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44th PARLIAMENT, 1st SESSION

EDITED HANSARD • No. 312

CONTENTS

Thursday, May 9, 2024




Emblem of the House of Commons

House of Commons Debates

Volume 151
No. 312
1st SESSION
44th PARLIAMENT

OFFICIAL REPORT (HANSARD)

Thursday, May 9, 2024

Speaker: The Honourable Greg Fergus

    The House met at 10 a.m.

Prayer



Routine Proceedings

[Routine Proceedings]

  (1000)  

[Translation]

Committees of the House

Industry and Technology 

    Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the 18th report of the Standing Committee on Industry and Technology, entitled “Main Estimates 2024-25”.

[English]

Petitions

Basic Income Guarantee Program  

    Mr. Speaker, I am honoured to present a petition today noting that a guaranteed livable income would guarantee a livable monthly income to every Canadian with a social insurance number. It would establish an income floor below which no Canadian could fall and reflect regional differences in cost of living.
    The petitioners note that a guaranteed income could replace the current patchwork of federal and provincial income assistance programs with a single universal national benefit. It could be progressively—

[Translation]

    I am sorry. The hon. member for Saint‑Hyacinthe—Bagot is rising on a point of order.
    Mr. Speaker, my colleague is not that far away from me, but I am struggling to hear him. There is some annoying background noise.

[English]

    I invite the member for Kitchener Centre to start his petition again.
    Mr. Speaker, it is an honour to rise this morning to present a well-timed petition, given the debate last night, calling for a guaranteed income.
    The petitioners call for a guaranteed livable income for every Canadian with a social insurance number. They note that this could establish an income floor below which no Canadian would fall; that it would establish a national framework that would replace the current provincial and territorial patchwork system; that it could reduce poverty, of course, thereby reducing the demand on social services, law enforcement and health care, resulting in additional cost savings for government and for taxpayers; and, most importantly, it would provide a financial social safety net for all Canadians. As a result, the petitioners call on the Government of Canada to implement a guaranteed livable income for all Canadians.

Natural Health Products  

     Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to present a petition today on behalf of small business owners who work in the natural health supply, food or products industry.
     The petitioners are calling upon the government to decrease red tape to eliminate the regulatory changes that will increase their costs in respect to labelling and licensing for products as simple as vitamin C and fluoride-free toothpaste. The petitioners want the Government of Canada out of the way. They want to have their natural health products freed from more government red tape.

Hong Kong  

    Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise today to present a petition on behalf of Hong Kongers living in Canada.
    The petitioners are concerned about the measures to assist Hong Kong residents in Canada, commonly known as stream A and stream B. They write that, as of January, over 15,500 permanent residency applications had been received, with approximately 7,500 granted, leaving over 8,000 applications in the backlog. Because of the shortage of admission targets, the processing time has exceeded the stipulated 6.5 months, with some applicants waiting up to a year or more.
    The petitioners are calling on the Minister of Immigration, Citizenship and Refugees to acknowledge the humanitarian crisis that has occurred, adhere to and uphold the priority processing guidelines as outlined and allocate additional admission targets to the Hong Kong pathway to effectively address the backlog.

  (1005)  

Questions on the Order Paper

    Mr. Speaker, I would ask that all questions be allowed to stand at this time, please.
    Is that agreed?
     Some hon. members: Agreed.

Orders of the Day

[Orders of the Day]

[English]

Privilege

Reference to Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs  

[Privilege]
    The House resumed from May 8 consideration of the motion.
     Mr. Speaker, could my hon. colleague from Alberta outline, in very clear terms, the threat that foreign governments are posing to Canadian members of Parliament who simply want to stand up for human rights and justice, as well as peace, order and good government in Canada?
     Mr. Speaker, as I highlighted in my speech last night, not too many hours ago, this debate is especially prescient at this time. Yesterday evening we learned that Premier Eby in British Columbia had announced that there was a sophisticated cyber-attack against certain government IT infrastructure in that province. That speaks not only to the risks that members of Parliament face but also, ultimately, to the need for Canadians to feel free to engage, be a part of and be active in their democratic process.
    I think that, so often, what happens in this place is a signal of what is possible and the potential of what could happen across our country. It is a necessity to ensure that the government is responsive. A big question here is about the fact that the government knew about this, but it did not inform us. There is a need to ensure that we can trust the lines of communication, not only for members of Parliament but also for all Canadians. This includes diaspora groups, some of which may be vulnerable to these types of attacks.
    Mr. Speaker, we had this debate last night. This is an important question of privilege.
    We have seen information that has come forth in the preliminary report from the Hogue commission that the NDP pushed hard to have set up as a public inquiry. We saw that, at that time, as clearly documented cases of foreign interference came forward, whether in terms of the member for Vancouver East or the member for Wellington—Halton Hills, members of Parliament were not informed. Now we have this question of privilege, where 18 members of Parliament were victims of a cyber-attack but were not informed by the government.
    Is it ever appropriate for the government to withhold important information such as that when members of Parliament are involved? Is it ever appropriate that it does not put into place protocols so that the members of Parliament who are targeted by this foreign interference are actually made aware of it?
     Mr. Speaker, that highlights the need to ensure that there are processes and protocols in place. However, we need to be careful in this place that we do not allow ourselves to think we need to look for a solution to something that was obviously a failure of leadership. Time and time again, we have seen the government only acting when pushed, when forced to respond.
    Discussions have taken place in the aftermath of Justice Hogue's report and in the continuing conversations around election interference, around making sure that our democratic infrastructure is secure and that members of Parliament are able to do the good work that we do.
     I would emphasize again that it is not simply members of Parliament who need to be concerned. All Canadians need to ensure that their voices are protected in our democratic process, because that is the very heart of what democracy is meant to be.

  (1010)  

    Mr. Speaker, in yesterday's debate, I mentioned that I was one of the 18 parliamentarians targeted by this pixel reconnaissance attack from APT31. As I disclosed, this was not just any cyber-hacking group in their mom's basement. These were actually intelligence officers working for one of the subnational governments that the Beijing government loves to use in order to target legislators. I was targeted because of my work with IPAC.
     I want to ask the member this, because he just spoke a little bit about the impact on free speech that this has and about dissident groups. We have heard about it from other members as well. This has a chilling effect on diaspora groups in Canada and their interactions with members of Parliament. Therefore, it has a direct impact on our parliamentary duties and our parliamentary privileges to ensure that we can do this work on behalf of Canadians.
    The government responsible for ensuring our protection, as well as the protection of our digital devices and infrastructure, chose not to inform us that we had been targeted, despite having a moral and ethical responsibility to do so. Does the member think this has a chilling effect on people's interaction with MP offices to know that members of Parliament were targeted by foreign governments and that the government chose to do nothing about it?
     Mr. Speaker, the member is right. There is a chilling effect, and it is not limited to the circumstances that we are debating in this privilege motion.
    Time and time again, we see a government that has refused to act, has been unwilling to act and, in some cases, we learned, has not acted because it would not have been in its political interest. We need to make sure that individuals coming to our constituency offices; parliamentarians, who need to be able to do our jobs effectively, including advocating for those most vulnerable around the world; and all Canadians are safe. This includes those in diaspora communities, who might also face repercussions for their political activities in Canada in terms of their family members and whatnot back home.
    This is so serious, because freedom of expression and the freedoms associated with our democracy have to be guarded at all costs.
     Mr. Speaker, I was also one of the 18 parliamentarians targeted by APT31. What is really disturbing in all this is that not only were we targeted because we are part of the IPAC, the Inter-Parliamentary Alliance on China, but some were also involved in diaspora communities and, in my case, as the shadow minister for national defence, dealing with sensitive information.
    Often, people in diaspora communities come to us or send us emails talking about certain issues they are concerned about, whether they are things happening in the Communist regime in Beijing; issues surrounding the corruption and human rights abuses that we are witnessing in Ukraine by the Russian Federation, as in my case, or the kleptocrats in the Kremlin; or, of course, having to do with the theocracy and human rights abusers in Tehran. Those in diaspora communities send us emails, and if this APT31 hack had been successful, sensitive information about the identities of individuals who came to Canada seeking asylum and now call Canada home could have been jeopardized. They could have been targeted even more than what we currently see reported by the foreign interference commission and Justice Hogue.
     We have dictatorships and authoritarian regimes, such as the People's Republic of China, that are trying to undermine our democratic institutions and target Chinese nationals right here in Canada. Could my colleague talk to the fact that this is not just an attack on our parliamentary privilege or on us as parliamentarians but on all Canadians and our democratic institutions?
     Mr. Speaker, I acknowledge my colleague's strong advocacy and fighting to ensure that Ukraine has everything it needs to defend itself at a time when its territorial integrity has been compromised by a dictator. I know that Russia and Vladimir Putin's regime is another example of how there have been attempts to interfere in Canadian democracy. I know that Putin, as well as many others, has been sanctioned. It speaks to how the people of this country deserve to be protected.
    It is unfortunate that the government is only forced to act after being pushed and that we learned about this from our American allies. Action needs to be taken. However, ultimately, we need a government that treats national security, as well as the freedom of Canadians, with the seriousness it deserves.

  (1015)  

    Mr. Speaker, I am entering into this debate, and first of all I want to say I certainly support the privilege motion before us. The reality is that what we are learning and seeing is that foreign interference is real. It is happening right before our eyes. In fact, it has been happening for some time.
    Commissioner Hogue in her interim report indicated that in both the 2019 election and the 2021 election there had been foreign interference activities. What we learned as well is that those activities occur in a variety of formats. While I am shocked to learn that members of Parliament are being targeted this time through potential cyber-attacks, what we know is that foreign interference tactics have been used in a variety of ways.
    We know that the member for Wellington—Halton Hills was one of the first individuals for whom we learned that his family had been targeted. He learned this not because the government informed him in the proper format, but we learned it through leaks in the media. It was only because of the escalation of the situation that we were informed that we were also being targeted. I learned much later I am a target of Chinese foreign interference activities and have been for some time. I learned that, in fact, I would be an evergreen target, meaning I will forever be targeted, as I understand the situation.
    Now we learn that 18 other members of Parliament have been targeted with cyber-attacks. That is the reality. The public hearing the NDP has pushed for is so important and so significant. In the interim report, what we learned from some of the testimony was shocking to me.
    Kenny Chiu, the former member of Parliament for Steveston—Richmond East, was subject to foreign interference activities. We will never know whether those activities would have altered the outcome of the election in that particular riding, but notwithstanding, foreign interference activities were occurring, and even the government's agencies were observing this. They had this information. In fact in my case, in the 2021 election it was noted that the incident related to Vancouver East during the campaign, that campaign activity, is believed to may well have been a foreign interference activity from China. However, none of that information was communicated, not to me, not to Kenny Chiu and not to anybody, really.
    One has to wonder, when the government says it has set up teams of communication, different agencies charged with this work, why not one of them informed the people who were impacted the most. This is exactly the case here with 18 members of Parliament who are being impacted by cyber-attacks from China. One wonders how this is even possible. How is it that the government has multiple agencies and that the people impacted the most are not even informed?
    What is the purpose of foreign interference activities from China and other countries? They want to disrupt our democratic system. They want to send a message to those being targeted in one way or another. The commissioner noted in her report that the diaspora community is particularly vulnerable and targeted in that way, and yet what work is being done to protect the diaspora community? I do not see a whole lot of activities from the government side. Its communication system is a colossal failure in addressing the issue.

  (1020)  

    Foreign interference activities, as I was mentioning, happen in a variety of different formats. I have to raise a question, as well, with respect to the threshold that the government sets internally, to determine what would require action. The threshold is set so high that virtually nothing will occur. Ministers testified about how high the threshold ought to be. One of the bars, I think, is set at whether or not the interference would change an election. If the bar is set at that level, does that mean to say that all the other activities that were occurring, which may not have changed an election outcome, did not occur? Does that mean to say that there is no foreign interference? Of course not.
    The question becomes this for the government: What action will it take to address foreign interference activities and to take them seriously enough to curb those activities and to send a clear message to the actors that this will not be tolerated by Canada? What action will be taken to safeguard those people who are being impacted?
    I am a member of Parliament. In many ways, those of us who are members of Parliament are, I would say, privileged people. We have, to some extent, some level of protection, but everyday people do not. They definitely need and deserve protection.
    I was at an event just this last weekend with Hong Kongers. There were many people there. It was a cultural event, a celebration of Hong Kongers' culture, their practices, their business smarts and their entrepreneurship. There were people from high school who had crocheted cool little items that they were putting on a table to sell. There were a variety of artisans putting their items forward. There were also people there who wore masks because they were worried about being targeted.
    In Canada, the government had much pressure put on it. There was my request for it to have a special immigration measure, a lifeboat scheme for Hong Kongers who are trying to escape the prosecution, the draconian national security law. Most recently, article 23 has been passed in Hong Kong, where there are escalating arbitrary detentions and arrests. Hong Kongers need the government to take action on a special immigration measure.
    So many Hong Kongers came to Canada needing to be able to find safety. They applied, under the special measure, for permanent residence. Initially the government processed those applications within six months. It is now up to 21 months. For some of the applicants, their study permits and work permits have already expired. People are in such fear about having to return to Hong Kong and then be out of status.
    Thank goodness the government finally made an announcement this week to extend the program. The government could have actually been even more efficient in that process and just automatically renewed the expiring work permits and study permits. Instead, it decided to make everybody go through yet another round of applications, spending scarce resources within IRCC instead of directing those resources into processing permanent residence applications in an expeditious fashion. That is typical; the government always finds some other way to be less efficient.

  (1025)  

     I wanted to raise that point because of how important it is to ensure that Hong Kongers are able to get to a place of safety and not be sent back to Hong Kong.
    I want to turn back to the issue around foreign interference. As I was mentioning, there are a variety of different ways it can happen. In my case there was one particular event that occurred, that I am aware of, where I suspect that there were foreign interference activities, because the information that was provided does not add up. In this event, I made a complaint to Elections Canada. I informed CSIS. I reported it to the RCMP. I do not believe those agencies took the matter seriously. I do not think they investigated it seriously.
    Then, Elections Canada closed the case and deemed that there was no foreign interference, even though it did not follow the money and even though, in the background, I learned I am an evergreen target. We have learned in the media, and elsewhere, that there is a $250,000 slush fund that is put out there for foreign interference activities from China. How do the organizations know, without thoroughly investigating the matter, that there was no foreign interference in that instance?
    I know, most likely, that the incident in the 2021 election alone would not have altered the outcome of the election. I would still have been elected because I won by a very big margin. However, that is not the point, is it? The point is that I believe there were foreign interference activities, and we needed to thoroughly investigate the matter. The government has set up multiple agencies to look into these issues. When they learned of the issue, why did they not inform me, in real time, when it was happening?
     In the case of Kenny Chiu, a misinformation and disinformation campaign on WeChat was happening. He was not informed either. The agencies and the government were looking into foreign interference activities, and they knew. Did they do anything? Nope. If we juxtapose this to what was going on with the Prime Minister during that time, there was a disinformation campaign about him on Facebook. What did the government agencies do? They phoned Facebook about that disinformation campaign. What did Facebook do? It took it down. My point is this: Why should everybody not be treated equally? They are not, and that is the truth.
    We learned in the inquiry that perhaps in the case of WeChat, the government did not follow through on it because it was the Chinese Canadian community that was being impacted, as though somehow Chinese Canadians do not deserve the same protection against foreign interference activities. It is absolutely horrendous.
    I also want to raise a point for all members of Parliament in terms of potential impact. In her report, Justice Hogue indicated clearly that, with respect to foreign interference, there is a deep concern of the impact on elected officials. The report actually said that foreign interference actors undertake to target elected officials who speak out against certain foreign states such as China by deplatforming them, and there are also misinformation and disinformation campaigns. The goal, of course, is to undermine credibility, and that is what we saw in the last two elections. Of note, the commission said that part of the impact for elected officials, and part of the goal, is to potentially change behaviours and messages.

  (1030)  

    I can not help but wonder this. In the House of Commons we know there are five poisons with China, one being the Uyghur genocide issue. The other is Taiwan's Falun Gong, and I can go on. However, let me focus on the Uyghur genocide issue for one minute.
     We had a vote in the House and some members of Parliament abstained from that vote. They were here prior to vote and participated, but when it came to the vote, they somehow magically disappeared. One of those actors is the member for Don Valley North. As it happens, on the matter related to the member for Don Valley North, the commissioner has some very damning findings with respect to that nomination.
    The Prime Minister said that he did not know about all of this. Let us pretend that is the case. Now that he does know, what action is he taking with respect to the finding of the commissioner, who said that foreign interference activities could have impacted its outcome of that nomination? If the Prime Minister believes there is nothing to see here, as he is continuing to say, then why is the member for Don Valley North not back in the Liberal caucus?
    Another thing that came out of the hearing that I found shocking is this. The Prime Minister was at the hearing and testified that he did not read documents that were classified top secret. What head of state does not read classified top secret documents that impact national security? That is weird.
    Let us put that aside for a minute. The Prime Minister said that he was not informed, with the exception that on that point he was contradicted by the director of CSIS, who said that, in fact, he and his staff were informed, that they were briefed. Magically, it seems like they do not know about it.
    There is much to be done. There is a big question, which is the premise of the inquiry, and that is, who knew what and when and what did the government do about it? I am still waiting for the final report to come out, and I am excited to receive it.
    The next phase of the inquiry will be very much focused on the impacts and issues related to that diaspora community, which did not get a chance to fully participate in phase one of the inquiry.
    Much work needs to be done, and there is no excuse for the government to not take the necessary actions to tackle foreign interference activities. We learned through the hearing that China is the most sophisticated country targeting us in Canada with foreign interference activities. We also learned through the hearing that all the other countries are onto it and are far more advanced in dealing with this issue, but Canada is not.
    For my colleagues, who have just learned they are being targeted, this is absolutely a question of privilege. We must study this issue, get to the bottom of it and be clear about what needs to be done and what actions need to be taken, because Canada's democratic process is in jeopardy. All 338 of us, and the work that we do, are in jeopardy. We cannot allow for any country to threaten us in that way. We must stand together, united in saying no to all foreign interference actors out there, that they will not be allowed to try to take us down. We must do that in the House of Commons.

  (1035)  

     Mr. Speaker, the government does take foreign interference very seriously. We have seen that in the legislative measures and other resources. We have had all sorts of different types of discussions. We have had reports provided to Parliament. We have continued to bring forward legislation as recently as earlier this week. The point is that we do take it very seriously.
    We also recognize that Canada is one of a number of countries around the world being targeted with foreign interference. There is more than one player persistently trying to undermine democracies. We are very much aware of those players.
    The question I have for the member is this. Looking forward, it is important that this goes to the procedure and House affairs committee. Collectively, it is in all of our best interests for that to happen. I wonder what the member's thoughts are on the importance of working on a consensus and trying to build something out of PROC to ensure that we have a united front in taking on foreign international interference.
     Mr. Speaker, I want to point out that supposedly the government took this so seriously that it actually slow walked the legislation. The foreign agent registry was supposed to be tabled last year. Actually, I was informed by a source that this legislation was already drafted last year. The consultation had been completed. However, months later, finally we see the legislation. The government is not exactly on the ball in trying to fight foreign interference.
     Notwithstanding those who are impacted, the government knew long ago and did not even bother to ensure that they were informed, to the point where a member's family could be in jeopardy. Then it did not do anything about it until there was a leak. That does not build a whole lot of confidence for me in terms of what the government is doing to tackle foreign interference. There is new information on which the government needs to take action. We will have to wait and see about that.
     With respect to working collaboratively, yes, of course, but not in the interest of trying to hide information. I just wanted to point that out.

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, up until the beginning of 2023, the Liberal government was completely denying that there was interference. We could ask all the questions we wanted, but they just denied its existence, full stop. The opposition parties fought for a rapporteur to be appointed, and we succeeded in, I believe, March 2023, but his appointment was far from unanimous. It was a failure. Now we have Ms. Hogue, who seems to be doing a great job.
     After everything my colleague just said, I really empathize with her. I would like her to use some adjectives and describe to me precisely what she is going through because of this government, which has been keeping us in the dark for years, since it had highly relevant information about foreign interference.

[English]

     Mr. Speaker, I fear that if I were to use those adjectives, I would be kicked out of the House, as they would be unparliamentary.
    However, let me just say this. The government was asleep at the wheel. What we have learned from the commissioner is that, and we are not alone in being targeted by foreign interference activities, Canada is way behind the eight ball. Canada was basically not there, despite continual warnings. That is the reality. Hence, we are here today. We are learning that more and more members of Parliament are being targeted.
     I should also add that other actions need to be taken. Take, for example, what is happening in the United States with TikTok and the actions being taken in trying to prevent foreign interference activities that can occur through that platform. What is the Liberal government doing? Nothing. I think that kind of tells us everything.

  (1040)  

    Mr. Speaker, the reality is that Canada is being targeted, and the government is not doing the things it needs to do to be transparent about it.
    One of the things that all of us should be concerned about is the fact that so many members learned about that foreign interference through the media. That is not the way anyone should learn that he or she is being targeted.
    Could the member talk a little about solutions? With respect to the foreign registry, there is a lot of concern from ethnic communities that feel they are going to be specifically targeted, and they want safety. What are the solutions moving forward? What does the government actually need to take action on?
    Mr. Speaker, first, on the legislation that was tabled, it needs to come into law before the next election and be implemented. That is a key piece of what needs to be done.
    Of course, there are many elements within that legislation that will be in regulation. We do not even know what the mandate for the commission looks like. Let us also keep in mind that this is not the be all and end all. That is only one tool to address foreign interference activities.
     I would also say this for PROC. The work that PROC needs to do is not done, because what came out in the inquiry was that there was contradictory information. On the one hand, Katie Telford told the committee that of course the Prime Minister read all the confidential documents. Then, at the hearing, the Prime Minister said that he did not read any of them.
    Who is not telling the truth? We need to get to the bottom of this. They do not get to sweep this under the rug. We need to get to the bottom of it, to hold people to account and, most important, to actually take the real actions that are necessary to address foreign interference.
    Mr. Speaker, we are fortunate to have debate in this place like we just heard from the member for Vancouver East. We are lucky that we can reflect on the words she shared with us this morning.
    I am deeply concerned to hear about the double standard that exists for members in this place when it comes to foreign interference, and I would really appreciate hearing more from her. I understand that she wants to see Bill C-70 move ahead quickly. However, my concern is that the government is going to say that it is no problem at all, that it will all be solved, that Bill C-70 will fix the issues we have shared when it comes to foreign interference.
     Could the member share with us the extent to which she feels that is or is not the case? Could she also share more, elaborating on the question from our colleague, the member for North Island—Powell River, on the extent to which she would like to see the government do more, and do it faster, to address the deep concerns she shared with respect to foreign interference?
    Mr. Speaker, on the issues around the bill itself, of course, it needs to go through the House and it needs to go to committee, to have it invite the diaspora community, in particular, to share its comments around it. In talking with the people in the broader public, most of them are just so relieved that, finally, we have this legislation before us.
    It is going to be really important to ensure that there is not going to be some disinformation campaign out there, trying to say what the bill is and what it is not. That is critical as well. However, much work needs to be done to get this through the system.
     I also want to emphasize that the bill, in and of itself, is not the answer to all the foreign interference activities. We already know, on investigation, that, yes, the bill would create some offenses that would allow for potential prosecution, but a lot of the aspects hinge on other actions that the government can take, for example, nominations.
    On the question around nominations, and I have already highlighted the potential impact for the nomination that took place in Don Valley North, what action will the government take with respect to nominations? On the question around independence of these matters, it is also all the different agencies within government that, frankly, are not exactly independent and need to follow up on foreign interference activities.

  (1045)  

    Mr. Speaker, what we do in this place matters. This place is the only place at the federal level that is a democratic institution. This is Canada's democratic institution. The other place is not; it is appointed. The Prime Minister and his cabinet are not; they are appointed.
    In Canada, we do not elect governments. We do not elect prime ministers. We elect a legislature, a single national legislature of 338 Canadians to sit here on behalf of Canadians to make decisions. The way we make decisions in this country, under our constitutional order, is not through the tip of a sword but through debate. It is through our words, and the words we use in this place influence the votes, which are votes on motions and bills that lead to decisions taken by Parliament.
    Therefore, protecting members of Parliament in their execution of their duties, in the words they are freely allowed to use on the floor of the House and in the actions they take, whether it is in respect of legislation in front of the House, motions in front of the House or administrative matters, is incredibly important. Members should be free from interference, from coercion and from threats. That is why what is in front of us today is so very important, because what we do in this place matters. What we did in this place in 2020 and 2021 mattered.
    On November 18, 2020, the House adopted a motion calling on the government to ban Huawei from our national core telecommunications network and also calling on the government to come forward with a robust plan to combat foreign interference. That motion ultimately put enough pressure on the government to make a belated decision to ban Huawei from our national telecommunications network.
    Several months later, in early 2021, the House, on February 22, 2021, adopted a motion recognizing that the PRC's repression of some 12 million Uyghurs in Xinjiang province in western China constituted genocide under the 1948 genocide convention. That mattered, because what came out of that was coordinated action between the United States, the United Kingdom and Canada to impose sanctions on a number of individuals and one entity in Xinjiang in response to these gross human rights violations.
    What we did mattered back then, and the PRC noticed. The PRC implemented a full-spectrum response against members of this House, some legitimate and some illegitimate. It pursued legitimate diplomatic action. It pursued legitimate counter-sanction action. That is not in question. What is in question is that it illegitimately violated international law and targeted members of this House.
    Justice Hogue, as the previous member outlined, has outlined how the PRC interfered in the 2021 election. CSIS concluded clearly that the PRC interfered in the 2021 election, and Justice Hogue found exactly that in her initial report of May 3, last week.
    The PRC also illegitimately targeted six members of this place, who have come forward on this point of privilege, and that is the question in front of us today.
    These members were cyber-attacked by the PRC. Six members among 18 legislators in Canada were cyber-attacked by the PRC, and some of those 18 are members of the House, six in particular. They were attacked for being members of the Inter-Parliamentary Alliance on China and simply attacked for doing their job in upholding the international rule of law and criticizing the PRC for its gross violations of international law, whether that is related to the genocide against the Uyghur people, which is a contravention of the 1948 genocide convention; whether it is the PRC's illegitimate and illegal crackdown in Hong Kong, a violation of the 1997 Sino-British Joint Declaration, which guaranteed Hong Kongers their rights and liberties for 50 years from 1997; whether it is the PRC's violation of the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea, where it is harassing other states, fishing vessels and other marine vessels in the South China Sea; or whether it is the PRC's violations of the trade system that has been established under WTO rules and the status it obtained in 2000 as a most-favoured nation, which it is obliged to uphold.

  (1050)  

    As a result of these six members of Parliament being targeted, our counter-intelligence agencies and the Five Eyes alliance started to take action. They started to monitor what was going on with APT31, a hacking group that is an organ of the state of the People's Republic of China, a hacking group that is run out of Hubei's State Security Department, which is an arm of the People's Republic of China's Ministry of State Security. It is a massive secret service state apparatus that is monitoring not only its own citizens in the PRC but citizens of countries abroad.
    The FBI discovered this hack by APT31 in 2022, and it immediately passed it along to the Communications Security Establishment, part of the Government of Canada's national security apparatus. CSE, in turn, did its job. It passed the information along to parliamentary officials, and this is where the system broke down. While I have absolutely no doubt that the IT officials and personnel in the House of Commons administration did their job to ensure the integrity of our IT systems, that is not the question in front of us today. The question in front of us today is transparency. The question in front of us today is sunlight and transparency and why six members of this House who were targeted by the PRC through a cyber-attack were not informed at the time the Government of Canada became aware.
    The government tells us all the time that we need to be situationally aware. We cannot be situationally aware if we are not armed with information. What the procedure and House affairs committee should be looking at, if this motion is adopted, is why these six members were not informed at the time when the CSE and parliamentary officials were made aware. That, ultimately, is not only the responsibility of the executive branch of government and the CSE, but also the responsibility of the Speaker and officials the Speaker is responsible for.
    In the United States and the United Kingdom, elected members of national legislatures are regularly informed about foreign interference threat activities that are directed at them. That is a fact. That has not happened here in this case, and it has not happened in the past. The argument about security clearances in this place, that parliamentary officials knew about these attacks two years ago but could not tell members because they did not have security clearance, does not hold water.
    Philippe Dufresne, the former law clerk and parliamentary council, gave a legal opinion to committees of this House on many occasions, indicating that section 18 of the Constitution Act, 1867, makes it clear that in this place, members of Parliament have an unfettered right for documents and information that is not restricted by anything else, not restricted by laws that have been adopted by this place or by whatever views the Government of Canada may hold on classified materials. Therefore, when parliamentary officials became aware of it, they should have informed these members.
    I will finish by encouraging members of this House to vote for the motion so that the procedure and House affairs committee can take this matter up and ensure that in the future, when a Five Eyes intelligence agency notifies part of our national security establishment, whether it be the Communications Security Establishment, the Canadian Security Intelligence Service, the Department of National Defence intelligence unit or any other part of the security establishment, that Canadian members of Parliament are being targeted by a foreign state or by non-state actors, those members are informed forthwith so that they can be situationally aware and protect themselves and their families against these hostile threats.

