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Parliament Rises for Summer 2023: The Recap
Plus I question Finance Canada officials about pension investments in China, touring Calgary Shepard residents in Parliament, and a plaque ceremony dedication of national significance
Parliament Rises for Summer 2023: The Recap
Welcome to your Friday end of week and end of session update on the following Tuesday. It is definitely late but there are many last minute tasks when a parliamentary session wraps up, along with family responsibilities, that kept me away from writing this update. Looking back on this winter/spring session of Parliament, there have been a lot of events packed into a short few months in 2023. I want to provide you with an overview of the major events that marked this session, some of the legislative accomplishments of conservative MPs, and finally canvas various government legislative initiatives, along with my commentary.
First, let’s look at the Liberal government’s legislative agenda. It has not been a memorable one. As the session closed, they had only passed 38 out of 67 government bills, a record of 56%. While not a failing grade, it is not far from one. However, what is interesting about the number is not only its diminutive nature but also how the bills were passed. In the closing moments of Parliament, the NDP-Liberal coalition rammed several bills through the legislature, using several procedural tactics such as closure and time allocation at a record pace to deny parliamentarians the opportunity to debate certain bills for more than a set number of hours. The excuse for these anti-democratic acts? Claiming that any delay in passing legislation was filibustering. This is weak. Parliamentarians have a duty to debate legislation to ensure there is a fulsome understanding of the bill and its effects before it can be voted on and it is passed as law in Canada, binding upon its residents. The Liberals refused to take this seriously, as only two Liberal MPs conducted most of the debate on the government side, supported and defended at every turn by the compliant, subservient NDP leadership. When we observe some of the bills passed or introduced by the government, it becomes abundantly clear that debate is necessary.
Take the Liberals’ censorship bill C-11. In the final days of the 2022 spring session, the Liberals forced it through Parliament and sent it off to the Senate for review. It took well over one year for this legislation to move through Parliament in this session before the Liberals played procedural games and forced it through the chamber in April. The new directive from the heritage minister has already given direction to the CRTC to carry out its implementation. It is undeniable that given its flaws, it was a bill that needed further debate. The Liberals ignored it. The Liberal government also passed Bill C-18, a scheme that would force social media platforms to pay existing legacy media outfits for linking to their websites. The essential premise is to entrench legacy media like Canadian behemoth Bell Media, while punishing new independent outlets that simply cannot compete with the biggest players in the new legislative scheme. Following the bill’s passage, both Meta and Google announced they would pull news from their platforms. With its tail between its legs, the only thing the Liberal government could do was to negotiate a potential exemption for Google searches while publicly chastising Facebook. Conservatives warned this would happen but of course, given the government’s refusal to engage in debate, they rushed it through anyways.
This is a government that rushes through flawed legislation and limits debate where possible, yet dignifies or ignores sheer incompetence from its ministers. Consider the firearm confiscation Bill C-21, which cynically targeted hunters, indigenous Canadians and sports shooters while claiming to go after criminals, and how it was handled by Liberal public safety minister Marco Mendicino. The final version of C-21 that passed indeed abandoned its worst parts, including many of its original ideas and the subsequent amendments G4 and G46 that were expansive additions to the law. This version ‘grandfathers’ all previous firearms and offers definitions for firearms that are to be interpreted by a future advisory committee to be appointed by the Minister. As a reminder, when C-21 was first tabled in Parliament and made public, the Liberals and their public safety minister claimed there was an imminent “public safety emergency” and that “assault-style weapons don’t belong in the hands of civilians”. At best, this was intentionally misleading. At worst, it is a flagrant, blatant lie by Minister Mendicino, and it’s not his first. This is the same minister who claimed that police forces in Canada had requested the use of the Emergencies Act in 2022, which turned out to be false during cross-examination at a parliamentary committee and was further debunked by the subsequent Rouleau inquiry, which had contacted every police force involved and confirmed none had made the request. This is the same minister who claimed that he was unaware for months that Canada’s worst serial killer, Paul Bernardo, was being transferred to a medium security prison and that he was powerless to stop it. In fact, his office had been told and briefing material had been sent to his immediate team. It is easy to forget but Bernardo’s transfer had come up before pre-2015. A Conservative minister then assured Canadians that it would not happen and a policy change was instituted to prevent the transfer to a lesser security prison. His eye was on the ball. Mendicino’s isn’t. This is the same minister that was caught like a deer in the headlights when Afghanistan fell to the Taliban, having little to no plan to help Canadians and Afghan translators escape the brutal regime. Mendicino has misled Canadians often, said the opposite of what was true in Parliament, and even journalists have noticed his repeated falsehoods. He must resign.
