Bill C-22 (Historical)
An Act respecting the mandatory reporting of Internet child pornography by persons who provide an Internet service
This bill was last introduced in the 40th Parliament, 3rd Session, which ended in March 2011.
Rob Nicholson Conservative
This bill has received Royal Assent and is now law.
- Nov. 16, 2010 Failed That Bill C-22 be amended by restoring Clause 1 as follows: “1. This Act may be cited as the Protecting Children from Online Sexual Exploitation Act.”
December 8th, 2011 / 2:55 p.m.
Kerry-Lynne Findlay Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Justice
Mr. Speaker, it is truly a happy and good-news day for justice. I am happy to report that today Bill C-22, the government's legislation to make the reporting of child pornography by Internet service providers mandatory, has come into force.
Police forces across Canada make every effort to combat the creation and distribution of child pornography. They cannot eliminate online sexual exploitation by working alone. Our government is providing police with the tools they need. Our government makes it clear that we all have a role to play in protecting our children from this unspeakable--
Business of the House
March 24th, 2011 / 3:05 p.m.
John Baird Ottawa West—Nepean, ON
When members are called smug, they all cheer and applaud.
As for the business of the House, I believe the minister responsible for the Status of Women has a motion that she would like to move after I have concluded my response to the Thursday question. Following that, without anticipating the outcome of any vote of the House, there seems to be an appetite to allow members who will not be running in the next election to have two minutes each to make statements. Following these statements, we will continue with day one of the budget debate.
Tomorrow we will consider the last allotted day in this supply period. I do not know why the opposition coalition is talking about ending this very productive Parliament to force an unwanted and unnecessary election. Recent weeks have led me to conclude that this is the most dysfunctional Parliament in Canadian history.
Yesterday our Conservative government achieved royal assent for the following bills: Bill S-6 to eliminate the faint hope clause; Bill C-14 to provide hard-working Canadians some fairness at the gas pumps; Bill C-21 to crack down on white collar crime; Bill C-22 to crack down on those who would exploit our children through the Internet; Bill C-30, R. v. Shoker; Bill C-35 to crack down on crooked immigration consultants; Bill C-42 to provide aviation security; Bill C-48 to eliminate sentencing discounts for multiple murderers; Bill C-59 to get rid of early parole for white collar fraudsters, a bill the Liberal government opposed but the Bloc supported; Bill C-61, the freezing of assets of corrupt regimes; and Bill S-5, safe vehicles from Mexico. What a legacy for the Minister of Transport, Infrastructure and Communities.
The work of this Parliament is not done. There are a number of key and popular government bills that Canadians want. Next week, starting on Monday, we will call: Bill C-8, the Canada-Jordan free trade agreement; Bill C-46, the Canada-Panama free trade agreement; Bill C-51, investigative powers for the 21st century; and Bill C-52, lawful access.
Does the Minister of Justice ever stop fighting crime? He gets more and more done. In many respects, as House leader I am like the parliamentary secretary to the Minister of Justice.
Of course, we need to complete the budget debate to implement the next phase of Canada's economic action plan, a low tax plan for jobs and growth. Therefore, Tuesday we will debate day two of the budget, Wednesday we will debate day three of the budget and on Thursday we will debate day four of the budget. We have lots to do and I suggest to the members across that we turn our attention back to serving the interests of the public.
While I am on my feet, I would like to serve those interests by asking for unanimous consent for the following motion. I move that, notwithstanding any Standing Order or usual practices of the House, Bill C-49, An Act to amend the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act, the Balanced Refugee Reform Act and the Marine Transportation Security Act shall be deemed to have been read a second time, referred to a committee of the whole, deemed considered in committee of the whole, deemed reported without amendment, deemed concurred in at report stage and deemed read a third time and passed.
March 17th, 2011 / 10:45 a.m.
Rob Nicholson Niagara Falls, ON
The first bill you mentioned, Bill C-22, would require Internet service providers to turn over to the appropriate authority information with respect to child pornography. Again, in terms of what costs there might be to the federal government, we're not able to ascertain any particular cost requiring them to do what they have a moral responsibility to do.
A number of the bills are streamlining the processes that will actually help with the administration of justice. Another example is the bill that we have on megatrials. Streamlining the process and making the system work doesn't mean that millions of dollars in costs are going to be incurred by the federal government. What we say is, no, there are no ascertainable costs to the federal government, but I disagree with the characterization that somehow it's not important to bring them forward. I think they are very important.
