House of Commons Hansard #113 of the 37th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was amendment.

Topics

The House resumed from June 5 consideration of the motion in relation to the amendment by the Senate to Bill C-15, an act to amend the Lobbyists Registration Act.

Lobbyists Registration Act
Government Orders

10:05 a.m.

The Deputy Speaker

Is the House ready for the question?

Lobbyists Registration Act
Government Orders

10:05 a.m.

Some hon. members

Question.

Lobbyists Registration Act
Government Orders

10:05 a.m.

The Deputy Speaker

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

Lobbyists Registration Act
Government Orders

10:05 a.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Lobbyists Registration Act
Government Orders

10:05 a.m.

Some hon. members

On division.

(Motion agreed to, amendment read the second time and concurred in)

Act to Amend the Criminal Code (Cruelty to Animals)
Government Orders

10:05 a.m.

Glengarry—Prescott—Russell
Ontario

Liberal

Don Boudria for the Minister of Justice

moved:

That a message be sent to the Senate to acquaint their Honours that this House agrees with amendments numbered 1 and 5 made by the Senate to Bill C-10B, An Act to amend the Criminal Code (cruelty to animals); but

Disagrees with amendment numbered 2 because the amendment is inconsistent with the other elements of the offence and makes the law less clear and because the amendment would collapse two offences with different elements into one single offence, leading to confusion about the elements of the offence and to problems for police and prosecutors;

Disagrees with amendment numbered 3 because it is unclear and creates confusion about whether the intent is to create a different test for liability of aboriginal persons and because there is no clarity as to what “traditional practices” are and how law enforcement can be expected to act accordingly; and

Agrees with the principle set out in amendment numbered 4, namely, the desire to reassure Canadians that no defences are lost, but, because the wording of the amendment would codify a reverse onus by requiring an accused person to prove his or her innocence on a balance of probabilities, would propose the following amendment:

Amendment numbered 4 be amended to read as follows:

Page 4, clause 2: Replace lines 22 to 24 with the following:

“182.5 For greater certainty, the defences set out in subsection 429(2) apply, to the extent that they are relevant, in respect of proceedings for an offence under this Part.”.

Act to Amend the Criminal Code (Cruelty to Animals)
Government Orders

10:05 a.m.

Northumberland
Ontario

Liberal

Paul MacKlin Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise today to introduce the debate on the amendments made in the other place to Bill C-10B, an act to amend the Criminal Code with respect to animal cruelty.

Bill C-10B received third reading and was passed in the other place on May 29. After careful study and reflection, five amendments were adopted. One amendment is a minor housekeeping amendment and four reflect more substantive changes. The House now has an opportunity to consider and vote on these amendments. I will briefly summarize these amendments.

The housekeeping measure corrected a word in the French text of the proposed section 182.6, which deals with injury to police animals and was a provision put into Bill C-10B by the justice committee of this House. The French text had a small error, in that it used the word aux where the word des should have been used. The government supports the correction of this error.

The second amendment would abbreviate the definition of animal contained in Bill C-10B. The definition of animal was “a vertebrate, other than a human being, and any other animal that has the capacity to feel pain”. The amendment made in the other place would cut off the definition after “other than a human being” so that it would include vertebrates, but not “any other animal that has the capacity to feel pain”. The current sections of the Criminal Code that deal with animal cruelty do not contain a definition of animal. It is therefore a term capable of extending to all manner of animal life, including many invertebrates.

The original definition in Bill C-10B was drafted with a view to bringing some clarity and certainty into the law by clearly enunciating that vertebrates were included. It was also designed to achieve maximum flexibility in respect of animals that are not invertebrates. The original definition would have allowed the Crown to prosecute a case in respect of a non-vertebrate if it was prepared to meet the burden of proving beyond a reasonable doubt that the animal had the capacity to feel pain.

The science of animal physiology is evolving and will continue to evolve. This element of the definition allowed the law to continue to evolve with the science. The policy rationale was clear. Any animal that is of a species that has the capacity to feel pain should be protected from the infliction of pain that is not necessary. The amendment would foreclose the possibility of any charge in relation to an invertebrate. It chooses maximum certainty of the definition, all vertebrates and only vertebrates over flexibility in the law. This is not the choice that the government made. The government can understand the preference for certainty over flexibility and so the government is prepared not to oppose this amendment.

The third amendment reflects a concern that defences in subsection 429(2) of the code were being taken away. This amendment has replaced section 182.5 which expressly refers to subsection 8(3) of the Criminal Code which preserves all the common law defences. The justice committee of the House added section 182.5 during its study of Bill C-10B. The amendment would replace the reference to subsection 8(3) with a reproduction of a smaller set of defences that is currently in subsection 429(2) of the Criminal Code. Section 182.5 now reads:

No person shall be convicted of an offence under this Part where he proves that he acted with legal justification or excuse or with colour of right.

The intent of this amendment was to reassure Canadians that the specific defences in subsection 429(2) would not be lost in Bill C-10B.

In fact, even if no express reference is made to “legal justification or excuse with colour of right”, those defences are common law defences and captured by subsection 8(3) of the Criminal Code. Therefore, this amendment is not legally necessary. Those defences are available to any accused charged with any offence and they do not need to be rewritten into every section of the code in order for them to be available.

The very existence of a subsection like 429(2) creates the kind of confusion that has led to this concern. This is an old subsection that was enacted before the charter in order to reverse the burden of proof for certain common law defences in the case of certain offences. Reversing the burden of proof means that the accused must prove that the defence applies. Normally the Crown must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that defences raised by the accused do not apply. Today, in the post-charter era, we know that in all likelihood the reverse onus is unconstitutional because it could result in a conviction despite the existence of a reasonable doubt about the accused person's innocence.

The historical purpose behind subsection 429(2--to reverse the onus of proof--is no longer acceptable in the charter era. However, its continued existence has caused some to have the misleading impression that the words must be present in order for the defence to be available.

The absence of express reference to these defences was not an oversight in Bill C-10B. On the contrary, by not reproducing the defences the bill would ensure that all of the common law defences of subsection 8(3) would be applied without any possibility of a reverse onus. The bill tried to eliminate the confusion caused by subsection 429(2).

However, some people continue to fear that the absence of the words could result in a court finding that the defences are no longer available. The government can understand the desire to reassure Canadians, who may perhaps not be familiar with such intricacies of the criminal law, and who may fear that the removal of reference to these defences could lead to their loss of application. The amendment made by the other place was meant as such a reassurance. It does not change the law nor provide any new protections.

Although the government can understand the goal of reassuring Canadians, the manner in which this has been accomplished is unsatisfactory for two reasons. First, it reintroduces the reverse onus with the words “if he proves that”. This would require an accused to prove his or her innocence on a balance of probabilities, a burden that the accused should not have and would not have in the absence of the amendment.

It is almost certainly an unjustifiable violation of the presumption of innocence. Most provisions in the Criminal Code introduced after the charter do not have this reverse onus because the courts are likely to find that it violates the charter. It is poor law reform to introduce a provision that, on its face, likely violates the charter.

The second reason the government does not support this wording is because it would give rise to a degree of uncertainty about whether the full body of case law decided under subsection 429(2) would continue to apply. It would certainly be desirable to signal to the courts that the old case law should continue to apply. This is important both in terms of the application of case law that interprets the meaning and scope of these defences, and in relation to some case law that already suggests the reverse onus in subsection 429(2) is unconstitutional and of no force or effect.

The government therefore proposes an amendment to the amendment with slightly different wording that would accomplish the very objectives sought by the other place, and at the same time, would avoid the constitutionality problem of reverse onus. In addition, the government's amendment would signal more clearly to the courts that the old case law should continue to apply.

The government's reworded provision would read as follows:

182.5 For greater certainty, the defences set out in subsection 429(2) apply, to the extent that they are relevant, in respect of proceedings for an offence under this Part.

By referring directly to subsection 429(2), this formulation has the advantage of ensuring that all the case law decided under the provision continues to apply, including case law that deals with the constitutionality of reverse onus in that subsection.

I urge the members of the House to reject the amendment before us and approve the government's motion to amend the amendment.

On the topic of this amendment I would like to make two final points. First, I wish to repeat that this amendment is not legally necessary. There was no oversight in the bill as originally drafted. On the contrary, the legislation was carefully crafted to try to minimize the kind of confusion and concerns that have been expressed by removing reference to defence provisions that are redundant and contained a reverse onus. This is a comfort clause designed to reassure Canadians that defences that used to apply will continue to apply.

As a last point on this issue, I would like to also be clear that the defences referred to in subsection 429(2) do not provide a specialized protection for industry uses of animals. There is still a fair amount of confusion about what these defences mean and how they work, especially the defence of colour of right. I wish here to be clear so that all Canadians understand the scope and reach of the law.

Hunters, farmers, animal researchers and veterinarians do not need to invoke any defences to justify their activities. It is only the wilful, reckless or criminally negligent infliction of pain that is avoidable and unnecessary that amounts to a crime. The government believes that the vast majority of all industry participants take great care to cause no more pain than is required to meet their objectives. Where this is the case, there is no cruelty and there is no crime. The humane use of animals is simply not a crime.

The Ménard case, the leading case on animal cruelty, makes perfectly clear that in the industry setting, causing only necessary pain is not a crime. However, where more pain than is reasonable or necessary is knowingly caused, these defences do not provide an additional layer of legal protection. Cruelty is cruelty wherever it takes place.

The defences are therefore not needed to shield industry personnel. However these defences may in exceptional circumstances be relevant, for instance, where people cause harm to an animal because the animal was attacking them or their property. Colour of right is simply the excuse of mistake. It could apply, for instance, where people euthanized an animal that they believed to be their pet but which actually was not their pet. These defences have a very limited scope.

The fourth amendment deletes the offence of “killing without a lawful excuse” and adds the notion of “causing unnecessary death” to the offence of causing unnecessary pain or suffering to an animal.

The government opposes this amendment because it is problematic for several reasons. It may be intended to clarify that certain activities, such as hunting and fishing, are lawful but in fact it brings greater uncertainty into the law.

Bill C-10B makes it an offence to kill an animal without lawful excuse. The phrase “without lawful excuse” is well understood in the case law and the Supreme Court has clarified that it is a broad and flexible term to be understood in the context of the offence. It is broad enough to encompass commonly accepted reasons for killing animals such as hunting and euthanasia. This term is currently in the offence of killing kept animals and the courts have not shown any difficulty in interpreting its content or scope.

The amendment would take away the term “without lawful excuse” and instead qualify “killing” by the word “unnecessary”. This is illogical and would lead to confusion. The term “unnecessary” has been judicially interpreted in the context of “pain”. In essence, it means “no more pain than is reasonably necessary taking into account the objective sought”.

This interpretation of the word “unnecessary” cannot logically be applied to killing where the only relevant question is whether or not there was a good reason for killing.

The amendment would delete “without lawful excuse”, which is a well-known and well understood concept in the context of a killing offence, and would replace it with the term “unnecessary”, the interpretation of which does not make sense when applied to killing.

This would surely lead the courts to question what the intent was and could lead to a reinterpretation of the elements of the offence.

There is yet another reason for rejecting the amendment. For decades it has been Parliament's intent that there be two distinct offences, one of causing unnecessary pain to an animal and one of killing an animal without lawful excuse. The blameworthy nature of each type of act is quite different. Killing one's neighbour's dog humanely but without good reason is something very different from torturing an animal.

However, the amendment would collapse these two offences into one single offence. This could lead to confusion about the elements of the offence and be problematic for police and prosecutors who need clarity in terms of which offence to charge and what elements to prove. For these reasons the government opposes the motion and urges the House to reject it.

The final amendment would add a new subsection 182.2(3) which would create a defence for aboriginal persons who carry out traditional hunting, trapping or fishing practices in any area in which aboriginal peoples have harvesting rights under section 35 of the Constitution Act, 1982, where pain caused is no more than is reasonably necessary in the carrying out of those traditional practices.

The government opposes the amendment for several reasons. First, the amendment is not necessary. It was made in response to concerns that aboriginal persons would be subject to undue risk of prosecution for their traditional practices.

Aboriginal persons are not at risk of prosecution or conviction for any activities that are humane and cause no more pain than is necessary. In addition, aboriginal persons have all the protection of section 35 of the Constitution Act, and in any case they can raise the claim that the law violates their protected rights.

In addition to being unnecessary, the amendment is extremely problematic in the way it is drafted. There was substantial confusion in the other place about the effect of the words. Although five members of the Senate legal and constitutional affairs committee voted for the amendment, two opposed and five abstained.

Concerns were expressed that the amendment would create an inappropriate reverse onus on aboriginal people. Others were concerned that it was over broad because, the way it is written, it would allow an aboriginal person from one geographic region to go to any area where aboriginal peoples have rights and claim the defence. This would allow aboriginal persons to claim the benefit of the defence based on the rights of another group of aboriginal persons.

There is also some confusion and uncertainty about what “traditional practices” are. Would those be the same as practices that are protected aboriginal rights under section 35 of the Constitution, or would they be something else?

Concern was also expressed about how difficult it would be to expect the police to know what are traditional practices before laying a charge. It is difficult to know whether this provision would be practically enforceable.

In the other place the intent was to ensure that aboriginal persons were subject to the law just as other Canadians are. However some were concerned that the wording would create an exemption. We cannot be certain how the courts would interpret the provision. If the same rules and standards are meant to apply to aboriginals as to non-aboriginals, then courts may wonder what the purpose of the clause is.

For all the above reasons, the government urges the members of the House to vote against the amendment. It is confusing and its scope and effect are uncertain, and it is simply unnecessary.

Aboriginal peoples who treat animals in humane ways are not being cruel and therefore not at risk of prosecution or conviction.

The government would once again like to thank the other place for all its hard work and dedicated study of this complex and important legislation.

I strongly urge all hon. members to vote in favour of the amendment which corrects a word in the French text, to vote against the amendments that deal with the offence of killing without lawful excuse and a special defence in respect of aboriginal persons, to vote against the amendment that deals with colour of right and in its stead vote in favour of the government's motion to amend that particular amendment in a manner that is constitutional and better captures the existing case law.

On the amendment that deals with the definition of “animal”, the government neither supports nor opposes it.

Act to Amend the Criminal Code (Cruelty to Animals)
Government Orders

10:30 a.m.

Canadian Alliance

Brian Fitzpatrick Prince Albert, SK

Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to address the House on the bill and the amendments.

I want to make it absolutely clear that the Canadian Alliance does not in any fashion condone or support cruelty to animals. We believe that cruelty to animals should be vigorously enforced by our criminal justice system and that wrongdoers receive severe and just penalties for cruelty to animals.

When the bill was in the House last fall I believe, we had concerns about the wording of the amendments and the changes to the Criminal Code. We were in close contact with many groups and organizations that are involved with the care of animals: the livestock industry, the hog industry, the poultry industry, people involved in medical research and a long list of other people, fishers and so on. They had major concerns about the definition of cruelty to animals under this legislation.

When we looked at the wording of the legislation we could see why there would be concerns. The wording was very wide, very loose, very ambiguous and very confusing. The Canadian Alliance tried, through committee and amendments in the House, to get the draftsmanship of that section amended and straightened out. At that time the government would not listen to our appeal and our concerns.

The other concern that legitimate caregivers of animals and people who work with animals had was that the amendments had the effect of eliminating a longstanding defence that people had toward cruelty to animal charges, a defence that I think, in all fairness, was a legitimate one. Government officials told us that we should not be concerned because that really was not the intent. However our position was that we should make it crystal clear and leave that type of defence in the Criminal Code so the courts and everyone would know what the intent of Parliament was but the government refused to do that.

Fortunately, the other House has addressed the concerns that we had on some of the wording, the definition and on the defence area. We support those amendments. There are provisions in the bill that we reject and we support the government's position. That would be amendments two and three.

We are in close contact with people who are involved in providing care to animals, livestock and agricultural producers and so on. It could be fairly said that a lot of those producers are pleased with the amendments and support them. With that being the case, we support them as well. We feel it does take away a lot of the concern that we have with the bill.

There are other provisions in the bill that are far from perfect, which I wish the other House had addressed as well, but that is not the nature of the amendments so I will not deal with that today.

As a final point, the opposition and particularly the Canadian Alliance in committee and in the House made a huge effort to address the deficiencies in the bill when it was in this House and we were stonewalled by the government. It would not listen to us. It now comes back from the other House with pretty much the same sort of changes we supported in this House in the first instance. If the government had listened to the opposition in the first place we would not have to be doing a lot of this follow up work at this stage.

Our basic position is that we support the amendments proposed with the exceptions of amendments two and three which we reject.

Act to Amend the Criminal Code (Cruelty to Animals)
Government Orders

10:35 a.m.

Bloc

Bernard Bigras Rosemont—Petite-Patrie, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to speak today on the motion in relation to the amendments made by the Senate to the bill before us today, Bill C-10B.

First, I would like to thank and congratulate my hon. colleague from Châteauguay, who has worked hard all during this long battle over Bill C-10B to make the government understand that we had constructive amendments to suggest. Unfortunately, during the committee stage, the government refused to yield to any of our arguments.

The paradox is that the motion before us in the House today contains many of the amendments the Bloc Quebecois asked for and put forward, and with which it hoped the government would agree. Today, I must state at the outset that the Senate's amendments essentially echo those of the Bloc Quebecois. Therefore, we are in favour of the government's motion, but we regret the fact that it does not include Senate amendment No. 3, which proposed recognition of the ancestral hunting rights of the first nations.

First, we agree with the first paragraph of the motion. The Senate's first amendment is the same as the first amendment the Bloc Quebecois had proposed. So essentially, the Senate confirmed that the Bloc Quebecois was right in what it was asking for and in the amendments that it had moved.

The definition of animal in the bill is very broad; it describes an animal as

a vertebrate, other than a human being, and any other animal that has the capacity to feel pain.

That is the definition found at clause 182.1 of the new part.

This is another example of change. In addition to removing animals from the property part of the bill, it provides for how the Criminal Code will consider animals from now on, as beings that have the capacity to feel pain.

Several witnesses mentioned that there is a lack of resources to enforce sections of the Criminal Code that deal with cruelty to animals. As a result, the Bloc Quebecois fears that the Crown could, through expert witnesses, prove which animals have the capacity to feel pain. The Bloc Quebecois also fears that there could be unfounded legal proceedings, which could cost the animal, sports and research sectors considerable amounts of money in legal fees.

The fifth amendment proposed by the Senate is a grammatical correction.

With regard to paragraph 2 of the motion, we are in favour of it. Clause 182.2(1) lists the acts towards animals that would lead to criminal responsibility if committed by a person who does so wilfully or recklessly. Paragraphs ( a ) through ( d ) do not provide for all means of defence as found in part XI of the Criminal Code. Paragraphs ( c ) and ( d ) do provide the protection of lawful excuse.

I want to read paragraphs a ) through d ) of clause 182.2(1):

(a) causes or, being the owner, permits to becaused unnecessary pain, suffering or injuryto an animal;

(b) kills an animal or, being the owner,permits an animal to be killed, brutally orviciously, regardless of whether the animaldies immediately;

(c) kills an animal without lawful excuse;

(d) without lawful excuse, poisons ananimal, places poison in such a position thatit may easily be consumed by an animal,administers an injurious drug or substanceto an animal or, being the owner, permitsanyone to do any of those things;

Accordingly, the Bloc Quebecois believes that it would have been appropriate to amend the preamble of clause 182.2(1) to include the concept of lawful justification, excuse or colour of right.

Paragraphs ( e ) and ( h ) do not contain the defences provided for under part XI of the Criminal Code. It should be noted that the Bloc Quebecois moved an amendment providing for an exception for hunting with hounds or for the roue du roi under paragraph ( g ), but our amendment was voted down in committee.

Still in relation to paragraph 2, I would reiterate that the Quebec Bar's comment on this was that we should go with the standard of offences punishable on summary conviction and not the increase to 18 months as this bill proposed.

The Bloc Quebecois agrees with the Quebec Bar proposal with respect to the standard of offences punishable by summary conviction. However, it should be pointed out that the Bloc Quebecois favours increased sentences for criminal acts.

As for paragraph 3 of the government motion, I must say we are disappointed that the government has not seen fit to clearly set out the rights of aboriginal persons in this bill, according to the Senate proposal. We are, however, confident that by virtue of the new wording of amendment 4, and by virtue of the Constitution, aboriginal ancestral rights will be preserved and protected.

As for paragraph 4 of the motion, we are also in favour of this. It represents the core of what we were calling for in committee and was added by the Senate. Creation of a new section of the Criminal Code will have the effect of transferring animals to a section applicable to them alone, while not including the defences that were set out in section 429 of the Criminal Code under property.

The defences proposed in Bill C-10B are central to our concerns. The fact that the means of defence are not included in the new part V.1 will certainly result in those who legitimately and legally kill animals or cause them pain being deprived of the protection currently afforded them under subsection 429(2) of the Criminal Code. Such provision would allow them to act with legal justification or excuse or colour of right.

Section 429(2) reads as follows:

No person shall be convicted of an offence under sections 430 to 446 where he proves that he acted with legal justification or excuse and with colour of right.

Although Bill C-10B contains provision for lawful excuse for certain offences, as well as the common law defences set out in section 8(3) of the Criminal Code, these are inadequate because they apply only to offences under sections 182.1( c ) and ( d ) and are much narrower than those set out in the current provisions.

However, the minister, the deputy minister and the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Justice amended the bill by stating that section 8(3) of the Criminal Code would apply and that the defences of legal justification or excuse or colour of right would be implicit. The Bloc Quebecois has grave reservations in this regard.

Colour of right is defined as follows. In R. v. Ninos and Walker, in 1964, the court stated that the accused must show that he had an honest belief in a state of facts which, if it existed, would constitute legal justification or excuse.

The colour of right defence is based on the honest and subjective belief of the accused that at the time of the offence there was colour of right. It is based on a belief in a set of circumstances or a situation of civil law which, if it existed, would negate the wilful intent to commit the offence.

Even if the belief does not need to be reasonable, the fact is that it is a factor to be taken into consideration in determining whether such a belief exists. However, it is not enough for the accused to have an amoral belief in the colour of right. The colour of right applies to errors of fact or errors in law and is not limited to areas of the law concerning proprietary interest or ownership right.

That being said, we are in favour of the government's motion.

We are disappointed, as I said, that the government is not considering Senate amendment No. 3, because it proposes recognizing ancestral rights. Nonetheless, I think it was important to make these clarifications today.

I would like to thank my colleague from Châteauguay, who led the battle on this issue. He put forward amendments in committee that were voted down by the government across the way. These Bloc amendments were taken up by the Senate and approved.

We agree with this motion. We hope, as I said, especially with regard to amendment No. 3, that the government will take our requests and recommendations into consideration.

Act to Amend the Criminal Code (Cruelty to Animals)
Government Orders

10:45 a.m.

Progressive Conservative

Gerald Keddy South Shore, NS

Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to rise today to speak to Bill C-10B, an act to amend the Criminal Code concerning cruelty to animals.

As the Speaker is well aware, this is the second or perhaps even the third life of this bill. It was rammed through the House of Commons by the Liberal majority and sent off to the Senate.

I know there a lot of parties that do not approve of the Senate, think it is redundant and have some difficulty with the fact that our senators are not elected persons. However, if it were not for the Senate, this legislation would now be law. It was a flawed bill then, and the Senate improved it. There are still some instances where I certainly believe we could continue to improve upon.

