Bill C-44 (Historical)
Injured Military Members Compensation Act
An Act to compensate military members injured during service
This bill was last introduced in the 37th Parliament, 2nd Session, which ended in November 2003.
John McCallum Liberal
This bill has received Royal Assent and is now law.
October 23rd, 2003 / 4:05 p.m.
Bras D'Or—Cape Breton
Rodger Cuzner Parliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister
Mr. Speaker, it is indeed a pleasure to join in the debate today on this opposition motion. May I note off the top that I will be splitting my time with my very capable colleague from York West.
Certainly I will never pretend to have a vast or deep technical appreciation for the complexities of the procedures of the House. However, I assure members that any light that I would shed would be pale in comparison to the comments in the intervention that was made earlier in the debate from the government leader of the House.
I will not be quoting from Marleau and Montpetit or citing passages from Beauchesne's. I believe as far as the technical aspects of the motion, they were very much addressed during the presentation by the government House leader.
I would like to make comments about the current Prime Minister, but I will not reach back too far and try to celebrate the 40 year career of our current Prime Minister and his commitment to public life. I will leave that to the pundits and the biographers and let him take his rightful place in history, which I am sure will be smiled upon by all.
I would like to talk about events that have occurred recently and more, the recent initiatives shown by this Prime Minister, including some of the brave, decisive decisions that have been made while he has been on his watch. He has presented legislation, rendered opinions on everything in our day to day activities in the House that have really made Canada a better place to be and one of which all Canadians can be proud.
I must make note first of some of the comments that have been made on the other side of the House during the course of this debate. They would like to think of late that things have slowed down in the House and that the work of the government is not being done. Nothing could be further from the truth.
Since 2002, over 55 pieces of legislation have come forward. Of those, 22 have been passed by the House, the Senate and have received royal assent. We really should celebrate some of this significant legislation.
I look at Bill C-2, the Yukon Environmental and Socio-Economic Assessment Act, Bill C-5, the act respecting the protection of wildlife species and species at risk in Canada and Bill C-12, an act to promote physical activity in sport. That is the first piece of sport legislation that has cleared this House since the late 1960s. Bill C-44, an act to compensate military members injured during service is legislation that addresses some obvious inequities in how we deal with members of the military who have sustained serious injury and debilitating injury.
Of late we have had a tough time as a country. We have to look at some of the things we have experienced over the last 12 months such as SARS, mad cow and the forest fires and floods in western Canada. My home province of Nova Scotia just suffered the effects of hurricane Juan. We have had our own array of difficulties and none through any cause of our own. We have been very fortunate. Because of our financial situation, we have been able to offer assistance. We have been able to move in and make decisive, benevolent moves to help in each of those areas.
The pain is far-reaching on several of those issues, but certainly the federal government has been there. Had we not been in good financial stead, then perhaps we would not have been able to assist as well as we did.
Obviously, on our financial house, everything comes back to the economy and what has gone on with it. Sometimes as Canadians we suffer from a short memory. It is convenient not to remember back to 1995 or not look back and remember when this country operated with a $48 billion deficit. The state of the books as of the mid-1990s was deplorable. We were close to being recognized as a third world nation. We just could not continue as a country.
Under the leadership of our Prime Minister, a vision was set. If we could get our financial house in order, then we could to reinvest in the social programs, those programs that Canadians hold so dear. That is what in fact took place. Cuts were made, and, yes, every Canadian shared in the pain of those cuts. However they were imperative. We had to lasso the deficit and gain control of our financial well-being. That was done in the mid-1990s.
Since then we have been able to reinvest. Our economy continues to grow and continues to strengthen.
Since 2002, 612,000 jobs have been created under the Prime Minister, two-thirds of them full time. While other members of the G-7 continue to experience huge difficulties with their national budgets, we are firm on the controls of the budgets here with the Government of Canada.
From 1997 to 1998, Canada became a deficit free country for the first time in 30 years. In the year 2000 the recorded surplus was $12.3 billion. In 2003 the government under, the Prime Minister's leadership, recorded its sixth consecutive surplus budget. In doing so we have applied $52 billion to the national debt. That alone this year will save the people of Canada $3 billion in interest payments on that national debt, which is significant and that has to be noted.
