My apologies for another long email update. There is a lot going on in Ottawa this week. The Public Service Alliance has commenced the largest strike action in 40 years, and the Government just announced a $13 billion subsidy for Volkswagen – I believe it to be the largest corporate grant for an automaker in the history of Canada.
It was just six years ago Volkswagen was charged with 60 counts of breaching the Canadian Environmental Protection Act for lying to Environment Canada about diesel emissions. The government issued a 195 million dollar fine at the time, the largest ever issued under the legislation. It’s only a bit ironic this very company is now receiving one of the largest corporate welfare checks, too!
On Tuesday, March 28, Budget 2023 was tabled in the House of Commons. Conservatives asked for the budget to do three things:
- Bring home powerful pay cheques by creating good paying jobs.
- Bring home lower prices by ending the tax hikes and inflationary deficit spending.
- Bring more homes that Canadians can afford by removing the gatekeepers and speeding up the development of new housing units.
Frankly, Budget 2023 does none of those things. Just last year, Minister Freeland proudly touted Canada’s declining debt-to-GDP ratio and stated that this was the government’s fiscal anchor. This year’s budget effectively cuts away the anchor by increasing our debt-to-GDP ratio. Canadians deserve a plan to bring spending under control and balance the budget, but instead they got more taxes, more spending, and more inflation.
Addressing the need for bail reform
On March 10, 2023, my colleague Pierre Paul-Hus introduced Bill C-325: An Act to amend the Criminal Code and the Corrections and Conditional Release Act (conditions of release and conditional sentences). I am proud to have worked with MP Paul-Hus on this Bill and to have seconded it in the House of Commons. Watch our press conference here.
Last fall, I met with representatives from the Canadian Police Association, who outlined the dire need for bail reform. This bill directly responds to the concerns raised and the measures requested by law enforcement across Canada.
This bill will restore mandatory jail time for violent offenders, particularly those convicted of sexual assault, kidnapping and human trafficking. It will also end Trudeau’s catch-and-release bail policies for repeat offenders by making breech of conditions of conditional release a Criminal Code offense and requiring those breeches to be reported to the appropriate authorities.
With violent crimes being committed at an alarming rate by a small number of repeat offenders, something has to be done. My Conservative colleagues and I are committed to restoring safe streets in Mission—Matsqui—Fraser Canyon and across Canada.
Are you concerned with the recent rise in violent crime across the country? I want to hear them! Take this week’s survey here.
Public Service Strike Action
As you have likely heard, Public Service Alliance of Canada (PSAC) workers, which includes CRA and IRGC employees, have begun strike action. Click here for more information on essential services that will continue to be delivered during this labour disruption and those that may be disrupted. For the three branches of federal services our office experiences the highest volumes: Canada Revenue Agency (CRA), passports, and Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) below is information specific to them.
CRA: There will be delays in processing some income tax and benefit returns, particularly those filed by paper and increased wait times at contact centres. More information can be found here.
Passports: Domestic passport applications for emergency and humanitarian situations will be processed and services will only be available at specialized passport sites. More information can be found here.
IRCC: Some IRCC services remain available during the labour disruption. You can still apply online, mail applications to IRCC, use your online accounts and access some emergency services. More information can be found here but we should expect even further delays than usual.
Volkswagen Subsidy – How Much Did Taxpayers Spend?
A few weeks ago, I asked bureaucrats appearing before the Industry Committee how much the federal government gave to Volkswagen to build a new electric car battery manufacturing plant in Ontario. At the time, the public servants said they had the number, but could not release it to the public, so I asked that it be provided to the Committee at our next hearing. When that hearing arrived on Monday, the number was nowhere to be found, so I moved a motion to compel the government to release it to the Committee.
Today, we finally found out just how many taxpayer dollars were given to Volkswagen – a company that has been charged with violating the Canada Environmental Protection Act 60 times – and the figure is staggering. $13 billion will be given to VW over the next 10 years, making it one of the largest corporate subsidies in Canadian history.
I am thrilled to inform you that my colleague MP Marilyn Gladu’s Bill C-228: Pension Protection Act has now passed the Senate and is set to become law. You may have received a letter and survey from me on this bill last year. The Pension Protection Act will require that claims in respect of pensions are given priority in bankruptcy proceedings.
This is an issue that is close to home in my family, as my grandfather had his pension rolled back when he worked for Empire Grocery. This could have been prevented by the Pension Protection Act.
Check out MP Gladu’s recent video on Bill C-228 here.
