Debates of Sept. 27th, 2005
House of Commons Hansard #126 of the 38th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was land.
- Taste of Autumn
- Evangelos Hadjis
- 250th Anniversary of the Deportation of the Acadians
- Simon Wiesenthal
- Canadian Broadcasting Corporation
- Michel Cusson
- Franco-Ontarian Flag
- Canadian Broadcasting Corporation
- Year of the Veteran
- The Environment
- Gasoline Prices
- CP Rail
- Gasoline Prices
- Softwood Lumber
- Canadian Broadcasting Corporation
- Gasoline Prices
- The Environment
- Gasoline Prices
- Sponsorship Program
- Social Development
- Oil and Gas Industry
- Income Trusts
- Softwood Lumber
- Technology Partnerships Canada
- TELUS Communications
- Citizenship and Immigration
- Official Languages
- Committees of the House
- Questions on the Order Paper
- Motions for Papers
- Criminal Code
- Business of the House
- Criminal Code
- Queensway Carleton Hospital
Some hon. members
The Deputy Speaker
I declare the motion carried. Accordingly, the bill stands referred to the Standing Committee on Justice, Human Rights, Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness.
(Bill read the second time and referred to a committee)
(Bill C-53. On the Order: Government Orders:)
May 30, 2005--the Minister of Justice--Second reading and reference to the Standing Committee on Justice, Human Rights, Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness of Bill C-53, An Act to amend the Criminal Code (proceeds of crime) and the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act and to make consequential amendments to another act.
Lucienne Robillard for the Minister of Justice
That Bill C-53, An Act to amend the Criminal Code (proceeds of crime) and the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act and to make consequential amendments to another act, be referred forthwith to the Standing Committee on Justice, Human Rights, Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness.
Paul MacKlin Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada
Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise today in debate on Bill C-53, An Act to amend the Criminal Code (proceeds of crime) and the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act and to make consequential amendments to another act.
First and foremost, this bill seeks to amend the Criminal Code to put in place a reverse onus with respect to certain proceeds of crime applications. The new measures would apply to those convicted of a criminal organization offence or a serious drug offence and will provide that, subject to certain conditions, the property of such an offender identified by the Crown can be forfeited by order of a court unless the offender proves that the property is not the proceeds of crime.
In effect, these new provisions would add a new, more aggressive forfeiture method to the Criminal Code, in addition to the proceeds of crime forfeiture provisions that already exist.
This legislation also makes a number of corrective amendments to the current forfeiture of crime provisions for the purpose of ensuring clarity in these provisions.
The proposed new reverse-onus forfeiture power under Bill C-53 builds upon the current proceeds of crime scheme in the Criminal Code.
The current provisions originate from legislation put in place in 1989. They are part of the criminal process that comes into play when a court is imposing sentence on an offender. At their core, they are fundamentally designed to put in practice the straightforward principle that crime ought not to pay.
By allowing the government to claim the proceeds of crime, these provisions directly attack the illicit economic gain that is the prime motivation of many types of criminal activity, especially organized crime activity.
As such, proceeds of crime legislation is absolutely vital in helping to deter this type of crime and to undermine the criminal groups that are responsible for it.
These proceeds of crime provisions are found at part XII.2 of the Criminal Code. They allow for the forfeiture of proceeds upon application by the Crown after a conviction for an indictable offence under federal law, other than a small number of offences exempted by regulation. These offences, for which this current procedure is available, are referred to as designated offences under the code.
Currently, in order to obtain forfeiture the Crown must show on a balance of probabilities that the property is the proceeds of crime and the property is connected to the crime for which the person was convicted. Alternatively, the Crown can also obtain forfeiture even if no connection between the particular offence and the property is established, provided that the court is nevertheless satisfied beyond a reasonable doubt that the property is proceeds of crime.
Attached to these existing forfeiture tools are other related powers. These include, for example, powers allowing special search warrants to find property that may be proceeds of crime; the powers of restraint and seizure of property pending resolution of criminal proceedings to ensure that the property does not disappear before a possible forfeiture order; and provisions for court proceedings to permit relief from forfeiture where appropriate in order to ensure the protection of legitimate interests in property, including third party interests.
These existing proceeds of crime measures have proven to be fair and effective powers under the Criminal Code. However, there are strong arguments that they have not been effective enough.
