Bill S-3 (Historical)
An Act to amend the National Defence Act, the Criminal Code, the Sex Offender Information Registration Act and the Criminal Records Act
This bill was last introduced in the 39th Parliament, 1st Session, which ended in October 2007.
This bill has received Royal Assent and is now law.
Protecting Victims From Sex Offenders Act
June 8th, 2009 / 5:25 p.m.
Jim Maloway Elmwood—Transcona, MB
Mr. Speaker, the member made an excellent presentation. He detailed how Bill S-3 was passed back in 2007 and how the government did not get it right at that time. Then there was the recent exposé. The parliamentary committee reviewed and had a draft report within two weeks of being available and then the government introduced legislation.
The member does have a lot of concerns about the bill, but by the sounds of it, he and members of his party will support the legislation at the end of the day, at least as far as getting it into committee. At that point, hopefully some of his good ideas will find their way into the bill.
He pointed out the strong points of the Ontario statute. I was not aware of the fact that people use the Ontario statute roughly 400 times a day, while the federal system is only used 150 times a year. Clearly, there are some advantages to the Ontario system that merit adoption.
He also mentioned the very important point that 77% of children who had been abducted were dead within three hours. That is astounding. I was not aware of that statistic.
I thank him for that information.
However, I want to ask him a question regarding the expansion of the registry to include those convicted of sexual offences outside Canada. I am assuming that would include places like Thailand and other countries that have sex tourism. How are we to know how these people are going to be included? Are we going to have the Thailand government giving us a list of people who have been convicted? Is there some sort of international registry for us to determine who should be coming to us from that list?
April 21st, 2009 / 10:30 a.m.
April 21st, 2009 / 10:30 a.m.
Director General, Corrections and Criminal Justice Directorate, Department of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness
As a public servant, I'm not able to reveal advice that I provide to any minister on an ongoing basis, but it's fair comment to say that this is a very serious matter, and, of course, ministers take it very seriously and advice is provided.
If you look at the sequence of amendments to the bill, you will see that Bill S-3 was an endeavour to get the military incorporated and to make a number of other what we might call “technical amendments”, but also some of the amendments along the lines of what we've been talking about today.
There was quite a time gap between Parliament passing that bill and it being proclaimed in force, partly because there were some important regulations on the military side that had to be created. During that time, no one was inactive. Discussions continued at the federal-provincial level, and certainly at the federal level. These issues have been discussed and analyzed and advice provided.
April 21st, 2009 / 10:30 a.m.
Resumption of Debate on Address in Reply
Speech from the Throne
October 23rd, 2007 / 3:15 p.m.
Mauril Bélanger Ottawa—Vanier, ON
Mr. Speaker, as I was saying, I will focus on my new responsibilities as the official opposition's heritage and official languages critic.
I will share my time with the member for Mississauga—Erindale.
I believe that the Conservative government should offer a coherent vision of cultural life in Canada, a vision that does not neglect our cultural industries, our artistic institutions, our museums, our artists or our public broadcaster.
The Conservatives did not do that. In the throne speech there was mention of finally acting on copyright, but there were no details as to content or timing. Legislation had been promised before June 2006 on this matter and then before Christmas 2006. Now, 18 months later, we may get this legislation.
When the minister spoke yesterday, many were hoping to hear a few details on that and her thoughts on a number of other important dossiers in the matters of heritage. Yesterday there was not a word. There was not a word about our public broadcaster, not a word about reassuring Canadians as to whether or not the Reform dissenting opinion of the Lincoln report in 2003 still holds, which would have privatized CBC. There was not a word from the minister on that.
There was not a word about a museums policy. There was not a word about the museums assistance program. The Canadian Museums Association had been given a commitment that a policy would be forthcoming before Christmas 2006. Christmas came and went and it did not get that policy. Yesterday there was not a word.
The Prime Minister announced that the Government of Canada would finance the operational costs of the new human rights museum in Winnipeg, which is fine, but there is still a question mark as to whether or not the $22 million will be coming from an existing envelope or whether the envelope overall will be increased. My information is that it is from the existing envelope, therefore choking off the existing museums, so much so that they have to do fundraising, as has been reported, to make acquisitions. There was not a word about all of this.
There was also not a word about increasing the museums assistance program. In the last election the Conservatives promised to actually increase the funding to small museums across the country. Lo and behold, what they did instead was the opposite. They reduced the museums assistance program. There was not a word about that.
There was not a word about the exhibition transportation services for museums and galleries, which is very useful to the smaller galleries and museums. This will expire at the end of March 2008. There was not a word about that.
There was not a word about the portrait gallery. Many people have been asking about that. What is the policy framework within which the government will be making the decision as to where the portrait gallery should be located?
There was not a word about the television fund. Will it ever be A-based? Will it be indexed? What about funding for Telefilm and the National Film Board? Will they be increased? Will they be indexed? There was not a word.
There was not a word about festivals. There was not a word about where the minister is vis-à-vis the CRTC and Canadian content and foreign ownership restrictions.
