Nunavut Planning and Project Assessment Act

An Act respecting land use planning and the assessment of ecosystemic and socio-economic impacts of projects in the Nunavut Settlement Area and making consequential amendments to other Acts

This bill was last introduced in the 40th Parliament, 3rd Session, which ended in March 2011.

Sponsor

Chuck Strahl  Conservative

Status

Second reading (House), as of May 12, 2010
(This bill did not become law.)

Summary

This is from the published bill. The Library of Parliament often publishes better independent summaries.

This enactment implements certain provisions of Articles 10 to 12 of the land claims agreement between the Inuit of the Nunavut Settlement Area and Her Majesty the Queen in right of Canada that was ratified, given effect and declared valid by the Nunavut Land Claims Agreement Act, which came into force on July 9, 1993.

Elsewhere

All sorts of information on this bill is available at LEGISinfo, provided by the Library of Parliament. You can also read the full text of the bill.

Northern Jobs and Growth Act
Government Orders

March 4th, 2013 / 1:20 p.m.
See context

NDP

Carol Hughes Algoma—Manitoulin—Kapuskasing, ON

Mr. Speaker, I will be sharing my time with the hon. member for Portneuf—Jacques-Cartier.

I rise to speak to Bill C-47, An Act to enact the Nunavut Planning and Project Assessment Act and the Northwest Territories Surface Rights Board Act and to make related and consequential amendments to other Acts. The New Democrats will be supporting this bill despite the reluctance on the part of the government to adopt any of our amendments, which is surprising since it is such a lengthy piece of technical legislation. Even Conservative committee members acknowledged that it was not all of what anyone wanted, but refused to accept improvements to the bill as requested through witness testimony. The witnesses are the people who will have to implement or abide by the legislation.

Certainly the NDP supports consultation and consensus-based decision making that respect the autonomy of the government of Nunavut and the Northwest Territories. Yet it can easily be argued that this should have been two separate pieces of legislation. While that would have made sense, it is also important to move these two items forward.

Part of this legislation is related to mining in the Northwest Territories. My colleague, the member for Western Arctic, has given an articulate account of our thoughts on that matter. His insight reflects the history of mining in that area and frames the way forward through the challenges that have been dealt with, some of which, it must be said, not dealt with particularly well.

My colleague showed how mining was critical to the northern economy, but he also showed how there was a significant public cost associated with projects that went wrong. He explained how the government was on the hook for the environmental fallout associated with the Giant Mine. In that case, we are left with 270,000 tonnes of arsenic perpetually frozen underground and will have to be dealt with by future generations. This is the kind of outcome the New Democrats have been reminding the government about on all manners of projects and its reluctance to admit there are environmental costs that relate to natural resource projects is mind-boggling and speaks to a kind of wilful ignorance that creates a climate of mistrust on all manners of initiatives as a result.

Suffice it to say, the New Democrats feel that more consultation should have been allowed on the Northwest Territories Surface Rights Board Act part of this bill. However, that part of the bill does not sit in isolation and we are glad to see that the Nunavut land claims agreement is moving ahead, considering that it has been in preparation for almost two decades. Yes, that was even under the Liberals.

Certainly, that element of this bill is less contentious. This part of the legislation has been around this place for a number of years. It was originally introduced in 2010 as Bill C-25, the Nunavut planning and project assessment act. Given the length of time it has been in the works, we can understand that there may be some frustrations from the people who live in Nunavut. They have been waiting for their legislation to pass so they can move on and begin understanding how it will work.

When we look back at the legislative summary of the former Bill C-25, which still applies to Bill C-47, it reads:

In a landmark ruling in 1973 the Supreme Court of Canada confirmed that Aboriginal peoples’ historic occupation of the land gave rise to legal rights in the land that had survived European settlement. In 1982, the Constitution was amended to “recognize and affirm” the “existing aboriginal and treaty rights of the aboriginal peoples of Canada.” “Treaty rights” include rights under land claims agreements.

Those developments lead to the Nunavut land claims agreement of 1993, which lays out some key objectives that are related to the legislation before us. They are: to provide for certainty and clarity of rights to ownership and use of lands and resources and of rights for Inuit to participate in decision-making concerning the use, management and conservation of land, water and resources, including the offshore; to provide Inuit with wildlife harvesting rights and rights to participate in decision-making concerning wildlife harvesting; to provide Inuit with financial compensation and means of participating in economic opportunities; and to encourage self-reliance and the cultural and social well-being of Inuit.

The provisions of the Nunavut land claims agreement provide for the federal government and the Inuit to establish a joint regime for land and resource management in articles 10 to 12.

Article 10 sets out the criteria for the land and resource institutions to be created, while article 11 sets out the parameters for land use planning within the Nunavut settlement area. Article 12 details how development impact is to be evaluated.

Under article 10, the federal government undertakes to establish the following government institutions to administer the regime: a surface rights tribunal, Nunavut Planning Commission, Nunavut Impact Review Board and Nunavut Water Board. Part of this was dealt with when Parliament enacted the Nunavut Waters and Nunavut Surface Rights Tribunal Act, in 2002. The current bill meets the government's obligations as they relate to the other two institutions, the Nunavut Planning Commission and the Nunavut Impact Review Board. That said, we are well aware that both of these institutions already exist; they have existed since 1997, under the Nunavut settlement agreement. Bill C-25, and now Bill C-47, formalize their establishment in legislation and set out how they will continue to operate.