This is what I'm asking committee members to do. If you're concerned about the costs, by all means, but for some of them there are no costs attached for the federal government that we can ascertain. Requiring an Internet service provider to turn over that evidence, for the most part, to provincial law enforcement agencies or to a designated authority is appropriate. Again, to be fair, many of them do this already. But in my discussions with them, I've said to them that a moral authority to turn over evidence of child pornography is not enough; they have to have a legal responsibility.
Again, the fact that there are no particular costs to the federal government is not something I would apologize for.
March 16th, 2011 / 5:15 p.m.
Yvon Godin Acadie—Bathurst, NB
All of the information has to be made available, but you didn't receive this, for example, on Bill C-22:
No detailed cost information is available because the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions cannot predict the number of prosecutions that will result due to this new Act. The penalties provided in the Act are fines, and, in some cases, a maximum 6 month sentence. As a result, the Correctional Service of Canada will not incur additional costs.
Do you believe that makes sense?
Opposition Motion--Documents Requested by the Standing Committee on Finance
Business of Supply
February 17th, 2011 / 4 p.m.
Daniel Petit Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Justice
Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise today regarding two important matters.
To begin with, I would like to explain to members how crime affects us all and how it is to some degree impossible to gauge the full cost of crime.
Secondly, the steps that we are taking to fight crime cannot be measured or determined solely by their cost. We have introduced wide-ranging legal reforms in an effort to respond to the concerns of victims and to mitigate the human costs associated with crime. These are major investments, and not only on a financial level.
Crime costs victims dearly; I would go so far as to say that it costs them very dearly. Of course, crime is very costly for all Canadians, but we know that it is the victims of crime who have to shoulder the bulk of this cost.
According to a recent study by the Department of Justice, the total cost of Criminal Code offences was estimated at $31.4 billion in 2008. Since there are no data available for many variables, we know this to be a conservative estimate. Still, it equates to a per capita cost of $943 for that year.
We know that victims are those most directly affected by crime. Of the $31.4 billion in costs, $14.3 billion are the direct result of crimes committed. This $14.3 billion covers medical care, hospitalization, loss of income, school absenteeism, and theft or property damage. More specifically, the drop in productivity accounts for 47% of the total cost borne by victims. Theft or property damage accounts for 42.9% and health care costs account for the remaining 10.1%. These costs are only the tip of the iceberg since they represent recoverable and identifiable expenses, such as those resulting from loss of property or medical care. There is nothing about this that is hard to understand.
The intangible costs such as fear, pain, suffering and decreased quality of life far outweigh the material costs. It is difficult, well nigh impossible, to precisely measure the cost of the emotional and psychological suffering caused by crime, and yet it is important to try to do so.
Research has shown that victims of violent crimes experience stress after being victimized. A crime can influence how victims view the world around them and how much they trust others. It can cause pain and suffering. We know that the psychological effects of crime-related trauma can last a long time. Because of a lack of data, early studies of the costs of crime did not take into account the pain and suffering experienced by victims. The situation is starting to improve because the intangible costs to victims are much too high to be ignored.
According to the results of the study by the Department of Justice, which I mentioned earlier, the intangible costs to victims total around $68.2 billion. Thus the total cost of crime in Canada in 2008 would be $99.6 billion. If we take into account intangible costs, the costs borne by victims represent 82.8% of the total costs. It is a fact that crime is costly for the victims.
The victims are the people most affected by acts of violence, but other people suffer as well. Family members mourn the death of a loved one or must put their daily activities on hold to accompany victims to court or to doctor's appointments, for example.
Governments provide various victims' services and compensation programs to directly help victims, and they work on strategic plans on these issues.
The third-party costs take all these costs into account. In 2008, the total third-party costs were about $2.2 billion.
Why do we need to know the cost of crime and the cost borne by the victims?
We know that no amount of money can adequately compensate a victim of crime or his family, especially when it comes to homicide. No one would choose to die in exchange for $2.5 million or would agree to an assault on his child in return for $10,000.
It is important, though, to establish these estimates. We know that resources are scarce and that programs such as those to increase the number of police officers on the beat or provide funding for health and welfare, to improve the environment, or to build highways and parks are always competing with one another for a share of the public purse.
There must be several facets to our attempt to allay the enormous costs incurred by the victims of crime.
