obligations of committee members to get to the bottom of this and the privilege they have exercised to get to the answers, we heard that Mr. Firth did not respond.
    What was the next step? It was an unusual and historic step, which was to ask the Speaker to rule on a matter of privilege. The Speaker did. The expectation is that, now, based not just on the debate that we are having today but also on the ruling of the Speaker, that we will have Mr. Firth come before the bar.
    I am not as confident, perhaps, as the hon. member that we are going to get to the bottom of this and have Mr. Firth answer questions unless he is brought to the bar and answers those questions directly. Does the hon. member feel that parliamentarians on that committee, exercising their obligations to have those questions answered, are best answered here in the House of Commons, with Mr. Firth called to the bar, or back at committee?

  (1155)  

    Mr. Speaker, I would look at it in the sense of the broader issue. Ultimately, by the actions Mr. Firth has taken, he has insulted not only a particular committee but also all members of the House of Commons. There is a great deal of merit to having Mr. Firth appear at the bar, and I suspect that it is only a question of time.
    The real issue is how we design or have a mechanism ensuring that, when we have Mr. Firth at the bar, it is not going to be a wasteful venture, we can protect the parliamentary institution and we can get a higher sense of accountability on an issue that we are all concerned about.
    As I had pointed out in my comments earlier, I suspect that many parliamentarians would have liked to see a different level of participation in committees when there was a majority government a number of years ago, during the $400-million ETS scandal.
    In a majority situation, it was actually quite different. Today, we have an opportunity, through the Speaker's chair, to ultimately develop a process that would do Parliament and the institution a service.

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, I would like to start with a comment on the ArriveCAN situation. I wonder if the current government would have shown such indignation if not for the objections from the opposition parties, which pointed out that something was wrong long before the Auditor General of Canada. The Auditor General of Canada issued a scathing report on management, which, I would remind members, is the government's responsibility.
    I hear the parliamentary secretary tell us that the government wants to strengthen and improve the system and close any loopholes. Have the parliamentary secretary and his government set aside funds for this in the upcoming budget, rather than sinking money into things that are none of their concern?

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, the government very much supports the initiatives and thoughts coming through the AG's office. I would be very surprised if there were not already some actions taking place to protect the taxpayer by looking at the ArriveCAN issue and how we can learn from it and looking at ways we can ensure there is a sense of justice for our taxpayers.
    I would emphasize that, when we look at the overall contracting that was done, we have to put it in the perspective of time. There was a great deal of money being spent. A vast majority of it was supported by the Bloc party because we wanted to have the backs of Canadians in every region of the country. Unfortunately, there were things that went wrong, and ArriveCAN is an excellent example of that.
    We need to learn from that and fix the problem. It is not the first time that we have had something of this nature take place. I made reference to the ETS scandal of $400 million. At that time, the leader of the Conservative Party, who was the parliamentary secretary for the Treasury Board, chose to do nothing. We are taking action and we will see more justice on the issue.
    Mr. Speaker, it is often the case in the House that we get into these debates regarding scandals. We are always talking about people and particular situations. I would put to the member, as I am sure my hon. colleagues the member for Barrie—Innisfil and the member for Brantford—Brant would attest, that the ethics committee is seeing a very troubling trend. We have seen the same trend and witnessed it at the Emergencies Act review committee.
    People seem to have lost the seriousness of our ability to call for people, evidence and documents. In fact, I would say that the current Liberal government has been one of the least transparent governments in recent history. We only have to look at the way it uses secret orders in council, redactions and all types of other things. In an age when our democracy is undermined, our institutions are under attack and conspiracy theories, misinformation and disinformation run rampant, it is safeguarding our democratic institutions and our parliamentary privileges to call for people, to get evidence and to do the work of our standing committees.
    I would like the hon. member, who uses his parliamentary privilege probably more than most to speak in the House, to reflect upon and comment on this particular instance, this egregious refusal to provide testimony at a committee given how serious the nature of the allegations are. Can he comment on how that not only undermines that committee but in fact the collective parliamentary privileges of all standing committees, all parliamentarians and, as reflected on in earlier debates, the Canadian public at large?

  (1200)  

    Mr. Speaker, I guess if I had the opportunity to sit down with some wise people to talk about how we could reform our Standing Orders, one of the standing order changes I would love to see would be how parliamentary committees need to work more on a consensus basis as opposed to a hard vote. The reason is that there is a completely different attitude in a majority situation versus a minority situation. In minority situations, opposition will often combine and work together on issues.
    As I pointed out and we have to be aware of it, the Conservative leadership and that regime have been on character assassination since the current Prime Minister was first elected back in 2014 as leader of the Liberal Party. We can even look at when we were the third party and the criticism that occurred. Character assassination has been the Conservatives' primary objective and a lot of that objective is carried out through some of the standing committees. That is why, if we really want to see more positive outcomes from the standing committees in the modern era, I think we need to look at how we build consensus as opposed to using hard votes.
    Madam Speaker, it seems like the hon. member is very confused because, just a moment ago, he talked about how he enjoyed minority settings. This idea of a consensus is completely irrelevant to the discussion because, at the end of the day, there needs to be accountability out of government. There needs to be accountability at our committees by the public, by people providing testimony.
    Does he not agree that in minority settings accountability, the checks and balances in place, needs to be protected by our parliamentary privileges so that people like Mr. Firth cannot thumb their noses at Parliament and stick it to Canadians?
    Madam Speaker, I think that in certain situations, like we have with Mr. Firth, we can build a consensus, and there is a consensus: Everyone is saying that we want to have the individual at the bar. However, I think the member underestimates the importance of recognizing majority versus minority. I would refer the member to my home province of Manitoba, where I could talk about the Crocus file and others. There is a difference in a majority—
    We are way out of time.
    Resuming debate, the hon. member for Perth—Wellington.
    Madam Speaker, in a moment I will speak more specifically about questions of privilege in this place, but I want to start off more broadly on the privileges and the rights of this institution. Indeed, our House is founded on centuries of precedent, and that precedent is interpreted and applied by the protector of the House, the Speaker of the House.
    Before I go into the details of my speech, I do want to rise and pay tribute to the late Hon. John Allen Fraser. Mr. Fraser passed away this Saturday at the age of 92, but he served in this place for more than two decades. He served as Speaker of the House of Commons from 1986 until his retirement at the 1993 election. I note this because Mr. Speaker Fraser was the first Speaker to be elected in the House by a secret ballot after the 1986 report of the McGrath committee, which made its recommendations as a committee, I might add, working on a consensus basis. Mr. Fraser served as minister of the environment prior to being Speaker and as minister of fisheries and oceans in the early days of the Mulroney government. I join all Canadians in expressing our condolences to the family and loved ones of Mr. Speaker John Allen Fraser.
    Before us today is a question of privilege. Now, questions of privilege are often like solar eclipses, as they do not happen very often, but here we find ourselves today debating one on the same day as a solar eclipse. I want to begin by thanking the hon. member for Leeds—Grenville—Thousand Islands and Rideau Lakes for bringing forward this important question and saying that I will be voting in favour of the motion but not in favour of the amendment moved by the Liberal government.
    For more than a year and half, the House and multiple parliamentary committees have been seized with the ArriveCAN scandal, or as it has come to be known, “arrive scam”. From the first indications of concern in 2022 to the damning Auditor General's report in February 2024, week after week, meeting after meeting, new evidence has been slowly unveiled that shows a pattern of deceit, cover-up and potential corruption.
    We know that through an opaque network of contractors and subcontractors, the cost of ArriveCAN was slowly driven up and that a small group of select people enriched themselves while performing little to no work. We do not know yet exactly how they achieved this or who within government assisted them. One of the reasons we do not know all of the details is that there was such an apparent lack of documentation and accountability. So few records were found by the Auditor General that she was unable to determine the exact cost of the app. Indeed, the $60-million figure we have been citing could even be too low. We just do not know, because the Auditor General herself said that what was most surprising about her audit was what they did not find. They did not find the documentation to confirm the work that was completed. However, we know who benefited. It was a company of two people operating out of a basement: GC Strategies.
    Just this past week, last Thursday, April 4, at the Standing Committee on Public Accounts, we were told by the multi-billion dollar, multinational firm KPMG, who I might add has 10,000 employees, that they were told by a senior government official not to contract directly with the government. Instead, they were told that they must work through a two-person company that has no IT experience. We learned that KPMG was paid $400,000 for the work it performed through GC Strategies and that GC Strategies took $90,000 on top of that. This was $90,000 that went to GC Strategies for no IT work performed. We know that these two people, effectively operating out of a shell of a company, have done all they can to avoid accountability for their actions and to deliberately mislead Parliament, committees and all Canadians on this issue.

  (1205)  

    That is why the Standing Committee on Government Operations and Estimates, more commonly known as the mighty OGGO, reported to the House that, “the committee was unable to ascertain certain facts from Mr. Firth, who repeatedly refused to answer questions”. The OGGO report goes on to state, “Additionally, some of the witness testimony provided by Mr. Firth was called into question as being misleading or false.”
    As the member for Leeds—Grenville—Thousand Islands and Rideau Lakes rightly pointed out, Mr. Firth has, on several occasions, refused to answer direct questions when he was asked and refused to answer and has been caught providing misinformation to Canadians. One specific issue is that he has refused to disclose whose testimonials are on his website. The website quotes senior government officials giving glowing reviews of GC Strategies, yet Mr. Firth, as of yet, has refused to indicate who those senior government officials are.
    The House cannot and must not tolerate the disrespect and the degrading of the authority of Parliament and its committees. Witnesses who are summoned to testify must answer questions truthfully and not withhold information that is duly requested.
    As the member for Leeds—Grenville—Thousand Islands and Rideau Lakes thoroughly explained on March 20, there is a long and vital history both within Canada and in its Westminster counterparts showing that a refusal to answer questions before a committee is indeed a contempt of the House. As much as I enjoy referencing and quoting from previous Speakers' rulings, from Bosc and Gagnon, from Beauchesne's sixth edition, from The Power of Parliamentary Houses to Send for Persons, Papers & Records and indeed from Erskine May, I will indeed spare the House from once again hearing me repeat some of the passages that have already been quoted by other members.
     However, spoiler alert, I will in a bit quote from Sir John Bourinot, one of the older authorities of the House, dating back to the early part of the last century.
    I will, however, point out that, in the eight and a half years that I have had the privilege and honour of serving as a member of Parliament, I have found that on far too many occasions the House has had to deal with breaches of parliamentary privilege, including the rights of the House collectively or the rights and immunities of individual members. Far too often, we have seen those rights and privileges violated, and the slow erosion of the rights and privileges of Parliament is not a small matter; it is indeed an absolute threat to our democracy.
    I will recall that on June 17, 2021, in what turned out to be one of the final days of the previous Parliament, members of all three opposition parties made the wise and appropriate decision to pass a motion on a question of privilege. With the passage of that motion, we called the president of the Public Health Agency of Canada to attend the bar of the House for the purposes of receiving, on behalf of the agency, an admonishment delivered by the Speaker for not delivering the documents ordered by the House. That motion was an important step in pushing back against the loss and disuse of the powers and privileges of the House of Commons. It is unfortunate that 147 Liberal members of Parliament voted against that motion.
     Moreover, I would also point out that the federal agency at the centre of that scandal, the Winnipeg lab scandal, is also at the centre of this scandal today: the Public Health Agency of Canada. There is clearly a problem with the governance and accountability at both the Public Health Agency of Canada and the Canada Border Services Agency. Everyone responsible, including cabinet ministers, public servants and outside contractors, must answer for their actions or inaction in relation to these scandals.
    I would recall for the House some of the testimony that we heard from senior government officials at the public accounts committee, including the president of the CBSA. The president of the CBSA stated that the organization just did not know who approved the ArriveCAN application. It just did not know. It reminds me of an old Saturday Night Live sketch in which O. J. Simpson was going around the golf course, trying to figure out who the real killer was. The president of the Canada Border Services Agency could not tell the committee who approved the ArriveCAN app, despite being the president of the agency and having full, unfettered access to all documents and people within the agency. It is simply mind-boggling that this was the testimony we heard.

  (1210)  

    We also heard from the president of the CBSA that she could not find any evidence of the company Deloitte being “in the penalty box”. Once again, it is not shocking that she may not have been able to find the written evidence, but there is no question that she could have talked to the public servants within the agency to find out the reasons that it was. Perhaps some of the emails may no longer have existed because we know now that one of the key, central players in this scandal had permanently deleted all of the emails. We learned last week that to delete emails is “surprisingly easy”, which is another dark mark against this institution.
    As well, last week we heard from a vice-president of the Canada Border Services Agency who indicated that there were as many as six or seven outside contractors who were also employed by the Government of Canada, but when pressed for further information, he waffled and gave four separate answers to this very simple question. I think he thought the British sitcom Yes Minister was an instructional video rather than the comedic genius it actually was. There were four different answers to that one simple question, but never once did we get the truth about that double-dipping within the Canada Border Services Agency.
    There is before the House an amendment that I, frankly, believe would lessen the importance of this motion. Nearly three years ago, we heard about the Winnipeg lab documents, and that motion was passed. It is clear the amendment, as proposed by the Liberal member for Kingston and the Islands, who serves as the deputy House leader of the Liberal government, must be disregarded. Indeed, if this amendment were to pass, it would not only belittle the seriousness of the situation, but also lessen it. It would also ignore the importance of the rights and privileges of parliamentary committees and significantly delay any meaningful accountability on this matter until May, at the very earliest.
    I believe strongly that the supremacy of the House, of Parliament, must be preserved. By sending this off to the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs for as long as two weeks, we would once again delay accountability. We must uncover, as is said, the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. That is what the original motion intends to do and why we must pull back from the amendment.
    I recognize that the act of calling a person to the bar to be admonished by the Speaker and compelled to answer the questions they were previously unwilling to answer is a very rarely used power for Parliament, but I strongly disagree with the member's argument that this is a reason not to use this power. To the contrary, the rarity of this motion shows just how unacceptable the actions of Mr. Firth and GC Strategies are. Just because an action has not been used recently, there is no question that it is nonetheless appropriate in the House.
     As promised earlier, I will now cite from Sir John Bourinot's Parliamentary Procedure and Practice in the Dominion of Canada, fourth edition, 1916. For those following along at home, it is pages 70 to 74.
    Bourinot writes:
    A witness who neglects or refuses to obey the order of the house will be sent for in custody of the sergeant-at-arms. Any person refusing to obey this or any other order, or aiding any witness to keep out of the way, may be declared guilty of a contempt of the house and brought before it in custody that he may be dealt with according to its will and pleasure. Witnesses who refuse to answer proper questions will be admonished and ordered to answer them. If they refuse, they may be committed until they express their willingness to answer.
    However, that is not the only authority. I would also draw the attention of the House to Beauchesne's Parliamentary Rules and Forms, fourth edition, 1958, at citations 329 and 330; Beauchesne, second edition, at citation 701; and of course Erskine May, 18th edition, 1971, at page 672. I will not read those into the record, but I know hon. members will seek out those citations later today.
    It brings us back to the fact that, while we may not have used these powers in the past or in recent times, they are nonetheless important to the matter at hand. The fact that these extreme powers are used only in extraordinary circumstances should serve to express and underline the seriousness of the situation we find ourselves in.

  (1215)  

    Indeed, I would remind the House that the report from the OGGO committee was a unanimous report of all members of the House, and it was concurred in by the House unanimously.
    What is often referred to as the grand inquest of the nation would only be effective if we were to receive the needed answers. To choose not to pass this motion would be to choose to not exercise our powers in this case. It would be to choose to to willingly weaken the House as a democratic institution. I do not accept that option.
    Based on the evidence collected thus far by committees in Parliament and others outside of Parliament, including journalists, and evidence collected through other accountability mechanisms, it has become clear that GC Strategies has used individuals within the federal public service to wrongfully win government contracts and to enrich themselves while performing little, or no, IT work for the Canadian people.
    The system of bidding and contracting between these organizations and the federal government has become so corrupted that this two-person firm was able to decide on the contract conditions for a contract that, surprise, surprise, it ended up winning. This organization even uses the name GC Strategies, standing for “Government of Canada strategies” to grant itself a fake sense of authority and legitimacy.
    As committee meetings have proceeded, these two individuals, Mr. Firth and Mr. Anthony, have been unco-operative, evasive and dishonest. On multiple occasions, they refused committee summons and invitations, and only appeared most recently before the OGGO committee on threat of arrest by the Sergeant-at-Arms. Only when the Sergeant-at-Arms was ready to place these individuals under arrest by the authority of Parliament did they finally appear before the House.
    When Mr. Anthony did eventually appear, he was, at worst, evasive and, at best, completely oblivious to the business of his own firm, despite having the titles of partner and chief security officer. He let on that he knew very little about this company of which he was a partner.
    When Mr. Firth eventually appeared, he was, again, unco-operative and, frankly, dishonest. Mr. Firth refused to answer basic questions, including whether he had lied to a parliamentary committee before and whether he had lied about meeting government officials outside of government offices. He also refused to tell members of Parliament the names of the public officeholders with whom he had met outside of government offices, the names of the government officials he had worked with to get over 100 contracts and which senior government officials gave endorsements on the company website. He lied about providing hospitality to government officials.
    Here we are, with key facts still being hidden. The people's representatives in this place must be able to hold the government and its contractors to account for this web of deception and fraud. We need to know who else benefited from this scandal and how it was allowed to carry on for so long.
    Canada is a parliamentary democracy. The powers invested in the House derive from the Constitution Act, 1867. The duly elected representatives in the House must be able to get the information we need to uncover the truth as we pursue our role in parliamentary democracy. When an individual does not comply, he or she must be held to account.
    That is why Mr. Firth must be called to the bar of the House to be admonished by the Speaker, and he must be required to answer the questions that Parliament needs answered to get to the truth behind the ArriveCAN scandal. I urge the House to quickly pass the motion in its original form, rather than that of the delay tactic introduced by the Liberal government.
    I commend these thoughts to the House.

  (1220)  

    Madam Speaker, the government has been fairly clear in recognizing that what took place in committee is not appropriate. Ultimately we are to see Mr. Firth come before the bar. It is important for us to establish that, as opposed to the false impression Conservatives are trying to give.
    When the member starts making accusations about this government and tying it to a scandal, I wonder if he could reflect on the ETS scandal, which involved $400 million. His own leader of the Conservative Party was the parliamentary secretary for Treasury Board then, which was, in good part, ultimately responsible for it. Does the member think the leader of the Conservative Party should have done more when he had the opportunity to deal with issues like those we are debating today?
    Madam Speaker, if we are going to go back nearly 18 years in history, let us remember the very first action of the former Conservative government.
    Bill C-2, the very first bill introduced by the Conservative government in 2006, was the Federal Accountability Act, an act that directly came as a result of the Liberal sponsorship scandal of the previous Liberal government.
    That is the action the former government took to root out corruption and third parties getting rich off of government contracts. We will take no lessons from the Liberals on actions to root out corruption because the first thing the former Conservative government did when it came into power was to put in place the Federal Accountability Act, something that the previous Liberal government failed to do.

  (1225)  

    Madam Speaker, I have been around the House for a number of scandals. I remember Jean Chrétien's golf balls. I remember Brian Mulroney's bag of money in a brown paper bag in a motel room. I remember Nigel Wright's $90,000 secret cheque to Mike Duffy to help pay off whatever.
    The issue about what we do at committee is vitally important. We do not have the power to find guilt, but we do have the obligation to get evidence and to present it to the House to make a finding.
    I have sat on committees where we have talked about issuing subpoenas and summons, and while these are tools we do not often use, the government does not like us using these tools. They should only be used very rarely, but if we were to not use them ever, we would lose those tools.
    Given what we have seen of the refusal of these witnesses to present and respond to fair questions, this would seem, to New Democrats, to be a good time to use this tool. Does my hon. colleague agree?
    Madam Speaker, I wish the hon. member for Timmins—James Bay well. I know that he will be around for a little bit longer, but I do wish him well on his announcement of his forthcoming retirement from active politics. I am sure he will be involved in other ways.
    To his question, he is right. If we do not use the more unique and rare tools the House possesses, they will fall into a pattern of disuse, which is why we, as parliamentarians, must exercise them when the need arises. This is a perfect example of when that need has arisen.
    We have witnesses who have shown themselves to be uncooperative at committees and unwilling to attend committees when they have been summoned, which a very strong power. They have only attended when they were threatened with arrest by the Sergeant-at-Arms.
    This is a very clear example of the necessity of using this rarely used but nonetheless legitimate tool of the House of Commons to call Mr. Firth before the bar of the House to answer questions on behalf of parliamentarians and, through us, on behalf of all Canadians.
    Madam Speaker, one of the things that my hon. colleague talked about was the decline in democracy and the diminishment of Parliament.
    We all recall, in 2015, how the Prime Minister said that this was going to be the most open and transparent government by default. We found that, since then, nothing has been like that. The member talked about the Winnipeg lab scandal, where they actually called an election so that the information would not come forward.
    Could the hon. member speak to the decline and the diminishment of this Parliament and the power and supremacy of Parliament under the Liberal government?
    Madam Speaker, I thank the hon. member for Barrie—Innisfil for the excellent work he is doing as chair of the ethics committee, which has been working overtime these last number of months to root out scandal and corruption.
    He talks about the decline in democracy and the challenges that we as parliamentarians face in getting information. The concept of “open by default”, that we should be able to see the documents and the information on what this government is doing, is laughable now after over eight years.
    The ATIP system is broken. We see examples of years upon years of individuals waiting to get what should be fairly simple documents from the government. We see committees being given the runaround when requesting fairly simple information. We see this across the board in all aspects of parliamentary life, where parliamentarians, who are sent here to do their jobs, are unable to do them because of the lack of information.
    Open by default, eight and a half years later, is now closed by default. We are not getting the information that we need, as parliamentarians, to do our job.

  (1230)  

[Translation]

    Madam Speaker, I think the important thing to remember is that the Conservatives created GC Strategies by giving millions of dollars in contracts to the executives of what was then called Coredal Systems Consulting. We found this out from the Journal de Montréal.
    What right do they have to make recommendations and get up in arms? Furthermore, they are attacking the Bloc Québécois for no good reason. They always vote against everything without asking any questions.
    Madam Speaker, I am not sure what the hon. member wants to know. Obviously, the official opposition party wants answers from GC Strategies.
    It is important to know what that group received from this government. We need to know who in the government helped GC Strategies win millions of dollars in government contracts. We need to know these facts.
    As the official opposition, we will continue to demand answers from this government.

[English]

     Madam Speaker, in response to my question, the member indicated that Stephen Harper first brought in the Federal Accountability Act, Bill C-2, and he was very proud of that fact.
    A couple of years later, the current leader of the Conservative Party, then the parliamentary secretary to the president of the Treasury Board, was at least in part responsible for a $400-million scandal known as the ETS scandal. Members can look it up and see that it is true. I am wondering if he would reflect on that and say that the leader of the Conservative Party made a big mistake back then.
    I am wondering if the member would agree that we should be focusing, contrary to what I just finished saying, a little more on the bar question, and that it is a good thing.
    Madam Speaker, let me first say I do agree that we need to focus on the issue of calling Mr. Firth to the bar, because we need answers.
    My colleague brought up the member for Carleton, the leader of His Majesty's loyal opposition, so let me be very clear about where the member for Carleton stands here today. He stands on axing the tax, building the homes, fixing the budget and stopping the crime. Those are the issues that we, in the official opposition, are committed to, and that is what our leader, the member for Carleton, will deliver for Canadians in the next election, whenever that next election may happen.
    Madam Speaker, it is a pleasure to address the House today. Yesterday, common-sense Conservatives announced our demands for the upcoming federal budget.
    We called on the government to axe the tax on farmers and food by immediately passing Bill C-234 in its original form. We called on the government to build the homes, not bureaucracy, by requiring cities to permit 15% more homebuilding each year as a condition for receiving federal infrastructure money. Finally, we called on the government to cap the spending with a dollar-for-dollar rule to bring down interest rates and inflation. We said the government must find a dollar in savings for every new dollar of spending.
    These were the three common-sense Conservative demands for the budget: axing the tax on farmers and food; building homes, not bureaucracies; and instituting a dollar-for-dollar rule. Of course, Conservatives in government would go further to axe the tax, build the homes, fix the budget and stop the crime.
    Under the NDP-Liberal government, we see how spending is completely out of control. Under the Prime Minister, Canada will spend $46.5 billion this year to service the debt. That is more than the federal health transfer. The government is spending more on servicing the debt than it does on the federal health transfer.
    Madam Speaker, I rise on a point of order. When the budget comes out, the member will be provided a wonderful opportunity to talk about the budget. It will be coming up very soon, but today we are debating about an individual, Mr. Firth, coming to the bar.
    The hon. member knows there is a lot of leeway in how we introduce subjects. I am expecting the hon. member for Sherwood Park—Fort Saskatchewan to get to the heart of the motion.
    Madam Speaker, the member opposite was enthusiastic about hearing the rest of my speech, and I invite him to hear it now.
    The Prime Minister is responsible for $46.5 billion this year in debt service costs. That is more than the federal government will transfer in health care. Astronomical amounts of money are being given to bankers and bond holders for the Prime Minister's out-of-control debt. The Prime Minister is not worth the cost, the crime or the corruption.
    Today, as the member pointed out, we are not debating the budget directly. We are discussing a question of privilege that relates centrally to government spending, to how the government spends taxpayers' dollars and the lack of controls associated with that spending. The point I want to emphasize is that this arrive scam scandal is intimately linked to overarching questions about how taxpayers' dollars are spent.
    The government spent $60 million, according to the available data, on the arrive scam app, but that is a drop in a much larger ocean of contracting out to government insiders. The arrive scam scandal is illustrative of this larger problem of abuse, corruption, at best extremely generous contracting out, which has led to so much waste of taxpayers' dollars. The government will try to convince people that all of its spending is necessarily associated with meeting immediate needs that Canadians face, but that is very clearly not true.
    We need to understand this picture of how government procurement is being abused under the NDP-Liberal government, how costly it is for taxpayers, and what an opportunity this presents for us to do better, to save money for taxpayers and focus, instead, on the core needs of our country.
    Specifically on the arrive scam scandal, we had, according to the Auditor General's report, a rigged process. We had a process in which specifications were put in place that do not appear to make any logical sense but served the result of giving this one company, with only two people, the ability to access this contract. GC Strategies got the contract for the arrive scam app and subcontracted it. That company alone, according to estimates, got some $20 million. It did not do any work, other than a very sort of perfunctory activity of going to LinkedIn and finding others who might be able to perform the work.
    A simple way of understanding what GC Strategies did and did not do would be if I were hired to paint your fence, Madam Speaker, for $100. I then hired the member for Winnipeg North and paid him $50 to paint the fence. He painted your fence and got $50. You paid me $100 and I just got $50 for facilitating the deal. Maybe I went on LinkedIn to find out that the member for Winnipeg North could paint fences.
    He might be looking for job opportunities like this after the next election, so this may be a relevant example.
    In that process, the middleman, the person who got the contract and passed it on, did not actually do anything. They did not add any value, yet they were able to collect, big time. The nature of this scandal was that GC Strategies, this so-called staff augmentation firm, which I think is the lingo that was used, took the contract, subcontracted the work out and got a whole bunch of money in the meantime for doing nothing.

  (1235)  

     The process that allowed GC Strategies to get this contract was a rigged process. In fact, the Auditor General revealed how GC Strategies, in one case, sat down with government officials and set the terms of the contract that they would then bid on.
    We heard at the Standing Committee on Public Accounts over the break that KPMG was told to go through GC Strategies by government officials. They said that if KPMG wanted to be part of this work, then they had to go through GC Strategies. The government was aware of other companies that could do this work, yet they directed those companies to go through GC Strategies. There was clearly something of a special relationship whereby members of the NDP-Liberal government were keen to see GC Strategies cashing in big time, for reasons that remain somewhat unclear.
    GC Strategies is also a company that doctored résumés they were submitting to the government. This is something that we should be teaching children not to do. It is not appropriate or ethical to be doctoring your résumé in order to access an opportunity that you would not otherwise qualify for. It appears that GC Strategies was doctoring résumés systematically.
    During his earlier appearance at committee, Kristian Firth said they change the résumés to make them compliant with the requirements of the contract. Then they go back to their resource and ask if it is okay. If I am applying for a government contract, and I have five months of experience when I am supposed to have five years of experience, then GC Strategies would cross out “months” and write in “years.” Then they would send it back to me and say, “We made this little change. Is that okay?” Then they would send it off to the government afterward.
    Kristian Firth admitted that this was not something that they did just once. Adjusting résumés to meet the requirements of the contract and then checking if that was okay before sending them in was their process. What a wild and broken system this was.
    We have rigging of the process and systematic cheating, things that young children should know are highly unethical and that seem to have been happening systematically in the government. Despite these obvious problems with GC Strategies, the Liberal-NDP government was keen to push other companies to work through GC Strategies. Then we have obfuscation in committees and accusing people of lying. These are some of the particular issues around the arrive scam scandal.
    Thinking about this in the context of the budget and the overall fiscal situation, we have been digging more on the arrive scam and asking what the procurement practices are that allow this sort of thing to happen. What is happening more broadly inside of the government that allowed $60 million to be spent in this case and for nobody to seem to notice or care?
    First of all, this process of contracting to people to contract other people was not just a one-off. It was not something that happened just in the case of ArriveCAN. We found that there are 635 companies that do IT staff augmentation for the federal government. There are 635 companies whose job it is to receive contracts and then contract out.
    I think there are cases where contracting out is likely legitimate, although I am very skeptical of the idea that there is any value in contracting out to those who subcontract and perhaps further subcontract after that. The general contractor project management function should be able to be performed inside of government, yet we have 635 companies that do IT staff augmentation only. They act as these middlemen, these middle companies that receive contracts and contract out.
    There are 635 of them in the IT space alone. That is not just a one-off. That is not just the arrive scam app. This is a larger issue with how the government treats money overall. The larger issue is systematic growth in contracting out and contracting out to those who just do this “staff augmentation” piece. We have seen how, in the midst of dramatic growth in spending on the public service, there has also been dramatic growth in spending for contracting out.

