The hon. member for Palliser will have five minutes remaining and the usual five minutes for questions and comments when the House next returns to debate on the question.
It being 12 a.m., pursuant to an order made earlier today the House stands adjourned until tomorrow at 10 a.m. pursuant to Standing Order 24(1).
(The House adjourned at 12 a.m.)
- MPcon20 hours ago | Saskatchewan, Palliser
Mr. Speaker, I will be sharing my time with the member for Yukon.
It is nice to see full benches on the other side enjoying a fun-filled evening. Certainly, we are pleased that they are here. It would be rather quiet without them.
I am glad to speak on Bill C-49, the Canadian museum of history act. The establishment of the museum would provide Canadians with an unprecedented opportunity to learn about and appreciate the richness of Canada's history.
Much consultation has happened and information was gathered up before the construction on this building. There was face-to-face consultation, a web page was set up and there were hundreds of hits on the page with ideas on what the museum should house and how it would be arranged. The consultation was extensive.
The legislation would change the name and mandate of the Canadian Museum of Civilization and begin a transformation that would be completed over the next five years in the lead-up to Canada's 150th birthday in 2017. Let me be clear. Our government believes in our national museums and we recognize the tremendous value that they hold for all Canadians. As we approach Canada's 150th birthday, it is an unprecedented opportunity to celebrate our history and those achievements that define who we are as Canadians.
The Canadian Museum of Civilization is an institution to be proud of. It is one of Canada's most popular museums. It is important to understand that this is not the end of the Canadian Museum of Civilization. It is the beginning. It would be given a new name and indeed a new mandate.
Let me read the current mandate of the Canadian Museum of Civilization:
...to increase...appreciation and respect for human cultural achievements and human behaviour by establishing [and] maintaining...a collection of objects of historical or cultural interest, with special but not exclusive reference to Canada—
This is a mandate that states its collections do not have exclusive reference to Canada.
Our government is proposing a new mandate for this museum. Let me read it as it is described in the legislation. It states:
...to enhance Canadians’ knowledge, understanding and appreciation of events, experiences, people and objects that reflect and have shaped Canada’s history and identity, and also to enhance their awareness of world history and cultures.
This new mandate would allow the museum to create a national narrative of the history of Canada for all Canadians.
We should think of this initiative as a rejuvenation of the Canadian Museum of Civilization. This significant investment would allow a major renovation of more than 43,000 square feet of permanent gallery space, some of which has been in place since 1989, in order to present a comprehensive and chronological history of Canada to Canadians and to the world.
It is important to note that this legislation would not affect the internal workings of the museum. The museum's board would remain intact. The Canadian War Museum would continue to be an affiliate.
Order. Resuming debate. Before we call on the hon. member for Palliser, I will let him know there are five minutes remaining in the period allocated for government orders so he will have the remainder of his time when the House next resumes debate on this question.
The hon. member for Palliser.
- MPcon20 hours ago | Quebec, Lévis—Bellechasse
Mr. Speaker, there can be no doubt that the Minister of Canadian Heritage and Official Languages introduced a very promising bill for Canada, a bill about a Canadian museum of history that the City of Gatineau, historians and the museum's architect wholeheartedly support. This museum will facilitate a better understanding of our history.
My question is very simple. Why refuse to acknowledge Canadian history when conventional wisdom tells us that a population that does not know its history cannot know where it is going? Why are the New Democrats being so stubborn? That is so disappointing. Why are they stubbornly refusing to acknowledge Canadian history? Is the member ashamed of her history? I, personally, am proud of the history of the Canadian people.
Order. We have time for one answer.
The hon. member for Hull—Aylmer.
Order, please. The hon. member for Hull—Aylmer.
- MPcon20 hours ago | Ontario, Oak Ridges—Markham
Mr. Speaker, it is truly unbelievable what we have here. If there is a bill that is over 10 pages, it is too long for those members to read. They talk about closure and how much they want to debate and the first opportunity they get they try to close down debate and go home. It is unbelievable the hypocrisy that comes from that side. They do not want to talk about things that are important to Canadians.
I know the member has a tendency to say one thing in the House, but then another thing when she communicates to the people in her riding. For instance, I know she takes credit for the tax cuts that we have given to families. Therefore, could she give some insight as to how she will be communicating to her riding, in her householders, about how she actually really supports this, like she supports the tax cuts that we have given for Canadian families? Although she voted against it, really she supports it, so she says in her householder.
Could she give me a sneak peek of her next householder and could she explain to Canadians why the NDP members are so averse to working late at night, if they want to give back some of the $160,000 that Canadians pay us to be in—
I declare the motion defeated.
- MPcon21 hours ago | Ontario, Simcoe North
In my opinion the nays have it.
And five or more members having risen:
Call in the members.
- MPcon21 hours ago | Ontario, Oak Ridges—Markham
Mr. Speaker, if the hon. member looks at Bill C-49, it talks about all the things that this museum is going to have to do, including organizing exhibits both in Canada and outside Canada. It helps to open up our museums, not only the national museum, but museums in communities across this country so that they can share in the collection of the national museum.
One member's constituency has a museum for Exporail, and he talked about how important that museum was to his community. I cannot think of a better way of making that museum more important and more accessible to Canadians than by becoming a part of the new museum of Canadian history. Does the museum right now have the ability to talk about Canadian history? Yes. Can it do a better job of doing that by bringing in communities across this country, by bringing in artifacts, by sharing the artifacts, but also bringing artifacts that are important in the member's community to Ottawa? Absolutely.
We can do better and that is the whole point of this. With a $25-million investment, we will make sure that all parts of this country can celebrate in their history and all the good things that have helped make this such a great country to live in.
- MPlib21 hours ago | Newfoundland, Bonavista—Gander—Grand Falls—Windsor
Mr. Speaker, let me dig into that question, with the greatest amount of respect, of course. God forbid that I should continue the romance.
The member did mention the Library and Archives. One of the programs in Library and Archives, the NADP, allowed local organizations to better tell their stories through digitization, but more importantly through the eyes of an archivist. People who did not have the individual talents to do this were given the ability by way of this particular program.
In essence, the NADP program at Library and Archives Canada was eliminated. On the other hand, we have what it takes to put the history of this country out to the rest of the country through this museum, but with regard to the actions, I am not so sure.
As for the NADP, is there a program on the way to replace that, or are we looking at the continuation of the local digitization being eliminated?
- MPcon21 hours ago | Ontario, Oak Ridges—Markham
Mr. Speaker, we have heard the opposition say it does not want us to make the decisions for independent organizations, so we are not going to do that. However, Library and Archives is going to be a very important partner in the new museum that we are creating here. They are going to be a very important partner in this, and that is why it is so important that we move forward with this museum.
It is not just about Library and Archives Canada. If we talk about the CBC and the National Film Board, they have amazing collections that they are making available to Canadians. I encourage all Canadians to get access to them and to look at some of the things they have preserved.
Library and Archives is going to be very important to this museum. We cannot have a museum like this without involving Library and Archives Canada.
Mr. Speaker, as I said to the member earlier, I have been on the heritage committee for several years now. I have seen it all.
The hon. member talks about naiveté, and that is fine. That is all right. However, I will not stand here and be lectured about what is an actual discussion in this House before the discussion actually takes place.
If the member is such an expert, if he is such a person who decides what is going to be within a particular institution, why would he be so prescriptive? If the member argues that the government is being so prescriptive, why is he being so prescriptive himself?
I understand the member's concern. I understand where he is coming from in having certain trepidations about what is going to be told to us about the history of this country. The member can make a choice. He can either go one way, which is to say that he will listen and debate, or go a second way, which is to close this off completely. Honestly, I am not sure what the alternative is to displaying what is Canadian in light of what is a celebration of 150 years.
Now I agree with the member that no doubt the motion that came from the committee was overly prescriptive. Yes, it was, in many ways. Are we willing to engage in debate about the narrative of this country, or are we not? Do we stand here in this House and actually debate, or do we close down debate and say that we do not want to hear exactly what they have to say and that we want to stand here and just throw out talking points or absolute angst?
Members who are in opposition make a choice. They can either say to the people of this country that this is their opinion, and that is that, or they can say instead that they are going to raise the bar in this country. They are going to raise the bar in this House. They are going to raise the debate. They are going to ask questions. They are not going to cast out just opinions.
I have been here long enough, sir. I have been here long enough.
- MPcon22 hours ago | Ontario, Oak Ridges—Markham
Mr. Speaker, we have some disagreement with the hon. member for Bonavista—Gander—Grand Falls—Windsor, but we have always had a good relationship in committee and when we have disagreed, we have been done that in a cordial way.
I am excited to speak about this legislation, but before I do I want to point out the extraordinary work of the Minister of Canadian Heritage. I have only been here since 2008, but I have had the opportunity to be a student of politics and a student of our system and I am confident and secure in saying that he is the best Minister of Canadian Heritage that our country has ever had and I will tell the House why.
What the minister understands, and what previous ministers, including those who served on this side understand, is the importance of arts and culture to not only helping people around the world understand how great our country is, but understand that arts and culture is important to the country's economic growth, that it creates jobs and economic activity.
As a result of that, even when the country was going through one of the worst global economic downturns, this government made historic investments in arts and culture. When other G7 countries were reducing their funding, this government, through the leadership of the minister, was increasing funding to the Canada Council for the Arts to its highest level ever. We invested over $140 million in our national museums and we did that for a number of reasons. It is important that Canadians have access to their history and that they have pride in the institutions that are mandated to tell the stories of Canada. This is why we have made some of these important investments.
