House of Commons Hansard #73 of the 39th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was offenders.

Topics

The House resumed consideration of the motion that Bill C-27, An Act to amend the Criminal Code (dangerous offenders and recognizance to keep the peace), be read the second time and referred to a committee.

Criminal Code
Government Orders

5 p.m.

Liberal

Brian Murphy Moncton—Riverview—Dieppe, NB

Mr. Speaker, contrary to what the minority government across the way would like Canadians to believe, the current system with respect to dangerous offenders and long term offenders does work well.

Unfortunately, Bill C-27 seems to me to be more motivated by the Conservatives' partisan political agenda than by a real desire to better protect Canadians. It is unfortunate that this minority government thinks its partisan agenda is more important than the greater good of its citizens.

Even more importantly, Bill C-27 is a direct attack on a key concept in the Canadian justice system: the presumption of innocence.

In Canada, the presumption of innocence is guaranteed by section 11(d) of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms which states that any person charged with an offence has the right “to be presumed innocent until proven guilty according to law in a fair and public hearing by an independent and impartial tribunal”.

One wonders in that last term, with the spate of Conservative appointments to the judiciary, whether we could find an independent and impartial judge of recent appointment who has not been a major contributor to the Conservative Party or has fundamental Christian beliefs. All of the appointments have not been filled and I would not make that comment until they are. One hopes for impartiality and independence in the tribunals.

The real point in this legislation is whether the person charged with an offence has the right to be presumed innocent. There are two parts to this: the part of the trial and the part of the mini-trial with respect to the designation of dangerous offender.

The reversal of the burden of proof set out in Bill C-27 is questionable.

Many legal experts have already said that the legislation could be challenged in court. Their arguments seem to me to be serious enough to warrant taking the time to examine this seriously.

In light of the provisions of the charter, Bill C-27 creates a problematic situation with regard to the reversal of onus. The burden shifts. In the past the Supreme Court of Canada has said that the presumption of innocence will be violated whenever a trier of fact may be led to convict an accused person, even though there is reasonable doubt as to some essential element of the offence. I think all parties are on the same page with respect to the conviction of the accused and the burden of proof.

Although the proposed legislation does reverse the onus, we must keep in mind that this reversal only comes into play once the offender has been found guilty of the designated, serious violent or sexual offence three times. Each time the offender is accused, he would have benefited already from the presumption of innocence. Thank God that has not been taken away. This essential principle will not be changed by Bill C-27 as it relates to the finding of guilt, but what about the effect of this guilt?

Under the proposed legislation, the offender who has been found guilty already three times of one of the listed offences in Bill C-27 will no longer be presumed innocent. As a matter of sentencing law and not constitutional law, the Supreme Court has previously held that on sentencing, any aggravating fact that is not admitted by the offender, must be proven by the Crown beyond a reasonable doubt. Let us keep that clear. On sentencing, the Supreme Court of Canada has said that we still have to prove things beyond a reasonable doubt when it comes to the aggravating circumstances in that conviction. I would say it again if I thought the other side was listening or could understand.

This rule has since been codified under section 724(3)(e) of the Criminal Code, that big book the criminal law is in. In the context of dangerous offender applications, section 753 (1.1) would undo this long standing judicial principle and rule.

Furthermore, some could argue that not only does Bill C-27 deprive offenders of the right to be presumed innocent until proven guilty, as stated in section 11(d) of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, and this is more telling and more appropriate to the argument before us today, it also allows for deprivation of liberty as stated in section 7 of the same charter. This creates the right not to be deprived of life, liberty and security of the person, except in accordance with the principles of fundamental justice, a key term.

It is not clear that transferring the burden of proof from the Crown to the accused, as set out in Bill C-27, respects the principles of fundamental justice. It is not at all clear. For a long time now, the concept of fundamental justice has been one of our justice system's guiding principles. This applies to the legal system in Moncton, in New Brunswick and in Canada, as well as to all countries whose legal system is based on British common law—the root of our own common law—including the United States.

I would even go so far as to say that the Crown's duty to prove beyond a reasonable doubt the existence of aggravating factors when determining the sentence is now a widely accepted concept. It is so widely accepted in our justice system that it can now be called a principle of fundamental justice, as it is written in section 7 of the Canadian Charter of Human Rights.

Under the current provision of the dangerous offender section of the Criminal Code, which is charter proof, 360 offenders have been designated as dangerous offenders and are currently behind bars. The system works.