We can look to the legislative summary, which tells us that work on the Nunavut planning and project assessment act began in 2002. To fulfill its obligation for close consultation with Inuit, the Government of Canada established a Nunavut legislative working group, consisting of the Government of Canada, represented by Indian and Northern Affairs Canada, Nunavut Tunngavik Inc., and the Government of Nunavut, supported by the participation of the NPC and the NIRB. The working group met regularly through 2007 to discuss and resolve policy issues, gaps that the bill should address, and resolve questions and legal interpretation of the agreement and how these solutions should be reflected in the bill. When these issues were satisfactorily advanced, in 2007, drafting of the bill began, with oversight and direction from the working group.

The government's backgrounder allows us to summarize the parts of the bill that are relevant to the Nunavut planning and project assessment act. It states that the proposed legislation would continue the functioning of the commission and board and clearly define and describe their powers, duties and functions, including how their members are appointed. It would also clearly define the roles and authorities of Inuit, federal and territorial governments. It would establish timelines for decision-making in the land use planning and environmental assessment processes, to create a more efficient and predictable regulatory regime. It would define how and why, and by whom, land use plans would be prepared, amended, reviewed and implemented in Nunavut.

It would also describe the process by which the commission and the board would examine development proposals and harmonize the assessment process for transboundary projects, by providing for a review by joint panels and an opportunity for the board to review and assess projects outside the area that may have an adverse impact on the Nunavut settlement area.

It would provide for the development of general and specific monitoring plans that would enable both governments to track the environmental, social and economic impacts of projects and establish effective enforcement tools to ensure terms and conditions from the plans and impact assessment processes are followed. It would also streamline the impact assessment process, especially for smaller projects, and provide industry with clear, consistent and transparent guidelines, making investment in Nunavut more attractive and profitable.

Given the fact that I do not have much time to finish my speech, I will end with this. It is clear that there is a fair amount of support for the Nunavut part of the bill. New Democrats will be supporting the bill, but we feel it should have been improved at committee. Unfortunately, government members refused to do this.

New Democrats will continue to fight for the rights of northerners and for the long-term prosperity of northern communities. In as much as the bill largely supports that idea, we will give it our support. Hopefully, through the questions, someone will ask me to finish my speech.

December 5th, 2012 / 4:55 p.m.
See context

NDP

Jean Crowder Nanaimo—Cowichan, BC

I want to thank the witnesses for coming before the committee today and for their testimony.

We on this side would have welcomed the Nunavut Planning and Project Assessment Act being reintroduced as a stand-alone piece of legislation. That would have allowed us to deal with it expeditiously. As you're well aware, Bill C-25 was introduced two years ago, in May 2010, actually. I know there were some minor changes, and we actually reviewed both pieces of legislation. There were minor changes to that legislation, but it would have been easy for our committee to deal with that stand-alone piece of legislation instead of bundling it in with the Northwest Territories and Yukon as well.

I've gone back to the old Bill C-25 for some testimony, and I also have a funding question. I know that part of this you may not be able to answer. In May 2010 a witness for the Nunavut Impact Review Board came before the committee to testify on something else, but in their testimony, with the legislation having been newly introduced, the witness indicated that additional resources will be required for the boards to participate in implementing and planning and then in equipping the organizations to meet new requirements and timelines.

On May 27, 2010, the deputy minister did provide assurances to the members of the committee by saying that implementation will add to the workload of certain agencies in Nunavut, including the Nunavut Impact Review Board, but that they would get the resources they needed. However, it was not made clear in the deputy minister's response exactly how much funding would be dedicated to this purpose and when it would be received.

As my colleague pointed out, regarding NTI funding responsibility, clause 39 recommends that the bill provide that the federal government be responsible for funding the commission and board.

In your testimony, you indicated that once the act is passed and the implementation plan is put in place, you feel confident that funding will be provided. You'll have to forgive me, but there's a degree of cynicism on my part about that, and perhaps a degree of disbelief, because I come from British Columbia, where the B.C. First Nations Education Act was passed in 2007 and is still not appropriately funded five years later.

I wonder if you have some assurances from the government about the timeframes for when funding will be committed and whether the amounts that are on the table are going to be sufficient to meet the needs, given the new responsibilities that are going to be on your plate.

Northern Jobs and Growth Act
Government Orders

November 26th, 2012 / 1:50 p.m.
See context

NDP

Jean Crowder Nanaimo—Cowichan, BC

Mr. Speaker, I stand to speak to Bill C-47, An Act to enact the Nunavut Planning and Project Assessment Act and the Northwest Territories Surface Rights Board Act and to make related and consequential amendments to other Acts.

Article 19 of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples states:

States shall consult and cooperate in good faith with the indigenous peoples concerned through their own representative institutions in order to obtain their free, prior and informed consent before adopting and implementing legislative or administrative measures that may affect them.

The reason I am reading that into the record today is that, with the legislation, it is very important since the Government of Canada did sign on to the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, we would hope that it would expect that free, prior and informed consent. I raise it in the context of the Northwest Territories Surface Rights Board Act. I raise that become it seems that some groups and organizations from the Northwest Territories feel that they have not been adequately consulted on this legislation.