Right now we have a situation where the government has, by executive fiat, which comes from the industry department and not from the heritage department, directed the CRTC essentially to let market forces dominate. Is the minister's silence consent as to this direction for Canadian cultural industries, Canadian television and film content? If it is, perhaps she should have said so yesterday.
Canada's cultural and artistic communities have not been given enough information. They do not know what to expect from the Conservative government. This is not unlike what happened when the federal government copied the Liberal Party's promise during the last election campaign to double funding for the Council for the Arts. As it turns out, that is not at all what the government has done.
The minister talked exclusively about official languages earlier, and that is fine, but she could have mentioned her other portfolio: Canadian Heritage.
With respect to official languages, she congratulated herself on having signed service and education agreements with all of the provinces. I should hope so, because by the time the government came to power, those agreements had already been negotiated and confirmed. All she had to do was sign them. The Conservatives can go ahead and take all the credit, but they really should give credit where credit is due.
The minister said that she met with the ministers responsible for la Francophonie a month ago. However, she failed to mention that these very ministers issued a press release demanding that the federal government renew the action plan that was introduced by its predecessor in 2003.
Let us talk about this plan. This begs a fundamental question: does the Conservative government intend to renew the plan? It found all manner of ways to avoid this word, avoid this specific commitment. What the linguistic minority communities across the country are asking for, and what the ministers responsible for la Francophonie across the country asked for, is that the action plan be renewed. In the Speech from the Throne, there is not a single occurrence of the word “renewal”. The government has chosen its words carefully.
The minister wanted to focus on the issue of official languages; we were hoping she would, because it is not clear. Would the plan be renewed for one year, two years, five years? It is not clear. How much money would be allocated? Not a word. Are we talking about broadening this action plan? A promise was made after many consultations with the communities. It was a matter of broadening the plan to incorporate programs for young people, women, seniors, culture and international issues. Not a word.
She did not talk about the setbacks we have had under her government either; the cancellation of the court challenges program, for example. As for the Official Languages Secretariat, which was a branch of the Privy Council, the government decided to transfer it to Canadian Heritage, when we know full well that a secretariat located in a central agency has a lot more influence and a greater ability to take action.
Were it not for the existence of this secretariat at the Privy Council when I was minister responsible for official languages, we would not have succeeded in getting language clauses in the early childhood agreements with every province. What did this government do? It relieved the Privy Council of its role in official languages and gave that role to Canadian Heritage. The communities are having a hard time getting their bearings. The minister could have said a few words about this, but she chose not to say a word.
As for the new round of budget cuts just starting, which her department is subject to, would the action plan for official languages be protected from these cuts this time? Not a word.
As for the Department of National Defence in this struggle to promote linguistic duality, and we totally agree that it is the role of the Government of Canada to ensure that the Official Languages Act is respected across the country, there is not a word. National Defence has given up and there is not a word on this from the government.
Nor was anything said about one of the Prime Minister's first actions when he came to power, informing us that he intended to cancel all early childhood agreements—the very agreements that had been negotiated and that communities were celebrating from one end of the country to the other. It is a major setback for these communities. The minister did not say one word about this.
There is not one word about the fact that, after they were elected, the Conservatives decided that the Commissioner of Official Languages, an officer of this House, would no longer report to the Prime Minister but would report to another minister. Previous governments had indicated the importance they attributed to the issue of linguistic duality and the official languages. They said that, in terms of the government, the Commissioner of Official Languages reported to the Prime Minister. In terms of his mandate, he obviously reports to the House of Commons, as he should.
However, even more disturbing, there is not a word about Bill S-3. When in opposition, his government supported the bill, which dealt with the last amendments to the Official Languages Act made in November 2005, when everyone was celebrating.
Where are the plans that were to come out of the application of Bill S-3? Where is the regulatory framework? Where are the consultations that will result in the regulations? Where is the cabinet committee on official languages, the ad hoc committee that has not met, as far as I know, for 18 months? What is the minister doing about these matters?
All I can do, as did the Commissioner for Official Languages in his first report, is criticize the Prime Minister and his government for not having backed up these lovely words with concrete action.
June 7th, 2007 / 9:55 a.m.
Commissioner of Official Languages, Office of the Commissioner of Official Languages
I have two points to mention. In our report on the complaints we've received with regard to the government's conduct, we concluded that there was a lack of compliance with the act.
Second, I'm making an effort to stop referring to Bill S-3 because it is as though that amendment to the act were part of the act. The act has been amended. We're talking about compliance with the act. The amendments are not asterisks. It is not beside the act, it's not something separate; it's the act.
June 7th, 2007 / 9:50 a.m.
Jean-Claude D'Amours Madawaska—Restigouche, NB
So it's not a positive measure.
Commissioner, if it isn't a positive measure, do you think that eliminating a program that is a positive measure is double talk? What the government did wasn't a positive measure. At the same time, it is that same party that now forms the government, which voted in favour of Bill S-3. Furthermore, the purpose of part of Bill S-3 was to put positive measures in place for the official language communities. They're talking out of both sides of their mouth.