  (1055)  

     Mr. Speaker, I would encourage those individuals who are following the debate on this issue to give serious consideration to actually reading the entire context in which the Speaker made his presentation, and I would assure individuals following the debate that the government has taken and continues to take foreign interference very seriously. One will see that in the actions that we have taken virtually from 2016 all the way up to this past week.
    Having said that, I would look to my friend across the way and ultimately argue that I think Canada is in a relatively good position to be able to demonstrate leadership on the issue.
    We want to see the issue go to PROC. PROC has the capabilities and the abilities to come forward, hopefully, with a report that has the support of all political entities in the chamber. I am wondering if my colleague across the way could provide his thoughts in regard to how good it would be if we are able to have a report come back from PROC where we have the support of all political entities inside the chamber.
    Does he not believe that this would give a much stronger impression, collectively, of us working together to deal with foreign interference?
    Mr. Speaker, I think opposition parties in the House have been highly responsible in how we have handled the information on foreign interference threat activities that have come to our attention over the last two years.
    When these stories broke, they did not break because the government informed members of the House or the House's committees about these foreign interference threat activities. They broke because they were printed on the front page of newspapers like The Globe and Mail.
    When we received that information, which the rest of the general public received at the same time, we treated it in a highly non-partisan and responsible manner. In fact, I do not recall many questions in this House about Don Valley North or about Steveston—Richmond East over the course of the last year and a half, because we were not certain what the facts were. It was not until May 3, last week, when Justice Hogue released her initial report, Justice Hogue having found certain things in those ridings, that we began to raise questions, because she received the evidence and made findings based on her judicial judgment.
    I think, in this whole matter, opposition parties have been highly responsible in how we have treated this information. I expect that we will be highly responsible going forward if this matter goes to the procedure and House affairs committee.

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, I too want to express my full support for the member, who has first-hand experience with interference and threats to his own family. I think all our colleagues here feel the same way. Having said that, we now need to turn those feelings into action. I think the member will agree with me.
    Last week, a report on foreign interference was released. I would like to know whether my colleague is satisfied with the report. If I am not mistaken, he sits on the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Development.
    I think everyone is familiar with cyber-attacks, actually. All we have to do is log on to social media to see there is a large number of bots and fake accounts flooding social networks. We suspect it is coming from abroad.
    Given that we often learn through the media, and at the last minute, that there has been interference, can my colleague, who sits on the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Development, tell us where we need to start looking and what we should be focusing on in order to anticipate future hits?
    Mr. Speaker, I believe that Justice Hogue's initial report is a good start. She will present a second report in December of this year. I will continue working with the commission to ensure that the second report is very strong and contains solid recommendations for building a national security system that will protect our democratic institutions.
     I also agree that the government must act. The director of CSIS sounded the alarm in 2018 when he publicly announced that there was a national security problem here in Canada, specifically in relation to the People's Republic of China. That was six or seven years ago. The government dragged its feet over proposing a measure or taking action. As my hon. NDP colleague said, they took too long introducing a bill aimed at creating a registry of foreign agents.
     A lot more needs to be done, and I think that the government needs to do these things.

  (1100)  

[English]

     Mr. Speaker, my colleague is exactly right. Throughout the entire hearing with the commissioner, all the parties that participated were working in a non-partisan fashion. We were being as helpful as we could in working in collaboration with the commission so that we could find the truth.
    The commissioner noted there is a real risk of politicians modifying their positions or messages as a result of foreign interference activities. Can the member comment on that?
    Mr. Speaker, I want to thank my hon. colleague for all the work she has done on countering PRC foreign interference. It has been very constructive.
    The member rightfully points out that Justice Hogue found that the PRC interfered in the 2019 and 2021 elections. That is incontrovertible. That is a finding of fact by Justice Hogue. She also concluded that the intelligence relating to the member for Don Valley North led to well-grounded suspicions that the PRC's interference could have impacted the individual who was elected in Don Valley North to this place. She said, “This is significant.”
    She also concluded, with respect to the riding of Steveston—Richmond East, it is a reasonable possibility to conclude that the PRC's disinformation operations in Steveston—Richmond East “could have impacted the result in this riding.” Again, these are Justice Hogue's findings. They could have impacted the results in certain ridings. Much of it centres around disinformation operations.
    As my hon. colleague stated earlier, we found out that the government did nothing about these disinformation operations in Steveston—Richmond East, but it jumped to attention when a Facebook post was made by the Buffalo Chronicle. A PCO official immediately called up Facebook, using the full weight and threat of the Government of Canada, to tell Facebook to take it down during the election. That shows us how uneven the playing field is with respect to the government's handling of foreign interference during the writ period.
     Mr. Speaker, we know the Liberals kept silent and knew about the foreign interference in the 2019 and 2021 elections because it was electorally advantageous to do so. We had a number of opposition members hacked by the PRC, which was potentially politically advantageous to the government.
    Would that be why the government kept silent?

  (1105)  

    Mr. Speaker, I think that we need a full range of tools, which is what experts have been telling the government.
    The government needs to implement a full range of tools to counter these foreign interference threat operations, and one of the tools that it needs to start using, which it is not very good at, is sunlight and transparency. The government needs to tell us and the public about foreign interference threats that it has derived from intelligence so that we are equipped with information to ensure that we become more resilient as a Parliament and more resilient as a society to counter the threats coming from authoritarian states.
     Is the House ready for the question?
    Some hon. members: Question.
    The Deputy Speaker: The question is on the motion.
    If a member participating in person wishes that the motion be carried or carried on division, or if a member of a recognized party participating in person wishes to request a recorded division, I would invite them to rise and indicate it to the Chair.
    Mr. Speaker, I would ask that this pass unanimously.
     Is it agreed?
    Some hon. members: Agreed.

    (Motion agreed to)


Government Orders

[Business of Supply]

[English]

Business of Supply

Opposition Motion—Legalization of Hard Drugs  

    That, given that since the NDP-Liberal Prime Minister took office, opioid overdose deaths across Canada have increased by 166% according to the most recent data available, the House call on the Prime Minister to:
(a) proactively reject the City of Toronto's request to the federal government to make deadly hard drugs like crack, cocaine, heroin, and meth legal;
(b) reject the City of Montreal's vote calling on the federal government to make deadly hard drugs legal;
(c) deny any active or future requests from provinces, territories and municipalities seeking federal approval to make deadly hard drugs legal in their jurisdiction; and
(d) end taxpayer funded narcotics and redirect this money into treatment and recovery programs for drug addiction.
     He said: Mr. Speaker, I will be splitting my time with the member for Mission—Matsqui—Fraser Canyon.
     A couple of years ago, I paid a visit to the Downtown Eastside of Vancouver, and I was both shocked and surprised. The shock is self-evident. Anyone who has been there would have seen the carnage of our fellow citizens lying face-first on the pavement in overdoses, the many more who stand on two feet with their heads between their legs, bent over in a spine-twisting posture that is common among those who are maxed out on fentanyl. These are spine-twisting postures that leave them bent forward, often for the rest of their lives. Those lives are often shortened, as the game of Russian roulette of using fentanyl risks ending their breathing every time they do it.
    There is an unmistakable smell of too many people and too few bathrooms, with tents that go block after block after block. The police pointed to one tent, identifying it as the headquarters of the “United Nations”, a self-described gang that supplies the guns and other deadly weapons for the street. There are people screaming at the top of their lungs, having lost control of themselves while in a static state of near overdose. These things are all stunning to witness, even though one might have expected, knowing the stats, that they were all there.
    We know that the Downtown Eastside was an experiment brought in by NDP municipal and provincial governments, but it was an experiment that the Prime Minister saw and said needed to be expanded right across the country. He has succeeded as, now, these tent encampments are regular in every part of the country. In your home province, Mr. Speaker, Halifax has 35 homeless encampments. That is 35 encampments in quaint, beautiful, peaceful Halifax. Every Canadian knows of such an encampment in their community, even though nine years ago it was unthinkable.
    The unmistakable link between this policy and the results that I just described play out now in the rare but courageous journalism that has begun, finally, to expose the cause. I point to an article in the National Post that reads, “Miller says that her daughter Madison told her that they 'could go up to a drug addict and ask for dillies and they’d have bottles of them, because they would go into pharmacies, get them filled up and sell them to the kids.'” “Dillies” is slang for the hydromorphone that is funded by government.
    A National Post article from March 11 reads:
    “I had several patients who were drug-free for a long time and just couldn't resist the temptation of this very cheap hydromorphone that was now on the street,” said Dr. Michael Lester, a Toronto-based addiction physician. “Every addiction medicine doctor I have spoken to has told me that, on a daily basis in their offices, they're dealing with diverted hydromorphone, either from new clients coming in who are addicted to it, or patients of theirs that are using it as a drug of abuse.”
    Global News provided rare, courageous journalism on this as well, showing that the price for a hydromorphone pill on the streets of Vancouver has dropped from $10 to 25¢ since the government began subsidizing and spreading the drug far and wide. There are reports of dealers standing outside of pharmacies waiting for those who have the prescription to get the so-called safe supply to immediately deliver it to the dealers who can then sell it to finance other terrible drugs. Then, of course, we have the overdoses that result as people graduate from those drugs.

  (1110)  

     The Prime Minister has all of this evidence. He has the evidence that, since he took office, overdose deaths are up 166% nationwide. They are up the most in the places where his and the NDP's radical policies have been most enthusiastically embraced. That is in British Columbia, where it has grown by 380%. Only with an election on the horizon did the B.C. government admit its failing and try to reverse the policy, just in time to go to the polls. However, still, Toronto and Montreal are applying for the same decriminalization of hard, illicit, unregulated drugs that caused such carnage in British Columbia, a request that the Prime Minister steadfastly refuses to rule out.
     I said that I was shocked and surprised. What surprised me when I went to the Downtown Eastside were the people who greeted me there. They were not the addicts. They were not the police. They were a small platoon of activists who somehow learned of my arrival, even though it was unannounced and was not posted anywhere for either the media or the social networks. They were there to record and to follow me, and to heckle me, which is fine. I can deal with that. I do it every day.
    However, it confused me. Who is paying for all this? Where is the money coming from for the activists who are pushing this? It turns out that there is a lot of money being made. Let me read a headline. “Prof, former public health officer launch company to produce legal heroin for treatment”.
     Martin Schechter, who led the study, called the the North American Opiate Medication Initiative (NAOMI), and Perry Kendall, B.C.'s first public health officer, are moving to change that.
    Frustrated by the lack of action from government, the two have launched a company called FPP...short for Fair Price Pharma, with the goal of producing an affordable domestic supply of legal, injectable heroin for use in treatment.
    More than 5,500 British Columbians have died from illicit drug and overdoses since 2016, including 170 in May.
    Dr. Schechter, who is also a professor of the School of Population and Public Health at the University of British Columbia, said in an e-mail that the overdose poisoning crisis [was a] failure to expand...legal heroin—a proven...cost-effective treatment—in the face of desperate need for safer supply, [that] drove the two doctors to act.
    [They said that he has a company] to set up a dedicated facility to manufacture the product and offer it at a cost to interested health care providers, including those in other provinces.
    He and Dr. Kendall are expected to meet this month with Health Canada's therapeutic products directorate, which regulates prescription drugs, to determine the tests and evidence needed to obtain a license.... They estimate they will need about $3-million to launch the product.
    Of course, they are making money. Later, they would complain. “B.C. doctors upset their 'safe supply' of heroin going unprescribed during overdose crisis”. They began to lobby for more money.
     This is from other news articles. Perry Kendall, the former Provincial Health Officer until 2018 is an advocate for safe supply. He founded Fair Price Pharma to distribute heroin.
     Mark Tyndall, who was B.C.'s deputy provincial health officer and was an executive medical director, is the founder of MySafe project.
     As I said, Martin Schechter was not with the B.C. government directly, but was responsible for the research that led to the so-called safe supply. He founded Fair Price Pharma.
    These are the companies that are actually making the money and are intimidating opponents of their plan. This is turning into a gigantic, self-licking ice cream cone, one that needs to end. It is in the service of money-making and not of the public.
     That is why common-sense Conservatives would stop funding hard narcotics, would ban hard drugs and would put the money into treatment and recovery services that would bring our loved ones home, drug-free.

  (1115)  

     Mr. Speaker, I have heard the words from the member for Carleton today.
     I have just one very simple question to him. He has listed a lot of headlines and news stories. He talked about brave people. Why will the Leader of the Opposition not meet with Moms Stop the Harm, an organization of mothers who have lost their children to the overdose crisis and who are brave, in this moment, for their children?
     Mr. Speaker, I have been meeting with families who have suffered as a result of the addiction crisis. We have met with people. What we try to do, though, is to meet with the organizations that are getting people off drugs and are actually saving lives.
    Our approach is to meet with recovery centres, all of whom have been unanimous in telling me that the minister's radical policies are actually killing people, not stopping the harm, but perpetuating the harm. That minister and the NDP government in B.C. have perpetuated the harm because the apparatus of corporate, pharmaceutical and activist groups that are profiting off this crisis have kept it going.
    She should be ashamed of herself for pumping more money into the hands of those pharmaceutical companies, those so-called public health officials in the bureaucracy, who then move into the profit-making world of selling hard opioids on our streets.
    We, in this common-sense Conservative government, will actually stop the harm by bringing our loved ones home drug-free.

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, the Leader of the Opposition said in his speech that the City of Montreal had voted in favour of decriminalizing drugs. If that is true, why does point (b) of the Conservative motion use the phrase “make...legal” instead? That is my first question.
     My second question is as follows: Can the Leader of the Opposition explain to us, using neutral and objective language, the difference between legalization, decriminalization and diversion?
    Mr. Speaker, there is no real difference. It is just semantics for these extremists because they do not want to defend their record. Every time they introduce a measure that fails, they change its name. First they called it “safe supply”, and now they have changed it to “regulated supply”. They use the words “legalization” and “decriminalization” to make distinctions that do not exist in the real world. That is the reality.
     In British Columbia, people were allowed to use methamphetamine, crack, heroin and other hard drugs in hospitals, public transit and children's parks. It was 100% legal. This is legalization, pure and simple, no matter what it is called.
     The Bloc Québécois supports it because the Bloc and other lefties support all the radically ideological programs introduced by the government and the New Democrats.

  (1120)  

[English]

     Mr. Speaker, first, I want to send my condolences to all the families who have been impacted by this terrible, tragic crisis.
    We heard earlier about the mothers, and certainly, the mothers know the danger of the toxic drug supply better than anybody. They also have lived experience of what it is like to support someone with substance use challenges. They have insight. They have understanding and knowledge.
    We heard from Petra Schulz from Moms Stop the Harm at committee, who comes from Alberta, which now has the highest toxic drug death per capita in the country. They have been requesting a meeting with the leader of the official opposition. They have tried repeatedly. He is the only leader who is not willing to meet with them, to look them in the eye and to listen to them.
    Can he please explain to Moms Stop the Harm, the moms across this country, why he refuses to sit down with them?
    Mr. Speaker, that is false. I have sat down with mothers who are affected by drug overdoses, right across this country, who reflect the view of almost all those who are survivors of drug overdoses and drug addictions. They are nearly unanimous in their opposition to the NDP-Liberal radical agenda of giving out hard drugs.
    They want their loved ones in treatment and recovery so that they can be brought home drug-free, happy and healthy, and that is the hopeful future that we offer.
    The hon. member for Courtenay—Alberni is rising on a point of order.
     Mr. Speaker, this is such a serious issue. I asked a serious question and what I got was a condescending answer—
    I would not know if this was a point of debate or not, because I cannot hear it. However, I am going to guess it was a point of debate.
    Continuing debate, the hon. member for Mission—Matsqui—Fraser Canyon.
    Mr. Speaker, when I was 10 years old, I had a similar experience in Gastown, British Columbia, in the Downtown Eastside in Vancouver. I remember driving in with my mom for the very first time and being shocked about the chaos and despair I saw, even as a young boy. Anyone who goes to that neighbourhood in Vancouver sees that chaos. Unfortunately, now, that addictions crisis has spread right across the country and into every community in British Columbia. People are struggling. People are dying, and something needs to change. However, 15 months ago, this Liberal-NDP government launched a wacko, hard-drug legalization policy that has led to even more crime, more chaos, more drugs and more disorder, especially in British Columbia.
    While the opioid addiction crisis has accelerated in severity in recent years, it is not a new problem. In 2009, Doctors of BC, formerly known as the BC Medical Association, published a policy paper entitled “Stepping Forward: Improving Addiction Care in BC ”. The paper made 10 recommendations, including “Formally recognizing addiction as a chronic, treatable disease under the BC Primary Care Charter and the BC Chronic Disease Management Program”.
    The recommendations state, and this is crucial, “Create and fund 240 new flexible medically supervised detoxification spaces”, as well as “Fund the development of 600 new addiction-treatment beds across the province”.
    Fifteen years later, the availability of treatment beds has not improved. In fact, it has only gotten worse. However, nowhere in that paper did it suggest that making drugs like fentanyl, heroin, crack and meth legal would help British Columbians.
    Today, the leading cause of death for youth aged 10 to 18 in my province is overdose; it is drug toxicity. Let that sink in. In 2023, more than 2,500 British Columbians lost their lives to illicit drug overdoses. More than six British Columbians lose their life every day due to deadly drugs. Since 2016, there have been 42,000 people lost to the opioid crisis across Canada, and since the Prime Minister took office, opioid overdose deaths have increased 166%.
     The main argument the government has made in support of this reckless legalization and decriminalization policy was that it would reduce the stigma surrounding addiction. In reality, it has only made that stigma worse. Canadians are good people. They are compassionate people, but that compassion is evaporating quickly as crime and chaos increase in conjunction with the radical policies of the government, and I will give an example.
    Last October, the Abbotsford Soccer Association published an open letter to the City of Abbotsford, decrying the state of their fields and calling for change. It reads:
     The state of sports facilities, especially soccer pitches, within the city, is nothing short of lamentable.
    It goes on to say this:
     Abbotsford Soccer Association (ASA) members are witnessing an increased incidence of individuals with substance abuse disorder loitering on the grounds of [Matsqui rec centre] which has subsequently led to the increased presence of drug apparatus scattered on the fields and surrounding walkways including syringes and needles, and shattered crack pipes and liquor bottles.
    It is not acceptable for any parent or any child to face those conditions when going to play sports.
    The letter goes on to outline that community parks are the most common place for children to be injured by dirty needles and that children “imitate the behaviours” that they see around them. In other words, what is happening at Matsqui rec centre is normalizing drug behaviour, and kids are being exposed to that.
    The government knew from the start that its wacko policy of allowing open drug use in public would put children at risk, but it went ahead with it anyway. That is shameful, and it is a complete dereliction of its duty to protect children.
    At the Legion in Mission, veterans have to clean up dirty needles and have to ask people to stop smoking crack on their property, daily. That goes for every business in the downtown Mission core. It is like the Liberal government has created a crack tax because their windows are shattered, and they have to have haz-mat materials on site to clean up because of the possibility of fentanyl.

  (1125)  

    In Mission, there was an addictions clinic operated by Dr. Larina Reyes-Smith, which provided addictions care, STI screening, counselling and more. Dr. Reyes-Smith is a strong advocate for increased access to detox treatment and treatment of mental illness rather than the so-called safe supply model being pursued by the government and the Province of B.C. In October, she came to me distressed because she was forced to close her clinic due to high costs and a lack of support from the provincial government, which did not understand her approach to wraparound care, nor the quality of care she gave to those people desperate to get off drugs and live a better life.
    Physicians continue to speak out, saying that treatment funding needs to be under the same umbrella as primary care so it can be billed to provincial health coverage, but that, frustratingly, is not the case. Even in publicly funded detox centres, patients are charged a per diem out of pocket, making it extremely challenging for those struggling with addiction to access life-saving treatment.
    Why is the emphasis not on bolstering the number of addictions doctors rather than on legalizing hard drugs and leaving people to die on their own? Why is the focus not on building the infrastructure we so desperately need in order to address the crisis?
    The opioid crisis is not limited just to B.C. either. Last fall, the town of Belleville, Ontario, declared a state of emergency after 23 people overdosed in two days. Belleville is only a little bit bigger than Mission. In a town of just over 50,000 people, 23 people overdosed in just under 48 hours. Again, let that sink in. This is the stuff being normalized in Canada. Thirteen of the overdoses took place in just two hours.
    Now the government is contemplating allowing more cities and provinces to make the same mistake British Columbia did. As a British Columbian, I am scared that the Prime Minister will expand this wacko policy and that other provincial governments will make the same mistake ours did. That is why the Conservatives today are calling for the government to do four things. The first is to proactively and clearly reject the City of Toronto's request to the federal government to make deadly hard drugs like crack cocaine, heroin and meth legal.

  (1130)  

[Translation]

     Secondly, the motion calls on the Prime Minister to “reject the City of Montreal's vote calling on the federal government to make deadly hard drugs legal.”

[English]

    Third is to deny any active or future requests from provinces, territories and municipalities seeking federal approval to make deadly hard drugs legal in their jurisdiction. Fourth is to end taxpayer-funded narcotics and redirect the money into treatment and recovery programs for drug addiction.
    Every day, 22 Canadians lose their life to this deadly crisis, and the government is only making the problem worse. Therefore I call on all members of the House to support our motion today and put an end to the wacko and deadly hard drug legalization experiment once and for all so we can focus on getting people access to the treatment, recovery and supports they desperately need.
    Canadians love that our country is peaceful. They love an orderly country. That is being taken away from them because of the radical ideological approach. Let us bring our loved ones home.
    Mr. Speaker, I truly appreciate that the party opposite is talking about treatment, because treatment is a critical and definitely core piece of our actions and policy when it comes to addressing the overdose crisis. However, actions speak louder than words. Would the member commit to sustained funding on treatment, unlike the previous Conservative government that cut two-thirds of drug treatment funding?
    Mr. Speaker, the basis of that question is completely false. Under former prime minister Stephen Harper, health care funding to the provinces increased on an incremental basis. We never reduced funding for health care. We provided for the demands of the provinces and territories at that time.
    Mr. Speaker, first of all, I want to acknowledge and offer my condolences to all those who have lost loved ones to the toxic substance crisis. In particular, I lost my own cousin Peter in his twenties as a result of the toxic substance crisis. I really would like for us to be talking about solutions on how we can help people.
    I am wondering whether the member can share why he is taking the approach he is, when we know that in British Columbia, which has a person-centred, multi-faceted approach, the death rates have been reduced in the last 12 months by 11%. When we compare that to Alberta, which has a treatment-only model, and treatment is an important pillar of course, instead we are seeing that Alberta has the leading death rate per capita of all the provinces, with Lethbridge having three times B.C.'s death rate.
    Does the number of people who are so tragically dying in B.C. versus Alberta contradict what the member is saying in his speech?
    Mr. Speaker, as I outlined in my speech, the crisis we are facing is not limited just to British Columbia. I think the real question the member for Nanaimo—Ladysmith needs to consider is why her ideologically extreme premier, Mr. Eby, has done a 180 on the policy. That goes to the very point I made in my speech, which is that parents do not want drug addiction normalized in our communities. Parents want to be able to go to downtown Nanaimo, downtown Mission or downtown Abbotsford and access a recreational centre without being fearful of being exposed to a methamphetamine.
    Mr. Speaker, I am glad to hear the Conservatives have woken up to the poison drug crisis in this country. When it comes to solutions, the reality is that Alberta has already done everything that is being called for in the motion, and Alberta has the largest number of deaths per capita in the country.
    Will the member meet with moms who have lost their kids to poison drugs so we can get some real solutions to a real crisis?
    Mr. Speaker, I wish the member for Kitchener Centre would follow my social media a little more closely. I have met with dozens of parents who have lost their kids to the overdose crisis.
     In fact in the last year I met with a mother whose son had overdosed while at a treatment home because open drug use was allowed there. That mother lost her child. Afterwards, on the one-year anniversary of his death, I went to a reception hosted by the mother to feed some of the people her son used to hang out with, at the Diamond Head Motor Inn in Mission. I asked some of the people currently addicted to drugs, and those who have been addicted, whether safe supply is making a difference. They said, “The government is just laughable because we are just selling the drugs. What has happened is a joke, a complete joke.” They know it and we know it. We need to stop it.

  (1135)  

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, a bit earlier the leader of the Conservative Party refused to explain the difference between legalization and decriminalization. The latter does not allow people to consume drugs wherever they want. Rather, it ensures that people with a drug problem are not systematically dealt with by the prison system and can get the care they need. This all stems from the fact that drug dependency or addiction is a public health issue.
     I would simply like to know—
    I must interrupt the hon. member.
     I think we have an interpretation problem. I want to make sure the hon. member for Mission—Matsqui—Fraser Canyon understands what I am saying in French. I hope the interpretation is working.
     It is working now. The hon. member for Saint-Jean.
    Mr. Speaker, the Conservative Party leader refused to answer the question by one of my colleagues, who asked him to give us the definition for legalization as opposed to decriminalization. This is important in the debate we are currently having.
     Decriminalization does not allow people to systematically consume drugs everywhere. It allows us to ensure, in cases substance abuse, that the person will not necessarily go to prison, but can receive adequate care. We consider drug addiction to be a public health issue.
     My question for the member is simple: Does he consider drug addiction to be a public health issue?
    Mr. Speaker, the Bloc Québécois member did not listen to my speech today. I said it was a problem. The 2009 report that I mentioned states that the government has to start treating drug addiction like other chronic diseases.

[English]

     I rise today for the families of loved ones, who have lost the people most precious to them due to an overdose. I rise for the parents I have spoken to who have lost children and for the neighbours who have lost friends. I rise for those whose stories I have heard from across this country, people with lived and living experience, and for the many advocates I have met with who are called to do this work on the front lines and who fight against this crisis each and every day. I think of the mothers who have taught me that harm reduction and health care belong to all of us, everywhere, that people who are dead cannot recover or get into treatment, and that together we can make a change.
    Each of these conversations has highlighted that a full spectrum of health services, including harm reduction is needed to meet people where they are, with dignity and compassionate care. These are the voices that drive our fight to save lives. Sharing these voices is our job as parliamentarians. To do that, we need to listen to them.
    However, the Leader of the Opposition refused and continues to refuse to even meet with or learn from the many mothers, fathers, families and communities we need to listen to in order to better shape substance use policies. He is a leader who has weaponized and dehumanized our most vulnerable in society who need critical health care. He has done it to sow fear and to bring back the failed policies of the war-on-drugs era. This is not leadership.
    We must look at the crisis, step into the eye of the storm that it is and do what needs to be done. We must use this moment and every tool we have at our disposal to fight the crisis, because doing nothing is not an option. The fact is that an ever-changing, ever more deadly toxic drug supply in the streets is killing our loved ones every day. It is the increase in fentanyl in the illegal supply that is driving the overdose crisis. This crisis is complex and all-pervasive. It leaves no community untouched. It cuts across ethnic groups, age, sex, geography and socio-economic status. Any plan forward must look at the full picture and see that there is no one-size-fits-all solution to meet this moment.
     That is why, on this side of the House, we are guided by the renewed Canadian drugs and substances strategy to address the overdose crisis and other substance use harms. This is Canada's model. It is compassionate, comprehensive and person-centred. It is a holistic approach that balances health, social well-being and public safety. It recognizes that we need to keep doing more to help people and to keep our communities safe. This includes a full continuum of culturally appropriate and equitable supports and services for Canadians across the spectrum of prevention, harm reduction and treatment and recovery.
    We need to place a high priority on children and youth, providing young people with the tools and supports to prevent, delay and lower the rates of their substance use. We want to curb substance use from the beginning and keep our communities safe.
    With every policy and every program under the Canadian drugs and substances strategy, we consider potential risks and benefits through a public health lens and a public safety lens. We have also been prepared to adjust our approach as needed to reflect what is actually happening on the ground and what is working. Governing is deciding. Sometimes we may not get it right on the first try, but we owe it to those whom we serve and are trying to save to do everything we can.
    We are working with partners to take action against criminal organizations that are trafficking and producing illegal drugs. We are leveraging all tools at our disposal to work toward an end to this national public health crisis. However, in this work, we have supported and will continue to support provinces and territories, indigenous communities and organizations so they can deliver the full suite of resources that are needed.

