House of Commons Hansard #107 of the 39th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was provisions.

Topics

Anti-terrorism Act
Orders of the Day

10:05 a.m.

Conservative

Stockwell Day Okanagan—Coquihalla, BC

moved:

1. That pursuant to subsection 83.32(1) of the Criminal Code, the application of sections 83.28, 83.29 and 83.3 of that Act be extended for a period of three years from the first day on which this resolution is passed by both Houses of Parliament.

2. That this Resolution come into force on the day on which it has been passed by both Houses of Parliament.

Anti-terrorism Act
Orders of the Day

10:05 a.m.

Fundy Royal
New Brunswick

Conservative

Rob Moore Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada

Mr. Speaker, I can think of no greater duty for a government than to provide for the safety and security of its citizens. The government has clearly demonstrated its commitment to that duty since taking office.

In the aftermath of the September 11 terrorist attacks, Canada put in place the Anti-terrorism Act. Canada's new government continues to support the need to provide the necessary tools to police and prosecutors to prevent, disrupt and deter terrorist incidents.

The motion put before the House today concerns two measures which came into effect five years ago. First, the investigative hearing power in the Anti-terrorism Act. This enables law enforcement officials to investigate and obtain information about terrorism offences.

Second, the recognizance with conditions provision is designed to disrupt emerging terrorist activity by putting a person under judicial supervision. These provisions are designed to prevent the carrying out of terrorist activities and make Canada a more difficult environment for terrorists to operate in. Because terrorism can result in mass destruction and death, punishment after the event is not enough. We must adopt a preventive approach.

Therefore, the key aspect of the provisions under consideration today is prevention, and that is something I believe all Canadians can support. They would also agree that preventing terrorism is not only a Canadian responsibility, but a global responsibility, and prevention of terrorism is an essential goal that we should all share.

Our legislation must be consistent with the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. It must respect human rights. It must be proportional to the threat. It must, at appropriate points, involve the judiciary and it must have effective procedural safeguards.

The investigative hearing and the recognizance with conditions meet those high standards. They are core elements of an appropriate legislative response to terrorism.

The investigative hearing provision has been upheld by our nation's highest court. It allows a peace officer investigating a terrorist offence to ask a judge to require a witness to answer questions before a judge or produce evidence, such as documents or recordings.

When the procedure was scrutinized and affirmed by the Supreme Court of Canada, the court had this to say about the safeguards built into this legislation:

It is clear from the above discussion that the procedural protections available to the appellant in relation to the judicial investigative hearing are equal to and, in the case of derivative use immunity, greater than the protections afforded to witnesses compelled to testify in other proceedings, such as criminal trials, preliminary inquiries or commission hearings.

It is important to remember that these hearings are not meant to punish, but to obtain information that can help prevent a terrorist offence. Not only can they be used to gather information in respect of potential future attacks, but they can also be used to assist in finding the perpetrator of a past attack, who could thereafter be prosecuted and convicted and, most important, prevented from carrying out additional attacks.

A person appearing at an investigative hearing appears as a witness, not as an accused person. The advantage of such a hearing is that a person may be asked questions in a judicial forum where information can be properly received and evaluated.

These hearings, from an investigative standpoint, would likely be more often used to garner information from a peripheral person rather than the actual target of a terrorist investigation. This individual could be brought in and questioned in order to gather information to open up new leads and move the investigation forward. It could also conceivably assist in possible cases where a person may want to come forward, but would be reluctant to be seen to volunteer information in aid of an investigation.

This is an exceptional power. For that reason I emphasize that it can only be used with the proper authorizations. Parliament clearly recognized that it should only be used in very particular circumstances. This House attached many safeguards to its use, including the following: first, requiring the prior consent of the relevant Attorney General; second, giving witnesses the right to retain and instruct counsel and protecting them against self-incrimination; third, requiring federal and provincial attorneys general to report annually to Parliament on the use of these powers; and fourth, making it subject to a five year sunset clause.

The investigative hearing provision has been invoked just once in 2003 in connection with the Air-India case, and even then the hearing was never held. As I said earlier, the Supreme Court of Canada held in 2004, in connection with the same case, that the investigative hearing process was, in fact, constitutionally valid.

The investigative hearing procedure is not without precedent. Indeed, this type of procedure is well known in Canadian law. It parallels procedures employed in the Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters Act, public inquiries, and coroners' inquests. In addition, section 11 of the Competition Act incorporates court ordered investigative hearings, which are generally held to determine how markets operate and how companies compete with each other.

This type of procedure is also well known in other countries. Australia and South Africa employ a similar legal measure to help investigate terrorist threats to their citizens. The United States has a longstanding grand jury system, and the United Kingdom has a regime under which failure to disclose material information to a constable in relation to a terrorism investigation is a criminal offence.

We are at the five year deadline. We would be neglecting our duty if we allowed these important tools for investigating and preventing terrorist acts to simply expire. Allowing this provision to sunset is not a reasonable option. While some critics of the act would no doubt welcome this option, failing to renew this and the recognizance provision would deprive all Canadians, including the police, prosecutors and the judiciary, of the tools needed to prevent terrorist activities.

Another essential measure in the Anti-terrorism Act is the recognizance with conditions provision. This provision is sometimes known as preventative arrest, which is a very misleading term I should say. Its purpose is not to arrest a person, but to put that person under judicial supervision in order to prevent a terrorist incident.

This provision is meant to be used to allow a person to be released under his or her own recognizance to keep the peace and be of good behaviour, and where warranted, to submit to certain other reasonable release conditions. Such measures are not new in Canadian law. For example, judges have long had the power to require a person to enter into what is sometimes called a peace bond. Such recognizances are used in relation to personal injury and child sex offences as well as criminal organization offences.

The recognizance with conditions in the Anti-terrorism Act is a version of a peace bond. It is designed to prevent, restrict, or disrupt preparations for terrorist activity. For example, these provisions could be useful against individuals who are raising funds or otherwise facilitating the activities of terrorist organizations.

To employ this procedure, the police must obtain the prior consent of the appropriate attorney general. They can only obtain this consent if they believe on reasonable grounds that a terrorist activity will be carried out and suspect on reasonable grounds that the imposition of a recognizance with conditions on a person or the arrest of a person is necessary to prevent the carrying out of the terrorist activity.

In certain limited circumstances, the police may arrest a person without a warrant in order to bring him or her before a judge. A person detained in these circumstances must be brought before a judge within 24 hours, or if no judge is available, as soon as possible thereafter. A hearing is then held with all parties present, including the person's counsel.

At this hearing the judge evaluates the evidence and determines whether the police officer has reasonable grounds for the suspicion. If so, the judge then decides whether it would be advisable to order the individual to enter into a recognizance obliging that person to comply with certain conditions before being released. These conditions might include a curfew, restrictions on the use of telephones or computers, or travel restrictions. Should the person not agree to comply with those conditions the judge may order that the person be detained for up to 12 months.

As with the investigative hearing power, this provision contains robust legal safeguards to protect the rights of the individual, including reporting requirements for federal and provincial attorneys general, the Minister of Public Safety and provincial ministers responsible for policing. It is important to understand that while the police may make an arrest without warrant, they must still subsequently obtain the consent of the relevant attorney general. Also, under these provisions, it falls to the judiciary to determine whether conditions affecting a person's liberty will be imposed. It is not for the police to do so.

Both the investigative hearing and the recognizance with conditions provisions are preventive in nature. In each case, their intended use is to bring a person before a judge, either to advance the investigation of a terrorist offence or to prevent an act of terrorism.

Some would argue that we should eliminate these provisions because they are so seldom required. That would be akin to getting rid of our fire extinguisher because we have never had a fire.

Justice Canada monitors the use of these Anti-terrorism Act provisions in cooperation with other federal departments and our provincial and territorial counterparts. Frankly, we should take great comfort from the restraint shown in their use thus far.

Parliament clearly recognized in 2001 that these safeguards were appropriate and that they were necessary. Parliament just as clearly recognized that we needed new powers to deal with the exceptional new threat posed by international terrorism. That threat continues as we all know.

This can be demonstrated, for example, by recalling the terrorist attacks on mass transportation in Mumbai this past August, in London in July 2005, and in Madrid in March 2004. We should also recollect that Osama bin Laden and the al-Qaeda movement have not retracted their threats against our country of Canada. We should also bear in mind that reports last summer of a plot to bomb trans-Atlantic airliners.

We have also seen on numerous occasions around the world the deliberate mass murder of civilians in public places. Suicide bombings have sadly become commonplace in our daily news reports. Yet, we may be facing an even more devastating threat if terrorist groups gain access to weapons of mass destruction. Cyber terrorism that would seek to paralyze our infrastructure could also have devastating effects. Societies that, like Canada, are open, democratic and technologically advanced could easily be subject to attack in these areas.

Canada's own recent history demonstrates that we are not immune from terrorist incidents. Whether we choose to acknowledge it or not, international terrorism threatens our peaceful communities and our way of life and, regrettably, is likely to be part of our world for years to come.

The investigative hearing and recognizance with condition provisions provide law enforcement agencies with the much needed ability to act quickly when necessary, and potentially save lives. And they can only be activated under special circumstances.

As I said, both of these powers will cease to apply on the 15th day of 2007 on which both Houses of Parliament sit, unless both Houses pass a resolution to extend it.

A sunset clause was inserted in 2001 to allow us to review the powers, with the benefit of five years experience and determine whether they are still desirable and necessary.

These provisions do not exist just for the sake of having them or because the government wants to have them. In a perfect world, there would be no need for such procedures. As we have seen, however, in the real world threats do exist, not just south of the border or in some far off corner of the globe, but right here in Canada, as we discovered last year with the unravelling of an apparent plot to cause violence and destruction in our largest city, Toronto, and right here at our very doorstep in Ottawa. These powers are something we need, not something we want, and they are absolutely necessary.

The House of Commons subcommittee reviewing the act released an interim report on these provisions in October. The majority of the subcommittee recommended that both provisions be extended to December 31, 2011, in other words for five more years, and that Parliament review any further extension beyond that date.