  (1240)  

    The government was spending tens of billions of dollars in contracting out. Some of it was for management consulting, and we have talked about the enormous growth in spending on McKinsey, and some of it was for those who further contract out. We are spending more inside of government and we are also spending dramatically more outside of government. We would expect those things to be inversely related in that if we are spending more growing public service then we should be contracting out less, or maybe if we are contracting out more, that should correspond to having a smaller public service. However, the government is growing the size of the public service and contracting out more at the same time.
    The NDP-Liberal government clearly has a profound lack of respect for taxpayer dollars. Then it will try say that the Conservatives want to fix the budget and that the money will come from cuts. However, when we look at how broken our contracting system is and when we look at the 635 companies doing staff augmentation in the IT space and the tens of billions of dollars being spent on contracting out, pretty clearly there is a lot of room to get the budget under control. We can stop giving money to those outside companies that are abusing the taxpayer and providing no value and we can instead provide tax relief to Canadians who need it. We can instead axe the tax, build homes and cap spending. We can get out budget under control if we fix these grotesque abuses in government spending.
    One key aspect of this scandal we need to ask about is where the minister was in all of this. It is right and important that we demand answers from these contractors. Canadians elect members of Parliament from which emerge a cabinet and a government, an executive branch, that are supposed to be accountable for the decisions that the government makes. They are supposed to be providing oversight and policy direction. Of course, ministers are not involved in the minutiae of every decision, but they are responsible for the culture and the policy frameworks that are established.
     I asked the minister of procurement what he was doing in the midst of this arrive scam scandal. Actually, there have been a number of different ministers. I think four ministers just in the period since the pandemic have been responsible for procurement. Therefore, there have been many hands that should have had an opportunity to impact this process, yet all of those ministers, and anybody who speaks from the government, would have us believe that they were just there, that something happened in the department that they were supposed to be in charge of, but that they had no accountability or responsibility for it. That is absurd.
     Ministers should take responsibility for what happens in their departments. They should establish clear expectations in terms of accountability, ethics, respect for taxpayer dollars. When costly criminal corruption is occurring under the watch of a particular minister, then the minister should have some responsibility and some response to what she or he is doing in order to address those concerning events. However, when the current Minister of Public Services and Procurement was before committee, I asked him when he was briefed and what did he do. He said that he had received a briefing and that he provided no directive in terms of action in response to this scandal. That is unbelievable.
    The descriptions by public servants are that ministers receive briefs, remain apprised of or seized with what is going on, but then ostensibly do nothing and have no role in actually shaping policy outcomes, which is just unacceptable. At best, the government has been a disinterested passenger in the midst of declining respect for taxpayer dollars. That is a an overly charitable description. The government has itself shown flagrant disregard for taxpayer dollars and has been complicit in various corruption scandals over the eight long years that it has been in power.

  (1245)  

    Even in its defence, the government says that the minister had nothing to do with it. We have someone in the government whose title is “Minister for Public Services and Procurement”, yet when there is one of the biggest procurement scandals in our country's history, the government says that we cannot expect the Minister of Procurement to have anything to do with a scandal in procurement. It is just in the name.
    At committee, I proposed, and it elicited points of orders and maybe it will today, that we could replace the Minister of Public Services and Procurement with a potted plant and we would have the same result. A potted plant could receive briefings, naturally. A potted plant could be apprised of events, though it would obviously not take any action in response to those events.
    Ministers were in the room, received briefings, but did nothing. They would want us to believe that the role as a minister of procurement is to simply be there, to hear things, to be interested in those things and to receive updates. Again, we could save a drop in the bucket in comparison to other money that could be saved, but we could at least save a minister's salary if we replaced the current procurement minister with some such inanimate object.
    I want to underline that the arrive scam scandal, as bad as it is in and of itself, is a drop in this larger ocean of government waste and corruption. Tens of billions of dollars are being spent on contracting out. There was clearly a basic incontinence associated with government spending. The money just flows out for no discernible reason. The processes are rigged. There is obfuscation and unresponsiveness at committee.
    The latest is that we have seen how the indigenous procurement rules are being abused by insiders, insiders who feel they have no obligation to bring about any benefit to indigenous communities through their access to indigenous procurement. A lot more work needs to be done to understand the abuses of the indigenous procurement process that have been happening under the government. Very troubling information has come out, for instance, David Yeo saying that the point of the program is not to benefit indigenous communities, it is just to benefit him as an entrepreneur. I do not think that is the point of the policy.
    We see costs, corruption and crime happening under the government. This privilege motion is one key piece of getting to the bottom of what happened, demanding answers from Kristian Firth that he was unwilling to give at committee. This would help us suss out, in detail, all the crime, corruption and the cost that we are seeing under the NDP-Liberal government.
    Enough is enough. Canadians are looking for an alternative that will respect taxpayer dollars, that will restore probity in spending, that will bring it home.

  (1250)  

    Madam Speaker, the member said that the $60 million for ArriveCAN was a record in Canada. That is just not true. All the member needs to do is take a look at the ETS scandal, which was $400 million, and $400 million is more than $60 million. The parliamentary secretary at the time is the leader of the Conservative Party.
    The member made reference to ministers and parliamentary secretaries being plants. I would suggest that maybe the leader of the Conservative Party is a dandelion, one of those yellow weeds that we pull all the time. I think the leader of the Conservative Party might be a little offended by his colleague calling him a plant.
    I wonder if the member would like to retract those words and, at the same time, maybe indicate how he believes people who are called to the bar should be questioned.
    Madam Speaker, I am not aware of some of the long-tenured, historical events about which the member is speaking. I am a relatively young member of the House, so events before a certain date are before my time.
    It is pretty rich for the Liberals, after eight years in power, to always want to draw our attention to things that happened in decades past. The fact of the matter is that since 2015, the national debt has more than doubled. More than half of our national debt is the responsibility of the Prime Minister. That is why we are now spending more on debt servicing than we transfer for health care. It is outrageous, out-of-control spending under the government. The $60 million for the arrive scam scandal is important, but it is part of a larger pattern of cost, crime and corruption. I mentioned some of these numbers in my speech, such as over 600 companies just doing staff augmentation. It is out of control.

  (1255)  

    Madam Speaker, moments like this give me much joy, because the hon. member for Sherwood Park—Fort Saskatchewan spoke of the parasitic private class sector of consultancy, in which he perfectly describes Marxist historical materialism, outlining, quite effectively, I might add, the central role of capitalism's use of exploitation of the workers.
    What the member for Sherwood Park—Fort Saskatchewan referenced is the Marxist theory of surplus value of labour, wherein those who actually create the value are exploited by their employers in which, through unpaid labour, is pumped out of their direct producing, so that the capitalist consultant class gets the opportunity to basically profit on work that it does not actually create value in.
    For my new Marxist comrade from the Conservative caucus, what other sections of Das Kapital, Volume III would he like to reference for the good and welfare of the House?
    Madam Speaker, I was greatly amused by the member's question. I thank him for bringing joy and levity to the House. Of course, we are speaking about the predatory, unholy mixing of the elite consultant class with the state.
    The member could reflect on how this procurement scandal really speaks to the negative effects on workers of big government trying to take more and more control, a government that is in bed with a few well-connected consultants, and that this kind of state capital, as opposed to a true free market system, is what is undermining the well-being of Canadians.
    Madam Speaker, the member talked about $46 billion in our national debt servicing. This money is going to service a record debt. The Prime Minister has doubled the national debt. I am just wondering if the member has any hope that this debt will be paid off within his lifetime or the lifetime of his grandchildren.
    Madam Speaker, it is hard to predict the timeline, but I have a great deal of hope about the critical steps that a Conservative government would take to fix the budget, and that includes establishing a dollar-for-dollar rule. This is common sense, that if a government is going to spend a dollar on something new, it should be able to explain where that dollar is coming from.
    Those NDP-Liberal coalition partners are keen to announce all kinds of new spending initiatives, but they never explain where the money is going to come from. Clearly, in all of these new spending proposals, and, in many cases, I do not think they are serious about doing them, they promise new spending that will kick in at some distant point in the future. In every case, where the money is actually spent, it is digging us further into deep debt.
    Beyond that, we have this flow of wasteful spending, the middle-man consultants, the management consultants who have done so well under the government.
    If we instituted a dollar-for-dollar rule, this will get us back on track to understand that if we are going to spend a dollar on something, it has to come from somewhere.

  (1300)  

    Madam Speaker, I have to reflect on this. We cannot let him off the hook. I know that when the hon. member for Courtenay—Alberni was on OGGO and when I served on it, we got into this stuff. The truth is that the Conservative government also has a long and storied history with the Deloittes of the world, the PricewaterhouseCoopers and all of these others.
    I am keenly interested in this. Does the hon. member believe in the value of public sector workers doing public sector jobs with public sector accountability and, if what I am hearing is correct, is it his position today in the House and in this debate that a Conservative policy would be to eliminate the bloat of the parasitic private sector consultancy class, yes or no?
    Madam Speaker, very clearly, under the NDP-Liberal government, contracting out is out of control. There has been a ballooning of external contracting, as well as significant growth in the public service.
    Do I think it is never reasonable to contract out? No, I do not think that. I think there are cases where contracting out is legitimate. However, we have seen an excessive use of management consulting and the use of unethical companies like McKinsey. There are contracts to contract, to subcontract and so on. I think our position is a reasonable and balanced one, which is that we need to have proper accountability and spending controls.
    The NDP is very disingenuous. It continually votes confidence and supply to its Liberal partners to allow them to pursue the same policies the member claims to denounce. If the member wants to actually see any kind of reform, if he wants to see us move away from the kind of excessive contracting out and the waste we have seen under the Liberal government, I would challenge him to put his money where his mouth is and to vote no confidence in the government.
    Madam Speaker, as always, it is an honour to be able to enter into debate, as it is now on something that speaks to the heart of, the critical aspect of, what this place represents. In particular we are talking about somebody who came to committee and misrepresented at best, or outright lied, as is mentioned in the motion.
    My question for the member for Sherwood Park—Fort Saskatchewan is very straightforward. I am curious whether he could reflect on how important it is that the principles of parliamentary privilege and supremacy are carefully stewarded to ensure that this sort of running roughshod over the public purse and over the rights of Canadians can be kept under control.
    Ultimately this, among many other issues, has eroded the trust in our institutions. The erosion of trust has been led by a Prime Minister and government that seem to care little about governing and more about politics, pressers, photo ops, and their agenda that does not necessarily result in actionable items.
    Madam Speaker, that is an excellent question from my colleague. We are seeing democratic decline in this country and a lack of respect for our democratic institutions.
    The Prime Minister recently announced that the government is spending millions of dollars to look at the link between democratic decline and climate change. If he wants to learn more about democratic decline, my suggestion is that he just buy a large mirror, though he probably already has a few of those. He can learn a lot about democratic decline if he just buys a large mirror.
    Madam Speaker, it is, as always, an honour to stand on behalf of the people of Battle River—Crowfoot and enter into debate on the important subjects that come before this place.
     For those people who are watching and are wondering what a debate on privilege is, let me unpack that for a quick moment. “Privilege” is a word that is often used in society, but it has a unique meaning in this place. It ensures that, ultimately, Canadians have the full and supreme power to control the affairs of the nation, including the government. The reason it is called “privilege” is that each member of Parliament, when they are given a mandate by the people, is endowed with the authority to make decisions. It is this body of 338 members of Parliament, individuals who represent every square inch of the incredible country we have from coast to coast, that is the only true representative entity in the nation and that has the ultimate authority to determine the future of our nation.
    The reason a privilege debate is so very important is that it speaks to the very heart of ensuring that the rights of members of Parliament to represent their constituents, Canadians, are not infringed upon. It comes back to the fundamental tenet of parliamentary supremacy, which is something that is unique to the Westminster system and something that I would suggest sets us apart in terms of the power we have.
    In fact, looking around this place, we see the history that lends itself to this being the supreme law-making agency of the land. There are things like the mace; although there is a ceremonial purpose when it is walked into the House in a parade, a lot of people may look at it and say, “What is the big deal about that?”. It is the transference of the authority of the Crown to the democratically elected government of the people. There is the fact that we are given the opportunity to speak to motions, the fact that members cannot be silenced, the fact that there are votes when there is a conflict as to who can be heard, and the fact that confidence motions exist. All of these things speak to the privileges that members of Parliament have in this place.
    For those people who are watching and wondering what the big deal is about a privilege motion, it speaks to the very heart of what our democracy is, which is ultimately that the people, Canadians, are the ones who get to choose a path forward. That is why, when it comes to the issue at hand, I will dig into some of the details as to the astounding revelations that have come out of some of the committee meetings. Whether it be the relationship that this place can and should have with committees, or whether it be the host of other concerns we have that are related to the motion on the question of privilege before us, it ultimately comes down to a defence of democracy and our democratic institutions. If we do not have that, we risk losing our democracy.
    My fear is that over the last number of years, we have seen a continual erosion of that. I think that most Canadians would give a tremendous amount of latitude for the first few weeks of COVID. Nobody around the world knew what was going on, and certainly that can be litigated. However, the government brought forward an omnibus spending and taxation bill. The fundamental tenet of the idea of privilege, of Parliament's being the ultimate decision-maker for the land, is that taxation and spending are the prerogative of this place.
     Yet it was the Prime Minister, exceptional circumstances or not. Not even during wartime, when the world was at war two times over, did the government bring forward motions that would have given unlimited taxation and spending authority. However, there has been the roughshod attitude that the current government seems to care little about our history and our institutions but rather is far more interested in pursuing its political agenda in the pursuit of power. It is not the pursuit of power that a government should be interested in; it is the pursuit to serve Canadians.
     We have seen the balance that should exist in this place turned absolutely on its head. We have heard about it from my colleagues in the Conservative Party who spoke today and prior to the last constituency break. They have emphasized how there has been a democratic decline. The Liberals are quick to say it is due to factors outside their control. The New Democrats are quick to say it is factors outside their control. However, ultimately, it needs to come down to an empowering of the citizenry of our country, and that is safeguarded through what we call privileges in the House.

  (1305)  

    If we lose those things, if we see those things eroded, then we face a grave challenge to being able to do the solemn duty that has been entrusted to all of us as members of Parliament, at a time when there has been a substantial erosion of regular Canadians' being able to trust that their government has their best interest in mind. I hear about this all the time, whether I am travelling across my constituency or visiting communities in other parts of the country, whether I am in airports or other places, when I have a chance to visit with amazing, regular Canadians, not the academic class of people who have a whole host of letters behind their name. Regular Canadians wonder what the deal is. They wonder whether they can trust.
    I will get to the substance of the motion in just a moment.
    It used to be that although someone might not have liked the Prime Minister, they still respected the office. Increasingly today there are many Canadians who have simply lost respect for the office of the Prime Minister and so many of our democratic institutions, like our justice system. I could give numerous examples of how the justice system is failing Canadians. When the justice system fails Canadians, for which the laws are passed by this place as the ultimate arbiter of the land because we have a principle of parliamentary supremacy safeguarded by parliamentary privilege, it is incumbent upon us to take action. However, we see increasingly that the Liberal government is unwilling to do so.
    “Privilege” is not a flippant term that can simply be glossed over, saying it is not a big deal or that it is the responsibility of committees. It comes down to the very fundamental ideas of what our democratic institutions are and what they should be. I hope that sooner rather than later there will be a Conservative government, led by the member for Carleton, to do hard work of restoring the trust in our institutions that has been broken. We can do that. It is going to take tough work. The member for Carleton, the leader of the Conservative Party, often says that it is time for the government to focus on doing a few things well, as opposed to doing everything poorly.
    That is the place we are at. Nothing seems to be going well in this country. The solution that the Liberals seem to be so quick to propose is that they will simply spend more money. We saw that during COVID and with a host of other issues, a laundry list of things. They seem to be quick to spend more money, and they say that is the answer, yet it is Canadians who are then suffering. It is Canadians who are seeing the impacts. The Liberals want to deal with an issue they find is very important: the environment and climate change. What do they do instead of actually proposing solutions? They simply punish Canadians. It is that flippant attitude that is causing the erosion of trust in our democratic institutions.
    We are debating a question of privilege that is about something that is hard to believe. It almost sounds comical. It is something someone would read about in the synopsis of a Saturday night political drama. Two individuals in a firm received what we think was a $20-million contract. It might have been more; there is not good documentation to prove exactly what the number was. The individuals were called to testify before a parliamentary committee, but their testimony was lacking in facts, to put it lightly. What we can see in the motion is a clear disregard for fundamental tenets.
    As a member of the ethics committee and as a person who cares deeply about the institutions and infrastructure of our government, I have seen the flippant nature of the Liberals, who are being propped up by their partners in the NDP. They approach these things with little care about the impact they have on the trust in our institutions. We saw that with an app that was supposed to cost several hundred thousand dollars but that ended up costing more than $60 million. We do not even know what the full cost of it was. This is the sort of stuff one would read about in a Hollywood political soap opera or drama. However, it is being played out in reality, in the House of Commons in our country.
    The Liberals have responded to this by saying, “Yes, maybe something went wrong, but it wasn't us.” When it comes to questions surrounding committees, they say it is because committees have become dysfunctional. It has nothing to do with a scandal. It has nothing to do with mismanagement. It has nothing to do with the fact that it is the job of MPs to actually get answers. It has nothing to do with the fact that committees have a core and fundamental purpose that is guaranteed through the processes that have been laid out in the Parliament of Canada Act and in the Standing Orders to study specific things.

  (1310)  

    They do not take any of that seriously. They say, “Oh well, it's simply partisanship.” However, I have noticed something, which is an observation that I offer to all Canadians who are watching this important debate. The Prime Minister and Deputy Prime Minister, among other members of the Liberal cabinet and members of the NDP leadership, are really good at this. However, it seems as though there is a dramatic decline in the number of NDP members in the House currently, so I wonder what that will look like after the next election. However, when it comes to the fundamental tenet of working for the best interest of Canadians, the only time we hear the Prime Minister, Deputy Prime Minister and other members of the NDP-Liberal coalition talk about team Canada is when it has been coupled with failure. It is tragic, quite frankly.
    Housing is a little separate from the issue at hand but still closely related. If we take housing, we see that the Liberals take housing seriously all of a sudden. They forget that they have been in power for close to a decade, that housing costs have doubled under their leadership and that the inflationary crisis that has led to the diminishment of the purchasing power of Canadians is a result of their mismanagement of the economy. However, they are now saying, “You know what, it requires a team Canada approach.” In terms of the vernacular, I do not disagree, but the challenge is that it is only when the Liberals have failed and Canadians are feeling the consequences of that failure that the Liberals say a team Canada approach is needed.
    What is the consequence of that? They have weaponized that very phrase, and what it should mean for Canadians, to accomplish their political objective: to retain power at all costs. It is absolutely shameful. The erosion of trust in our democratic institutions is hurting our country, the building in which we stand and everything that it represents, and every aspect of what government should stand for. Therefore, it is time that this country have a government that is willing to roll up its sleeves and do the hard work of governing and prioritize not photo ops but the administration and management of government.
    We see practical solutions being proposed, often by the member for Carleton and the incredible team of Conservatives that we have in the House right now. I often speak to candidates who are looking forward to running in the next election. There was an opportunity to run in a carbon tax election confidence vote, when all other parties showed exactly where they stood. They are in favour of bankrupting Canadians and having an extremist ideological agenda as opposed to letting Canadians actually make a choice. However, we see an incredible team that is bringing pragmatic practical solutions forward and that is willing to roll up its sleeves and get that work done, because we have seen the antithesis of that under the Liberals, and it is hurting the very institutions that we need to work so hard to steward and defend.
    It is a couple of weeks ago now, because of the Easter break, that my colleague for Leeds—Grenville—Thousand Islands and Rideau Lakes moved this privilege motion, after the Speaker's finding. However, we have a clear opportunity here. I would note that I support that; I have some concerns about the amendment that was moved by the member for Kingston and the Islands, because it seems that instead of actually getting to the root of the issue, in an unsurprising manner, the Liberals would simply rather study it some more. They would reduce the urgency with which Conservatives, certainly, take this fundamental issue, where our democracy is at stake.
    As the member for Leeds—Grenville—Thousand Islands and Rideau Lakes said after moving this motion, calling somebody to the bar to demand accountability is “Using an extraordinary remedy to an extraordinary problem”. It would basically signal or flag to the nation that we take seriously the job we have to do here and that one does not run roughshod over democracy. Now, it is unfortunate that there seem to be backbenchers from both the Liberal and NDP parties, and, I would suggest, often the Bloc Québécois, who do not take this as seriously as they should. However, it is that running roughshod over democracy that is so troubling and speaks to the urgency of the issue before us.
    Again, it was an $80,000 original price tag on this app. I think there is a lot of discussion that needs to happen about how the Liberals ran roughshod over the fundamental rights of Canadians.

  (1315)  

    This app that the Liberals said was so important when they mandated it sent tens of thousands of people into quarantine. It restricted the constitutional ability of Canadians to not only enter the country but also, by virtue of this, exit the country. There are a host of things they never seemed to have concern for, such as the implications of the policy decisions they made. They will say, and I can hear it now, that it was because of extraordinary circumstances. However, that does not excuse the need to take great care and steward the administration of government and the freedoms that we have.
    My colleague, the shadow minister for ethics, outlined very clearly the long history over the course of close to 160 years of our parliamentary system. It is not quite there but is getting close. Of course, there is further reference to the opening words of the British North America Act, or the Constitution Act, 1867. It even mentions how it would be a government in a similar format, and I am paraphrasing here, to that of the United Kingdom. In his remarks, he referenced some of the precedent from long before the foundation of our country to ensure that the privileges and, ultimately, the democratic rights of Canadians are protected.
    We see how, over the course of the committee testimony, GC Strategies, specifically, was misleading in its name. A lot of people would look at its website and think that it must be the Government of Canada. I would not blame them. The Government of Canada is GC. In fact, the emails of all MPs have “GC” in them, so it is misleading at best.
    Then there are a whole bunch of little things, such as the unnamed public servants who gave glowing recommendations about the services that can be provided; they are not willing to say who gave those. It turns out that this is not actually part of the procurement process. There is the fact that, the other day, it was revealed in testimony that KPMG was told to go and talk to GC Strategies in order to get a contract. It is the pinnacle of absurdity, yet it seems to be the culture we find ourselves in under the Liberal Prime Minister and the NDP-Liberal coalition, which continues to vote confidence and back him and that corruption up in this place.
    I would simply highlight a couple of—

  (1320)  

    I have to interrupt the hon. member. The parliamentary secretary is rising on a point of order.
    Madam Speaker, I rise only because I know a number of members have made reference to “GC” being the Government of Canada. I do not know to what degree that has been substantiated, and it is a bit of a concern. I do not want to—
    I think the hon. member was actually making a point about it not being the Government of Canada. I will let him pursue his speech.
    The hon. member for Battle River—Crowfoot.
    Madam Speaker, whether intentionally or by accident, the member just proved the point. The fact is, we have an entity that received $20 million in funding on an app that was originally supposed to cost $80,000, and the company that was contracted is named GC Strategies. The confusion that it has endeavoured to throw at this seems intentional in what we see as an exponential explosion of contracting by the Liberal Party, which was backed by the NDP every step of the way.
    That is exactly the point. It manipulated the facts and the truth for its political agenda so it could get contracts or so, when somebody looked through a procurement list, they would see GC Strategies and maybe think that it must be another department under Treasury Board or something like that. That speaks to the exact point, I would suggest, that we need to be making here.
    I would reference as well that the Auditor General has done some incredible work in outlining some of the egregious accounting, to say the least, when it comes to this. That is only one more thing on the laundry list. It would be one thing if this were an exceptional circumstance under the Liberal Prime Minister, but the government seems to be quick to run roughshod over accountability, our institutions and, ultimately, over the privileges that are the fundamental backbone of preserving our democracy. Therefore, many Canadians are simply saying that they do not trust the Prime Minister or the government.
    It is not an exceptional circumstance. It seems that, every single day, there is a new scandal, a new controversy or something that the government has mismanaged that has led to corruption. One can only jump to this conclusion: It seems that this rot goes from the bottom all the way to the top, and change needs to happen. I will close with that.
     Madam Speaker, I take some exception to what the member is saying.
    When I think about the leader of the Conservative Party, I think it is “do as I say, not as I do.” When the leader of the Conservative Party was the parliamentary secretary for the Treasury Board, there was a $400-million contract scandal with ETS. I am sure the member is aware of it. His leader was the parliamentary secretary at that time.
    When he is critical of the government and blaming ministers on this side, does he not realize that he is also reflecting on his own leader? What did the leader of the Conservative Party do back then on a $400-million scandal?

  (1325)  

    Madam Speaker, I find it interesting that the Liberals are quick to pivot, deflect and divert when it is under the member's leadership and his Prime Minister, supported by the NDP and the leader of the NDP, that we have seen a doubling of contracts going through the course of the government. This is exceptional in terms of the number in and of itself. What is also exceptional is the seemingly exponential increase in the cost of the simple expenditures of running government. I believe it is 43%, but do not quote me on the number.
    We are seeing an explosion in the ability for contractors to intentionally mislead, whether it is what the company does at a two-person firm run out of somebody's basement; what its name stands for, in terms of GC versus Government of Canada; or even the plethora of other contracts that the government seems to be quick to throw money at. They are throwing money out like one would not believe.
    We need accountability and answers, and it seems that the member and the Liberals refuse to even allow the conversation to happen. That is why—
    The hon. member for Cowichan—Malahat—Langford.
    Madam Speaker, with respect to my Conservative colleague, in his remarks, he presented an incredibly myopic view of history.
    In my time in this place, one constant feature of the House of Commons has been both the Liberals and the Conservatives pointing the finger over who was worse in government. It is like an extreme parody of pot meet kettle in this place about who had the worst record with scandals.
    If we look at the Conservative record, the ETS scandal of $400 million was mentioned, but let us not forget the extreme outsourcing with the Phoenix pay system. If we remember, it was supposed to save the Canadian public $70 million and ended up costing over $2 billion. There are members of the Conservative caucus, who were present during the Harper government, who displayed such flagrant disregard for basic accounting principles that they do not have a leg to stand on.
    It is clear that both the Liberals and the Conservatives have equally dirty hands when it comes to outpricing to consultants and flagrant disregard for taxpayers' money.
    Given that the Liberals and Conservatives have both displayed such flagrant disregard for taxpayers' money, it is obviously a systemic issue. What proposals do the Conservatives have to fix a mess that both Liberals and Conservatives are equally guilty of making and have thus far been unable to fix?
    Madam Speaker, it is fascinating that the member is talking about a myopic view of history. It is the member's leader and the members of the NDP who support, at every turn, the corruption of the Liberal Prime Minister and his cabinet, as well as the Liberal backbench. I find it a little rich.
    It is time for a government that is willing to roll up its sleeves and do the hard work of administering and stewarding what Canadians expect their government to do.
    I am happy to unpack the many practical ways that the member for Carleton has proposed. He has proposed a path forward to increased accountability with a dollar-for-dollar law in terms of spending and ensuring that the government spends within its means to make sure that we are doing what Canadians expect their government to do.
    I will not take any lessons; when I point fingers, I am pointing them at a coalition that has propped up one of the most corrupt governments, if not the most corrupt government, in Canadian history. It is time for a change, because that is what Canadians are demanding. They expect the government to work for them and that is certainly not what they are getting from the Liberals and the NDP.
     Madam Speaker, I appreciate the hon. member's theatrics. He is borrowing an end flare of self-righteous rage and indignation.
    I also know this member from committee. Is it his position here today that, as a New Democrat at the Standing Committee on Access to Information, Privacy and Ethics, and other committees that we are on, I am not actively working with them to help hold the Liberal government accountable?
    The member would know that at every step along the way, New Democrats are in a confidence-and-supply agreement. We hold the Liberals accountable in the House and at committees. Yes, there are about 26 points in which we are fighting and using our power to win for Canadians, things like dental care, pharmacare and yes, indeed, housing. We are going to win for workers. Those are set aside.
    I am taking this personally. To the hon. member, is it his position that at committee, as a New Democrat, I am not working as an opposition member? If that is the case, then he could see a new me at the next committee.

  (1330)  

    Madam Speaker, I would encourage the member to bring the message to his leader, that it is essential to actually do the work of an opposition party, whether it be in this place or in a committee.
    While we disagree on many things, I remember an earlier conversation I had with that member. He shared that at least he could respect Conservatives because he knew we stood for something, whereas he did not know what the Liberals stood for, ever. I would encourage the member to bring that message to the NDP leader. There is no question that the current leader of the NDP has run roughshod over democracy and has supported corruption in a way that makes him just as complicit as every single member of the Liberal Party.
    In the circumstances that we find ourselves in the House today, I hope the member will have the intestinal fortitude to vote “no confidence”, and let Canadians make the choice about who should be leading this country forward to do the tough work of actually leading a government that works for all Canadians.
    Madam Speaker, I appreciate the opportunity to return a reply.
    Speaking of leaders, I want to see if the member has the intestinal fortitude to stand up today and to unequivocally denounce the crackpot, right-wing nut job Alex Jones and his ringing endorsement of the member's dear leader. In the House, the way in which the Conservative caucus kowtows to its leader would make Kim Jong Il blush. It would make the hardest of dictators blush, the way in which they set up their majesty, the hon. member of the opposition.
    Will he unequivocally denounce, today, the crackpot conspiracy theorist, mass shooter-denying Alex Jones in the House, or will they continue to cater to the most extreme factions of the right wing within their caucus?
    Madam Speaker, why are the NDP member and those within the Liberal Party so obsessed with American politics? They are obsessed with American politics, yet a former American presidential candidate spoke at the NDP member's last party convention. It was a failed presidential candidate who spoke at the NDP's convention.
    Absurdity comes out of their mouths, whether they are supporting a terrorist group like Hamas or being endorsed by Communists around the world. The Liberals are buddies with dictatorships, like the Communist dictatorship in Beijing with its pet nickname of “Little Potato” for the Prime Minister. We will denounce absurdity because that endorsement is an absurdity. The trifecta of the left in this country is that they are obsessed with American politics and they are trying to bring that sort of Americanization of our political discourse to Canada; it is an embarrassment.
    I would suggest that the Liberals should spend more time talking to Canadians. That is what I am doing, and that is what I know the member for Carleton is doing. It is Canadians who are giving a ringing endorsement to the change that is necessary to bring accountability and to bring home a Canada that actually works for the people of this nation.
    Madam Speaker, it is always a pleasure to rise in the House on behalf of the good citizens of Calgary Midnapore.
    Who is Kristian Firth? Kristian Firth is an individual who is at the centre of this debate here today, an individual who has been called, in contempt of this Parliament, to come and to make amends by providing information that he has not provided to committees, to this House and to Canadians.
    Who, really, is Kristian Firth? Kristian Firth is one half of a company called GC Strategies that in 2018 ranked fourth of the fastest-growing companies in Ottawa. The products it offers are IT solutions and consulting. It had a three-year revenue growth of 676.4%. It is no wonder why when we see the scandal of the arrive scam app, a $60 million app that could have been created at a fraction of the price by a group of university students over a weekend.
    This individual is wanted here, before the House, for not getting answers for Canadians. I am sure when Mr. Firth started his enterprise, he was like any other well-meaning entrepreneur who wanted to make a dollar to support his family. He has cited incredible stress since he undertook this role, with the scrutiny that he and his partner have come under.
    Before I continue, I just want to point out that I will be sharing my time with the wonderful member for Edmonton West, who is also the chair of the government operations committee.
    The things Mr. Firth did were certainly unscrupulous. For example, he falsified résumés. He essentially did what we have come to know in the government operations committee as the “bait-and-switch”, where a certain set of information is provided, a contract is won, and then the vendors are switched out, and those individuals who would be completing the work are switched out. He certainly inflated the prices. He has made $19 million on arrive scam, an unbelievable amount. As I said, it was a $60 million app, but it may in fact be even more than that. The Auditor General was not even able to confirm that it was just $60 million, as a result of incomplete documentation. In addition to the bait-and-switch, the falsified résumés and the inflated prices, he made relationships with bureaucrats that many would consider not above bar and, in fact, subject to strong ethical scrutiny.
    Kristian Firth is an individual, one partner in GC Strategies, who started a business, who got $19 million in funding for arrive scam, who has now been called in contempt of the House and who has done some extraordinary things. Why is Mr. Kristian Firth being called before the House?
    It is evident that it is the incompetence and the unethical conduct of the Liberal government. Without a doubt, that is the real reason Kristian Firth is being called in front of the House. The current government is incapable of taking responsibility for anything it does. It simply cannot say it is the government's fault. Sadly, it is a combination of incompetence and unethical behaviour. It is incompetence that it has had eight years to fix the procurement policy, which the procurement ombudsman said was an absolute shame, an absolute failure, and it allowed this scandal to happen.
    It is an ethical breach, as we have seen at every single layer and level of the Liberal government, to the Prime Minister, three times, with nothing more than a slap on the wrist. It is no wonder that Kristian Firth thought he could get away with those types of atrocities and that he is being called forward to the House.
    We have seen several instances where the current government has not taken its responsibility seriously, or at all, with dismal results and with terrible consequences for Canadians and, in fact, for members of its own party as well.

