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44th PARLIAMENT, 1st SESSION

EDITED HANSARD • No. 324

CONTENTS

Tuesday, June 4, 2024




Emblem of the House of Commons

House of Commons Debates

Volume 151
No. 324
1st SESSION
44th PARLIAMENT

OFFICIAL REPORT (HANSARD)

Tuesday, June 4, 2024

Speaker: The Honourable Greg Fergus

    The House met at 10 a.m.

Prayer



Routine Proceedings

[Routine Proceedings]

(1005)

[English]

Auditor General of Canada

     It is my duty to lay upon the table, pursuant to subsection 7(3) of the Auditor General Act, the spring 2024 reports of the Auditor General of Canada.

[Translation]

    Pursuant to Standing Order 108(3)(g), these documents are deemed to have been permanently referred to the Standing Committee on Public Accounts.

[English]

Government Response to Petitions

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

Petitions

Canada Labour Code 

    Mr. Speaker, I rise to present petition e-4038, signed by over 3,000 Canadians and led by the efforts of Ayaan Virani. It notes that a majority of millennials lack an adequate work-life balance. It recognizes that research shows that more paid vacation is beneficial to the health, happiness and productivity of workers. It points to the fact that peer nations of Canada have long had more than two weeks of paid vacation, and in many cases, they have four to six weeks. They call on the Government of Canada to amend the Canada Labour Code to provide a basic entitlement of four weeks of paid vacation, up from the current two weeks, rising to six weeks of paid vacation after 10 consecutive years of employment.

Questions on the Order Paper

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

Government Orders

[Business of Supply]

[English]

Business of Supply

Opposition Motion—Measures to Lower Food Prices  

    That, given that the cost of food continues to increase while grocery giants such as Loblaws, Metro and Sobeys make record profits, the House call on the government to:
(a) force big grocery chains and suppliers to lower the prices of essential foods or else face a price cap or other measures;
(b) stop delaying long-needed reforms to the Nutrition North program; and
(c) stop Liberal and Conservative corporate handouts to big grocers.
    Madam Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 43(2)(a), I would like to inform the House that the New Democratic Party speaking slots will all be divided in two.
     Madam Speaker, I am incredibly proud today to be leading the debate on the NDP opposition day motion. We propose measures to crack down on corporate greed and to lower prices for struggling Canadian families. Canadians need help. Canadians need relief from high food prices. Canadians need to see that the people they elect to the House of Commons are committed to taking action against the corporations that have enjoyed record profits at their expense.
    There have been 40 years of successive Conservative and Liberal governments that have pushed economic policy to widen the gap between rich and poor to a chasm. Along the way, we have seen support from both parties for tax cuts for wealthy corporations, for deregulation and for weak competition laws. It is no accident that we have arrived at this moment today because the Conservatives and the Liberals both paved that road to make it easy to get to.
    We need a political party that is prepared to swing the pendulum back in favour of the working class and back in favour of those who are tired of seeing their hard-earned money gouged by corporations that are rolling in record profits and paying their CEOs ridiculous wages and bonuses. That brings me to today's motion, which I was very proud to sponsor and which was seconded by my colleague, the member for New Westminster—Burnaby. I will read it out for the benefit of Canadians who are watching. It states:
    That, given that the cost of food continues to increase while grocery giants such as Loblaws, Metro and Sobeys make record profits, the House call on the government to:
(a) force big grocery chains and suppliers to lower the prices of essential foods or else face a price cap or other measures;
(b) stop delaying long-needed reforms to the Nutrition North program; and
(c) stop Liberal and Conservative corporate handouts to big grocers.
    It is time for action. As I said, Canadians need relief. They are struggling, and we need only to look at the statistics to see that laid out in stark relief. Over the last three years, the cost of food has increased by over 20%. The use of food banks is at a 35-year high, and it is reported that one in five Canadians is skipping meals just to get by with their monthly budgets. In 2024, this year, the average family of four is expected to spend an additional $700 on food, again continuing the trend that we have seen over the last couple of years.
    All this while the grocery sector continues to rake it in. Last year alone, it raked in $6 billion in profit. Loblaws has almost doubled its profit margin in the past five years, and Metro has the biggest profit margin of any grocery company. Canadians know the problem is corporate greed. They know it in their hearts. One party in the House is standing here not only to illuminate that greed, but also to take action on it.
    We can see it on the streets. People are taking measures into their own hands by boycotting Loblaws and other grocery stores because, again, we have a 40-year track record of both the Liberals and the Conservatives failing to protect Canadian consumers from price gouging or holding these massive corporations accountable. Many corporate sectors have used the disruptions over the last four years, and the consumer desperation associated with it, to increase their prices well beyond what many would consider reasonable and well beyond what is required to cover their own input costs.
    Despite months of promises, the Liberal government has not taken bold action to bring down the food prices that are hurting Canadian families. Much more is expected. We have a grocery task force that has not completed any tasks and that is not much of a force. The Liberals have committed to stabilizing food prices. That means very little to a Canadian family struggling with both the quality of the food and the quantity of the food they are putting on the table. They are not looking for stabilization; they are looking for prices to come down, and it has not happened. As I said, families are expected to pay more this year. Asking corporations nicely has not worked.

(1010)

    We know, from an Order Paper question I submitted, that the Liberals gave $25.5 million to Loblaws and to Costco between 2019 and 2023, while they were making massive profits. The last thing this sector needs is more corporate welfare from the Liberals, and from the Conservatives who set the table before them.
    We solve this by asking the government to force the big grocery chains and the suppliers to lower the prices of essential foods or to put in measures to make them do it. We have been leading on this issue from the beginning. We had a unanimous vote in the House of Commons, which I sponsored. We had two unanimous votes at the House of Commons agriculture committee to study this issue to bring political and public pressure to bear. I was the one who moved a motion to summon the grocery CEOs before committee to make them answer, on the public record, for their abysmal track record on the way they have treated their consumers. We are the ones who have been consistently, over the last two years, calling out the corporate greed that is driving this cost of living crisis.
    Before we get into too much criticism, I want to point out that there are well-trodden examples around the world. I want to single out France, Greece and South Korea, which have each taken steps within their respective jurisdictions to lower prices on essential food items. Price control measures are not a new thing. We see that our provincial governments have done it with rent increases. They have utility boards that monitor and regulate the cost increases associated with energy. It is not a new concept, and it is something that has to be used in a time of crisis.
    France secured a deal with major companies to lower the price of groceries for 5,000 products, and the French government can hold those companies accountable to the public if they do not comply.
    In Greece, the government announced gross profit caps for key consumer goods and services in the food and the health sectors. It has a policy that stipulates the gross profit per unit cannot exceed that of the profits made before December 31, 2021.
     In South Korea, the president established a department-level task force to monitor and to implement food price control measures in key industries, especially when looking at food items such as milk, coffee, noodles and bread.
     On the part of our motion dealing with nutrition north, I really want to recognize my friend and colleague, the member for Nunavut. She has been doing an outstanding job on behalf of her constituents and has been calling out the companies that operate up there for taking that subsidy and using it to pad their bottom line, rather than serving the people in the north who need to have access to affordable food. That is why we have this as a key part of our motion.
    In conclusion, I want to say that it is not just the grocery sector, even though today's motion has that as its focus. If we look at many of the top corporate sectors, especially their earnings compared to 2019, we will see massive increases, both in their net profits and in their margins. In 2023, the grocery sector made $6 billion in profits. Some of those companies have employees who cannot even afford to shop where they work. Imagine that; a grocery company employee who has to use a food bank because their own employer is not paying them enough to get by on a full-time wage. That is shameful. There are 95% of Canadians who think that food prices are too high and 97% who do not think that food prices will go down in six months.
    We know that grocery prices are increasing at their fastest rate in more than 40 years. We know that corporations are using costs as an excuse to increase their prices even higher, which has resulted in record profits. We need limited price controls to break this cycle. When there is a power imbalance in society, the elected government of the people is the great equalizer. Government is where we enforce fairness. It is time for the Liberal government to step up to the plate and to act in a manner that Canadians expect.

(1015)

    Madam Speaker, I am totally on side with the motion, but it is a matter of the what and the how.
     What we want to do is see food prices moderate or come down. With respect to how, though, I want to talk about the price cap and ask my hon. friend a question. The free market response to a price cap quite often ends up being rationing. What would the response be if big grocery decided that we were forcing them to sell milk, eggs, butter, etcetera at a low price, so they were not going to make a whole bunch of those things available to people? Are there thoughts, or could there be thoughts, on how to deal with that issue?
     Madam Speaker, as I outlined in my speech, we gave three concrete examples of countries, France, South Korea and Greece, that are tackling the issue head-on.
    We put in the motion, yes, mention of a price cap, but also other measures because we wanted to give the government flexibility to look at other tools in the tool box. We have often called for an excess profits tax. That is something Canada used to great effect in the Second World War. There is a whole variety of measures, but the underlying point here is that the ongoing corporate deference of the Liberals and Conservatives needs to stop.
     It is time to swing the pendulum back in favour of working Canadians, and the NDP is here to lead the way and force the Liberal government to finally act. That is what Canadians expect. That is what we, as members of Parliament, should be delivering.
    Madam Speaker, I really appreciated my colleague and friend's speech. I do agree that we do need to make sure we are not escalating costs in this country. Those costs are being felt most at the grocery level by the consumer. One of the major impacts, of course, is inflation, and what is causing inflation is the Liberal government's overspending.
    Would my colleague join us in actually getting the government back to a balanced budget so we could take out the root cause of inflation that is driving up the cost of everything for Canadians?
    Madam Speaker, the Conservatives' only answer to the cost of living crisis is to roll back the very tool that Canadians have to enforce fairness. Imagine this: At a time of unparalleled corporate greed and concentration in the marketplace, the Conservatives' only answer is to roll back the power of government and let the free market go. What got us into this mess? It was corporate greed. It is not the carbon tax that is driving the increase in the cost of living, and it is not government spending. Corporate profits have been going up to record levels over the last three years.
     Where does my hon. colleague think the profits are coming from in oil and gas, banking and consumer goods, which are all posting record profits? All of those profits have come right out of the pockets of the hard-working families that I represent in Cowichan—Malahat—Langford, of the families he is supposed to represent in his riding and, indeed, of the families right across Canada from coast to coast to coast.

[Translation]

    Madam Speaker, I understand the motion's underlying intent. The rising cost of groceries is affecting everyone and causing a lot of headaches, but I wonder whether a price cap is feasible.
    For example, how are we supposed to cap the price of bread when wheat prices are determined by the Chicago Board of Trade exchange? How can we cap the price of fresh vegetables when we know that soaring prices primarily reflect crop losses caused by floods and droughts resulting from climate change? I wonder how practical it is to force a produce farmer from California to sell his broccoli to Quebeckers and Canadians at a lower cost than he would charge Americans.
    Can my colleague tell me how this would be done in practical terms?

(1020)

[English]

     Madam Speaker, what I would say to my hon. colleague is that on the whole spectrum of the food supply chain, there are the farmers at one end and the consumers at the other. I would argue that both groups are being screwed over by the people in the middle. That is what is happening.
    I am not talking about going after farmers; they need to make a living, and I know their margins are very tight. I am not talking about consumers. It is the actors in the middle, the middlemen, and particularly the grocery companies, which despite all of the costs associated with climate change and supply disruptions have still seen their net profits go up to unacceptable and unreasonable levels.
     That is what we should be tackling. That is what Canadians expect. If we had an activist government actually doing that, we would actually see the results Canadians want and need at this very key moment.

[Translation]

    Madam Speaker, these are tough times for people across the country. We can see it. We see that lineups at food banks have doubled since this government came to power. We remember that they also doubled under the Harper government. When the Conservatives were in power, it was bad news for Canadians. Since the Liberal government was elected, we see the same things: increased rents and lineups at food banks.
     The NDP leader and member for Burnaby South and the entire NDP have been pressuring the government to change things. We saw that with dental care, which was enthusiastically welcomed by Quebeckers. It is important to note that Quebec is the province with the highest rate of participation in the NDP's dental care program. We also have pharmacare, which was adopted yesterday in a historic vote. In this case too, a huge Quebec coalition of nearly two million people from all the major labour groups, unions and the Union des consommateurs, as well as health care professionals, asked the NDP for this measure, which will help six million Canadians, as well as nine million other Canadians—

[English]

     Madam Speaker, I rise on a point of order. I do not see quorum, so I would ask that you see quorum.
    I will double-check to see who is online as well. I will ask the clerk to count the members present.
    And the count having been taken:
    The Assistant Deputy Speaker (Mrs. Carol Hughes): We do not have quorum, so we are going to have to ring the bells to call in the members. The bells shall not ring for more than 15 minutes.
    And the bells having rung:

(1025)

     We now have quorum.
    There is a point of order from the hon. Parliamentary Secretary to the government House leader.
     For clarification, Madam Speaker, do I understand that even though there is not one Conservative in the Chamber, we still have quorum?
     There is quorum, and I do want to remind members that they are not to say who may or may not be in the chamber nor how many are in the chamber from each party.
    Resuming debate, the hon. member for New Westminster—Burnaby.
     Madam Speaker, I am saddened that no Conservative or Bloc MPs are participating in the debate. That they would pull a trick like this on an opposition day shows their vulnerability. The reality is that I am going to be devoting most of my speech now to what Conservatives did when they were in power.

[Translation]

    First, I just want to point out that the Bloc Québécois opposes everything the NDP has done. I was actually just talking about the fact that Quebec has the highest participation rate in the country for dental care. The Bloc Québécois tried to block dental care, but the NDP kept its promises.
    The Bloc Québécois appears to be completely absent today. Bloc members oppose the notion that we should have pharmacare. However, a broad coalition of two million Quebeckers has said that this bill should pass.
    Obviously, the Conservative Party and the Bloc Québécois oppose today's NDP motion. I will read it:
     That, given that the cost of food continues to increase while grocery giants such as Loblaws, Metro and Sobeys—
    The hon. member for Manicouagan on a point of order.
    Madam Speaker, I would just like you to confirm whether we can refer to the presence or absence of other members in the House. I do not think that is allowed.
    I have already answered the question.
    The hon. member for New Westminster—Burnaby.
    Madam Speaker, the Bloc Québécois is clearly opposed to this motion, so I think it is important that I read it. It states, and I quote:
     That, given that the cost of food continues to increase while grocery giants such as Loblaws, Metro and Sobeys make record profits, the House call on the government to: (a) force big grocery chains and suppliers to lower the prices of essential foods or else face a price cap or other measures; (b) stop delaying long-needed reforms to the Nutrition North program; and (c) stop Liberal and Conservative corporate handouts to big grocers.
    This is something that everyone should support. Members of the Bloc Québécois are opposing it, and I think that they are going to pay the price in the next election. I think they are also going to pay the price for opposing dental care, which is something that Quebeckers really appreciate, and for opposing pharmacare, which is supported by the biggest coalition in the history of Quebec. This shows that the Bloc Québécois is off the mark when it comes to things that are in the best interests of Quebeckers and everyone.

[English]

    I want to take some time to talk about the disgraceful Conservative record on this because as we know, the corporate Conservatives have been involved in some of the most egregious impacts on Canadian consumers. I need to talk about the bread-fixing scandal. Prices went up, and just a few months after the Harper government was elected, all the big grocery chain CEOs got together and decided they were going to fix the price of bread, because they knew the Harper government would do absolutely nothing to stop them. Just a few months after Harper was elected, that is what they chose to do, and they were right.
    Over the course of almost a decade, money was stolen from Canadian families, on average $400, with nary a peep from a single Conservative MP. Not a single one of them over the decade stood up to say that maybe price fixing is bad, that maybe consumers should not be gouged and that maybe the big grocery chains should stop ripping off Canadian consumers. Nothing happened for a decade. The Conservatives should hang their heads in shame. Every single Conservative member was simply an agent helping to facilitate the rip-off of $400 from Canadian consumers. It was $400 more than they should have paid if price fixing had not simply been allowed by the Harper government for nearly a decade.
    Are the Conservatives different today under the member for Carleton? Sadly, they are not. Corporate lobbyists have been stepping up to every fundraiser the member for Carleton holds. The Conservatives' national campaign manager is a lobbyist and their deputy leader is a lobbyist. Half of their national executive are corporate lobbyists. The corporate Conservatives are simply the worst example of how corporate CEOs can rip off the public with impunity under Conservative governments.
    Of course, one would say that Liberals have not been much better, but the reality is that in the current minority Parliament, because of the strength of the member for Burnaby South, the member for Cowichan—Malahat—Langford and the entire NDP caucus, we have managed to enforce new changes in the Competition Bureau legislation that actually finally allow the Competition Bureau to take action.
    Under the Harper government, the bread-fixing scandal that ripped off hundreds of dollars from each Canadian family going to the grocery store and basically being robbed by bread price fixing, which was allowed under the Harper government in the most egregious way, is now going to be a memory because of the Competition Bureau fixes that the member for Burnaby South, the member for Cowichan—Malahat—Langford and the entire NDP caucus have brought to the most recent budget implementation act.
    We have taken action to ensure that Canadians are protected. That is what we do in this corner of the House. We are not corporate Conservatives. We do not simply allow the corporate lobbyists to do whatever the hell they want, such as bread price fixing like we saw under nearly a decade of the most dismal record in Canadian history with the most corrupt government in Canadian history, the Harper government, and the most financially incompetent government with ten years of deficits throughout that period.

(1030)

    As I recall, it was a government that was willing to give anything to banks and corporate CEOs, $116 billion in liquidity supports to Canada's big banks so they could pay bigger dividends and bigger executive bonuses.
     Of course, we saw the massive handouts to oil and gas CEOs, another price-fixing scandal that has been well documented. We saw in British Columbia, just a few months ago, an unexplained 30¢ rise, because the oil and gas giants just love ripping off consumers, but nary a peep from Conservatives. As long as the corporations are benefiting, then they are happy. We saw, as well, the most egregious, infamous Harper tax haven treaties. The Parliamentary Budgetary Officer informed us that, sadly, over $30 billion a year in taxpayer money was going offshore. Over 10 years, that is $300 billion.
    There is no doubt that Conservative times, Tory times, are tough, toxic times. That is illustrated most clearly by how the Conservatives allow corporate CEOs to rip off Canadians with impunity. The NDP is not going to stand for that. This is why we have brought forward this motion to ensure we stop the corporate handouts that we have seen under the Conservatives, and most recently, as my colleague from Cowichan—Malahat—Langford pointed out, under the Liberals, with the $25 million given to Loblaws, as if it needs it.
     Under the Conservatives and Liberals, seniors and low-income people tend to pay the price, except in minority governments where the NDP holds the Liberals to account and forces things such as the GST rebate, the grocery rebate, affordable housing, dental care, pharmacare and a range of other measures that actually help Canadians. We are also saying that we need to reform nutrition north. We hope all members will support it today.

(1035)

    Madam Speaker, we should do something pre-emptive here, because when it is time for the Conservative Party to speak on this, I anticipate an attack on supply management. We have seen that from some Conservatives. We have seen it from Conservative media commentaries.
     Does the NDP support supply management and will it rebuff any attempt to blame high food prices on this measure?
    Madam Speaker, the NDP has been the strongest supporters of supply management for two very good reasons. It provides a higher quality of product, and we see this right across the country. The supply-managed sector is really an example to the rest of the world, which is why other countries are looking to adopt the same type of approach. It ensures a good quality of product and it ensures the stability of farms and farming communities across the country. In all of the supply-managed sectors, we see prosperous communities, because of the fact that there is stability in the price. Big agribusiness is not coming in and ripping everything away. We have seen the instability of prices that comes from that.
    Canada has a system that works, that provides a good level of income for farming communities and for farmers right across the country, and a good quality of product. That is why so many people in the United States are looking to emulate the Canadian example, and in other countries as well. They look to Canada.
    The NDP has been the strongest supporter of the supply-managed sector, and we will continue to be.
    Madam Speaker, in this latest version of the Conservative Party, a lot of working-class cosplay is going on. However, I like my hon. colleague to talk about this. During the years of the Harper government, one of the biggest wealth transfers happened from Canadian families to corporations, and I am talking about the corporate tax cuts.
     Could my hon. colleague remind Canadians what the Conservative government did during the Harper years to the corporate tax rate and how that hobbled the revenues of today, which could have been used to support Canadian families in my riding, his riding and right across the country?
    Madam Speaker, the Conservative Harper government was a terrible financial manager. In fact, Conservative financial management is an oxymoron. The Conservatives are simply incapable of managing the public purse.
    My colleague, the member for Cowichan—Malahat—Langford, is absolutely right. We saw massive loopholes open. We saw sweetheart deals, like the $116-billion liquidity support gift to Canada's big banks, as if they needed it, and, of course, the infamous Harper tax haven treaties, $30 billion a year, according to the Parliamentary Budgetary Officer.
    What did the Conservatives do once they splurged and used a firehose to shower money on corporate CEOs? They cut money to seniors and forced them to work longer. They cut money in health care and slashed services to our nation's veterans, who put their lives on the line for their country and who were subject to the most immense disrespect from the Harper government. It was a toxic government, it was an incompetent government and it was a corrupt government. That is why the Conservatives were thrown out of office in 2015.
    Madam Speaker, when it comes to nutrition north, the Liberals always talk about the money they are spending, but they are putting money into a big broken bureaucratic system. It is not working. The more they spend, the more food insecurity rates rise across the north. This motion, of course, alludes to nutrition north and the badly needed reforms. I would agree that reforms are needed. A number of key recommendations have been brought forward over the years at the indigenous and northern affairs committee.
    However, the member for New Westminster—Burnaby also talks about having to force the government to do things. Those are his words. I am curious to hear his explanation as to why he has been unable to force the government to address these reforms and nutrition north to this point.
    Madam Speaker, we have the motion before the House. If the Conservatives, after trying to sabotage the debate this morning, are now saying that they are going to support it, then that provides the impetus, with a majority of members of Parliament voting in favour of it, to ensure this happens. However, I recall nothing happening on nutrition north during the Harper regime, even though it was flagged, and has been raised for years. The member for Nunavut has been very articulate and outspoken on the issue of reforming nutrition north.
     I will mention a practice that was put in place by the Harper government, continued by the Liberal government, where they take a portion of the subsidy given to lower prices and put it right into their pockets. Nutrition north has been ripping off northerners. It is time that stopped.

(1040)

    Madam Speaker, in keeping with today's theme, I would like to focus my remarks on our efforts to tackle food insecurity to ensure real and lasting change. The solutions for food security rests on a strong policy. That is why, from day one, we committed to a food policy for Canada, the first for our nation.
    The food policy for Canada launched in 2019 after lengthy and inclusive consultations, which brought everyone to the table to talk about different aspects of the food system and to address challenges. As well as our stakeholder clients, farmers and the value chain, we reached out to Canadians from across Canada's food systems, including consumers, health and nutrition experts, food security advocates, environmental groups, fishers, indigenous peoples and the academic community.
     After consultations with over 45,000 Canadians, we arrived at a collective vision for the food policy. That vision is that all people of Canada are able to access a sufficient amount of safe, nutritious and culturally diverse foods and that Canada's food system is resilient and innovative, sustains our environment and supports our economy.
    Today, five years later, the Government of Canada continues to work with community-based organizations to strengthen Canada's food system, from sustainable food production and processing to strong local food infrastructure and lowering food waste. This includes our local food infrastructure fund that supports local and regional food systems sustainably. By encouraging the development of small-scale community-based food systems and the building of local processing capacity, including regional slaughter capacity, those requirements to support those producers are critical.
    Over the past four years, the fund has supported over 1,000 food security projects across Canada to help food security organizations to reach more families that are struggling with high food prices. Projects include community gardens and kitchens, refrigerated trucks, storage units for donated food and greenhouses in remote and northern communities that face severe food security challenges.
     Now, more than ever, we must support the work of organizations that help those who need it most. That is why earlier this year, the hon. Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food announced a federal investment of up to nearly $10 million for over 190 projects under the local food infrastructure fund. The most recent phase is to provide rapid response funding to help improve food security in communities through investments in equipment and infrastructure needs. Projects are targeted and immediate.
     This funding will help communities, food banks and organizations across Canada invest in things like new equipment and infrastructure to get food where it is needed most. For example, this funding is helping a first nations community in Alberta with technology to grow fresh vegetables indoors. A food bank in Quebec will be able to invest in cold storage so that it can provide more food to families year-round.
    Budget 2024 proposes to provide $62.9 million over three years to renew and expand the local food infrastructure fund to support community organizations across Canada to invest in local food infrastructure, with priority to be given to indigenous and Black communities, along with other equity-deserving groups. Part of the expansion will support organizations to improve infrastructure for school food programs as a complement to the national school food program.
    Canada is fortunate to have the very best farmers who work tirelessly to grow and deliver high-quality, nutritious food every day. Sadly, far too many children still go to school on an empty stomach. That is why budget 2024 commits $1 billion over five years to a national food program to provide kids with healthy meals so that they can learn, grow and reach their full potential. This initiative will create new opportunities for local farmers, food processors, harvesters, and the under-represented and marginalized groups in the agriculture and food sector.

(1045)

    Canada's proposed national school food program would help ensure a bright future for schoolchildren across Canada and help us build a stronger economy for all Canadians. We all recognize the importance of supporting our youth, especially when they start their day. All too often, we consider the price of food as a hindrance, but this is what is necessary to ensure all those who need it most can be provided for.
    To improve food security in Canada, we continue to work hard to make Canada's grocery sector stronger and more resilient. That includes our support of industry's effort to develop a grocery code of conduct. It is great to see that more grocers are now supporting the code. The goal is to make the relationship between retailers and suppliers more transparent and more predictable, for the good of the food supply chain. With key businesses participating, the code would be more effective; ultimately, this would benefit both the industry as a whole and consumers. The code needs to be implemented quickly so that it can increase the strength and resilience of Canada's food supply chain while building consumer confidence.
    We fully recognize that rising food prices make things challenging for many Canadians and can worsen their food security status. Our government has made progress in addressing poverty as one of the main causes of food insecurity and is making life more affordable for Canadians via investments in child care and housing. We introduced a GST tax credit of $2.5 billion for families living with lower incomes, who are likely to be disproportionately impacted by inflation affecting food products, shelter and transportation. We have introduced targeted measures to improve overall affordability for Canadians, including delivering on more affordable child care options and a national dental care program.
    In budget 2024, we committed to supporting competitive prices for groceries and other essentials and giving Canadians more choices by monitoring grocers' work to help stabilize prices, as well as investigating other price inflation practices in the grocery sector through the grocery task force; by maintaining the food price data hub to give Canadians detailed information on food prices, which helps them make informed decisions about their grocery options; by tackling shrinkflation, including through the office of consumer affairs, which has launched research projects to investigate and reveal price inflation and harmful business practices that reduce the quantity and quality of groceries; and by enhancing competition through the Affordable Housing and Groceries Act, which amended the Competition Act to enhance competition, including in the grocery sector. This act gives more power to the Competition Bureau to crack down on unfair practices and empowers the Competition Bureau to block corporations from stifling competition.
    The government will continue to fight for fair prices and to work collaboratively with all members of the House in order to achieve fairness in the system.
    To truly strengthen our local food infrastructure, we must also look to our actions to protect the environment. We are making a concerted effort to address the environment, or at least some of us are. Not everyone on the other side agrees, but it is essential to fight climate change to improve the opportunities for our farmers. We are making historic investments of $1.5 billion to help Canadian farmers boost their climate resiliency through sustainable practices and technology.
    Climate change ultimately affects and impacts all of us. We need to take real and concrete measures to help our producers provide food for Canada and around the world. However, they have to be competitive in a world market that does price carbon, and they have to be competitive in order to produce the product in a sustainable fashion.
    We are not standing down. For example, over the past two years, our on-farm climate action fund has made available almost $100 million in direct support to over 4,000 farmers across Canada. With this, they can take action on their farms to reduce their carbon footprint through cover cropping, nitrogen management and rotational grazing.

(1050)

    All indications point to a strong interest in this program among farmers. That is why we are investing over $470 million to extend the program until 2028. Our agricultural clean-technology program has also provided over $200 million in funding over the past three years to support more than 400 on-farm projects across Canada, from solar energy to precision agriculture and energy-efficient grain-dryers. Under our agriscience program, we are supporting research to help provide differences in the agricultural sectors to reduce their carbon footprint, to find innovation and innovative ways to produce effectively while reducing our carbon footprint. For example, the beef cattle research cluster, backed by the industry's government investments of almost $22 million over the last five years, drives research to key industry priorities, including climate change and the environment.
    Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada has also launched the agricultural methane reduction challenge, which will offer prize money for up to $12 million for innovators advancing low-cost solutions to reduce methane emissions from cattle. Let us not forget that climate resilience is at the heart of the new sustainable Canadian agricultural partnership. This is a federal-provincial-territorial agreement on priorities and investments that will drive the Canadian agricultural and agri-food sector over the next five years. The new funding partnership will give producers and processors the tools they need to strengthen the sector's sustainability, competitiveness and resilience.
    As part of this additional funding, the new $250-million cost-shared resilient agricultural landscape program is helping to recognize ecological goods and services produced by farmers. This is important for improving on-farm resiliency and biodiversity, while also contributing to the reduction of emissions in the sector. We also have a network of 14 living labs across Canada, where researchers work side by side with farmers to find environmental solutions that work on farms.
    We are working beyond election cycles. This is long term in scope and in effect. We are working, then, to foster ways to support the industry for many years to come on the new sustainable agricultural strategy. Producers and other stakeholders are contributing to the development of this strategy, to ensure that Canada's agricultural sector is ready and able to recover quickly from extreme events, to thrive in changing climates, to meet our climate goals and to feed the world.
    Taking action now is necessary to help reduce risks over the long term of extreme weather, new pests, flooding and drought. The impacts of a changing climate will continue to be felt by our farmers and ranchers and by all Canadians. It is our responsibility to act now, to ensure that Canadian food continues to be sustainably grown for our planet and for the generations to come.
    Our government's investments are helping farmers harness cutting-edge technology to help feed Canadians and the world more sustainably. By taking action in all these key areas, we will not only drive sustainable food production for the future, but we will also improve food security in Canada and the world, as well as advancing towards meeting our United Nations sustainable development goal of zero hunger for 2030.
    Food security is a concern, both globally and locally. The Government of Canada recognizes that, across Canada, food prices and food security concerns have been on the rise, putting pressure on household finances and making it more difficult for many families to afford nutritious foods. We continue working to strengthen Canada's food systems, from improving access to healthy and culturally diverse food to ensuring sustainable food production and processing, supporting strong local food infrastructure and reducing food waste.