While Canadian authorities have managed to seize, restrain and ultimately forfeit substantial suspected criminal assets, these amounts are believed to represent a relatively small proportion of the total amount of proceeds of criminal activity in Canada.
Organized crime groups in particular are believed to have control of sizeable financial assets that are the product of illicit financial activity that have not successfully been recovered by Canadian authorities. There is a substantial international dimension in this as well, as criminal groups transfer illicit gains out of the country, or indeed, transfer illicit gains from activities in other countries into Canada.
While our current proceeds of crime provisions are effective, the government is of the view that they can and should be improved upon, especially in relation to organized crime. We must build upon the current provisions in order to make them more effective. In particular, there are limitations in the way the current provisions operate that create barriers for police and prosecutors.
While criminal organizations are believed to be involved in numerous offences leading to substantial illicit material gain, convictions are typically obtained only with respect to a small number of offences. It is not always the case that these offences have associated proceeds.
For example, if such a criminal is convicted of murder, no particular proceeds will in general be associated with that one offence. Even for other types of offences that often do involve economic gain, such as drug trafficking, it frequently is the case that arrests will take place just before a major drug transaction takes place. While the organization itself likely will have been involved in numerous other trafficking activities, the particular offence for which the person is charged in that case would have involved an offer to traffic, for which there may be few or no related proceeds. Even where conviction does take place for an offence for which there are related proceeds, and forfeiture of these proceeds is possible, the particular offence and associated proceeds will very often only represent a small proportion of the total offences and illicit accumulation of property for which the criminal organization is responsible.
This means that the Crown often has to rely on the second branch of the current proceeds test, requiring proof beyond a reasonable doubt that the property is nevertheless the proceeds of criminal offences. This often means that even after a successful prosecution, there is a prospect of substantial additional proceeds litigation with sometimes doubtful prospects of success to obtain property, which in the organized crime context very much appears from the outset to be proceeds of crime.
It is for this reason that a new reverse onus proceeds of crime forfeiture power is needed. It is the view of the government that there are certain criminal circumstances under which it is legitimate to presume that the identified assets of an offender are proceeds of crime. Of course, it should still be open to an offender to prove on a balance of probabilities that assets are in fact not proceeds of crime. However, failing such proof, the property should be forfeited by the order of the court. This is the basis of the proposed new power under Bill C-53.
This is a type of procedure that has already been adopted in a number of other democracies in respect of proceeds of crime. It is a power that federal, provincial and territorial ministers responsible for justice have identified as needed in Canada as well.
I believe that this initiative has considerable support within this House. I urge all members to work together to ensure that it is passed as soon as possible.
Art Hanger Calgary Northeast, AB
Mr. Speaker, I find this legislation interesting in the sense that quite a battle has raged onward with law enforcement and its legislators in trying to address the whole issue of proceeds.
I remember as a serving officer that in an investigation there was always this matter of trying to seize the goods, whether it was a drug trafficker or some other organized criminal group. There were so many loopholes in the law that many of the organized criminal groups or individuals would simply sign their proceeds over to their lawyer and the Crown could not touch them. For the most part I think that is basically where the legislation sits today.
The other part of it was an issue that would deal with perishable seizures. For instance, there were individuals who went into ranching. Perhaps they would have 500 head of cattle. All the cattle were bought with illicit money from the drug trade. How does one look after 500 head of cattle? Who looks after 500 head of cattle? Is the Crown responsible for looking after 500 head of cattle? The issue became a moot point because nobody wanted to do it. Of course the proceeds would slip away and again end up in the hands of the lawyer who was defending the person.
I am curious. When it comes to an outright seizure, what does the state have to do to prove that the goods were obtained through illegal activity? What hoops does the Crown have to jump through? The legislation can say a certain thing, but until we see it all played out on the ground, we will not really know how effective it is going to be.
Paul MacKlin Northumberland—Quinte West, ON
Mr. Speaker, the principle being advanced here is very clear and distinct in what we are really trying to say. I agree with the hon. member to the extent that if we can take the profits out of crime, then there really is not any particular reason for pursuing that sort of activity.
With respect to the member's specific concerns about the ability of our legal system to trace money and to hold money, there are in place already certain provisions that will permit that money to be held, and even if it could be shown to be in the lawyer's hands, to be held pending the hearing process.
The other option that is offered in this legislation that is of some interest to the member is that first of all, in order for the reverse onus to apply, the Crown would first be required to prove, on a balance of probabilities, either that the offender engaged in a pattern of criminal activity for the purpose of receiving a material benefit or--and here is the one that likely comes closer to fitting the member's concern--that the legitimate income of the offender cannot reasonably account for all of the offender's property.