  (1335)  

    We recall Jody Wilson-Raybould, the former justice minister, who tried to do the ethical thing with the Liberal government. When shuffled out of her position as minister of justice and given the lesser cabinet position of minister of veterans affairs, she later told Canadians that the Prime Minister's Office had attempted to put pressure on her to intervene in the SNC-Lavalin case. We see that no one has a chance with the current government, not even the justice minister. In a letter, Ms. Wilson-Raybould later thanked constituents, saying she was stepping down from cabinet and looking forward to serving her constituents at that time. However, in her book, she later on came out and said, “I wish...I had never met you.” Those are the words she said about the Prime Minister, who leads the unethical government, who leads an incompetent government that has brought us to this position with Kristian Firth having to come in front of the government here today. In fact, on her way out, Ms. Wilson-Raybould said to the incoming justice minister, David Lametti, “Be careful, all is not what it seems.”
    As I said, it is a government that does not want to take responsibility and does not want to have accountability. We see this again with the calling of Kristian Firth. Where else did we see this? We are seeing it with the dismissal of the two lab scientists out of the Winnipeg lab where we had, first of all, a CSIS investigation that showed information such as an X-ray of a package containing vials of a substance that was later found to be mouse protein, but they were labelled as kitchen utensils. As well, there was a trip to China that was a personal vacation. Even a CSIS investigation was not enough for the Prime Minister to insist that all the documents be released around that scandal. That is another another example where we see how the current government does not take responsibility.
    It is unethical and does not even have the competence to right the wrongs it makes. It has no capacity to fix this policy, even though it has had eight years. It has no capacity to follow the recommendations of independent investigators of Parliament such as the procurement ombudsman or even the Privacy Commissioner, as we saw in the government operations committee this morning.
    Worse than incompetent, the government is unethical. It attempts to cover up its unethical behaviour and to place the blame on other individuals, as the Prime Minister did with the former minister of justice, Jody Wilson-Raybould; as he did with the former parliamentary secretary to international development, Celina Caesar-Chavannes; and as he did with Jane Philpott, and the list goes on and on. Do members see former minister Lametti in the House today? No. He was lucky; he jumped off the bus before he could get run over. That is what the Liberal government does. That is what the unethical government does.
    Where else did we see this? If we look at the chair you are sitting in, Madam Speaker, it is the chair of the Speaker. The Prime Minister could not even accept responsibility for inviting a Nazi into the House. Instead, he got rid of the predecessor to that chair.
    The government is incompetent and unethical. It cannot take responsibility for anything. It throws everyone and anyone under the bus, and this is the latest victim. It is certainly as a result of his own doing and of his own terrible inaction of not responding to the House. However, it is the Prime Minister who throws those people under the bus. Who perpetuates these lies? In fact, it is the Prime Minister and all the ministers around him. It is all the ministers who showed up in the government operations committee and indicated that they did not know how this happened. It is their deputy ministers. It is Erin O'Gorman, who is just there covering up for the unethical government.
    Do members know what makes me the most mad? My colleagues and I, in the next government, after the next election, will have to fix this pattern of unethical behaviour and have to fix all the policies. It is the member for Edmonton West, the member for Barrie, the member for Calgary West and the member behind me for Sarnia—Lambton, who are going to have to come in and clean up this mess.
    That is because even though it may be Kristian Firth who is coming to the bar today, in contempt, for refusing to provide answers, it is fundamentally the responsibility, the fault and the blame of the unethical Prime Minister and of the incompetent Liberal government. Frankly, Kristian Firth is just the latest victim in this train wreck in this parade of victims of the Prime Minister and his team.

  (1340)  

    Madam Speaker, it is interesting. The government has been very clear in terms of its position. It wants to see more transparency and accountability. In fact, we are supporting Mr. Firth's coming before the bar. There is the question of a mechanism to ensure that there is a sense of accountability through questioning, but the member does not necessarily address that issue. She wants to go on the political side, so let me go on the political side.
    Can she tell me why her leader, while he was the parliamentary secretary for the Treasury Board, allowed and denied any sense of accountability for a $400-million ETS scandal. He was in a position to do something and he chose to do nothing.
    Does she think the leader of the Conservative Party should have been more responsible with Canadian tax dollars when he had the opportunity to do so? If not, why not?

  (1345)  

    Madam Speaker, as I stated in my speech, the government has had eight years to attempt to clean up its act and to right its wrongs, yet it has refused to do so. It just keeps throwing people under the bus, whoever is expedient and opportune to maintain its power, along with its coalition partners, the NDP, who are jumping ship at a rapid rate.
    It is just so incredibly rich to speak of times 10 years ago, when the Liberals have had 10 years not only to fix policy but to set an example for Canadians. Guess what: They failed and Canadians are speaking to that. I look forward to a referendum on not only the efficacy of the government but also the ethical standards of the government, which is coming soon.
    Madam Speaker, I always enjoy the synthetic outrage I hear in the House. Certainly, I remember some great Conservative moments. Do members remember when Tony Clement took $50 million of border security money to buy fake boats and gazebos in Muskoka, the ultimate pork barrel scandal? There was Nigel Wright and the $90,000 cheque to Mike Duffy, one of the most unworthy political figures we have ever seen in this country but he was a bagman for the Tories.
    The issue here is the role of Parliament and the necessity of Parliament to maintain its ability to get evidence. That is what we are here to do. I want to speak of the need to use the tools we have. We do not have the power to find guilt at committee. Our job is to gather evidence and bring it to the House. We are here at the House now on the issue of those who failed to provide the evidence that was required of them. We will certainly support getting this motion through as quickly as possible.
    Madam Speaker, I would like to thank the member for Timmins—James Bay for relieving us of our misery and announcing his resignation. I thank him so much. I truly appreciate that. We are all going to really miss him on this side of the House, or not.
    Madam Speaker, I share my colleague's concern with the number of scandals that are going on. I wonder about the cost to Canadians when we add up the $60 million on the arrive scam, the $150 million missing from the sustainable green fund and the $172 million that went missing under Catherine McKenna.
    How do we quantify this for Canadians?
    Madam Speaker, I want to thank the member for Sarnia—Lambton for her leadership and mentorship to me during the seven years since I was elected. My seven-year anniversary was April 3. I am truly grateful for that.
    The reality is that the price is incredible. We are at a $1.2-billion deficit in government across Canada at this point. We saw a $40-billion deficit in the most recent update of the government. Frankly, I am terrified of the budget and what this means for Canadians. I have no doubt the Prime Minister and the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance will be attempting to buy off Canadians once again. We know that it is not going to work.
    What I do know is that it will take my son and the member for Sarnia—Lambton's children and grandchildren generations to pay this back. I am very sorry for that, but I am grateful for her.
    Madam Speaker, it is great to see that the gallery is filling up. I am sure it is for my speech today and not for question period.
    I am pleased to rise again on the question of privilege following the tabling of the 17th report from the Standing Committee on Government Operations and Estimates, also known as OGGO. To be up here speaking to this is particularly troubling, and it is part of a troubling pattern we have seen in committee. Witnesses, whether parliamentary witnesses, government officials or not, are ignoring the rights, powers and privileges of parliamentarians to act as the grand inquisitors of the nation.
    This particular issue is around the witness Kristian Firth, someone doing business with the government and not answering to the committee. I have to ask, honestly, why would he?
    If he has spent any time watching any of the committees on TV or especially watching estimates and operations on TV, he would see that witnesses do not actually have to answer. He would see government witnesses refusing to answer. He would see ministers refusing to answer. If Kristian Firth was watching, he would have seen the Prime Minister's own department, the Privy Council Office, in committee, repeatedly ignoring the laws of the land, repeatedly ignoring orders of Parliament and repeatedly ignoring committee orders to produce documents.
    Making up excuses as to why PCO and other departments can ignore the will of Parliament seems to be a very active program within the government. If the government and the Prime Minister's own department, the PCO, can be so blatantly cavalier with committees, it is not surprising that others would do so as well; hence we end up with this privilege debate. There is no doubt that Kristian Firth has seen how government officials appear in committee and has based his conduct on that.
    Lines need to be drawn. Parliament's dignity and the will of Parliament must be defended. Parliament and its committees cannot continue to be seen as mere toothless entities to be ignored when questions become inconvenient or embarrassing or damaging to the government or to the witnesses.
    I want to clear up a bit of misinformation that has been pushed out there about this witness. It has been stated that he provided all of the information the committee demanded. That is not quite accurate. He provided some of it. Some of it was late, which is fine, because he still provided it, but there was a very specific question he refused to answer, and it is at the crux of the ArriveCAN “arrive scam” scandal.
    He had been accused of helping write the work requirements for a contract that he himself then won on a sole-source basis. Mr. Firth was asked to provide this information. I am going to read from the Evidence.
    The member from Carlton Trail—Eagle Creek asked:
    For greater clarity, I'm looking for the individuals or individual that you would have met with in developing the criteria...I'm asking, who did you sit at the table with to develop the criteria for this contract?
    Mr. Firth then said that, because it is under RCMP investigation, he refuses. He was sworn in. He was warned of the consequences of not answering questions at the committee. This was his third appearance, so he knew the rules.
    Later, the member for Sherwood Park—Fort Saskatchewan stated, on a point of order:
     I'd like the chair to put the question to you [Mr. Firth], and you have an obligation to answer it, whether you want to or not, because of the rules that apply to Parliament, to its committees and to witnesses who come before it.
...could you put that question to [the witness]...?
    I, as chair, stated to Mr. Firth that we would appreciate an answer. I later stated that it was a fair question, and “Would you please provide an answer?”
    Again, it came back from Mr. Firth:
...I really appreciate the opportunity...you've laid [it] out clearly, but at this point, we're still remaining with our stance that there could possibly be a pending...investigation.
    He refused. In this case, we see, very clearly, that Mr. Firth was given the opportunity to answer the question. He was advised that he had parliamentary privilege, so that he could say what he wanted. He also was aware, as it came up in the committee, that he, at that time, had not even been contacted yet by the RCMP. He was not sure that he was actually under investigation, but he still refused to answer.

  (1350)  

    I mentioned earlier the government's conduct in dealing with committee orders and privileges and how it leads to such actions. In the McKinsey & Company's study in OGGO, the committee, so the Liberals, the Bloc, the NDP and the Conservatives, passed unanimously a production order for documents from McKinsey and government departments, demanding all contracts, reports, invoices and emails between McKinsey and government.
    McKinsey 100% complied with the order. This is the same McKinsey & Company that had a book written about it called “When [the Devil] Comes to Town”. It is the same McKinsey that helped turbocharge the opioid crisis in the U.S., which it paid close to $1 billion Canadian in fines for. It is the same McKinsey that quite happily works with despotic regimes around the world. It is the same McKinsey that actually worked both sides of the coin on the harms and sales of tobacco, working with governments to sue the tobacco companies while working with the tobacco companies to get around government and push more tobacco sales. It is the same McKinsey that is considered one of the most evil companies in the world.
     However, McKinsey complied 100% with the order from the committee for documents. Guess who did not provide the documents as ordered. Guess who comes in second place to McKinsey in following the rule of the land in this country. It was government departments, and I will list them quickly: the Business Development Bank; the Border Services Agency, which is, of course, tangled up in ArriveCAN; the Canada Pension Investment Board; Canada Post; Citizenship and Immigration; DND; Natural Resources; Export Development Canada; the Privy Council Office, the Prime Minister's own department, which came second in complying behind McKinsey; Atomic Energy of Canada; Canada Development Investment Corporation; Employment and Social Development Canada; the Department of Finance; Veterans Affairs; Public Sector Pension Investment Board; and Trans Mountain Corporation.
    Three times we brought in the Library law clerk and he explained to these departments the supremacy of Parliament, but they could not understand. McKinsey & Company, which is arguably responsible for the opioid crisis across North America, does understand and did comply, but the Government of Canada not so much.
    Here is what some of the officials had to say.
    Mr. Matthew Shea, who works for the Privy Council, again, the Prime Minister's department, said that there are privacy acts and information acts that apply above the supremacy of Parliament. He also stated that they are guided by the open and accountable government policy, and that he thinks that personal information and the Privacy Act are something he has to be very sensitive to. Here we have the Prime Minister's own department stating that the Privacy Act and internal policies trump the supremacy of Parliament.
    He goes on to say, “A big part, with any of these requests, is the importance of, as a government, our working with the committee to try to find solutions.” It is not actually obeying the rule of law and not actually obeying the supremacy of Parliament, but finding solutions together.
    One of my colleagues asked him, “Are you aware that Parliament is supreme in its ability to call for documents?” He said, “I respect the role of Parliament”, but again he has “time-honoured traditions” he has to follow. It is not the law, but honoured traditions.
    When asked whether he believes several previous rulings confirm the supremacy of Parliament. PCO's Matthew Shea said, “It's not about whether I agree with the ruling or not. This is the government position”. The government position, as stated by the Privy Council Office, the Prime Minister's own department, is that we do not obey laws and we do not obey the supremacy of Parliament. He then told Parliament that he could hide basically everything he wants because it could possibly be tied to confidential advice to cabinet.
     I realize I am running out of time, so I just want to conclude quickly that it is very clear that the position of the government is leading other witnesses to ignore the supremacy of Parliament. The government enforces the rules. The government must set an example and follow the rules of Parliament. The government must recognize the supremacy of Parliament.

Statements by Members

[Statements by Members]

  (1355)  

[Translation]

Inclusive Diagonale des Fous

    Madam Speaker, I rise today to pay tribute to a group of athletes from my region who have huge hearts. These individuals will form the first team from the Americas to take part in the “Diagonale des Fous”, a trail running ultra marathon, with a person with a disability. This wild adventure will play out in October 2024 on Réunion Island, following several months of training.
    During this legendary race, the captain, Samuel Saucier, who has Louis-Bar syndrome, will lead a team of runners who will have to overcome a number of technical and human challenges. Imagine a person with a disability, determined to live life to the fullest, competing in one of the toughest races in the world in an all-terrain wheelchair called a Joëlette. Imagine 20 or so runners covering a 100‑kilometre trail with an altitude difference of more than 5,000 metres. By tackling this monumental challenge, the participants hope to demonstrate that, together, we can ensure that our society offers equal opportunities to all, regardless of their physical status.
    Congratulations to the entire Réseau Autonomie Santé team, who serve as an example to us all. They are so inspiring.

  (1400)  

[English]

Rwanda

    Madam Speaker, yesterday, April 7, marked a solemn occasion as we observed the International Day of Reflection on the 1994 genocide against the Tutsi in Rwanda. This year, we also commemorated Kwibuka 30, the 30th anniversary of a tragedy where over 800,000 Tutsi were killed in 100 days of unimaginable violence.
    Kwibuka means "to remember". It is a call to honour the victims, support survivors and educate us and others about the history and impact of the genocide. This day reminds us of the devastating consequences of hatred and intolerance, and urges us to reaffirm our dedication to preventing such atrocities.
    Let us renew our commitment to a world where the lessons of the past guide us toward justice, compassion and a future free from such horrors.

City of Oshawa

    Mr. Speaker, I am honoured to recognize the 100th anniversary of the City of Oshawa. As we reflect on a century of growth, resilience and community spirit, we are proud of the tapestry of achievements and shared experiences that have shaped our city.
    Oshawa, a name first chosen to represent the original settlement near Harmony Creek, received city status on March 8, 1924. We are the proud home of automotive prowess and pioneering spirit. From the assembly lines of General Motors to our vibrant cultural scene, Oshawa has continued to thrive, fuelled by the passion and dedication of its residents, the true architects of our success.
    It has been an honour to serve as Oshawa's member of Parliament since 2004, and I look forward to sharing representation of our city with the new Conservative member for Durham.
     Let us continue to nurture the spirit of innovation and entrepreneurship that has defined Oshawa for generations, fostering a dynamic environment where dreams can take flight and possibilities are limitless.

Government Programs

    Mr. Speaker, kids who are hungry at school are not focused on learning. We can and we are going to fix this with a national school food program so that over 400,000 kids across Canada do not go hungry at school. It will give parents peace of mind and help kids reach their full potential with healthy lunches.
    I thought this would be one idea that we could all agree on, but the opposition just cannot seem to get on board with helping kids out. We are here for parents and kids. The Canada child benefit has already helped lift over 100,000 kids out of poverty, including supporting over 7,300 parents in St. John's East who receive an average of $5,800 a year.
     I cannot wait to see the incredible impact of the school food program. There is no better investment for our government than in young Canadians.

[Translation]

Benoît Pelletier

    Mr. Speaker, last week we were sad to learn of the passing of the former Liberal member of the National Assembly of Quebec for Chapleau, Benoît Pelletier, a gentleman who was beloved by all. Having had the opportunity to sit with him at the National Assembly of Quebec, I can confirm that. More importantly, no matter how intense his political jousting might have been, Benoît Pelletier never crossed the line of intellectual integrity. That is why he has our utmost respect.
    He was one of the most prominent constitutional law experts of his generation. Within the Liberal family he embodied nothing less than the national consciousness of Quebec. He was a true federalist who believed both in the importance of Ottawa respecting Quebec's jurisdictions and in the pride of Quebeckers. Today we are losing one of the last Quebeckers who vigorously defended that perspective, intelligently and in good faith. Our thoughts are with his family and his loved ones, who will miss him very much.
    Thank you, Benoît Pelletier.

  (1405)  

Income Tax Returns

    Mr. Speaker, it is tax season. Across the country, thousands of volunteers are hard at work helping other citizens fill out their tax returns.
    In Châteauguay—Lacolle, soon to be Les Jardins-de-Napierville, people at the Centre d'action bénévole du grand Châteauguay and a volunteer organization known as “au cœur du jardin” are rolling up their sleeves and giving citizens some much-needed help so they can qualify for all our excellent programs, such as the Canada child benefit, the Canadian dental care plan, the GST credit, the disability tax credit, the Canada caregiver credit and many others.

[English]

Tartan Day

    Mr. Speaker, on April 6, I hope many Canadians had a wee dram to celebrate our Canadian Scottish heritage. It was happy Tartan Day.
    It is a day to commemorate the Declaration of Arbroath, the Scottish declaration of Independence signed on April 6, 1320, signifying the independence of Scotland. It is a day to honour the strong bonds between Canada and Scotland, and the immense influence this relationship has had on our culture.
     Like millions of Canadians, and as chair of the Canada-Scotland Friendship Group, I am immensely proud of my Scottish connections. My wife was born there and my kids were raised to honour their Scottish heritage.
     It started in Nova Scotia more than 40 years ago, but now Tartan Day is recognized across Canada to celebrate our deep Scottish roots. Last weekend, many Canadians proudly donned their kilts, with their families' colourful tartans, listened to bagpipes, maybe did a Highland fling or tossed a caber at a Highland games.
     I encourage all Canadians next year to join with friends and family to celebrate Tartan Day.
    Sláinte.

Sikh Heritage Month

    [Member spoke in Punjabi]
[English]
    Mr. Speaker, this month marks the fifth anniversary of Sikh Heritage Month. This act, which I introduced as a private members' bill, received royal assent on April 30, 2019.
     Sikh Heritage Month allows us to celebrate and educate future generations about the inspirational role that Sikh Canadians have played and continue to play in communities across Canada.
     On April 20, Khalsa Day and Vaisakhi will be celebrated in Surrey—Newton. The annual Nagar Kirtan will attract over half a million people of all faiths and backgrounds. The celebration signifies commitment to equality, while upholding the spirit of selfless service and unity.
     I thank Sikh Canadians across our nation, who, over the past 125 years, have helped build Canada into the country it is today.
    [Member spoke in Punjabi]
[English]

Sacred Heart School of Halifax

    Mr. Speaker, it is widely acknowledged that schools play a fundamental role in assisting our youth in their intellectual and personal development.
    Today, I rise to commemorate the 175th anniversary of the Sacred Heart School of Halifax. Throughout its history, Sacred Heart has remained committed to the mission of its founder St. Madeleine Sophie Barat and her conviction that education has the power to bring about societal change.
    Over the years, Sacred Heart has provided generations of students with an exceptional experience, one focused on educational excellence, community and, of course, heart. It has demonstrated that their students can be the best in the world, all while still being the best for the world.
    Sacred Heart alumni are making significant contributions to our country, notably in medicine, research and culture.
     I congratulate Sacred Heart on its 175th anniversary. We thank it for the many contributions it makes to Halifax and to the world.

Public Services and Procurement

    Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister used to say that no relationship was more important to him than Canada's relationship with indigenous peoples, and yet the NDP-Liberal government has been using indigenous contracting to funnel money to well-connected government insiders in ways that produce no actual benefit for indigenous communities. This is a gross betrayal of taxpayers and indigenous peoples.
    David Yeo is the arrive scam contractor whose company made $8 million while, according to his own LinkedIn page, he was simultaneously a government employee. We still do not know what he actually did for the money. Yeo's two-person company benefited from an indigenous contracting set aside, even though no indigenous communities saw any of the money.
    Indigenous leaders have warned that the Liberal approach to contracting is encouraging shell companies and other modes of obfuscation to gain an advantage in procurement processes, all to the detriment of legitimate indigenous peoples of Canada, communities and businesses.
    It is time to end the corruption, to respect taxpayers and to insist that indigenous contracting policies actually benefit indigenous peoples, not well-connected NDP-Liberal insiders.

  (1410)  

Sikh Heritage Month

    [Member spoke in Punjabi]
[English]
    Mr. Speaker, this week, Sikhs in Canada and around the world are celebrating Vaisakhi and Khalsa Diwas. That is why today Sikh Canadians from coast to coast to coast came together to celebrate this auspicious celebration on the Hill, where they attended a three-day long religious prayer, followed by a Kirtan and langar.
    I want to welcome and thank everyone who took the time to celebrate with us today.
    Vaisakhi is a time for Sikhs to reflect on their faith, history and values as they come together as a community to celebrate equality and the spirit of selfless service.
    This April, we also celebrate the fifth anniversary of Sikh Heritage Month, a time to acknowledge the achievements of Sikhs, as they have been an integral part of Canada's history, and reflect on the teachings of Guru Gobind Singh Ji, who established Khalsa Panth in 1699.
    On behalf of the residents of Brampton South, I wish everyone in Brampton and across the world a happy Sikh Heritage Month and a happy Vaisakhi.

Liberal Party of Canada

    Mr. Speaker, can you hear that? It is the sound of stomachs rumbling from coast to coast to coast. It is no wonder, with millions of Canadians lining up outside of food banks every month, but the hunger does not stop there.
    Every time Canadians see the skyrocketing price of meat, butter and vegetables they are hungry. Every time they see the numbers on the gas pump keep ticking up and up they are hungry. Every time they hear about another Liberal ethics scandal they are hungry. Every time they look to buy a home, pay rent or renew their mortgage they are hungry. Every time their car is stolen in broad view and crime rises in their community they are hungry. Every time they see the out-of-touch Prime Minister hike their taxes again they are hungry.
     Canadians are hungry for new leadership from a Conservative government that will axe the tax, build the homes, fix the budget, stop the crime and bring home a Canada where Canadians are not going hungry anymore.

The Economy

    Mr. Speaker, the Financial Post headline says it all. Scotiabank reports that the Bank of Canada rate cuts could be delayed due to high government spending.
    Under the Prime Minister, our national debt has more than doubled, more than all other prime ministers combined. The consequences are spiralling inflation and skyrocketing interest rates hitting every single Canadian family. Rents and mortgages have doubled. Food banks see record visits in the millions. Where is the Liberal government? It is MIA, missing in action.
    This year alone, Canada will spend $46.5 billion just to service the growing debt. That is more than we spend on health care annually in the entire country.
    After eight years of the NDP-Liberal government, common-sense Conservatives demand a dollar-for-dollar rule, for every new dollar spent, a dollar has to be found and saved. It is common sense. We need to stop the reckless overspending, stop inflation and stop punishing Canadian families. After all, this is how Canadian families balance their own budgets every single month,
    Enough is enough. My constituents know that the Prime Minister is just not worth the cost, and after the next carbon tax election, we will finally have a Conservative government.

[Translation]

Chemika Mamode and Patrick Rahimaly

    Mr. Speaker, there are people whose light we hope will never be dimmed. Two of those people are Chemika Mamode and Patrick Rahimaly, a Sherbrooke couple I would like to pay tribute to today.
    Originally from Madagascar, they worked hard to become pharmacy owners in Sherbrooke's east end, where they served our community for 28 years. They also made it their mission to give back to the community that welcomed them.
    They've been involved with the Festival des traditions du monde, Sercovie, the Vitae Foundation, Maison Oxygène and several community kitchens. They provide financial support to a number of community initiatives and organizations. Passionate about the arts, they have also been active in the cultural sector, including with the Musée des beaux-arts de Sherbrooke. Together with their children Keven and Sarah, they founded Immeubles Kesar to help develop urban projects that promote residential, commercial and cultural diversity.
    Sherbrooke is proud of this inspiring couple. I am deeply grateful to Patrick and Chemika for everything they do for our community. I wish them a happy retirement.

  (1415)  

[English]

Progressive Intercultural Community Services Society

    Mr. Speaker, I rise to bring to Parliament's attention the outstanding contributions of Progressive Intercultural Community Services Society of British Columbia and Canada. This superb social services society has been helping individuals in our communities for decades. I wish to congratulate it on the resounding success of its mega jobs fair, which was held recently in Vancouver Kingsway. This event matches the talents and energy of workers with the aspirations and needs of employers.
     I want to recognize Satbir Singh Cheema, the CEO of PICS, whose extraordinary leadership steers this great organization. His vision, skills and compassion are key to its success. I also wish to recognize long-time Vancouver Kingsway resident Inderjeet Hundal, PICS' director of senior housing. Mr. Hundal's respect and care for our elders is a model for us all. Finally, we remember Charan Gill, the founder of PICS. His commitment to social justice inspires us to this day.
     Let us celebrate all who work for PICS, which is committed to building an inclusive Canada where everybody's potential can flourish.

[Translation]

Jacob Flickinger

    Mr. Speaker, on behalf of the Bloc Québécois, I want to offer our condolences to the family and friends of Jacob Flickinger, who died on April 1 in Gaza.
    An aid worker for the World Central Kitchen, Mr. Flickinger grew up in Saint‑Georges, in Beauce, before moving to Stoneham and heading to the United States, where he lived with his wife and their one-year old baby.
    He went to Gaza to help. Like thousands of aid workers, he risked his own life to go to Gaza to spread a bit of hope in a territory that has been devastated since the beginning of the conflict with Israel. In war time, often when the worst atrocities are committed, we must remember those who are ready to sacrifice their lives in the name of humanity and fraternity.
    I thank Mr. Flickinger for his self-sacrifice and his generosity. May world leaders learn from his courage and his conviction and finally find a solution to this unending and intolerable conflict.

[English]

Carbon Tax

    Mr. Speaker, the costly and punishing carbon tax is hurting Canadians. Families are being forced to choose between filling up their tanks, heating their homes or feeding their families. Not only have Conservatives given this NDP-Liberal government several different opportunities to spike the hike and axe the carbon tax, but seven out of 10 provincial premiers, municipalities across the country and millions of Canadians have also came out in opposition to the April 1 hike. However, what was the Prime Minister's response? It was to let them eat cake.
    Last week's 23% hike on gas, heat and groceries is another hit to Canadians who cannot afford it. Today, in Lloydminster and provincial border communities across the country, Canadians are protesting this devastating carbon tax. The Prime Minister cannot keep ignoring the pain and the suffering that this ineffective and costly carbon tax is causing them because, in the next election, Canadians will not let him.

Chebucto Links

    Mr. Speaker, seniors in my riding can count on Chebucto Links for help putting healthy food on their kitchen tables. Every two weeks, its team delivers 10-pound produce bundles directly to seniors' doors for just $5. With new support from the United Way, those bundles are now completely free, and double the number of seniors will receive them. This is great news for residents of Fairview and Clayton Park, and it has been made possible by the vision of the United Way and the selfless efforts of the volunteers at Chebucto Links.
    Fighting food insecurity and supporting seniors are critical priorities. That is why our dental care plan is being rolled out to older Canadians now and why we are launching a national school food program. When we tackle issues alongside community organizations, big things get done. I thank Rachel and her entire team.

Routine Proceedings

[Routine Proceedings]

  (1420)  

[English]

New Member

    I have the honour to inform the House that the Clerk of the House has received from the Chief Electoral Officer a certificate of the election and return of Mr. Jivani, member for the electoral district of Durham.

New Member Introduced

    Jamil Jivani, member for the electoral district of Durham, introduced by the Hon. Pierre Poilievre and Mr. Colin Carrie.

Oral Questions

[Oral Questions]

[Translation]

Finance

    Mr. Speaker, while the common-sense Conservatives want to axe the tax, build the homes, fix the budget and stop the crime, the Prime Minister is not worth the cost.
    When it comes to inflation, after eight years, the Prime Minister is like a pyromaniac firefighter who is spraying gas instead of water on the inflationary fire. Does the Prime Minister realize that his billions of dollars in spending are putting the heat and the costs on taxpayers?
    Mr. Speaker, if the Conservatives want to talk about the economy, I am more than happy to do so.
    I can say that 1.2 million more Canadians have a roof over their head today than before the pandemic, and 2.3 million Canadians have been lifted out of poverty since we took office. We will continue to invest in Canadians, rather than cut programs like the Conservatives would do.

Housing

    Mr. Speaker, while the common-sense Conservatives want to fix the budget to bring down inflation and interest rates, the Prime Minister is not worth the cost of mortgages.
    According to Scotiabank's chief economist, this Prime Minister's inflationary deficits are increasing interest rates by 2% and preventing the Bank of Canada from lowering them. Canadians could lose their homes because of big multi-billion dollar announcements of inflationary spending. Will the Prime Minister acknowledge that this spending and these mortgages are not worth the cost?
    Mr. Speaker, we are going to invest in Canadians. That is why we are going to help every generation move forward, especially young Canadians, by building more homes faster and by making life more affordable.
    This Conservative leader does not understand affordability, does not understand housing, does not understand the economy and does not understand the environment. Everyone deserves a fair chance to succeed. We are putting fairness front and centre.

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, we do have a common-sense Conservative plan to axe the tax, build the homes, fix the budget and stop the crime while the Prime Minister is not worth the cost after eight years.
    On inflation, with all of his multi-billion dollar announcements, he is like the pyromaniac pretending to be a fireman, except the hose is spraying gas on the inflationary fire, rather than water. According to Scotiabank's chief economist, the inflationary deficits are driving up mortgage payments.
     Does the Prime Minister not realize that all of his spending is putting the heat and the costs on our homeowners?