Our government is determined to enhance the safety of all Canadians and raise their confidence in the justice system. That is important. We want to start by dealing with the main concerns of crime victims, those people who have discovered how the system works as a result of an unfortunate experience and have told us that changes are needed. We listened to them.
Canadians are proud of their justice system. It is admired the world over for its fairness. There is always room for improvement, though. Our government is determined to ensure that our justice system continues to be the envy of the world and, most of all, that it is valued in Canada.
In 2006, our government set out its plans for changes to the criminal justice system, and over the last five years, those plans have been realized. It was not easy to ensure that the key changes passed. We were and still are a minority government.
It is easy, though, to see that Canadians support our program to fight crime.
Canadians agree that the personal, financial and emotional consequences for crime victims and the public are too severe and that measures to make Canadians safer, hold offenders responsible and raise confidence in our justice systems are worth the investment.
Allow me to describe a few key legislative changes that illustrate how concerned we are about crime victims and the people of Canada in general.
Our changes were intended to make the punishment fit the crime a little better, something that crime victims and many other people had been demanding for a long time. Changes were made to protect children, our most vulnerable victims. Some changes focused on issues that affect Canadians in their daily lives, such as automobile theft, identity theft, drug-related crime, fraud and street racing.
I would remind the House of Bill C-25, the Truth in Sentencing Act, which was introduced on March 27, 2009 and passed three months later on June 8, 2009. The bill received royal assent on October 22, 2009, and the changes came into force on February 22, 2010.
In general, these changes limit the credit for time served in preventive detention to a one to one ratio. A maximum ratio of one and a half to one applies only when circumstances warrant. A maximum one to one ratio applies to the credit accorded offenders who broke their bail conditions or were denied bail because of their criminal record. No higher ratio is allowed than one to one, regardless of the circumstances.
This amendment to the Criminal Code was welcomed by those who were appalled by the two- or three-for-one sentencing credits being given to offenders who were detained before their trials.
Victims of crime welcomed this amendment, which is designed to guarantee that offenders serve their sentences. Victims do not want revenge; they want sentences to fit the crime. Bill C-25 addressed this concern.
Bill S-6, An Act to amend the Criminal Code and another Act, which dealt with the faint hope clause was recently passed by the House and the Senate and will soon be ready to receive royal assent. It will abolish the faint hope clause for individuals serving a life sentence for murder. Those who commit murder after this bill comes into effect will no longer be able to avail themselves of the faint hope clause. Family members of murder victims have been calling for the abolition of this clause for many years. We listened to them.
Our government is committed to abolishing the faint hope clause, which allows murderers who are serving life sentences to apply for parole after serving 15 years of their sentence rather than 25 years. As you can well imagine, murder victims' families could not understand how a life sentence could turn into parole after only 15 years. It was absolutely scandalous. As I said earlier, victims are not acting out of revenge; they just want the sentences to be reasonable. We listened to them.
I would also like to remind the House about Bill C-48, the Protecting Canadians by Ending Sentence Discounts for Multiple Murders Act, introduced on October 5, 2010. This bill deals with multiple murders and responds to the legitimate concerns of victims of crime, who feel that every homicide victim has to count and every sentence handed down to a murderer has to fit the seriousness of the crime. Life imprisonment means spending life in prison. It is impossible to give multiple murderers multiple life sentences since we have only one life. Nonetheless, Bill C-48 will allow a judge to impose consecutive periods of 25 years with no chance of parole for each murder conviction. For example, a person found guilty of two murders—the easiest case to understand—might have to spend 50 years in prison before being eligible for parole. Bill C-48 was passed by the House and is currently at second reading stage in the other place. This bill is another example of our goal to make the punishment fit the crime and to ensure that offenders are held accountable for their actions against victims.
I also want to talk about other reforms centred around victims. I am sure that my colleagues in this House will recall Bill C-21, the Standing up for Victims of White Collar Crime Act, which was introduced in the House of Commons on May 3, 2010 and passed by the House on December 15, 2010 and is currently before the other place. Bill C-21 provides a mandatory minimum sentence of two years for fraud over $1 million. As pointed out in the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights, of which I am a member, many cases of fraud involving large sums of money already end in prison sentences greater than two years.
I would also like to point out that Bill C-21 has been long awaited by victims of white collar crime. These reforms will do more than just add a minimum sentence. They will allow the court to issue an order prohibiting people who have been found guilty of fraud from having any authority over anyone else's money or property in order to ensure that they do not defraud others. Restitution for victims of fraud will be given greater importance, and the courts will be allowed to take into account community impact statements concerning the repercussions of the fraud. Community impact statements will be a vital tool that will serve to remind the court, the offender and the public that these crimes have negative repercussions on communities and on the victims who suffer direct financial losses.