This is broad and far-reaching. It goes well beyond the present legislation where we are limited really to the proceeds of that particular act of criminality, unless we can prove beyond a reasonable doubt that something did come from and can be identified as proceeds of crime by itself.
The member's concerns are legitimate. It is something that should be raised at committee. We should ask the experts to make sure that they have the tools in place to allow for the tracing and following of moneys. I believe that this new bill will really go a long way toward taking profit out of crime. Then I think we will see some positive results in terms of our law enforcement.
September 27th, 2005 / 5:10 p.m.
Randy White Abbotsford, BC
Mr. Speaker, we in the Conservative Party support Bill C-53. I want to make a couple of comments about things that take place in the real world outside Parliament because I spend a fair bit of time on street issues.
The hon. member on the other side talked about organized crime groups having substantial assets. I along with many other people really wonder what it is going to take in Canada to get organized crime groups off the streets.
We watch every day as the Hells Angels parade around the country with their nice jackets and their bikes and that sort of thing. Now they are disguising themselves by wearing suits. We are still allowing these people to rove around the country like they are some kind of bicycle heroes, but that is not the case. Those people are selling drugs to our kids. They are involved in prostitution. They are involved in all kinds of crime, and yet we tolerate their existence. I have a hard time with that quite frankly, and it is difficult to believe that it even happens.
Bill C-53 is important, but it is also important to follow up on my colleague's comments. This should not just be about the seizure of assets, because it is after the assets are seized that one of the biggest problems begins. I am going to cover several instances that I have been involved with just to give the House some examples. I also want to mention the contradiction in our laws today with respect to things like seizing assets.
I am very much involved in the debate about harm reduction in drugs, which of course is not harm reduction but rather harm extension. Harm reduction extends the use of drugs. It does not reduce the harm at all, as we will find out too late one day. Harm reduction involves injection sites, needle exchanges, crack inhalation sites, issuance of heroin to individuals, and the legalization of marijuana. Lately it also involves roving injection teams in Vancouver, if anybody has ever heard of anything so absurd.
Roving injection teams involve addicts who rove the streets and back alleys with needles to inject incapacitated addicts because they are too incapacitated to inject themselves. Not too long ago that was called attempted murder. When individuals walk into an injection site with illegal drugs in their hands, one has to wonder why there is some kind of free bubble zone to allow that when we are supposedly saying those kind of drugs are illegal to possess. The government has to get out of its schizophrenic mode where basically it is saying that drugs are against the law, but it is okay to break the law.
That is my preamble to my examples of this bill, which is really talking about seizure of assets, and it is a good thing.
Not too long ago there was a drug bust. It not only included drugs, but about eight or ten feet away in the rafters there was about $400,000 all wrapped up in plastic which the police took out of the building. This case went to court and the judge, in his infinite wisdom, gave all the money back to the dealers because they said they did not know it was there, that it was just something that must have been up in the rafters. Poor dears. He virtually gave the drug dealers $400,000 because in that courtroom with that defence lawyer, they did the wrong thing. They went after the defence of that drug money.
Although we have laws in this country, the problem is that lawyers on the defence side and the judges making the decisions are making the wrong decisions applicable to laws like this. It is not just the law that has seizure of assets that is important, it is the application of the law within the courtroom. I do not know what it is going to take for us in our society to go to the defence lawyers and say that we all have a problem, that for goodness' sake they know where the $400,000 has come from. It cannot be given back to the dealers. They would just use it to buy and sell again.
I cannot say how many times I have been involved in situations where money has been seized, put in trust because it cannot be given back to the dealers, when in fact the lawyers can get their hands on it. They go in on behalf of the dealers, charge a fee of the amount that is in the trust account, get all the money out of the trust account, give part of it back to the dealers and keep a good chunk of change for themselves. Those lawyers out there know who I am talking about. That is trafficking. It is wrong. It is stupid. It is not just a matter of setting a law to seize assets, it is the application of the law after it is made. These laws are not made to be broken or challenged. They are not made to have application under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. They are made to prevent illegal use of money.