  (1140)  

    Building on historic health care investments, including those for mental health and substance use from last year, budget 2024 provides $150 million for a new emergency treatment fund for municipalities and indigenous communities to be able to respond rapidly to the emergent and critical needs related to this opioid crisis, such as in Belleville.
    This commitment is in addition to the $1 billion we have directly invested to address this crisis, recognizing that all levels of government have a role to play to help Canadians and save lives. Collectively, the new investments we are making and funding will help provinces and territories expand the delivery of timely, quality and accessible mental health and substance use services across the country, as well as reduce harms, prevent overdoses, reduce stigma and save lives.
    When it comes to substance use, our top priority continues to be protecting the health and well-being of people across Canada. To do that, we need an approach that puts health first while maintaining community safety, one that is compassionate, equitable, collaborative and based on evidence. The work of community-based organizations is a key part of this equation. Through the substance use and addictions program, we are supporting community organizations in delivering innovative prevention, harm reduction, treatment and recovery on the front lines and other evidence-based health interventions that are so desperately needed. These grassroots organizations have the trust of their communities and the first-hand knowledge needed to make a real difference in people's lives.
    We know the main driver of the overdose crisis in Canada is the toxic and unpredictable illegal drug supply. It is contaminated by fentanyl. On any given day, it is likely that many people do not know what or how much they are even using. As a first step, we need to give people a chance to access the health and social services they need to improve their well-being. A dead person cannot recover.
    The programs those in the opposition are against are health care. How can they be opposed to Canadians seeing a doctor? Why do they not trust doctors to make the best decisions in collaboration with their patients? People who use drugs are just that: people. They are not numbers, not props for a video. They are people who need our compassion. That is why we are pursuing an innovative and evidence-based harm reduction program, including supervised consumption sites, drug checking and naloxone. All of those tools are needed and so much more, because addressing this complex and evolving crisis requires us to continue to try new and innovative approaches. This is how we meet the moment to help save lives and better connect people who use substances to health and social services, health care for those who are ready.
    Let me conclude with one very simple and straightforward principle. This is a public health crisis, not a criminal one. The Leader of the Opposition believed it at some point when he said, “opioid addiction is a disease and its victims are victims”, but victims have no place in prison. This is what advocates and experts remind us every single day. Our primary goal is to save lives and improve health while maintaining public safety. We need to reduce the barriers to health care, not build them up and perpetuate the stigma of criminalization.
    I am proud of the comprehensive model that our government is advancing, one that helps reduce stigma and promotes access to a range of evidence-based services. Let us also talk about the bravery of the health care workers, the experts and frontline peer workers who are on the front lines every single day, meeting the moment and seeing who needs our help. We will continue to support their work and the work of the provinces, territories and other jurisdictions. We have to.
    We will continue to support an approach that will help divert people away from using drugs, but also away from the criminal justice system and toward health and social services, because we cannot look away. We cannot put those who need our compassion and health care into forced treatment to become someone else's problem. It has never been more important for all levels of government to be working together because when people get the right support, there is hope and we can save lives.

  (1145)  

    Mr. Speaker, during my speech, I referenced Dr. Reyes-Smith and her attempt to provide the wraparound services that she felt her patients needed. I will note that she was one of the authors of the 2009 report I referenced as well. Dr. Reyes-Smith is a small business corporation, like every other doctor in the province of B.C. When doctors face their ability to operate, they have to work within a funding system that does not allow for wraparound care.
    Why has the Government of Canada, with the $4.5 billion that it has not delivered on mental health yet, not tried to change that and allow for an innovative solution that allows a doctor in B.C. to provide wraparound services and treat the mental health addiction crisis more like primary care instead of a one-off visit with a patient?
    Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the hon. member for acknowledging that this is a health care crisis, as opposed to the Leader of the Opposition, who continues to dehumanize and criminalize those who need health care.
    It is a great opportunity to highlight our comprehensive approach, which is a wraparound approach for addressing substance use in Canada. It is a four-pillar approach that includes prevention, harm reduction, treatment and enforcement, and also recovery. We recognize that meeting people where they are at, with a full suite of supports, with every tool at our disposal, is exactly what we are doing.

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, I was listening to the Conservative leader's response to one of my colleagues who was asking him to make the distinction between legalization, decriminalization and diversion. He said it was just semantics, that there was no real difference, that people just made up those distinctions depending on the context.
    What does the minister think of the Conservative leader's ignorance?

  (1150)  

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, this is exactly the point. The Leader of the Opposition and the party opposite create narratives that simply are not in the reality of what we need to be addressing right now. Decriminalization is about ensuring that someone who uses substances is not subject to prosecution. It does not legalize the many drugs that he listed. It means that we are opening a door for someone who is struggling to access health care, rather than stigmatizing them.
    Why would we want to criminalize our loved ones? Why would we not want to get them into health care?
    This is exactly why we have every tool available to us and we are working with jurisdictions to address this, because we need to meet people where they are and meet the moment to save lives.
    Mr. Speaker, 42,000 people have died from the toxic drug crisis, which is more than the Canadians who died in World War II. That is not meeting the moment. Spending less than 1% of what we spent in response to COVID-19 is not meeting the moment.
    Portugal had over 1,000 people die from their drug crisis. It went from 250 people to 35,000 people on morphine in two years. It engaged the military and built labs. It built treatment centres so that people can get treatment on demand, year-long treatment. It spent money on recovery. Yes, it turned it into a health-based issue because it is a health issue, and it stopped criminalizing people.
    The government says that it wants to integrate it and coordinate it, with a compassionate approach. Where is the plan? Where are the timelines? Where are the resources to get behind it? Why has the government not declared a national public health emergency? Why?
    Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the member for his continued advocacy and really collaborative work with us on this side of the House to address this moment that we are in and the toxic drug supply and the overdose crisis we are in.
    We have made significant investments since 2016, a billion dollars toward this crisis. We have committed, in this budget alone, to have additional supports like the $150-million emergency treatment fund. We have signed bilateral agreements with every province and territory, with the key component being mental health and substance use, because health care is the way out of this. That is where provinces and jurisdictions come in to scale their health care systems.
     Mr. Speaker, I am really happy that we are having this debate because, today, I am thinking of so many loved ones across this country who are grieving the loss of their family member or friend, people like Carolyn Karle in Thunder Bay, who lost her daughter Dayna almost a year into her recovery. Dayna relapsed one night with alcohol. Then she took one dose of a substance that she thought was cocaine and tragically died of an opioid overdose later that night. That devastating loss left her mother determined to help others who struggle with substance use disorder, a condition that far too many of us know is chronic and reoccurring, but treatable.
    Substance use-related disorder has been with us for a very long time. Opioid overdoses have been climbing over the past two decades, but since the pandemic, deaths have risen to an alarming 22 people a day. That is 22 circles of devastated friends and families a day. The drug crisis is marked by pain and a desperate need to do something. Easy solutions that sound like they are tough on crime have been found to do nothing to reduce harm and to save lives. We cannot incarcerate our way out of this pain and loss.
     Unfortunately, today, we are debating a tired idea that has actually contributed to the ongoing crisis, an idea to starve out the problem, ignore any science and go back, way back, to a manner of talking about drugs that is harmful and ignorant, that will create more shame and disgust for substance users. The Conservative Party need not worry. I have yet to meet someone who uses substances problematically that is not already suffering from those feelings, and I have yet to meet a grieving parent who would not do anything at all to help their children see their value and reach towards recovery.
    To treat substance use and reduce related harms for people and communities, there is no one silver bullet. In the early 2000s, I was the author of the Thunder Bay drug strategy. Through that work with treatment professionals, law enforcement, support workers and public health prevention experts, we came to model our strategy on the international research that says, to save lives and reduce harm to people and communities, we need to follow four pillars that work together: prevention, treatment, enforcement and harm reduction. Indeed, we added a fifth pillar of housing, as it became clear that a place to call home was the foundation of healing. I note that Conservative members have voted against housing approaches as well.
     Last fall, our government launched the renewed Canada drugs and substances strategy, which offers a comprehensive, collaborative, compassionate and evidence-based drug policy. Using the advice of that strategy, informed by the cross-section of professionals, the Government of Canada announced over $1 billion in funding, including almost $600 million through Health Canada's substance use and addictions program. This supports frontline workers for treatment, harm reduction, prevention and to reduce stigma. That is money going directly to people and their families, so that they can heal. The money also funds research and surveillance initiatives and supports stronger law enforcement capacity to address illegal drug production and trafficking.
    Substance use is a complex issue and Canadians use drugs for many reasons. Not everyone who uses drugs is suffering from an addiction. Indeed, many people who use drugs are sporadic users, which is why the toxic supply is so dangerous.
     For people with addictions, the right kinds of treatment services may not be available or affordable. Barriers to treatment are often unseen. Some people face particular challenges, based on their own unique circumstances. Marginalized groups are often victims of stigmatization or prejudice, which places them at higher risk, including youth, indigenous peoples, racialized communities and LGBTQ+ people.
    Putting one's hand up for help is very hard. Society still places huge judgment on people with addictions and throwing around words like “addict”, a word we have heard far too frequently from the Leader of the Opposition, actually continues that pattern of shaming. Shame is toxic too. It drives solitary use, silence and withdrawal from family and community.
    Recovery looks different for everyone. I ask everyone in the House if they have ever struggled with a problematic substance or behaviour. Do they eat too much? Do they shop too much? Have they ever felt out of control with gambling? The list goes on. It is helpful for us to think of those times when we have been out of balance, because it gives us a glimpse into the “why” of addiction and empathy for the struggle to regain balance.

  (1155)  

     I can tell members that every person I have met who has lost a loved one would do anything to have another chance to keep that individual alive. There is no one-size-fits-all solution to this crisis. We need a range of supports that help, no matter if a person is using, contemplating how to get better or ready to step into recovery.
    That is why harm reduction is so important, because we cannot treat someone if he or she is dead. Harm-reduction measures, such as supervised consumption sites and in-person or virtual spotting services, take-home naloxone and drug-checking technologies, keep people connected to services so they know they matter.
     In 2016, there was only one supervised consumption site in Canada, and Stephen Harper tried over and over to shut it down. Thankfully, the courts agreed that the lives of drug users matter too.
    Since then, our focus on saving lives means that we have approved 41 consumption sites in British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Ontario and Quebec. At these sites, workers have prevented over 53,000 overdoses, with close to 4.5 million independent visits. That is a lot of people who want to live, but this motion says they are not worthy of that support, that they do not get another chance for a healthier day.
    We also support a network of 45 treatment centres and services in the majority of first nations and Inuit communities across Canada: 82 sites that provide wraparound treatment and 75 mental wellness teams that serve 385 first nations and Inuit communities.
    Although the Conservative opposition will tell people otherwise, harm reduction is actually treatment. When people feel seen and supported, they make connections. When people use a clean needle or inject a substance under the watch of a nurse, it means they want to live. At supervised consumption sites in Canada, there have been more than 424,000 referrals to health and social services. Harm reduction is a bridge to a better day.
    The Leader of the Opposition wants to go back to the days of the war on drugs, but what he is actually proposing is a war on substance users, people and their families, people who suffer and people who hope for a brighter tomorrow.
    Today, I say these words in defence of the families grieving the loss of their loved ones. I say it for the parents, like my dear friend Calvin Fors in Thunder Bay, who lost his young son to an accidental overdose; we remember Reilly. No more deaths like Reilly or Dayna, that has to be the focus. Compassion matters, evidence matters, connection matters and cruelty will not help people heal. It never has, and we have that evidence loud and clear.

  (1200)  

     Madam Speaker, the Minister of Mental Health and Addictions stated that the toxic drug supply was a leading cause of death. We agree with that. As the member noted, though, one of the four pillars is enforcement.
    How many charges have been laid under the Criminal Code for the trafficking of fentanyl?
     Madam Speaker, I am extremely grateful to the law enforcement officers who work every single day with people who use substances. They are the hardest working members of a community, and we can all thank them.
    In fact, I had an opportunity to go on a ride-along with law enforcement members just a couple years ago, and it was at Christmastime. Out of the 14 calls for help, 12 of them were for substance use-related disorder issues, including for alcoholism. These people were in the darkest moments of their days.
    The law enforcement officers helped people and they connected them to mental health services. What they said repeatedly was that they needed a range of supports for people who were struggling in this way. It is heartbreaking work and people are doing it every day. I thank those enforcement officers.

[Translation]

    Madam Speaker, I commend my colleague. I was listening to her very emotional testimony. I support her and we are on the same page.
    The opioid crisis is not a simple problem. This is a complex issue that deserves as much nuance as there are challenges and people having bad experiences when they use hard drugs. I think that the Conservative Party is in the habit of taking simplistic approaches to all sorts of topics. I think it is deplorable that, on this issue, they are taking such simplistic shortcuts as the ones that we are hearing.
    I would like my colleague to tell us how she would respond to the public, who is anxiously waiting for us to provide all the tools available to stakeholders, so that we, in the House, can be part of the solution by voting against the motion. The motion is too simplistic and has too many Conservative shortcuts.
    Madam Speaker, far too many families and communities in this country are affected by this very sad situation.

[English]

    I am glad the member asked what we could do. I am also glad for her call to vote against this motion. If we vote against the motion, we are telling those families that are struggling, doing anything to keep their loved ones alive to see another day, that they matter.
    Every substance user in the country is connected to people. Those of us who have lived a life free of worrying about someone who uses substances are extremely blessed. It certainly is not me. There are many people in my life who I have watched suffer tremendously. Every single moment, we know that there is a brighter future if they could just hold on another day.
    Madam Speaker, the opioid crisis has devastated the James Bay region. We have had states of emergency declared. We have also had states of emergency declared on the health crisis and the suicide crisis. All the pillars of good health are essential.
    I want to ask the minister about her decision to walk away from the Weeneebayko hospital. There have been 20 years of negotiations to have proper integrated health care in James Bay. I have spoken with Grand Chief Alvin Fiddler. I have spoken with Grand Chief Leo Friday. I have spoken with the national chief. They are all asking how the Liberal government could walk away from this project, which has been so many years in the making, to ensure we do not have third-class health care for the Cree people of James Bay.

  (1205)  

    Madam Speaker, first, it will not only be health care that will get us out of this mess. It is building up community, which is the process of reconciliation. It is about equity and education. It is about better supports for people to reach their full potential, through the many ways we have delivered as a government.
    I will refer directly to the member's question and say that I am not walking away from that commitment. We will get that hospital built.

[Translation]

    Madam Speaker, in today's debate, we must not forget the over 42,000 people who have died. We must also not forget their families, who have suffered as they watched their loved ones get caught in a downward spiral. I want us to have a respectful debate, where we do not use people who are sick and suffering to further a political or ideological agenda.
    I want us to work on solutions, while respecting frontline workers and hearing and listening to what they have to say. For some weeks now, at the Standing Committee on Health, we have been hearing from witnesses, experts, people who work with individuals who struggle with addiction. They have been telling us about the situation.
    What we can say today is that substance abuse, multiple substance abuse, is not a simple problem, and it is not first and foremost a judicial problem. It is a severe and complex public health issue. I think everyone can agree, or at least I hope they can, that drug addiction is a very insidious, chronic and multifactorial illness.
     At one time, it could be said of addicts that they were slowly making their way to hell. The introduction of a synthetic opioid, fentanyl, has now tragically reduced the length of that journey. That is why I think that, in 2024, we need to call it an illicit drug crisis. That is what is causing overdoses.
     This is a complex issue, and simplistic solutions are not the answer. Between 50% and 70% of addictions are associated with primary mental health problems. People need better access to first-line treatment. I will get back to this later, but the lack of investments in health care is not helping. We cannot solve a problem, discuss a problem, find solutions to a problem or measure the effectiveness of these solutions without first agreeing on the concepts involved in addressing it.
     I am totally stunned this morning. I always thought that the Conservatives and the Leader of the Opposition deliberately spoke in vague terms, that they wanted people to believe that all of the parties except theirs were in favour of legalizing hard drugs. That is no small thing.
     If, on their criminology 101 exam, an applicant to the criminology department was asked the difference between legalization, decriminalization and diversion and they gave the answer the Conservative leader gave earlier, that they are all the same thing, that they are just synonyms, that we are using different words that mean the same thing, that person would be rejected.
     How can anyone talk about a problem when they do not even understand the concepts needed to describe and discuss reality? There is no one in the House right now who thinks we should legalize hard drugs to deal with the illicit drug crisis.

  (1210)  

     The problem, as we will see later in the analysis of the Conservative motion put forth this morning, is that the concept of legalization is being used indiscriminately. Legalizing drugs leads to the commercial production of the substances in question. All drug-related offences are removed from the Criminal Code to allow people to use drugs. It could result in commercial production and sales and freedom of purchase and use, as was the case for cannabis. Can we agree that that is far from what we want?
     Decriminalizing simple possession for personal use by an addict is not at all the same thing. Can we agree on that? If we cannot agree on that, where is this debate going? What are we talking about, exactly?
     Decriminalizing drug use, and by extension avoiding making a person suffering from addiction go through the judicial process, is not the same thing as legalizing drugs. It is a way of destigmatizing the addiction and giving the addict, among other things, access to services and resources. For people to get to rehab, when that is what they want, we need to be in contact with them. If they are using drugs in secret, if they cannot talk about their addiction for fear of being stigmatized at work, does anyone think they will openly ask for help if they can be criminally charged? If they were unfortunate enough to take a pill from an illicit laboratory, they could die.
     What people need to know is that this disease involves relapses, and no one ever wants to talk about that. People think all it takes is a stint in rehab and the problem is solved. That is not true, because relapse is part of the healing process.
     It is a complex problem. Let us imagine managing to convince someone to go to rehab. Relapse is part of the process. Let us then imagine that that person no longer has access to supervised drug sites, which is what the Harper Conservatives proposed in 2011. The Supreme Court refused and said it was important because it would be injurious to the safety of people suffering from drug addictions. If a person relapses and no longer has access to these sites, they will take illicit drugs and will have less tolerance to the drug because opioids create a dependency. They could die. People talk about harm reduction, and those who work in the field say that supervised drug sites play an important role in harm reduction. Why is that? Because of illicit drugs. They can be tested to see if they contain fentanyl.
     Of course, we need to deal with the issues arising from sharing spaces in the community. People who do not have a drug problem should not be left holding the bag. However, that does not negate an entire strategy based first and foremost, let us not forget, on prevention. It is not simply a matter of preventing drug use. It is also a question of preventing relapses, avoiding stigmatization and fostering social reintegration.
     There is an incredible new project in my riding: a refurbished Uniatox. I am a little emotional. For the first time, this organization is going to work toward preventing relapses. There are not a lot of projects like that.

  (1215)  

    An utterly simplistic approach would be to stay away from harm reduction altogether. Just send people to detox, and then expect them to man up or woman up and deal with their life issues. This, however, is not the way to go. People will relapse. Supervised consumption sites do help people stabilize their drug use.
    Harm reduction is one of the four pillars. I also talked about prevention. In this opioid crisis, a single pill can kill a person, so recriminalizing drugs will not solve the problem. That has absolutely nothing to do with it. I could go out on the street right now and get a black market pill. It has nothing to do with decriminalization.
    There are a lot of overdoses in British Columbia, Alberta, Ontario and New Brunswick. Quebec does not have quite as many, according to the statistics I saw, but we have to be careful with that. Harm reduction also means safe supply. Why? Because we need to save lives, because illicit drugs kill. As far as I know, the fourth pillar, enforcement, is still not very effective.
     In fact, for 50 years the repressive war on drugs approach solved nothing. If we compare the U.S. model to Portugal’s, we see that the United States is far behind. Still, is there a country more hostile to decriminalizing simple possession and more hostile to diversion? I have yet to speak about diversion, but that is what Bill C-5 called for, diversion measures.
     To continue with the U.S.-Portugal comparison, Portugal had one million heroin addicts and a shocking public health problem surrounding HIV transmission. They decriminalized, but they did not put the cart before the horse. They did not simply ease their consciences by going the diversion route and standing pat. We must invest money, redouble support measures, and hire social workers, frontline workers and street workers. More controlled-supply centres are needed, and we must constantly adapt and course-correct.
     I see people saying that the BC pilot project is terrible. It is indeed terrible, but is it the decriminalization that is terrible? No, it is the fact that they are facing a crisis that no one here would be able to solve with a snap of their fingers. Everyone needs to work together. Yes, the people in British Columbia need to make some changes, but decriminalization does not necessarily mean people can use wherever they want. This can be regulated. I imagine this is where they are headed. Furthermore, there can be no denying the problems of sharing spaces with the community.
     I made myself a crib sheet about the legal pillar. We were taught this in criminology back in the day. At one end, there is criminalization. At the other end, there is legalization. That is a spectrum. On the criminalization side, there is the death penalty. Is there a more severe punishment than a death sentence? Then there is incarceration, followed by fines.

  (1220)  

     Next up, we slowly go into the diversion and decriminalization spectrum. This could involve supervised consumption, the possibility of diverting the person before the courts, targeted interventions by the police, formal cautions, administrative penalties and fines. There can be decriminalization of simple possession, which is not yet legalization. Next, there is regulation of retail sale and of commercial production, and then legalization. That is legalization. One can say that this constitutes a spectrum.
     When I hear the opposition leader say it is all the same thing, I have to tell him no, it is not the same thing. There are tables available. A little reading would help. It is as though I said that the death penalty was the same as incarceration. No, there are different measures, there is differentiation within the decriminalization spectrum, including diversion measures. This is what Montreal and Quebec have gone with, diversion.
    Bill C‑5 contained an important provision that included a diversion measure for simple possession offences. Among other things, it led to the implementation of the pilot project in British Columbia, which started in January 2023 and just ended. Has it really ended? The answer is yes and no, because I expect they are going to make the necessary adjustments.
    For anyone who is unaware, this crisis has been growing since 2016 and spiked during the pandemic. Why? Because people were isolated then. When someone overdoses while they are alone, they cannot self-administer naloxone. Furthermore, unless people use in supervised consumption sites, they cannot get naloxone.
    The motion is incorrect. Let us examine point (a).
    
(a) proactively reject the City of Toronto's request to the federal government to make deadly hard drugs like crack, cocaine, heroin, and meth legal;
    The statement is incorrect. Last January, the City of Toronto submitted a new version of its drug decriminalization plan to Health Canada, and the city is working on decriminalization, not legalization.
(b) reject the City of Montreal's vote calling on the federal government to make deadly hard drugs legal;
    Similarly, Montreal is working on diversion measures, in collaboration with police forces and public health, so that frontline workers, everyone together, can coordinate their work. There are problems, of course, but everyone needs to work together, and they will. However, we are a long way from decriminalization and even further from legalization.
(c) deny any active or future requests from provinces, territories and municipalities seeking federal approval to make deadly hard drugs legal in their jurisdiction;
    Once again, this is ridiculous, utterly ridiculous. No one is talking about legalization, but rather decriminalization, and even then, not everyone is calling for decriminalization. Some jurisdictions have thought about the issue, have changed their minds and are choosing greater co-operation among stakeholders in the field, with diversion measures, to avoid clogging up the courts with people who really should not be in prison but should be getting treatment, because prisons are not therapeutic places. People are coming together to say that they will continue to work collaboratively to try to gradually resolve any issues they may have related to sharing a space in the community.
(d) end taxpayer funded narcotics and redirect this money into treatment and recovery programs for drug addiction.
    This is basically saying that taxpayers are funding the opioid and overdose crisis. That is not what is happening. This program was put in place to prevent deaths, and evidence shows that safe supply is actually reducing overdoses right now. Imagine how much worse the crisis would be without it.
    I have to stop there.

  (1225)  

[English]

    Madam Speaker, I very much appreciate the manner and the tone in which the member speaks about what is a very serious issue in Canada today. While I was listening to him, I thought about how we need to recognize that the way we have to deal with the crisis before us today is multi-faceted. I thought about how important it is to work with health care professionals, first responders, communities and different levels of government to ensure that we get this right. Could the member provide his thoughts on how important it is that we work in consultation, in a co-operative fashion, in order to save lives, as well as anything else he might want to add to that?

[Translation]

    Madam Speaker, I did not mention the Quebec plan, which has four pillars: more prevention, more treatment with opioid antagonists, more and better harm reduction, and enforcement to dismantle clandestine laboratories.
     We want a ban on precursors, which are the substances needed to make counterfeit and deadly drugs. These labs add fentanyl and other substances to the drugs. People cannot even tolerate a single dose. We have to be able to dismantle and prohibit these labs.
     The federal government should invest in the health care systems in Quebec and the provinces so that they can take care of their own residents. It is also high time to legislate in the matter of precursors.

[English]

    Madam Speaker, the member talks about so-called safe supply and harm reduction, saying that we need to do more of this, that we need more examples of this and that we need more programs to expand the scope, etc. I direct him to British Columbia. After barely a year, the NDP government there, which was a big supporter of this, all of a sudden pushed back and wanted to backtrack as fast as it could. It applied some common sense to say that it does not really make sense to have free drugs in public places. The irony is that the premier is facing an election. The people are filled with common sense, and with the voter protest, he had to do that.
    One of the key points of so-called safe supply is the government providing free hard drugs, hydromorphone. This is what has been happening in British Columbia. We know these free drugs are being sold to young people in particular. As they end up in the hands of young people, more new addicts are created.
    Does the member think it is a good plan, and does he support the federal government providing free drugs that end up in the hands of children.

[Translation]

    Madam Speaker, saying that we need to do more harm reduction does not necessarily involve doing more to ensure a safe supply. It means that we need to make changes to safe supply. We need more measures to ensure that these drugs do not fall into the wrong hands. Safe supply does not kill. What kills are illicit drugs on the illicit counterfeit drug market.
     My colleague insinuated that safe supply drugs are making their way to schoolyards. I heard the same claims at the Standing Committee on Health, but the experts we met with said that there is no evidence for this. I invite my colleague to table an official document containing evidence about safe supply drugs being diverted and sold in schoolyards, rather than a mere newspaper article.

  (1230)  

[English]

    Madam Speaker, I want to thank my colleague, who actually stands behind evidence-based policy, policy that is grounded in facts. We hear the Conservatives bring this moral panic around safe supply, for example, and give disinformation about it.
    This is harmful in a health crisis. We heard from the president of the BC Association of Chiefs of Police that the diversion of safe supply is nominal at best. She cited that it is actually fentanyl and toxic drugs that are killing people. She was unequivocally clear that pharmaceuticals are a small part of what is being found; actually, hydromorphone is even smaller. It is literally a fraction of what is ending up on the street. People are dying from fentanyl.
    Can my colleague speak about the danger of an ideologically driven health policy based on moral panic and disinformation and how harmful that is not just to the victims but to the future of our country and our health care system?

