Speaker: Ms. May
Time: 06/06/2022 13:40:54
Ms. Elizabeth May (Saanich—Gulf Islands, GP): Madam Speaker, I begin by acknowledging that I speak today virtually from the traditional territory of the WSANEC nation. I raise my hands to all of them, in the language of the traditional peoples of this land, hych’ka siem.
I am speaking today at report stage on Bill C-19. I cannot help but reflect on the debate we just had on the application of time allocation to this bill. I would just like to point out to this House, and put it on the record that, of course, I voted no to ending debate in the fashion that has become entirely too routine under the current Liberal government and the Conservative government before it. Having been used routinely under the administration of Stephen Harper and now under the current government, it is unlikely to ever return to what it was before 2011, which is to say this House will suffer a permanent loss of normal, democratic debate under our Standing Orders for bill after bill.
In this case, Bill C-19 was tabled for first reading following the April 7 budget. It was tabled for first reading April 28. That is not that long ago in the life of this Parliament. This is not like Bill C-8, which was the fall economic statement bill, which was tabled in December 2021 and only passed in the last few weeks in this place. Bill C-19 has been dealt with quickly and sharply. It went to committee for reports, and it is already, and this is an important point that I wish to make, in pre-study before the finance committee in the other place.
The question of delay in handling this bill, allowing for proper debate at this stage is rather wrong-footed by the fact that when we finish with it, which would be very soon in any case, despite, I agree, the obstructive activities by the official opposition, there was ample time to get this bill properly debated at report stage and third reading, and sent to the other place where pre-study has already begun. It is a significant bill for those who may be observing our deliberations today. Let me just point out that this bill is hundreds of pages. It is an omnibus bill. It is not an illegitimate omnibus bill. It deals with all the measures that were flagged in budget 2022 on April 7. It is not one that has extraneous measures crammed into it, which would make it an illegitimate omnibus bill.
This legislation is lengthy. There are 32 separate divisions, with hundreds of pages and has over 502 sections. I cannot propose for a second to think that I could comment on all of them, even those with which I agree. However, the scope is enormous. We deal with everything in this legislation from safe drinking water on first nations communities, which of course nobody would want to have anything but speed apply, to something called lunar gateway and Criminal Code offences related to an agreement we have with the United States for events which may take place on the moon, as I understand it, to changes in the Criminal Code which raise some civil liberties concerns about changes in division 21 to extend, up to two years in jail, towards people who are, and there is no defence for it, it is appalling, denying the Holocaust, but will now have a criminal sanction of up to two years in jail.
I think it is worth considering that a bill of this scope, covering so many different measures, including ones I support, like the application of the Magnitsky sanctions and being able to act to further sanction Vladimir Putin’s cronies in order to apply pressure so that we get to peace talks as quickly as possible in the horrific and illegal war that is now occurring in Ukraine, but we have a lot in this bill to discuss, and I put it to the House that the application of time allocation as just occurred in this place is in appropriate.
There are things that I would like to discuss in more detail. I agree my colleague from the Bloc who spoke ahead of me. The employment insurance regime needs a lot more review. We have some measures in this bill that are good, but we have not begun to get to the work that needs to be done to ensure that people, particularly those in regions of the country where it is harder to find employment, particularly people in seasonal industries where their employer makes the decision to lay them off seasonally and bring them back, workers in those categories need to know that they can count on their insurance employment benefits, what we used to call unemployment insurance benefits.