We listened to victims.
Who among us has never had their car stolen or does not know someone who has had their car stolen? Car theft is common. It is a real scourge. It has a huge impact on our daily lives. Victims of car theft feel huge frustration that is compounded by the fact that the thief is not held to account. Bill S-9, An Act to amend the Criminal Code (auto theft and trafficking in property obtained by crime), also called the Tackling Auto Theft and Property Crime Act, was broadly supported and received royal assent on November 18, 2010. That bill will come into force soon.
These changes create new offences related to motor vehicle theft; altering, removing or obliterating a vehicle identification number; trafficking in property or proceeds obtained by crime; and possession of such property or proceeds for the purposes of trafficking. In addition, it provides for an in rem prohibition on the importation and exportation of such property or proceeds.
Bill S-9 also sets out mandatory minimum sentences for repeat offenders.
I will spare you the details of the bills aimed at amending legislation that have been passed by the government. The list is too long. However, I want to point out some, in particular the ones meant to protect our children.
For example, Bill C-22, An Act respecting the mandatory reporting of Internet child pornography by persons who provide an Internet service requires Internet service providers to report any child pornography on their network. A breach of that requirement could lead to a series of increasingly higher fines and the person could be put in prison for a maximum of six months for a third infraction and for each subsequent offence. Bill C-22 was widely supported in the House.
It goes without saying that Bill C-22 addresses the concerns of victims of crime. We listened to them. The bill aims to reduce the number of new victims of Internet child pornography. The federal ombudsman for victims of crime was very clear on the need for such a law; we created that ombudsman's office.
Before I conclude, I would be remiss if I did not mention Bill C-54, An Act to amend the Criminal Code (sexual offences against children), also known as the Protecting Children from Sexual Predators Act, which was passed on November 4, 2010.
These amendments will help us better protect children from sexual exploitation because of two new infractions, namely providing sexually explicit materials to a child for the purpose of facilitating the commission of a sexual offence against the child and agreeing or arranging to commit a sexual offence against a child.
These amendments will also require the court to consider attaching conditions to sentences for offenders found guilty of committing a sexual offence involving a child and offenders suspected of having committed this type of offence to ensure that they are not in contact with children under the age of 16 and that they do not use the Internet without supervision by a designated person.
This will allow for a more consistent enforcement of sentences for sexual offences involving children.
Bill C-54 is currently being studied by the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights, of which I am a member, and I suggest that, when it is returned to the House, all members show their support for protecting children by ensuring that this bill is passed quickly.
The government is proud of what it has accomplished for victims of crime and for the people of Canada. We are listening to victims of crime and to other stakeholders in the justice system, and we are making reforms that address the needs and concerns of Canadians.
Our government has listened to victims.
February 17th, 2011 / 10:05 a.m.
Mark Holland Ajax—Pickering, ON
I'm asking on Bill C-4, Bill C-5, Bill C-16, Bill C-17, Bill C-21, Bill C-22, Bill C-23B, Bill C-30, Bill C-35, Bill C-37, Bill C-38, Bill C-39, Bill C-43, Bill C-48, Bill C-49, Bill C-50, Bill C-51, Bill C-52, Bill C-53C-54, Bill C-59, Bill SS-6, Bill S-7, Bill S-10.
What are the costs? What are the head counts? What are the implications? Why won't you give them to Parliament?
Disposition of Abolition of Early Parole Act
February 14th, 2011 / 6:55 p.m.
Alexandra Mendes Brossard—La Prairie, QC
Mr. Speaker, I would like to participate in the debate on the motion to prevent debate on the content and substance of Bill C-59. I find it rather odd that the Bloc has supported the government's attempt to stifle any attempt at debate on the substance of this bill.
No one in the House can accuse the Liberals of not supporting the idea of eliminating parole eligibility after one-sixth of the sentence is served for economic crimes. Two years ago, my colleague from Bourassa, our candidate in Saint-Bruno—Saint-Hubert and our member for Lac-Saint-Louis participated in a press conference with several of Earl Jones' victims to call on the government to quickly bring forward a bill to eliminate parole eligibility after one-sixth of the sentence is served, especially for criminals who commit major fraud and have multiple victims.