It is great to talk about the big numbers and about the national picture in terms of our financial position. Let us bring it down and let us talk about what has been accomplished at the grassroots for the average Canadian. How have they benefited from the leadership and the stewardship of the Prime Minister?
I remember that it was not that long ago, two or three years, when we all talked about the brain drain and the loss of our best and our brightest as they moved across the border to seek employment in the States. The government saw this as a problem and the Prime Minister saw this as a problem and part of his vision was to invest in innovation and research.
By doing so we were able to keep those students and professors in Canada, to have them study here and perform their research here. What we have seen is really a shift, where now the drain is coming from the States. These people are coming back to Canada or they are staying in Canada and we are attracting some of the best and brightest minds from other countries.
I can take that down to a personal level. I see the investments that have been made in the universities in my area, St. Francis Xavier and the University College of Cape Breton. They are benefiting from programs such as the national research chairs, the Atlantic innovation fund, those types of investments. We are keeping those kids here.
I see the reinvestment in health care of $34.8 billion following the Romanow commission. We have an MRI machine in Sydney. We have digital x-ray machines in Inverness and in Richmond County. People can get x-rays which can be digitized, then sent and read by specialists anywhere in the world. That was not available two years ago.
I see improvements in infrastructure in my home communities, in Birch Grove and in St. Peter's through the Canada-Nova Scotia infrastructure program. Tomorrow I will attend tomorrow the opening of a water treatment plant in Glace Bay, where a $10 million investment by all three levels of government will provide clean water to the residents of Glace Bay. I am very happy to be part of that announcement.
I could talk about species at risk legislation that is important to the people and Kyoto that will secure a healthy environment as we go forward to the future.
What I would like to finish on is the Prime Minister's guidance and leadership through the Iraqi crisis. He took a brave, strong and principled position throughout the Iraqi crisis, identifying that Canada stood as a sovereign nation, much to the criticism of the official opposition. When we look at the polls now, well over 70% of Canadians know that he did the right thing.
Our Prime Minister has provided great leadership in this country, and well beyond this motion today, he will continue to provide that leadership to the people of Canada.
Public Safety Act 2002
October 7th, 2003 / 11:45 a.m.
Don Valley East
David Collenette Minister of Transport
My colleague from the Alliance Party seems to be talking out of both sides of his mouth. On the one hand he said that his party is for Bill C-17 and “we should move on with it” and then he said that this motion, a legitimate motion in the standing orders, should not be used.
There is a time for decision in all parliamentary debate. We believe that the decision is now. In fact he seems to agree with that because we should move on with it.
Let me remind the House that this was a bill that came here originally as Bill C-42. Then Bill C-44 was hived off and then it became Bill C-55 and then Bill C-17. The bill has been before the House for a year in one form or another. It has been debated at second reading nine hours and 35 minutes, three hours and 15 minutes at report stage, three hours and 25 minutes at third reading. All told, there have been 38 hours and 15 minutes of debate. Also the committee studied it from November last year until May 2003.
It seems to me that we have had a lot of debate. I say to my friends in the Alliance that this is not a matter for procedural argument. We are dealing here with a crucial piece of legislation that flowed from the terrible attacks on September 11, 2001. We had Bill C-36 and then we had the bills which I just referred to, ultimately becoming Bill C-17.
It is absolutely crucial in the interest of national security and in dealing with the North American security environment, that this bill be passed. That is why the government House leader correctly in my view has brought forward the motion today.
Injured Military Members Compensation Act
June 13th, 2003 / 10:40 a.m.
Pursuant to order made on Thursday, June 12, Bill C-44 is deemed read a second time, deemed referred to a committee of the whole, deemed reported without amendment, deemed concurred in at report stage and deemed read a third time and passed.
(Bill read a second time, referred to a committee of the whole, reported without amendment, concurred in at report stage read a third time and passed)
Injured Military Members Compensation Act
June 13th, 2003 / 10:30 a.m.
Leon Benoit Lakeland, AB
Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise and speak to Bill C-44 this morning. This legislation will right a wrong that has been in place for many years, for 30 years many would argue. They would say 30 years because for colonels and above this lump sum payment coverage has been in place since 1972. It is indeed an embarrassment that it has taken this government this long to act on changing that.