Once again the minority government is all about sentences and law and order. My colleagues on the other side of the House might argue that these measures will protect innocent Canadians. As I have just said, section 7, the reasonable demands of having fundamental justice at any stage in the judicial determinations, puts in question whether this law, as presented and not yet amended at committee albeit, is in danger of falling like a house of cards on the dangerous offender designation system that already exists. It was put in place and monitored by Liberal governments. It was in the process of being improved because of the R. v. Johnson decision until the wrench was thrown in the problem.

The Conservatives have become the architects of disaster in suggesting we put in the reverse onus and the “three strikes you're out” because Arnold Schwarzenegger and those guys like it. What they are doing is possibly putting in jeopardy the whole system and that is not going to be good for victims.

Most of the justice legislation currently before the House will do little to protect Canadians and do very little for the victims. In fact, by cutting conditional sentences, sending more convicted individuals to the criminal schools of higher education, our jails, by building more jails and cramping the budget room for other needed programs, by putting longer sentences in place that will surely bring out a whole new round of graduated criminals determined to do more harm to victims and by cutting preventive and rehabilitation programs, we have no reason to think the crime rate is going to go down in Canada.

Furthermore, many studies, which is not germane to this discussion but very much germane to the discussions we have had at the justice committee, clearly indicate there is absolutely no link between harsher sentences and a lower crime rate.

It is quite telling at the committee level. When the proponents of the Conservative agenda on law and order are asked to bring witnesses who will prove empirically and objectively how these programs will work, they have very few names to present. On the other side, the people who suggest that harsher sentences do not lower crime rates have a plethora of witnesses available. That comes down to a determination by the Conservative minority government that most of those are criminal lawyers, professors and people who believe the criminal.

We have to ask ourselves this. If it is a truism that more sentences, harsher sentences and more people in jail will result in lower crime rates and a safer society, where is the proof? Canadians want the proof. Liberals want the proof. Liberals have been determined, with a justice program of over 13 years, to continually work with the outdated Criminal Code to modify the laws, as Canada grows, to protect society and victims.

In a non-partisan half second I say that is the same goal for the Bloc Québécois as well as the NDP. I know it is the same goal for the Conservatives because they keep saying it. However, they do not act in furtherance of that objective. They in fact act against that objective. They are not making the communities safer by locking everyone up. We ought to really take a non-partisan moment and say that if there is proof that these things work, show us. We are open to it.

In summary, Bill C-27 is no different than most justice bills recently tabled. It puts the political agenda of the Conservatives before the greater good of Canadians. The proof of that is they have overloaded the committee with so much work. Probably all the justice bills they keep tabling have no real intention of coming back to Parliament before what we perceive will be the next election.

Canadians have to ask, what was the objective in that? What was the objective in putting forward Bill C-9 and Bill C-10 separately? We now know that the list of witnesses is the very same and the hearings will take double the time. Why not propose them as one bill? The reason is simple. The Conservatives want to scare people into thinking we do not have a safe society. We do have a safe society. We support law and order. We support the victims in the community. We support the average Canadian who wants to be safe in his or her home.

Average Canadians are safe in their homes, even on Halloween when we have politicians masquerading as the proponents of law and order and when we have policy written on the back of a napkin dressed up as the law of the country.

We should take our duties more seriously. We should be earnest parliamentarians and pass good laws, not laws that are destined to be broken down by the loopholes contained in them by Conservative writers.

Criminal Code
Government Orders

5:10 p.m.

Conservative

Joy Smith Kildonan—St. Paul, MB

Mr. Speaker, I am amazed at what I have heard from members opposite. In the last election a lot of the parties ran on tougher on crime and the protection of citizens. As a result of what happens in the House, every member of Parliament will have to wear how they vote on this bill.

We are talking about a dangerous and high-risk offender. That is not the first-time offender. Nor is it the second-time offender. That is the third-time offender.

In status of women meeting this morning many witnesses said over and over again to get tougher on the laws. They are sick of lawyers getting criminals off without any ramifications. The officers are sick of judges letting people out on the streets before the paperwork is even done to incarcerate them.

On this side of the House we have tried to address the concerns of Canadians. Dangerous offenders are high-risk, most dangerous, violent, sexual predators on innocent populations. We are not talking about someone who has made a mistake the first time. We are talking about serious offences.

Is that member prepared in the next election to give the same kind of speech he just gave? Is he prepared to say that Canadians have not told him the message, that he knows better? Is the member ready to do that?

Criminal Code
Government Orders

5:10 p.m.

