House of Commons Hansard #127 of the 37th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was impaired.

Topics

Criminal Code
Government Orders

10 a.m.

Edmonton West
Alberta

Liberal

Anne McLellan Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada

moved that Bill C-46, an act to amend the Criminal Code (alcohol ignition interlock device programs), be read the second time and referred to a committee.

Mr. Speaker, members of the House will recall that I indicated in question period on June 12 my interest in bringing forward legislation related to ignition interlock devices as early as this fall. Today I am very pleased to speak to the bill that fulfills this commitment.

I would first like to take a few moments to explain how an ignition interlock device works and how it is an important prevention and rehabilitation tool in the fight against drunk driving.

Where a vehicle is equipped with an ignition interlock device under a provincial program, a driver must provide a suitable breath sample before the vehicle will start. If the analysis of the sample shows a blood alcohol concentration above a prescribed level, the vehicle will not start. At periodic intervals the driver is alerted to stop and provide further breath samples for analysis. The device records the date and time of all samples and the result of analysis.

The existing provincial programs do monitor each device's log. This monitoring occurs each time the interlock equipped vehicle is taken for its interlock maintenance appointment.

In 1990 my home province of Alberta became the first Canadian jurisdiction to pilot a program for repeat offenders who use an ignition interlock device. The province of Quebec introduced a similar program in 1997.

Alberta was the first jurisdiction in North America to offer a program for the use of an ignition interlock device throughout the jurisdiction. An evaluation has shown that offenders on the program in Alberta have lower recidivism than offenders not using an ignition interlock device.

Ignition interlock devices are one part of the combination of measures that can be brought to bear upon the serious health, safety and social issue of impaired driving. The Traffic Injury Research Foundation recommends the combination of ignition interlock device programs and mandatory assessment and education or treatment for convicted impaired drivers.

I am informed that many federally prohibited or provincially suspended drivers will drive while disqualified. Some will never try to re-enter the legal driving system with a valid provincial or territorial driving licence.

An ignition interlock device program extends control over many who would otherwise be in this group and provides monitoring that offers public protection. Such programs can also contribute to the rehabilitation of offenders by modifying impaired driving behaviour, particularly when combined with other measures such as education and treatment.

In May 1999 the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights tabled its report on impaired driving, to which it attached a draft bill. The government adopted the measures found in the committee's draft bill and passed Bill C-82 as amended in June 1999.

Among the provisions in Bill C-82 was one that raised the criminal code's minimum period of driving prohibition on a first impaired driving offence from three months to one year. For a second offence the minimum was raised from six months to two years. For a subsequent offence, the minimum period of driving prohibition was raised from 12 months to three years.

Only for a first offender is there a possibility to drive after serving a period of absolute driving prohibition of three months, if the offender is under a provincial program for the use of an ignition interlock device during the remainder of the period of driving prohibition.

While the standing committee's recommendation limited the restricted driving authorization to a first offender who is under a provincial program for the use of an ignition interlock device, the standing committee's report was favourable toward wider use of ignition interlock devices in order to provide public protection and to offer meaningful deterrence to individual offenders.

Experience in Alberta and Quebec has shown ignition interlock devices to be effective.

However, with the 1999 increase in the minimum period of driving prohibition under the criminal code, they have found it difficult to attract repeat offenders to the ignition interlock device program. There is currently no ability to have a second offender use a provincial program for ignition interlock devices until a minimum two year period has expired. For a subsequent offender the minimum period before which an interlock program may be used is three years.

In 2000 the criminal law section of the Uniform Law Conference of Canada unanimously passed a resolution from Quebec. It called for an extension to all impaired driving offenders of the possibility to drive after serving a period of absolute driving prohibition if the offender is under a provincial program for the use of an ignition interlock device for the remainder of the criminal code's period of driving prohibition.

The proposed amendments would permit a judge to authorize a second offender to drive after serving an absolute driving prohibition of six months if that person is on an ignition interlock device program operated by a province or territory for the remainder of the prohibition period. In the case of a subsequent offender, a judge could authorize the person to drive after serving an absolute driving prohibition of 12 months if that person is on an ignition interlock device program operated by a province or territory for the remainder of the prohibition period.

