Evidence of meeting #70 for Finance in the 41st Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament’s site.) The winning word was chair.

A recording is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

  • Gordon Boissonneault  Senior Advisor, Economic Analysis and Forecasting Division, Demand and Labour Analysis, Economic and Fiscal Policy Branch, Department of Finance
  • Sue Foster  Acting Director General, Policy, Appeals and Quality, Service Canada
  • Margaret Strysio  Director, Strategic Planning and Reporting, Parks Canada Agency
  • Stephen Bolton  Director, Border Law Enforcement Strategies Division, Public Safety Canada
  • Michael Zigayer  Senior Counsel, Criminal Law Policy Section, Department of Justice
  • Garry Jay  Chief Superintendent, Acting Director General, HR Workforce Programs and Services, Royal Canadian Mounted Police
  • Jeff Hutcheson  Director, HQ Programs and Financial Advisory Services, Coporate Management and Comptrollership, Royal Canadian Mounted Police
  • Darryl Hirsch  Senior Policy Analyst, Intelligence Policy and Coordination, Department of Public Safety
  • Ian Wright  Executive Advisor, Financial Markets Division, Financial Sector Policy Branch, Department of Finance
  • Nigel Harrison  Manager, Legislative and Parliamentary Affairs, Department of Fisheries and Oceans
  • David Lee  Director, Office of Legislative and Regulatory Modernization, Policy, Planning and International Affairs Directorate, Health Products and Food Branch, Department of Health
  • Anthony Giles  Director General, Strategic Policy, Analysis and Workplace Information Directorate, Department of Human Resources and Skills Development
  • Bruno Rodrigue  Chief, Income Security, Federal-Provincial Relations and Social Policy Branch, Department of Finance
  • Gerard Peets  Senior Director, Strategy and Planning Directorate, Department of Industry
  • Suzanne Brisebois  Director General, Policy and Operations, Parole Board of Canada, Public Safety Canada
  • Louise Laflamme  Chief, Marine Policy and Regulatory Affairs, Department of Transport
  • Judith Buchanan  Acting Senior Manager, Labour Standards Operations, Human Resources and Skills Development Canada
  • Mark Hodgson  Senior Policy Analyst, Labour Markets, Employment and Learning, Department of Finance
  • Stephen Johnson  Director General, Evaluation Directorate, Strategic Policy and Research Branch, Department of Human Resources and Skills Development
  • James McNamee  Deputy Director, Horizontal Immigration Policy Division, Department of Citizenship and Immigration
  • Graham Barr  Director General, Transition Planning and Coordination, Shared Services Canada

8:15 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair James Rajotte

Thank you.

I'll go to Mr. Jean, please.

8:15 p.m.

Conservative

Brian Jean Fort McMurray—Athabasca, AB

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

It's a great news story. Our banks are doing great. This just introduces a little bit to make it a little bit better, so I'll be voting in favour of it, and I'm sure all of these people on this side of the table will be as well.

8:15 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair James Rajotte

Thank you.

(Clause 525 agreed to on division)

Thank you.

We will go to the Corrections and Conditional Release Act, which is division 37, clauses 526 to 530.

Monsieur Mai, please.

June 5th, 2012 / 8:15 p.m.

NDP

Hoang Mai Brossard—La Prairie, QC

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

The bill actually eliminates the requirement for the Parole Board of Canada to hold a hearing in cases of suspension, termination or revocation of parole or statutory release.

First, we must ask why this measure was not included in Bill C-10 and why it is included in the budget. There are few places that this omnibus bill does not reach. This is clearly a justice matter.

Unfortunately, we did not have the time to hear from many witnesses. We only heard from one. However, he is very qualified. His name was Michael Jackson; he has been in practice for 40 years, including in the area of human rights, which he teaches at the University of British Columbia. He is an expert in the rights of prisoners and of Aboriginals. In his opinion, the clause is unconstitutional. Let me read a part of his testimony in English:

Section 7 of the charter provides that everyone has the right to life, liberty, and security of person, and the right not to be deprived thereof except in accordance with the fundamental principles of justice.

He specifies:

What the bill does is abrogate that right. Thereafter, these reviews will be done by a paper review. The board is now also contemplating moving to a single member conducting this review by changing the regulations. You'll have one member of the board reviewing the case without the presence of the offender and making a...decision potentially to revoke parole.

The clause is already clearly unconstitutional, but then, in addition…

he further says that this will disproportionately impact aboriginal offenders.

I have read his brief. We received it yesterday or today. It goes quite far. He goes right to the point by saying…

C-38, by abolishing post suspension hearings, would extinguish the possibility of an elder-assisted hearing in the post-suspension context. In doing so, Parliament will be aggravating, not alleviating, the systemic discrimination referred to by the [SCC in Gladue and Ipeelee].