(1055)

    Helping all people living in Canada to access healthy food is a priority. All Canadians, regardless of where they live, deserve access to affordable and nutritious food. We must work in concert with one another to achieve that goal.
     Aside from the partisan attacks, there is so much at stake, and that is the livelihood of Canadians. We will do everything necessary to support our farmers and our communities to foster that sustainability and diversity. Food prices are essentially at the heart of the matter, because affordability matters at this point. The supply chain across the system has been strained. The initiative that we are taking is with a holistic policy that captures and deals with all the elements that are around the agri-food business, and the economy and the environment and all are at stake. Therefore, we will do everything we can to support those most in need, to foster ways to reduce food prices and to ensure a sustainable, long-term, prosperous agri-food industry in Canada.
    Madam Speaker, I listened to my colleague's speech very carefully. However, we have a motion before us, and I did not hear him say that he would be supporting the motion. The motion is to force big grocery chains to lower the prices of essential foods or else face a variety of tools, including a price cap; to stop delaying the reforms to the nutrition north program; and to stop the Liberal and Conservative corporate handouts to big grocers that we have seen.
    Can the member agree that those handouts should stop? Will he be supporting the NDP motion?
    Madam Speaker, as I said in my speech, the issue is much more than just the end-user or, in this case, the retailer. The supply chain must be addressed, and the farmers and the consumers must be protected. A more holistic policy throughout the system is necessary to achieve sustainable, long-term results. I am talking about beyond election-cycle politics here. I am talking about the sustainability of the industry.
    Madam Speaker, the member had mentioned supply chain input costs all along the way. One cost input is the carbon tax. I was talking to a friend who is a vegetable farmer in southern Ontario; he says that it is becoming increasingly difficult for him to compete with non-carbon tax regimes, such as California and even South America, which import vegetables into Canada. It is difficult for even a local producer to compete with them on account of the carbon tax. What does the member say about that?
    Madam Speaker, I appreciate the concerns, and we are all worried about the input costs in the supply chain. However, we are also recognizing government supports in the rebates and the return of that pricing to our suppliers. They are competing in the international market, which is pricing carbon; if we do not do it at home, they are going to be charged as they go forward. The Government of Canada is providing rebates and supports and, as I just mentioned in the speech, a tremendous amount of supports for our farmers to be competitive in the long term. We must do both: Protecting the environment is also protecting our economy.
    Madam Speaker, contrary to what the opposition member just said, the State of California does have a price on pollution. However, that is not the question I have for the member.
     At the end of the day, we take a look at the cost factors, inflation rates and the impact that these things have on society. We want to see food prices stabilized. Ultimately, people need to have comfort in knowing that the government is acting on their behalf.
    We brought in the Competition Act, which the member made reference to; this is one way in which we can ensure that we are having more stabilization of food prices. Could he just expand on why it was important to make changes to the Competition Act?

(1100)

    Madam Speaker, it is essential to have the Competition Act in place; the motion by the NDP talks about an oligopoly, in essence, in Canada's retail sector. Just as we have in banking, we have to take some measures to protect the consumers in those endeavours.
    The Competition Act and the Competition Bureau enable us to assess some of the activities that are involved in regard to that system. While the supply chain is much more competitive because of its diverse nature and the many inputs that are engaged in providing food, the Competition Bureau is essential to ensure that there is fairness in the system throughout, especially when it goes to the consumer at the retail level.

[Translation]

    Madam Speaker, listening to my colleague's speech made me wonder about something.
     They are talking about nutrition north Canada and the need for reform. We have actually known that for years. The program did not only just now stop working in the north and other remote regions. In my riding, the boat often fails to arrive, forcing us to transport food by plane. It is getting more and more expensive. Eight years ago in the north, I saw a jar of Maxwell House coffee priced at $25.
     What are the Liberals waiting for? They have been in government for eight years.

[English]

     Madam Speaker, yes, there are regional disparities across Canada. We are a diverse country, and we have greater concerns in the far north and in remote communities. If we were not enabling some of the investments we are making, it would be even more difficult to achieve this in those remote communities.
     However, part of the strategy is also to make those communities sustainable by providing investments and infrastructure to enable them to also provide for themselves as they go forward with less reliance on the delivery of systems from outside of the region. That is essential. There is an economic component and an environmental component to it, but the investments are necessary to promote the economy within those regions in the far north.
    We will do everything that is necessary, and we have been. We have been a strong partner, more so than the opposition was in the past, in supporting indigenous communities. Part of our strategy is all around indigenous communities in the far north to ensure they succeed, survive and, frankly, lead in the agri-food system.
    Madam Speaker, I want to pick up on the comments made by my colleague from Langley—Aldergrove.
    Supply chain costs are what is really impacting the price of food here. The government is maintaining a 34% tariff on Russian fertilizer. Do not get me wrong. I am in no way in favour of any measures that support Putin. However, the government is exempting Russian titanium for our aerospace industry. Why the hypocrisy?
     Madam Speaker, now we are talking about trade on a broad scale. We are talking about international trade. That is an important question because agri-food processing is an essential trade element for Canada, as is our trade in all of the mineral deposits and every other aspect. It is important to provide value-added trade for Canada in the processing sector. Therefore, we are looking at ways to provide greater competition and support for Canada in its trade activities in the value-added component.
     I agree with the you. I am no fan right now of the geopolitical situation we have outside. Canada needs to protect its sovereignty, and the best way to do that is to protect our agri-food business and those Canadian producers.
    I would remind the hon. parliamentary secretary that he is to address all questions and comments through the Chair.
    Continuing with questions and comments, we will go to the hon. member for Esquimalt—Saanich—Sooke.
    Madam Speaker, I wonder if the hon. member was as surprised as I was to hear Conservatives raising competition with California and saying it has no carbon tax. It has a cap-and-trade system, so it has put a price on carbon. Therefore, I cannot understand their argument that somehow this makes it impossible for farmers to compete with California.
     Madam Speaker, the member opposite does bring forward something very interesting.
    Canada and the province of Ontario, as an example, were part of the Western Climate Initiative throughout California and Quebec, along with other provinces and other states in the United States, to provide for industry-wide industrial pricing on carbon. It exempted that province, as well as Quebec, from the backstop, which is the federal program that all provinces are entitled to do, netting the province of Ontario $1.5 billion a year because we had decarbonized our system through the elimination of coal. We were advancing.
    It was a Conservative government that decided to eliminate the cap-and-trade system in Ontario, and the $1.5 billion in revenue, to pick a fight on carbon pricing with the federal government, which it did not need to do because we were exempt. It was an incentive program. It provided an incentive to invest in changing consumer habits, to retrofit their homes and to provide agricultural sustainability. Every area of the program is priced internationally. The Conservative members opposite should be well aware of that.

(1105)

     Madam Speaker, when Canadians were finding it difficult, the government came out with a grocery rebate to help support Canadians with groceries. I wonder if the member could provide a quick thought on that.
    Madam Speaker, it is an important program to provide for consumers and those most in need to provide affordability, something the Conservative government feels is not necessary to do, and that is very unfortunate.
     Madam Speaker, I have to admit that I am a little tough on the NDP sometimes, not only here in the House, but also out on my travels and during the touring I do across the country on behalf of our party, our leader and the official opposition.
    I consider myself a relatively nice guy, but I have to say that my patience is wearing thin when it comes to the credibility of the NDP. I have had the opportunity to visit northern Ontario several times, making the drive to North Bay, Sudbury, Timmins, Sault Ste. Marie, Thunder Bay and all points in between. The NDP's continued propping up of the tired Liberal government is a frustrating point in itself, but members can just imagine how unpopular the ever-increasing carbon tax is in northern Ontario.
    If someone has to go from Timmins down to Sudbury, which is about a three and a half hour drive, the carbon tax is driving up the cost of gas to go to medical appointments. It is adding a cost to groceries when reefer trucks have to go up to northern Ontario to deliver food. The NDP is completely out of touch with the communities in northern Ontario it claims to represent well.
    Let us talk about Vancouver Island. Out there, over the course of the last couple of years, so many people who cast a ballot for the NDP in the last election have buyer's remorse. They did not vote for the NDP to prop up the Liberals in a four-year coalition deal, to cover up their scandals or to go along with the Prime Minister and his out-of-touch agenda, which has driven up inflation, doubled housing prices and doubled our national debt. The increasingly frustrating point for those people is, if they had wanted to vote for the Prime Minister to remain in power, they would have voted Liberal. They voted NDP for something different, but instead, they got nothing but the same.
    There is a hypocrisy here. There is a double standard that the NDP need to be called out on. I am happy to do so time and time again. I will remind Canadians of that, whether it be on Vancouver Island, in northern Ontario, or any other place where the NDP currently holds seats. The NDP props up the Liberals on every budget. There is a hypocrisy there because, in the budget speeches, NDP members complain that things are put in the budget but never followed through on.
    One thing the NDP does as well is that it covers up the constant scandals that the Conservatives try to get answers for at committee. The “cover-up coalition” is a term we have used several times over the course of the last couple of years, such as with the Winnipeg lab documents, foreign interference and ArriveCan. The number of times the NDP has voted to shut down meetings, shut down committee studies and investigations into the numerous examples of waste, is endless and frustrating those who have, perhaps, traditionally in the past, supported the NDP. Many traditional NDP supporters say that they do not recognize the party anymore, and rightfully so.
    That is why I believe common-sense Conservatives are really getting some good momentum across the country. We are the contrast. After nine years, the government wants to quadruple the carbon tax from its current levels. We want to axe the carbon tax. When we say something to Canadians, we are the ones who will follow through and do it, unlike the NDP, and we are here in the House today on its opposition day motion. The NDP members claim they stand up against corporate greed and against corporate welfare handouts. To clarify, this is a non-binding motion that the NDP has presented here. This is the shell game and the charade that it plays. Canadians are calling it out, and rightfully so.
    This motion, if it passes or not, will not force the Liberal government to make any change that it claims it wants to have. If only there were something the NDP members could do to get their way and maybe make a change in this country. They could stop propping up the tired, out-of-touch and corrupt Prime Minister and Liberal-NDP government. They could let Canadians decide. If they are so confident about their ideas, and if they are so confident that they are on the right track, they should have no problem in an election. It has been three years since the last election, so call the question. Let us have an election and let Canadians decide. There is a reason we are dealing with a non-binding motion here today.
    I will split my time today with the member for Bay of Quinte, a great member from eastern Ontario. I just want to say I feel bad for the NDP because it is on full display today just how hypocritical it is with its messaging and its attempts to make Canadians believe it is different than the current Liberal government.

(1110)

    Today, we are debating an NDP opposition day motion. Just moments ago, during Routine Proceedings, the Speaker tabled the Auditor General's latest set of reports on spending by the Liberal-NDP government, spending that was not only approved by the Liberals, but also propped up fully, every single time, by the NDP.
    A report came out regarding Sustainable Development Technology Canada. That is the Liberal-NDP green slush fund that has been under scandal and under review for months. The report was just tabled. If the NDP wants to tackle corporate greed, corporate welfare, corporate handouts and Liberal insiders getting special privileges and giving contracts to taxpayer money, this is the real deal of what we are talking about.
     Here are the Auditor General's words, hot off the press, just tabled here this morning, on this green slush fund scandal. The report states that they found that money was awarded to “funding to projects that were ineligible, that conflicts of interest existed in some instances, and that certain requirements...were not met.” The report continues, “We found that the [group appointed by the Liberals] awarded funding to 10 ineligible projects...awarded $59 million even though they did not meet key requirements set out in the contribution agreements”.
     It goes on. Here is how bad the corruption is. This is supported and voted for by the NDP and, trust me, it is going to continue to prop the Liberals up. The report also states, “Also...we found 90 cases that were connected to approval decisions, representing nearly $76 million in funding awarded to projects, where the foundation's conflict-of-interest policies were not followed.”
    What does that mean? Let me simplify it. It means Liberal appointees gave money, in conflict of interest, to their Liberal friends and corporate insiders, approved by the NDP and propped up by the NDP. We talk about corporate greed, corporate welfare and waste of taxpayers' money in corruption. Right there from the Auditor General, the NDP is going to have a lot to answer for if it wants to keep propping the Liberals up, and not through a non-binding opposition day motion, but again, continued confidence in the Liberal government. The NDP has zero credibility.
     If that was not enough, the Auditor General has been busy, and there was a second report today about the amount of money spent on outside contractors and consultants under the Liberal government. Professional Services Contract was the title of the report. Let me just say this: McKinsey, a Liberal insider firm, has received over $200 million, $209 million, over the course of the last several years. It found many examples of departments and agencies, and eight out of 10 Crown corporations failed to properly follow all aspects of their procurement policies and guidance on at least a contract they had with McKinsey.
    The investigation needs to continue. We need to get to the bottom of this and stop these corporate handouts that are coming from the NDP-Liberal government. Let us remember, it is not just the Liberals tabling a budget. It is the NDP going along, carte blanche, approving all these, whether it be the budget, the estimates or the cover-ups at committees, as Conservatives try to get to the bottom, to root this out, to stop this corporate welfare handout to Liberal inside friends. It is the NDP that needs to answer for it.
     At the end of the day, there are things we can do in this country that are not being done after nine years of the NDP-Liberal government. We have a competition problem in this country. The NDP, despite all its complaints and its tough questions in question period, props the status quo up of these Liberals each and every time.
     A key item that could provide immediate relief, controlled by the federal government, is to axe the carbon tax. It is now clear. It is driving up grocery prices, and they are just getting started. The Liberals want to quadruple the carbon tax to 61¢ a litre. It is out of touch. Canadians are out of money. Frankly, with this motion, they are tired of the NDP hypocrisy of always talking a tough game and then propping up the Liberals until at least next fall. I cannot wait for Canadians to have their say at the next election.

(1115)

    Madam Speaker, I always enjoy the fantasies of my colleague. The reality is that half of the national executive of the corporate Conservatives are corporate lobbyists. We have seen their national campaign manager and their deputy leader as corporate lobbyists. The member stressed the fact that opposition days are non-binding. That is true. Every single Conservative opposition day is a non-binding opposition day as well, so that is kind of absurd. I know Conservatives are stretching.
    My question is very simple. Just a few months after Harper was elected, the price-fixing started. The bread price-fixing scandal cost the average Canadian family hundreds and hundreds of dollars. It continued throughout the Harper regime. Conservatives never lifted a finger to stop that theft. Will the member rise today and solemnly apologize to Canadians for Harper and his government allowing that rip-off to continue for nearly a decade?
    Madam Speaker, that was a little bit of a political science lesson from the member from the NDP. He has been here a long time. He has been in office with the Prime Minister for the last nine years. For every grievance and complaint that the NDP members have, they have had an opportunity to address it and to fix it. For all the complaints that the NDP has in this motion today, NDP members could walk over to the Prime Minister today and tell him that unless he does A, B or C, they will pull the plug and call an election so that Canadians can decide. He talks tough all the time.
     Conservatives are on the side of everyday Canadians. We want to lower grocery prices. The NDP has propped up the Liberal idea. Remember the grocery summit that happened last year? It was going to lower prices by Thanksgiving. Nothing happened from that. As to the NDP's plan on the carbon tax, the NDP knows that it is out of touch to want to quadruple the carbon tax from the pain already being caused. The NDP talks a big game. I will put our record, when we were in government, of lower grocery prices against the NDP record any day of the week.
     Madam Speaker, I have been on the fisheries committee since 2015, and we have just witnessed a huge run of red herring. I think there should be a harvest, actually.
     Is the member who just spoke comfortable with the fact that big grocery racked up $6 billion in profits last year? Was it too much, not enough or just right? What does he think?
    Madam Speaker, all those numbers the member just cited are their record after nine years. This is a non-binding NDP motion. The NDP members sound tough about making changes, but they have not. Again, what the NDP wants to do, as opposed to doing anything else, is to raise the taxes on everything by hiking up the carbon tax and quadrupling it. Canadians know that is out of touch, and it is only going to drive the gap in prices up even further.
     I will just have Canadians reflect on a moment here after nine years. The government has increased taxes: the carbon tax, alcohol tax and payroll tax. The government had an unused housing tax that was supposed to solve a bunch of problems. I will ask Canadians to reflect on the government's record and credibility as to finances and taxation. Has climate change been resolved? Are forest fires not happening anymore? That is not true. Is the budget balanced? Not even close. Is life more affordable? Not even close. Are more houses getting built? Not even close.
     Every time the government claims that it wants to hike taxes as a solution, it actually does the opposite. Canadians see that through and through. They are getting nailed with the carbon tax, while the rich, who the government claims to hike taxes on, seem to be doing just fine.

(1120)

     Madam Speaker, I would just like to get my colleague's comments about the difference in inflation between now and the Harper years, when the former Harper government stimulated the economy and balanced it again in six years instead of seven, which it even had in its plan, versus what is happening today.
    Madam Speaker, Conservatives balanced the budget. We had lower taxes. Rent was half of what it is today. Housing prices were half of what they are today, and life was a heck of a lot more affordable than it is now, even after all the pitches and proposals by the NDP and Liberals. I will put a common-sense Conservative record any day of the week, on the table, versus what they have and the record they are going to have to answer for.
    Madam Speaker, $1 billion is the excess profit RBC made over and above its last quarter in 2023 because the NDP did not stop the merger, approved by the finance minister, of RBC buying small, scrappy competitor HSBC. The NDP in this House of Commons is a walking contradiction. The New Democrats talk about corporate greed and about going after big, greedy corporations, but in not saying no to the merger of RBC and HSBC, RBC became richer and Canadians became poorer. At the end of the day, Canadians feel they have been sold out by the NDP, which is not holding government to account and not standing up for Canadians.
    There are three mega-mergers by the Liberal government that the NDP has not stopped. Rogers and Shaw merged only a year ago, which meant that cellphone prices went up, and we have WestJet and Sunwing, and it was just announced a couple weeks ago that Sunwing will be shutting down.
    Competition means that we have more players fighting for our dollars to ensure we bring prices down and service up. In Canada, we have a major monopoly problem, where we have too many big players that have squeezed smaller players out, and the result of that is that Canadians are paying the highest prices in the world.
    After nine years of the Liberal government, Canadians pay the highest cellphone bills in the world: three times as much as Australia and twice as much as the U.S. and Europe. When it comes to bank fees, Canadians pay among the highest bank fees in the world. Only six banks control 95% of mortgages. We look at cellphone bills and how they are affecting families unable to afford groceries at the grocery store and wanting to use cellphones for safety, education or the workplace. They are simply saying that they cannot afford those bills; they are too much. When we look at airlines, we have only two airlines that control 80% of all the air travel in Canada. We look at those fees, the junk fees, taxes and airport fees, and they are among the highest in the world.
    The New Democrats have had an ample chance to say no. They have a supply agreement. They are the only party in this House that is propping up the government, and by not standing up to say no to RBC-HSBC, the result has been almost 1% higher mortgage rates, specifically in Vancouver and Toronto, where HSBC had 10% of Vancouver mortgage rates and 5% of Toronto mortgage rates. The NDP was not able to say no to Rogers and Shaw, and prices have gone up, even though the Prime Minister promised that he would halve prices for Canadians. The NDP was not able to say no to WestJet and Sunwing, and Sunwing is being obliterated and eliminated.
    The NDP government is a walking contradiction by standing up for “corporate bad” and standing up for Canadians, who are the opposite of that. Canadians feel they have been completely sold out. There is even a limerick for it—

(1125)

    There seem to be some cross-conversations while the hon. member is trying to do his speech, so I ask members to please wait. They will have an opportunity to have five minutes of questions and comments.
    The hon. member for Bay of Quinte has the floor.
    Madam Speaker, the New Democrats are applauding this record. Canadians right now are poorer than they have ever been and are paying more for services compared to the rest of the world. We have less competition. There was even a limerick on this:
    

The NDP let the Big Fish Swim
HSBC Shaw, they're all in
RBC and Rogers GREW
Sunwing flew right out of view.

    At the end of the day, the NDP was the only party and its leader to say no to these mergers to help Canadians. When we look at what is happening with grocery prices, it is the only party that could have said no to what is raising the prices of groceries the most across Canada, which is the carbon tax. When we tax the farmer who grows the food, the truckers who ship the food and the manufacturers who make the food, those taxes add costs all the way down the line and grocery prices have gone up.
    More importantly, when we look at competition for groceries, even though we heard in this House of Commons Loblaws consistently and Metro hardly ever, not once have we heard about the manufacturers, the manufacturing size and scope of these big monopolies that exist not only across Canada but across North America: Nestlé, PepsiCo, Tyson Foods, Kraft Heinz, Archer Daniels Midland and George Weston Limited. Manufacturers are charging excessive amounts for their products because there is no competition.
    When we talk about competition, I finally figured out why it is so wrong with the NDP and the Liberals. If one were to sit down on a three-legged stool, there is balance. There are three legs and that is really what we are missing in competition: one is regulation, one is competition and one is innovation. The common-sense Conservatives talk about these three things.
    First, on the need for regulation, we do not believe in the big, powerful companies. We want to make sure there is regulation, companies are held in check and Competition Act changes are made. I have a bill that would eliminate the efficiencies defence. Second, looking at competition, we need small players to grow and compete. Third, we need to make sure we have innovation, new ways to bring innovation and bring more competition to Canadians. I finally figured it out with this three-legged stool. The NDP only has one leg. That is why, when people sit on it, they talk about regulation, regulation, regulation and not innovation or competition. People topple over, and they topple left. It is how it goes.
    When we talk about what we need for competition, of course we need to talk about regulation, but we have to talk about competition in Canada. No aspect of this motion talks about taking on manufacturers and their large profits or looking at who can grow in Canada. Let us talk about Save-On-Foods with 183 locations in western Canada. Why are we not helping Save-on-Foods come east in Canada? Freson Bros. in Alberta has 16 stores throughout the province, a great, locally owned grocery store. Why are we not helping it grow, expand and get to the rest of Canada? We are looking at how locally owned grocers can play a part in competing in the Canadian economy.
    There are new innovations right now. People can order groceries on their phones and they are delivered to their doors. There is normally a four-dollar delivery fee, but what is being eliminated? It eliminates the warehousing and the retail store. The biggest advantage that Loblaws, Sobeys and Metro have, besides the leader of the NDP's brother working for one of those companies, Metro, is real estate. The biggest monopoly in some of that real estate is the real estate investment trusts. They own all the land. Of course those grocery stores are going to be tough to compete against because they own the land on which they reside. Grocery right now is a retail game. It is basically a real estate game. They own the land on the right side of Main Street, and people driving home from work, driving to work or on the weekend get groceries for their families. They have a complete and utter monopoly on how we get groceries to Canadians.
    It has to be about distribution, which is part of innovation. It has to be competition, meaning we are bringing more competitors in. It has to be regulation, but regulation also means that we get rid of the burden of the carbon tax, which we know is increasing those prices. None of that is in this opposition day motion. When we talk about what could have happened for Canadians, there are motions and ideas, but we had ideas up front, we have put forward motions that the government could have made and that the NDP could have said no to, which was opposing the three mergers that are hurting Canadians today.

(1130)

     The fact is that Canada cannot even get cellphone prices down. We have the highest in the world. The answer, of course, is the same thing: competition and innovation to get those prices down. When we look at bank fees, open banking will revolutionize banking in Canada, if we can ever do it. It has taken six years to get regulation in place. When we look at airlines, airports and competition as a whole, the only party in the House that is even willing to look at this is the common-sense Conservative Party. A common-sense Conservative government understands there are three legs to a stool. We know we are going to create competition, and we know we are going to ensure there is innovation. We are going to axe the carbon tax. We are going to ensure there are regulations so the monopolies do not control this economy. We will bring back competition to Canadians, to their families and to their savings and their households.
    Uqaqtittiji, in Nunavut, aviation fuel is exempt from the carbon tax, so carbon tax cannot be used as an excuse for the high prices of groceries. Does the member agree that, in fact, it is corporate greed causing higher prices in Nunavut?
    An example I have mentioned is the CEO of the North West Company, who earned $3.91 million, while my constituents in one year earned $3.91 million. Meanwhile, my constituents are suffering from food insecurity, and the costs of groceries are not being lowered. Knowing that the carbon tax is not applied to aviation fuel and that all the communities I represent are fly-in communities, how does the member respond to realizing that corporate greed is actually the cause of high prices in the Arctic?
     Madam Speaker, carbon tax is included in interprovincial travel, so the member might be surprised to learn that carbon tax is added to those fuel bills. However, we agree on the fact that to tackle these monopolies and oligopolies we need more competition. Do I believe we should have big, massive corporations with big CEOs making massive dollars in groceries? Absolutely not.
    We have been on the record consistently saying we want more competition, which means we have more companies and the wealth is spread out. How to do that is to have more companies. The problem with our remote areas in Canada is that it is going to take a lot more innovation and sometimes a bit of help to get that to happen, because we do have large companies that dominate the landscapes. The only way out of that is to make sure we are involved in rural areas to help those areas get better, as well as to make sure there is more competition in general in urban areas.
    Madam Speaker, the CEOs of five big oil companies are coming to the environment committee on Thursday. We know these companies are keeping the prices high, earning excess profits and not reinvesting those profits. Does the member think those companies should be broken up into lots of little companies? Would he vote for something like that, or does he take his marching orders from the gas tax-hiking Premier of Alberta, Danielle Smith?
    Madam Speaker, when it comes to competition, I do not think there is any industry we are really protecting and one that is really protected. Every part of the Canadian economy is a monopoly or an oligopoly. That is just simple fact, and that is after nine years of the Liberal government.
    When we look at every single sector, whether that be telecommunications, banking or airlines, the government has done nothing to create competition in any of that. The result is that Canadians, and I do not know if the member's constituents should be happy, are all paying more than every other G7 nation, every one, because of the government's inability to create competition. Saying that we are protecting something when everything under the government is under a monopoly or an oligopoly is pretty rich.

(1135)

[Translation]

    Madam Speaker, my colleague sits on the Standing Committee on Industry and Technology. I know that he is interested in the price of many goods and services in Quebeckers' and Canadians' market basket.
     In the last budget, the government proposed an open banking system. That will completely sideline Desjardins, the largest financial institution in Quebec. The federal government wants to impose an open banking system and force Desjardins either to isolate itself or to join the federal system, which would certainly go against the spirit of the Constitution.
     I would like to hear my colleague's thoughts about this. Does he not think that, before once again imposing a last-minute policy on the provinces, the government should coordinate with Quebec to ensure that Quebeckers, most of whom bank with Desjardins, can receive the same treatment as all other Canadians?

[English]

     Madam Speaker, my hon. colleague and I have a lot of fun in the industry committee together, and I enjoy serving with him.
    Open banking is supposed to be giving less regulation and more competition to the banking sector. The federal government should only be introducing regulations that bring an API, or application programming interface, that forces the banks, on consumer consent, to give up their information. It should not be telling any company what to do, except for enforcing these regulations, which force the banks, on one's consent, to give one's banking information back.
    The open banking industry fintechs have been fighting to get through this. They are doing it all illegally right now on the backs of only the provinces. The federal government needs to get out of the way.

[Translation]

    Madam Speaker, I will be sharing my time with the member for Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot.
     Today, we are talking about the price of groceries and the food we eat. First, as they start their season, I would like to take a few seconds in the House to thank all those in Quebec's agricultural and processing sectors who feed us. Many of my colleagues from all parties, especially those of the Bloc Québécois, are from Quebec agricultural ridings that feed our cities. In particular, I am thinking of the member from Montcalm and the member for Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot.
     I feel it is very important to acknowledge the work of people in the agricultural sector. They work hard under tough market conditions. Global warming and climate conditions do not help. Bad weather adds to all the economic hardship these people face. However, in the past year, the federal government has offered virtually no meaningful programs to help them. I therefore want to recognize their work.
     Today, we are debating this NDP motion. I have mixed feelings about it because we know the NDP has something of talent for making accurate diagnoses but proposing solutions that, to put it politely, are inappropriate and ill-conceived. Maybe it is because of incompetence. I cannot say. Anyway, the NDP makes diagnoses.
     For example, they said people need dental care. Their solution was to ask the government with the least competence and no jurisdiction in this area to implement a program that violates the Constitution by sending cheques to people, making them wait and not clearly outlining the parameters to them, not to mention that its management was turned over to the private sector.
     A diagnosis with a bad solution is the hallmark of the NDP. It is the same thing with the pharmacare system. The New Democrats are good at stating the obvious: In their opinion, people need prescription drugs. I thank the NDP, because no one here had any idea. Here again, the NDP comes up with a solution, namely to call on the federal government to get involved and impose conditions on the provinces. Given that Quebec already has its own plan and is innovating, they are destabilizing that plan and slowing down the progress of Quebec's system, which is still a model in the federation. They are actually slowing down innovation, because a province that is innovating can inspire the other provinces.
     That is the hallmark of the NDP. It makes an obvious diagnosis of an obvious problem. In this particular case, let us keep in mind that for 30 years the NDP was not interested in this problem, although it has easily existed for 30 or 40 years in our competition regime. However, after a period of 7%, 8% or 9% annual inflation, the NDP is suddenly interested and is proposing a strange solution. The NDP's solution is to control prices, in other words, cap them.
     I am all for discussing the price of food, because it is true that prices have increased. How do we cap the price of groceries? We open a new tower here in Ottawa and fill it with public servants who will search through flyers all day long: Butter will be such and such a price, celery is too expensive in Val-d'Or, maybe beets should be cheaper in Rimouski, and a loaf of bread in Plateau Mont-Royal costs 25¢ too much.
     This was already done in the United States during the Great Depression of the 1930s. They were exceptional measures. It was also done during the Second World War, when they had the Office of Price Administration. That place was filled with public servants who threw papers from one floor to another, as in “the place that sends you mad”, in an Asterix film. At the time, in all the non-communist regimes where this was done, these were exceptional measures implemented in response to an exceptional situation. The problem with what the NDP is proposing is that it is seeking an exceptional measure to address a problem that has become permanent. That is the wrong way to approach the problem.
     The same is true of bringing in a windfall profit tax. It might be a good tax. It may be that this tax will not distort markets. Tax specialists tell us that some taxes are better than others in that they are less harmful to the economy, which will come as a surprise to the Conservatives. In the Bloc Québécois, we once proposed a temporary windfall tax on certain profits. It was a surtax on the banks, because they had made excess profits during the pandemic, and those temporary measures could be considered appropriate.