This approach follows the path taken by parliament with respect to first offenders in 1999. It combines a punitive element, namely the period of absolute driving prohibition, with a longer rehabilitative period of prohibition during which the offender may only drive a vehicle that is equipped with an ignition interlock device.

The provinces and territories determine whether to issue a provincial-territorial driving licence. Each province or territory may decide whether it wishes to offer the possibility of an early return to driving with a restricted licence that requires the use of an ignition interlock device. Some provinces may choose to require offenders to serve the full period of federal driving prohibition and the full period of provincial-territorial driving licence suspension before they are allowed or even compelled to drive with an ignition interlock device. Others may choose to offer a reduction in the provincial-territorial driving licence suspension if an ignition interlock device is used after the criminal code's absolute period of driving prohibition is served and during the remainder of the code's period of driving prohibition.

I had the opportunity to meet with Louise Knox who is president of Mothers Against Drunk Driving and other representatives of the organization MADD on November 26. The representatives of MADD told me that the ignition interlock provisions of the criminal code should be expanded to encourage all impaired driving offenders to participate in an interlock program whether they are first or repeat offenders.

I do not view ignition interlock devices as a magic bullet for the impaired driving problem. However in combination with other countermeasures such as education and treatment they are an important tool in the fight against impaired driving. I look forward to my colleague's support for this important proposal which I believe in some part will make our roads a safer place.

Criminal Code
Government Orders

10:10 a.m.

Canadian Alliance

Chuck Cadman Surrey North, BC

Mr. Speaker, I believe there has been an agreement that we would ease the passage of this legislation. I will keep my comments brief as there are a few of my colleagues who wish to make some comments.

As we approach this Christmas holiday season we are all bracing for the carnage that normally appears on the roads due to impaired driving. Any message that parliament can send to the Canadian public, and this bill is one, that we intend to get serious about the whole issue of impaired driving will be well received. I wish it could have happened a bit sooner, but it is better late than never.

When the drinking and driving legislation was being reviewed in the last parliament the then Reform Party, now the Canadian Alliance, was supportive of the whole notion of interlock devices on ignitions. I commend my colleague from Prince George--Bulkley Valley for all the work that he did on impaired driving over the last couple of parliaments.

I am sure all members have recently been contacted by MADD. It has a very active campaign right now to reduce the blood level alcohol content from .08 to .05. Let me assure the government that we will be working together with MADD to bring that about. It is something that we think has to be addressed.

Some of the other problems that we saw in the previous parliament were complaints from police and prosecutors that there were many procedural problems and many hurdles to be overcome before we had what most people would consider to be effective impaired driving legislation. This legislation would add to the many improvements we made in the last parliament. It is a good step but there is still much work to do.

I encourage all the folks listening today to please have a safe holiday season. If people are going to drink, I ask them not to get behind the wheel.

Criminal Code
Government Orders

10:15 a.m.

Bloc

Bernard Bigras Rosemont—Petite-Patrie, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to take part in this debate on Bill C-46, an act to amend the Criminal Code (alcohol ignition— interlock device programs).

The shortness of this bill belies its importance. As the Minister of Justice has indicated, it includes in the criminal code a program that some provinces have already put in place. Its effectiveness has been proven in the United States and in some provinces, including Alberta and Quebec, a fact that the minister has emphasized. Later on, I will explain why Quebec created its own alcohol ignition—interlock device program in 1997.

Before dealing any further with this bill, whose shortness, as I said, belies its importance, amending as it does the criminal code, I would like to put on the record a number of statistics and facts. If we are to debate and vote on this bill, it is important to have a good picture of the present situation.

Let us take the situation over 20 years. These are the figures currently available to us, for the period between 1977 and 1996. Let us keep in mind that, at the present time in Canada, 40% of accidents where the driver was at fault and was sentenced to anywhere from licence suspension to imprisonment involved a fatality, and 30% of them injuries. I repeat, among accidents in which the driver was at fault and was sentenced to anywhere from licence suspension to imprisonment, 40% involved a fatality and 30% involved injuries. All of these figures are for 1977-96.

In addition, let us keep in mind that, during that same period, 1977 to 1996, 35,000 people were killed or sustained severe injuries in collisions involving a driver found guilty of impaired driving. This is far from an insignificant number.