I have also heard from members of both official parties about the motion that was brought forward at committee. I want to speak briefly to that because it ties into this a bit. They talked about it being overly prescriptive. The motion actually says that we should talk about Canada and its history before Confederation and after Confederation. It says that we should talk about the 20th century and important developments in Canadian history. It referenced some important battles of World War I and World War II.
Why should we talk about that? We should talk about that because significant anniversaries of important battles in Canadian history are coming up for one. Second, there are still people in our country who can give us first-hand accounts of what they faced in battle. This is an opportunity to bring these people before committee before it is too late, hear their stories and celebrate them. It is not meant to be something like the end of it. If members were to read the whole motion, if they do honour to this place, they would talk about the entire motion. I know we will get co-operation.
We want to talk about the people, the places, the events, the things that have helped shape our country. Sometimes those things are good. Sometimes they are things we want to celebrate, things we want to commemorate, but there are instances when things were not good, but we need to remember them all the same. We talked about the internment of Japanese Canadians. We might not be proud of that part of our history, but it is important that we remember it. That is what we are talking about at committee.
We have heard a lot of people talk about how important it is that we go forward with this project. We have heard a lot of historians talk about how happy they are that we brought this initiative forward. We have seen over the last number of years, especially as we approach Canada's 150th birthday, a reawakening of Canadians' pride in their country, in their province and in their local communities. We have heard consistently that there is no way for them to share this pride in a tangible way across the country.
I want to share a story about something in my riding. About 200 metres from my home there was a discovery made in advance of a subdivision being built in the community, which changed entirely the way we think about our first nations, and there has been a documentary on this called the Curse of the Axe. We found, 200 metres from my home, a Wendat village.
Why is this important? It is because this village had 70 long houses. It was not a community of 10 or 12 houses as was first thought, but a city of 70 long houses. Thousands of people lived in this village and it completely changed the way we thought about these people in this area.
The excavators found that in order to support a village of this size the cornfields alone would have encompassed the entire city of Toronto. They found that these people engaged in trade with other nations, again changing what we thought about the relationships between our first nations at that time. It was revolutionary in how we thought of the Wendat nation.
There are no large communities of Wendat still in Ontario. They are now in Quebec. However, we had ambassadors from the Wendat nation come to my home town of Stouffville and they talked about how significant this find was for their people. They talked about how important it was that the rest of Canada and North America understood what they were doing, how they were doing it and how sophisticated they were. They were very proud of this.
We had the team that led the excavations come to our town a number of times and had displays of the Curse of the Axe. Hundreds of people from our community have come to learn about the local heritage that we just did not know about. Our own community was making headlines across North America. In the town of Stouffville, 200 metres from my front door, there was this amazing discovery. Now we have to find a way to make sure that all Canadians understand it so that we can update what people think of the Wendat and tell them how important and exciting this is.
The minister referenced Douglas Cardinal in his remarks. He said:
I love the fact that the museum keeps evolving and growing, and people still feel that it’s a national monument that can expand and serve all of Canada.
This is important because, although it has a long history, at one point the museum was called the Museum of Man. At the time, I suppose, that was okay. However, time moves on. As the member for Ottawa—Orléans points out, there was a time in this country when women were not even considered persons, but time moves on and we are better for it.
We changed the mandate of the Museum of Man, which became the Museum of Civilization. We got together and said that we had to do better and we did. The Museum of Civilization was brought forward and Canadians have been very excited about that. It has done a spectacular job. Canadians can now be as excited about the new museum of history as they had been about the Museum of Civilization, and for many different reasons.
It is a tragedy that over three million pieces or artifacts in the collection of the Museum of Civilization are in storage and not available for Canadians to see. It is a tragedy, especially when we have museums across this country that have made significant investments.
I look at my own community, the city of Markham, which has massive investments in its local museum. The people of Markham understand how important it is to preserve their local history, their culture. They have made massive investments. They are very excited about the prospect of a museum of history so they can share their collections with the national museum and so the people of Canada can understand just how important Markham was to the development of the GTA.
There are 40,000 people in my home town of Stouffville who poured millions of dollars into our museum. They did that for a number of reasons, predominantly because they knew it was a good investment for the community. They knew people wanted to know more about the history of our community, so they put more money into it. They did it also because so many people were coming, they needed to upgrade the facilities so they could host more people.
I looked at my own community. Last year we celebrated something called the Freedom of the Town for the Governor General's Horse Guards, a unit which, in part, has its history in the development of our community.
Even on that there was not complete agreement. There were people in the community who felt this celebration should not happen in because the community was founded by Mennonites, who did not necessarily support things like the war of 1812. We had fierce debate in the community, but ultimately we had the Freedom of the Town and thousands of people came out from our community to celebrate this historic unit.
However, that does not mean the people who disagreed with it were wrong. They disagreed. They talked about it. I may not necessarily have agreed with them, but they got their message out there. It shows just how exciting history can be when we present it to Canadians in a way they can debate, discuss and share. Then they can go to their local communities.
Think of what this could do to local communities across the country when they have the opportunity to see the last spike in their own little town. Think of what that would do for a local museum, the amount of people who would drive to that museum, the people who would be even more engaged to know about their communities and the things that have helped build our country.
Ultimately, we will always have disagreements in this place. It goes without saying. We are elected from different parties. We all have different attitudes on different things. I know full well that although we have different ideas, that all of us fight and argue, ultimately we are all very proud Canadians. We are all people who want to see our country prosper and do better. We also want to ensure that people around the world can understand what has made our country great. That is what this museum will help us do. That is one of the reasons why I am so proud and excited about this.
We also talked a bit in some of the speeches about the road to Canada's 150th birthday and why that was so important, the sesquicentennial, as the Minister of Veterans Affairs pointed out.
That is such an important time for Canada. It will be a time when we can showcase all the great things Canada has done. So many people came to us at committee and said that the 100th birthday of Canada was one of those remarkable things. Everybody talked about Canada's 100th birthday. I am almost jealous that I was not born then so I could have attended some of the 100th birthday celebrations.
We want to ensure Canada's 150th is the same. We want to really help Canadians from coast to coast to coast understand why they should be so proud of our country.
I had the opportunity to visit Yukon with the fabulous member for Yukon, and he took me to his local museum. That was my first visit to Canada's north. The pride he showed as he toured me around and showed me some of the important places in his community was something that all Canadians should know. Yet not all Canadians can get to the north.
When I looked at the treasures and the collection in storage at that museum and when I heard the minister talk about the opportunities with the new Canadian museum of history, to share these collections so we could be proud of what we had accomplished, I thought this was an excellent opportunity.
We see upstairs in this place a display of the Franklin expedition. We saw the pride the Minister of Health had because something so important to her community was not being displayed just outside the offices of the Prime Minister. It was being displayed and celebrated in other areas of the world, such as Norway. I had the opportunity to meet with the ambassador of the Kingdom of Norway and to talk about how important this was, how Norwegians were celebrating and wanted to continue to make connections with the Minister of Health's home town. These are things we have to celebrate. These are things Canadians have to know.
I have had the opportunity, as I am sure a lot of parliamentarians have had, to go to Pier 21. My parents came to this country through Pier 21. It is a shame to me, and one of the saddest parts of my life, that neither one of my parents was alive to see me elected. To go back to Pier 21, where they arrived in Canada, and see my parents' names on the manifest of the boat that brought them to this country, to stand on the pier and look out over the exact place they came to, was truly amazing. It was a truly amazing moment for me, and not just me. Others were visiting Pier 21, and it was easy to know who was going back. I could see them standing there and looking around. I could see in their faces how honoured they were to be there and to be Canadians.
We have to celebrate these things and let other Canadians understand. That is why when I hear things about the Historica-Dominion Institute talking to our veterans, getting first-hand accounts and making them available, that makes me proud. It is also talking to people who came to this country through Pier 21 and getting their stories about what they faced when they came to Canada.
My parents came from Italy. My mother always told me that she was depressed for the first 10 years she was in Canada, because the winters were so harsh and the summer was only a time for her to fear what was coming in the winter. It was brutal for her. My father was a very proud Italian, but also a very proud Canadian. He did not understand hockey at all, but he cheered for it, because he knew it was what Canadians did. He could not understand any part of the game, and he always tried to relate it to soccer, but he was fiercely proud of his new country.
Sometimes it takes going somewhere else to realize just how lucky we are and just how special this country is. Going back to my parents' home town, when I was 14, although it was a beautiful place, made me realize how lucky I was to be here. It also awakened me to something then, even that far back. The many Italians who came to Canada did not know enough about Canada. We have all heard stories of tourists who come to Canada in July with skis on their cars thinking it is going to be snowing. We could do a better job.
There is no problem with members disagreeing in the House about history. That is good. Let us disagree. That is what history is all about. It is not our job to write the history books. That is not what we do. It is our job to be in this place, debate, and make sure other Canadians have access to that history. That is what this new Canadian museum of history would do, and that is why I am so excited.
It is not just about a $25-million investment that will update the museum, as the minister said, after many years. Displays have to be changed. It is not just about that $25-million investment. It is not about the $142 million we have already put into arts and culture and into our museums. It is about giving Canadians access to the things, people, places and events that have helped make this country the best country in the world in which to live. Regardless of how we feel about the policies of one another, we can all agree on that. Surely we can all agree on the fact that everybody, not just Canadians, deserves to understand what has made this country so great.
Mr. Speaker, I was enjoying that, actually.
I want to thank the minister. He talked about what happened in the case of Hitler's car. I have been there, and I have seen it. It is funny that the minister pointed that out, because I remember at the time being surprised that it was there, because I was sure that it would have raised the hackles of many. However, the fact is that it is a part of history that we need to illustrate in this country and around the world. I agree with him.