(1140)

     In this case, however, the situation is structural. In 1986, I was four years old. Revealing my age is not something I like doing, but someone put it on Wikipedia so what can I do. In 1986, there were 13 major grocery chains competing with each other. Over the years, some of them swallowed up others. Bigger chains emerged, to the point where today Canada has only three major chains—yes, three. I would remind everyone that geographically speaking, Canada is a very big country, and we have only three chains—five, if we count Costco and Walmart. Target tried but came up short. We started out with 13 large chains and now we are down to five. That is the problem. The problem lies in our competition system. What will we do? Will we let five players divvy up 80% of the market, fill an office tower with public servants and institute price controls? Therein lies the problem.
     I will show how easy it is to diagnose the lack of competition here, as well as the obstacles to investment. The profit margin of Canada's major grocery chains is about 5%. People might say that is not a very big margin, but we are dealing here with a volume market where five players share 80% of the market. Five per cent is a fairly large margin, because in Europe the average margin is 3%. In the United States the average margin is 2%. Furthermore, since there is more competition in the U.S., there is more innovation. One of the leading competition law specialists testified in committee that, unlike here in Canada, there is a differentiated offer in the U.S., in that grocery stores are different from one another and there are different models. Here in Canada, however, when people walk into one grocery store or another, they can see they are all the same. They could change their name tomorrow and we would not even notice a difference.
     I said profit margins are 5% in Canada and 2% in the United States. In a functional market, what should happen in this situation? Eventually, an American chain would decide it is no crazier than anybody else, and it would come open grocery stores in Canada and make 5%.
     What is happening instead? We have a Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry, whom I admire for his boundless energy, flying to the U.S. so he can chase down grocers and beg them to open stores here. Clearly, there is an investment issue. There is something wrong when Bloomberg says that Canada has become a top investment destination for some industries, yet American grocery retailers just kilometres away do not want to come here.
     Why? Maybe it is because there is still anti-competitive behaviour going on, there are regulatory barriers, and the other players are too big. The NDP does not mention this, however. It did not do this analysis, and that is why we will continue to live in a market dominated by a handful of major players.
     Yes, improvements have been made. The commissioner of competition has been given the power to subpoena witnesses and compel them to produce documents. He has been given the power to launch investigations. His powers have been enhanced, but this is like moving from the Stone Age to the Iron Age. Just a few months ago, Canada's competition regime was the same as it was in the 1980s, and it is changing at a snail's pace. However, all competing markets give their commissioners more powers. They give them more freedom. There is always a presumption in favour of consumers, and the commissioner does not have to constantly go to court, only to lose the case in the end.
     We need a major overhaul and regulatory reform. This would require a Parliament that cares about competition and innovation. It would also require stable and predictable supply chains, as well as local production. Free trade is great, but it requires reciprocity of standards, because we are importing products treated with pesticides that are banned in Canada. When the pandemic hit, obviously, supply chains broke down. This would be part of the solution.
    Today's motion gives us an opportunity to talk about and debate food prices. Food is the second highest household expense item. Unfortunately, however, I have my doubts that filling office towers with public servants to control prices is an appropriate way to address a situation that deserves a considerable amount of our attention.

(1145)

[English]

    Uqaqtittiji, I know that the member did not talk about nutrition north in his intervention very much, but that has been the focus of my debate. There are constituents of members of the Bloc Party who can have access to the nutrition north program, and I am specifically talking about the Inuit communities in Nunavik. I wonder what he has to say about the nutrition north program's not having a positive impact on the Inuit communities in Nunavik.

[Translation]

    Madam Speaker, first, I would like to thank my colleague for her relevant and important question.
    Obviously, we agree on this aspect of the NDP's motion. We need to recognize the geographic uniqueness of communities, particularly in the Far North and in the territories. Indeed, increasing funding for these programs responds to a request from the communities. Obviously, the Bloc Québécois supports this request.

[English]

     Madam Speaker, one of the initiatives that I think we have not talked much about is the food price data hub. I find it quite interesting that we can actually educate consumers through a data bank that ultimately shows the average price of food. It is personalized to an individual's province, and it is interesting to go through it. I am wondering whether the member could provide his thoughts in regards to having such data banks and how they could be of benefit, especially when competition is not where it should be.

[Translation]

    Madam Speaker, of course, giving customers more information means giving them a tool that allows them to do the best they can. However, given the state of competition in Canada, this information will let consumers see they are being gouged and paying too much.
     We can go ahead and create all sorts of databases and give the price range for a grocery item on a portal, but if the lowest price on the portal is still too high, that means there is a competition problem. Adding a tool to diagnose the problem will not necessarily solve the problem. We have to address the lack of competition, make Canada attractive for investors and make it possible for the commissioner of competition to do his work freely and with fewer barriers.
     I think that, after that, if the hon. member for Winnipeg-North develops his database, he will notice a drop in prices.

(1150)

[English]

    Madam Speaker, my Bloc colleague gave an excellent speech.
    Certainly I agree with the member when he talked about the comparison of the solution being taxation or more competition. Obviously I would support more competition. However, would he not also agree that a percentage of a higher number results in a higher number? For example, the retailers claim that they have maintained their margins throughout the whole pandemic, yet of course with the rising costs, their profits have come to record levels on a nominal basis. Therefore, would not an additional solution, besides more competition, be the removal of costs in our supply chain, like the carbon tax, like other tariffs that impact farmers, and things of that nature?

[Translation]

    Madam Speaker, we have spent three minutes without talking about the carbon tax. I think that is a record. I thank my colleague for reminding us of his political position.
     We can work on the production costs of groceries, but the Conservatives always lean toward the most polluting option. There are many ways to reduce the costs of groceries. There are many sources of taxation. There are zoning issues that are provincial. Most of these things are not provincial. However, let us be clear, all that interests the Conservatives is oil.
     I think that impeding the fight against climate change is no way to increase competition in a market where the profit margin is more than double what it is in the United States. That is a false solution.
     The Conservatives are trying to deceive the people by trying to make them believe that axing the carbon tax will solve all of humanity's problems. I think these people should start working on a serious political platform that is more complex and more adapted to the complex world we are living in now.
    Madam Speaker, yesterday evening we were debating a Conservative amendment to a Standing Committee on Finance report. This amendment sought to revive the proposal we had voted against just a few hours earlier, the miracle solution of the tax holiday that would last all summer. The taxes would resume once the House was back in session, just in time for us to collectively complain about their return.
     Earlier yesterday, we were debating the simplistic solution to the fight against high grocery prices, because, as we know, in addition to solving all the world's ills, world hunger, the cancer and AIDS epidemics and all other problems, axing the tax on carbon will also guarantee more affordable food prices for all. In fact, if we abolish the carbon tax, food costs would go down to zero and everyone would eat for free.
    A day after the Conservatives' simplistic motion, we are studying a simplistic motion moved by the NDP. We are shifting from a tax break to a price cap. I will read the NDP motion, as I will be talking about the three proposals it contains. There are some good ideas in there, but the Bloc Québécois cannot support it as a whole. It reads as follows:
    That, given that the cost of food continues to increase while grocery giants such as Loblaws, Metro and Sobeys make record profits, the House call on the government to:
(a) force big grocery chains and suppliers to lower the prices of essential foods or else face a price cap or other measures;
(b) stop delaying long-needed reforms to the Nutrition North program; and
(c) stop Liberal and Conservative corporate handouts to big grocers.
    The first thing is the basic wording, “That, given that the cost of food continues to increase while grocery giants make record profits”. We all agree on that. However, we run into the same problem that we saw with the Conservatives. They focus on the perfectly legitimate public anger, but then offer simplistic solutions instead of truly addressing the root of the problem.
     Let us begin with point (a): “force big grocery chains and suppliers to lower the prices of essential foods or else face a price cap”. Say we support it. Now I would want to know how we are supposed to do this. Is there a how-to manual? How do we go about imposing a cap on the price of bread, for example, when wheat prices are negotiated at the Toronto Stock Exchange? How do we go about imposing a cap on the price of fresh vegetables, when prices are skyrocketing mainly because of crop losses due to drought or flooding, which are caused by climate change?
     Unlike the Conservatives, the NDP does believe in climate change. However, the NDP continues to support the budgetary policies introduced by the Liberals, who are always giving handouts to oil companies, even though they contribute more to climate change than any other sector.
     How do we force farmers to lower their prices when the price of nitrogen fertilizer has quadrupled? The price per tonne jumped from $250 to $1,000 between 2020 and 2022. How do we force a Californian produce grower to sell their broccoli cheaper in Canada than in the United States? Does the NDP think it can wave a magic wand and cap prices without creating shortages?
     Point (a) is impractical and unfeasible, which is already reason enough for the Bloc Québécois to vote against the motion, despite the good intentions behind it.
     Now, let us look at the enhancement of the nutrition north program. I will start by saying that this is a good measure. Since 2011, nutrition north has subsidized grocers in the far north to compensate for the high cost of transportation and lower the price of groceries. However, the program does not fully compensate for the high costs, which are due not just to transportation costs but also to low volumes and higher operating costs. Considering that the average income in the Inuit community is around $23,000 a year, which is shockingly low, it is clear that food insecurity must be a widespread problem.

(1155)

     Businesses offer workers from outside the community a golden bridge to encourage them to work in the north. The income of non-indigenous individuals is approximately $95,000 a year, according to a study by Gérard Duhaime, a professor at Université Laval with whom I rubbed shoulders in a previous life.
     We agree with that part of the motion. If that was all the motion contained, both my colleague from Mirabel and I would have given very short speeches, two minutes at most. We would merely have said that we supported the motion. Unfortunately, all the rest of it dilutes and undermines the proposal's credibility.
     The third point calls on the government to “stop Liberal and Conservative corporate handouts to big grocers”. The only thing we want to know is what that is referring to. The NDP often talks about a subsidy that Loblaw received a few years ago to replace its refrigerators with more energy-efficient models. That in itself is no scandal. I think we all aspire to that.
     Besides that, the only handout I see the Liberals and Conservatives giving big grocers is their inaction. By doing nothing, by remaining silent and not taking action, they are giving them an indirect handout. In fact, there are no subsidy programs specifically for grocers, apart from nutrition north, for which the NDP is asking for more funding today. The NDP supports the only subsidy that exists. It is asking the government to enhance and improve the program, and that is what we are asking for as well.
     As mentioned earlier, the companies that are really gorging on subsidies are the oil companies. In the past two years, the federal government has given them subsidy after subsidy. That was always the case, but it did not stop when the infamous coalition agreement with the NDP was signed. The tax breaks set out in all the budgets and economic statements will total $83 billion by 2035. That is more than $2,000 per capita, or almost $4,000 per taxpayer. The NDP keeps supporting every budget, every economic statement and every appropriation, no questions asked, in the name of an agreement to further intrude on Quebec's jurisdictions.
     This spring, Parliament has been seized with bills C-59 and C-69. Today, the Standing Committee on Finance is voting as part of the clause-by-clause study of Bill C‑69. They could be at it until midnight tonight. It provides $48 billion in tax breaks mostly for the oil companies. Does the NDP support that? The answer is yes.
     Since I only have two minutes left, I will finish my speech quickly. I will try to talk as fast as an auctioneer at those events we all occasionally attend in our ridings.
     That being said, there is a real problem. I must emphasize that. The grocery industry is dominated by a handful of moguls, namely Loblaw, Sobeys and Metro. In 2022 alone, these three companies, the most affluent companies in the sector, reported over $100 billion in sales and drew in profits exceeding $3.6 billion. Yes, there is a competition problem. Small entrepreneurs have a hard time breaking into the market, since the grocery giants control everything. With a mixture of astonishment and consternation, we are seeing the growing concentration in the sector make it harder and harder for new entrants to break into the market or expand, making competition almost non-existent.
     According to a 2023 Competition Bureau report, a grocery sector strategy is urgently needed. If the Liberals and Conservatives are giving these giants any handouts, it is by not having a strategy. That is the handout.
     Let us agree on the fact that there are several possible solutions. We need to make it easier for foreign investors to enter the market. We need to increase the number of independent grocers. We also need to have clearer and more harmonized requirements for unit pricing. We also need to take measures to discourage, or even prohibit, property controls in the grocery sector. These controls restrict competing grocers from leasing space in the same building. They make opening new grocery stores much more difficult, if not impossible, and this reduces competition in our communities.
     Why is competition so important? It is the backbone of the economy. Simplistic solutions are not the answer. The answer is more competition in the grocery sector.

(1200)

    Madam Speaker, I am always happy to listen to my colleague.
     The French government forced big companies to lower prices on approximately 5,000 grocery items. This approach was copied by South Korea and Greece for other tools and other measures.
     Does my colleague agree with what the NDP is proposing today, namely the approach of using government measures and tools to lower the price of essential foods and forcing companies to lower their prices, like France, Greece and South Korea did?
    Madam Speaker, I do not wish to repeat everything I already said, but in my remarks, I highlighted several completely unrealistic aspects concerning prices that have nothing to do with public will, but rather result from all sorts of factors, including wheat prices, which are determined in Chicago, or vegetable prices, which are going up because of climate change. There are plenty of similar examples to show that, all in all, this proposal is unrealistic. The problem, unlike in South Korea or France, is the concentration in our grocery sector. That is the real issue. It is concentrated among a handful of grocery giants.
     My colleague's proposal consists of putting in place an interim, temporary solution because the situation has reached alarming levels and something has to be done. All right, but if we do that without attacking the structural, central, permanent problem, which is the growing monopolies in this sector, there will always be a problem with prices, unless the proposed price cap is permanent, which no one seems to be suggesting today.

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, I suspect the issue of caps has a lot to do with the supply end and with the end result. My question to the member is in regard to the idea of enhanced competition. We did have six large grocery companies. Shoppers was the last one that folded into Loblaw. In part, that sent a very strong message in itself, and it was one reason we had to change and to modernize the Competition Act.
    I am wondering if the member could provide his thoughts on the important role that the Competition Act and the commission play in ensuring that there is stability in prices.

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, it goes without saying that this act is important and needs to be updated. Clearly, Houston, we have a problem.
     If there are indeed only six large grocery companies, this strikes me as an indictment of the act in question. It goes without saying that this is part of the the issue. Sometimes I feel like the answer is already in the question, and this is one of those times.
     When the Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry tours the planet in hopes of wooing investors and gets no response, we know there is a problem. Competition is the key. Nevertheless, I think this is a pretty striking example that shows beyond a shadow of a doubt that the status quo is not working.

(1205)

    Mr. Speaker, I would like to return to the other point in the motion my colleague talked about, which is to “stop Liberal and Conservative corporate handouts to big grocers”. We saw this under the Harper government. They took a hands-off approach, and it cost the average Canadian family $400 for groceries, which they should not have had to pay. As we saw with the Liberals, the total comes to $25 million.
     Does my colleague agree with the NDP that all these government subsidies and handouts to the big grocery chains should be terminated, whether the government is Conservative or Liberal?
    Mr. Speaker, as I said earlier, there was a subsidy a few years ago to upgrade refrigerators to more energy-efficient models. I do not think that that is a scandal. The idea itself is a good one. Honestly, I am not an expert in the exact subsidy that was given, but I think that the idea is good. We all agree that we should promote more energy-efficient practices.
     That being said, there is no subsidy specifically for big grocers at this time. There are none. The only one that exists is nutrition north Canada, which the NDP wants to see increased, and we agree. The only subsidy that exists is aimed at helping Northern Canadians.
     If there is a handout, it lies in the Liberals' and Conservatives' inaction.

[English]

    Uqaqtittiji, before I start my speech, I would like to send my best and happiest birthday wishes to my son, Robin. I love him so much, and I am excited to see him again sometime soon.
    With respect to the nutrition north program, I thank the NDP for this opposition day motion to bring to light why we have been making efforts to have it overhauled. The inaction by the Liberals has compelled the NDP to make sure that during this debate we talk about the inadequacy of the program.
    To give a bit of history, the nutrition north program replaced a food mail program, which at the time paid, directly to consumers, the cost of shipping nutritious perishable food and essential items by air to isolated and northern communities. It was originally a program that gave subsidies directly to consumers. This program was changed to the nutrition north program by the Conservative government. When Conservatives replaced the food mail program with the nutrition north program, they made it abundantly clear that they preferred to support corporate greed. The subsidy changed from helping regular people afford food to giving millions to corporations like The North West Company. The North West Company receives 51% of the subsidy. In total, about 125 of its stores use tax dollars to put profits into their pockets in communities where food insecurity is the highest.
    After Conservatives changed the program, the Liberals have not done much better. They have allowed this Conservative-created program to keep supporting corporate greed. Since I was elected in 2021, I have stood in the House time and time again to ask the Liberal government to make changes to the nutrition north program. I have asked 17 times what it will do to help alleviate poverty by improving the program. I have asked about expired food arriving in communities. In effect, the Co-ops were paying cargo fees for nutritious food to arrive in their communities, only to have it taken directly from the airport to the dump.
     The response from the Minister of Northern Affairs was that the Liberal government increased its tax dollars going to corporate greed. It added $163.5 million to address food insecurity in the north. A study showed that for every dollar in the subsidy, only a third was used; the rest went to corporate greed. The North West Company received about $67 million from the nutrition north program. These tax dollars are supposed to help alleviate poverty.
    In a written question to the Liberal government, I asked what quality assurance mechanisms were in place to ensure that perishable goods from all sources reach their final retail destination prior to their best before date.
    The response states, “Nutrition North Canada does not implement or enforce quality assurance mechanisms on retailers and suppliers. Registered retailers and suppliers are responsible for managing the logistics of their respective supply chains, and Nutrition North Canada's subsidy helps to reduce the selling price of food for customers by offsetting considerable operational costs. Any grocery retailers regardless of location will have product which cannot be sold related to dating, as its normal part of the operation.” It further states, “Nutrition North Canada does not implement or enforce quality assurance mechanisms on retailers and suppliers.”

(1210)

     Given the lack of informed responses from the Liberal Minister of Northern Affairs, I was compelled to call on the CEO of The North West Company, the CEOs of Northern Airways and the CEO of a local co-operative in Kimmirut, the Kimik Co-Op.
     During that session at the indigenous and northern affairs committee, we revealed that The North West Company CEO made over a million dollars in bonuses in 2023, on top of the $3 million and $5 million bonuses he had received in 2022 and 2021. Meanwhile, salaries for workers in Iqaluit, like cashiers, are only at $37,000 a year. This might sound like a lot to southern Canada, but this means that those workers are living below the poverty rate.
    Amautiit Nunavut Inuit Women's Association recently released Nunavut's first-ever report card on child poverty. In it, they urged immediate action. They reported that Nunavut families continue to grapple with food insecurity and continue to experience barriers to nutritious and culturally relevant food. In their report, they state that while there is no figure for Nunavut, Ontario's threshold for poverty is $45,324. The report showed that in 2021, Nunavut had the highest child poverty rate under 18 at 35.8%, compared to all other jurisdictions.
     I have been told that the nutrition north program is not working, over and over again. It took me almost three years, due to the the size of Nunavut, to reach all the 25 fly-in communities I represent. In each community, the biggest issue was always housing, but close to the biggest issue of housing, the cost of groceries was always at the top of a list of issues for Nunavummiut to be able to thrive.
    All the time, they share the prices of food, and whenever I have been in the communities, I have checked the prices myself. In Kimmirut, at the Kimik Co-Op and at the Northern store, in that same day, I compared the prices of eggs that were offered. The price of a dozen eggs at the Co-op Kimik store was $3.99. I think that is comparable to southern prices. In that same community, on that same day, the price of a dozen eggs at The North West Company store was $6.49. That is almost a $3 difference.
    When the Minister of Northern Affairs says that parts of the program are working, it is due to the local Co-ops taking advantage of the program the way they are supposed to, in order to reduce prices of nutritious food. It is the local Co-ops in Nunavut communities that are helping their communities to afford quality food. Corporations like The North West Company are not helping to alleviate the cost of food.
    One final comment I wanted to make is about the carbon tax. Nunavut is exempt from carbon tax on aviation fuel. As I said earlier, all 25 communities are fly-in communities. When groceries are being flown to communities, there is no carbon tax on the groceries that are being flown in, which can be attributed to the cost of shipping nutritious food to Nunavummiut.
    I welcome the opportunity to answer questions.

(1215)

    Mr. Speaker, I did an analysis, following publicly available data from credible sources. It said that the impact of the carbon tax on a loaf of bread in a jurisdiction where the federal plan applies is 0.2¢ a loaf.
    With that, I will ask the hon. member whether the Conservatives need to be called out on the narrative they continue to spin, which is that somehow the carbon tax is responsible for high food prices and maybe the corporate profits.
    Uqaqtittiji, the NDP has been calling out the Conservatives on their disinformation to Canadians. As I said, when it comes to the fly-in communities that this program is supposed to support, all flights going to Nunavut are exempt from carbon tax, so we cannot attribute the increased cost of food to the carbon tax.
    Mr. Speaker, as far as the cost of living in northern communities, while aviation fuel might be exempt from the carbon tax, what about the cost of fuel for transportation from the stores back to people's homes? I imagine people in northern communities live further away from grocery stores.
    How much does the carbon tax impact that cost? Does that increase the cost of living in northern Canada?
    Uqaqtittiji, I can only speak to how things work in Nunavut. As I said, all the communities I represent are fly-in communities. It has taken me almost three years to get to all of them.
    When I see the efforts of the nutrition north program being used properly by businesses like local co-ops, those kinds of programs can work if they are used the way they are intended to be used. The Liberal government is not doing its job, which is to make improvements to the Conservative-created program.

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, qujannamiik to my colleague from Nunavut, with whom I was pleased to work on the Standing Committee on Indigenous and Northern Affairs.
     I am happy that we are talking a little about the north today. Rural and remote communities, in particular indigenous and Inuit communities, often face difficulties due to their geographical remoteness.
     My colleague touched on the issue of housing. Obviously, we are talking about nutrition. This is nothing new. People in the north have been dealing with this issue for decades. Of course, when the entire population sees that there is a problem, our instinct is to tackle it head on. However, potential solutions have already been proposed for the north.
     I would like to hear more from my colleague about this issue and what she has to say about nutrition north Canada. Concerning the question of food security, does my colleague have other solutions to propose for regions like hers and mine?

(1220)

[English]

    Uqaqtittiji, I very much enjoyed working with the member when she was at the indigenous and northern affairs committee.
    Great solutions have been provided from reports like the Truth and Reconciliation Commission's calls for action, and the MMIWG's calls for justice. In the other report I mentioned, recommendations were made by Amautiit Nunavut Inuit Women’s Association.
    Coming from the NDP, my colleague from Winnipeg Centre has a great bill, which proposes a universal basic income for people who struggle with reaching at least some threshold of income.
    Great work is being done and part of what we could be doing is ensuring that Leah Gazan's bill is supported by all parties.
    I will remind members not to use the proper names of members in the House. The hon. member for Winnipeg Centre is what I think the hon. member meant.
    The hon. member for Victoria.
    Mr. Speaker, Canadians need relief from high food prices. We know that across the country, Canadians are struggling. Over the past three years, the cost of food has gone up and up, with increases of over 20%. The use of food banks is at a 35-year high and one in five Canadians is skipping meals.
     At the same time that Canadians are struggling, the biggest grocery store chains are making record profits. Loblaws has almost doubled its profit margin in the past five years. Metro has the biggest profit margin of any grocery company. Canadians know that they are struggling because of corporate greed, yet the Liberals and the Conservatives are presenting almost nothing when it comes to tackling the issue of price gouging, of corporate greed driving up costs. The Liberals and the Conservatives have failed to protect Canadians. Consumers, more and more, are recognizing that they want a government that has the courage and the conviction to take on these big grocery store giants.
    Across Canada, people are boycotting Loblaws, and this is a reaction to government inaction. Despite months of promises, the government has not actually taken meaningful action. To have the Prime Minister ask grocery stores nicely if they would please sign on to a grocery store code of conduct is not how we tackle corporate greed. Instead of going after corporate greed, the Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition are handing out money to these companies. They are feeding the greed of these massive corporations.
     The Liberals gave out $25 million of our taxpayer dollars to Loblaws and to Costco. This was while they were already making massive profits. Pierre Poilievre was in government when the Conservatives—
     The hon. member knows that we cannot use proper names.
    The hon. member for Victoria.
    Mr. Speaker, this is on top of the fact that the Leader of the Opposition was in government when the Conservatives gave out massive corporate handouts, $2.35 billion, to big grocers, which the Liberals have maintained. We can see very clearly that the Conservatives and the Liberals have been making life easier for the biggest corporations, which makes life harder for everyday Canadians.
    It is government's responsibility to make life better for Canadians. It is why we, my NDP colleagues and I, are taking corporate greed head on. We are taking it on when it comes to grocery store chains, when it comes to oil and gas companies and when it comes to the big banks. We have been calling for an excess profit tax on all these sectors. We were able to force the Liberals to implement a one-time tax on the biggest banks, but they refused to extend that to big box stores, to the grocery store chains that are gouging Canadians, while Canadians are going to food banks in record numbers. They refused to put that excess profit tax on the oil and gas companies that are fuelling the climate crisis, while raking in record profits and scaling back their climate commitments.
    We need to stop greedy corporations from ripping Canadians off on the food they need. We need a government that takes its responsibility seriously to protect Canadians, whether it is from the greed of grocery store chains, whether it is from the greed of oil and gas companies or the biggest banks that are funding and fuelling the the oil and gas companies. These changes are long needed, and Canadians can see clearly that the government is failing.
     Food should be affordable for everyone. The Conservatives and the Liberals have a choice. Will they keep standing with the biggest corporations, with the grocery CEOs who are getting million-dollar bonuses, or are they going to stand with Canadians who need a government that has their back, that will take the action needed to lower food prices?
    We are asking the government to force big grocery chains and suppliers to lower their prices of essential foods. If they do not, then the government has to put in place a price cap or use other measures and penalties. We have seen this around the world. France and Greece are taking bold action to ensure that on essential commodities, the things that people need to live, companies cannot drive up the price just to pad their pockets, just to give their CEOs millions of dollars in bonuses and their shareholders billions of dollars in profits.
     We know that the biggest grocery store chains have control over some of their prices. They have announced price freezes on store name brands. We saw that with no name products. All of these grocery stores have their own brands. A cap on prices on these items is clearly within their control. However, the government cannot just ask nicely if those grocery stores might please, voluntarily, maybe freeze prices. The government needs to force them to make this change.
    So far, the Liberals have promised Canadians that they will stabilize food prices, but they have failed to do it. The Prime Minister has asked the grocery store chains to come up with a plan to lower prices. When asked what would happen if they did not, the Prime Minister said, “If their plan doesn't provide real relief ... then we will—

(1225)

    Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order. I believe we do not have quorum in the House.
    Let us have a quick count. We obviously do not have a quorum right now, so I will have to call in the members.
    And the bells having rung:

(1230)

    We now have quorum.
    The hon. member for Victoria.
     Mr. Speaker, it is really clear to me the Conservatives are so afraid to take on corporate greed that they feel they need to use partisan tactics to try to disrupt a clear call to tackle grocery greed and bring down prices for Canadians.
    That said, the Liberals have also failed on this front. I was about to read a quote from the Prime Minister, who said, “If their plan doesn't provide real relief...then we will take further action, and we are not ruling anything out, including tax measures.”
    In the past three years, food prices have increased by more than 20%. We need government action to lower the price of essential food. We know it works. We have seen countries like France and Greece take steps to lower the prices of essential foods. In France, the government secured a deal with 75 major companies to lower the price of groceries for 5,000 products. In Greece, the government announced a gross profit cap for key consumer goods and services in the food and health sectors.
    In Canada, the government keeps thinking that if we ask nicely enough, big grocery store chains are just going to do it on their own. That is not how corporate greed works. It is not a wild idea; price control measures are being used right now in Canada. Many provincial governments impose limits on rent increases. Prices for most forms of energy, although not gas or refined petroleum products, are already regulated in Canada. The government also committed to forcing big telecom companies to reduce their prices by 25% a couple of years ago.
    We can tackle grocery store prices for Canadians. Canadians deserve a government that tackles corporate greed. Unfortunately, what Canadians have is a government that has failed time and time again. It kept in place the corporate handouts the Conservatives put in place. Billions of dollars in taxpayer money has been handed to the biggest corporations.
    Today, New Democrats want to lower grocery store prices for Canadians and hold corporations accountable. Will the Liberals and the Conservatives stand with Canadians instead of with the companies that are raking in record profits?
     Mr. Speaker, one of the issues is that the NDP tends to talk about corporate handouts. The only corporate handout I am aware of was a few years ago, where we provided an incentive, and I believe there were about 45 or 50 applicants, regarding refrigeration. Loblaw was one of the applicants, so we paid up to 25% for it to invest in technological advancements that would reduce emissions.
    My question for the member is this: Is the NDP suggesting that when a government comes up with a policy to reduce emissions, the private sector should not be allowed to participate in that type of grant?
    Mr. Speaker, when the companies are making record profits, yes, the government should be forcing them to make the changes to reduce their emissions without handing over taxpayer money. If we actually put in place strong regulations for the oil and gas sector and the grocery stores, we could change behaviour without needing to hand out big fossil fuel subsidies or big subsidies to grocery store chains.
    However, I do want to note that when the Conservatives were in power they cut the corporate tax rate from 22% to 15%, and the Liberals kept that cut in place. That cost Canadian taxpayers approximately $60 billion in corporate handouts. The Biden administration has proposed increasing the U.S. corporate tax rate from 21% to 28%. Can the member see that a corporate tax rate that benefits the biggest grocery stores, that encourages them not to actually pay their fair share, is a handout to the big companies that are making record profits?