This number of 35,000 may seem modest, but if thought of in terms of days, it translates into 4.5 people daily who are killed in accidents involving impaired drivers.

There is a cost attached to this, the personal cost to the impaired driver who receives a sentence, as well as major social and economic costs. The economic costs up to 1996 are estimated at $52.1 billion. So, the costs are high: social, personal and economic.

In addition, the estimated number of injuries to people involved in impaired driving accidents is 1,505,000 in 20 years. This means more than one million people have sustained serious or less serious injuries. This is a significant number. Very often these automobile accidents involve people who have broken the law, have got behind the wheel when they are over the allowed limit, a limit they often are not aware of and are not in a position to assess, because they do not have a breathalyzer available to them.

So, 1.5 million people have been injured in 20 years in accidents involving impaired drivers and costs of $42 million. This is not insignificant.

It is an economic problem, as I have just said because of the costs arising from the collisions, which are sometimes fatal—the luckier ones escape with a few injuries—but significant social costs to our health care system are also involved.

So responsible action is needed both in penalizing and in helping impaired drivers. It is not just a matter of clamping down. History has shown, and I will cite other figures a little later, that simple sanctions—if I can call prison sentences and the suspension and revocation of drivers' licences sanctions—have not in the past prevented people from driving while impaired and even from repeating the offence several times.

Experience has also shown that repression is not always the best solution to the problem of drivers who take the wheel while under the influence of alcohol.

We must come up with, not an alternative, I would say, but with something complementary, between what we have now in terms of sanctions, which I described earlier, and a more humane and supportive approach for the drunk driver.

Not only is the ignition interlock system of help to the accident victim, but it is to the driver who is under the influence as well. It saves lives.

This is why, since 1997, Quebec, along with Alberta and other provinces, have considered the question—and similar programs exist in the States—in an effort to come up with some positive results and render service.

The Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights has also considered the matter of drunk driving since 1999. A number of committee sittings have focussed on this matter. A number of witnesses have appeared, including specialists on the matter and parents, who have decided to join together and form a group called MADD, which offers help to the victims.

I would also point out the eloquent figures and studies reported by a witness, who appeared on February 4, 1999 before the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights. I will name him. He is Herb Simpson, a member of the board of the Traffic Injury Research Foundation.

Mr. Simpson's testimony was important and eloquent, but I will simply refer to one study that he mentioned. This was a fairly recent study, which concluded that 70% of offenders are often repeat offenders.

The moral of the story is that there is a hard core of drivers who, having driven once while drunk, are arrested and either have their licences suspended or receive some other penalty.

In 70% of cases, these are people who have already been charged once. These are the drivers the study described as hard core, those who, despite government sponsored awareness campaigns, despite promotion and awareness campaigns by citizens' groups, which are doing everything they can to inform the public about the dangers of drinking and driving, still continue to get behind the wheel drunk.

What is worse, these repeat offenders, these hard core, are responsible for 65% of serious accidents. That says a lot. Furthermore, 70% of those arrested for impaired driving have already been arrested once for the same offence. Road safety surveys done after driving accidents reveal that those responsible are often repeat offenders.

Some caution is in order, however. Do these figures mean that the majority of the population continues to repeat the offence and drive while impaired after an initial offence? The answer is no. According to the studies, this group of repeat offenders represents only 1% of the total population of Canada.

I think the three parameters that have been studied—the percentage of repeat offenders; the percentage of repeat offenders involved in serious accidents; and whether people in general are drinking and driving or are repeat offenders, which is not the case—must show to us the policy to be followed.

This policy must be balanced. For example, should we install an ignition interlock device in all motor vehicles? Would this be socially acceptable and economically effective? Should this be the norm? The answer is no. I think there must be a fair balance between sanctions and the ignition interlock device. The ignition interlock device must never be considered as an alternative to sanctions, but we must add this provision to the criminal code to provide the judge with the possibility of ordering that this device be installed in motor vehicles.

Our examination of the issue leads us to say yes to an ignition antilock device, especially a device such as this one, for repeat offenders, and not for all Quebecers and Canadians. If this were done, it would not constitute an appropriate, justifiable and balanced response to the sociological reality and the actual facts I mentioned earlier with regard to the three parameters.