I sincerely hope that this curatorial independence is maintained. Some of the people said that some of the language has been changed. They talked about whether this is a critical way of looking at this, and I hope to propose amendments that look at this as well.
Maybe this is a debate that will stand up to the test of time. Maybe we can take this debate on how we do this into other museums,
He mentioned the War Museum, brought forward by us several years ago. I stress that I would not want this bill to be overly prescriptive in how we tell the story about who we are.
We have a major hallmark coming, which is the sesquicentennial. The fact that I have pronounced it at this hour of the night is actually quite stellar, but nonetheless I have. The sesquicentennial is coming up. I would hope that the arm's length attitude the minister has will be maintained. I hope that we will see something like an agency come forward to talk about this 150-year celebration, but right now we have to deal with this, which is, as he points out, the Canadian museum of history. I hope that exhibitions from around the world, such as exhibitions from the Middle East, such as the Dead Sea scrolls and these sorts of things will be maintained in this particular institution. I hope that will be fleshed out during this debate.
Order please. The hon. minister has used up more than 30% of the time allotted for questions and comments.
The hon. member for Bonavista—Gander—Grand Falls—Windsor, if he wants to reply.
- MPcon22 hours ago | British Columbia, Port Moody—Westwood—Port Coquitlam
Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the time my colleague put into gathering his thoughts and making an intervention on the museum, but this is not a small project. It is a large project. It is a $25-million investment in the museum itself. We are talking about building a national infrastructure. I was saying to the leader of the Green Party a minute ago that this museum has an annual budget from this Parliament of $57 million a year. One-third of that money goes to research. This is a research museum that reaches out to people across the country. This is a museum that does more than just tell these stories, so it is an important project.
I will give my colleague two points on the point he raised in the last half of his speech about the independence of the museum.
First, as was pointed out by my parliamentary secretary, the Museums Act prescribes that. When the Liberals created the War Museum, there was a great deal of controversy. If the member will remember, it had Hitler's car, and that was a great source of debate. There were many Canadians who thought it was offensive or inappropriate. It was not part of our Canadian narrative. Jewish Canadians found it offensive that it was used entice people to come to the museum. There was a great controversy. The Liberal government of the day was frustrated, but on the other hand relieved, that this was a debate to be had at the museum. The museum officials struggled with it, as Jack Granatstein pointed out in his book Who Killed Canadian History?, but it was an important debate about the Canadian history narrative and the Second World War, how to tell that story, what kind of language to use and those kinds of debates. They happen all the time. The government of the day could not interfere with the museum in that very touchy debate at the time because of the Museums Act, and that is a great thing. Let the museum officials figure these things out. Let them debate them. Let them make mistakes and figure it out and tell these narratives and move forward.
Second, on the issue of independence, specifically with this museum, he would note, and some people have noted as well, that the name we have put forward is the Canadian Museum of History, not the Museum of Canadian History. There is a particular reason we chose that language. It is because Canadian history does not begin in 1867. There are our first peoples, the north, and aboriginal Canadians. Canadian history does not begin in 1867. We have been precise in talking to people about how to actually name this museum in a way that is inclusive of all of the narratives of those who today call themselves Canadian. The amendment and the legislation talk about broadening the discussion on this, within a Canadian lens, and not assuming that for all Canadians their sense of belonging to what is now Canada begins in 1867. We chose that language deliberately, again, to give the museum the independence to design their narrative such that it is not just the political one that begins with the Constitution Act of 1867. We are being very deliberate about this to—
Sorry, Vancouver Island.
I want to say to my colleagues that what has been put forward so far in the debate, as we have heard in two substantial speeches, is that as Canadians we want to illustrate the history of this country, and we want to do it not just from a national narrative. We all cheered in 1980, when Terry Fox ran across this country. He made it to Thunder Bay. There was not one dry eye in this country looking at Terry Fox on that stretcher in northern Ontario as he wept because he could not make it. In fact, from northern Ontario right to B.C., every Canadian in this country completed that course for him.
In addition, we can look at every hallmark in this country with a sense of pride, whether it was winning the gold medals in the Olympics or the events that mark us as Canadians, such as the recent marking of the War of 1812. A great deal has been brought forward to this country in the celebration of the War of 1812, which we should look at.
Now, here is the problem. We get into the debate about whether we should have spent $35 million to do that. We have done it. I am not sure if that was the right dollar amount to do it, but it was certainly worth marking. There are many aspects in this debate regarding Canadian history, and there are many hallmarks and many monuments in this country.
Whether it is the big wooden moose that stands in Goobies, Newfoundland and Labrador, or whether it is the large nickel in Sudbury, these are the hallmarks of our country. We need to look at every aspect of the country, not just for the national narrative but the local narrative as well.
One of the most popular exhibitions in my riding is in Botwood, Newfoundland and Labrador. It is called the snowmobile. It actually has old snowmobiles there from the 1960s and 1970s. Most of them, by the way, are from Bombardier, a Quebec company. When people of Newfoundland and Labrador look at this one snowmobile from Bombardier, they look at it as a hallmark of what is Canadian. It is not just the fact that their grandfather may have ridden on it, but the fact that it is a Canadian hallmark, and the reason it exists in that particular institution is that the person who runs that museum decided that it was worth putting on display.
I think that is the essence of this debate, and I ask my colleagues to come together for this most important issue, which is that the person who runs the shop decides what is displayed because he or she knows more than any of us what Canadian history is and what displays it.
What is a curator? A curator is not just a fancy title for someone who has a degree from a certain institution; a curator is someone who knows the history of our country and, more importantly, knows how to display it. If we take an institution like the Museum of Civilization and tell the next generation that this is a Canadian museum of history, similar to what exists in nations such as the United States of America or Germany or other nations, then we must make sure that the curators and the experts know exactly what goes on display.
In essence, I ask the government if this is the case. Do we now have a museum that has risen from the bottom up? The minister made an eloquent speech about how we display the history of our country; do we look at this and ask the men and women who work each and every day in the field of history if they have told the country that this is what is on display?
It is not just about the history of what was the Dominion of Newfoundland. That is right. We had our own currency in Newfoundland and Labrador. We have our own encyclopedia. My goodness, we even have our own dictionary, and it is a good read, I might add.
The thing is, each and every region of our country displays its history in the way it knows best, so I am excited to hear that the Canadian museum of history is going to share in a partnership across the country to display history exhibits. I hope the minister is sincere when he says that we will create a bona fide partnership. He talked about indemnification, and I sincerely hope and suspect that what he is telling me is correct when he says that the indemnification he is talking about would allow the smallest of museums to participate in exactly the narrative that the Canadian museum of history is about to embark upon.
How do we celebrate 150 years of Canada when it is the second-largest country in the world? There are millions and millions of square hectares in a place that has its own particular nuance in the way it tells its history.
I am a big fan of CBC/Radio Canada, because it tells the story and the narrative of our country.
I love to hear about how some of the greatest organs of this world in the greatest churches of this world were created in Quebec. How does that happen? It happens in a country like this but the story has to be told not just to the province of Quebec but has to be told to the country. There is an equal amount of pride shown in the smallest community of British Columbia and the smallest community of Newfoundland and Labrador that Quebec has an incredible rich history of new France, of how it has developed some of the greatest churches in the world and how it has developed some of the greatest church organs in the world. How do we put that on display? We put it on display when we have a collective, when we have the same attitude and opinion from coast to coast to coast that shows us that it is worth illustrating.
There are certain things that cause me concern. There was a motion within the heritage committee that wanted to study the historical hallmarks of this country, which I agree should be looked at. Why not? However, the motion itself was overly prescriptive in how it would conduct itself.
If I were to ask members what is the most historical and greatest landmark of this country, the greatest hallmark that defines what is Canada, someone would say the War of 1812, the next person would say it was the hockey series of 1972 or it was when Terry Fox decided that his run was over and we decided to carry on that run for him.
Here we go. We define ourselves in all the historical landmarks that we have and we depend upon the experts in the field. I sincerely hope that what the minister has told us tonight is what will be done in the next little while. I sincerely hope that he will be open to looking at this legislation to amend it to say there needs to be a review. How do the institutions of this country, and certainly of this city, the national institutions, whether it is the War Museum, whether it is the Museum of Civilization, which it is right now, conduct themselves every few years from now? They are crown agencies. They are products of the government but yet they have to exercise their independence.
My colleague is right in the fact that we have to exercise our independence. I am sorry if we are being looked at as being skeptical but why not? Why not be skeptical? We want the independence from the particular government of the day. I do not care what colour it is or what party it is, it has to be done. We are looking to the government and telling it to prove to us that the independence is there.
I heard the minister and the sincerity with which he speaks. I have known him for quite some time and I hope he is correct and right by saying that he wants this institution to be as independent as it always has been and perhaps even more independent than it was before.
He listed several experts and several institutions that like what is going on. As my hon. colleague said, there are institutions that do not like what is going on.
However, I will say this. I am proud of the fact that we are here debating in an honest and earnest manner, such as my colleague from Stratford did as chair of the heritage committee. He spoke so eloquently, not about his party's position on museums but museums themselves, and not so much about who is telling the story but about the story itself. We need to do this from here to eternity. This country, the G8, the G20, there is a reason why we punch above our weight.
It is because we deserve it. It is because our history dictates that we deserve to be at every major table in this world, on this globe. It is not because of us here today. All of us in this House, all 308, stand on the shoulders of the people who brought us to this institution. This House of Commons, in and of itself, is an historical monument. We brought ourselves here on the shoulders of others, no matter what our party.
