Air Canada and Its Associates Act
An Act to amend the Air Canada Public Participation Act
Denis Lebel Conservative
Introduction and First Reading
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Extension of Sitting Hours
May 21st, 2013 / 12:55 p.m.
Mauril Bélanger Ottawa—Vanier, ON
Mr. Speaker, I listened carefully just now to the bills that the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons enumerated in his speech. I noted that he did not include Bill C-17, An Act to amend the Air Canada Public Participation Act, which was introduced at first reading on October 17, 2011, and which we have heard nothing about since.
I was wondering why it was not part of his list.
Business of the House
December 6th, 2012 / 3:05 p.m.
Peter Van Loan Leader of the Government in the House of Commons
Mr. Speaker, I want to start by thanking everyone involved in supporting us as members of Parliament in Tuesday’s voting. Despite all of the amendments at committee and in the House, the balance of the government’s 2012 economic action plan will become law shortly.
This afternoon, the House will resume consideration of second reading of Bill C-15, the Strengthening Military Justice in the Defence of Canada Act. Once that has concluded, we will turn to report stage of Bill C-37, the Increasing Offenders' Accountability for Victims Act, Bill C-42, the Enhancing Royal Canadian Mounted Police Accountability Act, and Bill C-43, the Faster Removal of Foreign Criminals Act.
We will continue working on these bills tomorrow.
Monday shall be the seventh allotted day, which goes to the New Democrats. This gives the official opposition one last opportunity before the new year to lay out its plans and schemes for a $21.5 billion job-killing carbon tax that will raise the price of everything.
For the rest of the week, I hope to advance a lot of legislation that continues to sit on the order paper. In addition to the bills I mentioned already, we will also consider Bill C-48, the technical tax amendments act, 2012; Bill S-8, the safe drinking water for first nations act; Bill S-2, the family homes on reserves and matrimonial interests or rights act; Bill S-6, the first nations elections act; Bill S-10, the prohibiting cluster munitions act; Bill C-49, the Canadian museum of history act; Bill C-17, the Air Canada and its associates act; and Bill S-7, the combating terrorism act, once that bill has been reported back from committee next week, which I anticipate.
November 28th, 2012 / 4:33 p.m.
Carmen Cheung Counsel, British Columbia Civil Liberties Association
Thank you very much.
Good afternoon. It is such an honour and a privilege to appear before this committee again. On behalf of the B.C. Civil Liberties Association, I wish to thank you for this opportunity to present on Bill S-7.
The BCCLA is a non-profit, non-partisan organization based in Vancouver, British Columbia. Since its incorporation in 1963 the mandate of the BCCLA has been to promote, defend, sustain, and extend civil liberties and human rights in Canada. We speak out on the principles that promote individual rights and freedoms, including due process and fundamental justice concerns in situations where individual interests are affected or engaged by the state.
Last year we appeared before this committee to express our serious concerns about the preventative detention and investigative hearing provisions in Bill C-17, the predecessor bill to the one under discussion today. At that time we highlighted our concerns that while it is far from clear that such measures would have any demonstrable effect on combatting terrorism, they would very likely result in eroding the democratic principles and ideals that all of us seek to protect.
Rather than repeat in detail those comments, I refer the committee to the BCCLA's submissions from February of last year, which are attached as an appendix to the speaking notes I have provided to the committee this morning. I would instead like to focus my remarks today on our concerns with the approaches to combatting terrorism reflected in this bill.
In the proposals to resurrect preventative detention and investigative hearings, we see an approach that looks to expand the scope and reach of state authority without accompanying expansion of accountability and oversight. In the provisions seeking to create new offences under the Criminal Code for leaving or attempting to leave Canada with the intent to take part in terrorism as it's very broadly defined already in the Criminal Code, we see an approach to national security that continues to focus primarily on criminal sanctions without sufficient consideration of rehabilitation.