Other recommendations will be addressed by the government in its response to the parliamentary review of the Anti-terrorism Act. This resolution before the House is, necessarily, limited to the issue of whether these existing provisions should sunset or should be extended.

I thank the subcommittee for its timely interim report and excellent work. We look forward to receiving the findings of the subcommittee on the entire review, as well as those advanced in a report by the Senate.

The government believes that the investigative hearing and recognizance with conditions will continue to be important tools for our domestic law enforcement agencies as they act to prevent, disrupt and investigate terrorism.

Both the Minister of Public Safety and the former minister of justice argued before the parliamentary committees reviewing the Anti-terrorism Act that these tools are still needed.

Accordingly, today a motion has been put before this House in an effort to ensure that these powers continue to be available to investigate and prevent acts of terror.

I want to be sure that we as a country have the legislative tools to protect the safety and security of Canadians and to prevent, disrupt and deter terrorist activity here in Canada.

Law enforcement agencies have expressed their support for the continuation of these measures.

For these and other reasons, Parliament should resolve to extend the sunsetting provisions for three years to enable Canada to continue to have the tools necessary to respond effectively to the threat of terrorism.

Why three years? Because this extension would allow Parliament to further consider the issue in depth. It will also give the government enough time to consider recommendations proposed by the parliamentary committees reviewing the Anti-terrorism Act and introduce any changes deemed appropriate.

This is certainly a prudent course to follow. Allowing these powers to lapse would needlessly eliminate a vital tool for ensuring Canadians' safety and security. We need the benefit of several more years of experience with these provisions before we take such a step as allowing them to sunset.

Only Parliament can renew these powers. I believe it is not only a responsibility but a profound duty for us to do so.

I urge all hon. members to support this motion.

Anti-terrorism Act
Orders of the Day

10:15 a.m.

Bloc

Serge Ménard Marc-Aurèle-Fortin, QC

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the member who just spoke. Does the government still consider the investigative hearing provisions—where a person is required to witness—to be an important tool that will enable the police to fill in the gaps in a poorly managed investigation or an investigation where the police have thrown away recordings of conversations, as they tried to do in the case of the Air India investigation?

The fire extinguisher analogy was a good one. Certainly, the fact that the provisions have never been used is not proof that they are useless, but it might be an indication, just as the reason for not having used the extinguisher is that there had never been a fire.

In his speech, the member explained that we are still dealing with a fire. Terrorism is still a threat. Nevertheless, we have never had an opportunity to use these two measures preventively.

Has it occurred to the member that there might be other reasons these measures have never been used? I would like him to tell us why. My colleague knows that I disagreed with part of this report.

Why is the government not heeding the recommendations in the majority report of the committee? They are majority recommendations because members of the government agreed to them. We spent over 100 hours in committee listening to witnesses.

What good is a committee if the government refuses to consider its unanimous recommendations?

Anti-terrorism Act
Orders of the Day

10:20 a.m.

Conservative

Rob Moore Fundy Royal, NB

Mr. Speaker, it is important to remember that the committee was of the view that we extend these provisions. The committee responsible did convey that to this Parliament. That is why I am urging hon. members to support the committee's view that these provisions are necessary.

I think the analogy is sound. We do not wish for a fire but we want to be prepared if one takes place. We are certainly not through the danger yet when it comes to international terrorism. We see the impacts and we see the threat every day just by turning on the news.

It is important to note for Canadians that, as the hon. member has mentioned, in regard to the investigative hearing and the recognizance with conditions, those provisions have not in fact been used. I think we should all be grateful that they have not been used at this point, but in the aftermath of September 11, members of this House decided that these were appropriate measures to put in place.

That threat still exists. The committee has encouraged Parliament to extend these provisions for our police to be able to better protect us and our entire system, to be able to better protect Canadians from the threat of terrorism.

I did not name them all, but it is important to know what safeguards exist with respect to investigative hearings: only a judge of the provincial court or a superior court of criminal jurisdiction can hold an officer's application for such a hearing; prior consent is required; the witness has the right to retain and instruct council; and incriminating evidence compelled during testimony or derived from such testimony cannot be used or received against the person in further criminal proceedings, except in prosecutions for perjury and giving contradictory evidence.

I want to leave time for other questions, but there are other safeguards in place that should ring a familiar tone with Canadians because they are components of our justice system with which we are all familiar and support. This is a necessary measure for exceptional circumstances to prevent terrorist activity. That is why we must all support it.

Anti-terrorism Act
Orders of the Day

10:25 a.m.

NDP

Joe Comartin Windsor—Tecumseh, ON

Mr. Speaker, I rise to caution the parliamentary secretary. I was quite taken aback by his use of the example of the charges--and I repeat, charges, not convictions--in the incident in Toronto as an example of terrorism incidents in this country. Those 17 or 18 individuals have not been convicted of anything up to this point. As the parliamentary secretary to the minister responsible for public security, he should be very cognizant of the way he uses that incident to try to justify the continued usage of these two sections.

My question for him is this. Will he agree that neither one of these two sections that are about to be sunsetted, barring favourable passage of this motion, were used in that particular incident and have not been used at all in any incidents in this country since their passage?

Anti-terrorism Act
Orders of the Day

10:25 a.m.

Conservative

Rob Moore Fundy Royal, NB

Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. member for his cautions. I appreciate that. I take his point, but I do not think that Canadians need to be reminded at all that we are under an international terrorist threat. There is no denying that. Members of this House acknowledge that. That is why we brought forward measures to combat terrorist activity, whether it is the financing of terrorist activity or the Anti-terrorism Act. We are all working on this, including the Minister of Justice, the Minister of Public Safety, the provinces, police agencies and Canadians. All of us should be working to prevent terrorism.

I do not look at the fact that these provisions have not been used as a reason to allow them to sunset. It would be folly on the part of this Parliament to allow important provisions to sunset that were well thought out and that have been considered by House committees and by a subcommittee. They have been considered. We have heard the evidence that these measures are necessary for an extreme circumstance. We do not want to find out after the fact that we should not have let these provisions sunset.

We need to be as prepared as possible. Canadians know the threat of terrorist activity is there. Unfortunately, it will continue to be there for some time. I do not think there is any arguing that we are not out of the woods yet when it comes to a terrorist threat. We want these provisions in place. The member is right in that they have not been used, but that is not to say they should not be kept in place to be used in the future.

Anti-terrorism Act
Orders of the Day

10:25 a.m.

Conservative

Joy Smith Kildonan—St. Paul, MB

Mr. Speaker, I commend the minister and the parliamentary secretary for this very important work.

It is very timely to have this presented in Canada's Parliament. The world over, truly, we know that the terrorist threat is out there. We know that many countries are working together to offset this menace and to keep Canadians safe from terrorist activity.

I know that the parliamentary secretary has consulted not only in Canada but with many other countries as well. Could he please expand on the question of whether or not other countries now have the same powers in place that we will here in Canada once this resolution is passed?

Anti-terrorism Act
Orders of the Day

10:25 a.m.

Conservative

Rob Moore Fundy Royal, NB

Mr. Speaker, as we know, international terrorism knows no boundaries. These terrorist groups operate in a sophisticated way whether it comes to financing or planning terrorist activities. There is probably no corner of the globe that is not in some way impacted or connected. Even right here in Canada we need to have these safeguards in place.

The member asked about other countries. There are many countries that have taken positive steps to combat terrorism. The United Kingdom, for example, has an even more severe what we could call a regime in place to combat terrorism. Australia and South Africa, as I have mentioned, have provisions in place similar to our investigative hearing provisions. The United States, as I mentioned, has the longstanding grand jury system in place.

Yes, other countries are taking similar steps to combat terrorism.

Anti-terrorism Act
Orders of the Day

10:30 a.m.

Liberal

Sue Barnes London West, ON

Before I begin my remarks, Mr. Speaker, I believe if you seek it you would find unanimous consent for me to split my time with the member for Mississauga—Erindale, for 10 minutes each.

Anti-terrorism Act
Orders of the Day

10:30 a.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

Is that agreed?

Anti-terrorism Act
Orders of the Day

10:30 a.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Anti-terrorism Act
Orders of the Day

10:30 a.m.

Liberal

Sue Barnes London West, ON

Mr. Speaker, today we are speaking to a government motion concerning two sunset provisions of the Anti-terrorism Act: investigative hearings, section 83.28 of the Criminal Code; and recognizance with conditions (preventive arrest), section 83.3 of the Criminal Code.

Today's motion is tabled because these sections of the code will cease to apply at the end of the 15th sitting day of Parliament after December 31, 2006, unless there is a vote in both Houses extending the provisions of the motion before us today. Please note that this motion is not amendable.

The Anti-terrorism Act was introduced into the House of Commons in mid October 2001 and given royal assent on December 18, 2001. The act was part of Canada's response to UN Resolution 1373 of September 28, 2001, which required member states to adopt anti-terrorism legislation and policies within 90 days. Canada reported to the United Nations its compliance with Resolution 1373 on December 12, 2001.

This very complex piece of legislation went through the entire law making process in less than three months. Throughout the world it was a time of uncertainty and fear after the horror of September 11. Many of us in the chamber today were intimately involved in the process and work of the anti-terrorism bill. It was the Liberal government that introduced this legislation.

In 2001 debates around the Anti-terrorism Act were wide ranging. However, it was agreed that steps had to be taken to protect Canada and Canadians at a time of threat and uncertainty.

Many people across our great country debated whether the legislation was to be adopted, appropriately balancing community safety and security and individual rights and freedoms. There was an understanding then as there is now that there needed to be legislation which allowed for the prevention of and the protection against terrorist activity.

Within this context, legislators worked toward creating the Anti-terrorism Act which would be reasonable and proportionate and contained numerous safeguards strong enough to protect constitutional rights and freedoms. Did we get the balance right?

It was within this context that one such safeguard, a full review of the act, was mandated. Section 145 of the act required that a comprehensive review of the provisions and operations of the Anti-terrorism Act be completed by the end of 2005. It was mandated that a committee of the House submit a report containing any recommended changes to this act.

Unfortunately, because of the electoral situation over the last few years, this review has yet to be completed. There is currently a subcommittee of the Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security working very hard at completing this task. I am told that we should have the completed version shortly.