Another point that I would like to address deals with criminal law that applies in the case of drinking and driving. One must remember that, in Quebec, it is the Société de l'assurance automobile du Québec that has this management responsibility.

We have to remember that if drivers with probationary licences or learners' licences cannot drink any alcohol and drive, which is tolerance zero, nothing prevents drivers with regular licences to drink alcohol before driving. However, the limit of alcohol consumption remains at 0.08%, which means that anyone respecting that limit does not commit an offence.

Another issue deals with sanctions. Are the sanctions provided in the criminal code, and I may quote them later, the true answer to the serious current situation?

Let us not forget that the Bloc Quebecois initiated the fight for the use of an ignition interlock device. This campaign was spearheaded by the Bloc. Through the member for Témiscamingue and chief whip of the Bloc Quebecois, and also my colleague from Berthier--Montcalm, the Bloc Quebecois led the battle in committee. Why? Because the voters in our ridings who came to see us had relatives or children who became the victims of impaired drivers. Several organizations also contacted us.

The first question one should ask is the following: do the sanctions provided in the criminal code appropriately reflect how serious the situation is, especially in the case of repeat offenders? Again, I stress that a difference should be made for impaired driving, not so much in terms of sanctions but in terms of support and proposed solutions, between a first time offender and a repeat offender. The solution cannot be the same in both cases, because numbers, studies and cases have shown that 70% of individuals found with a blood alcohol content higher than 0.08% are often second time offenders. Therefore the solution cannot be the same for everyone.

In this respect, there are two major studies to take into consideration. The first one was conducted in Toronto and involved 27,390 offenders who had committed all kinds of offences. We are not only talking about people who had their driver's licence suspended or revoked. This sampling of 27,000 offenders included people who had received all sorts of sentences, including fines, jail terms, probation periods, driver's licence suspensions and so on. It was found that, in the case of first time offenders, suspending their driver's licence was probably the greatest deterrent, even more so than a jail term. This is quite the paradox. Telling a person that he was under greater risk of losing his driver's licence than going to jail was the most convincing argument to deter him from driving under the influence.

The hard line, which is imposing a life sentence, is not always the best solution. The threat of going to jail does not always deter people from driving under the influence.

Therefore, our approach must take into account not only the facts, but also the attitude, the behaviour and the way a person reacts to awareness campaigns by the government and other groups or lobbies. The situation is very different when the individual is taken into consideration.

Another study conducted in 1991 showed that suspending drivers' licences reduced by 30% to 50% the number of offences related to driving under the influence.

Therefore, revoking a person's driver's licence is the greatest deterrent. A study done in California showed that suspending drivers' licences reduced by 30% to 50% the number of offences related to driving under the influence.

This illustrates the importance of using tools that ensure complementarity between the various sanctions. There is a new element that allows us and societies such as ours to apply modern solutions to complex issues, namely technology.

Twenty or 30 years ago, we could never have hoped to change behaviours and attitudes through effective technological means such as the ignition interlock device. Back then, we could only rely on criminal penalties. Today, technology allows us to use comprehensive and effective programs which, while they do not meet people's needs as such, allow them to behave responsibly by respecting a number of social standards.

This is why the ignition interlock device program is, in my opinion, a good solution that involves new technologies. However, as I said earlier, this program should not replace existing penalties and sanctions.

I would like to remind people of what an ignition interlock device is. It is a breath analyzer. It can be installed in a vehicle and can be connected to the ignition, the starter, the electrical circuits and all the other instrument panel systems.

Moreover, this device can be used to measure the driver's blood alcohol level and to prevent the engine from starting or the car from being used if the alcohol level exceeds a predetermined limit.

The driver has to submit to a breathalyzer test before starting the engine or using the car. Other tests are required on a random basis as long as the engine is running. If those tests are not complied with or the level exceeds the predetermined limit, an alarm goes off and it keeps ringing until the driver passes the test or the engine is turned off.

The new models also contain mechanisms that prevent improper use. This concerns the interlock device technology.

What is the ignition interlock device program set up in Quebec, in Alberta and in the United States used for? This program provides for the monitoring and supervision of all offenders accused of impaired driving. It is enforced by the court officials under a probation order or by the licensing authorities as a prerequisite for the restoration of the driving licence.