Let me first address the issue of accountability and oversight. The preventative detention provision in Bill S-7 permits holding an individual without charge, or without even the intent to charge, for up to 72 hours based on mere suspicion of dangerousness. It strips an individual's liberty absent proof or even suspicion of an offence and runs counter to basic principles of fundamental justice.
The investigative hearing provision in turn transforms our courts into investigative tools of CSIS and the RCMP and is fundamentally inconsistent with the spirit of the right to silence, the right against self-incrimination.
Both of these provisions expand the power and the authority of the state to encroach on basic civil liberties. Indeed, the extraordinary nature of such proposed state powers is reflected in the fact that they, like their predecessor legislation from 2001, are accompanied by sunset clauses.
Yet, at the same time government seeks to expand the powers of our national security agencies, we see no similar efforts to ensure that accountability and oversight of the national security apparatus are any more robust.
Six years ago the Arar commission made clear that the accountability mechanisms for national security oversight had simply not kept pace with the scope and scale of national security operations. To that end, Justice O'Connor made a series of detailed recommendations directed at improving the accountability and review mechanisms for national security operations.
Chief among his recommendations, of course, was the integration of national security review across agencies and review bodies, and the creation of a national security umbrella committee, which would facilitate cross-agency accountability. It is an uncontroversial proposition that national security operations can only be effective if there is inter-agency cooperation. But what that means also is that there needs to be inter-agency review and oversight.
Six years after the close of the Arar inquiry, we are still very far from that integrated system of national security review. And to this day, notwithstanding Justice O'Connor's recommendations, there still is no mechanism for independent review of the national security activities of the CBSA, Citizenship and Immigration Canada, Transport Canada, FINTRAC, or DFAIT.
The provisions in this bill contemplate an expansion of investigative powers. They also imply increased information sharing, not only between the various national security agencies such as CSIS, the RCMP, and the CBSA, but also between these agencies and foreign partners.
As with all national security matters, the exercise of these powers and the extent of this information-sharing will be largely kept secret.
These characteristics of national security operations—lack of transparency, increased information-sharing, increased international cooperation—were all highlighted by Justice O'Connor in 2006 as reasons why strong and effective review and accountability mechanisms are so crucial.
This observation has equal, if not greater, force today. The level of inter-agency integration and international cooperation is even more significant now than at the time of the Arar inquiry, yet conversely, in important respects, we have less accountability and oversight. Indeed, we have grave concerns that, with respect to national security accountability, what we are currently seeing is not only a failure to keep pace, but an actual deterioration of existing oversight and review mechanisms.
In particular, we are very troubled by the elimination of the office of the Inspector General of CSIS this year, given that it was one of only two accountability mechanisms specifically provided for in the CSIS Act. Meanwhile, SIRC, which is now expected to take up the duties of the inspector general, has had no corresponding increase in its resources. Though SIRC itself has said that its mandate should be broadened to allow for a review of national security matters that involve CSIS and go beyond the strict confines of that agency, this recommendation has yet to be taken up.
Accordingly, we urge the committee to refrain from further expanding the powers of our national security agencies until appropriate and effective accountability and review mechanisms have been established. We believe that strong and robust oversight mechanisms are important not only for protecting human rights and civil liberties; they are crucial for ensuring that our national security policies and practices are effective.
We raise the issue of efficacy in national security practices because we agree—again, we agree—that terrorist activities violate fundamental human rights. We must have counterterrorism strategies that work. To that end, however, our counterterrorism efforts cannot be singularly focused on criminalizing conduct. Our criminal laws relating to terrorism as they currently exist are already quite expansive and capture a very wide range of offences and activities, yet this bill proposes to widen the net even further by creating these so-called training camp offences.