[Translation]

    Madam Speaker, what I should say to add to my earlier answer is that harm reduction existed well before today's overdose crisis. When the Conservatives say that what we are seeing now is the result of harm reduction, they are wrong.
     The problem is the illicit drug overdose crisis. People working on the ground told us that we needed to do something for people like the mother who came to see us, saying that if her son had had access to a safe supply program when he was going through withdrawal, he would not have died. He lost all the tolerance he had built up because he went through withdrawal and ended up taking illicit drugs. He died right away, without having the chance to become the good citizen he wanted to be.
     I will avoid making things worse here. I could accuse the Conservatives of many things, but I will not. I just want us to talk, to tell the truth and to discuss evidence and data without letting political ideology get in the way, and especially without blaming the people who have died, their families and those who are currently suffering from addiction.
    Madam Speaker, I would like to thank my colleague from Montcalm for his speech, which was enlightening as always, because he himself is enlightened and well versed in his files. It is a pleasure to hear him speak.
     This morning, several of us tried to get the Conservatives to explain the difference between decriminalization, legalization and diversion. They were unwilling to answer the question. However, we got the beginnings of a response when I asked one of my colleagues whether we were witnessing a public health crisis and he replied that drug addiction is a chronic disease.
     My question is simple: Once we start to view drug addiction as a chronic disease, how can we do anything but decriminalize addicts' behaviour if we want to ensure that they receive proper treatment instead of throwing them in jail?
    Madam Speaker, decriminalization, British Columbia's pilot project, has nothing to do with overdoses, but it did make it possible to divert these people away from jail and the justice system.
     We need to be careful, though. Yes, this is true, but drug consumption can qualify for diversion too, because in co-operation with community projects, we can ensure that police intervene, that they be authorized to intervene, but that they refrain from arresting the individual. Perhaps this is what B.C. is returning to.
     The fact remains that we agree on one thing: These people must receive care, but above all, we need the resources to give them care, and we must stop feeling like we have done enough by simply diverting the individual, because we are leaving them in the street alone with their problems. We need to invest heavily in health care. The government has been miserly about investing in health care, and so have the Conservatives. Health transfers need to be increased, because the provinces and Quebec are the ones that are taking care of these people and that have to treat them, and they are crying poverty. We must not undermine all the good things that are being done to take care of these people with the inadequate means at hand. This needs to be heard in our debate.

  (1235)  

[English]

     Madam Speaker, it is an honour and a privilege to rise today to speak about the leading health crisis, toxic drugs. Certainly in my own province, it is the leading cause of death for those under the age of 59.
     This issue is not just close to me; it is close to everyone in my home province, and it is a terrible tragedy. Highly contaminated toxic drugs are raging across the country and killing people every single day. Over 20 people a day are dying. I can tell members personally, coming from Vancouver Island and my hometown, of the impact it has had on everybody in my community. Nobody where I live is untouched. I cannot count on two hands the number of my friends' kids who have died, never mind friends. It is a terrible tragedy that is happening, and we can do better.
    We hear this huge debate about harm reduction versus treatment and recovery. However, we have to do both; they go hand in hand. We cannot help people who are dead, as my good friend from Vancouver East constantly reminds me. We need to move forward with policies that are grounded on evidence or evidence-generated and supported policy.
    The evidence says that what we are doing is not working. That is the evidence right across this country. We are now dealing with new substances that are highly toxic and addictive. Never before in our history have we seen such challenging times when it comes to dangerous substances. They are obviously lethal, because they are unregulated; they are manufactured, marketed and sold by organized crime.
    We have had a number of expert reports on how we should respond to this crisis, including from the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police and the Expert Task Force on Substance Use, which was created by Health Canada to inform politicians on how to move forward in responding to this terrible crisis. All of them are consistent in that we need to stop criminalizing people who use substances, as it causes more harm and is rooted in stigma. We need to create a safer supply of substances to replace the toxic street supply. We need to scale up treatment and recovery; to make sure that we are meeting people where they are, with those systems in place and ready; and to spend money on education and prevention. However, we have not done that, and I say this all the time: The Liberals are taking an incremental approach in a health crisis, which is costing lives. Conservatives are spreading disinformation, which is deadly in a health crisis. We need to move forward and listen to the experts.
    I will talk a bit about what is actually happening and the facts about some of the concerns we are hearing from the Conservatives. It is their motion today, and I will speak to them primarily.
    The Conservatives have created a moral panic. They are fundraising off the tragedies of families. It is absolutely unbelievable. It is so harmful. If they were truly here to try to help people, they would be bringing forward concrete solutions. However, I have not heard that from any of their speeches today.
     I asked the leader of the official opposition why he would not meet with the mothers of the victims of this crisis. I sat with them and listened to them, and their stories are informed. They know better than anyone how toxic the drugs are. They know how hard it is to support someone who is going through difficult challenges when living with a substance use disorder and navigating a system that is completely broken. They know better.
    We hear the Conservatives in terms of their moral panic that they have created around this issue. I will talk a little about what is actually going on in western Canada, where we are hearing primarily from Conservative MPs.
    Is my home province of British Columbia doing enough? No, it is absolutely not.

  (1240)  

    Is any province or territory in this country doing enough? No, but they require a federal partner. Vancouver, British Columbia, has been ground zero for over 100 years when it comes to high amounts of substance use. It dates back to the opioid crisis in 1908. This is not new to us in our communities, but what is new is the toxicity of the drugs. It has been challenging because we have been at ground zero facing this terrible tragedy.
    When the B.C. Liberals were in government, in 2014, we went from 7.9 deaths per 100,000 people to 30.3 in just a matter of four years, a 383% increase. From 2017, we actually went up from 30.3 per 100,000, peaking at over 47 deaths per 100,000. That is absolutely brutal. After the last 11 or 12 months, we have seen an 11% decline in deaths. That is the trajectory right now for British Columbia. I am not celebrating that, but it is a relief.
    This is a tragedy. Every death is preventable. Every single one of these deaths is preventable. We are breathing a sigh of relief that we are heading in the right trajectory, but it needs to go down much faster. We need to come together and work together on that. We went from 7.4 people dying a day in my own province to 6.2. Six families are going to get a call today.
    I look at Alberta. The Conservative government got elected in 2019. Alberta had 15 deaths per 100,000 people; now it is at 41 deaths per 100,000. Alberta is leading the country in terms of deaths per capita. Alberta's death rate is skyrocketing. I will give some examples. In Lethbridge, which closed the safe consumption site, the death rate is 137 per 100,000. That is more than triple that of British Columbia. Medicine Hat is at 63.7 deaths, over 50% more than British Columbia. We see reports in the news about Fort McMurray having a record-breaking year. If we do not have safe consumption sites, then guess where people will go to use. They will use in public, in the back alleys and in the bathrooms of businesses, and they die at home, alone. We know that is deadly, when we have a toxic drug problem.
     I could speak about Saskatchewan. We constantly hear from members, whether they be the member for Lethbridge or the member for Fort McMurray, pointing a finger at British Columbia. I am not doing that right now. I am just trying to bring some facts so that we can actually have a proper conversation. I will get to that.
     In terms of Regina, the member for Regina—Qu'Appelle has pointed a finger at British Columbia, instead of coming here to fight to help people in Regina. That is a failure, while people are dying in his community. The death rate in his city is 66 per 100,000. That is straight from the Regina police force.
    Those two Conservative provinces are leading the nation in terms of death rates that are skyrocketing. We could look to Alaska, a Republican state, which had a 45% increase last year. There is no harm reduction, no safe supply, no decriminalization in those two provinces and that state. When members want to point fingers at safe supply and decriminalization, what is happening in their provinces, with their one-track, recovery-only model, where they failed to listen to the experts? They talk about wacko. What is wacko is when people ignore experts, ignore evidence, ignore science and ignore the facts. That is wacko.
    In the U.S., under Donald Trump, toxic drugs deaths doubled in 30 states, but they want to say it is British Columbia, an NDP thing or a Liberal thing. This is not an NDP, Liberal or Conservative thing. This is a societal issue. The problems and the solutions are not going to be based on ideology. They have to be grounded in evidence and supported by the experts, and led by the experts, not by politicians. I cannot think of another health crisis where politicians are deciding how we move forward.

  (1245)  

    This is an issue that we know has been chronically underfunded. The Liberals have spent less than 1% responding to the toxic drug crisis. Why? It is because of the stigma. Are the Conservatives helping contribute to the stigma? Absolutely. We need to get away from that harm. We need to make sure that we listen to the experts.
     Now, we talk about safer supply. The whole concept of safer supply is that it is to be brought in to replace the toxic drug supply. This is recommended by the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police. The law and order party does not want to listen to the police. The police testified at the health committee. They said that 85% of poison drug deaths are from fentanyl. Cocaine was found in the bloodstream. However, they said hydromorphone, safer supply, is not what is killing people. In fact, traces of it showed up in 3% of the analyses of toxic drugs in British Columbia.
     Prescribing pharmaceutical alternatives to toxic street drugs separates people from toxic street drugs and helps them stay alive so they can stabilize their lives and connect to treatment and care. There is no way to know the source of drugs purchased on the streets right now, even if a dealer claims it is from the prescribed alternatives program.
     The chief coroner of B.C. has indicated that we are not seeing an increase in deaths amongst youth or an increase in diagnosis of opioid use disorder, despite the claims of the Conservatives. The goal of the prescribed alternatives program is to help people at the highest risk of death or harms from the illicit poison drug supply stabilize their lives.
    Safer supply has not increased the number of people with opioid disorder. In fact, we have seen reductions in all-cause mortality and overdose mortality; reductions in overdose and in the use of unregulated opioids by those on safer supply; a decline in health care costs and fewer hospital visits; an increased engagement in health care and social services; improvements in physical and mental health; improvements in social well-being and stability; reduced use of toxic drugs from the unregulated street supply; improved control over their drug use; reduced injection; reduced involvement in criminal activities. The diversion of hydromorphone is not contributing to opioid-related mortality. In fact, we heard that for those receiving safer supply through the safer supply program, the risk of dying from any of those causes was reduced by 61%, and the risk of dying from overdose was cut in half. If they received four days or more, their overdose risk was further reduced by 89%.
    I want to go back to who is impacted the most. Indigenous peoples are impacted the most. The opioid epidemic and toxic drug crisis are yet another example of the large gaps in health care outcomes between indigenous and non-indigenous people. Indigenous people are disproportionately affected and multiple times more likely to die from toxic drugs. They are seven times more likely to die in Alberta, five times more likely to die in British Columbia, and in some indigenous communities that can skyrocket to as much as 36 times more likely than the general population. We just heard that at the health committee the other day.
    I am going to read a quote from Dr. Judith Sayers, the Nuu-chah-nulth Tribal Council president. She sits on the BC First Nations Justice Council. She said:
     We want to work with the province in tackling the crisis and be part of a collaborative strategy.... The BCFNJC stands with our partners in healthcare and asserts that the toxic drug crisis needs to be treated and addressed as a public health issue, not a criminal justice issue. The criminal justice system is not the solution to a problem that, instead, needs to be addressed through healing.
    We have to stop this colonial approach and listen to indigenous people, who are more likely to die from this crisis.
    I have a quote from the police, which, again, the law and order party wants to ignore. The deputy commissioner of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police said:
    As noted, in some of our supervised consumption sites or overdose prevention sites, there are no inhalation rooms or there is no ability to inhale. We find that most of our overdose deaths are related to fentanyl and to inhalation, so we need to provide spaces, I think, that would allow for that, but it can't be a space where someone has to take a bus for four kilometres and go across the city to find that space. Those spaces need to be readily available.
    This is against the Lethbridge model.

  (1250)  

    I will talk about Fiona Wilson, president of the British Columbia Association of Chiefs of Police. She is a deputy chief in the Vancouver Police Department. She said, “85% of overdose deaths are attributable to fentanyl.... [T]hat's what people are dying from according to the coroner's data. They're not dying from diverted safe supply and they're not actually dying from diverted prescription medication”. She also said, “the reality is that there are seven people per day dying in British Columbia as a result of the toxic drug crisis. They are not dying as a result of prescription-diverted medication; they are dying because of the poisonous drug supply that is on our streets.” Lastly, she said, “we do not want to criminalize people by virtue of their personal drug use. Those days are gone. We want to support a health-led approach.... [W]e strongly support the notion of not trying to arrest ourselves out of this crisis. That is not going to save lives. In fact, it does quite a bit of harm”. That is from the police.
    I will talk about going to Portugal. I went to Portugal last summer, on my own dime, and I was very fortunate to have the Embassy of Portugal line up a deep-dive itinerary so I could go there and learn.
    Why did I choose to go to Portugal? My good colleague from the Bloc talked about Portugal, and I really appreciate his insight. I went there to learn from them. They had a death rate of over 1,000 people in a population of only 10 million, primarily from intravenous drug use. Heroin, as we know, was impacting their community. They had over 100,000 chronic daily heroin users. As my colleague cited, over a million people had tried heroin. They were able to bring their numbers down to 23,000 chronic users. They brought the number of deaths from 1,000 to 60.
     I thought it would be prudent for me to go and learn and listen to them. This is how they responded to their health emergency when they decided to treat it as that, instead of a criminal issue. They went from 250 people using methadone to 35,000 in two years. How did they do that? They engaged the military to build labs. They engaged the military to do that so they could reduce the price, get those labs up and running, and save lives. That is how one responds in a health emergency. They built treatment facilities right across the country so that there was no wait, no barrier to treatment, and it was covered under the universal health care system, not like the Alberta model. Good luck getting treatment in Alberta in a short period of time. It is not going to happen.
     We heard loud and clear from witnesses, including Petra Schulz from Moms Stop the Harm, who talked about the gaps in the system, and there are gaps in our system.
    Portugal also spent a lot of money on recovery, because we know that relapse is part of dealing with recovery. They caught people when they landed. They invested in a four-year follow-up cycle, when people came through treatment. We know that connection is a deep and important part of dealing with the underlying trauma. They made sure that people had housing, and they decriminalized drug use and treated it as a health issue.
    One hears my title as the NDP critic for mental health and harm reduction. We do not just see harm reduction as safe consumption sites and safe supply. Those are critical components. However, housing and all the different social determinants of health are also reducing harm. Our goal should be to reduce harm.
    We hear the Liberals talk about meeting the moment. They did not respond like Portugal. They have not moved in an expedient way. We need a coordinated, integrated, compassionate approach like that of Portugal.
    Portugal created an expert task force. That expert task force morphed into the oversight body for government to move forward. I will tell members why the politicians in Portugal were heroes: They got out of the way. They decided it was a health issue and they let the experts lead. They moved forward with their policy and implemented it. The politicians' role was to make sure that they had the resources to do it. That was the job of the politicians.
    We are not doing that today. We need to get to that point, because we know that over 20 people are going to die today. Over 20 moms are going to get a call. It needs to stop. The disinformation, the fundraising, the moral panic need to stop. People need to meet with the moms. The Conservative leader is the only leader who refuses to meet with Moms Stop the Harm. He cannot explain himself. They are informed.
    The Liberal government needs to treat this and to meet the moment, like it says. It needs to scale up resources and meet the moment.

  (1255)  

    Madam Speaker, I thank the hon. member for his ongoing work in this field and for his obvious depth of knowledge and relationship with individuals who are working to save lives.
     I am glad that he raised Moms Stop The Harm. I have met with Moms Stop The Harm and various spinoff organizations comprised of parents. “Moms” is in the name, but there are certainly dads involved in those groups, and other family members.
    Have you heard from Moms Stop The Harm and other groups like it, of family members who are working hard to help provide that safety for other families. Have you heard how they feel about the conversation the Conservatives are having?
    I will remind the hon. member that I have not heard, as it was the hon. member who made the speech.
    The hon. member for Courtenay—Alberni.
    Madam Speaker, I wanted to learn about this issues, because it is causing so much harm in my home community and I am so deeply impacted by it as well.
    I travelled the country, going to 13 different cities. I met with moms at very stop and at every stop, they said the same thing: That we needed to listen to the experts and that this needed to be grounded in evidence. They want the government to act like this is a national health emergency, to declare a public health emergency and to reinstate the expert task force.
    We have not had a summit, a first ministers' meeting, on this crisis; 42,000 people have died. We have had an auto theft summit. I am not saying that is not an important issue, but clearly this is a health emergency.
    Where is the emergency action from the Liberals? What did the moms say about the Conservatives? They want to meet with the Conservative leader. He is afraid to look them in the eye and hear the truth. He is afraid because he knows what he is doing is immoral, the disinformation he is spreading. He knows it is not grounded in evidence. The moms have the evidence; their kids are dead.
    Madam Speaker, it is hard to rise and talk to a topic like this one, as so many young people are dying across our country. There has been a 166% increase in deaths since the Prime Minister took over in 2015 to 2024. That is what we are talking about. People's loved ones have died.
     The member politicized his speech and said that our leader was afraid to meet with mothers, when he has met with mothers across the country. That is actually beneath the member. I have a lot of respect for the member, but his speech was beneath him.
    An hon. member: Oh, oh!
     Mr. Warren Steinley: The House leader of the NDP can yell as much as he wants.
    Madam Speaker, Dr. Nickie Mathew met with the health committee members and said that there was a 22% increase in B.C. youth with hydromorphone in their system. That comes from the safe supply. In B.C., there is a 22% increase in hydromorphone in the bloodstream of deceased B.C. youth.
    How can the member possibly say that safe supply is not affecting and killing B.C. youth?
    Madam Speaker, that member comes from Regina, where there are 66 deaths per 100,000. That is more than 50% higher than British Columbia. Kids are dying from poisoned drugs in his community by accessing unregulated street drugs. In Saskatoon, where brownies are being sold to keep the doors open of safe consumption sites, the deaths are half of what is going on in Regina.
     When it comes to youth, it is extremely rare for any young person to be prescribed pharmaceutical alternatives and it is always led by physicians.
    To the member's question, young people can access street drugs anywhere, any time. The streets are flooded with drugs. The police have said that safe supply is not what is killing youth. That is not what is getting youth addicted to drugs. Addiction with youth has not gone up since safe supply moved forward. That is a fact; it is published data.
    The Conservatives do not believe in peer-reviewed published data. They only support anecdotes. That is what they do. They push it out, and it is harmful and dangerous. It is costing us lives in our country.

  (1300)  

[Translation]

    Madam Speaker, I thank my colleague for his passionate and informative speech.
     With their motion, we are hearing the Conservatives trying to convince us that their proposal will solve everything, that fentanyl will disappear overnight from the illicit drugs sold in the street, that drug addiction problems will be solved overnight and that the handful of treatment procedures they are suggesting will have a 100% success rate.
     This leaves me with the impression that, at best, they are engaging in magical thinking, but at worst, and this is the impression I am getting, they are approaching a social issue from a purely partisan perspective and trying to score cheap political points off people's misery.

[English]

    Madam Speaker, the evidence is in on how the Conservatives' policy is playing out. Alberta is leading the country per capita for death rates due to toxic drugs, and its rate is skyrocketing. In Saskatchewan, it is skyrocketing. Alaska has the same program of no safe supply and no decriminalization.
    The Conservatives want to point the finger at British Columbia. All they need to do is go to Lethbridge where a safe consumption site was closed. Even if the federal government wants to open one, the Province of Alberta will fine it $10,000 a day to save lives. It will be charged $10,000 a day to open a facility to stop public use and ensure people get connected to services so they stay alive by getting their drugs tested if they are using and being connected to treatment and recovery. However, the Conservatives do not want to do that. In fact, the Premier of Alberta is even going to block research and studying the critical benefits of safer supply. It is out of control. The federal government needs to step in. This is a raging crisis in those provinces.
    We know how the Conservatives will operate if they are in government and how they will deal with this crisis. They are basically saying that people can only go to treatment and recovery, where often they will wait or they will die. That is the only option.
    Madam Speaker, I thank my colleague for his never-ending advocacy and support, and bringing forward the voices of experts in field and families.
    Prior to becoming a member of Parliament, I worked in mental health and addictions, working directly with youth, families and those who supported them to provide wraparound supports. It was not good enough to offer a youth-only treatment, or only housing or only mental health support. It was essential that they were provided with the wraparound, person-centred supports people require to work through what was going on with them. The other piece was culture, tradition and connections to families. We need to be looking at wraparound, person-centred supports.
    Could the member please share with us the importance of having a multi-tiered approach in supporting people who are struggling with substance misuse and how that is the path forward in preventing more deaths?
    Madam Speaker, my colleague is grounded in experience. She worked in the field, on the front line, with young people, seeing the barriers and navigating a broken system. She also understands the importance of connection, peer support, the critical investments and having an integrated, coordinated, compassionate approach. However, that has to be funded. It has to be supported by government.
    Right now, people are asking why they should pay for all of the harm reduction, treatment, recovery and housing supports. I can tell the taxpayers at home who are watching that they are paying for it, and then some, much more. This is critical when we get into prevention, especially when it comes to young people. We have to scale up prevention and education. We have to support the people on the ground doing the hard work. We have to support peer support and ensure we have a coordinated, integrated and compassionate approach.
    Madam Speaker, in my riding of Kingston and the Islands, there is a safe injection site. About an hour down Highway 401, in Belleville, there is not one. We know, because it made national news only a few months ago, that in a 24-hour period, Belleville had well over 12 overdoses. It was extremely alarming and very scary.
    I recognize that my example is anecdotal, at best, but I cannot help but wonder why an area that does have a safe injection site does not experience the same thing that happened down Highway 401, where there is no safe injection site. Could the member speak to what he thinks about that?

  (1305)  

    Madam Speaker, I can go to Lethbridge, which has a death rate of 137 per 100,000; it closed the safe consumption site. Imagine being a parent of a child in Lethbridge, where there is no safe supply, where it does not support decriminalization and where it closed safe consumption sites, or a parent in Belleville who needs safe consumption sites. Police are saying we need more, not less, safe consumption sites. They save lives.
    We have to listen to the experts and respond with urgency. The federal government has a role to play when it comes to safe consumption sites.
     Madam Speaker, I am going to split my time with the chief opposition whip, who is my favourite chief opposition whip.
    I want to start with those who are suffering, the parents, brothers, sisters and families involved. Our hearts are with them. I want those who are watching to know that there is a better way.
    There is carnage out there. There are bodies in the streets, their skin punctured by weapons, their veins filled with dangerous chemicals. Surrounding them are debris and unimaginable scenes of human suffering. We have seen it across the country and in no place is it more prevalent than in British Columbia today.
     This is not a depiction of some horror movie; it is a depiction of what is happening in our streets. It is not because of violence, a scene curated by an award-winning director or special effects. This is what is really happening. It would make us think that we were watching the worst thing we could possibly watch on TV, the government giving away free drugs. It is, frankly, investing in street-level palliative care is what it looks like.
    We do not have to look much further than the debate we are having today to know how badly the Liberals and the NDP have strayed from consensus on this topic. After nine years of the Liberal-NDP government, and after nine years of the drugs, disorder, chaos and crime, members of Parliament in this place are actively defending and promoting the legalization of hard drugs, like crack, heroin and meth, in hospitals, parks and on buses. It is clear that this is no longer our mothers' Liberal Party. It has an extremist view on this, and so many other issues.
     Contrary to everything we see every day in our communities, the people who are lying face down on the sidewalks, the endless tent cities, the needles littering playgrounds and public transit, the Liberal-NDP MPs continue to press on with an ideological purity, even as evidence, advocates, their own party members, moms and dads and those in the community tell them that their extremist experiment has failed. It is not hard to find evidence why. It is everywhere. Beyond the scenes we are witnessing in parks, our communities and our own neighbourhoods, the facts and the testimony are everywhere.
    After the government supported Premier Eby's socialist experiment and plot to legalize the consumption of hard drugs like heroin in public places, overdose deaths went up 380%. That is six people every day in one province. It has become so out of line in hospitals that they were soon mandated to allow drug use even next to cancer patients and newborn babies. Let us picture our grandmothers lying in bed next to a room where a guy is smoking meth. That is where we are at. Not to mention that the B.C. crime rates have gone up seven out of eight years that the Prime Minister has been in power.
    The problem with the so-called safe supply is not just a British Columbia problem; it is an everywhere problem. Thanks to the government flooding the streets with opioids, powerful and dangerous drugs that used to cost 50 bucks a pill are now being sold for less than two dollars on street corners.
     Those who are struggling with addiction can sell their fentanyl prescription minutes after getting it and then use the money to buy even harder and more potent drugs. As a result, more and more people are getting sucked into the violent cycle of addiction. People as young as 14 years old are dying from overdoses because they were entrapped into trying these drugs by friends, neighbours and even strangers who they met on the Internet, drugs that were easy to get, easy to sell and easy to get hooked on. It is something the minister actually said was not happening.
    We can see that what those radical Liberal-NDP MPs are promoting is not a safe supply, but an unsafe supply. It is unsafe for those who use drugs, because instead of treatment they get even more drugs to keep them using for a lifetime, all the while it takes hundreds of days to find a detox bed in almost any city. It is unsafe for individuals recovering from the use of drugs, as relapses and temptations become more common thanks to the flood of fentanyl in our streets. It is unsafe for the communities at large, as kids dodge needles on playgrounds and nurses stop breastfeeding for fear of contaminating their babies after a full day of treating those who use drugs openly in their hospitals.

  (1310)  

    Even in the face of all of this, the Liberals and the NDP want to continue pushing forward and defending their failed record, literally to death. It is not just a hallmark of the government, which ignores and labels everyone it disagrees with while telling Canadians that left is right and up is down. It is emblematic of a government that fundamentally minimizes the value and the dignity of every human being and anybody who wants to get better. It is a government that offers medical assistance in dying to veterans who served our nation, that separated Canadians into categories of vaccinated and unvaccinated, and that called them misogynists. It is a government that would rather pump pills instead of helping people get better.
     On this side of the House, we believe that every human has value and that everybody, with support, care and compassion, can turn their lives around. We never hear that conversation in the House. We never hear about the ability for somebody to get better. That is why we oppose this misguided plan to legalize free drugs. That is why a Conservative minister of health would invest in treatment and not crack, in recovery and not heroin.
    However, before there would be a common-sense, Conservative government, there is an even more pressing problem. The Liberals and the NDP want to not only defend their record on drugs but also expand it. If they did not, they would have said that. They still have not rejected requests from cities such as Montreal and Toronto to do exactly what was done in B.C., with exactly the same consequences. The Minister of Health says that the application is dormant, and I suspect that it is dormant until exactly after the next election.
    As a Toronto-area MP, I know the problems that we have with illegal drugs. I know how bad they are, and I think about what making them legal would do. There would be open drug use and more violence on the TTC; more human suffering right out in the open on our streets, in our parks, in our hospitals, on our buses and on our subways; and more crime, chaos, drugs and disorder in our neighbourhoods that used to feel safe.
    This has all been propagated by the Minister of Mental Health and Addictions, who is from Toronto, and who is selling out her own constituents who want to go to work, raise a family and just live in peace. This is a minister who will not protect her constituents from the reckless drug use, the same minister who has failed to protect the very people who brought her here, and it is not the first time.
    Even in this crazy world, I thought more people would have the guts and brains to look around at what is happening, look around at what is going on in B.C. and everywhere else, and say no to these irrational free-drug schemes that have proven not to work. Twenty-five hundred people in B.C. have been lost, which is six people a day, and there is even more evidence after nine years of this Liberal-NDP coalition.
    The Liberals have absolutely lost their minds on this. Worse, if somebody, 10 years ago, accused the Prime Minister of legalizing the smoking of crack in a hospital room, I would call them crazy and say that he would never do that. However, here we are today, where it was legal up until the request, and up until the 11 days it took the government to come back on that request, and it still has not ruled it out for other cities. I would call him insane. I would call that experiment insane, yet it is true today. What is more insane, if we are going to call it for what it is, and it is the most insane policy this government has ever put forward, is that the Liberals will call us insane for saying that, which is gaslighting to the nth degree.
    I look forward to a day when the Minister of Mental Health and Addictions, the member for York Centre, is no longer allowed to give away free drugs; when people, in their darkest moments, can get the help they need, treatment, to bring home their loved ones drug-free; and when communities, kids and neighbourhoods are fully protected from this scourge.
    The Liberals' views are extreme, and do not let anybody ever tell those who are watching that this is not anything but extreme. They have become an extremist party with extremist policies.