The ignition interlock device records the breathalyzer tests results and all the other data pertaining to the program conditions.

These figures may then be studied by program administrators when the vehicle goes in for maintenance. The device must undergo regular maintenance checks every 30 to 60 days. The maintenance requirements must be adhered to strictly, if not, the device will prevent the vehicle from starting.

The purpose of the alcohol ignition interlock device program is not, I repeat, to replace the penalties for impaired driving. Instead, it provides an additional means to lower the number of repeat offences. Enrollment in the program could be in addition to the sentence, as a condition of probation, or a condition to be fulfilled for the reissuing of a driver's license.

I would like to take a moment to talk about the device and the program, because there are not very many provinces that have implemented this type of program. Today, by modifying the criminal code, we are acting at the level of federal legislation, but in the coming months, we will need to ensure that these legislative changes are adjusted to provincial programs in order to lower the rate of repeat offences. Programs such as those that I have just described—despite the fact that described them rather quickly—must be implemented.

Many people believe that this type of provision and measure would cost a great deal, that there are tremendous costs associated with it. I would like to remind the House that it would cost a mere $3 per day to install such a device on the vehicle of a driver accused of impaired driving.

Some people often refer to cost as a factor in the government's policy decisions. However, we must also consider the benefits. Costs must not always be seen as economic costs. They must also be viewed in terms of opportunity costs, and in terms of social costs too, because at the end of the day, as a number of studies have shown, the alcohol ignition interlock device program is very effective.

The arrest rate among offenders whose vehicles were equipped with ignition devices was up to 75% lower than that of offenders whose vehicle was not equipped with the device. This program has lead to some considerable improvements.

You will say we are short 25%. Of course, as is the case with all technology, there are always ways to get around it. I do not need to tell you the ways to get around this type of device, but they do exist. We have to recognize they are effective, if only in the case of drunken driving, because this is the aim of the amendments put forward by the government.

The offenders pay for the program. That is interesting. So, they are prepared to pay the sum, amortized of course, of $3 a day. The offenders are the ones who are prepared to assume the cost of this program.

So, in this regard, I think there is evidence that, even in the case of a repeat offender, the individual, if it is his second time, may determine his blood alcohol level at some point. Imprisonment is not always the best route, especially not life imprisonment.

So there are some people who accept to have a device installed in their vehicle at their own expense. As I have said, 38 states in the U.S., as well as the provinces of Alberta and Quebec, have such a program in place. More than 40,000 ignition interlock devices are in use in the world, 4,500 of those in Canada. I repeat, 40,000 in the world and only 4,500 in Canada. There certainly cannot be more than that number, when these programs are only in place in Alberta and Quebec.

It is clear that, if we were to pass these legislative amendments, and the provinces set up programs such as those already in place in Quebec and Alberta, we would, without a doubt, be in a position to state that Canada is playing a lead role in this novel solution, which places responsibility with the individual, initially, and also makes our roads safer.

Provided actions follow on the decisions we take now or in the days to come, we could see Quebec and Alberta —they having been the first—and Canada as a whole, becoming a world leader in this area. This is nothing to sneeze at.

I should also mention the position of an organization whose representatives I personally met in my riding, because they came to see me. MADD, which helps victims, led an exceptional public awareness campaign in Canada, in November 1999. The organization's representative, Ms. Swinson, appeared before the committee and clearly said that:

New federal acts passed in July allow judges to demand the use of an ignition interlock device as a conditional measure. Moreover, this device is very affordable.

Organizations, groups and boards told my colleagues from Témiscamingue and Berthier—Montcalm about the importance of adopting such legislative changes. I am thinking of the Fondation de la recherche sur les blessures de la route and of MADD.

Does this mean we should go faster and demand that such a device become standard in vehicles in Canada? The answer is no. Why? Because the rate of recidivism is only 1%. That being said, some measures are in order.

I should also mention the position expressed on February 16, 1999, by the Council on Drug Abuse. Mr. Bates appeared before the committee. He said that these ignition interlock devices should be installed in vehicles, subject to two conditions.

First, they should be installed if an individual is guilty and has a blood alcohol level over 0.165—as people know, the current level is 0.08—and, second, if the individual is a repeat offender, one of what I described earlier as hard core drinking drivers.

