HANSARD: Debating Conservative's carbon pricing motion

Debates of June 13th, 2024
House of Commons Hansard #331 of the 44th Parliament, 1st Session
Opposition Motion—Government's Economic Analysis on Carbon Pricing
Business of Supply
Government Orders


Jenny Kwan Vancouver East, BC

Madam Speaker, it is an honour for me to rise in this House to enter into this debate. However, I must say that the debate before us is really a colossal waste of the House of Commons resources and the valuable time that we have in this chamber to debate urgent issues and situations.

Why do I say that? The motion the Conservatives tabled is effectively calling for the government to table a set of data by June 17, 2024. What we do know is that the government did table a set of data. In fact, the Liberals tabled it today, albeit they should have made the information available right from the outset and should have been transparent with it. Notwithstanding that, that information is now before us. It begs the question why we are here debating a motion that is, frankly, not relevant anymore. It has already been addressed.

In the meantime, what is happening in our communities? We have a situation in our communities, which is a housing crisis from coast to coast to coast. In fact, just today, I tabled a private member's bill to call on the government to use a human rights-based lens in addressing the housing crisis, something that the Liberals say they will honour under the National Housing Strategy Act. However, in reality, we know that is not being done. In fact, there are encampments all across the country where people cannot access the housing they need, adequate housing that they need.

My private member's bill calls for the government to incorporate into the National Housing Strategy Act provisions that would disallow decampment on federal lands and to work collaboratively with other orders of government, other levels of government, to properly address the housing crisis. That is perhaps what we should be doing: focusing on how we can truly address the housing crisis, instead of having the Conservatives putting forward motions that are moot and have been made irrelevant already.

I would also say that we have a situation with the immigration system, where there are a lot of issues. The government decided that it would bring in a cap on international students very suddenly, impacting international students who are now caught out in a very bad way. They would not be able to renew their work permit or their study permit because of the cap. Some of them are being exploited and taken advantage of.

I just got an email from someone who told me that they were advised to go and marry someone, engage in marriage fraud, in order to find a path to stay here in Canada. That is not the path forward. We know that international students are struggling. They contribute, by the way, to Canada's economy, to our economic, social, cultural and educational communities. They should be valued instead of being blamed for the housing crisis that both the Liberals and the Conservatives have caused.

It was the Conservatives who cancelled Canada's national co-op housing program in 1992. It was the Conservative leader who sat at the table and saw the Harper government lose 800,000 units of affordable housing for Canadians. Then it was the Liberals, in 1993, following the Conservatives, who cancelled the national affordable housing program. They also added to the loss of affordable housing in our communities.

Therefore, instead of talking about a motion that is no longer relevant, we should be talking about how we are going to earnestly address the housing crisis, how we are going to ensure that those who are unhoused can live in dignity and how we can ensure that Canada will not only build more housing faster, but also build the kind of housing that Canadians can afford and can live in with dignity. We should be talking about how we should not allow decampment to take place, to further displace people who are unhoused in our communities, to marginalize them and to further put them at greater risks.

If we want to, and we should, talk about the climate crisis, we should not talk about how we can enable the climate crisis to further escalate. I do not know if the Conservatives are blind to the fact that we have a climate crisis. They cannot continue to stick their heads in the sand and to deny this reality. In my community, in British Columbia, we had a weather-related crisis that happened in the heat wave that killed over 600 people. We had a fire that burned down an entire town, a flood that followed and a mudslide that continued to further escalate the climate crisis. We cannot pretend that this is not happening and that somehow the carbon tax is to blame.

Let us just be clear about who is to blame and what action we need to take. Big oil needs to take responsibility, and those companies need to be held to account. The government, the Liberals, refuse to take the action that is necessary to deal with the climate crisis. The Liberals refuse to ensure that big oil pays its fair share. The Liberals refuse to stop subsidizing the oil and gas industry. Why are they doing that when the oil and gas industry is actually making record profit. It is to the detriment of everyday Canadians, to our collective detriment.

When the earth is burning, and it literally is with the wildfires and the forest fires that are taking place, we cannot just sit in the House and blame the carbon tax. What planet are we from? If we continue to go down this track, we are not going to address the climate crisis, which is desperately in need of action. We should be saying to Suncor that we are sorry, but it has made over $2.8 billion in the fourth quarter of 2023, and enough is enough; we are going to make sure that we stop the subsidies for the oil and gas industry and that the industry is made to do its part to address the climate crisis.

Madam Speaker, let me say this. We also have a responsibility in the international community to address the climate crisis because there are more people being displaced as a result of weather-related situations. Therefore, we have a collective responsibility to do what is right. There are many issues we need to debate, and debate seriously, but not a motion to which the very data that the Conservatives want has already been tabled. With that, I welcome questions.