I come from a riding that was represented for 27 years by a man named George Baker, a current senator. Many other members can say that they came in here after hon. members who spoke about the very same thing as we are today. Yes, it is the issue of the day, but every issue of the day brought into this House was brought forward by an issue that happened yesterday. We managed to build one of the greatest democracies in the world because of that.
I am not saying that we should start a new museum right here in and of itself. Goodness knows, I would love to joke about the Senate at this point, but I will not—I am sorry, to my colleagues—because it is apropos of the day.
However, I will say this. Let us go forward in this debate and make something that is a valid institution. Let us face it, if we make this museum-to-be the Canadian museum of history, not the museum of Canadian history, then we have a gem to offer to the world. This is not just about an exercise in rebranding. This is about offering a gem to the world that tourists will see. I think that if people come here from, let us say, Asia or Europe, as opposed to saying, “I want to go see the Museum of Civilization”, they might just say, “I want to go see the Canadian museum of history”.
Now, I throw that out there, but I can only throw that out there if the independence of this institution is maintained. We have a lot to celebrate in our 150-year celebration.
I will end on this. In 1949, my grandfather campaigned for Newfoundland and Labrador to be independent. That is right. He said “no” to Canada. He has passed away. I stand here today in this House and I wonder what he would say at this point. He was not a big fan. However, I want to prove to him that Newfoundland and Labrador has found itself a home.
Can Canada find a home in this, what is to be the Canadian museum of history, I ask members?
Relax, you are not there yet.
I was talking about—
- MPcon22 hours ago | Ontario, Elgin—Middlesex—London
Now you are in trouble.
I will say this to the chamber. All the occupants of this chair do not want to engage in the debate. We want the comments and questions directed to the Chair in a neutral way and not to other members in the House. We do not want to have to respond to “you” and “he”. We want to be told directly what members' positions are, and nothing more. We do not want to be engaged in it.
Everybody has done it this evening. There has not been one member on his or her feet this evening who has not breached the rule. I would ask all members to pay attention and direct their comments to the Chair only.
The hon. member for Yukon on a point of order.
Again, as I keep repeating in the House, members must direct their comments to the Chair and not to the other members.
The hon. member forWellington—Halton Hills.
- MPcon22 hours ago | Ontario, Alma-Lac-St-Jean
Mr. Speaker, you have previously admonished the member about the way he addresses the members of the House. He often speaks to members opposite in the second person. He should always address the Chair and never use the second person. This is how we can keep a civil discourse and debate in the House.
Questions and comments, the hon. member for Oak Ridges—Markham.
- MPcon22 hours ago | Ontario, Oak Ridges—Markham
Mr. Speaker, it is often disappointing to listen to the member. He speaks to the very narrow vision of history that the NDP members have.
I know that to this member maybe Laura Secord is not important, but she is important to a lot of Canadians. Canada's achievements in World War I and World War II might not necessarily be important to that member and the members on that side, but they are important to many Canadians, and many Canadians want to hear more about them.
He talked about territorial independence. Clearly, he has not read the Museums Act, because had he read it, he would have seen that it is actually guaranteed. He talked about the fact that international exhibits will not be a part of this. He has not actually read the bill, because if he had, he would have read that it may “organize, sponsor, arrange for or participate in travelling exhibitions, in Canada and internationally, of museum material in its collection and from other sources”. It is right in there.
Members opposite have also had the opportunity to vote, since 2006, in favour of $142 million worth of new investments for our museums, and consistently they have voted against, every single time.
Here we have another $25 million investment for another museum, and again they are saying they will not vote in favour of that. It speaks to the NDP's narrow vision. Anything NDP members want is something all Canadians should want, but if we do not agree with what they want, then everybody else must be wrong. That is not how we have built this country.
There are some three million artifacts in storage in the Canadian Museum of Civilization. I wonder if the hon. member would at least agree with me that it is important to bring those artifacts out and to involve museums across this country, small and large, so that all Canadians in all provinces and territories can have access to them. Would he agree it is important that all Canadians have better access to their history?
Mr. Speaker, one of the things we have spoken about with Mark O'Neill, who is the current president of the Museum of Civilization, is an idea to have all partner museums across the country, all those who sign an MOU—the CFOs, the board chairs, the presidents—come to Ottawa to talk about best practices, and to maybe talk about collectively having better curatorial services, working together on ideas to digitize their content and make it more available online. It is not just about partnerships between the national museum and local museums, but partnerships between local museums as well.
We would be surprised at some of the collections in these museums, as the member has referred to about the museum in Clinton. I have seen some incredible collections of remarkable things in museums all across this country. When we have the privilege, as I have had, to visit these museums, we find some real gems across this country. However, we also realize that some of these gems have become stagnant in local museums because they have been there for a long time. We want to breathe new life into our museums, allow them to have collections from other museums in the country, to draw from the national museum, and give all of them new life, new energy and new stories to tell, as they choose them, not as Ottawa chooses them.
- MPcon23 hours ago | British Columbia, Kamloops—Thompson—Cariboo
Mr. Speaker, I am really delighted to hear tonight about the plans to move forward. I had the opportunity within the last month to visit the Museum of Civilization and then to visit a little museum in Clinton, British Columbia, which had an amazing collection from the gold rush times. It was quite a delight to tour this very small museum.
I would like to hear more from the minister in terms of how he perceives that these will knit together. We heard about the opportunity for small museums to bring collection items one way. Will there also be an opportunity to have more of a two-way, and that also includes things like the Japanese camp he acknowledged in his comments regarding Midway? Will there be a bit more back and forth with this plan?
- MPlib23 hours ago | Newfoundland, Bonavista—Gander—Grand Falls—Windsor
Mr. Speaker, I have spoken personally with the minister and have heard publicly what the minister has to say about this new museum. I heard what he said in his speech, and quite frankly his sincerity is pretty good. I hear what he is saying and I like his sincerity, but I want to ask him a question. I want to ask him about the fact that recently there was a motion in the committee that talked about the history of this country. It was incredibly prescriptive in how we should go about doing this.
I want to ask him a question, in a sincere way. With regard to this money that he hopes to put into this new museum, is it going towards allowing this museum to put itself out to the rest of the country to create these partnerships? Is it one that is sincere and provides the money for all these museums across the country to share in the history of this country? How will the operations of the museum go forward under this new title? In other words, I do not want this to be simply a rebranding exercise.
I sincerely hope that what he is saying tonight is that he wants to put this museum to the rest of the country and tell a story that is sincere, that is right, but that also has curatorial independence. Are we going to display this to the nation for 2017 and have it be a gem in North America? Is this going to be the case? How is it going to be that with the money he is investing?
Mr. Speaker, I brought this issue before a parliamentary committee. I have spoken to the member opposite about this project, and I do think that this should be about partisanship. As I said, when we created the Canadian Museum of Immigration, the Canadian Museum for Human Rights, and when the Liberals created the Canadian War Museum, those were all moments where we were actually able to work together.
He mentioned partisanship. Again, I would read into the record the new mandate. This is what is in the bill, and this is the new mandate of the museum. I do not think there is anything ideological or misguided about this at all. It states:
The purpose of the Canadian Museum of History is to enhance Canadians’ knowledge, understanding and appreciation of events, experiences, people and objects that reflect and have shaped Canada’s history and identity, and also to enhance their awareness of world history and cultures.
That is a mandate that is focused on history. It is open. The Museums Act creates a barrier between politicians and the minister, telling a museum what it can or cannot do on a day-to-day basis. That is what the Museums Act does. This gives the museum a focus, by the way, a focus in a way that I think has long been needed by this museum, and a refreshing of a mandate that will serve all Canadians very well.
It is not just about this, as I said. This is about creating a pan-Canadian infrastructure to bind all of our institutions together so that all museums, not just the museum in the nation's capital, but all museums in the country, will benefit from this proposal. All museums in the country that become official partners will have access to the 3.5 million items in the collection, 90% of which are in storage right now, so we can tell all of Canada's stories, one to another.
We often know our local histories very well. I can tell the House about Captain Cook and Colonel Moody. I can tell everyone about my community very well, and I am sure my hon. colleague can talk about his hometown, but very often we do not know national histories as well as we ought to. One of the things we can do to try to fight that is to build this infrastructure, work together, and get collections moving around the country. Let us do this.
- MPndp23 hours ago | Ontario, Windsor—Tecumseh
The hon. member may make his comments, but they must be made through the chair.
moved that Bill C-49, An Act to amend the Museums Act in order to establish the Canadian Museum of History and to make consequential amendments to other Acts, be read the second time and referred to a committee.
Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to open the debate in the House on Bill C-49, an act to amend Museums Act to establish the Canadian museum of history.
This legislation would change the name and mandate of the Canadian Museum of Civilization, an institution with a remarkable and proud history. It is a history that traces its way back to 1856 when it was then known as the Geological Survey of Canada. In 1968, its mandate shifted and its name changed again to the Museum of Man. In 1986, it was renamed the Canadian Museum of Civilization and was moved to its current home on the bank of the Ottawa River.
This museum is the largest of Canada's museums. It is the largest both in size, with over one million square feet, and visitors, averaging 1.3 million visitors over the past couple of years. It receives the largest share of government funding of any museum and it is one of the museums with the highest level of self-generated revenue.
While the Canadian Museum of Civilization is our country's most visible national museum, it is not our only museum. In fact, there are over 2,500 museums in communities all across the country, some large, some small, and all these museums tell our stories. They tell them in different ways and in different locations and they tell them in a way that is unique to these local communities.
For example, in the small town of Midway, British Columbia, there is an exhaustive display of material from the Japanese internment during the Second World War. Japanese Canadians living in the region collected materials and put together a narrative of what Japanese Canadians dealt with and suffered through in the south Okanagan during the Second World War. There are countless examples of exhibits like this in museums all across Canada.