We must therefore, in my opinion, take responsible action, but only after careful consideration.

In conclusion, yes, we support these amendments to the criminal code; yes, we believe that the alcohol ignition interlock device must be incorporated into the criminal code; and, yes, provincial programs must be put in place. But this device must not become a standard feature of automobiles. And we also agree that these devices should be installed in the vehicles of repeat offenders.

We would thus be able to help Quebecers and Canadians, including those who abuse alcohol, live in a more balanced society as well as continue to be near their families, and to ensure that all of us have a very merry Christmas and a happy 2002.

Criminal Code
Government Orders

10:50 a.m.

NDP

Libby Davies Vancouver East, BC

Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to rise in the House today to speak on behalf of the New Democratic Party in support of Bill C-46. The bill is actually very important. It is fairly rare that everyone in the House agrees on legislation, especially legislation that is relatively brief compared to other legislation, but it is something we believe is in the interest of Canadians.

The bill is about saving lives. It is done through a very ingenious device, a piece of technology. I think sometimes we all question whether technology serves and helps people but in this case it appears that technology, in the form of an alcohol ignition interlock device, is something that can be used in a very simple, cost effective way to prevent deaths on our roads. It would prohibit intoxicated habitual offenders from driving their car. I believe that is a very significant advance. The NDP supports the bill and we urge its approval. The bill has been a long time in coming.

While doing some research on the bill and on the interlock devices, I noted that Marketplace , a very well-known CBC consumer affairs program, aired a program in 1996 on car breathalyzers, as it was called at that time. It aired an update in February of 1997. Obviously the information and the technology have been available for a number of years. It is unfortunate that it has taken so long to come to the House in the form of fairly straightforward legislation.

As others have mentioned today, there is appalling evidence which shows that 70% of people who have lost their licence because of drunk driving will actually get back in their car when intoxicated and drive again. The destruction, the injury and the death that causes on our streets is something we can only begin to understand in terms of the individual tragedies that take place and the impact that has on families and communities. The fact is that 40% of all motor vehicle deaths are as a result of impaired driving. That is about 2,000 Canadians every year. Those deaths are preventable. The thousands of injuries that result from impaired driving are preventable.

While I do support the bill, it is also very important that there be a full array of measures, particularly with regard to prevention. If a person has had too much to drink at home or in a public environment, such as a bar, a pub, a cocktail lounge or a party, and the person gets behind the wheel of a car while impaired, we should not only know whether the person is a repeat offender but we should also focus on the source. I believe that should be part of our alcohol abuse prevention programs.

Alcohol is a source of immense profits for all kinds of different businesses. While most businesses act in a very responsible way, the reality is that in some situations, as people are beginning to become intoxicated and getting over the legal limit, they may actually have alcohol that is being pushed on the table and they are being encouraged to drink more at a drinking establishment. Therefore, I do think it is very important that as part of our overall program of dealing with alcohol abuse we focus on issues of criminality, negligence and liability at the source as well.

It is important to deal with individual intoxicated drivers, particularly where it is a repeat offence. However it is equally important to have preventive education and criminal sanctions for those who push alcohol and do not meet their responsibility to make sure they serve alcohol in a socially responsible way.

Frank Doyle
Statements By Members

10:55 a.m.

Liberal

Mac Harb Ottawa Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, I rise in the House today to pay tribute to Frank Doyle who tragically lost his life in Tower 2 of the World Trade Center on September 11.

Frank was a citizen of the United States with strong ties in Canada. Both his parents come from the Pontiac region and his beloved wife Kim is a Canadian citizen who was also born in Quebec. Frank leaves behind many loved ones including his daughter Zoe and his son Garrett.

Tomorrow his family and friends will gather to remember Frank as he will be laid to rest in Canada, the first American born casualty from September 11 to be returned to his family.

I join with my colleagues on behalf of all Canadians to offer our deepest condolences to the Doyle family.

Halifax Explosion, 1917
Statements By Members

10:55 a.m.

Canadian Alliance

Cheryl Gallant Renfrew—Nipissing—Pembroke, ON

Mr. Speaker, on December 6, 1917, at around 8 a.m. the Belgian relief ship Imo left Bedford Basin headed for open sea. At the same time the French munitions ship Mont Blanc was heading up the harbour. On board were 400,000 pounds of TNT.

