Status of Women
MP Rhéal Fortin (Bloc Québécois) stated to the House that France's Prime Minister, Manuel Valls, was right when he said, “The full veil is essentially a means to undermine women, [and that] goes against...democratic values.” MP Fortin remarked that if our so-called feminist and democratic Prime Minister truly supports gender parity, what is the Prime Minister waiting for to ensure that all women take the citizenship oath with their faces uncovered? Separately, MP Luc Thériault (Bloc Québécois) stated that the Muslim Canadian Congress considers so-called religious symbols such as the full veil to be more of a political statement. MP Thériault added that the Bloc Québécois believes that religion and politics should be kept separate.
The Minister for Status of Women, Patty Hajdu, responded to both comments by saying that the values that define Canada include respect and openness toward Canada’s full diversity. She remarked that Canada’s diversity is a source of strength, and politicians need to focus on bringing people together instead of promoting division. Minister Hajdu added that we should respect the diversity of Canadian communities and the government will visit people in ways that are appropriate for their communities, whether they are military communities, religious communities, or indigenous communities.
Motion Condemning Islamophobia Fails
A motion condemning all forms of Islamophobia failed to receive unanimous consent in the House. The motion, brought forward by Thomas Mulcair (NDP), was introduced after Frank Baylis’ (Liberal) sponsored e-petition received signatures from 70,000 Canadians. Several Conservative MPs had opposed the motion, which led to its defeat. Though the motion failed, the original petition is now being certified and then sent for government response to be tabled in 45 days.
Yazidi women and girls
MP Rachel Blaney (Conservative) said that Yazidi women and girls are being sold into sexual slavery, and the best the Liberals can do is simply to send advisors. She asked when the Prime Minister plans on taking action on behalf of those who are being faced with this genocide in Iraq and Syria. The Minister of Immigration, MP John McCallum, said that the Liberal government recognizes the exceptionally serious nature of this issue and the difficulties involved, so the government will be sending an expedition to investigate the situation in Iraq.
Private member’s bill to repeal Bill C-51
MP Randall Garrison (NDP) introduced a private member’s bill that would repeal all aspects of Bill C-51. He said the bill would do away with the broad definition of national security contained in Bill C-51 and with the excessive powers it gives to CSIS.
Bill C-22: An Act to establish the National Security and Intelligence Committee of Parliamentarians
House resumed consideration of this motion. MP Lloyd Longfield (Liberal) said that he held a round table in Guelph with the Muslim Society, the Islamic Society, the Sikh community and other civic groups to discuss issues related to national security. MP Sheila Malcolmson (NDP) spoke to say the NDPs support the direction of the bill and MP James Bezan (Conservative) spoke to say the Conservative Party will oppose the bill as it stands. Major points of the debate included the chair being selected by the Prime Minister rather than elected by the committee and transparency of the committee processes. MP Salma Zahid (Liberal) spoke in support of the bill and referenced herself as a Canadian Muslim and as being a member of a community that has often felt unfairly targeted by security agencies and stigmatized as part of these security debates. MP Arif Virani (Liberal) also spoke in support of the bill and referenced himself as a Muslim member of the Liberal caucus. He spoke of the government commencing a nationwide consultation on the national security framework and the government engaging communities through their efforts to counter Islamophobia. He referenced $35 million over five years to create an office of community outreach and counter-radicalization, efforts to welcome victims of Daesh and efforts to improve rights of those who have found themselves on no-fly lists by creating a passenger protect inquiries office and implementing a Canada-U.S. redress working group.
Canada's arms exports program
MP Hélène Laverdière (NDP) said that a number of reports have revealed massive problems with Canada's arms exports program. We know that Canadian weapons exported to Saudi Arabia have been used in Yemen. Recent reports have suggested that Canadian weapons have been sold to countries like Libya and Sudan, despite Canadian sanctions. MP Laverdière added that the Liberal government has thus far rejected a proposal to create a parliamentary committee to study arms exports. The Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Pam Goldsmith-Jones, responded by saying that the Liberal government will provide more rigour and transparency with respect to export controls, and that the government is currently consulting with NGOs and industry to bring legislation forward.
Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship
MP Michelle Rempel (Conservative) stated that refugees are being forced to use food banks because the Prime Minister does not have a plan to support the refugees he brought here. MP Rempel asked the house how many refugees will require social assistance payments by the end of this year, and what the cost will be to Canadian taxpayers and to the refugees themselves. The Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Immigration, Arif Virani, responded that there have been issues with refugees using food banks and that the government is working hard to resolve these issues. MP Virani added that our government has been commended by the UN for our refugee resettlement efforts. Now, 13 other countries want to learn from Canada's experience.