The New Democrats will support sending this legislation at second reading to committee so we can fully review it. This is lengthy legislation and it would make some amendments to other acts.

Part of this legislation was originally introduced in 2010. It was Bill C-25, Nunavut planning and project assessment act. I will read from the legislative summary because it is still applicable to the legislation that we have before us. It is an important part of where we are going with this bill. I will focus mostly on Nunavut. My friend from Western Arctic covered some of the issues around the Northwest Territories.

In the legislative summary of Bill C-25, which is applicable to Bill C-47, it reads:

In a landmark ruling in 1973 the Supreme Court of Canada confirmed that Aboriginal peoples’ historic occupation of the land gave rise to legal rights in the land that had survived European settlement. In 1982, the Constitution was amended to “recognize and affirm” the “existing aboriginal and treaty rights of the aboriginal peoples of Canada.” “Treaty rights” include rights under land claims agreements.

The Nunavut land claims agreement of 1993 took numerous years in order to be negotiated but there are some key objectives to the agreement that are related to the legislation before us.

The objectives of the agreement are:

to provide for certainty and clarity of rights to ownership and use of lands and resources and of rights for Inuit to participate in decision-making concerning the use, management and conservation of land, water and resources, including the offshore,

to provide Inuit with wildlife harvesting rights and rights to participate in decision-making concerning wildlife harvesting,

to provide Inuit with financial compensation and means of participating in economic opportunities, [and]

to encourage self-reliance and the cultural and social well-being of Inuit.

Under the provisions of the Nunavut land claims agreement, there are a couple of things:

Among many other things, the Nunavut Land Claims Agreement provides for the federal government and the Inuit to establish a joint regime for land and resource management (articles 10 to 12). Article 10 sets out the criteria for the land and resource institutions to be created, while article 11 sets out the parameters for land use planning within the Nunavut Settlement Area, and article 12 details how development impact is to be evaluated.

Under article 10, the federal government undertakes to establish the following government institutions to administer the regime:

Surface Rights Tribunal;

Nunavut Planning Commission (NPC);

Nunavut Impact Review Board (NIRB); and

Nunavut Water Board.

Canada partially fulfilled its obligations by establishing the first and fourth of these institutions when Parliament enacted the Nunavut Waters and Nunavut Surface Rights Tribunal Act 11 in 2002. Bill C-25 [which is now Bill C-47] fulfills the government’s obligations with regards to the other two institutions, the NPC and the NIRB. Note, however, that both of these institutions already exist. They came into being in 1997 under the Nunavut Settlement Agreement. Bill C-25 formalizes their establishment in legislation and sets out how they will continue to operate.

Again, the legislative summary indicates that:

Work on the Nunavut Planning and Project Assessment Act began in 2002. To fulfill its obligation for close consultation with Inuit, the Government of Canada established the Nunavut Legislative Working Group, consisting of the Government of Canada (represented by Indian and Northern Affairs Canada), Nunavut Tunngavik Incorporated, and the Government of Nunavut, and supported by the participation of the NPC and the NIRB.

The Working Group met regularly through to 2007 to discuss and resolve policy issues, gaps the bill should address, and resolve questions and legal interpretation of the agreement and how these solutions should be reflected in the bill. When these issues were satisfactorily advanced in 2007, drafting of the bill began with oversight and direction from the Working Group.

I will use the government's backgrounder to quickly summarize the key elements in the bill that are relevant around the Nunavut planning and project assessment.

The proposed legislation will:

Continue the functioning of the Commission and the Board and clearly define and describe their powers, duties and functions, including how their members are appointed. It will also clearly define the roles and authorities of Inuit, federal and territorial governments;

Establish timelines for decision-making in the land use planning and environmental assessment processes to create a more efficient and predictable regulatory regime;

Define how, and by whom, Land Use Plans will be prepared, amended, reviewed and implemented in Nunavut;

Describe the process by which the Commission and the Board will examine development proposals; and

Harmonize the assessment process for transboundary projects by providing for review by joint panels and providing an opportunity for the Board to review and assess projects outside the Area that may have an adverse impact on the Nunavut Settlement Area;

Provide for the development of general and specific monitoring plans that will enable both governments to track the environmental, social and economic impacts of projects;

Establish effective enforcement tools to ensure terms and conditions from the plans and impact assessment process are followed; and

Streamline the impact assessment process, especially for smaller projects, and provide industry with clear, consistent and transparent guidelines, making investments in Nunavut more attractive and profitable.

Generally speaking, there is fairly wide support for the Nunavut part of the bill. Again, this goes back to 2010 when, before the aboriginal affairs committee of the day, the Nunavut Water Board appeared and indicated some support. Other organizations, as well as some of the mining companies, had indicated some support. However, some concerns are still being raised.

In a letter that we received from legal counsel from NTI, it anticipated that a number of amendments would be required to ensure the bill's compliance with the Nunavut land claims agreement. NTI intends to make submissions to the parliamentary committees on these aspects of the bill. It stated that it would be important that adequate time and space be available for NTI to make oral and written submissions to the committee, as well as NTI's regional Inuit associations, the NPC, NIRB and the Government of Nunavut if it so desired.