  (1425)  

    Mr. Speaker, the government has a plan for an affordable and prosperous future. We have a plan that is focused on ensuring that we are building more homes faster, making life more affordable and growing an economy that works for all Canadians. The Conservative leader has no plan for affordability other than a bunch of tag lines. He has no plan for addressing the environment. He has no plan for the economy.
    We believe in ensuring that Canadians have a fair chance to succeed, and we are acting on that.

Carbon Pricing

    Mr. Speaker, our plan is to axe the tax and cap the spending to bring down inflation and interest rates. We will have a carbon tax election, and people will choose whether they want to quadruple the tax to 61¢ with the NDP and the Prime Minister, or axe the tax under my common-sense leadership. In the meantime, people cannot afford to eat.
    Will the Prime Minister show a little bit of compassion and accept my common-sense demand to axe the tax on farmers and food?
    Mr. Speaker, it is laughable when I hear the Conservative leader talk about affordability. He mentioned in a previous question some concerns he has around our housing policy. His plan to build more homes is to cut investments in homebuilding and to raise taxes on those who are building homes. When it comes to actually changing the ways cities build homes, his deputy leader held a press conference to explicitly declare that the Conservatives were siding with the NIMBYs when it comes to zoning reform.
    We are going to do what is necessary to put money on the table to build more affordable housing, create market conditions to get more homes built and change the way that cities build homes so we can solve the housing crisis.
    Mr. Speaker, the minister caused the housing crisis. Under his role as housing minister, the amount of a paycheque necessary to make payments on an average mortgage has gone up to a record-smashing 64% from 38%. He is the only one, along with the Prime Minister, who wants to raise taxes on homebuilding with a massive carbon tax on the building materials that go into assembling homes.
    Will the Prime Minister, instead of hiking the tax, accept my common-sense demand to axe the tax on farmers, food and houses at the same time?
    Mr. Speaker, it is interesting because he has actually put his plan on the record. His plan includes putting the GST back on apartment construction for hundreds of thousands of middle-class homes in this country.
    He has one of the worst records of anyone in the past decade when it comes to getting homes built, from when he had the position responsible for housing in Parliament. While he was minister, they built exactly zero new apartments, zero co-operative units and only six affordable housing units across the entire country.
    We are helping get hundreds of thousands of homes built in this country, and we will do what it takes to solve the crisis once and for all.

[Translation]

Housing

    Mr. Speaker, after pharmacare, dental care and medical assistance in dying, we thought that the federal government was done interfering in areas under Quebec's jurisdiction, but that is not the case. The Liberals have announced that, now, they also want to tell Quebeckers how to build housing.
    We are talking about the same government that lost control of immigration, that caused the ArriveCAN scandal, that cannot pay its own employees through Phoenix, that caused an unforgettable passport crisis and that cannot manage its own borders. Imagine. This same government wants to tell the provinces and Quebec how to do things.
    Seriously, are the Liberals not even a little bit embarrassed about this?
    Mr. Speaker, is the Bloc Québécois against investing in housing in Quebec, against investing in our child care centres and against making sure that young children in Quebec are going to school with full bellies instead of empty ones? If so, then they can do like the Conservatives and vote against our proposals.
    In any case, the Bloc Québécois and the Conservatives have become one and the same today. They have become the “Conservative Bloc”.
    Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister had the nerve to add that, if the provinces do not want to accept his conditions, “they don't have to take our [federal] money”. That is called blackmail.
    It is not federal money; there is no such thing as federal money. It is Quebeckers' money.
    This government is incapable of doing its own job, and it has no right to deny Quebeckers their share of the money they pay in taxes.
    The Prime Minister does not have the right to hold Quebeckers' tax money hostage. Will he smarten up or will he pay the political price?
    Mr. Speaker, the Bloc Québécois is not the Government of Quebec. We talk to the Government of Quebec.
    Quebec's minister responsible for Canadian relations said this week that he believes we can work out win-win agreements. That is what he thinks, that is what the Government of Quebec thinks, and that is what we think. It is a win for Quebec and a win for Quebeckers. It is just not a win for the Bloc Québécois.
    Again, let them do as their Conservative friends, cousins and brothers are doing. They are now one and the same. They are the Conservative Bloc.

  (1430)  

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, do we know how much money the Conservatives gave away to big corporations when they were in power? They gave away $60 billion in free money. Imagine what we could have done with $60 billion. Instead of giving it as corporate handouts, we could have built a million affordable homes.
    The Liberals love to criticize the Conservatives, but they have maintained those same corporate handouts.
    Will they stop the free ride for CEOs? Will they stop the $60 billion in Conservative corporate handouts, start investing to build homes that people can afford and start building a life that people can afford?
    Mr. Speaker, fairness is extremely important for Canadians. It is important that we are building a society that is socially just, that is prosperous and that is environmentally sustainable. Our budget is going to focus on building more homes faster, making life more affordable for Canadians and growing an economy for the future. We are very proud of the work we are doing. We are certainly ensuring that fairness informs everything that we do.
    Mr. Speaker, I noticed that the Liberals had nothing to say about the Conservative corporate handouts that they maintain.

[Translation]

    The last time the Conservatives were in power, big corporations got a big fat gift: a $60‑billion blank cheque. It is a gift that the Liberals keep on giving.
    That money could have built millions of affordable homes. That is the price of voting Conservative.
    Will the Prime Minister commit today to reversing this $60‑billion gift, yes or no?
    Mr. Speaker, it is very important to invest in building a greater number of more affordable housing units more quickly.

[English]

    We have been making the investments necessary to ensure that we can solve the housing crisis. We are working at the same time to help grow the economy as we put money on the table, as we announced this week, to create an acquisition fund for non-profits that are going to maintain affordability permanently. That is on top of the affordable housing fund, which is investing billions of dollars to put a roof over the heads of the most vulnerable.
    We will do what it takes to make sure everyone in this country has a safe and affordable place to call home.

Carbon Pricing

    Mr. Speaker, last week, the woke Prime Minister hiked his carbon tax scam 23% despite a majority of Canadians wanting him to spike the hike. As we see record-smashing food bank usage across the country, farmers will pay another billion dollars into this scam, making groceries even more expensive. After eight years, the Liberal-NDP government is not worth the cost or corruption.
    Will the Prime Minister finally axe the tax for farmers and food and pass Bill C-234 in its original form in next week's budget, or is his agenda to push even more families into food banks?
    Mr. Speaker, I would like to know whether members of the Conservative Party who come from Alberta have paid particular attention to what Premier Danielle Smith said about the Canada carbon rebate. She said that she manages the finances of her own house, and it turns out that the Canada carbon rebate gives her family more money than she puts into the price on pollution. Guess what? She lives in rural Alberta, so she gets even more.
    That is the plan. I do not know what the heck they are talking about.
    Mr. Speaker, what we would like to know is what his next job is, because after the next election, he and his carbon tax scam will be gone.
    Now there are six premiers who are demanding a carbon tax meeting because they all know that, after eight years, the NDP-Liberal government is like the carbon tax scam and not worth the cost.
     Why is the Prime Minister hiding? Why does he not show some guts and call the meeting so the premiers can tell him to shove his carbon tax where his poll numbers are: in the gutter?
    I know we have been away for a couple of weeks and we were looking forward to seeing each other, but let us try to keep our comments as reasonable as possible.
    Mr. Speaker, it is nice to see how focused that particular MP is on me and my career. Guess what? My colleagues on this side of the aisle and I are focused on the people of Edmonton Centre. We are focused on Albertans and on Canadians, making sure that they can pay their bills, making sure they have good jobs, making sure they are fighting climate change and have a national school program.
    What the Conservatives are doing is just bluff, bluster and lots of hot air. We are going to be here fighting for Canadians each and every day.

  (1435)  

    Mr. Speaker, after eight years of the Liberal-NDP government, the cost of living is out of control. Farmers are suffering and food has become unaffordable because of the carbon tax. Almost two million Canadians are going to the food bank every single month, yet on April 1, the Liberal-NDP government increased the carbon tax by 23%.
    Will the Prime Minister stop punishing Canadians and farmers and pass Bill C-234 in its original form?
    Mr. Speaker, I do think it is time that the Conservative Party stopped trying to mislead Canadians. The price on pollution is an effective mechanism for reducing carbon emissions, and eight out of 10 Canadian families get more money back, a fact that was underlined by 200 economists across this country who said it is the most efficient and most effective way to reduce emissions that ensures we address affordability. In fact, Saskatchewan premier Scott Moe last week said that he explored alternatives to the carbon price but he found they were too expensive. My goodness, we have been saying that for years.
    Mr. Speaker, Canadians cannot afford to live because of the carbon tax. Common-sense Conservatives will axe the tax, build the homes, fix the budget and stop the crime.
    After eight years of the Liberal-NDP government, rent and mortgages have doubled. The Liberal-NDP government is just not worth the cost or the corruption.
    Will the Prime Minister commit to immediately passing Bill C-234 in its original form, cancel the carbon tax and once again make life affordable for Canadians?
    Mr. Speaker, this is the fundamental problem with the remade Conservative Party, where policy is based on ideology and ignores all of the facts. Two hundred economists from across this country underline that the price on pollution enhances affordability for those on modest incomes and addresses climate change in an effective manner. Even Scott Moe and Danielle Smith have said that.
    These folks, these climate-denying Conservatives, sit on their hands. It is time they listened to people who actually know what they are talking about, and they should abandon their plan to simply let the planet burn.

[Translation]

Housing

    Mr. Speaker, last week I was in Trois‑Rivières, a city with a vacancy rate of 0.4%. A new report by the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation, or CMHC, shows that construction is going to plummet over the coming year. CMHC therefore expects that demand will drive up the cost of housing. That is outrageous.
    Does the Prime Minister realize that people are going to end up on the street because of his senseless policies?
    Mr. Speaker, my colleague is quite right to call attention to the cost and affordability of housing, including in the Quebec City area. That is why it is so surprising that the Conservatives oppose our investments in affordable housing, including social housing in the Quebec City area.
    First, they may have noticed that we announced just a few weeks ago that we are going to meet affordable housing construction objectives in the Quebec City area for the first time since 2011. Second, as far as I know, they have yet to apologize for the accusations of incompetence and the insults they hurled at Quebec municipalities, including the City of Quebec.
    Mr. Speaker, over the past week, we have seen nothing but photo ops.
    It is worth reminding the minister that the current programs are being announced as if they are brand new, but they have been around since 2017. Since 2017, practically nothing has been done with these programs. Once again, the Liberals are resorting to photo ops in an effort to raise their profile, but it is not working. All we have seen for eight years is out-of-control spending.
    Will the Prime Minister finally listen to the Governor of the Bank of Canada and stop his out-of-control spending, which is only driving up inflation and interest rates?
    Mr. Speaker, if my colleague is looking for photo ops, I invite him to come with me to visit the housing project in his riding called Le Monterosso. He has not been seen in the last few weeks, since the project was announced. That was mentioned during the press conference with mayor Bruno Marchand.
    The member seems to be forgetting that hundreds of housing units have been built in his own riding, versus the six affordable housing units that his Conservative leader built across the entire country during his time as housing minister.

  (1440)  

    Mr. Speaker, if Ottawa wanted to speed up housing construction in Quebec, it would give Quebec the money for housing.
    We are ready. We have our own permanent programs. We are actually the only ones in Canada who do. The Liberals could easily announce an unconditional transfer, but no, they are threatening to withhold that money from Quebec if it refuses to accept their conditions and fights with the federal government until 2025. We are in the midst of a housing crisis. People want housing, they do not want a fight with the federal government.
    Why not just give Quebec its share, with no strings attached, so we can get to work now, not in 2025?
    Mr. Speaker, my colleague is looking for a fight, but I am looking for a solution. He was asking that same question before the housing accelerator fund. We talked and negotiated, and now we have a $1.8‑billion agreement to build affordable housing in all the provinces.
    We will keep making the necessary investments to fix the housing crisis in Quebec and across the country.
    Mr. Speaker, this is not just a question of jurisdiction; it is more serious than that.
    When the feds get involved, the delays pile up. What the Prime Minister is saying is true: Quebeckers who are struggling to find housing want governments to work together. That said, the federal government is not working with anyone. Even before we heard the details of their measures, the Liberals announced that they are willing to pick a fight over this until January 2025 in order to impose their conditions.
    Who exactly is that helping right now? How does it help anyone to know that there will not be any housing starts before 2025 because the federal government refuses to work as part of a team?
    Mr. Speaker, my colleague spoke about picking a fight. Bloc Québécois members are the all-time champions of picking fights. They live and breathe to bicker and fight. That is their raison d'être, trying to drag Ottawa into a fight when we are working with Quebec.
    I have said it before: We invest in housing, they vote with the Conservatives. We invest in day care, they vote with the Conservatives. We are investing to ensure our kids do not go to school hungry, they vote with the Conservatives.
    This is the latest alliance: the “Conservative Bloc”.
    Mr. Speaker, 5.8 million housing units are needed by 2030, and the Liberals still find time to pick a fight, instead of taking action.
    If their priority was to speed up housing construction, they would give the money to Quebec City. That is why many people are wondering whether the Liberal priority is to speed up the construction of housing or whether it is really to slow down how fast they are plummeting in the polls. A new Liberal housing announcement means taking Quebeckers hostage, people who are struggling to find housing with their own money, for electioneering purposes.
    In the midst of a housing crisis, is this what it means for the Liberals to have their priorities straight?
    Mr. Speaker, once again, we are discussing and negotiating with the Quebec government.
    The Bloc Québécois does not speak on behalf of Quebeckers. It campaigns against the current government on behalf of its little cousin, the Parti Québécois.
    Meanwhile, what we are doing is signing agreements with Quebec. We have signed agreements on housing, on child care, on regional Internet access, on a whole range of measures. Why are we doing this? Because it is good for all Quebeckers.
    What is good for Quebeckers is bad for the Bloc Québécois.

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, it is shocking that the average Canadian family must now spend 63.5% of their total pre-tax household income in order to afford a mortgage for the typical home in Canada.
    It is even worse in British Columbia, where that is 106%. One hundred per cent is someone's entire income. No wonder families are in a financial crisis, where they can barely afford to live or feed themselves. This is after eight years of the NDP-Liberal government.
    Will the Prime Minister actually build the homes, not bureaucracy and photo ops, in his budget?
    Mr. Speaker, I take the question with a heavy dose of irony, considering that we have invested $31.5 million in that member's constituency through the housing accelerator fund.
    Moreover, this is a fund that not only she, but every Conservative member of Parliament, vows to take apart should the Conservatives form government. Where they will cut funds for housing, we will make the investment. Where we cut taxes, they will put them back on.
    We are doing what it takes to make it easier to build homes faster, and we are going to put Canadians to work in the process.
    Mr. Speaker, a heavy dose of reality is that, after eight years of the Liberal-NDP government and all its spending and photo ops, things are worse.
    Just today, RBC confirmed that Canada's housing crisis is only going to get worse under Liberal policies. They said that only 26% of Canadian households can afford a single detached home today. A couple of decades ago, it was 49%. The CMHC forecasts that, in 2025-26, housing starts will be even lower than they were in 2020-21.
    The Prime Minister is just not worth the cost or the corruption. Will the Prime Minister actually build the homes, not bureaucracy and photo ops, in his budget?

  (1445)  

    Mr. Speaker, we are putting forward policies that are going to help solve the national housing crisis.
    We know that higher interest rate environments have made it difficult to build homes. That is why we are cutting taxes on new home construction, which the Conservatives oppose. It is why we are putting more money on the table to build new apartments, which they oppose. It is why we are putting money towards incentivizing changes for cities, which they oppose. Just this past week, the Conservative deputy leader held a press conference to proudly declare that they were siding with the NIMBYs when it came to municipal zoning reforms.
    We need to do everything we can to make it easier to build homes more quickly and more cost effectively. It is a shame the Conservatives oppose it at every stage.

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, after eight years of deficits, people are no longer able to put a roof over their heads. There is still more red tape than common-sense solutions, like giving bonuses to cities that build more housing.
    As we have said before, this Prime Minister is not worth the cost. The demand for housing is skyrocketing. A landlord in Saguenay received over 200 applications for his rental unit in just 24 hours. Apartments are increasingly scarce and increasingly expensive.
    In the upcoming budget, will the Prime Minister finally build housing and stop adding red tape?
    Mr. Speaker, the next budget is coming and the member already knows that it will contain additional housing measures.
    What he should also know is that, just a few months ago, we signed a $1.8-billion agreement with the Government of Quebec that will provide, all at once, the largest number of new housing units in the history of Quebec. This is an extraordinary event resulting from an extraordinary collaboration.
    Unlike the Conservatives, who keep spewing insults, picking fights and calling people, particularly municipal and provincial representatives, incompetent, we are working for Quebeckers to get hundreds and even thousands of housing units built in the coming months and years.

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, Shahzeb is a young dad in Toronto.
    He feels stuck. He cannot afford to leave his parents' home. Like many Canadians, he is feeling hopeless. In Toronto alone, 85,000 people are waiting for social housing. It is because of 30 years of Liberals ignoring the problem while the gut-and-cut Conservatives lost over 800,000 affordable homes.
    Are the Liberals going to keep throwing money at rich developers for luxury condos, or will they start to build the social and affordable housing Canadians desperately need?
    Mr. Speaker, let me begin by congratulating my friend and colleague on his recent appointment; I look forward to working with him to defend the most vulnerable in the months ahead.
    With respect, over the last number of years, we have put investments on the table that are building affordable housing for low-income families, and we are accelerating that work. The upcoming federal budget is going to include $1.5 billion to help non-profits acquire social housing so that it can be kept affordable forever. We have made, in the fall economic statement, an additional billion-dollar investment to build more affordable housing stock, and we are working with provinces and territories by putting federal money on the table and using federal leadership to help solve the housing crisis, including for the most vulnerable. I am looking forward to continuing this work alongside my colleague.

Northern Affairs

    Uqaqtittiji, grocery prices in the north are still sky high. In the latest flyer from NorthMart in Iqaluit, a jar of pasta sauce is over $10. When I asked the Minister of Northern Affairs about the broken nutrition north program, he pointed to internal reviews and studies. Indigenous peoples and northerners do not need more studies. They need to put food on the table.
    When will the Liberals stop the delays and fix the nutrition north program so people can put groceries on the table?
    Mr. Speaker, I want to thank my colleague for her question. We know that affordability is an issue for all Canadian families; it is an even larger issue across the north. That is why, in our time in government, we have doubled our investment in programs such as nutrition north and added to programs such as the harvesters investment program, to allow people to have affordable foods that come from the land. We will continue to work with the territories and all communities to support them in achieving affordable and nutritious food for their communities.

  (1450)  

Families, Children and Social Development

    Mr. Speaker, no child should go to school hungry, but we know that, for many families, that is the reality. For parents of young children, a national school food program would help them feed their children and reduce their food costs. By providing consistent access to nutritious meals, we can set kids up for success.
    Can the Minister of Families, Children and Social Development update the House on the progress of building a national food program?
    Mr. Speaker, I know my colleagues, fellow moms and dads, on this side of the House agree that no child should go to school hungry. That is why we announced, just last week, a $1-billion investment through budget 2024 for a national school food program. The program would ensure that children who arrive at school hungry have access to food, ensuring an additional 400,000 kids will be able to access this food. We will work with the provinces, territories and indigenous partners to roll this out. We know the Conservatives have voted against this, but we are doing the hard—
    The hon. member for Elgin—Middlesex—London.

Housing

    Mr. Speaker, after eight years of the NDP-Liberal government, Canadians cannot achieve the goal of owning a home and continue to struggle amidst this crisis.
    According to a recent report in The Globe and Mail, Canada needs to complete 320,000 housing units annually from now until 2030 to meet the demand. Canadians have had enough and must see this crisis managed properly. The Prime Minister is not worth the cost or the corruption.
    Will the Prime Minister stop basing the budget on bureaucracy and photo ops and actually build the homes?
    Mr. Speaker, it is quite the contrary. I have had the opportunity to speak with many moms and dads across this country about the programs that we have been putting in place to support them.
    I recently spoke to Chris, who lives in Peterborough. She is a Trent University student. She shared the impact of our waiving of the interest on student loans. She shared the impact of being able to access $10-a-day child care, as well as the Canada child benefit.
    These programs have saved her tremendously and helped her and her daughter get ahead.
    Mr. Speaker, Canadians need homes and Canada has built fewer homes than it did back in the 1970s, when the population was half of what it is today. We need 320,000 units built annually before 2030. This requires a record pace of construction, which will exhaust an already burnt-out workforce. Canadians need solutions. The Prime Minister is not worth the cost.
    Will the Prime Minister stop making announcements and just get the houses built?
    Mr. Speaker, do members know what helps moms and dads across this country afford a home? It is being able to have access to $10-a-day child care and get back into the workforce. We are seeing record numbers of women, of moms, getting back into the workforce, giving them the opportunity to contribute to their family finances and afford a safe place to live.
    In contrast to the Conservatives' continued fearmongering, on this side of the House we are doing the hard work to support families.

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, after eight years of this Liberal government, finding housing in Canada is a nightmare. It was actually kind of funny and a bit ironic to see the ministers and the Prime Minister strutting around the country last week talking about how incompetent they have been when it comes to housing. The proof is that the CMHC confirmed last week that average home prices doubled between 2019 and 2022. That was all under the Liberals.
    Is next week's budget going to build housing, not just create even more red tape?
    Mr. Speaker, obviously, next week's budget is going to build even more housing. Consider these two numbers: six and 8,000. They are clear. During his reign as minister responsible for housing, the Conservative Leader created six affordable housing units in the entire country. In recent months, we signed an agreement with the Quebec government for a total of $1.8 billion that will build 8,000 affordable housing units, in Quebec alone, over the next few years.
    Unfortunately, my Conservative colleagues from Quebec do not seem to be aware of the projects being carried out in their own ridings. If they would like more information, they can easily contact us.
    Mr. Speaker, the minister must know that when the member for Carleton was minister, all housing was affordable in Canada. Now, the Liberals have doubled the cost of housing for all Canadians. Young families are losing hope of becoming homeowners, and seniors can no longer afford to pay their rent and are forced to stay in substandard housing. Some 80% of people who are due to renew their mortgage fear that they will not be able to make their payments.
    Again, will the Liberals show some common sense next week and announce that they are going to build housing, not just create more red tape?

  (1455)  

    Mr. Speaker, our colleague is right. The six affordable housing units built by the opposition leader were indeed affordable. Over the past few years, we have built hundreds of thousands of affordable housing units. The construction of another 750,000 units will be accelerated over the coming years. In Quebec alone, 8,000 affordable housing units will be built in the coming months under an historic agreement, the biggest investment in housing in the history of Quebec, that we signed with the Government of Quebec.

Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship

    Mr. Speaker, while the federal government spends its time interfering in Quebec's jurisdictions, the situation in its own jurisdictions is getting serious. The Prime Minister is in shock after finally discovering that immigration levels have exceeded our integration capacity.
    Who was oblivious enough to have increased permanent and temporary immigration without thinking about housing, schools or health? Who was irresponsible enough to have branded everyone who talked about integration capacity a xenophobe? If only we knew. Who knows, it could well be the same person causing the debt to skyrocket. Does the Prime Minister know who this reckless person might be?
    Mr. Speaker, what the member opposite refuses to acknowledge is that we have a good relationship with the Government of Quebec. I even visited Minister Fréchette two weeks ago to discuss our shared issues and find common ground. We have agreed to work together on reducing the number of people who are here temporarily, but we need to do it the right way.
    I look forward to doing so, not only with Quebec, but with all the other provinces and territories across the country.
    Mr. Speaker, since the Prime Minister is responsible for the largest population increase since 1957, many are likening him to a pyromaniac firefighter in the housing crisis. It is true that he is setting fires, but is he really trying to put them out? Is he lowering permanent immigration targets? No, he is not.
    Is he spreading out the intake of asylum seekers among the provinces, to give Quebec some relief? No, he is not.
    Is he reducing temporary immigration? No, he wants to increase it to two million, the highest level in history other than in 2023-24.
    Now that he recognizes the problem with integration capacity, will he fix it?
    Mr. Speaker, the Bloc Québécois should pay attention to the news. We made it very clear that we are going to reduce the number of people who are here on a temporary basis from 7% to 5%.
    I have a question for the Bloc Québécois members. Where would they make cuts? I want them to be very specific, because I know there are many temporary workers in their ridings who work with farmers. Are they going to tell the farmers to reduce their numbers?
    I would ask them to give a clear, definitive and precise answer.

[English]

Finance

    Mr. Speaker, Canadians are clear on the two most important economic issues we face, inflation and high interest rates.
    They understand that government deficits cause inflation. Runaway deficits cause runaway inflation. This year's deficit is expected to be $47 billion, $7 billion higher than forecast. To say this is a runaway is an understatement. The Bank of Canada's governor has been clear that deficits are the main factor keeping interest rates high.
    Will the Prime Minister cap his runaway spending with a dollar-for-dollar rule to bring down interest rates and inflation?
    Mr. Speaker, it is important for a responsible government to address issues around affordability, address issues around environmental sustainability, invest in growing a clean economy and have a sound fiscal management strategy. We are doing all of those things.
     On the other side of the House, we have a Conservative Party of Canada that simply wants to cut and cut. It will cut affordable child care. It will cut dental care. It will cut the national school food program. It will cut the entire climate program. It will actually cut investments in growing a clean economy for the future.
    My goodness, it is such an irresponsible position that these folks are taking—
    The hon. member for Calgary Centre.
    Mr. Speaker, the Liberal government is just throwing taxpayer money at a wall without any thought about execution, and it is making matters worse for Canadians.
    It is a whack-a-mole approach to economic policy. Obviously, after eight years of the NDP-Liberal government, Canadians cannot afford the Prime Minister, his excess spending or his corruption.
    Scotiabank says that rate cuts could be delayed by high government spending.
     Next week, the Minister of Finance will table her budget. It is time for the deficits to stop. Will the minister commit to a dollar-for-dollar reduction in order to bring inflation and interest rates under control?

  (1500)  

    Mr. Speaker, on this side of the House, we will always be there to support Canadians, especially vulnerable Canadians, while maintaining a prudent fiscal position, including a AAA credit rating and the lowest debt-to-GDP ratio in the G7.
    We have been there for seniors with increases in the GIS and the OAS. We are there for school children with a national school food program. We are there for millennials and Gen Z with affordable housing and rental accommodation.
    On this side of the House, we know how to do prudence as well as providing for the most vulnerable in this country.
    Mr. Speaker, what is keeping interest rates so high is Liberal deficit spending. That is what. Now we can add Scotiabank to the long list of economists saying that after eight years, the NDP-Liberal government is not worth the cost. Record-high deficits are keeping housing, food and fuel at record-high prices.
    Will the Prime Minister fix the budget and adopt our common-sense Conservative policy by bringing in a dollar-for-dollar rule to bring down inflation and interest rates?
    Mr. Speaker, unlike the party opposite, we actually know the role of the independent Bank of Canada, which is to set monetary policy.
    While we are prudently managing taxpayer dollars, we will continue to invest in Canadians. Because of our policies, 86% of women between the ages of 25 and 45 are in the workforce. That is the Canada child benefit and that is $10-a-day child care.
     Every single time the party opposite has an opportunity to support Canadians, it votes against it. That is not common sense at all.

Housing

    Mr. Speaker, young Canadians in my community of Richmond and across Canada are struggling to find housing that fits their budget.
    We are scaling up our efforts to build more homes and to build them faster at prices Canadians can afford. Through the housing accelerator fund, the federal government is investing over $35 million in the city of Richmond to fast-track the construction of 1,000 homes over the next three years and 3,100 homes over the next decade.
    Can the minister share, with my community of Richmond and communities across British Columbia, how the government is supporting housing in budget 2024?
    Mr. Speaker, let me thank my hon. colleague for his advocacy for his community, which is going to help get thousands of homes built in Richmond over the course of the next number of years.
    In the upcoming federal budget, we are going to continue to put measures on the table that help accelerate the pace of home building. This includes low-cost financing to add tens of thousands of new rental units. This includes additional support to help non-profits acquire housing that they will keep affordable forever. It includes new investments in affordable housing and new strategies to build homes more quickly by incentivizing home building in factories.
    With members like this advocating for their community, we can put a plan on the table that will solve the national housing crisis.
    Mr. Speaker, Durham Region is home to many millennials who dream of owning a house one day. For eight years, the Prime Minister has been promising affordable housing, yet things are only getting worse. Millennials know he is not worth the cost.
    The Liberal-NDP government continues to announce expensive photo ops in the lead-up to the federal budget, but we know, as millennials, that we deserve better. How can we ever believe any of these broken promises from the Liberal-NDP government again?
    Mr. Speaker, let me begin by offering my sincere congratulations to our newest colleague in the House of Commons. It is wonderful to have him here.
    What the member may not realize, being new to the House, is that his leader is actively campaigning on commitments to build fewer homes than we have already projected to build. He may not realize that the Conservative leader has promised to raise taxes on homebuilding. He may not realize the Conservative leader has pledged to cut funding for homebuilding. He may not realize that his party held a press conference last week to say that it does not want to do anything on municipal reforms and has decided to side with the NIMBYs.
    Over the member's time here, I hope he comes to see the light and gets with a plan that will build more homes.

  (1505)  

Health

    Mr. Speaker, after eight years of the Liberal Prime Minister's radical safe supply agenda, we see lives being put at risk. After the NDP-Liberal government decriminalized hard drugs, nurses in northern British Columbia are now being told to allow patients to use hard drugs and have weapons in their hospital rooms. This is unfair and unsafe for workers and patients.
    When will the Prime Minister wake up and realize that his radical drug policy just is not worth the cost?
    Mr. Speaker, every health care worker in this country deserves to be safe in their place of work. That is why this government passed legislation exactly for that reason.
     I, too, am concerned about the reports and expect the B.C. government to take the necessary actions to address the concerns raised by health care providers.
    On this side of the House, we are saving lives. On that side of the House, they are busy with slogans and stigma.
    Mr. Speaker, 300% more government-issued opioids are being seized by police in British Columbia. More drugs on the street mean the street prices of opioids are falling across this country, and that is what we are seeing.
    The delusional NDP-Liberal government wants us to think that giving out free drugs to our most vulnerable is a cure, but Canadians know this is nonsense. When will the narcissistic Prime Minister, who is not worth the cost, crime or corruption, end this cruel and disastrous—
    Some hon. members: Oh, oh!
    I will let the hon. member maybe rephrase that.
    Mr. Speaker, what I would like to say is this. Given the fact that I practised as a physician for a long time, that is the diagnosis.
    Some hon. members: Oh, oh!
    Maybe we will have a quick chat after question period.
    The hon. Minister of Mental Health and Addictions.
    Mr. Speaker, while the Conservatives want to sow fear and stigma, on this side of the House we know that we have to stick to the facts. The RCMP says that there is no evidence to suggest that widespread diversion of drugs from prescribed alternatives is happening.
    However, prescribed alternatives are not the issue. Any diversion is illegal in this country, whether it is medication for ADHD, for pain management or anything else. Those are the facts. Of the overdose deaths, 70% are from an illegal, toxic, poisoned supply. I challenge the member to actually read the data.