A witness, who specializes in human rights, is saying that not only is this bill anticonstitutional, but it is also an attack on aboriginal people. Once again, we are wondering why this bill is being studied in the Standing Committee on Finance and not in the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights. Why was this not included in previously introduced Bill C-10? I don't understand why the government wants to move forward. This further proves that the government prefers to send people to prison with its megaprison policy.

In addition, that approach does not help rehabilitate people. It has been shown that the Quebec system helps people rehabilitate so that they can be part of society. Yet this government is taking away those peoples' rights.

8:20 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair James Rajotte

Thank you.

We'll go to Mr. Hoback, and then Mr. Brison.

8:20 p.m.

Conservative

Randy Hoback Prince Albert, SK

Thank you, Chair.

We just heard from witnesses about this last week. I think what the witnesses said is fresh in our minds. Plus we've also been through it with the department earlier on, a couple of weeks ago. I don't need to speak to this anymore. I think we should just go to the question.

8:20 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair James Rajotte

Thank you.

Mr. Brison.

8:20 p.m.

Liberal

Scott Brison Kings—Hants, NS

Mr. Chair, there's a real concern and question hanging over this. We've heard from witnesses warning us that this measure is unconstitutional. We've also received a written submission from the Canadian Bar Association, which stated:

The right to an in-person hearing before the Board is critical to the integrity and transparency of the parole process....

In our view, the proposed amendment will violate s. 7 of the Charter, namely, that “Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of the person and the right not to be deprived thereof except in accordance with the principles of fundamental justice.” ... This cannot be demonstrably justified as a reasonable limit on a constitutional right.

Once again, Mr. Chair, that is from the Canadian Bar Association, warning us that what we're about to pass is in fact unconstitutional.

8:20 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair James Rajotte

Thank you, Mr. Brison.

Are there further comments?

Ms. Glover.

8:20 p.m.

Conservative

Shelly Glover Saint Boniface, MB

I just need to add, in response to the statements made...let's not forget that the board will retain the authority to conduct a review hearing for decisions where warranted. So where there are complex cases or other reasons, that option still exists. But most importantly—and this goes against everything Mr. Brison just said—the offender retains the same rights to appeal a PBC decision to the PBC's appeal division. That right still remains, so nothing is taken away from the Constitution or the charter, because there are still provisions allowing that appeal.

Am I correct in saying that, Madame Brisebois?

8:20 p.m.

Suzanne Brisebois Director General, Policy and Operations, Parole Board of Canada, Public Safety Canada

Yes, you're correct.

8:20 p.m.

Conservative

Shelly Glover Saint Boniface, MB

Thank you.

That's it.

8:20 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair James Rajotte

Thank you.

(Clauses 526 to 530 inclusive agreed to on division)

Thank you, madam.

We will go then to division 38, which is clause 531, the Coasting Trade Act.

Ms. Nash, please.

8:20 p.m.

NDP

Peggy Nash Parkdale—High Park, ON

Yes. It is bizarre that the Coasting Trade Act is before the finance committee. It makes no sense, and yet here we are debating seismic surveys in coastal waters—which should not be before the finance committee.

We just heard recent testimony on this. This clause would allow foreign or non-duty-paid seismic vessels to perform seismic activities on Canada's continental shelf without obtaining a coastal trade licence. These tests are conducted for oil exploration. We believe that government review and assessment of these activities is important.

We heard from Mr. Len Zedel, a scientist, who said “fish catch rates have been noted to decrease in response to seismic surveys”. He said “The intention of the present legislation”, this bill, “is to provide easier access for oil companies to seismic survey vessels, but if it has the desired effect, the concern is that you'll have more seismic survey operations” and consequently “significantly more environmental impact”. He said it was the “cumulative” effect of these seismic surveys that he's concerned about. He believes there could also be impacts on the fishing industry, for obvious reasons, if fish are affected by the surveys.

So one could argue for greater control over the industry rather than less, to constrain and manage the impact—the industry meaning the seismic survey.

We also heard from Professor Richard Steiner, who said:

We know that impacts can go out to 50 or 60 kilometres on certain species...and the effects can be quite profound, particularly with continuous sound pulses over a long period of time.

Professor Steiner said that Canadian standards for seismic mitigation should be better, and that the Canadian and U.S. governments should “develop a bilateral agreement to make seismic mitigation and monitoring consistent across our borders”.

The reason I'm quoting extensively from these scientists is that this is an issue that should have more study. Again, it's not properly before the finance committee. We believe it should be sent to the appropriate committee and be properly studied.

So we're not going to be supporting it.

8:25 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair James Rajotte

Thank you, Ms. Nash.

I'll go to Mr. Van Kesteren, please.