It is important to note that, although there is support, people still feel there are some amendments that are required to this particular section of the bill.

A number of concerns had been raised about funding and I will turn to the testimony that came before the committee back on May 13, 2010. The members of the NIRB indicated at that time that funding was always a concern. Once again, we have legislation where funding has not been built into it, and, of course, it is often not. However, there has not been a commitment around funding.

In response to questions posed at the committee to the deputy minister in 2010 about the commitment the government and the department had toward funding, the deputy minister provided assurances--

The House resumed consideration of the motion that Bill C-25, An Act relating to pooled registered pension plans and making related amendments to other Acts, be read the third time and passed, and of the motion that this question be now put.

February 28th, 2012 / 3:50 p.m.
See context

Guillaum Dubreuil Vice-President, Public Affairs, Regroupement des jeunes chambres de commerce du Québec

Thank you very much.

We would like to thank you for inviting the Regroupement des jeunes chambres de commerce du Québec to appear. Our organization is dedicated to defending and promoting the social and economic interests of our membership, our membership being the young members of Quebec's business community. The RJCCQ is a complete network of entrepreneurs, small business owners and professionals which has been representing and defending its members for over 20 years now. Our membership comprises more than 7,500 individuals found in approximately 30 young chambers of commerce and professional organizations. We have noted that our members are currently facing a problem that we are trying to deal with and we believe that this pension plan may go a long way to solving this issue.

We recently surveyed our members with Question Retraite, one of our partners. The problem is as follows: more than half of our members surveyed were under the impression that they were going to have to work beyond the age of 65. They did not feel that they would be in any position to retire at age 65. Of course, we encourage members who so choose to work as long as they wish, as long as they desire to do so. Of course, when people like their jobs, we encourage them to continue, there is no doubt about that. However, we do not believe that our generation should have to shoulder the cost of the demographic changes facing Canada. Consequently, we believe that it is important to provide this new generation of workers with significant tools so that they can prepare for their retirement properly. We therefore believe that the plan proposed here is a very attractive option.

The second trend noted in the survey was that most of our members—more than 50%—had no confidence in the savings plan provided by their employer. If given the choice, the majority would prefer to have a salary hike and be able to generate their income and savings themselves instead of relying on their employer, considering the situations that we have witnessed over the past few years. Once again, the plan outlined in Bill C-25 does address some of these concerns. We would encourage you to go ahead with this measure.

Finally, a large proportion of our members are in small businesses. We also believe that this measure could encourage their growth. The reason is a very simple one; we believe that by providing such pension plans—despite the fact that certain employees had less confidence in such plans—small businesses will be able to be as competitive as their larger counterparts, in terms of the employment conditions that they are able to provide. In so doing, small businesses will be better able to retain their skilled employees rather than losing them to larger companies. When combined with measures such as our proposed entrepreneurship access regime, we believe that this will help stabilize the growth of small businesses and promote entrepreneurship which, obviously, will be beneficial for the entire Canadian economy.

The only recommendation that we would make now is that you not force employers to contribute to such a plan, particularly small businesses, as this would cancel out the economic stability and flexibility. We obviously believe that most of our members and small businesses who can will in fact contribute to such a plan, but forcing them to do so would certainly pose a problem.

Thank you.

March 16th, 2011 / 5 p.m.
See context

Parliamentary Budget Officer, Library of Parliament

Kevin Page

Agreed, sir. I would highlight as well that when we look back, the only information available to parliamentarians right now on crime legislation—and I'm not aware of any specific paper that has been drafted other than the material that was provided today, which I have not seen—that has been brought together in a consolidated fashion would be the report on plans and priorities for 2010-11. There are no specific breakouts provided for Bill C-25, the Truth in Sentencing Act, or any other legislation.

Again, in the budget documents, which are planning documents, we have not seen reference to specific crime legislation, so we don't know how the baselines have been adjusted or whether or not they should be adjusted.

March 16th, 2011 / 2:10 p.m.
See context

Don Head Commissioner, Correctional Service of Canada

As the minister pointed out, the cost for Bill C-25 is $2.1 billion over five years, of which $1.2 billion is staff costs. Our ongoing operating costs for Bill C-25 are $448 million a year. That encompasses, Mr. Martin, the staff costs that you've been talking about.

March 16th, 2011 / 1:50 p.m.
See context

Conservative

Vic Toews Provencher, MB

Let me say first of all that I'm not aware that any information was requested on Bill C-25.

The $2.1 billion number comes in respect of the construction of new units for prisons. Presently our capacity in prisons is approximately 15,000. Mr. Head, the commissioner, is here. The $2.1 billion is for the construction of approximately 2,700 additional units and for replacing some of the aging infrastructure that is required.

Let me repeat, Mr. Lukiwski, that there are no new prisons. These are 2,700 units in existing prisons. That is the estimate we received from Corrections Canada on what we would need with the increase as a result of the truth-in-sentencing laws.

The estimate last year was that by this month this year there would be approximately 1,300 new prisoners. I received the figures this morning, and there are 500-and-some new prisoners. So even on those kinds of estimates, where the department has diligently tried to estimate what the costs are going to be, the costs will not be as much, given the fact that the estimates made by Corrections Canada are about half of what was originally estimated.