Fisheries and Oceans

    Mr. Speaker, the fishery is the backbone of Canada's coastal communities, and Liberal members of Parliament will always be there to stand up for fishers, their families and our fishing communities.
    On February 8, the House of Commons Standing Committee on Fisheries and Oceans adopted a motion proposed by Liberal members of Parliament to instill an official five-year review of the Fisheries Act.
    Can the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans explain to the House the significance of the Fisheries Act review for coastal communities?
    Mr. Speaker, I want to congratulate the Liberal members of the Standing Committee on Fisheries and Oceans for moving forward with this important review. Coastal communities know that the Fisheries Act does more than just regulate fishing. It is also a key law that impacts local economies, ecological protections and reconciliation. This review is just the first step toward a Fisheries Act that works better for communities on all coasts. I look forward to seeing the committee's recommendations at the end of this study.

Firearms

    Mr. Speaker, the government promised to ban the AR-15. That is the weapon that was used to murder 20 six-year-old children at Sandy Hook. On Thursday, the Conservative leader was tweeting that the government was going after not the AR-15 but hunting rifles. It is little wonder he gets endorsed by Alex Jones, who is notorious for taunting families of children murdered by the AR-15.
    Will the minister confirm whether the government is going after hunting rifles or the AR-15, or is this the Conservative leader being “the real deal” of disinformation for the likes of Alex Jones?

  (1510)  

    Mr. Speaker, I want to salute my colleague's long service in the House on behalf of the people of northern Ontario.
    I share—
    Some hon. members: Hear, hear!
    The hon. Minister of Public Safety.
    Mr. Speaker, I have never had that much applause in the House before.
    I share our colleague's concern about the Conservative policy with respect to gun control. We have said from the beginning that law-abiding hunters and sportspersons are not the subject of these regulations. What we are doing is taking away guns that were designed to kill people on the battlefield, and we are also prepared to compensate the people who bought those guns lawfully. It is something the Conservative Party would undo, and we are committed to keeping Canadians safe.

[Translation]

Seniors

    Mr. Speaker, ever since I have been an MP, we have received the list of proposals that have been granted or denied New Horizons funding every February. New Horizons is a program that helps improve the lives of our seniors.
    Unfortunately, for some reason, we did not get that information this year, which makes it impossible for us to help organizations in our ridings. My office has sent three emails, made five phone calls and even sent a fax to the office of the Minister of Labour and Seniors. We have received no response, not even an acknowledgement.
    This is discouraging for members of Parliament trying to do our job. Can the minister explain why we are not getting this information? What is he going to do to fix this?

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. member for the question and even the facts. I have no excuse there. I will dig in deeper and get the answers that the member is looking for.

Jacob Flickinger

    Following discussions among representatives of all parties of the House, I understand there is an agreement to observe a moment of silence in honour of the Canadian aid worker, Jacob Flickinger, and of all aid workers who have lost their lives in Gaza.
    I now invite hon. members to rise.
    [A moment of silence observed]

Routine Proceedings

[Routine Proceedings]

[English]

Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner

    Pursuant to subsection 15(3) of the Conflict of Interest Code for Members of the House of Commons, it is my duty to lay upon the table the list of all sponsored travel by members for the year 2023, as provided by the Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner.

[Translation]

Foreign Affairs

    Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 32(2), and in accordance with the policy on the tabling of treaties in Parliament, I have the honour to table, in both official languages, the treaties entitled “Protocol to the North Atlantic Treaty on the Accession of the Republic of Finland”, done at Brussels on July 5, 2022, and “Protocol to the North Atlantic Treaty on the Accession of the Kingdom of Sweden”, also done at Brussels on July 5, 2022.
    This is good news for Canada and for NATO.

  (1515)  

[English]

Government Response to Petitions

    Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 36(8)(a), I have the honour to table, in both official languages, the government's responses to 27 petitions. These returns will be tabled in an electronic format.

Committees of the House

Procedure and House Affairs  

    Mr. Speaker, it is always a pleasure to rise on behalf of the good people of Waterloo. With Vaisakhi approaching, I am hoping that all celebrating Vaisakhi will have a good one.
    Pursuant to Standing Orders 104 and 114, I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the 62nd report of the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs regarding the membership of committees of the House.

[Translation]

    If the House gives its consent, I move that the 62nd report of the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs be concurred in.
    All those opposed to the hon. member's moving the motion will please say nay.
    I hear none. The House has heard the terms of the motion. All those opposed to the motion will please say nay.

    (Motion agreed to)

[English]

Petitions

Medical Assistance in Dying  

    Mr. Speaker, I rise to present three petitions from my constituents.
    The first petition is on medical assistance in dying or the assisted suicide system. These constituents are drawing the attention of the House to the fact that, on March 17, MAID was supposed to become available to those with a mental illness. Parliament has since then extended it. They are still calling on the Government of Canada to introduce new legislation to stop the expansion of medical assistance in dying to those with a mental illness.

Democratic Institutions  

    Mr. Speaker, my second petition goes back to the issue of the lost confidence that many Canadians in my riding have about the government here. They are calling on the House for a vote of non-confidence again. They are asking for an election to be held within 45 days after the vote is won.
    Once again, as the current government is not acting in the best interests of citizens, they are asking the House of Commons to hold a vote of non-confidence and to hold elections 45 days after such a vote.

Single-Use Plastics  

    Mr. Speaker, the third and final petition that I am tabling is on behalf of constituents in my riding who are also members of the Calgary Co-op. This is with regard to Environment Canada's decision to continue to ban compostable shopping bags that are 100% non-plastic bags.
    These constituents are drawing the government's attention to the fact that the Calgary Co-op has successfully kept over 100 million plastic bags out of landfills with the use of its green compostable shopping bags. The City of Calgary supports the use of the Calgary Co-op's compostable bags, stating that the bags do fully break down in composting facilities and there is no impact on the environment. They are also reminding the federal government that the federal ban, as it stands now, allows for the Calgary Co-op to sell its compostable bags on store shelves, but it prevents it from selling these same bags a few feet away at the checkout, which makes little sense since it does very little to limit their use. Petitioners say that this unnecessary ban could send signals that stifle the adoption and development of environmentally responsible products. Finally, they are calling on the Government of Canada to recognize that the green compostable bags made by the Calgary Co-op do not constitute single-use plastics and are, therefore, worthy of an exemption from the upcoming ban.

Criminal Code  

    Mr. Speaker, we are aware and these individuals are aware of the crisis of domestic violence and violent crimes associated across Canada specifically with women. The risk of violence and coercion of women is greater when they are pregnant.
    The injury or death of a child in the womb when a women in pregnant is not considered as aggravating circumstances when an individual is charged with a crime and facing sentencing within the Criminal Code. As a matter of fact, they make the comment that Canada is the only democratic country in the world with absolutely no regulations or laws in regard to abortion. The only other country is North Korea.
    Justice requires, they say, that an attacker who abuses a pregnant woman and her child in the womb be sentenced accordingly and that the sentence should match the crime. They call on us in the House to legislate the abuse of a pregnant woman and/or the infliction of harm on the child that she is carrying as aggravating circumstances for sentencing purposes in the Criminal Code.

  (1520)  

Pornography  

    Mr. Speaker, I have one more petition that I will bring forward briefly.
    These individuals are very concerned about sexually explicit material that is so demeaning and sexually violent and can easily be accessed by young people online. A significant portion of this sexually explicit material is made available for commercial purposes and is not protected by any effective age verification method. However, it is very clear that everyone believes that we have a responsibility to make sure that these young people do not have access.
    Online verification was the primary recommendation made by stakeholders during a 2017 study by the Standing Committee on Health. These petitioners call upon the House to adopt Bill S-210, the protecting young persons from exposure to pornography act.

Natural Health Products  

    Mr. Speaker, last spring, the Government of Canada made legislative changes to allow Health Canada to regulate natural health supplements the same as therapeutic synthetic drugs, which will mean substantial new fees on the import, manufacturing and sale of things like vitamins, protein powders and other health supplements.
    Constituents in my riding who rely on natural health products daily are concerned that these changes will result in the products they use being removed from Canadian store shelves or increasing in price substantially. They are calling upon the government to stop these changes and to work with the industries on issues such as labelling and fees. They ask us to save their supplements.

Corporate Social Responsibility  

    Mr. Speaker, it is an honour to rise today on behalf of constituents in Saanich—Gulf Islands, standing on the traditional territory of the Algonquin Anishinabe people.
    The petitioners are pointing to the long-standing problem of the contribution, unfortunately, of Canadian companies, particularly those in the mining sector, in attacking human rights and being associated with environmental damage around the world.
    Petitioners ask the House to consider that the people who are involved in such protests in other countries around the world, to defend their rights, are often harassed, attacked or killed. They are calling on the House of Commons to require companies to prevent adverse human rights effects and environmental damage and to require companies to do their due diligence, including by carefully assessing how their actions are contributing to such egregious human rights abuses and environmental damage. They ask for the Government of Canada and the House to work for the legal right for people who have been harmed by Canadian companies to seek justice in Canadian courts.

Air Service to India  

    Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to table a petition regarding international flights. As we know, our Indo-Canadian community has grown considerably over the last number of years. A part of that has driven a demand to build that relationship, which ultimately sees more people going back and forth between India and Canada. Along with that comes the demand for increased direct flights. That is what the petition is asking for. It is a pleasure that I table it today.

[Translation]

Volunteer Firefighters  

    Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to rise to table a petition signed by 212 people.
    Do members know that volunteer firefighters account for 71% of Canada's total firefighting essential first responders? Firefighters and the petitioners are calling on the Government of Canada to support Bill C-310 to increase the amount of tax credits available for volunteer firefighters and search and rescue volunteers from $3,000 to $10,000 per year.
    I want to take this opportunity to recognize all of the volunteer firefighters who serve the community of Mégantic-L’Érable and the entire country.

[English]

Gaza  

    Mr. Speaker, it is an honour to rise to present a petition from nearly 10,000 folks from across the country.
    The petitioners note that it was back in 1949 that the UN Relief and Works Agency, or UNRWA, was established to carry out direct relief and works programs for Palestinian refugees. They note that UNRWA is the primary provider of humanitarian aid in Gaza, providing food, social services, health care, schools and refugee camps, sustaining the lives of millions of civilians, more than half of whom are kids, in the Palestinian territory of Gaza, which has been blockaded by Israel since 2007.
    The petitioners go on to note that South Africa submitted an application to the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide in the Gaza Strip and the case of South Africa v. Israel to the International Court of Justice, or the ICJ. After considering both applications and oral arguments, the court concluded that genocide was plausible. In its January 26 order, the ICJ cited UNRWA statements documenting dire conditions in the Gaza Strip before introducing its fourth provisional measure, which is, as the petitioners quote, “Israel must take immediate and effective measures to enable the provision of urgently needed basic services and humanitarian assistance to address the adverse conditions of life faced by Palestinians in the Gaza Strip.” Finally, they note that Israel levelled allegations against a dozen UNRWA employees, after which Canada paused humanitarian funding committed to UNRWA without an investigation.
    The petitioners, citizens and residents of Canada call upon the Government of Canada to live up to its obligations under the genocide convention to prevent the catastrophic humanitarian situation in the Gaza Strip from deteriorating further before the court renders its final decision. The petitioners call on two specific actions. The first is for Canada to reinstate UNRWA funding, which, in the time since this petition was out in the public, has already been done. Second, the petitioners advocate for other countries to do the same and for Canada to call on other countries to do the same.

  (1525)  

Ukraine  

    Mr. Speaker, I rise to present a petition brought forward by Canadians who see the unjust war Vladimir Putin is waging on Ukraine and want the Government of Canada to act, including by way of providing direct military assistance and further lethal weapons and supplies to the defence of Ukraine.
    That is why Conservatives have called on the Liberal government to donate all discontinued surplus CRV7 rockets to Ukraine. These rockets were specifically requested by the Government of Ukraine, and Canada has 83,000 of them to set for disposal. The cost of disposal is estimated at $30 million, but the cost for shipment to Ukraine is approximately $5 million. This donation would not only be the right thing to do, but also the most cost-effective thing to do.
    The Conservatives have and always will support Ukraine. We stand with it in its efforts to rebuild its economy and defend itself from Russia's illegal invasion.

Carbon Pricing  

    Mr. Speaker, the second petition I rise to present is signed by residents facing rising prices of gas, groceries and home heating.
    The Liberal carbon tax has made it much harder to make ends meet. On April 1, the Prime Minister's carbon tax went up again, this time by 23%. This inflationary carbon tax means that a family of four will have to pay $700 more for groceries in 2024. Conservatives know that people are hurting. People are being forced to choose between filling up their car, heating their home and feeding their family. I join with these petitioners in calling on the Prime Minister to immediately eliminate the carbon tax from home heating, and better yet, axe the tax altogether.

First Responders Tax Credit  

    Mr. Speaker, it is my honour to present a petition signed by Canadians calling upon the Government of Canada to support Bill C-310, which would increase the tax credit for volunteer firefighters and search and rescue volunteers from $3,000 a year to $10,000 a year.
    Seventy-one per cent of firefighting first responders in this country are volunteers. Those volunteers were our first line of defence in my home province of Nova Scotia last year as we faced the worst wildfire season in our recorded history. Indeed, all across Canada, volunteer firefighters put their lives on the line to protect our communities. Boosting this tax credit would not only ensure that they are properly compensated for their essential roles, but also improve recruitment and retention at a time when our fire departments are struggling to maintain the number of volunteer firefighters.
    Importantly, the petitioners also note that, in a moment when affordability is a top concern for many Canadians, this tax credit would allow these volunteer firefighters to keep more of their hard-earned income, which often goes back into their communities.

  (1530)  

Public Safety  

    Mr. Speaker, it is an honour to present a petition on behalf of constituents.
    I rise for the 34th time on behalf of the people of Swan River, Manitoba, to present a petition on the rising rate of crime. The community of Swan River is struggling with extreme levels of crime because of the Liberal government's soft-on-crime laws, such as Bill C-75.
    The people of Swan River are upset that jail is a revolving door for repeat offenders as Bill C-75 allows violent offenders to be in jail in the morning and back on the street the same day. Manitoba West district RCMP has reported that just 15 individuals were responsible for 1,184 calls for service. The people of Swan River are calling for jail, not bail, for violent repeat offenders.
    The people of Swan River demand that the Liberal government repeal its soft-on-crime policies, which directly threaten their livelihoods and their community. I support the good people of Swan River.

Pornography  

    Mr. Speaker, it is a real pleasure to stand up today to present a petition.
    The petition I am presenting today comes from Canadians from across the country who are concerned about the consent and age verification of those depicted in pornographic material. The petitioners are asking the government to follow recommendation 2 of the 2021 Standing Committee on Access to Information, Privacy and Ethics report on MindGeek, which would require all content hosting platforms to verify age prior to uploading content.
    Bill C-270, the stopping Internet sexual exploitation act, would add two offences to the Criminal Code. The first requires age verification and consent prior to distribution. The second requires removal of that material if the consent withdrawn.
    The petitioners are calling on the House of Commons to pass Bill C-270.

Freedom of Political Expression  

    Mr. Speaker, I would like to present one petition to the House in support of Bill C-257, an excellent private member's bill that would protect Canadians from political discrimination.
    It is a bill that I put forward in the House. The petitioners want to see the House pass it as quickly as possible.

Questions on the Order Paper

    Madam Speaker, the following questions will be answered today: Nos. 2280, 2282, 2283, 2289, 2291, 2293, 2294, 2297, 2300, 2304, 2306 to 2308, 2310, 2311, 2313, 2317, 2318, 2322, 2323, 2325, 2326, 2328 to 2330, 2332, 2336, 2337, 2339, 2340, 2344 and 2354.