However I would like to say, clearly and categorically, that if it were not for the Senate, we would be prosecuting and arresting people next week or next month for traditional practices that are not in any way, shape or form, cruel to animals. That is how bad the legislation was.

I would like to read part of an article from the May 30 Vancouver Sun . It states that:

The Senate on Thursday made major changes to the government's animal-cruelty legislation, prompted by concerns the legislation might enable unfair prosecutions of ordinary Canadians.

That is exactly why there was opposition to the legislation.

It went further and said:

The Senate will now send the legislation back to the Commons for reconsideration. Government representatives have said the federal government doesn't agree with the Senate's interpretation of the legislation.

We will see exactly what happens here.

I see the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans just came into the House. What the senators were most concerned with were the parts and provisions of Bill C-10B, which the minister himself voted for, that certainly may have been found cruel and would therefore be against the law, such as common fishing practices which we take for granted in the east and west coasts and the high arctic. The fact is that under the legislation I am doubtful if Canadians would have been able to boil a lobster. With the proposed changes they can. That is how poor the legislation was. However that did not matter. When the Liberals have it right, they simply line their boys and girls up, crack the whip two or three times and they mouth the words, as they stand and bow to the omnipresent Prime Minister, and push the legislation through.

It is an embarrassment that in the House of Commons a piece of legislation would leave this place in such poor condition that the Senate, with its limited powers, would have to amend it and send it back to us with a little note attached saying, “Try and get it right this time, guys. See if you can do it a little better. We're not against you. We're trying to work with you but see if you can get it right”.

The bill, as it existed in its previous form, would have found as punishable offences the traditional practices in the aboriginal community, the farming community and for people who practise animal husbandry. Traditional slaughtering practices of the Muslim and Jewish faiths would have been outlawed by the government.

It is unbelievable and inconceivable that this piece of legislation was passed by the House of Commons and sent to the Senate and had to be returned.

Although there are still some things which I think are problematic in the new legislation, it at least defines cruelty. There was some nebulous definition before. We could kind of put our finger on the centre of it but it just kept moving away from us. Now there is a clearer definition. There is one part that I am going to emphasize which I will come back to.

I will read the definition so the public understands exactly what it is we are talking about. Under proposed subsection 182.2(1) we have defined what cruelty is, or we are closer to defining what cruelty is. It states:

Every one commits an offence, who wilfully or recklessly--

We are starting to tighten up the language. Hopefully in the future the traditional farming practices will not be penalized. However the wording is that anyone who wilfully and recklessly, and I would add the word deservedly, should be prosecuted under the law.

The debate has never been about the fact that the legislation is 100 years old and it is time to modernize it. It is time to bring it into accordance with the morals, the mindset and the advances in thinking that have been made in the last 100 years.

The Liberals decided to ram this piece of legislation through the House, and ram it through the House they did, in one week in an unamended form.

The bill states:

Every one commits an offence, who wilfully or recklessly,

(a) causes or, being the owner, permits to be caused unnecessary pain, suffering or injury to an animal;

(b) kills an animal or, being the owner, permits an animal to be killed, brutally or viciously, regardless of whether the animal dies immediately--

I still take great umbrage to those two paragraphs. We are leaving the definition of “brutal” and “vicious” in the hands of some judge somewhere. Quite frankly we all may have various definitions for those two terms. I do not know what a judge may decide. I am not willing to second-guess the lives and livelihoods of farmers on this issue.

I was a farmer before my life in politics. I raised sheep. Out of 100 to 150 lambs that would run around the barnyard, it was guaranteed that one of them would find its way into the water tanks and would drown. It was guaranteed that one would get his head stuck in the fence, flip over and choke itself to death.

Does that mean the farmer should be held responsible and receive up to a $10,000 fine and five years in jail because somehow he was not there to prevent that from happening, even though he had put up the very best of fences, even though the animals were kept in the very best of conditions with lots of food and water? An accident can occur that is beyond the control of the individual and some judge may look at this bill and see “causes, or being the owner, permits to be caused unnecessary pain, suffering and injury to an animal”.

Canadians who are watching today should be the judges. Who is guilty of an offence under those circumstances?

The Minister of Fisheries and Oceans is in the House. When one sets a gill net for herring or mackerel and catches a fish which is a vertebrae by the gills and it struggles and drowns because it is caught up in the net, that is cruelty under this legislation. With some judge who is not a fisherman, who has never had to make a living by putting on a pair of oil skins and rubber boots and standing on the deck of a tossing boat, who has never had to go out at 4:00 in the morning and come back at 2:00 the next morning, how is he or she going to feel about that? I suspect someday one of them is going to look at it and say “We permitted or caused unnecessary harm or pain to an animal”.

Whether that animal has the capacity to think or feel or make judgments is immaterial because we cannot control what people think. I am not about to state that we should. That is why we need clarity. That is why we need crisp definitions in the bill.

Other parts of the bill we absolutely, totally agree with, such as killing an animal without a lawful cause or reason; “without lawful excuse poisons an animal, places poison in such a position that it may easily be consumed by an animal; administers an injurious drug or substance to an animal; or, being the owner, permits anyone to do those things”. Obviously no clear thinking Canadian wants that type of thing to happen and should be responsible to prevent it.

Do we need new cruelty to animals legislation? Absolutely. Can we do better than we have done already? Yes, we can. Let us get it right this time and send it back to the Senate so it is not returned.

Juno Beach Centre
Statements By Members

10:55 a.m.

Liberal

John Maloney Erie—Lincoln, ON

Mr. Speaker, today, the 59th anniversary of D-Day, is a special day for all Canadian veterans as we mark the official opening of the Juno Beach Centre on the Normandy coast of France.

The interpretive centre demonstrates that Canada not only remembers but also teaches today's generation about the second world war, so that what happened on a 10 kilometre coastline in France, code named Juno Beach, throughout Europe and in fact around the world is not forgotten. The museum provides visitors with information about Canada's role in the second world war on land, in the air and at sea.

It focuses not only on the role Canadians played in the D-Day landings at Juno Beach on June 6, 1944, but also about Canada's contribution in places like Hong Kong and Holland, and the story of men and women supporting the war effort on the home front. It commemorates veterans who have served their country with bravery, honour and distinction in all wars and peacekeeping missions.

I would like to commend the Juno Beach Centre Association, many of whom participated in the D-Day landings, for their vision, for their legacy, for preserving the gifts of valour and freedom for future generations.

Campbell River Indian Band
Statements By Members

11 a.m.

Canadian Alliance

John Duncan Vancouver Island North, BC

Mr. Speaker, the Campbell River Indian Band filed a land claim in 1985. Seventeen years later this case was decided at the Supreme Court. The Campbell River band lost.

Five months after the decision, the government revealed that the Supreme Court judge who wrote the decision was previously a senior federal bureaucrat and had discussed legal strategies with federal counsel on the case at the time. The Supreme Court may now be faced with reopening the case. The justice department predictably is arguing that since the judge had no recollection of prior involvement and that since the involvement was long ago in 1986, no bias affected the judgment of the court.

The Campbell River Indian Band feels cheated. It is not satisfactory to find out, after spending 17 years and millions of dollars on litigation, what should have been known before.

Poetry Competition
Statements By Members

11 a.m.

Liberal

Judy Sgro York West, ON

Mr. Speaker, it gives me great pleasure to rise today and applaud a talented group of students from St. Anthony Catholic School in Toronto. From among a national competition, their poems have been chosen by the Poetry Institute of Canada to be published in an anthology of verse entitled Treasure Chest .

Please join me in congratulating these rising stars of Canadian literature: Kassia Adams, Jessica Baker, Nikole Black, Michael Cattaruzza, Coleen Dermody, Julieta Grande, Shaina Harrison, Karen Lee, Katie Majkowicz, Sara Moon, Jaein Mun, Giulia Provenzano, Steven Stanwyck, Emily Stephenson and Rachel Whitehead.

We can all share in the pride of these young people and rejoice in their outstanding efforts. Congratulations to all. They are all winners.

Juno Beach Centre
Statements By Members

11 a.m.

Liberal

Tony Tirabassi Niagara Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, on June 6, 1944 Canadian soldiers stormed the beaches on the Normandy coast in France, code named Juno, as part of the allied effort during World War II.

Thousands of Canadians fought in this battle and hundreds lost their lives. Today this historic site is home to the Juno Beach Centre. Officially being opened today, it will ensure that all Canadians know about Canada's involvement in all campaigns during the second world war and fully appreciate the sacrifices our soldiers made.

The Juno Beach Centre project was developed by a group of World War II veterans who participated in the D-Day landings as well as other battles. The centre will inform visitors of Canada's participation in, and support of, the war effort both at home and in Europe.

Let us thank our veterans for their valiant efforts on the Juno Beach Centre project.

Young Architects Competition
Statements By Members

11 a.m.

Liberal

Gary Pillitteri Niagara Falls, ON

Mr. Speaker, for the first time in its long history, the influential Architectural League of New York has named two Canadian design firms among the winners of its young architects competition.

My constituent, a Niagara district secondary graduate, Stephanie Forsythe, and Todd MacAllen of Forsythe and MacAllen Design Associates based in Vancouver join an impressive roll that includes many of America's most respected architects.

Stephanie and Todd are the principals of their firm founded in 1996. Both of them received their Master of Architecture degree at Dalhousie University in Nova Scotia in 2002. The two young Canadian architects are natural heirs to the Canadian school of new modernism.

I congratulate Stephanie and her partner for receiving this prestigious award. I would like to point out that this is a stellar example of the talent shown today by Canadian youth. Both deserve our congratulations.

St. Albert Riding
Statements By Members

11 a.m.

Canadian Alliance

John Williams St. Albert, AB

Mr. Speaker, yesterday the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs tabled its 33rd report on proposed electoral boundaries for the province of Alberta. The report states that the ideal solution would be to leave the riding of St. Albert as it is. The report also strongly urges the commission to listen to the municipal, provincial and federal voices that have asked for the constituency to remain essentially intact.

The citizens of my constituency have been united in their opposition to the division of the riding of St. Albert. Representatives from the city of St. Albert, the town of Morinville, the town of Legal, the town of Stony Plain, Sturgeon County, Parkland County and the Association canadienne-française de l'Alberta have said that this must not happen. In addition, the Standing Committee on Official Languages and now the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs have raised their voices in opposition to the changes.

It is now time for the Alberta Electoral Boundaries Commission to wake up, return to the drawing board, and preserve the riding of St. Albert.

D-Day
Statements By Members

11:05 a.m.

Liberal

John Harvard Charleswood—St. James—Assiniboia, MB

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to honour the courage and sacrifice of our Canadian Forces. On this day, 59 years ago, they set foot on a section of the Normandy coast, code-named Juno Beach, and took part in the initial assault of Operation Overlord that led to the liberation of Europe.

More specifically, I would like the House to join me in acknowledging the contribution of some special Canadian soldiers who took part in the D-Day operation and were stationed in my hometown, the Royal Winnipeg Rifles.

The soldiers of the Winnipeg company who were ordered to land at the western edge of the beach paid a large price for victory. Their landing craft came under brisk gunfire while they were still far offshore. Many men died the instant they waded into the chest high water.

Nonetheless, the survivors advanced past the beach defences, cleared the minefields, and occupied the adjoining coastal villages. In a few hours, the company lost almost three-quarters of its men, but victory was theirs.

They died for us, for our children, and for our freedom. We shall always remember them.

Hélène Alarie
Statements By Members

11:05 a.m.

Bloc

Suzanne Tremblay Rimouski-Neigette-Et-La Mitis, QC

Mr. Speaker, today I am pleased to tell the House about the honour received today by Hélène Alarie, a member of our party in the House of Commons from 1997 to 2000, now vice-president of the Bloc Quebecois and the first woman agrologist in Quebec.

Today, June 6, Ms. Alarie received the highest distinction of her profession, when she was made a Commandeur de l'Ordre du mérite agronomique, in recognition of her exceptional commitment.

We know that Ms. Alarie, a professional agrologist for 40 years and well known in her profession within Quebec, has worked actively on behalf of farmers and continues to work on GMOs and other issues.

She is the daughter of an agrologist, Albert Alarie, who received the same award in 1981. And today is also Ms. Alarie's 62nd birthday.

Our congratulations and very best wishes go to Ms. Alarie.

D-Day
Statements By Members

11:05 a.m.

Liberal

Bryon Wilfert Oak Ridges, ON

Mr. Speaker, today is the 59th anniversary of D-Day when Allied forces landed on the beaches of Normandy.

When the Canadian Forces landed on Juno Beach, my father was one of them, a member of the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders. His landing craft was blown up from enemy fire and he wound up recovering in a London hospital from severe shrapnel wounds until his return to France to fight in the battles of the Falais Gap and Caen in August 1944.

My father and his comrades were volunteers--men and women who fought for freedom and democracy. They were known as the “shock troops” of Europe.

Today, we commemorate a memorial in the configuration of a maple leaf overlooking the invasion beach. This memorial is a living testimony to the tremendous sacrifices of Canadians who were prepared to pay the ultimate price in order that we may enjoy our fundamental freedoms today. This is an historic and important date to remember and to honour.

D-Day
Statements By Members

11:05 a.m.

Canadian Alliance

Leon Benoit Lakeland, AB

Mr. Speaker, as we sit in the House of Commons today, our D-Day veterans are once again on the beaches of Normandy. Today, they are the first guests to visit the new Juno Beach Centre, which honours Canada's sacrifices and successes on June 6, 1944.

Some have said this centre is long overdue and they are right. On D-Day, 59 years ago today, 14,000 Canadians were fighting, many dying, on the beaches of Normandy. These soldiers were mostly kids, many younger than my three sons.

D-Day has often been called the beginning of the end of World War II. By day's end, Canadian troops had progressed further inland than any of our Allies. If Canada became a nation at Vimy Ridge, we reinforced it on D-Day.

Our country has a long and proud military history. The Juno Beach Centre will help honour an important part of our past. On behalf of the Canadian Alliance, Canada's official opposition, I say that we owe them more than we can ever repay. May God bless them all.

D-Day
Statements By Members

11:05 a.m.

Liberal

Murray Calder Dufferin—Peel—Wellington—Grey, ON

Mr. Speaker, on June 6, 1944, now known to history as D-Day, Operation Overlord, the long awaited invasion of Northwest Europe, began with the Allied landing on the coast of Normandy.

Canadian soldiers were responsible for Juno beach in the centre of the British front. The task was huge. The Germans had turned the coastline into a continuous fortress with guns, pillboxes, wires, mines, and beach obstacles. The outcome of the war would largely depend on the results of this assault.

More than 14,000 Canadians landed in Normandy on D-Day. Inevitably, the cost of human life was considerable. The Canadian assault force suffered 1,074 casualties, of which 359 were fatal.

Today, as we recognize the 59th anniversary of D-Day, hundreds of Canadian veterans and family members are returning to the northern shores of France for the official opening of the Juno Beach Centre.

This interpretive centre has been designed to commemorate the more than one million men and women who enlisted in the Canadian armed--

D-Day
Statements By Members

11:10 a.m.

The Deputy Speaker

The hon. member for Perth--Middlesex.

D-Day
Statements By Members

11:10 a.m.

Progressive Conservative

Gary Schellenberger Perth—Middlesex, ON

Mr. Speaker, today marks the anniversary of the Canadian landing at Juno Beach on D-Day, June 6,1944. It was a shining moment in our nation's history. All Canadians should today reflect on the valour and selfless dedication of its veterans. They should be thanked and remembered for fighting in the name of democracy and freedom.

This reflection harks back to a time when the Canadian military had the political and material support to lead the charge. At that time we were an equal contributing partner with our American and British Allies. We could and did make a difference.

I would like to take this opportunity today to thank the veterans and their families in my constituency, and across the country who participated in this historic event. They will forever represent the best of Canada.

D-Day
Statements By Members

11:10 a.m.

Bloc

Monique Guay Laurentides, QC

Mr. Speaker, June 6, 1944 dawned like any other morning for most people in the world, but it would go down in history as a turning point in the second world war.

Operation Overlord, the long-awaited landing on the beaches of Normandy, had begun. The Allied forces dropped 23,000 parachutists and landed 133,000 soldiers. Four thousand small boats, 600 warships and 10,000 aircraft threw themselves into the assault on the enemy forces, wave after wave.

With thousands of points of light giving the cliffs the appearance of an electric pinball game, fear and courage came together as one, as the words of this soldier tell us:

I am fighting because my ancestors left me a legacy of freedom, and it is my duty to pass it on. I am fighting with the fervent hope that those who come after us will not have to fight again.

Armed warfare should never be condoned, but these valiant and brave soldiers will remain forever in our collective memory.

Diabetes
Statements By Members

11:10 a.m.

Liberal

Karen Redman Kitchener Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, juvenile diabetes affects many Canadians. That is why last Sunday over 1,200 energetic individuals and 80 volunteers gathered to walk for a cure.

I was honoured to join volunteers like Christie Schuet, the youth ambassador for Waterloo-Wellington, Christine Bruce who organized families and raised their contribution to over 32% over last year's contribution, and Ball Construction that led an amazing participation on behalf of local contractors.

Great strides have been made in research for a cure. Researchers have found that embryonic stem cell research is critical in beating juvenile diabetes. Scientists have already shown that they may be able to direct the growth of stem cells into insulin producing cells that can produce a cure.

This is an exciting time in diabetic research for juveniles. This walk raised over $132,000 and we are anticipating an equally successful walk this Sunday in Cambridge. I ask all hon. members to join me in thanking the supporters who came out to support--

Diabetes
Statements By Members

11:10 a.m.

The Deputy Speaker

The hon. member for Winnipeg Centre.

Canadian Alliance
Statements By Members

11:10 a.m.

NDP

Pat Martin Winnipeg Centre, MB

Mr. Speaker, with all the Alliance flip-flops lately one has to wonder if it has a secret deal with David Orchard as well.

It used to demand that corporations regulate themselves. Then a rail accident hit B.C. What did the Alliance say? It flip-flopped faster than Mike Harris and Walkerton. It said to get government back on the job with more regulations.

It used to want to privatize medicare and railed on about those lazy bureaucrats wasting money in the health system. Then SARS hit and the Alliance discovered some value in public health care. It mocks the Tories on principles, but during a health crisis its principles go into hiding.

Then there is EI. When EI cuts hurt Quebec and Atlantic Canada, the Alliance could not care less. It said to just cut faster. Now it cannot stop talking about EI as if it has just realized that the unemployed are people too.

The next thing we know it will want more money for farmers after demanding that Liberals cut subsidies to farmers even faster. So much for Alliance principles.

Juno Beach Centre
Statements By Members

11:10 a.m.

Liberal

Paddy Torsney Burlington, ON

Mr. Speaker, Canada played a vital role in the great campaigns for world peace during World War II. The most pivotal of these campaigns took place at dawn on June 6 as Canadian soldiers landed on the Normandy shore, code-named Juno Beach. This brave and historic landing was a turning point as the Allied forces moved on to liberate France.

Burlington resident, Garth Webb, a proud D-Day veteran, is president and director of the Juno Beach Association, a non-profit society working to preserve the memory of Canada's contributions to the second world war. With incredible commitment and dedication, the association members have built the Juno Beach Centre, officially opened today in Normandy. This centre commemorates Canadian veterans' contributions to the war and honours our soldiers, our heroes.

I ask that all members join me in paying tribute to those brave Canadians who fought that fateful day at Juno Beach. I wish to congratulate Garth Webb and everyone whose contributions made the Juno Beach Centre a reality.

Agriculture
Statements By Members

11:15 a.m.

Canadian Alliance

Dave Chatters Athabasca, AB

Mr. Speaker, the Canadian cattle industry is facing the worst animal health crisis in the history of the industry. Having been a beef producer in my former life, my heart goes out to my constituents, neighbours, and friends who are facing the loss of their farms, feedlots and livelihoods.

If they do not regain access to the American market immediately, or if the government does not come forward with an interim aid package that is bankable within days, not months, the worst case scenario will come true. Existing farm safety net programs cannot work for extraordinary disaster in the feedlot industry where finished cattle have backed up and losses are estimated at $100 million per month.

The government must move now to show some human compassion to prevent increased human and animal suffering if this situation is allowed to continue.

Emergency Assistance
Oral Question Period

11:15 a.m.

Calgary Southwest
Alberta

Canadian Alliance

Stephen Harper Leader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, I want to ask today about the SARS crisis in Toronto and how the federal government plans to deal with that.

There are reports today that the federal government is reneging on a commitment that has been made by the federal government, through the Minister of National Defence, to help Toronto with emergency relief assistance.

The Ontario government has spent hundreds of millions of dollars on this emergency, mainly through spending emergency funds on the health care system. It has written to the government. It is expecting matching funds through disaster relief.

Could the government confirm that this commitment will be honoured?

Emergency Assistance
Oral Question Period

11:15 a.m.

Victoria
B.C.

Liberal

David Anderson Minister of the Environment

Mr. Speaker, certainly the hon. Leader of the Opposition has correctly identified the close cooperation between the federal and Ontario governments in handling the SARS crisis. I would like on behalf of the House to thank the health care professionals who did such an outstanding job in dealing with the crisis.

We will be discussing the issue of emergency compensation with the Ontario government as he has indicated as we proceed. We expect that there will be announcements in this regard in due course.

Emergency Assistance
Oral Question Period

11:15 a.m.

Calgary Southwest
Alberta

Canadian Alliance

Stephen Harper Leader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, I guess we have yet to see whether there will be cooperation. There seems to be some bureaucratic wrangling here about definitions.

If this is not a disaster now in Toronto, I would like to know what the minister thinks would constitute a disaster. If the government will not help Toronto now, when will it help Toronto? It put disaster relief funds into the ice storm in Quebec.

Will the government make a clear commitment to give matching disaster relief funds to the province of Ontario for the SARS crisis in Toronto?

Emergency Assistance
Oral Question Period

11:15 a.m.

Victoria
B.C.

Liberal

David Anderson Minister of the Environment

Mr. Speaker, as I indicated earlier, the issue of disaster relief funds is being discussed by the two governments in an amicable way. We fully expect this matter to be resolved effectively.

There is disaster relief legislation and funding under it. We have discussions with provinces frequently throughout every year that I have been in Parliament. It is not unusual for discussions to take place as to exactly how relief should be provided and to ensure there is no unfairness in any program that is put forward.

Agriculture
Oral Question Period

11:15 a.m.

Calgary Southwest
Alberta

Canadian Alliance

Stephen Harper Leader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, I want to ask about yet another disaster, and on this one we do not have endless time for more discussion and wrangling. This is the problem of course with mad cow and the beef industry.

As I have indicated several times this week and as the government knows, feedlots are on the verge of bankruptcy. Hardship and worry is spreading throughout the industry and throughout sections of the industry, obviously through farm families.

I understand the beef industry and members of it have presented a very reasonable, modest proposal for compensation assistance. When will we know from the government the details of its compensation plans for the beef industry?

Agriculture
Oral Question Period

11:15 a.m.

Prince Edward—Hastings
Ontario

Liberal

Lyle Vanclief Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food

Mr. Speaker, as the hon. member has said and he knows I have continually met with the industry, and on Wednesday in Edmonton. Officials from my department met with the beef industry yesterday. They will continue those discussions today. The meetings have gone very well.