The two ships collided. The Mont Blanc caught fire. At 9.05 a.m. in a blinding flash the earth shook with the largest man-made explosion prior to Hiroshima.

Nineteen hundred people were killed instantly. Within a year the figure had climbed well over two thousand. Nine thousand were injured. Almost all of north end Halifax was destroyed. A blizzard struck the following day, dumping 16 inches of snow over the ruins.

With astounding speed the relief efforts were set in motion. Haligonians remember the generosity of the state of Massachusetts. To this day Halifax sends an annual Christmas tree to the city of Boston in gratitude.

In light of the events of September 11 we take a moment to salute the generosity of our neighbours to the south who came to Canada's side when it was needed most.

Leo McIsaac
Statements By Members

11 a.m.

Liberal

Wayne Easter Malpeque, PE

Mr. Speaker, I rise to congratulate Leo McIsaac of Mermaid, P.E.I., on being inducted into the Atlantic Agricultural Hall of Fame.

After active duty in the air force during World War II, Leo joined the P.E.I. department of agriculture working aggressively to promote farm extension work and 4-H clubs throughout the island.

Leo was the first full time secretary manager of the P.E.I. Federation of Agriculture, was involved in the creation of the P.E.I. Potato Marketing Board, and served as a member of the Canadian Federation of Agriculture advisory committee to the federal government resulting in the creation of the Natural Products Marketing Act. He also managed to publish three books.

In 1996 Leo McIsaac was named agriculturalist of the year. Leo remains active in the community. The induction into the Atlantic Agricultural Hall of Fame is a tribute from his peers for his significant contributions to farming on P.E.I. and throughout Canada. I congratulate him.

Christmas Lights Across Canada Program
Statements By Members

December 7th, 2001 / 11 a.m.

Liberal

Yolande Thibeault Saint-Lambert, QC

Mr. Speaker, last night we watched Parliament Hill and the surrounding area light up. A luminous ceremony took place for the launch of the 2001-2002 Christmas Lights Across Canada program.

Until January 13, 250,000 lights will illuminate more than 60 landmarks in Ottawa, starting at 4 p.m. everyday.

The Christmas Lights Across Canada program is an initiative of the National Capital Commission. All 13 provinces and territories take part in the program. Each year, as the holidays approach, the country lights up from east to west.

This festival awakens the magic of the Christmas season in the hearts of Canadians everywhere. It brings us in touch with our values and with who we are.

May this marvellous sight sweep us all off our feet.

Acts of Bravery
Statements By Members

11 a.m.

Liberal

Hélène Scherrer Louis-Hébert, QC

Mr. Speaker, on December 6, exceptional Quebecers were recognized by the Governor General of Canada for their bravery.

I would like to congratulate Louis Gignac, from Quebec City, who received the Star of Courage. In 1999 he risked his life to protect seven Serb civilians being attacked by several Albanians.

The Medal of Bravery was awarded to 30 courageous Canadians. Included among them, I would like to mention Jacques Couillard, who risked his life by defying an armed man at the caisse populaire in Baie-des-Sables, and Mathieu Cusson, Daniel Douville, Benoît Roy and Shaul and Yonatan Petel.

Your ability to come to the assistance of your fellow humans is remarkable. You are most certainly heroes in your community and I congratulate you.

Softwood Lumber
Statements By Members

11 a.m.

Canadian Alliance

Andy Burton Skeena, BC

Mr. Speaker, I rise today on a topic that seems to just keep going and going. I have stood in this place and made three speeches on this subject and at least as many statements. I have written multiple letters to both the Prime Minister and the Minister for International Trade dating as far back as August, with no reply to date. Now I find myself once more urging the Minister for International Trade to take some action and get the softwood lumber dispute resolved.

Many in Canada are getting into the swing of the Christmas season, but for those in the forest industry in British Columbia and across the country there will be no Christmas because of this government's lax behaviour when it comes to preserving jobs in the resource industries. It is time for the minister to stop hoping for a resolution and to start working for one.

Film and Television Industry
Statements By Members

11 a.m.