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Question No. 2280—
Mr. Alistair MacGregor:
    With regard to the mandate and responsibilities of the Grocery Task Force, broken down by month since its inception: (a) what is the total number of investigations initiated by the Grocery Task Force into practices that hurt consumers; (b) of the investigations in (a), how many investigations concluded that consumers were being harmed; and (c) what are the details of all investigations into practices that hurt consumers that have been initiated by the Task Force in (a), including, the (i) name of the grocer being investigated, (ii) conduct being investigated, (iii) date that the investigation began, (iv) date that the investigation concluded?
Hon. François-Philippe Champagne (Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry, Lib.):
    Mr. Speaker, the Grocery Task Force was established within the office of Consumer Affairs of the Department of Innovation, Science and Economic Development, with the main mandate to provide the Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry with advice tied to his efforts to stabilize food prices in Canada. As the Task Force has no mandate to take enforcement actions, it has not conducted any investigations.
Question No. 2282—
Mr. Kevin Waugh:
    With regard to the March 31, 2023 announcement by the Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry that the government secured legally binding commitments from Rogers and Vidéotron: (a) what is the current status of each commitment; (b) for each commitment that has been completed, on what date was the government notified of its completion; (c) for each commitment that has not yet been completed, by what date does the government expect it to be completed; and (d) for each of the job creation commitments included in the announcement, how many jobs have been created to date?
Hon. François-Philippe Champagne (Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry, Lib.):
    Mr. Speaker, in response to part (a) of the question, the status of each commitment is to be determined by Innovation, Science and Economic Development, orISED, when it receives the first annual reports from Rogers, due onApril 3, 2024. and Videotron, due by July 3, 2024. The parties have also committed to publish their annual reports online. The deadline for fulfillment of each commitment is set out in the following two agreements: Rogers – Undertakings of Rogers Communications Inc. related to its public commitments and agreement with His Majesty the King in right of Canada, as represented by the Minister of Industry Videotron – Undertakings of Quebecor Media Inc. and Videotron Ltd. with respect to Freedom Mobile
    With respect to part (b), the status of each commitment is to be determined by ISED when it receives the first annual reports from Rogers, due on April 3, 2024, and Videotron, due by July 3, 2024.
    With respect to part (c), the deadline for fulfillment of each commitment is set out in the two above-mentioned agreements. The Rogers commitments are generally to be completed in 5 or 10 years from the acquisition closing date, while the Videotron commitments are generally to be completed in 2, 3, 5 or 10 years from the acquisition closing date.
    With respect to part (d), the status of the job commitment will be assessed by ISED following receipt of the first annual reports from Rogers and Videotron.
Question No. 2283—
Mr. Peter Julian:
    With regard to evictions data collected by the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation, since January 1, 2006: how many evictions occurred in Canada, broken down by province or territory and by year?
Mr. Chris Bittle (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Housing, Infrastructure and Communities, Lib.):
    Mr. Speaker, with regard to evictions data collected by the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation, since January 1, 2006, Canada Housing and Mortgage Corporation, or CMHC, does not have a database containing this type of data.
    There is no authoritative source of this data across Canada. Evictions are the jurisdiction of the provinces and territories, and legislation differs by jurisdiction.
    CMHC is currently working with Statistics Canada to establish getting eviction records (applications, decisions, appeals, enforcements) from selected provinces. CMHC will obtain a limited amount of information from a small number of provinces which means it will only pertain to data regarding evictions that had applications to the Landlord/Tenant board in that province. It would not include the data for people who received an eviction notice from their landlord and immediately vacated the unit.
    Statistics Canada will be integrating evictions data with other data sources to produce aggregated statistics on socioeconomic outcomes of people who have been formally evicted. CMHC will be analyzing this data in an attempt to learn about the characteristics of these households both before and after the eviction.
Question No. 2289—
Mr. Dean Allison:
    With regard to the government's COVID-19 vaccine mandates: since August 13, 2021, how many people were denied Employment Insurance benefits for the sole reason of their COVID-19 vaccine status?
Mr. Irek Kusmierczyk (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Official Languages, Lib.):
    Mr. Speaker, the department is not in a position to accurately represent the number of individuals who were denied Employment Insurance benefits for the sole reason of their COVID-19 vaccine status.
    While we have data representing the number of EI claims submitted and denied with the Record of Employment, or ROE, code of M, or terminated, and a comment specifying “non-compliance to employer's mandatory vaccine policy”, the “comment” section is not a mandatory field on the ROE; as a result, it is not possible to provide an accurate count of all EI claims denied for the sole reason of the COVID-19 vaccine status.
    For these reasons, producing and validating a comprehensive response to this question would require a manual collection of information would lead to the disclosure of incomplete and misleading information.
Question No. 2291—
Mr. Brian Masse:
    With regard to the Housing Accelerator Fund and the decision to not fund the city of Windsor, Ontario (Ontario’s application), due to the decision to not change their zoning bylaws to include four units on any residential property as-of-right: (a) did the Government of Canada refuse all applications from municipalities that presented alternative plans which included allowing a minimum of four units on other properties not currently listed as-of-right; (b) how many, and which municipalities were denied funding due to not changing their current zoning requirements to permit four units on any residential property as-of-right; (c) what consultations, and with whom, took place to create a different density planning formula than the one established in Ontario which permits threeplexes; (d) what studies or evaluations were done to determine that the city of Windsor required a density increase to fourplexes to use these funds; (e) without the change to fourplexes, would the city of Windsor have been able to use the funds if approved in terms of places available to build; and (f) was consideration given to municipalities based on statistics of poverty, gender-led households, race, ethnicity, first nations and children per household?
Mr. Chris Bittle (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Housing, Infrastructure and Communities, Lib.):
    Mr. Speaker. with regard to the Housing Accelerator Fund, or HAF, and the decision to not fund the city of Windsor, Ontario, Ontario’s application, Budget 2022 announced $4 billion in funding until 2026-27 to launch the HAF. The target is to permit an additional 100,000 net new housing units over the course of the three-year initiative.
    The HAF provides funding to local governments to incentivize local initiatives that remove barriers to housing supply, accelerate the growth of supply, and support the development of complete, low-carbon and climate-resilient communities, which are affordable, inclusive, equitable, and diverse.
    On October 23, 2023, the Minister of Housing, Infrastructure and Communities issued a public statement on the HAF progress which confirmed that “we will be prioritizing consideration of the communities based on their relative level of ambition and policy choices and we will work to finalize agreements with the cities, towns, and rural communities who are willing to do the most to provide homes for their residents.”
    With regards to part a) and b), more than 500 local governments across the country submitted applications for the HAF. Applicants will be informed of the outcome of their application in the coming weeks. As this review process is being finalized, no other municipalities have been declined under the HAF. Canada Mortgage Housing Corporation, or CMHC, is not permitted to make any specific Action Plan public without the applicant's consent or discuss applications that have been denied. For cities with successful applications, their Action Plans will be made public. As of right now, summaries of local action plans and initiatives funded through the Housing Accelerator Fund can be found on the CMHC website: https://www.cmhc-schl.gc.ca/professionals/project-funding-and-mortgage-financing/funding-programs/all-funding-programs/housing-accelerator-fund/housing-accelerator-fund-progress.
    With regards to part c) and f), CMHC consulted stakeholders throughout 2022 when designing the HAF. These stakeholders include the Canadian Urban Institute, the Federation of Canadian Municipalities, provinces and territories, Indigenous groups and various organizations involved in the delivery of housing, alongside a public call for ideas. The Standing Committee on Human Resources, Skills and Social Development and the Status of Persons with Disabilities tabled a report in the House of Commons with a list of recommendations on the design of the HAF, to which the Government of Canada tabled a detailed response. CMHC considered these recommendations in the development of the program and those that aligned with the program objectives were incorporated in the design. As with all Government of Canada budget submissions, a Gender-based Analysis Plus was provided, noting that this is a broad-based housing supply program intended to accelerate the planning, permitting and construction of all types of housing, including non-profit and below market rental.
    With regards to part d), CMHC has nothing to report.
    With regards to part e), approved applicants have the flexibility to use their incentive funding to support housing in their communities, which include investments in affordable housing, investments in housing-related infrastructure, and investments in community-related infrastructure that supports housing.
Question No. 2293—
Ms. Leah Gazan:
    With regard to access to abortion care funded under the Canada Health Act, broken down by province or territory from 2015 to present: (a) how many hospitals provide safe abortion care services funded by the federal government; (b) how many clinics provide safe abortion care services funded by the federal government; (c) which municipalities with a population of 50,000 or more (i) did not have access to a hospital or clinic offering safe abortion care services funded by the federal government within 100 kilometers driving distance, (ii) did not have a hospital or clinic offering safe abortion care services funded by the federal government accessible by public transportation; and (d) which municipalities with a population under 50,000 (i) did not have access to a hospital or clinic offering safe abortion care services funded by the federal government within 100 kilometers driving distance, (ii) did not have a hospital or clinic offering safe abortion care services funded by the federal government accessible by public transportation?
Mr. Yasir Naqvi (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Health, Lib.):
    Mr. Speaker, the federal government does not directly fund hospitals or clinics to provide medically necessary health care services, including abortion care services. Rather the provincial and territorial governments fund and administer the provision of these services within the framework of the Canada Health Act and with federal assistance through the Canada Health Transfer, or CHT.
    The Canada Health Act sets out the criteria and conditions that must be satisfied by provincial and territorial health care insurance plans for provinces and territories to qualify for their full share of the federal cash contribution available to them under the CHT. The CHT provides provinces and territories with federal funding to assist them in exercising their primary jurisdiction in the administration of their public health care insurance plans and the delivery of health care service.
    The Canada Health Act requires that all medically necessary hospital and physician services be covered by provincial and territorial public health care insurance plans, whether they are provided in a hospital or in a facility providing hospital care, such as a private clinic. Surgical abortion services are deemed medically necessary by all provinces and territories, or PTs, and as such, are insured under their PT health insurance plans. Medical necessity is determined by provincial and territorial health insurance plans, in consultation with the medical profession.
    The most recently available data from the Canadian Institute for Health Information, or CIHI, states there were an estimated 87,485 reported induced abortions in Canada in 2021. The number of reported induced abortions occurring in a hospital setting was 20,217, or 23.1%, while 67,286, or 76.9%, occurred in a non-hospital setting.
    In the period after mifepristone restrictions were removed, most abortion providers in Ontario were general practitioners, at 66.5%, with obstetrician-gynaecologists, at 23.2%, and nurse practitioners, at 9.1%, taking up a smaller proportion of the workforce. By 2019 nearly 90% of practitioners offering abortion care provided 10 or fewer per year, and among all abortion providers the annual median number provided dropped to 1, or IQR 1-5. These findings indicate a strong integration of abortion care into more general services. Meanwhile existing services were preserved; the number of practitioners providing more than 50 abortions per year, that is, those with an abortion-focused practice, was unchanged after the policy implementation.
    CIHI reports that almost 2/3 of all reported abortions in 2021 were procedural, or surgical, while 1/3 were medical, or through medication. CIHI acknowledges that there is likely continued undercounting of medication abortions, with the use of Mifegymiso. Access to abortion services has improved for Canadians with the advent of medication abortion, through Mifegymiso, particularly since prescribing guidelines were updated by Health Canada in 2017, and coverage for the drug has been established in all provinces and territories
    To further improve nation-wide access to sexual and reproductive health care, including abortion, Health Canada’s Sexual and Reproductive Health Fund was created. Through Budget 2021 and 2023, $81 million has been committed to the fund over six years. The fund supports community-based organizations that help make access to abortion, gender affirming, and other sexual and reproductive health care information and services more accessible for underserved populations, such as members of 2SLGBTQI+ communities, Indigenous and racialized people, and women and youth from underserved communities.
    To date, $8 million has been invested in four projects focused on access to abortion. Through these projects, new resources and supports are being developed for health care professionals, access to accurate information about abortion is being improved, and financial and logistical support for travel for abortion care is being provided. Specifically, the funding has made possible a 225 percent increase in the number of people receiving travel and logistical support to access abortion services, that is, 107 people assisted in 2021-22 vs. 348 people assisted in 2022-23.
Question No. 2294—
Ms. Leah Gazan:
    With regard to funding included in the National Action Plan to End Gender-Based Violence, broken down by province or territory since the program was initiated: (a) how much of the allocated $539.3 million in funding has been committed to date; (b) how much of the allocated $539.3 million in funding has been spent to date; (c) which organizations have received funding from this program; (d) how much funding has each program recipient received; and (e) how many women or girls have been recipients of programs, services or actions associated with this National Action Plan, broken down by those (i) who identify as Indigenous, (ii) who identify as Black or racialized, (iii) who are immigrants or refugees, (iv) who are Two-Spirit, Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, Intersex, plus people (2SLGBTQI+), (v) with disabilities, (vi) living in northern, rural, and remote communities?
Ms. Lisa Hepfner (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Women and Gender Equality and Youth, Lib.):
    Mr. Speaker, in response to parts a) and b), the National Action Plan to End Gender-Based Violence, or NAP to End GBV, is supported by a Budget 2022 investment of $593.3 million over five years, which includes $525 million over four years to support provinces and territories in their implementation of the NAP to End GBV, through bilateral funding agreements. The bilateral agreement for each province and territory, which includes their funding allocation and actions, updated annually, can be found on Women and Gender Equality Canada’s webpage Bilateral Agreements on the National Action Plan to End Gender-based Violence at https://femmes-egalite-genres.canada.ca/en/gender-based-violence/intergovernmental-collaboration/bilateral-agreements.html.
    With respect to parts c), d), and e), the bilateral funding agreements with the provinces and territories are designed to allow jurisdictions the flexibility to implement opportunities for action within the framework of the five pillars and Foundation of the NAP to End GBV in accordance with their regional realities and priorities, with the exception of Quebec. Gender based violence is a priority for the Government of Quebec, which has invested significant funds to end violence against women. However, although it supports the overall objectives of the National Action Plan to End Gender Based Violence, the Government of Quebec cannot adhere to it because it intends to retain its full responsibility in this area on its territory. Through an agreement that respects its autonomy, the Government of Quebec receives federal funding to support the programs, initiatives, and services to end gender-based violence that it puts in place based on the needs of its territory. Each province and territory is responsible for directing investments according to their areas of need and priorities. As part of the implementation of the National Action Plan to End Gender-Based Violence, federal, provincial, and territorial governments are working together to monitor the results and impacts of actions through the National Action Plan to End Gender-Based Violence’s expected results framework. The efforts of the NAP to End GBV is built upon years of consultation with thousands of stakeholders, the Federal Government will continue engaging with stakeholders as we implement an evergreen, and flexible NAP to End GBV. These ongoing engagements will identify changing needs and priorities faced in different regions. In addition to the bilateral agreements being posted online, a national report will be published on an annual basis demonstrating the progress of the NAP to end GBV in each province as well as the need for changing adaption for each bilateral agreement. These public reports and agreements published on the website is part of the government’s strategy to include accountability and transparency within the NAP to End GBV. As funding is gradually distributed throughout the 10 years, these public reports will be imperative in ensuring that all gaps are addressed when implementing the NAP to End GBV.
Question No. 2297—
Mr. Frank Caputo:
    With regard to inmates in facilities operated by the Correctional Service of Canada: (a) how many inmates are currently on an opiates reduction program such as suboxone or methadone; and (b) of the inmates in (a), how many are also concurrently accessing the needle exchange program?
Ms. Jennifer O’Connell (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Public Safety, Democratic Institutions and Intergovernmental Affairs (Cybersecurity), Lib.):
    Mr. Speaker, the Correctional Service Canada, or CSC, offers a comprehensive suite of substance use treatment, support, and harm reduction services consistent with those offered in the community. Opioid Agonist Treatment, or OAT, is available to individuals with an opioid use disorder, or OUD, and is an effective treatment for OUD with literature demonstrating its success in reducing the use of illicit opioids and improving retention in addiction treatment. OAT is also effective in reducing the risk of HIV and hepatitis C infections among people who inject drugs and decreasing the harm associated with opioid use in prison and the likelihood of substance use upon return to the community. Effective OAT incorporates physical and mental health care and harm reduction delivered in an integrated fashion. For example, care includes provider-led counselling, substance use monitoring, provision of comprehensive primary care, harm reduction, education by health care professionals, the assessment and monitoring of emotional and mental health, and offering of psychosocial treatment interventions and supports.
    Reducing the spread of infectious diseases makes institutions safer for employees and inmates, and it makes communities safer when inmates are released. One of the main ways that infectious diseases are transmitted in correctional institutions is through the sharing of illicit needles. The Prison Needle Exchange Program, or PNEP, gives federal inmates access to sterile needles in an effort to limit the transmission of infectious diseases.
    Of the 13,619 offenders in custody on February 4, 2024, there were 3,129 offenders on OAT. Of those who were on OAT, 45 offenders were participating in the PNEP.
Question No. 2300—
Mr. Ted Falk:
    With regard to the government's approval of COVID-19 vaccines: what are the details of all research, studies, and data that the government used as a basis for its claim that the vaccines were safe and effective?
Mr. Yasir Naqvi (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Health, Lib.):
    Mr. Speaker, Health Canada has authorized several COVID-19 vaccines for use in Canada. Each of these underwent a careful scientific review, and met our standards for safety, efficacy and quality. Information about all of the authorized vaccines, including the Regulatory Decision Summary, can be found on the COVID-19 vaccines and treatments portal at https://bit.ly/3EH07IB. Click on the individual vaccine names and then the “all resources” tab.
    The portal provides detailed information for each of the vaccines that have been authorized, such as the product monograph, which is the prescribing information for both consumers and healthcare professionals in the manufacturer insert; the summary basis of decision, which provides a detailed overview of the data considered by Health Canada; and the terms and conditions placed on the authorizations, which are the requirements for further data submission that manufacturers are required to meet.
    Bear in mind that information in the portal is being updated regularly. Specific details related to various aspects of the submission review, including the summaries of the clinical efficacy and safety, can be found in the portal. The portal also includes the supporting data related to the approval of COVID-19 vaccines on Health Canada’s Public Release of Clinical Information website at https://bit.ly/3GFvDHE.
    As the federal regulator, Health Canada requires that clinical trial results be generated from properly designed protocols so that safety and efficacy of vaccines can be well demonstrated. Health Canada also requires manufacturing data demonstrating consistency and quality in the production of the vaccine. These requirements are informed by science and are aligned with international standards, including the World Health Organization guidelines.
Question No. 2304—
Ms. Michelle Ferreri:
    With regard to statistics held by the government: what was the number of persons employed as child care workers in (i) 2022, (ii) 2023?
Ms. Élisabeth Brière (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Families, Children and Social Development and to the Minister of Mental Health and Addictions and Associate Minister of Health, Lib.):
    Mr. Speaker, while provinces and territories are not required to report on the number of persons employed as child care workers under the Canada-wide early learning and child care, or ELCC, Agreements, Statistics Canada’s Labour Force Survey on the employment estimates for the Early childhood educators and assistants occupational grouping estimated that the number of persons employed as child care workers in 2022 was 236,100 and 246,700 in 2023. It should be noted this occupation category captures workers who provide care for children between the ages of infancy and 12 years old employed in child care centres, agencies for exceptional children, and other settings where early childhood education services are provided.
    As with any survey, the Labour Force Survey is subject to biases and errors and is best for monitoring longer term trends, rather than for comparing two single points in time. Further, please note that not all Labour Force Survey data is available for all provinces and territories. Due to sampling constraints, some data is not available for the North, including data regarding the number of early childhood educators and assistants. As such, the figures referenced above do not include the estimated number of early childhood educators working in the Territories.
    As the provinces and territories are the owners of the administrative data related to the delivery of their ELCC programs and services, they may have the detailed information being sought. The Government of Canada will continue to work together with the provinces and territories through the implementation of the Canada-wide ELCC system to improve the collection and dissemination of data.
Question No. 2306—
Mr. Michael D. Chong:
    With regard to government information about the two Canadian Hells Angels named in an indictment in the United States: did the U.S. government notify the Canadian government of these two Canadians before the indictment was unsealed?
Ms. Jennifer O’Connell (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Public Safety, Democratic Institutions and Intergovernmental Affairs (Cybersecurity), Lib.):
    Mr. Speaker, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, or RCMP, was aware of the individuals in question and worked closely with the American authorities throughout their investigation.
    This indictment demonstrates the importance of our close work with the Federal Bureau of Investigation, or FBI, in protecting both sides of our border and we look forward to continued collaborations. The RCMP is committed to combatting foreign actor interference. As foreign actor interference transcends borders, our strong relationships with Canada's security and intelligence community and law enforcement agencies around the world are essential to combatting it.
    The RCMP will not be commenting further on ongoing investigations, domestic or international.
Question No. 2307—
Mr. Michael D. Chong:
    With regard to Global Affairs Canada's (GAC) reaction to two Canadian Hells Angels named in an indictment in the United States related to a plot to kill an Iranian defector: (a) did GAC request of Italy, which is Canada's protecting power in Iran, to make representations to Iran regarding this matter; (b) if the answer to (a) is affirmative, what specific message was delivered and on what date; and (c) if the answer to (a) is negative, why was no request made of Italy?
Hon. Robert Oliphant (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Lib.):
    Mr. Speaker, the following reflects a consolidated response approved on behalf of Global Affairs Canada ministers.
    Global Affairs Canada is unable to provide additional information regarding this case as it is a matter of on-going legal proceedings.
Question No. 2308—
Mr. Fraser Tolmie:
    With regard to the Department of National Defence issuing a posting for two journalists to engage in "role playing services" to prepare its spokespeople for challenging media questions: (a) what is the pay associated with such postings; (b) who authorized the decision to spend money on role playing services; and (c) why was the money in (a) not spent on investments in the Canadian Armed Forces?
Mrs. Marie-France Lalonde (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of National Defence, Lib.):
    Mr. Speaker, the Defence Public Affairs Learning Centre, or DPALC, provides Department of National Defence and Canadian Armed Forces, or CAF, personnel with specialized military public affairs and communications training. This directly contributes to the objectives of the Defence Team, including the CAF, to uphold transparency and to effectively communicate the complex work undertaken by our members in support of the Government of Canada.
    Contractors are used by the DPALC for certain ad-hoc components of media training, including for Spokesperson training. On January 15, 2024, the Assistant Deputy Minister, Public Affairs, issued a Tender Notice for the professional services of two role-playing journalists.
    The contracting rates will be based on the per diem rates proposed by the successful bidder. The successful bidder is the bidder that has the highest combined rating of technical merit and price. Given that the Tender Notice closed on February 23, 2024, pay rates are not yet available. Bidders must comply with the appropriate Treasury Board Security and Integrity provisions. The chosen contractor for these positions would be paid fixed time rates on the specific dates that services are rendered.
Question No. 2310—
Mr. Michael Kram:
    With regard to Parks Canada and the eradication of deer on Sidney Island: (a) were other lower-cost options to hunt and kill the invasive deer studied or considered prior to the implementation of phase one, including, but not limited to, allowing local hunters to hunt the deer for free; (b) for each option in (a), what is the reason that it was rejected; (c) what options did Parks Canada study or consider for the implementation of phase two of the deer eradication; (d) for each option in (c), what was the estimated cost and why was each option accepted or rejected; and (e) once all phases of the eradication are fully implemented, what does Parks Canada estimate to be the cost per invasive deer killed?
Hon. Steven Guilbeault (Minister of Environment and Climate Change, Lib.):
    Mr. Speaker, in response to parts a), b), c) and d), various options to manage fallow deer on Sidney Island have been considered and adopted by Parks Canada.
    Recreational hunters have been hunting fallow deer on the private lands on Sidney Island since 1981, including paid and professional culls. Despite removing almost 15,000 deer, the population has continually rebounded. These culls have not been successful at keeping the deer population at a healthy level for the ecosystem.
    The Sidney Island Ecological Restoration Project is a multi-jurisdictional restoration project that aims to facilitate recovery of forest ecosystems that have been significantly damaged due to over-browsing by introduced invasive European fallow deer. The project has been collaboratively built from the ground up, with project partners co-developing the project’s vision and goals, thorough expert analysis by specialists and animal welfare organizations to implement the project safely, and then co-designing restoration actions. Project partners—including the W̱SÁNEĆ Leadership Council, Tsawout First Nation, Pauquachin First Nation, the Province of British Columbia, Islands Trust Conservancy, and Sidney Island residents—made the decision to proceed with eradication after more than 40 years of population control efforts, including culls, have not successfully facilitated ecosystem recovery.
    Project partners formed a project steering committee in 2019, and developed a three-part strategy for long-term ecosystem recovery, focusing on vegetation restoration, the eradication of European fallow deer, and the long-term management of black-tailed deer. Each project partner underwent an internal process to determine whether their community or organization supported the proposed strategy for ecosystem recovery. In spring 2023, all project partners formally approved the implementation of the strategy.
    Other methods of population management were also considered, including the following. Capturing and relocating animals to other areas. Relocation transfers negative impacts as European fallow deer are invasive to the whole region and relocation would result in ecological degradation elsewhere. Sterilization of the fallow deer on Sidney Islands. Sterilization does not allow for a complete removal of the population. Unless completely removed, the population of fallow deer will eventually rebound, as it has been seen previously after culls on Sidney Island. Surgical sterilization would require the successful capture of every individual male or female in the population, which would be incredibly resource-intensive and also poses significant feasibility challenges.
    Parks Canada did not conduct a cost analysis on these methods of deer population management because the options did not meet the needs of the project for the reasons listed earlier.
    The intention of the Sidney Island Ecological Restoration Project is to eradicate the invasive fallow deer on Sidney Island. This operation is not a cull, it is an eradication. An eradication requires different skillsets than a cull, particularly as the project area includes private residential lots, many with residential built environment and some with full-time residents. Marksmen with extensive experience in deer eradications and a well-established safety record of marksmanship in semi-urban environments are necessary for the operation to be completed safely and effectively. Specific statutory and regulatory authorities are required for this operation, including permits granted by Parks Canada, Transport Canada, the Province of British Columbia and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. With eradication, the goal is zero animals remaining from the target population. Access to private property is required for this operation which was provided by the Sidney Island Strata Corporation and the Islands Trust Conservancy.
    Animal welfare and visitor safety are priorities for Parks Canada. The proposed eradication methods were selected to ensure the humane treatment of wildlife and to minimize the safety risk to local community members and visitors. Public Services and Procurement Canada, on behalf of Parks Canada, posted a solicitation process requiring bidders to have experience conducting eradication operations in populated landscapes.
    A primary contractor was tasked with the development and implementation of an operational plan for eradication of invasive European fallow deer from Sidney Island, including Phase 1 and Phase 2 of the project. Public Services and Procurement Canada (PSPC), on behalf of Parks Canada, awarded this contract to the successful bidder, Coastal Conservation Inc., a Canadian company, on March 29, 2022. The Request for Proposals was posted publicly and available to domestic and international firms.
    With respect to part (e), the fallow deer eradication project cost is not determined on the basis of a cost per deer. The project cost is based on the selection of a humane and effective method for complete removal of the population of deer. The scope of the overall restoration project reaches far beyond the short-term component of addressing the issue of fallow deer and includes propagation and planting of native plants and trees. The project goal is the restoration of the Coastal Douglas-Fir Forest ecosystem on Sidney Island. The estimated budget for the ecosystem restoration project is $5.9 million, $796,340 of which was incurred for Phase 1. These expenses are for more than deer eradication, they include expenses such as meat processing, Indigenous harvesters, equipment purchases and rentals, outreach activities, and amounts paid to contractors.
Question No. 2311—
Mr. Philip Lawrence:
    With regard to the government's Medical Expense Tax Credit, broken down by year since 2016: (a) how many individuals filed medical expenses for gluten-free products; (b) what was the total value of tax credits claimed for gluten-free food products; (c) what is the breakdown of the individuals who claimed medical expenses for gluten-free products by income level; (d) how many audits were conducted on individuals claiming gluten-free products as a medical expense; (e) what is the administrative cost to administer this tax credit; and (f) how many employees or full-time equivalents are assigned to administer this tax credit?
Hon. Marie-Claude Bibeau (Minister of National Revenue, Lib.):
    Mr. Speaker, with respect to the noted question, what follows is the response from the Canada Revenue Agency, or CRA, as of February 9, 2024, that is, the date of the question.
    The Medical Expense Tax Credit is a non-refundable tax credit that can be used to reduce tax that is paid or may have to be paid. Expenses include a wide range of products, procedures and services. Persons with celiac disease can claim the incremental costs associated with buying gluten-free food products as a medical expense.
    With respect to parts (a), (b) and (c), on the T1 General Income Tax and Benefit Return, the medical expense claims recorded on lines 33099 and 33199 encompass lump sums for various eligible expenses, some of which may not be related to celiac disease. Further information can be found on “https://www.canada.ca/en/revenue-agency/services/tax/individuals/topics/about-your-tax-return/tax-return/completing-a-tax-return/deductions-credits-expenses/lines-33099-33199-eligible-medical-expenses-you-claim-on-your-tax-return.html#hw_clm.
    Although medical expenses are reviewed as part of the CRA’s compliance workload, the CRA does not track the various types of expenses which taxpayers are claiming on their tax return for medical expenses, nor are they broken down by income levels. As such, the CRA cannot respond in the manner requested.
    With respect to parts (d), (e) and (f), through a variety of verification activities the CRA ensures taxpayers and benefit recipients comply with tax legislation administered by the CRA. The CRA cannot isolate the costs to administer this tax credit individually. This credit is one of numerous credits on the holistic T1 individual income tax and benefit return and is integrated into the blended activities of the CRA. As such, the CRA cannot respond in the manner requested.
Question No. 2313—
Mr. Dane Lloyd:
    With regard to the $256 million committed over five years in budget 2022 to the Fighting and Managing Wildfires in a Changing Climate program: how much of this commitment has been spent to date, in total, and broken down by specific investment?
Hon. Jonathan Wilkinson (Minister of Natural Resources and Energy, Lib.):
    Mr. Speaker, Budget 2022 announced $256 million for the Fighting and Managing Wildfires in a Changing Climate, or FMWCC, program to support the efforts of provinces and territories to strengthen capacities and capabilities in fire management across Canada by procuring specialized wildland firefighting equipment.
    The Equipment Fund under the FMWCC currently has agreements in place with Alberta, British Columbia, Manitoba, New Brunswick, Newfoundland and Labrador, Nova Scotia, Saskatchewan, Northwest Territories and Yukon.
    The program spent $6.75M in fiscal year 2022-2023 and has committed to spend another $30.9M for the 2023-2024 fiscal year to procure specialized equipment. To date, $188.8M has been committed over 5 years, with the remaining to be invested in the near future.
    Of the $6.75M that has been spent to date, $6.62M was invested in specialized wildland firefighting equipment including, the repair of aging equipment, vehicles, mobile units, avionics upgrades, wildfire tools, first aid equipment, hoses, pumps, trailers, storage containers, chainsaws and accessories, fire camp water systems, weather stations and enhanced communications equipment. The remaining $0.13M was invested in personnel and training.
Question No. 2317—
Mr. Alex Ruff:
    With regard to the processing of requests made under the Access to Information Act and the Privacy Act (ATIP) by Parks Canada since January 2015: (a) how many requests have been received each year; (b) what is the average response time each year; (c) what was the shortest processing time each year; (d) what is the longest processing time each year; (e) how many hours of work were allocated to process ATIP requests broken down by year; (f) how many contracts for services have been issued to process ATIP requests, broken down by year; (g) what are the details of each contract in (f), including, for each, the (i) date, (ii) vendor, (iii) value, (iv) number of ATIP requests processed related to the contract; (h) how many complaints has Parks Canada received via the Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada and the Office of the Information Commissioner of Canada regarding ATIP requests each year; (i) what tool does Parks Canada currently use for records management; (j) what is the amount of records held by Parks Canada that remain undigitized, including the quantity of records in total, broken down by year of record; and (k) what are the details of any specific investments, if any, that Parks Canada has undertaken to increase compliance with the Access to Information Act and Privacy Act regarding requests, including, the date, financial value, and description of each investment?