The estimates will change from month to month, but in terms of the information we've provided you, of the $2.1 billion, $800 million relates to construction costs and $1.2 billion or so relates to operating costs over five years.

March 16th, 2011 / 1:50 p.m.
See context

Conservative

Tom Lukiwski Regina—Lumsden—Lake Centre, SK

Thank you very much, Mr. Chair.

Thank you, Ministers, and thank you to your officials for being here.

Minister Toews, number one, thank you for providing the information. Obviously this information is attempting to support, elaborate, and probably clarify the information that was tabled last month in the House. I know that Mr. Brison and others obviously have their own agenda, but it is, in my view, transparency at work.

[Laughter]

We've heard a lot of numbers. We've heard the number $2.1 billion over five years. That's to put an end to the revolving door of the justice system and put criminals behind bars, where they belong to begin with.

In information that you tabled in the House or the government House leader tabled in the House on your behalf last month, it showed the government's remaining tough on crime legislation costing approximately $650 million. I think Minister Nicholson said it's $631 million--close enough. Canadians obviously are hearing a lot of numbers. I'd like to give you an opportunity to clarify what these numbers mean.

If you take the $2.1 billion that you had said would be the cost over five years and add the $631 million or $650 million, that totals approximately $2.7 billion.

Is the cost information regarding Bill C-25, the $2.1 billion, included in this information? And if not, why not? Secondly, if it's not, would it be accurate to say that, fundamentally, the total cost of the crime legislation has already been disclosed?

February 28th, 2011 / 3:30 p.m.
See context

Colonel Retired) Michel W. Drapeau (Professor, Faculty of Law, University of Ottawa

Mr. Chair, let me open by thanking members of the committee for permitting me to appear before you this afternoon to present a commentary on Bill C-41.

Let me say at the outset that Bill C-41 contains a number of very useful changes. I recommend your support of these legislative measures. However, I also have a number of serious concerns about Bill C-41, most of which are addressed in my 12-page submission. I believe all members have received a copy of it.

Turning first to concerns, I personally find it very troubling that here we are, in 2011, and the government has still not implemented all of the recommendations that the late Mr. Justice Lamer made in September 2003. What's more, the government has ignored, without any explanation or justification, the central recommendation made by Justice Lamer--namely, the creation of a permanent military court.

What I find even more troubling is that DND appears to be in breach of its statutory obligation to conduct a second five-year review of Bill C-25. The first review was in 2003, and the second review should have taken place in 2008. We are now three years past that date, and to my knowledge there's been no independent review along the lines of what Justice Lamer recommended.

Let me address, in rapid succession, four concerns I have with Bill C-41..

Firstly, and of great concern, Bill C-41 is silent on summary trials. For a force of approximately 65,000 regulars, they have almost 2,000 summary trials every year. That's one trial for every 34 soldiers every year--a significant number. To put it into perspective, we have a total of 65 court martials a year. Despite the overwhelming number of charges heard at the summary trial level, and despite the fact that the summary trial proceedings are in need of repair, Bill C-41 ignores summary trial. It's almost as if it did not exist.

I strongly believe that the summary trial issue must be addressed by this committee. There is currently nothing more important for Parliament to focus on than fixing a system that affects the legal rights of a significant number of Canadian citizens every year. Why? Because unless and until you, the legislators, address this issue, it is almost impossible for the court to address any challenge, since no appeal of a summary trial verdict or sentence is permitted. As well, it is almost impossible for any other form of legal challenge to take place, since there are no trial transcripts and no right to counsel at summary trial.

From where I stand, I find it very odd that those who put their lives at risk to protect the rights of Canadians are themselves deprived of some of those charter rights when facing a summary trial. If Britain, Australia, New Zealand, and Ireland have seen fit to change the summary trial system, it begs the question: why is Canada lagging behind?

The second issue is grievances. The grievance system as it currently operates is inefficient and unfair, because it fails to address the legitimate grievances of soldiers within a reasonable period, let alone within the statutory delays. Given that there are 700 grievances filed every year--one for every 95 soldiers--this has a large impact upon the rank and file.

Bill C-41 addresses the grievance process, but it does so largely for cosmetic reasons. In my view, if the committee were to approve the recommendation made by the department in Bill C-41, the grievance system would become worse. Why? There are two reasons.

First, one major flaw in Bill C-41 is that it will allow the Chief of the Defence Staff to become almost totally disengaged from the grievance system. From where I stand, fundamentally a commander cannot lead his staff, lead his troops, lead his soldiers if he is not personally interested in and aware of what ails his troops.

Another flaw is that the current grievance structure does not grant the Chief of the Defence Staff authority to approve any monetary remedy--not a red cent. Despite a suggestion by the Lamer report in 2003 to the contrary, it appears that DND is happy with the status quo. Considering that the CDS is in charge of protecting the lives of Canada's sons and daughters, and that the annual budget of National Defence is roughly $17 billion a year, I find it odd that the CDS has no authority to grant pecuniary remedies.

Before I leave the subject of grievances, as much as we need a Canadian Forces grievance board as an oversight committee, I believe that such a committee must be external and independent. More importantly, it must be seen as being external and independent. To be seen as being external and independent requires that the members of the grievance board be drawn from civil society, which is certainly not the case at present.