  (1315)  

    Madam Speaker, we see the same kind of stigmatization with the language used by the member opposite. They talk about horror movies, which is invoking the fear of people who are really struggling in their circumstances, whom I feel such tremendous sadness for.
    I would ask the member about her premise, which is really to return to a failed war on substance users. It has been the approach. Indeed, it was the approach of the Stephen Harper government. It certainly has been the approach of many other Conservative governments. However, we have not actually seen an alleviation, even in countries that have even a more extreme war on substance users, with up to life imprisonment for those who are struggling and, in some sad cases, even death.
     Can the member tell me how this new proposal from the Conservatives would work when we have evidence from around the world that it poses a deep burden on families and substance users?
    Madam Speaker, this is exactly what I am talking about, which is the extremist view that treatment is somehow war. I want to tell the member something. Thank God my parents circled around me. Those who I worked with and my friends had faith in my own recovery. Thank God I had treatment. Thank God I did not have the safe supply.
    An hon. member: Oh, oh!
    Ms. Melissa Lantsman: Madam Speaker, the minister is walking out and yelling because she knows she is wrong. She is an extremist. Thank God there was not the safe supply because I would not be sitting in the front row of Parliament today if it had been up to her.
    Madam Speaker, one thing I would like to mention and point out to the Conservative members is that dead people do not detox. I have spent probably the vast majority of my political life fighting for a four-pillars approach, which includes prevention, harm reduction, policing and treatment to deal with the opioid crisis. Right now, statistics show, and the numbers do not lie, that Alberta is the leading province in the number of drug poisoning deaths. Alberta does not have decriminalization. That is the reality.
    What is more important? Is it for Conservatives to play their political games at the expense of people who are struggling and mothers who are losing their loved ones, or is it more important for them to put the facts before them and take a four-pillars approach that includes the harm reduction that saves lives for Canadians?
    Madam Speaker, speaking of a political approach, she has an ideological opposition to the province of Alberta and is using the deaths in that province to make a political point. That is gross.
    If she is talking about detox and treatment, that is exactly what I spoke about. There is none of that in any of their plans, and if there were, we would not be having this conversation. Eventually families, mothers, fathers and the people she talked to could finally bring home their loved ones drug-free, if there were actually any money for treatment in this country.

  (1320)  

    Madam Speaker, the NDP-Liberal coalition has been speaking a lot about the four pillars today, but its members have said nothing about enforcement. We have asked numerous times how many arrests have been made to stop the illegal flow of fentanyl and how the Criminal Code has been used to stop illegal drugs from killing people. They cannot say a single thing about it. Why is that?
    Madam Speaker, it is because they believe in legalization. If they did not, they would have said that. If they did not, they would have said something about the applications on their desks from Toronto and Montreal.
    People watching at home should know their ideological position on this. They want this to happen. The consensus is far, far gone from these Liberals. One used to not be able to smoke crack in a hospital or on a bus, or shoot up in a playground. That is a normal view. They are an extremist party that has brought this on to Canadians, and they are on the wrong side of history for it.
     Madam Speaker, the Prime Minister, aided and abetted by the NDP, has spent nine years implementing his radical vision of Canada. He would like everyone to believe that this agenda is normal.
    There is record food bank usage, out-of-control gas prices and a housing market that has priced young Canadians out of the dream of home ownership. The government is censoring the Internet by controlling what people can see or say online. There is a 39% increase in violent crime; catch-and-release bail that sees offenders arrested in the morning, out by noon, and then rearrested later that very same day; and the legalization of meth, cocaine, heroin and opioids in British Columbia. Parents are worried that their children could step on used needles in a playground. None of this is normal. These are the outcomes of the radical policies brought to us by the NDP-Liberal Prime Minister. His legacy is one of crime, chaos, drugs and disorder. The results of his hard-drug legalization experiment and taxpayer-funded narcotics policy have been tragic but entirely predictable.
    Since 2015, over 42,000 Canadians have died from drug overdoses. Opioid overdose deaths have increased 186% across Canada under the Prime Minister's watch. A record 2,500 British Columbians died from drug overdoses last year. That is up 380% in nine years. That is six entirely preventable deaths, every day, of friends and colleagues, mothers and fathers, sons and daughters. Each of them had a story, and every one of these deaths is a tragedy. These are human beings.
    Drug overdose is now the number one cause of death in B.C., with more fatalities than crime, accidents and disease combined. It is also the number one cause of death among kids aged 10 to 17. I have 11-year-old twin grandsons. This is personal, and this is not normal.
    The story of 14-year-old Kamilah Sword of Port Coquitlam is heartbreaking. Kamilah tragically overdosed in her bedroom in August 2022. According to her father, the coroner found three drugs in her system: MDMA, cocaine and hydromorphone. Hydromorphone is an opiate prescribed under B.C.'s so-called safe supply program.
    Kamilah's friends reported that they have witnessed children as young as 11 years of age using hydromorphone. This is completely unacceptable. The street price of hydromorphone has fallen close to 90%, from $20 to two dollars per pill. Basically, any kid can buy them.
    How many more children have to die before the government reverses course? Our common-sense, Conservative motion before the House today calls on the Prime Minister to end this unsafe supply program and redirect this money into treatment and recovery programs for those addicted to drugs. This is common sense. This is compassion. The radical approach of the NDP-Liberal government is making the addiction crisis worse and does not put those struggling with addiction on a path to recovery. That should always be the goal. The government's approach only pumps more hard drugs onto our streets, killing our citizens, destroying our families and tearing our communities apart.
    The over supply of these free drugs gets in the hands of organized crime, which then sells them to children. If one gets them for free, any return is a profit.
    Addictions workers confirm that most users of so-called safe supply are diverting these drugs and reselling them across the country. This is government-funded drug trafficking.
    How is this for insanity? In Prince George, the police ran a 10-day surveillance operation on a woman who stood outside a downtown IDA Pharmacy every morning trading her so-called safe supply drugs for harder drugs. Police reported dozens of hand-to-hand transactions. The pharmacy manager told the RCMP that patients are given up to 28 hydromorphone pills per day, equating to approximately $480 a day if resold. He also reported that many patients are accosted by people outside the pharmacy wanting to purchase the safe supply drugs. The insanity is the brainchild of big pharma.

  (1325)  

     The term “safe supply” is big pharma's sales jargon, its propaganda, meant to secure government contracts and pad the industry's burgeoning pockets. Let us be clear: Safe supply is a lie. There is nothing safe about fentanyl. The radical NDP-Liberal government bought the big lie, and now Canadians are paying the price in dollars and in deaths.
    Canadians have the right to know how much they are paying to fuel the crisis. The government refuses to release its contracts with big pharma, covering up the huge cost of this reckless experiment. The radical government does not get it. Its policies are killing Canadians, and it clearly does not care. Despite the death, crime and carnage, the Prime Minister has not ruled out replicating B.C.'s failed drug experiment in other jurisdictions across the country.
    Our motion calls on the Prime Minister to proactively reject the City of Toronto’s request to legalize deadly hard drugs like crack, cocaine, heroin and meth. The motion further calls on him to deny any future requests from provinces, territories and municipalities seeking federal approval to legalize hard drugs in their jurisdiction. We do not need to export the drug chaos in B.C. to other jurisdictions.
     The Prime Minister should never have granted a reckless exemption to B.C. to allow open, “in your face” hard drug use in public places. Parks, beaches, transit, sports fields, coffee shops and playgrounds in B.C. have become drug-infested nightmares. A two-year-old girl was hospitalized after putting a discarded needle in her mouth at a park. Even our hospitals, once a beacon of safety, are now lawless spaces where health care workers and patients are put at risk.
     The B.C. Nurses' Union is sounding the alarm for its members. Patients and staff have been exposed to harmful hard drugs. Meth was even being smoked in a unit just hours after the birth of a newborn baby. This breaks my heart. It should break everyone's hearts. A nurse in Campbell River said she had been exposed to smoke from hard drugs six times. How in God’s name is the government allowing this to happen? I cannot believe I have to say this, but hospitals should be sanctuaries of healing and care, not places of lawlessness and chaos.
    After nine years, the extremist NDP-Liberal government is not worth the drugs, disorder and death. Only a common-sense Conservative government will end unsupervised and unprescribed use of hard drugs in hospitals. We will end taxpayer-funded narcotics that are killing our children and poisoning our communities. We will focus on treating Canadians struggling with addiction, providing a path to recovery so we can bring our loved ones home drug-free.
    Hope must be restored. Unlike the radical NDP-Liberal government, we will not give up on people. It is compassion and common sense. The extreme, deadly drug experiment must end and never be repeated.

  (1330)  

[Translation]

    Madam Speaker, this morning, I asked the leader of the official opposition if he could explain the difference between legalization, decriminalization and diversion. He answered, “There really is no difference. It is just semantics”.
    I know that my colleague had an illustrious career in law. She is a trained lawyer. She even served as the parliamentary secretary to the justice minister.
    Can she look into the camera and tell all of her bar association colleagues and others that she agrees with what the Leader of the Opposition said about how these three legal concepts all mean the same thing and how there is no real difference between them?
    If not, can she explain to her leader what the difference is? That might come in handy for someone who wants to be prime minister.

[English]

    Madam Speaker, my thanks to my colleague for the unexpected praise of my former legal career, which I have left far behind at this point.
    I have no trouble whatsoever standing behind our leader and our position. Part of our position, which is clearly laid out in the motion, is that the extremist view on these things is what the NDP-Liberal government has put forward. We are the mainstream. We are putting forward common-sense, compassionate positions on the issue of drugs and overdose deaths that have overtaken too many communities and hurt too many families. I am very clear about where we stand on that.
    Madam Speaker, as a Toronto member of Parliament, I feel obligated to say that I will be voting in support of the motion. That is because my community is home to or immediately adjacent to every single one of Toronto's nine injection sites. I am also the MP for parents who have had to learn what to do when their child is pierced by a needle. That is not normal. That is not something that any parent should have to go through.
    I was relieved when the B.C. government decided to do a 180, but I am concerned because the Medical Officer of Health for Toronto has doubled down, and the NDP mayor of Toronto continues to power through to decriminalization. I am curious to know what my colleague thinks about why it is that they continue to do this in spite of all of the evidence about how dangerous it has become.
    Madam Speaker, I find it hard to believe I am actually saying these things, that I am having to explain why we should not have people smoking crack and blowing the smoke in the face of our health care workers and other patients. I find it hard to believe that I have to explain to anyone that a two-year-old's picking up a used needle on a playground could be deadly or extremely dangerous. In British Columbia, parents are locking arms and sweeping kids' playing fields before their soccer games because they are so afraid someone is going to fall on a needle or get jabbed by one.
    This is common sense. This is compassion.
    Madam Speaker, the number of deaths in Alberta skyrocketed to record levels last year. Could the hon. member tell us why?
     Madam Speaker, I cannot speak for Alberta.
    Madam Speaker, I have two very simple questions for the member after having listened to her speech.
     I wonder whether she could share how many more people have to die before the Conservatives start listening to health experts, step out of the way, and allow health experts to provide wraparound supports for people who need them. Also, just as important, how much more fundraising do the Conservatives have to do for it to be enough to stop raising funds off the backs of those who are tragically dying in the toxic substance crisis?
    Madam Speaker, I categorically reject the premise of the member's question, and I resent the implications.
     We are talking about human beings. We are talking about children. We are talking about mothers and fathers, sons and daughters who are at risk. We are talking about a crisis of opioid and other drug overdose deaths in this country. I am from a province where it is so out of control that the provincial government has had to come back to the federal Liberal government to say, “Put a circle around it because it is chaos.”

  (1335)  

     Madam Speaker, it is always a pleasure and an honour to rise in the House. Today I am going to speak to a very important topic that I know has affected many Canadians from coast to coast to coast, including in my riding of Vaughan—Woodbridge.
    Before I get to my formal remarks, I will say that as MPs, we get to meet a lot of people in our riding, and with that, unfortunately, we attend visitations and funerals. I think that in the last two weeks, I have attended seven or eight visitations. Nonetheless, there is one experience I will never forget. A few years ago, one visitation I attended was for a 25-year-old young man who passed away from an opioid overdose. That experience has left an imprint on me. What the family went through, and what this individual went through before his passing, I do not wish upon anybody; none of us does.
     Our job here as legislators is to do good for our residents and to do good for all Canadians. The debate we are having today is a very serious one, because the issue is impacting families and has impacted lives.
     Before I turn to my formal remarks, I will say that I will be splitting my time with my friend and colleague, the member from Vancouver Granville.
    I rise to talk about an issue that is very important for Canadians, and particularly for our most vulnerable friends and family members in this country.

[Translation]

    Canada is in the throes of an overdose crisis that causes an average of 22 deaths per day. This crisis is affecting individuals, families and communities across the country.
    The Government of Canada's approach to the crisis is guided by the Canadian drugs and substances strategy, which promotes both public health and public safety. This strategy is based on the principles of compassion, equity and collaboration. It promotes a holistic approach to the crisis, recognizing that different people need different tools and supports to cope with substance use.
    Our government's approach is to disrupt and dismantle the illegal drug supply while supporting a full range of integrated initiatives to lower risks and help people access the services they need, when and where they need them. This means significant investments to support provinces, territories and communities.
    We know that substance use is a health issue, first and foremost. It is important to reduce stigma and remove barriers to accessing care in order to reduce the risk of overdose and other harm. Harm reduction programs and services are a critical and necessary step in the continuum of care for providing immediate and life-saving measures in the face of a toxic and illegal drug supply.
    The growing toxicity of the illegal drug supply means that this supply is tainted with powerful opioids such as fentanyl and other drugs, including benzodiazepines and animal tranquillizers. This means that people who use drugs are more exposed to the risk of overdose and harm than they were just a few years ago.
    It has been proven that risk reduction measures save lives. They are a lifeline for supporting people, including those who are dealing with stigmatization, housing insecurity or homelessness, or delays and other obstacles in accessing treatment. What is more, some risk reduction services, such as supervised consumption sites, help drug users make connections with other health care services and other social services, including treatment and rehabilitation.
    Our government is supporting a wide range of risk reduction measures, including naloxone programs, drug-checking services, supervised consumption sites and clean supplies.

  (1340)  

     Naloxone can save lives by temporarily reversing the effects of an opioid overdose. That is why we are trying so hard to make naloxone more available to Canadians.
     For example, we invested $26 million in Health Canada’s substance use and addictions program, or SUAP, to enhance opioid overdose awareness training and to improve access to this live-saving drug. In December 2023, this investment funded training for two million people on how to respond to an overdose. It also made it possible to distribute more than 92,000 nasal naloxone kits across the country.
     Given the increasing toxicity of the drug supply, users do not always know what they are taking. Drug checking can play a key role by providing individuals with crucial information so they can make informed choices that can reduce the risk of overdose.
     In April 2024, Health Canada authorized drug checking services at 29 supervised consumption sites and six dedicated drug checking sites. Since 2018, SUAP has also financed 10 drug checking projects to help prove the effectiveness of this harm reduction measure and provide local communities with invaluable drug checking services.
     Supervised consumption sites offer a safe place to use drugs with clean paraphernalia and access to care without judgment. Many of these sites offer access to drug checking and peer support services for people who want to get treatment and access other forms of support. These sites reduce the spread of infectious disease and relieve pressure on emergency rooms. Supervised consumption sites have recorded over 4.4 million visits. More than 53,000 overdoses have been treated, and more than 424,000 people have been referred to health services and social services. These referrals support individuals on the road to healing and wellness.
     Everyone deserves to feel safe in their community. That is why we are working with our partners and stakeholders to ensure the safety of communities while providing these essential services. The crisis is constantly evolving, forcing us to develop and implement innovative harm reduction measures to counter the supply of toxic illicit drugs.
    That is why we are funding so many innovative and evidence-informed projects through SUAP. This program has provided over $600 million in funding for more than 400 pilot projects since 2017. With investments of $144 million from the 2023 budget, SUAP will be able to continue to support not-for-profit and indigenous community organizations, as well as municipalities, provinces and territories, to meet Canadians' needs across the continuum of care, from prevention to treatment, including recovery and harm reduction.

[English]

    Finally, the debate we are having today is very serious. This is not about quick and easy solutions or slogans. It is about the lives of the most vulnerable Canadians. It is about people who may have issues with mental health and, of course, addiction. It is about getting them the harm reduction strategies and treatment that need to be in place, as well as the care and affection they need to overcome the obstacles they currently face in their lives.
    I look forward to questions and comments from my colleagues, and I hope the questions are of substance.

  (1345)  

    Madam Speaker, the member should be happy; this is of substance.
    This has been tried before. Portland, Oregon, did safe supply decriminalization. B.C. tried it. Their overdoses skyrocketed. This is not a new phenomenon.
    I know the NDP members are very upset because the NDP policies are failing Canadians, and people are dying—
     The hon. member for New Westminster—Burnaby is rising on a point of order.
    Madam Speaker, the member is knowingly misleading the House. The figures are—
    That is a matter for debate.
    I will let the hon. member for Regina—Lewvan complete his question.
    Madam Speaker, the NDP members are getting very upset because they failed Canadians. This has been tried. It has failed. There are examples of this failing.
    Why are the Liberals fighting so hard to continue down a path where more Canadians are going to die from safe supply? Let us do something better for Canadians.
    Madam Speaker, the hon. member and I care about our residents. We want to make sure they live their lives to the fullest capacity. Any strategy with regard to the treatment of addiction needs to have the four pillars of prevention, harm reduction, treatment and enforcement. We need to have a holistic approach.
    Unfortunately, the hon. member and their colleagues are actually ignoring the former adviser to the former prime minister, who said that the plan put forward by the official opposition is not actually a plan. It is a plan for failure, and that is not the approach to take to such a serious issue and politicize it, much as the opposition party is doing.
     Madam Speaker, families and communities are continuing to suffer because of the toxic drug crisis. I have spoken to many mothers, fathers and friends who have lost loved ones. The Conservative rhetoric around this is not just harmful, but it will actually cost people their lives. To pretend that we have to choose between harm reduction and treatment when we are facing a national emergency is unconscionable.
    Given that we are facing this national emergency, why has the Liberal Party not declared a national public health emergency on the toxic drug crisis and created a pan-Canadian response?
    Madam Speaker, the hon. member for Victoria is absolutely correct. The Conservatives are trying to create this false choice, much as they are trying to do with the economy and the environment, when we know the two go hand in hand.
    On the issue we are debating today, we need harm reduction and treatment. They need to go hand in hand, and those are the policies we have been working on. We are working with the provinces. The province of B.C. had a request, and it did not work for it. We have looked at that. We have responded to the province of British Columbia in this case, and we will continue to do that.
    We will work collaboratively with all jurisdictions, with law enforcement and with individual organizations dealing with treatment and prevention. That is the Canadian way of doing things, and that is the smart and right way of doing it. That is how we will get results.

[Translation]

    Madam Speaker, I would like to thank my colleague for his speech a few moments ago and congratulate him on the quality of his French.

[English]

     The member asked for a question with substance, and I will easily ask a question with substance.
    The government waited more than 10 days before saying yes to the request of the provincial jurisdiction. Why wait so long?

[Translation]

    Madam Speaker, I would like to thank my colleague for his very important question. I fully understand the substance of his question.

  (1350)  

[English]

    When a request is made by any level of government or by any government in Canada, whether it is the province of Quebec or the province of British Columbia, that request should be acted upon expeditiously and a response given. There was a turnaround time. I am not one to be at that table to make that turnaround time, but I am glad to see a decision was made by our government in terms of the request that was made by the province of British Columbia and Premier David Eby.
    Madam Speaker, it is important for me, as a member of Parliament from British Columbia, to rise to speak to this issue.
     I want to start by talking about the victims of the opioid crisis, and particularly those who have lost their lives to tainted drugs. They are the children of Conservatives, Liberals, New Democrats, Greens and people with no party affiliation. They are family members, pillars of society, people who have had challenges in their lives, people who are struggling and people who are not struggling. They are everyday Canadians who lost their lives, or lost their loved ones, as a result of tainted drugs on the streets of our cities. From Calgary to Vancouver, Toronto and Halifax, this is a problem that plagues our communities from coast to coast to coast.
    Anytime a jurisdiction wants to find a way to save lives, our government has been there, and will be there, to work with it to try to do that. In the case of the Province of British Columbia, as my friend from Vaughan—Woodbridge noted, an application was brought forward by the province. In it, there were four pillars. There were expectations around how everything would work. It did not go as well as British Columbia wanted. It came back to us and said it would like to make amendments to the application. It formalized that request on Friday of last week; by Monday, the request was granted. It is important for anyone who is watching, and members in the House, to understand that, when the formalities of the application were completed on Friday, it took the weekend to get to the answer. That is an important distinction, because it is important that we not mislead Canadians as to what happened. It was not 11 days. That is the first thing.
    The second thing that is important to note is that, when we talk about this issue, it is very easy to try to politicize it, as members opposite have chosen to do. However, let us look at the facts.
     In British Columbia, there was a pilot program that sought to try to save lives. Alberta and Saskatchewan had no such pilot program and, by extension, would not have met any of the criteria of concern that the Leader of the Opposition had. By that logic, they would not have had any kind of a problem at all.
    In fact, Alberta has seen a 25% increase, with four people a day dying. In Saskatchewan, it is a record year for people dying. These are not records to be proud of in provinces that have been run by Conservatives, so we need to stop talking about this as an NDP problem, a Liberal problem or a Conservative problem; it as a public health challenge. This is a public health crisis.
    This is not about criminalizing people with addictions. What the opposition has sought to do and continues to do is play politics with the most vulnerable in our society, knowing that they may not be able to defend themselves. We will make sure, on this side of the House, that we work hard and tirelessly to use a public health approach and a science-based approach. We will work with jurisdictions to ensure that the best possible means by which to address this crisis is there. Not every solution is going to be perfect, as the Government of British Columbia came to understand. However, it was not looking for perfection. I do not think anybody was. People are looking to save lives.
    I know for a fact that there are Conservatives who believe very strongly that we need to think about how we address safe supply. There are Conservatives who believe we should be taking a public health-based approach to deal with addictions and this crisis. Ben Perrin, who advised Stephen Harper for many years, is one of the strongest advocates for taking a materially different approach to what the Conservative leader would like to do.
    It is important for us to listen to people from all walks of life in this conversation, to hear the stories of those who have perished and of the families who are grieving. It is impossible to put someone in treatment if they are dead. I have spoken to parents in my riding whose children have been lost to tainted drugs. They wish there had been a way for their kids to access a safe supply so they could go to treatment. Sadly, those children, young people, university students, firefighters, doctors and nurses will not be able to get that treatment.

  (1355)  

    It is important for us to recognize the very difference between this fanciful notion the opposition would like to believe, that somehow there are drugs being given out willy-nilly, versus a science-based, medically administered process in helping people stay alive so that they can get treatment they need.
    If we believe, as Canadians, that our job and our obligation is to stand by our fellow citizens, to help them in their times of difficulty and to be innovative and creative in finding the solutions needed to address public health issues, then we have an obligation to work with jurisdictions. We have an obligation to work with provinces, territories and municipalities to find solutions.
    I want people to remember that this application was first brought forth with the support of law enforcement, the Vancouver Police Department, the City of Vancouver and the Province of British Columbia. This was not something that was cooked up by one level of government. This was something that came about as a result of detailed discussion, hard work, thoughtful consideration and a sincere desire to save lives.
    The fact that it has been pulled back does not negate those principles. The fact that it is pulled back does not diminish the fact that provinces and jurisdictions that did not have this pilot have seen unprecedented numbers deaths from the opioid crisis.
    If we are going to have a serious discussion in the House, then we should be talking about ways to work together across politics to ask the questions. What are medical professionals telling us and what is law enforcement is looking for? How do we make sure public safety is indeed part of the conversation? Are we also doing everything necessary to be thoughtful and to be mindful of the people whose lives are at risk?
    If we are serious about this conversation, then the opposition should not be saying that it is going to do this and do that in absolute terms because that is not how public policy works. That is not how serious people operate. Serious people look at the complexity of serious issues and accept that there are going to be things that work and that sometimes they do not. However, when they do not, the question should be about how we analyze it to make it better.
    On this side of the House, we are always going to trust science, work with law enforcement, work with medical professionals, talk to victims to hear their points of view and their perspectives, and come together on public policy solutions that are grounded in fact not fancy.
    In British Columbia, as in Alberta, Saskatchewan, Ontario, Nova Scotia and across this country from coast to coast to coast, people are grieving loved ones as a result of tainted drugs. People are looking for governments to work together to address this crisis. When opposition parties or anyone chooses to use as a political football the grief and the death of others, we need to stand up as Canadians and say that it is not okay.
    We should be doing the hard work of finding solutions, not pretending that slogans are going to save lives. Anywhere in the world that we look, a slogan has not saved a life. However, what has worked is people looking seriously at public health issues to actually work together to find solutions.
    I am proud of the fact that I belong to a government that is serious about this issue, serious about getting people into treatment, getting people the help they need, and that is serious about doing it in a way that recognizes the reality on the ground and the reality in communities that are desperate for leaders in this country to work together on this important solution.
    There are members opposite, from the New Democratic Party, who have put in time, effort and energy on this issue, and I salute them and commend them. We will continue to do that on our side. However, if we are going to solve this crisis, it is going to be done with all of us pulling together, not by playing politics with the lives of victims of a health crisis.

STATEMENTS BY MEMBERS

[Statements by Members]

  (1400)  

[English]

Jean Ip Foundation

    Mr. Speaker, today I would like to pay tribute to the Jean Ip Foundation, a non-profit organization in Richmond, a source of hope and support for underprivileged students.
    The Jean Ip Foundation's scholarship program seeks to assist in removing educational barriers and providing scholarships to help students pursue post-secondary education in Canada, achieving their academic goals without financial stress. The foundation began awarding annual scholarships through local school districts to students in British Columbia.
    Today, the Jean Ip Foundation has expanded its mission with a scholarship program that reaches across Canada, offering up to $10,000 to financially disadvantaged students. With this expansion, the Jean Ip Foundation reinforces its commitment to making higher education more accessible and affordable. I encourage all young Canadians to seize this opportunity and apply for the Jean Ip Foundation scholarship program before May 31, the end of the month, and help ease the financial burden of higher education and open doors to new possibilities.
    I thank the Jean Ip Foundation for all its dedication—
    The hon. member for Fort McMurray—Cold Lake.

Vyshyvanka Day

     Mr. Speaker, dobryi den. Every third Thursday in May is Vyshyvanka Day. Today, we stand in solidarity with Ukraine and our Ukrainian Canadian community by proudly wearing vyshyvankas and Ukrainian ribbons in the chamber.
    Ukrainians have proudly worn vyshyvankas for centuries, carefully crafted with colourful embroidery and time-honoured motifs, reflecting the unique heritage of each region of Ukraine. In the face of over 800 days of genocidal Russian aggression, this year's Vyshyvanka Day holds profound significance. Originating as a grassroots movement by students in Chernivtsi, this has evolved into a global holiday celebrating Ukrainian culture and heritage.
    As this celebration has evolved and grown, so too has the support for Ukraine. Like every stitch is important in a vyshyvanka, every contribution, no matter how small, makes a difference in war. Here in Canada, we must provide Ukraine with the munitions we can and have produced, and send the CRV7 rockets now, which Ukraine requested over six months ago.
    On behalf of Canada's Conservatives, I reaffirm our unwavering commitment to stand with Ukraine until its victory. Happy Vyshyvanka Day. Slava Ukraini.

Sexual and Reproductive Health

     Mr. Speaker, today on Parliament Hill, the anti-choice lobby is marching to demand control over women’s reproductive rights. Conservatives are standing with them, propping up their insidious claims, celebrating the demise of Roe v. Wade and vilifying the achievements of Henry Morgentaler. They do not want us to have access to abortion, and they voted against providing Canadians with contraceptive choices. They are bringing America’s divisive political playbook across the border and are infecting our population.
    The Liberal government is not going to reopen the abortion debate, so why do we keep seeing petitions, bills and motions by Conservative members intended to do just that? The conservative agenda is clear. The opposition leader has even said that he would use the notwithstanding clause to rip up our rights. This trampling of rights is coming from a party that pretends to champion freedom. That is not lost on me. I do not want to live in a country where my rights are restricted, and I will fight.
    On this side of the House, we will all fight to keep Canada from sliding back into the dark ages.

[Translation]

National Police Week

    Mr. Speaker, National Police Week is being held from May 12 to 18 under the theme “Building Understanding: the police and the public”.
    This week is an opportunity to recognize the work of our police officers who work every day to protect the public and ensure that we can live safely in our communities.
    Far too often, the work of law enforcement gets bad press, and certain stereotypes still cast a dark shadow over the work of our heroes who are there for us every day. They also have to face difficult situations that can have an impact on their well-being and mental health.
    That is why, on behalf of the Bloc Québécois, I want to thank all police officers for their essential work and I applaud their courage and dedication.
    Let us be grateful and make every effort to rebuild and improve trust between the police and the public. I invite everyone to meet their local police officers, whether they belong to the municipal or indigenous police forces, the Sûreté du Québec or the RCMP to make connections and build bridges.
    I wish everyone a happy National Police Week.