This emphasis on criminalization ignores the fact that terrorism cannot be stopped simply by making it illegal. In his testimony before the Special Senate Committee on Anti-terrorism concerning this bill, Professor Kent Roach very rightly noted that we must start talking about rehabilitation of terrorists and reconsider our policy of “once a terrorist, always a terrorist”. Rehabilitation is particularly important in the context of who would be caught up in the ambit of these training offences: likely, young people. The failure to rehabilitate and reintegrate individuals engaged in terrorism or caught up in terrorism perpetuates the cycle of marginalization, disenfranchisement, and alienation that leads to further radicalization. In the end, none of us are safer.
Therefore, we would urge you to refrain from passing this legislation. We cannot afford to grant these extraordinary powers of detention and investigation while we still suffer from deficiencies in accountability and oversight. We cannot continue to expand the reach of the criminal law without making some commitment to ensuring proper and meaningful rehabilitation of those accused or convicted of terrorism offences. Safety and freedom must go hand in hand.
Thank you again for this opportunity. I look forward to your questions.
Jobs and Growth Act, 2012
October 29th, 2012 / 1:20 p.m.
Francis Scarpaleggia Lac-Saint-Louis, QC
Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure for me this morning to rise once again in the House to debate a 2012 budget implementation bill. This is the second round of debate on the 2012 budget. I would like to start by taking my colleagues back 20 years in time, to 1993 and 1994, when three events took place that I believe are relevant to the debate today in the House.
The first event was the election of a Liberal majority government headed by Prime Minister Jean Chrétien, which set Canada, the state, the federal government, on the road to sound economic and fiscal management. The Liberal government bequeathed to the Conservative government a budget surplus that was extraordinary and unprecedented in Canada's history and that could have been used to maintain economic prosperity. In the end, that did not happen.
The second event occurred in the House of Commons before I was elected. However, I was on the Hill at the time. I remember the arrival of about 50 Reform members, including today's Prime Minister, who was the member for Calgary at the time. As I recall, he arrived in the House with 49 Reform Party colleagues.
The third event I will mention has to do with the Liberal government of the day, under Prime Minister Jean Chrétien. That government introduced Bill C-17, its budget implementation bill. I would like to remind the House of the length of that budget implementation bill. Mr. Speaker, you and my other colleagues in this House might be surprised to hear that, in total, Bill C-17 was 21 pages long and amended a total of 11 pieces of Canadian legislation.
Let us compare that to the current situation. Last fall, we debated a budget implementation bill that was about 500 pages long and amended about 70 pieces of Canadian legislation. Today we are debating Bill C-45, which is 443 pages long and amends 60 Canadian acts. In less than 12 months, we have debated two bills that together total about 900 pages and amend about 130 Canadian acts. We have come a long way since 1993.
What is interesting is that even the short, 21-page budget implementation bill that I just mentioned, that modest bill, triggered a strong reaction from the member from Calgary who is now the Prime Minister of Canada. He said, and I quote:
The particular bill before us, Bill C-17, is of an omnibus nature. I put it to you, Mr. Speaker, that you should rule it out of order and it should not be considered by the House in the form in which it has been presented....
I would argue that the subject matter of the bill is so diverse that a single vote on the content would put members in conflict with their own principles.
If people were outraged at the time, in 1994, regarding a budget implementation bill that was 21 pages long and amended 11 Canadian acts, well then they should be 45 times more outraged today.
What we have seen recently in the House is about 45 times worse than what went on in 1994 with Bill C-17. This should put things into perspective a little bit.
It is interesting that we heard the member opposite speak about family. That is an important point. It is important that every now and then we bring things back to the perspective of the communities and families we represent here in the House.
Sometimes things get a little too complicated here. They get too broad and complicated, layer upon layer, to the point where parliamentarians have a hard time seeing things clearly. Imagine how hard it is for our constituents, who are not engaged in this House every day, who are going about their business, earning their living, bringing up their kids, to wrap their minds around what is going on in this House, especially around a budget?