I think one has to wonder where the government's priorities are. We get legislation coming forward in the House all the time that quite frankly does nothing positive at all, and in some cases just the opposite, and yet a change like this, which was desperately needed, has taken 30 years, or 10 years for those who served in the Balkans, where many were injured, including the person who was persistent enough on this issue such that the government could finally no longer resist, and that was Major Bruce Henwood.
In fact, this bill should be called the Bruce Henwood bill, because he has pursued this issue absolutely fruitlessly for 10 years until just recently when, with help from the opposition but mostly through his own efforts over the years, he finally forced the government to make this move. Why the government would resist for so long is almost impossible to understand, but finally he has been successful. Again I have to say that I think the bill should be called the Bruce Henwood bill, because it was through his courageous and persistent actions that it has come forward.
There are some problems with the bill. One is in the case of people feeling they are not receiving proper treatment. Under the bill, it is of course the minister who makes the decisions. If someone feels mistreated, there is an appeal, but who is the appeal to? To the minister. So we will have the minister appealing his own decision in cases where people feel they are being improperly treated. That simply has to be changed, and I hope it will be changed by the minister.
What we are proposing, in fact, is that there be an appeal to the military ombudsman. The military ombudsman would then make a recommendation to the minister. Should the minister support that recommendation, fine, it will go through, but should the minister refuse to support the military ombudsman's recommendation on an individual case, we are suggesting that the military ombudsman be given authority to make public both the minister's reasons for rejecting it and the ombudsman's reasons for supporting it. At least we would then have the court of public opinion to put pressure on the minister.
I am calling upon the government to do that. I would assume that the government can see it is improper to have the minister handling appeals for the minister. I hope clause 11 of the bill will be amended to deal with that.
As well, this legislation simply will not deal with cases of injuries like post-traumatic stress disorder. There is nothing in Bill C-44 to help deal with those types of cases. Also, there is probably nothing in the bill to deal with cases like that of Matt Stopford, who has been stonewalled by the government, and quite frankly by the military, for many years. He was severely injured, admittedly poisoned by his own troops when serving in the Balkans. This legislation does nothing to help him as far as I can tell, so there are some huge gaps in the legislation.
It is certainly going to be worthwhile legislation for the roughly 200 military personnel who will likely receive lump sum payments of up to $250,000, although many of the payments will be much less than that.
I commend the government for finally righting this wrong after 30 years, it could be argued, but certainly 10 years. It has taken 10 years, but I guess better late than never applies in this case. Let us move ahead with this and fix the things that have to be fixed, which I have pointed to. I would like to congratulate Major Bruce Henwood for the Bruce Henwood bill.
Injured Military Members Compensation Act
June 13th, 2003 / 10:25 a.m.
David Pratt Nepean—Carleton, ON
Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to speak in support of this measure, Bill C-44, an act to compensate military members injured during service. The bill would redress a disparity in the benefits provided to members of the Canadian Forces who have been seriously injured while on duty.
Under the Canadian Forces insurance plan currently, members of the Canadian Forces below the rank of colonel are not eligible for a lump sum payment when they suffer severe injury while on duty. Under this same plan, individuals at the rank of colonel and above receive payments of up to $250,000.
The Minister of National Defence first heard of this inequity last August through the efforts of Major Bruce Henwood. Major Henwood was a Canadian peacekeeper in the former Yugoslavia. In 1995 he suffered major injuries including the loss of both legs when his vehicle struck an anti-tank mine. Under the insurance plan, Major Henwood was not entitled to a lump sum payment for his injuries because, as I indicated, compensation was only provided to those of the rank of colonel and above.
Major Henwood has since made extraordinary efforts to have coverage extended to all ranks, and on behalf of the Minister of National Defence and, indeed, the members of the Standing Committee on National Defence and Veterans Affairs, I commend him for his dedication to this cause.
When the minister heard of Major Henwood's story, the minister undertook to end this inconsistency in the insurance plan. On February 11 of this year the minister announced that the plan would be expanded to cover all regular and reserve members of the Canadian Forces, regardless of rank, for accidental dismemberment while on active duty.