Within the context of this review, two of the most contentious sections of the Anti-terrorism Act, investigative hearings and preventive arrests, are found. In 2001 many Canadians had very serious concerns with these measures as they were deemed as unprecedented in Canadian law and people were concerned that they could be used inappropriately. The Liberal government of the day in its wisdom attached two sunset provisions with which we are now dealing.

I should remind colleagues that the original bill as presented did not have the sunset provisions. These were added after the very serious concerns heard at the committee hearings. I would like to briefly explain the two provisions, investigative hearings and recognizance with conditions, commonly referred to as preventive arrests. The interim report of the reviewing subcommittee concisely describes these provisions and I will use those descriptions now.

Section 83.28 of the Criminal Code, also contained in section 4 of the Anti-terrorism Act, allows a peace officer, with the prior consent of the Attorney General, to apply to a superior court or provincial court judge for an order for the gathering of information. If it is granted, the order compels a person to attend a hearing before a judge, answer questions and bring along anything in his or her possession. This person is entitled to retain and instruct counsel, but is required to answer questions unless refusing to do so on the basis of law relating to disclosure or privilege. The judge will rule on any refusal. No one attending such a hearing can refuse to answer a question or to produce a thing on the grounds of self-incrimination.

Any information or testimony obtained during an investigative hearing cannot be used directly or indirectly in subsequent proceedings, except in relation to a prosecution for perjury or providing subsequent contradictory evidence.

Since the adoption of this section of the Criminal Code, it has never been used; only in one circumstance was it even attempted to be used. In that instance, during the Air India trial, the section was appealed all the way to the Supreme Court of Canada where it was upheld in a four to three split decision. The investigative hearing in relation to this trial was ordered but not held because the Air India trial was over by the time the Supreme Court of Canada had issued its rulings. Even at that time it was explained:

Although terrorism necessarily changes the context in which the rule of law must operate, it does not call for the abdication of law. The challenge for democracies in the battle against terrorism is to balance an effective response with fundamental democratic values that respect the importance of human life, liberty and the rule of law.

Again, I will refer to the succinct description of recognizance with conditions found in the subcommittee's interim report.

Preventive arrests, the second provision of the Anti-terrorism Act which we are considering today, is found in section 83.3 of the Criminal Code and section 4 of the Anti-terrorism Act.

With the prior consent of the Attorney General, a peace officer who believes that a terrorist act will be carried out and suspecting that only the imposition of recognizance with conditions or the arrest of this person will prevent that act from taking place may lay an information before a provincial court judge. That judge may order that person to appear before him or her. A peace officer following these procedures may arrest without warrant the person who is the object of the information if such apprehension is necessary to prevent the commission of a terrorist activity.

If a person is detained in this manner, he or she must be brought before a provincial court judge within 24 hours, or as soon as possible thereafter. At that time a show cause hearing must take place to determine if the person should be released or detained for a further period of time. This hearing can only be adjourned for a further 48 hours.

If the judge determines there is no need for a person to enter into a recognizance, the person is bound to keep the peace and respect other conditions for up to 12 months and to not be in possession of a weapon. If the person refuses to enter into such a recognizance, the judge can order that person to be imprisoned for up to 12 months.

Subsections 83.31(2) and (3) of the Criminal Code of Canada require the responsible federal and provincial ministers to publish annual reports on the usage of these provisions. We are glad to have this information. As confirmed in the subcommittee interim report of October 2006, there have been no, and I repeat no, reported uses of these provisions.

We have now had five years plus of experience with these provisions. The current government is now asking for a three year extension. It has not tabled any companion piece of legislation to address the concerns in the subcommittee report and has given no indication that it will do so in future. The subcommittee majority and minority reports' recommendations were made because the subcommittee deemed it necessary to further restrict both the scope and the applications of the provisions under review.

We must return to the original intent of inserting the sunset clause. Parliament made this law believing that in the immediate aftermath of 9/11 these infringements on charter rights of potential suspects might be required by the law enforcement officials of the land. There was always a concern that the sweeping power of the provisions could allow for either intentional or unintentional abuse. We know today that the Criminal Code already contains all the necessary offences and powers for law enforcement officials to adequately respond to the threat of terrorism. Terrorism is a reality that we must continue to address for the safety and security of Canadians, there is no doubt.

These were extraordinary provisions, with the anticipation of their sunset, in the original bill as passed by this Parliament.

Proper security intelligence and the rule of law protect our democratic society. These provisions as they stand should sunset. There continues to be a very difficult call between balancing the rights of democratic societies to protect themselves from acts of terror and the rights of individuals in those societies.

We look forward to the subcommittee's final report on the comprehensive review of the Anti-terrorism Act in its entirety.

Anti-terrorism Act
Orders of the Day

10:40 a.m.

NDP

Joe Comartin Windsor—Tecumseh, ON

Mr. Speaker, I want to acknowledge the significant position the member has taken with regard to this motion and the reaffirmation of the need for Parliament to be respected, the committee process to be respected, but also to reinforce that balance we are constantly trying to strike between security and human rights and civil liberties in this country, a trade-off that I always argue should never be made, that it is not necessary to make that.

I want to address a very specific point. Does the member agree with me that the government by not accepting the majority report that recommended these sunset clauses be extended for five years by reducing it to three years is an admission on its part that in fact we do not need them?

Anti-terrorism Act
Orders of the Day

10:40 a.m.

Liberal

Sue Barnes London West, ON

Mr. Speaker, to the first point on the subcommittee report, two members from our party worked very diligently on the interim report as did other members around the House, including government members and other opposition members.

In fact the subcommittee report had 10 recommendations and none of these recommendations is reflected in the take all or nothing motion we see before us. We know that refinements were asked for in the subcommittee report. We also know that the subcommittee is still working on the full report which is yet to come before the full committee.

We also know that most of this evidence was taken before the last election. There have been many events since that time that go into the thought process behind anti-terrorism legislation. I and my party believe it is very necessary, let no one think otherwise. It is necessary.

We are looking forward to working with all the refinements that will be put before the minister. We will work with him on the revision of the Anti-terrorism Act. I am concerned that once again we could be moving into an election before this work is finished. I respect the hard work and the thought that goes into these recommendations. Today we see a motion with nothing accompanying it to acknowledge the work that was put in. There has been no response to the subcommittee report of October 2006 except for today's motion which is not in line with either the minority or the majority reports in that interim report.

Yes, we respect what happens in Parliament. I respect personally what happened in the parliamentary work when we added those sunset clauses. We now have very real work to do. I look forward to seeing the final report. Then we should have a new version of the Anti-terrorism Act with refinements in it that we can properly debate.

I cannot answer the specific question regarding what the government was thinking. Government members were part of the subcommittee. Their recommendations sit equally with those of my party's members who did such hard work. We need tools that are properly balanced. We will work with the government on refinements to a good piece of legislation in the future. Unfortunately we did not see anything tabled with this motion that gives us the certainty that it would be coming.

We also know that we are again in uncertain times. We should work constructively together to get that fine balance right. I look forward to continuing that work.

Anti-terrorism Act
Orders of the Day

10:45 a.m.

Liberal

Omar Alghabra Mississauga—Erindale, ON

Mr. Speaker, I stand before you today to debate the motion presented by the Conservatives to extend the sunset clauses of two extraordinary powers: preventative arrests and investigative hearings. These two clauses were part of the Anti-terrorism Act that was implemented by the Liberal government just over five years ago in the aftermath of the September 11 terrorist attacks.

The government of the day acted quickly in response to the urgent needs of modernizing our security regimes and laws. During the legislative process, the government of the day consulted with Canadians and examined various options. The challenge was, and continues to be, how to find the right balance between introducing new security tools and yet still maintain the protection of fundamental civil liberties and human rights.

After carefully examining and considering numerous and valuable thoughts and ideas, the government made a bargain with Canadians. The new law would proceed with introducing these two powerful tools, but place them on a probation period. The tools would be given a five year trial period, and if during that period it emerged that their benefit outweighed their risk, lawmakers would then have the opportunity to renew them. Otherwise, the default option was that those clauses would sunset at the end of that period. That compromise was concluded after consulting lawmakers, legal experts, law enforcement agencies and community leaders.

Now that the five year trial period has ended, we parliamentarians have to decide this. Do we honour the original compromise and let those clauses sunset, or do we feel those tools have been proven necessary and choose to change our original plans and vote to extend that period?

The House has a serious choice to make. A House of Commons subcommittee has studied this choice. The findings of that subcommittee recognized the power of those tools and offered 10 recommendations. The recommendations stated that if the government and the House wanted to extend those clauses, they needed to accompany them with some tweaking and adjustment.

The Conservative government chose to ignore the holistic approach the subcommittee chose to adopt. Instead of accompanying this motion with legislation that takes into account the necessary changes, it is asking us to ignore our duties and maintain the status quo.

Over the last five years we have learned so much. We have seen mistakes where innocent people have been caught in the web of confusion and handicapped judicial system like in the case of Mr. Maher Arar. We have seen our courts push back on some security legislation and we have witnessed that our ordinary legal system is capable and has the necessary tools to protect Canadians.

Canadians are proud of our law enforcement agencies. We are confident in our legal system and courts. We are proud in our values and principles. As lawmakers, we must always examine our decisions carefully, responsibly and dispassionately.

Once again, I am proud to demonstrate a clear contrast between the Liberal Party and the Conservative Party. The Conservatives at the time of passing the Anti-terrorism Act wanted the Liberal government to implement blunt tools that could risk our civil liberties, while the Liberals were careful to maintain an appropriate balance between providing the right security tools and protecting our fundamental liberties.

Here is another example. Now the Liberals, after finishing the trial period and realizing that these tools did not turn out to be needed, are ready to restore our traditional laws, but the Conservatives want to enshrine these extraordinary tools without even offering any type of adjustment or balance.

Canadians are familiar with the tendencies of the Conservative Party. Whether it is in their approach to dealing with crime, refugees, minorities, or aboriginal people, those members start with the premise that one is guilty until proven innocent. They assume the worst in people and fearmonger so they can justify imposing blunt and harsh instruments or legislation.

