House of Commons Hansard #121 of the 37th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was nuclear.

Topics

International Labour Conference
Routine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.

Bramalea—Gore—Malton—Springdale
Ontario

Liberal

Gurbax Malhi Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Labour

Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 32(2) and in accordance with the International Labour Organization's constitution to bring recently adopted conventions and recommendations to the attention of competent authorities, I am pleased to submit two copies, in both official languages, of the Canadian Position with Respect to Conventions and Recommendations adopted at the 87th and 88th sessions of the International Labour Conference, June 1999 and June 2000 in Geneva.

Air Transportation
Routine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.

Chicoutimi—Le Fjord
Québec

Liberal

André Harvey Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Transport

Mr. Speaker, for the Minister of Transport, pursuant to Standing Order 32(2), I have the honour to table in both official languages, the second report of the Air Travel Complaints Commissioner, Bruce Hood.

Committees of the House
Routine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.

Liberal

Peter Adams Peterborough, ON

Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present the 40th report of the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs regarding the question of privilege raised on October 15 by the member for West Vancouver--Sunshine Coast concerning Bill C-36, the anti-terrorism act.

Petitions
Routine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.

Liberal

Rose-Marie Ur Lambton—Kent—Middlesex, ON

Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 36 I am honoured to present a petition on behalf of the constituents living in the Grand Bend, Forest, London and Windsor area who call upon parliament to protect the health of seniors, children and the environment by banning the gas additive MMT.

The use of MMT in gasoline results in significantly higher smog producing hydrocarbon emissions and enhances global warming.

Petitions
Routine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.

NDP

Dick Proctor Palliser, SK

Mr. Speaker, I have the pleasure today to present several hundred petitions from across Saskatchewan drawing attention to the changes to the Employment Insurance Act in the past decade that have transformed the act and brought harsh measures on unemployed individuals.

In Saskatchewan alone the petitioners allege that 30% of those unemployed are now ineligible to collect employment insurance. They call upon the government to re-establish unemployment insurance as an earning replacement program that once again supports unemployed workers, their families and their communities.

Questions on the Order Paper
Routine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.

Halifax West
Nova Scotia

Liberal

Geoff Regan Parliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, I ask that all questions be allowed to stand.

Questions on the Order Paper
Routine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.

The Speaker

Is that agreed?

Questions on the Order Paper
Routine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

The House resumed from November 27 consideration of the motion that Bill C-35, an act to amend the Foreign Missions and International Organizations Act, be read the third time and passed.

Foreign Missions and International Organizations Act
Government Orders

November 29th, 2001 / 10:05 a.m.

Barrie—Simcoe—Bradford
Ontario

Liberal

Aileen Carroll Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Foreign Affairs

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to begin speaking on third reading of Bill C-35 which amends the Foreign Missions and International Organizations Act. We worked on this in committee and had good discussions and the opportunity to hear from some excellent witnesses, and in so doing better understand the issues.

The bill extends immunities in Canada to non-treaty based international organizations such as G-8 and other meetings that will be held in Canada. It allows for the application of diplomatic immunity to people participating in those meetings, whereas in the past immunities such as those included in the bill could only have been extended to treaty based organizations such as the International Civil Aviation Organization which is in Montreal. Another treaty based organization of course is the United Nations.

In providing for this application in Canada, we are not in any way enhancing the levels of diplomatic immunities. We are only extending them to include persons coming to Canada for the reasons I outlined. Other developed countries, such as the United Kingdom and the United States, have provisions in their law as well to grant privileges and immunities to non-treaty based organizations.

As well, I want to say a word concerning the proposal in the bill to clarify that an order in council for an international organization or meeting excludes the obligation now to issue a minister's permit to allow entry to Canada of persons who fall within the inadmissible classes under the Immigration Act.

The opportunity now to treat the application of such persons on a case by case basis will reside with an order in council, but it moves it within the ambit of the Department of Foreign Affairs. It was the view of some of the top experts who spoke to us that it was exactly where such an action should be located. It provides therein for continuity and keeps all of what is related to persons attending international organizations in Canada within the ambit of the Department of Foreign Affairs.

There has been discussion in the media about this bill. While I can understand some of the discussion related to other bills, I fail to see the hyperbole of some articles recently concerning Bill C-35, as the bill is not about enhancement or enlargement. It is but merely the horizontal application of the diplomatic immunities to include persons falling within the categories I described.

Therefore, I move:

That the question be now put.

Foreign Missions and International Organizations Act
Government Orders

10:10 a.m.

Canadian Alliance

Rob Anders Calgary West, AB

Mr. Speaker, is the parliamentary secretary aware that over the last five years there have been 76 criminal charges laid, and never mind other offences where there have been no charges, with regard to those who enjoy the status of being a diplomat in Canada?