At the same time, the minister promised to exhaust every avenue in an effort to make sure that a lump sum payment was provided to those who were injured before this new coverage came into effect. With this bill, the Minister of National Defence has met that commitment.
All members of the Canadian Forces, regardless of rank, can expect to receive assignments that may put them in harm's way. We certainly wish the Canadian Forces and the members of the 3rd Battalion of the Royal Canadian Regiment who are going to Afghanistan the very best, and we certainly wish that each and every one of them comes home safely.
Providing coverage only for senior ranks was, in the minister's view, and I think in the view of all Canadians, unacceptable. In a word, it was unfair. That is why the government changed the insurance plan and that is why the minister has introduced this bill, to help the 200 or so individuals who have found themselves in Major Henwood's position, to help those who have been severely injured in the course of military service but have been unable to claim the benefit because of their rank.
This bill would allow lump sum payments of up to $250,000 for current or former Canadian Forces members who suffered serious injury attributable to military service.
Before I conclude, I wish to thank the opposition parties for supporting this measure. It is heartening to see both sides of the House stand behind our men and women in uniform. They are the people who regularly put themselves in harm's way in the service of our country. With all that they give on our behalf, we must be prepared to give back. They certainly deserve nothing less.
Injured Military Members Compensation Act
June 13th, 2003 / 10:25 a.m.
Business of the House
June 12th, 2003 / 3:20 p.m.
Don Boudria Minister of State and Leader of the Government in the House of Commons
Mr. Speaker, there have been consultations among all parties in the House and I believe you would find unanimous consent for the following motion. I move:
That, immediately after government orders are called on Friday, June 13, the House shall proceed to consider second reading of Bill C-42 and, after no more than one representative of each party has spoken for no more than five minutes each, the bill shall be deemed to have been read a second time, referred to a committee of the whole and reported without amendment, concurred in at report stage and read a third time and passed, and the House shall then proceed to consider and dispose of Bill C-44 in the same manner as provided for in this order for Bill C-42.
Business of the House
Oral Question Period
June 12th, 2003 / 3 p.m.
Don Boudria Minister of State and Leader of the Government in the House of Commons
Mr. Speaker, I usually answer about the legislative program in the House and that is what I will do now.
This afternoon we will continue with the business of supply, with votes scheduled for 8 p.m., pursuant to the arrangement made earlier.
The business that the government will put forward before the House tomorrow, pursuant to another agreement which I will be submitting to the House a little later this afternoon, will be Bill C-42, the Antarctic agreement, Bill C-44, respecting compensation for certain military personnel, and then Bill C-35, the military judges bill. If there is any time left, we will then consider Bill C-34.
The program for next week would be Bill C-7, first nations governance, Bill C-17, public safety, and Bill C-13 respecting reproductive technologies, as well as other legislation which has returned from committee, for instance, legislation such as the sex offender registry and bills like that.
Injured Military Members Compensation Act
June 11th, 2003 / 3:10 p.m.
Winnipeg North—St. Paul
Public Safety Act, 2002
May 27th, 2003 / 4:25 p.m.
Lynne Yelich Blackstrap, SK
Mr. Speaker, I rise today to participate in the third reading debate of Bill C-17, an act to amend certain acts of Canada and to enact measures for implementing the biological and toxin weapons convention, in order to enhance public safety, otherwise known as the public safety act.
Our party will be reluctantly supporting Bill C-17 for two reasons. First, the events of September 11, 2001, have made legislation like Bill C-17 necessary. The United States, western Europe and most, if not all, of our major allies have adopted similar legislation as modern democracies attempt to deal with the terrorist threat from faceless cowards. To the extent that this type of legislation is necessary, I will support it.
Second, even as I support it, I must call on the government to adopt a higher standard both in the quality of legislation that it puts forward and in its willingness to be accountable to Parliament. In fact, it could be said that Bill C-17 and its predecessors are symptoms of what is wrong with the way Liberals govern our country.
