Debates of Nov. 30th, 2001
House of Commons Hansard #122 of the 37th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was information.
- Aeronautics Act
- Crohn's and Colitis
- Softwood Lumber
- George Harrison
- National Hemophilia Month
- Saguenay Municipal Elections
- National Defence
- Bluma Appel
- Bal des moissons
- Religious Organizations
- Gun Control
- World Aids Day
- Human Rights
- Bill C-394
- Hepatitis C
- Public Safety Act
- The Budget
- Bill C-42
- Air Transportation
- Air Transportation
- Summit G-20
- Patent Act
- The Environment
- Research and Development
- Forest Industry
- Natural Resources
- The Environment
- Air Canada
- Canada Post
- International Aid
- Correctional Service Canada
- Committees of the House
- Questions on the Order Paper
- Question No. 79
- Aeronautics Act
- An act to amend certain acts and instruments and to repeal the Fisheries Prices Support Act
- Parliament of Canada Act
Don Valley East
David Collenette Minister of Transport
moved that Bill C-44, an act to amend the Aeronautics Act, be read the second time and referred to a committee.
Madam Speaker, I rise to speak to Bill C-44, amendments to the Aeronautics Act, concerning the provision of information to foreign states. This is another important step in the government's fight against terrorism.
Before September 11, it was assumed that individuals who were planning to hijack a plane would bring traditional weapons with them. Since September 11, it is obvious that this is absolutely not the case.
As members well know, last week I introduced Bill C-42, the Public Safety Act. This bill has been shaped by bringing forward amendments identified during normal reviews of several of the 19 existing acts, including the Aeronautics Act.
All the reviews dealt specifically with the prevention and response provisions in a time of increased security concerns.
The basic objective of Bill C-44 is to ensure the Government of Canada has the proper authority to establish and maintain an appropriate security program for the protection of Canadians.
In Bill C-44, which was created by removing a small section from Bill C-42, the government proposes to amend the Aeronautics Act. I want to thank the members of the opposition parties at this time for agreeing to extract the proposed amendment of section 4.83 to the Aeronautics Act with respect to the provision of information and putting it in its own bill, standing in its own right so that we could have early passage. I think that by doing this we will be able to enhance the ability of Canadian air carriers to work with their international partners, in particular our American friends to the south, to take other positive steps toward deterring and detecting terrorists.
The particular amendment contained in C-44 addresses the provision of passenger and crew member data to our international partners in the interest of transportation security. I believe the proposed amendment allows for the capture of just enough of the data held by Canadian carriers to provide for increased passenger safety through the intelligent use of modern information technology.
On November 19, the day before we put Bill C-42 on the notice paper, the president of the United States signed into law a new act which requires, among other things, that advance passenger information be provided in respect of all flights entering the United States.
I want to stress that the information the Americans have asked all airlines to automatically provide is the same as that which is now provided by individual passengers to U.S. customs officials when they land in the United States today.
Indeed, the majority of Canadians entering the United States do so through U.S. pre-clearance facilities at major airports and so are already providing this information to American authorities prior to the departure of their flight from Canada.
The information to be automatically provided is quite basic: the name of the passenger, the gender, birthdate, citizenship, passport number and visa number if applicable with country of issuance. On a person by person basis, however, additional information could be requested.
As I said, the American legislation requiring this information was signed by Mr. Bush on November 19, the day before my colleague, the government House leader, advised the House that we would be bringing forward an omnibus bill on public safety and the bill was put on the notice paper.
MPs were briefed on Thursday, November 22, and the bill was introduced at 10 a.m. that day. Since that time, we have been informed by our friends in the United States that they have indicated a desire to implement the data provisions of their new act quickly. Currently they will deal with the situation either by receiving the information or by carrying out extensive hand screening of carry on and checked baggage upon arrival of flights into the United States, which we can appreciate would be very time consuming.
By advancing, as Bill C-44, this portion of our public safety act, Bill C-42, which deals with provision of passenger information to foreign states, we will be able to prepare regulations that will allow Canadian air carriers to provide approved information to approved countries.
In answer to a question from the hon. member for Roberval the other day in question period, I assure him that we would have available draft regulations today for hon. members to look at because it is a very crucial issue. I regret the fact that I was in Vancouver until late last night and I only just signed off on them. They are now in the process of final preparation and we hope to give them to the House leader for distribution within the next hour or two. I hope hon. members will take that as a sign of good faith on the part of the government that we want to work with all members to ensure that the information that is to be provided is both appropriate and conforms with our privacy legislation and the expectations of Canadians that private information pertaining to them and members of their families be only made available to other governments in the most extreme of circumstances. Of course the circumstances surrounding the events of September 11 are well known.
The fact is that Canada is among a handful of countries that were legally impeded from making this information available. Therefore I hope that Canadians do not think that somehow we are doing something that is inappropriate or out of the norm. The fact is that we are really conforming to the practice of most nation states in making this information available.
I should state as another principle, in case any people in the country feel that somehow the U.S. is extracting some kind of a commitment or influence over our own decision making, that every country in the world has the right to know who is coming into its nation's borders and the Americans are no exception. However, certainly since September 11, they are particularly sensitive about this and they certainly have the right to this information. By swift passage of the bill, we will be able to comply with their own domestic legislation which really does not have a degree of flexibility. Should we not pass this and have it proclaimed into law by early January, then our carriers would be subject to extensive delay, and no one wants that given the state of the airline industry. No passengers want it and I certainly do not think the governments of the United States and Canada want that.