(1235)

     Mr. Speaker, I have a very simple question. If all of the corporate profits were eliminated, set at zero voluntarily or by legislation, if the grocery CEOs received zero compensation and both of those factors were removed from the price of food, would the hon. member across the way deem food to be affordable and priced appropriately?
    Mr. Speaker, I feel as if this is the kind of stock definition of a “straw man” argument. No one has said the corporations would maybe be making zero profit. No one has said that the CEOs would be making zero dollars. We are saying that maybe at a time when the biggest corporations are making billions of dollars, when they are raking in record profits and Canadians are going to food banks, just maybe, we deserve a government that will take on corporate greed and lower the prices of everyday essentials for Canadians while they are struggling.
    Mr. Speaker, I wish Conservatives had not tried to disrupt my colleague's inspiring speech with all of their procedural tactics, as they have been doing all day.
    The Conservatives, of course, have the most egregious record. We saw them, under the Harper regime, allow bread price fixing that cost the average family $400. It started right after Harper got elected and continued throughout the Harper regime.
    Could my colleague tell us why the Conservatives are so afraid of the drive by the NDP to actually end food price gouging? Why are they so concerned when there is a negative impact on the corporate lobbyists who control their party?
    Mr. Speaker, I think my colleague is right. We have been seeing procedural tactics being used to try to avoid the conversation about tackling corporate greed. That is because the Conservative Party, its members and half of its national governing body, is made up of lobbyists. We have seen that with some of the people who are at the very top of the organization and who are trying to hide their lobbying efforts. Half of its governing body are very openly lobbyists for big pharma, big grocery stores and big oil and gas. This is who the Conservatives are. This is whose backs they have. They have the backs of the biggest corporations, and it is at the expense of everyday Canadians.
     Mr. Speaker, it is a privilege to speak on behalf of my constituents in Milton today on the very important issue of grocery prices and all of the affordability challenges that Canadians are facing these days.
    I would like to start by stating that I will be splitting my time with the member for Surrey—Newton.
    I am happy to respond to some comments made earlier by the hon. Mr. Singh regarding the actions that our government is taking to address food affordability challenges and ensure that all Canadians have access to food and other daily essential goods—
    Order. I need to remind members about referring to the proper names of members of the Parliament. This is the third time this has happened in a row and it gives an opportunity for the podium to be inserted into the hon. member's desk.
     The hon. parliamentary secretary.
     Mr. Speaker, I apologize; that was completely unintentional. If you will indulge me, I will start from the top and eliminate the name.
     I want to thank the page for the podium here and say that I am very grateful for the opportunity to respond to comments made earlier by the leader of the New Democratic Party regarding the actions that our government is taking to address the very real food affordability challenges that Canadians are experiencing. That includes my neighbours, friends and family in Milton, Ontario.
     We have an obligation to ensure that all Canadians have access to food and other daily essential goods. I said yesterday in the House of Commons that it is not as though Canadians can simply buy less food. Food is an essential item and needs to be affordable in our country.
     Our government has been actively engaged and committed to improving affordability across the board with the view to alleviating the financial stress that is placed on Canadians. While we are doing that, we are addressing the growing costs of essential goods, including groceries. That requires a very strong consumer advocacy sector as well as timely and independent research on consumer issues. That is why our government is targeting enhanced support for Canadian consumers through additional investments in consumer advocacy work.
    Yesterday I was talking about the value and the potential for more ombudspeople in the grocery sector to do research and conduct a bit of introspection with respect to why grocery prices are so high these days. Everybody seems to have a theory or some kind of an idea as to why grocery prices are inflated, but there are different reasons, and very complex reasons actually, because everything we shop for at the grocery store comes from somewhere else these days.
    We announced in October 2023 that our government would be tripling our investment in Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada's contributions program for non-profit consumer and voluntary organizations. That program's funding was increased to $5 million annually. The additional funds are allowing organizations which advocate directly for the rights of consumers to examine existing and emerging business practices that can be harmful to Canadians, while also recommending actions to improve affordability, increase grocery competition and build on existing government efforts to promote and protect the interests of Canadian consumers.
    It is absolutely and abundantly clear that grocery chains in Canada have taken advantage of consumers at various times. The very fact that we have an uncompetitive, consumerist and capitalistic approach to selling food, an essential item in this country, raises eyebrows. As somebody who grew up in non-profit housing, I have to wonder whether there is not more space for non-profit groceries. That is not to suggest that we would not support the workers in those stores, and we would certainly continue to support agriculture workers, farmers and food producers. However, there is a lot of value in removing profit from the essentials.
     As a co-op kid, I never hesitate to talk about the value of non-profits. There is one non-profit organization in my riding about whose incredible work I would like to speak: Food for Life, a local charity and organization, a community-serving group that rescues food. In fact, it purchased a couple of refrigerated trucks with support from the federal government. That means that people from the organization can arrive at a grocery store they have contracts with, and before food comes off the shelf and goes into the landfill, the Food for Life experts go in and remove food from the shelves.
    Food for Life is supporting the affordability for Canadians on two levels. One, the disposal of food costs grocery stores a lot of money, so they can actually eliminate that cost, which would be passed on to the consumers who shop at the store. Also, the organization is removing high-quality food that will not be sold for one reason or another. I have a lot of feelings about best-before dates. My partner and I often argue about what food has gone bad. I am the type of person who cuts a bit of mould off cheese, grates up the cheese and puts it on my pasta. It does not bother me too much. Perhaps my partner feels a bit differently about cheese mould.
    Food for Life and the experts there do an amazing job rescuing food, putting it on shelves, packaging it, storing it and freezing it, and they actually have two free grocery stores. It always raises eyebrows when I tell people that my riding, my region, has two free grocery stores. Anybody back home listening can google “Food for Life in Halton”. People can drop by one of their grocery stores. They have excellent variety: fruit, vegetables, meat, bread and all the essentials.
    All that the experts at Food for Life ask for is just a tiny bit of information, nothing terribly intrusive, just so they can continue to serve our community better. I am proud to say that I am a monthly donor to Food for Life. Anybody who is interested can examine the pathway of food waste and how we can redirect food waste toward people who really need it. I just want to stress that the invaluable, incredible work of Food for Life Canada in Halton is doing just that.

(1240)

     Let us go back to some of the projects that our government is funding to further explore barriers to grocery competition in the Canadian context. We have assisted in funding some studies that were completed by the Competition Bureau. It reported that existing barriers in the Canadian grocery sector context include “restrictive covenants” and “property controls”, and retail contracts that limit our control on how real estate is used by competing players in the grocery industry.
    Our government is committed to reiterating our commitments to enhancing affordability for Canadians, as demonstrated by our investment through budget 2024. We understand the cost pressures that Canadian families are facing, and they often start with the price of food. That is why budget 2024 launched a national school food program in Canada, the first of its kind, and it will help ensure that more than 400,000 children have access to healthy meals and snacks, so they can remain focused on learning and growing while in class.
    I have visited a lot of amazing school food programs. They basically do boxes where they take snacks out of packaging and create little hampers that go to the classrooms. That is to ensure there is a healthy snack available to any kid who might be a little hungry.
    There are a lot of reasons a student might be a little hungry, or having a snack attack. It might be because they forgot their lunch at home. It might be because their banana got squished in their bag and they did not want to eat it. It could be because of time poverty; some families just run out of time. Sometimes we forget our lunch. Sometimes it is an affordability challenge and sometimes it is a time poverty issue. Sometimes it is a convenience issue. However, none of those reasons should get in the way of making sure a young kid or student has access to a healthy snack.
    I want to give Halton Food for Thought a shout-out and Food4Kids Halton, as they are amazing organizations. The volunteers, the teachers and the parents who show up, and everybody who purchases food for or donates food to these programs, are all saints and I just want to say I appreciate them.
    A national school food program will nationalize that and ensure that it does not always just rely on goodwill, donations and volunteers. We are going to ensure that all schools have access to it. It is definitely the case that schools in higher-income neighbourhoods tend to have more volunteers, and they often have more services. We do not want schools in lower, more modest-income neighbourhoods or communities to not have access to these essential programs.
    I am really glad that our government is taking the extraordinary step of starting a national school food program. I think 400,000 kids is a lot of kids, and that is a great program and a great way to ensure that young people and students are not going hungry while they are in class.
    Our government also believes that a lack of competition in Canada's grocery sector means that Canadians will ultimately pay higher prices to feed themselves and their families. We have actually seen that. It was not that long ago that Loblaw Companies sent out, in Ontario at least, those little $25 gift cards to anybody who went online and signed up. That was sort of its sorry for fixing the price of bread for over a decade. There was a big lawsuit and Loblaw basically said, “Sorry, we were fixing the price of bread. We will make amends by sending everybody 25 bucks.”
    As sort of an act of protest, I spent my $25 at Loblaws. I remember doing that, but I think that did not really make up for the fact that it was working against customers. Where we shop is democratic: With our dollars, we want to support companies that have the best interests of their consumers in mind. I believe in customer service and I also believe that companies have a duty to respect their customers. It would be great to see more of that.
    Let us go back to some of the significant efforts the Liberals have deployed to ensure that Canada's competition laws are fit for the modern economy. We have also brought forward important amendments to the Competition Act through Bill C-56, and that is the affordable housing and groceries act. These amendments would give further enforcement powers to the Competition Bureau to prevent anti-competitive mergers and to address competition-stifling practices in large dominant players.
    It is clear when there is not enough competition in a market. If there is only one store in a community, then it can basically charge whatever it wants. Even when there is more than one store, we can see some of the unfair corporate practices that target more vulnerable communities. Oftentimes, there is a smaller store, like a Shoppers Drug Mart or a convenience store, that is within walking distance to affordable housing. However, with some of the bigger stores, the more discount grocery stores, people require a vehicle to get to them.
    In some of those smaller stores, we will see a higher price for the exact same item. I have seen it myself. A can of tomato soup is $2.49 at Shoppers Drug Mart, but if one goes to a No Frills, and it is on for $1.29. Both stores happen to be owned by the same company, so that is an unfair practice. I am not going to be convinced that the shelf cost of an item in one store versus another is actually double.

(1245)

    Finally, our government has made it a priority to maintain something called the food price data hub to give Canadians up-to-date and detailed information on food prices to help them make informed decisions about their grocery options. I am happy to elaborate on the food price data hub in a question.

(1250)

    Mr. Speaker, it is still not clear to me whether Liberals are going to support the motion. I will review that the motion is composed of three parts. One is to force big grocery chains and suppliers to lower the prices of essential foods or else face a price cap or other measures, for example, an excess profit tax. The second is to stop delaying the long-needed reforms to the nutrition north program. My colleague from Nunavut spoke very eloquently about how money is being poured into nutrition north, but much of that money is going to the CEO's pay and profits rather than reducing the cost of essential foods to northerners. The third is to stop Liberal and Conservative corporate handouts to big grocers. This has happened a number of times.
    Are the Liberals supporting the motion and will they bring an end to the corporate handouts that have been given to companies like Loblaws over the last few years in the amount of over $25 million?
     Mr. Speaker, I support any and all measures to ensure affordability for Canadians, but I also want thoughtful debate in this House about how we should do it. Just saying the federal government should force a company to do something does not indicate how we might get there. We have heard the New Democratic Party say we should force a company to do this, force a company to do that a lot, but there are not a lot of tangible suggestions in terms of what types of incentives, disincentives or methods that our government could possibly use to force a company to do one thing or another.
    We need to find sustainable, durable solutions, not a one-time tax. That is not a policy change, that is just retribution and punishment. I am frustrated, too. Food costs too much in Canada, but I want a solution that is going to feed into the future and make sure we always have affordable food in Canada. I brought forward ideas like non-profits, food rescue programs, more data and more research. These are all durable solutions to the food insecurity crisis that Canadians are experiencing. These one-time tax ideas of enforcing this and enforcing that are not really great policy.
    Mr. Speaker, I am glad my colleague touched on data, as far as figuring out what Canadians need when it comes to carbon emissions, cost and affordability in Canada.
    I am wondering why the member and his government are concealing the results of the $8-billion net accelerator fund. I wonder why they are calling it cabinet confidence when all Conservatives are asking about is the target and how much emissions were reduced by that $8-billion slush fund.
     Mr. Speaker, once again, we are seeing an attempt by the Conservatives to conflate the affordability crisis with climate action and targets that we are using to lower emissions in Canada.
    The carbon emissions that are the responsibility of various sectors across the board have all been on the way down, whether it is in the transport sector, the agriculture sector, the grocery sector or the health care sector. These are all large emissions-producing industries, as is the steel industry in my riding. Yes, we invested in the steel industry to ensure that we get coal out of the mix with respect to how we produce steel in this country.
    We need to build Canada, we need to help the world build up, and that is going to require Canadian ingenuity and innovation.
    How many emissions does that reduce?
    Mr. Speaker, I find it difficult to answer the question when my colleague opposite will not let me finish.
    The truth is we have to invest in Canada to make it cleaner and greener and assist some of the big sectors with those innovations. In the case of Dofasco in Hamilton, when I went to McMaster, I saw the billowing smoke from those coal-fired stacks. In a couple of years, they will be a thing of the past because of our government's investments and interventions. Some of that innovation we should celebrate, not fight over.
     Mr. Speaker, I am happy to participate in this debate on the NDP motion submitted by the hon. member for Cowichan—Malahat—Langford in relation to the price of essential foods and the conduct of grocery giants, such as Loblaws, Metro and Sobeys.
    The proposed motion is timely, because by voting in favour of Bill C-59 last week, this House approved the latest initiative in the government's comprehensive modernization of the Competition Act. The relevant clauses were approved unanimously, showing the strong consensus here in this chamber on these issues.
    The truth of the matter is that the government has been extremely active in promoting competition in all sectors of the economy, including in the grocery retail industry. It begins with resourcing. In budget 2021, the government increased the Competition Bureau's budget by $96 million over five years and $27.5 million ongoing thereafter. The increase in resources was a much needed boost to the bureau's capacity, and in its own words, “These funds enhance our ability to enforce the law and advocate for more competition. They help ensure we have the right tools to deal with Canada’s competition challenges now and in the future.”
    Needless to say, law enforcement will not be effective if the enforcers are not able to carry out their tasks, and that is why this extraordinary increase was crucial to the bureau's functioning. The next step had to do with the legal framework under which the bureau operates, the Competition Act, which was aging and falling short compared to our international partners.
    Through the 2022 budget bill, Bill C-19, we took the first step in remedying this, correcting some of the obvious issues. This included criminalizing wage-fixing agreements, allowing private parties to seek an order for abuse of a dominant position and raising maximum penalty amounts to be based on the benefits of anti-competitive conduct. This ensures that sanctions would no longer be a mere slap on the wrist for today's largest economic actors.
    The government knew, however, that much more remained to be done. Where the solutions were less readily obvious, the minister turned to the public process, launching a comprehensive public consultation on the future of Canada's competition policy. The process ran from November 2022 through March 2023.
    In response to a consultation paper released by Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada, over 500 responses were received. This consisted of over 130 from identified stakeholders like academics, businesses, practitioners and non-government organizations.
    While this feedback was being received, government officials also met with stakeholders in round table groups, allowing them to voice their views and to interact with each other as well. Stakeholders were not shy about sharing their opinions with us. They knew what sorts of outcomes they wanted to be delivered.
    There was no shortage of proposals made, some highly concrete and detailed, others more directional in nature. What we heard, however, is that Canadians wanted more competition. Across many domains, the desire to strengthen the law, to enable the bureau to act and to align with international counterparts was evident.
    Of course, many also expressed reservations about ensuring we get the details right and warned about overcorrection. The government took those to heart as well, taking inspiration from examples in other jurisdictions and recognizing the careful balancing that must be done when developing new legislation.

(1255)

    All told, the results of the consultation can be seen in two pieces of government legislation.
    First, Bill C-56, the Affordable Housing and Groceries Act, was adopted in December 2023. It took some of the largest issues off the table. It eliminated the “efficiency exception”, which allowed anti-competition mergers to withstand challenge. It revised the law on abuse of dominant position to open up new avenues for a remedial order. It broadened the types of collaboration the bureau can examine, including those that are not formed between direct competitors. It established a framework for the bureau to conduct marketing studies, including the possibility of production orders to compel information. Work on this last amendment is already under way, as the bureau has announced an intention to launch a study into the passenger air travel industry.
    Bill C-59, the fall economic statement implementation act, 2023, is the second legislative effort following the consultation. As we know, it is currently before the Senate, and the government looks forward to its quick adoption. The amendments to the Competition Act that it contains are incredibly comprehensive. I will provide some of the highlights.
    The bill makes critical amendments to merger notification and review to ensure that the bureau is aware of the most important deals and would be able to take action before it is too late. It significantly revamps the enforcement framework to strengthen provisions dealing with anti-competitive agreements, and it broadens the private enforcement framework so that more people could bring their own cases before the Competition Tribunal for a wider variety of reasons; in some cases, they could even be eligible for a financial award.
     Bill C-59 also helps address important government priorities by making it harder to engage in “greenwashing”, which is the questionable or false representation of a product or a business’s environmental benefits. It facilitates useful environmental collaboration that might otherwise have been unlawful. It helps to make repair options more available for consumers by ensuring that refusals to provide the necessary means can be reviewed and remedied as needed.
    Finally, overall, Bill C-59 makes a number of critical but often technical updates throughout the law to remove enforcement obstacles and make sure that the entire system runs smoothly.
     I cannot overstate how important these measures are. The competition commissioner has referred to this as a “generational” transformation. It is by far the most significant update to the law since the amendments in 2009, following the recommendations of the competition policy review panel; arguably, it is the most comprehensive rewrite of the Competition Act since it first came into effect in 1986. Our world has changed since then, and it became clear that the law needed to keep pace to enable institutions that can oversee fast-changing markets and landscapes.
     After the passage of Bill C-59, we can guarantee that our competition law will work for Canadians in markets such as the one under scrutiny here, as well as the many other markets throughout our economy.
    I am thankful for having been given the opportunity to share a few words.

(1300)

    Uqaqtittiji, I realize that the member did not talk about it in his intervention, but I will ask him about the nutrition north program.
     Amautiit Nunavut Inuit Women's Association, which I mentioned earlier, reported that the child poverty rate for Nunavut is 35.8%. That is a startling poverty rate in Canada.
     Another statistic is that the North West Company CEO's salary was $3.91 million. The nutrition north program gave $64 million in tax dollars to the North West Company to alleviate poverty in the north.
     It is obvious that nutrition north is not working. Does the member agree that the Liberal government needs to stop delaying the reform of nutrition north and that it must act now to help alleviate poverty in Nunavut?

(1305)

     Mr. Speaker, our government has invested and increased the budget by over $150 million to help northerners. Our government is absolutely committed to ensuring that 100% of the retail subsidy is directly passed on to northerners.
    Prices are too high in the north. We have worked, and will continue to work, with territorial governments, indigenous partners and people who live in the north and the Arctic to make more progress.
    Progress has been made, but there is a lot more work to be done. We are committed to doing it.
    Mr. Speaker, the member was just talking about some $100 million that was put into a fund.
    This morning the Auditor General, in a report, talked about the misuse of funds in the Sustainable Development Technology Canada fund, saying that it is almost a slush fund. This is given that $123 million worth of contracts were found to have been given inappropriately, with $59 million of those being given to projects that never should have been awarded any money in the first place.
    The member is talking about the appropriation of those funds for a good purpose, but could he comment on how he thinks the funds in the technology process, which the Auditor General just announced today, should have been used?
     Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the hon. member, who has been a good friend for many years.
    In terms of the bills I already mentioned, whether it is Bill C-56 or Bill C-59, we are going to make sure that they bring in legislative measures and give more powers to the bureau and the controllers. In that way, they will be able to control those subsidies, including the one that the hon. member is talking about.

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, in its motion, the NDP calls on the government to “stop Liberal and Conservative corporate handouts to big grocers”. I wonder whether the member knows what the NDP is referring to, because to my knowledge, there are no subsidy programs specifically for grocers. Obviously, there is the nutrition north program, but the NDP is proposing to boost that program's funding, for valid reasons.
     In my opinion, the true fat cats pocketing federal handouts are the oil companies. Big oil makes billions of dollars in profits a year and still receives taxpayer money in the form of government handouts.
     That is why I am wondering which subsidy program the NDP is referring to. Can the government member tell me if he knows what the NDP is talking about?

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, we can talk about subsidies; particularly, the hon. member mentioned the north. When it comes to northern communities, we all know that the prices are high. To help, our government has invested the $150 million I mentioned. Those are the monies that will go to charities, food banks and other northern organizations so that people will be able to benefit; the people of the north will be able to benefit through those subsidies.

(1310)

     Mr. Speaker, I am pleased today to rise in support of our NDP motion, which reads:
    That, given that the cost of food continues to increase while grocery giants such as Loblaws, Metro and Sobeys make record profits, the House call on the government to:
(a) force big grocery chains and suppliers to lower the prices of essential foods or else face a price cap or other measures;
(b) stop delaying long-needed reforms to the Nutrition North program; and
(c) stop Liberal and Conservative corporate handouts to big grocers.
     I am in support of this motion, because what Canadians are experiencing across the country, and in particular in my riding of Edmonton Griesbach, is truly heartbreaking. In my time in my community, I often speak to seniors, young people and those who are doing everything right, but they find that they are continuing to fall further behind. We know that the Liberals' consistent delay in action is truly costing Canadians, not just in their ability to feed themselves, but in so many ways, such as their dignity. On the Conservative side, they like to deflect from the point that corporations are gouging Canadians by reducing all of their fears, their woes and the reality of our economy down to slogans.
    However, this is an immensely serious issue that is facing Canadians, and we must have the courage to call out corporations that continue to put this immense greed ahead of the very basic dignity of all Canadians. One in five Canadians is now skipping a meal. Food banks have never been used at the rate they are being used, in the last 35 years. As a matter of fact, the price of food has now reached over 20% of the cost in the last three years. We must be able to control the immense appetite of these corporations that have largely used the postpandemic period, this crisis that Canadians are facing, for their own particular benefit.
    We do not have to look all that far in Canada's own history to see that private megacorporations always do the same thing when crisis hits. They jack up the prices. They force those who need those supports most, and they hurt them. They do that because their shareholders are not necessarily concerned about the outcome for regular Canadians. They do not have to ever feel the pain of people who have to look their child in the eye and know that they will not get a meal because they have given it to the child. They will not ever feel the pain of people who have to understand that they have to work an extra four hours and maybe miss the concert that their kids are putting on at school because they need that money to make ends meet. These stakeholders are completely absent of the realities facing so many Canadians, so they continue to jack up the prices, which go higher and higher, so much so that Canadians across the country have now galvanized together to boycott a megacorporation like Loblaws in order to seek their own justice. This is the kind of justice that government should be seeking. This is the kind of justice that these corporations should be subjected to.
    Not that long ago, there was a terrible instance that found some of these megacorporations guilty of fixing the price of bread. It is shameful that corporations would fix the price of bread in order to make hand-over-fist profits. We need to have a level of accountability for these corporations.
    In addition to this corporate greed, not only should these companies be held to account, but we also see that consecutive Conservative and Liberal governments continue to allow it, and also reward that level of greed. For example, when the Conservatives were in power, they gave $2.35 billion in corporate handouts to big grocery chains, which is shameful.
    It gets even worse, because Canadians were promised, in 2015, a systemic change, that justice was going to come to Canada, but what we have seen is more of the same, as the Liberals kept that corporate handout. We do not have to look all that far in our own history. In 2019, for example, we saw a terrible instance where Loblaws needed refrigerators, and guess who paid for it: Canadian taxpayers had to pay for Loblaws' refrigerators. It is shameful. If Canadians had their refrigerators paid for them, imagine that. Imagine that cost alleviated in the household. No, Loblaws got access to a free refrigerator program costing millions of dollars.

(1315)

    These corporate handouts continue and continue, and the Conservatives spend all day trying to convince Canadians that they were never part of the problem, that they have not governed the country for half its existence and that for some reason the problems that we see from the 1980s, 1990s, 2000s and today were somehow avoidant of their legislation, avoidant of their priorities, avoidant of holding corporations responsible.
    We often hear from the Conservatives that these nine years have been tough. Yes, they have been tough on Canadians. My God, they have been hard, but it did not just come from nine years. It came from generations of critically underfunding the social safety net that Canadians rely on.
    The member of Parliament for Nunavut speaks, for example, about the nutrition north program. The nutrition north program is so critical and important, so that we can get a basic level of dignity to those living in the north, but what we see is this complete, abject failure by the government to recognize the humanity of these people: relatives, family members, children, babies. There comes a time when we have to question whether systemic racism and the issues that plague the north are present in this issue, and I would suggest that they are, that Canada's own history of deep colonization has played a role in the direct underfunding of areas that are predominantly indigenous. We know that from the history of the Prairies, and we see that in the nutrition north program.
    Canadians know that the problem is corporate greed. They know it. I will give an example, and I know the Conservatives will love this one, because I will talk about the carbon tax, their favourite thing to talk about. It is all they talk about all day. In my riding, we have a lot of hard-working individuals, people who own trucks. It takes a lot of money to run a truck. On April 1 of last year, the Prime Minister increased the carbon tax by 3¢. Conservatives say this is bad, but Danielle Smith increased it by 4¢ and that is not even with a rebate. As for the 13¢, though, who is getting the 13¢?
    I tell those workers that they are getting gouged. They are getting gouged at the pump by those corporations that are making hand-over-fist profits, because, again, their shareholders demand it. They have never filled up their gas tank in their life. They would not even know the number, but Canadians do, because they are pinching every single dollar they have in order to make ends meet.
    What we have is a government that is so out of touch that it is failing to recognize that corporate greed plays a role in this. Then it has its buddies, the Conservatives, to back it up on that and continue to deflect from the truth. That is why we have not heard whether there will be support for this motion. That is why no one wants to talk about corporate greed in this place. When New Democrats force a discussion, as we are today, it is imperative that we are honest with Canadians about the real cost of living and the crisis that contributes to it. When corporations are allowed to continue and continue to gouge, when they are allowed to just go unfettered by raising prices, like three apples for seven dollars, my God, that is unfair. When they are allowed to do that, with no penalty, they will continue.
    That is why the bread-fixing scandal of the three major grocery companies is so important for us to focus on as a case study. When they collude together and set the price of bread so that they make maximum profits, and then no one on the Conservative bench mentions that crime and no one on the Liberal side mentions that crime, when is there going to be justice for Canadians?
    I am proud to vote in favour of this motion, and I hope my colleagues do too.

(1320)

    Mr. Speaker, earlier today, we heard our Conservative friends talk about the carbon tax, manufacturers making obscene profits on the backs of Canadians, and the big grocery chains. If that was the case, if that was the true cause of high food prices, would the grocery chain profits not have been much lower, if in fact their input costs had been jacked up so high?
    How does the member assess the Conservative message to Canadians on this issue?
     Mr. Speaker, that question from my hon. colleague just speaks to the divide-and-distract position of the Conservatives. They always want to say that it is someone else's problem, that it is always the government that stands as the reason why things are so hard for Canadians, and that the only way to solve it is by electing them. What a convenient solution that is: just elect Conservatives. The truth is, we have done that many times. Canadians have done that so many times, yet we are still in this predicament. Worse yet, we have programs that have largely failed Canadians and cost us billions. We do not have to look too far to remember the Phoenix pay system, one of the most expensive scandals of the Conservative government, which is still impacting regular workers today.
    When Conservatives tell me the cost of living crisis is just about the carbon tax and could not possibly be about Loblaws, who are they really working for? They are probably working for those corporations that would benefit from the deflection.
    Mr. Speaker, my colleague spoke about government policies and how these policies are not serving the average Canadians. In the meantime, he and his party keep supporting the same government. Canadians are listening and wondering what is going on here. Why would the NDP members blame the government and complain about the government while they keep supporting the same government?
     I just hope they get along and talk about the Edmonton Oilers at some point.
    The hon. member for Edmonton Griesbach.
    Mr. Speaker, I will start with two things: Go, Oilers, go. I am so proud of our hometown, and we are going to win the Stanley Cup.
    I will address the member's question in just a moment, but I want to challenge him on his position on Palestine. I know he avoided the vote on a free Palestine. He avoided the vote there, and I hope that he has the courage to stand in support of the constituents, whom we both share, who are calling for justice and a ceasefire.
     As to the second point, about why we support the confidence and supply agreement with the government, we have set some priorities and we have supplied some confidence. We do not set the implementation, but it is like the old saying about the devil one knows versus the devil one does not know. We know what the government is going to do, and it is going to do it badly, but at least we are there to make sure that it does not go so off track that it hurts Canadians more than it already has. Worse yet, if we do not do this, then guess who is next: the Conservatives, and life is going to get even harder.
     The hardest choice for New Democrats in this place is to have to do what we always have to do, which is to ensure that good policies come out of this place. To be frank, good policies only ever come out of minority governments that New Democrats stand vanguard to.
    Mr. Speaker, I am always pleased to hear the eloquence of the member for Edmonton Griesbach. He fights very strongly on behalf of his constituents.
    I am wondering why he believes Conservatives have never apologized for the 10-year, decade-long bread price-fixing scandal that started right after Harper was elected and continued right through until after the Harper government was thrown out. That took, on average, $400 out of the pockets of Canadian families, with each family paying $400 more than they should have because the Harper government refused to call the corporations that fixed the price of bread to account.
     Can the member tell me why Conservatives have never apologized, never said they are sorry to Canadians for allowing that egregious theft from so many Canadian families?