The worst is yet to come. In recent weeks, the Liberal government made public its newest “Just Transition” legislation Bill C-50, more of the same rhetoric that seeks to skyrocket unemployment in Alberta in pursuit of lofty, ideological goals that are detached from reality. The legislation itself is 33% preamble, so long that it spills into additional pages and pays homage to every ideological objective of the Liberals. The law-making is not substantive either. The law will create a secretariat for more bureaucrats to fill and a 15-person panel of so-called “experts” to inform the natural resources minister responsible on how to transition energy workers out of well-paying, middle class jobs into…well, no idea at all. There is no clarity of what they are being transitioned into or where. More worryingly, in Section 16 of the law, they will create Soviet-sounding 5-year job action plans with reporting on how they are doing periodically. With this government’s track record on transparency, do not expect much. The legislation is the worse example of ‘Ottawa-knows-best’ nannyism combined with a vapid, completely empty follow-through on what the purpose or future would look like should these endless jobs plans succeed. They have also re-worked the name into the Canadian Sustainable Jobs Act, but provides no money for the transition, no description of how the tax base would be affected, what type of jobs are to be preferred, or which provinces would be particularly impacted. The Alberta government has already rejected this latest job-killing initiative from the federal Liberal government and upon the return of Parliament in the fall, I will be strongly opposing this legislation.
For all the gloom, there were highlights. On the opposition benches, conservative MPs and Senators have been busy proposing and pushing legislation through the process. Conservatives passed private member’s bill (PMBs) into law to protect pensioners during bankruptcy proceedings ensuring they are placed ahead of creditors and another bill to expand private insurer choices for those temporarily in Canada on a super visa, thus reducing the risk to taxpayers. Several PMBs were also cleared to the Senate for further review and are working their way through there. They include the following: a bill providing for a right to repair of software on machinery, a bill to exempt farmers from the carbon tax to stop inflationary grocery prices, a bill that would give tradespersons the same tax treatment for expenses as for white collar professionals, an anti-child sexual abuse and exploitation bill that would tighten laws further, a bill that will legislate telecommunication and ISP providers to accurately report the speed of your internet purchases, and lastly, the ‘International Human Rights Act’, a bill that would coordinate Canadian sanctions laws with license rules in Canada, as well as making it a requirement for the foreign affairs minister to respond to a parliamentary committee’s report findings against a foreign national. Conservatives also proposed other legislative initiatives such as ending bail for repeat, violent offenders, keeping serial killers and mass murderers like Paul Bernardo in maximum-security prison, and designating the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps in Iran as a terrorist entity. It has been a busy legislative agenda for conservatives on Parliament Hill and I hope you will agree these initiatives form seeds of a future agenda when we earn the right to govern from Canadians.
This session also finally saw the soft-on-China rhetoric and stance of the Liberal government collapse. Between reports of Beijing targeting MPs, donations from Beijing to the Trudeau Foundation, and 2019 and 2021 election interference, Conservatives defended our democracy from Beijing’s interference through consecutive legislative actions. When reports broke about Beijing interference in the 2019 and 2021 federal elections, Conservatives pressed the Liberal government on who was briefed and what actions were taken. The Prime Minister’s chief of staff was forced to testify before a parliamentary committee for the third time in eight years thanks to Conservative pressure, but stonewalled and refused to provide more information on interference. She contradicted the prime minister’s public and repeated claims that he had not been briefed on foreign interference when he had actually been briefed on five separate occasions. The Liberals knew and took no action. Further developments on Beijing interference emerged when the Globe and Mail reported that Conservative MP Michael Chong and his family overseas were being targeted by the Beijing government to make an example out of him for his criticisms of their human rights record. When this broke, Conservatives held the government to account and forced them to reveal what did they know and when did they know it. After initial strong denials, eventually the prime minister and his cabinet ministers admitted they were aware that MP Chong was a target and that Beijing was leading a sophisticated campaign in Canada to influence our elections and our society. The facts are clear: they knew for two years and did nothing to solve the issue of interference nor take any steps to inform MP Chong of the threats. This was a failure of leadership at the highest levels. Further, there was a connection made between donations received by the Trudeau Foundation and the Prime Minister’s Office, where meetings were even held inside the Prime Minister’s own office and Trudeau Foundation leaders. Conservatives forced the Liberals to get witnesses from the Trudeau Foundation to testify, Eventually, the Prime Minister’s chief of staff was forced to testify before a parliamentary committee for the third time in eight years thanks to Conservative pressure, along with the Prime Minister’s brother, Alexandre Trudeau, who had personally signed off on the $140,000 donation cheque from Beijing. To hide the scandal and distract, the Trudeau Liberals appointed former governor general David Johnston, a distinguished Canadian but one who had numerous conflicts of interest in the matter, having been close associates with the Trudeau family for decades. Mr. Johnston would then tender his resignation once his report was found wanting by pundits, journalists, public servants and opposition MPs, alongside his conflicts of interest and problematic investigative process. Following numerous delays on calling a public inquiry, one that is already supported by a majority of parliamentarians, we await the formal call of the public inquiry. As the Prime Minister has promised to appoint opposition-named leads for the inquiry, Conservatives have worked diligently with opposition parties and stand ready to suggest names for persons to lead the inquiry. We are going to continue to hold the Liberal government to account, as well as their subservient NDP coalition partners who are propping up this tired government.