Third, through no fault of its own the Military Police Complaints Commission is as weak and toothless as an oversight committee can be and still be referred to as such. This is because care has not been taken to provide them with the required legislative provision empowering them to act as an oversight body.

I am surprised at the amount of attention being paid in Bill C-41 to military judges, compared to the absence of any mention of summary trial, or the banal changes to the Canadian Forces Grievance Board. As discussed in my paper, with a population of 65,000 regulars the Canadian Forces has a total of four judges handling a total of 65 court martials per year.

Court martial judges have been compared in the past to provincially appointed judges; however, when we compare them to provincially appointed court judges, court martial judges have a disproportionately low caseload. For such a very low number of trials--65--I would be hard pressed to substantiate such a number of judges, let alone increasing it by forming a panel of reserve judges. That's particularly so when we consider that at National Defence at the moment there are four defence lawyers overall. So you have four judges and four defence lawyers to look after the trial system.

In conclusion, in order for me to play a part in your examination of this bill there is much to think about and much that deserves careful study and contemplation before Bill C-41 can be voted into law.

I appreciate your attention, and I'm now available for questions.

Opposition Motion--Documents Requested by the Standing Committee on Finance
Business of Supply
Government Orders

February 17th, 2011 / 4 p.m.
See context

Charlesbourg—Haute-Saint-Charles
Québec

Conservative

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.

Opposition Motion--Documents Requested by the Standing Committee on Finance
Business of Supply
Government Orders

February 17th, 2011 / 11 a.m.
See context

Liberal

Mark Holland Ajax—Pickering, ON

Mr. Speaker, the member said that the cost is worth it. She says that she knows the cost, so she should table the cost. What is the cost? There are a total of 24 crime bills before the House. I will not read them all since there are a lot. We have the cost of exactly zero of them. We have the head count of exactly zero of them.

The one bill we did challenge, which is Bill C-25, the minister said:

We're not exactly sure how much it will cost us. There are some low estimates, and some that would see more spent — not more than $90 million.

The only bill we ever received a number on was the amount of $90 million, but when the PBO did an eight-month report, with which they stonewalled the Bloc, the cost was $10 billion to $13 billion.

The Conservatives would understand, I would hope, that we are not just trusting them to take a Father Knows Best attitude. If the member knows the costs, she should table them.

Abolition of Early Parole Act
Government Orders

February 15th, 2011 / 11:45 a.m.
See context

NDP

Don Davies Vancouver Kingsway, BC

Madam Speaker, of course I will tie them together, because the context of a bill or why it is before the House is always a matter of relevance. I can understand why the Conservatives do not want anyone in the House to remind Canadians of their hypocrisy.

When we see the Conservatives and separatists come together and co-operate today on the bill before the House, I think that what the government has said in the past about co-operating with separatists is entirely relevant. Of course, it is understandable why my hon. colleague would not want us to remind Canadians of that.

Again, on hypocrisy, the Prime Minister talked about Afghanistan and bringing the troops home in 2011. That went down the toilet. Bringing any decision or vote before the House on deploying troops back to Canada also went down the toilet. We are used to hypocrisy by the government.

Today we are debating a bill brought forward by the government, supported by the separatists, but I want to talk about the way it was done. It was done in a way that absolutely subverts democracy. Conservatives cut a deal, brought the bill before the House quickly and invoked closure so that we cannot have meaningful debate on the bill.

It was a backroom deal to cut off debate so that we as parliamentarians cannot perform the due diligence that Canadians want us to do to determine the impacts of this bill, how much it will cost and what effect it will have on our prison system. To me, that shows a lack of confidence in the merits of the bill by Conservatives and the Bloc, because if they were confident in it they would not be afraid of having a fulsome and thorough debate in examining the bill.

Let us talk about the bill. New Democrats understand the concern of Canadians and the sentiments that underlie this bill. Two issues have caused the bill to come before the House. The first is the spectre in Quebec of two high-profile white collar fraudsters, Earl Jones and Mr. Lacroix, who defrauded thousands of investors out of millions and millions of dollars. The prospect of their coming out of prison after serving one-sixth of their sentences has, quite rightly, made people upset in Quebec and across this country.

The second is that it is a quite reasonable concern of Canadians to raise an issue with the concept of some people coming out of a federal penitentiary and being moved to other places of incarceration after serving only one-sixth of their time. Those are valid concerns.

Canadians may know that accelerated parole is only available to first-time offenders who have committed a non-violent offence. Canadians may also find it relevant to know that those people are not coming out of prison and going into the community. They are not let out jail; it is the place of their incarceration that is being shifted. Instead of being in a federal penitentiary, after serving one-sixth of their time, they generally move to halfway houses, which are places of incarceration in our communities, where they still serve their sentences. If someone gets a sentence of 10 years, they still get that 10-year sentence but the place where they serve the sentence is moved.

I want to point out that the New Democrats have a long and proud history in the House of being tough on white collar crime. The New Democrats worked to strengthen the provisions in Bill C-21 to toughen the penalties for white collar crime and, I might point out, those amendments by the New Democrats were defeated by other parties in the House.