This museum describes Canada's history. Yet, Canada does not have a national institution that connects all of these local museums across the country, to tell Canada’s story.
Geographically, Canada is the second largest country in the world, but in terms of population, we are the 34th largest country in the world. Therefore, what unites us together as Canadians? What unites us as a people? It is our languages, our culture, the arts and the ability to tell our stories one to another and to have an understanding of our shared history. A museum devoted to our history will provide a focus on the people, the places and the achievements that bring us together as Canadians.
We are counting down to Canada’s 150th birthday in 2017. The road to Canada’s 150th birthday offers us an unprecedented opportunity to celebrate our history and the achievements that define who we are as Canadians.
Our stories are vast, and they deserve to be told. From Samuel de Champlain’s arrival on our shores to the last spike that marked the completion of the Canadian Pacific Railway tracks that took us from east to west and back.
From Terry Fox's journey in the Marathon of Hope that still inspires millions of Canadians today to raise money and fight cancer to Maurice “Rocket” Richard to James Naismith and his invention of basketball to our brilliant scientists like Frederick Banting and Charles Best, these are the people, the events, the stories that inspire us always and need to be told and retold again.
Canada needs and deserves a national institution that will tell the stories of Canada. Canada needs an institution that will independently research and explore Canada's history. Canada needs a national institution that celebrates our achievements and what we have accomplished together as Canadians. Our children need to know more about Canada's past. That is why last year our government announced the creation of the Canadian museum of history.
Let me read the mandate that we are proposing in Bill C-49 that is at the heart of this debate and of this legislation. This is what the new mandate of the museum will read:
The purpose of the Canadian Museum of History is to enhance Canadians’ knowledge, understanding and appreciation of events, experiences, people and objects that reflect and have shaped Canada’s history and identity, and also to enhance their awareness of world history and cultures.
We have chosen not to build a new national museum from the ground up. We are doing that right now in Winnipeg with the Canadian Museum for Human Rights. We have also established the Canadian Museum of Immigration at Pier 21 in Halifax, building on an existing institution.
The home of this new museum will be what is currently the Canadian Museum of Civilization.
We will build on its reputation and popularity to create a museum that will showcase our achievements as a nation.
The United States has the Smithsonian. Germany has the German History Museum.
Let me share with the House something I think is really important to understand about the details of what we are proposing here with this new museum.
Beginning shortly, the museum will renovate over 50,000 square feet of public space, roughly half of the permanent and temporary galleries that are currently part of the museum. Those areas of the museum that will remain as they are include the very popular Canadian Children's Museum, the First Peoples Hall and the IMAX theatre. A $25-million one-time investment will allow the museum to make this happen.
It should be noted that the current Museum of Civilization in Gatineau has not been updated in over 20 years. In fact, in the Canada Hall at the museum, aboriginal people are excluded from the narrative that is Canada's history. It is a museum that needs to be updated and needs to be improved upon, and that is what we are proposing.
The museum will also allocate internal resources to the project and will launch a fundraising campaign with the intent to raise $5 million. I am told that the fundraising campaign is already well under way and having success. This investment will be funded within existing budgets from the Department of Canadian Heritage at no new additional cost to taxpayers. It will allow the Canadian Museum of Civilization to begin the transformation that will be completed in time for Canada's 150th birthday in 2017.
More than changing the name, the mandate and the exhibits, more will change. We want to ensure this great national institution, which we have the benefit of visiting in Ottawa, reaches out across the country and connects Canadians. To achieve this, we are building partnerships, partnerships that will be created between the new Canadian museum of history and museums across Canada that have the same mandate, but are doing it at a local level. These local museums will have the opportunity to become official partners of this new great national museum.
In fact, we already signed our first memorandum of understanding with the Royal B.C. Museum in Victoria. What this will mean for that museum and other museums across the country is they will have access to the 3,500,000 items currently in the collection at the Canadian Museum of Civilization, soon to be the museum of history. Approximately 90% of these items are currently sitting in storage because we do not have a network to moves these items across the country and share our history. This is a really important move forward to tell our history and allow us to tell our stories to all Canadians.
I am also very pleased to say that since we announced this project, it has received broad-based support from Canadians, including countless historians and people in historical associations from every corner of the country. These are not people, by the way, who frequently agree with our government, but they agree with the need to create a national infrastructure for the teaching of Canada's history.
I am grateful, for example, of the support of Douglas Cardinal, the original architect of the Canadian Museum of Civilization and a very well-known Canadian for all of his life's accomplishments. In response to the creation of this museum, he said, “I love the fact that the museum keeps evolving and growing, and people still feel that it’s a national monument that can expand and serve all of Canada”.
This project has the support of and has been celebrated by Canadian historians as well. It includes the award-winning historian and author, Michael Bliss, who said that it was very exciting that Canada’s major museum would now be explicitly focused on Canada’s history and he thanked the government for making the museum possible.
Jack Granatstein, who, as many in the House know, wrote the book Who Killed Canadian History? a few years ago said, “This move (to create the Canadian Museum of National History) is exactly what I thought should happen. I'm delighted the government and the museum are doing it”.
Deborah Morrison of Canada's National History Society said, “the potential for the new Museum to help create a national framework for our history is compelling. And the time is right”.
John McAvity of the Canadian Museums Association said, “the renaming of the museum is essential, that it is good news and that it will give Canadians greater access to their heritage and history”.
The Historica-Dominion Institute said, “We enthusiastically welcome the creation of this new Canadian museum of history”.
The Ontario Museum Association said, “We welcome the initiative to strengthen partnerships among museums in Ontario and across the country”.
John English, a former Liberal member of Parliament and a biographer of P.E. Trudeau, said, “Congratulations on the Canadian museum of history”.
That is a great boost for the museum.
From Marie Senécal-Tremblay, of the Canadian Federation of Friends of Museums, representing volunteers from smaller museums across Canada: “We support these changes to one of our country's most important national museums.”
I am also very pleased, and I should highlight this as well, that the museum proposal does have the support of the mayors of Gatineau and Ottawa, Marc Bureau and Jim Watson. They both support this initiative as being important to the national capital region.
As well, many historians have added their names to the list of those who support this initiative: Réal Bélanger, Charlotte Gray, Anne Trépanier, Norm Christie, Yves Frenette, Bob Plamondon, Richard Gwyn, Jane Fullerton, Suzanne Sauvage, Brian Lee Crowley and many more. Again, people who may not be Conservative understand that on items like this we should work together, put partisanship aside and support the creation of institutions that bind this country together.
I think the Toronto Star said it very well in their editorial on this subject, and I quote:
It was welcome to hear [the government] announce...the rebranding of the Canadian Museum of Civilization...as the Canadian Museum of History. Canada's history should be celebrated in [this] revamped museum. ...we want to make history come alive, ensure we don't forget our shared past and [that we] honour our heroes.
In conclusion, I understand that this is an issue that has brought some great debate across the country. However, Canada's history is far from dead. It is alive and well and a story that needs to be told.
It is a true statistic, but a sad one, that in only four of Canada's 13 provinces and territories is it necessary for a child to take a history class to graduate from high school. That is provincial jurisdiction, of course, but it does not mean we should step away from the importance of it as a national government, as a national Parliament. We can work together and do what we can to talk about Canada's history and improve education, by supporting our museums, building a great national museum, uniting all of our museums and working together on this project.
In the past, this Parliament has come together. When a former Liberal government decided to create the Canadian War Museum, people said it was divisive, a waste of money and that we ought not do it now. However, the Liberal government had a vision and said it was the right thing to do. The War Museum is now one of the best museums in the world, rivaled only by Les Invalides, in Paris, and the Imperial War Museum, in London. It is one of the great museums in the world.
We are now asking for what this Parliament has done before when it unanimously supported the creation of the Canadian Museum for Human Rights in Winnipeg. We were working together, and it is going to be a great institution for all of Canada. This Parliament also unanimously supported the creation of the Canadian Museum for Immigration at Pier 21, in Halifax. It is a great institution and doing good things for this country.
I have approached this in as non-partisan a way as I can. I have reached out to my opposition colleagues in the NDP and the Liberal Party, provided them with the text of this legislation and tried to work with them so we can make sure this museum will go forward and be a constructive piece of Canada's social fabric. We have worked together in the past on institutions. This is a good project for this country, and I hope my colleagues will work with us to make it happen.
A couple of years away is Canada's 150th birthday. We deserve to have a great national institution that will teach Canada's history, bring Canadians together and work toward a celebrated goal of keeping this country united and strong. Support this bill.
- MPcon23 hours ago | Saskatchewan, Regina—Qu'Appelle
I declare the motion carried.
- MPcon23 hours ago | Saskatchewan, Regina—Qu'Appelle
All those opposed will please say nay.
- MPconWed 5:00 pm | Ontario, Simcoe North
All those opposed will please say nay.
- MPconWed 4:45 pm | Ontario, Oak Ridges—Markham
Mr. Speaker, it is a strange thing that we are hearing today. NDP members have said in most of their speeches that when a bill is too long, let us say over 10 pages, that it is too much for them to read, and now they are being asked, God forbid, to stay here until midnight to debate.
Do those members honestly think that the people of Canada, who pay us $160,000 a year to be in this place and to debate issues of importance to them, think that we should be going home early at a time when we have so much on our agenda, including Canada's economic action plan and a whole host of bills?
Those members talk about debate. A bill was brought forward by a Liberal member of Parliament with respect to philanthropy day, and NDP members decided to filibuster that bill. They wanted all of their members to speak to it because it was such a controversial bill. Is that the type of debate they are talking about? They cannot even pass a bill that would see us thank Canadians who give so much of their time and their money to help make our communities better. Is that the type of debate they are talking about?