I know she would love to stick to her talking points and only talk about non-treaty organizations, but there was a terrorist attack on September 11 that left thousands dead. Ahmed Ressam was using Montreal as a base and staging ground for the Mujahedeen cult in the bombing of the World Trade Center before he was caught in Seattle.

The idea that we would allow an extension of diplomatic immunity and diplomatic privileges, particularly at this point in time, disturbs me deeply considering that a number of countries have abused diplomatic privileges in the past. Also, the provision of safe houses, money, travel documents in terms of visas or passports, any of these type of things can and have been used for the advancement of terrorist causes.

How can the parliamentary secretary, having voted in favour of a bill last night that would restrict the freedoms of Canadians in light of the terrorist attacks, stand up in the House today and argue in favour of extending privileges and freedoms to foreigners based in Canada?

Foreign Missions and International Organizations Act
Government Orders

10:15 a.m.

Liberal

Aileen Carroll Barrie—Simcoe—Bradford, ON

Madam Speaker, let me convey to the hon. member that I do not need talking points. I am more than delighted to speak extemporaneously to address his concerns.

I have heard constantly, as have other members on this side of the House, the opposition focus on the number of criminal charges that have been brought forward against diplomatic persons in Canada. I think the attempt is to convey almost a criminal element that countries across the world apply to be diplomats and that this is the most desired career for anyone who has criminal proclivities.

On the whole, if one compares the percentage, one would realize that the percentage of charges brought against persons in Canada, who are here on a diplomatic or consular level, is far below the percentage within society at large.

Also, the dreadful occurrence and what happened, which again was a major focus of one of the member's colleagues in committee, to Ms. Catherine MacLean and Ms. Catherine Doré was a horror that none of us in any way underestimated. The response to that on the part of the minister and the department was a zero tolerance policy. When new people come to Canada to represent their countries, they are briefed completely on what expectations are in this country as to adherence to the criminal code.

It is important as well that I take advantage of this opportunity to try to convey one more time to some of the members of the House and to members on the standing committee that this is a reciprocal obligation and comes within the Vienna convention. These diplomatic immunities and consular immunities are accorded so people can safely go to countries around the world and conduct the business of diplomacy. We ought to remember exactly what risks our Canadian diplomats take when they go to work in countries that do not extend these same privileges. Canada does extend them and has a very high bar for what the expectations are.

I am appalled at the attempt to continually use hyperbole and take one or two instances so as to smear the entire process. It is disheartening to say the least. It is misinformed, to give the very best analysis to it.

Foreign Missions and International Organizations Act
Government Orders

10:15 a.m.

Progressive Conservative

Bill Casey Cumberland—Colchester, NS

Madam Speaker, my question does not pertain to the principles of Bill C-35, but rather to the principles of access to information.

Why will the government not commit to a report to parliament? The government acknowledges that it is necessary, because the minister has said that he agrees to report on the people who apply to make use of a claim for immunity four times a year, but it will not put it in legislation. It seems to me that the minister is saying it is necessary and he will do it, but he wants to keep that flexibility so he can change his mind later on.

This kind of goes along with what is in Bill C-36, with restrictions to access to information. There seems to be a reluctance on behalf of the government to share information with parliament. All we are asking is if the government will provide a list of those people who claim immunity under these very significantly expanded immunity rules.

When I talk to Liberal members individually, they seem to agree that this is a good thing to do. Could the parliamentary secretary indicate if there has been a change of heart? Will the government add an annual report to parliament in the bill?

Foreign Missions and International Organizations Act
Government Orders

10:15 a.m.

Liberal

Aileen Carroll Barrie—Simcoe—Bradford, ON

Madam Speaker, the suggestion that the hon. member has brought forward has merits, and we have discussed it. As I understand, he is satisfied with the current reporting system; that four times a year those numbers on incidents are available to anyone who wishes to have. There is no requirement to go in under access to information. A copy of those reports will be made available on request.

I hope I am not stepping outside this, but I understand his concern is that this is not included in statute. Again, my understanding is that, although he is content with the policy of the department, he is concerned that when this minister is no longer minister or when this government is no longer in power, there might be another minister who is part of another government who would not continue that policy. I can understand his concern. At the same time, I am of a view that one cannot put everything in statute. One has to accept the government's function, with a combination of legislation, regulation and policy. To date that is the mix the government is proposing.

I certainly have conveyed his views and I understand them, but there is no intention at this time on the part of the government to make that policy a part of this law.

Foreign Missions and International Organizations Act
Government Orders

10:20 a.m.

NDP

Dick Proctor Palliser, SK

Madam Speaker, in a previous answer, the parliamentary secretary indicated that the bill was simply a reciprocal arrangement with other countries.

Could she provide the House any examples of a circumstance in which Canada had a problem at an international conference as a result of the absence of this reciprocity arrangement?