If the true measure of a man is what he does rather than what he says, then the measure of a country must be in part its reaction to times of trial and stress. In the United States, 10 days after the September 11 attack, Senator Fritz Hollings was on his feet to introduce America's response, S.1447, a bill to improve aviation security, and for other purposes. With lightning speed, and despite an anthrax scare on Capitol Hill, both the house of congress and the senate quickly passed the legislation and President Bush signed it on November 19, 2001.
Members should think about this. Capitol Hill was under fire from all sides, yet dialogue happened. Politicians of different parties built a consensus on how a superpower would respond to a terrorist threat on its own soil and make its citizens feel safe.
In 1968, in his book Toward a Psychology of Being , Abraham Maslow identified his famous hierarchy of needs: physiological, safety, love, esteem and self actualization. The second of these is safety, otherwise known as security needs, and it is one of the few that the state can provide in a concrete way. United States governments of all political stripes have long understood that their first duty is to protect the safety security of their citizens and so when September 11 happened, Capitol Hill acted with a speed that was nearly dizzying.
A bill was proposed and amended. The house of representatives and the senate concurred and the President signed his approval. The whole process lasted a mere 10 weeks. During that same 10 weeks the Liberal government slept. In fact, it was a full three days after President Bush signed the U.S. law that the Liberal government tabled the first version of the public safety act, then called Bill C-42, on November 22.
Bill C-42 immediately drew fire from all sides. However, rather than seeking to build the kind of consensus that would allow a nation to respond quickly to a new threat, the government hid. The bill never went to any committee and was withdrawn April 24, 2002. Then, five days later, the Liberal government introduced Bill C-42's replacement, Bill C-55.
I have long believed that people in government should learn from their mistakes. One of Bill C-42's problems had been its complexity. It would have amended or introduced legislation affecting 10 federal departments. It was so complex that the portion giving airlines the legal authority to share reservations information with foreign governments had to be hived off into another bill, Bill C-44, so that some of the more useful clauses could get quick passage.
Bill C-55 showed that the Liberal government had learned little. It would have amended or introduced 19 federal statutes affecting some nine federal departments. In fact, Bill C-55 was so complex that a special committee was struck on May 9, 2002, solely for the purpose of studying it. That committee never met. Bill C-55 died on the Order Paper on September 16, 2002, when Parliament prorogued.
Given the speed with which the U.S. passed its legislation and given that most, if not all, of our major allies had similar legislation, one would think that passing Bill C-55 would have been a priority.
Certainly if we listen to the Minister of Transport he will tell us that Bill C-26, the transportation amendment act, is high priority. In fact, it is so high priority that he does not want the transport committee to travel when it studies that bill. The transportation amendment act is high priority, but on September 16, 2002 when Parliament prorogued, the public safety act was not.
Let me refer back to Maslow's hierarchy of needs. Safety is number two. Transport is not on the list, but transport rather than safety is a higher priority for the government.
The fact that Bill C-55 died on the Order Paper on September 16, 2002, almost a year to the day of the crises that spawned its creation, one gets a clear sense that while America was implementing tough new legislation to make its skies safer, Canada's Liberal government not only did not know what it was doing, but it had no idea of where to start.
In fact, the current legislation, Bill C-17, was not tabled in the House until some six weeks later, on October 31, 2002, fully 13 months after the September 11 attacks, and nearly 11 months after President Bush signed America's aviation and transportation security act into legislation as public law 107-71.
It is now May 27, 2003 and this bill is at third reading. Two things become evident very quickly. The first is that the government is under increasing pressure to be seen to be doing something, or in some case to be acting. The other is that it is terrified of real consultation and only accepts amendments when it has no other choice.
We see an example of the pressure that the government faced in the way it handled the sharing of airline passenger reservations systems information with various government agencies.
We are aware that part 1 of Bill C-17 introduces new clauses into the Aeronautics Act allowing the commissioner of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, the director of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service and the persons they designate, to require certain passenger information from air carriers and operators of aviation reservation systems, to be used and disclosed for transportation security purposes; national security investigations relating to terrorism; situations of immediate threat to the life or safety of a person; the enforcement of arrest warrants for offences punishable by five years or more of imprisonment and that are specified in the regulations; and arrest warrants under the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act and the Extradition Act.