(1325)

    Mr. Speaker, the Conservatives never apologize for their mistakes. Their consistent message is to say it is someone else's problem. It is at the core of Conservatives to never take accountability for what they have done. Conservatives never take accountability for the fact that they failed Canadians so many times. They never take into account that they have played a role in the economy that so many Canadians are now falling behind in. It always has to be someone else's problem. However, when we catch them red-handed, when we see that during their time in government they allowed big corporations to fix the price of bread, we have to demand accountability. Worse yet, they also paid $2.35 billion in handouts to those same companies, so they are working for them.
     That is why the Conservatives never apologized. They are the same ones who made the problem.
    Mr. Speaker, I am proud to speak to our NDP opposition day motion, calling on all parties in the House to stand with Canadians, to stand with us in the NDP, and push for measures to go after greedy grocery CEOs, lower food prices and reform nutrition north. Canadians are struggling. Costs are going up across the board. Nowhere is that more obvious than when it comes to grocery prices.
    Grocery stores are out of control, and it is Canadians who are getting screwed. On top of it, wealthy CEOs like Galen Weston are raking it in, while Liberals ask them to meekly stop and Conservatives cheer them on. All the while, a couple of CEOs thrive as they live off public money, while northerners, indigenous peoples and all Canadians get screwed.
    Over the last three years, the cost of food has increased by over 20%. Food bank usage is at a 35-year high. One in five Canadians is skipping meals. At the same time, the grocery sector made record profits in 2023, raking in $6 billion. It is an unfair system, and Canadians are paying the price.
    Nowhere is this clearer than in communities across our north, especially ones that depend on the nutrition north program. Grocery prices in our north are routinely two to three times higher the cost compared to more southern communities. The profits of the largest grocery chain in the north, The North West Company, have gone up 10% since 2022. Its CEO earned just about $4 million in compensation in a single year, which is 98 times what his employees earned. With all those profits, it receives $67 million in subsidies through nutrition north. Are those savings being passed on to northerners? Of course not.
    In fact, in larger communities with more than one store, corporate grocers pass only about 67¢ of every subsidy dollar on to consumers. In smaller communities with a single grocery store, greedy grocery CEOs are keeping 67¢ out of every dollar they should be passing on to consumers. The more isolated a community is and the less people have to spend the more they get gouged. It is unacceptable, and that is why we in the NDP have called for a public inquiry. However, we know that the Liberals and the Conservatives do not want to do that, preferring to keep northerners and Canadians in the dark.
    This reality did not just happen. The corporate greed that we are seeing has been aided and abetted by successive Liberal and Conservative governments and their policies. It goes beyond food prices in our north. Canada is forcing first nations like Garden Hill, St. Theresa Point, Wasagamack, Red Sucker Lake, Oxford House, Gods River, God's Lake Narrows and others to live in forced isolation. Instead of working with Wasagamack to build a desperately needed airport, instead of funding all-weather road infrastructure for the first nations that need it, they are forced to rely on winter roads to ship everything in, including food. With catastrophic climate change shortening the window for these ice roads, a period in which things can be shipped in, things are only getting more expensive and only getting worse.
    Northern and indigenous communities already have to deal with greedy CEOs' price gouging. Adding the collaboration of successive Liberal and Conservative governments, which refuse to fight to make their lives better, only increases people's struggles. The sad reality is that not one politician would tolerate these prices if he or she were the one who had to pay them.
    We can be sure that if the Prime Minister lived in Norway House, a cereal box would not cost $17.99. If the leader of the official opposition lived in Wasagamack, a can of soup would not cost four times what it costs in Ottawa. If anyone here paid over $35 for a six-pack of canned salmon like people in Garden Hill do, he or she certainly would not be rushing to hand out $25.5 million to Loblaws and Costco over four years, like the Liberals did. We would not see the type of corporate coalition support that these successive Liberal and Conservative governments gave out, $2.35 billion in subsidies, to grocery giants if the deputy leaders of the Liberals or the Conservatives were paying $25 for a four-pack of Ritz crackers. No, it would be outrageous, and they would be helping people.
    This is Canada, one of the wealthiest countries in the world, where we are seeing this kind of unacceptable exploitation, deprivation and inequality grow. Indigenous and northern communities deserve better. Canadians deserve better. That is why this NDP motion is so important. It reflects what we in the NDP have been calling to happen for a number of years, which is much-needed reforms to nutrition north so indigenous and northern communities can afford healthy foods, lower the prices of essential food at corporate grocery stores and end the Liberal and Conservative handouts to big corporations.

(1330)

     Speaking of oligopolies and the unbreakable bond between successive Liberal and Conservative governments and the CEOs they cater to, I would be remiss if I did not bring up another corporation, Bell. We will find few Canadian companies that better exemplify this corporate arrogance than Bell Canada.
     I have heard from the VP of Bell, Robert Malcolmson, a number of times since we in the NDP summoned the Bell CEO to come to committee on April 11 to explain why Bell cut 6,000 jobs and slashed programming in eight months. We held the CEO to account on behalf of Bell workers, on behalf of Bell customers and on behalf of Canadians.
    Curiously, instead of getting to work to make amends with Canadians, Bell Media has been spending its time monitoring my social media and has chosen to send me a number of unsolicited letters that show just how much it does not get it. Let us be clear: It is a company that is an industry setter when it comes to tax avoidance. According to a report from Canadians for Tax Fairness, Bell used a series of loopholes and schemes to avoid paying over a billion dollars in taxes over a four-year period, ranking it as one of the 20 worst companies in the country in that regard.
    In terms of corporate salaries, Mirko Bibic, Bell Canada's CEO, in 2023, earned $2.96 million in compensation, despite falling short of Bell's 2023 financial goals. Dividends to shareholders increased by 3.1% during this time. As always, it is workers who pay the price while wealthy CEOs profit.
    When the CEO of Bell was at our committee, I confronted him about the reality in my constituency, where most people have little to no choice and have to look to Bell MTS for service. I pointed out how Bell bought out our once proudly publicly owned telecom provider, privatized by the Conservatives in the 1990s, Manitoba's MTS, and promised cheaper rates and better service. Instead, Bell shrunk the workforce and jacked up the rates, leaving many communities still waiting for that better service.
    I raised two particular issues. One was the landlines in Dallas, Manitoba, that were not working reliably, forcing Susann Sinclair to communicate with her 89-year-old veteran father by walkie-talkie; landlines not working in 2024. I know for a fact that, following this exchange with the CEO, Bell MTS kicked it into high gear. It contacted Susann Sinclair repeatedly and, most important, it replaced the obsolete equipment servicing landlines in the Dallas area. It replaced it with new equipment that was sitting in storage. Finally, Susann's landlines have been working as they should.
    Sadly, the VP of Bell refused to refer to any of that and has, in his two recent letters, incorrectly confused service issues in Bloodvein and Dallas. Bloodvein and Dallas are two different communities. They are not even close geographically. It is time for Bell executives to look at a map of our province and understand where their customers live.
    Let us be clear that the service issue in Dallas was resolved, but not in Bloodvein. What is most surprising with my communications with Bell is its continuing refusal to take responsibility. When Bloodvein First Nation needed cellphone service during a wildfire for evacuation purposes, it was told by Bell that it would need to pay $652,000 to turn on a tower that was on its land.
    In their letters to me, Bell disputed this even happened and referred to a temporary tower it put up. I was aware of that temporary tower, but the Bell executives got it wrong. It was not in Bloodvein; it was in Loon Straits to service natural resources fighting the fires. The signal did not reach Bloodvein at all. Three years later, and even after our April 11 hearings, Bloodvein still does not have cell service.
    I make no apologies for fighting for my constituents. I make no apologies for holding to account greedy CEOs and executives who are making profits on the backs of first nations, rural communities, Manitobans, consumers across the country and workers who have been laid off.
    I hope the grocery store CEOs, big oil and telecom giants at Bell Media and the rest are paying attention. Rest assured, we will be working hard to go after them, to go after the profits they make on the backs of Canadians. We will continue to bring the fight for an excess profit tax so they can finally pay their fair share.
    While billionaires and CEOs know they can count on the Liberals and Conservatives, northerners, first nations people, people on fixed incomes and Canadians know they can count on us in the NDP to fight for them.

(1335)

     Mr. Speaker, I wonder if the member could provide her thoughts with respect to instituting a price cap and how that would help the constituents who she represents or northern residents of Canada, generally speaking. Could she give some sort of an indication on whether she believes there would be any consequence to having a price cap?
    Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the member's concern about what measures would benefit northerners. Let me cut to the chase. He is part of the Liberal government that has refused to reform nutrition north, refused to invest in ways to ensure that healthy foods are truly affordable, a Liberal government that has refused to work with first nations like Wasagamack to build an airport and communities on the east side of Lake Winnipeg to build all-weather roads that would directly have an impact on lowering prices.
    I am not going to take any lessons from the Liberals with respect to what it is going to take to make food available in communities like mine. They need to stop giving subsidies to The North West Company the way they are and look at reforming nutrition north based on what works for northerners and make the investments in indigenous communities to bring prices down now.

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, as my colleagues mentioned earlier in their analysis of the NDP motion, it is targeting a genuine problem but proposing a false solution. How would we cap the prices of essential foods?
     I would like my colleague to tell me how the price of bread can be capped when wheat prices are negotiated on the Chicago Stock Exchange.
    Mr. Speaker, let me begin by saying that we invite the Bloc Québécois to support a motion that seeks to put an end to what is going on with the biggest companies in the commercial food sector. We hope that such measures will also be taken in other sectors in the future.
     Now that we know from experience that the price of bread, for example, was fixed by companies in Canada, we need to take far bolder action. We know that economists support such measures. This motion is clear. We need to act in a more concrete and far bolder manner to put an end to the enormous profits of companies that are exploiting consumers across Canada.

[English]

    Uqaqtittiji, I wonder if my colleague could respond to the impacts of the Liberals' constant delays in making reforms to nutrition north. I have been asking since 2021 for changes, having heard from my constituents all along. To date, the most recent responses have been to do yet another internal review, with a possible later external review.
    What is the impact on our constituents when the Liberals keep delaying solutions to fix the nutrition north program?

(1340)

    Mr. Speaker, my colleague, the MP for Nunavut, has been a steadfast champion for accountability when it comes to nutrition north and for her constituents on all issues, including the food insecurity and price gouging they face when it comes to The North West Company and Liberal action on this front.
    In fact, one of our first joint press conferences called for action from the federal government on this very issue. The impacts are devastating. Just a few weeks ago, I was in the Island Lake region and spoke with people. I was in the northern stores and they talked about their inability to buy healthy foods because they were too expensive. Everybody knows that it is a federal government subsidy, but people are saying that it is simply not working.
    They also know that in communities like ours, isolation plays an important role and it needs to be addressed through government investment in infrastructure, like all-weather roads. The airport in Wasagamack is critical as well. The reality in communities in northern Manitoba, and I know in Nunavut, is that things are not getting better. Things are getting worse. As prices go up in southern Canada, they are going up even further in the north. We need Liberals to snap out of it, act to reform nutrition north and even call a public inquiry into how it is run.
    Mr. Speaker, I will start off by indicating that I do not want to come across as someone who is going to defend the big five grocers, whether it is Loblaw, Metro, Sobeys, Costco or Walmart. I do not think that they need any advocates on their behalf on the floor of the House of Commons.
     I am genuinely concerned about the cost of groceries, and that is nothing new. It is something I have been concerned about for many months, or in fact, for the last number of years. It is a genuine concern. It is something the Government of Canada, in particular the Prime Minister, has been raising a great deal of concern about. It is not like it is something that has just happened over the last few months.
     We can talk about there being issues related to groceries, even prepandemic, and the lack of competition. It is very real, and unfortunately, Canadians have had to pay a price for that. It is one of the reasons we have given it a considerable amount of attention.
     Members will recall when the issue started to really heat up. The Prime Minister and the minister responsible were saying that we wanted to call on those big five grocers that, in essence, have about 80%, or maybe a little higher than that, of the market. It is an area we should all be concerned about. That is the reason they have been called before the government. That is the reason they have been called before a standing committee.
    To try to give an impression, in any way, whether it is coming from the Conservatives, New Democrats, Bloc or anyone else, that the government is not concerned about the issue is just false. Over the last number of years, we have come up with thoughts, ideas and actions, whether they were budgetary measures or legislative measures, to try to hold them to account or ensure that there is a higher sense of transparency and more accountability in that area.
     It is really quite encouraging to see that we have a House that is very much aware of the concerns Canadians have. One of the things that gets very little attention, which I want to highlight, is the food price data hub. It is something that has now been reinforced by the government. We want to make sure that Canadians are better informed about prices. Prior to the speeches today and the debate getting under way, I did a quick search on the food price data hub. I took a look at the province of Manitoba.
    The food price data hub is complemented by Stats Canada. These numbers are fairly accurate. It provides an average price. Consumers can go there to get a sense of many different products and what they can expect for a cost. What I thought was interesting, because we are talking about the issue of inflation, was looking at some of the more common things.
    For example, when we think of ground beef, and I am talking about in Manitoba, in November 2023, it was $11.22. It went up in December to $11.75, and dropped down to $11.10 in January and to $10.77 in February. Today it is at $11.37. Pork lion cuts per kilogram were $9.70 back in November, and I will just go right to March, when it was up by four cents.
     A whole chicken per kilogram was $8.89 back in November, and it is actually down to $6.89. Chicken drumsticks, one of my favourites, I must say, were at $8.43 in November, and they went down to $7.96. When we talk about milk, a four-litre jug of milk was $5.72 in November and $5.72 in March. Butter was $6.29 in November and $5.99 in March. A 500-gram block of cheese was $6.65 in November and $6.59 in March.

(1345)

     The bottom line is that some of the prices have gone up and some of the prices have gone down. I like the general trend that we have been seeing in groceries, and I hope to be able to continue to see that trend. One of the commitments that the government made a while back now was to try to ensure that there is more price stability within the industry. That is something we want to see. It is one of the reasons we made significant changes to the Competition Act.
     We often hear about the bread scandal. Many people following this debate today will have already heard it mentioned a couple of times. Members can imagine an industry that ultimately worked together to prop up the cost of bread. Hundreds and hundreds of millions of dollars in additional profit were made at the cost of higher prices for consumers. That took place virtually throughout the whole time period Stephen Harper was the prime minister. Ultimately, it ended up in the courts, and it was found that there was a price-fixing scandal within that industry. There have been hundreds of millions of dollars in penalties. We have to realize that, if the industry were left on its own, we would see a lot more price-fixing. One of the roles that government has is to ensure that there is competition.
     I look at it from a past perspective. We did, at one point, have six major grocery outlets. We had Loblaw, Metro, Sobeys, Costco, Walmart, and Shoppers Drug Mart. A number of years ago, when Stephen Harper was the then prime minister, Loblaw acquired Shoppers. There were no questions asked, and it was acquired. Many people, including me, would argue that this diminishes competition, and by diminishing competition, ultimately, in situations like this, we are going to see prices potentially go up. There were no Conservatives who talked about that. Today, the Conservatives talk about competition in the grocery market, but back in the day, when they were in government, they did absolutely nothing at all regarding this. In fact, the Conservatives saw one of the grocery giants fall to be taken in by Loblaw.
     We can look at the Competition Act and the way the Conservatives filibustered that legislation, trying to prevent the government from passing legislation. That legislation enhanced competition. It provided more resources for the Competition Bureau. By doing that, the Competition Bureau is able to conduct market studies. It is better able to do enforcement. It is better able to look at monetary penalties, and many of the maximum amounts were raised as a direct result.
    Most important, from my perspective, is that the Competition Bureau put into place a merger review process that was not of the same nature. For example, it was the whole efficiency argument, where a store would be able to come before the Competition Bureau and say that, by doing this, it would become more efficient and therefore able to provide better prices and more options for Canadians. That argument was thrown out through the amendments that we made to the Competition Act.
     These are the types of legislative actions that the government has taken to ensure that there is a better sense of predictability and stability in rates for groceries. That is a positive thing. I will contrast that with the previous administration, and it is a significant change. When Canadians were going through the pandemic, we started to really see it on the inflation graphs. When the rates were coming to the peak, the government responded by taking budgetary action. The government came up with the grocery rebate for Canadians.

(1350)

    The rebate assisted millions of Canadians by giving them extra disposable income because of the increase in grocery prices at the time. Whether it is through legislative actions or budgetary measures, members will find that the government, as a whole, has been very supportive of Canadians. I do think that is worthy of noting.
    If we look at other aspects of the NDP motion today, it mentions that the Liberals, as a government, are giving these corporate bailouts, or giving hundreds of millions of dollars to companies such as Loblaw and Metro. It makes reference to Loblaws specifically. What the NDP members are referring to, to the best of my knowledge, are the two ways in which the government, under the Prime Minister, have subsidized groceries.
    One of them is through the subsidies for the north, and the other one was more of an indirect one. The government came up with a series of policies dealing with emissions and the environment. One of those policies concerned the way products are refrigerated and the technology advancements in that area. We said that, if a company were to modernize, then the federal government would step up and assist with, I believe, about 25% of whatever the total cost of the project would be.
    There were 50 or so applicants under that particular program, and one of them happened to be Loblaw. Loblaw took advantage of a government program to reduce emissions. The total amount spent was about $48 million, and $12 million came from the government, under that particular program to reduce emissions. That one project, from what I understand, was to reduce emissions. I will ask members not to quote me on this, but I believe it was the equivalent of taking thousands of vehicles off the road. It enhanced the opportunity for Canada to continue its leading role in the manufacturing of refrigerators. It created jobs, was better for the environment, and yes, Loblaw was one of many applicants. That is the program they are accusing the government of squandering tax dollars for. I beg to differ on that.
    The other program I am aware of is support for northern Canada. Those northern supports are very real. When we take a look at the nutrition north program back in 2011, the budget was just over $50 million. Today, that budget is worth just under $150 million. That does not incorporate the community food programs.
    On the one hand, in the very same resolution that is being proposed, the NDP is being critical of the Liberals for not supporting northern food prices, stabilization and reduction. They are also saying that we are supporting corporate greed. I mentioned the two programs I am aware of, and I am open to anything else that I might have missed. That is a question I would love to have answered.
    When we think of the nutrition north program, it is a program that the Liberals greatly enhanced from a financial point of view with contributions. We have also looked at ways we can ensure that there are technological advancements, so we can see more community food programs put into place. By doing that, we are providing opportunities for northerners to potentially produce more food and become more diversified, if I can put it that way.

(1355)

    At the same time, we are looking at ways we can continue to support lower-priced food in the north through that specific program. We have also invested, with this budget, in local food infrastructure programs, again, to enhance the ability of non-profits, in particular, to generate that local food.
    There are many initiatives that the government has taken to support the stabilization of prices, and we see the impact of that when we look at the numbers. The numbers clearly show that we are having a relatively positive impact. However, contrast that to what the Conservative Party is saying. With the first two Conservative members who stood up to speak about this important issue, I do not think they even talked about the issue of food security. All they wanted to talk about was what they were hearing from Jenni Byrne, who is a lobbyist, by the way, for the big grocery chains. The Conservative spin, no matter what is being debated, is that they have to talk about the axe the tax bumper sticker.
    The Conservatives are not contributing to the debate or adding any sort of value to it. All they want to talk about is calling an election and axing the tax. I find it unfortunate because there is a whole lot more that we could be doing here in the House of Commons. As much as the Conservative Party wants to focus its attention on one issue, we will continue to look at ways we can enhance opportunities in many different sectors so that Canadians will ultimately see things such as stabilized food prices. We are already starting to witness that, not to mention the many different programs the government has been bringing forward, one of which I hope to talk about very soon, once we get into members' statements.
     Suffice it to say that I appreciate the thought of talking about the price of food, but I think that the motion itself is somewhat misguided. I realize that I will get a little bit more time after question period, and I will provide some more thoughts on that issue when we resume debate.

Statements by Members

[Statements by Members]

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[English]

Mental Health

    Mr. Speaker, an emergency department is not the best place for a person in a mental health crisis, yet more folks are presenting at ERs as a last resort.
    There are better options and organizations like Thresholds Homes and Supports and the Canadian Mental Health Association of Waterloo Wellington are showing the way. They are opening an integrated crisis centre in my community to offer specialized, trauma-informed care in a welcoming space, relieving the strain on ERs in the process. However, with no government support to date, they are pressing forward using existing budgets, meaning that they only can provide three months of service to our community before needing additional funding.
     I hope that all levels of government will realize what a critical solution integrated crisis centres are and will step up with the funding required to ensure that when a neighbour is in a mental health crisis, they will get the best possible care.

Pharmacare

    Mr. Speaker, Canadians love our health care system. From coast to coast to coast, we understand and we believe in the Canada Health Act and in the importance of health care to all Canadians.
     I was disappointed yesterday when members of the Conservative Party and the Bloc, the unholy alliance, came together and voted against a national pharmacare plan that would support millions of Canadians. Whether with respect to contraceptives or diabetes, these types of programs, I believe, will make a real difference in the lives of millions of Canadians.
    Once again, we see the difference between the Conservative Reform Party and a caring Liberal government. Conservatives are more concerned about cutting back on things, compared to the Liberal government, which recognizes the true value of a national health care system that incorporates some components of pharmacare.

Farmers' Markets

    Mr. Speaker, the long, cold winter is gone. The sun is shining, and the days are warmer. June is here, and with its arrival comes the much anticipated opening of local farmers' markets all across Canada.
     In my community, we are very fortunate to have three major local farmers' markets operating.
     The Barrie farmers' market is back outdoors and is open every Saturday, on Collier Street, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.
    The Oro-Medonte farmers' market is open Canada Day, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., and after that, it starts its season every Thursday this summer at Chappell Farms, from 12 p.m. to 6 p.m.
    Last but not least, the Springwater farmers' market is held every Thursday from June 13 to August 29, from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m., at the Elmvale municipal parking lot.
     I encourage all residents to get out and attend one or all of these great farmers' markets and to support our local small businesses and farmers when they need it most.
    I wish a happy summer to all.

Human Rights in China

    Mr. Speaker, as we consider the relationship between Canada and China, I am rising today to mark the 35th anniversary of the massacre of those who joined the movement for democracy in China in Tiananmen Square.
    In response to that movement, which spread to 400 cities and, according to observers, caused deep divisions within the leadership of the Chinese Communist Party, the decision was made on June 2, 1989, to send in the military to put an end to the protest.
    Nobody knows the cost in terms of the lives taken on June 4 or in what had been a gradual shift to a more liberal society for China, but the level of suppression ramped up significantly. Today, one can be arrested anywhere in China or in Hong Kong if one dares to comment on or to observe this anniversary.
    Democracy is a resilient force, and thousands of Chinese diaspora here in Canada and around the world are speaking up today on behalf of the Chinese people who must mark the day and harbour hopes for the future in silence.

[Translation]

Joseph‑Armand Bombardier

    Mr. Speaker, certain symbols resonate strongly with a people and a nation. Joseph-Armand Bombardier launched his business in Quebec, in Valcourt, to be precise. It was in a garage in this municipality in the Eastern Townships that he came up with his inventions, in a building that has since been turned into a very popular museum.
     On May 9, over 60 years after the first snowmobile model came out, its creator was inducted into the prestigious National Inventors Hall of Fame in the United States as part of the class of 2024, joining a select club that includes the likes of Nikola Tesla, Thomas Edison and Henry Ford.
     Having recently visited the BRP facilities in Valcourt, I was struck by the impressive number of patents Joseph-Armand Bombardier held, patents that continue to change the world to this day. His ingenuity still draws attention to Quebec's SME model. What is more, he inspired Quebec to dream. He stimulated Quebeckers' entrepreneurial spirit and helped put us on the global economic stage.
     The Americans now recognize what we have long known, that Joseph-Armand Bombardier is a giant.

(1405)

[English]

Filipino Heritage Month

     Mr. Speaker, Mabuhay. Happy Filipino Heritage Month. Throughout June, we honour the contributions of Filipino Canadians who have worked tirelessly to build their lives here in Canada and who have woven themselves into the very fabric of our communities, one million strong and counting.
    In Vaughan, the contributions of Filipinos are invaluable, from dedicated health care workers who have been our frontline heroes, to educators and entrepreneurs across all fields. As a twin city of Baguio City in the Philippines for nearly three decades, the ties between the City of Vaughan and the Philippines run deep. In our community, we owe much gratitude to my dear friend, Erlinda Insigne, and all the members of the Filipino-Canadian Association of Vaughan.
    A community favourite, Fiesta Extravaganza, started in Vaughan in 2018. It has now expanded to nine cities across Canada and will soon be going south of the border. Together, let us celebrate the vibrant Filipino community, their heritage and their enduring spirit that reminds us of the importance of unity, perseverance and cultural pride.
    Happy Filipino Heritage Month.

Festa della Repubblica

    Mr. Speaker, today, we celebrate the Festa della Repubblica in honour of the Italian Republic. This event symbolizes the continuing friendship and co-operation between our two nations. Canada and Italy's relationship has always been close. We are connected through over 1.6 million Italo-Canadians who mainly reside in Toronto, Vaughan and Montreal. We were honoured to have His Excellency Andrea Ferrari, the Italian ambassador to Canada, join us for our flag-raising this morning.
    I am proud of my grandfather, who came from Calabria for the opportunity of a better life. I am especially proud of my grandmother, who raised me to always treat people with respect and compassion. We all have the opportunity to excel in the country that gives everyone the opportunity to achieve their goals.
     Nonna, ti amo oggie e tutto I giorno.

[Translation]

Fédération des Communautés Culturelles de l'Estrie

    Mr. Speaker, the Fédération des communautés culturelles de l'Estrie has been serving our communities for over 30 years. With 180 projects for cultural associations to its credit, the federation is a key contributor to the socioeconomic and cultural integration of newcomers.
    The federation creates spaces where immigrants and their host communities can come together and engage with one another, spaces like the community garden. Federation members are also proactive in the fight against racism, violence against women and discrimination. They prioritize innovative actions that support diversity, openness and inclusivity in communities and workplaces.
    I am especially grateful to Boubacar, Mariame, Jesus, Charphadine, Roberto, Soumaïla, Henri and Juan Carlos, who are here in Ottawa today, and to the whole federation team for their amazing work, which fosters intercultural understanding and supports development in the Eastern Townships.

[English]

Foreign Affairs

    Mr. Speaker, after eight months of the horrible pain of war in the Middle East, many families in Canada are feeling the pain here at home. Too many of us know a family who has lost someone in Gaza or has family living there in fear and in unbearable conditions. Too many know of a hostage who is no longer coming home or a friend or family member who was killed on October 7 in Israel. Too many of us have been affected by the vandalism and violence directed toward our communities because of who we are or because of our beliefs and actions. While we, as Canadians, are out protesting, we must remember not to spread hate and fear through our words and actions, but rather to consider our fellow Canadians and how they might be impacted by them.
    We have a right to protest and to free speech, and we also have a responsibility to respect and to protect our fellow Canadians. As we advocate and work toward permanent peace and a long-term resolution to this conflict, let us first and foremost do no harm to our fellow Canadians.
    Love for all, hatred for none.

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[Translation]

Public Safety

    Mr. Speaker, after nine years under this government, our streets are becoming less and less safe. Crime rates across the country keep rising. Montrealers are increasingly afraid in their own city. It has gotten to the point where the city's police department is completely overwhelmed.
    Yesterday, the Montreal police service's annual report revealed that 911 calls in Montreal have increased by 10% since last year, to a total of 1.6 million calls. People are worried, and I can see why. This increase in calls is the result of the Liberal government's dangerous catch-and-release policy. Which party is fully supportive of this policy? That would be the Bloc Québécois, even though it has caused all this crime and chaos in our communities.
    Bloc members, who claim to be the defenders of Quebec, voted in favour of Bill C‑5, which allows convicted criminals to stay at home rather than go to prison. That is why a Conservative government will crack down on criminals with tougher policies to stop crime. We will protect people and their loved ones.