They are working on some support for the industry. I guess it is best to put it this way. One of the vice presidents of the Canadian Cattlemen's Association last night told me that they had excellent meetings yesterday.

Air India
Oral Question Period

11:20 a.m.

Canadian Alliance

Jay Hill Prince George—Peace River, BC

Mr. Speaker, the Canadian Security and Intelligence Service has belatedly released an internal memo. It concedes that CSIS might have been able to prevent the deaths of 331 people on Air India flight 182.

Now that it has been confirmed that CSIS may have been derelict in its duty to protect Canadian lives, why will the Solicitor General not launch a royal commission of inquiry to determine all of the facts in this case?

Air India
Oral Question Period

11:20 a.m.

Malpeque
P.E.I.

Liberal

Wayne Easter Solicitor General of Canada

Mr. Speaker, this issue has come up numerous times in the House. I have responded consistently that there is no need for a public inquiry.

The fact of the matter is, and if I could refer the member to the annual report of the Security Intelligence Review Committee that reviewed thousands of documents and had numerous interviews, the bottom line was that it determined that, “the Service wasnot in a position to predict that the Air India flight was to be the target of a terrorist bomb”. That is in the good work from an independent review committee.

Air India
Oral Question Period

11:20 a.m.

Canadian Alliance

Jay Hill Prince George—Peace River, BC

Mr. Speaker, the facts are that since that report has been done, more and more information is leaking out.

We now know that CSIS agents followed Parmar and Reyat to a secluded area on Vancouver Island where they tested a bomb. Had the agents understood the seriousness of this test, they could have intervened, had the pair arrested and thereby prevented the tragedy. It seems like only in Canada do we have spies that cannot recognize the sound of an explosion.

Why does the government not want all the details of this disaster known to the public?

Air India
Oral Question Period

11:20 a.m.

Malpeque
P.E.I.

Liberal

Wayne Easter Solicitor General of Canada

Mr. Speaker, the government has always wanted all the details, which are not related to operations at CSIS, known to the public. The bottom line is we have one of the best security intelligence agencies in the world bar none.

The SIRC report has reviewed it extensively. I already quoted its response to that. It reviewed thousands of pages of documents, held interviews with numerous individuals, met with the commissioner of the RCMP at the time and it laid to rest this issue which that member continues to raise out of the past.

Transport 2000
Oral Question Period

11:20 a.m.

Bloc

Caroline St-Hilaire Longueuil, QC

Mr. Speaker, every year since 1996, Transport 2000 Québec has organized the awareness campaign for Clean Air Day, held on June 4. Despite a three-year agreement, however, Environment Canada last year appropriated the official Clean Air Day trademark and gave the Canadian Urban Transit Association the mandate, along with $250,000 in funding.

Why is Environment Canada not respecting its signature and why is it withdrawing funding from Transport 2000 Québec, although it congratulated this organization in the summer of 2000 for its exemplary contribution to public awareness?

Transport 2000
Oral Question Period

11:20 a.m.

Victoria
B.C.

Liberal

David Anderson Minister of the Environment

Mr. Speaker, on February 13, I wrote to the chair of Transport 2000 to make an offer of collaboration. Unfortunately, I never received a reply. I am therefore very surprised by the press release the hon. member mentioned just now. Environment Canada did not refuse to cooperate; it is Transport 2000 that never asked us to do so.

Transport 2000
Oral Question Period

11:20 a.m.

Bloc

Caroline St-Hilaire Longueuil, QC

Mr. Speaker, in addition to the fact that what the minister is saying is incorrect, the Canadian Urban Transit Association has received the mandate from the federal government to put together a Canadian campaign to promote Clean Air Day with public funds. However, the organization's web site provides information on this event only in English.

How can the federal government explain that a Canadian campaign, with a registered trademark and funding from this same government, is providing the public with services solely in English?

Transport 2000
Oral Question Period

11:20 a.m.

Victoria
B.C.

Liberal

David Anderson Minister of the Environment

Mr. Speaker, my letter to the chair of Transport 2000 was in French. I do not think it contained one single word of English. Since I sent the letter and despite numerous requests by Environment Canada program agencies, Transport 2000 has not submitted an official application for federal contributions to organize Clean Air Day 2003, in Montreal or Quebec City.

Transport 2000
Oral Question Period

11:20 a.m.

Bloc

Bernard Bigras Rosemont—Petite-Patrie, QC

Mr. Speaker, in three years the sponsorship Transport 2000 Québec received from the federal Department of the Environment went from $80,000 down to zero in 2003. Not satisfied with just cutting them off, the department handed event organization over to the Canadian Urban Transit Association, a Toronto-based organization whose campaign was funded by ACART Communications, which gave $15,000 to the Liberal Party of Canada.

Are we to understand that the Department of the Environment's choice of the Toronto organization over Transport 2000 Québec has much more to do with the $15,000 contribution to the Liberal slush fund by ACART Communications than with the undeniable expertise of that Toronto organization?

Transport 2000
Oral Question Period

11:25 a.m.

Victoria
B.C.

Liberal

David Anderson Minister of the Environment

Mr. Speaker, I repeat, we received no request from Transport 2000. The Canadian Urban Transit Association, CUTA, has been organizing a Canada-wide bilingual campaign around Clean Air Day and sustainable transportation since 2000. Sixty-five transit companies across the country belong to CUTA, including most of the companies in Quebec.

Transport 2000
Oral Question Period

11:25 a.m.

Bloc

Bernard Bigras Rosemont—Petite-Patrie, QC

Mr. Speaker, if the minister wants to dispel the doubts surrounding this questionable decision, all he needs to do is to renew the sponsorships they used to award to Transport 2000 Québec so that it can organize Clean Air Day events as it did in the past. Can he commit to this today, in this House?

Transport 2000
Oral Question Period

11:25 a.m.

Victoria
B.C.

Liberal

David Anderson Minister of the Environment

Mr. Speaker, it is not normal for a minister to promise money to an organization that has not asked the federal government for any. If they did not approach us, it is pretty hard to know what to do.

National Security
Oral Question Period

11:25 a.m.

Progressive Conservative

Peter MacKay Pictou—Antigonish—Guysborough, NS

Mr. Speaker, in 1993 the Conservative government of the day announced it would create a ministry of public security.

The ministerial responsibilities would have included oversight of the RCMP, Corrections, CSIS, the Immigration Board and the Refugee Board. The move was of course fiercely attacked by the Liberals.

Yesterday the minister responsible for public security and the Deputy Prime Minister stated he likes our idea. It joins the list of many other policies his government has opposed and then subsequently adopted and called its own.

Is the government now committed to working closely with our North American allies on the creation of a continental security perimeter?

National Security
Oral Question Period

11:25 a.m.

Victoria
B.C.

Liberal

David Anderson Minister of the Environment

Mr. Speaker, may I start by congratulating the hon. member on his first week as leader of the fourth party. It certainly has been a week from hell for him, but that is what happens when we make deals with the devil. We on our side of the House feel that this may have assisted us in remaining on the good side of heaven.

With respect to the question of the hon. member, certainly we are willing to consider any ways of improving public security, but the fact is we believe that we have one of the best services--

National Security
Oral Question Period

11:25 a.m.

The Deputy Speaker

The hon. member for Pictou—Antigonish—Guysborough.

National Security
Oral Question Period

11:25 a.m.

Progressive Conservative

Peter MacKay Pictou—Antigonish—Guysborough, NS

Mr. Speaker, the minister's sincerity as usual is obvious and his ego enormous.

Public attention to security intelligence and terrorism has focused the spotlight on Liberal mismanagement and inaction.

The years of cuts to military, security intelligence, the coast guard and ports policing have had a detrimental impact on our real and perceived ability to protect Canadians. The minister responsible for public security told the foreign affairs committee yesterday that we may now need a new security ministry.

Never mind the reversal, why did the minister take so long to break previous promises on this file? Why did it take him so long to figure it out?

National Security
Oral Question Period

11:25 a.m.

Malpeque
P.E.I.

Liberal

Wayne Easter Solicitor General of Canada

Mr. Speaker, I would refer the member to the report that I tabled in the House yesterday, the annual report of the Canadian Security Intelligence Agency. If he looks at that report, he will see that in recent years we have increased substantially the resources, the funding and the human resources to security matters.

As well, even the attorney general in the United States, Mr. Ashcroft, is talking about the good cooperation between our intelligence agency and its agency. We are also cooperating with others around the world, so we are doing our job.

Agriculture
Oral Question Period

11:25 a.m.

NDP

Dick Proctor Palliser, SK

Mr. Speaker, the government's insistence that any help for the cattle industry must come from existing programs is simply not defensible.

The food inspection agency several years ago dismissed the possibility of mad cow disease in Canada, saying that it was a European disease. In other words, it could not happen here; except that it has.

Loan guarantees from existing programs are not the answer. The cattle industry needs an understandable, bankable cash advance and it needs it PDQ. When will it receive it?

Agriculture
Oral Question Period

11:25 a.m.

Prince Edward—Hastings
Ontario

Liberal

Lyle Vanclief Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food

Mr. Speaker, as I said a few minutes ago, we had excellent meetings with the industry yesterday.

The new business risk management program was the foresight of this government and it would be there to assist the industry when these types of things unfortunately happen. We are looking at other things to build upon that as well.

I repeat, the cattlemen told me last night that the meetings yesterday were excellent.

Emergency Assistance
Oral Question Period

11:30 a.m.

NDP

Dick Proctor Palliser, SK

Mr. Speaker, with a $10 billion surplus, there is simply no excuse why the government should stand around and watch the western beef industry implode.

We have two quarantines in effect here in Canada at the present time. We have one in the beef industry, primarily in western Canada, and we have the SARS outbreak in Toronto.

Three months after the economic disaster hit, tourism workers and businesses are still looking for their first red penny in compensation. Why is the government now considering withholding $800 million, saying in effect that Toronto's economic disaster is not real?

Emergency Assistance
Oral Question Period

11:30 a.m.

Glengarry—Prescott—Russell
Ontario

Liberal

Don Boudria Minister of State and Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, the member should know that as we are speaking, two ministers are in Toronto to make announcements with the provincial government, showing our resolve, in addition to all the other things that we have done over recent weeks, to assist the people of Toronto, to assist the people if that part of the country, in this most difficult time in which they have been living lately.

Immigration
Oral Question Period

11:30 a.m.

Canadian Alliance

Lynne Yelich Blackstrap, SK

Mr. Speaker, we have learned the RCMP has been investigating Immigration and Refugee Board judges for taking bribes.

Could the minister please tell us how IRB judges accepting money in return for favourable rulings fits into a fair and equitable immigration system?

Immigration
Oral Question Period

11:30 a.m.

Bourassa
Québec

Liberal

Denis Coderre Minister of Citizenship and Immigration

Mr. Speaker, we all know that since there is an ongoing investigation with the RCMP I surely will not comment on that.

We take very seriously any allegation of wrongdoing, but we will let justice take its course and we will let the RCMP do their job.

Immigration
Oral Question Period

11:30 a.m.

Canadian Alliance

Lynne Yelich Blackstrap, SK

Mr. Speaker, having judges allegedly on the take is the most recent in a string of scandals to hit the Department of Citizenship and Immigration.

Last month, a Yellowknife immigration officer wrongly demanded proof of citizenship during an RCMP road check. Prior to that, a federal court found the department misled Parliament about the number of immigrants caught in a backlog.

What specific steps has the minister taken to address this litany of scandals?

Immigration
Oral Question Period

11:30 a.m.

Bourassa
Québec

Liberal

Denis Coderre Minister of Citizenship and Immigration

Mr. Speaker, I can address that omnibus question by saying that we are doing our job. We are doing what it takes. When there is a mistake, we say it. I was pretty clear on the Yellowknife case.

Besides that, I have full confidence in the officials in my department. They are doing a tremendous job. Immigration is the centrepiece of any policy for the future. We are working closely with everybody, every agent, to make sure this country will have its share.

Softwood Lumber
Oral Question Period

11:30 a.m.

Bloc

Sébastien Gagnon Lac-Saint-Jean—Saguenay, QC

Mr. Speaker, a business in my riding, Scierie Lac-Saint-Jean Inc., has been added to the list of victims of the softwood lumber crisis. That makes 85 more employees without work today. At this rate, the Americans will be able to celebrate their victory before a WTO or NAFTA decision is ever made.

What is the government waiting for to take action and support the workers by improving the employment insurance fund and to help the companies by implementing phase two of its aid package?

Softwood Lumber
Oral Question Period

11:30 a.m.

Vancouver South—Burnaby
B.C.

Liberal

Herb Dhaliwal Minister of Natural Resources

Mr. Speaker, as the hon. member knows, we have a program to support our workers. Let me remind the hon. member of the government program on the softwood lumber dispute: $110 million for research and development; $29.7 million for Canada's offshore markets; $71 million to assist workers; $110 million for the national softwood industry community adjustment; $20 million for the advocacy program; $15 million for the softwood lumber association.

The hon. member should recognize that these announcements are helping the softwood lumber industry across the country.

Softwood Lumber
Oral Question Period

11:30 a.m.

Bloc

Sébastien Gagnon Lac-Saint-Jean—Saguenay, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Human Resources Development has a very simple way to alleviate the effects of the softwood lumber crisis. She could extend the transitional measures that come to an end on October 5, thereby allowing more workers to qualify for EI benefits and for a longer time.

Yes or no, will the minister agree to extend the current measures?

Softwood Lumber
Oral Question Period

11:30 a.m.

Vancouver South—Burnaby
B.C.

Liberal

Herb Dhaliwal Minister of Natural Resources

Mr. Speaker, as I indicated earlier, part of the softwood lumber package includes $71 million to assist displaced workers. We want to make sure that the workers who are laid off can benefit. We understand the difficulty the workers are facing in the softwood lumber industry and we are doing everything we can.

However, we do have a program in place and it is working. As we have said, if we need more, that is something we are monitoring very closely.

Foreign Affairs
Oral Question Period

11:35 a.m.

Canadian Alliance

Stockwell Day Okanagan—Coquihalla, BC

Mr. Speaker, the terrorist group Hamas has announced that it has cut off ceasefire talks with the Palestinian authority. The declared goal of Hamas is to trash the road map process and to eliminate the state of Israel through a murderous campaign of terror.

Hamas could not exist without support from regimes in the region, such as Iran and Syria, yet our government has publicly said and done nothing to pressure these states to end all sponsorship of terror.

Will the Prime Minister today finally take a public stand and demand specifically that Syria, Iran and others in the region cut off all support for Hamas?

Foreign Affairs
Oral Question Period

11:35 a.m.

Toronto Centre—Rosedale
Ontario

Liberal

Bill Graham Minister of Foreign Affairs

Mr. Speaker, as usual the hon. member phrases his question in a way that suggests the government does nothing on these issues. Nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, it is exactly opposite.

Every time I have met with the foreign minister of Iran and every time the Prime Minister has spoken with the Iranian authorities we have insisted that they stop their support of terror. We do that publicly and we do it privately. We use the contacts that we have with all governments in the world to stop terror.

It is a totally false indication to the House and to the Canadian public to suggest that we do anything else. We will continue to pursue those in a positive way.

Middle East
Oral Question Period

11:35 a.m.

Canadian Alliance

Rahim Jaffer Edmonton—Strathcona, AB

Mr. Speaker, the Canadian government has been absent on the issue of peace in the Middle East. The foreign minister says that it is a good thing but when it is time for action and to put meaning behind those words, the Liberals run for cover.

Now that Prime Ministers Abbas and Sharon have agreed to President Bush's road map, what steps is the Canadian government taking to ensure that both sides live up to the agreement?

Middle East
Oral Question Period

11:35 a.m.

Toronto Centre—Rosedale
Ontario

Liberal

Bill Graham Minister of Foreign Affairs

Mr. Speaker, as the hon. member knows, as the spokesperson for this area in the House, the government has representation both in Tel Aviv and in Ramallah. We work closely with the authorities. We have constantly urged upon the Palestinian Authority to engage in a positive dialogue with Israel to ensure its security. We have worked closely with our Israeli compatriots to say that they should go for the road map and accept the obligations under it.

The government is active. Canadians want us to be active in this. I can assure him and the House that the Prime Minister, myself and all of us with responsibilities in that area will be pursuing the possibility of peace. We congratulate, strongly, President Bush on his--

Middle East
Oral Question Period

11:35 a.m.

The Deputy Speaker

The hon. member for Laval Centre.

Correctional Service of Canada
Oral Question Period

11:35 a.m.

Bloc

Madeleine Dalphond-Guiral Laval Centre, QC

Mr. Speaker, according to Amnesty International, Mr. Albert Duterville, jailed for murder in Port-Cartier since 1990, has been subject to physical and psychological abuse.

Does the Solicitor General plan on denouncing this situation?

Correctional Service of Canada
Oral Question Period

11:35 a.m.

Malpeque
P.E.I.

Liberal

Wayne Easter Solicitor General of Canada

Mr. Speaker, we, within the Department of the Solicitor General, on all these issues relating to any individual, want to ensure that due process has been followed and that all the laws of the land are being followed.

Correctional Service of Canada
Oral Question Period

11:35 a.m.

Bloc

Madeleine Dalphond-Guiral Laval Centre, QC

Mr. Speaker, until that time, does the minister plan on transferring Mr. Duterville to another penitentiary so that he can enjoy the fundamental rights that are entrenched in the charter for all citizens of this country?

Correctional Service of Canada
Oral Question Period

11:35 a.m.

Malpeque
P.E.I.

Liberal

Wayne Easter Solicitor General of Canada

Mr. Speaker, within Correctional Service Canada we have a system, basically, of checks and balances and review to ensure that people who are incarcerated within those prisons are not put in a position of harm. There are criteria that we follow within the correctional service system to ensure that the individuals are incarcerated where there is less potential of harm happening to them, and that the penalties that they were charged for--

Correctional Service of Canada
Oral Question Period

11:35 a.m.

The Deputy Speaker

The hon. member for Edmonton Southwest.

Pharmaceutical Industry
Oral Question Period

11:35 a.m.

Canadian Alliance

James Rajotte Edmonton Southwest, AB

Mr. Speaker, the industry committee is currently studying the patent medicine notice of compliance regulations in the pharmaceutical industry.

The Minister of Industry has an interesting history with the pharmaceutical industry, in particular when he broke the Patent Act to order Cipro, a generic drug not yet on the market.

Will the minister take the opportunity today to set the record straight for his government? Does he support the current notice of compliance regulations or not?

Pharmaceutical Industry
Oral Question Period

11:40 a.m.

Beauharnois—Salaberry
Québec

Liberal

Serge Marcil Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Industry

Mr. Speaker, for now, the minister plans on reading and analyzing what is happening in the Standing Committee on Industry, Science and Technology, which is hearing from representatives of the generic and patent drug industries and from Health Canada and Industry Canada officials.

Following these hearings, we will see if the committee makes any recommendations and at that time, we will consider the report.

Agriculture
Oral Question Period

11:40 a.m.

Canadian Alliance

Dave Chatters Athabasca, AB

Mr. Speaker, the existing farm safety net programs cannot work for the current animal health crisis. The feedlot and packing industries need an immediate aid package that is bankable in days, not months. If it takes the government as long to get aid to the feedlots as it did to the lumber producers they will all be bankrupt and gone.

When will the government announce an aid package to cover the BSE disaster?

Agriculture
Oral Question Period

11:40 a.m.

Prince Edward—Hastings
Ontario

Liberal

Lyle Vanclief Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food

Mr. Speaker, I have already answered that question twice in the question period today. The industries have put proposals to us and we have had those discussions. The discussions have been ongoing and they are ongoing today.

I am very optimistic that we will be able to not only use the new business risk management program, which is far more effective than we have had in the past, but also be able to put forward some additional help in order to help the industry get through this situation.

Foreign Affairs
Oral Question Period

11:40 a.m.

Liberal

Charles Caccia Davenport, ON

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Foreign Affairs.

Given the ratification of the United Nations convention on the law of the sea, a promise made in the 1993 election, and given the importance of this convention and the fact that two former ministers of foreign affairs had expressed, in recent years, their intent to ratify, could the minister indicate when Canadians can expect the ratification of the law of the sea to take place?

Foreign Affairs
Oral Question Period

11:40 a.m.

Toronto Centre—Rosedale
Ontario

Liberal

Bill Graham Minister of Foreign Affairs

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the hon. member for his interest in this subject which he has pursued with the intensity with which we are familiar. I think it is very important that we do.

I recognize that this is an obligation of the government, which was in fact in the Speech from the Throne some years ago. It is something for which I am personally committed. The hon. member and all members of the House know that there are serious political issues here in Canada. We wish to work with our colleagues in the Atlantic provinces to ensure the fishing issues are addressed.

I believe that when the straddling stocks convention is signed with the Europeans this fall that opportunity will be done and we will be working both domestically and--

Foreign Affairs
Oral Question Period

11:40 a.m.

The Deputy Speaker

The right hon. member for Calgary Centre.

International Trade
Oral Question Period

11:40 a.m.

Progressive Conservative

Joe Clark Calgary Centre, AB

Mr. Speaker, in an April 9 letter to the American Bayridge Corporation, the Minister for International Trade promised he would “continue to seek an exclusion for independent remanufacturers in any future negotiations”.

Then, in a May 22 proposal to the United States, he threw the independent remanufacturers into a quota regime that could devastate the industry.

Did the minister know about the May 22 proposal when he wrote the April 9 letter? Could he explain why he explicitly said one thing and then did the reverse? Will he give us a commitment today that he will honour the clear promise that he made on April 9?

International Trade
Oral Question Period

11:40 a.m.

Papineau—Saint-Denis
Québec

Liberal

Pierre Pettigrew Minister for International Trade

Mr. Speaker, let me be quite clear that this government has always believed that remanufacturers should have been exempted from day one by the department of commerce of the United States.

We have gone to the WTO and we were very pleased that a key element of the WTO decision last week, on the final determination of the United States, is that the Americans had failed to demonstrate that there was any pass through of alleged subsidies to the remanufacturers. Therefore we were right to ask for their exemption and we continue to demand their exemption from the department of commerce actions.

Agriculture
Oral Question Period

11:40 a.m.

Progressive Conservative

Gary Schellenberger Perth—Middlesex, ON

Mr. Speaker, the beef farmers of Perth--Middlesex are facing serious threats to their livelihood. Livestock disposal, laid off workers and financial hardships are big problems.

Some of my constituents are facing bankruptcy. At $11 million a day, the cost of industry inaction is approaching $200 million. The borders are still closed.

Will the Minister of Agriculture inform the House when Perth--Middlesex farmers and plant workers can expect financial assistance from the government?

Agriculture
Oral Question Period

11:40 a.m.

Prince Edward—Hastings
Ontario

Liberal

Lyle Vanclief Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food

Mr. Speaker, for the fourth time in this question period I will repeat that we are having excellent discussions with the industry.

The government understands fully the effects of the finding of one cow with BSE and the fact that the one cow did not get into the food chain. We know we need to complete the science so that we can demonstrate, not only to our customers, to Canadians who are being very supportive, I must say, but to our international customers and to the world that we have a good system.

In the meantime we will be there with existing programs and with other support to help the industry.

Canadian Television
Oral Question Period

11:45 a.m.