The government has argued forcefully for these powers, yet it has dragged its feet in passing Bill C-17. In fact, the government has delayed for so long in passing the bill that some of the information-sharing clauses are now essentially moot.
Those clauses that would allow Canadian carriers to share information with foreign governments were contained in Bill C-44 which was introduced on November 28, 2001 and received royal assent three weeks later on December 18, 2001.
This timing was fortunate because one of the clauses of the U.S. law which was so quickly passed by both houses of the U.S. Congress in the aftermath of September 11 said that airlines would not be able to fly into the United States after January 18 unless they provided passenger reservations information to the U.S. customs service.
In Canada on October 7, 2002 the Canada Customs and Revenue Agency implemented its advance passenger information/passenger name record program that authorized airlines and passenger reservation systems to share information with various government agencies.
In the U.S. the government set an arbitrary deadline that this Liberal government had to scramble to meet. At the same time in Canada, a government department, the Canada Customs and Revenue Agency, essentially gave up on waiting for the government to act and used its existing and residual powers to implement its advance passenger information/passenger name record program three weeks before the government reintroduced Bill C-42 for the second time as Bill C-17.
If the passenger information issue shows the need for the government to act, the inexplosive ammunition component issue shows the need for the government to listen. The words “inexplosive ammunition component” first appeared in part 5 of Bill C-42, the first predecessor of Bill C-17, on November 22, 2001.
Within two months the Library of Parliament prepared a research paper pointing out the potential problems of regulating inexplosive ammunition components. Essentially as witnesses ultimately told the legislative committee on Bill C-17, regulating inexplosive ammunition components was tantamount to criminalizing brass and lead, or regulating little bits of margarine containers, little bits of cotton fabric and fishing sinkers.
Naturally our party hoped when the Liberals brought back Bill C-42 as Bill C-55 on April 29, 2002, that they had read the Library of Parliament report. They had not. On May 9, 2002, roughly a year ago today, the member for Yorkton--Melville told the House that the definition would potentially criminalize tens of thousands of law-abiding citizens who load their own ammunition for their legal pastime sports.
When Bill C-55 died on the Order Paper and was revived in slightly modified form as Bill C-17 on October 31, there were some who hoped that the Liberals had listened. They had not. On Monday, November 18, 2002 the member for Yorkton--Melville spoke to Bill C-17 at second reading and essentially repeated verbatim his May 9, 2002 comments on inexplosive ammunition components.
It might make it easier on the translators or perhaps those who maintain the Hansard if a member repeats a speech, but for me it is a way of underlining the complete lack of attention on the other side of the House to the opposition members and indeed the concerns that average everyday Canadians face from time to time. Even after having given the same speech twice, there was some doubt as to whether the Liberals had received the message about inexplosive ammunition components. The only thing I can confirm is that the term was deleted from Bill C-17 by the legislative committee studying the bill.
To the extent that the term “inexplosive ammunition component” was of considerable concern to many Canadians, the fact that the legislative committee deleted it makes Bill C-17 much more palatable to Canadians. However the fact that such a controversial and frankly unnecessary clause could have been in Bill C-17 and its predecessors from November 22, 2001 until May 7, 2003 shows Canadians a government whose ears and eyes are welded shut.
Another area where the government has shown no willingness to listen or to be accountable is interim orders. A very significant portion of Bill C-17 deals with interim orders. Ten parts of the bill amend various statutes to provide a new or expanded power permitting the responsible minister to make interim orders in situations where immediate action is required. Essentially the thinking behind interim orders is “trust me”, in other words “give me various undefined powers and when there is an emergency trust me to do the right thing”.
First, we cannot forget that the very same government that has taken more than 19 months to react to September 11 is the one now saying “trust me”. Second, we should not overlook the fact that if the government really knew what it was doing, it would define both its responsibilities and its powers in very clear language.
In the United States the U.S. aviation and transportation security act was drafted just in 10 days after September 11. Even then, while a shocked America pondered the unthinkable crisis that had just happened, American legislators knew that “trust me” was not going to cut it with the American public.
The U.S. aviation and transportation security act is specific. It delegates powers but it also assigns responsibilities. It contains deadlines. It specifies the amount of money that may be spent on particular initiatives. It sets management objectives and requires regular evaluations as well as audits. There is a clear understanding of who does what, why, when and with what authority. Checks and balances are present.