How do these guys get around it? I have mentioned before that recently a young man was kidnapped in my community. He was thrown into a van and pistol whipped. This sounds like something out of Terminator II in the United States. He was in the van which was involved in a high-speed chase with the police. The bad guys drove through a stoplight and killed a woman who was entering the intersection on a green light. They rolled the van and took off from the scene of the accident. It was a hit and run. Four of them were caught. All four were charged. They had guns, money and drugs in the car.
I was in the courtroom. They dropped all charges against three of them who said they did not know the other guy, that they did not know there was money in the van or to whom the drugs and gun belonged. It is the application of the laws. I do not know what it is in the House. We develop good laws and they are broken all the time.
There was hardly enough room around the front of the bench for lawyers because there were so many of them. Quite frankly it was a laughing stock of a zoo. Ultimately the driver of the vehicle was charged with dangerous driving. There were no gun charges. Everything was dropped.
The guy who was kidnapped, who was a witness, was asked what he did. He said, “I deliver”. “What do you deliver?” “Drugs”. He was asked if he liked that and he said no because his supervisor put him on the midnight shift from dial-a-dope.
These stories sound bizarre, but they are in fact true. What I am saying in the House of Commons is that while we have a bill we support, we have to approach those in the legal industry and tell them to apply this the right way and not to abuse where our intentions are going.
Bill Casey North Nova, NS
Mr. Speaker, I certainly enjoyed the presentation by the distinguished member. He referred to organized crime. I have a different situation in my riding which I would like him to comment on.
He is familiar with the community of Stewiacke in Nova Scotia. Recently there was a meeting of town council and dozens of concerned citizens about the high level of theft, crime and vandalism in the area and the lack of police enforcement. It turns out that the RCMP detachment in Stewiacke was closed many months ago because of a mould problem. In May the RCMP moved into a temporary facility, but it is still sitting there vacant and unusable by the RCMP. The lack of RCMP has resulted in an increase in crime. There is almost a crime wave in Stewiacke.
I met with the Department of Public Works and it turns out that it is that department's responsibility to upgrade it. It does not know yet what level to upgrade it. Today I met with the Minister of Public Safety and the Minister of Public Works and they are sorting out how to get this temporary facility up and running. Meanwhile the people in Stewiacke fear for their well-being, their safety and their lives. This appears to be a very lax attitude toward law enforcement and penalties for crime in general .
At the meeting in Stewiacke about a week ago, time and again it came up that the youth justice act does not work and that there is very little in the way of penalties for people, both youth and adults, who do commit crimes.
I wonder if the member would comment on the lax attitude of the Liberals toward law enforcement and penalties.
Randy White Abbotsford, BC
Mr. Speaker, I think this is my 12th year in this place and I have been on this justice issue for all 12 years. I came here and wrote the victims' bill of rights and the sex offender registry initially. I still see things getting worse. As much as the government writes bills, a lot of the issues are not being addressed. My friend Chuck Cadman spent a lot of time on the young offenders act, and it was changed, but there are still many problems unaddressed in the youth justice act. We are miles behind the drug issue in this House, from all sides. The government is supposed to take the initiative. We are miles behind these things.
I do not understand, and I suppose I will leave this House not understanding, why it is that a government can sit in office and be so far behind the real world out there. I know there is a philosophical difference between the Conservatives' approach to justice and the Liberals' approach to justice, but it cannot possibly be that wide a gap. The issues we are talking about here are common to everybody, such as the support of our police and the justice issue.
Everybody in this House knows that the the time put in for the crimes today is not what it should be. Yet on the other side we hear comments like, “We have to use judicial discretion”. We have tried judicial discretion. It is not working. Just go to British Columbia please, and look at the record. I can refer to thousands of cases to show the record. There is a problem.
It is getting pretty close to the time when we will insist on minimum sentences in this country. If the Liberals are not prepared to do that, then there should be sentencing grids. If they are not prepared to do that, then they should be prepared to look for election of judges or appointments of judges for a shorter period. This is being forced on our society because of inaction across the way with the Liberal government. It is coming.
The Liberals might smile at that little comment, but if they do not take action, this side will be government one day and all of the things that the Liberals failed to do are going to be implemented. I do not know how we are going to treat, ultimately, this discretion of judges, but somewhere along the line society here in this country will insist on those three actions. One precipitates the other. If they do not do one thing, then they should get used to the other one.
David Tilson Dufferin—Caledon, ON
Mr. Speaker, would the member comment on the reverse onus section that is in the bill? As I understand it, for the reverse onus section to apply, the Crown has to prove on the balance of probabilities that the offender has engaged in a pattern of criminal activity and the court then makes a ruling to seize whatever the material is.