- MPconWed 4:30 pm | Saskatchewan, Regina—Lumsden—Lake Centre
Mr. Speaker, again, this is quite amusing. It is quite clear the members opposite do not want to engage in meaningful debate. They are just trying to delay and prevent government bills from being passed. That is their sole purpose.
We have proven time and time again that we have a legislative agenda. We want to see it fulfilled. We want to pass bills. We want to get things done on behalf of Canadians. The opposition simply wants to derail and prevent any government bills from being passed in this place. There is a huge difference between meaningful debate and unnecessary and unwarranted delay. That is what members opposite do.
I would also point out that as opposed to closure, and a lot of members get closure and time allocation confused, when we have brought forward time allocation, we have allowed for sufficient debate. Some bills have been debated over 70 times before we brought forward time allocation. To suggest that we are trying to curtail debate just does not cut the mustard.
- MPlibWed 4:30 pm | Prince Edward Island, Malpeque
Mr. Speaker, I have to laugh at the Parliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons, because he talks about the mandate the Conservatives were given. The problem is that the way they are utilizing the mandate they were given is not to represent all Canadians; it is to represent just a certain base. Legislation does require more debate.
Certainly, 20 hours per week sounds lovely, does it not? However, let us look at the history. This is coming from a government that does not really listen to any debate. We can talk forever in this place. Does it ever change anything on the government side of the House? No, it does not. This is coming from a government that seldom allows amendments in the chamber and certainly does not allow amendments at committee. This is coming from a government that even shuts down committees when debating motions. It puts committees in camera, in secret, so that they are not transparent when debating motions. That is simply how the government operates.
I worry about this extension of sitting hours. As my colleague in the NDP asked a moment ago, is the government really going to go until June 21, or is this another strategy? We know that the Prime Minister has left Dodge, with a scandal on his desk. Is this really a strategy to have an extension of sitting hours, get through a couple of bills, and allow him to prorogue Parliament? Will the member guarantee—
- MPconWed 4:25 pm | Saskatchewan, Regina—Lumsden—Lake Centre
Mr. Speaker, I have to laugh. We hear the same argument from members opposite as we just heard now. The reality is quite different from what the member opposite is reporting.
The reality is that members opposite are not really interested in meaningful debate. They are simply trying to delay and defeat any legislation our government brings forward.
If it were merely a case of wanting to debate a bill thoroughly, I would have no problem with that. However, the reason our government has been forced—and I say forced—to bring time allocation in on many bills is that the members opposite have proven that they will use any procedural tactic available to them to continue delaying the passage of bills, time and time again.
Now, I get that. That is the opposition's right. Opposition members can delay legislative items as much as they possibly can, because they have procedural tactics at their disposal. However, so do we. Our priority is to get bills passed. We were given a majority government by the people of this country to get things done, to pass legislation, and we are doing so. We are doing so in as efficient a manner as possible.
However, to suggest for a moment that we are preventing debate from occurring, whether it be in the House or in committee, and then to oppose a motion that extends sitting hours to give them the additional hours for debate makes absolutely no sense. It is the height of hypocrisy.
- MPconWed 4:05 pm | Saskatchewan, Regina—Lumsden—Lake Centre
Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure for me to speak this evening to Motion No. 17, which everyone on our side of the House knows is simply a motion that will extend sitting hours for the next few weeks to allow increased debate and participation by all members, dealing with a series of what we consider to be very serious and important legislative bills that the government wishes to bring forward.
I should point out at the outset that there is nothing new here. This is not unusual. In fact, as all members know, when they look at their parliamentary calendars, those little plastic calendars that we all put in our wallets to see when the session is on and when we adjourn, they will notice that the last two weeks in June always have asterisks attached to the last two sitting weeks. It is interesting, because every year even the most experienced parliamentarians continue to ask the same questions. They look at those little stars and come to me, or others on our side of the House, and ask if that means they can get out two weeks early. We have to point out that, no, it does not mean we can rise two weeks early. It means the government has the ability to extend the sitting hours for those last two weeks to allow for enhanced and increased debate.
This is quite a common occurrence that occurs every session and every sitting of a Parliament. All we are suggesting this time, hence the motion we brought forward, is to extend sitting hours for a few more weeks than the last two weeks of the scheduled session.
Why are we asking for that to be done? It is simply because we feel we have a very busy legislative agenda. We believe we have a number of pieces of important legislation that have yet to be passed in Parliament. We would like to see many of these, if not all of them, debated, voted upon and hopefully, from our perspective, passed before we rise for the summer. That is all. There is no other ulterior motive, as members opposite seem to be suggesting. We are not trying to engage in increased sitting hours now so we can rise earlier. Not at all, we are simply stating a fact, that our government has many pieces of legislation that have yet to be debated fully in this place and yet to be put to a vote.
We want to see that happen as quickly as possible. Hence, we are recommending that we sit, starting tonight, for an extended period of time. It would be a number of hours every evening, Monday through Thursday so we would be able to engage all parliamentarians in a proper debate of some of these legislative agenda items.
I have also heard some commentary from members opposite who seem to engage in these ongoing conspiracy theories. They suggest, for example, that one of the things the motion would do, in addition to extending the sitting hours, is impair the opposition members' ability to bring forward concurrence motions. I want to speak to that for just a moment.
If one is to adhere to the arguments brought forward by members opposite, one would get the impression that these concurrence motions, in other words debate on reports, are the most important thing that Parliament has to consider. Mr. Speaker, as you would well know, and I think all members know, that is the furthest thing from the truth. Concurrence motions, when brought forward by members of the opposition, are nothing more than dilatory tactics to try and prevent our government from engaging in its legislative agenda.
Mr. Speaker, as you well know, and all members should know, once a concurrence motion is brought forward, it allows for three hours of debate on that motion. In other words, if a concurrence motion was brought forward on a Wednesday, which as we all know is a short day, three hours of government time would be used in debate of an opposition motion. The government then would be unable to bring forward its own legislative agenda and would be unable to debate the bills that we wanted to see debated in the House. Instead, we would be engaging in a debate on a concurrence motion brought forward by the opposition, which means opposition members would simply be trying to delay legislation from being passed.
On one hand, we hear consistently from members opposite the argument that they need more time to debate, that the government is preventing real and fruitful debate in the House. That again is the furthest thing from the truth. In fact, just the opposite is occurring on a regular basis.
Opposition members are using procedural tactics, like concurrence motions, to prevent our government from introducing legislation. Why? Because they are not merely trying to oppose our legislative agenda; they are trying to prevent it from even making it to the floor of the House for reasonable debate.
That is what concurrence motions are and that is what the opposition is arguing that Motion No. 17 would prevent, but that is not true. The reality is, if we adopt Motion No. 17, concurrence motions would still be allowed, even though we all know they are dilatory in nature.
Members of the official opposition and third party would still be able to bring forward concurrence motions. There would only be one slight change, which is that after the first speaker completed his or her remarks, usually 20 minutes, and after the customary 10 minutes of questions and comments, we would then revert to orders of the day. This does not mean the remainder of the three hours would be washed away. The government would be obliged, in fact compelled, within two weeks to resume debate on that concurrence motion.
We are not preventing debate on any motion for concurrence that the opposition members bring forward. We are merely allowing for proper debate on government legislation to be held, without being impaired and delayed unnecessarily. When a concurrence motion is brought forward, normally our government, to try to get back to orders of the day, would move a motion to do just that, to return to orders of the day. However, that precipitates then a 30-minute bell. Committees are interrupted because members have to return to the House to vote on that motion.
There is important work being done in committees. We do not want that unnecessary delay to committees, particularly as we get closer to the end of this legislative session. The committees are seized with very important bills that have been passed through second reading and are at committee stage. We want the committees to engage in an examination of the bills, but if we are continually interrupted by having dilatory tactics brought forward by members of the opposition, that prevents true legislative examination of bills at committee.
Our intent is quite simple. Motion No. 17 merely suggests that we sit a few hours longer each and every day for the last few weeks before the scheduled adjournment on June 21 to allow meaningful debate on many bills that our government has introduced. The opposition members should embrace and welcome this. After all, it is they who continually state that we are preventing them from debating legislation.
This gives them an opportunity, four more hours each and every day, Monday to Thursday, 20 more hours per week of debate. Yet we hear this hue and cry from members opposite that they do not want to support Motion No. 17. Somehow they are trying to argue that by adding 20 hours of debate per week, it prevents them from speaking effectively on issues that they feel are important. How can that be? How can adding time for debate each and every day be a bad thing? In other words, we cannot have it both ways.
If members of the opposition are trying to make an argument that they need more time for debate on bills, if members of the opposition argue that time allocation prevents them from speaking on bills, how can they then oppose our attempt to add more hours to the day to give them the ability to debate the very bills they are complaining about now, saying that they do not have proper time for thorough examination? It makes no sense. Their argument does not seem to make any sense whatsoever.
Let me give one small example of a bill we want to debate and hopefully pass before we rise for the summer. This is only one of many. Bill S-2, on matrimonial property rights for aboriginal women on reserves, is a bill that has been criticized and opposed by members opposite, both of the official opposition and the third party, for reasons that I can only think about. Again, it defies any rational or logical thought, in my opinion.
What is Bill S-2? Bill S-2 proposes to enact legislation that would allow women living on reserves to have the same basic rights that every other woman in Canada enjoys now. Canadians may be quite appalled to learn that currently, on reserve, if a woman is married and living in a house, but then becomes divorced, she has no right to 50% of the property that she and her husband co-own.