I hope members will send the bill to committee where there will be a thoughtful discussion. The government certainly remains very flexible on dealing with all the various concerns that may be raised, especially those dealing with privacy.
James Moore Port Moody—Coquitlam—Port Coquitlam, BC
Mr. Speaker, I rise to speak in favour of Bill C-44 which is what we are discussing today. In the aftermath of September 11 there has been a blur of legislative activity on both sides of the 49th parallel. In the United States a mere 10 days after the horrendous attacks Senator Ernest Fritz Hollings of South Carolina introduced Bill S. 1447, the aviation and transportation security act.
In one bold act congress sought to restore the confidence of the American flying public. Passengers, baggage, mail and cargo were to be screened. In-flight crew were to be mandated new training to deal with air rage or terrorist crisis management. Air marshals were to appear on U.S. airliners. A complex passenger profiling system was to be enhanced.
Despite an anthrax attack on Capitol Hill which shut down congressional offices, consensus was quickly reached to prove that while America led an impressive fight against terrorism abroad the fight at home would be fought with even more strength.
The bill moved through both houses of congress faster than a rumour through the press corps. President Bush signed the bill into law a mere eight weeks after its introduction.
In Canada the blur of activity was akin to the way tires spin during the first winter snowstorm. There was a lot of noise and a touch of smoke but little action. The government was about as agile and surefooted as a newborn calf. Unlike the calf, however, the Prime Minister and transport minister are seasoned politicians with nearly 50 years of parliamentary experience between them. The lack of leadership would have been funny if it were not so dangerous and destructive to the air industry.
The Standing Committee on Transport and Government Operations was promptly mandated to look into aviation security but the government quickly put forward what it saw as more urgent matters. The Civil Aviation Tribunal needed to be extended to cover mariners. Air Canada's 15% share limit needed to be raised so people who owned less than 10% of its shares could somehow be encouraged to buy more. The Warsaw convention of 1929 needed to be amended for the third millennium. All these were important priorities but they were not priorities at all for the air industry or Canadians.
The standing committee was paying attention to the matter of aviation security. I will not omit that. However while witnesses from Air Canada, the pilots association and CUPE were advocating air marshals and other security measures the government was desperately trying to be seen to be acting although it was in no way sure what it wanted to achieve or how.
On the eve of the standing committee's scheduled November 26 to November 27 trip to Washington, D.C., the rumour mill began to swirl with promises of action. On November 20 at about 5.25 in the evening the government House leader sought unanimous consent to suspend the standing orders to introduce a government bill at 2 o'clock the next afternoon.
The bill, an act to amend certain acts of Canada, and to enact measures for implementing the biological and toxin weapons convention, in order to enhance public safety, would be complex and a briefing to staff would be offered.
Two months had passed since Senator Hollings introduced the aviation and transportation security act. There was now a flicker of hope that our government would react and do something.
At 2 p.m. on November 21 the promised bill was nowhere in sight. Last minute problems delayed its introduction. The bill, Bill C-42, was introduced the next day on November 22. It contained some 19 parts dealing with everything from money laundering to the implementation of a 1977 treaty on biotoxins. A miniature section on aviation security was thrown in for good measure and optics.
With the same deft touch which marked the bill's introduction, this past Wednesday at 3.05 p.m., within a week of Bill C-42's first reading in the House, the government House leader was again on his feet to state that unanimous consent had been obtained to delete section 4.83 in clause 5 from Bill C-42 and introduce a new bill under the guise of Bill C-44 introducing that section immediately, and that the new bill be ordered for consideration at second reading for today, Friday, November 30, less than two sittings days later.
Yesterday the House ran out of things to say and there were calls to adjourn early. On the one hand the government agenda is light, but the need to add the contents of section 4.83 in clause 5 of former Bill C-42 to the Aeronautics Act is urgent. Given the recent directionless hurry up and wait antics of the government one must wonder why one clause would matter so much.
There is a saying that everything makes sense. In other words, if one examines a situation long enough, hard enough and carefully enough eventually one will understand why it is the way it is. For this reason we need to look at the clauses of Bill C-42 which deal with the type of information an airline or other transport authority may provide to authorities.
Essentially there were three clauses. First, section 4.82 of clause 5 would allow the Minister of Transport to require any air carrier to provide him with information that is in the air carrier's control concerning persons on board or expected to be on board an aircraft for any flight to which the minister believes there is a threat.
Second, section 4.83 of clause 5 would allow a Canadian airline operating an international flight to a foreign state to provide to a competent authority in that state:
--any information that is in its control relating to persons on board or expected to be on board the aircraft and that is required by the laws of the foreign state.
Third, section 69 would add a new section, 88.1, to the Immigration Act. The new section would read:
(1) A transportation company bringing persons to Canada shall, in accordance with the regulations, provide prescribed information, including documentation and reports.
The summary which accompanied Bill C-42 said the first two clauses:
--require air carriers or persons who operate aviation reservation systems to provide information to the Minister concerning specified flights or persons.
The same summary stated that the third clause:
--requires transportation companies bringing persons to Canada to provide prescribed information, which will enhance the Department's ability to perform border checks and execute arrest warrants.