I call on all my colleagues in the House to join me in restoring the needed balance in our judicial system. Our legal system is an international symbol of fairness and equality. We must work to strengthen it, not paralyze it. The essential need for checks and balances may at times appear cumbersome, but it is the wise approach. It is the outcome of hundreds of years of social and legal evolution and it is designed to protect the citizens and at the same time provide our law enforcement agencies with the support they need.

Five years have passed. We now know that those two tools have not been used and were not needed. In the meantime, our law enforcement agencies have been able to operate effectively. Therefore, why should we leave those extraordinary measures on our legislative books? Why risk any potential abuse or errors in the future?

Our judicial system is fundamentally built on a balanced dynamic of checks and balances and oversight. This tricky balance must be respected and preserved. I would argue that our existing laws already provide the necessary tools. Now that we have just finished our five year probation period and realize that these two clauses are not needed, we must take a sober second look and fulfill the initial intent of the legislation.

Let us allow these two clauses to sunset and reinforce the traditional role of our judiciary.

Anti-terrorism Act
Orders of the Day

10:50 a.m.

Fundy Royal
New Brunswick

Conservative

Rob Moore Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member said that there was a clear division between his party and the government on this issue. However, I did not get any clear direction from what he said. I ask him to reconcile his statements that the Liberal Party is balanced and has introduced appropriate measures. In fact, these measures were brought in with the Liberal majority. Perhaps he could reconcile that with what he is saying now about these measures not being effective.

Also, could he reconcile his comment about our confidence in law enforcement and in our police to protect us? Our police and law enforcement community, among others, have said that these provisions are necessary for the fight against terrorism, that we need them in place to prevent the worst case scenario. The provisions have not been used to this point, but I would hate to be in a situation where they could have been used to prevent a serious terrorist attack, but they were not available to our law enforcement.

How does he reconcile those two statements, that at one point in time these were balanced and now they are now somehow not balanced and that we support our police, yet when the police have asked for these provisions, he does not want to make them available?

Anti-terrorism Act
Orders of the Day

10:50 a.m.

Liberal

Omar Alghabra Mississauga—Erindale, ON

Mr. Speaker, I guess the hon. member was not listening to my entire speech. I stated that at the time, after the aftermath of the terrorist attacks, Canadians and lawmakers came together to establish a law, called the Anti-terrorism Act, to ensure the protection of Canadians. As part of that law, these two measures were introduced, but there was a recognition that they were extraordinary in response to the dynamics and the environment at the time. We recognized that they were unusual and powerful. That is why we implemented a five year sunset clause. We put these two clauses on a probation period and the default would be the sunset after five years.

We have had that five years. We have had the trial period. We realize that our law enforcement agencies can conduct their duties and protect Canadians without these tools. To restore the balance and to ensure that we do not risk losing that balance, we are saying we have fulfilled our duties. The two clauses have done their job. The trial period has proven that we do not need them. Let us get back to our original laws and let them sunset.

Anti-terrorism Act
Orders of the Day

10:55 a.m.

Bloc

Serge Ménard Marc-Aurèle-Fortin, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to ask the following question. I know my hon. colleague was not part of the team that examined the Anti-Terrorism Act, although he speaks from a thorough knowledge of the subject.

What his party failed to tell him is that this committee did not cause more of a ruckus in Parliament because all participating members had a common goal. Of course, we did not always agree, but at least we were certainly concerned about achieving the same objectives, namely, the best possible balance between what is needed to fight terrorism and the respect of civil liberties. Civil liberties are one of the defining features of our society and are precisely what terrorist movements are attacking.

We do not wish to concede a partial victory to the terrorists, who challenge the wisdom of our societies, by showing them that we are willing to sacrifice any part of our liberties. Thus, we also looked at other provisions and other tools that can help make the fight against terrorism more effective, and we have pointed them out.

A government that reacts with a piece of legislation that is 170 pages in three months—and I have heard it was more like three weeks—knows ahead of time that it has probably made some errors. Those members in the party that was in power at the time should not be ashamed to recognize that after a trial period—

Anti-terrorism Act
Orders of the Day

10:55 a.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

Order, please. The question is a little long. The hon. member for Mississauga—Erindale must be brief in his answer.

Anti-terrorism Act
Orders of the Day

10:55 a.m.

Liberal

Omar Alghabra Mississauga—Erindale, ON

Mr. Speaker, my hon. colleague just reinforced what I had said in my speech, that at the time a lot of consultation had been done. It was introduced that these two clauses were required, but they were put on probation for five years. At the end of the five years, they would default automatically, or sunset. It was not the other way around.

We are recommending the fulfilment of that legislation, the exact completion of it. Those clauses are not needed and our law enforcement agencies can conduct their duties.

Some hon. members of the Conservative Party would like to be selective in what they want to hear, but many law enforcement agency and judicial experts have called for the sunsetting of these clauses. I call on all my colleagues to join me in voting against the motion.

North Buxton
Statements By Members

10:55 a.m.

Conservative

Dave Van Kesteren Chatham-Kent—Essex, ON

Mr. Speaker, I have a town in my riding of Chatham-Kent—Essex called North Buxton, and in that town there is a church and in that church a bell has hung since 1850.

North Buxton was one of the safe havens around Chatham that served as the home for escaped slaves who came to Canada on the underground railroad. The vision of its founders was to establish an entirely self-sufficient and prosperous black community, thereby quieting the then commonly accepted notion of black inferiority.

When a group of resolute blacks from Pittsburgh heard of this place, they donated this lasting symbol of freedom, along with a letter that concluded:

...and when the bell, with its solemn tones, calls you to the House of God, remember your brethren who are in bonds; and let your prayers ascent to God, that he may, in his own good time, break every yoke and let the oppressed go free.

Paul Harris Fellowship Award
Statements By Members

11 a.m.

Liberal

Anthony Rota Nipissing—Timiskaming, ON

Mr. Speaker, I stand today to congratulate a dedicated group of volunteers in my riding of Nipissing—Timiskaming.

Earlier this week, Joanne Comerford, Janet Comerford and Eric Magill were each presented with the Paul Harris Fellowship Awards by the Rotary Club of Nipissing. The Paul Harris Fellowship Award is handed out annually to recognize volunteers for their long time contributions to our community.

Twin sisters, Joanne and Janet Comerford have spent years volunteering for the North Bay Capital Centre and have also assisted in various Lake Nipissing waterfront initiatives. Eric Magill's accomplishments include working with Scouts Canada, the TB Association, Near North Crime Stoppers and the Shriners Club.

Volunteers are the lifeblood of any society and those three have dedicated countless hours to making their community one that we can all be proud of.

On behalf of the people of Nipissing, I would like to thank Joanne, Janet and Eric for their outstanding volunteer work. I hope they keep up the good work.

Hélèna Arpin-Couillard
Statements By Members

11 a.m.

Bloc

Carole Freeman Châteauguay—Saint-Constant, QC

Mr. Speaker, on January 7, Hélèna Arpin-Couillard of Châteauguay celebrated her 100th birthday at Résidence Youville. The event was marked with great ceremony by her family: seven children, 24 grandchildren and 41 great-grandchildren.

Mrs. Arpin-Couillard is still in wonderful shape today and remains quite independent. An active centenarian, she is able to enjoy her hobbies and follow her favourite hockey team, the Montreal Canadiens. A dedicated fan, she never misses a Canadiens game.

I want to acknowledge the 100th birthday of this woman, who has lived in Châteauguay-Station all her life and has seen our beautiful community grow and develop. It is a pleasure to have the members of this House share in this special moment honouring someone who is cherished by all those around her. She is a true witness to our local history, and she inspires respect and admiration.

Happy birthday, Mrs. Arpin-Couillard.

Infrastructure
Statements By Members

11 a.m.

NDP

David Christopherson Hamilton Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, today in Ottawa, the Federation of Canadian Municipalities big city mayors caucus is meeting, including the City of Hamilton's new mayor, Fred Eisenberger.

I met with Mayor Eisenberger yesterday and he updated me regarding the severe crisis that cities, like Hamilton, are facing. Hamilton estimates its infrastructure needs to be about $1.5 billion. Sewers and water treatment facilities need repairs and upgrading. Roads have been patched until they look like a quilt. Libraries and community centres need upgrades and expansion to properly serve the public.

Cities, like Hamilton, need immediate, long term solutions. Federal and provincial downloading created this problem and we must work to solve it.

Groups like FCM and the Canadian Urban Transit Association have fresh and workable ideas to address the problems facing cities. The federal government should immediately strike a national round table on cities to look at these ideas and begin their implementation.

As the Conference Board of Canada said in its groundbreaking report this week, “Canada's success depends on the success of our major cities”. Let us not fail our country by failing our cities.

Canadian Wheat Board
Statements By Members

11 a.m.

Conservative

David Anderson Cypress Hills—Grasslands, SK

Mr. Speaker, this week, the ballots for the western Canadian barley plebiscite are being mailed out, with three clear choices. These are similar to questions that the Canadian Wheat Board uses in its own polling.

The questions are straightforward: “Do you want the system to continue as is? Do you want the option of selling to the board and any other buyer? Or, do you want the board to get out of marketing barley entirely?”

Over the next few weeks we will hear people using intimidation and fear to try to maintain the system as is. The reality is that there is good reason to support change. Western Canada desperately needs the same options and opportunities available to other farmers throughout this country.

The Winnipeg Commodity Exchange website now posts daily barley prices that let farmers see what they should be getting for their product. Farmers have compared U.S. prices to our projected returns.

With the daily price in the United States running at 85¢ to $1 a bushel above the Wheat Board's projected payments, it is clear that there is no premium in the present system. If farmers want to ensure profitability in the future, they must vote for change.

Air Canada
Statements By Members

11:05 a.m.

Liberal

Bonnie Brown Oakville, ON

Mr. Speaker, I would like to say a few words about a remarkable Canadian success story, one which has strong connections to my riding of Oakville.

Air Canada is our nation's largest full service airline. From its beginnings in 1937 as Trans-Canada Airlines, Air Canada has become the 14th largest commercial airline in the world. It is the largest provider of passenger services in the domestic market and to destinations around the world.