The U.S.aviation and transportation security act is a planned strategic response by a superpower to a defined threat. Canada in Bill C-17 uses interim orders while the U.S. uses specifics. The interim orders all follow a similar pattern. They allow a minister under certain circumstances to make an order that would normally have to be made by the governor in council. Thus, when the chips are down and cabinet cannot meet, an interim order lets a cabinet minister take actions that would normally need cabinet approval.
In most cases, in Bill C-17 the interim order has to be published in the Canada Gazette within 23 days, has to be approved by cabinet within 14 days, and expires at the end of the year. Similarly an interim order must be tabled in Parliament within 15 sitting days after it has been made.
Before the special legislative committee on Bill C-17, members from the Canadian Alliance, the Bloc Québécois and the NDP all tried to propose constructive amendments to the clauses of Bill C-17 dealing with interim orders. In the case of the 14 Canadian Alliance amendments, each was motivated by the spirit of the Emergencies Act. Its preamble reads in part:
Whereas the safety and security of the individual, the protection of the values of the body politic and the preservation of the sovereignty, security and territorial integrity of the state are fundamental obligations of government;
And whereas the fulfilment of those obligations in Canada may be seriously threatened by a national emergency and, in order to ensure safety and security during such an emergency, the Governor in Council should be authorized, subject to the supervision of Parliament, to take special temporary measures that may not be appropriate in normal times--
We therefore thought the standard of parliamentary scrutiny laid down in the Emergencies Act might be applicable to the type of situations in which interim orders might be made under Bill C-17.
Section 61 of the Emergencies Act reads:
(1) Subject to subsection (2), every order or regulation made by the Governor in Council pursuant to this Act shall be laid before each House of Parliament within two sitting days after it is made.
(2) Where an order or regulation made pursuant to this Act is exempted from publication in the Canada Gazette by regulations made under the Statutory Instruments Act, the order or regulation, in lieu of being laid before each House of Parliament as required by subsection (1), shall be referred to the Parliamentary Review Committee within two days after it is made or, if the Committee is not then designated or established, within the first two days after it is designated or established.
Each of our 14 amendments was motivated by the same philosophy. If during an emergency the government can subject orders and regulations to parliamentary scrutiny within two sitting days after they are made, there is no reason that a lower standard should apply to Bill C-17.
The Canadian Alliance was not alone in this thinking. Both the NDP and the Bloc Québécois advanced a similar philosophy. It is my hope that the three parties might be able to agree on a common approach so that the higher level of parliamentary scrutiny may be offered to interim orders made by a government that wants us to trust it 18 months after September 11.
However, the Liberal desire to escape parliamentary scrutiny appears intractable. Rather than agree to any new restrictions on interim orders, the only interim orders amendment that the Liberal members proposed at committee was one adding new clause 111.1 to Bill C-17 so that interim orders would be included in the Pest Control Products Act in the event that the act would receive royal assent before Bill C-17.
Other countries use clear language to define its government's responsibilities and its powers. The Liberal government uses interim orders. Previous governments believed that the standards of the Emergencies Act applied when Canada was threatened by a national emergency. The Liberal government believes in a dramatically lower standard of parliamentary accountability.
I conclude that the government's continued use of interim orders instead of defining its roles and responsibilities in a very clear language shows its unwillingness to either propose better legislation or to be more accountable to Parliament. Even if Bill C-17 passes third reading, it is possible that it will not receive royal assent before October. Members should think about this carefully.
September 11 happened and the U.S. had a law signed by the president and in place on November 18, roughly two months later. Canada will not have its law in place until nearly two years have passed, which is simply unacceptable. If it takes a Liberal-dominated Parliament two years to react to a major crisis, that is a very strong argument for a change of government.
It is quite clear that the committee state version of Bill C-17 is a definite improvement over Bill C-42 as first presented 17 months ago. It is also clear that Bill C-17 type legislation is necessary today. We will therefore be supporting the bill while calling upon the government to hold itself to a higher standard, particularly when asked to show leadership in times of crisis.