  (1405)  

Government Programs

    Mr. Speaker, to continue to invest in Canadians, we need a strong economy. In Canada, we have an inflation rate that has fallen to 3%, we have a AAA credit rating, and we have an unemployment rate that is staying very low. In addition, the International Monetary Fund and the Organisation for Economic Co‑operation and Development predict Canada will have the strongest economic growth in the G7.
    All this is why I am so proud of our government, because we have rolled out programs like the new program for persons with disabilities, the new dental care program, the new pharmacare program, the new national school food program, the new apprenticeship program for young people and, lastly, the new Canada pension plan.
    That is why Canada is the best country in the world.

[English]

Liberal Party of Canada

    Mr. Speaker, every year, Canadians pay more for less because of this Liberal government's inflationary deficits and bone-crushing taxes. The Liberal carbon tax is devastating pensioners, working families and small businesses.
    Today in New Brunswick, we pay over 62¢ more per litre for gasoline than families do in the neighbouring state of Maine. That price difference is all due to Canadian taxes.
    Next year, because of the Liberal carbon tax, the New Brunswick-Maine price difference will be almost 70¢ per litre. The Liberals plan to add an additional 50¢ per litre by 2030. This will cost Canadians thousands of dollars more each year. Families are forced to pay more to live in Canada by an uncaring and ideological Prime Minister.
    Just like his carbon tax, the Liberals are not worth the cost. It is time for a carbon tax election. Let us go to the people. Let us hear from the people. Let us get rid of those Liberals.

World Dwarf Games

     Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to stand in the House today to acknowledge six-time gold medallist and three-time bronze medallist Brooklyn Wolfrey, who is a remarkable athletic champion from Labrador.
    Brooklyn is a 15-year-old athlete from Rigolet in the Nunatsiavut territory. She competed in the World Dwarf Games in 2017, where she won two gold medals for swimming and for hockey. This summer, she attended the World Dwarf Games, this time in Cologne, Germany, competing in badminton, soccer, running, table tennis, basketball and swimming.
    She won four gold medals and three bronze medals for Canada, as well as the hearts of Labradorians and of Canadians, and of those around the world
     She was one of 500 athletes from over 20 countries who competed at the World Dwarf Games. Brooklyn was a bright light in the competition. She is a tremendous athlete, a remarkable young person and a role model for all around her.

Marina Clemens

    Mr. Speaker, the name Marina Clemens is synonymous with Drouillard Road and the community of Ford City. It is where Marina founded Drouillard Place and dedicated her life to building a community that looks after its neighbours and the most vulnerable. She was a fierce advocate for affordable housing and a champion for our community's homeless.
    When we celebrated the 145-unit Meadowbrook Lane project, the first housing project built in our community in 30 years, her response was to the point; she would say to build more.
    Her son Jason said his mother lived her faith and always put people first, and she never asked what was in it for her. Marina Clemens passed away this week, and Windsor lost a great, great leader.
    If we ever need to find our way, all we need to do is head to Ford City. There we will find her street, her Drouillard Road, renamed Marina Clemens Way. It is the way of service above self.

Liberal Party of Canada

    Mr. Speaker, after nine years, the NDP-Liberal government is just not worth the cost. Since they took office, Canadians are seeing record numbers of food bank usage, with nearly 60% of Canadians eating foods that have expired or spoiled.
     The Prime Minister, backed by his NDP coalition, has decided to increase the carbon tax by 23%. This is disgusting. Unlike the Prime Minister, most Canadians do not have a trust fund, so this increase has not only driven more people to food banks, but also has hampered donations. With fewer donations and higher demand, food banks are being forced to close their doors.
    Seniors who were hoping to see some relief from the recent budget are finding themselves waiting in long lineups at food banks just to make ends meet. Common-sense Conservatives will axe the tax, build the homes, fix the budget and stop the crime so that Canadians have the dignity to eat healthy and safe food.

  (1410)  

Birthday Congratulations

     Mr. Speaker. I rise in the House today to acknowledge a dedicated constituent and entrepreneur, Jerry Fishman. Jerry is celebrating his 95th birthday on May 13.
    In 1956, he opened Jerry's Budget Centre on the corner of Jane and Wilson and, eventually, Jerry's for Fashion in its current location at 1625 Wilson Avenue in 1973.
    I want to take this opportunity to recognize Jerry's outstanding and enduring dedication to his business and to his customers. Jerry still opens the store every morning, greets his customers and continues to serve his community. I extend my warmest wishes to Jerry as he celebrates this milestone.
    May his birthday be filled with joy and the company of loved ones, as he continues to inspire all of us with his vitality, his passion and his zest for life.
    Happy birthday, Jerry.

Member for Edmonton Centre

    Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Employment has been throwing stones at glass houses for too long. We learned last week that the minister has failed to remove himself from his own PPE company and lobbyist firm, which is a clear conflict of interest. He remains a director of his PPE company in contravention of the code of ethics. The minister's previous lobby firm, which he gifted to his friend and colleague, successfully lobbied six federal departments, including his own department, for millions of dollars in federal grants for the Edmonton International Airport.
    A man who claims to be focused only on Albertans and Canadians has now shown his true colours. We now know that he has only ever been worried about himself. How dare this minister show his face in the House every day, claiming to advocate for Albertans while putting down our premier and taking advantage of the Albertan people? Albertans knew better and now so do Canadians.

[Translation]

Finance

    Mr. Speaker, after nine years of this government, young Quebeckers and young Canadians can no longer make ends meet. The cost of living crisis is making it almost impossible to rent an apartment and buy groceries.
    Yesterday, a young couple from Quebec had to move back in with their parents because it is impossible for them to save to buy a house while paying their rent. That is where things stand with this government, which spends money hand over fist. Two adults with full-time jobs cannot even afford their own place to live. The CMHC is even saying that three times more Canadians are putting off buying a home because interest rates are just too high.
    While too many young Canadians are giving up their dreams of buying a home, the Bloc Québécois is making the situation worse by joining the Liberals in voting for a $500-billion budget. It is exactly this type of spending on bureaucracy that got us into this inflationary crisis. Voting for the Bloc Québécois is costly, and Quebeckers understand that. The Liberals and the Bloc are not worth the cost.

40th Anniversary of Pavillon Marguerite de Champlain

    Mr. Speaker, today, I am proud to rise to mark the 40th anniversary of the Pavillon Marguerite de Champlain women's shelter, an invaluable resource for women who are victims of domestic violence and their children on the south shore, across from Montreal.
    Over the past four decades, this organization has helped more than 10,000 women and children with shelter services, a 24-7 crisis line, individual consultations, group workshops, family interventions or other services.

[English]

     Pavillon Marguerite de Champlain distinguishes itself by its capacity to provide support and services to women victims of conjugal violence from Canada's two official language groups and to all cultural communities. To founder and director Deborah Pearson, and the entire team at PMC, I offer congratulations on this milestone anniversary. I am thankful for the difference they have made and continue to make in the lives of so many women and children in our community.

  (1415)  

International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia and Transphobia

    Mr. Speaker, New Democrats join thousands around the globe in recognition of the International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia and Transphobia, a day to raise awareness of 2SLGBTQI persons' rights and, unfortunately, the continued atrocities facing our community globally. From Stonewall to Edmonton, the queer community has and continues to contribute greatly to a better and more just society. They have shown us the strength of community resilience and remind us of our everlasting pursuit for justice and freedom for all.
    The trans community has a right to joy and this joy is under threat by far right movements that seek to divide with hate, only to pursue power and tear down the rights of others. Every member of the House has a responsibility to stand up and speak out against the bigotry that is threatening the safety of our fellow citizens. Although it may be politically advantageous to punch down and divide, let me be clear: We are not going anywhere.

[Translation]

Women and Gender Equality

    Mr. Speaker, the anti-choice circus is back in town once again. The grotesque show intended to intimidate women, elected officials and doctors has returned.
    Every year, these people show up to remind us of their contempt for women, women's bodies and women's rights. Every year, they come here with the blessing of a bunch of Conservative MPs, to whom they give their votes and their money. I want these misogynist reactionaries to know that a woman's body belongs to her and her alone. The choice is hers, period. Women do not have to rationalize, explain or apologize. Their bodies are their own, period. Let the anti-choice supporters gather by the thousands; we will not allow what is happening in multiple U.S. states to happen here. These people call themselves pro-life, but they are really just anti-women. They can strut around with pride all they like, but they are still a shameful sight to behold.

[English]

Liberal Party of Canada

     Mr. Speaker, the Liberal leadership race is under way. Front-runner Mark Carney is first out of the gate.
    He was in the Senate confirming and pledging that he would maintain the Prime Minister's punishing carbon tax. When asked about fiscal responsibility, there are no policies that he is going to change. Mark Carney will continue the Liberal legacy of higher taxes, more spending and poorer Canadians.
    Canadians just do not need another random Liberal making life more expensive. Whether it is carbon tax Carney or the current Prime Minister, Canadians continue to suffer.
    The more these Liberals spend, the worse things get. In contrast, common-sense Conservatives will axe the tax, build the homes, fix the budget and stop the crime. Let us bring it home.

Women's Health Care

     Mr. Speaker, when Roe v. Wade was overturned in the United States, Conservative MPs cheered and vowed to do the same here in Canada.
    We see, every day, stories of the life-threatening health implications American women are facing. Last week, the Leader of the Opposition admitted that he will unilaterally override the charter for policies that Conservatives want.
    Conservative MPs wasted no time in the House telling women across this country that they believe the decisions of women's health care should be decided by Conservative politicians.
    Today, while Conservative MPs are marching on the front lawn to roll back women's rights, we will stand up to fight. We will fight for women to control our own bodies and fight to protect women's charter rights. We will fight to protect women's freedoms to make our own health care decisions.
     Who in this place will stand here now and fight with us?

ORAL QUESTIONS

[Oral Questions]

  (1420)  

[English]

Finance

     Mr. Speaker, after nine years of the NDP-Liberal Prime Minister, Canadians are getting poorer. His inflationary deficits are pushing up inflation and interest rates.
     That is because, when the Prime Minister goes into the markets and borrows billions to fund his spending spree, that bids up the interest rates for everyone else. A new report from the Bank of Canada is shocking. Average mortgage payments will rise by more than 20% in the next couple of years.
    Where the heck are Canadian families supposed to come up with an extra few hundred dollars just to pay higher mortgage payments for the homes they already own?
     I am going to ask members just to be very conscious of the language that they use.
     Mr. Speaker, given that it is my first opportunity to speak in the House today, I want to speak about a very grave threat to Canadians.
     Last week, the Conservative leader said he is going to ignore our charter rights. This week, a Conservative MP stood up in the House and said he is opposed to a woman's right to choose. Now Conservative MPs are outside attacking a woman's right to choose.
    Now we know the truth. Conservatives are going to attack our charter rights. They are going to attack the rights of every woman in Canada.
    Some hon. members: Oh, oh!
     Colleagues, I am certain we all want to hear the member for Regina—Qu'Appelle. I will ask the member for New Brunswick Southwest, who is a respected member of the House, to please hold back until he has the floor.
     The hon. member for Regina—Qu'Appelle.
     Mr. Speaker, none of that is true. The minister is just desperate to distract from her own record. She is trying to console Canadians by saying that everything is okay because she has not quite maxed out the national credit card just yet.
    However, all of that spending and borrowing is having an impact. In fact, Desjardins Financial has concluded that output per capita fell in every province last year, which is the broadest base standard of living decline in Canadian history other than the pandemic, costing Canadian families $4,200 a month.
     Will somebody over there please cut up the national credit card before more Canadians go bankrupt?
     Again, I am going to ask all members to please wait until they take the floor. I will ask the hon. member for Orléans, who is also a respected member of the House, to only take the floor when she is addressed.
    The hon. Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance.
     Mr. Speaker, there was a lot of shouting, while I was speaking, from the other side of the House.
    That is because they are afraid that Canadians are starting to understand the Conservatives' real plan. Canadians have seen that they hang out with white supremacists and do not disavow them. Canadians have seen they are getting ready to tear up the Charter of Rights.
    Now we know the first right the Conservatives are going to attack is a woman's right to choose, just like the far right has done south of the border, but we will not let them.
    Mr. Speaker, we will take no lessons from a government that is trampling over free speech rights by trying to control the Internet and what Canadians can see and post online.
     For random Liberals hoping that, when the outgoing Prime Minister finally leaves, a new Liberal leader will rescue them, they are about to be sorely disappointed. Mark “carbon tax” Carney continued his Liberal leadership campaign in the Senate yesterday, where he pushed the same radical agenda, endorsed the current Prime Minister's carbon tax and could not come up with even a penny to cut in wasteful spending.
     If Mark “carbon tax” Carney will not do it and the current Prime Minister will not do it, will somebody over there axe the tax and fix the budget?

  (1425)  

     Mr. Speaker, I am really delighted to hear the Conservative House leader talk about the rights of Canadians and how important they are.
     I am a woman. I am a mother. The most fundamental right of every woman and girl in Canada is the right to control her own body. It is time for the Conservatives to stand up and clearly say whether they are going to defend a woman's right to choose, because what we are hearing from them is that they want to end it.

[Translation]

Housing

    Mr. Speaker, you will be pleased to hear that the opposition and the government worked in perfect co-operation today in committee. Thanks to the member for Mégantic—L'Érable, the Minister of Housing knows that July 1 is moving day in Quebec. This has been the case for the past 50 years. The Minister of Housing knows it now, thanks to us.
    Just because I am saying this with a smile does not make it pleasant, quite the contrary. July 1 can be the worst day of people's lives, as we have heard from folks who work with those who are struggling.
    The Bank of Canada has confirmed today that people will be paying more for their rent or mortgage. What is the government going to do to help them?
    Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased that a member from Quebec is asking a question today.
    Obviously, I am not a Quebecker, but I admire Quebec feminists and women. Quebec women still understand the importance of the right to choose for every woman across Canada. Are the Conservative members from Quebec prepared to reaffirm the right of every woman in Canada?
    Mr. Speaker, every woman in Quebec, every woman in Canada, every man in Quebec and every man in Canada is suffering from this government's inflationary policies. That is what is affecting every Canadian. The reality today is that the Bank of Canada has said that the price of mortgages and rents will go up because of inflationary spending.
    I have a simple question. Is there anyone in this government who will clearly explain to us how $500 billion in Bloc Québécois-supported spending will bring inflation down?
    Mr. Speaker, I am so glad the opposition member is raising the issue of the rights of Canadians, the rights of Quebeckers.
    What is affecting every woman in Canada, Quebeckers and Canadians alike, is our right to control our own bodies. This week, a Conservative member of the House said she was against this. There are members on the Hill who are saying the same thing. What are members from Quebec saying?

Official Languages

    Mr. Speaker, let us come back to the Liberal member's serious insults about defending French.
    This morning we heard his forced apology to the two witnesses he intimidated. It is too little, too late. Now that we know exactly what he thinks about Quebeckers who are concerned about the decline of French, he no longer has any business chairing the Assemblée parlementaire de la Francophonie. He has no business travelling abroad like a prince to speak on behalf of Quebeckers.
    Will the Prime Minister do the only thing he can and ask the member to step down? Quebeckers no longer trust him.
    Mr. Speaker, I want to begin by thanking the member from the Bloc Québécois who spoke a few minutes ago about the importance of women's rights in Canada. She was very eloquent and we support this.
    We understand and agree that French is in decline across Canada, in Quebec and in the other provinces. That is why our government is supporting French across the country.
    Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister went even further.
    He said the reason the Bloc Québécois is not taking the member's comments lying down is that we, the Bloc Québécois, do not like francophones outside Quebec. According to him, if we do not just let other people insult us, that means we are attacking linguistic minorities. In other words, Quebeckers who refuse to be called extremists or worse are francophobes. People cannot go around saying such ridiculous things.
    I have news for him. Quebeckers will not let anyone walk all over them. That member has no business representing us internationally. It is over.
    Will the Prime Minister show him the door?

  (1430)  

    Mr. Speaker, I am neither a Quebecker nor a francophone, but I really want to assure my colleague opposite that our government believes French across the country is very important.
    We understand that French is in decline in Quebec and across the country, and that is why our government supports francophones in Quebec and across the country. We will continue to invest in the French language in Canada and around the world.

Grocery Industry

    Mr. Speaker, renters everywhere are struggling to make ends meet. Groceries are expensive, rent is expensive. People are drowning in credit card debt, and it is taking a toll on their mental health.
    Meanwhile, both the Liberals and the Conservatives are protecting the profits of big grocery CEOs. Why? Maybe it is because they received $150,000 in donations from Loblaws, Metro and Empire, and now they are returning the favour. Major grocery store CEOs fill Liberal and Conservative coffers, and then the Liberals and Conservatives protect the coffers of the major grocery store CEOs. If people do not have $150,000 for these parties, too bad for them. They can go into debt to fill up their fridges.
    I would like the Liberals to tell us if the wonderful life of the rich and famous is as sweet as it seems.
    Mr. Speaker, like a few other members of the House, we understand that we need to invest today to support Canadians. That is what we are doing.
    We also understand that to do so in a fiscally responsible way, we need to ask the wealthiest to pay their fair share. That is what we are doing.
    We understand that we need more competition in the grocery sector. We are doing that as well.

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, Canadians are taking food off the table and asking themselves why the government is not lowering food prices. Maybe it is because the Liberals and Conservatives have gotten $150,000 from the families and CEOs of Loblaw, Metro and Empire. Both parties know exactly who pays their bills.
    Canadians deserve a government that is going to put them before big grocery CEOs. Why are the Liberals favouring CEO profits over lowering costs for Canadians?
     Mr. Speaker, our government absolutely understands that now is the time to invest in Canada and Canadians, to invest in housing, to invest in affordability and to invest in economic growth. We know we have to do it in a fiscally responsible way, which is why we are asking those at the very top to pay a little bit more through an increase in the capital gains inclusion rate.
    When it comes to the grocery sector, we know that Canada needs more competition. That is why we have brought in a once-in-a-generation change to Canada's competition law.

Carbon Pricing

    Mr. Speaker, after nine years of the Liberal-NDP Prime Minister, Canada has turned into a nation of renters. After the Liberals spent $89 billion on a photo op slush fund for housing, rents and mortgages have doubled. The dream of home ownership, for an entire generation, is dead. Canadians are stretched because of higher taxes and higher rents, and the carbon tax scam increase is making it harder for Canadians to pay for rent and food.
    Was it fair for the government to increase the carbon tax scam 23%, when 70% of Canadians told it not to?
     Mr. Speaker, if my hon. colleague is concerned about tax increases, I suggest he talk to the leader of his own party, who is proposing to increase taxes on new apartment construction by putting the GST back on apartment rentals in this country. The Conservatives' plan is to raise taxes on home construction. Their plan is to cut funding for the communities that are going to build homes. Their leader has actively promised in the media that he views the role of government as being to not participate in housing.
    On our side of the House, we are going to make the investments necessary to solve the housing crisis. I hope the Conservatives will join us.
    Mr. Speaker, we will not take any lessons from the worst immigration and housing minister in Canadian history.
     Now we have Mark “carbon tax” Carney preaching the same radical agenda in his Liberal leadership like the current Prime Minister. He will not denounce the Liberal carbon tax and commit to cutting one penny of Liberal waste. Whether it is Carney or the current Prime Minister, the inflation-driving deficits will continue, and just like the carbon tax scam, none of them are worth the cost.
     Will any other Liberal leadership candidate stand up today, show some common sense and declare that they will finally axe the tax?

  (1435)  

    Mr. Speaker, it is understandable why Conservatives want to throw up some smokescreens. It has been a very bad couple of weeks to be a Conservative in this country. First, they cavort with white extremists. Then their leader says they are going to have an à la carte Charter of Rights and are going to take away people's rights on a whim. Now there is a female candidate for a Conservative nomination with alleged criminal content in the conduct of her nomination, such as identity fraud and false information.
     When will the Conservatives stand up for law and order?
     Mr. Speaker, the NDP-Liberal government has made life even more unaffordable for Canadians by raising the wacko carbon tax by 23%. Gas, groceries and everything else is more and more—
    Some hon. members: Oh, oh!
    It is actually one of the rare times when I cannot hear our colleague from York Simcoe. I will ask members to please not raise their voices and interrupt while the hon. member for York—Simcoe or any other member has the floor.
    I am going to ask the hon. member for York—Simcoe to start from the top.
     Mr. Speaker, the NDP-Liberal government has made life even more unaffordable for Canadians by raising the wacko carbon tax by 23%. Gas, groceries and everything else is making life more and more expensive, especially for those living in rural, small-town communities, where driving farther for longer is just a fact of life. The Parliamentary Budget Officer has confirmed that Canadians would be better off without the carbon tax.
    Will the Prime Minister stand today and admit to Canadians that he is just not worth the cost?
     Mr. Speaker, it causes me some disappointment to see an hon. colleague with whom I actually get along with very well spouting such misinformation in the House.
    At the end of the day, the price on pollution is an effective way to fight climate change, but it is also a way to actually help with affordability. The PBO said that, and 300 economists across the country said that. It is a way to fight climate change but also to make life more affordable for Canadians. It is good climate policy. It is good economic policy for Canada.
     Mr. Speaker, we know that is disinformation. Canadians looking at their bank account know that the carbon tax hurts. After all, the government continues to classify small-town and rural communities as urban, making them ineligible for the rural rebate and forcing them to pay more in carbon taxes to the out-of-touch Prime Minister.
    Are the Liberals punishing rural Canadians and dividing them based on geography, or do the Liberals actually think that Pefferlaw is downtown Toronto?
    Mr. Speaker, I would encourage my—
    Some hon. members: Oh, oh!
    Order. I know we all love York—Simcoe and all the communities therein, but I will ask members to please hold their voices so we can listen to the answer.
    The hon. Minister of Energy and Natural Resources.
    Mr. Speaker, I would encourage my hon. colleague to actually read Bill C-59, which would double the rural top-up. I would encourage him to actually read the letter from 300 economists across the country who say that eight out of 10 Canadians get more money back. Rather than simply axing the facts, he should do his homework.

[Translation]

Public Services and Procurement

    Mr. Speaker, an additional 109,000 federal employees have been hired since 2015. What is more, the government awards $21 billion a year to outside consultants. It is outrageous. We are paying double.
    Hiring consultants in Ottawa is not done through voting for the budget, it is done through voting for appropriations. The Bloc Québécois supported those appropriations to the tune of $500 billion.
    Will the Prime Minister commit to firing all those consultants and relying on the expertise of his thousands of new public servants?

  (1440)  

    Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for his question. I think all members of the House can applaud the excellent work of Canada's public servants. They are among the best in the world.
    Not only did the last budget present a plan for growth, investing in families and in the future of the country, but the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance also presented a plan to cut spending.
    We will always be rigorous and responsible with public finances. We will also take the time to thank all those who work on behalf of Canadians.
    Mr. Speaker, that is exactly the point of my question. We have 109,000 new people who were hired; congratulations to them. Why, then, are we continuing to pay consultants to the tune of $21 billion a year?
    The question is simple: Will the government cancel the consultants' contracts totalling $21 billion and use the professional services of its new public servants, yes or no?
    Mr. Speaker, the Conservatives never miss an opportunity to offend, threaten, even propose vicious cuts to our public service.
    The government certainly got the job done. It got the job done helping our seniors. It got the job done providing help for child care. It got the job done on dental care and it got the job done on school nutrition. It takes human resources to do all that, the same human resources that the Conservatives are proposing to devastate, cut and lay off.

CBC/Radio-Canada

    Mr. Speaker, we are not the only ones who are concerned about the plan to bring the CBC and Radio-Canada closer together.
    Yesterday, the Quebec National Assembly voted unanimously in favour of a motion calling on the public broadcaster to protect the autonomy of services in French and to work to consolidate those services. We need to ensure that the CBC and Radio-Canada remain separate, not bring them closer together.
    When people like Catherine Tait talk about bringing the two sectors closer together, they are talking about subjecting Radio-Canada to the CBC's vision. That does not work. That is what led Michel Bissonnette to resign.
    How does the minister intend to protect Radio-Canada's independence from the CBC?
    Mr. Speaker, the only way to protect Radio-Canada and the CBC is to support them both. That is what we, on this side of the House, are going to do.
    The Conservatives, on the other hand, are planning to make cuts. Radio-Canada will be taking money away from the CBC. My question for the members of the Bloc Québécois is whether they will stand with us in supporting Radio-Canada and the CBC or whether they will align themselves with the Conservatives.
    Mr. Speaker, no one with a crumb of intelligence in the Canadian broadcasting sector thinks that the Bloc Québécois is siding with the Conservatives on this issue. They need to change their tune. This is a no-go.
    CBC/Radio-Canada's CEO was unequivocal when she appeared before the committee on Tuesday. Any Conservative cuts to the CBC would cause serious harm to francophone communities and to Radio-Canada in Quebec. In fact, she agreed that the two were interconnected.
    Obviously, we do not want cuts to the CBC, and, obviously, the Bloc Québécois is in favour of a strong public broadcaster.
    The minister must submit her modernization plan. Will she ensure that it includes a firewall that prevents Radio-Canada from falling victim to potential cuts to the CBC?

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, the member opposite raised an important point. Having a strong public broadcaster in the country is what this side of the House is going to do, is what our government has done and is what it will continue to do.
    The minister is working actively on ensuring that there is a plan forward for the CBC, but what is really important is that on this side of the House, we believe in a CBC, in a Radio-Canada that is independent, that is powerful and that gives Canadians from coast to coast to coast a voice, not in what the Conservatives want to do, which is simply to say they will gut it, or worse, shut it.

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, on the one hand, CBC/Radio-Canada CEO Catherine Tait assures us that programming and management will not be affected by a merger between CBC and Radio-Canada. On the other, it is understood that everything has already been merged, except programming and management.
    Her merger plan, she says, is meant to align the sectors and find solutions together. Finding solutions together does not work. It means that CBC management is imposing its vision on Radio-Canada.
    Why is the minister refusing to protect Radio-Canada's independence from CBC's anglophone management?

  (1445)  

    Mr. Speaker, this is critical. We have a public broadcaster here in Canada to sustain the French fact from coast to coast to coast. It is critical for francophone minority communities, like those in Edmonton, Peace River, and Corner Brook, Newfoundland and Labrador.
    French is an important part of our Canadian identity. The public broadcaster is there to keep the French fact alive, and it is able to communicate in French from coast to coast to coast.

[English]

Carbon Pricing

     Mr. Speaker, after nine years, northern Canadians are going hungry and it is getting worse because of the carbon tax.
     In 2018, 57% of Nunavut families lived with food insecurity versus the national average of 12.7%. That number now is a whopping 69% and is among the worst in the developed world. Almost 70% of Nunavummiut are going hungry every single day.
    The Prime Minister knows the carbon tax is making northerners go hungry. Why does he not just axe the carbon tax?
     Mr. Speaker, the member opposite has a lot of nerve. For the last eight years, he and his government have voted against every initiative to help middle-class families. When we brought in $10-a-day child care, he voted against. When we brought in dental care for kids, which has served 55,000 children in his province, he voted against it. When we introduced the Canada child benefit, he voted against it. He and his team should be embarrassed.
    Mr. Speaker, if it takes nerve to stand up for the people of Nunavut, I will do that every single day. It is getting worse in Nunavut, not better, on the minister's watch in Nunavut, and he knows it.
    I visited a grocery store in Iqaluit a few weeks ago. A can of Campbell's chicken noodle soup is over six dollars. A small can of tuna is over eight dollars. McIntosh apples are three dollars each. A litre bottle of ketchup is over $13.
    The people of Nunavut are going hungry, while the minister hikes his carbon tax. Why will he not simply axe the tax?
    Mr. Speaker, two years ago, in Nunavut, I announced $143 million of new funding for nutrition north. He voted against it. The Conservatives on the other side voted against it. In this budget, we have $23 million for nutrition north, $101 million for the harvesters support grant and community foods programs.
    I want to know if the Conservatives are going to vote against it or if they are going to support it.
     Mr. Speaker, after nine years of the NDP-Liberal Prime Minister, over two million Canadians are using a food bank every single month. The CEO of Food Banks Canada says that food banks are becoming unsustainable as more food banks are closing their doors because they are out of food, yet the Prime Minister is as determined as ever to drive up the cost of food as he refuses to listen to the millions of Canadians who want to axe his extreme tax.
    If the Prime Minister will not listen to us, why will he not at least listen to Food Banks Canada's CEO or maybe the millions of Canadians who are demanding that he lower the price of food by axing his extreme carbon tax.
    Mr. Speaker, I am very proud to be part of a government that believes that every child should have access to food while at school. That is why we announced our national school food program, ensuring that an additional 400,000 kids have access to food while at school.
    I do not understand why the Conservatives would oppose such a measure. How would this be controversial, getting food into children's bellies? Children deserve to learn on a full stomach.