During 2005, Air Canada carried over 30 million passengers and served over 795 destinations in 139 countries.

My riding of Oakville is home to a significant number of Air Canada employees and I commend them and their colleagues for providing us all with one of the vital links that brings this nation together and connects us to the world. I fly Air Canada with pride.

Vimy Memorial
Statements By Members

11:05 a.m.

Conservative

Laurie Hawn Edmonton Centre, AB

Mr. Speaker, yesterday a 26 tonne replica of the Canadian National Vimy Memorial was unveiled in Confederation Park here in Ottawa. This grand ice sculpture reminds us of the sacrifices and achievements of those brave Canadians who fought in the Battle of Vimy Ridge 90 years ago. It also pays tribute to the breathtaking Vimy Memorial in France, a symbol of the legacy our soldiers left behind.

On Easter Monday, April 9, thousands of Canadians, including about 5,000 youth, will gather in France to mark the 90th anniversary of this significant battle. They will also witness the dedication of the newly restored Vimy Memorial. Many thousands more will attend the national ceremony here in our nation's capital.

I encourage all members to visit the Vimy ice sculpture in Confederation Park and to attend upcoming local events marking this important anniversary.

Sentences
Statements By Members

11:05 a.m.

Bloc

Serge Ménard Marc-Aurèle-Fortin, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Conservatives are extremely proud of their plan to increase sentences and give amnesty to people who do not want to register their long guns. As a result, more people will be in prison and more weapons will be in circulation in Canada, just like in the United States. We need to look at where we are headed.

The incarceration and homicide rates in the United States are among the highest in the world. Proportionally, the United States incarcerates six times as many people as Canada, where the homicide rate is three times lower.

The United States' incarceration rate is five times that of England, four times that of Australia, six times that of Germany, and three and a half times that of France. These countries have homicide rates that are five, six, seven and eight times lower, respectively, than the American rate. The United States' incarceration rate is between 10 and 11 times the rates in Finland, Switzerland and Denmark, whose homicide rates are three, six and five times lower, respectively, than the American rate.

When it comes to fighting crime, the American model is not a good one to follow.

This Parliament must find enough members to prevent this calculated, ineffective move by the Conservatives—

Sentences
Statements By Members

11:05 a.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

The hon. member for Lotbinière—Chutes-de-la-Chaudière.

Official Languages
Statements By Members

11:05 a.m.

Conservative

Jacques Gourde Lotbinière—Chutes-de-la-Chaudière, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Commissioner of Official Languages launched an inquiry while the Liberals were still in power.

He found that the Canadian Forces were not increasing their bilingual workforce quickly enough under the former government.

The new model of the official languages program announced by our Conservative government implements the commissioner's 13 recommendations. Our government does not just stop at fine words, it takes action.

Our government shows that it has the political will to make improvements to its programs in order to respect linguistic requirements.

The main objective of the new model is to ensure that bilingual services are delivered when and where required, in compliance with the Official Languages Act.

The Department of National Defence and the Canadian Forces remain committed to respecting their obligations under the Official Languages Act.

I would add that the most harmful scenario to francophones outside Quebec and in the Canadian Forces would certainly be the separation of Quebec.

The Environment
Statements By Members

11:05 a.m.

Liberal

Gary Merasty Desnethé—Missinippi—Churchill River, SK

Mr. Speaker, northern Saskatchewan is known for its pristine beauty and for the significant number of people who live off the land. As a result, environmental concerns have always been important for us but recently, with reports of melting Arctic ice and more evidence of climate change, this concern has gained a greater sense of urgency.

A recent Meadow Lake Progress editorial captured the sentiment stating:

It’s easy to put environmental worries on the back burner, but when we get an entire winter without snow, or we see the polar bears disappear for good, we will get a slap in the face.

These concerns are close to home. In northern Saskatchewan, climate change could have a terrible effect on ice roads and could change traditional animal migrations.

The Conservatives' clean air act risks putting the environment on the back burner. Targets are being set as far back as 2050.

A real strategy is needed now, one that recognizes the leadership role our agricultural and forestry producers can have in land use and in biofuels and create a strong consultation plan with aboriginal peoples.

Everyone can prosper when we take full advantage of tradition and innovation.

Liberal Party
Statements By Members

11:10 a.m.

Conservative

Chris Warkentin Peace River, AB

Mr. Speaker, with friends like the Alberta Liberals, the member for Ajax—Pickering does not need any enemies.

This week, on Mike Duffy Live, Alberta Liberal leader, Kevin Taft, criticized the position of the member for Ajax—Pickering by warning him directly that the federal Liberal intrusion into the oil sands could eventually threaten the unity of our country.

In a recent interview, the member for Ajax—Pickering stated, “if they refuse to work with us...there will be consequences”.

It is outrageous. We have seen, time and time again, the Liberals' lack of concern for the west and their willingness to pit regions of Canada against each other for their own electoral gain. We have seen the consequences of this antagonistic Liberal strategy before and Canadians do not want to go back.

Thankfully, our government has taken real action to tackle the important environmental issues without resorting to veiled threats directed at individual provinces.

Will the new Liberal leader take the advice of his provincial cousin, change his secret agenda and call off his attack dog?

Transfer Payments
Statements By Members

11:10 a.m.

NDP

Olivia Chow Trinity—Spadina, ON

Mr. Speaker, the Conference Board of Canada said that cities were at the core of the national prosperity agenda and yet the government continues to squeeze our cities dry and what we have is a prosperity gap.

I see it in Toronto all the time. We need a strategy for cities and we need investment. All one needs to do is ask the mayors who are meeting here in Ottawa today. We need a national transit and affordable housing strategy, funding for child care, for the arts, support for students crushed by debt, recreation and jobs for young people, and we need long term funding for city infrastructure.

In Toronto, chunks of concrete are falling off the neglected Gardiner Expressway, but to pay for public transit the city faces a backlog of $300 million in repairs. We need a green renovation program modelled on Toronto's successful better building partnership. We need the funds to train our workforce, recognize foreign credentials and help new immigrants to find good jobs.

We need to invest in our cities as they are the keys to prosperity in Canada.

Summer Student Program
Statements By Members

11:10 a.m.

Liberal

Dominic LeBlanc Beauséjour, NB

Mr. Speaker, for many years, the summer career placement program for students has provided hundreds of summer jobs to deserving students throughout my riding of Beauséjour.

These students worked in tourism, not for profit programs, parks, historical sites and small businesses. By cutting $50 million from this program, thousands of summer jobs are being eliminated by the Conservative government.

We are already seeing the negative repercussions following the Conservative government's decision to reduce funding for the summer career placement program. Officials at the Department of Human Resources cannot provide any information on the status of this program.

A number of community programs administered by not for profit agencies are being eliminated following these cuts by the Conservatives.

It is sad that the government has decided to reduce employment opportunities for students in rural communities and jeopardize programs offered by not for profit volunteer organizations.

Hats Off to You!
Statements By Members

11:10 a.m.

Bloc

Nicole Demers Laval, QC

Mr. Speaker, the “Hats Off to You!” competition gives bursaries to young women who dare to study in fields that lead to traditionally male-dominated occupations.

Currently the average salary for women is just three quarters that of men, except when women are in male-dominated occupations, where they are paid equally. However, women make up just 11% in vocational training and 20% in technical training.

This competition is indispensable because it provides young girls models for success, breaks traditional stereotypes and broadens their horizons.

Today is the last day for entering the competition and winners will be announced on May 7. They will be given cash prizes ranging from $500 to $5,000 and offered paid work placements and career development trips to France, to encourage them to continue down this path.

On behalf of all my colleagues in the Bloc Québécois, I commend all these women who dare to be different and I wish them good luck.

Child Care
Statements By Members

11:10 a.m.

Liberal

Sukh Dhaliwal Newton—North Delta, BC

Mr. Speaker, the Conservative government's abandonment of the child care agreement with British Columbia has made it almost impossible for parents to find care for their children.

Child care agencies, such as Options, have had their entire funding slashed because of the government's heartless treatment of children. The opening of the new Maxxine Wright Child Care Centre, which was to provide emergency support for at risk families, is now on hold. Surrey's teen parent program, which support's young parents who want to complete their high school education, has no idea how it will survive these cuts.

With the elimination of these programs, Surrey and North Delta are witnessing, firsthand, how the government shamefully neglects the most vulnerable in our society.

Senate Tenure Legislation
Statements By Members

11:15 a.m.

Conservative

Patricia Davidson Sarnia—Lambton, ON

Mr. Speaker, it has now been 255 days that the unelected, unaccountable Liberal senators have been filibustering Bill S-4.

There are a lot of things one can do in 255 days. For example, one can sail around the world. Ellen MacArthur not only sailed around the world but she did it in 71 days. That is almost one-third of the time that Bill S-4 has been in the Senate.

Let us compare the statistics on this. Bill S-4 has 66 words, 3 clauses and 1 simple concept, whereas sailing around the world is a 27,000 mile voyage while dealing with the elements, including gale force winds. Last time I checked, there were no gale force winds in the Senate.

As we all know, the Liberal leader is on the record as supporting Senate term limits, yet day after day he still cannot provide leadership to his caucus on this. Why? Is it that he simply just cannot get the job done?

The Environment
Oral Questions

11:15 a.m.

Liberal

Michael Ignatieff Etobicoke—Lakeshore, ON

Mr. Speaker, yesterday the environment minister astonished Canadians, as he often does, by claiming that trying to seriously reduce greenhouse gas emissions would result in an economic collapse similar to Russia's after the fall of communism. This is ludicrous even by the standards of the flat earth society opposite.

How can Canadians trust the minority government to take action on climate change when the Conservatives seem to believe that preserving our environment will destroy our economy?

The Environment
Oral Questions

11:15 a.m.

Pontiac
Québec

Conservative

Lawrence Cannon Minister of Transport

Mr. Speaker, of course I think that what we have to be able to understand is that--

The Environment
Oral Questions

11:15 a.m.

An hon. member

Are you struggling?

The Environment
Oral Questions

11:15 a.m.