Liberal

Brian Murphy Moncton—Riverview—Dieppe, NB

Mr. Speaker, many of the members comments are very well-founded and from the heart. I appreciate that.

She asked a very personal question. My uncle was a former member of this chamber and he was a provincial court judge for 35 years. I am not worried about getting re-elected on a law and order platform in Moncton—Riverview—Dieppe.

However, if she had perhaps listened to the pith of the speech, this law may be struck down, particularly under section 7 of the charter. The existing dangerous offender legislation is working. Well over 400 people are behind bars with indefinite terms because of the that legislation. I hope the member knows this.

However, this bill is perhaps putting that in jeopardy. If section 7 is to be read clearly as to what fundamental justice, or the principles thereof mean, smart lawyers, who the other side seem to loathe so much, may well attack their legislation and dangerous offenders could be back on the street because of this weak legislation.

Who cares about citizens and who cares about the crime rate more? Is it the people who say that this legislation will not work and that there will be more dangerous offenders on the streets of Moncton, or wherever, or the people opposite who cannot accept that the law, as it exists, works?

Criminal Code
Government Orders

5:15 p.m.

Liberal

Francis Scarpaleggia Lac-Saint-Louis, QC

Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. member for his erudite and considered remarks, and I mean this quite sincerely.

My question has to do with the ideological conflict that surrounds this issue. I will get beyond the technicalities and ask the hon. member this. Why does he believe that those who do not accept the Conservative Party's view of law and order are somehow vilified and seen to be soft on crime? Over and over again today, members from the government have stood and said that Liberals and members of other parties who did not support them were soft on crime.

What is it that would make some parliamentarians soft on crime and put other parliamentarians on the side of virtue? Are we not all concerned about violence? Do we not all want to live in safe communities? Do we not all want our families to be safe? What is the ideological basis for this seemingly irreconcilable difference of opinion?

Criminal Code
Government Orders

5:15 p.m.

Liberal

Brian Murphy Moncton—Riverview—Dieppe, NB

Mr. Speaker, the member's insight is very germane to the question. There is no ideological difference. There is a political difference. This whole Conservative justice policy is a policy by innuendo, a policy of fear, of creating fear where it did not exist, and third, because there are three prongs to it, it is a policy of having drive-by legislation that is poorly written and will not stand the test of law. In the long run, it will actually make the citizens of this country less safe in their communities.

What I said during my discourse, which I believe and I will give credit to the opposing party as well, is that every member in the chamber believes in law, order and safety in our communities. It should be a matter of rudimentary self-respect and mutual respect. No one is soft on crime. Some people want laws that make sense and will be effective and some people want to have 20 announcements on the six o'clock news across the country, putting fear where fear does not belong and promising security where security will never be.

Criminal Code
Government Orders

5:15 p.m.

Liberal

Paul Szabo Mississauga South, ON

Mr. Speaker, one of the key issues discussed in the debate today is the aspect of constitutionality.

Indeed, there is some concern that should this bill pass and become law there will inevitably be court challenges to its constitutionality, which could be tied up in the courts for a very long period of time and in fact leave us with no law whatsoever.

The other aspect in terms of the legalities or the constitutionality has to do with the principle of ultra vires and whether the federal government in fact can instruct the provincial government as to who it should charge and for what. I wonder if the member could provide some input to the House.

Criminal Code
Government Orders

5:15 p.m.

Liberal

Brian Murphy Moncton—Riverview—Dieppe, NB

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member for London West addressed the issue of mandatory orders to provincial prosecutors, which may well be constitutionally ultra vires. She laid it out in a most articulate fashion. I will not repeat that.

The key issue of our position is that subsection 11(d) and section 7 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms are very much at play. Any lawyer could actually make the application to strike this legislation as being unconstitutional. On this side, if this law were to pass, as the majority of Parliament may wish it to, we have obligations to stand by the law. One would hope that section 11 would be read as not being about denying the presumption of innocence because it is after a conviction. One would hope that we could read section 7 of the charter not to include the fundamental principles of justice with respect to liberty under seven years. That would be a stretch and I think it is the strongest argument.

One would hope as well that we would not have to go to the Supreme Court of Canada five years from now to see in the end that the Conservatives brought in legislation which was hasty and designed for the six o'clock news and really left citizens vulnerable to more dangerous offenders and long term offenders being on their doorsteps.

I think that on Halloween evening it is a pretty important point to make. Five years from now on Halloween, do you, Mr. Speaker, want more dangerous offenders on your doorstep because of a bad law struck down by the Supreme Court of Canada? I do not. Canadians do not either.

Criminal Code
Government Orders

5:20 p.m.

Conservative

Ken Epp Edmonton—Sherwood Park, AB

Mr. Speaker, I want to get into that guy's head a little. He is saying that this bill is going to be subject to a charter challenge and the Supreme Court may shut it down. Is that not exactly where we are right now? If the bill is ultra vires, then we would have no act proclaimed. I do not understand how we should not, as members of Parliament, try to put a stop to these dangerous repeat offenders. I do not understand that. We need to try. If the court rules that it is not legal, then we will try again. Meanwhile, this is a good shot at it.

The member is expressing some opinions that some lawyers will take this to court. I think there are just as many lawyers who will say we will win it, that it is legal. I think he is just fearmongering.

Criminal Code
Government Orders

5:20 p.m.

Liberal

Brian Murphy Moncton—Riverview—Dieppe, NB

Mr. Speaker, one really has to question who is fearmongering with the public. It is not this side. What we are trying to do is suggest that the responsible course, and perhaps it will get there in committee, is to tone it down, to put some water in the wine and suggest that the government does not have to mimic the United States in everything it does. The “three strikes and you're out” American concept imported here for the six o'clock news is not the way to go.

Sound law, agreed upon with the constitutional imprimatur of the Attorney General's department, which was not forthcoming at committee, would be the way to go: make it constitutional and we are with that side of the House. We are with every aspect of the bill that not against the law. One would think that the Minister of Justice and the government in power would want to have legal laws. It is what they are supposed to do.

I will send the hon. member all of the information I have from the justice committee. He can put it in his third office, because it is quite voluminous. It might take him a while to read it.

Criminal Code
Government Orders

5:20 p.m.

Bloc

Guy André Berthier—Maskinongé, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise today to speak to Bill C-27, An Act to amend the Criminal Code (dangerous offenders and recognizance to keep the peace).

This bill, which was introduced on October 15, 2006, by the Minister of Justice, has provoked many reactions among Quebeckers and Canadians, because it brings important changes to the process of designating dangerous offenders.

Some people in my riding asked me if this bill will improve the Criminal Code. Will it make families and children safer in the community? Will it help reduce crime?

After looking at this bill, after being asked questions by a few members of my community, after discussing it with my Bloc Québécois colleagues and other members of this House, my answer is no. This bill will do nothing to improve the Criminal Code or to improve safety for the citizens of my riding or for other Quebeckers or Canadians.

Bill C-27 amends the Criminal Code to provide that the courts declare someone a dangerous offender if that individual is convicted of three serious crimes, unless that person can prove that he or she does not meet that definition.

As members of Parliament, we are concerned about public safety. We can be concerned about public safety and the well-being of our fellow citizens and yet still be opposed to this bill. In our opinion, it does not improve public safety.

Obviously, we want an improved, effective justice system that will protect everyone's safety. After analyzing this bill, my first reaction is that, once again, the Conservative government is trying to impose a “made in the U.S.A.” approach to justice.

Having expressed its intention to eliminate the gun registry and stated that imprisoning young offenders from the age of 12 and giving them longer sentences would help fight youth crime, the Conservative government is now proposing to introduce the “Three strikes and you're out” approach, as some American states have done. I will come back to this later.

This approach has not been found to reduce the crime rate in the United States. Studies have shown that this measure has no impact on the crime rate. On the contrary, as we know, the crime rate in the United States is often higher.

We feel that constantly following the model used in the United States, where the incarceration rate is much higher and sentences are longer, is a bad strategy, because there are three times as many homicides in the United States as in Canada and four times as many as in Quebec.

Instead, the Bloc Québécois suggests that the Conservative government follow the model used in Quebec, which has achieved success with its approach to fighting crime, based not only on repression, but also on re-education and social reintegration.

I urge my dear colleagues in the Conservative Party to ask the Conservative members from Quebec whether the justice system in Quebec is having a positive effect on crime.

We in the Bloc Québécois believe that it is better to attack the roots of violence—poverty, social exclusion and social inequality—than to send more and more people to prisons, which often serve as crime schools.

We are not opposed to incarceration, because some crimes are serious and we must protect our fellow citizens.

As already mentioned by some of my colleagues, the Bloc Québécois opposes this bill. It is based on an unproductive and, above all, ineffectual approach. We are convinced that it will in no way contribute to improving the safety or our fellow citizens.

Were Bill C-27 to be adopted, it would make significant changes to the dangerous offender designation system. According to the government proposal, an individual could be declared a dangerous offender when found guilty for the third time of a serious crime. Bill C-27 creates a presumption: the accused is a dangerous offender when convicted of three primary designated offences for which he has received a sentence of two years or more.

In addition, Bill C-27 transfers the burden of proof from the Crown to the accused. This means that the accused will have to prove to the judge that he should not be designated a dangerous offender.

The Bloc Québécois believes that any measure that automatically determines the extent of the sentence imposed is a dangerous and irresponsible approach. As for the reversal of the burden of proof, it is not justified. If the offender runs the risk of spending the rest of his life in jail, it stands to reason that the state prove that he should be designated a dangerous offender.

In addition, as some of my colleagues have already mentioned, we have serious—

Criminal Code
Government Orders

5:30 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Andrew Scheer

I am sorry to have to interrupt the member.

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.

Phthalate Control Act
Private Members' Business

5:30 p.m.

Bloc

Marcel Lussier Brossard—La Prairie, QC

Mr. Speaker, Bill C-307, introduced by the member for Skeena—Bulkley Valley, seeks to prohibit the use of phthalates in certain products. Last week, I commented on perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS), which Bill C-298 seeks to add to the Virtual Elimination List under the Canadian Environmental Protection Act.

My argument last week was based on two studies conducted at great expense by private organizations to determine whether 68 toxic chemicals were present in blood and urine samples.

The first study, conducted by Environmental Defence and entitled “Polluted Children, Toxic Nation: A Report on Pollution in Canadian Families” included 13 individuals—6 adults and 7 children.

The second was mentioned by Kenneth Cook of the Environmental Working Group in Washington, D.C., during his testimony before the Standing Committee on the Environment and Sustainable Development.

The results of these two private studies—and I use the word “private” because they had to assume the cost of the analyses themselves—are alarming. In the first study, 68 chemicals were analyzed and 13 individuals participated at a cost of $10,000 per person for a total private investment of $130,000. As for the second study, Mr. Cook said that the 10 blood samples cost $10,000 each for a total of US$100,000.

In other words, when an individual conducts a study he has to invest over $100,000 to get results. Despite this significant investment, subsequent criticism is often on the statistical reliability or the sample coverage.

I was saying that the alarming results of both studies led me to conclude that the toxins absorbed or accumulated by adults, through ingestion, inhalation or contact with the skin, can also be transmitted to the fetus through the placenta in the uterus. This is an incredible discovery that demonstrates that newborn babies no longer have the option of taking positive action against toxins later on in life through healthy living, a strictly controlled diet or a pure environment. Babies no longer have that option later in life, for they already have toxins in their system from birth. They are born contaminated.

The results of the analyses of the 68 chemicals studied confirmed that on average 32 chemicals were detected in the parents and 23 chemicals were detected in the children who volunteered for the first study.

What we do not know about is the synergy in this cocktail of toxins in the organism. In chemical reactions there are reducing agents, oxidizing agents and buffers. How do all these chemicals react with one another? Do some chemicals wait for certain others to reach certain concentration levels in the blood to start a reaction produced by another latent toxic chemical? Who knows? No one knows because such in-depth research is rarely ever done.

There are many unknowns when it comes to the interaction of toxins in the human body. Far too often, medicine detects results without knowing the cause: cancer appears, fertility decreases, fetal weight drops, a number of cases affect childhood development, respiratory problems increase—especially asthma in young children—as does the incidence of diabetes.

Who is responsible for this? Is a combination of toxic chemicals responsible? Medicine cannot pinpoint the guilty party.

As for phthalates, Bill C-307 proposes limiting, as much as possible, the exposure of vulnerable populations to such products based on the precautionary principle.

By virtue of that principle, when there are reasonable grounds to believe that an activity or product could cause serious and irreversible harm to human health or the environment, measures must be taken to mitigate the risk until the effects can be documented. Such measures may include, if a certain activity is at issue, reducing or ending the activity or, if a product is at issue, banning the product.

Accordingly, PVC-based soft materials must be kept away from children's mouths. Manufacturers, importers, distributors and retailers are obligated, under Health Canada regulations, to ensure that soft plastic teethers and rattles do not contain phthalates. The same is true for children's educational toys. The full array of products intended for commercial and private use is far too extensive to list here tonight. Suffice it to say that the majority of items made from PVC-based plastic, whether rigid, semi-rigid or soft, contain phthalates.

Furthermore, I do not mean merely traces of phthalates in these products, since certain products can contain up to 50%. These include the plastic bags we use everyday, food wrap, plastic rain gear, your shower curtain, Mr. Speaker, waterproof boots, garden hose, children's bath toys and intravenous blood bags. In short, phthalates are everywhere in our daily lives.

We agree with the principle of this bill. We believe, however, that some of the bans proposed in this bill are already effective enough, while others perhaps go too far, considering that practical, effective and safe replacement products are not available. Accordingly, we will propose some amendments at the committee stage.

Phthalate Control Act
Private Members' Business

5:35 p.m.

NDP

Denise Savoie Victoria, BC

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to take part in this debate. I want to thank my colleague from Skeena—Bulkley Valley for all the work he has done on this very, very important bill.

As has already been pointed out, Canadians are very concerned about the number of toxins found in our bodies. In fact, this was discussed at a meeting on health and the environment that many people in Victoria attended last weekend. They wondered about the lack of interest and the lack of urgency that the Liberals had shown and that the Conservatives are now showing with regard to regulating the 4,000 chemicals that were approved before the government passed the Environmental Protection Act and that are still on the market, such as the phthalates we are talking about this evening.

Two decades went by before these products received serious study in Canada. The three chemicals we are talking about today are among the 69 substances on the priority list for the CEPA review process. Two of them, DBP and DEHP, are already considered toxic, within the meaning of section 64 of the act, and a decision on the third, BBP, is pending.

We know that these chemicals are toxic and represent a threat to our health. How could we let them into our lives?

It happened because our governments, the people who are responsible for acting in our best interests, protecting us and protecting our health and that of our children, have long been refusing to act according to the precautionary principle. In fact, during the last debate on this bill in this House, the parliamentary secretary seemed more concerned about the economic impact than about the health of Canadians.

One of the great failings of our society is our persistent refusal to act according to the precautionary principle when it comes to toxins in our environment. As far back as 1964 the World Health Organization told us that 80% of all cancers were due to synthetic human made carcinogens. Now there is overwhelming evidence that the huge increase in cancer rates is linked to the increased chemical production of the last 100 years.

What have we done with that knowledge? We have put, it seems to me, profit before people. We have allowed chemicals to enter our environment, our household products, and our children's toys. If we want to have a sustainable health care system, we will use preventive medicine. Reducing toxins is our first start.

We know that, compared to the European Union, Canada is dragging its feet on regulating these chemicals and that it is not acting according to the precautionary principle.

What I do not understand is that we, the public, have to prove that these chemicals are hazardous, whereas the chemical companies do not have to prove that their products are safe.

We have to start shifting priorities.

Let us remember this principle requires government to act even in the absence of certainty if there is a risk of irreversible damage. Studies have linked serious health defects to all kinds of problems, from endocrine disrupting mechanisms to developmental and many others.

This bill is important, because it points to the need to act.

I would like to address this evening some of the parliamentary secretary's concerns during the last debate. He indicated, for example, that the human health assessments concluded that two of the three substances, namely DBP and BBP, do not pose any undue health risks. He failed to mention that there are few cumulative or interactive studies possible, given the wide number of chemicals we are exposed to on a daily basis.

The U.S. national academy of sciences has decided that DBP is a developmental toxin and BBP is a development and reproductive toxin. California has placed these products on the proposition 65 list of harmful substances. Yet, we have not ensured that Canadian children are protected from direct exposure to these chemicals.

The parliamentary secretary also indicated it would be premature to act in light of the ongoing study of the 4,000 products still on the market. I certainly agree that a comprehensive response is needed, but a specific response to these particular chemicals does not preclude comprehensive action as he suggests. Indeed, both are needed. How long does it take to put in place regulatory mechanisms, especially for known toxins such as the phthalates.

Canadians have in fact benefited somewhat from decreases in some of the phthalates due to actions not taken in Canada, but from other jurisdictions.

Canada does need a regulatory backstop to ensure that Canadians are protected and Canada does not become a dumping ground for these toxins. The question when addressing potential toxins should not be, do we remove them? It should be, do we allow them to enter our environment in the first place?

Many Canadians have concerns about the way we still approve chemical products. Is it too lax? Are enough tests done? The onus is on whom to show that the products are safe?

Bill C-307 should be brought to committee to highlight that the chemical approval process in Canada should find ways to better protect our children. That must be the fundamental goal. I urge my colleagues to approve this bill at second reading and to bring it specifically to the committee's consideration to bring out these various issues.