Sections 4.82 and 4.83 of clause 5 had a different purpose than section 69 so it is perhaps not a complete surprise that they address different types of information. However it may come as a surprise to some members of the House that airlines maintain two different types of files on their passengers.
First, there is the passenger name record or PNR. This is the file the airline creates when it reserves a flight for a passenger. It contains information such as the passenger's name, address, phone number and form of payment. It also contains reservation information regarding boarding city, destination, connections, flight numbers, dates, stops and seat assignment. Based on this information the manifest is prepared for each flight showing who is sitting where. At present the information is routinely handed over to authorities when there is an airline accident.
Second, there is the APIS or advance passenger information system. It includes five different fields: passenger name and date of birth, citizenship or nationality, document issuing country, gender and passport number or document number. Other than the passenger's name this information is not normally collected by the airlines. Unless passports are machine readable much of the information must be entered manually.
For this reason airlines only collect the information when they must provide it to immigration authorities. Currently the United States requires this type of information for U.S. bound Asian passengers transiting through Vancouver under the Canada-U.S. memorandum of understanding which allows such passengers to go to U.S. customs without first passing through Canada customs.
It is my understanding that sections 4.82 and 4.83 of clause 5 of Bill C-42 would have required the airlines to give PNR information to the Minister of Transport and section 69 would have required them to give APIS information to the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration.
Let us contrast this to the U.S. legislation. The new U.S. aviation and transportation security act mandates the administrator of the federal aviation administration to require air carriers to expand the application of the current computer assisted passenger pre-screening system, CAPPS, to all passengers regardless of baggage. Passengers selected under the CAPPS system are subject to additional security measures including checks of persons and carry-on baggage before boarding.
Both PNR and APIS information is sent electronically to the U.S. customs service supercomputer in Newington, Virginia, where the CAPPS system enables the passenger profiling that keeps America's skies safe.
The U.S. is actively fighting a war on terrorism. It is walking the talk, unlike the Government of Canada which is not. Thus it is instructional to read section 115 of America's aviation and transportation security act. It states:
(1) IN GENERAL--Not later than 60 days after the date of enactment of the Aviation and Transportation Security Act, each air carrier and foreign air carrier operating a passenger flight in foreign air transportation to the United States shall provide to the Commissioner of Customs by electronic transmission a passenger and crew manifest containing the information specified in paragraph (2). Carriers may use the advanced passenger information system [APIS]--
(2) INFORMATION--A passenger and crew manifest for a flight required under paragraph (1) shall contain the following information:
(A) The full name of each passenger and crew member.
(B) The date of birth and citizenship of each passenger and crew member.
(C) The sex of each passenger and crew member.
(D) The passport number and country of issuance of each passenger and crew member if required for travel.
(E) The United States visa number or resident alien card number of each passenger and crew member, as applicable.
(F) Such other information as the Under Secretary, in consultation with the Commissioner of Customs, determines is reasonably necessary to ensure aviation safety.
(3) PASSENGER NAME RECORDS--The carriers shall make passenger name record information available to the Customs Service upon request.
Subsection 4.83(1) of clause 5 of Bill C-42 would amend the Aeronautics Act by adding this to it:
Despite section 5 of the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act, to the extent that that section relates to obligations set out in Schedule 1 to that Act relating to the disclosure of information, an operator of an aircraft departing from Canada or of a Canadian aircraft departing from any place outside Canada may, in accordance with the regulations, provide to a competent authority in a foreign state any information that is in its control relating to persons on board or expected to be on board the aircraft and that is required by the laws of the foreign state.
If we boil this down to its essentials it means that an operator of an aircraft departing from Canada or a Canadian aircraft departing from any place outside Canada may provide to a competent authority any information that is required by the laws of the foreign state relating to persons on board.
For example, the words “operator of an aircraft departing from Canada” would allow Air Canada to give the U.S. customs service the information that section 115 of the U.S. aviation and transportation security act would mandate with respect to passengers on its transborder routes.
Similarly the words “Canadian aircraft departing from any place outside Canada” would permit Air Canada to give the same information with respect to its flights from Australia, New Zealand and Honolulu en route to Canada.
Members will remember that I said everything makes sense. I was trying to figure out why after several aborted attempts by the government to improve aviation security in Canada Bill C-44 was being rushed through with such haste. I had a look at section 115 of the U.S. aviation and transportation security act and I think I found my answer.
There are two concepts in it that are important. First, it would apply to both U.S. and foreign carriers flying to the United States from other countries. It would therefore apply to Air Canada and charter flights operated by Air Transat, WestJet and Skyservice.
Second, section 115 of the U.S. aviation and transportation security act would come into force not later than 60 days after the date of enactment of the act which was signed by President Bush on November 19.
That means it would come into force January 18, 2002, before the House of Commons has returned from Christmas break. If Canadian carriers are to be able to comply with the U.S. legislation the House must add the text of section 4.83 of clause 5 of Bill C-42 to the Aeronautics Act before it rises in the third week of December.
We are discussing the clause today not because of any desire of the government to make our skies safer or show leadership through decisive action. We are discussing it because the U.S. acted and Canada's airlines told the government if it could not lead it should at least follow the U.S. and do so quickly.
Canadians can thank the U.S. congress for the bill. To the extent that it would keep our skies safer, credit should not go to the government but to the air industry for leaning on the government to follow the United States.
In the meantime Canadians are left waiting and wondering when a hint of leadership about the broader questions of airport and airline security may tumble out of the government and cabinet and into legislation. It has been 13 weeks since the terrorist attacks and no serious legislative action has yet been taken by the government.
It makes one wonder. Our airport security system has been clearly documented to be inadequate in terms of security. New security regimes are being put in place in countless other countries. There are public demands for a new security system. Air carriers are demanding new management of airports and airline security. Pilots and flight crews are demanding new security regimes. There has been a massive drop in consumer confidence in flying, not to mention terrorist attacks and a war.
If this environment is not enough to inspire action from the government one must wonder if it will ever get off its backside and show leadership on the issue of airline and airport security. I am not holding my breath.
Mario Laframboise Argenteuil—Papineau—Mirabel, QC
Madam Speaker, I am pleased to rise today to speak to Bill C-44.
First, I would like to try to explain how the Liberal federal government has been having a bad week since last Thursday. At the same time, it is important for Quebec and Canadian people to understand how we can go from the 98 page bill tabled last week to the one page bill tabled in a rush today under a new number.
Right from the start, we noticed that Bill C-42 on public safety contained no aviation security provision. No investment, no measure was announced in it. That was our first finding. Besides, people had great expectations that the bill sponsored by the transport minister could reassure them with regard to airport security and aviation safety, but it failed to do so. The minister candidly admitted to it for that matter. Budget measures will re required, which the finance minister will hopefully put forward on December 10 next.
Why did he introduce this voluminous 98 page Bill C-42? As the transport minister told us earlier, it is because the U.S. government had tabled a legislation on aviation safety the day before. The Canadian government, which was working on a public safety legislation, tabled it on the next day.
At the outset, as I already told Quebecers who are listening, there was nothing new announced about airline security. There were, however, major announcements the new powers which the government wanted through interim orders, without the authorization of the House. The words interim order were invented to allow the health, agriculture, environment and other ministers to make from time to time emergency orders, which would have the force of regulations and which would be implemented immediately, without going through the regular review procedure, especially the security procedure enacted by the government through the Privy Council to determine whether those orders are consistent with the Canadian Charters of Rights and Freedoms. This was the first main thing we saw.
Second, there was the issue of military security zones, about which the Minister of National Defence gave wonderful speeches this week.
The Bloc Quebecois, as an opposition party should, did its homework, went over the bill and asked questions in the House directly to the Prime Minister. First, we asked a very simple question to the Prime Minister “What would Bill C-42 allow you to do that you did not do in September?” Of course, the Prime Minister let the Minister of Transport answer the question. They were not able to tell us what they could not have done in September, why we should have this bill and how it would allow us to respond in a better way. The minister gave a very evasive answer.
There was obviously no answer to the question, because intervention occurred under the current regulation. Since the public sought some reassurance, the government used legislation under its jurisdiction. Ministers used the powers they had. Apart from a few mistakes, by the Health Minister, for instance, the government managed rather well. It did not, however, need new legislation to deal with such tragic events as those of September 11.
We have to understand that for many years ministers, departments and officials have had expectations, and would have liked more power. Bill C-42 was probably a good opportunity for the ministers to include all the traditional demands of their departments and officials so that they can have control without the members of parliament being involved and without any parliamentary process, something which is too cumbersome for some. For others, of course, this process is necessary.
This is what happened with Bill C-36, the anti-terrorism bill. The government proudly said “See, we have introduced a bill that has gone through all the legislative stages. Members of parliament have been able to debate the bill at second reading, in committee, and at third reading. They had the opportunity to move amendments.”
The legislative process has been so well followed that, last Wednesday, the government gagged the opposition. The government prevented us from going on with the debate to better explain to the citizens the content of Bill C-36, the anti-terrorism bill. We were gagged.
So, on Wednesday, the debate ended because of the Liberals' decision to issue a gag order. Bill C-36 was passed in virtually the same form as it was introduced, despite the fact that the Bloc Quebecois alone had moved 66 amendments, of which only one was retained. That amendment was to include the word cemetery in the list of objects which could be considered as being part of hate crimes. We have to hand it to the government for having included the word cemetery.
However, there were some very important issues, and some very important discussions. There were more than 80 witnesses heard by the committee who asked, almost unanimously, that some significant restrictions be added. Among the restrictions was the sunset clause, proposed by the Bloc Quebecois, to limit the bill in time to a three year period, given that the bill creates new provisions and new limits to personal freedom. This did not happen. We wanted an annual review. The government did not retain this idea.
Once again, the government used the legislative process. For Bill C-36, the government used the process to say, “listen, the committee worked on the bill and you had your chance to be heard. In the end, we will not retain anything”. This is clearly this government's motto: zip, we will not retain anything. This is how the Liberal government operates.
It is especially difficult when, in the same week, there is debate on bills as important as Bill C-42, which introduces interim orders. It grants exceptional powers to ministers, to individuals. Take the example military security zones. It provides the Minister of National Defence with the power to establish, on his own authority, military security zones, without the provincial attorneys general even requesting it, which was the case until now.
Quebecers who are listening should know that, thanks to the good work of the Bloc Quebecois, and the other members of the opposition in the House, Bill C-42 will not be passed before the holidays. This is why we are debating Bill C-44.