Conservative

Lawrence Cannon Pontiac, QC

No, I am not struggling at all. What we have to be able to understand is that when we discuss issues that are of this importance, we must be able to have a clear view of them. Indeed, I think it is the member for Ottawa South who indicated not long ago in the Globe and Mail that if Canada does ratify Kyoto “the cost...would be as much as $40-billion”.

We are not saying that. Those members are saying that.

The Environment
Oral Questions

11:15 a.m.

Liberal

Michael Ignatieff Etobicoke—Lakeshore, ON

Notice, Mr. Speaker, that side of the House talks only about cost and never about gain.

It is obvious that reducing greenhouse gases and tackling climate change is an economic boom, not an economic drain. Why does the government try to scare Canadians into thinking the economy would be sacrificed by making a serious effort on global climate change?

The Environment
Oral Questions

11:15 a.m.

Pontiac
Québec

Conservative

Lawrence Cannon Minister of Transport

Mr. Speaker, the difference in our approach is that we have done something and we are dedicated to doing something. That is the fundamental difference with what has been there on the other side. Those members can preach to us all they want. The reality of the thing is that we are investing in the climate change issues.

The Environment
Oral Questions

11:15 a.m.

Some hon. members

Where?

The Environment
Oral Questions

11:15 a.m.

Conservative

Lawrence Cannon Pontiac, QC

We have invested over $2 billion in ecoenergy projects.

The Environment
Oral Questions

11:15 a.m.

Liberal

Ralph Goodale Wascana, SK

Nonsense. You have just re-announced what was already there.

The Environment
Oral Questions

11:15 a.m.

Conservative

Lawrence Cannon Pontiac, QC

We have invested in the transit fund. We have been able to put money into public transit. They have done nothing. We are getting it done.

The Environment
Oral Questions

11:15 a.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

I urge the hon. member for Wascana to restrain himself. I see that he is on the list for questions and will have his opportunity in due course.

The Environment
Oral Questions

11:15 a.m.

Liberal

Michael Ignatieff Etobicoke—Lakeshore, ON

Mr. Speaker, Canada can become an economic leader if it takes immediate action to combat climate change. Yesterday, however, the Minister of the Environment said that we run the risk of economic collapse if we make a serious effort to do something about the environment.

Why is this government attempting to scare Canadians? Is it to hide its inaction and lack of will?

The Environment
Oral Questions

11:20 a.m.

Pontiac
Québec

Conservative

Lawrence Cannon Minister of Transport

Mr. Speaker, I repeat, we must be capable of making a clear distinction between the will to take action and the fanfare of the former government. It accomplished nothing; we are taking action. The Minister of the Environment was clear yesterday. We have announced programs. We will continue to work on programs. We will continue to act on behalf of Canadians within these programs and we will ensure that we achieve targets for reducing greenhouse gases and pollutants.

The Environment
Oral Questions

11:20 a.m.

Liberal

Marlene Jennings Notre-Dame-de-Grâce—Lachine, QC

Mr. Speaker, Canadians have a clear choice to make. On this side, the Liberal leader knows that eliminating megatonnes of greenhouse gas emissions will lead to megatonnes of wealth and prosperity. On the other side, the Minister of the Environment's only environmental plan is to wear green ties.

When will the Conservatives realize that their environmental policy means missed opportunities and job losses for Canadians?

The Environment
Oral Questions

11:20 a.m.

Langley
B.C.

Conservative

Mark Warawa Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of the Environment

Mr. Speaker, wearing a green jacket also does not get the job done.

This is what the media is saying about the Liberals' Kyoto plan. Jeffrey Simpson says:

Why I'm laughing at the Liberals' Kyoto motion...There is no conceivable way that Canada can meet its Kyoto targets “in their entirety.” If [the leader of the Liberals] or the opposition MPs who agreed with him don't know this, they should be sent to a special cram school on Kyoto. If they do know this--and chances are, they do--they are being political[ly] disingenuous or intellectually dishonest or, worse, both.

The Environment
Oral Questions

11:20 a.m.

Liberal

Marlene Jennings Notre-Dame-de-Grâce—Lachine, QC

Mr. Speaker, Canadians are not as naive as this government believes them to be. They clearly see the strategy of this stone-age government. It is now waging a campaign of fear. It is saying that our economy will start to resemble that of the Soviet Union if we assume our environmental responsibilities.

Rather than drawing questionable conclusions from the past, should the minister not be more concerned with the economy of the future and the state of the planet that future generations will inherit?

The Environment
Oral Questions

11:20 a.m.

Langley
B.C.

Conservative

Mark Warawa Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of the Environment

Mr. Speaker, talking about Russia, it was that party that wanted to send billions of dollars to buy hot air credits.

Professor David Boyd told the legislative committee that “to achieve that kind of [Kyoto] target through domestic reductions would require a rate of emissions decline unmatched by any modern nation in the history of the world, except those which have suffered economic collapse, such as Russia and Ukraine”.

That party did not get it done and Canadians have lost confidence.

This government is getting it done.

Official Languages
Oral Questions

11:20 a.m.

Bloc

Monique Guay Rivière-du-Nord, QC

Mr. Speaker, yesterday the Minister for la Francophonie and Official Languages congratulated her colleague, the Minister of National Defence, for having drawn up a plan that supposedly demonstrates the government's intention to promote official languages in the military.

How can any minister, let alone a francophone minister, be a party to a plan that, upon closer inspection, will set bilingualism in the Canadian armed forces back by 40 years?

Official Languages
Oral Questions

11:20 a.m.

Pontiac
Québec

Conservative

Lawrence Cannon Minister of Transport

Mr. Speaker, we have to look at the facts. The facts in this matter are very telling.

The former Commissioner of Official Languages began an inquiry when the Liberal Party of Canada was in power. She found that the Canadian Forces were not increasing the size of their bilingual contingent fast enough under the old government.

The new model in place is based on recommendations made by the Minister of Official Languages, and we are following up on those recommendations—

Official Languages
Oral Questions

11:20 a.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

The hon. member for Rivière-du-Nord.

Official Languages
Oral Questions

11:20 a.m.

Bloc

Monique Guay Rivière-du-Nord, QC

Mr. Speaker, that is disinformation and it makes no sense.

By praising her colleague's plan, the minister is agreeing to downgrade the importance of French in the armed forces. Why does she not instead put all of her energy into implementing the recommendations of the former Commissioner of Official Languages, who criticized the army for being slow to respect its official language obligations?

Official Languages
Oral Questions

11:25 a.m.

Pontiac
Québec

Conservative

Lawrence Cannon Minister of Transport

Mr. Speaker, there is actually not a very big difference of opinion because we agree with what my colleague said. The former Commissioner of Official Languages criticized the former government's inaction.

We are acting. We have taken the recommendations in the report and we are implementing them. In that sense, we are meeting the objectives set out by the Commissioner of Official Languages.

Official Languages
Oral Questions

11:25 a.m.

Bloc

Richard Nadeau Gatineau, QC

Mr. Speaker, as well as being detrimental for francophone soldiers, the abandonment of bilingualism for top military brass will have a negative impact on the Canadian Forces Language School in Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu, since the cuts could eventually lead to the school's closure.

Will the Minister for la Francophonie and Official Languages be open to the arguments made by the school's union, which fears that the army's recent ill-advised decisions will do nothing except gradually force the school to close?

Official Languages
Oral Questions

11:25 a.m.

Pontiac
Québec

Conservative

Lawrence Cannon Minister of Transport

Mr. Speaker, I would again like to point out the fact that the members of the Bloc Québécois, despite their long-windedness, are unable to take any action whatsoever.

We, on the other hand, have implemented a plan based on recommendations made by the Commissioner of Official Languages. And that is what we are doing. We are taking action.

Official Languages
Oral Questions

11:25 a.m.

Bloc

Richard Nadeau Gatineau, QC

Mr. Speaker, it is a plan that will set back the official languages. Less stringent requirements for bilingualism among the top brass means less demand for language courses. That makes perfect sense and does not take a genius to understand.

If National Defence goes through with its plan, does the minister realize that the school's existence is ultimately on the line?

Official Languages
Oral Questions

11:25 a.m.

Pontiac
Québec

Conservative

Lawrence Cannon Minister of Transport

Mr. Speaker, once again, I must repeat that my hon. colleague talks a lot, but when it comes to delivering the goods, he is completely incapable of getting anything done.

Consider the following example. During the previous session, Bill S-3 was before the Senate. That bill aimed to defend the interests of francophones outside Quebec, and was supported by all members of this House, except the Bloc Québécois. Where were they? They were not on the same page.

Wages and Salaries
Oral Questions

11:25 a.m.

NDP

Libby Davies Vancouver East, BC

Mr. Speaker, the NDP victory in the Ontario byelection yesterday showed how strongly the voters want action for livable wages, but not one province in Canada has a minimum wage that provides for this.

The NDP member for Parkdale—High Park has a bill that would reinstate the federal minimum wage and set it at $10 an hour. The Liberals killed the federal minimum wage in 1996.

Will the government reinstate the federal minimum wage so that workers do not have to live in poverty?

Wages and Salaries
Oral Questions

11:25 a.m.

Pontiac
Québec

Conservative

Lawrence Cannon Minister of Transport

Mr. Speaker, on this issue as well as other issues the government is tackling the economic challenges that the country faces. We are doing it with a balanced budget approach. We are doing it with an economic update. The Minister of Finance has been extremely active on this file.

We are creating jobs in the country. We will continue to create jobs in the country. That is what sustains our quality of life and that is what sustains of course our economic forecasting perspective.

Wages and Salaries
Oral Questions

11:25 a.m.

NDP

Libby Davies Vancouver East, BC

Mr. Speaker, maybe the minister can explain how a federal bank employee in Vancouver can live on $8 an hour. It cannot happen. One can barely support oneself, let alone one's family on that. There is a choice here. The government can stand by and watch people drown in debt or it can create decent public policy for a minimum wage.

At a time when the business elites are raking in profits and the government has handed out billions in big oil subsidies, how can it refuse to set a decent living wage for its own workers under federal jurisdiction?

Wages and Salaries
Oral Questions

11:25 a.m.