As one of my colleagues has said that it is some reverse onus clause. This is the first thing that has to happen. The Crown has to prove on the balance of probabilities that either the offender engaged in a pattern of criminal activity for the purpose of receiving material benefit or the legitimate income of the offender cannot reasonably account for all the offender's property.
After the court makes the ruling, then comes what I gather the government calls the reverse onus clause. The offender has to prove on the balance of probabilities that the property is not from the proceeds of crime.
What does the member think of the reverse onus clause?
Randy White Abbotsford, BC
Mr. Speaker, in effect the onus is still on the Crown to prove that it has a repeat offender, more or less. In most cases that money is not found with a repeat offender. This is somebody who is sent out with little or no record. There will be a big problem resulting from that.
The Acting Speaker (Mr. Marcel Proulx)
It being 5:30 p.m. the House will now proceed to the consideration of private members' business as listed on today's order paper.
Queensway Carleton Hospital
Private Members' Business
Pierre Poilievre Nepean—Carleton, ON
That, in the opinion of this House, the government should consider transferring the land currently leased by the Queensway-Carleton Hospital from the National Capital Commission to the Hospital at a cost of one dollar.
Mr. Speaker, it is often that we rise in this House to discuss matters of important national character. Today I have the distinguished pleasure of speaking on a matter of local importance to my constituents. It pertains to the Queensway Carleton Hospital, which sits about three minutes outside the constituency I represent and services a catchment area, including roughly 400,000 people, some of whom are in the most aging demographic in the whole country. This is a hospital that provides indispensable care to constituents throughout my riding and also throughout the city of Ottawa and the national capital region.
Today I discuss a unique issue. The hospital sits on land that is owned by the Government of Canada, the National Capital Commission. It has paid nearly a million dollars in rent since its formation in the early seventies.
The current lease arrangement that exists between the hospital and the government will expire in roughly eight years, at which point the Liberal government is threatening to raise the rent by several millions of dollars to equal full market value. This would have the pernicious impact of costing the hospital, in the words of its outgoing chairman, as many as 40 nurses. It could also block plans for the hospital to build a cancer care centre and to provide family doctors right on site in a community that is sorely lacking of those resources.
My motion calls on the government to do what most municipalities and provincial governments already have done for their local hospitals, which is to turn over the land to that hospital for the price of $1. This is standard treatment for most municipalities and provinces. In fact, there are at least two hospitals in the city of Ottawa alone that received their land from the city of Ottawa for the price of $1.
It merely follows in a logical order that the Government of Canada would do the same thing for this local hospital.
This issue was brought to my attention by great community leaders like D. Aubrey Moodie, who was one of the hospital's founders. He indicated that this was a problem, but so did the chair of the hospital and its CEO and members of its board. All of them had attempted in the past to bring this matter to the attention of the government, but with no success. In fact, people attempted to bring this matter to the attention of the member for Ottawa West—Nepean. Her inaction on the matter had caused them to turn elsewhere to find some resolve.
I would like to begin by thanking some members of the House who have supported our hospital thus far, members of the Conservative caucus. We also have had support from members of the New Democratic caucus. I make particular mention of the member from Winnipeg who has showed excellent resolve and the Bloc member for Repentigny who also has supported the local hospital.
Neither of these members have direct interest in this hospital, as their geography puts them at quite a distance. Because of their altruistic desire to see health care provided across the country in a manner that is fair, equitable and complete, they have come to support of this hospital.
So far though, I say with great regret, we have not seen any support from any member of the Liberal caucus. Not one member of the Liberal caucus has taken any action whatsoever to bring about positive resolve for our community hospital.
In advance of their rising, I will address some of the bureaucratic obfuscation that we can expect from the Liberals in tonight's debate. I will go through argument by argument and dismantle piece by piece all the bureaucratic obstacles which will be presented by the Liberal caucus in this evening's debate and beyond.
First, they will argue that, if the hospital gets its land for $1, then the government's entire real estate portfolio will come tumbling down, that tenants of all sorts across the country will suddenly demand that they too should have land for $1 and that the assets of the Government of Canada will therefore be cannibalized.
I reassure them in advance that the sky will not fall if this hospital gets its land.
Let me provide the reasons why. First, municipalities do this all the time. Second, the Government of Canada has done it before. For example, the National Capital Commission owns the land on which the Pineview Golf Course is located. It charges that golf course $1 per year in rent.