Let me repeat that. An aboriginal woman living on a reserve, living in a house with her husband, who gets divorced, cannot claim 50% of the property that she and her spouse previously owned. That is abominable. That defies any logical thinking by any fair-minded Canadian.
However, both opposition parties in this place oppose our attempts to give aboriginal women the same rights every other woman in Canada currently enjoys. Why? I have asked them. We have yet to hear a logical answer. We have yet to hear an answer that makes any sense.
Members opposite continually seem to criticize our government, saying that we really do not have the best interests of Canadian woman at heart, yet this very bill, which they should be embracing, they oppose, for no good reason. I asked the member for Winnipeg North earlier tonight to give me one reason the Liberal Party of Canada opposes our bill. He could not do so. Why? I can think of several reasons, but none of them make any sense.
The basic point is that we want to debate that bill. We want Canadians to understand what this bill would mean to aboriginal women. We are asking for additional time in this place over the course of the next few weeks to debate this bill, and many others like it, that we believe are important to Canadians.
We have bills that deal with the economy of our country. We have bills dealing with the safety and security of Canadians. We have bills that I know Canadians want to see debated and passed.
However, members opposite are opposing our attempts to do just that. Again, how can it possibly make sense to, on one hand, criticize our government for restricting debate and on the other hand oppose our attempt to add hours to the sitting of this legislature for the purpose of debate? It makes no sense.
I know that I have more time available to me, but I also understand that members opposite wish to make some presentations this evening and that by eight o'clock, this debate will be concluded, so I will conclude my remarks, allowing the opposition members their 10 minutes for questions and comments.
Let me just conclude with this statement, once again. All our government is attempting is to allow more fulsome debate on government legislative agenda items. If members opposite do not want to be sitting extended hours, because they do not want to put in the time for meaningful debate, they should simply say so.
Our government believes that increasing the hours to allow for more debate is something Canadians would embrace.
It is a very simple situation. They either agree that more debate is a good thing, or they say that more debate is something they do not want to engage in. I think one answer is the answer Canadians would embrace; the other answer shows the sheer hypocrisy of the arguments being presented by members opposite.
- MPlibWed 4:05 pm | Nova Scotia, Halifax West
Mr. Speaker, I appreciate my hon. colleague's speech today on this topic. We have seen that the government has used time allocation, closure really, a record number of times, more than any other government in history. I wonder if my hon. colleague would care to comment on what he feels is the reason for the frequency for using time allocation, why it uses closure and why it does that so often.
- MPndpWed 4:05 pm | Ontario, Windsor—Tecumseh
Resuming debate, the hon. Parliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons.
- MPconWed 4:05 pm | Ontario, Alma-Lac-St-Jean
Mr. Speaker, I have been listening to the hon. member for Winnipeg North quite a bit today and, as a matter of fact, most days. Today, his main point is about restriction of debate. His main point is that he does not get enough chance to speak. It is important that he should have an opportunity to speak. The last time I checked he had spoken in the House over a period of months and years more than 50 other MPs put together.
I wonder if the hon. member should be a little more circumspect when he talks about the subject, especially when there are only 34 members in his own caucus and they need a chance to speak.
- MPndpWed 4:00 pm | Ontario, Windsor—Tecumseh
All those in favour of the motion will please say yea.
- MPlibWed 3:55 pm | Newfoundland, Humber—St. Barbe—Baie Verte
Mr. Speaker, it is disappointing, to say the least, that an opportunity was held here tonight for all members of this House to speak, to express their points of view and to establish a discussion about the Conservatives concerns about the Qalipu Mi’kmaq First Nation agreement that they signed.
The House of Commons is the place where these issues can get resolved, if there is a discussion. Not one member of the government took the opportunity tonight to present an argument to the people of Canada, and especially to the applicants and members of the Qalipu Mi’kmaq First Nation. The Conservatives had that opportunity, but they declined. Secrecy seems to be the issue of the day for the current government. They had an opportunity to express, in very clear language, what exactly they were concerned about. Let us be clear. It is the Conservatives who are saying they are concerned about something. However, will they express that on the floor of the House of Commons, the forum for the people's business? No. They are holding these discussions exclusively in secret. Is that the right way to do business? I will let them answer that.
Let us talk about what they will not talk about. Let us talk about their agreement, the agreement that was negotiated in good faith, not in the course of a day, a week, or a month, not even in the course of a year, but over the course of several years. It was signed and sanctioned by the Prime Minister of Canada, and every word of that agreement was taken as if it were his very own. That agreement held the very substance of the enrolment criteria which the Conservatives now say they have a problem with. However, do they say they have the problem? No. They will never admit that the agreement is what they are now taking issue with, the agreement that the Prime Minister of Canada personally sanctioned. No. The fault, according to the Conservatives, is with those darn applicants, those people who are coming forward now who should never be coming forward and applying the rules to them that they negotiated in good faith.
The Conservatives will not talk about the agreement. In order to talk about it, they would have to express why they find fault in their own agreement and promises. If they talked about the agreement, they would have to admit that they no longer support their own agreement, the one they negotiated with the Federation of Newfoundland Indians, the agreement that was ratified through a referendum by every member of the Federation of Newfoundland Indians after a five-month referendum campaign. It was the agreement that was ratified by the cabinet and then ratified in a signing ceremony.
Then, over a four-year period, an enrolment committee, comprised of a majority of members of the federal government's Department of Aboriginal Affairs, and appointed by that department and by the Federation of Newfoundland Indians, then had the opportunity to say who was in and who was out. It was the members of that enrolment committee who actually said that 24,000 individuals would now become members. That enrolment committee had an opportunity to use various means and mechanisms to say there was a problem. Did the members of that committee ever do that? No. In fact, not only did the enrolment committee keep processing applications for the four years that it sat, it actually accelerated the enrolment process, in response to a motion to slow it down by one of the Mi’kmaq elders.
What they are now suggesting, which is really charming, is not to look at the agreement but to look at the census records from 2006. In 2006, only 24,000 Newfoundland and Labradorians self-declared that they were of aboriginal ancestry. That apparently is clear evidence that it would be totally ridiculous that anyone should suggest having anything more than 24,000 members. Well, guess what? That would be the same census that the same Conservative government said was an outrageous invasion of the rights of personal privacy and that no Canadian citizen should ever be forced to fill out. That is the long form census. They are using the long form census, the one they abolished in 2011, as the entire basis of argument to shut down the agreement that the Prime Minister of Canada personally signed off on.
If not even bothering to stand up in the House of Commons is a matter of principle, the members of that party and government should stay sitting down and abide by their agreement.
- MPlibWed 3:45 pm | Nova Scotia, Halifax West
Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise and participate in the discussion brought forward by my friend, the hon. member for Humber—St. Barbe—Baie Verte concerning what appears to be the very arbitrary and secretive way in which the Conservative government is attempting to alter a formal agreement signed by the Government of Canada and a first nation.
Motion No. 432 addresses concerns about the deregistration of thousands of current members of the Qalipu Mi’kmaq First Nation Band who have already been recognized by The Indian Registrar as status Indians just a few short years ago.
This motion is also about thousands of applicants throughout Canada who have applied in good faith under the existing rules that were established after a lengthy negotiation between the Federation of Newfoundland Indians and the Government of Canada. Under these rules, people throughout Newfoundland and Canada who maintained a connection to the many Mi’kmaq communities of the island were deemed eligible for membership in a newly created first nation band.
These are not rules that were written in haste or on the back of an envelope, as our colleagues on the other side sometimes like to say. In 2007, the Prime Minister personally approved the Qalipu Mi’kmaq First Nation ratification agreement and personally endorsed the criteria for membership in the band when he signed the agreement.
Simply put, the motion brought forth by my colleague from Humber—St. Barbe—Baie Verte asked that the Prime Minister of Canada fulfill the promise he made to thousands of members of this first nation who have already been accepted and to thousands of applicants to the band who are waiting for their applications to be processed.
Unfortunately, it appears that the Government of Canada has signalled it will break its promise. It has announced that it intends to change the rules midway through the process. This is not the first time we have seen the government break a promise. It is not the first time that we have seen the Conservative government betray Atlantic Canadians or our first nations. We all know that the Prime Minister broke his promise to honour the Atlantic accord. Of course it cost Bill Casey his caucus membership over there.
Ironically, the Prime Minister carried out his betrayal after quoting a Gaelic proverb that states, “there is no greater fraud than a promise not kept”. That seems to be applicable here. I suspect he may have learned that from Senator Duffy, but I digress.
Earlier this year, we witnessed the deep distrust the first nations have with the government. Idle No More was a sign of the growing frustration among aboriginal communities, leaders and indeed all Canadians over the litany of broken promises and the complete lack of progress from the government on issues affecting indigenous people in Canada. The government's refusal to consult first nations on matters that may impact their inherent rights or treaty rights gave rise to the Idle No More protest movement.
The Liberal Party of Canada has stood against the cynical actions of the government in Parliament and worked to highlight its short-sighted approach for all Canadians, just like we are standing here today.
In relation to this motion and what happened here, in a nutshell the government is suggesting that the number of members and applicants who presented themselves for recognition is too many and that this situation could not have been foreseen. Standing today at 24,000 members and at 75,000 applicants, the government is suggesting that this is far beyond the intended 8,000 to 12,000 members that the Department of Aboriginal and Northern Affairs originally projected when the Prime Minister ratified this agreement in 2007.
The record is clear. In 2009, the number of members in the band stood at 10,000 and the number of applicants waiting to be processed stood at 20,000, with three years left in the enrolment process. Therefore, if the expectation was that only 8,000 to 12,000 members would be assumed to be eligible for membership in the band, that forecast was proven totally inaccurate almost four years ago. Any belief that those numbers would not grow the way they have is just not credible. What would be the basis for it in view of these facts?