Tracy Gray Kelowna—Lake Country, BC

Madam Speaker, I know that housing is important to the member, and she spoke about it during her intervention. At the housing committee, just a few hours ago, we heard that higher capital gains taxes will have a negative effect on home building. This was a statement made by the chief economist of Canada's largest construction association.

Why would the member, along with the rest of her NDP colleagues, continue to prop up the Liberal government and vote, just yesterday, for tax increases that would hurt home building in Canada during a crisis of home affordability?


Jenny Kwan Vancouver East, BC

Madam Speaker, let us be very clear about the housing crisis and what has caused it. Successive Liberal governments and Conservative governments have helped to create the housing crisis we are in by allowing for the financialization of housing and for big developers to use renovictions to displace people so that they lose their homes.

Under the Conservatives, we already know that Canada has lost more than 800,000 units of housing. The Conservative leader called community housing “Soviet-style” housing. That is shameful.

The government could address the housing crisis by building housing that Canadians need and can afford.


Chad Collins Hamilton East—Stoney Creek, ON

Madam Speaker, I agree with my colleague that today's motion is nonsensical. It is just a regurgitation of the motions we have seen over the last number of months when we could be and should be debating more important issues, like housing and the environment.

The Leader of the Opposition was in Hamilton recently as part of his “make Canada great again tour”. He made no reference to, or had no ideas about, how to get out of the housing crisis. He provided no plan as it relates to combatting climate change.

I wonder if the member can speak to why it is so important that we provide options and alternatives for Canadians as it relates to those two very important issues.


Jenny Kwan Vancouver East, BC

Madam Speaker, the truth is that Conservatives are only focused on slogans. They somehow think that the slogan “axe the tax” will actually fix the housing crisis. It will not.

What we need, to address the housing crisis, is for Canada to be, at the very minimum, on par with the G7 countries with respect to our community housing stock. Right now, at 3.5%, it is less than half of where they are. We will not address the housing crisis if we continue to go down this track. Significant investments need to be made. The kind of housing that needs to be built is the kind that Canadians can afford. That is at the core of the issue.


Luc Desilets Rivière-des-Mille-Îles, QC

Madam Speaker, I would like to ask my colleague, who is quite worked up today, what she thinks about the motion before us.

It is basically a request for information, so I find it rather odd that we are spending a full day debating it. What does my colleague think?

Jenny Kwan Vancouver East, BC

Madam Speaker, today's debate on this motion is an entire waste of time for members of Parliament and a waste of the resources required to keep the House running, because the information the Conservatives say that they want has already been tabled. It makes the entire motion completely irrelevant to this debate today.


Leah Gazan Winnipeg Centre, MB

Madam Speaker, I would like to thank the member for Vancouver East, who is a tremendous advocate. I would have to say that I agree with her that this is a totally irrelevant motion because the information has already been tabled. I find that it is another opportunity for Conservatives to axe the facts, including the fact that we are in a climate emergency. Their party is still arguing about whether the world is round or flat.

I wonder if the member could speak specifically to how the climate emergency is impacting the folks who are currently unsheltered. I know the Conservative leader talks a lot about tent cities, which he regularly demeans. I wonder if she could comment on that.


Jenny Kwan Vancouver East, BC

Madam Speaker, first of all, I want to thank my colleague for her tremendous advocacy and for using a human rights-based lens with respect to everything she does.

On addressing the situation of the housing crisis and how climate relates to it, people are being displaced. We had a heat wave in my community of Vancouver East, in British Columbia, and 600 people died. There are people who are unhoused or are living in tent cities because they do not have access to adequate—



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HANSARD: Foreign Interference and Alleged Reputational Harm to Members of Parliament

Outside this chamber, just yesterday, there were individuals shouting, questioning and jeering about who the traitors may be. Members of Parliament had to walk past these individuals on the members' way to the House to do their work. I believe we must find a way to disclose which MPs are knowingly, intentionally, wittingly or semi-wittingly engaging with foreign states or their proxies to undermine Canada's democratic processes and institutions. I believe this can be done in a way that does not compromise national security.

If there are no consequences for MPs who knowingly help foreign governments act against Canadian interests, we will continue to be an easy target. This will further erode the trust and faith Canadians have in our democratic processes. If allowed to continue, it will further impugn the integrity of the House. Revealing any member of Parliament, former or present, who is a willing participant in foreign interference activities would have the effect of deterring this kind of behaviour. Moreover, it would send a clear message to those foreign states that this cannot continue and that they will not be able to continue to use parliamentarians in this way. This will further reassure the public of the integrity of the House.

I strongly believe that the House should refer the matter to the procedure and House affairs committee. A possible way to deal with the issue would be for committee members to undergo the necessary security screening to examine the unredacted report and look into the allegations about parliamentarians who were “‘witting or semi-witting’ participants in the efforts of foreign states to interfere in our politics.” We could allow the named parliamentarians to be informed and to come before the committee as witnesses; we could then explore options on how to disclose the named parliamentarians without compromising national security or police investigations of the matter.

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