No one can accuse the Liberals of not supporting that idea. I think it is really dishonest of the government to make that kind of accusation when it knows very well what the Liberals' position is. This was pointed out by my colleague from Notre-Dame-de-Grâce—Lachine.
Now I would like to talk about the debate and the fact that the Conservatives and the Bloc members want to limit the scope of the debate. Just seven months ago the members of the Bloc rose in the House to criticize the government for doing the exact same thing it is doing now with Bill C-59. The government moved a motion to block debate.
Last June, the member for Saint-Maurice—Champlain rose in the House to criticize the government for moving a motion to block debate on the Canada-Colombia Free Trade Agreement Implementation Act. The Bloc member for Hochelaga also rose to oppose a government motion to block debate on Bill C-9, the Jobs and Economic Growth Act, by imposing time allocation.
We are opposed to this time allocation motion because we believe that Bill C-59 addresses a very important issue. Furthermore, for two years now, the Liberals have been calling on the government to eliminate parole eligibility after one-sixth of the sentence is served for economic crimes like those committed by Earl Jones, Vincent Lacroix and others.
I think it is a shame that some would have people believe that the Liberals do not want to protect victims. That is simply not true. When the government introduced Bill C-21 on economic crimes and it was referred to committee, the Liberal justice critic proposed an amendment to the bill to eliminate eligibility for parole after one-sixth of the sentence in cases of economic crime. The Conservatives and the Bloc defeated the motion.
Every MP is entitled to his or her opinion on bills that we are called on to debate in the House. It is a fundamental aspect of the democratic process. The operative word here is “debate”, and the collusion between the Conservatives and the Bloc is preventing us from acting as responsible parliamentarians.
We would like to hear from experts. We want to know how this bill will truly address a gap in the law, how it will do justice to victims, how this bill will improve the chances of rehabilitation for those who once lost control of their lives.
Perhaps we should indeed eliminate parole after one-sixth of a sentence for offenders who have committed serious economic crimes and left a number of victims.
However, for non-violent criminal acts that are not fraud, we believe that evidence has shown that parole after one-sixth of a sentence has been very effective and that the rate of recidivism is much lower.
We will never know what the experts might have said since this closure motion eliminates any chance to consult experts. With this government so eager to control everything, it has become somewhat of a tradition to just pass a bill without any idea of the facts that might call it into question.
The Liberals are against this closure motion. It is not justified, and we regret that the Bloc has decided to join the Conservatives to limit the debate on this bill. As far as the substance of the bill is concerned, in the past and still today, no one could accuse the Liberals of not showing their support for eliminating parole after one-sixth of the sentence for economic crimes.
In order to illustrate the government's intellectual dishonesty, I would like to present a chronology of the Conservatives' failures in their so-called fight against crime.
I am referring here to the various bills that have died on the order paper for all sorts of reasons or that have remained in the House or at committee indefinitely.
Here they are. Bill C-15, An Act to amend the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act and to make related and consequential amendments to other Acts, died on the order paper when Parliament was prorogued; Bill C-19, An Act to amend the Criminal Code (investigative hearing and recognizance with conditions), died on the order paper before the House had a chance to vote on it; Bill C-26, An Act to amend the Criminal Code (auto theft and trafficking in property obtained by crime), also died on the order paper. It is certainly not the opposition that forced the government to prorogue Parliament.
Bill C-31, An Act to amend the Criminal Code, the Corruption of Foreign Public Officials Act and the Identification of Criminals Act and to make a consequential amendment to another Act, died on the order paper, and Bill C-36, An Act to amend the Criminal Code, on the faint hope clause, died on the order paper before being brought back this session. One committee meeting was held on Bill C-46, An Act to amend the Criminal Code, the Competition Act and the Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters Act, before it died on the order paper. Bill C-52, An Act to amend the Criminal Code (sentencing for fraud), which is related to Bill C-59, the bill we are dealing with today, died on the order paper when Parliament was prorogued. Bill C-58, An Act respecting the mandatory reporting of Internet child pornography by persons who provide an Internet service, died on the order paper. The prorogation of Parliament killed many bills.