Pontiac
Québec

Conservative

Lawrence Cannon Minister of Transport

Mr. Speaker, as everyone is aware, in the last budget we were able to cut personal income tax for a period of four years to the tune of roughly $20 billion. We have alleviated a large number of people who were paying income tax and they do not pay income tax any more.

We have also reduced the GST by 1%. We have helped companies in terms of their personal income tax and corporate tax. When the member asks us what the government is doing in terms of helping the economy, those are specific actions.

The Environment
Oral Questions

11:30 a.m.

Liberal

David McGuinty Ottawa South, ON

Mr. Speaker, the environment minister's uninformed testimony before committee yesterday suggests that the government believes that over the next five years making our businesses and homes more efficient will apparently cause economic collapse; that substantially increasing renewable energy power production in this country will cause economic collapse; and that investing in exciting new technologies and rapidly expanding international carbon markets will apparently cause economic collapse.

Can the government confirm to Canadians that this is indeed its position?

The Environment
Oral Questions

11:30 a.m.

Langley
B.C.

Conservative

Mark Warawa Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of the Environment

Mr. Speaker, the minister quoted Professor Boyd from UBC. It is unfortunate that the member was in a bad mood yesterday. He attacked the minister. He attacked the Auditor General at the committee. He must have got up on the wrong side of the bed.

The government is committed to working with all parties, including the opposition. We need to have a real plan. The plan is Bill C-30, not Bill C-288. I encourage the member to start working and stop obstructing.

The Environment
Oral Questions

11:30 a.m.

Liberal

David McGuinty Ottawa South, ON

Mr. Speaker, should we be surprised? This is the Minister of the Environment who oversaw a 125% increase in CO2 emissions in Ontario in his time as Ontario energy minister.

It is clear we have a second Conservative environment minister who is not only a defeatist but who also sees environmental concerns as an economic nuisance. Should we be surprised again? The government slashed $5.6 billion in climate change programs.

The environment minister got caught cheating at committee yesterday, but he could not answer dozens and dozens of questions on the basics of his file. When will the Prime Minister appoint an environment minister who does his basic homework and gets on with the job?

The Environment
Oral Questions

11:30 a.m.

Langley
B.C.

Conservative

Mark Warawa Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of the Environment

Mr. Speaker, it appears he is still in a bad mood.

The previous Liberal government misled Canadians when it announced $6 billion in climate change announcements but only spent $1.3 billion. What did Canadians get from that? Zero.

This government is taking action on the environment. We announced $230 million for clean technology in ecoenergy, $300 million for smarter energy for Canadians through the energy initiative, $1.5 billion for renewable energy technologies, $200 million to fight the pine beetle, and $30 million for the Great Bear Rainforest.

We are getting it done.

The Environment
Oral Questions

11:30 a.m.

Liberal

Ralph Goodale Wascana, SK

Mr. Speaker, the environment minister falsely pretended that former U.S. vice-president Al Gore endorsed Conservative climate change policies. Several on this side actually know the former vice-president and let me say, the environment minister is no Al Gore.

Far from commending Conservatives, Mr. Gore told them to get with the program, get with Kyoto, not to mimic George Bush, and to catch on to the green agenda to drive prosperity and growth. That is what Al Gore really said.

Why did the environment minister mislead the House?

The Environment
Oral Questions

11:30 a.m.

Langley
B.C.

Conservative

Mark Warawa Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of the Environment

Mr. Speaker, the inconvenient truth is that the Liberals did nothing for 10 years.

The deputy leader of the Liberal Party said he thought his party got into a mess on the environment. The leader asked whether it was easy to set priorities. He said it was not fair.

What is not fair is the mess that the Liberals created. We are getting it done. They did not. We are.

The Environment
Oral Questions

11:30 a.m.

Liberal

Ralph Goodale Wascana, SK

Mr. Speaker, clearly he cannot answer the question. The environment minister increased Ontario's dependence on coal. He was in the government that brought Ontario the Walkerton tragedy. At Treasury Board he slashed over $5.6 billion from climate change action plans.

Here is what Al Gore told CTV News not long ago:

--I just refuse to believe that the Canadian people will go along with what the minority government here seems to want to do.

Instead of misrepresenting Mr. Gore, will the government simply embrace his real advice?

The Environment
Oral Questions

11:30 a.m.

Langley
B.C.

Conservative

Mark Warawa Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of the Environment

Mr. Speaker, I guess the question is, who misled the House in the last Parliament? Was it that member or was it the environment minister, but the House was misled. Al Gore said,

My friends in Canada tell me that across party lines and in all regions there is very strong support for Canada, once again providing leadership in the world, fighting above its weight class and showing moral authority to the rest of the world.

We are getting it done.

Aerospace Industry
Oral Questions

11:35 a.m.

Bloc

Pauline Picard Drummond, QC

Mr. Speaker, with the Boeing contract, the Minister of Industry stated that he could not impose any conditions because he had to respect the rules of the free market. Today we learned that the minister negotiated a clause favouring SMEs and ensuring that they will obtain 15% of the spinoffs. The fact that this clause is in the contract is proof that the government had the ability to set conditions.

Why did they not demand that Quebec be given its fair share, which comes to nearly 60%?

Aerospace Industry
Oral Questions

11:35 a.m.

Oshawa
Ontario

Conservative

Colin Carrie Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Industry

Mr. Speaker, let me first remind all members that the goal of this procurement initiative was to obtain the necessary equipment for our Canadian Forces to do their work.

That said, last Friday we announced that the Boeing company had been awarded the contract for four strategic airlift planes. I am proud that the government is giving the tools to the men and women of our Canadian Forces so that they may do their jobs.

Aerospace Industry
Oral Questions

11:35 a.m.

Bloc

Pauline Picard Drummond, QC

Mr. Speaker, the President of the Quebec aerospace association denounces the fact that nothing was set aside for Quebec and feels that this is unacceptable. She laments the fact that the government did not even protect the Quebec aerospace industry, which represents nearly 60% of the Canadian aerospace industry.

How can a Quebec minister have been party to such a decision?

Aerospace Industry
Oral Questions

11:35 a.m.

Oshawa
Ontario

Conservative

Colin Carrie Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Industry

Mr. Speaker, Boeing knows that under the IRB policy its investments are to be in advanced technology for its industrial benefit package to be acceptable. Boeing has agreed to direct at least 30% of its investments in nine key technology areas to support the growth of the aerospace and defence industry, and these contracts will be given out fairly and transparently.

The Environment
Oral Questions

11:35 a.m.

Bloc

Raymond Gravel Repentigny, QC

Mr. Speaker, not only did the government do nothing to ensure that Quebec would receive some of the spinoffs of the Boeing contract but, yesterday, the Minister of the Environment, in committee, hinted at the possibility of establishing the future carbon exchange in Toronto.

Can the minister tell us why the carbon exchange would be located in Toronto, when the Montreal exchange has been ready to move on this issue for quite some time?

The Environment
Oral Questions

11:35 a.m.

Langley
B.C.

Conservative

Mark Warawa Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of the Environment

Mr. Speaker, I thank the member for the question regarding the domestic carbon market. The minister made it very clear that he will not entertain sending billions of dollars outside of Canada. Those dollars are going to be staying here in Canada. The Montreal exchange could be set up right now. There is nothing stopping that, but what we need is a regulatory, mandatory framework and that is Bill C-30. That is part of the notice of intent.

The Environment
Oral Questions

11:35 a.m.

Bloc

Raymond Gravel Repentigny, QC

Mr. Speaker, everything is at the ready in Montreal and all we are waiting for is the establishment of absolute reduction targets.

Instead of announcing an imminent and major economic catastrophe, what is the minister waiting for to announce specific targets thus allowing the carbon exchange to open in Montreal?

The Environment
Oral Questions

11:35 a.m.

Langley
B.C.

Conservative

Mark Warawa Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of the Environment

Mr. Speaker, the minister announced that those targets will be announced this spring. The voluntary system did not work. That is why we are moving to a mandatory regulatory system where targets will be set. This is a government that is set to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and we are considering the domestic carbon market.

Official Languages
Oral Questions

11:35 a.m.

Liberal

Raymonde Folco Laval—Les Îles, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Conservatives have broken another of their election promises. They promised that:

A Conservative government will:

Support the Official Languages Act, ensuring that English and French have equality of status and equal rights and privileges as to their use in all institutions of the Parliament and Government of Canada.

Yet today, the Conservatives are no longer requiring that all senior officers in the Canadian Forces be bilingual, even though the Office of the Commissioner of Official Languages rejected this move.

Why has a francophone Conservative minister abandoned bilingualism?

Official Languages
Oral Questions

11:35 a.m.

Beauport—Limoilou
Québec

Conservative

Sylvie Boucher Parliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister and Minister for la Francophonie and Official Languages

Mr. Speaker, my Liberal friends opposite did nothing for 13 years to support official languages. National Defence had a very poor record on this issue. On this side of the House, with the former Commissioner of Official Languages, we put in place things that we are going to work on now. We are working together for the well-being of francophones.

Official Languages
Oral Questions

11:40 a.m.

Liberal

Raymonde Folco Laval—Les Îles, QC

Mr. Speaker, this is too much. The Conservatives have to renounce their plan to sabotage bilingualism in the Canadian Forces. Retired lieutenant colonel Rémy Landry stated that this restriction would ghettoize francophones and essentially confine bilingual positions to Quebec and the national capital.

Why has this minority government shamelessly abandoned the rights of Canadian soldiers to have access to services in the language of their choice?

Official Languages
Oral Questions

11:40 a.m.

Beauport—Limoilou
Québec

Conservative

Sylvie Boucher Parliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister and Minister for la Francophonie and Official Languages

Mr. Speaker, the department spends more on its second language learning program than all the other federal institutions.

National Defence
Oral Questions

11:40 a.m.

Liberal

Dominic LeBlanc Beauséjour, NB

Mr. Speaker, shocking details are emerging about the Conservative promise to recruit 23,000 new Canadian forces personnel. After an expensive advertising campaign, access to information documents now show that the Conservatives were able to boost Canadian forces by only 35 people. At this rate, only 657 more years until the Conservatives fulfill their campaign promise.