They have taken the only urgent measure, the only truly urgent measure, from Bill C-42, and that is obviously what the minister has introduced today. An independent bill has been created, Bill C-44, an act to amend the Aeronautics Act, in order to comply with U.S. requirements for air carriers taking passengers to the United States or through U.S. airspace.
This is indeed the only measure that was really necessary and urgent in Bill C-42, as I said at the beginning of my speech. How, within one week, can a bill of 98 pages be introduced? Finally, and everyone agrees on this, the only true emergency measure is the single page representing clause 4.83. That is the change that has been made and I will address that shortly.
So that is what the Liberal government's difficult week has been all about. It has once again tried to pull a fast one on all Quebecers, all Canadians, in the guise of a concern for national security.
It is sad because, when it comes down to the bottom line, if Bill C-42 had been passed this week, the terrorists would have succeeded in what they were trying to do from the start, which is to directly attack the very foundations of our liberal and democratic society.
This is the worst of it. Rather than discussing real security problems, announcing measures, announcing budgets, the government has introduced a bill. The Minister of Transport could very well have caused a real hullabaloo in the House by pressuring the Minister of Finance, by saying “This is what we need to have enhanced security, and this is what it will cost, according to a number of people who came before us in committee. This is what the people of Quebec and of Canada need”.
That is not what was done. A bill was introduced. It was just smoke and mirrors to distract Quebecers and Canadians, and all because last Wednesday the U.S. government introduced a real air security bill.
This is why today, before Bill C-44, we are all to understand that it was an emergency measure. This is why the Bloc Quebecois told the House on Tuesday of its clear desire to debate a bill that gave Canadians some security. This measure alone, which was contained in C-42 and which we are debating today, is intended to harmonize Canadian legislation with American legislation that came into effect on November 19 in the United States.
I will read the American text, so it will be clear what the Canadian legislation should include:
Not later than 60 days after the date of enactment of the Aviation and Transportation Security Act [American], each air carrier and foreign air carrier operating a passenger flight in foreign air transportation to the United States shall provide to the Commissioner of Customs by electronic transmission a passenger and crew manifest... to provide the information required by the preceding sentence.
(a) the full name of each passenger and crew member;
(b) the date of birth and citizenship of each passenger and crew member;
(c) the sex of each passenger and crew member;
(d) the passport number and country of issuance for each passenger and crew member, if required for travel;
(e) The United States visa number or resident alien card number of each passenger and crew member, as applicable;
(f) Such other information as the Under Secretary, in consultation with the Commissioner of Customs, determines is reasonably necessary to ensure aviation safety.
This is therefore the request the Americans are making of all foreign countries whose airlines are passing through the United States either carrying passengers to the United States or passing over American airspace.
Of course, since our American friends are asking, it is important that we, as responsible neighbours, comply with their requirements.
As for the bill before us, the Bloc Quebecois will support this measure to standardize the information to be provided on passengers. However, we have to be careful. The American legislation, which I have read, is clear, but the bill introduced in the House today is not so clear.
I will quote clause 4.83 of the bill, for the benefit of Quebecers. In any case, there are only four paragraphs in the bill.
4.83 (1) Despite section 5 of the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act, to the extent that that section relates to obligations set out in Schedule 1 to that Act ... an operator of an aircraft departing from Canada or of a Canadian aircraft departing from any place outside Canada may, in accordance with the regulations, provide to a competent authority in a foreign state any information that is in its control relating to persons on board or expected to be on board the aircraft and that is required by the laws of the foreign state.
So, this first paragraph says that we will provide the information requested by foreign states. However, the second paragraph provides that:
(2) The Governor in Council may make regulations generally for carrying out the purposes of this section, including regulations:
(a) respecting the type or classes of information that may be provided; or
(b) specifying the foreign states to which information may be provided.
So, regulations will have to be made and this is why the Bloc Quebecois asked the Leader of the Government in the House yesterday if, considering that the clause before us is not clear as to the information to be provided, we could have the regulations which, among other things, will govern the type or classes of information that may be provided.
We had indeed been told that today we would be provided with a draft or at least with the speech notes on the regulations. This is what the minister seems to have promised for noon today. We could certainly consider those notes or the first draft of the regulations the government intends to propose and pass. We hope to have the opportunity to discuss the matter before the House adjourns for the Christmas recess.
It should not be forgotten that under the U.S. order that I was reading earlier, Canada has to adopt some measures before January 18, 2002 and it must be able to produce the regulations and the list of information that the Americans might demand regarding the carriers transporting passengers to the United States or flying over U.S. air space.
I am repeating it again to all Quebecers and Canadians listening to us, we started off last week with a 98 page bill from which we extracted the only emergency measure contained in Bill C-42, that is the measure regarding the information on passengers that we will have to submit if we want our airline companies to be authorized to continue to do business in the United States, and we drafted a separate bill.
It was a very difficult week for the federal Liberal government because, once again, it tried to present a distorted picture of Quebecers and Canadians. We are much more on the ball than people in many other countries around the world.
The Liberals are lucky enough to have opposition parties that know how to read legislation and guess at the intentions of ministers, who too often take advantage of crisis situations, such as the events of September 11, to try to make some old dreams come true. For the Minister of National Defence, the dream is to have his army operate anywhere in Canada, and particularly in Quebec, even if the governor general or the provinces have not asked that the army be called in.
It is hard for opposition parties in this House to put up with situations like what happened last week, when we were gagged and unable to debate Bill C-36. We are prevented from speaking. The following day, the proceedings of this House were interrupted for two hours because there was nothing to debate. This is what the Canadian parliament has come to. Canadians and Quebecers who are listening must realize this.
As things stand now, the federal Liberal government is too strong and believes it can do as it pleases. Once again, I trust Quebecers and Canadians. They see what is happening, just as we do, and they will increasingly trust the Bloc Quebecois and the opposition parties to defend their interests.
Judy Wasylycia-Leis Winnipeg North Centre, MB
Madam Speaker, I am pleased to speak to Bill C-44 on behalf of the NDP caucus.
The bill is clearly part of a much broader agenda with respect to phase two of the government's determination to pursue broad, wide sweeping and very comprehensive legislation. On the one hand the bill appears to deal with issues of security, issues which we all share, but on the other hand very much impedes civil liberties and human rights.
We will be consistent on the issue. We have said from day one with respect to Bill C-36 and now with respect to Bill C-42 that the government has crossed the line between balancing those two concerns, between standing up for measures that actually address in real terms the threat of terrorism and respecting Canada's longstanding traditions and historic developments in civil liberties and human rights.
It is good that the Minister of Transport has introduced Bill C-44. He has carved off one specific section from the massive piece of anti-terrorist legislation for our consideration today. In the process he has left us presumably some time to deliberate, to discuss with Canadians the full ramification of the provisions in Bill C-42. I hope that is the case. That was certainly our concern with respect to Bill C-36.
The minister may talk about the time given to the House to deliberate on that very massive piece of legislation which impacts on almost every aspect of our lives. The government came in with a heavy hand. It gave a window of opportunity to hear some testimony from Canadians but then without due consideration to the amendments being proposed by those organizations or by opposition members, the government proceeded as it had originally wished, with the exception of some housekeeping amendments. That is clearly unacceptable. We have said that over the last few days.
The events leading up to yesterday's developments and the commotion in the House yesterday speak to that precisely. It was a fascinating day yesterday in the House. There have been fascinating developments over the last couple of days.
The Conservatives in the House have gone through a remarkable conversion from a position of support for Bill C-36 to a position yesterday of strong opposition to Bill C-42. Many have questioned how this is possible. A Conservative member has said that it was a logical thing to do. That is what we are searching for; we are trying to find some logic in the Conservative position.
At least in the case of the Bloc members who voted for Bill C-36 at second reading, they wanted to reserve judgment at third reading based on the testimony and concerns raised. Bloc members listened and acted on those concerns and ended up opposing Bill C-36.
In the case of the Conservatives, my goodness, they spoke with such opposition to Bill C-36 and ended up supporting it at third reading. One has to wonder, as someone said to me, if they woke up the morning after having slept with the Liberals feeling guilty and had to do a quick change in position based on those feelings of guilt. I hope instead that it is a case of the Conservatives seeing the light of day and realizing just what kind of pervasive stranglehold the government has over our society as a result of Bill C-36 and with respect to Bill C-42.
It is clearly an issue today of trying to find a balance between civil liberties and dealing with serious threats. No one here is suggesting that the threat to our security as a result of the September 11 terrorist attacks is not real nor that action should not be taken to address those threats. That is exactly what we have been trying to do in the course of debate, to find that balance.
We have been trying to persuade the Minister of Justice and now the Minister of Transport to find that balance and truly represent the concerns of Canadians. It is the kind of balance we hope will be achieved in the final analysis at least with respect to Bill C-42. It may be too late for Bill C-36 although it is still in the Senate and who knows what can happen. It is certainly not too late for Bill C-42. We now have a much greater consolidation of concern on the part of the opposition, with the exception of Alliance members who feel that even these major intrusive measures are wimpy. It is hard to imagine that kind of viewpoint is alive and well in this Chamber but it is.
This is probably the most draconian piece of legislation in the history of the country and the Alliance finds it wimpy. The Alliance claims it does not go far enough. It wants to see tougher measures. It wants to take away all our rights and liberties in the interests of terrorism. That is certainly a marginal position. It is not even on the table. The work of the majority of parliamentarians with cool heads and rational judgment is to find the common ground to balance security with civil liberties.
Bill C-44 represents one small part of the wide sweeping, major anti-terrorist legislation, Bill C-42. We in the NDP certainly support the legislation going to committee. It should be studied and dealt with expeditiously. However we have some concerns. There are real questions about what Bill C-44 means in terms of privacy in Canada and in terms of protecting individual rights and freedoms.
It is very disconcerting not to have a clear understanding from the Minister of Transport as to what it means for Canada to provide passenger lists for every airline crossing into American airspace. What does it mean to collect all that information and where does it go? What does it mean when the government says it will release the passenger lists and crew data to a foreign government where such information is required by the laws of the country? What laws and according to what standards, values and principles? When do we draw the line between providing necessary information to ensure the threat of security is addressed and allowing foreign invasion of individual rights to privacy?
There is no question that some action has to be taken in terms of security at our airports. Our caucus has been very clear about wanting beefed up security at our airports. We have raised numerous concerns about the chaos in the airline industry. We would like to see some real leadership from the government about the crisis at Air Canada, about the collapse of Canada 3000, about the turmoil and uncertainty facing air travellers and the chaos at the airports themselves.