Among the bills introduced by the Minister of Public Safety was Bill C-34, the Protecting Victims From Sex Offenders Act, which also died on the order paper. The bill to deter terrorism and to amend the State Immunity Act died on the order paper. Bill C-43, An Act to amend the Corrections and Conditional Release Act and the Criminal Code, died on the order paper. Bill C-47, An Act regulating telecommunications facilities to support investigations, died on the order paper. Bill C-53, An Act to amend the Corrections and Conditional Release Act (accelerated parole review) and to make consequential amendments to other Acts, died on the order paper. Bill C-60, An Act to implement the Framework Agreement on Integrated Cross-Border Maritime Law Enforcement Operations between the Government of Canada and the Government of the United States of America, died on the order paper.
To date, no meetings have been held to discuss Bill C-16, An Act to amend the Criminal Code. Bill C-17, An Act to amend the Criminal Code (investigative hearing and recognizance with conditions), was given first reading 51 days after Parliament was prorogued, and the committee still has not met to discuss that bill.
Bill C-21, An Act to amend the Criminal Code (sentencing for fraud), was fast-tracked at committee in just one meeting and still has not reached second reading. Bill C-22, An Act respecting the mandatory reporting of Internet child pornography by persons who provide an Internet service, was given first reading 64 days after Parliament was prorogued, and the government delayed it for 26 days at report stage because of the debate on the short title.
Bill C-48, An Act to amend the Criminal Code and to make consequential amendments to the National Defence Act, was given first reading 89 days after Parliament was prorogued, and we are still waiting for the next step. Bill C-50, An Act to amend the Criminal Code (interception of private communications and related warrants and orders), was given first reading after 94 days, and we are still waiting. First reading of An Act to amend the Criminal Code, the Competition Act and the Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters Act took place 243 days after Parliament was prorogued. Bill C-53, An Act to amend the Criminal Code (mega-trials), was given first reading and nothing more.
Bill C-54, An Act to amend the Criminal Code (sexual offences against children) only made it to first reading. Bill C-5, An Act to amend the International Transfer of Offenders Act was introduced at first reading by the Minister of Public Safety 15 days after prorogation. Two committee meetings were held and nothing has happened since. As for Bill C-23B, An Act to amend the Criminal Records Act and to make consequential amendments to other Acts, we are still waiting. After a few meetings on the subject, the minister was supposed to come back with amendments that he felt were necessary in order to make the bill more comprehensive and definitely more respectful. Bill C-39, An Act to amend the Corrections and Conditional Release Act and to make consequential amendments to other Acts was introduced for first reading 104 days after prorogation and we still have not met in committee to discuss it. Bill C-49, An Act to amend the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act, the Balanced Refugee Reform Act and the Marine Transportation Security Act was introduced for first reading 232 days after prorogation and there it remains. Bill C-52, An Act regulating telecommunications facilities to support investigations was also introduced for first reading 243 days after prorogation and we are waiting for the next step. The Senate introduced Bill S-7, An Act to deter terrorism and to amend the State Immunity Act for first reading 49 days after prorogation and we are still waiting for the next step. Bill S-10, An Act to amend the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act and to make related and consequential amendments to other Acts was introduced for first reading in the Senate 60 days after prorogation. Bill S-13, An Act to implement the Framework Agreement on Integrated Cross-Border Maritime Law Enforcement Operations between the Government of Canada and the Government of the United States of America was introduced for first reading 237 days after prorogation.
I am pointing this out to prove that it is not the opposition parties that are slowing the process down. For all sorts of unknown reasons, the government introduces these bill and then goes no further with them.
To conclude, I would like to question the justification for Bill C-59 and the fact that the Conservatives and the Bloc felt this was urgent enough to warrant this closure motion, which is an affront to parliamentary dialogue.
Disposition of Abolition of Early Parole Act
February 14th, 2011 / 6:05 p.m.
Chris Charlton Hamilton Mountain, ON
Mr. Speaker, I listened closely to the comments of the member in this chamber, and I am a bit surprised, because he is actually engaging in substantive debate around the bill to which the time allocation motion applies. However, what is really before us in the House today is the time allocation motion itself and the government cutting off the amount of time for debate on the bill.
We should not be debating the merits of the bill itself at all, yet I just heard the member say that all kinds of crime bills have been stalled at committee.
Let me give the House a number of the bills that have now passed through the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights: C-4, C-5, C-16, C-17, C-21, C-22, C-23A, C-23B, C-39, C-48, C-50, C-51, C-52, S-2, S-6, S-7, S-9 and S-10. Can the member really suggest that the crime agenda of the government is being stalled?
Some of us would argue they are the only bills we have been dealing with in the House. I wish the member would return to what we are really debating here tonight, and that is the time allocation motion, not the substance of the government's crime agenda.
