House of Commons Hansard #110 of the 37th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was first.

Topics

Pension Act
Government Orders

1:05 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Ms. Bakopanos)

When shall the bill be read a third time? By leave, now?

Pension Act
Government Orders

1:05 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Pension Act
Government Orders

1:05 p.m.

Simcoe North
Ontario

Liberal

Paul Devillers for the Minister of Veterans Affairs and Secretary of State (Science

moved that the bill be read the third time and passed.

Pension Act
Government Orders

1:05 p.m.

Liberal

Bob Wood Nipissing, ON

Madam Speaker, I am pleased that today the House starts third reading debate on Bill C-31, an act to amend the Pension Act and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police Superannuation Act.

The fast turnaround time from its introduction on April 10 and the speed with which the Standing Committee on National Defence and Veterans Affairs gave it unanimous approval on May 8 clearly reflects how strongly we all feel for the members of our Canadian Forces and the RCMP.

Thus, when they are sent to areas of operations of elevated risk, all of us are one in the conviction that they should have the most comprehensive coverage and the speediest access possible to disability pension and also health benefits. That is exactly what Bill C-31 accomplishes. Let me briefly recap the highlights of the bill.

For decades now, Canadian service personnel have served abroad in areas of elevated risk designated as special duty areas, or SDAs, as part of United Nations peacekeeping activities for which Canada has become renowned. Quite rightly, they receive disability protection 24 hours a day, 7 days a week when they serve in these designated areas, but the administrative process to officially designate such an area is unduly lengthy and can take up to several months.

The bill before us today will help relieve the anxiety of our service personnel and their families by speeding up the process.

An SDA can quickly be designated by the Minister of National Defence, or the Solicitor General in the case of the RCMP, in consultation with the Minister of Veterans Affairs, and thereby give peace of mind to them before they are sent out for deployment. In fact, the bill extends coverage to include travel to and from special designated areas. Simply speeding up the process does not help those who are similarly at elevated risk while serving inside Canada or in assignments that cannot be geographically described as falling within a special duty area.

The bill now creates a new service category called special duty operation. This new designation recognizes that the face of war and the other challenges to peace and security have undergone tremendous change. Geography no longer offers non-combatant nations a cocoon of safety. Terrorism, in all its forms and disguises, presents a real and a present danger. We may never know where or in what form terrorism may strike next.

It is to this less easily definable battlefield that Canada sends out her men and women in uniform to protect us. Often the enemy is hard to identify, the lines of conflict are not clearly known and the nature of danger is difficult to determine. The new SDO designation takes into account the fluidity of such operations abroad and within our country. These operations are just as hazardous as special duty areas.

It is important to emphasize that special duty operations can encompass situations within our own borders. Think of the devastating floods and the ice storms we have experienced in recent times in Canada, or of the dangers of search and rescue operations. They expose our uniformed citizens to greater than usual danger.

Just as with special designated areas, this piece of legislation also provides RCMP personnel who serve in special designated operations with the same degree of coverage as their military counterparts.

A large spectrum of military operations could be covered by an SDA or an SDO designation. They include armed conflicts in missions conducted under the auspices of the United Nations and NATO and within coalitions of like-minded countries. Domestically, operations authorized under the Emergencies Act or the National Defence Act could also trigger an SDO designation covering such eventualities as disaster relief operations and in-Canada anti-terrorism service.

The spectrum of RCMP operations that could be similarly designated runs a parallel but not necessarily identical track. These operations could include police service within armed conflict situations, again under the auspices of the UN operations abroad, where the officers would be exposed to elevated levels of risk over a specific period of time. These situations might well include activities aimed at re-establishing social order, rebuilding social institutions and offering police training and services to wartorn nations trying to re-establish civil order.

The bill allows for the provision of the best coverage possible for members of the Canadian Forces and RCMP sent to areas of operations of elevated risk, and their families. A grateful and caring nation takes it upon herself to provide this as a duty of pride. I thank all my colleagues in the House for their unanimous support for this bill and ask members to give it swift passage today.

Pension Act
Government Orders

1:10 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Roy H. Bailey Souris—Moose Mountain, SK

Madam Speaker, my hon. colleague has given an excellent summation of the bill. There are a few points I want to point out to those who may be listening in.

The bill is probably the most modern approach that we could have taken following the awful events of 9/11. It is designed to meet the needs of this decade. It is also designed to meet the needs of a different type of police force, both at home and abroad, so what used to take up to almost a year can now be accomplished with speedy resolution, and we might say within days. That is the way it would be under this bill.