NDP

Lorne Nystrom Regina—Qu'Appelle, SK

Mr. Speaker, in his budget, the Minister of Finance cut $25 million in annual funding for Canadian television producers, and increased support for American producers by $25 million per year. Yesterday, the government slashed a further $12.5 million from next year's budget.

Instead of making cuts, will this government announce stable and appropriate funding for Canadian television?

Canadian Television
Oral Question Period

11:45 a.m.

Oak Ridges
Ontario

Liberal

Bryon Wilfert Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Finance

I am sure, Mr. Speaker, that somewhere in that question was congratulations to the government on the fact that the government extended the Canadian television fund by $150 million over two years.

He should congratulate the government on the fact that the minister advanced $12.5 million yesterday. The minister was listening to the stakeholders. The minister, within the fiscal framework, has advanced this money. It is good for the industry and it is good for Canadians.

Foreign Affairs
Oral Question Period

11:45 a.m.

NDP

Svend Robinson Burnaby—Douglas, BC

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Foreign Affairs. It concerns the decision of the Israeli government to demand that peace activists entering the occupied Gaza area sign waivers that absolve Israel from any responsibility should they be injured or killed.

This has targeted groups such as Amnesty International, the International Solidarity Movement and Christian Peacemakers, including a number of Canadian citizens.

Blocking the peace monitors will lead to more deaths of innocent civilians and violations of international law.

Will the minister call on Israel to rescind this repressive, illegal policy which is clearly a breach of the fourth Geneva convention--

Foreign Affairs
Oral Question Period

11:45 a.m.

The Deputy Speaker

The Minister of Foreign Affairs.

Foreign Affairs
Oral Question Period

11:45 a.m.

Toronto Centre—Rosedale
Ontario

Liberal

Bill Graham Minister of Foreign Affairs

Mr. Speaker, clearly this is a responsibility for the Israeli government. We believe that it is sincerely committed to the peace process and it is working very hard. We congratulate Prime Minister Sharon and the efforts that he is making, along with all the parties in the Middle East, to try to come around to the road map and make sure it works.

This is a specific issue that relates to international legal obligations of Israel in respect of individuals who will be going into Gaza. We are sure that it can be worked out by them consistent with international law and other legal principles which govern their occupation there.

Citizenship and Immigration
Oral Question Period

11:45 a.m.

Canadian Alliance

Gurmant Grewal Surrey Central, BC

Mr. Speaker, the process for granting a temporary resident permit, also called a visitor's visa, is unfair, mismanaged and full of irregularities.

The government allows for front line locally hired staff in our foreign missions who are under-resourced, underqualified, poorly trained and who compromise the honesty of the system.

Often genuine visitors are rejected while others get through. When will the weak government restore credibility, integrity and fairness in the visitor's visa process?

Citizenship and Immigration
Oral Question Period

11:45 a.m.

Bourassa
Québec

Liberal

Denis Coderre Minister of Citizenship and Immigration

Mr. Speaker, this type of comment is completely unacceptable. It is completely unacceptable because these people are doing extraordinary work to ensure a certain level of well-being for society.

I will never accept such an individual, who—to top it off—comes and asks us for Minister's permits, telling us that we are not doing our job. These employees do their jobs well, end of story.

Firearms Registry
Oral Question Period

11:45 a.m.

Canadian Alliance

Garry Breitkreuz Yorkton—Melville, SK

Mr. Speaker, we have just made another damning discovery about the government's firearms fiasco. In an effort to push out a pile of paper called gun registrations, the Liberal government failed to complete the background checks and call character references before issuing firearms licences.

Talk about straining at a flea and swallowing a camel. If the Solicitor General is trying to keep guns out of the hands of criminals, why did he not do the reference checks? Why?

Firearms Registry
Oral Question Period

11:45 a.m.

Malpeque
P.E.I.

Liberal

Wayne Easter Solicitor General of Canada

Mr. Speaker, we have for a while discovered the benefits of the gun registry program. In fact, the registry program provided assistance with 347 investigations in the month of April alone. We conducted 113 firearms traces. We provided assistance with 17 search warrants through the Canadian Firearms Centre. We provided 19 training and/or presentation sessions to ensure that guns are stored safely and used appropriately.

Canada Post
Oral Question Period

11:50 a.m.

Bloc

Pierre Paquette Joliette, QC

Mr. Speaker, many Canadian postage stamps are printed in the United States, despite the fact that there are companies here with the skills and capacity needed to do the job. The United States, on the other hand, forbids foreign production of its stamps. Furthermore, the stamps made in the United States are not labelled, “Made in the U.S.A.”.

Is the minister responsible for Canada Post aware that the lack of such a statement of origin constitutes a violation of labelling regulations under the North American Free Trade Agreement?

Canada Post
Oral Question Period

11:50 a.m.

Mississauga West
Ontario

Liberal

Steve Mahoney Secretary of State (Selected Crown Corporations)

Mr. Speaker, I want to assure the House that Canada Post will in fact be soliciting tenders for the production of definitive postage stamps this spring.

The corporation is pleased to consider the application of any Canadian printer who is qualified to meet the standards that Canada Post has for the rolled stamps and the high quality of stamps that we continue to produce for all Canadians.

Canada Post
Oral Question Period

11:50 a.m.

Bloc

Pierre Paquette Joliette, QC

Mr. Speaker, Canada Post asked the Canadian Customs and Revenue Agency for an exemption to the labelling regulations for Canadian stamps produced in the United States. Normally, the statement, “Printed in the U.S.A.” should appear on the stamps, but it does not.

Rather than contravening NAFTA, should the government not require Canada Post to have its stamps made in Quebec or in Canada, which would be the proper thing to do?

Canada Post
Oral Question Period

11:50 a.m.

Mississauga West
Ontario

Liberal

Steve Mahoney Secretary of State (Selected Crown Corporations)

Mr. Speaker, the first priority of Canada Post is to ensure that we have the quality that Canadians expect in the stamps that are sold right across the country.

We have met and talked with representatives of the printing industry to discuss their concerns. I have assured them that Canada Post, which is an arm's length corporation, will take into consideration their concerns and give Canadian companies who can meet the standards every opportunity to print stamps in Canada.

Health
Oral Question Period

11:50 a.m.

Canadian Alliance

Ted White North Vancouver, BC

Mr. Speaker, yesterday at the request of the Canadian Alliance health critic, Health Canada officials provided MPs with a briefing on E.M. Power Plus, a vitamin and mineral supplement developed in Alberta which some Canadians claim combats the effects of bipolar disease.

Since Health Canada officials were unable to identify a single harmful effect from the product, could the minister tell the House why she has imposed a ban on the importation of E.M. Power Plus, a product which apparently harms no one but could be helping thousands of Canadians?

Health
Oral Question Period

11:50 a.m.

Madawaska—Restigouche
New Brunswick

Liberal

Jeannot Castonguay Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Health

Mr. Speaker, I should begin by saying that this product is being promoted as a treatment for certain conditions. Thus, Health Canada considers it a drug.

When we look at the ingredients in this product, and the claim that vitamins present no risk to health, I am sorry but I have to say that astronomical quantities of vitamins can be fatal to patients. Obviously, a product whose ingredients are considered to be drugs should be treated as a drug. We must abide by the law, and that we shall do.

Justice
Oral Question Period

11:50 a.m.

Canadian Alliance

Maurice Vellacott Saskatoon—Wanuskewin, SK

Mr. Speaker, Julian Fantino, the chief of police for Toronto, stated in a letter to me his many concerns about the government choosing to decriminalize marijuana. He referred to research indicating that the number of drivers less than 25 years of age under the influence of marijuana may increase by as much as 400%. Police Chief Fantino spoke of the added hazard that this would create on our roadways.

Does the minister not care about the carnage caused by such impaired drivers each year?

Justice
Oral Question Period

11:50 a.m.

Northumberland
Ontario

Liberal

Paul MacKlin Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada

Mr. Speaker, we certainly do care about everyone driving on our highways and we are concerned about the safety of Canadians. We are interested and a modernized drug strategy is coming forward to reduce the harm for Canadians generally. If we look at the Criminal Code right now, it is and has been in place to protect the public from those who drive while under the influence of drugs.

Member for Saskatoon--Humboldt
Oral Question Period

11:50 a.m.

Liberal

John Harvard Charleswood—St. James—Assiniboia, MB

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the chief government whip.

The hon. member for Saskatoon—Humboldt has produced and distributed a pamphlet that raises serious concerns about hate mongering. In it aboriginal leaders are sharply attacked and even smeared as racists. He has done this with House of Commons mailing privileges.

Will this matter be addressed by the House leaders of all parties? I think members would want to know whether any House rules have been broken.

Member for Saskatoon--Humboldt
Oral Question Period

11:55 a.m.

Liberal

Marlene Catterall Ottawa West—Nepean, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am spokesperson for the Board of Internal Economy. I certainly take the member's concerns very seriously and will be sure that the board addresses this issue at its meeting in the coming week.

Housing
Oral Question Period

11:55 a.m.

Canadian Alliance

Peter Goldring Edmonton Centre-East, AB

Mr. Speaker, $1 billion has been spent over three years and homeless numbers are up. The minister responsible for homelessness hates private landlords, mumbles misinformation and myths, while the minister responsible for CMHC ignores singles altogether.

CMHC states that the census information is missing on singles' housing needs but government spends billions to wine and dine in luxury hotels. A government ignorant of independent living singles' housing needs leaves 15,000 singles languishing in emergency shelters. Does the government not care for Canada's singles?

Housing
Oral Question Period

11:55 a.m.

Mississauga West
Ontario

Liberal

Steve Mahoney Secretary of State (Selected Crown Corporations)

Mr. Speaker, the government has shown a great deal of compassion in the area of affordable housing. We have announced over $1 billion with provincial, municipal and NGOs and private developers, matching the funding to create over 40,000 units in the next five years. That is only the beginning.

Unlike the member opposite, we do not want to put people in compartments. We would rather put them in apartments and build homes that Canadians can be proud of.

Aboriginal Affairs
Oral Question Period

11:55 a.m.

Canadian Alliance

Brian Pallister Portage—Lisgar, MB

Mr. Speaker, the leadership chaos on that side of the House continues. We have rebels taking over caucus meetings, secret pseudo cabinet meetings in dark hallways and Chinese restaurants, and now backroom deals with party executives.

According to a member of the Liberal Party national executive, when the member for LaSalle—Émard inevitably wins the Liberal leadership, the first nations governance act is “dead in the water”. Since the fate of this bill is a foregone conclusion, why does the government continue to waste Parliament's time and taxpayers' money?

Aboriginal Affairs
Oral Question Period

11:55 a.m.

Kenora—Rainy River
Ontario

Liberal

Bob Nault Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development

Mr. Speaker, I think the objective of a good governance structure for first nations is one that we all share. We are going to continue to work with that in mind. The objective of the exercise for all of us is to improve the lives of first nations citizens. This is a work in progress. If the member has any good amendments to suggest, we would like to hear them. So far we have not heard any.

Montreal-Beirut Air Service
Oral Question Period

11:55 a.m.

Bloc

Benoît Sauvageau Repentigny, QC

Mr. Speaker, air service between Montreal and Beirut that Air Canada was slated to provide was cancelled this week by the Canadian government. However, many international airlines continue to offer direct flights to Lebanon from major European cities.

Should we understand that this decision by the Canadian government, far from being the result of air security concerns, is instead a political decision due to pressure from the U.S. government?

Montreal-Beirut Air Service
Oral Question Period

11:55 a.m.

Malpeque
P.E.I.

Liberal

Wayne Easter Solicitor General of Canada

Mr. Speaker, as the member indicated in his preamble, there are still all kinds of options to fly from Montreal to Lebanon and that was certainly taken into consideration in the decision.

I want to point out that it was not as a result of pressure from the Americans that the Canadian government made the decision that it did. We made the decision based on current security information. As a result, we felt it would not be appropriate for that flight to fly directly to Beirut at this time.

International Cooperation
Oral Question Period

11:55 a.m.

Liberal

Karen Redman Kitchener Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, each minute 11 people are infected with HIV. One in every 13 people in sub-Saharan Africa between the ages of 15 and 49 is HIV positive.

Canada has been an international leader in the global fund, being a key founder and one of the first countries to actually contribute.

Could the Minister for International Cooperation inform the House what other initiatives her department has undertaken to fight the AIDS epidemic?

International Cooperation
Oral Question Period

11:55 a.m.

Essex
Ontario

Liberal

Susan Whelan Minister for International Cooperation

Mr. Speaker, Canadians can be proud of their contributions to the global fund, essential in the fight against HIV and AIDS.

We must use all of the tools that are at our disposal to fight the profound challenges that we face with HIV and AIDS. That is why, through CIDA, we have committed to quadrupling our funding to HIV and AIDS between 2000 and 2005 for a total of $270 million. That is why we have contributed $50 million through the Kananaskis fund to find a vaccine for HIV and AIDS. That is why we continue to support HIV-AIDS awareness programs and education programs and treat those who are living with HIV and AIDS in many countries. We are working to provide hope for many people suffering from HIV and AIDS.

Health
Oral Question Period

11:55 a.m.

Bloc

Réal Ménard Hochelaga—Maisonneuve, QC

Mr. Speaker, the ministers of health of the member states of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Forum, APEC, will hold a meeting on SARS in Bangkok, Thailand. The purpose of this meeting, set for the end of June, is to coordinate the efforts of member states in containing the SARS epidemic.

Has the Minister of Health been invited to this meeting, and if so, will she attend?

Health
Oral Question Period

Noon

Madawaska—Restigouche
New Brunswick

Liberal

Jeannot Castonguay Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Health

Mr. Speaker, I cannot claim to know if the minister has been invited; obviously, I have not rifled through her mail. Naturally, I will find out from officials in her department, in order to provide my hon. colleague with an answer.

Fisheries
Oral Question Period

Noon

Progressive Conservative

Gerald Keddy South Shore, NS

Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans is allowing the scallop fleet from his riding to fish in area 29 in my riding and on the best lobster grounds in the world. Meanwhile, area 29 scallopers are not allowed to fish in the minister's riding. As a result, lobster fishermen in area 34 are worried about diminishing stocks that threaten their livelihood.

If the minister's machinations ruin both the scallop and the lobster industries in lobster fishing area 34, will he then allow our fishermen to fish in his riding?

Fisheries
Oral Question Period

Noon

West Nova
Nova Scotia

Liberal

Robert Thibault Minister of Fisheries and Oceans

Mr. Speaker, the full bay scallop fleet has developed the scallop in that area with sound scientific analysis. Last year we included some area lobster fishermen within that fishery, as they will be this year. They are fishing at a very low level with a low yield in a safe manner. I am sure that the fishery will be sustainable both for lobster and scallop forever.

Montreal-Beirut Air Service
Oral Question Period

Noon

NDP

Svend Robinson Burnaby—Douglas, BC

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Solicitor General. A few hours after the first Air Canada flight between Montreal and Beirut took off, the Liberal government withdrew authorization for these flights.

Why has the government given in to pressure from the U.S., particularly when many other airlines, such as Lufthansa and Austrian Airlines, offer direct flights, and no Lebanese nationals have ever been involved in terrorist acts in Canada?

When will the government restore these flights, because it now takes some 27 or 28 hours—

Montreal-Beirut Air Service
Oral Question Period

Noon

The Deputy Speaker

The hon. Solicitor General.

Montreal-Beirut Air Service
Oral Question Period

Noon

Malpeque
P.E.I.

Liberal

Wayne Easter Solicitor General of Canada

Mr. Speaker, I want to underline again that the government does not make decisions based on what the Americans might say. We do our security analysis in a number of ways and we constantly monitor the situation worldwide.

I want to point out that as the member said in his comments on Lebanon, this is not to target any one people. We look at the consequences of terrorist acts around the world. We have a responsibility to protect the security of Canadians.

National Defence
Oral Question Period

Noon

Canadian Alliance

Leon Benoit Lakeland, AB

Mr. Speaker, the Liberal government ripped the heart out of the Canadian army when it disbanded the Canadian airborne regiment, a proud, well-respected, elite, rapid response unit. In today's world many missions must be spearheaded by a fast moving, hard hitting, elite unit that trains together like the airborne regiment.

Will the government agree to right a terrible wrong and reinstate the Canadian airborne regiment?

National Defence
Oral Question Period

Noon

Markham
Ontario

Liberal

John McCallum Minister of National Defence

Mr. Speaker, while the government is determined to move forward with modernizing and transforming the Canadian Forces, the opposition seems poised to dive back into the past.

Let me remind the hon. member that we have these capacities. We have a battalion ready and on standby for NATO and the UN. We have no less than five parachute capabilities within the Canadian Forces. We committed some years ago to double the capacity of our special forces, JTF2. We are ready and looking forward.

Order in Council Appointments
Routine Proceedings

Noon

Northumberland
Ontario

Liberal

Paul MacKlin Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to table, in both official languages, a number of order in council appointments made recently by the government.

Government Response to Petitions
Routine Proceedings

12:05 p.m.

Northumberland
Ontario

Liberal

Paul MacKlin Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada

Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 36(8) I have the honour to table, in both official languages, the government's response to 46 petitions.

Antarctic Environmental Protection Act
Routine Proceedings

12:05 p.m.

Victoria
B.C.

Liberal

David Anderson Minister of the Environment

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-42, an act respecting the protection of the Antarctic environment.

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

Committees of the House
Routine Proceedings

12:05 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

John Williams St. Albert, AB

Mr. Speaker, I have the honour of presenting to the House, in both official languages, the sixteenth report of the Standing Committee on Public Accounts on chapter 1 of the September 2002 report of the Auditor General of Canada, entitled “Human Resources Development Canada—The Integrity of the Social Insurance Number”.

I have the honour of tabling the seventeenth report of the Standing Committee on Public Accounts on a motion by the committee dated February 12, 2003 to review the 2001-02 Public Accounts of Canada, volume 2, part II, section 3, entitled “Losses of public money and property”.

I am also tabling the eighteenth report of the Standing Committee on Public Accounts on chapter 4 of the September 2002 report of the Auditor General, entitled “National Defence—NATO Flying Training in Canada”.

Finally, I am tabling the nineteenth report of the Standing Committee on Public Accounts on chapter 8 of the September 2002 report of the Auditor General, entitled “Public Works and Government Services Canada—Acquisition of Office Space”.

Pursuant to Standing Order 109 of the House of Commons, the committee requests that the government table a comprehensive response to these four reports.

Petitions
Routine Proceedings

12:05 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Grant Hill Macleod, AB

Mr. Speaker, I have almost a barricade of petitions to present today, and to add to some 30,000 that were presented on the same issue. These petitioners ask Parliament to give them more freedom in natural health products rather than restricting their access to those products.

Petitions
Routine Proceedings

12:05 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Carol Skelton Saskatoon—Rosetown—Biggar, SK

Mr. Speaker, I too have petitions with 30,000 names. The petitioners call upon the government to reconsider the way it regulates and monitors natural health products and treatments.

These Canadians believe natural health products are safe and effective. They believe that decades of safe use should be the primary consideration when determining freedom of access. These Canadians are concerned that the government's new rules and regulations will unnecessarily restrict the access to medications and treatments they have safely used for many years.

Petitions
Routine Proceedings

12:05 p.m.

Liberal

Yolande Thibeault Saint-Lambert, QC

Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 36 I have the pleasure of introducing two petitions from the riding of Notre-Dame-de-Grâce—Lachine.

The first petition, which contains about 50 names, calls upon Parliament to freeze the budget of the Department of National Defence pending the public review of military spending priorities and public hearings on the role of the Canadian armed forces.

Petitions
Routine Proceedings

12:05 p.m.

Liberal

Yolande Thibeault Saint-Lambert, QC

Mr. Speaker, the second petition, again from the riding of Notre-Dame-de-Grâce—Lachine, calls upon the government to declare that Canada objects to the United States national missile defence program and that Canada should play a leadership role in banning nuclear weapons and missile flight tests.

Petitions
Routine Proceedings

12:05 p.m.

Liberal

Marlene Catterall Ottawa West—Nepean, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to present petitions from constituents asking Parliament to reject any request to change the traditional definitions of marriage, family and spouse.

Petitions
Routine Proceedings

12:10 p.m.

Liberal

Marlene Catterall Ottawa West—Nepean, ON

Mr. Speaker, I have a second petition commenting on the efficacy of adult stem cell research. The petitioners call upon Parliament to focus its legislative support on adult stem cell research to find cures and therapies.

Petitions
Routine Proceedings

12:10 p.m.

Liberal

Marlene Catterall Ottawa West—Nepean, ON

Mr. Speaker, my last petition calls upon Parliament to repeal section 13(5) of the Canada Post Corporation Act, allowing rural mail couriers to bargain collectively for their wages and conditions of work.

Petitions
Routine Proceedings

12:10 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Maurice Vellacott Saskatoon—Wanuskewin, SK

Mr. Speaker, I have a petition from petitioners who have a great concern about the adding of sexual orientation as an explicitly protected category under sections 318 and 319 of the Criminal Code. The petitioners believe that would lead individuals to be unable to exercise their religious freedom and their freedom of speech as protected under the charter.

They call upon Parliament to protect the rights of Canadians to be able to share their deeply held beliefs without fear of persecution and prosecution, and for the full and lawful use of the Criminal Code as it presently stands.

Petitions
Routine Proceedings

12:10 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Maurice Vellacott Saskatoon—Wanuskewin, SK

Mr. Speaker, I have a petition with 800 names urging Parliament to take all legislative measures necessary to preserve the current definition of marriage as the union between one man and one woman.

Petitions
Routine Proceedings

12:10 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Maurice Vellacott Saskatoon—Wanuskewin, SK

Mr. Speaker, I have a petition calling on the government to ban the sale or exchange of human embryonic or fetal tissue or human reproductive services.

Petitions
Routine Proceedings

12:10 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Maurice Vellacott Saskatoon—Wanuskewin, SK

Mr. Speaker, lastly, I have a petition, referring back to the Latimer euthanasia Supreme Court case, strongly expressing opposition to euthanasia and stating the desire for Parliament to ensure that anti-euthanasia legislation is in force to protect those most vulnerable in our society.

Petitions
Routine Proceedings

12:10 p.m.

Liberal

Peter Adams Peterborough, ON

Mr. Speaker, I have a series of petitions which were initiated by St. Margaret's Church in Midland, Ontario.

This petition is from citizens who point out that hundreds of Canadians suffer from illnesses such as Parkinson's, Alzheimer's, diabetes, ALS, muscular dystrophy and others. The petitioners support ethical stem cell research which has already shown potential for such diseases.

They call upon Parliament to focus its legislative support on adult stem cell research to find cures and therapies necessary for Canadians suffering from such diseases.

Petitions
Routine Proceedings

12:10 p.m.

Liberal

Peter Adams Peterborough, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to present a petition from citizens of the Peterborough area who point out that kidney disease is a huge and still growing problem in Canada. Real progress has been made in various ways of preventing and coping with kidney disease.

The petitioners call upon Parliament to encourage the Canadian Institutes of Health Research to explicitly include kidney research as one of the institutes in its system and to be named the institute for kidney and urinary tract diseases.

Petitions
Routine Proceedings

12:10 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Jay Hill Prince George—Peace River, BC

Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 36 it is my pleasure to present this petition from Canadians across Canada who want to draw the attention of the House of Commons that adoptive parents make a significant social contribution to our society.