Women and Gender Equality

     Mr. Speaker, reproductive rights are under attack, including by Conservatives who voted against free contraceptives, have pushed back-door legislation and tabled petitions attempting to violate abortion rights.
     However, the Liberals are no better. They failed to uphold access to abortion care, including in New Brunswick, where there is not a single abortion clinic.
    When will the government enforce the Canada Health Act and protect the right to access a safe abortion?
     Mr. Speaker, I agree with my friend from across the way that we need to protect abortion rights in our country. I saw her this morning with people on Parliament Hill who are fighting for choice, who are fighting against the people who are there to take our rights away.
    I agree there is more to do. It is not perfect yet. We will get there. On this side of the House, we are committed to it.

  (1450)  

Persons with Disabilities

    Mr. Speaker, if someone has to negotiate for dignity, then dignity is lost. That is what we heard today at Canada's first-ever air accessibility summit.
     Forcing people to drag themselves off planes or to be taken out on food carts is what's happening under the Liberals. Today, the minister said he could intervene, but he prefers to leave it up to big CEOs or, as he called them, the “guys”. That has not worked for the last 20 years.
     Why will the Liberal minister not make sure that people with disabilities are treated with dignity?
    Mr. Speaker, this morning, my colleague and I were at the summit we convened. We had people who are living with disabilities who had bad experiences and representing other people. They were there for frank and open discussions. We also spoke to the airline companies, the airports, CATSA and CBSA, all of them. Why? Because we have to find solutions. What we have witnessed in the past cannot happen anymore. We need concrete solutions. That is what we are working on.
    The Conservatives have just closed their eyes. They did nothing in the past. We will do better, much better, all of us together.

Women and Gender Equality

     Mr. Speaker, women's reproductive rights across the world are under assault, and we are hearing the same rhetoric and tactics used by anti-choice advocates in the United States, leaking into Canada and into this Parliament.
    Could the Deputy Prime Minister speak to the women, the girls and all those who care about them in our country, and assure them what their federal government is doing to stand up for their bodies and for their rights?
    Mr. Speaker, last week, the Conservative leader bragged that he believed in an à la carte charter of rights. This week, the Conservatives have revealed which is the first right they want to abolish. First, a Conservative MP stood up in the House and said that he wanted to abolish a woman's right to choose. Then, today, Conservative MPs are standing outside saying the same thing.
    The hard right in the U.S. has abolished a woman's right to choose in many states. We will not let them do that in Canada.

Mental Health and Addictions

     Mr. Speaker, after nine years, the NDP-Liberal Prime Minister is not worth the crime, chaos, drugs and disorder.
     B.C. families have suffered under the Liberals' wacko legalization of deadly hard drugs, like crack, cocaine, heroin and meth. This wacko hard drug experiment should be ended, not expanded to Toronto, or Montreal or anywhere else.
    The Conservatives have a motion to end the legalization of deadly hard drugs and ensure that the government denies any active or further applications, and redirect money to treatment and recovery.
     Will the minister support the Conservative motion to end the government's radical failed drug policy experiment?
     Mr. Speaker, we need to take a moment to recognize why this issue is so important for every family that has lost a loved one to this tragic overdose crisis from an illegal toxic drug supply.
    People are dying alone from fentanyl. We need policies that work, we need to meet communities where they are and we need to understand that this is public health.
     The Conservatives continue to want to criminalize family members rather than getting them harm reduction, prevention and treatment. We are committed to saving lives and getting people health care.
     Mr. Speaker, according to the most recent data, since the NDP-Liberal Prime Minister took office nine years ago, sadly, opioid overdose deaths across Canada have increased 166%. In B.C., overdose deaths are now the leading cause of death for youth aged 10 to 18.
    Addiction doctors came out saying that legalized drugs were being diverted to youth. Unbelievably, today, the Minister for Children refused to answer if she was standing up for children against her government's wacko drug policies.
    The Conservatives are calling to end taxpayer-funded narcotics, which are being diverted to our children. Will the Minister for Children stand up for children and vote for our Conservative motion?

  (1455)  

     Mr. Speaker, the member across the way seems to not want to recognize that in provinces like Alberta, where they cut back on a comprehensive continuum of care, including harm reduction, people are dying at astronomical rates. Diversion is illegal, and the member well knows that.
    We are committed to a full continuum of care to help those who need health care, not criminalize them, not force them into treatment but to get them the help they need. Shame.
    Mr. Speaker, after nine years, the Prime Minister is not worth the crime, chaos, drugs and disorder. Thanks to his wacko drug policies that have legalized hard drugs like crack, meth and heroin, we are now seeing 22 Canadians die every single day from drug overdose. The Prime Minister has even legalized open drug use in our parks, in our playgrounds and in our schools.
     Will the Prime Minister show some compassion, support our motion to ban hard drugs and support treatment so we can bring our loved ones home drug-free?
    Mr. Speaker, it is amazing to me that across the way they continue to mislead Canadians. Addressing the overdose crisis and the tragic deaths that we are seeing from illegal fentanyl in our streets needs harm reduction, needs prevention, and needs treatment and law enforcement.
    We work collaboratively with every jurisdiction to provide health care. Why do the Conservatives continue to think that it is okay to criminalize loved ones who need help?
    Mr. Speaker, after nine years of the Prime Minister's wacko policies, overdoses have increased 166%, and the number one cause of death for kids in B.C. is opioids.
    The Vancouver police told Parliament that the Liberal safe supply is ending up on the black market, which is then sold to children, creating a new generation of addicts.
     The Minister of Children said earlier today that kids dying of opioids was not her problem. Therefore, whose problem is it, and who is going to protect the children and end the legalization of fentanyl, meth and crack?
     Mr. Speaker, it is all of our grief. That is what it is. It is every single parent in the country who has lost a child. That is what it is about. It is about the people who are on the street today, hoping they are going to make it to tomorrow. Their parents who are far away from them are also hoping they will make it to tomorrow.
    That is why we work with scientists and doctors, because we are focused on saving lives, even the people the Conservatives do not think are worth saving.

[Translation]

Public Services and Procurement

    Mr. Speaker, there is no shortage of new blood in the public service. There are 109,000 more civil servants now than when the Liberals took office. There are 109,000 more public servants, an increase of 42%, and yet the use of outside consultants has exploded. There are more employees and more consultants, but people are not receiving more services. Getting a passport or processing an immigration file is more painful than ever. The only thing that is increasing is interference in Quebec's jurisdictions.
    Instead of spending like crazy to encroach on Quebec's jurisdictions, can the government just do its job and make sure the federal government is efficient?

[English]

    During the hon. member's question, there were conversations on both sides of the House. If members want to have conversations, there are many tools they can use; especially, if they want to pass a note, they can send the young pages. Please, members should not speak over everyone, because it is difficult for people to hear the question, and it was an important question that needed to be asked.

[Translation]

    The hon. Leader of the Government in the House of Commons.
    Mr. Speaker, on this side of the House, we stand for a strong public service and believe in the mission of a strong government that delivers for Canadians, that ensures we have programs to help our seniors and children, that oversees pharmaceutical approvals, and so on. We are never surprised to hear the Conservatives threaten to hack up the public service, nor should we be surprised when the Bloc Québécois, which does not believe in the federal state, does the same thing.

  (1500)  

    I invite the hon. member for Bellechasse—Les Etchemins—Lévis to continue her discussion elsewhere. I encourage all members not to have discussions on the floor of the House of Commons.
    The hon. member for Lac-Saint-Jean.

Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship

    Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Immigration is meeting with his counterparts tomorrow and there is no shortage of demands. Quebec is calling for the integration of asylum seekers to be shared with the provinces, a cut to temporary immigration, the approval by Quebec of its candidates, French-language training requirements in federal programs, not to mention a $1-billion reimbursement for welcoming asylum seekers. If Quebec's demands are not met, it has promised a referendum.
    Will the minister respond to these demands tomorrow, or will we find him in the no camp in a referendum on immigration in Quebec?
    Mr. Speaker, as nice as he is, the member across the way will not be surprised to know that he is not invited to the conference I am attending tomorrow with my provincial counterparts. Obviously, my colleagues and I need to coordinate to ensure that we act responsibly when it comes to temporary residents, access to permanent residency and Canadian citizenship, and asylum seekers. My colleague will have to hold his breath a little while longer.

Housing

    Mr. Speaker, after nine years of this Prime Minister, Quebec is headed for the worst July 1 crisis in history. This Prime Minister's inflationary spending, supported by the Bloc Québécois, has doubled the cost of rent and is forcing people, like the woman we read about in the newspapers, to live in their minivans. In Quebec, everyone knows that July 1 is going to be a disaster, but the Minister of Housing confirmed this morning that he knows nothing about it.
    Can the Prime Minister tell us how many Quebeckers will be out on the streets on July 1 because of his minister's ignorance?
    Mr. Speaker, our colleague is talking about ministers responsible for housing and asking a question that begins with “how many”. We know that, over his entire term as minister responsible for housing, the Conservative leader created only six affordable housing units across the country.
    Everyone is aware of that now. The Conservative leader and former minister responsible for housing created only six affordable housing units across the country compared to the 8,000 that were built by Quebec's municipalities. Unfortunately, the Conservative leader is insulting the municipalities of Quebec by saying that they are incompetent.
    Mr. Speaker, how many housing units did the housing minister's accelerator fund build in Quebec to house Quebeckers come July 1? The answer is zero.
    July 1 is fast approaching, but after nine years of this Prime Minister's failures, after billions in budget allocations, which the Bloc Québécois voted in favour of so the Liberals could make announcements, the minister is unable to tell Quebeckers how many housing units will be ready by July 1. This is a serious crisis. People are even contemplating suicide because they do not have a place to live.
    Will the Prime Minister admit that he failed? Will he, at long last, increase the housing stock so Quebeckers can have a place to live instead of increasing bureaucracy?
    Mr. Speaker, my colleague asked a great question. How many housing units are we creating in Quebec with $1.8 billion in funding from the governments of Canada and Quebec? The answer is 8,000 units. We are very happy to let everyone know that.
    By comparison, the fact that the Conservative leader built six units during his time as minister responsible for housing looks pretty bad. That was not in one riding; that was across the country.

Finance

    Mr. Speaker, after nine years of this Bloc-Liberal government, because the Bloc Québécois voted for $500 billion in budget allocations and for centralizing, inflationary spending that has hiked up the price of everything, including housing, interest rates and food, everything is more costly, even voting for the Bloc Québécois.
    When will this Prime Minister, with his Bloc Québécois supporters, stop wasting money so that Quebeckers can once again have a roof over their heads, instead of living in their van?
    Mr. Speaker, the people watching us at home must be feeling their blood pressure rise. Now they are talking about a liberal bloc.
    Canadians understand full well that we, on this side of the House, do not build housing with slogans. We are not growing an economy with ads, like we see on the other side of the House. We are not building the future by asking questions. We are building a country by investing. That is exactly what we are doing by investing in families, in housing and in economic growth.
    The 21st century belongs to Canada. We should be proud.

  (1505)  

Women and Gender Equality

    Mr. Speaker, our sisters south of the border no longer have the right to safe access to abortion. If anyone thinks Canada is immune to such attempts to control women, they are wrong.
    As Simone de Beauvoir said, all it takes is an economic, political or religious crisis for women's rights to be called into question. These rights can never be taken for granted.
    Can the Minister of Tourism and Minister responsible for the Economic Development Agency of Canada for the Regions of Quebec reassure us that, here in Canada, our government will always protect our rights and freedoms?
    Mr. Speaker, throughout the world, Canada is seen as a land of promise and freedom. When I returned to Chile at the age of 18, I realized that I was pregnant, with no rights and no choice.
    Canada saved my life for a second time, this time by allowing me to have a safe, legal abortion and a future of my own choosing. Then and now, for me, as for so many women, that is what Canadian freedom is all about.
    Why do the Conservatives want to attack women's freedom to choose?

[English]

Ethics

     Mr. Speaker, the Liberal employment minister is the latest Liberal caught in an ethical scandal. He was secretly working the back door and being paid for lobbying his own government through numbered companies.
    After nine years of the NDP-Liberal government, the Prime Minister is simply not worth the cost or the corruption of his employment minister. When he appeared at committee before, he tried to mislead Canadians about how much he was paid for his secret lobbying, but he is being hauled before committee again and is going to have to tell the truth.
    How much was the minister paid?
    Mr. Speaker, the minister has already addressed all those allegations, including the ones that the member would never repeat outside the House of Commons. However, during this bad couple of weeks for the Conservative Party, with Diagolon, white extremists and now the right to choose being put on the table, it is no surprise that they want to distract.
     There are no answers, just slogans on housing, on child care, on so many issues.
    The Conservative Party smokescreens from a very bad couple of weeks.
    Mr. Speaker, the Liberals would beg for a week such as the one the Conservative Party just had.
     They can look at fundraising numbers, they can look at polling numbers, and, of course, they can look at newspapers. They will see that another one of their ministers is caught in an ethical scandal, such as the Prime Minister, who got caught breaking the law, or the public safety minister, who got caught breaking the law and then tried to appoint his sister-in-law to be the Ethics Commissioner.
    The Liberals cannot seem to help themselves. The employment minister was illegally lobbying, cashing cheques while he put $110 million of taxpayer money out the door. Will the Liberals support an RCMP investigation?
    Mr. Speaker, the Campaign Life Coalition publishes a list of Conservative MPs whom they deem anti-choice and anti-LGBT enough to endorse in the election.
     The member from Leeds—Grenville—Thousand Islands and Rideau Lakes has a green light, and that makes him one of 80 Conservative MPs who would deny women the right to choose in this country and who would chop up the Charter of Rights into an à la carte menu.
    When will the Leader of the Opposition get up, turn around and say that they are not putting abortion rights back on the table in the House?

  (1510)  

Public Safety

    Mr. Speaker, a dangerous sexual offender was in medium security. He needed hospitalization, so he should have been escorted under guard.
    However, authorities did not want to pay for him to be guarded. According to the Toronto Sun, his security was changed from medium to minimum, and he received permission to be temporarily absent from jail. This person is reportedly under court order, upon release, not to be in the presence of children.
     Why was a sexual offender left unsupervised at a hospital? The Liberals seem to think it is funny. Why will they not answer this?
    Some hon. members: Oh, oh!
    Order, colleagues.
    The hon. Minister of Public Safety.
     Mr. Speaker, my hon. friend does not serve to reassure Canadians when he exaggerates and distorts a series of elements that he knows are misleading.
    He knows that we have a rigorous correctional service system in which offenders are placed in appropriate, secure federal penitentiaries based on an assessment done by professional public servants. The most important criterion is, of course, the safety of the public.
     We will always support public safety by ensuring that dangerous offenders are kept in appropriate, secure federal prisons.

Women and Gender Equality

    Mr. Speaker, around the world, we are seeing the rights of women and girls, including sexual and reproductive health, being rolled back or denied.
     Canadians are proud of our rights and freedoms; women have control over their own futures, over their own bodies. It is their human right. At the same time, we also know that we cannot take this for granted, especially with the rise of anti-abortion rhetoric and threatening promises by the Conservatives.
    Can the Minister of Foreign Affairs reaffirm our government's commitment to Canada's leadership, both at home and abroad? When it comes to advancing—
    The hon. member has gone over time.
    We are going to get back to this at the end of question period, but all members will understand, of course, that it is difficult for the Speaker to listen to several things at the same time.
    The hon. Minister of Foreign Affairs.
    Mr. Speaker, to all women in the House, to all women in this country, to all women in the world, the Liberal government will forever be there to support their right to choose. No government, no politician, no judge, no one should take that right away from women.
     Members should make no mistake: The Conservative leader and his members are trying to politicize women's bodies, and they are also willing to make sure that they control women. This is to satisfy their far right base.
     On this side of the House, we will always be there to support women and women's right to choose.

Climate Change

    Mr. Speaker, the latest reports show that emissions from big oil and gas are up yet again, quelle surprise, and now Imperial Oil is announcing a massive increase in production, thanks to the government's $34-billion freebie known as the TMX pipeline. That will be 900,000 barrels a day of unrefined bitumen emissions threatening coastal indigenous communities. However, the government's going to go one step further and exclude greenhouse gas emissions from environmental assessments.
    Will the environment minister just admit that his promise at COP26 for an emissions cap was just a publicity stunt?

  (1515)  

     Mr. Speaker, I would remind my hon. colleague that just last week the national inventory report came out and showed that, since before the pandemic, our emissions have gone down 44 million tonnes. It is the largest decrease in the last 25 years. It is the equivalent of removing from our roads 13 million gas-powered vehicles. Our plan is working.
    However, I will agree with the member that there is more we need to do to fight climate change in this country, if only the Conservative Party of Canada could understand that.

Diversity and Inclusion

     Mr. Speaker, protesters against Israel and the war with Hamas have set up an illegal encampment at the University of Toronto. Most of these demonstrators for hire are not even U of T students. Hate propaganda, threats and anti-Semitic slogans are being directed at legitimate students. Media state that the encampment is funded by pro-Hamas sympathizers who are directing a sham protest for a listed terrorist organization.
    Is the government investigating pro-Hamas entities in Canada who are funnelling money to support anti-Semitism and illegal protests in Canada?
     Mr. Speaker, we know that the local authorities are engaged in their jurisdictions on this matter. On this side of the House, we will always protect the charter-guaranteed right to freedom of speech and expression, but it must not cross the line into hate and intimidation.
    At times like this, as a government, we are going to continue to do everything that we can to combat hate and to bring people together.

Business of the House

[Business of the House]
    Mr. Speaker, it being Thursday, I would like to know if the government House leader can update the House as to what we will be dealing with for the rest of this week and for the week after the constituency workweek, which is scheduled for the week of May 20.
    As well, I wonder if you can inform the House of a couple of very important items. The House passed a motion ordering the Prime Minister to host a carbon tax conference within a certain time period after the motion was adopted. The government has about a week left, so can the government House leader inform Canadians as to what day the Prime Minister will hold this carbon tax conference with the premiers, what channel we can watch it on and whether he will listen to the 70% of Canadians and seven out of 10 provincial premiers who want to axe the tax?
    Mr. Speaker, I know the government is approaching that issue with all the seriousness with which the Conservatives come up with their slogans, but I will move on to the House agenda.
    This evening, we will resume debate on Bill C-59, the fall economic statement implementation act, 2023. Tomorrow morning, we will call Government Business Motion No. 39, concerning the pharmacare legislation. We will go back to debate on Bill C-59 in the afternoon.
    Upon our return following the constituency week, we will resume debate on Bill C-69, the budget implementation act. I would also like to inform the House that Thursday, May 23, shall be an allotted day.

[Translation]

    On the extension of sitting hours, I request that the ordinary hour of daily adjournment of the next sitting be 12 midnight, pursuant to order made Wednesday, February 28.
    Finally, pursuant to Standing Order 81(4), I would like to designate Thursday, May 23, for consideration in committee of the whole of the main estimates for the Department of Justice. Furthermore, debate on the main estimates for the Department of Health will take place on the evening of Wednesday, May 29.
    Pursuant to order made Wednesday, February 28, the minister's request to extend the said sitting is deemed adopted.

  (1520)  

[English]

    The hon. member for Lethbridge has the floor.

Privilege

Alleged Unjustified Naming of a Member  

[Privilege]
     Madam Speaker, I rise to add to the question of privilege I raised on May 1, concerning the removal of my words from the Hansard.
    The question I submit to you today is the following: Is it appropriate for the Speaker of this place, the House of Commons, or those authorized to speak on his behalf, to comment publicly on a question of privilege that is before him for adjudication?
    I would like to explain why I put forward this question. It has come to my attention that the office of the Speaker did, in fact, comment to the media regarding my question of privilege. In fact, multiple articles, including one I have here on the front page of the National Post—
    I'm sorry, but the hon. member knows she is not to point to articles or hold them up because it then becomes a prop. I would ask the hon. member to just keep on with her point, please.
    Madam Speaker, multiple articles, including one on the front page of the National Post, as I just showed the House, were published using an official statement provided by the Speaker's official spokesperson, which means it required his sign-off. This is particularly concerning to me and to Canadians when the matter is before the Speaker for a decision to be made.
    When the Speaker was asked to provide comment to CTV News on May 1 concerning why he kicked out the leader of the official opposition, he rightly governed himself in that moment and he said, “It would be unfair for the Speaker to comment on things that happened in the House”.
    However, that same day, the Speaker's official spokesperson released a statement concerning my question of privilege. It is curious to me, then, that the Speaker would deem it appropriate to comment on one matter before the House but not another. In many ways, mine is more severe, because mine is an official question of privilege requiring adjudication, while the matter the Speaker refrained from speaking to actually did not require a ruling at all.
    On the front page of the National Post of May 2, the day after I moved my question of privilege, the following statement was issued by the Speaker's office, again signed off by the Speaker. It says, “The blues are unofficial and it is not unusual for changes to be made during the editing and revision process. Sometimes comments are left out when there is a lot of noise, and it is not clear what was said”. This is from the Speaker's office spokesperson, Mathieu Gravel.
    In the Speaker's own words, and I will repeat them, he said it is “unfair for the Speaker to comment on things that happened in the House,” yet his office released an official statement.
    The question I leave with the Speaker for consideration today is this: Why was an official statement concerning my question of privilege issued to the media?
    I look forward to receiving an answer when the Speaker makes his official ruling concerning my question of privilege.
     I appreciate the additional information that the hon. member for Lethbridge has brought forward. We will certainly take that into consideration as we continue to deliberate on that.
    Madam Speaker, I rise on a point of order. I was really disappointed with the use of the word “addicts” to describe people who are struggling with substance use. In her question to the House, the member for Peterborough—Kawartha used this pejorative term again, as her leader has many times, to undermine the value and worth of people who use substances. I would ask that she withdraw it and apologize to the House.
    Some hon. members: Oh, oh!
     Order. The hon. minister has had an opportunity to raise her point. I would just ask that she wait. Unfortunately, at this point, I cannot ask the hon. member to withdraw, but certainly we can do that at the next sitting.
    Give me one second here.
    The point of order that was brought up was to ask the hon. member to withdraw. After further consideration and discussions with the Table, at this point I would rather wait to look at the blues to see what was said and whether there is a need to ask the member to withdraw. We will come back to the House if need be.
    The hon. official opposition House leader.

  (1525)  

    Madam Speaker, I rise to add a couple of points to the comments made by my colleague for Lethbridge.
    In trying to get to the bottom of who altered the transcript of the Hansard on the day that the member for Lethbridge was kicked out by the Speaker, certain questions were posed to the aspect of the House administration that is responsible for the transcripts for Hansard. Those questions included who gave the order to alter the official record, what guidelines were in place at the time that decision was made and other related points. I will not go into all the questions that were posed, but the answer came back from the Hansard department saying that, since this was raised as a question of privilege in the House, they would refrain from answering those questions from my colleague and instead leave it to the Speaker.
    Therefore, I just want to ensure that, when the Speaker does come back on that ruling, those questions that were put to the House administration are addressed by the Speaker.
    The material change of the official record is a serious matter. The deletion of the two words “I withdraw” are substantial because the Speaker, on that day, kicked out the member for Lethbridge and deprived her of the ability to exercise her parliamentary duties and rights for the rest of that day. To keep a member of Parliament from participating in debate and being able to vote in potential votes and other types of related parliamentary functions is no small matter. Even though these are just two small words, the matter itself is very serious.
    Therefore, I would like to signal to the Chair that we are expecting that the questions that were put directly to the House of Commons administration are addressed in that Speaker's ruling.
    I appreciate the additional information. We will certainly take that into consideration as well as we continue to deliberate on that question.

Government Orders

[Business of Supply]

[English]

Business of Supply

Opposition Motion—Legalization of Hard Drugs  

    The House resumed consideration of the motion.
    Madam Speaker, I will be sharing my time with my colleague and friend, the member for Bay of Quinte.
    After nine years, the Prime Minister and his NDP coalition are not worth the drugs, disorder, death and destruction. There is crime and chaos on the streets, and dangerous, extreme drug policies pushed forward by the NDP-Liberal government have made things so much worse.
    Since the NDP-Liberal Prime Minister took office, opiate overdoses across Canada have increased by 166%. In British Columbia, drug deaths were up 380% between 2015 and 2023, from 529 to 2,546. Those are people: loved ones, brothers and sisters, mothers and fathers, cousins, friends, family and neighbours. Every single life lost is tragic. However, it is important to note that the 380% increase since the Prime Minister started implementing his dangerous and extreme drug policies in B.C. absolutely must be called out.
     In British Columbia, more people are dying as taxpayer-funded drugs flood the streets. We see playgrounds littered with crack pipes, dirty needles and drug paraphernalia that abound. All the while, the Liberals have handcuffed law enforcement, making it nearly impossible for the police to just do their job and keep communities safe. We have clearly heard that the Liberals' failed legalization in British Columbia removed tools from police officers, making our streets more dangerous.
    Nurses have to deal with plumes of smoke from meth in the hospitals they work in. In fact, one nurse was forced to make a tough choice to end breastfeeding her twins earlier than she wanted to, as a direct result of being exposed to dangerous and deadly drugs in the workplace and her concern about this potentially harming her precious little babies.
     In the year after the Prime Minister made it legal to possess crack, heroin, meth, fentanyl and other hard drugs, a record 2,500 British Columbians lost their lives to overdose. Last year, the former Minister of Mental Health and Addictions, Carolyn Bennett, assured Canadians that the Liberals would end their experiment if public health and public safety indicators were not met. Fifteen months in, it is clear that we are failing at both, and B.C.'s NDP premier had to plead with the federal government to grant its request and rescue them from the failed policy. It took 11 days before the NDP-Liberal government acted on the pleading request from the B.C. NDP, effectively gutting its extreme policy and admitting that it was a failure.
     Now, common-sense Conservatives are calling on the Prime Minister to listen to our common-sense letter and fully reject Toronto's request to legalize hard drugs, and to prevent another tragedy like we have so clearly seen in British Columbia. The Prime Minister must show leadership, completely reject the failed policy and state clearly on the record that he will not allow the dangerous policy to legalize hard drugs in any community across the country. He absolutely needs to not export the failed policy to communities such as Montreal, Toronto or others.
    It is so concerning, as many communities across the country have passed resolutions calling for legalization. It is worth noting that this happened after the extremist NDP-Liberal government funded an organization called Moms Stop the Harm, which then quickly launched a national campaign lobbying municipalities and indigenous communities to call on the federal government to develop a plan that includes “legal regulation of illicit drugs to ensure safe supply of pharmaceutical alternatives to toxic street drugs, and decriminalization for personal use.”