I do not think anyone could raise opposition to the bill. It is modern, it has quick resolution and it deals with only three departments. Therefore, the bill is designed for today. No one in the House, I am sure, would oppose it. In discussions with my colleagues in the Canadian Alliance, we have supported the bill from the very beginning.

I hope the bill gets very quick passage. I do know that other groups of people in Canada have looked at the bill, and I think some of our larger police forces in the larger cities, and other groups such as the firemen, could well look at the bill and I expect they would have a reaction which would pattern after this bill. On behalf of the official opposition, I am very pleased to support the bill. We give it our full endorsement.

Pension Act
Government Orders

1:15 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Loyola Hearn St. John's West, NL

Madam Speaker, we also stand in support of Bill C-31.

We in this country take for granted the different agencies that put their lives on the line for us and protect us. Quite often we take for granted what is our own. How often, as we go through life, do we take for granted our families, friends, wives, girlfriends, sons and daughters because they are there. They are supposed to know what is going on. They are there to support, help and whatever. We think that is the way it will always be, not realizing that they also have concerns and needs and that they need attention every now and then.

We do the same thing with our agencies. We put them in place and talk about how proud we are of our different agencies and yet we often forget to pay the attention to them that they deserve. As time slips by many of the concerns and benefits that we should be making sure they achieve we overlook. We suddenly find they are falling behind other groups in society that are up front, lobbying, pushing and whatever, while our solid people and in some cases volunteer agencies are working day and night, putting their lives on the line, asking for nothing and we overlook them.

The hon. member who just spoke talked about other agencies looking at what we are doing for the RCMP and perhaps patterning their plans on the legislation with which we are dealing right now. I agree wholeheartedly with him, that the opportunity is there for the other agencies to make sure that we as legislators look after their concerns.

However let us concentrate on the RCMP. If there is one agency in this country that perhaps does not get the attention it deserves it is the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. When we say the word “Mountie” two things come to mind. One is from a national perspective, the person on the horse with the red jacket for whom we feel so proud, a Canadian emblem.

Pension Act
Government Orders

1:15 p.m.

An hon. member

The red serge.

Pension Act
Government Orders

1:15 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Loyola Hearn St. John's West, NL

The red serge, that is right.

The other is the person hauling us in on the side of the road because we are 20 kilometres over the speed limit. In between, it is not just a matter of the statesperson, the emblem of the country, the very proud emblem I might add, but the person we see at all major functions dressed in the red serge, holding the flag and saluting with respect. We have tremendous respect for these people.

On the other hand, we are looking at being the victim of the overzealous policeman sometimes. When we edge a couple of kilometres over the speed limit and we are hauled in and given a ticket, which we deserve by the way, in between we fail to see that there is more to it than just being there for the pomp and ceremony and, on the other hand, enforcing the laws of the land.

We do not realize until we start working with and becoming involved with such agencies the amount of extra work that they do. It is not only the prosecution that they are concerned with. It is prevention. It is the work they do in our schools. It is the work they do with our young people. It is the encouragement they give, rather than the fear and the threats.

When we were growing up we were told that if we were not good the Mounties would be called. We had this fear of police. However that is not the case. They are not to be feared. They are there for our benefit.

If we were to talk to them many of them would tell us that they would much rather spend their time working with young people, with society generally, along the lines of prevention, rather than going out and trying to force a cure by coming down with the heavy hand. We are not making life any easier for them.

Let me talk about the rules, the regulations and the bills that we bring in and the laws that we make in this honoured establishment and in our provincial assemblies. One might ask what provincial assemblies have to do with the national police force. As we know all, the provinces have the RCMP which has jurisdiction over many of the laws and rules that govern this country and there are all kinds of provincial implications. Every time a new law or rule is brought in the Mounties are expected to enforce it. We give them more and more work on the one hand but we give them fewer and fewer tools on the other to do the job.

Quite often, in relation to the personal recompense for the work and responsibilities that we shower upon them and the demands we make upon them, we seldom think of asking them how we can make it up to them for the service they provide. As I said before, it is an agency that we perhaps take for granted.

As we deal with legislation like this and when we, as representatives of the people across the country, stand in this hallowed Chamber, the hallowed halls of Parliament, it is only right and fair that we recognize groups such as the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, the firemen, the local police establishments scattered throughout our nation, and the volunteers from other sectors, all of whom make society a bit better and a bit safer for us.