Furthermore, the government has raised no concern in the four years that the agreement has been in effect. Meanwhile, the number of applications and the number of members enrolled have been steadily increasing. Now, after four years of executing the agreement, the government is trying to create a story that there is a problem with the high numbers and that the problem is not its doing, that it is the doing of the applicants. What a silly thing to say. The government is suggesting that people who are applying for membership are doing so without proper entitlement to do so. That is what the process is all about.
It is typical of the government to point fingers. What did the Prime Minister do, even last week, when he had the problems with Senator Duffy? He pointed the finger at his own office. For some reason, he never points it at himself, which is most unfortunate. The Conservatives ought to look at themselves in this case. They were part of the design of the rules. The Prime Minister signed off on these rules that he now does not like.
The agreement spelled out the enrolment criteria for the band in plain language. The agreement stated that to become a member an applicant would have to demonstrate that they or one of their ancestors was of Canadian aboriginal descent. The applicant would not have to show that they were necessarily of Newfoundland Mi'kmaq descent. They would simply have to show that they were of any aboriginal heritage from anywhere in Canada and that would be sufficient.
That is what the Prime Minister signed off on. Those are the rules he agreed to. Now he wants to change the rules. He effectively wants to change horses in midstream. Furthermore, as specifically stated in the agreement, “no minimum blood quantum” or fraction of Indian ancestry was relevant for membership in this band either.
By pointing out these two rules for membership, it might make it easier for people to understand why such a relatively high number of applicants have come forward. It is not surprising. Those are the rules that were set up after the negotiations and these are the rules that the Prime Minister signed onto. If anyone is responsible for the rules that he now does not like, he should look in the mirror. Pointing out that this is exactly what the federal government negotiated, and obviously intended in forming the agreement, is also relevant.
The next criteria for enrolment was that the applicant or their aboriginal ancestor would have to be either (a) a resident of, or (b) connected to the Newfoundland Mi'kmaq community, as listed within the agreement.
The rules were clearly spelled out in the agreement. They were clearly spelled out for people who are no longer a resident of such a community in Newfoundland. They would have to demonstrate an ongoing connection to that community by way of regular telephone calls or visits to such a community. The requirement is spelled out in plain language within both the agreement and the application guides produced by the federal government and Newfoundland authorities for the applicants.
If I have time, I would like to highlight a couple of key elements in what the government signed as part of the agreement with the Mi'kmaq.
Part 13 of annex A specifically states, “The applicant must provide evidence that he is of Canadian Indian ancestry. There is no minimum blood quantum”. The Prime Minister signed onto that. To reinforce that, both the government and the first nation were fully aware of the criteria that they agreed to. The documents produced to assist applicants in preparing their applications, as well as the information found on the government website, specifically stated that residency was not a requirement for enrolment as long as a connection to a Mi'kmaq community can be established, and a connection is described as “visits or communication”.
The government has only itself to blame if it does not like these rules. It ought not to be breaking its promise. It ought to be in this case, unlike so many others, keeping its word to these people, following the process, letting people apply if they wish, and letting the process decide whether or not they qualify under the rules that the Prime Minister signed on to.
- MPlibWed 3:25 pm | Ontario, St. Paul's
Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to speak this evening in favour of my colleague's motion, which seeks to clarify the ongoing confusion regarding the registration process for members of the recently created Qalipu Mi’kmaq First Nation Band in Newfoundland.
We must remember that these criteria are the culmination of a process that has extended back, through various phases, for decades. The most recent phase began in 2002, when the previous Liberal government initiated renewed, good faith negotiations with the Federation of Newfoundland Indians to redress the historic exclusion of status for Newfoundland's Mi'kmaq people.
The talks focused on the recognition of the Mi'kmaq people in Newfoundland under the Indian Act. After constructive discussions, an agreement in principle was signed in 2007.
We cannot lose sight of what these negotiations were attempting to redress. Generations of prejudice and marginalization induced many to hide their indigenous heritage, and as a result, whole family histories have been buried.
Exclusion from status under the Indian Act not only denied Newfoundland's Mi'kmaq people access to supports available to other first nations but robbed them of recognition of their identity and cultural heritage.
The ongoing process is an attempt to reverse centuries of damage, but the current government's mismanagement has left many Qalipu feeling victimized yet again.
The 2007 agreement in principle proposed specific terms for the recognition of membership in, and operation of, the soon to be created Qalipu Mi’kmaq First Nation Band. Canada ratified the agreement in principle in 2008 and made a commitment to the Qalipu that the federal government would honour the terms of that agreement. However, it has been brought to the attention of our caucus that a number of applicants are concerned that despite the fact that their membership application was submitted within the prescribed time period, their application has not yet been reviewed under the processes established within the 2008 agreement.
Given that the 2008 agreement expired on March 21, 2013, there are serious concerns about membership applications that may be excluded from the process, especially as the number of applications is higher than expected.
The Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development added to the concern of many applicants when he spoke in this House, on March 28, and referred to the application numbers as “questionable”.
The criteria for enrollment were arrived at through consultation and negotiation. The government must work in co-operation with, not dictate to, the Qalipu to sort out any legitimate registration issues.
However, let me be absolutely clear. The Liberals believe that the federal government must ensure that legitimate applicants are not excluded from the membership process. If the process is flawed, if the criteria are problematic, then the fault lies with the Conservative government, not the applicants, under the current process. It was the current government that negotiated the criteria for enrolment, and now, at the end of the process, has suggested that it wants to change the rules. It is not the fault of the applicants that the number of membership applications exceeded expectations.
The parliamentary secretary also spoke in this House about ensuring “the integrity of the enrolment process”, but this is an agreement the government signed, in good faith, only five years ago.
Indeed, the Prime Minister himself signed the agreement on behalf of the Government of Canada and publicly announced the creation of the Qalipu Mi'kmaq First Nation in November 2007.
When we talk about the integrity of the enrolment process, we also have to consider the honour of the Crown, which requires the government to keep its word. How will the integrity of the process be upheld for the remaining unprocessed applicants who applied under the same criteria as the more than 20,000 applicants who have already received status under the existing criteria? How could it be fair to process the rest under different criteria, or worse, to change the rules for individuals who have already been accepted?
Instead of calling applications made in good faith into question, perhaps the government should work with the Qalipu to ensure that all applications are processed according to criteria already agreed to by the federal government.
The Conservative government must honour its commitment to complete the enrollment and registration of all eligible members of the Qalipu Mi'kmaq First Nation by extending the process under the agreement.
Chief Brendan Sheppard has asked the federal government for an extension of the 2008 agreement to ensure that the remaining applications are assessed and processed. The motion being debated today calls upon the government to do just that and to extend the 2008 agreement until all applicants who applied on or before November 30, 2012 are processed.
In addition to the extension of that agreement, basic procedural fairness dictates that the current rules of eligibility for membership be followed by all government decision-makers in any continuation of the enrolment process.
I note that this year marks the 250th anniversary of the Royal Proclamation. In that context, it is important to honour the original foundation of that relationship based upon partnership, respect and co-operation for mutual benefit. If, in the 21st century, first nations cannot take the Crown at its word, we will never achieve the reconciliation and trust that is so crucial to moving forward toward a more prosperous common future.
I urge all members of this House to support the motion, which would bring clarity to the government's commitment that no eligible members of the Qalipu Mi'kmaq First Nation Band will be excluded from this important recognition of their proud heritage.
- MPconWed 3:15 pm | Saskatchewan, Regina—Qu'Appelle
I declare the motion defeated.
It being 6:19 p.m., the House will now proceed to the consideration of private members' business as listed on today's order paper.
- MPconWed 3:10 pm | Saskatchewan, Regina—Qu'Appelle
The House will now proceed to the taking of the deferred recorded division on the motion at second reading stage of Bill C-463 under private members' business.
- MPconWed 2:25 pm | Saskatchewan, Regina—Lumsden—Lake Centre
Mr. Speaker, I listened carefully to my hon. colleague's comments, and I found them astonishing. He is trying to suggest to Canadians that the reason the Liberal Party is opposing the motion is because it feels we are trying to get out of this Parliament early, and for that reason he feels his party has to oppose it. Nothing could be further from the truth. We are scheduled to sit until June 21. We are merely saying that we want to add additional hours of debate, something the opposition parties have been clamouring for this entire session, so we can address the pieces of legislation we have on the order paper.
One of those pieces of legislation that I want to speak to quite briefly, and ask my hon. colleague a question about, is Bill S-2, the matrimonial property act, which would allow aboriginal women on reserve to have the same basic rights that every other woman in Canada has. Could the member tell me why his party is opposing it? It would seem to be a no-brainer that every Canadian would agree to, and yet the Liberal Party and the NDP oppose allowing aboriginal women on reserve to have the same basic matrimonial rights that every other Canadian woman has. We want to debate that. We need extra time to try to convince the parties opposite to support it.
Could the member opposite please tell me why he wants to deny aboriginal women the same basic human rights that every other Canadian woman has?
- MPndpWed 2:25 pm | Ontario, Algoma—Manitoulin—Kapuskasing
Mr. Speaker, I agree with some of the member's comments about the government's intention to not allow full discussions to happen, especially when it comes to its accountability and transparency. The member should know about this, given that his Liberal government tried to circumvent the situation when it was in government with respect to the sponsorship scandal.
On that note, I would like to ask the member if he believes the Conservative government is probably going to put more time allocation on bills, which would mean we would not even have the debates the government says we would have with this motion.
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