Standing Committee on Finance
February 11th, 2011 / 10:35 a.m.
Marlene Jennings Notre-Dame-de-Grâce—Lachine, QC
Mr. Speaker, I am saddened today to feel the obligation to rise to address comments with regard to the question of privilege raised by the member for Kings—Hants on February 7.
It is like the movie Groundhog Day. Anyone is familiar with that movie knows it was very successful. American actor Bill Murray relives the day over and over again until he learns his lesson.
It appears the government is reliving the same thing and forcing all other members of the House of Commons and Canadians to relive the same days we experienced back in 2009-10 with regard to a request from the special committee on Afghanistan for the production of documents from the government. The government resisted that. It took a question of privilege to be raised in the House. It took comments from many members of the House. It took considerable reflection and study on your part, Mr. Speaker, before you made a ruling that there was a prima facie case of privilege in that regard.
Yet, again, we are faced with the exact same situation today.
If I look at the timeline, the House of Commons Standing Committee on Finance tabled its 10th report on Monday, February 7. The member for Kings—Hants, pursuant to that report, raised the question of privilege of which we are now all aware.
However, I wish to note a number of points. I also wish to address, in particular, the issues of cabinet confidence and the requests with regard to all the justice bills. It is important to do so, particularly with the time of events and the government's response to date to the committee's requests for the production of documents. We have not yet heard the government's response in the House with regard to the question of privilege.
On November 17, 2010, the Standing Committee on Finance passed a motion, ordering the Government of Canada to provide the committee with five-year projections of total corporate profits before taxes and effective corporate tax rates from the 2010-11 fiscal year until the 2014-15 fiscal year, inclusive. The November 17 motion also ordered the government to provide the committee with certain financial information pertaining to justice bills, which I will enumerate.
As all members in the House know, I am the justice critic for the official opposition. Therefore, all the information, all the documents requested through the motion of the finance committee have direct pertinence to the committee on justice and human rights. Those justice bills were Bill C-4, the youth criminal justice bill, Bill C-5, Bill C-16, Bill C-17, Bill C-21, Bill C-22, Bill C-23A, Bill C-23B, Bill C-39, Bill C-48, Bill C-50, Bill C-51, Bill C-52, Bill S-2, Bill S-6, Bill S-7, Bill S-9 and Bill S-10.
The motion specifically requested:
—detailed cost accounting, analysis and projections, including assumptions, for each of the bills and Acts, conducted in accordance with the Treasury Board Guide to Costing.
Members are now aware, by the issue of privilege raised by the member for Kings—Hants, that the motion established a deadline of seven calendar days, which ended on November 24, 2010.
On November 24, Finance Canada replied to the committee, and I will read the department's response in its entirety because it is quite important, particularly to any Canadian and any member sitting in the House who takes his or her work as an elected official representing Canadians, a sacred duty in fact, to know the response. It said:
Projections of corporate profits before taxes and effective corporate income tax rates are a Cabinet confidence. As such, we are not in a position to provide these series to the Committee.
The department claimed it was not in a position to provide these documents to the committee because, according to the government, these documents were a cabinet confidence. That is the heart of the matter. Do the documents requested constitute a cabinet confidence and, if so, are they excluded from the rule of the House of Commons, the power and authority of Parliament, to require documents to be provided?
As the House knows, because it has been mentioned by others in the House who have commented on the issue of privilege raised by the member for Kings—Hants, the government has yet to speak to this issue. I understand that one of the parliamentary secretaries has said the government is taking note of all of members' comments in the House, relating to the issue of privilege, and will respond in due course.
On December 1, 2010, one full week after the deadline of November 24, 2010, the committee received a reply from Justice Canada regarding projected costs of the justice bills. I will read the response by Justice Canada in its entirety. It said:
The issue of whether there are any costs associated with the implementation of any of the Government's Justice bills is a matter of Cabinet confidence and, as such, the Government is not in a position to provide such information or documents.
That is interesting because in justice committee, of which I am a member, when we have repeatedly asked the minister for the cost analysis of a government bill before the committee, the minister has never stated that he could not give us that information because it is a matter of confidence. I would challenge members to check the transcripts of justice committee. What I did hear was he did not have the information with him or some befuddled answer that did not answer the question.
On December 7, 2010, after the government had refused to provide the information ordered by finance committee by the established deadline, the member for Kings—Hants provided the committee with written notice of a motion by which, if passed, the committee would draw the attention of the House to what appeared to be a breach of its privileges. That has been done. The committee adopted the motion and the member for Kings—Hants rose in the House to speak to the issue.