  (1530)  

     Effectively, the federal government funded an advocacy organization to do its dirty work for it, giving it cover to further the dangerous policy. To make matters worse, we have heard many leading addiction physicians, right across the country, state that the Liberal-NDP so-called safe supply continues to fuel new addictions. Courageous physicians from across the country have come forward and demanded an immediate end to programs that were flooding the street with taxpayer-funded high-potency narcotics.
     However, what confuses me is that when we start looking into the so-called safe supply and we get to the bottom of it, it is clear that someone must be making money from it. Where is all the money coming from? Where are the activists getting the money to push forward with this? It turns out that there probably is a lot of money being made.
     I am going to describe a few people. The first is Dr. Perry Kendall. He was British Columbia's public health officer from 1999 to 2018. In 2017, while still in his role as the public health officer, Dr. Kendall appears to have leveraged his influence to shape Health Canada's regulations to approve diacetylmorphine, that is, heroin, for treatment of opiate use disorder. In 2020, after retiring as public health officer, Dr. Kendall then co-founded a company called Fair Price Pharma to provide diacetylmorphine, that is, heroin, to those at risk of overdose.
    In 2021, Fair Price Pharma then imported 15 kilograms of diacetylmorphine that it bought from a licensed European supplier. Fair Price Pharma then contracted a federally licensed dealer's permit to import the heroin. From the time that Dr. Kendall was in office, Fair Price Pharma got upset because there were not enough people using the drug. A headline from one article reads, “BC's first provincial health officer fighting for safe supply of heroin”.
    Then there is Dr. Martin Schechter. Dr. Schechter played a leading role in two Canadian studies that were completed in Vancouver, the NAOMI and SALOME studies, which were the basis for the arguments made to bring forward the so-called safe supply. Ironically, Dr. Schechter is the other co-founder of none other than Fair Price Pharma.
    To recap, Martin Schechter and Dr. Kendall co-founded a company that led to profit from so-called safe supply. Dr. Tyndall is also involved. He is a former executive medical director of the B.C. Centre for Disease Control and former deputy provincial health minister under Dr. Kendall. Dr. Tyndall then started MySafe Society, which provides so-called safe supply hydromorphone from vending machines.
    In July 2023, MySafe received $1.3 million in Health Canada's SUAP funding, in addition to $3.5 million it had previously received. At this point, another article came out in British Columbia, with the headline, “BC doctors upset their ‘safe supply’ of heroin going unprescribed during overdose crisis”. It is exceptionally troubling that there are doctors pushing for safe supply and then potentially profiting from it after having created companies to solve the problem.
    It is important to share that Conservatives will listen to the experts and shut down the government-supplied drug programs. We will bring hope and a common-sense plan for treatment and recovery. Conservatives believe recovery is possible and that it should be the goal. We believe that every Canadian with an addiction deserves the opportunity to pursue recovery. If the Prime Minister allows Toronto, Montreal or any other community to legalize hard drugs as he did in British Columbia, the only outcome will be leading more vulnerable Canadians to a life of misery and despair.
    We need to restore hope to all Canadians. Common-sense Conservatives will stop funding the dangerous taxpayer-funded, so-called safe supply drugs. We will ban hard drugs. We will invest in detox, treatment and recovery services. We will bring our loved ones home drug-free.

  (1535)  

    
    Madam Speaker, I hardly know where to start in this debate. It is so distressing to hear the Conservatives deliberately distorting and falsifying the information about what is happening in British Columbia and about the role of groups like Moms Stop The Harm.
    Overdose deaths have actually dropped in British Columbia over the last three months. They are now 11% lower than they were last year. We are seeing the positive impacts of the programs introduced in British Columbia. Yes, the B.C. government asked for an adjustment on public use of drugs. It did not say this was a failed program. It is not abandoning the program. It did not beg for it to stop.
    In fact, groups like Moms Stop The Harm and other people who have lost loved ones want to know what the Conservatives are proposing in provinces like Alberta, which now actually has a higher death rate from overdoses than British Columbia does.
    What are the Conservatives proposing to keep people safe in Alberta?
    Madam Speaker, it is interesting that more people have died of overdose in British Columbia in the first three months of 2024 than in all of 2015. More than six people die in British Columbia every day due to an overdose. It is absolutely incumbent on each and every one of us legislators to adopt a recovery-oriented system of care, providing hope for people who are struggling with addiction, and offer them off-ramps so they can pursue recovery.
    British Columbia did not just tweak the program; it effectively gutted it, admitting it was an abject failure and demanding the federal government rescue the province from this failure. Unfortunately, I am not going to take any lessons from the Government of B.C. on how to handle the addiction crisis.

  (1540)  

    Madam Speaker, I have to agree with my colleague from the NDP. There is a lot to unpack in that speech, for which, frankly, we do not have nearly enough time. The member talked about, essentially, a conspiracy theory about officials benefiting financially from the horrible crisis.
    Would the member speak to her leader about the fundraising that the Conservatives are doing right now on the issue and whether that is appropriate?
    Madam Speaker, the tragic overdose crisis that is gripping our country, and the addiction crisis, are very serious issues. There are some very stark differences with the approaches on how to handle this serious, tragic issue.
    Conservatives believe that people have the capacity to recover from addiction. We believe we need to support people in pursuing recovery through detox, treatment and a recovery-oriented system of care. It is very obvious that the NDP-Liberal coalition does not believe in supporting people in those endeavours. Unfortunately, people's lives are lost as a direct result.

[Translation]

    Madam Speaker, the situation is extremely serious, but today's motion paints a distorted and alarmist picture of it, and that is deplorable.
    The facts matter when we are dealing with crisis situations. When MPs say that Toronto and Montreal want to legalize drugs, they are not being truthful.
    I would like to give my colleague the opportunity to clarify her thoughts. Perhaps I can offer some guidance. What is the purpose of this motion? Does she really understand the difference between legalization, decriminalization and diversion? Does she agree that those three terms are very different?
    Madam Speaker, I think my colleague pointed out something that is really inconvenient for the Bloc Québécois, a party that seems to support the legalization of hard drugs in Canada.
    The Conservative Party is very clear. We do not support the legalization of hard drugs, such as crack, heroin and morphine. We will continue to be clear about that.
    I hope the Bloc Québécois will support our motion.

[English]

    Madam Speaker, after nine years of the Liberal government, we are seeing chaos, crime and destruction across this country, and we have a series of crises in this country. Housing is a crisis. For the first time in many generations, housing, which should be a fundamental right in Canada, is unattainable for so many. We talk about poverty levels and the ability to have nutritious food. Many Canadians right now talk about the inability to go to the grocery store to buy the food they need. They are buying less food right now.
    There is a drug problem across Canada. It is very stark in B.C., and there has been mention of Alberta. I come from Belleville, Ontario, which is a rural town about two hours east of Toronto and two and a half hours west of Montreal. It has been hit hard by the drug problem that is affecting all of Canada.
    Right now, the Belleville Sens AHL team, the farm team of the Ottawa Senators, have done what Toronto could not do this year, and certainly what Ottawa could not do even to get to the playoffs. They are in their second round of the playoffs in the AHL and are doing well. They are playing the Cleveland Monsters. Procter & Gamble is in Belleville, as well as Kellogg. For everyone who is a Cheezies fan, Hawkins Cheezies is in my riding. There are some in my office and they do not last very long. They go well with pinball.
    I was born in Belleville, and so were Avril Lavigne and Bobby Hull. We are very proud of the city and all its accomplishments. One of the prime ministers, Sir Mackenzie Bowell, “the accidental prime minister”, was from Belleville, Ontario.
    Belleville was rocked by overdoses in February. There were 13 overdoses in only two hours, 23 overdoses in just over 24 hours, 90 overdoses in one week and 240 overdoses in 11 weeks, or 3.5 overdoses a day. The mayor of Belleville, the former Liberal member for Bay of Quinte, declared an emergency. There is drug addiction, mental health and homelessness. As much as Belleville has good health care and a great hospital, there are zero treatment beds. There are zero detox beds. When it comes to mental health and addiction, there is a waiting list that is over 500 people long. The emergency crisis was called because rural Ontario and rural cities across Canada, much like Belleville, are finding it too hard to deal with this crisis, which is becoming far too common in all of Canada.
    When we look at the resources that are needed in this country, I give full credit to what the community does in my region. When we look at homelessness and poverty and how they affect mental health and drug use, they are all related. When we do not take care of the top layers, they affect the bottom layers. We do not have detox beds or facilities. The only ones we have are an hour east, in Kingston, for men or women, and another one an hour west. Hospital beds are full. With the overdose and mental health crises, all available beds in all hospitals are filling up. A councillor in my region could not even go to Belleville. He had to go Picton, almost 40 minutes away, because hospitals are filled to the brim.
    Paramedics feel helpless when, in one week, they responded to 90 overdose deaths. They suffer from burnout when the resources are depleted. Police are the first responders. There is a great mental health program called Impact. It consists of medical health first responders, and they feel depleted and helpless. They pick up people who need help and bring them to the hospital. There is nowhere to put them, so they are back on the street and the cycle begins again.
    Most importantly, when we look at what we need to fix this crisis, aside from detox facilities and beds, it comes down to the fact that drug dealers are allowed to roam free and put illicit drugs on the street. The Belleville police chief has been very vocal about this. Mike Callaghan just retired and Chris Barry is in the role now.

  (1545)  

    I make it a habit every year to go on a ride-along with local police. On that ride-along, I talk to the officers, the first responders, those heroes who are dealing with the crisis, the mental health professionals, and this is what they tell me. They know who the drug dealers are. They know where the drugs are coming in from. There are four sources in the town that bring them in from Toronto, down the 401. They pick up these drug dealers, and they are out on bail the very same day. The next morning, they will pick up another drug dealer and, again, it is the same process. Police call themselves “recyclers” because, in effect, they pick up people who are then back on the street, and around and around we go.
    This affects a very small community, but it also affects Canada. When we look at this and what is happening across all of our nation, it is not just something happening in B.C. or in Alberta. It is happening in small communities and rural communities like Belleville and Monkton. It is happening in Peterborough, and it is happening in Kenora. It is happening in Thunder Bay. It is happening in Kingston. At the end of the day, we have failed, and the government has failed, to take care of this drug problem. It is affecting not only every family in this country; it is affecting all of our communities and all of this country that we call home and that we love.
    It is squarely put onto the government and how it is handling this: the fact that we are not taking care of these crises, the homelessness and the housing crisis, ensuring that we look at mental health and addiction, our health care crisis as a whole, and, of course, the fact that we cannot even get drug dealers off the streets.
    When we look at this and how it affects the small town of Belleville, Ontario, and when we look at the ideology of how we are approaching this problem and how we are going to solve it, it comes down to one thing: Drugs are bad. I remember growing up as a teenager in the 1980s, and we would see commercials on TV. One commercial said, “This is your brain, and this is your brain on drugs.” What are the commercials that we see right now? “Do drugs with a friend.”
    I went on a tour with our critic, the member for Kamloops—Thompson—Cariboo. We went to a maximum-security prison last weekend: Millhaven, by Kingston, where some of the most ruthless monsters that we have in society are put away and are serving their time behind bars. When we were there touring the facility, three of the criminals were high on drugs, in maximum security, in their cells. I went with the officer because I could not believe it. We walked into the cell block, and we were having a conversation face to face with a criminal whose eyes were like this, and who was locked on drugs. They are getting these drugs because drones are flying in and dropping them in the yard. They are finding ways to get in.
    Drug use is far too easy in this country. We are not treating it how we should, as something that is lethal to Canadians and to our children, something that should be outlawed in terms of dealing it and getting access to it, and then treating the ones who are addicted to it with compassion and humanity and making sure that we are getting them treatment and detox.
    This motion tackles two things. It ensures that common-sense Conservatives will ban hard drugs, stop taxpayer-funded drugs and put the money into detox and recovery.
    For all the arguments we have heard today that this is not compassionate and this is not care, this is exactly what these people need. They need to be treated. The fact is that everything they have in terms of an addiction or mental health is treatable. The fact is that the municipalities, the paramedics, the police and the community groups that are looking after these individuals have no resources. They are at a loss. The fact is that the people who fall into disarray do not have housing. They do not have the pharmaceutical care and they are being treated like consumers by the pharmaceutical companies that are putting these drugs on the street.
    This motion does two things only. It would ensure that we look at drugs as bad, that we treat those drugs as substances that should be banned and taken off the streets. We would ensure that we put the drug dealers, those putting the drugs on the street, behind bars. We would ensure that those people who are addicted and need mental health support get the support they need, in terms of detox, recovery and, most importantly, affordable housing that gets them off the street. Then, of course, looking to the fact that we help people, we would bring our loved ones home, drug-free, and help Canadians for once.

  (1550)  

[Translation]

    Madam Speaker, this morning, something rather unusual happened, and we in the Bloc Québécois are taking it very seriously.
    When we asked the Leader of the Conservative Party about the difference between decriminalization and diversion, he said that they meant the same thing, that it was just semantics. In this debate, words matter. There is too much room for exaggeration.
    Does my colleague agree with his leader that there is no difference between these two terms?

[English]

    Madam Speaker, I stand by our leader when we talk about banning hard drugs.
     We are talking about deviation. When pharmaceutical companies are giving a prescribed opioid to a consumer, deviation means that that drug is finding its way into the market. That is happening. When we talk about decriminalization, that is exactly what has happened in Vancouver and what the Toronto mayor wants to do, which is to allow hard drugs on the streets.
     We are against all of that. We want drugs off the street. We want treatment and recovery for Canadians. Semantics matter. The fact is that we are the only party that I am hearing in the House today saying that we want to ban hard drugs, and then focus all of that money on detox and recovery. We are the only party saying it. That is semantics.
    Madam Speaker, I listened to the hon. member's speech, and he has taken a very complex problem and narrowed it down to very simple slogans, as I would have expected.
     I have a simple question. I would like to know this: How many people with addictions, in this opioid crisis, has the member spoken to, and what has he learned from their experience?

  (1555)  

    Madam Speaker, if the member listened to my speech, I have spoken to those individuals. I have talked to hundreds of them, but also, most importantly, the people on the front lines: the police, the mental health responders, and those who are running the community groups. We have a group from the Bridge Street United Church that is actually in the middle of this opioid epidemic and the overdose situation. They watched seven people in line collapse from drug use.
    The bigger thing that is happening, when we look at what is happening with drugs, is that when we give criminals an inch, they take a mile, and now they are lacing drugs with horse tranquilizer. When I am talking to the individuals on the front lines, they are saying the drugs are getting worse.
     All we are saying is, let us give a mile to the people suffering from it and to the frontline responders, and let us give only an inch to the criminals. That is not a slogan; it is just common sense.
    Uqaqtittiji, when I read the motion, I do not read it the same way that the member just read it. What I am seeing from this motion is that the Conservatives are asking the Prime Minister not to listen to the City of Toronto. They are asking the Prime Minister not to listen to the City of Montreal. They are asking provinces, territories and municipalities, who are asking for help, not to be heard.
    I find this quite distressing and contradictory to what the member has just been sharing. I wonder if he read his own motion from his party, to see that actually they are not encouraging municipalities, provinces and territories to work together to make sure that the people who need care get the care they deserve.
     Madam Speaker, this started from asking the government to listen to the Province of B.C.
    We have been adamant in our ask, which is to ban hard drugs. We are just reacting, and this motion is reacting to statements made by the City of Toronto's mayor and the City of Montreal, who are asking to make hard drugs legal.
    What we are asking for is to listen to the provinces. The Province of Ontario has asked to ensure that those hard drugs are illegal. I have not heard from Quebec or anyone else.
    At the end of the day, we are listening to Canadians who are on the front line and those who are suffering in small towns across this whole country.
    Madam Speaker, I will be sharing my time with the very hon. member for Don Valley West.
    It is a real honour, as always, for me to be speaking on behalf of the amazing residents of my riding of Davenport. I am speaking to today's Conservative opposition day motion on the opioid crisis we have in this country.
    We have an opioid crisis. There are far too many deaths, and we have completely different approaches to handling this opioid crisis. The Liberal government has a very science-based approach. We also have an approach of treating this opioid crisis as a health issue and not a criminal issue.
    I will start off by highlighting some comments from an article that I found very helpful to put things into perspective on the different approaches of our two governments. I will then go into a prepared speech, which will focus on the over $200 million in research dollars that have been invested by our Liberal government related to substance abuse and the various attempts to try to wrestle this opioid crisis, which is killing far too many Canadians here in this country.
    As described in a Globe and Mail article from late 2022, the Conservative leader had released a video, and a “former public safety and justice adviser to the [former] Conservative prime minister Stephen Harper...condemned [the Leader of the Opposition's]...video on Vancouver's toxic drug crisis.” He described the opposition leader's comments on safe supply as “unsubstantiated”.
    Here is what that adviser said: “I was really disgusted by it. I honestly was so disturbed to see [the leader of the Conservatives] using people's really desperate situation here in the city I live in as a backdrop for a political propaganda ad.” This is from former public safety and justice adviser Benjamin Perrin. He is currently a law professor at the University of British Columbia. He also said, “It was a five-minute long diatribe that's not informed by any research, evidence or expertise. It's just [the leader of the Conservatives] rehashing Conservative, war-on-drug tropes that have been long since discredited and have been found to be not only ineffective but costly and deadly.”
    As described in the article, Mr. Perrin also took issue with the leader of the Conservatives “posting the footage without meeting the media to talk about his policy.” He said, “Politicians should be courageous enough to answer questions when they are going to propose that they have got solutions to a problem as complex and diverse as the opioid crisis instead of just posting a video on their social-media channels and just walking away without being responsible for what they said.”
    In a further response to this video, which outlined the federal Conservative views on the Vancouver toxic crisis issue, the B.C. mental health and addictions minister said that the leader of the Conservatives was “spreading a 'dangerous' message with his video.”
    The article describes how, in the statement, the B.C. minister of mental health and addictions “cited the finding from the...BC Coroner's Service that the vast majority of toxic drug deaths in the province are due to people using illicit substances alone.” She said, “One of the most important ways to save lives from toxic drugs is to separate people from toxic drugs - that's why B.C. prescribes safer supply and is the first province in Canada to do this. It is toxic, illicit drugs that are killing people - not the province's prescribed safer supply program.”
    I will go back to Mr. Perrin, who then further “criticized [the leader of the federal Conservatives'] suggestion that the crisis is caused by taxpayer-supported drugs as false, attributing the problem instead to street drugs contaminated with the potent opioid fentanyl and carfentanyl.” Mr. Perrin said:
     There is no indication that prescribed safe supply is contributing to illicit drug deaths....
     Safer supply has been tested and found to be beneficial for people who have been unable to have treatment for whatever reason, and are long-term substance-abuse users.
    We're talking about essentially substituting a contaminated street drug with a drug that has known contents and potency to help people stay alive, first of all, and also to be able to stabilize.
     This is before they can get treatment and find a way off of an opioid.

  (1600)  

     I will now talk about some of the big investments we have made on substance use research.
    Last fall, we introduced a renewed Canadian drugs and substances strategy, which has guided our approach to substance use policy since 2017. This is Canada's model. It is a comprehensive framework guiding our efforts to address the toxic drug and overdose crisis, centred on promoting public health and protecting public safety. The strategy supports a comprehensive, compassionate and evidence-based approach informed by the four pillars of prevention, harm reduction, treatment and enforcement.
    A strong evidence base is foundational to our federal approach to addressing the overdose crisis in Canada, and our government recognizes the crucial role of research in tackling this crisis. We have invested more than $200 million in research related to substance use. These scientific endeavours are increasing our understanding of substance use and mobilizing knowledge to improve health outcomes and ultimately save lives.
    Let us talk about how investing in research is helping inform policies and programs that would effectively address the toxic drug crisis in our country. Through the Canadian research initiative in substance matters, or CRISM, we are connecting more than 1,000 researchers, service providers, decision-makers and people with lived experience of substance use. Its objective is to translate evidence-based interventions for substance use into clinical practice, community-based prevention, harm prevention, and advice to deciders and health care.
    Since its creation almost a decade ago, CRISM has become a national asset with critical infrastructure and expertise for conducting clinical trials, producing national guidelines, developing and scaling evidence-based intervention, and guiding decision makers and health care providers as they respond to the overdose crisis. CRISM researchers have also recently published an important guidance document regarding take-home naloxone, which is a key emergency measure and targeted tool to reverse opioid overdose and prevent mortality.
    This document offers evidence-based policy guidance for federal, provincial and territorial programs distributing take-home naloxone kits. The guidance was developed in collaboration with people with lived and living experience; frontline overdose, response and harm reduction workers; public health professionals; and clinicians, among others. This work is being widely disseminated to ensure broad uptake and was recently published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal.
    In 2022, the government announced the renewal of CRISM with an investment of $17 million to build and expand on the successes of its first phase. This expansion would enhance CRISM's geographic coverage to a total of five regional nodes.
    We have also launched a new funding opportunity that commits up to $8 million over four years for a new Canada-wide study on controlled substances starting in summer 2024. That is this summer. The study would generate much-needed baseline data, including estimates of the use of controlled substances across Canada. It would support decision-making and the evaluation of interventions, clinical guidelines and policies.
    Together with this program, CRISM would further expand through the creation of an indigenous engagement platform to expand the reach and impact of CRISM's engagement with first nations, Inuit and Métis people, including urban indigenous communities. We have a number of programs in place to continue to fund research and find scientific, evidence-based solutions to the opioid crisis, which is killing far too many Canadians every day.
    It is an honour and a pleasure to speak on behalf of the residents of Davenport. I look forward to the questions members of the House will have.

  (1605)  

    Madam Speaker, the member is the chair of the Canadian NATO Parliamentary Association, and she knows very well that the drugs coming into Canada are part of a hybrid warfare being conducted by the communists who control China.
    How are the member and her government going to genuinely care for these casualties of war and stop the weapons, which are the drugs, from coming in, let alone their providing more to the people who are already casualties?
    Madam Speaker, I want to thank the hon. member for her participation and leadership on the Canadian NATO Parliamentary Association. With respect to her question, there is indeed an issue with illegal and toxic substances crossing our border.
    We have put in over a billion dollars to reinforce officials at the border, the CBSA, and we have had to put in far more money because the Conservatives, when they were in power, not only reduced the amount of officials and funding at the border but also cut the programs to address the opioid crisis at the time in half. We are left to deal with the problem here, and the problem has become even worse.

[Translation]

    Madam Speaker, I would like to know my colleague's opinion on the impact of the Conservatives' rhetoric, demagoguery and lies and the lack of scientific content in the opioid file.
    I would like my colleague to tell me what impact this could have on drug users.

  (1610)  

[English]

    Madam Speaker, my riding is in downtown west Toronto, and I am an avid walker. I walk the streets all the time, and when I notice things, I raise the issues with the local superintendent of police. One of the key things we have talked about was whether there were discussions or any knowledge of the City of Toronto being interested in a similar program as to what is existing in Vancouver.
    One of the things I find very problematic in the House is the fact there are no active discussions at all from the City of Toronto to put in a similar program to what Vancouver has right now. It is awful to be spreading that incorrect information and those lies, and it takes away our energy and our efforts from addressing the issue that is at hand. We need to do it from a medical perspective and from an evidence-based and fact-based perspective.
    Uqaqtittiji, the member has responded partly to what I was going to ask her regarding whether she thinks the opioid crisis is a health issue or a criminal justice issue, specifically because the NDP did introduce a bill that would treat the toxic drug crisis as a health issue. I wonder if the member could instead explain, if this is a health issue, why the Liberal government is spending 60% of the budget on law enforcement.
    Madam Speaker, I did mention in my speech that it absolutely is a health issue. I do not think it is a criminal issue.
    One of the things I did not get a chance to mention when I was giving my prepared speech is that a lot of our $200 million of funding is also going into expanding the indigenous engagement platform to engage with first nations, Inuit and Métis people, including urban and indigenous communities. We know indigenous peoples continue to be disproportionately impacted by the overdose crisis, and it is essential that we have partnership with indigenous leaders to address this issue in indigenous communities across our country.
    Madam Speaker, it is an honour to rise in the House.
    I want to take a moment just before I begin my formal speech to recognize and honour a young friend of mine. I met him as an infant, and attended his funeral last summer. He was 22 years of age and died as a victim, as a person who was addicted to opioids and other drugs. He died, really, in the prime of his very young life.
     He came from a fine family. He was very close to both his parents and has a wonderful sister. He was really able to light up a room every time he walked in, with his imagination and his fun. However, there was always an insecurity there, and there was always something that led him to want to be part of a group. That part of the group that he got into led him onto a pathway that led to an addiction. Part of that addiction may have been hereditary; one never knows about addiction. Ultimately, a tainted drug supply led to his death just over a year ago.
    His family is still grieving. His friends are still grieving. I am still grieving. I wanted to raise his name in the House today because this is not just about giving family and friends a nod to say that we acknowledge their grief or their pain. This pain and grief in this opioid crisis is very real for many people.
    No pain or grief should ever be politicized. This is one of those issues where we should learn how to work together. We should find a way to look outside our political differences and to look at a crisis that is affecting people every day in our provinces, our communities and our cities. We need to open up a door to look at the fact that there is no silver bullet in this battle. There needs to be a multipronged approach in a way that we get best evidence and that we find a way to ensure that we use that best evidence to get a plethora of treatments, options and ideas to attack the problem, because one size does not fit all.
    Let me be very clear. The ever-changing, illegal, toxic drug supply is a primary factor driving this crisis, and too many people are losing their lives as a result of it. That is why my young friend died.
    Of course, there are underlying issues all the time. Of course, there are easy and facile answers that are going to be offered to people. The reality is that we have to get bad drugs off our streets and away from Canadians, as 22 Canadians lose their lives every day in this unrelenting, tragic crisis. These are sons and daughters, mothers and fathers, nieces and nephews, and aunts and uncles. They are grandparents. It is being driven by the increasingly toxic and unpredictable, illegal drug supply in Canada, which is killing, on average, 22 Canadians a day.
    We have to use every tool at our disposal. That means we will not have perfection on any one tool. We have to find ways to do prevention, to find ways to address addiction in the very early stages, to understand that this is a health crisis and to help people as human beings. It means that we need to provide treatment.
    That needs to be on-demand treatment, and we are not there yet. The federal government continues to supply money to provinces, to communities, to have more and better treatment. We are not there yet, but treatment is a critical part of this. Harm reduction is also part of it. We simply do not want people to die.
    This is not a moral issue, and it is not primarily a legal issue. It is a health crisis, and people are dying. It is the same as people dying of cancer, of heart disease, of obesity and of so many factors in our world where people are dying. We need to have a medical approach that does not further stigmatize people who are already suffering in their lives.
    This debate is doing nothing to further that issue. It is doing nothing to help the people who are the victims in this horrendous case. We need to focus on prevention. We need to focus on treatment, harm reduction and enforcement. All four factors are the central pillars of our government's approach. They need to be based on reason and on evidence. They need to develop best practices. We need to have an international lens to see what works and what does not work. We will make mistakes in things that work. We will honestly do that, but we will continue to learn every day as we try to solve this crisis together.

  (1615)  

     We need to look at emerging practices and solutions from around the globe, and we need to listen to the professionals who are engaged. That does mean law enforcement officers, but more than that, it means physicians, nurses, nurse practitioners and therapists. It needs to engage psychiatrists, psychologists, social workers and street workers, the people who are listening, and it needs to involve the families of victims, people who love their children, who love their parents and who see the day-to-day destruction in their lives.
    Our policies are not driving this problem. Anyone who says that does not understand the problem and has not spent time on the streets, in hospitals, in treatment centres or in prisons, where we see the effects of this horrible overdose crisis. It means they have not been at the funerals where I have been and that I have performed to actually deal with the outcomes of this horrendous problem.
    To say our policies are contributing to it is simply incorrect. We know what the factors are, not all the factors, but most of the factors of addictions, and we are addressing them as root causes. We understand the complex issue around police enforcement, and we are working around the clock, and around the world, on enforcement. We also want best practices in understanding how it is that we are to get to the victims to make sure they are not further stigmatized and further hurt. We want to help, not to hurt. We know, primarily, that we want to stop deaths. The first way to do that is to stop toxic, illegal drug supply, the kinds of drugs that are getting to people and that are killing people.
    According to the latest national data, 82% of overdose deaths involved illegal fentanyl. This percentage has increased by 44% since 2016. That was when national surveillance actually began. I note that because it was just after the Liberal government took office. We were not getting the data we needed before the government took office. Now, we are getting better data to surveil this situation and to understand best practices. It is the illegal drug supply that is contaminated with toxic levels of illegal opioids, other drugs, that is at the root cause of the overdose crisis in Canada.
    To suggest that our programs simply hand out prescription drugs to anyone, including youth, is simply not true. It is not a fact. It is wrong. The clients of those programs are already using drugs and are struggling with addictions. They need care. They need help. They need the ability to fight their disease and to be given time so that compassionate, hopeful people can embrace them in love and can work with them in a medical way to ensure that they combat their addictions.
    It means we need roads to recovery as well. We need pathways to recovery and need treatment on demand, but it does not matter that treatment on demand is available if people are dead. They are dying from toxic drug supply. They have been marginalized in the medical system. They need to be brought home. They need to be recognized as part of the medical system in our country, where professionals are able to meet them with no judgment, no stigma and certainly not with the political jargon or rhetoric that we hear today from across the other side of the House. It means absolute training for primary caregivers and primary medical service providers to ensure that they have the best tools and the time to do their work.
    We hear a concern from the other side that there is a diversion of drugs from these programs. That is simply not true. Diversion is illegal, and steps are always being taken to stop it. We take those concerns seriously. We take them very seriously, and we encourage law enforcement officers to do best practices to coun