New Democrats also have a long and proud tradition of standing up for strong regulation in the financial sector, standing up against banks and finance companies and stock market behaviour to make sure those are well-regulated industries and that we minimize the opportunity for Canadians to be bilked or defrauded out of their money. Those efforts, I might add, are generally resisted by the Conservatives, and often by their coalition partner, the Liberals, and now by their new coalition partner, the Bloc Québécois, as they usually try to stop the efforts to ensure that we protect consumers in this country.

I also want to say that New Democrats understand the pain in Quebec. We understand the absolute and profound damage that has been caused by these unregulated white collar criminals who have defrauded so many people out of their life savings, and New Democrats believe that we have to crack down on them. The issue, of course, is to do that in an intelligent and targeted way, in a way that will actually help.

I want to go over some of the facts of this bill.

APR was introduced in 1992 and was expanded in 1997. It was considered a measure to help the correctional services focus on more dangerous offenders and thus save money.

In 2007 the Correctional Service of Canada review panel, headed by the Mike Harris era Conservative minister for privatization, Rob Sampson, recommended that APR be eliminated. We can thus see the genesis of this idea. He argued that parole should be reformed. The roadmap that Mr. Sampson developed and that the panel issued has been widely criticized, comprehensively criticized, as the absolutely wrong approach to our prisons, both in terms of effectiveness and cost.

The Conservatives have introduced measures to eliminate APR twice before, in Bill C-53, which died on prorogation without receiving any debate; and as part of an omnibus CCRA amendment, Bill C-39, which is currently before public safety committee.

I want to review some of the challenges of this bill. On the one hand, we have the spectre of some Canadians getting out after serving one-sixth of their sentence in a federal penitentiary and being moved to a different institution. That is absolutely the wrong message we want to send when talking about serious white collar crimes.

It is important to note that under the current legislation, there are some crimes that are not eligible for accelerated parole. One thing New Democrats ask is that if there are crimes that we do not think should qualify for accelerated parole, then why do we not study what those crimes should be and add them to the already existing list of crimes for which accelerated parole is not available? That is a surgical, intelligent approach.

Right now, out of 13,000 people in federal penitentiaries, there are approximately 1,000 people who currently would be affected by this legislation. Unlike the Conservatives' approach to crime, which is to take one poster person and target a bill to get at that person and to paint a broad brush of everybody else, it is clear that we do not have a uniform sample within those 1,000 people.

Caught up in those 1,000 people not eligible under this bill would be a person like a young aboriginal woman in jail for the first time maybe for passing bad cheques. She may have children in the community. She may have an addictions problem. She may have a mental health issue. It may be advantageous, both for her and for the community's safety, to move her into a halfway house in the community after one-sixth of her sentence were served in a federal penitentiary, where she could get the help for her issues she could not get inside a penitentiary. That is the kind of person who would also be caught by this bill.

I want to talk about services. I have been in 25 federal institutions in this country in the last year and a half. I will tell the House what I found: Our federal penitentiaries are a complete disaster in terms of offering timely and effective programming to our federal prisoners.

This bill would take 1,000 people who would otherwise be eligible to be moved into community facilities at one-sixth of their sentences, where they would get those services, and would make them stay in prison for another one-sixth of their time. Will those people have access to the types of services they need?

We have heard in committee that 80% of offenders in our federal institutions suffer from addictions. We are also just starting to touch the surface on the secondary problem of mental illness, which is also profoundly substantial.

If those people in our federal penitentiaries are not getting addictions treatment in a timely and effective way or treatment for their mental illnesses, this bill would keep them in those penitentiaries longer. Does the government want to put additional money and resources into our federal prisons to deal with that? I have not heard those members say that. No bill has been introduced by the government that would add those kinds of services to our prisons.

I released an internal document prepared by the correctional service. It stated that two bills alone, Bill C-25, the bill eliminating the two-for-one credit for pre-sentencing custody, and Bill S-6, the bill that adds mandatory minimums for gun crimes, would add 4,000 offenders to our prisons in the next two to three years. They would cause the government to hire 3,300 new personnel, which we estimate would cost a quarter of a billion dollars on personnel each and every year. As well, it has been estimated that it would require the government to spend somewhere between $5 billion and $10 billion to build new prisons in the next five to 10 years.

This bill would take 1,000 people and make them stay in prison longer. That may be a wise thing or it may not be, but I ask the following questions.

Has the government costed out what this will cost? I haven't heard it say anything about that. I have heard the government tell Canadians it is none of their business what the crime bills cost. It claims cabinet confidence when we ask what the crime bills will cost Canadian taxpayers.

Might I remind the government that it is not its money; the money that it is spending is Canadian taxpayers' money. Canadian taxpayers have the right to know the cost of any legislation. Yet the government hides. Why? It does not want to tell Canadians that the result of its crime agenda will cost billions of dollars. What is worse is that it will not make our communities any safer.

The political right in the United States has tried these policies over the last 30 years, people like Newt Gingrich, people in Texas and the American south. They have built more prisons, locked up people, tightened up parole, made people serve longer sentences and are now reversing those measures as we speak. This is not rhetoric. It is fact. The United States is actually adopting the exact opposite policies of this government because it knows that these are bankrupting its treasuries and not reducing crime rates.