On December 10, the committee received an additional response from the Department of Finance Canada in answer to its motion ordering the production of documents relating to the projections regarding corporate taxes before profits.
In response, the department stated:
To the best of its knowledge, the Department of Finance has determined that [the] "series" or projections of corporate profits before taxes or the effective corporate income tax rates have never been previously disclosed. These projections are from a comprehensive economic and fiscal projection that constitutes a Cabinet confidence.
To reiterate, according to the second or additional response of the Department of Finance to the finance committee, the Department of Finance, acting on behalf of the government, claimed that these projections have never been previously disclosed and constitute a cabinet confidence.
As pointed out in this chamber before, but which bears repetition, I would suggest to any Canadian to Google the phrase, “Corporate tax profits before taxes”, and restrict their search to the domain of the Department of Finance Canada. That Canadian would get exactly two results: the HTML and PDF versions of “The Economic and Fiscal Update“ from November 2005. In that update, we find precisely the information that the Department of Justice, in its December 10 additional response to the finance committee, claimed had never previously been disclosed because it constituted a cabinet confidence. In fact, it was disclosed in the November 2005 economic and fiscal update that was issued by the previous government comprised of the Liberal Party of Canada's elected members of Parliament.
Therefore, the assertion on the part of the government, through its Department of Finance, justifying its refusal to obey, respect and act on the order of the finance committee to produce the documents is an outright fabrication.
The government department could have said that in the past the information had been released, but that the policy had been changed with a new interpretation of what constituted a cabinet confidence and, as a result, would not be releasing those documents to the finance committee. However, that was not the reason given by the department, by the government, for refusing to release that information. The reason given to the committee for not providing that information, that it is a cabinet confidence, is pure nonsense.
What is the state of legislation regarding cabinet confidence?
As mentioned, one can look to the Access to Information Act and the law of evidence act, and one will find that the government does not have a leg to stand on, and in fact does not have two legs to stand on.
Any reasonable Canadian reading the pertinent sections of the Access to Information Act and the law of evidence act would see that the two responses given by the Department of Finance and the response given by the Department of Justice are nonsense.
As I said, we know that in 2005 the previous government recognized that projections of corporate tax profits before taxes were not covered by cabinet confidence. Such projections are not considered a cabinet confidence when, as is the case with Finance Canada's revenue model, these projections are used by the department in a manner not exclusively related to cabinet operations.
What has changed between 2005 and 2010-11? On what grounds is the government now claiming that these projections constitute a cabinet confidence when there was no such assertion in the past and governments in the past have in fact provided and disclosed that information?
The costs of the justice bills are also important because the Department of Justice, as well, replied to the finance committee by claiming cabinet confidence as a justification for not releasing that information to the finance committee.
We know that due diligence would have required that cabinet consider the cost implications of each justice bill before making a decision to proceed with each bill. We know that under normal practices, an analysis of the cost implications of each justice bill would have been included with the memorandum to cabinet prepared for each justice bill.
Why do we know this? We know it because the Liberal Party of Canada has formed government in the past. We know that when we came power the government that preceded us, the one formed by the Progressive Conservative Party of Canada, had done that as well. So these are normal practices. These are practices of a prudent, diligent and competent government.
No diligent, prudent and competent government would consider an issue, whether amendments, or a justice bill bringing in new legislation to the Criminal Code or amending existing sections of the Criminal Code, because that constitutes government policy, would do so without informing itself of the cost of those changes.
That is what previous governments have done, because those previous governments, whatever their faults, have followed prudent, diligent and competent practices with regard to taking decisions on issues brought before cabinet.
As I said, we know that under normal practices, an analysis of the cost implications of each justice bill would have been included with the memorandum to cabinet prepared for each justice bill.
Now let us look at the legislation that deals with what is, or is not, cabinet confidence and whether or not something that falls into cabinet confidence can be accessible.
If one looks at section 69 of the Access to Information Act, it tells us that such analysis and background information is not, and I repeat, not, a cabinet confidence, if the cabinet decision to which the analysis relates has been made public.
A cost analysis of the implications of a justice bill should have been included, and I believe was included, in the memorandum to cabinet, as it is on each and every justice bill.
February 7th, 2011 / 4:35 p.m.
Executive Director, Canadian Centre for Child Protection