Hon. Steven Guilbeault (Minister of Environment and Climate Change, Lib.):
    Mr. Speaker, for the responses to parts (a) to (d) and (h) of the question, please refer to the statistical report on the Access to Information and Privacy Acts, published on the following website: https://parks.canada.ca/agence-agency/dp-pd/baiprp-atipo/rap-rep
    With respect to part (e) of the question, the information requested is not systematically tracked in a centralized database. However, the length of time taken to process ATIP requests is calculated in calendar days and captured in the statistical report on the Access to Information and Privacy Acts, published on the following website: https://parks.canada.ca/agence-agency/dp-pd/baiprp-atipo/rap-rep
    In response to parts (f) and (g), Parks Canada undertook a preliminary and broadly scoped search in order to determine the amount of information that would fall within the scope of the question and the amount of time that would be required to prepare a comprehensive response. The information requested is not systematically tracked in a centralized database. Parks Canada concluded that producing and validating a comprehensive response to this question would require a manual collection of information that is not possible in the time allotted and could lead to the disclosure of incomplete and misleading information.
    In response to part (i), records management at Parks Canada is managed through shared folders hosted on file servers, GCDocs and SharePoint. Parks Canada records are also held in the specialized applications PeopleSoft, or Oracle; Maximo, IBM; STAR, SAP; ArcGIS, ESRI; NIRS, or the national integrated realty system; PC411, or Parks Canada 411; IEM, or incident event management; ParksNet, Intrant; CCMe, and other Government of Canada applications hosted by the Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat.
    With respect to part (j), Parks Canada does not have an inventory of undigitized paper records.
    With respect to part (k), Parks Canada has not undertaken any specific investments to increase compliance with the Access to Information and Privacy Act.
Question No. 2318—
Mr. Gérard Deltell:
    With regard to information on project applications subject to Inefficient Fossil Fuels Subsidies Guidelines held by the government: (a) how many applications have been submitted; (b) how many applications are being reviewed; (c) how many applications have been (i) approved, (ii) rejected, (iii) delayed; and (d) for each application in (a), (i) when was the application received, (ii) what are the details of each project, (iii) what is the estimated completion date?
Hon. Steven Guilbeault (Minister of Environment and Climate Change, Lib.):
    Mr. Speaker, as part of its effort to fulfill Canada’s G20 commitment to phase out or rationalize inefficient fossil fuel subsidies, on July 24, 2023, the Government of Canada released the “Inefficient Fossil Fuel Subsidies Government of Canada Self-Review Assessment Framework” and the “Inefficient Fossil Fuel Subsidies Government of Canada Guidelines”. The framework defines a fossil fuel subsidy and the methodology for assessing efficiency, while the guidelines are meant to avoid the creation of any new inefficient subsidies. The framework and guidelines were jointly developed by Environment and Climate Change Canada and the Department of Finance Canada and apply to all federal departments and agencies.
    Proponents do not apply to the IFFS framework and guidelines, but rather, government departments and agencies are responsible for applying the guidelines when considering applications for project funding that could be deemed an inefficient subsidy to the fossil fuel sector.
    Subsidies to the fossil fuel sector are considered “inefficient” unless they meet one or more of the following criteria: subsidies that enable significant net greenhouse gas emissions reductions in Canada or internationally in alignment with article 6 of the Paris Agreement; subsidies that support clean energy, clean technology or renewable energy; subsidies that provide an essential energy service to a remote community; subsidies that provide short-term support for emergency response; subsidies that support indigenous economic participation in fossil fuel activities; subsidies that support abated production processes, or projects that have a credible plan to achieve net-zero emissions by 2030.
    No centralized database exists to track government-wide decision-making; however, departments and agencies are required to document how an approved project meets one of the six criteria, in cases where the guidelines apply.
Question No. 2322—
Mr. Ted Falk:
    With regard to Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC): (a) has IRCC outsourced the processing or review of any case files to the private industry in the past five years; (b) if the answer to (a) is affirmative, (i) what is the total amount spent on such outsourcing, broken down by year, (ii) how many case files were outsourced, broken down by year; (c) what are the details of all contracts related to such outsourcing since 2019, including, for each, the (i) date, (ii) vendor, (iii) value or amount, (iv) number of files outsourced to the vendor, (v) manner in which the contract was awarded (i.e. sole-sourced or competitive bid); (d) what is the rationale for outsourcing such files; and (e) what specific security measures, if any, are in place to ensure that applicants whose files are outsourced have their information protected?
Mr. Paul Chiang (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship, Lib.):
    Mr. Speaker, IRCC does not contract out or outsource processing to the private industry. Therefore, IRCC does not have any information to provide for this question.
Question No. 2323—
Mr. Peter Julian:
    With regard to the Canada Housing Benefit, broken down by federal electoral district since the program's inception: (a) what is the total number of applications (i) received, (ii) approved; (b) what is the total dollar value of payments delivered to eligible applicants; (c) how many children, in total, have been helped by the program; and (d) how many seniors, in total, have been helped by the program?
Mr. Chris Bittle (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Housing, Infrastructure and Communities, Lib.):
    Mr. Speaker, with regard to the Canada housing benefit, broken down by federal electoral district since the program's inception, CMHC and the Canada Revenue Agency undertook an extensive preliminary search in order to determine the amount of information that would fall within the scope of the question and the amount of time that would be required to prepare a comprehensive response.
    The information requested is not systematically tracked in a centralized database and relies on a provincial component for all Canada housing benefit applications. It was concluded that producing and validating a comprehensive response to this question would require a manual collection of information that is not possible in the time allotted and could lead to the disclosure of incomplete and misleading information.
    Any information regarding application statistics can be found on www.canada.ca/en/services/taxes/child-and-family-benefits/top-up-canada-housing-benefit/statistics.html
Question No. 2325—
Mr. Michael D. Chong:
    With regard to the data security breach at Global Affairs Canada (GAC) which was reported around the end of January 2024: (a) how many users' information was impacted, in total and broken down by (i) GAC employees, (ii) government employees outside of GAC, (iii) the general public, (iv) diplomats from other countries; (b) on what date did GAC become aware of the data breach; (c) on what date were the impacted users informed of the breach; (d) if impacted users were not informed, why were they not informed; (e) for impacted users, what types of information were breached; (f) did the data breach only impact users who accessed the GAC-operated Secure Integrated Global Network (SIGNET) between December 30, 2023, and January 24, 2024, and, if not, what other users, time periods or networks were impacted; (g) what action, if any, did GAC take to prevent data security breaches in response to the December 2022 announcement by the United States Secret Service that entities working on behalf of the government of the People's Republic of China, including APT41, were hacking and conducting espionage; (h) is the actor(s) responsible for the data breach a state or non-state actor(s); and (i) what is the name of the actor(s) responsible for the data breach?
Hon. Robert Oliphant (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Lib.):
    Mr. Speaker, the following reflects a consolidated response approved on behalf of Global Affairs Canada ministers.
    In response to parts (a) to (i) of the question, given its profile, Global Affairs Canada, or GAC, takes a proactive approach and employs a variety of security monitoring measures to detect and address potential risks. In collaboration with federal cybersecurity partners, GAC has a robust cybersecurity infrastructure and works closely with partners, including the United States and other close allies, to share information to address potential threats. The Canadian Centre for Cyber Security and the federal cybersecurity community address issues as quickly as possible.
    In January 2024, Global Affairs Canada discovered malicious cyber-activity on its network, as well as indications of a data breach. While investigations are still ongoing, early results suggest that many Global Affairs Canada users, including employees, may have been affected. A first message to all Global Affairs Canada employees was sent on January 24, 2024. Potentially affected individual users were advised from January 27 to 28, 2024, following forensics work by GAC and cybersecurity partners. GAC employees have been contacted directly by the department’s privacy team to share initial results and mitigation measures.
    No further details can be provided at this time with respect to specific cybersecurity incidents, due to operational security considerations.
Question No. 2326—
Ms. Louise Chabot:
    With regard to Employment and Social Development Canada’s Skills for Success Program: Training and Tools stream for 2023: (a) with regard to the unallocated funds, how have they been used or how will they be used; (b) why have no Quebec organizations received any funds; (c) do the grants awarded allow for translation of the tools into French to ensure their accessibility; (d) why was the treatment of submitted proposals repeatedly postponed in the fall-winter 2022-2023 and spring-summer 2023 before being rejected last July; and (e) why is the CREMA proposal on a "waiting list" while $209 million have not yet been spent?
Mr. Irek Kusmierczyk (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Official Languages, Lib.):
    Mr. Speaker, in response to part (a) of the question, throughout the skills for success, or SFS, program investment streams, there are now a total of 69 agreements in place, valued at approximately $233.1 million. All SFS program funds are currently notionally allocated.
    In response to part (b) of the question, there are currently three Quebec-based organizations receiving funding as part of the budget 2021 investment in the SFS program.
    The SFS program is primarily a national program, and the geographic locations of applicants were not used to assess proposals or to prioritize investments. Eligible applications were assessed based on the advertised parameters and priorities of the intake process, as outlined on the program’s funding page.
    In response to part (c) of the question, to comply with the official language requirements, the SFS terms and conditions permit the translations of project materials into French or English when it has been determined during the project assessment and negotiations that the target clientele who are eligible to participate in a project to be carried out by the recipient is composed of members of both official language communities, and the anticipated demand for project assistance by the target clientele in both official languages determines the use of both official languages.
    In response to part (d) of the question, the funding page for the SFS program’s training and tools stream stated that funding decisions for this call for proposals would be made by late fall 2022. However, due to the high volume of funding applications received, it took longer than expected for applications to be reviewed. Applicants were notified of the delays.
    In response to part (e) of the question, all SFS program funds are notionally allocated. While the program cannot speak to specific applications, in cases where programs are oversubscribed, some applicants may receive notification that their proposal may receive further consideration should additional funding become available.
    During the negotiation of contribution agreements, it is normal for the value of some projects to fluctuate as project activities and expenditures are finalized. It is therefore possible for funds to be released and made available to finance other eligible projects. However, the message to organizations regarding this possibility does not guarantee that sufficient funds will be released from this exercise to allow the funding of additional organizations.
Question No. 2328—
Mr. Colin Carrie:
    With regard to Health Canada’s approval of mRNA vaccine products: (a) can Health Canada definitively exclude the possibility that undesirable effects to human cells and tissues (e.g. cell proliferation, toxicity) may be caused by conceivable mechanisms of action, such as (i) the creation of aberrant proteins by means of ribosomal frameshifting, (ii) the concomitant injection of residual DNA plasmid fragments, which, according to Speicher et al., are known to exceed by 188 to 509 fold the guideline limits for residual DNA that the United States Food and Drug Administration and the World Health Organization set at 10 ng/dose when measured by fluorometry, and the subsequent transfection of these fragments into the cell’s nucleus with the help of the lipid nanoparticles (LNPs), (iii) the concomitant injection of other contaminants such as double-stranded RNA or fragmented RNA, (iv) the presence of abnormally high levels of IgG4 antibodies due to repeated vaccination, (v) the concomitant injection of bacterial endotoxins previously detected in Pfizer and Moderna vials, which may also be transfected via LNPs, (vi) the potential for reverse transcriptase of mRNA into DNA, (vii) the presence of SV40 promoter/enhancer DNA as an additional contaminant that could transfect the cell and integrate into the genome, (viii) the LNP-facilitated entry of mRNA and spike protein across the blood-brain barrier, across the placenta, into breast milk, and into organs and tissues, particularly of the heart, bone marrow and brain; (b) when considering the mechanisms of action in (a), can Health Canada definitively exclude the possibility that any combination of two or more of these mechanisms may cause undesirable effects of cell proliferation or toxicity; (c) has Health Canada completed a risk-benefit assessment in relation to (i) each of these singular mechanisms of action, (ii) the combination of any of the mechanisms listed in (a); (d) if the answer to (c) is affirmative, what is the risk-benefit assessment; (e) if the answer to (c) is negative, why has Health Canada not completed a risk-benefit assessment; and (f) did Health Canada set new safety limits for levels of residual DNA in the presence of a lipid nanoparticle delivery system in an mRNA vaccine product?
Mr. Yasir Naqvi (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Health, Lib.):
    Mr. Speaker, Health Canada initially authorized the Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 mRNA vaccine in December 2020 and subsequently has authorized updated versions, including the most recent vaccine targeting the XBB Omicron subvariant in late 2023: https://covid-vaccine.canada.ca. Each assessment included a determination that the vaccine met the department's stringent regulatory, safety, efficacy and quality requirements for use in Canada.
    In response to part (a)(i) of the question, as a regulator, Health Canada sets quality standards and requirements for manufacturers to follow, including providing comprehensive and detailed information about the vaccine itself and about the manufacturing process. There are strict limits and controls to ensure the safety and effectiveness of the vaccine. The department authorizes a product only once the data has been reviewed and demonstrates that the product’s benefits outweigh its risks.
    Prior to Health Canada authorization, the mRNA vaccines were tested in preclinical safety studies for general and reproductive toxicity, and no safety signals related to frame shifting were reported.
    After authorization, Health Canada continues to monitor the safety of COVID-19 vaccines through surveillance and risk minimization measures, including requiring manufacturers to regularly submit safety reports and reports of adverse events following immunization, or AEFIs, and regularly assessing whether there is any new safety information that may affect the benefit-risk profile of the product. Should a safety issue be confirmed, Health Canada will take appropriate action, which may include communicating the risk to Canadians or changing the recommended use of the vaccine.
    In response to part (a)(ii) of the question, as a regulator, Health Canada sets quality standards and requirements for manufacturers to follow, including providing comprehensive and detailed information about the vaccine itself and about the manufacturing process. There are strict limits and controls to ensure the safety and effectiveness of the vaccine. The department authorizes a product only once the data has been reviewed and demonstrates that the product’s benefits outweigh its risks.
    The limit for residual DNA in biological drugs required by Health Canada for approval is not more than 10 ng/human dose. This is in line with the World Health Organization’s recommendation concerning residual DNA in biological drugs and is consistent with the quality limits of other international regulators.
    After authorization, Health Canada continues to monitor the safety of COVID-19 vaccines through surveillance and risk minimization measures, including requiring manufacturers to regularly submit safety reports and reports of AEFIs, and regularly assessing whether there is any new safety information that may affect the benefit-risk profile of the product. Should a safety issue be confirmed, Health Canada will take appropriate action, which may include communicating the risk to Canadians or changing the recommended use of the vaccine.
    In response to part (a)(iii), please see the responses to parts (a)(i) and (a)(ii).
    In response to parts (a)(iv) and (v), please see the response to part (a)(i).
    In response to part (a)(vi), please see the responses to parts (a)(i) and (a)(ii).
    In response to part (a)(vii) of the question, as a regulator, Health Canada sets quality standards and requirements for manufacturers to follow, including providing comprehensive and detailed information about the vaccine itself and about the manufacturing process. There are strict limits and controls to ensure the safety and effectiveness of the vaccine. The department authorizes a product only once the data has been reviewed and demonstrates that the product’s benefits outweigh its risks.
    The SV40 promoter/enhancer sequence was found to be a residual DNA fragment in the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID 19 vaccine. The fragment is inactive, has no functional role and was measured to be consistently below the limit required by Health Canada and other international regulators. Health Canada continues to monitor the COVID 19 vaccines to ensure that they continue to meet the highest standards for safety, effectiveness and quality, and that their benefits continue to outweigh any potential risks.
    After authorization, Health Canada continues to monitor the safety of COVID-19 vaccines through surveillance and risk minimization measures, including requiring manufacturers to regularly submit safety reports and reports of AEFIs and regularly assessing whether there is any new safety information that may affect the benefit-risk profile of the product. Should a safety issue be confirmed, Health Canada will take appropriate action, which may include communicating the risk to Canadians or changing the recommended use of the vaccine.
    For the response to part (a)(viii), please see the responses to parts (a)(i) and (a)(ii).
    For the response to parts (b) to (e) of the question, please see the response to part (a)(i).
    In response to part (f) of the question, the limit for residual DNA in biological drugs required by Health Canada for approval is consistent with the WHO recommended limit of not more than 10 ng/human dose. There are no proposed changes to this limit for the mRNA vaccines.
Question No. 2329—
Ms. Michelle Ferreri:
    With regard to the Canada-wide Early Learning and Child Care program: (a) how much does it cost the government to administer the program annually, in total and broken down by province or territory; and (b) how many employees or full-time equivalents are assigned to work related to the administration of the program, in total and broken down by province or territory whose program's administration the employee is assigned to?
Mrs. Élisabeth Brière (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Families, Children and Social Development and to the Minister of Mental Health and Addictions and Associate Minister of Health, Lib.):
    Mr. Speaker, the Government of Canada is investing over $27 billion over five years to build a Canada-wide early learning and child care, or ELCC, system, ensuring all families have access to inclusive and affordable regulated child care, no matter where they live. Canada-wide ELCC agreements have been signed with all provinces and territories, or PTs, including an asymmetrical agreement with Quebec, to reduce fees to an average of $10 a day and support the creation of over 250,000 spaces nationwide by March 2026.
    In response to parts (a) and (b) of the question, the Federal Secretariat on Early Learning and Child Care supports the Government of Canada’s vision of a Canada-wide ELCC system that ensures all families have access to high-quality, affordable, flexible and inclusive early learning and child care, no matter where they live.
    Employees of the federal secretariat support the implementation of a Canada-wide ELCC system by carrying out a range of activities; single employees are not “assigned” to support work for a single jurisdiction. Functions include managing federal-provincial/territorial agreements, developing policy, acting as liaison with domestic and international ELCC stakeholders, and supporting research and innovation projects across ELCC’s foundational pillars: access, affordability, quality, flexibility and inclusion.
    As of February 15, 2024, salaries for the secretariat totalled $9,015,781 for a total of 76 full-time equivalents. In support of program delivery, the secretariat’s operating funding totalled $8,798,615, also as of February 15, 2024. This operating funding includes but is not limited to supporting the following activities: data and research activities, including surveys and research undertaken by Statistics Canada; the operations of the national advisory council on ELCC and the FPT forum of ministers most responsible for ELCC; bilateral, stakeholder and international relations; and administrative support for the Prime Minister’s awards of excellence.
    Under the Constitution Act, 1867, PTs have primary responsibility for matters pertaining to education, including the design and delivery of ELCC programs and services. Each PT has its own system, governed by legislative and regulatory frameworks that carry differing costs, to administer the Canada-wide system in their respective jurisdiction.
    In this respect, questions regarding the costs and the number of full-time equivalents assigned to administer ELCC programs and services in each PT should be directed to the appropriate PT ministries most responsible for child care.
Question No. 2330—
Mr. Marty Morantz:
    With regard to what the Minister of Finance and officials in the Department of Finance knew about the allegations contained in a February 6, 2024, report from Sam Cooper that, since 2015, more than 10 Toronto-area branches of the Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corporation (HSBC) had issued at least $500 million in home loans to diaspora buyers claiming exaggerated incomes or non-existent jobs outside of Canada: (a) were the minister and Department of Finance officials aware of these allegations prior to approving the acquisition of the HSBC by the Royal Bank of Canada in December 2023, and, if so, what impact did these allegations have on the approval decision; (b) was the government aware that these fraudulently obtained mortgages facilitated a large money laundering operation, and, if so, when did it become aware; and (c) what action, if any, is the government taking in response to these allegations?
Hon. Chrystia Freeland (Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance, Lib.):
    Mr. Speaker, on acquisition applications subject to ministerial approval, the department relies on a rigorous review process undertaken by the Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions, or OSFI, to provide the Minister of Finance with advice on matters relevant to the application. The relevant matters for the minister’s consideration are set out in section 396 of the Bank Act. Given its role as a regulator, the Department of Finance will not comment on any supervisory or regulatory process that may be underway.
    Canadians must have confidence in the integrity and security of their financial institutions. In this regard, the Financial Transactions and Reports Analysis Centre of Canada, FINTRAC, and OSFI, continue to engage with financial institutions to promote, monitor and enforce compliance with anti money laundering and anti-terrorist financing and prudential lending requirements respectively. FINTRAC and OSFI engage closely and regularly to share supervisory insights and coordinate supervision of federally regulated financial institutions in Canada.
Question No. 2332—
Mr. Doug Shipley:
    With regard to Correctional Service Canada (CSC), in total and broken down by year since 2016: (a) how many federally incarcerated inmates have sought a medically assisted death; (b) how many federally incarcerated inmates have been granted a medically assisted death; (c) what is the breakdown of inmates in (a) and (b) by (i) dangerous offenders, (ii) high-profile offenders, (iii) multiple murderers; (d) of the inmates in (b), for how many was a natural death (i) reasonably foreseeable, (ii) not reasonably foreseeable; (e) what is the breakdown of inmates in (b) by (i) those who received a medically assisted death inside a prison or CSC facility, (ii) those who died in a hospital or other similar location; and (f) of those who received a medically assisted death within a CSC facility, what is the breakdown by (i) location, (ii) name of facility?
Ms. Jennifer O’Connell (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Public Safety, Democratic Institutions and Intergovernmental Affairs (Cybersecurity), Lib.):
    Mr. Speaker, one of the CSC’s top priorities is ensuring that those who are incarcerated in Canada’s federal institutions have access to quality, safe, patient-centred and culturally responsive care. This is underscored by CSC’s legislative mandate and the Corrections and Conditional Release Act, or CCRA, which includes providing essential health care and reasonable access to non-essential health care to federal inmates, in keeping with professional standards. As part of this, CSC is responsive to the needs of offenders, including quality and compassionate palliative and end-of-life care.
    Medical assistance in dying, or MAID, is a complex and deeply personal matter, and CSC ensures a robust and compassionate process for those who may wish to access these services. The eligibility requirements within CSC follow the legislative requirements that apply to all Canadians. Once an individual makes such a request, a physician or nurse practitioner will meet with them to discuss relevant information, offer referrals to support services such as mental health professionals, chaplains, elders, etc., and schedule the individual for an eligibility assessment. It should be noted that CSC’s guidelines require that an external physician or nurse practitioner perform the second eligibility assessment and that the procedure be completed externally to CSC, namely in a community hospital or health care facility, other than in exceptional circumstances.
    The process related to the provision of MAID is comprehensive and contains numerous safeguards to ensure that federally incarcerated individuals are afforded the same rights as all other Canadians.
    As of February 13, 2024, the total number of requests that CSC has received since the implementation of the legislation was 37, of which 10 eligible individuals received MAID. Furthermore, of the individuals who received MAID, nine received it in external facilities and one received it within a correctional facility at the individual’s request. All procedures were carried out by health professionals outside the service.
    In processing parliamentary returns, the government applies the principles set out in the Access to Information Act and the Privacy Act. Information with regard to specific cases has been withheld on the grounds that it constitutes personal information.
Question No. 2336—
Mr. Corey Tochor:
    With regard to the increase to the government's tax on alcohol scheduled for April 1, 2024: (a) how much revenue is the government projected to receive from the tax on alcohol in the 2024-25 fiscal year; and (b) how much additional revenue is the government projected to receive in the 2024-25 fiscal year as a result of the April 1, 2024, tax increase on alcohol?
Hon. Chrystia Freeland (Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance, Lib.):
    Mr. Speaker, in response to part (a) of the question, revenues from the federal excise duty on alcohol products are projected to be $2.2 billion in 2024 25.
    In response to part (b), in real terms, the government does not anticipate an increase in revenues as a result of the inflation adjustment mechanism. Excise duty rates on alcohol are indexed to the consumer price index to ensure that they maintain their effectiveness, including in meeting their health objectives, and that excise duty revenues generated do not decline over time. On March 9, 2024, the government proposed to cap the inflation adjustment at 2% for beer, spirit and wine excise duties, effective for two years starting on April 1, 2024. This cap on excise duties represents a decline in revenues and is presented in the fiscal framework as a reduction of $63 million in 2024 25 and $353 million over five years.
Question No. 2337—
Mr. Jake Stewart:
    With regard to patrols on land by Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) employees in the area of southwest Nova Scotia: (a) how many DFO employees are conducting regular patrols on land in (i) Queens County, (ii) Lunenburg County, (iii) Kings County, (iv) Annapolis County, (v) Digby County, (vi) Yarmouth County, (vii) Halifax County, (viii) Hants County; (b) what are the hours, including standby hours, worked by the employees in (a), from 00:00 to 23:59; and (c) what is the Conservation and Protection Detachment responsible for each of the counties in (a)?
Hon. Diane Lebouthillier (Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard, Lib.):
    Mr. Speaker, with regard to patrols on land by Department of Fisheries and Oceans, or DFO, employees in the area of southwest Nova Scotia and in response to parts (a) and (c) of the question, there are 48 DFO employees regularly in the area of southwest Nova Scotia, conducting regular patrols on land. DFO’s conservation and protection, or C and P, detachments in southwest Nova Scotia do not plan and execute operations based on county lines.
    DFO’s C and P directorate is unable to report this data at either the detachment or county level, so as to preserve the integrity of its law enforcement planning and operational activities.
    In response to part (b), employees work 7.5-hour shifts at various times during a 24-hour period and are available to respond to urgencies as necessary.
Question No. 2339—
Mr. Gerald Soroka:
    With regard to the finding of the Auditor General that the government's ArriveCAN application mistakenly told 10,000 people that they needed to quarantine in June 2022: (a) what compensation or recourse has the government made available to these 10,000 people; and (b) which minister has taken responsibility for this mistake?
Ms. Jennifer O’Connell (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Public Safety, Democratic Institutions and Intergovernmental Affairs (Cybersecurity), Lib.):
    Mr. Speaker, as this matter is the subject of ongoing litigation, the CBSA will refrain from commenting on it.
Question No. 2340—
Mr. Alistair MacGregor:
    With regard to federal investments in Canada’s grocery sector since January 1, 2006: how much federal funding has been provided to (i) Loblaws, (ii) Metro, (iii) Walmart, (iv) Sobeys, (v) Costco, broken down by company, year, and type of funding?
Hon. François-Philippe Champagne (Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry, Lib.):
    Mr. Speaker, with regard to federal investments in Canada’s grocery sector since January 1, 2006, no federal funding has been provided to Loblaws, Metro, Walmart, Sobeys or Costco.
Question No. 2344—
Mr. Blake Richards:
    With regard to properties owned and operated by government departments or agencies: what is the inventory of government buildings and properties (i) within the municipality of Crossfield, Alberta, (ii) within the municipality of Airdrie, Alberta, (iii) within the municipality of Cochrane, Alberta, (iv) within the municipality of Canmore, Alberta, (v) within the municipality of Banff, Alberta, (vi) within the electoral district of Banff-Airdrie that are not included in the aforementioned municipalities?
Mr. Anthony Housefather (Parliamentary Secretary to the President of the Treasury Board, Lib.):
    Mr. Speaker, the directory of federal real property, or DFRP, found at https://www.tbs-sct.gc.ca/dfrp-rbif/introduction-eng.aspx, is the central repository for basic information on the Government of Canada’s real property holdings, both land and buildings. The inventory can be searched by various attributes found in the left-hand menu of the website, e.g., by municipality or by electoral district. All search results can be downloaded directly from the website.
    Please note that federal custodian organizations are responsible for the completeness and accuracy of the information reported in the DFRP. They may also choose to restrict the publication of information about a property or building based on their internal security criteria.
Question No. 2354—
Ms. Leslyn Lewis:
    With regard to the government’s funding of the $34 million Sault Smart Grid: (a) what was the process by which the government made the decision to invest in this project; (b) what internal policy analyses were done on the project, and what were the results of those analyses; (c) were any privacy and security risks identified for this project; (d) if the answer to (c) is affirmative, what are those risks; (e) were any consultations done by the government before approving the project, and, if so, who was consulted and what feedback was received; (f) if the answer to (e) is negative, why not; (g) what conditions are attached to this funding; (h) how will the funding be disbursed; (i) are there reporting requirements as part of the funding agreement, and, if so, what are the details of those requirements; (j) is the government aware of any public consultations that Sault Ste. Marie has undertaken with the community on this project; (k) if the answer to (j) is affirmative, what concerns, if any, is the government aware of that were raised by community members, including (i) data privacy concerns, (ii) security concerns, (iii) cost concerns; (l) has the government done an internal analysis of the costs and benefits of automated meter information technology, and, if so, what are the results of that analysis; and (m) what efforts has the government made to ensure Sault Ste. Marie will (i) protect the system’s security, (ii) ensure redundancy, (iii) protect privacy?
Hon. Jonathan Wilkinson (Minister of Energy and Natural Resources, Lib.):
    Mr. Speaker, the Government of Canada provided $7.658 million in funding to the Sault smart grid project through the green infrastructure smart grid program. The program selected projects through a competitive request for proposals process. Applications were assessed by a committee of evaluators according to established evaluation criteria and recommended for funding consideration.
    Responsibility for matters such as project regulatory approval, public consultation and assessment of privacy and security risks rests with the provincial electricity regulator, which in the case of this project is the Ontario Energy Board, or OEB. Any specific questions pertaining to consultation, privacy or security should be addressed to the OEB.
    In response to parts (a) and (b) of the question, the evaluation of the project was completed by a technical review committee according to defined evaluation criteria such as alignment with program objectives, project risk and project impact. As one of the top-ranked projects resulting from the evaluation of proposals, the project was considered as part of an overall recommended portfolio for the technology types and regional balance aspects provided. The result of this portfolio analysis was that the project was recommended for funding by the program.
    In response to parts (c) and (d) of the question, the legislative responsibility to assess privacy and security risks belongs to the provincial electricity regulator, in this case the OEB. The project application to the program referenced existing cybersecurity requirements and their considerations within the project, with no issues identified by reviewers.
    With respect to part (e) of the question, project evaluations by the technical review committees, composed of subject matter experts internal to the federal government and external, and within the program were completed to determine a recommended portfolio of projects for approval. The feedback from the evaluation committee focused on the merits of the proposals measured against the established evaluation framework.
    In response to part (f) of the question, utility projects require approval from provincial electricity regulators to move forward, in this case the OEB. These regulatory review processes are intensive, involve extensive consultation processes and require that sufficient engagement be demonstrated where applicable. NRCan approved funding up to 25% of total project costs, and disbursement of funds was contingent on the ability of the proponent to obtain the regulatory approval necessary to proceed. The program did not add additional consultation requirements.
    Regarding part (g) of the question, funding conditions are specified in a standard contribution agreement between Canada and the proponent, in this case PUC Distribution Inc. Project CAs use general terms that are non-negotiable unless those standard provisions are a legal impediment to entering into the agreement. The CA outlines a variety of conditions, including but not limited to intellectual property, indemnity, default, reporting requirements, disposition of assets, conflict of interest, confidentiality, eligible expenditure period, total project costs and contribution percentages.
    In response to part (h) of the question, funding was disbursed quarterly following review and approval of quarterly expense reports submitted by the proponent within the eligible expenditure period from September 5, 2018, to March 31, 2023. NRCan reimbursed funding only based on eligible expenses incurred within a given quarter. NRCan contributed a total combined amount of $7.658 million towards the project.
    In response to part (i) of the question, the contribution agreement specifies reporting requirements, including documentation for submitted claims, ongoing progress and technical reports, final financial and technical reports, post-completion revenue reporting, and a technical performance report for hold-back release.
    With respect to parts (j) and (k) of the question, the project received approval from the OEB in April 2021 via a decision and order whereby the OEB determines sufficiency of engagement and the associated regulatory approval process provides opportunities for public intervention.
    In response to part (l) of the question, the program did not complete its own internal analysis of the costs and benefits of advanced metering infrastructure. The costs and benefits of utility projects are specific to each utility system. Analysis of the costs and benefits is the responsibility of the regulator, in this case the OEB, which found that the project is in the public interest, delivering direct benefits to customers.
    As for part (m) of the question, the legislative responsibility to ensure that a utility will protect system security, ensure redundancy and protect privacy belongs to the provincial electricity regulator, in this case the OEB. This performance is considered during provincial regulatory approval filings and requires regular demonstration of compliance. NRCan funding is contingent on receiving regulatory approval to proceed.