As a matter of fact, the states that are focusing on crime prevention, on addressing the root causes of crime, such as addictions and mental health, and are putting resources into treating those issues are making their communities safer and reducing crime rates. However, this government is pursuing a policy that is 30 years out of date and proven wrong.

There is another reason that we might want to move someone from a federal penitentiary after a short, sharp experience into a community facility like a halfway house. It might be better for their reintegration. It would put them closer to their families and support structures. It would allow them to work. I have heard the government say many times that the best social welfare program is a job. It would put that person in a community where they would have more access to required services such as mental health assistance and therapy, addictions treatments and help for any number of different physical or mental ailments they may have.

What are we saying? We are saying that transferring someone into that kind of facility is better for them and makes it more likely they will not reoffend, which is better for community safety.

Have we considered that? No, because the Bloc and the government have combined to ram this bill through in Parliament within a matter of days of debate.

One thing I have noticed about this chamber is that it is never good public policy to make legislation on the fly, under pressure and without study. I do not care what the bill is: no bill, no federal legislation that will affect thousands of Canadians, should ever be passed by this House without our thoroughly vetting that bill and understanding all of its implications and consequences.

What is the impact on community safety? What is the impact on prison overcrowding? What is the impact and how many more prison cells will we have to build if we have to keep more people in prison for longer? What will it cost? Which crimes should we be targeting? All of these questions are valid questions that any responsible parliamentarian would want the answers to before voting on a bill. However, the Conservatives and the Bloc, the separatists and the Conservatives, have joined together to say, no, we cannot have that debate.

The New Democrats have a number of positive suggestions in this regard. Again, we understand there are some crimes that should not get accelerated parole, particularly by white collar criminals who bilk people out of their savings. However, why do we not look at making surgical amendments to the legislation to add crimes to the list that do not qualify for accelerated parole? A second alternative is to allow a judge to have discretion at the time of sentencing to determine whether a person should or should not qualify for accelerated parole.

Those are amendments the New Democrats will be bringing to the committee tonight, in the four hours the government and the separatists have allotted for debate, after which they are going to invoke closure.

In those four hours, we will be exploring answers to these questions for Canadians. We are going to try to understand the impact of this bill on our penal system and on our treasury. We are going to propose amendments to fix the problems that Canadians want fixed, but do not damage the rehabilitation and community safety. That is what the New Democrats are about: responsible parliamentarianship. That is not what we see in this bill.

I want to focus on the way our parole system works.

Our parole system is a carefully crafted system that has developed over decades. One cannot tinker with just one part and not expect it to have an impact on other parts. There are theories of punishment as to how we can best alter behaviour.

The purpose of our prison system is corrections. It is to try to correct the behaviour of people so that when they re-enter society they do not reoffend. That is the best public safety policy we could have. That is why we have sophisticated notions of punishment and reward where people get a short, sharp experience with prison and then reintegrate into society. As parliamentarians, we should be encouraging that process.

February 9th, 2011 / 4 p.m.
See context

Chairperson, Canadian Forces Grievance Board

Bruno Hamel

That provision was taken away by Bill C-25when it received royal assent. It removed the minister from that process. It was a chain-of-command process with seven levels. It was brought down from seven levels to two. It also involved the creation of this board and the removal of the minister from the chain of command and from adjudicating grievances.

February 8th, 2011 / 12:15 p.m.
See context

Executive Director, Canadian Association of Elizabeth Fry Societies

Kim Pate

I would recommend that the committee review the Parliamentary Budget Officer's review of Bill C-25, as it then was. We've already had the stats that a third of the women serving federal jail sentences are indigenous. In one of the appendices for that document, the Parliamentary Budget Officer showed what it was costing to keep one of the women on the management protocol. I would encourage you to look at those figures, because Correctional Services has estimated that it costs, on average, a minimum of $185,000 a year to keep a woman in federal custody. When you consider what has brought those women into custody and what that money could be doing in the community to benefit not just those women or their children but the entire community, you can see that $185,000 a year could go a long way.

But let's go much higher than that. We're talking about more than 100 indigenous women held at higher security levels. It's costing up to and more than $500,000 a year to keep them in isolation. They require three to five staff and they're fully shackled everywhere they move. Those are incredible resources that could be used in much more productive ways in the community.

If you think it's just the scheming or dreaming of people who are doing the work and maybe are not able to see the whole picture, I encourage you to look at what the heads of corrections said in the mid-nineties, not what Kim Pate from Elizabeth Fry says or what the University of Ottawa says. The heads of corrections said that if the provincial, territorial, and federal governments came to an agreement, you could probably release up to 75% of the people then serving prison sentences and not increase any risk to public safety.

That's an incredible number. That tells you how many were in for poverty-related and other inequality issues. Have them in the community, paying back and being held accountable. We're not talking about people running off willy-nilly and not being held accountable for their behaviour. They could be in the community in ways that others have already talked about--restorative ways--while paying back, living in the community and contributing to it, and working. There are many examples.

With regard to indigenous women and women in general, I was in Cape Breton two weeks ago testifying on how unequal it is that you still have to take women to central locations, even in a provincial or territorial context. You have to take them out of their homes and disrupt their families and disrupt their employment, even on very minor and short sentences. I think there are lots of examples of other things we could be doing. There are ways we could be spending that money better. We don't have to say, “Get new money”; we have lots of money being spent already.