We are the ones who are in a position to thank them on behalf of the people we represent. We are the ones who can ensure that as we try to make life generally better for people throughout the country, we also try to make life better for those who assist us in making life a little better for people throughout the country.

Therefore it is with great pleasure that we support the bill. We should be very conscious as we introduce legislation in the House that we support legislation that will help all the agencies throughout the country that help all of us so much.

Pension Act
Government Orders

1:20 p.m.

NDP

Brian Masse Windsor West, ON

Madam Speaker, it is my privilege, on behalf of the New Democratic Party, to throw our support behind this beneficial change. We believe members of the RCMP play a significant role in contributing to Canadian society. This pension issue could be classified by some as housekeeping or just some type of modern modification, but in reality it is about building confidence and showing that we can do some small things that go a long way.

Members of the RCMP are very important to my constituency. They are the instant recognition for what a Canadian is and Canadian symbolism, showing confidence not only in a government but also demonstrating the pride that we have out there in a very overt way. A good place to look at that is in Windsor where we have so many different cultures and groups of new people coming to get their citizenship. One of the things that we always have is a member from the Royal Canadian Mounted Police at the ceremony. The constable is usually someone that is very personable and very involved with the actual ceremony itself, making a point to sign any autograph, to shake hands, to be part of photos and to say a few words of comfort as well as a congratulatory message. That is important because it exudes confidence in a nation and a confidence that we have which needs to be backed up. This pension addition is a minor modification, in a sense, but at the same time shows that we need to be doing the right things for them.

There are so many other different issues that we think about when we think about members of the RCMP. It is not just the colours of their uniform and the very overt way that we see their presence, whether it be on a horse or in a parade and those types of things, it is the work they do out in the field on a day to day basis. Once again, improving their actual conditions and their confidence in the government will only help that.

In our community and others, they represent the first line of defence in many ways for what is happening at our borders, the people who are needed to respond to more international matters. In our city, where we have a municipal force and a provincial force as well, the Mounties have a different stature than those organizations because they represent the nation. When we have issues they are certainly there providing another level of confidence that sits well with our other supports, be it those other organizations I mentioned, or our firefighters and other first responders that are so important.

Sometimes we take these things for granted because we have these traditions and we know we can always rely on them. Sometimes we forget to do the regular things that are necessary to ensure their long term viability. That is what the bill would do. It would ensure another piece of a larger puzzle and we will have it to pass on.

That is one of the reasons that we support this change. It is something that, once again, is going to show that there is a longstanding commitment behind the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. More important, the Mounties will improve their ability to feel confident in the work setting.

We have been debating most of the morning and over the last few days the working conditions of public servants. We know from the union's response that there are some concerns about Bill C-25 and their working conditions that are going to be enacted and the difficulty that they are going to face. That is the exact opposite from what this is, and that is unfortunate.

We have two situations here. In Bill C-25 we have some regressive actions that are being taken against those workers and the conditions in which they are going to have to live, but what we have here is something which will be of benefit to the RCMP. We think the way to go is to improve the morale of Canadians who are employed through government tax dollars.

In the last 10 years, far too many times there have been cases where those people have tended to be attacked by different individuals and organizations, and that is not right.

There certainly is an opportunity here to do more of what this recommendation says and with the changes that will happen. I hope the government learns something from this and applies it to Bill C-25. I hope it learns that it can do some of these things that sometimes are described as housekeeping but that actually do improve morale, that do improve the quality of service and that give security for those men and women who are serving this country, and their families, who also have to pay some price for being sometimes on the front line of public services. This is overdue for the RCMP and something that we in the New Democratic Party support.

Pension Act
Government Orders

1:25 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Ms. Bakopanos)

Is the House ready for the question?

Pension Act
Government Orders

1:25 p.m.

Some hon. members

Question.

Pension Act
Government Orders

1:25 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Ms. Bakopanos)

The question is on the motion. Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?

Pension Act
Government Orders

1:25 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Pension Act
Government Orders

1:25 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Ms. Bakopanos)

I declare the motion carried.

(Motion agreed to, bill read the third time and pased)

Lobbyists Registration Act
Government Orders

June 3rd, 2003 / 1:30 p.m.

Parry Sound—Muskoka
Ontario

Liberal

Andy Mitchell for the Minister of Industry

moved

the second reading of, and the Senate to Bill C-15, an act to amend the Lobbyists Registration Act.