I ask myself the following question. In that situation, under Bill S-3, which is now an act, the government has an obligation to put positive measures in place. However, it has not taken a positive measure by cancelling the Court Challenges Program. Could we conclude that the government was breaching Bill S-3 in certain respects, that it has not complied with one aspect of Bill S-3, because the measures it took were negative?
June 5th, 2007 / 10:45 a.m.
President, Court Challenges Program of Canada
I will certainly comment on the issue of legal aid. We need to remember that, when cases are assessed, one of the criteria is that the funding is not used to further individual cases, cases that affect only one person. Test cases that affect groups of people are funded. The point is to establish a right that will be recognized for a particular group of Canadians cited in section 15, or, in some cases, for all Canadians, particularly women, because the issue is gender discrimination. That is my first point.
My second point is on former Bill S-3. You said that we have enough case law, but when we pass a bill and promulgate a new statute, its scope has to be tested. You passed Bill S-3, so testing it is important. However, I should say that the Court Challenges Program could not be used to test Bill S-3 directly, since Bill S-3 amended the Official Languages Act, and we cannot fund cases associated with the Official Languages Act. If there was some accommodation to be made, we would certainly be happy to extend the Court Challenges Program to cover the OLA and establish a whole new area of case law.
I would also like to be more specific on something—I think I understood Mr. Harvey to say that the funding allocation might be unfair, with too much of it going to administration. As a program, we would have no problem in reviewing the distribution of funding with the government and the department. We are merely an instrument. We were an instrument of the federal government for years, as we supported cases. That was our purpose. Thus, if there are any aspects of the program that are not appropriate, or if you believe that some things should be changed, we are bound by a contribution agreement which comes from the federal government. We are always ready to consider changes to the program with the federal government.
June 5th, 2007 / 10:40 a.m.
Yvon Godin Acadie—Bathurst, NB
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
A few moments ago, I think you clearly explained that, when a case goes to court, it is not to benefit a single individual but rather the community as a whole. In the case of food inspectors from Shippagan who were transferred to Shédiac, people challenged the decision— I believe the case was funded under the Court Challenges Program—and won the case. In the circumstances, the Liberals had nothing to brag about because they were the ones who had to defend their decision in court. There was a battery of Liberal lawyers against ordinary people. If money was spent on lawyers, it is the government we should look to blame. Ms. Lalonde said it very well. In the case I'm talking about, the community as a whole benefited from the decision. The court ruled that services could not be withdrawn from a minority region and transferred elsewhere.
In another case, which concerned the RCMP in New Brunswick, once again the Liberals have nothing to brag about because they were in power when the government appealed a ruling in favour of Ms. Marie-Claire Paulin. At the end of the day, the winner will not just be Ms. Paulin, but the entire francophone community in New Brunswick, as well as all francophones who travel to New Brunswick and might be arrested by the RCMP. The lower court stated that the RCMP was required to comply with constitutional linguistic obligations particular to New Brunswick, Canada's only officially bilingual province. The case was won, and once again, the only reason for which they ended up back in court was that the government appealed the ruling. The lower court is not that expensive. But every time you have to go to a higher court, it costs more. And since people don't have the money it takes to go to those higher courts, communities will lose cases.
It's all well and good to boast about Bill S-3. Yesterday again, I heard the minister declare in the House of Commons that the Bloc Québecois had not wanted to vote for the bill. I can tell you that the Conservatives didn't want to vote for it either. But we were on the brink of elections in Quebec, and at the official languages committee I said that I personally would like to see the Conservatives vote against Bill S-3 just before an election. In the end, Bill S-3 passed. But don't we have to test it? Do you think that if we test it, everything will be all right? Section 41 of part VII of the Official Languages Act stipulates that bilingualism will be promoted in federal institutions, in Quebec and across Canada, so that both English and French are recognized in Canadian society. We still have some way to go. Unlike what Mr. Chong was saying, the Court Challenges Program did not serve only individuals and did not represent some sort of legal aid. It's not that at all. He is missing the point entirely.
It might have been good for the government to test the bill before cancelling the program. The government probably did not know what it was doing. Alternatively, it might have known all too well—it was taking away the rights of minorities. I'm not from Quebec, and I'm not part of the French majority. The reason we have French-language schools in New Brunswick, the reason we have our own school boards, the reason we have furthered our cause and preserved our French language, and the reason there are still 250,000 francophones in New Brunswick is that we fought for it.
Aside from that, I don't know whether I have any questions. However, I would like to hear our witnesses' comments.
Canadian Heritage--Main Estimates, 2007-08
Business of Supply
May 16th, 2007 / 6:40 p.m.
Raymonde Folco Laval—Les Îles, QC
Mr. Chair, in response to the question on the action plan that expires in 2008, I am hearing nothing but empty words.
I would like to know what measures the minister intends to institute to enforce the regular reporting from these federal institutions that have not--I am sorry, I am on the wrong question. I beg your pardon.
The minister voted in favour of Bill S-3, whereby the government is committed to ensuring that positive measures are taken to implement these commitments to enhance the vitality of the English and French minorities and to support their development.
How does the minister reconcile her vote with the fact that she did not oppose the cancellation of the court challenges program?