Finally, the Liberals passed a record spending budget that included record spending post-pandemic. Before the budget was made public, the finance minister promised not to add to the inflationary fire by adding new spending. She ignored this, announcing close to $60 billion in new spending. This year’s deficit will be $43 billion dollars and red ink continues to spill well into the future. The national debt is well over 1.2 trillion dollars. While the Liberals claim that GDP has continue to grow, albeit slowly, Canada is getting poorer and falling further behind our peer competitors when considering GDP per capita. We are spending more to service the debt than on our national defense. Between the Fall Economic Statement in 2022 and Budget 2023, the Liberal government chose to spend billions more on credit that is now rising very quickly in cost. Fiscal mismanagement has long been a hallmark of this government, and they unfortunately continue to uphold that infamous hallmark.
However, these problems can only be dealt with effectively when Parliament returns in September. Now, as the summer unfolds, I will be out in the community connecting with residents and listening to your concerns. On Canada Day, I will be joining the Mahogany Residents Association at the Beach Club. I will be once again joining the Calgary Stampede for parade day and out in the community at various local stampede breakfasts. As always, it is a privilege to serve as your voice in our country’s Parliament and I wish you all a happy Canada Day with family, friends and co-workers.
Touring Calgary Shepard residents in Parliament
In my role as a parliamentarian, residents of Calgary Shepard are at the forefront of my mind. When they visit Ottawa, I am always happy to give a tour to constituents to visit their Parliament. Welcome to Darya, hope you enjoyed your time!
Questioning Government Officials at the Canada-People’s Republic of China Committee about pension plan investments and human rights
During my time in Parliament, I have been a frequent critic of the Beijing government and any federal policy implemented that either enables their authoritarianism at home or funds the export of their authoritarianism abroad. I advocated against Canada’s participation in the Beijing-dominated Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) since 2017. I have also called out their human rights abuses against minority groups like the Uyghurs and religious minorities like the Falun Gong. Watch below as I question Finance Canada officials about pension plan investment policy and how the Uyghur minority could be impacted.
Unveiling of a Plaque dedicated to Jina Mahsa Amini
Last week, I attended the unveiling of a street plaque dedicated to Jina Mahsa Amini in front of the defunct Iranian embassy in Ottawa. The Iranian embassy was closed by the Harper government in 2012 and remains a sad monument to a regime that oppresses its people as well as destabilizes the region. In 2018, Parliament called on the Government of Canada to list the IRGC as a terror group.
Jina was the Kurdish woman stopped in Tehran for not wearing her hijab up to the standards of the morality police. She would be arrested and then beaten, which resulted in her death. This abuse and murder sparked massive protests in Iran in September 2022. Protests continue today. Canadians of Iranian heritage including Kurds, Azerbaijanis, Balochis, and Persians represent a significant group of Canadians. Iran is in fact a top ten country source of permanent residents for the past two decades. So many Iranians have fled to Canada for better opportunities that many call Canada their home.
This street sign and plaque is a show of defiance by the Women, Life, Freedom community group in Ottawa and it is fitting that it will be right outside the defunct Iranian embassy as a constant reminder of Jina’s murder and how lucky we are to call Canada home.
Resuming Debate on hiatus this summer
Because Parliament has risen for the summer, Resuming Debate will return on September 22. Happy Canada Day and happy Stampeding.