[English]

Normandy Landings

     Mr. Speaker, today we commemorate D-Day and the Battle of Normandy, which took place on June 6, 1944, during the Second World War. We honour those who sacrificed themselves and served our country in the ultimate battle that led to allied victory and the liberation of Europe.
    On June 6, 1944, more than 14,000 brave Canadian soldiers were involved in the Normandy landings and fought with exceptional courage to regain control of Juno Beach and other positions controlled by the occupying German forces. The price of this sacrifice was heavy. On the first day, 359 Canadians lost their lives, and more than 5,000 died in the two and a half months of fighting in Normandy.
    As we commemorate the 80th anniversary of D-Day, let us not forget the sacrifices our Canadian soldiers made in this battle to bring peace to the world.

Taxation

     Mr. Speaker, after nine years, Canadians are struggling because the Prime Minister's inflationary spending and tax hikes have increased the cost of everything. In fact, the average Canadian family will pay $700 more for groceries this year, and many Canadians will have no choice but to go to food banks.
    Canadians deserve relief from the government’s failed policies. That is why Conservatives introduced a motion to give Canadians the summer break they need. We proposed to axe the carbon tax, the federal fuel tax and the GST on fuel this summer so Canadians could afford a summer vacation because, unlike the Prime Minister, working Canadians cannot afford to jet off for a luxury vacation. However, instead of fighting for Canadians, the NDP-Liberal government opposed our motion and voted to keep the tax on Canadians this summer.
    Only common-sense Conservatives will axe the tax and bring home lower prices for all Canadians.

Ethics

    Mr. Speaker, they advised the Communist regime in Beijing on building military islands, and they tried to block their employees from pro-democracy activity in Russia. They pointed the finger at influential Saudi dissidents, and they helped to supercharge the opioid crisis. They even advised Disney on how to increase profits at the expense of safety. Armed with dark suits and PowerPoint slides, they are the McKinsey consultants, the people who can execute on anything and solve absolutely nothing.
    When Liberals came to office nine years ago, they wanted to bring in well-connected insiders, and of course they chose their dear friends at McKinsey. Today's explosive Auditor General's report reveals that the NDP-Liberal government repeatedly broke basic contracting rules to send $200 million worth of contracts to this certifiably amoral company. There was no value for money. The scales were intentionally tipped in McKinsey's favour, and there is a lack of evidence the contracts were even needed.
    Liberals love McKinsey and have broken the rules to shower it with taxpayer dollars, but Canadians have had enough. It is time to throw out the consultants and bring back common sense.

Young Women in Leadership Program

     Mr. Speaker, recently my office ran our 5th annual young women in leadership program. This innovative program pairs mentors with young women to provide mentorship and guidance. Through the program, each mentee is given the opportunity to either explore an existing area of interest or to develop skills in a new area of interest.
    I capped off this year’s program by hosting a wonderful reception with keynote speaker Professor Maja, an inspiring sociologist, author, TEDx speaker and confidence builder. Her message of self-kindness and leading with confidence resonated with everyone, but especially the young mentees in attendance who are at the start of their professional journeys.
     I thank Jas Brar from my office, who did a super job organizing, and I would like to thank all the mentors and mentees from across Halton Region for making the program possible and for creating a safe and supportive environment for the next generation of female leaders.

(1415)

Reaching Out Assisting Refugees

    Mr. Speaker, June is Pride Month, a time to celebrate 2SLGBTQIA+ people and also a time for people to unite and combat the disturbing rise in hate right here at home and abroad.
    There are many organizations doing such vital work that require federal leadership and funding, like that of Reaching Out Assisting Refugees, ROAR, located in my riding of Nanaimo—Ladysmith. ROAR works with people who are criminalized and faced with persecution and discrimination internationally for being 2SLGBTQIA+, some even facing the death penalty, forcing them to flee their home country. To engage in this life-saving work, ROAR receives contributions from generous individuals, businesses and organizations, but it needs the supports to see more refugees sponsored and brought to safety.
    Today, I urge the Liberal government to commit to the leadership and sustained financial supports required for organizations like ROAR and for all members of Parliament to stand against hate and ensure a future free of homophobia, biphobia and transphobia.

[Translation]

35th Anniversary of Tiananmen Square Massacre

    Mr. Speaker, today we sadly mark the 35th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre, during which thousands of students lost their lives.
     The brutal crushing of this peaceful movement by the Communist Chinese regime produced images that continue to haunt us to this day. I can still picture the student standing in front of the tanks to stop them from advancing.
     We denounced those tragic events, to be sure, but we also denounced the complacency of western countries, including Canada, which, in placing commercial interests above the protection of human rights, had in some ways opened the door to such repression.
     Thirty-five years later, the People's Republic of China exerts even more control over its population and continues to violently target its opponents, real or imagined, in addition to acting belligerently toward its neighbours. At a time when it continues to ruthlessly crush the pro-democracy movement in Hong Kong and relentlessly threaten Taiwan, we have a duty to memorialize the tragic events of Tiananmen Square in order to combat the apathy that could once again make us complicit in a recurrence of such events.

[English]

Ethics

    Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister is not worth the cost, the incompetence or the outright corruption.
    Today the Auditor General found that $123 million was given out to Liberal friends in the so-called green slush fund at Sustainable Development Technology Corporation, or SDTC. Fifty-nine million dollars was given to projects that should never have been awarded at all; $76 million of funding was given to projects that had a conflict of interest, and conflict of interest rules were not followed in 90 cases. In one instance, the Prime Minister's personal friend siphoned off $217,000 to her own company.
    “Corruption” is an understatement. This is shameful. The Auditor General found that the Prime Minister and the industry minister have been found at fault, and the SDTC will be folded up into a federal agency. Ya, that should help. This is on top of everything Canadians are going through.
    Shame on the Liberal government for the disregard of taxpayer dollars. Only Conservatives will end the corruption and bring common sense back to Ottawa.

Powwows

    Mr. Speaker, June is National Indigenous History Month. On June 21, we observe National Indigenous Peoples Day across the country, with celebrations and cultural showcases from coast to coast to coast. It is also the kick-off to summer, and that means powwow season.
    I want to congratulate students from Fredericton High School and Leo Hayes High School who worked tirelessly to plan and organize highly successful events, bringing together drum groups, dancers, knowledge keepers and, of course, delicious food to share vibrant Wolastoqiyik culture with their fellow students and staff. It was Fredericton High School's first of its kind, and it will not be the last.
    For anyone who has not had the pleasure of attending a powwow, expect to see beautiful cultural expressions and hear the heartbeat of mother earth, laughter and learning. It is truly a spectacle to behold, and I look forward to travelling the powwow trail in New Brunswick with my family.
     For all the amazing powwow committees, as well as chiefs and councils across Turtle Island, wela'lin for all of their hard work and dedication and for bringing this important tradition to their communities and surrounding regions each year.
    From a time in Canada when critical gatherings like this were outlawed, we fast-forward to today when all are welcome as we continue our path towards reconciliation.

Oral Questions

[Oral Questions]

(1420)

[Translation]

Innovation, Science and Industry

    Mr. Speaker, after nine years, this Prime Minister is not worth the cost or the corruption. According to an Auditor General's report on the $1‑billion green fund, $123 million was spent without following the rules.
    Liberal insiders funnelled taxpayers' money into their own companies. One of this government's officials described this as sponsorship-scandal-level corruption. Will the Prime Minister take responsibility for this waste and corruption, or will he just blame others again?
    Before the Prime Minister answers the question, I would ask the member for Timmins—James Bay not to speak until he is recognized by the Chair.
    The right hon. Prime Minister.
    Mr. Speaker, as always, we thank the Auditor General for her work. We will read her report carefully and we will carefully examine the recommendations. Obviously, we need to ensure that we are investing responsibly and transparently as we fight climate change and create a greener economy. That is what we will always do.

Public Services and Procurement

    Mr. Speaker, the Auditor General's report confirms that the government favoured McKinsey with money voted for by the Bloc Québécois. Ninety-seven contracts worth a total of $209 million, much more than previously thought, were awarded to this Prime Minister's favourite consulting firm.
    What is more, 70% of these contracts were awarded without a competitive process. Worse yet, in several cases, at least four contracts were specifically designed so that McKinsey could be hired. Why is he giving this money to his Liberal cronies?
    Mr. Speaker, we have already put measures in place to ensure that the contracts awarded by the public service follow the strictest, most transparent rules. We must ensure that taxpayers' investments are made transparently and responsibly. That is something we will keep doing while we fight climate change and create a stronger, growing economy.

[English]

Carbon Pricing

    Mr. Speaker, the Parliamentary Budget Officer has already proven that the Liberal carbon tax, just like the Prime Minister, is not worth the cost, saying that the vast majority of people are worse off under a carbon pricing regime than without. This is partly because of the economic cost that the carbon tax imposes. One of our members from Winnipeg asked the PBO whether the government had done an economic analysis of the cost, and he said yes, but that the government is blocking its release, referring to it as a “gag order”.
    Why the carbon tax cover-up?
    Mr. Speaker, we of course respect the work of the Parliamentary Budget Officer, who provides independent analysis to the government. In this instance, however, the Parliamentary Budget Officer admitted that he made a mistake with his carbon pricing reports, using incorrect analysis and modelling, which emphasises what we have been saying all along: that eight out of 10 Canadians get more money back from the Canada carbon rebate while we fight climate change.
    The next Canada carbon rebate is actually going to be arriving on July 15 in Canadians' bank accounts right across the country. We will continue to put money in people's pockets and fight climate—
     The hon. Leader of the Opposition has the floor.

Innovation, Science and Industry

    Mr. Speaker, if that were true, he would simply release the report with the real cost of the carbon tax that he has been hiding.
    However, the Auditor General released another report showing that the Prime Minister is not worth the corruption or cost after nine years; $123 million in spending in the Prime Minister's green slush fund broke the rules. According to one of the bureaucrats involved, the entire expenditure resembles the Liberal sponsorship scandal.
    Will the Prime Minister take personal responsibility for these costs and corruption, or will he just blame others again?
     Mr. Speaker, the minister has already taken measures to ensure that these programs are properly spent and that the processes are properly followed in terms of contracts. We know we need to continue to ensure value for money for taxpayers while at the same time continuing to step up on the fight against climate change and on the creation of a green economy. That is why we continue to deliver a Canada carbon rebate that puts more money in eight out of 10 Canadians' pockets in regions where it is in place, at the same time as we fight climate change effectively right across the country.

(1425)

     I am just going to ask, please, for the person who has been recognized by the Chair to take the floor, and to ask the question or to answer the question, so not only can the Chair hear all the questions but also that all members can hear. Especially for those who use translation devices, it is difficult for them to hear over the ambient sound.
     The hon. Leader of the Opposition.

Public Services and Procurement

    Mr. Speaker, we already knew that the Prime Minister liked to give tax dollars to his favourite consulting company, McKinsey, a company that helped supercharge drug overdose deaths as part of the opioid crisis.
    Today we learned from the Auditor General that it is far more money than thought. It was $200 million in Canadian tax dollars for this one company, and 90% of those contracts did not follow government rules, 70% of them were without a competitive process and 100% of them were with the NDP voting in favour.
    Will the Prime Minister commit, here and now, no more money for McKinsey?
     Again, I ask members, and I have already asked the member for Timmins—James Bay, to please not comment while other members are speaking so that we can all hear.
     Mr. Speaker, obviously the taxpayers deserve to get value for money, which is why we have continued to strengthen our oversight and the measures whereby public servants grant contracts, including to outside consultants.
     We have reduced those numbers. We are making sure that we are able to both grow the economy and fight climate change at the same time as we ensure value for money. We will, of course, continue to work with the Auditor General and her recommendations as we move forward.
     At the same time, we are committed to delivering more money into the pockets of eight out of 10 Canadians as we fight climate change with the Canada carbon rebate.

[Translation]

Democratic Institutions

    Mr. Speaker, the National Security and Intelligence Committee of Parliamentarians has tabled a report indicating that the Prime Minister's Office handles national security issues—and issues of democracy in particular—in a convoluted way, with confusion, denial, complacency and inaction. Apparently, there are currently elected representatives here in the House who are willingly or naively under foreign influence.
    What does the Prime Minister intend to do?
    Mr. Speaker, we obviously thank the National Security and Intelligence Committee of Parliamentarians for its work. We take interference very seriously. That is why we are taking all necessary steps to protect Canadians from the threat of foreign interference.
    We established oversight and accountability bodies. We set up a public inquiry. We introduced new legislation that provides for a foreign influence transparency registry that makes foreign interference a serious crime and allows CSIS to share information with all levels of government, businesses, researchers and more.
    We will continue to be there to protect Canadians.
    Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister himself said that he did not read certain reports. He ignored certain reports. He slowed down the intelligence-gathering and investigation process. Even now, there may be elected representatives subject to foreign influence in every party. He needs to tell us. He needs to give us an answer because, right now, the Prime Minister of a Parliament that includes some members under foreign influence is doing nothing.
    Mr. Speaker, it is a little ironic that the leader of the Bloc Québécois is asking these questions, because he himself refused to obtain the necessary security clearance to read the classified documents and understand the issues the government is working on. Despite refusing to obtain the necessary security clearance, he is going into partisan attack mode on an extremely important issue. The government and parliamentarians who take this issue seriously are doing what needs to be done about it.

(1430)

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, we know that China and India are interfering in our democracy and are using members of Parliament to do so.
     A Canadian is dead because India allegedly sent assassins to murder him in Surrey, B.C. Yet, the Conservative leader refuses to condemn India's Modi, and the Prime Minister has failed to protect our democracy.
     How will this Prime Minister take this matter seriously and hold these foreign governments to account?
    Mr. Speaker, since 2015, we have been the first and only government to introduce significant measures to counter foreign interference. The very creation of the National Security and Intelligence Committee of Parliamentarians, an initiative that the Conservative Party campaigned against and fought bitterly against while they were in government, has allowed us to see a lot more and to make sure that all parliamentarians are aware of what the intelligence community is doing to keep Canadians safe.
    We have moved forward on election protection protocols. We have moved forward on more tools for our security agencies. We will continue to do everything necessary to protect Canadians.
    Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister has delayed on this file and the repercussions are serious.

[Translation]

     We know that China and India are actively interfering in our democracy, and are using members of Parliament to do so. However, the Conservative leader refuses to condemn Modi's Indian government, and this Prime Minister is failing to protect our democracy.
    How will the Prime Minister hold the Indian and Chinese governments to account for their interference?
    Mr. Speaker, not only are we giving our security and intelligence agencies, as well as parliamentarians, new tools to counter foreign interference, but we are also taking a strong stand against foreign interference by upholding the rule of law and international law.
    We are here to stand up to countries that flout the principles of international law, whether it is Russia, China or others. We will continue to be here to ensure that we protect Canadians and people who come to Canada to flee authoritarian regimes. We will always be here to protect them.

[English]

Innovation, Science and Industry

     Mr. Speaker, after nine years, the Prime Minister is not worth the cost or the corruption. The AG's latest report found that the Liberal-created green slush fund has been directing tens of millions of dollars into companies owned by, as colleagues have guessed, the Liberals themselves. Their own civil servants called it “outright incompetence”, but it is worse than that as $123 million of inappropriate contracts, almost half, should not have been given to those companies at all. It is even worse, as $76 million is connected to Liberal insiders. Is it incompetence? Is it corruption? Is it both? What the hell is going on over there?
    Before I pass the floor to the minister, I will ask members to please be judicious in the words that they choose, to make sure that they are on the right side of parliamentary language, as well as polite.
    The hon. minister.
     Mr Speaker, I think Canadians are seeing how far the Conservatives will go when we are talking about climate change. We have been very clear from the moment that we received the allegations. We launched two investigations, one by Raymond Chabot Grant Thornton and one by the law firm, McCarthy Tétrault, and now the Auditor General.
    We have been clear that we wanted to get to the bottom of this. That is what we have done. Not only have we investigated, but we agree with the conclusion of the Auditor General. We are going to restore governance. We are going to restore funding to clean tech in this country and we are going to restore the confidence of Canadians.
    Mr. Speaker, how rich do Liberals have to get before they solve climate change? Tens of millions of dollars is being directed back into their pockets. The Auditor General made it clear that it is that minister who is responsible for the scandal. While millions eat in food banks, young people cannot buy a home and families cannot take a summer vacation. That minister is giving millions of dollars to his friends under the guise of his climate change ideology. Is he actually joking? When will anyone over there face a single consequence for anything?

(1435)

     Mr. Speaker, we can see, again, where the Conservatives are going. The Auditor General's report was very clear. Parliament decided 20 years ago to have an arm's-length organization to manage that. We investigated the allegations. Now we are proposing a new governance model, which will be under the rules of the federal public service, so that we can have more rules around HR and more rules around funding.
    We are going to restore confidence. We are going to make sure that we have a model of delivery that meets the highest standard. We are going to fight for the clean tech in this sector.
     Mr. Speaker, the Auditor General's report makes it clear that this Prime Minister is not worth the cost or the corruption. The Prime Minister's billion-dollar green slush fund handed out $123 million in taxpayer dollars illegally. We know this because Conservatives have been fighting against the Liberal cover-up as we have tried to expose the Liberal minister's incompetence. We know that nearly 100 conflicts of interest were uncovered because of the Auditor General's investigation. It is shocking confirmation of corruption and we know that the Liberals are going to try to cover it up. What we need to know today is this: Is the minister going to assure Canadians that not a single dollar of severance will go to the corrupt executives?
    Mr. Speaker, again, let me tell Canadians that the Conservatives at the time, 20 years ago, wanted that to be an independent organization, arm's-length from government. That was the delivery model that was chosen. From the moment we had allegations, we investigated because we want to get to the bottom of this.
     We have seen the reports that have come up. We have proactively worked with the Auditor General. We are going to restore confidence. We are going to restore governance in this organization. However, one thing is that we are never going to leave our small and medium-sized business owners who are fighting for climate change in this country. We are going to fight with them.
     Colleagues, normally this is the kind of energy we would hear on a Wednesday. I am going to ask the hon. member for St. Albert—Edmonton to please take the microphone when he is recognized by the Chair to do so.
     The hon. member for Leeds—Grenville—Thousand Islands and Rideau Lakes.
    Mr. Speaker, the only fighting that we have seen from these Liberals is fighting for more handouts for Liberal insiders. Liberal insiders lined up to get rich, while Canadians line up at food banks. The Auditor General's report makes it crystal clear that the current Prime Minister and his government are not worth the cost or the corruption.
    There was $76 million given out to projects connected to Liberals' friends. They are Liberal friends who were appointed to the slush fund by these very Liberals. Liberals are lining the pockets of Liberals. We know all about it after nine years of this corrupt Prime Minister. Will the Liberals stop the cover-up and commit to get back every one of Canadians' dollars?
    Mr. Speaker, here we go with the Conservatives again, against our small and medium-sized business owners in this country who are fighting for climate change . As I have said before, once we received allegations, we initiated the investigation because we wanted to get to the bottom of this. The CEO of the organization has resigned. The chair of the board has resigned. We demanded an action plan by management. We welcome the Auditor General's report. We are going to restore confidence and we are going to restore governance, but we are going to make sure we are always going to be there to fight for small and medium-sized business owners in this country.

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, after nine years, this Prime Minister is not worth the cost or the corruption. We are talking about three scathing reports from the Auditor General, not just one or two, but three.
    I would like to quote the Auditor General. First, there is “The federal organizations' frequent disregard of policies”. Second, there are “significant lapses in...governance and stewardship of public funds.” Third, there is the “government's...disconnected approach”.
    After nine years of inflationary spending, supported by the Bloc Québécois, yes, Liberal cronies are happy, but why are Canadians paying the price when it comes to rent, groceries and taxes?
    Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for giving me another opportunity to thank the Auditor General for her very important work. The findings of her report are similar to those we already have seen and heard from Government of Canada agencies and committees of the House of Commons in recent months.
    In light of the previous findings, we have been taking action for over a year to put an end to all the standing offers, including those with companies similar to McKinsey.

(1440)

    Mr. Speaker, this is the result of the Liberals' actions: The Liberal green fund and its directors, appointed by the Prime Minister, have lined the pockets of their Liberal friends.
    This morning, the Auditor General revealed that the Liberal green fund awarded $59 million to projects that were not even eligible for grants, all in full view of the Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry. As usual, the minister did nothing. We now know that the minister was aware of it.
    Will the minister go ask his friends to pay the money they were not entitled to receive back to Canadians?
    Mr. Speaker, the Conservatives are just waking up. It must be the sun. As I said in English: the moment we heard of allegations, we launched the investigation. While the Conservatives were sleeping, we launched investigations with Raymond Chabot Grant Thornton and McCarthy Tétrault. We worked with the Auditor General because we wanted to get to the bottom of things.
    The governance model we are putting forward will allow us to kick-start the organization and ensure that we can fund small and medium-sized businesses that are tackling climate change. We are going to rebuild trust and support small and medium-sized businesses in Canada.

Democratic Institutions

    Mr. Speaker, for the benefit of people who might be watching, the report was tabled yesterday. No one was allowed to see it beforehand. Only one Bloc Québécois member sits on the committee, and that is the member for Montarville. Revealing the names in question is strictly prohibited.
    I encourage the Liberal caucus in particular to look within and recognize that members of their own caucus may be under foreign influence. At their next caucus meeting, I suggest they talk among themselves so that those involved can be identified.
    Mr. Speaker, as I said yesterday and repeated again today, it is important to be very careful when publicly discussing intelligence in any detail.
    As the Prime Minister correctly pointed out, we are the only government that has brought in a series of measures that have evolved over the years to strengthen our ability to detect foreign interference. I have a great deal of confidence in our security and intelligence services and the RCMP. I know they are going to do a great job doing the work that needs to be done.

Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship

    Mr. Speaker, these are troubled times. There are troubling situations in the Middle East, Eastern Europe, Mexico and just about everywhere on the planet. Add to that global warming, institutionalized violence and war, and these are troubled times indeed.
    It is easy to understand why people from around the world are seeking refuge. That means we find ourselves with record numbers of asylum seekers, people waiting for work permits. They are forced to rely on food banks and social assistance.
    As usual, Ottawa is asleep at the switch. When is this government going to take the issue of asylum seekers seriously?
    Mr. Speaker, I thank the member opposite for his very fair question.
    It is true that Canada, like many other countries, is facing a record number of asylum claims. This year is another one for the record books. That does not mean we are not taking things seriously. On the contrary, we are stepping up our efforts to ensure that the people who come here, fleeing war and violence, are well received and properly supported. We need Quebec's support.
    I want to point out how important it is that the Bloc Québécois continue to advocate to ensure that asylum seekers are welcomed in Quebec and Canada.
    Mr. Speaker, there is a cost related to asylum seekers. There is also a responsibility. We have to house them, care for them, educate them and provide them with French classes. We have to allow them to work, something that Ottawa is incapable of doing.
    Asylum seekers currently represent 20% of social assistance recipients in Quebec. The Prime Minister says, “come to Canada, oh downtrodden of the earth”. He forgets to tell them that once they arrive, he will not lift a finger for them. He cannot even give them a work permit in less than 30 days.
    Is that the Liberal definition of being welcoming?

(1445)

    Mr. Speaker, several weeks ago, the member across the way claimed that it took six, seven or eight months, I no longer remember how long. People are not entitled to a work permit before three months. We are doing our best to give them one.
    Obviously, money earned can go a long way. It is clear that we can do better. It is clear that we want to do better. Obviously, in light of the record number of claims, we are going to need the support of the provinces, including Quebec. I very much welcome that support.

[English]

Public Services and Procurement

    Mr. Speaker, the Auditor General report proves the Prime Minister is not worth the cost or the corruption. The NDP-Liberal government spent $200 million on McKinsey, which is just another example of the Prime Minister favouring his insider friends. The AG stated this showed a flagrant disregard for procurement rules, as the government sole-sourced with no justification, and competitive processes were changed to favour McKinsey. The clear favouritism is just one more example of the government choosing its friends over integrity.
    Why has the Prime Minister been caught red-handed, time and time again, giving his friends lucrative contracts?
    Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for asking this important question, which allows me to thank the Auditor General for her important work on this topic.
    The report comes to similar conclusions to those of the report that was released by the government last year. Based on those previous findings, we have been acting for more than a year to end the standing offers with McKinsey and all similar companies, as well as introducing stricter requirements for departments with their own contracting authorities.
     Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister is not worth the cost or corruption. Dominic Barton, the former global head of McKinsey, was hand-picked by the PM to be the Canadian ambassador to China and the chair of the advisory council on economic growth. Therefore, it is no surprise that, after 2016, McKinsey contracting began to go up and up, with few signs of stopping. He even joined a meeting between McKinsey and the Canada Infrastructure Bank while he was the ambassador, and he hid this from members of committee.
    Why should Canadians tolerate a Prime Minister who promotes his rich friends and a government run by McKinsey?

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, I am happy to repeat what I just said in the other official language. We thank the Auditor General of Canada for her important work on this file.
     The report reaches conclusions similar to those in the report that was released by the government last year. Nevertheless, we will continue to take the findings into account. For example, standing offers with McKinsey and all similar companies were cancelled a year ago, and we will continue to implement stricter requirements for departments that do their own contracting.

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, the Auditor General's report proves that, after nine years, the Prime Minister is not worth the cost or corruption. In her audit of McKinsey, the AG found that the Liberal government broke the rules, showed clear favouritism and could not demonstrate value for money.
    The Prime Minister needs to take responsibility. Almost $200 million was awarded to McKinsey. Contracts were rigged, Liberal insiders got rich and taxpayers are on the hook.
    Will the Prime Minister finally ban McKinsey from government contracting?
    Mr. Speaker, I have answered this question multiple times now. I would just add that, in addition to what I have said, these contracts have been closely examined several times, including by the Auditor General. No indication of political interference was ever found.
     However, speaking of contracts, may I talk about dental care, about which the Conservative leader has nothing to say, because he believes and claims that it does not exist? Two million seniors in Canada have already registered for dental. Now, why is a Conservative leader misinforming and hurting seniors by telling them it does not exist?
    Mr. Speaker, the Auditor General's report proves once again that the Prime Minister is not worth the cost or the corruption.
    Now, Liberals love McKinsey; apparently, all is fair in love and government contracting. Most of the $200 million in McKinsey contracts did not follow the rules and, in almost half of cases, it was not clear that the contract was needed. In some cases, the government even rigged the process to favour McKinsey.
     Why do the Liberals show such affection for McKinsey but such disdain for Canadian taxpayers?

(1450)

    Mr. Speaker, that question has already been answered several times by my colleagues. However, I am glad to hear the Conservatives, albeit obliquely, talking about income inequality in our society. It is a concern that we share.
    The good news for the Conservatives is that they have the opportunity to support us and to support our increase in the capital gains inclusion rate, which is a way to ask those at the very top to help the Canadian middle class. Let us see if the Conservatives will do it.

[Translation]

Labour

    Mr. Speaker, for years now, customs and border services officers have been seeking retirement benefits similar to those enjoyed by their law enforcement counterparts. This is about justice and respect for these workers, who keep us safe.
    A committee has been examining the matter for three years. The Treasury Board president received recommendations in December. It has been radio silence ever since. These officers could go on strike 48 hours from now, on Thursday.
    Why are the Liberals still dragging their feet when it comes to standing up for workers?
    Mr. Speaker, that is not true. We are at the table. We are pursuing talks because an agreement that is fair to taxpayers and public servants is crucial.
    We are always there for the public service and for a very just and equitable agreement. We are there.

[English]

Northern Affairs

    Uqaqtittiji, Nunavummiut already pay some of the highest airfares in the world. The lowest airfare in 2023 from Ottawa to Grise Fiord was over $11,000. Even worse is that baggage fees recently went up, ripping off northerners even more. This is all happening under the Liberals' watch, when they promised that airline costs would not go up in the north.
    Flights are a lifeline in Nunavut. Why is the government letting airlines gouge Nunavummiut for essential travel?
    Mr. Speaker, we know that affordability is front and centre in everything we do all over Canada, especially the north. We have brought forward $10-a-day child care for affordability. Nunavut was the first province or territory to take advantage of that. Certainly, affordability is front and centre. We realize that the cost of travel may be high. We are looking into ways to make it more affordable.

Women and Gender Equality

    Mr. Speaker, every single Conservative MP voted against pharmacare to provide universal access to contraception, and the party's own caucus members have expressed anti-choice rhetoric. One Conservative member has referenced the legislation as “focusing on wiping out or tapering off the population”.
    Could the Minister of Health please share how the Conservative member is missing the point of the legislation and how her remarks can be harmful for women and gender-diverse Canadians?
    Mr. Speaker, we know that over half of the Conservative caucus has been confirmed as being anti-choice and being against a woman's right to choose. We also know that 100% of Conservative MPs voted against free contraception for women.
    When a member makes such comments, it becomes clear that, if they are both against abortion and against access to contraception, they are against a woman's right to choose and have autonomy over her own body. It is not Conservative MPs who should tell women whether they should or should not start a family; it is women themselves who must always make that decision.

Innovation, Science and Industry

    Mr. Speaker, the explosive Auditor General's report proves that the Prime Minister is not worth the cost or corruption. The NDP-Liberal government knew conflict of interest policies were not being followed and did absolutely nothing. With $76 million green-lit by Liberal-appointed directors, never to be seen again, Canadians deserve so much better.
     If the minister knew about these conflicts, why did he not take his job seriously and fire the directors?