Let us look at what a family does when they create a budget. Let us say, hypothetically, that a family sits down, the parents and the kids, to discuss the family budget. What would they discuss? They would discuss the revenues they expect for the coming year, what they expect to spend and how they perhaps expect to lower their debt levels. That is what they need to talk about, if they are to have a good budget. If they start to talk about junior's hockey schedule or how much time the son or daughter should be allowed to watch TV per week, and so on and so forth, they would go astray from the subject at hand. They are not going to be as effective in managing the household economy essentially, the household budget.
I would suggest that the fact that we keep bringing in complex pieces of legislation, such as these two budget implementation acts, may be distracting the government's focus and not allowing it to be as effective as it might be.
I have seen two bills, which are unrelated to this bill, come before the House, and they had glaring holes in them. One was Bill C-383, and I do not understand how it got by the lawyers in the trade department, quite frankly. We saw another bill last week, the nuclear terrorism act, which my colleague said omitted a very important and central piece.
We should simplify things a bit and not spread ourselves too thinly, so that we can do our work properly as parliamentarians and the government can achieve some focus and get some results.
On that theme, the budget implementation act obviously does include measures which should be in a budget implementation act. That goes without saying. Even if we disagree with what the government is doing with the SR and ED, the scientific research and development tax credit, it belongs in a budget; it is a budgetary matter.
I would add that I think it may be dangerous that the government is getting away from a kind of broad-based program to stimulate innovation in this country in every small- and medium-sized business across the land, to an approach whereby the government would be giving subsidies instead of tax credits for research. It would be giving subsidies to a few bigger players in an attempt to pick winners and losers in the 21st century economy. We have issues with that, but I would agree that it belongs in a budget bill.
However, there are some things that do not belong in a budget bill. One is rewriting laws that protect Canada's waterways. I do not know what that is doing in a budget bill. Another is redefining the definition of aboriginal fisheries. What is that doing in a budget bill? Eliminating the Hazardous Materials Information Review Commission is about human health and public safety. That is not about revenues and expenditures and debt levels and so on.
I have an issue, like many of my colleagues in the House, with the budget going astray and including all kinds of extraneous elements.
However, to get a subject that is of great interest to me, I would concur with my colleague from Saanich—Gulf Islands that when the Fisheries Act was passed and the Navigable Waters Protection Act was passed, the word “environment” did not exist. If we are to be literal, as the government likes to be, let us go back to the quote that I just read from the then Reform Party member and now Prime Minister, who said that 21 pages amending 11 acts is too long.
Canada Labour Code
Private Members’ Business
November 25th, 2011 / 1:35 p.m.
Mauril Bélanger Ottawa—Vanier, ON
Mr. Speaker, Bill C-315 introduced by the hon. member for Trois-Rivières—whom I am getting to know and for whom my respect is growing—is of great interest, primarily because it highlights contradictions, both on the government side and on the official opposition side.
Let us begin with the government and the first contradiction. We all remember the Conservatives' reaction last summer, when the Commissioner of Official Languages decided to investigate the nature of linguistic services provided by private businesses in the national capital region.
At the time, the Minister of Canadian Heritage and Official Languages said: “It is not the federal government's business to monitor the language used by private businesses with their customers.”
Yesterday, the Minister of Industry and Prime Minister's political lieutenant for Quebec said: “I have the privilege of announcing today in the House that our government is going to set up a consultative committee that will be responsible for determining whether a problem exists with regard to the French language in federally regulated private businesses. ”
This is some contradiction. In light of this contradiction, a few questions come to mind. First, what has changed? Second, if an assessment of the use of French is now the “federal government's business”, as the minister said yesterday, why not ask the Commissioner of Official Languages to tackle that job? He is equipped to do so. Moreover, are the Conservatives beginning to feel the heat regarding official languages? Could it be because of the appointment of a unilingual Auditor General, who is an officer of Parliament, despite the opposition of all parties in the House, except the party in office?
Let us also not forget another contradiction, and I am referring to Bill C-17, An Act to amend the Air Canada Public Participation Act. It took the Conservatives six years to finally come up with this legislation, and they still do not seem to be in any rush, because we have not heard about this bill since it was first introduced, on October 16.