The petitioners strongly believe that adoptive parents often face significant adoption related costs. However, out-of-pocket adoption expenses are not tax deductible. The petitioners are concerned about that.

Therefore, the petitioners would like to see Parliament pass legislation to provide a deduction for expenses related to the adoption of a child. I note that my private member's Bill C-246 would do exactly that.

Petitions
Routine Proceedings

12:10 p.m.

Liberal

John Maloney Erie—Lincoln, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to present a petition from my constituents of Erie--Lincoln.

The petition notes that the definition of marriage as the union between a man and a woman is being challenged. They further note that the House passed a motion in June 1999 that called for marriage to continue to be defined as a union of one man and one woman to the exclusion of all others.

Therefore, the petitioners call upon Parliament to pass legislation to recognize the institution of marriage in federal laws as being a lifelong union of one man and one woman to the exclusion of all others.

Petitions
Routine Proceedings

12:10 p.m.

NDP

Svend Robinson Burnaby—Douglas, BC

Mr. Speaker, I have the honour of presenting a petition which is signed by residents of Grand Forks, British Columbia, particularly those who are active in End the Arms Race. The petitioners are very concerned about the signing of a space preservation treaty.

They call upon Parliament to lead the world community by enacting legislation to immediately ratify the space preservation treaty and to deposit the treaty with the Secretary-General of the United Nations under the rules of the United Nations.

They also call upon Parliament to urge the Canadian government to immediately convene a treaty signing conference for the space preservation treaty to encourage the necessary 20 signatories that make the treaty go into full force.

The petitioners call on the Canadian government to show leadership in this important area of the space preservation treaty, particularly in light of their concern about the recent announcement by the Liberal government that it intends to enter into discussions to support the so-called George Bush star wars scheme.

Petitions
Routine Proceedings

12:15 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Gurmant Grewal Surrey Central, BC

Mr. Speaker, I rise on behalf of the constituents of Surrey Central to present a petition signed by 425 people. The petitioners request that Parliament invoke the notwithstanding clause to override the B.C. Court of Appeal decision and reinstate subsection (4) of section 163.1 of the Criminal Code, making the possession of child pornography illegal and, by so doing, reinforce and reaffirm our objection to the B.C. Court of Appeal decision.

Petitions
Routine Proceedings

12:15 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Gurmant Grewal Surrey Central, BC

Mr. Speaker, in the second petition the petitioners are concerned about the poor pay and working conditions for rural route mail couriers and believe these mail couriers should be permitted to bargain collectively, a right held by their urban counterparts.

The petitioners thereby request that Parliament repeal subsection 13(5) of the Canada Post Corporation Act.

Petitions
Routine Proceedings

12:15 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Gurmant Grewal Surrey Central, BC

Mr. Speaker, in the final petition the petitioners call upon Parliament to focus its legislative support on adult stem cell research to find cures and therapies necessary to treat the illness and diseases of suffering Canadians.

Petitions
Routine Proceedings

12:15 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Scott Reid Lanark—Carleton, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am honoured today to introduce a very timely petition on the subject of Bill C-250, which is an issue that will be debated this afternoon in the House of Commons.

The petition draws the attention of hon. members to the concern of the petitioners that this bill would represent an assault on freedom of speech and freedom of religion. They worry that their capacity to worship freely and to freely express their religious views would be limited by this bill.

The petitioners, therefore, encourage Parliament to protect freedom of religion by voting down this bill.

Petitions
Routine Proceedings

12:15 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Scott Reid Lanark—Carleton, ON

Mr. Speaker, I have a second petition initiated by Bob Narraway, a constituent in my riding in Almonte, drawing the attention of the House to the fact that the current definition of marriage is the union of one man and one woman to the exclusion of all others and encouraging Parliament to do all it can to maintain that definition.

Petitions
Routine Proceedings

12:15 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Scott Reid Lanark—Carleton, ON

Mr. Speaker, I have a third petition in which the petitioners condemn the use of child pornography and encourage Parliament to protect our children by taking all necessary steps to ensure that all materials which promote or glorify pedophilia or sado-masochistic activities against children are outlawed.

Petitions
Routine Proceedings

12:15 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Scott Reid Lanark—Carleton, ON

Mr. Speaker, the last petition I have today is from a number of constituents who draw the attention of the House to the fact the rural route mail couriers frequently earn less than minimum wage and have working conditions that are judged by the petitioners to be unsatisfactory and reminiscent of an earlier era. They are denied the right to bargain collectively.

The petitioners encourage Parliament to take corrective measures to end this situation.

Questions on the Order Paper
Routine Proceedings

12:15 p.m.

Northumberland
Ontario

Liberal

Paul MacKlin Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada

Mr. Speaker, Question No. 226 will be answered today.

Question No. 226
Routine Proceedings

12:15 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Scott Reid Lanark—Carleton, ON

With respect to the employment insurance EI, programme expressed as averages: ( a ) what is the waiting time to receive EI benefits after an application has been filed in each EI region; and ( b ) what has been the waiting time in each EI region from January 2000 to the most recent quarter?

Question No. 226
Routine Proceedings

12:15 p.m.

Brant
Ontario

Liberal

Jane Stewart Minister of Human Resources Development

The employment insurance’s, EI, goal is to maintain service levels to 28 days for claims for benefits. This means that the department has an established national performance target of advising claimants of entitlement to benefits and is issuing payments within 28 days of the commencement date of a claim, which is achieved in 75% of the cases.

Statistics and performances are not available by economic region. Therefore they are tracked and reported nationally and regionally for Canada and by province.

Nationally, for the period January to March 2003, EI benefits were issued on average within 16 days of receipt of the claim for benefits.

Please find attached a chart which highlights actual performance results by province on a quarterly basis.

Average number of days from receipt to payment

Question No. 226
Routine Proceedings

12:15 p.m.

Liberal

Paul MacKlin Northumberland, ON

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

Question No. 226
Routine Proceedings

12:15 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

Is that agreed?

Question No. 226
Routine Proceedings

12:15 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

The House resumed consideration of the motion in relation to the amendments made by the Senate to Bill C-10B, an act to amend the Criminal Code (cruelty to animals).

An Act to amend the Criminal Code (cruelty to animals)
Government Orders

12:15 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

When we interrupted for statements by members and question period, the hon. member for South Shore still had some time remaining.

An Act to amend the Criminal Code (cruelty to animals)
Government Orders

12:15 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Gerald Keddy South Shore, NS

Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure for me to finish my time in debate on Bill C-10B, the cruelty to animals legislation.

As hon. members know, the cruelty to animal legislation was sent from this House to the Senate. The Senate, in its wisdom, amended, improved and changed the legislation and sent it back to the House of Commons in a better and more correct form in my opinion.

In my previous comments on Bill C-10B, I explained a number of points to which the Progressive Conservative Party took great exception in the legislation and therefore found many reasons to put in amendments to try to improve the bill.

There is a need to improve the legislation. As I said earlier in debate, the legislation is over 100 years old. It is obviously time for the bill to be modernized to reflect the current views and opinions of people, and to reflect the current public attitude about animals.

Without question, we agree with parts of the bill. I do not have any difficulty outlining those parts.

For instance, we have absolutely no problem with that part of the bill that states that no one should wilfully poison an animal or leave bait out where an animal can get hold of it. It is against the law to in any manner encourage, promote, arrange, assist or receive money for the fighting or baiting of animals, including training an animal to fight another animal. That is the bear pits and the bull pits of medieval society, and we have come a long way since those days. It needs to be an illegal activity to build, maintain, keep or allow to be built, made, maintained or kept, a cock pit or any other arena for the fighting of animals on premises. We can see in the language that there is very clear legislation that prevents cock fighting, dog fighting, baiting of animals or the type of activity with which most members of society would not want to be associated in any way shape or form .

The other thing of course is that anyone who raises animals to be released and immediately shot is also doing so against the law. I think that has been changed slightly to allow people who raise pheasants on pheasant ranges to release the birds in the wild and then they can be hunted. I do not think the legislation is trying to persecute those individuals.

Proposed section 182.6 defines law enforcement animal, meaning a dog, a horse or any other animal used by a police officer or public officer in the execution of duty. Everyone commits an offence who wilfully or recklessly poisons, injures or kills a law enforcement animal while it is aiding or assisting a police officer or public officer engaged in the execution of their duties or a person acting in aid of such an officer.

That type of legislation and that type of amendment to the old act is important, and they are amendments that we would support in the Progressive Conservative Party. The basis of clause 2 to amend section 182.3 states:

(1) Every one commits an offence who

(a) negligently causes unnecessary pain, suffering or injury to an animal;

(b) being the owner, or the person having the custody or control of an animal, wilfully or recklessly...

This is the key sentence “wilfully or recklessly”. It goes on to state:

--abandons it or negligently fails to provide suitable and adequate, food, water, air, shelter and care for it; or

(c) negligently injures an animal while it is being conveyed.

It goes on to define negligent as meaning departing markedly from the standard care that a person would use. I have absolutely no difficulty with that part of the legislation and I and the PC Party support it 100%.

Again I do take exception to clause 2 of Bill C-10B that amends subsections 182.2 (a) and (b) where it states, “causes or, being the owner, permits to be caused unnecessary pain, suffering or injury to an animal”.

The difficulty is in the definition. We are not sure what that definition is. I have a great deal of difficulty in allowing people to subjectively decide from their background what that definition is, and in this case that subjective decision would be made by a judge.

When one looks at “kills an animal or, being the owner, permits an animal to be killed, brutally or viciously, regardless of whether the animal dies immediately” as being a punishable offence, at first glance one would say that it should be an offence. However when one understands there is no real definition to “brutally” or “viciously”, it becomes much more difficult. What is a brutal and vicious act in the mind of one person may not be the same in the mind of another.

I know what it means to me, and I do not think I want to discuss that in public debate, but I do not know what it means to the government. Therefore, people who work in slaughterhouses, people whose livelihoods depend on processing animals, farmers, fishermen and hunters, have yet to see “brutally” and “viciously” described and thoroughly explained. I am concerned and worried about that.

There needs to be a clearer definition in the legislation. We all know what unnecessary pain is and we would agree with that. The rest of it is more subjective and very troublesome to this otherwise good piece of legislation.

An Act to amend the Criminal Code (cruelty to animals)
Government Orders

12:25 p.m.

NDP

Svend Robinson Burnaby—Douglas, BC

Madam Speaker, my intervention will be very brief but I do want to stand in the House to indicate my strong support for Bill C-10B in its original form, in the form in which it was adopted by the House and sent to the Senate, I believe, in October of last year.

We as New Democrats, certainly I, as the member of Parliament for Burnaby--Douglas, strongly supported the provisions of Bill C-10B, which was Bill C-10, that strengthened the protection of animals. I would note that the current provisions of the Criminal Code date back almost 100 years. The original code in fact dates back to over 100 years. The original code was enacted in 1892. The animal sections of the Criminal Code were written basically to protect working animals, such as cattle and horses. These sections have only had very minor changes over the course of the past 100 years.

Therefore the changes that were passed by the House last fall were long overdue. Some would say that the bill, even as it was finally adopted by the House, was already somewhat watered down in terms of the importance of protecting animals in Canada.

I want to say very clearly that what I believe the Senate has done to the bill, both in terms of splitting the bill and now sending it back to the House watered down, is totally unacceptable. We strongly reject the amendments that have been proposed by the Senate in a number of areas.

It seems to me that what the Senate has basically done is it has caved in to industry as opposed to standing up to protect animals in this country.

There have been a lot of misconceptions about what Bill C-10B actually does. For example, I would point out that Bill C-10B does not actually widen the scope of what is a criminal offence in terms of the definition of animal itself. Currently, under the existing provisions of the Criminal Code, there is no definition of an animal. Bill C-10B actually narrows it by incorporating a definition.

Theoretically today, and I emphasize theoretically, a person could attempt to bring a criminal charge against somebody for harming a fish, a worm or, as my friend from Nova Scotia suggested, for boiling a lobster. However the reality is that a crown prosecutor would never allow such a charge to proceed.

As well, it is very important that we finally move animals and the protection of animals out of the property section of the Criminal Code. This is very important. To some extent it does elevate the status of animals. I think that is long overdue. It has been clearly documented that there is a link between violence to animals and violence toward humans. It is highly appropriate to protect animals because they can suffer whether someone owns them or not. Therefore taking the animal protection provisions out of the property sections of the Criminal Code is a provision that we welcome.

However, like the Canadian Federation of Humane Societies, the International Fund for Animal Welfare and many others, we reject strongly the attempt by the Senate to weaken the bill as it was passed by this House.

The International Fund for Animal Welfare has pointed out that every day in Canada an estimated 110 animals are abused or killed, and there are too many examples of terrible cruelty to animals that we must vigorously prosecute and condemn.

As I said, the existing provisions of the Criminal Code with respect to the protection of the rights of animals are hopelessly outdated. We believe that the Senate has abrogated its responsibility to Canadians, to listen to Canadians, the vast majority of Canadians, who want to strengthen the protection of animals in Canada. Instead, what it has done is it has watered down that protection. We say that is totally unacceptable.

I once again want to reiterate our strong support for effective and tough animal protection legislation. We want to see the legislation adopted in the form that it left the House in the first place. We think the Senate itself, as we have said for some time, should not exist as an unelected and unaccountable body. What better example of the abuse of that Senate power than the way in which it has dealt with Bill C-10B.

An Act to amend the Criminal Code (cruelty to animals)
Government Orders

12:30 p.m.

Liberal

Tom Wappel Scarborough Southwest, ON

Madam Speaker, I am very pleased to speak today to this issue. I want to explain first why it is that I am speaking to this issue.

For over five and a half years I was a full member of the justice committee and took a very active role in the issues of the justice committee. Having done that, I have always kept my eye out on the agenda of the justice committee so I could see what was going on in the justice committee, attend when I thought it was important, review the transcripts when I thought it was important and talk to my colleagues when I thought it was important.

When this particular bill in its original form came before the committee I was asked by the then chairman of the Liberal Party's rural caucus to attend the hearings, particularly because I am a lawyer and because I think that the then chair felt that I would take a look at this legislation in an objective manner.

I agreed to do that at the request of the then chairman and I did sit in on the committee hearings insofar as they pertained to Bill C-10. At that time it had two parts, namely the part respecting firearms and the part respecting the protection of animals. My remarks of course will be completely restricted to the part respecting the protection of animals.

As a member of the committee I was able to listen to evidence and to ask questions with respect to the evidence that we heard. We heard a lot of compelling evidence from a lot of people on different sides of the issue.

What was common to all people was that everyone wanted to make sure that animals were protected from unnecessary and cruel pain. I doubt very much if anyone in Canada would argue that it is perfectly acceptable to inflict purposeful pain on an animal.

However numerous legal issues had to be dealt with in respect of the provisions of Bill C-10 which dealt with the protection of animals. I want to mention a couple of the things that occurred while I was sitting on that committee and while I was reporting to the then chair of the Liberal Party rural caucus.

After listening to all the evidence we were talking about various amendments that might be able to go through. In late 2001, I wrote to the then parliamentary secretary to the minister of justice setting forth some friendly suggestions that I had to amend the bill to make it better, make it stronger, make it able to more easily protect animals while at the same time not being assailed by people because they thought it was somehow affecting their day to day livelihoods.

I just want to discuss a couple of the amendments that I suggested at that time. I will turn my attention to the very beginning of the bill. The bill in its form as passed by the House of Commons defined animal. It defined animal to mean “a vertebrate other than a human being and any other animal that has the capacity to feel pain”.

We heard compelling testimony from organizations such as the Poultry Welfare Coalition, the Canadian Veterinary Medical Association, the Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada, among others. A couple of those briefs made some recommendations to leave out that portion which said “any other animal that has the capacity to feel pain”, for a variety of reasons, including that there was no scientific unanimity on what animals have the capacity to feel pain, and that it would not be fair to litigate this ad nauseam in the courts with the attendant legal costs of calling scientific experts.

I recommended to the parliamentary secretary at that time that that particular definition be amended in the following way: “In this part, animal means a vertebrate other than a human being, whether privately owned or otherwise, which is hereby deemed to need protection from cruelty because it feels pain”.

The reason I did that was because those who were advocating changes wanted to link the concept of the protection of animals to the fact that they feel pain. I had no problem with that.

The point of my amendment was to say that vertebrates feel pain and obviously my amendment did not include animals that have the capacity to feel pain or may have the capacity to feel pain but are not vertebrates.

Interestingly enough, the bureaucracy at that time rejected that amendment outright. Lo and behold, the Senate held its hearings. What did it recommend as an amendment to the definition? It recommended that animal be defined as a vertebrate other than a human being. In effect, that is exactly what I recommended to the parliamentary secretary to the minister of justice and exactly what was rejected by the minister of justice at the end of 2001.

The Senate decided that the definition of animal should be limited to a vertebrate other than a human being. I applaud it for that for the reasons that I suggested that the amendment should proceed.

I see that the Minister of Justice now has moved a motion which reads:

That a message be sent to the Senate to acquaint their Honours that this House agrees with amendments numbered 1 and 5 made by the Senate to Bill C-10B, an act to amend the Criminal Code....

In fact, the Minister of Justice has now accepted an amendment which is exactly what I proposed at the end of 2001 and which was rejected. It just shows how ridiculously this place works. It is a shame that in many instances the bureaucracy cannot conceive of the fact that anybody but the bureaucracy can come up with an idea or with a suggested amendment that actually might make the bill better.

I am pleased to see that the Senate made the definition of animal to be that of a vertebrate other than a human being. I am glad to see that the Minister of Justice has finally seen the light and has agreed to that amendment years after I suggested it.

I have a second thing I want to talk about. I note that they are agreeing to some suggested amendments in the French version, and I have no comments on that. I do, however, want to comment on an amendment the Senate suggested to add to section 182.5.

The bill as passed had in it a protection, shall we say, of common law defences and the section as it passed reads as follows:

For greater certainty, subsection 8(3)applies in respect of proceedings for anoffence under this Part.

The document I am looking at is a document that says “Bill C-10B as passed by the House of Commons, October 9, 2002”.

Section 182.5 referred to subsection 8(3) of the Criminal Code. If we go to subsection 8(3) of the Criminal Code we see that it states the following:

Every rule and principle of the common law that renders any circumstance a justification or excuse for an act or a defence to a charge continues in force and applies in respect of proceedings for an offence under this Act or any other Act--

In other words, it is carrying on common law justifications or excuses. The debate at the time had to do with whether that was specific enough to allow the legal justification for the act, or that there was colour of right to do the act. Certain recommendations were made but they were rejected by the government to, shall we say, specifically state what the situation was.

I recommended to the parliamentary secretary that section 182.3 be amended in line 12, at that time, by adding “negligently or with legal justification, excuse or colour of right”. Why? To specifically remind people that legal justification or excuse or colour of right defences were allowed. The government said no.

Now the Senate has recommended that section 182.5 be amended to read as follows:

No person shall be convicted of an offence under this Part where he proves that he acted with legal justification or excuse or with colour of right.

Those were virtually my words at the end of November 2001. Obviously, since I agreed with them at that time, I agree with them now. The Senate was right in making this suggested amendment.

What does the government say with respect to this suggested amendment? It is interesting because the government agrees with the principle set out in amendment numbered 4, “namely, the desire to reassure Canadians that no defences are lost, but, because the wording of the amendment would codify a reverse onus by requiring an accused person to prove his or her innocence on a balance of probabilities”. The government thinks the latter is a bad idea and it proposes an amendment to replace section 182.5 with the following:

For greater certainty, the defences set out in subsection 429(2) apply, to the extent that they are relevant, in respect of proceedings for an offence under this Part.

I know I am talking legal jargon, but what does this mean? The Senate wanted to ensure that the defences of legal justification or excuse or with colour of right remain. Yes, the amendment does say “where he proves that he acted with legal justification or excuse and with colour of right”, and yes, that does put an onus on the defendant. The government, in its response, says that it agrees with the sentiment but not with the exact amendment of the Senate because it puts a reverse onus on the defendant.

If we look at the amendment proposed by the government, which no longer refers to subsection 8(3) of the Criminal Code but rather refers to subsection 429(2) of the Criminal Code, subsection 429(2) of the Criminal Code says:

No person shall be convicted of an offence under sections 430 to 446 where he proves that he acted with legal justification or excuse and with colour of right.

The government is proposing an amendment to put in the defences in subsection 429(2) because the Senate amendment reverses the onus and requires the defendant to prove this, yet the very section that the government is quoting to prevent this reverse onus calls for a reverse onus and requires that the defendant prove that he acted with legal justification or excuse and with colour of right.

I suggest that indeed the so-called problem that the Minister of Justice observed, which was the reverse onus problem, has not been solved by the government's proposed amendment because it has merely quoted subsection 429(2) of the Criminal Code which calls for a reverse onus on the defendant. While one possibly might agree with the government's rationale for not agreeing with the Senate amendment, the government's proposed resolution does not resolve it. In fact, it maintains the reverse onus on the defendant. I do not know what was going on when these responses were being prepared to the Senate's message, but I think somebody goofed.

I know that after fourteen and a half years I have become very cynical about this place and about how much ordinary members of Parliament are listened to, and in particular how much ordinary members of Parliament are listened to by the bureaucracy, which I dare say in my view is just about never.

I implore justice department officials to look at subsection 429(2), which clearly calls for a reverse onus on the defendant. How can they quote in their suggested amendment to protect against the reverse onus on a defendant a section which requires a reverse onus? It simply does not make logical sense. I am urging the government to look at that and thereby leave the amendment the way the Senate proposed the amendment. There is nothing wrong with the proposal that the Senate has put forward.

The final point I want to make about the Senate amendments concerns the third amendment. The Senate proposed in a particular section that a clause be added which reads as follows:

No person shall be convicted of an offence under paragraph (1)(a) if the pain, suffering, injury or death is caused in the course of traditional hunting, trapping or fishing practices carried out by a person who is one of the Aboriginal peoples of Canada in any area in which Aboriginal peoples have harvesting rights under or by virtue of existing aboriginal or treaty rights within the meaning of section 35 of the Constitution Act, 1982, and any pain, suffering or injury caused is no more than is reasonably necessary in the carrying out of those traditional practices

The clear intent of that amendment is to protect the traditions of our aboriginal peoples. I want to give two potential examples. Suppose aboriginal people go out to hunt caribou and choose for reasons best known to them to use a spear or bow and arrow as opposed to a high powered hunting rifle. Suppose that the arrow hits its mark but does not kill the caribou immediately. That caribou may, obviously in pain, travel across the tundra for some period of time with the hunter following it until it drops and dies. That example has been the way of life of the aboriginal people since time immemorial. They are afraid that the bill might cause someone to be charged for inflicting unnecessary pain and suffering on such an animal.

Let us take another example. A trapline is set for a beaver and it gets caught in the trap. It can either chew its foot off, which would be terribly painful, or starve to death or die of thirst in the trap because the hunter only visits the trapline once every week. Would that be chargeable? That is also something that has been done for millennia in different ways and I can see why the aboriginal peoples would be concerned that some overzealous person might lay a charge under these particular amendments.