In the House
While the budget is taking up much of the House’s time this week, there is still lots to update on here in Ottawa!
Recently, I had the opportunity to be the Opposition’s first speaker on Bill C-42: An Act to amend the Canada Business Corporations Act and to make consequential and related amendments to other Acts. This bill seeks to implement a national public registry of individuals with significant control of private corporations. You can watch my speech here.
As I outline in my speech, Conservatives are supportive of the creation of such a registry, however Bill C-42 has some serious shortcomings that must be addressed.
At our last meeting of the Industry Committee before the Easter break, I requested that bureaucrats provide the Committee with an answer on the amount paid by the federal government to build a new electric vehicle battery factory in Ontario. At our meeting on Monday, the government failed to provide an answer, so I moved a motion to compel them to do so. My Conservative colleagues and I will always press for more transparency, especially when it involves billions of taxpayer dollars.
On Tuesday, my colleague Todd Doherty, MP for Cariboo—Prince George, and I rose to table two petitions from residents of Lytton calling on the government to forgive amounts owed by Lytton-area businesses on CEBA loans. With the rebuild yet to begin, many businesses have had no means of reopening and thus cannot repay the loans. While they want to repay their debt, they simply cannot. We ask the government in good faith to recognize these extraordinary circumstances and forgive their CEBA loans.
I also encourage you to check out my recent statement calling on the Prime Minister to stop wasting taxpayer money on lavish family vacations.
Finally, I had the opportunity to speak today on a report from the Industry Committee on the development and support of Canada's aerospace industry. This sector is incredibly important here in Mission—Matsqui—Fraser Canyon, throughout the Fraser Valley and across Canada. Maintaining a robust aviation industry for both commercial and defense purposes is critically important to Canada's national interests as we navigate a changing world. You can watch my speech here.
In the Riding
It was great to meet with so many of you over the last two weeks I was home. I’ve got a lot of your concerns to raise now as the House settles in for the next five weeks of sitting.
I am working hard to ensure federal dollars are invested here at home. I am pleased to have helped secure over $13 million for Village of Cache Creek, Village of Harrison Hot Springs and Village of Lytton for infrastructure projects through the Canada Community Building Fund.
The Village of Cache Creek will benefit from over $2M towards wastewater treatment plant improvements and the Village of Harrison Hot Springs is set to receive nearly $6M towards waterfront infrastructure upgrades. To assist in the rebuilding of Lytton, over $5M will be delivered to restore the drinking water distribution system and increase local government capacity to undertake long term infrastructure initiatives.
On Thursday, April 6th, my office was pleased to join Lytton First Nation’s luncheon in thanks to those who assisted during the 2021 fire and recovery. Thank you to Chief Webster and all the LFN leadership for your steadfast dedication to restoring Lytton First Nation!
I also joined the Mission RCMP and Mission Crime Prevention on Sunday for a presentation on public safety for the Punjabi community at the Mission Crime Prevention Office. A big thanks to Rimmi Purewal for her excellent work raising awareness in our community!
Next week, members of my staff will be visiting the Fraser Canyon on April 25th and 26th. They will be on-site for Work BC’s Career Fair in Ashcroft from 10am to 6pm on the 25th and will be in Lillooet on the 26th. If you are in need of assistance with federal matters and would like to book an appointment while my staff are in town, please contact Brittany at 604-217-7987.
It was great to take in some of the Vaisakhi events in and around Mission—Matsqui—Fraser Canyon last week. Last Thursday, I attended the Fraser Valley Indo-Canadian Business Association’s 34th annual Vaisakhi Luncheon and on Sunday I joined the Mission Punj-aab Cultural Club for their 2nd annual Vaisakhi fundraiser. Thanks to the organizers of both events!
I also joined Canadian Blood Services for the grand opening of a new plasma donation centre in Abbotsford last Wednesday and stopped by again on Friday to make a plasma donation. Blood and plasma donations are incredibly important and save lives, so please donate if you can!
Hearing From You
In my last update, I asked you for your Budget 2023 priorities. In total, 23 people filled out the survey; thank you for the feedback! Please see the full results below.
Additional priorities raised included healthcare, affordability for seniors, housing for members of the Canadian Armed Forces, and foreign interference in our elections.
A reminder – you can find this week’s survey here!
You’re My Boss
Your feedback is valued. Please do not hesitate to contact my office to voice your concerns or seek assistance with any federal government programs at 604-814-5710 or [email protected]. I also encourage you to follow me on Facebook where I post more frequent updates on my work as your MP.
Brad Vis, MP