(1455)

    Mr. Speaker, I actually welcome the question from the member, because it seems that the Conservatives have not really listened. The moment we heard of allegations, when they were asleep, we launched the investigation. We launched the investigations by Raymond Chabot Grant Thornton and McCarthy Tétreault. Once we had done so, we suspended funding to the organization. The chair of the board and the CO resigned. We demanded an action plan by management.
     We are committed to restoring the funding to the firms. We are committed to having more governance, and we are committed to ensuring that there will be trust in a new organization.
    Mr. Speaker, the minister did nothing for 48 months, even though he had officials sitting in the meetings. The Auditor General's explosive report on the NDP-Liberal green slush fund shows that personal friends of the Prime Minister funnelled obscene amounts of money into their own pockets. The Auditor General confirmed that, an incredible 186 times, with almost half of all the green slush fund projects, Liberal swindlers voted themselves hundreds of millions of dollars of taxpayer money to their companies.
    Will the Prime Minister call in the police and make these Liberal swindlers pay back this money?
    Mr. Speaker, it seems that there were a lot of people on their side sleeping at the switch. What I have said is very clear. We received allegations and we investigated. We investigated. We made sure that we would get to the bottom of this. We suspended the funding to the organization. The chair of the board and the CO resigned. We made sure that there would be a management plan in place.
    We want to restore confidence. We expect everyone to adhere to the highest governance. That is why we are proposing a new model of governance that would make sure that public funds are disbursed with the level of governance that all Canadians expect.

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, after nine years of this Liberal-NDP-Bloc government, which is not worth the cost or the corruption, the Auditor General tells us that Sustainable Development Technology Canada violated its conflict of interest policies 90 times and awarded $359 million to 10 projects that were not eligible. This is yet another example of the Liberal government's mismanagement.
    Why is this government not careful, and why does it waste so much of taxpayers' money?
    Mr. Speaker, now the member for Lévis—Lotbinière is waking up.
    As I said, we received allegations in February 2023. In March 2023, we launched an investigation with an arm's-length organization that was created by Parliament 20 years ago.
    Following the report submitted to us by an accounting and law firm, we took appropriate action and suspended funding. The board chair resigned. The head of the organization resigned.
    We will be there to restore confidence and to ensure that our SMEs can get funding to counter—
    The hon. member for Lévis—Lotbinière.
    Mr. Speaker, this minister is asleep at the switch. The Auditor General has discovered that $76 million in funding was awarded to projects with ties to Liberal cronies. Greasing palms and enriching Liberal cronies shows a complete lack of ethics and responsibility. This is another scandal.
    Why are conflicts of interest and money for cronies commonplace in the Liberal government?
    Mr. Speaker, everyone in the House can recognize the member for Lévis—Lotbinière's theatrical talents, but the reality is simple. I have said it before, and I will say it again so that everyone on that side of the House and the Canadians watching us can hear it: The most important thing is integrity.
    That is why, when we received allegations, we launched an investigation. We made sure to suspend the funding until we received the findings. The CEO of the organization has stepped down. The chair of the board of directors has stepped down.
    We are proposing a new governance model to restore confidence and ensure that we can support SMEs in Canada's green technology sector.

Public Services and Procurement

    Mr. Speaker, the Auditor General's report on the contracts the government awarded to McKinsey has just been released. There were 97 contracts totalling more than $200 million. Most importantly, the report reveals that 71% of those contracts were awarded non-competitively. Nine of the 10 departments and eight of the 10 Crown corporations involved broke the rules. The Auditor General even goes so far as to say that this is a common problem.
    How can the Liberals simultaneously increase the size of the public service by 40% while depending on untendered contracts with private firms?

(1500)

    Mr. Speaker, this is another great opportunity to thank and congratulate the Auditor General on her important work. Her conclusions, of course, are similar to those we have been hearing in recent months. These conclusions have enabled us, over the past few months, to take those previous findings into account and take action to put an end to standing offers with McKinsey and all other similar companies. We are also introducing stricter and more legitimate requirements for all other government departments to do their own contracting.
    Mr. Speaker, the Auditor General's report also shows that the use of McKinsey has exploded since the Liberals came to power. That did not go unnoticed. For many of these contracts, the departments were unable to prove that these consultants had the necessary security clearance. Meanwhile, McKinsey had its paws all over public services, immigration, Trans Mountain and even defence.
    How can the Liberals stand by and let their own rules be circumvented, even when it comes to security?
    Mr. Speaker, the member is absolutely right to draw attention to two things. The first is security. The second is spending.
    Let us begin with spending. The President of the Treasury Board has been very clear over the past few months. We are reducing professional services contracts by 15% to give the public service even more latitude and capacity to serve Canadians.
    When it comes to security, the Auditor General was very clear. She said that we needed more information and more capacity to store and share this information at the appropriate time.

[English]

Carbon Pricing

    Mr. Speaker, after nine years, another gag order victim of the Liberal-NDP Prime Minister has come forward. This time, it is his own Parliamentary Budget Officer, who revealed yesterday that there was a secret government document that would lambaste and completely put to shame the claims on the carbon tax scam. This secret report would confirm most Canadians are worse off in this scam than what they get in phony rebates, and emissions have gone up.
    Will the Liberal-NDP Prime Minister lift the gag order on the PBO so that Canadians and everyone can know what they already know, which is that the Prime Minister and this carbon tax scam are not worth the cost?
    Mr. Speaker, the Parliamentary Budget Officer does important and essential work, and we thank him for the update. Recently, he had an update on his website, saying that the last estimate he had done was based on faulty information, and we thank him for correcting the record. It confirms what we have known all along, what economists and independent organizations across the country have been saying, which is that eight out of 10 Canadians are better off with federal carbon pricing.
     The reason the Conservatives are so bent out of shape about this is because it re-emphasizes the fact that carbon pricing both lowers emissions and the Canada carbon rebate supports affordability.
    Mr. Speaker, maybe the Liberals are gagging the PBO because they are ashamed he is going to reveal that this carbon tax scam is not worth the cost and it will confirm that a majority of Canadians are worse off in this scam than what they get back in phony rebates.
    If the Liberals do not want to ungag him and they do not want to release the report, why do they not just call a carbon tax election so that Canadians can decide whether they want to keep this scam or axe the tax under a common-sense Conservative government?
    Mr. Speaker, the Conservatives have clung to this flawed scenario and they refuse to correct their own misinformation on this very important subject.
     I would recommend that the Leader of the Opposition maybe go to Carleton over the summer and brush up on his mathematics. However, it is very clear that it is probably elementary school he needs to go back to. We are talking about adding and subtracting. Conservative math just is not adding up these days. However, I want to reassure Canadians that on July 15, the Canada carbon rebate will be arriving in their bank accounts or in their mailboxes.
    Mr. Speaker, everybody knows in Canada, except for maybe the NDP-Liberal coalition, that they pay more in the carbon tax than they get back in a rebate. It turns out that even the government knew. Even the Prime Minister knows. We know that because the PBO said that.
    When will the government finally release this report and end the carbon tax cover-up?

(1505)

    Mr. Speaker, we know, and Canadians know, that eight out of 10 Canadians get more money back with the carbon rebate. However, there is someone who is being gagged, and that is an MP who sits in the House of Commons, the MP for Peace River—Westlock. He had the temerity to say out loud what the majority of Conservative MPs believe, which is that a woman should not have the right to choose. Now we know that those Conservatives, who campaigned on a price on pollution and are disavowing it, will do the same thing with—
     The hon. member for Malpeque.

Infrastructure

    Mr. Speaker, this past weekend, I was pleased to join colleagues in Halifax for an announcement on the funding for the Ronald McDonald House Charities Atlantic.
     Ronald McDonald House serves as a place of comfort and stability for many families across Atlantic Canada in time of need. This weekend's announcement will ensure that Ronald McDonald House Atlantic is the first net-zero house in Canada, made possible due to our government's commitment to infrastructure investments and climate action, unlike the official opposition.
    Could the Minister of Housing, Infrastructure and Communities please speak to the importance of this investment?
    Mr. Speaker, I want to thank my colleague for joining me in Halifax to visit Ronald McDonald House. The Ronald McDonald House organization is an incredible organization that allows families to make sure they have a place to be when they are away from home to seek treatment for children who are sick.
    We had an opportunity while we were there to meet Brittany and Riley, who recently welcomed Finley, their new addition, who arrived a little earlier than expected, but because the services being provided allowed them a place to stay, they were able to get the treatment they needed.
    We are investing nearly $3 million to help make the facility more efficient, more accessible and, importantly, double the capacity to serve 1,200 families. I want to thank all the volunteers and workers who make it possible to have such a wonderful facility.

[Translation]

Taxation

    Mr. Speaker, after nine years of this Liberal government, the cost of living is too high and Quebeckers are paying the price. Yesterday, the Bloc-Liberal voted against pausing federal gas taxes to give Quebeckers a break. The Bloc Québécois is at it again: It wants to radically increase the taxes that are costing Quebeckers so much.
    The Parliamentary Budget Officer confirmed yesterday at the Standing Committee on Finance that the government has a report that is being kept secret.
    When will this minister publish this report that proves that Quebeckers are right to call for a break this summer?
    Mr. Speaker, during the 2021 election campaign, every Conservative member promised to put a price on pollution. That was important, especially in Quebec, because Quebeckers understand the importance of climate action. We now see the Conservatives doing an about-face.
    The thing that concerns me is the Conservatives' future about-face on a woman's right to choose. The Conservative member from northern Alberta said what he really thinks. We should be afraid of those Conservatives.

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, after nine years of the NDP-Liberal government, the Prime Minister is hiding the truth about the carbon tax, that it costs Canadians more than they pay. Yesterday, the Parliamentary Budget Officer confirmed that he had received information from the Liberal government that confirmed his report that Canadians paid more but was under a Liberal gag order from talking about it. Canadians know it costs them more.
    When will the Prime Minister stop gagging the PBO and release the secret report that proves Canadians are right?
     Mr. Speaker, the only person being gagged in Ottawa right now is the Conservative member of Parliament for Peace River—Westlock. He committed the cardinal political crime among the power-hungry Conservative Party of actually telling the truth, of actually telling Canadians what he believes and what he intends to do, and that is to end a woman's right to choose. He is in a majority in that caucus. It is time for the Conservatives to tell Canadians the truth about their intentions.

(1510)

     Mr. Speaker, on April 16, the Liberals announced that they were increasing taxes on the investments of Canadians through an increase to the capital gains tax. That tax is supposed to take effect three weeks from today and Canadians have not seen the legislation yet. One wonders what the government is doing over there.
    When will the government show small businesses, families, farmers, entrepreneurs and physicians the text of the bill so that they know how this tax increase will impact them?
    Mr. Speaker, finally, there is a good question from the Conservatives. I am so glad to say that we will begin the legislative process to raise the capital gains inclusion rate before the House rises. One of the reasons why that is so important is that it will give Canadians a chance to see the true colours of those Conservatives. So far, they have dithered, they have dodged and they have not said whether they are in favour of asking those who are doing the very best to pay a little more. Soon, they are not going to have a chance to dodge.

[Translation]

Infrastructure

    Mr. Speaker, as we all know, Canada committed to net zero by 2050, and our government is working very hard across all sectors to achieve this ambitious and necessary target.
    One of the initiatives we introduced is the green and inclusive community buildings program, which aims to make Canada's infrastructure less polluting and more sustainable, as well as more accessible and inclusive.

[English]

    Could the minister give a concrete example of a project that is supported by this program and explain why this is beneficial for the community that receives its funding?

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, through the green and inclusive community buildings program, our government has invested heavily in projects such as the Centre des arts de Stanstead.

[English]

    The $2.1-million funding will bring the Théâtre Sans Frontières back to life. It will host a variety of cultural and artistic events, as well as many community activities.

[Translation]

    The fully renovated theatre will also play an important role in the small border municipality's economic development.

[English]

Public Services and Procurement

    Mr. Speaker, today's Auditor General report confirms what we already know; The Liberals and the Conservatives love their Bay Street McKinsey friends, so much so that McKinsey got over $200 million, and billions more were given to other management firms.
     Our public service has the skills and is ready to do the work, but once again, the Liberals and the Conservatives give preferential treatment to ultrarich corporations. When will they start respecting our public service and stop forking over money to rich consultants?
    Mr. Speaker, we are grateful to the Auditor General for her important report.
    Although the report comes to similar conclusions as the reports released by the government last year, it is obviously important input so that we can continue the work that we have done, such as making sure that we are, for instance, removing McKinsey and similar companies from standing offers. We are also introducing stricter requirements for other departments to do their own contracting in a way that guarantees integrity and confidence in our procurement process.

Persons With Disabilities

    Mr. Speaker, Canadians with disabilities are struggling to keep up with the high costs of food and housing, and the Liberals' measly $200 plan will leave people with disabilities living well below the poverty line.
     The government has an obligation, legally, to uphold human rights and to ensure an adequate standard of living for everyone. Shamefully, the Liberals are failing, just like the Conservatives before them.
     When will the Liberals get serious about ending poverty for persons with disabilities?
    Mr. Speaker, the Canada disability benefit is a major milestone in our strong and unwavering commitment to creating a more inclusive and more fair Canada.
    Through this budget, we have committed over $6.1 billion as the initial investment for the Canada disability benefit. This is the first-ever federal benefit designed for persons with disabilities. We know there is more to do, but we will continue to work with provinces and territories, first, to make sure that there are no clawbacks and to see what more we can do to support individuals with disabilities, now and into the future.

(1515)

Presence in Gallery

     I draw the attention of hon. members to the presence in the gallery of Ms. Oleksandra Matviichuk, Chair of the Center for Civil Liberties in Ukraine, a joint recipient of the 2022 Nobel Peace Prize.
    Some hon. members: Hear, hear!

Government Orders

[Business of Supply]

[English]

Business of Supply

Opposition Motion—Measures to Lower Food Prices  

    The House resumed consideration of the motion.
     Mr. Speaker, I was talking, prior to question period, about a number of initiatives, whether legislative initiatives or budgetary measures, that we have done as a government to support Canadians dealing with the whole issue of the price of groceries. I like to believe we are going in the right direction, where we are seeing more stability in the price of groceries. That is a positive thing because of a number of measures taken by the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance or by the ministers responsible for ensuring that there is a higher sense of competition out there.
     I want to use my last couple of minutes to comment very briefly—
    I am sorry to interrupt the hon. member, but I see the hon. member for Vancouver East has her hand up on a point of order.

Hong Kong

    Mr. Speaker, today is the 35th anniversary of the Tiananmen massacre. What is unfolding in Hong Kong is what many Hong Kongers call the “Tiananmen massacre 2.0”.
    There have been discussions among the parties, and if you seek it, I believe you will find unanimous consent for the following motion.
    I move:
     That, given that,
(i) the Hong Kong 47 stands for so many of the values shared by Canadians, most importantly democracy, respect for the rule of law, and standing up for what is right;
(ii) the Hong Kong 47 participated in lawful election primaries in 2020;
(iii) 14 pro-democracy figures from the Hong Kong 47 were found guilty of subversion under the National Security Law;
the House call upon the Hong Kong authorities to release the Hong Kong 47 and cease prosecuting them and others charged under the National Security Law.
     All those opposed to the hon. member moving the motion will please say nay.
     It is agreed.
     The House has heard the terms of the motion. All those opposed to the motion will please say nay.

    (Motion agreed to)

Business of Supply

Opposition Motion—Measures to Lower Food Prices  

    The House resumed consideration of the motion.
    Mr. Speaker, I want to conclude my remarks by acknowledging the food supply chain and, in particular, our farmers, whether they be the cattle producers in the Interlake region of Manitoba, the pork producers in the pork industry or the chicken and grain producers all over southern Manitoba.
     I must say that it is a beautiful sight, come fall time, to see the endless fields of yellow and gold. We get a very enhanced perception as to what degree Manitoba, the Prairies or even Canada as a whole, are there to ensure that we are providing food not only for people in Canada, but also for those around the world. Personally, I want to ensure, as much as possible, that they are getting the dollars they deserve for the work they are doing.
    When it comes to Loblaws, Metro, Sobeys, Costco and Walmart, we are watching.

(1520)

     Mr. Speaker, it is interesting listening to my colleague across the way. I appreciate that he is thanking his farmers because we all appreciate our farmers. However, what I do not understand and what I find a bit rich coming from the member across the way is that he talks about lowering food prices, yet his government still supports a carbon tax for farmers. Farmers have to pay the carbon tax on many different facets throughout the supply chain. That is what is actually driving up the cost of food and the cost of production for our farmers.
    I wonder if the member would support Bill C-234, in its original form, to help lower the carbon tax for farmers on all the things that they have to pay it on, in order to get food to the grocery stores, which would help lower the price of food for Canadians.
    Mr. Speaker, the Conservatives are like a one-trick pony. They only have one idea, and that idea is to cut the price on pollution or to cut the carbon tax. What the member does not say is that Conservatives would also cut the carbon rebate for 80% of Canadians who get more money back in the rebate than they pay in the carbon tax.
    Here is the really astounding thing. There are 30 Conservative members of Parliament who represent the province of Alberta. On April 1, when the carbon tax went up three cents a litre, the provincial Conservative government increased it by four cents a litre, and not one Reform-Conservative member of Parliament said anything negative regarding a Conservative tax increase in the province of Alberta.
    When they look in the mirror, do they ever recognize the word “shame”?
    Mr. Speaker, one of the most interesting things that took place yesterday on the Hill is that the NDP leader appeared at committee on Competition Act legislation he has tabled that would create greater accountability against corporate greed. He was attacked by the Conservatives, without asking him good questions, and on top of that, the Liberals seemed indifferent to it.
    I would ask the member if he could explain the Liberals' position with regard to increasing accountability on the Competition Act and ensuring that Canadians are not going to be gouged because of systemic problems that have been put in place and have been supported by successive Conservative governments and Liberal governments that have left Canada isolated when it comes to protecting consumers.
    Mr. Speaker, it was the Prime Minister and the Liberal government that modernized the Competition Act, which ensured things such as the Competition Bureau would have not only more resources but also better capabilities in ensuring there is a higher sense of accountability and transparency dealing with competition in all areas or industries, including groceries. I would argue it is one of the reasons we are starting to now see more stability in some of the prices on groceries.
    I would suggest to the member that there are tangible actions the government has taken to support what we are talking about, and that is recognizing the cost of food. As a governing body, we have to do what we can to support Canadians and to keep grocery prices down. One thing I referred to earlier was the food data bank on pricing, in which we can individualize a province and get a sense of whether the actual costs have changed over the last number of months.
    Our policy, whether it is budgetary or legislative, is having a positive impact on prices of food. It does not mean we cannot do more. There is always room for improvement.

(1525)

    Uqaqtittiji, according Amautiit Nunavut Inuit Women’s Association, Nunavut children suffer the highest rates of poverty, upwards of 35%, compared to Canada's rates. At the same time, the Liberal government is subsidizing corporate greed by giving $64 million of taxpayers' money to The North West Company, which gives its CEO a salary of $3.91 million.
    Does the member agree with us that there is an urgency to reform the nutrition north program so that it is actually helping to alleviate poverty rather than supporting corporate greed?
    Mr. Speaker, we are very much aware of the important role the nutrition north program plays. Whether it is me, the Minister of Northern Affairs or the Prime Minister, we are exceptionally sympathetic to it. Working with the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance, we have seen an enhancement of that program in the budget. If we go back to just over a decade ago, the budget for nutrition north was somewhere between $40 million and $50 million. Today, it is just under $150 million.
    I would also mention the community food program that has been developed, and it has been well received. It is easy for opposition members to be nothing but critical. However, I would suggest to the member that the government has made significant progress and continues to work with the different stakeholders in the north. We recognize there are always opportunities to improve the program, and that is something the Minister of Northern Affairs has done.
    I would suggest that members take a look at the travelling and consultation the minister has done on an ongoing basis. Members might be challenged to find a previous minister who has travelled as much as the current minister has. He has listened to and consulted with the communities. I can assure the member that the whole idea of nutrition north and finding ways that the program can be improved upon is something the government takes very seriously.
    If there were more time, I would provide some additional thoughts on the whole idea of corporate support.

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, even as food gets more and more expensive, our farmers face stagnant incomes and skyrocketing costs.
    I have a simple question. How is the government planning to ensure that our farmers, the people who feed us, can feed themselves as they feed the rest of the population?

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, this is one of the reasons to have a grocery code of conduct, which would be to ensure that there is more transparency and accountability in all aspects of the food chain.
    That is why I made reference, in my concluding remarks, to farmers. I focused on Manitoba, but that same principle can be applied throughout Canada. We have the best producers in the world with the quality of the product and the food. We play a very important role in the world for food. It is important that we not only continue to support our farmers and producers but also look at ways to ensure farmers are getting their fair share of the value of the products they produce.
    One of the ways we could do that would be by looking at the grocery code of conduct to ensure that the big five grocers, in particular, and others buy into it. We need to ensure there is more transparency and accountability so the producers are getting a better price for the products they are producing. We have strong advocates out there for that. I cited a few of them. One I recently had the opportunity to tour was Peak of the Market, which emphasizes the importance of vegetables. People do not realize that things like onions and potatoes are grown and supplied year-round.
    There are all sorts of mechanisms, whether they be budgetary measures or legislative measures, that the government has been using to support not only our producers but also, most importantly, the consumers of the products. This is because we are very much aware of the cost of food. It is nice that this is going in the right direction, and that has taken a lot of work being done by a wide spectrum of individuals, including governments of all political stripes. I believe there is still more to do, and we are committed to doing just that.

(1530)

     Mr. Speaker, I will be sharing my time with the member for Edmonton Strathcona.
     Times are tough. Canadians are struggling and, every time they go to the grocery store, they feel the pinch. They go in to buy items that they have bought before, and they see that prices are up. They go in week after week and see prices continuing to climb. Canadians are feeling it when they cash out at the till, and they know that they are being ripped off. When they go in and pay more than ever for their groceries, Canadians know that, at the other end of that, there is a CEO ripping them off.
    Corporate grocery stores are posting record profits while Canadians are struggling to buy groceries. One out of four Canadians is skipping a meal. They specifically cite that they are skipping meals because groceries cost too much. There is record food bank usage. We know that these corporate grocery stores are making huge profits and their CEOs are making huge bonuses and salaries. We are saying, “Enough is enough.”

[Translation]

    Without a doubt, people are struggling. Grocery shopping has become harder than ever. The cost of food keeps going up, while the profits of the big grocery chains have reached an all-time high.
    The Liberal government keeps letting these big corporations rake in record profits while people are struggling. We are saying that enough is enough.

[English]

    I look at the Liberals' response to this. While people are hurting, they cannot afford their groceries, food bank usage is at a record high and corporate profits for these large corporate grocery stores are also at a record high, what has been the Liberal government's response? What has been the Prime Minister's response? Well, he literally told Canadians that they need to do a better job of shopping. They need to look at grocery flyers. The Liberals genuinely said that to Canadians. Then, the Prime Minister said, “We are going to ask the CEOs of these large corporations, nicely, to stabilize prices.” The Liberals continue to give big grocers massive tax giveaways, and they are failing to bring down prices.
    The Liberals' response to this crisis was insulting. The Prime Minister's response was insulting and has not improved the situation.
    What about the Conservatives? Their response is very telling at a time when corporate profits are at a record high and when Canadians are struggling to buy groceries. Canadians know that they are being ripped off by these large corporate grocery stores. What is the Conservatives' response? Their response is anything else. They are attacking anyone and everything but the real driver that is pushing up the cost of living and the real reason that the price of groceries is so high. That is the thing that the Conservatives avoid.
     Why is it that the Conservatives are avoiding talking about the reason that people's grocery prices are so high? I have an idea. Could it be that the leader of the Conservative Party has too close ties to these large corporations and is unwilling to talk about their corporate greed? Could it be that his chief strategist is a lobbyist for Loblaw? Could it be that his deputy leader was a former Walmart lobbyist? Maybe it is because his caucus chair is the chairman of a $2-billion business profiteering from food inflation. Maybe it is because the Metro CEO is a max donor to the Conservative Party. The leader of the Conservative Party has strong ties, which we have checked out, with the companies still under investigation for bread price-fixing. Let us remember that that was a scheme that ripped off Canadians to the tune of $5 billion.
    With the Conservatives, big grocery stores and big companies pay less, and Canadians end up paying more. That is what they get with Conservatives. With Conservatives, big companies pay less, and Canadians pay more.

(1535)

     Canadians are so tired and so frustrated with the failure of the Liberal government and the Conservatives to act to deal with corporate greed that they have taken it upon themselves. Canadians have banded together to boycott Loblaws. They boycotted a large corporate grocery store, but it should not have to come to that. The role of government is to take on corporate greed to protect consumers from CEOs that want to rip them off. That is supposed to be the role of government, which is why we are calling for concrete measures, real steps, to make food more affordable.
    Here is our plan: The government has to force corporate grocery stores to lower the cost of food essentials, and if they do not, then they must impose a price cap. Second, we need to reform nutrition north. We need to overhaul the program to make sure that it actually delivers help to those in the north who need it. It should not be a get-rich-quick scheme for CEOs operating in the north. Finally, we need to stop Liberal and Conservative handouts going to large corporate grocery stores.

[Translation]

    We are therefore calling on the government to do as follows. Large corporate grocery stores must immediately lower the price of essential items or face a price cap. Second, the nutrition north Canada subsidy program is not working and needs a complete overhaul. Lastly, we need to put an end to the big handouts that the Liberals and Conservatives have long been giving to large corporate grocery stores.

[English]

    We have also been saying that the government has significant tools and power to take on this problem. Some of the things that we have called for, in addition to what we are calling for today, is that big grocers that throw away good food at the end of the day just to preserve their profits should not be able to do that. They should be required to ensure that food makes it to food banks and to Canadians who need it. We want to make sure that big grocery store corporate chains that are making record profits pay their fair share, and we should put that money back in the pockets of Canadians. As well, we need to increase the transparency of price setting and the transparency of the profits these corporate grocery stores are making. Finally, we need to support independent grocery stores.
    Instead of the Liberal approach, which is to try to recruit another multinational, large corporation to come to Canada that will rip off Canadians more, we need to invest in a long-term strategy to have, across the country, in every community, a strong and robust independent local grocery store where people can go and have choice. They need a local independent store in their communities, which needs to be supported with initiatives and incentives to encourage that type of independence. Canadians should not have to pay six dollars for two apples. Canadians should not have to go into debt to buy pasta and bread. Food is essential, and the government has a fundamental responsibility to ensure that people can afford to buy their groceries.
    I know what it is like to worry, and I know that so many Canadians right now are worried about the cost of groceries. I remember what it was like when I took care of my kid brother. I was 20, and he was 15. Things were difficult at home, so he came to live with me. When my mom told me that dad had taken a turn for the worse and was not able to send any support, I was on my own. I remember getting off the phone after that conversation, panicking, and going out to get a bunch of minimum-wage jobs, as a 20-year-old can do.
    I was always living with that fear that my kid brother would go hungry. I was trying as hard as I could to stay above water, but I was always feeling like we were about to drown. I remember that fear, which is what drives me to ensure that no Canadian has to worry about affording the food they need for their family, and they should also be able to afford those special treats for their loved ones.
     I want to build a country where people have more joy and less worry, where we have less fear and more hope, and where we have less greed and more compassion. That is a country we can build, and to do that, we have to take on corporate greed and bring down the price of groceries.
    Tomorrow, the Liberals and Conservatives will have a choice. Will they stand on the side of big grocery and big corporations to protect their CEOs and protect their profits, or will they stand with New Democrats and Canadians in demanding lower prices for their groceries? That is the choice in this chamber. That is a choice, and we will see where the Liberals and Conservatives stand tomorrow.

(1540)

    Mr. Speaker, I heard the member opposite mention the Liberal lobbyists and the Conservative lobbyists, but I did not hear him mention his brother, the lobbyist for Metro.
    Did the member discuss the motion with his brother before he put it forward here in the House?
     Mr. Speaker, I am not surprised that Conservatives want to distract from corporate greed and going after powerful grocery stores that are ripping off Canadians, but I am somewhat surprised at the Liberals. I should not be, because the Liberals have just the same type of ties; they are just as cozy with these large corporations as the Conservatives are. We can see that from their actions. The Prime Minister, instead of forcing the corporations to lower prices and taking on the corporate greed of the big three grocery stores in Canada of Loblaw, Metro and Sobeys, would rather ask the CEOs nicely to stabilize prices. Our motion demands that the government force these corporate grocery stores to lower their prices and make life more affordable for Canadians, or else prices will be capped. That is what our motion calls for.
     I can already tell that the Conservatives and the Liberals do not have the courage to go after their friends. They want to protect their rich CEO buddies and those corporate grocery stores. We are going to take them on.
    Mr. Speaker, the leader of the NDP criticizes the government, but he keeps supporting the same government's policies. Those policies are hurting Canadians every single day. Why would the leader of the NDP not do the right thing and stop supporting the government so that Canadians can choose another government that would do the right job for them?
    Mr. Speaker, that was another uncreative, lazy argument. The Conservatives continue to make complaints and little noises in the corner while New Democrats are delivering for Canadians. We have forced the government to bring in dental care to help seniors, something that the Conservatives want to take away from seniors, from people's parents and grandparents. We have forced the government to bring in medication coverage for people living with diabetes. The Conservatives think they are not worth it. They have been saying to people, the four million Canadians living with diabetes, that they are not worth it. We say they are worth it. We say seniors who are struggling because they cannot afford to get their teeth looked after are worth it.
    We believe our job in this Parliament is to force Ottawa to work for people. While the Conservatives want to complain in a corner, we are delivering real results for Canadians to make their lives better. We are proud of that. There is a lot more that needs to be done, and we will continue fighting for them.

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, seniors are still waiting for dental care. It is not a simple matter. They are still waiting but, meanwhile, it is not as though they have extra money in their pockets. The government is still stubbornly refusing to increase the old age security pension.
    That said, I get the impression that the Conservatives' populism is rubbing off on the NDP a bit. The NDP thinks that one wave of a magic wand will solve the problem, but it is much deeper than that.
    The issue of grocery prices is being discussed on the Chicago exchange, but the price of inputs is caused by the fact that farmers are currently struggling because of climate change.
    How does my colleague continue to justify supporting a government that is not doing enough in response to climate change, which is having a very significant impact on food prices?