This is clearly why this amendment is there. I do not care for different laws for different folks. All Canadians should be bound by the same laws, but if there were traditional rights or aboriginal rights that precede Canada, they would have to be honoured. I do not have a problem with that. What does the government say in response to this? The government says that it:

Disagrees with amendment numbered 3 because it is unclear and creates confusion about whether the intent is to create a different test for liability of aboriginal persons and because there is no clarity as to what “traditional practices” are and how law enforcement can be expected to act accordingly;

This is a ridiculous comment because the government says there is no definition of traditional practices, but we have countless examples in the House of the government amending the Criminal Code without defining certain words. I will not even bother getting into it because the history is well known, but it does not seem to trouble the government when it feels like it to put in amendments to the Criminal Code without defining certain words. Of course it would be up to the circumstances of each particular case to determine whether a particular aboriginal group had a pre-existing or section 35 or treaty right to do what it did if it were charged with cruelty to animals.

That must decided on a case by case basis. It clearly is dependent on the facts of the case. To say that we need a definition of certain words or to say that it is unclear in my view is simply disingenuous. I fully support the protection of animals from undue cruelty. I fully support Bill C-10 and the Senate amendments that I have mentioned do strengthen the bill and I support them.

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12:50 p.m.

Liberal

John Bryden Ancaster—Dundas—Flamborough—Aldershot, ON

Madam Speaker, I am pleased to follow the member for Scarborough Southwest because in listening to his remarks it was gratifying to learn that other members on this side had the same concerns about the definition of animal in this legislation and took action.

The member for Scarborough Southwest would be interested to hear what I said in this place on June 3, 2002, when this legislation was before the House at third reading stage. I rose and I said:

Throughout its long journey through the House of Commons I have struggled in the background with the definition of animal in the legislation and tried to change it, unsuccessfully, I regret to say. I am hoping that when the bill goes on to the Senate that the senators will take some of my concerns to heart--

And of course, what we have before us today is the senators did take my concerns to heart. They have changed the definition of animal. My concern was exactly the same as the concern expressed by the member for Scarborough Southwest. The definition of an animal in the original legislation was far too broad. It defined an animal as a vertebrate other than a human being and any other animal that has the capacity to feel pain.

Well, it does not take much imagination to know what would have happened if that definition actually made it into law. There would have been unlimited litigation as various animal rights organizations brought forward cases claiming cruelty to crustaceans, octopus, squids, amoebas, you name it, worms even could be included. That definition was so broad that virtually any sentient creature could have been included. It is still a puzzle to me as to why the justice department steadfastly defended a policy that was so obviously in the interests of the radical animal rights organizations and so obviously would have taken up so much time in litigation.

I was interested to hear the parliamentary secretary defend the original definition by saying that the original definition was drafted with a view to bringing some clarity to the law to enunciate that vertebrates were included. Well, that is obvious. There was never a question about that. He went on to say that the original definition “would have allowed the Crown to prosecute a case in respect of a non-vertebrate if it was prepared to meet the burden of proof beyond a reasonable doubt that the animal had the capacity to feel pain”. And here is where we get into this whole problem of where people look at words in their legalistic sense and do not look at what the words actually mean, and what they actually connote in the broad sense.

Any sentient creature has the ability to feel pain. If we take an non-vertebrate animal from the sea and cut it, it will react. It will shrink back. I am reminded of the fact that the Discovery magazine very recently had quite an article on a scientist in the United States who had made a career of studying squid. The way he would get the squid is it was basically by hook and he would pull them out of the water. He noted rather elaborately in his article that the squid very obviously showed all kinds of indications that they were experiencing pain. They flushed red, they did this, that and the other thing.

Now the issue that the justice department officials, who formulated this policy that has this capacity to feel pain definition in it, is they ignored the question of whether an animal suffers or not. When we talk about cruelty to animals, what we are really talking about is causing another creature to suffer.

I submit to you, Madam Speaker, as I did numerous times in the various speeches that I have done on this topic before, is that if an animal basically does not have a brain, if it basically does not have a sense of--

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12:50 p.m.

An hon. member

That do not have a brain.

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12:50 p.m.

Liberal

John Bryden Ancaster—Dundas—Flamborough—Aldershot, ON

I see one of the members of the Canadian Alliance immediately interjected, but I can assure you, Madam Speaker, that I was not thinking about them in any context. But returning, because it is an important point.

If a creature does not have a brain and it does not have a sense of presence, it does not have the ability to suffer.

The justice department officials, in their arguments in defence of the broad definition, suggested that science was still examining whether creatures had the capacity to feel pain. It is a complete misreading of the science on the issue. The science on the issue is really about what creatures have the capacity to suffer, because every creature has the capacity to feel pain if it reacts to hot and cold, to things that cause it discomfort, to things that injure it.

It was, as the member for Scarborough Southwest said, a very, very difficult journey for those of us who objected to that definition and could see the very negative consequences that must flow from it.

I even went to the extent to do access to information requests on where this definition came from, where was the policy developed in the Department of Justice. You would be interested to know, Madam Speaker, that in getting answers to those questions, what I discovered was that the majority of organizations and other people who were consulted on this animal cruelty legislation and on what definition would be appropriate said that it should be applied only to animals that could be defined as vertebrates, other than human beings.

It was only the radical animal rights organizations that suggested the definition should be extended to all creatures that have the capacity to feel pain, including the International Fund for Animal Welfare, for example, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, and the Animal Alliance. These are organizations that are at the extreme end of the debate on what constitutes cruelty to animals.

I was disappointed to see that the justice department officials, the policy makers, chose to take this very, very broad definition instead of the definition of the more respected organizations. I could never explain it. I still do not understand why this happened.

One of the difficulties in the legislation now is the Access to Information Act does not permit members of Parliament and people in the public, ordinary Canadians, to ask the Department of Justice officials to explain the rationale because they claim solicitor-client privilege in their advice to ministers. I would very dearly love to have seen what it was, what the actual advice was to the minister on the definition of animal. We will not see that.

The important thing to bear in mind is, however, that in the end, I think the correction has been made. It has been done by the Senate instead of by the government in the process of the bill through the House of Commons.

I think it gives great credit to the Senate. It does show that the other place has an important role to play in our parliamentary life. Because it is true that sometimes no matter how hard we work on this side of the House, both on the government benches and the opposition benches, when we try to raise red flags about aspects of legislation that may have vast, unintended consequences, often, I regret to say, we are not heard here. This is a fine instance of where the Senate has intervened and has done, in my view, the right thing.

I would add one final point, that this is the second time this week that I have spoken in praise of the Senate because it has amended legislation that it has received from the House.

Ironically, the legislation that the Senate amended that we debated was an amendment to the Lobbyists Registration Act, Bill C-15. Again the Senate did an improvement that was not originally on the government agenda.

I refer you to the point, Madam Speaker, that I had mentioned earlier in my speeches, that there is evidence, or there is the suggestion at least that policy on the definition of animal may have been unduly influenced, in my view, by the tremendous lobbying that was done by very powerful animal rights organizations using professional lobbyists.

Unfortunately, in my research using the Access to Information Act and the Lobbyists Registration Act, I was never able to make the connection between the organizations that were lobbying for this huge, broad definition of animal and who they were lobbying. It will remain unknown, I think now forever and it is gone now, who it was in the bureaucracy that paid such heed to those who sought the broadest possible definition of animal and turned a deaf ear to those very, very fine organizations, very credible organizations, that suggested the definition of animal should be simply a vertebrate other than a human being, which is the definition that the Senate has given us and that the government has now, at this late date, finally accepted.

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1 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Peter MacKay Pictou—Antigonish—Guysborough, NS

Madam Speaker, I am pleased to take part in this debate.

The bill has followed a rather long and circuitous route to this point. Clearly there is a need, given the duration since legislation of this sort has been before the House of Commons. It is somewhere in the range of 100 years since we have updated this particular section of the Criminal Code that deals specifically with the issue of cruelty to animals. This is something concerns all Canadians and something that invokes a very emotional response from most.

It is my view and the view of the Progressive Conservative Party that this is the type of legislation because of its broad ramifications that we have to be extremely careful with.

The Senate has played an important role in what I would describe as refining and improving this bill. The bill deals in great detail with the need to protect animals, balanced of course with the livelihood of Canadians whose virtual well-being and existence are derived from their interaction with animals. I am speaking of course of the traditional farmers, hunters and trappers just to name a few.

The need to hold those accountable and punish individuals who would intentionally injure or kill animals is without a doubt a priority. Further to that point there is clear evidence now coming from various sources and psychological studies that link individuals, youth, who show aggression and have abusive tendencies toward animals with a tendency to do the same to fellow humans. That underscores again the importance of the Government of Canada reacting to this and bringing forward legislation which sends the proper message of accountability, denunciation and deterrence for individuals who would be prone to abuse animals.

The cases of cruelty toward animals that have come forward and the cases that I myself have been involved in prosecuting are totally disturbing and would shock the sensibilities of most Canadians.

I am supportive of many aspects of this legislation. I believe that the consultation on this bill was extensive. We heard from all sectors of those affected and groups that have taken on the specific task of protecting animals. Their input was comprehensive and very helpful in drafting the bill.

The decision to remove the current Criminal Code provisions which deal with animal cruelty from the property section of the Criminal Code is one which has invoked a very strong, and I would suggest, negative response. The proprietary aspects of animal use have always been extremely important to animal cruelty laws, but also important to those individuals who derive their livelihood from working with animals.

Moving animal cruelty out of part 11 of the Criminal Code removes the protection that animal users had by virtue of section 429(2). This important section currently permits acts to be done with legal justification or excuse or with colour of right, therefore providing a built-in exemption for activities in particular that involve hunting, trapping and farming where there would be an unwitting or unjust finding that an individual has contravened the law in the pursuit of their livelihood. That built-in protection was removed when we took these animal cruelty sections out of the property sections and put them in a stand-alone scenario.

I do, however, share the concerns of many Canadians that the definition of animal cruelty involving any animal that has the capacity to feel pain was in need of amendment and of further clarification. Through such a definition I believe we have found the proper balance.

Concerns were expressed early on in our deliberations at the justice committee that there might be some stretch that would involve prosecutions for things such as baiting a hook or boiling a lobster. These types of activities are obviously a stretch to suggest that they would have resulted in prosecution. Nevertheless, when we are dealing with something as important as this, it is important to give clarity to those affected.

Therefore our party has been unequivocal in its support for improving and enhancing the Criminal Code provisions dealing with animals and cruelty to animals.

There were a number of changes made by the Senate which highlighted the usefulness of the Senate to examine something like this. In a calmer light certain provisions were enhanced and were changed. The aboriginal exemption was one which was highly contentious, one which is I believe welcome and has again struck the balance needed.

The former minister, when dealing with this issue of carelessness over the drafting of Bill C-17, the original bill, used words such as “wilful”, “cruelty” and “unnecessary pain” in the drafting of this bill, Bill C-15B. However I hearken back to the decision to take it out of property and put it into a stand alone section. That in my view was a mistake. It would have been much simpler to make these amendments and leave it in the property section. The argument against that was that it would inhibit the ability to prosecute those cases. I think that was a false argument and a false premise.

Enhancing this law is the purpose. I believe that has occurred. The protections that were built in by leaving it in the property section would in no way inhibit the accountability aspects. The elevated fines and the elevated potential jail time would still be there and would still be available to the crown to pursue through prosecution.

The aspects of the legislation which touch upon the need to prevent any sort of needless pain or suffering of course are also embraced and quickly supported by our party. There are many examples, as I referred to earlier, where cases that proceeded through the courts resulted in inadequate fines and inadequate results that did not send the proper message to society.

The laws to protect animals must be very clear and unequivocal in sending the message to individuals who are prone to this type of activity.

I took the step of introducing to the House of Commons a bill specifically aimed at identifying prosecution in the area of puppy mills. This is something that came to public attention in recent years where animals, not just dogs, were being raised for mass sale commercially and where animals were treated to the most abysmal conditions. This is still a problem and perhaps is in need of a specific reference in the Criminal Code to address anyone so inclined.

The traditional practices were under examination throughout this process of drafting the bill. Hunting, fishing, farming and many other legitimate activities do not fit the description of mean spirited, violence or intentional cruelty toward animals.

Therefore it is imperative that we throughout these discussions underline that animal cruelty legislation must be clearly targeted against individuals who engage in brutal activities against animals, not the legitimate type of activities that we are all aware occur.

When one considers the need for this type of progressive legislation, there were a number of discussions that already took place here with respect to the need to have a fulsome discussion that engaged Canadians and allowed them to come and reflect upon these potential changes. I believe this process has been one of the most comprehensive and one of the most useful in which I have personally partaken.

I support the provisions of the bill which provide the crown with the ability to prosecute an offence for individuals who wilfully or recklessly or without regard for the consequences do so. That type of language leaves no doubt as to the malice aforethought, as it is often referred to, of an act, that there was an intention to cause the harm.

The sections go on to list the type of activity that would fit that description. This is clearly an area where judges, prosecutors and defence, those involved in the prosecution of the case, will have an opportunity to put forward what I would suggest are common sense arguments based on the evidence.

Where it sometimes does become blurred is where individuals who are the owners of property and premises where animals are kept and the line can then become grey.

My colleague from South Shore referred to an animal that might accidentally have its head caught in a fence and therefore choke itself. There is a high threshold expected if every farmer is required to ensure in every instance that the fences will not cause this unintended result. I suggest that the common sense doctrine will have to be applied in any situation where that would occur.

I agree as well that everyone commits an offence when they fail to provide reasonable care to animals. Thus we are talking about the aspect of neglect, acts of omission, where premises are left in a dangerous condition or animals are left in such condition that their well-being is in question. This again is something that would be viewed objectively based on evidence that would be adduced.

I support the sections of the bill which allow courts to prohibit individuals convicted of cruelty from owning an animal in the future. That is a very important consequence. Where a person, who has been convicted under these sections, has demonstrated this recklessness and has met that threshold before a court of law, that should be the consequence. They should not be permitted to be in possession of animals, having caused that type of harm and distress to an animal.

Presently the sections I believe did not adequately reflect the seriousness of this type of offence. I hope this will raise the benchmark that judges have applied to individuals convicted under the current sections of the Criminal Code.

I have the greatest respect for those individuals in particular who have come forward and who have participated in this process to ensure that not only their personal interests, but the interests of all Canadians who work with animals are protected.

The legislation, coupled with the Senate amendments, is a great improvement upon the original bill. I do not intend to get into a long recitation on what happened with the legislation, but clearly we have seen the bill divided and subdivided on a number of occasions. The legislation was before Parliament in a previous session. It did not pass. It went back to committee. It has been back and forth between the House of Commons and committee, and the Senate as it now appears.

We have seen, although the process itself can sometimes be elongated, that it can work. Some of the necessary changes that did not occur in our House were dealt with very effectively in the other place. I commend our senators for having taken such an interest and picked up the cudgel on this to improve the legislation as we now see it.

Having said that, this bill is long overdue. It is one that has been extremely contentious. I am satisfied, having spoken to those who will be most directly affected and those who have taken such a passionate interest in the protection of animals, that we now have a bill with which I think people can live.

There is always room for improvement. I suggest any bill that is churned out of this place will be subject to examination by the courts. The process itself, as I referred to, is not always pretty. It is a bit like, and I hesitate to use this example, sausage-making. People do not want to see how it is made but it is the result that counts.

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1:15 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Gerald Keddy South Shore, NS

Mr. Speaker, I just listened to the closing comments of the member for Pictou—Antigonish—Guysborough. I thought his analysis of the bill was right on.

However there is one part of this, and he related to it briefly in his closing remarks, that stands out above the rest. There is a lot of discussion, and I have engaged in it myself, about the Senate and the role of the Senate in this bicameral Parliament that we use in Canada. A lot of our colleagues are saying that perhaps we should just throw the Senate out and get rid of it altogether. I say this to the member for Pictou—Antigonish—Guysborough. What would have happened to this legislation had that been the case, had there been no body of sober second thought?

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1:15 p.m.

An hon. member

Elected people would have done it.

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1:15 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Gerald Keddy South Shore, NS

Mr. Speaker, I hear one of my colleagues say that elected people would have done it. That is fine but that is not what I am saying. We need a two system government. The second House corrects the mistakes of the majority governments in the first House which ram legislation through without careful and thorough analysis and without looking at the implications of what might happen to the ordinary men and women who have to use that in their daily lives, and how it affects them. That is my difficulty here.

Again, listening to the debate about the Senate, I would hope that my colleague from Pictou—Antigonish—Guysborough and the rest of my colleagues in this place have learned something here, that we do have reason, need and a strict requirement to have a second chamber.

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1:20 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Peter MacKay Pictou—Antigonish—Guysborough, NS

Mr. Speaker, to answer my colleague from South Shore specifically, the bill would not be as effective and would not be in the best interest of Canadians had it not received a number of amendments. Certainly the amendment with respect to aboriginal people, the amendment which brought this specific protection that deals with colour of right or legal justification, would have been absent from the bill. There were a number of important amendments that I feel took place. The clarity which has been achieved is attributable to the work that has been done in the other place.

We can all debate the merits of the Senate itself and the need perhaps for parliamentary reform, but clearly that purpose was achieved in this instance. I would suggest that there will be certainly rancorous debate in this place for years to come, hopefully not too many years, that will result in an improved and enhanced ability to have this type of second examination that improves upon the bills and the important work done in this place.

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1:20 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Gary Schellenberger Perth—Middlesex, ON

Mr. Speaker, I have a question for the hon. member for Pictou—Antigonish—Guysborough.

I have been told by many concerned farmers in my riding of Perth—Middlesex, who through their common farming practices may be charged or challenged by various animal rights groups, that their common practices may result in charges being trumped up against them. Have these concerns been addressed?

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1:20 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Peter MacKay Pictou—Antigonish—Guysborough, NS

Mr. Speaker, let me take this opportunity, first, to congratulate the hon. member for Perth—Middlesex for his election to the House of Commons. We in the Progressive Conservative Party are extremely proud of him and the work that he has done already in his first week here in Parliament.

The question that he has put forward was one that was hotly debated at the justice committee, and has been discussed here on the floor of the House of Commons itself. The question is one of wrongful prosecution and charges being brought forward in a malicious way or being brought forward in such a way that harm could come about to the reputation to legitimate activities, particularly those of farmers involving the practices necessary in the slaughtering of animals, and often in the case of ceremonial slaughter, which has great religious implications. I assure my colleague there was a very thorough examination of this.

My feeling is that this legislation has been considerably improved. One would hope that the protections will be there. It will still fall to the administrators of justice clearly, those being the frontline prosecutors, judges in the courts and defence lawyers who will be making the arguments, to ensure there are no wrongful prosecutions.

This is not a perfect system. The justice system itself is one that has evolved and the law has evolved in this case. I would suggest that this protection does exist. Having taken the justification, the colour of right protections, back into this protection section, I believe that common sense will prevail.

Having visited the beautiful constituency of Perth—Middlesex, I understand there is a large agriculture sector in the member's riding. The farmers have been watching this very closely, as have those who are involved in the production of fur and other areas where people work with animals. I believe this law is there to protect their interests and I am confident we will see every effort made to ensure the two needs will be met: the protection of animals, as well as the ability to carry out a livelihood unencumbered by an unfair and unjust prosecution.

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1:20 p.m.

NDP

Pat Martin Winnipeg Centre, MB

Mr. Speaker, more than one of the people making interventions today have pointed to the contribution made by the Senate in what they view as making improvements to the bill.

Would the hon. member for Pictou—Antigonish—Guysborough, the leader of the Progressive Conservative Party, agree that this place has to run on precedent, certainly, the precedent being that the other place, the Senate, does not have the authority to split a bill approved by House of Commons?

I believe one strong precedent happened in 1988 with Bill C-103, the bill to establish the Cape Breton Corporation. When it was passed in the House and then sent to the Senate, the Senate then split that bill and sent one part back to the House. At that time Speaker John Fraser ruled that the privileges of the House had been breached but, not having the power to enforce his decision, the Speaker then asked that the House claim its privileges by sending that message to the Senate. A large controversy prevailed and a motion was then moved by the hon. Doug Lewis to indicate that in the opinion of the House, the Senate had contravened Standing Order 87, and asked that the Senate return Bill C-103 in its undivided form.

I was just wondering, in a House of Commons that is bound to live up to an established precedent, how the member feels that the Senate did a good job in dividing this bill.

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1:25 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Peter MacKay Pictou—Antigonish—Guysborough, NS

Mr. Speaker, what my hon. colleague will find is that I am in support of the changes that were made. The process, I would agree, was a derivation and has set a dangerous precedent. In fact, we made that argument in both Houses. We argued here and in the Senate that this was not how the matter should have proceeded.

It does reflect a need for respect of the practices of the House of Commons. I am afraid that we are often on a slippery slope when we start to take this type of cavalier approach.

The end product, the legislation itself, has been improved. The way we went about doing that, in accepting the unprecedented move that was made in the other place to divide this bill, is more a reflection on the Department of Justice and the presentation in the improper form in the first instance.

What occurred here, the hon. member will know, is that the bill was receiving incredible internal criticism from the Liberal government, and it had proceeded to such a point where it could not pull it back, or at least it chose not to for reasons of expediency. Therefore the changes that should have been made in this chamber in the first instance did not occur.

What was happening was that there were provisions in Bill C-10 that related particularly to the Firearms Act, and there were deadlines looming. What the government had to do then was take this unprecedented move and divide the bill in the other place so that it could carve out the sections of the Firearms Act to meet looming deadlines, arbitrary as they were, and try to foster this feeling of legitimacy of the Firearms Act itself.

We all know what has happened there of course. Six provinces have now opted out in terms of prosecuting and have thrown it back into the lap of the government. One billion dollars has been wasted and police across the country have been left in confusion with no further ability to benefit from this type of legislation because, as we know, individuals will not participate in this to a large degree.

It creates a scenario where a dangerous precedent was set. This bill was improved but other legislation was left in a very flawed form, mainly the Firearms Act.

I agree with the member that what has happened here sets a dangerous precedent. This bill may be better but the firearms legislation remains a completely dangerous and improper act that should be repealed, and that has been the position of the Progressive Conservative Party for years.

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1:25 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

Is the House ready for the question?

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1:25 p.m.

Some hon. members

Question.

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1:25 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

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

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1:25 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

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1:25 p.m.

An hon.member

On division.

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1:25 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

I declare the motion carried.

(Motion agreed to)

An Act to amend the Criminal Code (cruelty to animals)
Government Orders

1:30 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

The Chair is very cognizant that the business arising out of private members' business raises strong views for debate in the House but that is the nature of our responsibility as members of Parliament.

The Chair is aware, of course, that the hon. member for Provencher might want to rise on a point of order regarding some amendments. The Chair is very much aware and sensitive to the fact that private members' hour is of course a very restricted allotted time, one hour in this case today. Therefore I am prone to listening to the member for Provencher so that time does not take away time from the hour of private members' business.

Points of Order
Government Orders

1:30 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Vic Toews Provencher, MB

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order with respect to Bill C-250.

Over the course of the past several months my office, and I think every member of Parliament's office, has been flooded with mail from Canadians who are quite concerned about Bill C-250, which will have negative consequences on their rights to freedom of expression and freedom of religion.

I brought forward a number of amendments to the bill in order to address those concerns. Unfortunately, because the member who sponsored this bill chose to filibuster in committee rather than consider the substantive issues, we were unable to address those issues at committee.

Unfortunately some of the amendments that I have brought forward, indeed some of the more significant ones, have been ruled out of order by the clerk's office and I simply cannot understand the rationale for the clerk's decision.

Bill C-250 deals with an amendment to section 318(4) of the Criminal Code, the definition of “identifiable group”. It reads:

In this section, “identifiable group” means any section of the public distinguished by colour, race, religion or ethnic origin.

Because of the application of that definition to not only section 318, but sections 319 and 320, all of these three sections are impacted. This is not simply a consideration of section 318.

If we go to section 319, for example, subsection (7) states “'identifiable group' has the same meaning as in section 318”.

The terms and the ideas used throughout those three clause are very closely interrelated. They could have simply put all of them in one clause and had separate categories. This in itself is a code. It is one code, sections 318, 319 and 320, because of the way it has been drafted.

As I understand it, these amendments came out of consideration and concern by the United Nations after the second world war and the genocide that was--

Points of Order
Government Orders

1:30 p.m.

NDP

Svend Robinson Burnaby—Douglas, BC

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order. I wonder if perhaps the Speaker could just indicate to which specific amendments the hon. member is referring in his point of order. The House has received notice of two amendments from the hon. member.

The member suggested that he proposed some amendments in the committee. The member never proposed a single amendment in committee, never gave notice of an amendment, never made any attempt to--

Points of Order
Government Orders

1:30 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

I would urge everyone to be generous, tolerant and respectful and we will proceed in the best tradition of this House through a debate that will follow this or these points of order to the highest standards we can possibly meet and as Canadians expect from us.

Points of Order
Government Orders

1:35 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Vic Toews Provencher, MB

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate you admonishing the member. He certainly was out of turn in committee. I sat patiently listening to him. I will sit and listen patiently to him when he puts his speech forward.

The clerk's office recognized the inter-relationship between sections 318, 319 and 320 when it allowed the member for Scarborough—Rouge River an amendment regarding paragraph 319(3)(b). That amendment seeks to amend one paragraph in a list of four in section 319.

I refer the Speaker to the amendment. The amendment states:

Paragraph 319(3)(b) of the Act is replaced by the following: (b) if, in good faith the person expressed or attempted to establish by an argument an opinion on a religious subject or an opinion based on a belief in a religious text;

That is a very significant amendment. There is also the phrase, which in the context of religion has a very significant connotation, “in good faith”. That is a significant phrase. We then have a judge who will look at this particular section and ask whether the individual had good faith.

I now want to talk about my particular amendment. My amendment sought to amend one paragraph in a list of four in section 319. Indeed, in the amendments--

Points of Order
Government Orders

1:35 p.m.

Bloc

Réal Ménard Hochelaga—Maisonneuve, QC

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order. There is a problem. We are here for private members' business and you are the guardian of our privileges. We have one hour for a private member's bill. Our colleague can be for or against, We all want to discuss amendments, but here we have a strategy to prevent debate and prevent us from hearing the amendments.

I would like to see you exercise some vigilance over our prerogatives. At this point in the day, we are supposed to be discussing private members' business. We want to hear the amendments. We want to discuss their substance, and I believe that process needs to be begun, in accordance with the schedule for our day.

I submit that our rights have been violated in that we cannot get on with what we are supposed to be doing at this point in the day, which is examining Bill C-250 and its amendments.

Points of Order
Government Orders

1:35 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

The Chair had the best of intentions in wishing to give the hon. member for Provencher the opportunity to express his position in connection with a point of order, without in any way affecting the length of time allocated to private members' business.

I would simply remind the House that I took that initiative and accept responsibility for it. That is why I have not announced debate because, at that point, any time taken up for any reason, point of order or otherwise, would cut into the time for debate in the hour allocated to private members' business.

That having been said, the Chair has been patient and now I would like the member for Provencher to please become focused. I will hear a little bit more but the member for Provencher and the House should also know that the Speaker, in making his ruling, weighed carefully all of this information. Again, because of the nature of the debate I am trying to be as fair as I can be on a very important subject matter and one with a great deal of sensitivity.

I ask the member for Provencher, if he could assist the Chair, to wrap things up in the next few minutes so I can then make the ruling on the amendments and then we can proceed with the private member's hour.

Points of Order
Government Orders

1:35 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Vic Toews Provencher, MB

Mr. Speaker, these are matters of significant importance to my constituents and to many people in Canada. I have been very clear in where I am going. I have written out my speech and know exactly where I am going. These are all essential elements of my argument and to take a part away would be to destroy that argument, and destroy your ability to make an appropriate decision in this particular case.

I state that with all due respect and I appreciate, Mr. Speaker, that you made the ruling beforehand that this would not take away from private members'. That was not the same right that was afforded to me in committee when the member who sponsored the bill filibustered and allowed no one else to speak. To now put allegations on the record, as he has done, saying I did not bring forward a motion or amendment is simply wrong. I brought forward an amendment and a motion to consider this particular issue. But that is typical of the member's conduct in committee and in the House.

On the amendments that I brought forward, the clerk's office ruled that those amendments that would seek to amend subsections 319(6) and 320(8) respectively were in order. We are not just talking about section 318, we are also talking about sections 319 and 320. A discussion and the scope of sections 318, 319 and 320 is in order.

I am speaking from the clerk's point of view, not a substantive discussion of the issues raised. What is the difference between the amendments put forth by the member for Scarborough—Rouge River and mine regarding subsection 319(3)? There is no substantive way of distinguishing the amendment of paragraph 319(3)(b) brought by the member for Scarborough—Rouge River and the amendment that I proposed to paragraph 319(3)(b). The rules have been applied inconsistently in favour of the member for Scarborough—Rouge River and against mine.

There is no substantive difference or reason why that distinction can be made and I brought forward that amendment. I already read the substantive code section and I read the section put by the member for Scarborough--Rouge River. My amendment to paragraph 319(3)(b) stated:

(b) if the person expressed or attempted to establish by argument an opinion or a belief on a religious subject or text;

That is more condensed than that which was put by the member for Scarborough--Rouge River and yet his amendment was deemed to be in order. There is no substantive difference or reason why that distinction was made in favour of his amendment and against my amendment.

Once the amendment to paragraph 319(3)(b) is in order, then it follows that the remainder of the amendments that I also brought forward are also in order from a procedural and scope point of view.

Points of Order
Government Orders

1:40 p.m.

NDP

Svend Robinson Burnaby—Douglas, BC

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order. I want to seek some clarification from the Chair as to the procedure at this point. It seems to me that the member for Provencher is in fact challenging the ruling of the Chair with respect to the admissibility of amendments. My understanding is that under the rules of the House, that is not acceptable.

In fact, the Chair has not even had an opportunity to rule on the admissibility of amendments and the hon. member is pre-empting that. The member is challenging what he has been told will be the ruling. It is completely out of order.

Points of Order
Government Orders

1:40 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

I wish to thank the hon. member for Burnaby—Douglas who has made some good points with regard to the procedures.

I will direct myself to the member for Provencher. What he has presented to the House today is the same information that was given and shared with the clerk and others, and ultimately it was shared with the Speaker who will make the ruling.

As such, I do not think that I have to remind members, as the hon. member for Burnaby—Douglas already did, of Standing Order 10. I do not feel that I can go much further. I am prepared to listen just two more minutes. I know the hon. member for Provencher has stated that he has something more comprehensive, but I must proceed, and so I would ask him if he has some concluding remarks, the Chair will listen.

Points of Order
Government Orders

1:45 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Vic Toews Provencher, MB

If the Chair chooses to cut me off, Mr. Speaker, I cannot stop that, but I do think that my constituents are entitled to be heard in the House. There was a ruling by the clerk's office, there has not been a Speaker's ruling, and I will speak until you cut me off and I will stay to the point.

Once the amendment to paragraph 319(3)(b) is in order then it follows that the remainder of those amendments that I also brought forward are in order from a procedural and scope point of view. Why can one amendment to paragraph 319(3)(b) be considered proper within the scope when the remaining paragraphs cannot? There is no justifiable reason. I direct the Chair's attention to those particular sections.

Why can that distinction be made in respect of the member for Scarborough—Rouge River so as to include them and to exclude all four amendments that deal with a significant issue? Even if some of the other paragraphs were not in order, my proposed paragraph (b) is in order and the Chair has the power to include that paragraph on its own. There is no appropriate distinction to exclude paragraphs (a), (c), or (d) of my proposed amendment.

As recognized by the Clerk's office in accepting amendments 319 and 320, all of sections 318, 319 and 320 would be affected substantively by Bill C-250. The definition of “identifiable group” impacts on the interpretation of all three sections. My proposed amendments that have been accepted seek to amend 319 and 320, and they have been ruled in order. The proposed--

Points of Order
Government Orders

1:45 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

Order, please. The Chair has heard the intervention from the hon. member for Provencher and again this is all part and parcel of information and facts that he brought forward through to the Speaker. The Speaker weighed those very carefully and in the end has made a decision.

With respect to some of the discussion or debate as to whether the Speaker has made a decision or not, in fact, he has. That is why for instance the amendments that were deemed inadmissible are not on the Notice Paper.

I draw to the attention of members Standing Order 10 which states:

No debate shall be permitted on any such decision, and no such decision shall be subject to an appeal to the House.

I consider the matter closed.

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

The House proceeded to the consideration of Bill C-250, an act to amend the Criminal Code (hate propaganda), as reported (without amendment) from the committee.

Criminal Code
Private Members' Business

1:45 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

There are three motions in amendment standing on the Notice Paper for the report stage of Bill C-250. Motions Nos. 1 to 3 will be grouped for debate and voted upon according to the voting pattern available at the Table.

I will now propose Motions Nos. 1 through 3 to the House.

Criminal Code
Private Members' Business

1:45 p.m.

Liberal

Derek Lee Scarborough—Rouge River, ON

moved:

That Bill C-250 be amended by adding after line 9 on page 1 the following new clause:

“2. (1) Paragraph 319(3)(b) of the Act is replaced by the following:

(b) if, in good faith, the person expressed or attempted to establish by an argument an opinion on a religious subject or an opinion based on a belief in a religious text;”

Criminal Code
Private Members' Business

1:45 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Vic Toews Provencher, MB

moved:

That Bill C-250 be amended by adding after line 9 on page 1 the following new clause:

“2. Subsection 319(6) of the the Act is replaced by the following:

(6) No proceeding for an offence under subsection (1) or (2) shall be instituted without the consent of the Attorney General.”

That Bill C-250 be amended by adding after line 9 on page 1 the following new clause:

“3. The definition “hate propaganda” in subsection 320(8) of the Act is replaced by the following:

“hate propaganda” means any writing, sign or visible representation that advocates or promotes genocide or the communication of which by any person would constitute an offence under section 319 and does not include any religious text or part thereof;”

Criminal Code
Private Members' Business

1:50 p.m.

NDP

Svend Robinson Burnaby—Douglas, BC

Mr. Speaker, it has indeed been a long journey to get to this point in the debate on this legislation. I want to thank those members of the House who have been supportive along this journey to amend the Criminal Code provisions on hate propaganda to include sexual orientation.

I first tabled this bill in the House almost 15 years ago. I want to acknowledge today the tireless work that has been done by many groups and individuals across the country to arrive at the point where the bill has now been deemed passed out of the justice committee and is before this House for the two final hours of debate.

I want to thank my colleagues from almost all sides of the House who have indicated their support for the legislation. The leader of my party, Jack Layton, and all of the members of my caucus have been tireless advocates of equality for gay and lesbian, bisexual and transgendered people, and for this bill in particular. I am pleased that my colleague from Winnipeg Centre is in the House today to show his solidarity and support for the legislation as well.

I would like to thank my honourable colleague and friend, the member for Hochelaga—Maisonneuve, not only for his support of this bill, but also for the work he has done on behalf of equality for gays and lesbians for almost all his life. I would also like to thank his colleague, the hon. member for Charlesbourg—Jacques-Cartier, who worked on this bill as well.

I am very pleased to see in the House today the right hon. member for Calgary Centre who has again spoken out strongly in support of this legislation. I tell him that support means a great deal, not only his support for the bill but the work that he has done over the years, and he knows where of I speak on equality for gay and lesbian people. I thank him for that support. Also if I may I will add his colleague from Pictou--Antigonish--Guysborough, the newly elected leader of the Progressive Conservative Party who has indicated his support for the legislation and I might add was subjected to a particularly vitriolic attack at the recent leadership convention for having shown that support. I also certainly want to thank a number of colleagues on the government side who have indicated their support for the legislation, in particular the member for Vancouver Centre who at the committee was there for every session of the committee. She did not walk away at critical points, but she was there to speak out and to vote in support of this very important bill.

There is support from people across the country, individuals, young people, people like Mark Hanlon who is a 19 year old student attending Memorial University of Newfoundland, a young gay man who single-handedly spearheaded an online petition campaign right across the country, which resulted in over 13,000 people signing a petition in support of this bill. There is support from labour activists and unions across the country, city councils, the council of the city of Vancouver, the city council in Ottawa, faith leaders, religious leaders and many others.

As well I want to underscore the contribution of Inspector Dave Jones of the Vancouver police department. He has worked so tirelessly for this legislation at the Vancouver level but also nationally together with the Canadian Association of Police Boards and the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police.

EGALE particularly in recent days also has been active in supporting the legislation.

Finally I want to pay a particular tribute to one of my staff, a young woman who has done a tremendous job in working on this legislation day in and day out. I want to pay tribute to Corie Langdon from my office who, many members will know, has done a terrific job.

I am going to speak briefly because there are three amendments before the House now that deal with the issue of the impact of the bill on religious texts. I want to say very clearly that the major objective of the bill is to ensure that the current provisions of the Criminal Code which protect four particular groups, those who are distinguished on the basis of race, religion, colour or ethnic origin, that those provisions should be extended to include another group and that is gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people.

The evidence we heard in committee was compelling and powerful, that in fact it is this group which is subjected to the greatest proportion of attacks motivated by hatred, the greatest number of violent hate crimes in Canada. Yet it is this group which is excluded from the legislation now.

What kind of signal does that send out in Canada? Too many people have been victims of gay bashing and indeed in some cases of murder, whether it be a young law student, Robbie Peterson who was brutally beaten in New Brunswick, whether it be Aaron Webster who was beaten to death with a baseball bat in November 2001 because he was gay, or so many others across the country.

This bill I profoundly believe has the ability, the potential, to actually help to save lives. I think it is very important that we acknowledge that objective of the bill.

The bill would not in any way interfere with religious freedom. The member for Provencher has suggested and stated in one instance that the bill would in his words “classify parts of the Bible as hate literature and portions of the Catholic catechism as hate literature”. Nothing could be further from the truth.

In fact, the bill has significant support from a number of religious leaders in the country as well. I have a letter from a Catholic priest at St. Mary's Catholic Church in Dawson City, Yukon, Father Timothy Coonen, who wants to strongly support Bill C-250. He said:

I'm stunned to discover that gays and lesbians are not fully protected under the law. And I'm saddened to learn that much, if not most of the opposition to this bill is coming from the Christian community. As a member in good standing of the ordained clergy in Canada, I wish to let you know loud and clear that the conservative right wing of Christianity does not represent the majority of Christians in this country!

This is a Catholic priest and he says as well:

I believe that there is nothing in the Bible that permits the promotion of hatred against other human beings, including gays and lesbians.

I received a similar letter from the pastor of a Baptist church in New Brunswick, Pastor Thomas Adams of the Richibucto Baptist Church in New Brunswick, who said that he fully supports this legislation. He challenges those who have opposed it and have suggested in any way it might target religious texts. Nothing could be further from the truth.

My colleague from Scarborough—Rouge River has proposed an amendment that would explicitly make it clear that religious texts are not being targeted by this amendment. I can certainly say that I have no objection whatsoever to the member's amendment. If it clarifies the intent of the bill, certainly that is a positive thing. I frankly do not think it is legally necessary but certainly it is not something that I would in any way oppose.

In December 2001 the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Justice said on behalf of the Minister of Justice:

I am very pleased to be able to say tonight that the minister will be putting forward amendments to the Criminal Code of Canada to add sexual orientation to the definition of an identifiable group under the hate crime provisions.

Today, a year and a half later, it is an honour for me to be able to move ahead with this legislation, with the legislation that was promised after the murder of Aaron Webster. This legislation is long overdue.

I would point out as well in closing that to those who suggest that in any way this would target freedom of religious expression, the chief researcher of the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights, Philip Rosen, has prepared an excellent background document. I would commend it to all members. The conclusion to which he comes is that the bill fully respects freedom of religion in Canada.

For that reason I want to again indicate that I am prepared to support the amendment of my friend, my colleague from Scarborough—Rouge River to the extent that it will help to clarify the purpose of this amendment to the Criminal Code. I would hope that members of the House on all sides with that amendment would support this long overdue amendment to the Criminal Code of Canada.

Criminal Code
Private Members' Business

2 p.m.

Liberal

Derek Lee Scarborough—Rouge River, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to speak to Motion No. 1, my amendment to the bill. I am pleased to see that we have a fairly sanguine, healthy attendance here today. I am also pleased to see interest to this extent in private members' business.

The bill was adopted in principle by the House and was sent to the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights. The committee was very busy and had to delay its deliberations on this issue. Ultimately, with the approval of the member for Burnaby--Douglas, the matter came up in the justice committee and we had some time to deal with it. For reasons related to procedure and politics, the committee itself was not able to deal directly with clause-by-clause consideration of the bill, even though it is only a one clause bill.

There were some potential amendments that might have been considered, but the committee was not able to do that. The rules governing private members' business should be looked at for this reason. We found ourselves in a difficult position. Inevitably, there was no vote and no amendment at committee and the bill was deemed reported back to the House without a vote or without any effective deliberations, and here we are today.

I have moved an amendment which I believe will improve the bill. Currently, the sections 318 and 319 procedure exempts from hate crimes expressions of opinion based on a religious subject. As we all understand, sexual orientation is not in and of itself a religious subject. There are many differing views in our society on this subject, as has been pointed out today. Our objective here is to allow a lot of freedom in how we express ourselves in this country. Our charter is testament to that.

Some of our religious texts are quite old while others are quite new. We must admit that some of them have been quite negative on the subject of homosexuality. That view expressed in our religious texts is very real. Although many of these religious texts were written long ago, they are in fact today for many Canadians, living manifestations of their faith. We have to recognize that as well. Even though they might have been written 100 years ago, 1,000 years ago, or 2,000 years ago, those texts, whether it is the Bible or the Koran or other religious writings of other faiths, are very much living manifestations of current modern day faith.

People are living their faiths based on a religious text which sometimes is negative on the issue of homosexuality. I have received mail, e-mails, telephone calls, representations from my constituents and people from outside my constituency who have said that the provisions of this proposed amendment would effectively criminalize the Bible or the Koran. One can differ on that conclusion, but the fact that this amendment might do that was enough to cause this member and perhaps other members in the House, and we will see how we vote on this, to take steps to protect the charter based freedom of religious faith.

My amendment ensures in fairly clear words that a good faith expression of an opinion based on a religious text is not, and cannot be, seen as any type of a hate crime or an expression of hate. In my view the amendment will protect all religious texts which are subscribed to and adhered to by many Canadians.

Having said that as briefly as I could, I commend the amendment and the bill into the hands of members of the House.

Criminal Code
Private Members' Business

2:05 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Vic Toews Provencher, MB

Mr. Speaker, it is certainly my honour to speak in respect of this bill and the amendments that have been raised, two of which I have brought forward.

I want to make it clear that the Canadian Alliance rejects hatred directed at any group in Canada. We have heard the kind of vitriolic statements made by the member for Burnaby—Douglas against certain groups in our society. Even if he does not share their religious beliefs, a little more respect toward those religious groups would be in order. Our party does not choose and pick favourites. We reject hatred directed at any group in Canada. In that context we have consistently expressed concern about Bill C-250 on the basis that it raises serious concerns for fundamental freedoms.

While this bill may be motivated by good intentions, and I give the member the benefit of that doubt because I have no reason to doubt his word as an hon. member, good intentions however often have unintended consequences. When those intentions and unintended consequences form a part of our laws, the impact can significantly interfere with the ability of people to communicate or to adhere to essential matters of personal belief, religious or otherwise.

Constituents have brought forward a number of examples throughout the court system, looking at the fear they have of where this legislation is going.

For example, back in 1997 Sylvia MacEachern, the editor of a Roman Catholic journal, was subjected to an investigation by the hate crimes unit of the Ottawa-Carleton Regional Police for stating on an Ottawa radio station that she supported the teaching and the catechism of the Catholic church regarding homosexuality. The charges were not proceeded with because there was no provision for sexual orientation in the hate crimes section of the Criminal Code. Here we have a clear example of a Catholic expressing an essential element of her faith being subjected to a police investigation in our country.

Hugh Owens, a Christian, was taken to court by the Saskatchewan Human Rights Commission for placing an advertisement in the Saskatoon Star-Phoenix that listed bible verses opposed to homosexual acts. In a ruling on December 11, 2002, the Court of Queen's Bench for Saskatchewan found that the advertisement exposed homosexuals to hatred and indeed classified the bible in that context as hate literature.

In his defence Owens cited the guarantees of freedom of speech and freedom of religion in subsection 14(2) of the same human rights code and section 2 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. However the judge held that those guaranteed freedoms did not extend to expressions of hatred. Having classified those comments as exposing homosexuals to hatred, he then made the finding against Mr. Owens.

Clearly the bill, as currently worded, does not address the legitimate concerns of many Canadians about their continued right to freedom of expression and religion.

The first amendment that I brought forward would broaden the requirement of the Attorney General's consent to proceed with a hate propaganda prosecution. The member for Burnaby—Douglas has been stating in communications that no prosecutions can be undertaken without the consent of the Attorney General in these sections. He knows that is not correct. Currently, this requirement only applies to section 318 and subsection 319(2).

The amendment would broaden the application to all of section 319. The amendment does not solve all of our concerns with the bill, but it goes at least some way to expand the oversight of the provincial attorney general and to provide additional safeguards against frivolous prosecutions.

Having said that, I am very concerned about giving the attorney general, who ultimately is a political figure, the right to determine who will be and who will not be prosecuted for expressing religious views. That should not be the function of the police or of the attorney general, much less an elected politician. This is a dangerous section and additional safeguards need to be brought forward. Ultimately the amendment alone does not alleviate all of the concerns that my constituents and thousands of others have brought forward.

One of my colleagues indicates he has received 4,000 pieces of communication on this bill alone out of his riding. That is absolutely astounding. I have never heard, out of one constituency, those kinds of numbers. In my own constituency, I believe I am somewhere at around 1,000, but my constituents know where I stand on this bill and I have encouraged them to advise other members of Parliament about the dangers that they see in the bill.

The second amendment would explicitly protect religious texts under section 320, the criminal provisions specifically dealing with the seizure of hate propaganda. If we take for example the classification of the Human Rights Commission and the Saskatchewan Court of Queen's Bench as certain sections of the Bible promoting hatred, the substantive legal definitions are the same. The onus of proof might be different in a human rights context as opposed to a Criminal Code context but the concepts are exactly the same. There needs to be protection to ensure that religious texts do not fall within the definition of hate propaganda.

It has long been the position of the Canadian Alliance that without such an explicit protection, the bill would be problematic for a number of common publications, since it would criminalize statements and texts that pertain to homosexuality. Such publications as the Catholics have indicated and as the Evangelicals have indicated to me in letters and presentations would include the Bible, the Koran and the Catholic Catechism. If texts such as the Bible or the Koran are used by someone to promote hatred or advocate genocide in that context, then of necessity those texts would be considered hate literature.

When the Department of Justice officials appeared on Bill C-250, they could not give a definitive answer to the question of whether religious publications would be subject to censorship or even prohibition. I simply refer the Speaker and the members of the House to their specific testimony. I do not think it is sufficient for the people of this country to simply have to rely on a hope and a prayer that their words and their scriptures will not be criminalized and will not be seized as hate propaganda. We have an obligation in dealing with the criminal law to ensure that those concerns are addressed.

I also commend to the members of the House the reading of the Keegstra decision. It was a four-three decision of the Supreme Court of Canada in which the court upheld the section under consideration, section 319, as constitutional under section 1, having breached the substantive freedoms and guarantees. It said that one of the reasons the majority upheld it was because it was narrow clearly drafted. We do not know the implications of this amendment and these terms. This House was deprived of the benefit of committee debating and discussing this in committee because of the filibuster of the sponsor.

It is a travesty that a bill would move in that--

Criminal Code
Private Members' Business

2:15 p.m.

NDP

Svend Robinson Burnaby—Douglas, BC

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order. Could you just indicate to the House what the length of time is for speakers and how much time this speaker has left?

Criminal Code
Private Members' Business

2:15 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

That is not a point of order. Resuming debate, the hon. member for Provencher has less than a minute left in his intervention.

Criminal Code
Private Members' Business

2:15 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Vic Toews Provencher, MB

Mr. Speaker, I want to indicate that member, the member for Burnaby—Douglas, keeps on speaking about freedom of speech and every time someone tries to make a point he stands up and interrupts because he has no belief in freedom of speech. He is only concerned about a particular agenda. We all know what that agenda is and it has nothing to do with freedom or equality. It has everything to do with the suppression of people who disagree with him. It is unfortunate in a democracy when that individual feels only his point of view is a valid one.

I commend the amendments to the members of the House to consider them for this very important bill.

Criminal Code
Private Members' Business

2:15 p.m.

Bloc

Réal Ménard Hochelaga—Maisonneuve, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to speak to Bill C-250 on this fine sunny Friday afternoon, and I would like to congratulate the member for Burnaby—Douglas on his admirable persistence.

I do not agree with the comments made by the previous speaker about the member for Burnaby—Douglas. We all know that the latter is an enlightened person who believes in freedom of expression and he has demonstrated this on numerous occasions.

When this bill was studied in committee, I was extremely surprised, as a Quebecker, to see a number of arguments raised by other members of the House that seemed in many respects far-fetched. However, I would like to agree with my colleague, the member for Provencher, on one point.

In order to understand the bill introduced by the member for Burnaby—Douglas, one has to have read the Supreme Court decision in the Keegstra case, which was rendered in 1990. It is interesting, because in reading this decision, it becomes clear just how sensitive the issue of hate propaganda really is, and also how deeply rooted this issue is in Quebec law.

Former minister Guy Favreau, whose name has become famous because of a building named after him near the Place des Arts in Montreal—but people may be surprised to learn that he was also a former Minister of Justice—established a working group that presented a report in 1966. This was the first group to consider the whole issue of hate propaganda. In fact, in the 1960s and 1970s, certain neo-Nazi groups or groups that had questionable views on freedom of expression posed a threat to national security.

When this working group was struck, it contained such well-known people as the Rev. Gérard Dion, professor Shane MacKay of the University of Toronto, the father of the current Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs, and also the former Prime Minister of Canada, Pierre Elliott Trudeau. This working group released its report in 1966 in which it recommended that the Criminal Code be amended to make a clear reference to fomenting trouble to disrupt law and order and threaten public order. It also contained a recommendation regarding genocide.

The hon. member for Burnaby—Douglas is putting before us today a bill to amend the Criminal Code by adding sexual orientation to subsection 381(4).

Just to make it clear, our colleague's bill concerns hate propaganda and amends section 318(4) of the Criminal Code to include sexual orientation in the definition of identifiable group.

At present, in the Criminal Code, identifiable group includes people who are distinguished—that is, groups that are currently part of Canadian society—by colour, race, religion or ethnic origin, and the hon. member for Burnaby—Douglas is proposing to add sexual orientation.

The first question we must ask ourselves, as lawmakers, is: do we believe that, in Canadian society, there are individuals who might be subject to hate propaganda on the basis of distinguishing characteristics such as sexual orientation, colour, race, as I just mentioned? Anyone who answers yes to this question obviously has no reason not to support the bill introduced by the hon. member for Burnaby—Douglas.

I was pretty amazed, however, when in committee, they would have had us believe—I must say this was a campaign led mainly by the Canadian Alliance with some of our Liberal colleagues—that if, as lawmakers, we voted in favour of this amendment to subsection 381(4) of the Criminal Code, thereby recognizing that there are groups in Canadian society who may be subject to hate propaganda because they can be distinguished by their race, colour or sexual orientation—if we agree to add it—this would somehow jeopardize freedom of religious expression.

I hope that there is not, in any of the religious writings one might have faith in, whether one is Catholic, Muslim or any other religious denomination, anything that would make us comfortable with the fact that it might be used for purposes of incitement to hate propaganda. I hope that no member of this House will put freedom of religion on the same footing as using that freedom for purposes of hate propaganda. Hate propaganda, whatever its motives, means or examples, is unacceptable.

What surprised me was the lack of rigour. I was even more surprised because the hon. member for Provencher is a former crown attorney. Thus, he is someone who knows the law, who has pleaded cases and who has given instructions for prosecutions.

Canada has no state religion. In the Canadian Constitution and the charter of 1982, there is no state religion. A person cannot say that because he or she is Christian, Muslim, Catholic or Hindu, it is right for his or her world view—since religion is a world view—or one of the many other religious beliefs to receive more weight in the legislative texts than any other.

Now, freedom of religious expression is a guidepost. A long time ago, the Supreme Court made several rulings to define freedom of religious expression. Obviously, no one can prevent people from quoting the Bible, the Koran or any other religious work. That is not the objective of the bill introduced by the hon. member for Burnaby—Douglas.

I would like to quote from what is undoubtedly the most important Supreme Court ruling on religious freedom. I am speaking of Regina v. Big M Drugmart, a case all first-year law students study. This decision defines freedom of religion. The definition of freedom of religion therein does not withstand the Alliance's arguments. It says:

Freedom must surely be founded in respect for the inherent dignity and the inviolable rights of the human person.

It continues by defining the human person. It talks of freedom—and this is the most important part:

Freedom means that, subject to such limitations as are necessary to protect public safety, order, health, or morals or the fundamental rights and freedoms of others, no one is to be forced to act in a way contrary to his beliefs or his conscience.

That is how the courts defined freedom of religion; in other words, no one is to be forced to act in a way contrary to his beliefs or his conscience.

Please explain the link between recognizing that people who are homosexual can be subject to hate propaganda and that they should be protected as a group under the Criminal Code, and the right to religion, as it was defined by the Supreme Court a decade ago.

That is where the Canadian Alliance gets completely carried away. They would have us believe that if members of this House granted additional protection to homosexuals by making them an identified group, as is the case in the Criminal Code, then people who quote the Bible, the Koran or any other religious text would feel that their rights have been eroded.

I respectfully submit that the member for Provencher's argument is intellectually dishonest. What he is trying to do is deny that there are people who are homosexual.

Canadian Alliance members have voted against conferring rights on homosexuals at every opportunity in this House. It would have been much more honest for the member of Provencher to stand up and call a spade a spade. That is his true intention.

Criminal Code
Private Members' Business

2:25 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

Before I give the floor to the right hon. member for Calgary Centre, I want to advise the House that the hour will be concluded at 2:50 p.m.

Criminal Code
Private Members' Business

2:25 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Joe Clark Calgary Centre, AB

Mr. Speaker, I wish to congratulate the member for Burnaby—Douglas and other members of the House who worked so steadfastly with him to bring the bill forward and ensure that a principle which is fundamental to our Canadian society is enshrined and reflected in our law. This private member's bill has my strong support.

As on all private member's bills, individual members of my party will vote freely with their conscience. However, it is worth noting how deep is the tradition in my Progressive Conservative Party of protecting human rights. It has of course been expressed by my leader, the member of Parliament for Pictou—Antigonish—Guysborough. The bill would also bring the Criminal Code of Canada into line with the interpretation by the courts of the Canadian Bill of Rights which was introduced in Parliament more than 40 years ago by the government of the right hon. John Diefenbaker.

Canada's courts have held that discrimination based on sexual orientation is among the discriminations prohibited by Mr. Diefenbaker's Bill of Rights. This legislation would complete the protection against discrimination in the Criminal Code which was such a hallmark, such a life work of the late Mr. Diefenbaker.

As the House knows, sections 318 and 319 of the Criminal Code contain Canada's most powerful sanctions against hate propaganda. The provisions would prohibit the advocacy or promotion of genocide, the incitement of hatred against any identifiable group, and the wilful promotion of hatred against any identifiable group.

Until this bill becomes law, identifiable group is defined as applying to any section of the public distinguished by colour, race, religion or ethnic origin. The bill would extend that prohibition to apply to sexual orientation.

Let there be no doubt about the harm that is done now by hate propaganda targeted on the basis of sexual orientation. The member for Burnaby—Douglas and others have cited cases in the House. All of us who live in constituencies anywhere in the country and operate with our eyes open know that this kind of discrimination exists. It is always difficult; it is sometimes fatal. It is a threat to individuals and a blot on our society. The bill would extend protection to fellow citizens who are under attack.

The absence of legislation to protect minorities also sends signals to members of those minorities that they would become second class citizens and not entitled to equal protection from the law.

As the debate has shown, and as the volumes of correspondence coming to many members of Parliament have shown, there is an apparent concern about the impact on freedom of religion in this legislation. I believe, as other members who have taken part in the debate, that concern to be falsely based. I will not burden the House with all of the correspondence I received. However, yesterday I received a letter from the Anglican Bishop of Calgary, Rt. Rev. Barry Hollowell, who wrote:

I have been in receipt of material urging rejection of Bill C-250...which has included such comments as the following:

“...it may result in parts of the Bible being criminalized.” This strikes me as...a smoke screen that is attempting to cloud an issue of justice.

He went on:

It goes without saying that the “freedom to express moral views” is a freedom which must not be undermined in a free society. But, the freedom to live without fear or presence of hate harassment targeting individuals and minorities is also a freedom that must not be compromised. I believe that hate propaganda targeting gay and lesbian people must be stopped. ...these individuals remain the target of many hate-motivated crimes--including the tragic murder of Aaron Webster. It is not fair or just to protect some minorities from hate propaganda, but to deny that same protection to gay and lesbian people.

Bishop Hollowell concluded:

I wish to add my voice to those in support of Bill C-250...It is a matter of justice.

The first amendment that has been proposed today, while not legally necessary, would go some distance to adding to that assurance. We would be supporting that amendment.

As the House knows, the Criminal Code expressly protects the freedom of religion on its own.

I could quote references by bar associations, police chief organizations and others. This comes down to a personal sense as to how we see our society and how we value the freedoms that we so celebrate in our society.

Freedom essentially means the right to be who we are and not to be faced with the kind of propaganda and pressures that unfortunately have blighted the lives of too many of our fellow citizens simply because of their sexual orientation. We have extended that protection to categories of Canadians who are also themselves subject to that kind of hatred, subject to that kind of attack.

It is right and just, and past time, that we now extend the prohibited grounds to include sexual orientation and I am pleased and proud to stand and support the initiative by the member for Burnaby--Douglas on that matter.

Criminal Code
Private Members' Business

2:30 p.m.

Liberal

Tom Wappel Scarborough Southwest, ON

Mr. Speaker, I realize that there are very passionate views about this issue. I intend to speak to this issue to the extent that I can on the basis of the law and of what I consider to be the legalities of the issue.

This amendment is a very short one. It is very direct, very to the point. I just want people who are watching to understand what it is. It seeks to add to subsection 318(4) of the Criminal Code the words “sexual orientation”. That is it. What it seeks to do is add in subsection (4) those words so that it would read:

In this section, “identifiable group” means any section of the public distinguished by colour, race, religion, ethnic origin or sexual orientation.

That section deals solely with genocide, absolutely nothing else. It deals with attempting to incite killing the members of a group and inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in its entirety.

The difficulty from a legal point of view is that definition, which deals solely with genocide, is then brought into section 319 of the Criminal Code by the definition section, which is subsection (7), which says that “identifiable group” has the same meaning as in section 318. That is why we heard some hon. members talking about how this amendment, albeit it is only to section 318, also impacts on sections 319 and 320.

I only have 10 minutes so I am going to have to make my comments brief.

In my view there has been absolutely no justification whatsoever brought forward either at committee or here that requires this amendment to this particular section.

Tragic cases such as murder because someone was a homosexual, or gay bashing because someone was a homosexual are totally unacceptable in Canadian society. They are against the law. It is called murder. It is called assault. It is called whatever one wants to call it. The Criminal Code already punishes people who commit those crimes, as the Criminal Code should punish those people who commit those crimes. But it goes further.

Section 718.2 of the Criminal Code says “A court that imposes a sentence shall also take into consideration the following principles: (a) a sentence should be increased” if there is evidence that the offence was motivated by bias or the person's sexual orientation. I am of course abbreviating the section.

The Criminal Code already provides that people can get an increased sentence if their motivation in beating someone up or killing them was because the person was a homosexual. In addition to the fact that the Criminal Code already provides penalties, it also provides increased penalties.

This particular amendment is not needed for any of the examples that the member for Burnaby—Douglas has given with respect to acts that pertain to criminal acts.

There are a lot of problems with this bill. The law of unintended consequences is what I would like to talk about.

People read things and I want to read an e-mail that I received, which is talking about Bill C-250:

If this legislation had been passed, we might have been able to throw Elsie Wayne in jail for promoting hatred against gays.

It's time to silence the gay bashers once and for all. Too many people hide behind religion and “family values” when all they are really doing is promoting hatred. It's not the gays that should “shut up,” but the hate mongers like Elsie. There must be limits on free speech when it is against gays and other identifiable groups.

It's time to put hate mongers like Elsie Wayne behind bars. Vote for Bill C-250!

Now, that is a fringe element, but it is out there. If we have private prosecutions for this kind of section, that is the kind of person who would lay a charge under the Criminal Code.

That is why the hon. member for Provencher has asked for an amendment so that only the attorney general of the appropriate province can authorize a prosecution. That amendment makes sense.

We cannot have people saying that we have to limit free speech if it is against gays or other identifiable minorities.

I want to close by saying there is no point reinventing the wheel. I want to read some of the comments of Lorne Gunter which appeared in the Edmonton Journal on June 5. He stated:

Technically, his bill amends only Section 318 of the Criminal Code, the clause which forbids anyone to advocate or promote genocide against “an identifiable group.” Pretty basic and non-controversial, it would seem.

But the danger from altering Section 318 comes via what it does to Section 319. By adding “sexual orientation” to the protected categories enumerated in 318, Robinson's bill has the effect of altering the definition of “identifiable groups” in 319. And while 318 deals only with genocide, 319 makes it a federal offence to “communicate statements in any public place” that would “wilfully promote hatred against any identifiable group.”

Covered in Section 319 are all forms of hatred, not just the promotion of genocide. All forms of communication are covered, too, except “private conversation.” Broadcasting, publishing and advertising are all covered; so are postings on the Internet. Indeed, speaking out against homosexuality would be forbidden in all “audible or visible means” of communication. One day, even sermons delivered by priests, rabbis and imams could conceivably be forbidden to refer to homosexuality as sinful. Talking on the telephone could be covered, too, since telecommunications are federally regulated.

It is true that Robinson's C-250 will not instantly ban all opinions and--

Criminal Code
Private Members' Business

2:40 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

Order. I just want to remind members of the general practice that we cannot do directly in terms of naming members by name we cannot do indirectly either. If we are speaking about either the member for Saint John, or the member for Burnaby--Douglas or the member for Scarborough Southwest, that is the proper way of identification in this chamber during our deliberations.

I caution members in reading or otherwise, they cannot do indirectly what they cannot do directly. I will just ask members to keep that in mind.

Criminal Code
Private Members' Business

2:40 p.m.

Liberal

Tom Wappel Scarborough Southwest, ON

I take your point, Mr. Speaker. I was quoting directly but I will do the mental gymnastics if I come across the name again. In any event the article states:

But it will swiftly impose a hate-crimes “chill” on those who object to the gay agenda. Before too long, those who speak out in opposition to government--or court-imposed gay rights--may find themselves pulling their punches out of fear of prosecution for their beliefs.

The article goes on and on but it does say “It is hardly fantastical to worry that an activist judge, armed with the hon. member for Burnaby--Douglas' law, could rule at the national level that all opinions troubling to gays are hateful, and none are protected, no matter what the Criminal Code says”.

I am getting heckled by the hon. member. It is interesting. The hon. member preaches tolerance and practises intolerance. He cannot even tolerate being in the same room as I am in when I do not even open my mouth. So shame on the hon. member.

This is a place of debate where we listen to each other. I sat here. I listened to his speech. I have listened to other people's speeches who are in favour of this bill. That is democracy and I ask the same respect from the hon. member.

The only way the hon. member seems to be able to convince people is to shout them down and I will not have that in this House. This is a place of freedom of speech.

In any event, I support the amendment of the hon. member for Scarborough--Rouge River because it does specify, or tries to specify, that religious texts are protected. However I ask what about the atheist who does not believe in good conscience that homosexual acts should be promoted or accepted--it could be tolerated--but accepted or taught in school as an accepted alternate lifestyle? What about the atheist? Is that person going to be subject to these sections?

Criminal Code
Private Members' Business

2:40 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Carol Skelton Saskatoon—Rosetown—Biggar, SK

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise today in support of the amendments introduced by the member for Provencher to Bill C-250.

Over the course of the past several months, my office has been flooded with mail from Canadians who are concerned that Bill C-250 will have negative consequences on their right to freedom of expression and freedom of religion.

While the Canadian Alliance rejects hatred directed at any group in Canada, it has consistently expressed concern about Bill C-250 on the basis that it raises serious concerns for fundamental freedoms.

While the bill has good intentions, good intentions often have unintended consequences, and when those intentions form part of our laws, the impact can significantly interfere with the ability of people to communicate or to adhere to essential matters of personal belief, religious or otherwise.

There are many court cases that the hon. member for Provencher brought forward. He talked about the Keegstra case in the Supreme Court and the Harding case in the Ontario Court of Appeal. The judges ruled that these defences would not significantly narrow the application of section 319(2).

The Harding case ruling significantly lowered the mens rea requirements by changing the standard from wilful promotion of hatred to wilful blindness. If a person failed to think about the possibility that his or her statements could promote hatred and a court decided that the works or writings did in fact promote hatred, that person would face conviction under this section.

It is for these reasons that the amendment presented by the member for Scarborough--Rouge River would only slightly amend the religious freedom defence as it applied to subsection (2) and it would not alleviate our concerns in any significant way.

Rather than relying on the current defences, which have been significantly narrowed by judicial interpretation, religious freedom would be better protected by a clearer exemption for religious text and religious instruction. One of the rejected amendments from the member for Provencher had that exact intention. It reads:

Nothing in section 318, 319 or 320 prohibits or restricts:

(a) dissemination of religious scriptures or texts;

(b) religious instruction based on, or public or private expression concerning, religious scriptures or texts;

(c) providing professional advice, or expressing a professional opinion regarding sexual orientation, including advice or opinions on medical, psychological or other treatment; or

(d) anyone from expressing their opinion on teaching materials concerning sexual orientation.

It is unfortunate that this amendment was not deemed in order by the Speaker of the House, since many members, including myself, will not be able to support the bill without those protections and exemptions.

While the Canadian Alliance opposes advocating hatred directed against any group of people, an unamended Bill C-250 is clearly not an appropriate legislative response to prevent the expression of hatred. The constitutional rights and freedoms of one group of Canadians should not be bartered away through an ill-conceived proposal to advance the interests of another group. Without additional amendments to safeguard these freedoms, I cannot support the bill.

Criminal Code
Private Members' Business

2:45 p.m.

Dufferin—Peel—Wellington—Grey
Ontario

Liberal

Murray Calder Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for International Trade

Mr. Speaker, in my 10 years as a member of Parliament, I have never seen an issue that has led to so many letters, e-mails and phone calls from across Canada. I have heard from hundreds of constituents and close to 10,000 Canadians from across the country, almost all opposed. Letters supporting this bill can be counted on one hand.

Public opinion should not be our only guide in making Canadian laws. As parliamentarians, we must skilfully balance the demands of our constituents and our own careful assessment of the issues. However when a bill provokes this much concern in a constituency and across Canada, I would be failing to represent the people if I did not reflect that here in the House. Therefore I will be voting against this bill.

My opposition is not just a response to public opinion. It is based upon a deep respect for the basic freedoms we value as a nation, those contained in section 2 of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms: freedom of conscience and religion; and freedom of thought, belief, opinion and expression.

Such freedoms are not, of course, absolute. The charter makes them subject “to such reasonable limits prescribed by the law as can be demonstrably justified in a free and democratic society”.

Is Bill C-250 so necessary that it can justify an infringement on our most cherished democratic freedoms? That is the crux of this debate.

This bill would add “sexual orientation“ to the list of “identifiable groups” against which it is illegal to advocate genocide or to incite hatred.

If Bill C-250 only banned advocating genocide against homosexuals, I would have no hesitation in supporting it. Genocide is probably the worst and most serious crime against humanity, and no group should ever be subjected to genocide. To prohibit the advocacy of genocide against any group is a reasonable limit in a free society.

Likewise, I would support a bill that banned advocating violence against homosexuals or any other group.

My problem with this bill relate to the definitions of “sexual orientation“ as well as “inciting hatred”.

Is sexual orientation limited to homosexuals or does it include those who practise other forms of sexual deviance, such as pedophilia? Are those not also sexual orientations? Am I a criminal if I express hate for those adults who prey upon children?

Granted, section 319 requires the incitement of hatred to be “likely to lead to a breach of the peace”. The problem, of course, is how do we prove cause and effect. Is the mere expression of an opinion, even an extreme one, sufficient to cause a violent act?

Recently the member for Saint John expressed opinions in the House that were critical of the homosexual lifestyle. Many disagreed strongly with her opinions, while others agreed equally strongly. The right to agree or disagree is fundamental in a free society. We debate these issues and, over time, society reaches some kind of consensus or compromise and we move forward.

As my time is running out I want to say that free speech is not unlimited. Clearly there are good reasons for laws against death threats, fraud, libel and pornography, but this is different from banning honestly held opinions. Violence against homosexuals or anyone is already a crime, as it should be. Counselling someone to commit violence is also a crime, as it should be.

I would like to say again that because of what Bill C-250 would do, the infringements that I see with it right now, it is definitely a flawed piece of legislation and I cannot support it.

Criminal Code
Private Members' Business

2:50 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

The time provided for the consideration of private members' business has now expired and the item is dropped to the bottom of the order of precedence on the Order Paper.

The House stands adjourned until Monday next at 11 a.m. pursuant to Standing Order 24(1).

(The House adjourned at 2:50 p.m.)