The government will argue that the golf course made a down payment of $200,000 some years ago. That is true. This hospital has made a down payment of nearly $1 million because it has been paying year after year. The hospital has paid five times as much in down payment and now merely asks for the same treatment the Liberal government has given a golf course. Members opposite, even those who represent the region, oppose the hospital and come to the defence of the Liberal leader who is responsible for this problem.
Third, other hospitals in the country sit on federal land. Veterans hospitals and aboriginal hospitals sit on federal government land and the government charges them zero rent. In fact, only one hospital in the whole country pays rent to the federal government and it is the Queensway Carleton Hospital. It is the exception to the rule. It is my view that exception should continue no longer.
The next argument Liberal members will make is that the hospital's lease expires in 2013. We have plenty of time, “Don't worry, be happy”. Hospitals have long term planning cycles that go 10, 15 and even 20 years out. They hire demographers to plan what population will be in the region 10 or 15 years from now so they can make budgetary decisions and capital investments today that will support the long term care of the community.
This hospital needs to plan whether it can build a cancer centre, dental offices and family doctor centres on campus, as the board is actively considering. Those decisions, if they are to be taken forward 10 years from now, must be made today. The financial decisions and overall planning of the hospital campus must happen now. Those decisions cannot occur with this multi-million dollar cloud hanging over the hospital's head. It is impossible for any institution to make decisions of that enormity if it may have to face a multi-million dollar rent increase within the current hospital planning cycle. In other words, it needs to know immediately what its situation will be at the termination of this lease.
Finally, the hospital plans in the imminent future the possibility of constructing a building on-site which could be rented to family doctors, dentists and other health care practitioners which would generate revenue for the hospital and bring more specialists to our community. That cannot occur unless the hospital has control of its own land and an assurance that all the rental revenues that would come from those buildings would go to the hospital and not to the Liberal government. Again, this issue needs urgent resolution.
Another argument Liberals will make is that Treasury Board rules prohibit them from giving the hospital control over its own land. They will point to clauses in the Treasury Board guidelines which indicate that full market value rent must be exacted from the tenant in order to live up to the rules of the Treasury Board. They managed to do it for a golf course, but let us go even further.
The Treasury Board is a cabinet committee, meaning that the Liberal cabinet chaired by the Prime Minister, and he should be responding to this issue today, has the full authority to overturn or create some sort of dispensation for this hospital at any time it pleases. In fact, it makes all the rules and the cabinet is the master of its own destiny. That means this decision is entirely within the hands of the Liberal leader and his Liberal cabinet.
The Liberals cannot simply blame the NCC and claim that the decision is out of their hands. They are the ones who are responsible for the punishing rent that awaits our hospital. They, at the next cabinet meeting, should they have the political will, have the authority to decide there and then next Tuesday morning to give the hospital its land.
Why will the Liberal Prime Minister not make that decision? He is dithering again. What is funny is that the Liberals did not have to dither that long when it was their friends who needed money. When they were handing out money in the sponsorship program there was not some complicated process of rules that had to be followed. They simply handed the money over to their friends.
To this day, through the Technology Partnerships Canada program, Liberal lobbyists are making money hand over fist and breaking all the rules. It just seems that the Liberals are fully prepared to bend and break any rule they want when it puts money in the pockets of their friends but when it comes to a hospital, oh, there are rules. We cannot have the rules broken because a hospital perhaps will not profit the Liberal Party of Canada.
I would argue that it is far more important that we provide this hospital with its land and its financial security than it is for that party to continue to pillage the public trust and waste Canadian tax dollars. However once again we will see Liberals rise in the House and they will list 15-year-old reports and bureaucratic rules dating back before I was born, collecting so much dust because they have not been pulled off the shelves for decades and decades, but they contain some small clause that would stop the Liberals, they claim, from giving the hospital its land.
That kind of bureaucratic obfuscation will not convince anyone. It will not convince this party, which actually supports health care and fights for its citizens, and it will not convince the people of west end Ottawa who desperately need the services of this hospital.
Today we stand before the House with an historic opportunity to defend the interests of an entire community of 400,000 who rely on a hospital. There is no reason why every member of every party in the House cannot unite hand in hand with the goal of this hospital's future prosperity in mind.