[English]

Questions Passed as Orders for Returns

    Madam Speaker, furthermore, if a revised response to Questions No. 1589, originally tabled on September 18, 2023, Question No. 2002, originally tabled on January 29, 2024, Question No. 2261, originally tabled on March 20, 2024, and the government's responses to Questions Nos. 2279, 2281, 2284 to 2288, 2290, 2292, 2295, 2296, 2298, 2299, 2301 to 2303, 2305, 2309, 2312, 2314 to 2316, 2319 to 2321, 2324, 2327, 2331, 2333 to 2335, 2338, 2341 to 2343, 2345, 2346, 2351 to 2353, and 2355 could be made orders for returns, these returns would be tabled in an electronic format immediately.

[Text]

Question No. 1589—
Ms. Andréanne Larouche:
    With regard to the New Horizons for Seniors Program (NHSP): (a) how many project applications were submitted in each province for the last three calls for community project proposals, broken down by constituency; (b) how many of the projects in (a) received a grant or contribution, broken down by constituency; (c) what calculation formulas are used to allocate grants and contributions by province when calls for project proposals are made; (d) according to the memorandum of understanding, what are the details of the collaboration between the Government of Canada and the Government of Quebec for the implementation of the NHSP; and (e) who sits on the selection committee established by the memorandum of understanding in (d)?
    (Return tabled)
Question No. 2002—
Mr. Michael Barrett:
    With regard to government contracts signed with GCstrategies since November 4, 2015, and broken down by department, agency, Crown corporation, or other government entity: (a) what are the details of all such contracts, including, for each, the (i) date signed, (ii) value, (iii) start and end date of the work, (iv) detailed description of the goods or services, (v) details on how the contract was awarded (sole-sourced, competitive bid), (vi) titles of officials who approved or signed off on the contract; and (b) for each contract in (a), what is the current status, including if any aspects of the contract remain open, or if the contract has been completed and settled?
    (Return tabled)
Question No. 2261—
Mr. Frank Caputo:
    With regard to bonuses for executives at the Correctional Service of Canada (CSC), broken down by year since 2020: how many and what percentage of executives got bonuses (i) in total, (ii) broken down by province, (iii) broken down by correctional institution or other place of employment (i.e. CSC head offices)?
    (Return tabled)
Question No. 2279—
Mr. Alistair MacGregor:
    With regard to the mandate and responsibilities of the Grocery Task Force, broken down by month since its inception: (a) what are the details of all engagements with governments and consumer advocacy stakeholders, including the (i) date of the engagement, (ii) purpose of the engagement, (iii) name of the organization or government being engaged, (iv) activities being coordinated; (b) what are the details of all engagements with external partners, experts, and industry representatives to undertake analysis, including the (i) date of the engagement, (ii) purpose of the engagement, (iii) partner, expert, or representative being engaged; (c) what work has been done with consumer groups to report findings to Canadians, including the (i) date that work was initiated, (ii) consumer group with which work was done, (iii) details of the findings that resulted in work, (iv) date on which those findings were reported to Canadians; and (d) what grocery-related information has the task force shared with Canadians to help them make informed marketplace choices?
    (Return tabled)
Question No. 2281—
Mrs. Laila Goodridge:
    With regard to vehicles owned by Parks Canada: (a) how many vehicles does Parks Canada own, in total and broken down by National Park, Historic Site or other location where the vehicle is based out of; and (b) of the vehicles in (a), how many are electric vehicles, in total and broken down by National Park, Historic Site or other location where the vehicle is based out of?
    (Return tabled)
Question No. 2284—
Mr. Peter Julian:
    With regard to federal childcare investments, since October 1, 2021: (a) how many new childcare spaces have been built as a result of federal funding, broken down by province or territory, and by year; and (b) how many early childhood educators have been trained or hired as a result of federal funding, broken down by province or territory, and by year?
    (Return tabled)
Question No. 2285—
Mr. Peter Julian:
    With regard to federal investments to private sector pharmaceutical companies, since January 1, 2006: how much federal funding has been provided, broken down by company and by year?
    (Return tabled)
Question No. 2286—
Mr. Luc Berthold:
    With regard to the Port of Montreal, broken down by year, since 2019: (a) how many stolen vehicles does the government estimate have arrived at or passed through the port; and (b) of the stolen vehicles in (a), how many did the (i) Port of Montreal, (ii) RCMP, (iii) Canada Border Services Agency, seize before they were transported aboard?
    (Return tabled)
Question No. 2287—
Mr. Dean Allison:
    With regard to the government's purchase of COVID-19 vaccines, beginning January 1, 2020: (a) which companies did the government purchase the vaccines from; (b) for each company in (a), (i) how many vaccines were purchased, in total and broken down by type of vaccine, (ii) how much was each company paid by the government for each order placed, (iii) where is each company headquartered, (iv) in what city and country did each company manufacture the vaccines; and (c) what is the breakdown of each vaccine purchased and how many were (i) distributed domestically, (ii) distributed internationally, broken down by country, (iii) not used or destroyed due to expiration or other factors?
    (Return tabled)
Question No. 2288—
Mr. Dean Allison:
    With regard to the government's purchase of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) in relation to the COVID-19 pandemic, beginning January 1, 2020: (a) which companies did the government purchase PPE from; and (b) for each company in (a), (i) how much equipment was purchased, in total and broken down by type of PPE, (ii) how much was each company paid by the government for the equipment, (iii) where is each company headquartered, (iv) in what city and country did each company manufacture the PPE?
    (Return tabled)
Question No. 2290—
Mr. Dean Allison:
    With regard to the government's purchase of COVID-19 rapid tests, since January 1, 2020: (a) which specific companies did the government purchase these tests from; (b) how many tests did the government purchase from each company; (c) how much was each company paid by the government for the tests; (d) where is each of the companies in (a) headquartered; and (e) in what city and country did each company manufacture the COVID-19 rapid tests?
    (Return tabled)
Question No. 2292—
Mr. Brian Masse:
    With regard to the sales and transfers of military equipment and weapons from Canada to Israel and in light of the International Court of Justice determination that Israel is carrying out a plausible genocide in Gaza and has issued several orders to Israel: (a) what military equipment and weapons has the government of Canada sent or approved to be sent to Israel since October 7, 2023; (b) what military equipment and weapons has the government of Canada sent or approved to be sent to Israel since January 26, 2024; (c) what military equipment and weapons has the government of Canada rejected sending to Israel since October 7, 2023; (d) what military equipment and weapons has the government of Canada rejected sending to Israel since January 26, 2024; (e) what surveillance equipment has the government of Canada sent or approved to be sent to Israel since October 7, 2023; (f) what surveillance equipment has the government of Canada sent or approved to be sent to Israel since January 26, 2024; (g) what surveillance equipment has the government of Canada rejected sending to Israel since October 7, 2023; (h) what surveillance equipment has the government of Canada rejected sending to Israel since January 26, 2024; (i) what is the monetary value of the military equipment and weapons the government of Canada has sent to Israel since October 7, 2023; (j) what is the monetary value of the surveillance equipment the government of Canada has sent to Israel since October 7, 2023; (k) what is the monetary value of the surveillance equipment, military equipment and weapons the government of Canada sent to Israel in 2021, 2022, and 2023; (l) what surveillance equipment, military equipment and weapons the government of Canada sent to Israel in 2021, 2022, and 2023; (m) as a signatory to the Genocide Convention, has the government of Canada taken legal advice to comply with the orders that the International Court of Justice has issued to Israel and to ensure the government of Canada does not contravene them; and (n) what plan, if any, does the Government of Canada have to comply with the orders of the International Court of Justice?
    (Return tabled)
Question No. 2295—
Ms. Leah Gazan:
    With regard to Reaching Home: Canada's Homelessness Strategy, broken down by province and territory from its inception in 2019 to present: (a) how much of the funding allocated to the program has been committed to date, broken down by its four funding streams, the (i) Designated Communities stream, (ii) Rural and Remote Homelessness stream, (iii) Territorial Homelessness stream, (iv) Indigenous Homelessness stream; (b) how much of the allocated funding has been spent to date, broken down by its four funding streams, the (i) Designated Communities stream, (ii) Rural and Remote Homelessness stream, (iii) Territorial Homelessness stream, (iv) Indigenous Homelessness stream; (c) how many people have been recipients of programs or services associated with Reaching Home, broken down by (i) gender, (ii) status as Indigenous, (iii) those self-identified as Black or racialized, (iv) status as immigrant or refugee (v) those self-identified as Two-Spirit, Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, Intersex, plus (2SLGBTQI+), (vi) those living with a disability, (vii) those living with a substance use disorder, (viii) those living with unmet mental health needs?
    (Return tabled)
Question No. 2296—
Ms. Leah Gazan:
    With regard to childcare workers spanning from 2017 to present, broken down by province and territory: (a) what was the total number of childcare workers, broken down by (i) self-identified gender, (ii) self-identified racial background, (iii) self-identified status as Indigenous, (iv) status as immigrant or refugee, (v) self-identified Two-Spirit, Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, Intersex, plus (2SLGBTQI+), (vi) self-identified as living with a disability, (vii) resided in an urban region, (viii) resided in a Northern, rural, or remote region, (ix) income tax bracket, (x) education level; (b) what was the median income of childcare workers, broken down by (i) self-identified gender, (ii) self-identified racial background, (iii) self-identified status as Indigenous, (iv) status as immigrant or refugee, (v) self-identified 2SLGBTQI+, (vi) self-identified as living with a disability, (vii) resided in an urban region, (viii) resided in a Northern, rural, or remote region, (ix) education level; and (c) what job-related benefits were childcare workers entitled to, broken down by (i) self-identified gender, (ii) self-identified racial background, (iii) self-identified status as Indigenous, (iv) status as immigrant or refugee, (v) self-identified 2SLGBTQI+, (vi) self-identified as living with a disability, (vii) resided in an urban region, (viii) resided in a Northern, rural, or remote region, (ix) education level?
    (Return tabled)
Question No. 2298—
Mr. Ziad Aboultaif:
    With regard to the enactment of the Emergencies Act by the government in 2022: (a) what was the cost burden for the government, broken down by federal department and agency, including (i) actuarial costs, (ii) equipment costs, (iii) skilled labour costs (e.g. judges, police officers), (iv) other costs broken down by type; and (b) what is the total value of costs that were disbursed to other levels of government, broken down by (i) province, (ii) municipality?
    (Return tabled)
Question No. 2299—
Mr. Ted Falk:
    With regard to government advertising on social media to promote COVID-19 vaccines: (a) what was the amount spent on such social media advertising, in total, and broken down by year since 2020; and (b) what is the breakdown of (a) by type of spending (graphic design, celebrity endorsement fee, ad placement) and by social media platform?
    (Return tabled)
Question No. 2301—
Mr. Ted Falk:
    With regard to the government's requirement during the COVID-19 pandemic that federal public servants provide proof of vaccination: (a) what are the total expenditures on compensation, severance packages and settlements to employees who were impacted by the requirement, including, but not limited to, payments made to mediators, agents, lawyers, or for legal proceedings; (b) how many employees received payments mentioned in (a); and (c) what is the breakdown of (a) and (b) by reason for the payment and how the amount was arrived at (negotiated settlement, legal proceedings, etc.)?
    (Return tabled)
Question No. 2302—
Mr. John Nater:
    With regard to the government's rebranding of the carbon tax: (a) which consulting, polling or research firms is the government using services or data from, in relation to the rebranding; (b) what are the details of all contracts related to the rebranding, including, for each, the (i) date, (ii) value, (iii) vendor, (iv) description of goods or services, (v) manner in which the contract was awarded (sole-sourced or competitive bid); and (c) on what date did the government begin conducting research on the rebranding of its carbon tax?
    (Return tabled)
Question No. 2303—
Mr. John Nater:
    With regard to the government's claim that 97% of fuel used on farms is exempt from the carbon tax: (a) how did the government come up with that figure; and (b) what specific data was used, and what assumptions were made by the government in arriving at that figure?
    (Return tabled)
Question No. 2305—
Ms. Laurel Collins:
    With regard to the 2 Billion Trees Commitment, broken down by province or territory since its inception: (a) what is the total amount of funding allocated to the (i) cost-sharing agreements with provinces and territories, (ii) Private Lands stream, (iii) Urban Lands stream, (iv) Federal Lands stream, (v) distinctions based Indigenous stream; (b) for the funding identified in (a), what amount of funding has been delivered to provinces, territories, or organizations; and (c) what is the total amount of funding that is on hold or remains undelivered as part of this program?
    (Return tabled)
Question No. 2309—
Mr. Tom Kmiec:
    With regard to the federal government's commitment to resettle 15,000 refugees in Canada following the renegotiation of the Safe Third Country Agreement: (a) what is the breakdown by country of origin; (b) what is the breakdown by country of citizenship; (c) what is the breakdown by demographics of the claimants by (i) age, (ii) sex or gender; and (d) how many claims were (i) accepted, (ii) refused, (iii) still awaiting a decision?
    (Return tabled)
Question No. 2312—
Mr. Dane Lloyd:
    With regard to the $285 million committed over five years to the Wildfire Resilient Futures Initiative: how much of this commitment has been spent to date, in total, and broken down by specific investments?
    (Return tabled)
Question No. 2314—
Mr. Scott Aitchison:
    With regard to the Apartment Construction Loan Program and its precursor the Rental Construction Financing Initiative, broken down by year, by province or territory, and by type of end user (market housing developer, non-profit housing developer, municipality), between fiscal years 2017-18 and 2027-28: (a) how much funding has been allocated to the program; (b) how much funding has been committed; (c) how much funding has been transferred to the recipients; (d) how many units have been constructed or are expected to be constructed; and (e) how much has the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation spent, or is it projected to spend, administering the program?
    (Return tabled)
Question No. 2315—
Mr. Scott Aitchison:
    With regard to the Affordable Housing Fund, and its precursor, the National Housing Co-Investment Fund, broken down by year, by province or territory, and by type of end user (market housing developer, non-profit housing developer, municipality), between fiscal years 2017-18 and 2027-28: (a) how much funding has been allocated to the program; (b) how much funding has been committed; (c) how much funding has been transferred to the recipients; (d) how many units have been constructed or are expected to be constructed; and (e) how much has Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation spent, or is it projected to spend, administering the program?
    (Return tabled)
Question No. 2316—
Mr. Scott Aitchison:
    With regard to the Rapid Housing Initiative, including Rounds 1, 2, and 3, broken down by year, by province or territory, and by type of end user (market housing developer, non-profit housing developer, municipality), between fiscal years 2017-18 and 2027-28: (a) how much funding has been allocated to the program; (b) how much funding has been committed; (c) how much funding has been transferred to the recipients; (d) how many units have been constructed or are expected to be constructed; and (e) how much has the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation spent, or is it projected to spend, administering the program?
    (Return tabled)
Question No. 2319—
Mr. Dan Albas:
    With regard to the Housing Accelerator Fund, broken down by year, by province or territory, and by type of end user (market housing developer, non-profit housing developer, municipality), between fiscal years 2017-18 and 2027-28: (a) how much funding has been allocated to the program; (b) how much funding has been committed; (c) how much funding has been transferred to the recipients; (d) how many units have been constructed or are expected to be constructed; and (e) how much has the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation spent, or is it projected to spend, administering the program?
    (Return tabled)
Question No. 2320—
Mr. Dan Albas:
    With regard to the Federal Land Initiative, broken down by year, by province or territory, and by type of end user (market housing developer, non-profit housing developer, municipality), between fiscal years 2017-18 and 2027-28: (a) how much funding has been allocated to the program; (b) how much funding has been committed; (c) how much funding has been transferred to the recipients; (d) how many units have been constructed or are expected to be constructed; and (e) how much has the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation spent, or is it projected to spend, administering the program?
    (Return tabled)
Question No. 2321—
Mr. Randy Hoback:
    With regard to government funding for initiatives to alleviate homelessness, broken down by year for each of the last five years: (a) how much has been spent by the government, in total and broken down by province or territory and by major metropolitan area for each department or agency that provides such funding; (b) what are the details of all funding provided, including the (i) date, (ii) recipient, (iii) location of the recipient, (iv) amount of funding, (v) type of funding, (vi) program under which the funding was provided, (vii) purpose of the funding or project description; (c) how much has the government spent to administer programs aimed at reducing homelessness; (d) how many homeless people, including all forms of homelessness, were there in Canada, broken down by province or territory and major metropolitan area; and (e) for each number in (d), (i) what is the yearly change in terms of both numbers and percentages, (ii) what is the total change over the past five years in terms of both numbers and percentages?
    (Return tabled)
Question No. 2324—
Mr. Kelly McCauley:
    With regard to the ArriveCAN application: (a) what was the cost of the update or release that resulted in the glitch in ArriveCAN that sent erroneous notifications instructing people arriving in Canada to quarantine, as reported by the CBC on July 22, 2022; and (b) what were the costs of any government-paid quarantines resulting from this glitch in ArriveCAN, in total and broken down by month, location, hotel, and type of cost?
    (Return tabled)
Question No. 2327—
Mr. Gord Johns:
    With regard to the electoral district of Courtenay—Alberni, broken down by fiscal year, since fiscal year 2005-06: what are all the federal infrastructure investments, including direct transfers to municipalities, regional district associations or First Nations, national parks, highways, etc.?
    (Return tabled)
Question No. 2331—
Mr. Doug Shipley:
    With regard to Correctional Service Canada (CSC), in total and broken down by year since 2016: (a) how many times has CSC overridden an inmate's security level in relation to the security level cut-off scores in the (i) Security Reclassification Scale, (ii) Security Reclassification Scale for Women, (iii) Security Reclassification Scale for Women - Version 2; (b) of the instances in (a), how many times was the level of custody overridden to be (i) lower than cut-off scores, (ii) higher than cut-off scores; (c) what is the breakdown of instances in (a) by original and new security level (e.g. minimum security to maximum security, maximum security to medium security, etc.); and (d) of the inmates who were classified as (i) dangerous offenders, (ii) high-profile offenders, (iii) multiple murderers, how many had their security level overridden to a lower classification?
    (Return tabled)
Question No. 2333—
Mr. Terry Dowdall:
    With regard to government funding allocated to initiatives to alleviate homelessness, broken down by year for the next five years: (a) how much has been allocated by the government, in total and broken down by province or territory, for each department or agency that will provide such funding; (b) what are the details of all funding allocated, including the (i) project name, (ii) amount, (iii) purpose of the funding, (iv) type of project to be funded, (v) locations where the funding will be spent; (c) how much is the government projected to spend to administer programs aimed at alleviating homelessness; (d) what are the government's projections on how many homeless people, including all forms of homelessness, will exist in Canada, broken down by province or territory and major metropolitan area; and (e) for each number in (d) that increases, what is the government's rationale for projecting an increase?
    (Return tabled)
Question No. 2334—
Mr. Damien C. Kurek:
    With regard to the government's use of data extraction tools capable of unlocking mobile phones, computers, or similar devices, since January 1, 2018, broken down by year and by department or agency: (a) how many times were such tools used with judicial authorization on individuals (i) employed by the department or agency, (ii) not employed by the department or agency; (b) how many times were such tools used without judicial authorization on individuals (i) employed by the department or agency, (ii) not employed by the department or agency; (c) for each time in (a), was the collected data kept or destroyed after it had been used; (d) for each time in (a) and (b), did the individual whose data was collected receive notification of the collection (i) before, (ii) after, their data was collected; and (e) were there any instances where, at any point, an individual whose data was collected was not informed, and if so, what is the description of each such incident and the rationale for not informing the individual?
    (Return tabled)
Question No. 2335—
Mrs. Laila Goodridge:
    With regard to travellers entering Canada, broken down by year since 2020: (a) how many travellers entered Canada, in total, and broken down by type of point of entry (air, road, marine); and (b) for each category in (a), how many and what percentage of travellers (i) submitted their declaration through the ArriveCAN application prior to arrival, (ii) arrived without using the ArriveCAN application?
    (Return tabled)
Question No. 2338—
Mr. Jake Stewart:
    With regard to Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) employees in the Human Resources and Corporate Services sectors, broken down by fiscal year from 2014-15 to 2023-24: (a) what was, or is, the total budget for each sector; (b) for Human Resources, what is the number of full time equivalents (FTE); (c) for each FTE in (b), what are their (i) roles, responsibilities, or job description, (ii) job title, including Treasury Board classification, (iii) associated salary range; (d) for Corporate Services, what is the number of FTEs; (e) for each FTE in (d), what are their (i) roles, responsibilities, or job description, (ii) job title, including Treasury Board classification, (iii) associated salary range; and (f) what is the average salary of all FTEs in each sector?
    (Return tabled)
Question No. 2341—
Ms. Michelle Rempel Garner:
    With regard to Polar Knowledge Canada and the Canadian High Arctic Research Station (CHARS), which Polar Knowledge Canada operates: (a) how many full time equivalent (FTE) positions have been vacated in each year since 2015, in total, and broken down by Treasury Board classification level (e.g. AS-04, EX-02, etc.); (b) how many FTEs have been hired in each year since 2015, broken down by Treasury Board classification level; (c) of the employees currently at Polar Knowledge Canada, how many and what percentage have been there longer than (i) one year, (ii) five years, (iii) 10 years; (d) how many complaints regarding workplace harassment, bullying, racism, sexism, reprisal for whistleblowing, assault or other matters have been made by former or current Polar Knowledge Canada staff or consultants, or others who interact with Polar Knowledge Canada or CHARS, against Polar Knowledge Canada or CHARS (i.e. their staff or the entities), in each year since 2015, broken down by (i) year, (ii) resolution status; (e) what are the total expenditures on payouts or settlements made to former or current staff or consultants, or others who interact with Polar Knowledge Canada or CHARS, related to complaints made regarding workplace harassment, bullying, racism, sexism, reprisal for whistleblowing, assault or other matters against Polar Knowledge Canada or CHARS (i.e. their staff or the entities); (f) how much in severance or other types of payouts has been paid to departing Polar Knowledge Canada and CHARS staff, broken down by year, since 2015; (g) what are the expenditures in legal fees spent by Polar Knowledge Canada or CHARS in relation to complaints made regarding harassment, bullying, racism, sexism, reprisal for whistleblowing, assault or other matters, broken down by year, since 2015; (h) since 2015, have any requests been made to increase funding related to legal fees beyond the original annual budgeted amount by either Polar Knowledge Canada or CHARS, and, if so, what are the details of any such requests, including, for each, (i) the date, (ii) who made the request, (iii) the outcome; (i) what is the total number of lawsuits regarding harassment, negligence, unfulfilled contracts or wrongful dismissal that were filed against Polar Knowledge Canada or CHARS, broken down by year; (j) what are the details of all contracts issued since 2015, including, for each, the (i) vendor, (ii) vendor address, (iii) date, (iv) total dollar value of the contract, (v) scope and deliverables of the contract, (vi) manner in which the contract was awarded (i.e. sole-sourced, competitive bid); (k) how many FTE positions are or have been filled by persons that are family members or close friends of existing employees at Polar Knowledge Canada or CHARS; (l) what are the details of Polar Knowledge Canada’s or CHARS' nepotism policy in their hiring policies from 2015 to the present, including the details of any substantive changes that have been made and the year any such changes were made; (m) what are the details of Polar Knowledge Canada’s and CHARS' contract procurement processes and policies from 2015 to the present, including the details of any substantive changes that have been made and the year any such changes were made; (n) what are the details of Polar Knowledge Canada’s and CHARS' workplace harassment policies, including prevention policies, and the details of any substantive changes that have been made and the year any such changes were made; (o) what are the details of Polar Knowledge Canada's and CHARS' current organizational charts, including all permanent full- and part-time positions, and any contractors involved in day-to-day operations, as well as associated Treasury Board classification levels; (p) what were the results of the aggregated data from the 2022 Public Service Employee Survey for Polar Knowledge Canada, broken down by survey question posed to employees (e.g. My Job, My Work Unit, My Immediate Supervisor, Senior Management, My Organization (Department or Agency), Mobility and Retention, Harassment, Discrimination, Stress and Well-Being, Duty to Accommodate, Compensation, Hybrid Work, General Information, etc); and (q) how many grants, contributions or contracts were flagged by Polar Knowledge Canada staff or members of its Board of Directors for potential conflicts of interests, broken down by year and value?
    (Return tabled)
Question No. 2342—
Mr. Eric Duncan:
    With regard to the government's decision to rebrand the carbon tax incentive payment to Canada's carbon rebate: what are the projected costs associated with the rebranding, including the implementation costs and any costs incurred in the development process of the new name, broken down by type of expense?
    (Return tabled)
Question No. 2343—
Ms. Jenny Kwan:
    With regard to federal housing investments to build, repair, or renovate student housing since January 1, 2006: how many dollars of federal funding have been invested, broken down by (i) province or territory and city, (ii) funding type, (iii) year, (iv) number of units supported?
    (Return tabled)
Question No. 2345—
Mr. Blake Richards:
    With regard to records from Veterans Affairs Canada home care programs: (a) how many veterans accessed home care programs each year since 2016, in total, and broken down by province or territory; and (b) how many veterans living abroad accessed home care programs each year since 2016, in total, and broken down by country?
    (Return tabled)
Question No. 2346—
Mr. Blake Richards:
    With regard to Canada's 2021 census and information about veterans held by the RCMP and Canadian Armed Forces: (a) how many veterans live in each province and territory; (b) what is the breakdown of (a) by federal electoral district; (c) how many veterans currently reside outside of Canada, in total, and broken down by country; and (d) how many veterans have been released from the RCMP or Canadian Armed Forces in the last 10 years, broken down by year?
    (Return tabled)
Question No. 2351—
Mr. Damien C. Kurek:
    With regard to contracts signed by the government with GC Strategies since November 4, 2015, broken down by type of government entity (i.e. department, agency, Crown corporation, other government entity): (a) what is the total value of the contracts; (b) what are the details of each contract, including the (i) date, (ii) vendor, (iii) value, (iv) description of the good or services provided, (v) manner in which the contract was awarded (i.e. sole-sourced, competitive bid); and (c) for each contact, did the government do a value-for-money assessment, and, if so, what was the result?
    (Return tabled)
Question No. 2352—
Ms. Leslyn Lewis:
    With regard to the Canada Infrastructure Bank’s expenditures since 2017, incurred on projects that were not completed, indefinitely delayed, or otherwise abandoned, including those that never reached the Financial Close stage: (a) for each project, what is the breakdown of expenditures by (i) project name and project partners, (ii) category and type of expenditure; (b) what are the details of all contracts associated with expenditures in (a), broken down by project, and including, for each, the (i) amount, (ii) vendor, (iii) date and duration, (iv) description of the goods or services provided, (v) manner in which the contract was awarded (sole-sourced, competitive bid); and (c) for each contract in (b) that involved consulting or providing advice, including legal, financial, technical, and other advice, (i) what were the topics or questions which required consultation, (ii) what specific goals or objectives were related to the contract, (iii) were the goals or objectives met?
    (Return tabled)
Question No. 2353—
Ms. Leslyn Lewis:
    With regard to bonuses paid out at the Canada Infrastructure Bank in the 2022-23 fiscal year: (a) what was the total amount paid out in bonuses; (b) how many and what percentage of officials (i) at or above the executive (EX) level, or equivalent, (ii) below the EX level, or equivalent, received bonuses; and (c) what is the breakdown of how much money was paid out in (a) to officials at or above the EX level versus officials below the EX level?
    (Return tabled)
Question No. 2355—
Ms. Leslyn Lewis:
    With regard to the government’s housing policies and Immigration Levels Plan for 2024-2026: (a) what analyses has the government done to estimate the housing infrastructure required to meet its immigration targets; (b) what are the results of those analyses; (c) what is the projected gap in housing supply vis-à-vis the number of immigrants the government will be welcoming at each phase of its 2024-2026 Immigration Levels Plan; (d) according to the government’s own data and estimates, how many permanent and temporary immigrants are currently without affordable housing; and (e) what are the projected impacts of immigration levels on housing affordability going forward?
    (Return tabled)

[English]

    Some hon. members: Agreed.
    Madam Speaker, I would ask that all remaining questions be allowed to stand at this time.
    Some hon. members: Agreed.

Orders of the Day

[Privilege]

  (1535)  

[English]

Privilege

Witness Responses at Standing Committee on Government Operations and Estimates  

    The House resumed consideration of the motion, and of the amendment.
     Madam Speaker, I would be remiss if I did not note that we are experiencing the eclipse right now. We even saw a dimming of the light in the House of Commons. Unfortunately, that will not be the biggest cover-up we talk about today.
    It will also my great honour and privilege to split my time with the member for Mégantic—L'Érable. We will be talking about the privilege motion, which is the subject of debate today.
    I will start by going through some of the facts, specifically quoting some of the Auditor General's report, of the scurrilous accusations in here, which are really quite disturbing, and certainly there is more to come. It will give us the context. I will then discuss the importance of parliamentary supremacy and the need for this body to get the information it requires to fulfill its democratic duties.
    I will start by reading from paragraph 1.18 in the AG's report on the ArriveCAN application. It says:
    We found that financial records were not well maintained by the Canada Border Services Agency. We were unable to determine a precise cost for the ArriveCAN application because of poor documentation and weak controls at the Canada Border Services Agency. We estimated that the application cost approximately $59.5 million.
    For the rest of the speech, as a shorthand, I will refer to that amount as $60 million. That $60 million is a large amount of money. This was for a contract that was originally set to cost somewhere between $80,000 to $160,000, but it ballooned up to $60 million.
    Just as disturbing as a $60-million price tag is the fact that the Auditor General, who has an incredible team with probably hundreds of years of service combined, when trying to investigate and fact-find, was unable to get through the poor record-keeping and terrible lack of detail at the Canada Border Services Agency. This was despite the AG's incredible abilities.
    I believe that the Auditor General, in subsequent testimony, even said that she had never seen bookkeeping this bad in her entire career, and this is after many years of being a professional auditor. The AG could not even get to what the exact number was, but she estimated it as $60 million. It could be more, but we do not know that at this point.
    I will go further into the report, to paragraph 1.39, where it says:
    The Canada Border Services Agency informed us that GC Strategies was awarded the contract on the basis of a proposal that it submitted. Agency officials told us that they had discussions with 3 potential contractors about submitting a proposal to develop the ArriveCAN application. We found that the agency received a proposal from 1 of the 3 potential contractors, but this proposal was not from GC Strategies. There was no evidence that the agency considered a proposal or any similar document from GC Strategies for this non-competitive contract.
    The Canada Border Services Agency awarded a contract on a non-existent proposal. CBSA initially said there were three different proposals put out there, but the Auditor General only found one of those proposals, and it was not from the eventual winner of this non-competitive process. As far as I know, that proposal still has not been tracked down.
    It is amazing that there would be a $60-million contract awarded on a missing, or non-existent, proposal. Once again, this is incredibly troublesome. We have heard from all members in the House that we are shocked. We share that almost unanimously. How could it happen that a $60-million proposal would simply disappear?

  (1540)  

     The public service may face criticism on a variety of issues, but one thing I rarely ever hear is that it has a lack of record-keeping or a lack of data. The Auditor General said that she has never seen bookkeeping that bad.
    We move on to continue the discussion of GC Strategies. I believe it has been reported that it is actually called the Government of Canada Strategies, which says a lot on its own.
    We will go to 1.58 of the report:
    Some of the requirements or eligibility criteria were extremely narrow, which likely prevented competition. For example, bidders were required to have been awarded 3 informatic contracts with the Government of Canada [within] the last 18 months with a [greater] value...[of] $10 million.
    I don't think there would be too many of those. The report continues:
    We also found that the reasonableness of per diem rates in the bid was insufficiently assessed. Per diem rates were assessed on the basis of the 3 non-competitive contracts, which the Canada Border Services Agency...issued during the pandemic. In our opinion, the agency should not have used these prior non-competitive contracts as a reference point.
    It is just so odd. How does one define the request proposal process so narrowly that there is a handful, or even just one firm, that could possibly apply for this position? The amount of suspicion that comes from this is incredible.
    I will just say that again: One of the conditions for the bid for the ArriveCAN app was that a company had “been awarded 3 informatic contracts with the Government of Canada [over] the last 18 months with a value greater than $10 million.” It certainly appears to me, just a simple guy from Orono, Ontario, that in fact it was almost targeted directly at one particular firm. In this case, it was GC Strategies.
    We heard the testimony of Mr. Firth. I imagine I was one of tens of thousands, if not hundreds of thousands, of Canadians who tuned in to some of that committee coverage at the Standing Committee on Government Operations and Estimates, or OGGO. I could not believe this gentlemen's audacity in which he talked. To be candid, he acted as if this was some type of unfairness that had been done to him. The reality is that we have allegation after allegation and have $60 million spent without, yet, a really solid explanation. We have firms being paid $1,000 or more a day, an hour. This has caused incredible upset for Canadians struggling to get by and seeing record-high usage of food banks. They want answers.
    That brings me back where I want to end, which is at the very heart of democracy. What separates this country from many others are our democratic principles and our commitment to the parliamentary Westminster system. It is this Parliament that guarantees the rights and freedoms of Canadians from coast to coast.
    When we say “privilege,” I think it is miscast. It is not my privilege, and it is not any of the members of Parliament's privilege; it is Canadians' privilege. It is due to the years of sacrifice throughout our history, through wars and otherwise, when we stood up for freedom and democracy, which has given us the ability to voice our opinions. I, and I imagine all MPs, still hear that sometimes the people of this great land are concerned and frustrated with their lack of a voice and their lack of power. I certainly go to work every day to act for them and to give them a voice, and Canadians want to know what happened to their $60 million for this app.

  (1545)  

     How did a two-person firm make $20 million? How did they possibly justify this? Given the context of the AG saying that this is the worst record-keeping she has ever seen in her many-year history, Canadians deserve answers. That is what we are asking for.
    Madam Speaker, as the member knows, the government is very open. It wants to see, and looks forward to, Mr. Firth being at the bar. The issues are going to be how we have questions and answers, and how we heighten the sense of accountability.
    However, I am interested in a comment. The member might not necessarily be aware of this, but when his leader was the Parliamentary Secretary to the President of the Treasury Board, there was a $400-million scandal with ETS. It was a procurement scandal. If the leader of the Conservative Party had done his job back then and had not been successful in the cover-up, we might have seen some rules changed that could have prevented this. Is that a fair comment, on my part?
    Madam Speaker, I have two children, an eight-year-old and a 10-year-old. When, occasionally, they do something wrong, one of them will immediately point to the other one when they are guilty. It is amazing. It is called “whataboutism”. That is the base level of the Liberal politics. They will deflect, deny and do anything not to take responsibility. The arrive scam is the Liberal government's fault, and we are going to get answers.
    Madam Speaker, my friend down the way and I find common cause in this motion that is before us.
    Part of this motion is about the testimony of GC Strategies at committee, which was unsatisfactory and not consistent with the rules of parliamentary privilege. However, I think there is a larger issue at play here, which is that unless Parliament asserts its specific privileges, we risk getting to a place where no witnesses would have to come to committee to provide responses to our answers.
    We see this in other cases as well. I came out of a committee meeting today where witnesses were less than forthcoming with information about government programs and the fate of Canada Post. Does the member share my concern that unless the supremacy of Parliament is re-established, the ability of committees to get answers for the Canadians we represent will continue to be undermined?
    Madam Speaker, I agree.
    Madam Speaker, to the members for Northumberland—Peterborough South and for Skeena—Bulkley Valley, we really are at one of those rare moments I love in this place, when we are in violent agreement. We should be seeing witnesses respect Parliament and answer questions clearly. This may veer from where the member for Northumberland—Peterborough South is coming, but it is pretty clear to me that something very wrong has happened within the functionality of the civil service that this could happen at all. I do not see any long figures of partisan engagement. What I see is base incompetence and a chance to make a quick buck, which should never, ever be allowed in the culture of our civil service. Bring it on, and let us get Mr. Firth in here.
    Madam Speaker, I know the vast majority of our civil servants are working their tails off to do what they can to make Canada a better country. This is a big challenge, though. As they say, the fish rots from the head down. We really need to get to the bottom of this to make sure we do not have any more issues such as this.

[Translation]

    Madam speaker, we are in a situation where a witness refused to answer several questions put to him a number of times in committee. The main reason for this was the fear that what he said could be held against him, because some members of the committee and the media were leaking what was said in committee to the newspapers. This could be a flaw with respect to witnesses' privileges.
     To make sure that this does not ever happen again, might it be important to change some of our operating rules to ensure that, even if the testimony is leaked to the traditional or social media, it remains protected?

  (1550)  

[English]

    Madam Speaker, I am open to any discussions that might make the process better, but the reality is that a lot of this should be public. Canadian taxpayers have the right to know where their millions of dollars are going. If it is not essential to the national security or to other related issues to keep their privacy, the Canadian public should know what is going one.

[Translation]

    Madam Speaker, today we are discussing an important issue. The Speaker recognized that there might have been a breach of parliamentary privilege stemming from a situation that has been discussed at length in the media. Unfortunately, I find that Quebeckers are not talking about it enough. That will come, however, since, given the extent of the situation surrounding the Prime Minister's ArriveCAN scandal, we are now resorting to taking historic action in the House: summoning a witness to the bar.
     For the people watching, I would like to clarify that “the bar” is a golden bar located at the entrance to the House of Commons. Only members of Parliament and pages can be admitted to the House. Exceptionally, someone will be permitted to come to the bar to testify and answer for their actions. The actions for which the witness is criticized are not having answered questions put to him by a committee, lying when questioned by parliamentarians, and not having taken the study of the ArriveCAN scandal undertaken by the Standing Committee on Government Operations and Estimates seriously.
     The motion is clear. Kristian Firth, one of the two owners, managers and employees of GC Strategies, is being asked to appear to receive an admonishment from the Speaker. This is what is called getting a slap on the wrist from the Speaker. Mr. Firth is being asked to answer questions asked of him and appearing in the 17th report of the Standing Committee on Government Operations and Estimates. He is also being asked to answer additional questions that might arise from the questions he is asked here in the House. This is important. The credibility of our parliamentary system depends on it.
     The purpose of parliamentary committees is to fuel debates in the House. They are intended to allow members to delve further into an issue, to question people and situations so that we have all the information we need to make the right decisions and pass laws. That is why all of the bills introduced in the House must go through the committee process. The people who table bills must come answer questions in committee. Witnesses may be invited to help us make the right decisions. That helps both the government and the opposition parties.
     It is also an opportunity to hold the government to account for its actions. Things happen sometimes, or reports get published like the one from the Auditor General, that reveal the chaos around management of the ArriveCAN application. To date, this application, which should have cost $80,000, has cost $60 million. The exact amount is not yet known. Not even the Auditor General could pinpoint it. Of these $60 million, $20 million went to a company that acted as a go-between. This company was contracted to develop a computer application, but has no IT knowledge. All it knows is how LinkedIn works, and how to connect people so the government can implement its contracts. It is entirely unreasonable to pay millions of taxpayer dollars to companies that serve as fronts or intermediaries and do no work.
     Consequently, parliamentarians wanted to find out more. In committee, they questioned the firm GC Strategies. By the way, “GC Strategies” is the name of a private company. It is no surprise that the name starts with the letters “GC”, since the company wants to imply that it has special ties with the Government of Canada, as in “Government of Canada Strategies”. The company demonstrated its lack of rigour in the work it did. Furthermore, it truly sought to squeeze this government for as much as possible.
     Witnesses who appeared before the committee did not want to answer questions. They took the summons to appear before the parliamentary committee with a grain of salt, thinking it was no big deal, that they could refuse to answer questions, and nothing would come of it, as has too often happened in the past. Unfortunately, the example comes from on high. We saw this in other parliamentary committees when, in the SNC-Lavalin affair, the Minister of Justice was subjected to political pressure to make a decision and could not get answers either from the public servants involved or from the Prime Minister and his team.

  (1555)  

     He hid behind cabinet confidence to avoid speaking the truth and avoid suffering the consequences. The result is that the Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner submitted a report. He found the Prime Minister guilty of a breach of ethics. What was the consequence for the Prime Minister? He said he took full responsibility for his actions and would ensure that it never happened again.
     It is therefore not surprising that, subsequently, witnesses appear at a parliamentary committee believing it is not a big deal if they do not answer questions, for absolutely nothing will happen. This time, however, we said no. All the parties said no, enough is enough, people have to answer. We should proceed this way so witnesses give the whole truth when they testify and understand the importance of their testimony before a committee, not only for parliamentarians, but also for Canadians.
     I myself have witnessed certain situations in the ArriveCAN file. I asked one of the officials to name the company that recommended GC Strategies, and had to ask three questions before the officials finally agreed to name the company GC Strategies. That is completely unacceptable. It is time that the House of Commons, and we all, as parliamentarians, put a stop to this to make sure these kind of things do not happen again.
     I want to give a few examples so that people understand the situation clearly. Here is an example of a question Mr. Firth was asked that he did not want to answer. On GC Strategies' website, there is a statement that says, “GCstrategies listen and try to find solutions to my problems vs. selling me a solution to a problem I've never had.” This quote is attributed to a senior executive in the Government of Canada. A senior executive said that about GC Strategies. Mr. Firth was asked who this senior executive was who had so much respect for his company. Believe it or not, Mr. Firth refused to answer that simple question.
    However the quote was on the homepage of their website, which, unfortunately, we can no longer find. A search for gcstrategies.ca now leads to a GoDaddy site. The site is no more. Fortunately we have screenshots, which I have in my hands right now, although I cannot show them.
     Here is another example. GC Strategies quoted an assistant deputy minister. That is something. That is in the higher echelons of government. Apparently, the assistant deputy minister said that the company took the time to understand their client's business and vision, and so on. It was a glowing comment praising GC Strategies. Mr. Firth was asked who was that voluble assistant deputy minister who was so full of praise and goodwill towards his company. Mr. Firth refused to answer the parliamentarians. Why do we need to know that? Because we need to update the entire procedure, solve the existing problem that allows companies like GC Strategies to develop an app that should cost $80,000 but ends up costing taxpayers $60 million. The owners of the company developed the app out of their basement with no IT knowledge whatsoever.
     My colleague, the member for Leeds—Grenville—Thousand Islands and Rideau Lakes, who is the opposition critic on ethics, was very clear. He has a list of some of the lies told by Mr. Firth. In particular, Mr. Firth was asked whether he had ever lied to a parliamentary committee. He refused to answer. He did not want to lie twice. He was asked which public office holders he met with outside government offices. He refused to answer. That is important, because we need to know who this company’s connections are to find out how it managed to obtain so many contracts when it has so few employees. We need answers to these questions.
     Mr. Firth was asked a simple question. The member for Sherwood Park—Fort Saskatchewan asked Mr. Firth how many hours he spent working on sending LinkedIn invitations. That is not a difficult question. He could have said one, two, three hours. He refused to answer the question.
     This is an extraordinary situation that demands an extraordinary response. For too long now, witnesses appearing before parliamentary committees have ceased taking the work we do in the House seriously. With the multitude of Liberal scandals we are currently dealing with, witnesses need to know that there are consequences to not telling the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth in a parliamentary committee. That is why I support this motion to call Mr. Firth to testify at the bar.

  (1600)  

[English]

     Madam Speaker, I appreciate a number of the comments that the member has made. What comes to my mind is the fact that we have an individual about which everyone is saying the same thing: We want this individual to come before the committee.
    For me, it is about trying to take it to the next step. We have not really experienced this for over 100 years. We want to ensure that there is a very strong, credible aspect to it.
    Could the member give some indication, from his perspective, of how he sees the interaction taking place when we have someone called to the bar in a question and answer situation?

[Translation]

    Madam Speaker, being myself a member of the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs, I can tell you that we all tried in good faith to hold a meeting last week to discuss the terms and conditions of the appearance. We wanted to organize a meeting without forcing anyone, based on good faith on both sides.
     Unfortunately, the Liberal chair of the committee refused to call a meeting so we could analyze the process. If we now have to let the House leaders make the decision, it is because the Liberals did not want us to forge ahead and settle the matter in committee as we should have, with the consent of all parties in the House.

[English]

    Madam Speaker, I think the hon. member and I agree on much when it comes to this privilege motion.
    Today I received a strange email sent directly to my parliamentary email from the individual in question, in which he apologized and then reiterated all the statements that he has made, laying out why he was not in the wrong.
    Did my colleague receive such an email, and does he feel that the apology should somehow replace the actions in the motion we are debating today? Having provided this non-apology by email to some members of Parliament, should he somehow be off the hook in terms of appearing at the bar and explaining to the House why he was so willing to ignore the parliamentary privileges of this place?
    Madam Speaker, it is too little, too late. He gets caught. He apologizes. It is the second time he has done it.
    No, he should appear at the bar of the House of Commons to answer for his lies and why he did not tell the whole truth and only the truth to parliamentarians.
    Madam Speaker, in terms of one of the contracts that was signed with GC Strategies, GC Strategies actually designed the parameters of the contract and then got the contract later on.
    Was my hon. colleague aware of that, and could he explain it a little?

[Translation]

    Madam Speaker, this time, I will answer the question in French, because it is a little more technical in nature.
     That is precisely where the problem lies. We need to understand how this could have happened. How is it that a company was asked to define the terms of a contract that it itself was awarded by the Liberal government? How could we have allowed this to happen in our system? I sincerely think that the reason is the laxness we have seen on the part of the Liberal government in the past eight years when it comes to the various scandals it has faced.
     People think the