And what about the gaping holes in the bill? For example, there is no reference to part IV, namely the right to work in the official language of one's choice. The right of employees to communicate with their supervisor in French or in English seems to worry the Conservatives in the case of National Bank, but not Air Canada's subsidiaries or the Office of the Auditor General of Canada. That is another big contradiction.
As for the official opposition, its most glaring contradiction is to claim to be protecting Canada's linguistic minorities yet to ignore the concerns generated by Bill C-315 in Quebec's anglophone community.
Here is what the Quebec Community Groups Network has to say about Bill C-315:
The QCGN continues to oppose federal legislation that asymmetrically addresses the language rights of Canadians. We appreciate the time that... [the hon. members for Trois-Rivières, Acadie—Bathurst and Outremont] spent explaining the proposed legislation to us on October 18, and accept at face value their reasons for continuing to introduce bills which would asymmetrically extend language rights to some Canadian citizens depending on their official language, and place and type of employment. The QCGN has not supported previous attempts by the Bloc Quebecois or the New Democratic Party along these lines, nor is it likely to in future. We firmly believe that Canadians living in the nation's English and French linguistic minority communities in Canada are best served, and their rights best protected by maintaining the equality of our two official languages.
Furthermore, in the spring of 2010, Nicola Johnston, co-chair of the QCGN Youth Standing Committee, appeared before the Standing Committee on Official Languages. Here is what she had to say, and I quote:
But the reality is that the English-speaking youth in Quebec face lower political participation and representation and higher unemployment rates compared to their francophone counterparts. We are effectively barred from the Quebec civil service, with a participation rate of 0.2%.
...but I know that it will be a major challenge, and perhaps even an obstacle, for me to be able to serve in the public service of my own province, because I am an English speaker. In contrast, many of my classmates will return to their home provinces to work in the provincial civil service, building on a sense of identity, belonging, and ownership that is perhaps not available to me and others like me.
When studying such a bill, we cannot underestimate its impact on Quebec's anglophone population, especially the younger population.
Here are some other contradictions from the official opposition. The bill contains two main provisions. My colleague talked about the first, which describes in detail the right to work in French in so-called “federal” businesses in Quebec. But there is no mention of a customer's right to be served in French or English.
By so-called “federal” enterprises, are we talking about corporations such as VIA Rail, Canada Post, Air Canada, the airports, which he mentioned, or the Old Port of Montreal? There may be some confusion and it is not clear. Finally, and this is likely the most juicy contradiction, there is the addition of the second section that gives the governor in council, or cabinet, and therefore the Prime Minister, the power to exempt every so-called “federal” enterprise for all manner of reasons. Why bother legislating if all the power is being given to the Prime Minister?
What can we do about all these contradictions? I believe that two big ideas and two major, fundamental principles must prevail. First, given our history, our Constitution and our desire to all continue living together harmoniously, it is up to the Canadian government to promote linguistic duality, in other words, our two official languages: English and French.
Second, the Canadian government has the duty to protect and support official language minority communities in their development. If there is a legal gap in the Canada Labour Code and there is a willingness to fill that gap—it is not clear whether that is the case—allow me to humbly suggest in this House that it should perhaps be filled by the Official Languages Act, federal legislation that represents quite well the will of Canadian Parliament and the Canadian people.
If there is a desire to extend the Canadian government's responsibility for official languages or linguistic requirements toward the private sector in Quebec and elsewhere in the country, should we not look to quasi-constitutional legislation that covers both the promotion of English and French—linguistic duality—and respect for linguistic minority rights? That is what every minority community in the country wants, including the anglophone minority community in Quebec. That is the position of our party and I am very proud of it.
October 25th, 2011 / 9:10 a.m.
Air Canada and Its Associates Act
October 17th, 2011 / 3:05 p.m.
Denis Lebel Minister of Transport
moved for leave to introduce Bill C-17, An Act to amend the Air Canada Public Participation Act.
(Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed)