House of Commons Hansard #113 of the 37th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was tax.

Topics

Income Tax Conventions Implementation Act, 2001
Government Orders

10:05 a.m.

Edmonton West
Alberta

Liberal

Anne McLellan for the Minister of Finance

moved that Bill S-31, an act to implement agreements, conventions and protocols concluded between Canada and Slovenia, Ecuador, Venezuela, Peru, Senegal, the Czech Republic, the Slovak Republic and Germany for the avoidance of double taxation and the prevention of fiscal evasion with respect to taxes on income, be read the second time and referred to a committee.

Income Tax Conventions Implementation Act, 2001
Government Orders

10:05 a.m.

Markham
Ontario

Liberal

John McCallum Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to have the opportunity to speak to Bill S-31, the income tax conventions implementation act, 2001, at second reading. The bill would enact tax treaties that Canada has signed with eight countries, five of which are new treaties with countries with which we did not previously have a treaty, namely, Slovenia, Ecuador, Venezuela, Peru and Senegal. We have revised conventions with Germany and the Czech and Slovak republics. The reason being that the latter two countries were previously one country so we now have a new tax treaty with each republic.

I will provide the House with a brief overview as to why these tax treaties are important. The first reason is fairness in taxation and the avoidance of double taxation because in the absence of a tax treaty it is highly probable that citizens would be subjected to double taxation.

A second and related reason is that foreign activities of Canadians and foreigners in Canada are increasingly important. This is true for foreign trade which now accounts for more than 40% of the Canadian GDP. In addition, foreign investments in both directions are increasing in importance. Having a tax treaty increases the certainty for both Canadians and non-Canadians as to how they will be taxed in Canada and foreign countries. This increased certainty on the tax liability encourages more foreign trade and investment.

I think that now, if one wishes to see a connection with the events of September 11, there may be some potential obstacles to international exchanges and the flow of foreign investments as a result. It is even more important than ever, therefore, to adopt measures to encourage foreign investment and international exchanges.

One of the principal disadvantages of not having a tax treaty is double taxation. Double taxation is something that citizens and companies do not relish. Double taxation is to be avoided because it represents a very important potential impediment to international transactions which are becoming increasingly important.

It is really a simple matter. I do not know if I have to say much more. I am a bit less longwinded than some of my opposition colleagues because I have made the essential points.

One important element of these tax treaties is that they affect withholding taxes. Withholding taxes are those taxes imposed by Canada on income earned by non-residents. In the absence of tax treaties, the withholding tax rate would be 25%. However, as a consequence of these tax treaties, those withholding taxes would be reduced to a range of 5% to 15%. This greases the wheels of international commerce and international investment and, hence, is in the national interest.

Bill S-31 is not something radical. It is not rocket science. It is standard, routine legislation to increase our stable of countries with which we have tax treaties and to improve the tax treaties from some of the existing cases. In general, these tax treaties are modelled on a standard OECD model.

In saying that the bill is not terribly radical, I do not want to belittle the work done by our public servants because the devil is in the details. There are important technical differences across the various tax conventions depending upon the nature of our relations with those countries and the state of those negotiations.

I hope hon. members will support the bill. It is pretty simple stuff in principle, although the details could get quite technical.

There are three basic advantages to adopting these tax treaties: first, it would avoid double taxation, which is good for corporate and private citizens and good from the point of view of the national interest; second, it would lead to a simplified tax system; and third, it would enhance the degree of certainty and provide a more stable environment for international transactions. Given that the global scene is becoming more important for Canada, this increased ability to conduct foreign transactions is definitely in the national interest.

Income Tax Conventions Implementation Act, 2001
Government Orders

10:15 a.m.

Canadian Alliance

Philip Mayfield Cariboo—Chilcotin, BC

Mr. Speaker, it is my privilege to speak on behalf of my party to Bill S-31 and to speak on behalf of the people of Cariboo--Chilcotin as I participate in the debate.

The legislation is an act to implement agreements, conventions and protocols concluded between Canada and Slovenia, Ecuador, Venezuela, Peru, Senegal, the Czech Republic, the Slovak Republic and Germany for the avoidance of double taxation and the prevention of fiscal evasion with respect to taxes on income.

It is an act to ratify tax conventions agreed upon between Canada and the countries listed. The agreements were set out to avoid double taxation between the respective nations and to establish a co-operative framework to prevent fiscal evasion.

This is a technical tax bill that sets out to simplify arrangements and serves as a measure to further the economic interests of Canadian companies and individuals doing business and collecting revenues from abroad.

Tax conventions, such as the one to be implemented in Bill S-31, seek to arrange an agreement under which each government agrees to limit or modify the application of its domestic taxes in order to attempt to avoid double taxation.

The Canadian Alliance has traditionally encouraged all measures to further equalize and liberalize foreign trade and investment. In this regard, Bill S-31 is a positive measure. Nonetheless it was introduced in the Senate instead of the House of Commons. This is a problem for me. Why does it originate in the Senate? Why is it not that the Senate is brought into play as the chamber of sober second thought rather than introducing bills into the House? It is an unelected group that does not represent electors in the same way that members of this Chamber do.

The Canadian Alliance policy book says that we support securing access to international markets through the negotiation of trade agreements. Our trade agenda will focus on diversifying both the products we sell abroad and the market into which we sell those products. It goes on to say that we will vigorously pursue reduction of international trade barriers, tariffs and subsidies, that we will work with international organizations that have relevant expertise to ensure Canadians' concerns about labour practices, environmental protection and human rights are reflected.

Notwithstanding that the bill was introduced in the Senate, which is unelected and lacks the legitimacy to address legislation prior to the House of Commons, the Canadian Alliance will be supporting the bill.

It is interesting that we talk about a bill concerning trade with the countries I mentioned when at the same time we have a very serious and profound problem to solve in trade with our largest trading partner, the United States. The government needs to be reminded that even though it talks about conventions and treaties with other countries, the United States has added an anti-dumping tax of 12.6% to the 19.3% countervail duty announced in August. This is a political statement on behalf of the special interest U.S. lumber lobby.

For the next six weeks, Canadian exports of lumber will be subject to an added tax in the amount of 31.9%. After December 16, and until we hear a final countervail announcement expected in March, the 19.3% falls away and we are only dealing with the anti-dumping tax of 12.6%.

For the next several weeks, the United States lumber lobby will have a maximum leverage to wring concessions from the wounded Canadian industry. This is something that should and must be of profound importance to the Canadian government, as it is to the citizens of Canada.

It sounds like we need a tax treaty of some kind or a convention with the United States, does it not? It is expected that the final countervail duty determination in March 2002 will be much less than the preliminary determination in our case of 19.3%.

Anti-dumping duties are refundable when industry corrects deficiencies. Observers anticipate most companies will be fully refunded in the first year. Canada has a strong case for free trade access before NAFTA and the WTO trade tribunals and the U.S. lumber lobby knows this.

Even if we negotiate and reach an agreement more quickly than going through the trade tribunal process, the government must ensure that we stay the course toward free trade. We will hold it accountable for that.

Fifteen years of harassment have taken a major toll on our industry. If we do not go back to free trade now we will see further permanent job losses and disinvestments in the industry. There is too much at stake to otherwise.

The U.S. lumber lobby did not anticipate that Canada would hold out this long. It thought that we would negotiate rather than pursue the dispute resolution mechanisms to their fullest extent. That is what we have done in the past and we have won there.

What has changed is the strong alliance Canada enjoys with the U.S. consumer movement and its strong and effective lobby. We can negotiate a good treaty any time; the sooner the better.

The government should be doing that. The government in fact should have already done that. In the United States, consumers are speaking clearly to their politicians about the economic pain that they are experiencing. They want Canada's softwood lumber at the best price. They need it during these difficult economic times.

The administration of President Bush wants the long running Canadian lumber dispute resolved before Christmas. Let me say, so does everyone in British Columbia, particularly the lumber workers whose jobs depend upon this. President Bush appointed an envoy vested with power to negotiate a settlement. Our Prime Minister has the authority to appoint an envoy to negotiate for Canada. Such a person would understand the industry, be an honest broker and stand for what is right regardless of politics. Such a person would not let personal biases or political ambitions stand in the way of a balanced solution.

Does the Prime Minister have the political courage to appoint such an envoy and does the Minister for International Trade have the strength of character to accept such an appointment? I sincerely hope that they do.

There is much pessimism today but there should be optimism as well. If we can hold our alliance together among the lumber producers of Canada, it is the Canadian lumber producers who will be the winners.

Can anyone imagine the government forcing the House to debate a tax treaty between Canada and places like Peru, Senegal and the Czech Republic without having first dealt with the most important issue facing British Columbia and other parts of Canada, the softwood lumber crisis with the United States? Thirty thousand jobs are at stake in British Columbia. Over 30,000 forestry workers in British Columbia alone will be unemployed by the end of the year. B.C.'s mill towns are at risk of becoming ghost towns.

I am happy to speak to Bill S-31. I am happy that, in the case of the countries involved, we are reaching out to regularize and facilitate commerce and provide certainty in this foreign trade. I trust that regularization will take place with the United States concerning the softwood lumber industry. As I said before, the Canadian Alliance will be supporting the bill.

Income Tax Conventions Implementation Act, 2001
Government Orders

10:20 a.m.

Bloc

Yvan Loubier Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to speak to this bill, the purpose of which is to establish tax conventions between Canada and certain countries, including Slovenia, Ecuador, Venezuela, Peru, Senegal, the Czech Republic, the Slovak Republic and Germany, for the avoidance of double taxation of companies and investors with activities in those countries.

We do not disagree with the principle of tax conventions and, moreover, our position has been totally consistent since 1993. Tax conventions must help Quebec and Canadian businesses with foreign subsidiaries—as well as the opposite, foreign companies with subsidiaries in Canada—and avoid double taxation, or having the same profits for the same industrial or financial activities taxed twice. This would also apply to services, such as transportation by ship or other means, abroad or domestically, by subsidiaries of foreign companies.

However, when speaking of tax conventions and this principle of avoiding double taxation, it must be kept in mind that these conventions must be signed between countries with more or less similar tax rates. Thus, they must not involve countries with a taxation rate half as much, or even one-tenth as much as here, the countries considered tax havens, as is often the case. When the taxation rates are compared, one can see that there may be incredible distortions in taxation rates in the countries with which tax conventions are signed.

This is where the problem lies, because a Canadian company may have a foreign subsidiary that is being taxed at 1% or 2% on the revenue earned in that country, and then its profits are brought back to Canada after being taxed at that 1% or 2% rate, and are totally exempt from federal and provincial taxes because they have already been taxed in a country with which we have a tax convention. That is the principle of tax conventions.

But this does not make sense if the convention is signed with a country where the tax rate on profits is 1% or 2%, or where profits are not taxed at all.

If we sign a tax treaty with Germany, for example, its makes sense, because our tax rates for businesses, depending on their size and the index used, whether it is a composite index of taxation on revenues, capital and so on, are essentially the same, give or take a few percentage points.

However, when we look at the tax convention between Canada and Barbados, which we have been criticizing since 1994, it no longer makes sense. The new tax conventions included in Bill S-31 give us the opportunity to reconsider the principle underlying these types of conventions.

Two or three years ago, the FATF, an OECD task force, said that it was worried about the proliferation of these tax conventions and the proliferation of agreements between industrialized countries and countries considered as tax havens.

There is even more reason to be concerned since the events of September 11, as we try to track money laundered by terrorist groups. We wonder about the proliferation of these conventions and about questionable taxation practices adopted by certain countries around the world.

Right now, there are 1,500 bilateral tax conventions signed by various countries around the world. According to most experts, including OECD experts, we have somehow lost control over the nature and content of these conventions and the taxation practices of some of these countries. The OECD, like the Bloc Quebecois, among others, has criticized the harmful taxation practices adopted by countries considered as tax havens.

There are a number of tax havens around the world. Incidentally, the auditor general, like the Bloc Quebecois, has often criticized the existence and proliferation of these conventions with countries whose taxation rates differ greatly from those of Canada. The auditor general has even said, four times since 1993—and you were there, Mr. Speaker—that these harmful practices threatened Canada's tax base.

It is quite something for the auditor general to state that throughout the world there are countries like these and that it is easy to funnel Canadian capital into them, with their harmful tax practices, with taxation rates that are vastly different from those of any of the industrialized countries in the world, thereby threatening the federal tax base. This is a sign of the severity of the situation.

Not only did the auditor general criticize the situation, but so did the OECD, through the FATF. We have criticized these tax havens and so have international specialists. However, what is cause for concern is that, until quite recently, the web sites for certain departments, including the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade, encouraged Canadian investors and businesses to use tax havens.

It is a pretty serious problem when government web sites and official publications encourage Canadian business and investors to practice tax avoidance by transferring their capital to countries that are considered tax havens, where there are harmful tax practices.

I have an example. The July 16, 1999 issue of CanadExport , which is the magazine published by the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade to promote and encourage international trade in Canada, contained an article on a “Tax Havens Conference.” The topics discussed included the origin of tax havens, their use as a financial strategy and how to choose a tax haven that's right for you. Basically, the message was, not only can one take one's capital out of the country and avoid paying taxes to the federal government, but the government will say where the best place is to do so. The fourth topic dealt with tax havens and Canada's tax laws, and how to get the most out of one's tax havens.

It is quite serious when we find in a government booklet of the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade the promotion of these tax havens, which have been condemned by the 29 OECD countries, including Canada. They have been condemned here by the Auditor General of Canada, by the Bloc Quebecois and by experts who are tired of seeing the government's inaction in the transfer of capital to foreign countries and in the fact that some people can avoid paying federal taxes in Canada. This has to do particularly with very large businesses, some financial institutions—we will have the opportunity to get back to this a little later—and with international marine transportation companies. It is quite strange that a booklet of the department is promoting these havens.

So there are two discourses. At the OECD, Canada says we must fight against harmful tax practices. Within departments, these harmful tax practices are being promoted. We cannot have it both ways. At some point, there must be some concrete action to avoid the disturbing proliferation, which has been condemned by the auditor general several times since 1993, of these harmful tax practices by some countries.

Even on its website—this is high technology—the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade was promoting offshore trade and investment in countries that are considered as tax havens. It said that serious investors and businesses had to examine this opportunity to avoid federal taxation by using tax havens. This is quite disturbing to see.

What is even more disturbing is that not only there is the promotion of tax havens, but there is also a tax convention between Canada and Barbados.

Barbados is considered one of the best tax havens in the world. A tax convention makes it even easier to transfer funds there in order pay nothing or next to nothing in taxes. In Barbados, the corporate tax rate for companies with assets of over $20 million U.S. is 1%. It is about 28% here, but 1% in Barbados. For mid size companies, with revenues under $20 million, it is 2%.

So, companies, subsidiaries of Canadian companies, major Canadian investors in all sectors, find themselves treated very well when they invest in Barbados, a country considered one of the world's best tax havens that Canada has signed a tax convention with to prevent double taxation. They pay tax once, 1% of their revenues and when they bring their money back here, they pay nothing more, because of the tax convention between the two countries.

If they pay nothing or next to nothing in Canadian taxes, it means that taxpayers who cannot benefit from tax havens, and tax conventions, like the one between Canada and Barbados, are at a disadvantage. They have to make up for the shortfall in taxes occasioned by this tax haven and many others, because we maintain a convention.

I recall that for three years now, the financial action task force on money laundering, which is doing analyses and taking action in connection with tax havens and harmful tax practices, has asked OECD member countries, including Canada, to denounce tax conventions or agreements with countries that divulge no information or that are unco-operative in connection with money laundering. In tax havens, there is a certain nonchalance about money laundering. I will come back to this a little later, because I have some interesting statistics. Canada was not prepared to denounce its convention with Barbados, a country on the list of tax havens with dubious tax practices and money laundering practices that are very closely guarded secrets.

It is disturbing, all the more so since the Minister of Finance recently chaired, in Toronto, a meeting of countries of the three Americas. Representatives of the finance ministers of the three Americas were meeting to discuss ways to deal with harmful tax practices. Nothing came out of the meeting.

I understand. There is no political will to settle anything; meanwhile, tax havens are being promoted. I will come back to the case of the Finance Minister later.

Nothing is being done about tax conventions. However, we have to be incredibly cautious about the choices we make when we sign such conventions with foreign countries, in order to prevent tax havens from making harmful practices worse.

I would like to give a few statistics, which speak volumes about the extent of tax havens and which show that every time we sign a tax convention, we should ask ourselves if this is really the right thing to do. We should ask ourselves if the objective of those conventions, which is to avoid double taxation, is the only possible result, or if there are not other possible undesirable results, such as harmful tax practices or money laundering.

I have here a few statistics which might enlighten the House. Since 1993, we have been asking for a review of practices under tax conventions and also of conventions signed with some countries, in order to ensure they do not contain irregularities, obvious flaws or very undesirable negative results.

Worldwide, assets worth $8 trillion U.S. are controlled by tax havens. This is mind boggling. We are not used to figures of this magnitude.

Bank deposits in offshore companies and institutions located in tax havens presently amount to $3 trillion U.S.

According to Interpol, the FATF and the experts who have been working on this issue for years, 15% of these assets may come from the worldwide drug trade. We are talking 15% of $8 trillion U.S. in tax havens. There is $3 trillion in bank deposits.

Every year, some 140,000 companies are created in tax havens. I am not saying there are 140,000 such companies now. I am saying that, every year, 140,000 new companies, which are often fronts, are created in countries deemed to be tax havens.

To this day, four million corporations have been set up in tax havens. That is right, four million. We do not know who the owners are. We do not know where the money comes from, since there is some laxness regarding the money coming in and out. These tax havens—at least some of them, which were clearly identified recently by the FATF—launder every day about $1 billion U.S. generated by the drug trade at the world level.

This problem is not a simple one. It must not be taken lightly, as the government has been doing since 1993, and as it recently did when the issue of a free trade area of the Americas was discussed.

We have repeatedly asked the government to take action, to reconcile the two different views, that is the one expressed at the OECD, which says that we must fight harmful taxation practices, and the one presented here, which consists in signing tax conventions with various countries without asking too many questions, or in maintaining existing ones such as the convention with Barbados, knowing full well that Barbados is one of the worst countries for harmful taxation practices and for the laundering of money generated by all sorts of illegal activities.

In the list of countries deemed to be tax havens, which was recently released by the FATF, 10 of these tax havens are in countries with which we will create a free trade area of the Americas. These countries are Barbados—as we mentioned—the Bahamas, Antigua and Barbuda, Belize, Dominica, Grenada, Panama, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Vincent and the Grenadines and St. Lucia. These countries are located in the free trade area that we propose to establish with the countries of the three Americas.

I am not saying we should not sign such an agreement. On the contrary, we should. However, at the same time, we should ask ourselves some questions. Will we ever get people who can think on the other side? Before signing an agreement concerning a free trade area of the Americas, one must stop to ponder the issue.

They say that the service industry will be included in the FTAA. Therefore, financial services will also be included. That will bring about a huge tax treaty between countries of the three Americas. Could we stop for a second and think about the impact of such an agreement on financial services, given the fact that several countries of the free trade area—I just mentioned 10—have some very harmful tax practices? These countries have tax levels totally alien to reality, they grant incredible tax holidays, they are against any disclosure of information on the origin of the funds in bank accounts or other types of assets. They are also closed to the idea of revealing the names of business owners, those people who own the 140,000 corporations I was talking about earlier. Some are created every year in those 10 countries in the area of the Americas.

Could we not ask ourselves if maybe we should examine the tax levels and practices in those countries and their attitude towards transparency and disclosure of information on the source of funds, the capital outflow, and on who owns these corporations?

It seems to me that it might be appropriate to kill two birds with one stone, or in other words sign a free trade area agreement with these countries and, at the same time, require a review after a certain number of years of their harmful tax practices.

A number of businesses are already benefiting from the existence of tax havens, among them the banks, of course, but Canadian banks, not foreign ones. The parliamentary secretary must be aware of this, given his background as chief economist of a major bank.

I have often raised these matters with the Canadian Bankers Association, but have never received any answer as to why the five major Canadian banks have more than 50 branches in the Caribbean. Why are there 50 bank branches in a region of several million inhabitants? How much banking activity can there be in those region?

Moreover, a visit to the Barbados website will find it stating “Barbados has an international business centre”. I will read, if I may, a few rather interesting excerpts concerning Canadian banking institutions:

“Major international accounting firms continue to provide professional services on the island for many years, as have the commercial banks, including: Barclays Bank, Royal Bank of Canada”--the bank of provenance of the parliamentary secretary--“the Bank of Nova Scotia and CIBC Caribbean Limited. Barbados is the only international business centre which offers all of the following features in a single location: offshore banks, ship registration, double taxation treaties with seven countries including the U.S.A., Canada and the United Kingdom; tax holidays and other incentives; and no capital gains taxes”.

Some of the businesses mentioned are not specified, but we can identify some of them here. They include branches of Canadian banks on which information is not all that forthcoming concerning what type of activities they might be carrying out in centres such as Barbados and other countries that are considered tax havens, with their dubious practices of accepting deposits without question, which are then recycled through other dummy companies.

It is a serious matter to find ourselves in a situation like this, with no information forthcoming on the international activities of Canadian banks, and to see Canadian banks being promoted abroad as a means of Canadian tax evasion. The fact that the Canadian government asks no questions of Canadian banks concerning their activities abroad, whereas these come under federal jurisdiction, is a serious matter, as is the fact that the subsidiaries of Canadian banks are not subject to the new legislation that has just been passed concerning money laundering.

When the government says that it is putting in place a centre and a new piece of legislation so that any suspicious transaction of $10,000 and over made by company representatives or whomever else may be reported, these transactions analyzed in a central office, and cross referencing done to determine whether this money is not dirty money related to drug trafficking or other illegal practices, and that this legislation applies only to companies located in Canada, and not to subsidiaries of Canadian companies operating in other regions considered tax havens and, by some, money laundering havens, it is not surprising that nothing was found in the bank accounts when people began to go after al-Qaeda.

The government offered to help the American FBI track down Osama bin Laden's money but, apart from a few hundred thousands here, almost none of it was found.

That leaves the question of whether foreign subsidiaries of Canadian companies, including subsidiaries of banks, do not also have some little activities which we cannot investigate, because the new federal legislation does not apply to them.

These are questions which need to be asked. We have a responsibility, not just nationally, but internationally as well. Why does the Canadian government not equip itself to manage its treaties with these countries and to monitor the activities of these companies abroad, in countries with suspicious tax practices and say, at the same time, that it is making a positive and really serious contribution to the fight against drug traffickers, who launder money in these countries, or against the terrorists?

I think that one must wonder when we how the Canadian government deals with tax treaties, tax conventions, and the absence of questions about the very likely existence of suspicious practices in these countries.

The fact that there is double talk from the OECD, the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade, that the Minister of Finance is saying “Yes, we are going to do something about harmful tax practices” and, at the same time, he heads up a meeting of ministers of finance from all countries in the three Americas which produces nothing at all, although according to Canada's Minister of Finance, it was held to discuss these dubious tax practices, worries me just a little.

I do not mean to accuse the Minister of Finance, but I feel that there is a lack of resolve. I wonder if this is not due to the fact that the Minister of Finance himself carries out activities in these countries that are considered tax havens.

The Minister of Finance is also a shipowner. He owns 11 companies in the Caribbean and down south. He owns eight companies in Barbados. I could list all of the companies the Minister of Finance owns, I have them here: CSL International Barbados, etc. Our Minister of Finance owns eight maritime transport companies in Barbados.

Could this explain why he is not in any hurry to criticize this tax convention that exists between Canada and Barbados? Could this be the reason?

I get tired of hearing the comments expressing outrage from members on the other side of the House, as though the Minister of Finance were in the same situation as a poor widow with an orphan child. There is a limit laughing at us.

The Minister of Finance owns eleven shipping lines, this is a fact. He owns eight in Barbados and three in Bermuda, countries that are considered tax havens. Barbados is considered one of the worst countries in the world, in terms of tax havens, according to the OECD group I mentioned earlier. Could there be a link between this ownership and his lack of political will to proceed with major reforms? We have the right to ask the question and I think that taxpayers have the right to know. They have the right to know this information.

We bring this up not to run a smear campaign, but because these are the facts. It is not my fault if he acquired these ships, if he has eight companies in Barbados and if there is a tax convention between Canada and Barbados that has been denounced by the OECD. These are the facts.

If the government is going to talk about fighting harmful tax practices, about satisfying the requirements set out by the OECD, about making a real contribution to eliminate harmful tax practices and trying to reduce the money laundering that goes on in some of these countries, then it is going to have to put its money where its mouth is.

It is not possible to condemn and support at the same time. When things are white, they are not black. For the past five or six years, we have been hearing comments internationally to the effect that Canada is not carrying its weight in this regard.

I would like to conclude by saying that we will support this tax convention. We have gone over the tax practices of each country with a fine-toothed comb. There is no problem, as there might be in the case of a convention such as we have with Barbados, which we have always condemned. The OECD has been doing the same thing recently.

We will support it, but encourage the government to change things. If the Minister of Finance is in conflict of interest, he should move over, as when ships are involved. But, good grief, could the government be seriously analyzing the situation and taking specific action and saying black on the one hand and white on the other, supporting tax havens on one hand and fighting them on the other? That will not work.

Is the government assuming its responsibilities? It should go a notch above what it has put in place to fight money laundering. It should denounce its convention with Barbados, subject Canadian subsidiaries abroad to rigorous control of their activities and require them to report any dubious transactions. That is what we are calling for.

If the government wants to maintain its past reputation for integrity, there are things it must do, especially since the events of September 11. It says it is joining with its allies to fight international terrorism. We must take specific action to show we mean business. I think it would be a good idea for the government to wake up.

Income Tax Conventions Implementation Act, 2001
Government Orders

10:55 a.m.

NDP

Lorne Nystrom Regina—Qu'Appelle, SK

Mr. Speaker, I will say a few words about Bill S-31 that is before the House today. As the House knows, it is a bill to implement a tax treaty between Canada and a number of countries with which we have had no treaties in the past, countries such as Slovenia, Venezuela, Peru, Ecuador, Senegal, the Czech Republic, the Slovak Republic and Germany. This is the kind of tax treaty we obviously need between our country and other parts of the world.

Before I get into the substance of my remarks on the tax treaty I want to say I have a fundamental objection to the way the bill has proceeded through the Parliament of Canada.

The bill comes to us from the Senate. It originated in the Senate. The Senate is not elected. It is not accountable to anyone. Yet it initiates a bill that comes to the House of Commons.

Income Tax Conventions Implementation Act, 2001
Government Orders

10:55 a.m.

An hon. member

Hear, hear.

Income Tax Conventions Implementation Act, 2001
Government Orders

10:55 a.m.

NDP

Lorne Nystrom Regina—Qu'Appelle, SK

The member from Kitchener or Cambridge on the Liberal side of the House thinks that is pretty good and says hear, hear.

Income Tax Conventions Implementation Act, 2001
Government Orders

10:55 a.m.

An hon. member

Consider the source, Lorne.

Income Tax Conventions Implementation Act, 2001
Government Orders

10:55 a.m.

NDP

Lorne Nystrom Regina—Qu'Appelle, SK

Considering the source of the comment I am not too surprised, as someone across the way has said. Here is a Liberal member applauding the idea that the unelected and unaccountable Senate that costs Canadian taxpayers $60 million a year can initiate a piece of legislation and come to the House of Commons with a bill.

Why has the government House leader, whom I have known for many years, not brought in serious parliamentary reform in this place to give committees of the House of Commons more power, independence and research help so that they could be doing this kind of work instead of committees of the Senate?

The time has come to have serious parliamentary reform. The minister across the way knows from the last polls that only about 5% of the Canadian people support the existing Senate. The other 95% want the Senate either elected or abolished.

The same Liberal member across the way who does not seem to have much of a knack for reading newspapers says that is not true. All he needs to do is to look at the polls regarding the Senate. How many people does he know who support the existing Senate besides senators, their friends, husbands, wives, girlfriends, boyfriends, family members and close associates? That is about it, so I object to that.

In terms of the substance of the bill we must have treaties with other countries. We must be concerned about tax loopholes. We should be doing a real review of our taxation system to make sure we have a more progressive tax system based on the ability to pay.

Veterans Week
Statements By Members

10:55 a.m.

Liberal

Lynn Myers Waterloo—Wellington, ON

Mr. Speaker, Veterans Week from November 5 to November 11 is a week long time of remembrance designed to honour those who served Canada in the causes of both war and peace.

This year's theme is “in the Service of Peace”, which seems especially fitting considering Canada's large role in United Nations peacekeeping efforts. Nearly 125,000 Canadians have served in peacekeeping missions over the past 53 years and as of October 2000, 113 Canadians have given their lives in the line of duty.

Events for youth have been organized such as an activity called “Postcards for Peace” in which students are encouraged to send postcards to show their support and concern for the 2,000 Canadian men and women currently participating in Operation Apollo.

Veterans Week is a week for all Canadians to come together in gratitude to our veterans and peacekeepers for the sacrifices they have made in the name of freedom and peace.

I ask members to join me in ensuring that Canadian veterans are appropriately honoured by recognizing and participating in Veterans Week.

Disaster Relief
Statements By Members

10:55 a.m.

Canadian Alliance

Kevin Sorenson Crowfoot, AB

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to recognize and pay special tribute to four young students from the riding of Crowfoot, young people who have demonstrated compassion and a great sense of responsibility well beyond their years.

In mid-September within a week of the disastrous and deadly attack on America, Cody Woodward, Cody Foley, Drew Gosselin and Mason Herzog, all grade five students from Wainwright, Alberta, raised a substantive sum of money to assist our neighbours to the south.

These selfless young men took it upon themselves to sell hot dogs and pop to help provide much needed funds for Red Cross relief in the United States. In one night these boys raised $3,200.

This handsome sum of money represents both the tremendous efforts of these young people and the kindness and charity of the people of the wonderful rural community of Wainwright.

It has indeed been an honour to meet these young fellows and present them with certificates, and to now applaud them in the House, for such spirit and generosity. I say to Cody, Drew, Mason and Cody “Way to go, guys”.

Education
Statements By Members

11 a.m.

Liberal

Peter Adams Peterborough, ON

Mr. Speaker, our schools, colleges and universities clearly are within the jurisdiction of the provinces. However this does not mean the federal government does not work with them.

It was this government that put all our elementary and high schools on the Internet. It was this government that initiated funding for applied research in colleges and provides millennium scholarships and most of the research funding for universities.

The federal government should continue to work with all levels of our education system in the national and international interest, but at this time when there is concern about skills shortages the federal government should reassess its relations with the 1,000 community colleges of Canada.

Colleges are the rapid response level of our education system. They adapt quickly to change and deliver new educational products quickly to our communities. Canada needs effective community colleges in these times of rapid change. The federal government must work to strengthen them.

Children
Statements By Members

11 a.m.

Liberal

Ovid Jackson Bruce—Grey—Owen Sound, ON

Mr. Speaker, as a father, grandfather, teacher and MP I can say that children are indeed our most precious gift. That is why the Government of Canada invests so much in children.

Children need a clean environment, pure air, clean water, nutritious food and a healthy home environment. That is why the Prime Minister mentioned in the throne speech that the family and children were a priority for the government, particularly in regard to their environment, and that we would work on it not only locally at home but also overseas.

The Prime Minister appointed Senator Landon Pearson as a special envoy to children. She was supposed to go to New York before the September 11 incidents to meet with some 50 other countries. We have the National Children's Agenda and the Early Childhood Development Agreement with the provincial ministers of some $7.8 billion, great investments in our young people.

Through Health Canada, Environment Canada and Human Resources Development Canada we will work together to make sure our children have the best nutrition, the best families and the best environment so that Canada will continue to have the best citizens in the world.

Remembrance Day
Statements By Members

11 a.m.

Liberal

Denis Paradis Brome—Missisquoi, QC

Mr. Speaker, during Veterans Week, with its theme “In the Service of Peace”, we join our fellow citizens in honouring the memory of our soldiers who lost their lives in battle, of those who sacrificed everything so that our world would enjoy peace and freedom.

On Sunday, November 11, several ceremonies will be held in Brome--Missisquoi to commemorate Remembrance Day. These ceremonies will take place in Knowlton, Farnham, Phillipsburg, Bedford, Cowansville, Mansonville, Sutton and Magog.

On November 11 we will thank the 116,000 Canadians who made the ultimate sacrifice for peace. This should give us plenty to think about. We must show the same determination as those who gave their lives for Canada.

In these difficult times, we must work hard for peace and for our democratic values, while also paying tribute to our veterans this week.

Remembrance Day
Statements By Members

11 a.m.

Canadian Alliance

Cheryl Gallant Renfrew—Nipissing—Pembroke, ON

Mr. Speaker, as we approach this Remembrance Day it is fitting to recall the farewell message of a colonel of the Canadian airborne regiment commander, General Kent Foster:

It is those seconds in flight when each of us in a personal way deals with being an airborne soldier and a member of the Regiment. Only those who have dared will understand the call of the jumpmaster, the weight of a winter rucksack, the tap on the shoulder and the cry of “Have a good one”!

The Airborne Regiment is a permanent part of our lives that will last as long as we ourselves last. The mystique which gives us our individual strength and makes us a Regiment will stay with you no matter where you go or what you do in the future. The record of the Regiment speaks for itself and the thousands of soldiers who have worn the maroon beret and upheld its honour and traditions are proud of you on this day.

A more severe test of Airborne loyalties does not exist and as your Colonel of the Regiment I could not be more proud of all ranks than I am today. When the call comes for Canadian paratroopers in the near future I know it will be met because you are the best.

Doris Anderson
Statements By Members

11:05 a.m.

Liberal

Carolyn Bennett St. Paul's, ON

Mr. Speaker, today I honour the remarkable occasion of the 80th birthday of Doris Anderson, a true feminist, role model and friend.

Doris has always been a shining example of how age has very little to do with the date of one's birth. She has forever been ahead of us in her ideas. As editor of Chatelaine Doris brought previously private issues like domestic violence to the public sphere. In many ways she changed both Canadian journalism and the politics of gender. In so doing she has affected the lives of all Canadians.

As president of the Canadian Advisory Council on the Status of Women she helped enshrine equal rights for men and women in the Canadian constitution. She is still hard at work as chair of the Ontario Press Council and as a powerful advocate for proportional representation in federal elections.

Tonight there will be a sold out birthday celebration for Doris in Toronto where Governor General Adrienne Clarkson will speak and CBC's Shelagh Rogers will be the emcee. Her birthday present will be the Doris Anderson Ontario Graduate Scholarship in Women's Studies at York University.

Recipients will be given $5,000 from the scholarship fund and $10,000 as a double matching grant from the province of Ontario. Donations are still being accepted and additional money raised will go to the Doris Anderson Bursary Fund for $15,000 scholarships for out of province students and for research.

I am pleased to congratulate Doris on her continuing contributions and wish her the very best as she turns 80. She continues to teach us all so much.

Information and Communications Technologies
Statements By Members

11:05 a.m.

Bloc

Stéphane Bergeron Verchères—Les Patriotes, QC

Mr. Speaker, this week we celebrate Information and Communications Technologies Week.

For the past two decades, we have been witnessing the rapid development of a new technological field, computer science, which has completely revolutionized our ways of doing things and our perception of the world.

Whether or not we are familiar with these new tools, we have to recognize that they are now playing a major role in our daily lives, both at work and at home.

In this regard, we must praise the various governments for recognizing early the importance of information and communications technologies for the economic, social and human development of our communities.

The prosperity of a nation is now closely related to its quick adjusting to the so-called “new economy”, which is an economic order built around the development and use of new technologies.

I want to mention the Quebec government initiative to promote access to information and communications technologies for less fortunate families. This program allowed 217,500 low income families in Quebec to buy or rent a computer. Moreover, close to 286,000 additional households in Quebec can now surf the Internet.

So, the Quebec model should once again serve as an example to provide equal opportunities for all.

Remembrance Day
Statements By Members

11:05 a.m.

Liberal

John Cannis Scarborough Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, there is no better time to stand with pride to pay tribute to all the great men and women who served our country with distinction and yes, even those who continue to serve us with pride today.

Remembrance Day is a time to honour our Canadian veterans whose supreme sacrifice permits us to live today in a free and democratic society.

Already hundreds of commemorative activities have taken place in communities across our country. From memorial services to story telling, Canadians are recognizing, remembering and thanking those who dedicated their lives to the pursuit of freedom and democracy over tyranny.

As we pause to salute our veterans I ask all Canadians to say a prayer for our Canadian forces who are serving here and abroad and to offer our blessings to their families during this most difficult time. I would also say to all Canadians, but especially to our youth, that we must never forget.

Zimbabwe
Statements By Members

11:05 a.m.

Canadian Alliance

Keith Martin Esquimalt—Juan de Fuca, BC

Mr. Speaker, Zimbabwe is poised to descend into a bloodbath. President Mugabe says he is trying to redistribute land from wealthy white landowners to the poor black majority. This is simply not the case. Land reforms are a smokescreen so that Mr. Mugabe can terrorize his population and get re-elected.

I just returned from Zimbabwe where black farm workers have been beaten, brutalized and sometimes murdered by Mr. Mugabe's thugs. Their homes have been burned, their wives have been raped and they face starvation. Until this brutality ends Canada and the international community must suspend Zimbabwe from the Commonwealth, freeze the personal assets of Mr. Mugabe and his government members, and implement an arms embargo on Zimbabwe.

Until the rule of law is implemented, all illegal farm occupants are removed and election monitors are on the ground these sanctions should not be lifted. Unless we do this thousands of people are poised to be slaughtered in the months coming up to their next election. We must act now.

Malak Karsh
Statements By Members

11:10 a.m.

Liberal

Mauril Bélanger Ottawa—Vanier, ON

Mr. Speaker, yesterday I had the opportunity of attending a ceremony at the National Military Cemetery in Beechwood Cemetery. We were planting tulip bulbs and commemorating veterans.

Tulips and the tulip festival have become powerful symbols of Ottawa mostly due to Malak Karsh, a gentleman who died yesterday.

Mr. Karsh arrived in Canada in 1937 and from that day on essentially has shown us through his art and through his photography, the beauty of our environment, the beauty of our nature and the beauty of Canada's national capital region.

Mr. Karsh was a gentleman who lived among us as a peer. He was involved and was a great contributor to our society. He has shown us how to appreciate nature. He will be missed but will also be remembered fondly by all of us in Ottawa. On behalf of the citizens of Ottawa I pay homage to this great gentleman.

Human Rights
Statements By Members

11:10 a.m.

NDP

Libby Davies Vancouver East, BC

Mr. Speaker, on September 21 the House unanimously passed a motion presented by the leader of the NDP to speak out against intolerance and hatred directed at Muslims and Arabs and to reassert our country's fundamental adherence to the rule of law and to preserving and protecting our human rights as outlined in the charter.

Yet the government has not acted to protect people. Hate crimes continue. Racial profiling continues and Canadian Arabs, Muslims and all visible minorities feel under attack.

The situation of Mohamed Attiah who worked at Atomic Energy of Canada is a graphic example of racial profiling and a poisonous environment of guilt by suspicion.

Mr. Attiah has filed a complaint with the Canadian Human Rights Commission and a lawsuit as a result of being let go from his employment after being questioned by the RCMP and security forces. Is this what we call tolerance and respect for people's rights?

I call on the government to adopt the NDP's action plan to stop the targeting of visible minorities and to be clear that what happened to Mr. Attiah is unacceptable and wrong.

Management of Nuclear Waste
Statements By Members

11:10 a.m.

Bloc

Serge Cardin Sherbrooke, QC

Mr. Speaker, many years ago in Quebec, there was a popular song about a doll that said no.

This was pretty much what happened yesterday in the initial hours of the Standing Committee on Aboriginal Affairs, Northern Development and Natural Resources as the Liberals kept saying no to amendments from the Bloc Quebecois and the opposition.

The indifference of the Liberals was striking when we put forward our suggestions to improve Bill C-27 on the management of nuclear waste.

Repeatedly, they rejected the creation of a board of directors representative of the local community, including the aboriginal community, in order to ensure public confidence and add some credibility to the bill, which needs it.

They said no to blocking the import of nuclear waste from other countries, no to including an environmental clause, and no to referring the recommendations of the new waste management organization to the House of Commons.

The Bloc Quebecois has interesting proposals to make and the public has a right to know what they are. The Liberal puppets with their “no, no, no, no, no, no” will not stop us.

The Sikh Religion
Statements By Members

11:10 a.m.

Liberal

Gurbax Malhi Bramalea—Gore—Malton—Springdale, ON

Mr. Speaker, on Wednesday a respected Canadian businessman, Surjit Babra, chairman and CEO of Skylink, was forced to remove his turban at La Guardia Airport in America, allegedly as part of a security inspection.

In Canada, we have learned to respect religious symbols. The fact that the RCMP changed its rules to allow Sikhs to wear their turbans while on duty is just one of many examples.

While understanding and sharing the terrible circumstances that have led to this point, I would urge our neighbour to the south to train and educate security personnel so that they will respect the right of people of the Sikh religion to wear turbans and not subject them to this undignified and unnecessary procedure.

Lobster Fishery
Statements By Members

11:10 a.m.

Progressive Conservative

Gerald Keddy South Shore, NS

Mr. Speaker, there are serious concerns throughout the Nova Scotia lobster fishery that the minister of fisheries is losing touch with industry.

Fishermen and buyers in lobster fishing area 33 and lobster fishing area 34 are fearful that DFO intends to move to a minimum carapace length of three and a half inches in an attempt to increase egg production. This potential carapace length increase to three and a half inches could cause loss of market share to Nova Scotian exporters.

Does the minister of fisheries realize that this increase could result in an oversupply of larger lobster and a complete loss of the one pound to one and one-third pound export market?

Fisherman and buyers want to be part of a solution to increase lobster egg production. They want to be informed and involved. They do not want to be victims of misguided DFO policy. The minister must commit to working with industry.

Bloc Quebecois
Statements By Members

11:15 a.m.

Liberal

Marcel Proulx Hull—Aylmer, QC

Mr. Speaker, the news is bad for sovereignists. Quebecers are sick of hearing about the sovereignty of Quebec. The recent polls confirm it.

The Léger Marketing- Le Devoir-The Globe and Mail poll shows that support for sovereignty has dropped to 40.9%. The CRIC poll places it at 39%. Furthermore, 54% of Quebecers feel that sovereignty has had its day. And three out of five persons polled are no longer interested in a referendum between now and 2005, which is what the BQ and the PQ would like.

The Bloc Quebecois was formed to promote the sovereignist option federally. It would appear that their plan has failed.

For the well-being of Quebec, I urge Bloc Quebecois members to stop and think. They must realize that the time has come to put an end to this temporary party.

Airline Industry
Oral Question Period

11:15 a.m.

Okanagan—Coquihalla
B.C.

Canadian Alliance

Stockwell Day Leader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, every time there is a crisis in the country the Liberals are exposed as having no policy, no plan and only responding in panic. We have seen that in the softwood lumber issue. We have seen it in terms of national defence where the resources are not there for our courageous troops. We see it in the airline industry problem.

I would like a specific yes or no answer from the Minister of Transport. Yesterday when he stood in the House and assured us that the airline industry and specifically Canada 3000 was fine and on schedule, he said that specifically, did he know yesterday at two o'clock in the afternoon that Canada 3000 was on the verge of shutting down?

Airline Industry
Oral Question Period

11:15 a.m.

Don Valley East
Ontario

Liberal

David Collenette Minister of Transport

Mr. Speaker, we are all concerned about the announcement that was made to cease operations of Canada 3000. This is indeed a blow to many Canadians, not only to the travelling public but the employees and I think everyone, including the Leader of the Opposition who should have led off with his questions by exhibiting some degree of sympathy for what the airline industry is going through.

The answer to the specific question is that yesterday when I stood here in the House I gave the answer I did, which was the accurate answer at the time.

Airline Industry
Oral Question Period

11:15 a.m.

Okanagan—Coquihalla
B.C.

Canadian Alliance

Stockwell Day Leader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, unbelievable: yesterday he gave the answer he did. That took rocket science to figure out that response.

I am asking the question specifically. Yesterday at 2 p.m. as this minister was assuring Canadians that everything was fine in the airline industry he specifically commented about Canada 3000 on schedule, on time. Did he know at 2 o'clock yesterday afternoon that Canada 3000 was on the verge of shutting down, yes or no?

Airline Industry
Oral Question Period

11:15 a.m.

Don Valley East
Ontario

Liberal

David Collenette Minister of Transport

Mr. Speaker, that decision to shut down was taken last evening by the board of directors and was made official at midnight. Therefore, of course I did not know at 2 o'clock yesterday afternoon.

Airline Industry
Oral Question Period

11:15 a.m.

Okanagan—Coquihalla
B.C.

Canadian Alliance

Stockwell Day Leader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, there is a problem of confidence in the airlines among consumers. Personally I find that security is greater than ever and that is why I do have confidence flying, but many people are not flying because they do not see the government stepping up to the plate with increased training, with increased technology and with a commitment to air marshals. We do not see any commitment on any of this.

When will the government table the legislation that shows it will deal with these matters and that it will deal with the question of who is going to be funding the extra security? How much longer do we have to wait?

Airline Industry
Oral Question Period

11:15 a.m.

Don Valley East
Ontario

Liberal

David Collenette Minister of Transport

Mr. Speaker, it is typical for the Leader of the Opposition. Once he is knocked off his game plan he goes to plan B, which in this case is security.

Let me come back to the earlier issue because he talked about the airline policy. I wish to remind him it was his party, his members, that supported the government on Bill C-26. We have all supported the policy that got us to a competitive state before September 11 and I think the hon. member should not stand in this place and say the contrary.

Airline Industry
Oral Question Period

11:20 a.m.

Canadian Alliance

James Moore Port Moody—Coquitlam—Port Coquitlam, BC

Mr. Speaker, Canada 3000 has been the only domestic competition and the only domestic alternative to Air Canada in Halifax, St. John's, Montreal and Toronto. Competition in those cities may now be dead. Thousands of jobs have been lost because of failed government policy.

What does the transport minister have to say to countless stranded passengers, thousands of people who are now out of jobs and the death of airline competition in some of Canada's largest cities?

Airline Industry
Oral Question Period

11:20 a.m.

Don Valley East
Ontario

Liberal

David Collenette Minister of Transport

Mr. Speaker, in 35 seconds it is going to be difficult to answer that particular question, but with respect to those people who are affected other arrangements will have to be made.

Air Canada, WestJet and Air Transat will make arrangements. We have been on the phone this morning and we know that there will be some extra capacity. Many of the people affected are protected under provincial and federal regulations with respect to tour holidays and packages and they will be covered. It is going to take a little while for this situation to actually work itself out.

Airline Industry
Oral Question Period

11:20 a.m.

Canadian Alliance

James Moore Port Moody—Coquitlam—Port Coquitlam, BC

Mr. Speaker, since 1993 CanJet, Canada 3000, Canadian Airlines, Greyhound, RootsAir, Royal and VistaJet have filed for bankruptcy or have been taken over on the Liberal government's watch. This is a clear demonstration of failed transportation policy by a failed transportation minister.

Canadians deserve the best in airline competition that we can possibly have but the transport minister is failing them. The transport minister owes an apology to all those Canadians who are going to be losing their jobs and he owes an apology to Canadians for killing airline competition in this country.

Airline Industry
Oral Question Period

11:20 a.m.

Don Valley East
Ontario

Liberal

David Collenette Minister of Transport

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member again talks about policy, policy that his party supported 18 months ago and has continued to support. I do not think that they should fool Canadians with that kind of rhetoric.

This is a very difficult situation and just before question period we had been in touch with officials from Canada 3000. They have contacted us. They do believe that they can still operate, that parties are coming to the table. This particular situation is just not finished.

Young Offenders
Oral Question Period

11:20 a.m.

Bloc

Caroline St-Hilaire Longueuil, QC

Mr. Speaker, Senator Lapointe, freshly appointed to the other place by the Prime Minister, stated yesterday that he would vote against the young offenders bill in favour of the Quebec approach, where the focus is on rehabilitation.

Since there is increasing support in the other place for the consensus in Quebec, does the Minister of Justice plan on amending her bill in order to respect, once and for all, Quebec's distinctiveness?

Young Offenders
Oral Question Period

11:20 a.m.

Edmonton West
Alberta

Liberal

Anne McLellan Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada

Mr. Speaker, the answer to that is very simply no. The legislation is before the Senate and the Senate will conclude its processes, but the simple answer to the hon. member's question is no.

Young Offenders
Oral Question Period

11:20 a.m.

Bloc

Caroline St-Hilaire Longueuil, QC

Mr. Speaker, obviously this is a great disappointment and Quebec will not soon forget it.

Given that other Liberal senators agree that the current bill works against Quebec's interests and that the new senator, Senator Lapointe, is commending the Bloc Quebecois on its wonderful job of defending the interests of Quebec, will the minister realize that Quebec's success at rehabilitating young offenders must be allowed to continue, and will she allow Quebec to opt out of this legislation?

Young Offenders
Oral Question Period

11:20 a.m.

Edmonton West
Alberta

Liberal

Anne McLellan Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada

Mr. Speaker, one of the main components of our new youth justice legislation is effective rehabilitation and reintegration of young offenders back into society. In fact if the Bloc stopped its senseless opposition to this law and got on side, we could start to provide more resources to agencies in Quebec that are trying to do just that.

Young Offenders
Oral Question Period

11:20 a.m.

Bloc

Michel Guimond Beauport—Montmorency—Côte-De- Beaupré—Île-D'Orléans, QC

Mr. Speaker, when it comes to the anti-terrorism bill, the Minister of Justice claims that she will consider all stakeholders' opinions, which remains to be seen. Yet, when it comes to young offenders, she has turned a deaf ear to the many opinions from the coalition, as she has done to those of the senators who are urging her to take into account Quebec's specific approach.

Could the minister tell us what is behind these two completely contradictory attitudes?

Young Offenders
Oral Question Period

11:20 a.m.

Edmonton West
Alberta

Liberal

Anne McLellan Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member should be aware that we made substantial amendments to the original youth justice legislation when the bill was reintroduced in the House earlier this year. We listened very intently to witnesses when the bill was first introduced in the House. We listened to witnesses at standing committee and made substantial amendments to reflect much of that which we heard.

Young Offenders
Oral Question Period

11:25 a.m.

Bloc

Michel Guimond Beauport—Montmorency—Côte-De- Beaupré—Île-D'Orléans, QC

Mr. Speaker, what will it take for the minister to understand that these measures do not satisfy Quebec? What we want is for Quebec to be exempt from the legislation, as is the case with other laws, such as immigration laws.

How can the minister justify constantly ignoring the consensus in Quebec?

Young Offenders
Oral Question Period

11:25 a.m.

Edmonton West
Alberta

Liberal

Anne McLellan Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada

Mr. Speaker, as I have said on a number of occasions in the House, this legislation is sufficiently flexible to permit the province of Quebec and the agencies that work with young offenders in the province to continue the work that they do. As I have said on numerous occasions, we are willing to provide them with more money to do it.

Airline Industry
Oral Question Period

11:25 a.m.

NDP

Lorne Nystrom Regina—Qu'Appelle, SK

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Transport. The minister has now set a world record. He has been the minister presiding over the death of about six airlines. I am thinking of Greyhound, Canadian, CanJet, RootsAir, Royal Airlines and now Canada 3000.

Yesterday in the House the leader of the NDP asked the minister to act before it was too late. Now it is too late. I would like to know why he did not act. Why do we not have a vision of a national airline transportation policy in this country? Why has he not put that into effect? Why do we not have a national airline stabilization fund? Where is the plan? Why did he not act?

Airline Industry
Oral Question Period

11:25 a.m.

Don Valley East
Ontario

Liberal

David Collenette Minister of Transport

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member has to recognize that the airline industry in the world is in a state of crisis since September 11. For him to stand in the House and talk about only the Canadian context is wrong and is misleading Canadians.

I would remind him that since September 11 we have offered a package of $160 million by way of compensation. We have dealt with the war risk liability insurance. We have a bill in the House right now to help Air Canada raise capital. This government is acting, will act and will continue to act.

Airline Industry
Oral Question Period

11:25 a.m.

NDP

Lorne Nystrom Regina—Qu'Appelle, SK

Mr. Speaker, let us put a human face on this. Yesterday the minister was advising and encouraging people to buy tickets on Canada 3000.

What does he have to say to those people who followed his advice and bought tickets on Canada 3000? What does he have to say to people who are stranded all over the world because the airline went under? What does he have to say to thousands of workers who have lost their jobs? Can he tell us what he is going to tell those people who have been following his advice?

Airline Industry
Oral Question Period

11:25 a.m.

Don Valley East
Ontario

Liberal

David Collenette Minister of Transport

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member made a false assertion. I did not state that yesterday. I stated that the company had informed me it would continue to operate. It looked at the situation last night and decided it could not continue. Therefore it chose to shut down overnight.

I do not mind defending the government's policy and dealing with the facts, but let us not have wrong assertions on the part of the opposition.

Airline Industry
Oral Question Period

11:25 a.m.

Canadian Alliance

Chuck Strahl Fraser Valley, BC

Mr. Speaker, the problem is that there is no policy that anybody can understand other than to let the airlines all go broke.

The Minister of Transport has acknowledged since he was first appointed that restructuring in the airline industry was inevitable. This is not new. It has been evolving for years, yet the minister has done nothing to ensure that it takes place in an orderly fashion. While he has been in charge six airlines in this country have gone belly up.

Since the minister did not and does not have a plan for the airlines' restructuring, when will he table a plan for recovery, or is it just to let them all go broke?

Airline Industry
Oral Question Period

11:25 a.m.

Don Valley East
Ontario

Liberal

David Collenette Minister of Transport

Mr. Speaker, it is nice to stand in the House and play these partisan games while people are hurting and while travellers are stuck in places they do not want to be.

I will remind the hon. member from the fifth party that, when he was with the Alliance or Reform or the opposition, he supported Bill C-26 and he supported the current policy, and I would hope that he would have the guts to stand up and continue to support it.

Airline Industry
Oral Question Period

11:25 a.m.

Progressive Conservative

Bill Casey Cumberland—Colchester, NS

Mr. Speaker, the minister refers to partisan games, but just days ago I saw him on television huffing and puffing and boasting that the government did not extend loan guarantees to Canada 3000. Therefore the government has no risk. What he did not say was the plan put Canadian passengers, creditors and thousands of employees at risk.

The airline industry was in chaos long before September 11. Will the minister now tell the House if he has plan to end the chaos in Canadian air transportation?

Airline Industry
Oral Question Period

11:25 a.m.

Don Valley East
Ontario

Liberal

David Collenette Minister of Transport

Mr. Speaker, implicit in the hon. member's question is that the Conservative Alliance, or DRC or whatever it is called, wants the government to hand over $75 million without the due diligence being done.

The government will look after taxpayer money. It has said the loan guarantee would only be forthcoming if certain conditions were met, and they have not been met at this point in time.

National Defence
Oral Question Period

11:25 a.m.

Canadian Alliance

Keith Martin Esquimalt—Juan de Fuca, BC

Mr. Speaker, this Liberal government has presided over the gutting of our military establishment since 1993. The Centre for Military and Strategic Studies said that the 1994 white paper is “outmoded and does not address the security challenges of our country today”.

My questions is simple. Will the Minister of National Defence engage in a thorough, sweeping and public review of our defence and security systems immediately?

National Defence
Oral Question Period

11:30 a.m.

York Centre
Ontario

Liberal

Art Eggleton Minister of National Defence

Mr. Speaker, immediate attention is needed for fighting terrorism. That is what the Canadian forces and the government are doing.

Eventually, yes, everything needs to be reviewed, there is no doubt about it. However the government is keeping up with what is happening. We are ensuring that we have multi-purpose, combat capable forces. We have invested some $3 billion in the Canadian forces over the last three years.

We are not standing still. We are moving with the times. We are moving with the needs for safety and security of Canadians.

National Defence
Oral Question Period

11:30 a.m.

Canadian Alliance

Keith Martin Esquimalt—Juan de Fuca, BC

Mr. Speaker, that is the problem; there is no plan. It is all right to have money, but the strategic studies group has said that apart from having the money we have to know where the money will go and have a plan to address it. Again, this group and others have said very clearly that Canada needs a plan to address homeland security. There is no plan.

Will the Minister of National Defence, not later but now, do the right thing and start to implement a thorough review of our homeland security defences for all Canadians out there who need it?

National Defence
Oral Question Period

11:30 a.m.

York Centre
Ontario

Liberal

Art Eggleton Minister of National Defence

Mr. Speaker, as the hon. member knows, the Prime Minister has established a committee of the cabinet that looks at security issues.

In the post-September 11 world we know the security environment has changed fundamentally and we have set about making changes. We have put $280 million into upgrades of many our systems. We brought in Bill C-36. There is more work that is still being done to ensure that we are responding to the needs of Canadians to ensure their safety and security and to ensure that we contribute to the anti-terrorism campaign internationally.

Anti-terrorism Act
Oral Question Period

11:30 a.m.

Bloc

Réal Ménard Hochelaga—Maisonneuve, QC

Mr. Speaker, in the saga of the Young Offenders Act, the minister showed absolutely no openness to the legitimate demands of Quebec.

Within the framework of the anti-terrorism bill, is the minister going to be more receptive and bow to the arguments of the Privacy Commissioner, who is calling upon her to amend her bill so as to lessen its impact on the Privacy Act?

Could she at least sometimes heed what is said to her?

Anti-terrorism Act
Oral Question Period

11:30 a.m.

Edmonton West
Alberta

Liberal

Anne McLellan Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada

Mr. Speaker, it is always with great pleasure that I listen to the hon. member. Let me tell the hon. member, as I have said before in the House, that I know the concerns of the privacy commissioner. In fact, my officials and my deputy minister have been in discussions with the privacy commissioner and his officials. We hope that in working together in a constructive fashion, we will be able to deal with his concerns.

Anti-terrorism Act
Oral Question Period

11:30 a.m.

Bloc

Réal Ménard Hochelaga—Maisonneuve, QC

Mr. Speaker, according to the commissioner, “We live in a country governed by the rule of law, not in a place where the authorities are endowed with unfettered power”.

Is the minister aware of this flaw in the anti-terrorism legislation and does she plan to show more openness by amending her bill accordingly?

We are asking this politely, in the interests of Quebec.

Anti-terrorism Act
Oral Question Period

11:30 a.m.

Edmonton West
Alberta

Liberal

Anne McLellan Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada

Mr. Speaker, I have made it plain since we introduced Bill C-36. This is important legislation and that is why we want to hear what the Senate committee, which has reported, and the House committee, which continues its work, have to say.

However, on the specific point in relation to the privacy commissioner's concerns, we understand those concerns and my officials and his officials will continue to work to clarify the matter and hopefully reach a successful resolution.

Citizenship and Immigration
Oral Question Period

11:30 a.m.

Canadian Alliance

Garry Breitkreuz Yorkton—Melville, SK

Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration is in denial. She will not face the truth. A steady stream of immigration officials, retired and current, are frustrated with the minister and her mismanagement of the department. Today we found out from members of her own immigration refugee board that, and I quote, “If anybody thinks things are going to be done faster with the new system, they are dead wrong”.

These are honourable officials in the IRB with legitimate concerns, not opposition MPs or the media but people who care about their country. Why does the minister not fix what is obviously broke?

Citizenship and Immigration
Oral Question Period

11:35 a.m.

Thornhill
Ontario

Liberal

Elinor Caplan Minister of Citizenship and Immigration

Mr. Speaker, if the member would continue with the quotes, he would hear that the chair of the Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada is speaking about individuals who may not be well informed about the new legislation and how it will work.

I agree with the chair of the board who said that the new appeal procedure, when in place and functioning, will indeed be faster and achieve our goal of two things: first, have a fast determination procedure; and second, give us a system with integrity that will stay out of the federal courts so that we can not only have a fast decision but remove people who do not--

Citizenship and Immigration
Oral Question Period

11:35 a.m.

The Speaker

The hon. member for Yorkton--Melville.

Citizenship and Immigration
Oral Question Period

11:35 a.m.

Canadian Alliance

Garry Breitkreuz Yorkton—Melville, SK

Mr. Speaker, currently it takes up to 10 months to process just one refugee claim. There is a huge backlog. Under the new law it could take anywhere from 23 months to 29 months. This is obviously gross incompetence on the part of the minister and her senior executive.

That is why so many frontline and retired officials with long experience are speaking up in frustration and obvious risk to their positions. They have come forward because they care about their country.

Why should Canadians believe this minister when she has been wrong so many times and mismanaged the immigration file to the point of crisis?

Citizenship and Immigration
Oral Question Period

11:35 a.m.

Thornhill
Ontario

Liberal

Elinor Caplan Minister of Citizenship and Immigration

Mr. Speaker, the new Immigration and Refugee Protection Act streamlines the numbers of steps at the refugee determination stage: one hearing, one appeal and one judicial review will replace the multiple levels and steps that are in place today. That will give us a faster opportunity to make a decision, stay out of the federal court and be in a position to remove people more quickly. That is the way it is supposed to work.

While we are planning for volumes, we--

Citizenship and Immigration
Oral Question Period

11:35 a.m.

The Speaker

The hon. member for Jonquière.

Air Transportation
Oral Question Period

11:35 a.m.

Bloc

Jocelyne Girard-Bujold Jonquière, QC

Mr. Speaker, after announcing it was claiming protection under the Bankruptcy Act, Canada 3000 indicated that it would no longer be operating.

The former owner of Royal Air has offered to buy the company back so long as it gets a loan guarantee of $30 million.

Now that Canada 3000 has stopped operating, does the Minister of Transport intend to take part of the $75 million loan guarantee intended for Canada 3000 and give it to Royal?

Air Transportation
Oral Question Period

11:35 a.m.

Don Valley East
Ontario

Liberal

David Collenette Minister of Transport

Mr. Speaker, as I have already said, the situation with Canada 3000 is unfortunate.

However, discussions are continuing and a loan guarantee may still be possible. We will await the outcome of all the discussions.

Air Transportation
Oral Question Period

11:35 a.m.

Bloc

Jocelyne Girard-Bujold Jonquière, QC

Mr. Speaker, with Canada 3000's activities ceasing, the minister will have some manoeuvring room.

Once he has helped Royal, does the minister intend to put the remaining $45 million at the disposal of regional carriers giving them help as well in the form of a loan guarantee?

Air Transportation
Oral Question Period

11:35 a.m.

Don Valley East
Ontario

Liberal

David Collenette Minister of Transport

Mr. Speaker, there are no loan guarantees at the moment for Canada 3000, Air Transat or Air Canada.

We are looking at the current situation to see if we can improve things with Canada 3000.

Terrorism
Oral Question Period

11:35 a.m.

Canadian Alliance

Kevin Sorenson Crowfoot, AB

Mr. Speaker, more than three years ago a Sri Lankan group warned the government of money transfer businesses in the Toronto area that were fuelling the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam. During the same time period the RCMP, warned the government about 8,000 Tamil tigers living in Toronto. In both incidents the government ignored these warnings.

Why has his department of the solicitor general repeatedly failed to respond to serious warnings that Canada was being used as a base to wage terrorist and other criminal activities?

Terrorism
Oral Question Period

11:35 a.m.

Cardigan
P.E.I.

Liberal

Lawrence MacAulay Solicitor General of Canada

Mr. Speaker, my hon. colleague knows what he is indicating is not correct. The fact of the matter is this government's fight against terrorism is not new. Canada signed every UN resolution on terrorism. In fact Canada helped draft the resolution against terrorists and fundraising.

The government has and will continue to make sure that appropriate measures are put in place to keep this country one of the safest, if not the safest country in the world to live in.

Terrorism
Oral Question Period

11:40 a.m.

Canadian Alliance

Kevin Sorenson Crowfoot, AB

Mr. Speaker, I am simply quoting from reports that were given by RCMP to the Senate a number of years ago, so they are the truth.

Since being probed by the RCMP, an Ottawa office of Barakaat North America allegedly generated millions of dollars for Osama bin Laden. It took United States authorities, not the RCMP, to shut this operation down.

Why did the solicitor general again fail to heed the warnings of the RCMP about this money transfer business operating just miles from here?

Terrorism
Oral Question Period

11:40 a.m.

Cardigan
P.E.I.

Liberal

Lawrence MacAulay Solicitor General of Canada

Mr. Speaker, is my hon. colleague trying to indicate that this government has not taken appropriate measures to freeze assets? He is well aware that this government has taken appropriate action. He is well aware that the RCMP and CSIS have worked around the clock with their U.S. counterparts to make sure that the people responsible for the acts of terrorism are brought to justice.

We have and will continue to fight terrorism in this country.

National Defence
Oral Question Period

11:40 a.m.

Liberal

John Cannis Scarborough Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, the Department of National Defence is renowned for its expertise in the field of nuclear, biological and chemical defence. Could the Minister of National Defence tell us how this expertise is being put to use in the current campaign against terrorism?

National Defence
Oral Question Period

11:40 a.m.

York Centre
Ontario

Liberal

Art Eggleton Minister of National Defence

Mr. Speaker, the defence research establishment in Suffield, Alberta has a particular expertise and reputation with respect to dealing with nuclear, biological and chemical defences. In fact, a year before the anthrax scare started in the United States, it was researching to whole matter of opening envelopes and how we could protect ourselves.

I think because of that, the U.S. centre for disease control in Atlanta has invited an expert team to become part of its efforts to deal with anthrax related tests at the Brentwood mail handling facility in Washington, D.C. Canadians are on the job helping in the anti-terrorism campaign.

The Environment
Oral Question Period

11:40 a.m.

NDP

Joe Comartin Windsor—St. Clair, ON

Mr. Speaker, with only a few hours left in the climate change negotiations in Marrakesh, it has been reported that the Canadian delegation, headed by our environment minister, is threatening to jeopardize any chance of reaching an agreement.

Although we now have an agreement on legally binding enforcement mechanisms, that is in spite of Canada's position in opposition, now our delegation is bickering over minor details that could derail the negotiations.

Why is Canada dragging its feet and thwarting efforts by the whole international community to move forward on the Kyoto protocol?

The Environment
Oral Question Period

11:40 a.m.

Kitchener Centre
Ontario

Liberal

Karen Redman Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of the Environment

Mr. Speaker, the member needs to remember that the Minister of the Environment, as chair of the umbrella group in Marrakesh, is speaking for all countries and not just Canada.

Our positions in Marrakesh are consistent with the Kyoto protocol and the Bonn agreement. We are bargaining in good faith and we hope to reach an agreement before negotiations wind up today.

Our umbrella group partners have a set of rules that will ensure the effective operation and environmental integrity--

The Environment
Oral Question Period

11:40 a.m.

The Speaker

The hon. member for Windsor--St. Clair.

The Environment
Oral Question Period

11:40 a.m.

NDP

Joe Comartin Windsor—St. Clair, ON

Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister last week was very clear that we were going to go ahead with Kyoto. There were no restrictions on that.

This week the Minister of the Environment is in Marrakesh saying just the opposite: do these things or we are not signing it. Whose talking for Canada? The Prime Minister or the Minister of the Environment.

The Environment
Oral Question Period

11:40 a.m.

Windsor West
Ontario

Liberal

Herb Gray Deputy Prime Minister

Mr. Speaker, I do not think the hon. member is stating correctly what the Minister of the Environment was doing in Marrakesh.

Our positions in Marrakesh are consistent with the Kyoto protocol and the Bonn agreement we successfully negotiated and took the lead in negotiating.

The Prime Minister speaks for Canada and the Minister of the Environment speaks for Canada in working to implement the Kyoto protocol in a way consistent with our Bonn agreement.

National Defence
Oral Question Period

11:40 a.m.

Progressive Conservative

Loyola Hearn St. John's West, NL

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of National Defence.

During the recent tropical storm, Gabrielle, the city of St. John's was devastated to such an extent that a state of emergency was declared.

The city is now paying out millions and millions of dollars as its share of the loss. It has asked the federal government for help. The minister is saying that he is expecting to get it. When will the federal government deliver?

National Defence
Oral Question Period

11:45 a.m.

York Centre
Ontario

Liberal

Art Eggleton Minister of National Defence

Mr. Speaker, normal processing of such claims under the DFAA involves the province, first of all, setting up a plan from which they reimburse people. They in turn make a claim within the policy to the federal government.

It is our endeavour to expedite all such claims where people have gone through this kind of suffering. We are certainly sympathetic to the problems that have existed.

As quickly as the provincial government gets information to us, we can respond accordingly.

Public Works
Oral Question Period

11:45 a.m.

Canadian Alliance

Jim Pankiw Saskatoon—Humboldt, SK

Mr. Speaker, the responsibility for Canada Post and CMHC followed in the purview of the Minister of Public Works and Government Services.

The minister's friend, Maurizio Creuso, has been given lucrative contracts with both CMHC and Canada Post.

Uncovering this fact has tainted the reputation of the minister. Why does he not clear his name by ordering a review of the circumstances under which his friend was given those contracts?

Public Works
Oral Question Period

11:45 a.m.

Saint-Léonard—Saint-Michel
Québec

Liberal

Alfonso Gagliano Minister of Public Works and Government Services

Mr. Speaker, as I have said from the beginning, as a minister I do not interfere with the current management of any crown corporation. It is not appropriate for a minister to interfere.

I am sure there is a management board. There is a board of directors that has an audit committee. There is the annual audit report where the auditor general is involved. I am sure they will look at those things.

The Economy
Oral Question Period

11:45 a.m.

Canadian Alliance

Jason Kenney Calgary Southeast, AB

Mr. Speaker, the government has turned the Liberal loonie into a lame duck. Today trading is at another all time low of 62.37 cents.

According to the Bank of Canada, the loonie has lost 20% of its value against a basket of six major currencies in the past four years. Since the beginning of this year, it has lost ground against the yen, the pound, the peso and the Euro.

Canadians want to know just how low the government is prepared to see the loonie go. How low will it go?

The Economy
Oral Question Period

11:45 a.m.

Willowdale
Ontario

Liberal

Jim Peterson Secretary of State (International Financial Institutions)

Mr. Speaker, it is quite true that the global economic slowdown is causing pressures.

Let me tell the hon. member what is not weighing adversely and downward on the dollar. It is not our sound monetary policy. It is not our record pay down of debt. It is not our record tax cuts of $100 million.

Canada is very well positioned to deal with the current economic slowdown and to participate in the rebound that we know will come.

The Economy
Oral Question Period

11:45 a.m.

Canadian Alliance

Jason Kenney Calgary Southeast, AB

Mr. Speaker, if the 62 cent dollar is a sound monetary policy, I would hate to see an unsound one from the government.

On a different matter, the Federation of Associations of Canadian Tamils has been identified as a front for the Tamil tigers by CSIS, the Department of Justice and the U.S. state department.

Today the Tamil tigers have been added to the list of terrorist groups that have had their funding frozen in Canada. Will FACT be added to that list as well, notwithstanding the finance minister's support for that organization?

The Economy
Oral Question Period

11:45 a.m.

Willowdale
Ontario

Liberal

Jim Peterson Secretary of State (International Financial Institutions)

Mr. Speaker, it would be totally inappropriate for me to comment on specific actions. This is within the purview of the police.

Let me say that yesterday the member for Calgary Southeast said, on the Lowell Green radio talk show, “We have had a good run. We have had 10 years of good economic growth”. For the first time in 10 years I agree with the member for Calgary Southeast.

Monetary Policy
Oral Question Period

11:45 a.m.

Bloc

Yvan Loubier Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot, QC

Mr. Speaker, another important voice, that of Sherry Cooper, chief economist for the Bank of Montreal, has just been added to that of the Bloc Quebecois, which believes that we should scrap the Canadian dollar, a secondary, unstable and declining currency, for a common currency in the Americas.

Does the Minister of Finance realize that it is his responsibility to immediately set in motion the process of negotiating monetary integration for the Americas?

Monetary Policy
Oral Question Period

11:45 a.m.

Willowdale
Ontario

Liberal

Jim Peterson Secretary of State (International Financial Institutions)

Absolutely not, Mr. Speaker. We will not give up the right to have our own monetary policy. We will not give up the right to be able to establish Canadian rates of interest.

When there are conflicts between the value of the dollar and jobs, we will always put jobs for Canadians first.

Monetary Policy
Oral Question Period

11:45 a.m.

Bloc

Yvan Loubier Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot, QC

Mr. Speaker, Ms. Cooper goes on to say, and I quote:

We will do this inevitably when the pain of the falling loonie finally gets to be great.

How far will the Minister of Finance or the government let the Canadian dollar drop before realizing that their short-sighted analysis is weakening the Canadian economy: 50¢, 40¢ or 35¢?

Monetary Policy
Oral Question Period

11:50 a.m.

Willowdale
Ontario

Liberal

Jim Peterson Secretary of State (International Financial Institutions)

Mr. Speaker, what we are not going to do is adopt the Bloc Quebecois' fiscal policy.

They have called for $5 billion in stimulation programs and $8 billion in tax point transfers, which would put us in a deficit situation.

I would refer to Quebec's Minister of Finance, Pauline Marois, who said “I want nothing to do with deficits. This is a very touchy issue for Quebecers. They do not want to go back to a deficit”. He should listen to his head office.

Monetary Policy
Oral Question Period

11:50 a.m.

Canadian Alliance

Ken Epp Elk Island, AB

Mr. Speaker, the parliamentary secretary seems to want to persuade us and Canadians that the fundamentals in Canada are strong. If that is true then my question is a very obvious one. How come, relative to the Americans, the value of our dollar keeps going down? It has reduced dramatically since the Liberals took power in 1993.

Monetary Policy
Oral Question Period

11:50 a.m.

Willowdale
Ontario

Liberal

Jim Peterson Secretary of State (International Financial Institutions)

Mr. Speaker, it is obvious that globally these are turbulent times. Let us look at what has happened in Canada since September 11. In the month of October unemployment went down in Canada. We actually created 1,800 jobs. The United States lost 415,000. Our housing starts were up 12.7% in October and Canadians have record real disposable income.

We must be doing something right because the global economic forum said that--

Monetary Policy
Oral Question Period

11:50 a.m.

The Speaker

The hon. member for Elk Island.

Monetary Policy
Oral Question Period

11:50 a.m.

Canadian Alliance

Ken Epp Elk Island, AB

Mr. Speaker, the numbers I have read show that our employment rate has gone down and unemployment is up. I do not know where the minister is getting his numbers from.

I have a further question. He brags about having paid down the debt. The fact of the matter is that under this government's watch the net debt has gone up $39 billion since 1993. It has not been responsible. It had an opportunity during the good times of the last four or five years to reduce that debt and it did not do it nearly enough.

Monetary Policy
Oral Question Period

11:50 a.m.

Willowdale
Ontario

Liberal

Jim Peterson Secretary of State (International Financial Institutions)

Mr. Speaker, that is just absolutely ridiculous. We have been paying down our deficit through four successive surplus budgets. Thirty-five billion dollars of debt has been paid down. That is a huge saving in interest to Canadians. We will continue to do that.

When we took over, the record reached was 71% of GDP in terms of debt. We were paying one-third of every tax dollar on the interest on that alone. We are now down to 25%. We are down to 50% of GDP in terms of our debt. This is a record accomplishment.

Agriculture
Oral Question Period

11:50 a.m.

Liberal

Wayne Easter Malpeque, PE

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Secretary of State for Rural Development.

Working with the Prime Minister's task force on agriculture, I have been in a lot of farm communities recently and they are very concerned about their social and economic future.

The secretary of state talks a great deal about the need for the government to think rural. Is this just talk on the part of the secretary of state or could the secretary of state express what concrete action the federal government is taking to back up its commitments?

Agriculture
Oral Question Period

11:50 a.m.

Parry Sound—Muskoka
Ontario

Liberal

Andy Mitchell Secretary of State (Rural Development) (Federal Economic Development Initiative for Northern Ontario)

Mr. Speaker, there are a number of ways the federal government is assisting our rural communities and one of the more innovative ways is through our pilot project program. Through that program we are working with over 300 communities across Canada to test innovative solutions to meet the challenges that are faced by rural communities, challenges such as geography or low population density, for the cyclical nature of the resource based economies.

We have invested over $12 million in this program. In the last few days I have been able to announce the latest phase, $2.2 million in 81 communities.

Religious Organizations
Oral Question Period

11:50 a.m.

Canadian Alliance

Philip Mayfield Cariboo—Chilcotin, BC

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Deputy Prime Minister.

The churches named by the government as third parties in the lawsuits caused by its failed residential schools policy have said they are determined to contribute to the settlement of these claims according to their corporate ability.

Will the government respect the offer, respect the negotiation process, respect the victims and return to the negotiation table finally to reach a fair settlement, and, if so, when?

Religious Organizations
Oral Question Period

11:55 a.m.

Windsor West
Ontario

Liberal

Herb Gray Deputy Prime Minister

Mr. Speaker, 70% of the claims brought by former IRS students were brought directly against the church organizations involved and the federal government. We have never left the negotiation table. We are happy to continue negotiations but we felt we had to reach out directly to the victims so their legitimate concerns could be dealt with much more quickly than if the matter was left to the courts to grind along over 25 years.

I am surprised the hon. member does not support that objective. He used to support it. It is time he got back to it. The priority is the victims.

Religious Organizations
Oral Question Period

11:55 a.m.

Canadian Alliance

Philip Mayfield Cariboo—Chilcotin, BC

Mr. Speaker, I agree, the priority is the victims, but the Cariboo diocese of the Anglican church, which will otherwise be gone by December 31, could be saved from bankruptcy if the government and the minister insisted that officials go back to the negotiation table and find the right answer.

The churches have made their proposal. They insist on being included in the reconciliation and the healing of victims. The government also has untested proposals on the table.

Will the government return to negotiations and find the agreement that will provide reconciliation, healing and new life for the victims? Will the minister do that?

Religious Organizations
Oral Question Period

11:55 a.m.

Windsor West
Ontario

Liberal

Herb Gray Deputy Prime Minister

Mr. Speaker, as far as I am aware, the diocese in question has not been petitioned into bankruptcy by the federal government or anyone else. Any action it takes to not continue its operations involves its own decisions. I hope it will reconsider its position.

In the meantime, the victims are seeking monetary compensation and we are ready to negotiate with them by way of settlement to take this out of the court system. We are also ready to continue talking with the churches. I consider that we are doing something fair and equitable for the victims, the taxpayers and all Canadians.

Canada Labour Code
Oral Question Period

11:55 a.m.

Bloc

Monique Guay Laurentides, QC

Mr. Speaker, since taking office, the Liberals have always refused to include legislative provisions that would allow pregnant or nursing female workers to get paid in cases of preventive withdrawal. Even the current Minister of Labour refused to include such a measure to protect women and their babies, when the Canada Labour Code was last reviewed.

Following the agreement reached by public service employees and the government, could the President of the Treasury Board tell us whether she has finally included in that collective agreement a clause providing for the preventive withdrawal of pregnant or nursing women?

Canada Labour Code
Oral Question Period

11:55 a.m.

Durham
Ontario

Liberal

Alex Shepherd Parliamentary Secretary to the President of the Treasury Board

Mr. Speaker, I am unable to answer the member's question directly. I will take it under advisement and get back to her.

The Environment
Oral Question Period

11:55 a.m.

Liberal

Paddy Torsney Burlington, ON

Mr. Speaker, few things unite youth in Canada like their commitment and dedication to the environment.

I read recently that the minister has appointed several new members to his important youth roundtable.

I wonder if the parliamentary secretary to the minister could tell the House about the roundtable and the important young Canadians who play a role in advising the government.

The Environment
Oral Question Period

11:55 a.m.

Kitchener Centre
Ontario

Liberal

Karen Redman Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of the Environment

Mr. Speaker, this is a very important issue. The government believes very strongly that young people are key players in developing new initiatives for a sustainable future. In fact, the advisory roundtable has been established since 1997. The members meet on environmental issues of concern to them and they offer their perspective to the minister and his department.

The minister believes this is a dynamic way in which to involve young people in our decision making process.

Anti-Terrorism Legislation
Oral Question Period

11:55 a.m.

Progressive Conservative

Peter MacKay Pictou—Antigonish—Guysborough, NS

Mr. Speaker, in the rush to draft anti-terrorism legislation, the government is terrorizing some Canadians.

The majority of witnesses before the justice committee, particularly those of Islamic faith, have stated that they fear repressive and legitimate loss of rights. The privacy and information commissioners have stated the same thing. The justice minister has stated that she is open to advice yet the Prime Minister has continually and arrogantly dismissed these concerns.

I want to give the justice minister the opportunity to provide her assurances that she will be open to honestly consider amendments from the opposition to improve Bill C-36.

Anti-Terrorism Legislation
Oral Question Period

11:55 a.m.

Edmonton West
Alberta

Liberal

Anne McLellan Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada

Mr. Speaker, I certainly can reassure the hon. member that I will consider suggestions for amendments from the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights. Let me also indicate that the Prime Minister, last evening in Vancouver in his speech to a sold-out fundraiser for our party, did indicate that there will be amendments to Bill C-36.

Airline Security
Oral Question Period

Noon

NDP

Libby Davies Vancouver East, BC

Mr. Speaker, not only has the minister dropped the ball on the airlines but he is also bumbling on airport security. The system has now lost the confidence of the travelling public and pilots but the minister is still pondering and considering.

Why would the minister hang on to a system that rewards the lowest bid, where training and quality are not the highest priorities? Will the minister make a commitment to Canadians today to take over passenger screening services and guarantee proper training and infrastructure so the system is not a bad joke and security is the top priority? Will he do that?

Airline Security
Oral Question Period

Noon

Don Valley East
Ontario

Liberal

David Collenette Minister of Transport

Mr. Speaker, I cannot believe the hon. member is denigrating those workers and all those people involved in airline security who have been under such pressure since September 11.

The government's priority has been to put in new regulations and ensure that those regulations are enforced rather than looking at who delivers the service. All of this is under review by the government. We are examining the situation. I want to assure Canadians that the security they have at the airports is extremely good.

Afghanistan
Oral Question Period

Noon

Bloc

Madeleine Dalphond-Guiral Laval Centre, QC

Mr. Speaker, this weekend at the General Assembly of the United Nations, the Minister of Foreign Affairs will be presenting his vision of the establishment of a system of governance for Afghanistan. Everyone agrees that this is a matter of the utmost importance.

Would the Minister of Foreign Affairs indicate what his definition of governance is, and what role humanitarian aid plays in it?

Afghanistan
Oral Question Period

Noon

Ottawa South
Ontario

Liberal

John Manley Minister of Foreign Affairs

Mr. Speaker, I would encourage the hon. member to wait until tomorrow afternoon.

I can, however, certainly say that we have concerns, not only about humanitarian aid to Afghanistan, but also about the establishment of governance after the conflict in Afghanistan is resolved.

British Columbia
Oral Question Period

Noon

Canadian Alliance

Betty Hinton Kamloops, Thompson And Highland Valleys, BC

Mr. Speaker, the pine beetle is destroying forests in northern British Columbia. The Minister for International Trade has done his best to destroy the softwood lumber industry in the country as well as in British Columbia. The Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development has abdicated his responsibility for land claims to the provincial level.

The government did not value British Columbia when it was paying its way and making its best contribution to the country. Now that British Columbia is in trouble, it has been abandoned. Does anyone on that side have a plan for British Columbia?

British Columbia
Oral Question Period

Noon

Timiskaming—Cochrane
Ontario

Liberal

Ben Serré Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Natural Resources

Mr. Speaker, the government has been working very closely with the province of British Columbia on the pine beetle issue. The government is working with all the provinces on all aspects. I do not know what question specifically the member is referring to, but the government has been working with all the provinces on all issues including the pine beetle.

Interparliamentary Delegations
Routine Proceedings

Noon

The Speaker

I have the honour to lay upon the table the report of the Canadian parliamentary delegation to Mexico from October 9 to 11, 2001.

Committees of the House
Routine Proceedings

Noon

Bonavista—Trinity—Conception
Newfoundland & Labrador

Liberal

Brian Tobin Minister of Industry

Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 109 I have the honour to table, in both official languages, the government's response to the fifth report of the House of Commons Standing Committee on Industry, Science and Technology, entitled “The Canadian Innovation Agenda for the 21st Century”.

Pursuant to the same standing order, I have the honour to table, in both official languages, the government's response to the fourth report of the House of Commons Standing Committee on Industry, Science and Technology, entitled “Transparency in the Information Age, the Lobbyists Registration Act in the 21st Century”.

Committees of the House
Routine Proceedings

12:05 p.m.

Brant
Ontario

Liberal

Jane Stewart Minister of Human Resources Development

Mr. Speaker, in accordance with Standing Order 109, I am pleased to submit two copies, in both official languages, of the Government of Canada's response to the report of the Standing Committee on Human Resources Development and the Status of Persons with Disabilities, entitled “Interim Report: Access to Higher Education and Training”.

Mr. Speaker, in accordance with Standing Order 109, I am pleased to submit two copies, in both official languages, of the Government of Canada's response to the 4th report of the Standing Committee on Human Resources and the Status of Persons with Disabilities, entitled “A Common Vision: Interim Report”.

Government Response to Petitions
Routine Proceedings

12:05 p.m.

Kitchener Centre
Ontario

Liberal

Karen Redman Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of the Environment

Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 36(8) I have the honour to table, in both official languages, the government's response to seven petitions.

Committees of the House
Routine Proceedings

12:05 p.m.

Liberal

John Harvard Charleswood—St. James—Assiniboia, MB

Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the 11th report of the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Trade. Pursuant to the order of reference of Tuesday, October 23, your committee has considered Bill C-35, an act to amend the Foreign Missions and International Organizations Act, and has agreed to report it with two amendments.

Corrections and Conditional Release Act
Routine Proceedings

12:05 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Peter MacKay Pictou—Antigonish—Guysborough, NS

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-412, an act to amend the Corrections and Conditional Release Act and the Criminal Code (sentencing judge to determine level of security of incarceration of inmate for first third of sentence).

Mr. Speaker, I want to thank my colleague in the coalition, the member for Edmonton North, for seconding this motion.

This amendment would result in a change to the criminal code and Corrections and Conditional Release Act making it possible for judges to pass an order requiring a minimal level of security of incarceration before a third of the sentence has expired.

This bill is intended to prevent the practice of cascading in the courts, wherein a prisoner is placed in a minimal security prison in advance of that proper assessment being made. It would give greater input for judges at the early stage of the sentencing process.

(Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed)

Petitions
Routine Proceedings

12:05 p.m.

Liberal

John Bryden Ancaster—Dundas—Flamborough—Aldershot, ON

Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present a petition from constituents in my riding who call for an end to terrorism. This is a petition that speaks out very strongly in support of the Americans who suffered this terrible tragedy on September 11 and calls on this parliament, all Canadians and the world indeed to do all that they can to end terrorism. There are exactly 798 names on this petition.

Petitions
Routine Proceedings

12:05 p.m.

Liberal

Steve Mahoney Mississauga West, ON

Mr. Speaker, I have two petitions. The first has 37 names appealing to the Parliament of Canada to volunteer to form part of Canada's SOS rescue team to go to China, and to provide protection for this rescue team, to stop the torture and killing of Falun Gong practitioners and to free all said practitioners as well.

Petitions
Routine Proceedings

12:05 p.m.

Liberal

Steve Mahoney Mississauga West, ON

Mr. Speaker, my second petition has about 446 names. It calls upon the Parliament of Canada to enact legislation to give tougher penalties for animal abusers.

Starred Questions
Routine Proceedings

12:05 p.m.

Kitchener Centre
Ontario

Liberal

Karen Redman Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of the Environment

Mr. Speaker, would you be so kind as to call Starred Question No. 66.

*Question No. 66
Routine Proceedings

12:05 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Jim Pankiw Saskatoon—Humboldt, SK

With respect to the Agricultural Income Disaster Assistance program (AIDA), what has the government determined to be since its inception: ( a ) the total amount paid out to farmers in each year by province; and ( b ) the total administration cost associated with the program in each year?

*Question No. 66
Routine Proceedings

12:05 p.m.

Liberal

Karen Redman Kitchener Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, I ask that the answer to Question No. 66 be printed in Hansard as if read.

*Question No. 66
Routine Proceedings

12:05 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

Is that agreed?

*Question No. 66
Routine Proceedings

12:05 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

*Question No. 66
Routine Proceedings

12:05 p.m.

Kitchener Centre
Ontario

Liberal

Karen Redman Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of the Environment

With respect to (a) the 1998 AIDA program received over 52,000 applications and approximately $688.3 million was paid out. The breakdown by province appears below. The 1999 AIDA program received over 51,000 applications and approximately $900.6 million was paid out. The breakdown by province appears below. To date, 1999 AIDA payments have been made at 95% of the federal share. Producers will soon receive their remaining portion of funds available for the 1999 AIDA program. In order to keep administrative costs to a minimum, AIDA was delivered through existing administrative processes in provinces where the Government of Canada did not administer the program. With respect to (b) the total national administrative expenses for the 1998 AIDA program were $33.7 million. The total national administrative expenses for the 1999 AIDA program were $54.2 million.

Questions on the Order Paper
Routine Proceedings

12:10 p.m.

Kitchener Centre
Ontario

Liberal

Karen Redman Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of the Environment

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

Questions on the Order Paper
Routine Proceedings

12:10 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

Is that agreed?

Questions on the Order Paper
Routine Proceedings

12:10 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

The House resumed consideration of the motion that Bill S-31, an act to implement agreements, conventions and protocols concluded between Canada and Slovenia, Ecuador, Venezuela, Peru, Senegal, the Czech Republic, the Slovak Republic and Germany for the avoidance of double taxation and the prevention of fiscal evasion with respect to taxes on income, be read the second time and referred to a committee.

Income Tax Conventions Implementation Act, 2001
Government Orders

12:10 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Bill Casey Cumberland—Colchester, NS

Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to speak to Bill S-31, an act to implement income tax treaties between Canada and various other countries, namely, Slovenia, Ecuador, Venezuela, Peru, Senegal, the Czech Republic, the Slovak Republic and Germany.

This bill goes along with the coalition's position on approaches to international trade, international business and international agreements. Certainly with recent events it is obvious we are going to be broadening our international interests. This type of treaty is important.

There are two reasons to justify why the bill was brought forward. One is to avoid double taxation on foreigners working in Canada. The other is the prevention of evasion of taxes by foreigners working in Canada. I suspect the latter was the real catalyst that brought this bill to fruition.

We support the bill, but we would like to put some issues on the record about taxation. The bill raises other issues. In regard to competitiveness it tries to bring us into line with our international agreements and competitiveness, but there are other parts of our taxation system which leave us very non-competitive.

The first purpose of the bill is to remove barriers to cross-border trade and investment which is obviously in our interests as a trading country. Canada is very dependent on trade and it is important to us for this reason.

The second reason is to ensure unintended consequences, which means to not have tax evasion. This is done through the bill in a number of ways. It allows tax authorities to deal directly with each other to solve international transfer pricing issues, complete audits and engage in other discussions aimed at improving tax administration. Mostly it opens the lines of communication and sharing of information, which raises some concerns which I will deal with in a second. Basically, we agree with this philosophy, but it does raise concerns that should be watched. We must be careful and prudent.

With respect to the Canada-Germany agreement, this is the only set of treaties that provides for mutual assistance in the collection of outstanding taxes. We have other agreements with other major countries, including the United States and the Netherlands. We tend not to have such agreements with smaller partners.

Parts 1 to 7 of the bill implement tax treaties with Slovenia, Ecuador, Venezuela, Peru, Senegal, the Czech Republic and the Slovak Republic. This is the first time that Canada has concluded a tax agreement with any of these states.

The tax treaties implemented by this bill reflect efforts to update and expand Canada's network of tax treaties, so as to have better access to information back and forth. This will increase the ability of Canadian companies to invest and deal in these other countries through financial agreements, business agreements and treaties.

There are some of the pros that we recognize. It goes along with a broader vision of international trade which the coalition and the Progressive Conservative Party have really established and led the way on with respect to free trade agreements. We have been traditional leaders in reducing the taxes and trade barriers between countries.

There is strong support for the bill in our party. Income tax conventions have been signed with countries where a commonality of security and other linkages was sufficiently and traditionally entrenched. In that way there would be some confidence in their taxation systems and they would mirror ours. There would be consistencies at least in the two systems.

The bill primarily seeks to serve the best interests of Canadian investors and the Canadian government. We support foreign trade. The bill allows countries that are not fully developed to create quality jobs and allows us to export our abilities, technologies, services, money, traditions and values. All of those certainly hold a lot of appeal especially to smaller countries. This will help us provide those services.

Canada's philosophy has always been to promote the economic progress of these countries. The more the wealth is shared, the more jobs and the more opportunities there are to educate the public. Again, the more the wealth is shared, the more stresses and tensions between countries are reduced, with a resultant lowering in terrorism acts and all kinds of different manifestations of misunderstandings and hate.

The more we work with other countries the more we understand each other by sharing cultures, business, educational ties and health care ties to better the chances of avoiding things like September 11 and the ongoing threats of terrorism.

We have some disagreements with this proposal which does not focus on the tax issues. They focus on the human rights records of some of the countries involved. We feel that we should encourage countries to increase their focus on human rights as part of these ongoing negotiations.

We do not want to be seen endorsing countries that have bad human rights records. We could be perceived to be endorsing their policies by signing treaties with these countries. We want to ensure that is not what we are doing. We are signing business treaties and not endorsing human rights policies.

There are parts of the bill that we applaud. The bill was in fact referred not only to the Senate banking committee for the study of tax conventions but also d to the foreign affairs committee for the study of human rights aspects. That was a good feature of the bill and we would support future bills of this nature going through the same process.

Canada's influence has expanded into other countries around the world. The tax department does not perform a full and complete country by country analysis of the acceptability of the taxation system and the procedures surrounding taxation to determine what issues in those countries were receptive to such an agreement. It goes back to the human rights issues and should be an integral part of the negotiation process.

Another issue that concerned us was the privacy aspect. There is a lot of information in our tax files on Canadian citizens. If a double taxation agreement was in place the information could and often would get into the hands of other countries. We want to ensure that our privacy laws and standards would apply to other countries that had access to our information.

The coalition supports the bill and encourages it as a further step in the enhancement of Canada's international relationships.

I mentioned earlier that the bill raises other aspects of competitiveness as far as taxation is concerned. There are many ways in which Canada is not competitive in its tax regime. The bill would attempt to bring some tax aspects in line with other countries. However it does not address Canada's income tax rate, which is much higher than the average rate of OECD countries, and many other aspects of our capital gains tax and other taxes that discourage competitiveness, investment and jobs.

The United Kingdom, Germany, Norway and Sweden have adopted more aggressive tax cutting strategies than Canada with respect to capital gains. Germany reduced its capital gains tax by 50%, Great Britain by 75%, and Norway completely eliminated all forms of double taxation on capital income. The United States has an accommodating capital gains rate of approximately 20%. Last year Canada reduced the capital gains inclusion rate to 50% putting it closer to the U.S. level of 20%, but there is still a vast difference. It discourages investment and people from withdrawing their funds from one investment and reinvesting in another way.

The coalition encourages the government to review taxation at all levels to see if there are other ways to reduce taxes which would put Canada in line with other countries in the same way it is doing with Bill S-31.

Committees of the House
Routine Proceedings

12:15 p.m.

Kitchener Centre
Ontario

Liberal

Karen Redman Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of the Environment

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order. I believe you would find unanimous consent for the following motion. I move:

That the members of the Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration be authorized to travel to Washington, D.C. during the week of November 19 or the week of November 26, 2001 in relation to its Study on Security at Ports of Entry in Canada and that the necessary staff accompany them.

Committees of the House
Routine Proceedings

12:20 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

Does the hon. parliamentary secretary have unanimous consent of the House to propose the motion?

Committees of the House
Routine Proceedings

12:20 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Committees of the House
Routine Proceedings

12:20 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

The House has heard the terms of the motion. Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?

Committees of the House
Routine Proceedings

12:20 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

(Motion agreed to)

The House resumed consideration of the motion that Bill S-31, an act to implement agreements, conventions and protocols concluded between Canada and Slovenia, Ecuador, Venezuela, Peru, Senegal, the Czech Republic, the Slovak Republic and Germany for the avoidance of double taxation and the prevention of fiscal evasion with respect to taxes on income, be read the second time and referred to a committee.

Income Tax Conventions Implementation Act, 2001
Government Orders

12:20 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Ken Epp Elk Island, AB

Mr. Speaker, I am again pleased to participate in debate in the House of Commons. It has been a little over eight years since I was first elected with the class of 1993. My hon. friend from Edmonton North used to tell us that we would probably wonder for a long time how we ever got here. We also wonder from time to time how some of our colleagues ever got here.

It has been a very interesting time. I feel particularly honoured and privileged to represent not only the people of Elk Island but hopefully the views of Canadians across the country as we discuss various issues.

I hope in my short intervention that I will be able to get past the first letter in Bill S-31. When I hear the letter S I think of various words. The letter S means that the bill originated in the Senate. I pretty well take every opportunity I can to put in a little barb in this regard.

The member from the NDP spoke about the Senate in his intervention. That party has the erroneous idea that it would like to eliminate the Senate. I would like to retain and strengthen it. I would like to see the Senate have a genuine democratic role to play in parliament. I wish its members were elected so they would have a high degree of respect and legitimacy in our parliamentary system instead of being, as so many have said, a source of patronage appointments. That is very unfortunate.

Some of our colleagues in the Senate probably work as hard as some of the lesser working MPs in this place, so we ought to be very careful.

The standing orders state that I am not supposed to say anything to denigrate any other member of parliament, including those in the Senate. I am very careful not to do that. However the fact that those individuals are not elected is a flaw. The bill is diminished by the fact that it originates in the Senate and that senators are not elected but are instead appointed at the will of the prime minister.

When I think of the letter S I also think of some other priorities that the government should have. Softwood lumber is an example of a high priority issue. The conflict in this regard is costing people in British Columbia and Alberta jobs on an ongoing basis. I would like to see our time in parliament spent on high priority items such as this one.

Another issue which is consuming Canadians and North Americans these days is the issue of security. I wish we would pay more attention in the House to the issue of security.

I think of Shawinigate and the fact that there is not enough accountability in government. I had a conversation with some people the other day from Alberta, not from my riding, about how we could make government more accountable. We had a pretty good indepth discussion on this subject. I said that one of the things we ought to do was to have more openness and public disclosure.

Government expenditures are subject to loose privacy laws. If taxpayer money is being spent, taxpayers should be able to see what it is spent on. We want to guard people's privacy, but at the same time we must be aware of some of the mismanagement that has occurred in government not only under the watch of the present Liberal government but also under the watch of the previous government.

There would be a much greater appetite for accountability if parliamentarians, cabinet ministers and bureaucrats knew that these things would become public, if not now, three or five years down the road. Disclosure is one of the things we all recognize as being an important feature. Other things came to mind when I saw the letter S. However I must move past the first letter and get to Bill S-31 that is before us today.

I do not hesitate to compliment colleagues when they do some really good work even if they are not from my party. I listened intently and with great interest to the speech given by my Bloc colleague, the member for Saint-Hyacinthe--Bagot. I recommend to individuals who happen to be reading this part of today's record in Hansard 10 years from now that they page back to that speech because it was an excellent one. I commend the member for it. He made many interesting points that were relevant to the bill.

We had a great time with the teachers this week discussing parliament, democracy and how government works. One teacher asked me how we get along with members of other parties. I said that we treat them with respect as friends and colleagues even though we may differ with their ideas. We are like a hockey team: When we are on the ice we fight like crazy but when we go to the restaurant after the game we are colleagues and friends.

I would say the same thing about the Bloc members even though we disagree very strongly and emphatically with the main reason for their being here. They have softened their stance a little bit in the last couple of years but they want out of the country. I disagree profoundly with that concept but at the same time they are wonderful people and I respect them. I have no hesitation giving an accolade to the member for Saint-Hyacinthe--Bagot for his excellent speech earlier today.

One of the things he talked about was the taxation agreement. He did not use the word tax avoidance, or at least it did not come through that way from the interpreters. The purpose of the bill is to make agreements with eight countries.

Canada has two reasons for making agreements with respect to taxation.The first reason is to avoid double taxation. It is not fair for people to pay taxes in the country where their business operates or where they may have investment income and also in Canada and vice versa. Someone who is from another country who has business interests or investment interests, or somehow earns income here should not have to pay taxes on both. This would make it impossible because if we take federal, provincial and property taxes into consideration, Canadians work approximately half the time for the taxman. Our total cumulative tax rate is about 50%. This is underlined by organizations such as the Canadian Taxpayers Federation proclaiming June 30 as taxation freedom day. We work for the taxman from January to the end of June and for the rest of the year we work for our families to provide for them.

If we had two countries that had similar tax rates, 100% of everything that one earned would go to the taxman. Double taxation is something to be avoided. That is one of the purposes of the bill. It would provide for agreements between Canada and the other countries so that only one country would tax the individual.

There are, however, exceptions. I do not know how many members have read the bill but it is a lengthy one. There are many different clauses in it that indicate a few exceptions where both countries could get a portion of the tax from earnings. I noticed one interesting clause that dealt with certain pension income.

I forget which country it was. It may have been with all of them, but I did not have time to check the similar clause for all seven or eight different agreements with respect to certain pension income. However I found it intriguing though, that with respect to certain pension income, the first $12,000 of income is considered tax free. There is no tax on the first $12,000 of pension income from the other country. When tax is paid on the amount over $12,000, lo and behold it is a single rate of 15%. I feel sort of good about that because as members know we have tried to work on reducing the punishment of people who earn money.

We say that if a person earns twice as much, let them pay twice as much tax. However under the graduated system, a person who earns twice as much could pay five or eight times as much tax, depending how much of that proportion they are hitting before they have used up their basic exemption.

It is very important for us to recognize that there is an important principle here, and I commend the government for utilizing that principle in this particular instance.

I could carry on at length about the bill. In principle, it is good because it solves the problem of double taxation for people who have business interests and who have earned income from more than one country.

The second one of course is the issue of tax avoidance. The actual preamble in the bill states that the purpose of it is to prevent fiscal evasion. That is basically a case of doing what we have to do so that we do not have to pay taxes at all. That is when Canada might think the person is being taxed in Slovenia and Slovenia thinks he or she is being taxed in Canada. Without an agreement that is specific, it could be that the person gets away with being taxed no where.

In conclusion, it is very important for us to have these tax agreements. I would like to see them enlarged, as my hon. colleague from the Bloc stated, so that we do not have people avoiding taxes or hugely reducing them by registering their companies in tax free havens and thereby avoiding their share of being part of the Canadian citizenry.

I would be remiss if I did not really emphasize that. We all know of some significant examples of individuals who have said taxes in Canada are too high and we agree with that. However they have a mechanism to avoid the taxes by simply moving offshore. We think that all citizens, including all members of parliament, should pay their fair share of taxes to fund a very good government that we should have, which would be one that spends taxpayer dollars in a careful way.

It is my intention to vote in favour of Bill S-31.

Income Tax Conventions Implementation Act, 2001
Government Orders

12:30 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

Is the House ready for the question?

Income Tax Conventions Implementation Act, 2001
Government Orders

12:30 p.m.

Some hon. members

Question.

Income Tax Conventions Implementation Act, 2001
Government Orders

12:35 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

The question is on Bill S-31 at second reading. Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?

Income Tax Conventions Implementation Act, 2001
Government Orders

12:35 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Income Tax Conventions Implementation Act, 2001
Government Orders

12:35 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

Accordingly the bill stands referred to the Standing Committee on Finance.

(Motion agreed to, bill read the second time and referred to a committee)

Income Tax Conventions Implementation Act, 2001
Government Orders

12:35 p.m.

Liberal

Marlene Catterall Ottawa West—Nepean, ON

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order. I think you would find consent in the House to see the clock as 1.30 p.m. so that we may proceed to the consideration of private members' business.

Income Tax Conventions Implementation Act, 2001
Government Orders

12:35 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

Is it agreed?

Income Tax Conventions Implementation Act, 2001
Government Orders

12:35 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Income Tax Conventions Implementation Act, 2001
Government Orders

12:35 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

The House will now proceed to the consideration of private members' business as listed on today's order paper.

Criminal Code
Private Members' Business

12:35 p.m.

NDP

Libby Davies Vancouver East, BC

moved that Bill C-329, an act to amend the Criminal Code (protection of children), be read the second time and referred to a committee.

Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to rise in the House today to speak to the second reading for my bill, Bill C-329.

The bill seeks to repeal section 43 of the criminal code. This section of the criminal code that is not very well known to many Canadians, but it allows the use of force as a means of correcting or disciplining a child. I believe very strongly that this section flies in the face and is contrary to everything else about which we speak. We have policies which we promote in terms of upholding the rights and the well-being of children.

This morning I was very pleased to be joined at a press conference by a number of organizations that came to support the bill. There has been a very significant campaign across the country, and even a legal challenge, to repeal this section. This morning I was very pleased to be joined by Corinne Robertshaw of the repeal 43 committee, Mathew Geigen-Miller of the National Youth in Care Network, Michèle Matte of the Canadian Institute of Child Health and Victoria Norgaard of the Child Welfare League of Canada.

Many other people have not only supported the bill but have really taken up the issue of raising public consciousness about why the section needs to be repealed. In fact one of the people I especially want to mention is a very active parenting advocate, Kathy Lynn from Vancouver, who has a program on positive parenting . She has been a real leading light and strong advocate about the choices we have as parents and what we need to do to promote the health and well-being of children.

I am very pleased to join with these organizations to move along and to urge the government to consider the issue seriously and the impact that section 43 has had.

I believe that it is contrary to basic human rights. I believe it is contrary to the rights of children that Canada is a signatory to through international convention.

It is worth noting that this section of the criminal code is actually very old. It has been in our criminal code since 1892. It is based on English common law that did allow corporal punishment of wives, servants, apprentices and children.

I think everyone in the House and every Canadian would agree, that absolutely it is unacceptable that people would beat their wife or their spouse, their servant or their apprentice. Those aspects of our criminal code have long since gone. They have been done away with. However in 2001, the section that pertains to the use of force for correcting or disciplining a child still remains.

It is really an anomaly. It is an archaic part of the criminal code that sanctions violence rather than penalizing the use of violence. Not only does it violate the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, it also violates the UN convention on the rights of the child in denying children the fundamental freedom of protection from acts of violence.

One reason the section must be removed is that it is not just sitting there silently in the criminal code and somehow has no visible impact on what takes place in our society. The reality is section 43 has been used successfully as a defence in our court system by parents who have hit children with straps, belts, sticks and extension cords, causing bruises, welts and abrasions.

To put this in context, research completed through the Canadian incidents study that showed that in 1998 there were 44,000 investigations of child physical abuse in Canada. Sixty-eight per cent of physical abuse investigations were deemed to be inappropriate physical punishment. That is an absolutely serious issue.

When we see that the section creates an environment of sanctioning violence rather than prohibiting it, then hopefully we will begin to see why the section must be removed.

When I first came across the section and understood what was going on, one of my concerns was that it really put the government in a very conflicting position.

On the one hand, the government has defended the maintenance of this section in the criminal code. On the other hand, there have been numerous studies, some of them funded by the federal government, that show that corporal punishment is not effective in raising children.

In 1995 a review funded by federal departments of health and justice found that corporal punishment was associated with increased levels of aggression, that it was a predicator of delinquency and violence and crime in later life and that it was a risk factor for child abuse.

It seems one hand of government, in terms of studying the cause and effect of allowing physical violence against children, understands that the impacts and the consequences for children are severe both individually and for the interest of society as a whole. However the other hand of the government has not been prepared to move on the issue.

Fifteen federal government sponsored reports over the past 20 years have recommended the repeal or reconsideration of section 43, yet the government has refused to act on those recommendations. I find that astonishing,

On the other side of the question, the major argument is that somehow the state does not have a right to intervene in how parents raise or discipline their children. Making decisions about discipline, how we teach our children a right from a wrong and how we help them develop self control, is certainly one of our greatest challenges as parents and as a society.

The intent in the bill before us today is not to deny parents the right to discipline their children. That is absolutely not the intent. The purpose and the point of the bill is to say that this particular section does not belong in the criminal code. There have been arguments to suggest that, if the section is repealed, somehow there will be a flood of criminal investigations and prosecutions and parents will be charged. Again, as Corinne Robertshaw said this morning, this is something of a red herring. It is a smokescreen. Police and prosecutors have discretion in laying and prosecuting charges. It is very rare for minor breaches to be prosecuted.

The other argument I have heard against repealing section 43 is that sometimes educators or other persons, who are in positions of authority or substituting parents, say they then will not have the ability to defend themselves or that they will not be able to use reasonable force to defend themselves. Clearly sections 34 to 41 of the criminal code allow the use of reasonable force for self-defence, defence of others, defence of property and prevention of trespass. If there are concerns that the repeal of this section will somehow mean that teachers cannot properly defend themselves or use reasonable force, there are other aspects of the criminal code that would allow that to happen.

As I said earlier, the section has been the subject of legal challenge. This past September a case went before the Ontario court of appeal. Basically, the case was to have this aspect of the criminal code declared unconstitutional on the grounds that it was a legalized form of child abuse and therefore a violation of children's equality under the charter of rights and freedoms.

Although the decision was not positive in terms of repealing section 43, the justice who came down with the decision found evidence that spanking and corporal punishment was bad and that it was not a good thing to do. In fact he urged parliament to consider amending or changing section 43 to provide parents, police and teachers with specific criteria of what sort of force was reasonable. Clearly the courts, in considering this issue, have said it really belongs back within parliament and within government policy to sort this out.

The origin of the legal case is very interesting. Ailsa Watkinson, a social work professor at the University of Regina, began the court challenge in 1997 after a man who administered a spanking to his child in an Ontario parking lot was acquitted under section 43. That is really the clear evidence of how this section has been used in a way that undermines the health and well-being of children.

In the minutes remaining I want to look at the international situation, because it is not just within Canada that we are dealing with this issue. There is a debate going on. There is information available to show that corporal punishment both in the home and at school is banned in nine European countries, including Austria, Croatia, Norway, Italy, Latvia, Denmark, Finland, Cyprus and Sweden. Further, the countries of Italy, Germany, Bulgaria, Belgium and the Republic of Ireland are in the process of bringing forward legislation against the physical or corporal punishment of children. Clearly there are a number of national jurisdictions considering this issue and recognizing that they need to be proactive and positive in terms of upholding the rights of children.

As a result of being at the press conference today and having worked on this issue for a number of years now, I really believe that this is an issue on which the federal government must show some leadership. There have been a lot of studies done. There has been a lot of public debate. There have been legal challenges. I firmly believe that if the government is of the opinion that the international covenants on the rights of the child that have been signed by the government are to mean anything, then we must come to terms with the contradiction that exists in terms of section 43 and these other international conventions and all the studies that have been done.

I believe that in the interests of upholding protection for children and the well-being of children we should actually have a more fulsome debate on this matter. It should go to committee, and today I certainly welcome hearing from other members of the House their opinions about this important issue.

In closing, while I recognize that there are concerns from people about whether or not this is an interference in parenting rights, I believe there is an interest in society as a whole in making sure that we support families, that we support the health and well-being of children.

It is just hard to believe that this section in the criminal code is left over from 1892 when it was legally sanctioned that a man could beat his wife or servant or apprentice. It is left over from that period. We now have to come to terms with the contradictions that exist and we have to say that section 43 has no place in the criminal code.

What we should focus on is providing support, information and help to parents who are facing challenges. We should tell parents that there are many alternative forms of corrective discipline, which do not have to involve physical harm and physical force, and there are many programs and supports. In fact, it is very important to get the information out there. Parents do not have to rely on beating their child or hitting their child to change behaviour in the long run or to somehow improve what that child is doing. Most parents who engage in that kind of discipline often regret it. They often wish they had not done it. We have to reinforce that. We have to work positively with parents. That is a very important message that must come from the federal government.

I ask the government to consider the bill and to consider that it needs to have further debate and discussion. I ask the government to back up its own studies, to come through with the recommendations from its own studies and to make it clear that we should be removing section 43 of the criminal code.

Criminal Code
Private Members' Business

12:50 p.m.

Waterloo—Wellington
Ontario

Liberal

Lynn Myers Parliamentary Secretary to the Solicitor General of Canada

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise today to discuss and talk about Bill C-329, which proposes that section 43 of the criminal code be repealed.

I want to say that as a government we agree with what the member just said a minute ago, that is, we on this side of the House, like she articulated, consider our children to be paramount in terms of their protection, safety and security. That has certainly been the agenda of our government because, after all, they are our most precious resource, not only in our family units but for the nation as a whole.

As hon. members know, section 43 is currently the subject of a charter challenge. On July 5, 2000, the Ontario Superior Court of Justice dismissed an application brought by the Canadian Foundation for Children, Youth and the Law seeking a declaration that section 43 is unconstitutional. In its July 2000 decision the court upheld section 43 and held that this provision reflects a reasonable balance of the interests of children, parents, teachers and Canadian society in accordance with the charter. This judgment was appealed to the Ontario Court of Appeal. The appeal was heard from September 10 to 12, 2001, and judgment was reserved.

Although it would be inappropriate for me to speak in any detail about a case that is currently before the court in Ontario, I would like, however, to discuss a few important points. I think they have merit.

I would like to begin by confirming the government's commitment, as I said at the outset, to promoting and protecting the rights and interests of our children, but as the Ontario Superior Court of Justice held in its July 2000 judgment, children's rights and interests, including the issue of section 43, must be viewed in the larger context, which includes the responsibility and role of parents and the best interests of children.

If we look, for example, to the United Nations convention on the rights of the child, to which Canada, as you know, Mr. Speaker, is a party, we see that the convention provides that children's best interests shall be primarily considered in actions concerning children. It also recognizes, however, the responsibilities, rights and duties of parents to provide appropriate direction and guidance in the exercise of these rights by the child. The convention acknowledges the family as a fundamental group of society responsible for the growth and well-being of children.

The government's position in supporting section 43 reflects this balanced view of children's interests. Section 43 balances all societal interests concerning the raising of children in a healthy and safe social environment, that is, in the family, while respecting their constitutional rights.

What exactly does section 43 say? I believe that there is a general misunderstanding of the purpose and ambit of section 43. Section 43 does not condone or authorize physical abuse of children. Equally important, it does not shield parents or teachers from interference by the state or guarantee freedom of parents to discipline children in any manner they see fit.

Section 43 acts as a limited defence, for example, to the charge of assault. In this regard several key points must be emphasized. First, the section applies only to a narrowly defined group of persons, namely a parent, teacher or person acting in the place of a parent and only in respect of a pupil or child under that person's care. Second, the force must be used for the purpose of correction. A person who uses force in a fit of rage or in order to hurt a child cannot claim a section 43 defence. Third and finally, the force used must be reasonable in the circumstances. The standard or test of reasonableness is one that is well understood and often applied within the Canadian criminal justice system.

When asked to consider applying section 43 in any given case, a court typically looks at the nature of the child's behaviour or action calling for correction, the age of the child and the severity of the punishment, including any injuries suffered by the child in that circumstance. When determining whether the force used was reasonable, the standard the courts apply is the community standard of reasonableness found in Canada and not in the practices of the individual family, or the school, for that matter.

The government is defending section 43 based on its belief that this section can be interpreted and applied in a constitutional manner which balances the interests of children, parents and Canadian society. Loving, well intentioned Canadian parents who engage in normative disciplinary conduct that is undertaken in a reasonable way and takes into account the needs and best interests of children should not be criminally charged for such conduct. Absent section 43, this would be precisely the result.

The government recognizes, however, that parents should be provided with the tools necessary to help them raise their children. To this end I would note that the federal government, primarily through Health Canada, supports parental education materials, for example, that specifically advise against the use of physical punishment and support the use of alternative methods of child discipline.

We are very concerned, as are all Canadians, about instances of child abuse in our society. It is simply unacceptable. We are also concerned about how best to protect vulnerable children in Canadian society, but in Canada protecting children from abuse is done through a number of measures of which criminal law is but one important measure.

Another such measure is provincial and territorial child protection legislation, which do not permit any form of child abuse. As a result, even if charges are not laid under the criminal code, child protection authorities can still intervene under provincial or territorial legislation where parental discipline is inappropriate or excessive. That is as it should be.

The government appreciates the objective of the bill as it is presented, namely the protection of our children, again, a very valuable resource, but we disagree that the bill would achieve this objective. It should come as no surprise to anyone that section 43 raises a divergence of opinion among Canadians. It does so because it touches upon something very near and dear to our hearts, most particularly our children and how best to parent them. In our view, however, the government's balanced approach to this important issue is by far the better approach.

When we weigh that all out I think we can see that the Government of Canada in taking this view is indeed taking into account the best interests of not only our children but their parents as well, and in so doing, by extension the broader Canadian society.

Criminal Code
Private Members' Business

12:55 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Larry Spencer Regina—Lumsden—Lake Centre, SK

Mr. Speaker, it is with a great deal of conviction that I rise in the House today to speak to Bill C-329, a bill to repeal section 43 of the criminal code which states:

Every schoolteacher, parent or person standing in the place of a parent is justified in using force by way of correction toward a pupil or child, as the case may be, who is under his care, if the force does not exceed what is reasonable under the circumstances.

Martin's Annual Criminal Code 2001 states:

The persons who may rely upon this section are schoolteachers, parents or those standing in the place of a parent...This section authorizes the use of force only where it is by way of correction, that is, for the benefit of the education of the child.

We live in a time when people of all ages, walks of life and viewpoints are following the philosophy of looking out for number one. That means they are concerned only with what is best, easiest or most beneficial for them. It is not easy to train, teach and discipline a child in the right way but it is the responsibility of parents and teachers to do that very thing.

Martin's Annual Criminal Code 2001 says the use of force is authorized when it is for correction to benefit the education of the child. In this day and age we confuse ourselves by always trying to be politically correct. Today it is politically correct to trumpet the rights of everyone from children to burrowing owls.

Rights are fine and good as long as we maintain a proper perspective. I am for human rights, children's rights and parental rights. I believe parents have the right to the best means at their disposal to train their children the way they feel they should.

Neither the Canadian Alliance nor I condone the abuse or neglect of children in any form. However we believe parents are the ones primarily responsible for the training and disciplining of their children. Children are not wards of the state. They are the gifts of God to a set of parents to whom He has given the right and responsibility of parenthood.

It is not for the government to interfere with the exercise of parental rights or responsibilities. Guidelines may be given. That has been done in section 43 of the criminal code. To remove that section would be to revoke the God given right parents have to carry out the proper training and disciplining they desire.

Protection is already provided in section 43 to ensure against physical abuse of the child. It also protects the parent or teacher who needs to take physical measures to properly contribute to the education or training of the child.

Many people today are neglecting and abusing their children by failing to correct, discipline, teach and train them properly. Some are afraid to take up the challenge for fear of damaging the poor child's self-esteem. Many are afraid of being accused of abuse and seeing their child whisked away by some bleeding heart social worker.

Some people are perhaps afraid because of recent Canadian incidents or other people's opinions but are totally frustrated by the difficulty of their own children. They are unable to cope and so they yell, nag and verbally abuse their children. This to me is a greater and more damaging way to abuse the child. It is much harder on the child's self-esteem than properly administered and well timed corporal correction.

Children cannot be left to themselves. They are not capable of making the proper decisions on their own. They must be taught and directed to understand and know the right choices. They must be taught honesty, work, kindness, respect and responsibility.

What child has real self-esteem if he has never experienced the loving correction of a parent? What child has real self-esteem if he finds he can no longer read well enough to keep up with the rest of his class because his teachers were afraid to take disciplinary action?

Our children have the right to be given proper attention, teaching, training, correction and, yes, even discipline. Discipline is more than talking, yelling or complaining. Many parents mistakenly assume child discipline is simply instructing children by telling them what to do. Instruction is only part of the process. Instruction is only what we say.

What we do plays a part. That is influence. It shows whether parents are honest and respectful of themselves. It shows who they really are. Through it the image of who and what they are is revealed. One's influence and image may contradict what one says.

A child is likely to follow the image and influence rather than the instruction of the parent. To learn to follow is the greater part of one's education. To learn to follow the right things requires the right discipline.

Martin's Criminal Code 2001 states that section 43 of the criminal code:

--authorizes the use of force only where it is by way of correction, that is, for the benefit of the child.

To learn to follow a course of life that results in the positive aspects of personhood requires numerous course corrections as does an airliner's trip across the Atlantic Ocean.

Discipline is for the benefit of the child. It assists the child in making the course corrections known by the parent or teacher to be necessary. Discipline and correction are for the benefit of one's education.

The Concise Oxford Dictionary , ninth edition, defines discipline as “mental, moral or physical training” or “adversity used to bring about such training”. It defines disciple which is of course the root word of discipline as “a follower or pupil of a leader or teacher”.

We were all made or created to learn mental, moral and physical lessons from physical consequences to our bodies. In Regina we learn to put on a coat in winter so our skin does not freeze when we step out the door. We learn not to eat little green apples or we will get a bellyache. We learn not to jump from the top of the apple tree lest we hurt ourselves. In other words, physical correction and discipline is a natural form of education and learning.

Diana Baumrind, a research psychologist at the University of California in Berkley, calls into question the current claim that any physical punishment is harmful to a child. She said in a recent study on the effects of corporal punishment:

We found no evidence for unique detrimental effects of normative physical punishment...I am not an advocate of spanking, but a blanket injunction against its use is not warranted by the evidence. It is reliance on physical punishment, not whether or not it is used at all, that is associated with harm to the child.

Baumrind said that in the absence of compelling evidence of harm parental autonomy and family privacy should be protected.

As has already been mentioned, Ontario Superior Court Justice McCombs held up the constitutionality of corporal punishment in his recent ruling and said it was within the sphere of respectability and exceptionality.

Why would we want to undo something as important and reasonable as that? I could never support such a limitation on the freedom of parents and the right of children to receive proper and lawful discipline from their parents and teachers.

There are many ways to discipline. Every child is different. Corporal correction is not the first line of discipline. Of my four children three required almost no corporal discipline. However one of my children's needs was entirely different. I needed the option of section 43. I strongly oppose the repeal of section 43 of the criminal code. I find the idea oppressive and offensive.

Criminal Code
Private Members' Business

1:05 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Gerald Keddy South Shore, NS

Mr. Speaker, this is an extremely serious debate we are entering into today on Bill C-329, an act to amend the criminal code involving the protection of children. The member for Vancouver East presented the bill with good intentions. However good intentions do not always gain their desired ends.

I was not able to listen to all of the speech by the member for Vancouver East but I did listen to the latter part of it. During her speech she suggested section 43 of the criminal code allowed corporal punishment to the extreme. She suggested it allowed people to hit and beat individuals. That is simply not the case. Section 43 clearly prohibits hitting and beating children. That is the point of the section.

I will take a moment to read section 43 of the criminal code as a few other speakers have done. It reads:

Every schoolteacher, parent or person standing in the place of a parent is justified in using force by way of correction toward a pupil or child, as the case may be, who is under his care, if the force does not exceed what is reasonable under the circumstances.

The quote should read “their care” rather than “his care.”

I am not a lawyer nor do I pretend to be. However it could be argued that without section 43 of the criminal code we would be prevented from using reasonable force to prevent children from seriously hurting themselves by, for example, riding a bike off a cliff or running in front of a car.

Such circumstances may require force. This could seem unreasonable at the time but would be reasonable in that it may prevent children from injuring or even killing themselves. That is not what this debate is about nor do I think it was the intent of the hon. member for Vancouver East.

We have before us a subject which has been debated in other countries and other lands. Some nations have chosen to move away from corporal punishment for children and have made it against the law. Does that mean they are right and Canada is wrong? I question that. Does it mean we should follow in their footsteps? Not necessarily.

Does it mean we should engage in this debate? Perhaps it is time we had this debate. Perhaps it is time to look at the law as it is written. Perhaps it is time we dust it off, look at its bare bones, expose it to the sunlight and decide if we want to keep it on the books.

I think if we do that we will choose to keep the section on the books and allow parents the right to use force to discipline their children if it is deemed necessary. In no way, shape or form does section 43 condone physically beating or hitting a child. It should not be interpreted or used that way. It is not a defence for improper use of force. It is a defence for correcting a child, not for beating or abusing a child.

The very end of section 43 states “if the force does not exceed what is reasonable”. I suspect that would be up to a judge to interpret.

In today's society violence is not tolerated in the same way that it was a generation ago which is a good thing. Family violence is no longer tolerated at all. Society's values have changed. Because of the good, tireless work by family and children's services throughout the nation, along with the intervention of the courts, increased protection for children is now offered. That increased protection is offered because it was required.

There is no corporal punishment today in public schools. However, there remain instances where, after everything else has been tried, physical correction is necessary to stop dangerous behaviour, to protect other children, protect society in general, or protect the very child whose behaviour is endangering themselves.

Section 43 enables parents to do the best job possible of raising their children and gives them an option. It is not an option that most parents choose to take. It is not an option that is abused on a continual basis. The law very clearly prevents that abuse. Parents can be charged. They can be taken to court and their children can be taken away from them. It protects the rights of parents in accordance with their particular moral and religious beliefs. It reflects their personal knowledge of the unique characteristics of their own children, of how best to discipline their children, through knowledge gained from their parents and their own experiences during childhood.

It must be understood that this does not condone corporal punishment. This says that corporal punishment is one way of disciplining a child. Certainly for myself, my friends and my peers it is absolutely the method of last resort. I do not think we say that enough. People do not get up in the morning thinking of how they are going to punish their children. People react to circumstances. When circumstances require corporal punishment, I do not think the state can intervene if the force used is not excessive.

Under the current law, parents are allowed to use physical correction to discipline their children as long as it is not abusive and is reasonable under the circumstances. Before the implementation of section 43, there was no law placing limits on physical correction. This is an important point.

Section 43 does exactly that. It places limits on physical correction. Without question, those limits are needed. There were no government agencies at that time to protect children from abuse. Section 43 was implemented to protect children from abuse. It was well conceived. Even though it may be 100 years old, it continues to serve its purpose today.

There are critics of section 43. Some children's rights advocates want section 43 declared by the courts to be in violation of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. I understand there is a case before the courts now and a decision will be brought down.

The implications of this effort are that the state is directly interfering with good and loving parents who believe there are circumstances where the most responsible means of discipline is judicious physical correction. This would make those individuals criminals under the law. I do not think that is what the Parliament of Canada is about. I do not think that is what we want to do.

Should we engage in this debate? Absolutely. I have no difficulty in doing that. We should expose section 43 to the full light of day and at the same time recognize its positive aspects and look at some of the negative aspects of section 43. Is it time to update the law? Perhaps it is.

As the bill is written, the PC/DR Coalition certainly is eager to engage in the debate. We respect what the member is trying to do, but we do not agree with the premise and will not support the bill.

Criminal Code
Private Members' Business

1:15 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

The Chair takes notice that there are two members rising. There is approximately 10 minutes remaining.

I turn particularly to the member for Windsor--St. Clair because if push comes to shove, if I could use that expression, he will have the floor. If the members would agree to each take five minutes, the Chair is disposed to splitting the last 10 minutes between the two gentlemen. I will begin with the member for Windsor--St Clair, then the member for Elk Island and then the mover, the member for Vancouver East, on the right of reply.

Criminal Code
Private Members' Business

1:15 p.m.

NDP

Joe Comartin Windsor—St. Clair, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am happy to share my time because it will produce some additional points on the debate.

I must admit I was driven to speak to this matter because of the member from the Bloc who spoke earlier. On personal and professional levels, I have had a great deal of experience in dealing with section 43 and the whole issue of discipline and child abuse. I want to say to the House that if we go back in history and look at where this came from, it is the spare the rod, spoil the child theory. It came out of Roman law, even before Julius Caesar.

As my friend from Vancouver has said, it was incorporated into the English common law. It adopted the same type of theory which at that time allowed for the intentional physical application of force to another individual, to put it in a technical lawyerly way. It allowed men to beat their spouses, their servants and their children. My friend from the coalition raised the point that this section is 100 years old and maybe it is time to take another look at it.

The section was brought in at that time because of the very serious abuse that was going on. There were no restrictions on that abuse. Until the end of the last century, one could literally get away with the murder of one's children in the common law system. We badly needed the section.

I am suggesting that today, a century later, we are at one of those milestones in our development as a human race. I do believe the human race does evolve and develop. We are at one of those periods as a society when we have to look with experience at section 43 and how we treat our children and say that we have evolved. It is time to say to parents that no matter what their religious persuasions are, no matter what their philosophical underpinnings are as to how they raise their children, they no longer can apply intentional physical force to their children. We have evolved as a society to the stage where we can deal with our children and raise them as good citizens of Canada and of the world without the use of intentional physical force.

We heard the argument from the member from the coalition of what to do in a situation where they are out of control. We are not applying physical force to stop them. We are applying restraints but we are not there to punish them with the use of physical force. There are ways of doing that in the existing criminal law system. In several ways it allows us to do that without using section 43. That argument does not amount to a valid advocacy position in terms of retaining section 43.

We need to look at the experience of section 43. My colleague from Vancouver referred to a couple of cases. I have to say to her that those cases were mild. I practised in this area fairly extensively earlier in my career. I think of some of the cases that I reviewed and was involved in where section 43 was used to defend people who by any standards were abusive. That is why it is important that the bill go for further review, discussion and debate. If those cases came forward and we looked at the way the section has been applied at various times, and not all times by any means, to defend people and justify their conduct successfully, I believe the House would be shocked.

Criminal Code
Private Members' Business

1:20 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Ken Epp Elk Island, AB

Mr. Speaker, I thank my NDP friend who has so graciously agreed to split his time.

I have a few things I need to add to the debate. I listened very carefully to the member for Vancouver East and I agree 100% with her commitment to protecting children. I would even add that we, as parents and teachers, should have a genuine love for the long term well-being of children as they are growing up, otherwise we are disqualified from the position. I am speaking specifically here of teachers.

When I was a youngster I remember that our teacher had a strap in her desk. It was a hunk of a belt. I am also proud to say that I went through my entire schooling without ever having had the belt applied to me. Just knowing that it was there was more than sufficient to guide my behaviour where perhaps there might have been a lapse.

I must also confess that my own beloved dad applied the rod of correction twice, that I can remember, to the seat of understanding. In both instances, and I have clear recollections of this many years later, he explained to me that I had erred and that he was doing this to help me to become a responsible, decent person and to not show disrespect. In one case it was disrespect for a teacher and in the other case it was misbehaving in church, believe it or not. I was disturbing people around me so my dad took me out and explained to me that it was his duty to do this or I would not turn out to be a good kid.

Today, despite the fact I received two spankings, not whippings or beatings, delivered by a loving parent in a rational way, I believe I have a well rounded personality. Members can take that two ways if they so choose.

I find it abhorrent to think that in this parliament we would consider taking a parent like my dad and saying that he was guilty of a criminal sanction because of his excessive love for me and wanting to correct me. I cannot believe we would contemplate that.

At the same time, I underline that the abuse or beating of children is wrong. I believe that anyone, be it a parent, a teacher or anyone else, who abuses a child should not be allowed to hide behind section 43 of the criminal code. There is no judge in the land who would let a person get away with that.

I think of the long term effect. What do we do with a youngster in grade two or three who is using excessively bad language in the schoolyard? We can talk to the youngster and try to persuade him or her not to continue but eventually we must stop the behaviour. Although I was not involved directly, I have seen a situation where other parents were saying that they did not want that youngster to be teaching their children bad language. This was in grade two. How do we correct the behaviour if we cannot persuade the youngster? A good, gentle and loving spanking, at the same time as a good clear explanation of what it is for, could retract that behaviour.

Unless people are socialized properly and they learn to live with each other in kindness and consideration we will have youngsters growing up on the other end of the spectrum. We will then have to deal the ultimate sanction to them which is to take away their freedom.

One of the saddest times I have had since becoming a member of parliament was visiting the youth detention centre in my area. I saw 12, 13 and 14 year olds in detention because they had assaulted someone in the schoolyard with a knife. Whatever we can do to train them and to train them properly is good in the long term. I would much rather have my children get a good, careful, and loving spanking than have to visit them in jail.

Criminal Code
Private Members' Business

1:25 p.m.

NDP

Libby Davies Vancouver East, BC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank members of the House who have participated in the debate. I think we would all agree it was actually a very interesting debate. Certainly diverse viewpoints were put forward. I welcome that because as other members have pointed out it is important that we debate the issue even if there is disagreement. The debate in public is important.

I have listened carefully to the points that have been made. Beginning with those of the member for Elk Island, I think it is really somewhat misrepresentative to suggest that if section 43 were repealed it would mean that every parent who then strikes or slaps a child would be criminally charged. I am not sure if he was present for the beginning of the debate, but that is just simply not the case.

The problem with section 43 is that, first, in an overall sense it condones the use of force as a means of correction and discipline and I think that is a negative message to send out. Second, and more critically, it has successfully been used as a defence, as was so well pointed out by my colleague, the member for Windsor--St. Clair, when clearly physical correction has gone too far. Removing the section would make sure that does not take place in the future. In fact, I note that the member for South Shore who spoke for the PC/DRC admitted himself that there have been abuses of children through physical correction. However, he then went on to say that is okay because somehow the courts will protect children.

Again, this gets at one of the contradictions we are dealing with. Some of the organizations I have been working with, in particular the National Youth In Care Network, are made up of young people who actually have been placed in foster care under our child protection agencies. The network is clearly opposed to section 43 and wants to see it repealed. It has pointed out that the use of physical force as a discipline method can lead to abuse.

The network states:

It is a common report of youth in care who are child abuse survivors that serious physical abuse escalated out of “discipline” methods such as spanking.

Further, states the network, and again this is where I feel there is a contradiction in terms of what we believe is really taking place here, in actual fact section 43 can impede the work of child protection agencies. It states:

The “discipline excuse” that is created by Section 43 obscures child abuse investigations, making it very difficult for police and child protection workers to make a legal distinction between abuse and discipline.

In regard to what remains in the criminal code, I think we have to be very careful about what we are advocating.

I have to say in response to the comments from the member for Regina--Lumsden--Lake Centre that this debate is not about being politically correct. To suggest that this is about political correctness to trumpet the rights of children is really quite offensive and does not do justice to the seriousness of what is before us. Nor is it about bleeding heart social workers. I think this kind of rhetoric really divides people. This debate is about the well-being and health of children. I absolutely agree and acknowledge that there is a right and a responsibility of parents to raise their children and to discipline their children. What we are talking about today, though, is whether or not this section has allowed an environment to be created which allows physical abuse to take place.

The government member said it was important that we have a balance. I guess life is about a lot of balances, but I do believe that in our society there is one very important balance and that is the right to protect our children, both as parents and as society as a whole. I think there is growing evidence to show that this section has actually harmed children. I believe we should continue the debate. There are important things to look at and consider.

In closing, I would like to thank those who participated and the groups who have done so much work to repeal section 43. I know that their work will continue. I would like to seek the unanimous consent of the House to have this go forward to committee for further debate.

Criminal Code
Private Members' Business

1:30 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

Does the House give its consent?

Criminal Code
Private Members' Business

1:30 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Criminal Code
Private Members' Business

1:30 p.m.

Some hon. members

No.

Criminal Code
Private Members' Business

1:30 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

The time provided for the consideration of private members' business has now expired. As the motion has not been designated as a votable item, the order is dropped from the order paper.

It being 1.35 p.m., the House stands adjourned until Monday, November 19, 2001, at 11.00 a.m. pursuant to Standing Orders 28 and 24.

(The House adjourned at 1.34 p.m.)