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order. There is a lot to say about what we just heard from the leader of the fourth party in this place, but I would call for quorum.

(1545)

    We will start counting again.
     And the count having been taken:
    The Deputy Speaker: I think we are okay.
    The hon. member for Burnaby South.

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, I completely agree that this government has failed to take the measures needed to deal with the climate crisis. We used our leverage over this minority government to force it to take measures that it never would have taken otherwise.
    I also want to point out that the main reason why grocery prices are so high is actually price gouging on the part of these grocery giants.
    In our motion today, we are proposing a plan to lower prices, because people in Quebec and across Canada are struggling. It is more difficult than ever to buy groceries. That is why we are calling on the government to take measures as urgent as this crisis. We are asking grocery giants directly to lower the prices of essential foods or face a price cap.
    I also want to mention that France has a similar plan. It took a similar approach and forced the country's grocery stores to lower the prices of essential foods, and it succeeded.
    We want to do the same thing here, because people need urgent measures.

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, it is a great honour to be able to stand and represent the people of Edmonton Strathcona. Today we are talking about the increasing price of groceries. I want to start by talking a bit about my son.
    I have a 16-year-old. He is 6 feet, 3 inches tall. He is involved in rugby, football, hockey and wrestling. I can tell members very clearly that I know how much groceries cost, because that kid eats a lot. However, I also want to talk about some other folks in my riding. My dear friend Luanne came to my office. She is a senior, and, as one of my colleagues from the Bloc has mentioned, the government refuses to raise the OAS payments. Seniors are living right on the edge in my riding. Luanne came and asked about buying a little meat for her elderly mother. Luanne is living on OAS. She is trying to make ends meet, and she just wants a little meat for her mother in Canada, in Edmonton, in Alberta.
    I want to talk about people living with disabilities. Bev, one of my fantastic constituents, actually has a guinea pig that she dresses up in Oilers colours; Bev's guinea pig is in my pet calendar that I give out to my constituents. Once again, I want to just take a moment to say congratulations to the Edmonton Oilers. She came in with a meticulously written budget of exactly where every single one of the dollars she gets from AISH goes, and there is no room for error there. There is no going out for dinner. She lives so close to the line. She is so cautious and so careful, and every time grocery prices go up, it is another hit on Bev and another time that she cannot afford groceries.
    These are seniors and people living with disabilities in our communities, but I want to say that this is not all. Folks who have jobs and who are working can no longer afford to pay for their groceries; they can no longer afford to eat in this country. This is a huge problem, and the cost of food just keeps going up and up. In the last three years, the price of groceries has gone up by 20%. Food banks have reached a 35-year high, and food banks in and of themselves are not a solution: They are a band-aid.
    Edmonton's Food Bank served 42,000 people in April alone, and a new report by Food Banks Canada said that Alberta's food insecurity rate is 27% higher than the national average.
    Canadians are skipping meals. This is completely unacceptable, and government is urgently required to step up and help. We cannot continue to wait and to watch the Liberals nicely ask CEOs, who are raking in millions and billions of dollars of profit, to stop. That is not how we fix this problem. If I were to ask nicely for my 16-year-old to clean his room, it might not happen. Sometimes there have to be consequences if he does not do it. I would propose to the government that this may be the same case.
    Loblaws doubled its profit margin in five years. Metro has the biggest profit margin of any grocery store. In fact, in 2023, the grocery sector made record profits, raking in $6 billion. When is it enough? We should all be asking that. When is it enough profit for them? Canadians cannot afford their groceries; people cannot afford to eat.
    I should not even get started on what is happening in the northern part of this country. The member for Nunavut has been fearless and tireless in raising this issue, day in and day out, in this place. However, we continue to see the nutrition north program contribute to corporate greed. Of the $137 million that went to nutrition north, $64 million went to the North West Company, and the CEO of that company was paid millions.

(1550)

     My colleague from Nunavut has told me that, when she goes to buy eggs in a store not run by the North West Company, they are half the price. The system is broken. Nutrition north is broken. This means that people in the north are not able to access food and that the Liberals' promise to help people be able to afford food in the north is simply contributing to corporate greed.
     What fix have we seen? The Liberals have set up a task force. They have done no tasks, nor are they much of a force, to take the words from one of my colleagues from British Columbia. Again, it is a perfect example of Liberal talk with no action behind it. We have seen this time and time again.
    Then we look at the Conservatives, and they have lobbyists within the highest level of their party. When the Conservatives were in power, they cut the corporate tax rate from 22% to 15%, which cost $60 billion in corporate handouts, and $2.35 billion of that went to Loblaws and Metro. In the U.S., they have a 21% corporate tax rate, and they are trying to get that up to 28%. These are handouts to corporations that are gouging Canadians.
    The Conservatives did this because these are their friends, those whom they represent. This is who is part of their party. These are their donors. Why would we expect that they would do anything else?
    Here is what we are asking for, what the NDP needs to see: We want to make sure that things are fair for Canadians. We want it to be fair for people to go out and to buy their groceries. My leader, the leader from Burnaby South, and the rest of the NDP caucus want to force big grocery chains and suppliers to lower the price of essential foods or to face consequences such as a price cap. That is a concrete step we could take now. That is a concrete piece of action that could be taken and that would have immediate effects on Canadians' grocery prices.
     We want to stop delaying long-needed reforms on nutrition north programming. This program is not working. It is contributing to corporate greed, and people in the north deserve to be able to afford nutritious, good food. That is not happening right now.
    We need to stop the Liberal and Conservative corporate handouts to big grocers. There has been enough of giving money to those who are making the lives of Canadians harder.
    The NDP has been leading on this issue for years. I understand that the Liberals and the Conservatives want to jump on this bandwagon. Obviously, the Liberals' plan is to talk about how concerned they are, perhaps get a task force together, consult with somebody and ask nicely. The Conservatives' plan, of course, would be to continue to give out corporate handouts to their friends. Their leader, the Stornoway king, is the guy who lives in the 19-room mansion paid for by taxpayers. He is not going to take away the gravy train that all his funders give him.
    Canadians are going to need to depend on the NDP for this. We have been raising it in committee and in the House for years. The NDP has a plan. We have put forward this plan. There are concrete steps that every member in the House could take. Every member could vote for the motion. It would help Canadians. It would help members' constituents. Canadians are running out of time. I hope members support the motion.

(1555)

     Mr. Speaker, does the member have any concerns at all with regard to the government applying a price cap, as she is suggesting? Is there another country in the G20 doing this? I understand that France might be. I do not quite understand France.
     Could the member provide any evidence of any G20 country that actually has some sort of a price cap that has been demonstrated to be effective and has not negatively impacted supply?
    Mr. Speaker, there are lots of examples of how other governments around the world have taken concrete steps to make sure that corporate greed is not affecting the citizens in those countries. We have seen this.
    We saw President Biden in the United States put in the excess profit tax. We have been calling for that, but the government has taken no action. We have seen, in France, that there is some work being done on this. There are other countries around the world that are looking at it.
    What we need to be thinking about, as Canadians, is a Canadian solution for us. What is the solution where we can work on something that would concretely lower the price of groceries for Canadians?
    What we have proposed here is a strong plan that would actually get the prices to come down. It would hold to account those grocers that are gouging Canadians, those big CEOs who are taking the money out of the pockets of Canadians and making record profits. They would be paying their fair share.
    That is what all Canadians want. Canadians want something that is fair. They want something where they are treated fairly, where the field is not stacked against them, so that they have a chance to be able to pay for their groceries and feed their families.

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for her speech. Listening to her and working with her is always interesting.
    This motion deals with the highly complex issue of grocery price inflation. As I mentioned earlier, rising prices depend partly on the Chicago Board of Trade and partly on the increased cost of producer inputs, largely due to climate change.
    I really want to emphasize that point, because in a rural riding like mine, Shefford, we hear a lot talk about the fact that producers are being forced to raise their prices. That is the starting point, the foundation.
    Given all the effects of the climate change happening at this time, Quebec has announced a plan to try to help farmers, even though we know it will not be enough. We also know that the federal government can and must do more for agriculture. Does my colleague believe that that the federal government must do its part to help these farmers make it through the climate crisis, like the Government of Quebec did yesterday, in an announcement that was welcomed by farmers?

[English]

     Mr. Speaker, my colleague is somebody I have worked with quite closely on a number of different files, and I appreciate her insight and thought process.
    I would agree with her that this is a very complex issue. There are some things we can do and other things we can continue to work on. Supporting local producers is vital. Supporting our farmers is a very important role that the government can step into and play. I do not know very well the Quebec program the member is referring to. I am a member of Parliament, of course, from Alberta. I congratulate the Edmonton Oilers.
    What we can do to support local farmers is very different from making sure that corporate giants are not taking $6 billion out of the pockets of Canadians and gouging them. Those are two very different things, and we can very much support one without supporting the other.

(1600)

    Mr. Speaker, the bread-pricing scandal was really an eye-opener, when $6 billion were stolen from Canadians. The Competition Bureau and our powerless laws need to be updated.
    At committee, we had the CEOs of all the major grocery stores on the very same day as workers received pandemic pay or hero pay. That type of collusion still exists.
    Mr. Speaker, my colleague is certainly very knowledgeable about what has happened historically in this place. I know he was here for a portion of the Harper decade when the price-fixing scandal cost Canadians hundreds of dollars each. It was scandalous that over a decade, not a single Conservative stood up and said, “Enough. We want to shut this down.” There was not a single one. Many of the same Conservatives who were in government during the Harper decade are still here. In fact, I would point to the leader of the Conservative Party. The way the Conservative Party at that time allowed Canadians to be ripped off for a decade is absolutely shameful.
    Mr. Speaker, I will be sharing my time with the member for Longueuil—Charles-LeMoyne.
    It is always a pleasure to have the opportunity to rise on behalf of those I represent in Winnipeg South Centre, and it is an honour to have the opportunity to rise today for a couple of reasons. One, of course, is that this is a very important conversation taking place in the country right now, and there have been a number of valid and interesting points raised here during debate that are worth further consideration. In particular, I have an interest in this because, over the course of the last number of months, I had the honour of sitting on the Standing Committee on Agriculture and Agri-Food, although I am no longer a permanent member of that committee. I also currently sit on and still remain a permanent member of the Standing Committee on Indigenous and Northern Affairs.
    The reason I raised these two committees is that we have had lengthy conversations at both about a variety of the different elements of the conversation taking place right now. In fact, at the Standing Committee on Agriculture and Agri-Food, we had a study, and I am not sure if that study has actually been released yet or not, but during my final couple of days as a member of the committee it was on the verge of being released, and there were some fascinating conversations that took place over the course of those meetings, inclusive of conversations we had with the CEOs of the major grocery chains.
    It has been mentioned on a number of occasions by colleagues across the way that there are some very complex factors that feed into the supply chain and there are a number of different things that have previously driven and continue to drive the price of food in this country and around the world, whether that is the impacts of climate change, which I will come back to momentarily; whether that is conflict in Europe, such as the war between Russia and Ukraine; or whether that is pandemic-related supply chain disruptions. There are a variety of different factors contributing. Of course, there are also some long-standing concerns that we deal with, particularly in provinces like mine and in the north, which have to do with the disproportionate poverty facing indigenous peoples in this country.
    I was very fortunate to be a part of a number of announcements in the not-too-distant past that focused on supporting the agriculture community across Canada, with particular focus on Manitoba. One of those was announcing an $11-million grant that was going to Pulse Canada to look at some of the different ways in which we can utilize these strong agricultural sectors and industries that exist on the Prairies and in my home province of Manitoba in order to make sure that we are not only doing our part to deal with the impacts of climate change, but also working toward improving the cost of food and investing in healthier products as well.
    Our government recognizes that food affordability is a critical issue that Canadians are facing. I totally understand, through many of the stories that have been shared by colleagues in this chamber today and previously, that there are constituents of theirs, just like there are of mine, who are finding it more difficult to make ends meet. As I mentioned a moment ago, there are a myriad factors that contribute to that.
    We are encouraged when we do see data showing that food inflation has fallen from a peak of 11.4% in January 2023 to 1.9% in March 2024. I certainly understand that this is not the end of the challenges that people face, but it is an encouraging statistic in terms of seeing a trend line moving in the right direction.
    We remain focused on ensuring that Canadians are paying fair prices for groceries, and that is why we are continuing to take action to ensure there is a continued stabilization of food prices. Food price stabilization requires the full engagement of the entire supply chain. That is why we have called on the grocery sector and those working throughout it, and that means both grocers and suppliers, to take meaningful actions to stabilize grocery prices.

(1605)

[Translation]

    Consumers play an essential role in Canada's economy. Consumer spending represents roughly 60% of our gross domestic product. When consumers are accountable and informed they can improve economic performance by helping stimulate competition and business innovation.
     Our government recognizes that the affordability of food is a critical problem facing every Canadian consumer. That is why we reaffirmed in budget 2024 our commitment to ensure that food prices are kept stable and that the cost of living goes down for all Canadians.
    Food price stabilization requires a full commitment by the entire supply chain. That is why we have asked businesses in the food sector, both grocers and suppliers, to take significant measures to stabilize food prices. In addition to working with the five big grocery chains in Canada, we are implementing several other tangible measures to support food price stabilization in Canada.

[English]

     I know that Canadians are frustrated with their existing grocery options, with one in three Canadians wanting to see increased competition in the grocery sector. Canadians want diversity, and they are ready and willing to seek out new retailers. To that end, it is important to note that more competition would lead to lower prices.
    As our Competition Bureau has noted in two separate examples, this is possible. First, Walmart's decision to cut prices by as much as 35% in Canada in 2008 pressured its competition to do the same. Second, when a large foreign grocer known for a no-frills business model entered the Australian market, it significantly influenced the pricing of other Australian grocers, forcing them to react to its entrance by cutting prices. The competition the foreign grocer injected into the Australian market resulted in near-unprecedented levels of price cutting by domestic Australian competition.
    One of the interesting things from the committee meetings that we held at the Standing Committee on Agriculture and Agri-Food was around competition and specifically rules preventing new grocers from entering the Canadian market by virtue of the distance that existed between an existing grocer and where the new one could build if entering into the Canadian market. The Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry has made some significant changes as per the direction of the Competition Bureau, and those changes have helped to drastically improve the conditions that we can build upon in order to ensure that there is further competition in the grocery sector.
    I do want to thank my colleague from the Bloc who, a few moments ago, spoke at length in her questions about climate change. We know that climate change is having a significant impact on the lives of Canadians. It is felt more severely by Canadians living in the north. However, one of the things that I learned during my time as a new member of the Standing Committee on Agriculture and Agri-Food, and I credit some of my colleagues who sit on that committee with helping me develop and grow in my understanding of the industry, is the creativity, innovation and drive of farmers, and that there is so much work that is being done by farmers, across the Prairies in particular, who are helping to create new environmentally friendly, efficient and productive ways for us to produce our food in this country.
     However, there is no doubt, as mentioned throughout my remarks in this debate, that there are challenges that continue to exist. The nature of these challenges and the basis from which they are born are complicated and multi-factor. They do need to be acknowledged, and there are a number of ways the government has acknowledged them and will continue to do so.

(1610)

    Mr. Speaker, at the end of his speech, my colleague from Winnipeg talked about his experience on the agriculture committee and the work that we have done on a couple of studies on stabilizing food prices and the cost of food production in Canada. It is unanimous from every agriculture stakeholder that they want Bill C-234 to be passed in this House in its original form, unamended. This would save farmers close to $1 billion over the next few years, which would help reduce food costs. We have heard that from every commodity stakeholder in the sector, and yet the member's government, with a clear tool to help reduce food costs, still refuses to support Bill C-234 unamended. Why?
     Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank my hon. colleague across the way. He was quite useful in helping bring a number of important matters to my attention and the attention of the Standing Committee on Agriculture and Agri-Food, when I was a member.
    As I mentioned in my remarks, there are a variety of things that contribute to the cost of food production in this country. However, I think it is also important to note, and the member has heard this through testimony given by a number of folks we heard from at committee over the course of the past couple months, that climate change is playing a significant role in altering the landscape for farmers in this country.
    We have to do our part in order to ensure that we are drastically reducing emissions in this country. If we do not do that, not only is life going to become more difficult for farmers, but by virtue of that, it is going to become more difficult for Canadians across the country.
    Mr. Speaker, I want to thank my colleague for his speech, and also thank him for the work he has done. We worked well together on the agriculture committee. We talked about a school food nutrition program and the importance of that. We talked about it for people who are food-insecure.
    Can the member expand on how this can also help our local farmers to supply food to our local communities, which will help to keep the cost down?
    Mr. Speaker, I very much enjoyed working alongside my colleague on the agriculture committee.
    I have talked on numerous occasions in the House about my past career as an educator, both as a teacher and as a school principal. I am so proud that the government is following through on its commitment to establish a national school food program. This is going to be an immensely important policy in terms of benefiting the students I used to teach, their families and those who will come after them, as far as their health and their future is concerned.
    I cannot remember who across the way mentioned this, but it was a fair point. There is a fairly significant amount of food waste in this country. I think there are lots of ways we can work with farmers, food producers, school divisions, local governments and provincial governments to help ensure there is less food wasted in this country. When there are excesses in the system, they can be passed on to those who are most in need, including children in schools.
    Mr. Speaker, the member for Winnipeg South Centre speaks of excesses. One of the realities is we have excess profits in both the oil and gas industry, and among large grocers.
    I can appreciate there are some words in this motion that might lead it to be one that the member might not be able to support. I would like to understand from him more about a specific measure, and that is placing a windfall profit tax on grocers. The government placed a windfall profit tax on banks and life insurance companies in the midst of the pandemic. He might know I have put forward a motion to do the same when it comes to the oil and gas companies that are gouging Canadians at the pumps. We could raise $4.2 billion if we were to do that. We could apply the same measure to the large grocers that are gouging his constituents, as well as mine.
    Would the member share his thoughts on the possibility of, and his interest in advocating for, an excess profit tax on grocers?

(1615)

    Mr. Speaker, one of the things that we did hear on the study on food price stabilization that was undertaken at the agriculture and agri-food committee was that it was not entirely clear where some of the profits were being derived from. The margins on food, we heard, were not all that large, but a lot of the profits came from some non-food-related items. For example, that could be things like pharmaceuticals and other everyday items. I would be interested in looking at that report and understanding a little more, but I do not disagree that there is a pretty significant amount that CEOs are earning.
    I do appreciate, as well, when the member talked about the oil and gas industry, that so much of the conversation that has been attacking a price on pollution has been talking about the increase at the pump. However, so much of the increase that we are seeing at the pump is coming from the oil and gas industry. I am always open to learning more. I am not sure I would agree fully with my colleague about the excess windfall tax, but there are some points there I certainly do take.
    It is good to see my neighbour, the member for Kings—Hants. Hopefully, he can talk about the Apple Blossom Festival and, of course, the chicken dinner in Woodville that I missed, but I know the hon. member was at.
    The hon. member for Kings—Hants.

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, it is always a pleasure to be in the House to debate and discuss initiatives presented by my opposition colleagues. Today, we are debating an NDP motion that was moved by the hon. member for Cowichan—Malahat—Langford.

[English]

     The Deputy Speaker said that extremely well and we will have this exchange. The 90th Apple Blossom Festival just took place in the Annapolis Valley. I think that the Deputy Speaker was not able to get home for it, but I know he was there in spirit. I will take the opportunity to recognize that the Apple Blossom Festival was created in 1933 as a way to celebrate our agricultural heritage in the Annapolis Valley and also to market our world-class Annapolis Valley apples. It was great. I thank all of the sponsors and the volunteers who helped make that available.
    There was the 50th anniversary of the Woodville chicken barbecue. I think about people like Ron Rafuse and Alice VanHattem and all the volunteers, the army of volunteers, as well as Dan Keddy, as the president of the Woodville Community Centre. Good on them.
    I thank the Deputy Speaker for teeing that up for me accordingly.

[Translation]

    I will now talk about the motion before us today. It consists of measures and initiatives proposed by the NDP that target food prices. When I saw the motion moved by the member for Cowichan—Malahat—Langford, I was not convinced that the initiatives presented by the NDP would really lower grocery prices.
     The motion lays out three points. Point (a) calls on the government to “force big grocery chains and suppliers to lower the prices of essential foods or else face a price cap”. We can discuss that initiative. Point (b) calls on the government to “stop delaying long-needed reforms to the Nutrition North program”, and point (c) calls on the government to “stop Liberal and Conservative corporate handouts to big grocers”.
    I am the chair of the Standing Committee on Agriculture and Agri-Food, and I do not see any measures for our farmers in this motion. Farmers around the world, particularly those in Canada, are having a really hard time right now, because of labour shortages, the effects of climate change and the high prices resulting from the war in Ukraine, the war in the Middle East and other factors. In my opinion, it is very important to present specific initiatives for our farmers, not just partisan elements from the NDP.

(1620)

[English]

     I will talk about the price cap. This is something that we have dealt with before in the country. During World War II, there was intervention from the government to establish a variety of prices across the board. I do not know if all Canadians are at that point but I think it is important for parliamentarians to understand that we have to be balanced when we are talking about the conversation on food prices. Yes, I think we can highlight and ask large retailers to do more to reduce prices at retail, but we have to be careful not to push those cost savings down on the margins of farmers. When we talk in this way, sometimes the agriculture community asks about its ability to make a profit and its ability to return money. What about that dynamic?
    Of course, we have heard a lot of testimony before the agriculture committee about the actual margins in grocery. They range between 2% and 4%. Could those margins be lower? I think anyone here could have an opinion and say that, yes, they could be lower or they could be higher. It is really subjective. Certainly, the actual gross profit in the sector has grown and there are moral and ethical questions about how much profit is too much.
    I will give the NDP credit on that idea, but the price cap becomes an interesting question of whether the Government of Canada is the best constitutional authority to implement those types of price caps, whether that is better suited under the Constitution at the provincial level and whether that can be done without having a major impact from putting price caps and price mechanisms through the entire supply chain for the agriculture and agri-food processing sector. Those are some reflections that are not really well articulated in today's opposition day motion and those points would have to be borne out before we could ever move in that direction.

[Translation]

    I want to talk about other initiatives that are important to our farmers. I mentioned the impact of climate change. In the Annapolis Valley, extreme storms, extreme cold and hurricanes in the Atlantic are causing problems for our farmers. This is having a direct impact on their products. We are having conversations at the Standing Committee on Agriculture and Agri-Food about the importance of improving the risk management programs.
    When the Conservatives were in government, Mr. Harper slashed programs that were very important to our producers. I am talking about risk management programs, specifically agri-stability and agri-insurance. It is important to study these initiatives for our farmers.
    With regard to the horticulture sector, I think it is also important to explore how the federal, provincial and territorial governments are going to find a way to increase the supply of local vegetables and fruit, particularly for the apple and vegetable sectors.

[English]

    We think about our hospital system and education system, and I certainly applaud the government in its work to establish a national school food program. It is long overdue. We were the only G7 country without it and this is going to help make a difference on the affordability for individuals to access healthy, local food, but I think we can do more on procurement. It is a tough line. We have to be careful because we have trading relationships and we are a trading nation, but we have an ability to buy vegetables and fruits that otherwise could not find their way to the market, and we can find this in an affordable context in an institutional procurement setting.

(1625)

[Translation]

    I also want to elaborate a bit on the programs that highlight how important foreign workers are for the horticulture sector. We need to improve the permit process for the use of pesticides and other necessary farm products and tools.
    I introduced Bill C-359, which is further down on the order of precedence for private member's bills. However, I hope the government will consider some initiatives in that area. I think that is important.
    I must admit that I would need more than 10 minutes to discuss this very complex issue.
    Finally, when it comes to the connection between our farmers and grocery store prices, what comes to mind is a code of conduct. It is very important to introduce and implement a code of conduct, an agreement between farmers, the links in the supply chain and Canada's grocery giants. It is important to create a good relationship within the supply chain.

[English]

    I am going to leave it at that. All parliamentarians should be calling on major grocers to join the grocery code of conduct.

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for his speech and congratulate him on his excellent French.
    He said that today's motion does not propose any solutions that would help farmers in a way that would then have a direct impact on food prices for consumers.
    My esteemed colleague and I are both members of the Standing Committee on Agriculture and Agri-Food, which studied a bill that had been introduced here in the House of Commons. Bill C-234 was making its way through the legislative process, but as we know, this bill has stalled.
    As the chair of the Standing Committee on Agriculture and Agri-Food, could my colleague encourage his fellow government members to vote to bring this bill back in its original form, which would give our agriculture sector a major boost?
     Mr. Speaker, Bill C‑234 is important to our farmers. That is exactly why I voted in favour of that motion.
    The bill stands in the name of the member for Huron—Bruce, a Conservative member. I would remind my hon. colleague that I was frustrated with how the Conservatives moved this bill forward. Quarrels were started and threats were made against senators by the member for Regina—Qu'Appelle and by the leader of the Conservative Party in the Senate, which then required an apology for their behaviour in the Senate.
    Consequently, yes, I absolutely think this bill is important. I hope that the member for Huron—Bruce will bring this bill forward for a vote soon. However, I want to reiterate that the Conservatives are also responsible for the mishandling of this bill.
    Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for his speech in French.
    I know he chairs the Standing Committee on Agriculture and Agri-Food. Today's motion is about the cost of food. I represent a rural riding, where the economy depends heavily on agriculture.
    Every year—every day—I, like my colleague from Berthier—Maskinongé, invite my colleague to talk to farmers. Climate change and rising input costs have a significant impact on the cost of food. The federal government can play a role in all this, but it is failing to meet farmers' needs and expectations at this point. Farmers want protection for supply management, a review of the AgriStability and AgriInvest programs, reciprocity of standards at the border and help overcoming problems caused by the climate crisis.
    Farmers need help. When will the federal government do something?

(1630)

    Mr. Speaker, it is indeed important for members from rural ridings to work together in the House of Commons to support our farmers. I agree that we need to provide more support for our farmers.
    However, I would remind my colleague of this government's initiatives, including increased funding for the provinces and territories to help our farmers under the Canadian agricultural partnership and increased funding for risk management, because the Conservative government did away with that program.
    It is very important to have initiatives to support farmers and help them deal with unforeseen events and climate change. It is very important to ensure that we have tools in place to help businesses recover.
    I will continue to work with the member for Shefford and the others on the issue of agriculture.

[English]

     Mr. Speaker, nine months ago, the Prime Minister told the big grocery retailers that they had to stabilize prices or they were going to face consequences, such as taxation. It has been nine months, yet the result has been nothing.
     In France, where people are also suffering from massive food price inflation, the government managed to broker a deal with 75 of the biggest food companies that agreed to lower their prices, not stabilize them but lower them. The deal covers 5,000 different food products.
    I am just wondering whether my colleague could compare and contrast the two different approaches. Why do the French people seem to have a government that goes to bat for them and manages to force the big food companies to actually lower their prices, while here the Prime Minister simply asks politely and receives absolutely no action in return?
    Mr. Speaker, I will be quick because that was an important question. I know the question of food prices right now is a top-of-mind issue for all Canadians. I want to remind my hon. colleague that the Prime Minister was asking retailers, and working with them, to try to stabilize food price inflation, which has happened. Food price inflation has stabilized; that is true about the inflation piece.
    Are the prices too high for some average Canadians? Absolutely. I think that raises the question of why the NDP would present a motion here today that would have absolutely zero support for Canadian farmers. How does it think we are going to get to lower prices? Yes, of course we can put in measures to try to help push major retailers, but we also have to try to lower costs for farmers and make sure that there are initiatives in place.
     I want to just address the example of France. The French government has huge interventions in the entire supply chain of the French agriculture community. If we want to go down that route, we can, but the member is truly comparing apples to oranges because of the dynamic of how the French agriculture sector works. I would be happy to discuss with him further after this.
     It is my duty, pursuant to Standing Order 38, to inform the House that the questions to be raised tonight at the time of adjournment are as follows: the hon. member for Kitchener Centre, Housing; the hon. member for Sherwood Park—Fort Saskatchewan, Public Services and Procurement; and the hon. member for Saskatoon—Grasswood, Taxation.
    Mr. Speaker, it is just so nice to be here again this evening.
    I know the Conservatives have tried to adjourn the House, calling quorum time and time again, because they really do not want to talk about the fact that people are starving, even though very often in the House they demean folks living in tent cities in poverty, folks who happen to live in my riding, actual human beings who are often struggling with mental health and addictions. The Conservatives put them down. We are talking about the cost of living, and the Conservatives weaponize, demean and stigmatize people living in poverty.
    I am glad I get to rise here today to speak to an issue that is affecting people across the country: rising food costs, rising food insecurity and rising financial insecurity, which is one of the reasons I put forward a private member's bill, Bill C-223, in support of a guaranteed livable basic income.
    We know things are getting harder for people. The cost of food has increased by over 20%, and we know that one in five Canadians is skipping meals. This is nothing new in my riding, a riding that has some very serious human rights violations directly related to poverty. What I have often said is that poverty is one of the most avoidable, violent human rights violations in this country. Poverty is a violation of the Canadian charter, yet the Conservatives today are trying to have the House adjourned because they really do not care about struggling Canadians.
    I have not seen any of the Conservatives fight for issues that would change the material conditions for the folks I am so proud to represent in Winnipeg Centre. I am proud to represent all my constituents, including constituents who live in tents as a result of failed housing policies and the corporate greed that has been sponsored by Conservatives and Liberals, which is something we are talking about today.
    We know the grocery sector is making record profits. In 2023 it raked in $6 billion. This is unconscionable, especially in a place like t