After having heard some of these facts I have shared this evening, I am sure that members of the Liberal Party will have changed their view and that when they rise today they will have agreed that this hospital is worth more than the rental cheque that the Liberal Party and the Prime Minister want to collect from it.
I want to close with a message of empowerment to inspire the government to change its ways. I will close with a very brief story if I have the time.
There once was a young boy who had a sage teacher, up to whom he looked all the time. He came to the teacher all the time and asked him questions for which that teacher always had an answer. He tried to stump him with question after question and he never could. The wise old sage always had a response.
The boy went to the sage old man with a butterfly in his hand and said, “Teacher, is this butterfly alive or is it dead?” The older gentleman thought for a moment, “How do I answer this, because if I said it was alive, the boy would squeeze it and suffocate it and if I said it was dead, he would open his hands and up to the sky it would flutter”, so there was no right answer. The boy asked once again, getting more cocky and happy, he said, “Is it alive or is it dead?” The wise old man said, “Young man, the answer is in your hands”.
The answer is in the hands of the Liberals. I call on them to do the right thing, to rise in favour of health care, to defend the interests of the Queensway Carleton Hospital and the thousands of patients that it serves. Let us rise together for this noble cause.
Queensway Carleton Hospital
Private Members' Business
Paul Szabo Mississauga South, ON
Mr. Speaker, first, I believe it is unparliamentary for a member of Parliament to denigrate another member of Parliament with regard to his or her work or performance. I am sorry that the member from Nepean was named by the member and in fact is on his website again attacking another member of Parliament with his own judgment as to the quality of her work. I believe it is unparliamentary. As well, as we know the Speaker has already reprimanded that member for similar activity.
The member has not presented all the facts with regard to a number of the things that he said. I will give a couple of examples.
First, he indicated that no other Ottawa hospital is paying any rent because the city, the province and so on have given up all their debt and yet the Ottawa Hospital does pay $200,000 in rent for its land and the hospital, which goes to the city, also pays a per bed charge to the city. Therefore the member was incorrect in his information.
He also made light of the situation that there is a golf course on national capital lands and that it only paid a $200,000 deposit. If he had given all of the facts he would understand that it has ongoing obligations to maintain that property up to certain standards which would normally be the cost to the government. The member has, in those two instances and in many other cases, not given the full information.
I would like to ask the member a question which I posed at the government ops committee when he first brought this forward. If he is aware perhaps he could give the answer now.
The concern was raised that since the hospitals are funded in terms of their operations by the Province of Ontario, by provincial governments, that rent is included in that. To the extent that the Government of Canada or through the National Capital Commission would either charge no rent or effectively eliminate its current rental charges, the province would then offset and therefore effectively all that would be happening is that the federal government would be paying bills that were the responsibility of the provincial government, which would seem to be inappropriate and in fact would not help the hospital because on a net basis it would be in the same place.
If the member is aware of the answer to that, he knows the question from the government ops committee, could he confirm whether he has checked to see if the hospital would be insulated from an offset from the Province of Ontario?
Queensway Carleton Hospital
Private Members' Business
Pierre Poilievre Nepean—Carleton, ON
Mr. Speaker, the member raises three points and I will respond to them one by one.
First, he raised the case of the Ottawa Hospital. Of course I made the point that no hospital was being charged rent by the federal government. I did not comment on the municipalities arrangement. Furthermore, the Ottawa Hospital has a very unique relationship with the City of Ottawa in that it has enhanced parking space for which those charges are made. It is not of the same kind of situation that exists for the Queensway Carleton Hospital.
As for the golf course, he said that it was different because the golf course has to maintain itself, which is what it is doing in exchange for its rental obligation. I suppose it would be cutting its grass regardless of its rent situation but the hospital has to maintain itself as well. It has to keep its beds clean and it has to take 160 patients into the emergency ward every single day. I would suggest the hospital is doing more maintenance work than the entire 18 holes of the Pineview Golf Course combined.
Finally, I do not suspect that the provincial government would offset any savings that the hospital received from the federal government unless, that is, the provincial Liberal government in the province of Ontario decided to punish the hospital. However so far provincial Liberals in this province have come to support my resolution.
In fact, the provincial member of Parliament in the riding of Ottawa West—Nepean has said publicly that he supports my initiative. I would not expect any problems from the provincial McGuinty government because it is only the federal Liberal Party that stands against the hospital here. It is one party with one objective to squeeze more dollars out of Canadian taxpayers and, in this case, a hospital.