Liberal

Lynn Myers Waterloo—Wellington, ON

Mr. Speaker, the Canadian film and video industry has over the decades faced enormous challenges that have been and continue to be addressed by providing the tools that will nurture the growth of a strong and vibrant Canadian film and television industry.

This industry plays an important role in providing benefits and creative employment opportunities to all Canadians. Almost every region in Canada has experienced growth in the film and television production sector. In 1999-2000, for example, total volume of production activity represented nearly $4.4 billion. This represents a 12% growth over the previous year.

It is important for Canada to nurture and support our film and television production industry so that all Canadians reap the benefits of a dynamic and creative industry that is an important part of who we are.

Employment Insurance
Statements By Members

11:05 a.m.

Bloc

Monique Guay Laurentides, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Finance, with the complicity of the Minister of Human Resources Development, took advantage of a day the House of Commons was not sitting, this past Friday, to announce that he would be continuing to dip into the employment insurance fund with both hands, despite the fact that the government does not pay one cent into it.

With their boast that they are cutting EI contributions by 5 cents in 2002, these Liberal bullies are disguising the sad reality. What these master illusionists are not saying, and what must be said, is this:

New workers, who have accumulated only 900 hours at an hourly rate of $10, will be lining the pockets of the Minister of Finance with $198 instead of $202.50, yet will still not be entitled to EI benefits. Real generosity, that.

This is a very telling comment on the empty words of compassion this five cent minister spouts on the world stage, a man who is more concerned about becoming the next Prime Minister than with social justice and equity.

The minister has just shown his true colours.

Woman Entrepreneur Awards
Statements By Members

11:05 a.m.

Liberal

Sarmite Bulte Parkdale—High Park, ON

Mr. Speaker, on Thursday, November 22, the Rotman Canadian Woman Entrepreneur of the Year Awards 2001 were presented in Toronto. In their 10th year, these awards honour the creativity and success of women entrepreneurs who are contributing in important ways to the growth and strengthening of Canada's economy.

I congratulate the five recipients of this year's award: Kim McArthur, president and publisher of McArthur & Company of Toronto; Linda Knight, chief executive of CarePartners of Belgrave, Ontario; Rosemary Marr, president and CEO of Transera Group of Companies of Calgary; Doreen Braverman, president of International Flag & Banner Inc. of Vancouver; and Jody Steinhauer, president and chief visionary officer of The Bargains Group Ltd. of Toronto.

I ask all members in the House to join me in congratulating these exceptional and outstanding women who are important contributors to the Canadian business community.

Canada Loves New York
Statements By Members

11:05 a.m.

Canadian Alliance

Betty Hinton Kamloops, Thompson And Highland Valleys, BC

Mr. Speaker, on our own dime and our own time members of the Canadian Alliance joined with 20,000 fellow Canadians for the Canada Loves New York weekend. Mayor Rudolph Giuliani was overwhelmed by the support we showed and many New Yorkers were deeply touched.

We were proud to stand shoulder to shoulder with our American brothers and sisters, letting them know that we shared their grief. We also let them know that Canadians are deeply linked to Americans by our shared concern for rights and freedoms and by our unique trade relationships. My colleagues and I took the opportunity to speak to congressmen and senators about Canadian trade concerns.

My congratulations go out to the organizers of the Canada Loves New York event. We showed our neighbours that we cared and we discussed issues that are important to Canada.

Montfort Hospital
Statements By Members

11:05 a.m.

Liberal

Mauril Bélanger Ottawa—Vanier, ON

Mr. Speaker, in politics as in life, we often experience some hard times, but there are also some really special ones like today. The Ontario Court of Appeal has just turned down the appeal by the government of Ontario and has confirmed the division court decision on Montfort Hospital.

What is particularly important is that the court's decision was based on one of the unwritten constitutional principles: respect for and protection of linguistic minorities. I will quote an excerpt from the decision.

The Constitution’s structural principle of respect for and protection of minorities is a bedrock principle that has a direct bearing on the interpretation to be accorded the French Language Services Act.

All minority communities, the anglophones of Quebec and the francophones elsewhere in the country, are thus provided with a solid basis for the respect of their rights.

Congratulations are in order for the management of the hospital, the members of SOS Montfort and the thousands of Canadians, both anglophone and francophone, who supported our cause.