It would be good to have a comprehensive piece of legislation from the minister dealing with the crisis in the airline industry and a comprehensive plan on airline and airport security. This kind of patchwork, ad hoc response is not that helpful in dealing with the bigger picture. It is not apparent to us how this kind of initiative will fundamentally address the root causes of terrorism.
Given the incidents over the last few days and weeks, we are concerned about racial profiling. We are obviously concerned about what happens to passenger lists, given the incident recently reported about a member of our Sikh community travelling by air and being pulled off the plane because of the way he looked. This was done clearly not taking into account cultural mannerisms and not being sensitive to the diversity of this nation.
What happens if an airline en route from Winnipeg to Ottawa travelling through American airspace has a couple of Sikh names or Arab sounding names on that list? Are these people singled out? Given past experience are we looking at people being identified and under suspicion because of how they look, the colour of their skin, what they are wearing, what their body language is and what their facial expressions are?
We have legitimate reasons to be concerned given what has happened in the last few weeks. The number of people who are being detained as an ethnic group and questioned on the basis of their ethnic origin raises suspicion. Suspicion is also raised when people are being detained without access to legal assistance and an understanding of why they are being detained without evidence of any wrongdoing. All that gives us great concern.
It makes us wonder how the government will go down this path and ensure that our diversity is respected and individual rights and freedoms are preserved in Canada if it cannot handle the situations we have had over the last few weeks.
We will support Bill C-44 going to committee. We want to hear answers to many questions and raise concerns. NDP members want to give a cautionary note to the government about Bill C-42. This is broad, sweeping legislation that tips the balance in favour of security over civil liberties and human rights.
We are asking the government why it is trampling on rights and freedoms in order to achieve greater security in this country. I do not think the government has an answer for that. In many ways it has leapt into this area with the determination to have a quick response without thinking through the final impact of its decisions.
The government has to sit back, look at the situation and start to act in the interests of Canadian traditions and values. It must know full well that we have the means, the ability and the tools to attempt to offer security to all Canadians without taking away basic rights and freedoms.
We look forward to having the legislation debated in committee. My party will be raising many concerns at that point. The New Democratic Party hopes the government makes a commitment in this process to allow Canadians to be heard on Bill C-42. All members should work together to achieve the balance between protecting people against the threat of terrorism and standing up and protecting the rights and freedoms of Canadians.
André Harvey Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Transport
Madam Speaker, I would like to begin by thanking all the members of the Standing Committee on Transport with whom we have had the opportunity to work. After the many hearings we held on issues having to do with the terrorism crisis, I can say that airline safety in this country is considered among the best in the world.
All the work done since September 11, both by the Minister of Transport and all his colleagues, and by all government agencies, is the envy of many other countries.
We were also able to visit Washington and hold hearings there. The way airline safety is handled in this country is considered second to none right now. There are still improvements to be made. We will make them, and are making them daily.
I do not want everything to be lumped together here this morning. There was reference to Bill C-36, to which substantial amendments were made. It is a shame to hear otherwise. If there were marks for exaggeration, many members of this House would have no trouble passing. They are lumping all the bills together.
We are looking at Bill C-44. I would like to ask the New Democratic Party member what she means—
I am sorry to interrupt the honourable parliamentary secretary, but he will be able to continue with his comments and his question after oral question period and routine proceedings today.
Crohn's and Colitis
Statements by Members
Mac Harb Ottawa Centre, ON
Mr. Speaker, I inform the House and all Canadians that November has been designated Crohn's and Colitis Awareness Month by the Crohn's and Colitis Foundation of Canada.
Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis are chronic digestive disorders of the small and large intestines. Approximately 100,000 Canadian men, women and children are affected. The severity of symptoms can vary dramatically and the disease often results in frequent illness, hospitalization and surgery. The cause and cure for this disease remain unknown.
Through education and fellowship the Crohn's and Colitis Foundation of Canada offers support to those affected and raises public awareness. I extend best wishes to the Crohn's and Colitis Foundation of Canada and its thousands of volunteers across Canada for a successful public awareness campaign during the month of November.
Statements by Members
James Lunney Nanaimo—Alberni, BC
Mr. Speaker, the softwood lumber crisis has risen to crippling proportions for Canadian mill and forestry workers. While Canadian officials sit back and wait for the referee to climb into the ring, the U.S. commerce department has our industry in a stranglehold.
Why is the government allowing the provinces to go like vassals with cap in hand to the Sheriff of Nottingham, Washington, without any central focused stakeholder game plan? Why has there not been a national stakeholder meeting? Why do we not at least put an equal 32% tariff on raw log exports?
It is unconscionable that our mill workers are idled while U.S. mills are geared up to process our logs. In Port Alberni mill workers are incensed to see truckloads of raw logs rolling out to be processed in U.S. mills. Angry workers are ready to block the roads and stop the trucks. If the government does not act soon, it is clear that the people will.
Statements by Members
Lynn Myers Waterloo—Wellington, ON
Mr. Speaker, today the music loving world mourns the loss of one of its giants. George Harrison, lead guitarist of the legendary Beatles, passed away last night at the age of 58 from cancer. Known as the quiet Beatle, he was often overshadowed by the great Lennon-McCartney team, but Harrison managed to shine in his own right contributing such musical classics as Here comes the sun and Something .
Harrison was also cognizant of the world around him having organized the famous concert in New York City with proceeds going to humanitarian causes in Bangladesh. George Harrison has left us much too early. As the world mourns his passing, his family reminds us that “He left this world as he lived in it, conscious of God, fearless of death, and at peace, surrounded by family and friends”.
I join Beatles fans everywhere and all music lovers across Canada today in celebrating the life achievements and contributions of George Harrison.
National Hemophilia Month
Statements by Members
Hélène Scherrer Louis-Hébert, QC
Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to have this opportunity to remind the House and all Canadians that November has been designated National Hemophilia Month by the Canadian Hemophilia Society.
Hemophilia is a genetic disease, which occurs primarily in boys. One newborn boy in five inherits the disease.
The Canadian Hemophilia Society is devoted to providing support and service to Canadians with hemophilia and their caregivers. It also raises awareness of the disease among the general public and health professionals, and encourages self-help among hemophiliacs.
I trust you will join with me in thanking the Society and its many volunteers throughout the country for their ongoing commitment and contributions. Let us hope that this month will have been a great success in raising hemophilia awareness.
Saguenay Municipal Elections
Statements by Members
André Harvey Chicoutimi—Le Fjord, QC
Mr. Speaker, last Sunday, the voters of Saguenay elected Jean Tremblay, the first mayor of their new city.
I would like to congratulate him on this victory and to indicate my confidence in him as he begins to fulfill this new mandate. It is a major challenge, but one he will meet with vigour and honesty.
My congratulations also to all the municipal councillors of this new city.
Mayoralty candidate Daniel Giguère also merits congratulations, as do all those who ran for the 19 seats on council.
This new city will continue to offer all the attractions the region has in the past for prosperity and innovation.
To Mayor Tremblay and all the councillors, may I wish the best of luck. I pledge my co-operation as we continue to build our wonderful region.
Statements by Members
John Reynolds West Vancouver—Sunshine Coast, BC
Mr. Speaker, militia units in British Columbia are facing a financial crunch with one unit completely out of funds, another which will run out of funds on December 1, and another which will be penniless on January 1. Another unit does not have enough money to buy ammunition to fire a salute.
The minister has been told repeatedly that $1 billion per year is required to keep the armed forces at status quo. The SCONDVA report said the issue of underfunding for those who are expected to make a sacrifice for this country is urgent and critical.
While the minister can find no money for frontline personnel and militia units, he can condone 100 commanding officers from western Canada holding a meeting on December 2 at the Crown Plaza Hotel on the tab of taxpayers and on the backs of those he asks to serve on the frontline.
I guess the Greisbach Barracks in Edmonton, which is a perfectly suitable facility, is not good enough for a one day meeting for the champagne tastes of the commanding officers. Some example they are setting for the young Canadians who are being asked to sacrifice their lives, if need be, in Afghanistan. Some gall. Surely money earmarked for the British Columbia militia will not go to the Crown Plaza in Edmonton to feed and water the commanding officers.
Statements by Members
Sarmite Bulte Parkdale—High Park, ON
Mr. Speaker, I rise today to congratulate Bluma Appel on receiving the William Kilbourn Award at the recent 2001 Toronto Arts Awards.
The 2001 Toronto Arts Awards recognize the outstanding contributions to the arts and culture of greater Toronto and represent the wide diversity of Toronto's artistic community. Bluma Appel was a recipient of this award for a short documentary film profiling her life and work.
For over 40 years Bluma has championed the arts and has made a major contribution to the cultural life of Toronto. In 1950 she produced her first play by Jean Genet entitled The Maids . She has tried both acting and directing but has always come back to producing. She was also the recipient of the Order of Canada in 1998 and the Order of Ontario in 1997.
I congratulate and thank Bluma Appel for her enormous and generous contributions over the years to the arts.
Bal des moissons
Statements by Members
Pauline Picard Drummond, QC
Mr. Speaker, the 26th annual Bal des moissons, organized by the Conseil régional des sociétés d'agriculture du centre du Québec, MAPAQ and the Caisses populaires Desjardins of Central Quebec, was an event to celebrate agricultural leaders in this region.
According to the jury of five farmers and professionals in the field, the high level of candidates made it very difficult to award the prize in the youth category.
I am therefore particularly proud to congratulate Gilbert Perreault and his spouse, Chantal Brodeur, of Saint-Germain-de-Grantham, this year's winners of the Gerbe d'Or trophy, in the youth category.
As well, despite all of the controversy surrounding hog production, the hog business Ferme des Rêves, owned by Roger Tessier and Réjeanne Ménard, won the Céres trophy in the agricultural practices category for its overall good management practices.
And finally, Martin Courchesne, of Lefebvre, won the Méritas Élite award for young farmers.
I would like to congratulate the winners and all of the nominees from the Centre-du-Québec region for the various categories. They have helped the field of agriculture to improve, innovate and perform.
Statements by Members
Gurbax Malhi Bramalea—Gore—Malton—Springdale, ON
Mr. Speaker, the Sikh community in my riding and around the world is celebrating the 532nd birthday of Guru Nanak Dev Ji, the first guru of the Sikh religion.
The teachings of Guru Nanak are a model to all people, especially following the events of September 11. Sikhs believe in non-violence, peace, human equality, justice and democracy. Guru Nanak taught the importance of selfless service, tolerance, compassion, love, equality and well-being for all people.
The goal of a Sikh is not only the spiritual growth of the individual but is also the advancement of every human being regardless of creed, colour or race.