With Canadian forces significantly over-stretched in Afghanistan, how can the government explain this miserable recruitment failure?

National Defence
Oral Questions

11:40 a.m.

South Surrey—White Rock—Cloverdale
B.C.

Conservative

Russ Hiebert Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of National Defence

Mr. Speaker, this is an important topic and I appreciate the member's interest in the military. It is important for him to understand that we actually have exceeded our targets. In 2005-06, we had a target of 5,500 enrollments and we achieved 5,800 new members, so 106% of the new goal. We are very much on track. I would appreciate his support for the military.

Official Languages
Oral Questions

11:40 a.m.

Liberal

Dominic LeBlanc Beauséjour, NB

Mr. Speaker, they just need 22,965 more recruits. Obviously, everything is going well according to the parliamentary secretary.

Did the minister's recruitment efforts fall flat because official languages policies excluded a third of all French-speaking Canadians? When it comes to recruiting new soldiers, could we not say that as a general the minister is a disaster?

Official Languages
Oral Questions

11:40 a.m.

Pontiac
Québec

Conservative

Lawrence Cannon Minister of Transport

Mr. Speaker, let us make one thing clear: hypocrisy has its limits. For 13 years, that government had this file on its desk and did nothing. The Commissioner of Official Languages called on that government to take action. It did not take action. We are taking action. I am looking at the hon. members and they have nothing to say.

Housing
Oral Questions

11:40 a.m.

Conservative

Nina Grewal Fleetwood—Port Kells, BC

Mr. Speaker, the homelessness partnering strategy, which was announced in December, is already getting things done to provide shelter for the homeless. The cornerstone project in Victoria transformed a heritage building into homes for poor families, in partnership with the province, the city, regional districts and housing trusts.

The NDP has suggested that the homeless will be left out in the cold without funding, as we transition to the new homelessness partnering strategy.

Could the parliamentary secretary update us on what Canada's new government is doing to ensure no group is left out in the cold?

Housing
Oral Questions

11:40 a.m.

Blackstrap
Saskatchewan

Conservative

Lynne Yelich Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Human Resources and Social Development

Mr. Speaker, I want to assure the member and inform the House that we are taking necessary steps to ensure that there is a smooth transition from the national homelessness initiative to the new homelessness partnership strategy.

I am pleased to say that existing authorities, including the terms and conditions of the national homelessness initiative, have been extended by our government to allow projects that cannot be completed in the 2006-07 fiscal year and they will be completed in the new fiscal year.

Would you tell members to be quiet, Mr. Speaker?

This means that services to the—

Housing
Oral Questions

11:40 a.m.

Some hon. members

Oh, oh!

Housing
Oral Questions

11:45 a.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

Now I will tell everyone to be quiet. The time has expired. We will have some order. There seems to be a lot of unnecessary catcalling, if I can use that expression, today.

Housing
Oral Questions

11:45 a.m.

An hon. member

He should be expelled from the House.

Housing
Oral Questions

11:45 a.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

I said it was unnecessary, I did not say who did it.

The hon. member for Hamilton East—Stoney Creek.

Foreign Affairs
Oral Questions

11:45 a.m.

NDP

Wayne Marston Hamilton East—Stoney Creek, ON

Mr. Speaker, China recently executed Ismail Semed, a Uyghur activist. With this troubling news, I fear for the life of Huseyin Celil, a Canadian being held captive in China.

We do not have time for more excuses. The Department of Foreign Affairs has failed to represent this man. It did not attend the court hearing. I understand the minister is furious, but fury and anger will not help Huseyin Celil.

Could the government tell Canadians today when the next court date is that so Chinese officials know that Canadians will be watching to see that rights of our citizens are respected?

Foreign Affairs
Oral Questions

11:45 a.m.

Calgary Southeast
Alberta

Conservative

Jason Kenney Secretary of State (Multiculturalism and Canadian Identity)

Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. member, in particular, for his concern about Mr. Celil's fate and raising this matter in a constructive fashion.

As the member is aware, two diplomats have been dispatched by the Beijing embassy, on direct instructions from the Prime Minister, to Urumchi. They have been unable to get access to Mr. Celil. We continue to raise this matter. We have not been informed officially of a future court date.

However, in the words of the World Uyghur Congress yesterday, it is profoundly grateful for the support of this government on human rights in the case of Mr. Celil in particular.

Foreign Affairs
Oral Questions

11:45 a.m.

NDP

Wayne Marston Hamilton East—Stoney Creek, ON

Mr. Speaker, the government should know that the trial has been adjourned until the Chinese new year. The next court date will not be until March.

The member for Calgary Southeast called for a high level delegation last summer. Now is the time to act.

Will the government commit to sending an all party group to China to monitor the trial of Huseyin Celil when it resumes in March and show China that Canada means business when we talk about standing up for our citizens? I am ready to go to China. Canadians want action now. They want the government to act.

Foreign Affairs
Oral Questions

11:45 a.m.

Calgary Southeast
Alberta

Conservative

Jason Kenney Secretary of State (Multiculturalism and Canadian Identity)

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate again the member's concern for this very troubling matter and I assure him that there is no higher delegation than that of the Prime Minister of Canada, who raised this matter very directly with PRC President Hu Jintao at the APEC meeting. This has been raised by every minister of this government with their interlocutors. I, myself, will be meeting with the deputy foreign minister of the PRC this afternoon and will raise this matter again.

I encourage all members to join together, collaboratively, in demanding that justice be done and that China observe its legal obligations in this case.

Government Contracts
Oral Questions

11:45 a.m.

Liberal

Omar Alghabra Mississauga—Erindale, ON

Mr. Speaker, yesterday the Secretary of State (Foreign Affairs and International Trade) told the House that there were no identifiable ITAR difficulties with regard to the government's C-17 Boeing procurement. At the same time she said:

The Prime Minister and a number of our ministers have indicated our deep concern about this American policy.

Rather than doublespeak, will the government demand that ITAR will in no way apply to this procurement contract?

Government Contracts
Oral Questions

11:45 a.m.

Simcoe—Grey
Ontario

Conservative

Helena Guergis Secretary of State (Foreign Affairs and International Trade) (Sport)

Mr. Speaker, my answer is no different today than it was yesterday. At present there are no identifiable ITAR difficulties with respect to the C-17 procurement.

What I also said yesterday was that we recognized there were many companies that had concerns and difficulties with the ITAR policy of the United States. Our Prime Minister and many ministers have raised this concern about the American policy and we will continue to work.

Government Contracts
Oral Questions

11:45 a.m.

Liberal

Omar Alghabra Mississauga—Erindale, ON

Mr. Speaker, spare me those dismissive attitudes. We also know that this law does not only discriminate against Canadians in the private sector, it also forbids civil servants from working on contracts serving their own country.

When will this end? When will the government guarantee that discriminatory U.S. ITAR rules will not affect public servants? When will the Prime Minister get something done for Canadians like me?

Government Contracts
Oral Questions

11:45 a.m.

Simcoe—Grey
Ontario

Conservative

Helena Guergis Secretary of State (Foreign Affairs and International Trade) (Sport)

Mr. Speaker, I can honestly say that it definitely would not have been the Liberal government that was able to have a good relationship with the United States in order to get this policy done, because it did not succeed.

Our government and officials will continue to have talks with Washington with a view of resolving this issue. However, I reiterate that there are no identifiable ITAR difficulties with the C-17 procurement.

Health
Oral Questions

11:45 a.m.

Liberal

Bonnie Brown Oakville, ON

Mr. Speaker, the government has been in power for a year and has yet to deliver its wait times guarantee.

First, the government pretended it would do the job. Then it passed the buck to the provinces and territories, with no new money to help.

When will the health minister put his money where his mouth is and implement the health wait times guarantee his government promised to all Canadians in the last election?

Health
Oral Questions

11:50 a.m.

Durham
Ontario

Conservative

Bev Oda Minister of Canadian Heritage and Status of Women

Mr. Speaker, I am happy to report that the government is acting on wait times guarantees. In fact, the minister is meeting today to make further progress with his provincial and territorial counterparts. We have announced four pilot projects for wait times guarantees for first nations people, diabetes, pre-natal care and pediatric care.

The government added money to the health care transfer, not slashed $2.5 billion from those transfers.

Health
Oral Questions

11:50 a.m.

Liberal

Bonnie Brown Oakville, ON

Mr. Speaker, the government in the campaign did not promise pilot projects. It promised a health care guarantee for everyone.

The provinces are afraid that if they follow the Conservative formula, they will be broke in two years. If the Conservatives are serious about fixing the wait times issue, why will they not listen to the provincial health ministers and give them the money to get the job done? Why are Canadians still waiting for the wait times guarantee?

Health
Oral Questions

11:50 a.m.

Durham
Ontario

Conservative

Bev Oda Minister of Canadian Heritage and Status of Women

Mr. Speaker, I want to point out that it is not 13 years. It is less than 13 months that we have been power. We have at least gone forward with pilot projects. We are working on wait times guarantees, rather than making empty promises and not moving anything forward on behalf of Canadians and their health.

Lieutenant Governor of Quebec
Oral Questions

11:50 a.m.

Bloc

Thierry St-Cyr Jeanne-Le Ber, QC

Mr. Speaker, the culture of entitlement is alive and well at the federal government, as details come in about the expense account of the Lieutenant Governor of Quebec: claims for the same meal in three different cities on the same day; claim for a fishing trip where the taxpayers even paid for the worms; $59,000 for a garden party.

How can this government, which claims to be preaching responsibility, tolerate that certain government institutions do not have to be accountable?

Lieutenant Governor of Quebec
Oral Questions

11:50 a.m.

Pontiac
Québec

Conservative

Lawrence Cannon Minister of Transport

Mr. Speaker, I learned about the expenses submitted by the Lieutenant Governor when the hon. member did. Like a number of people in this House, we are looking at these expenses with a rather critical eye. People who assume these responsibilities have to assume the responsibilities that come with their role. I would hope that the person in question could assume her role in a responsible manner.

Lieutenant Governor of Quebec
Oral Questions

11:50 a.m.

Bloc

Thierry St-Cyr Jeanne-Le Ber, QC

Mr. Speaker, since 2004, the Minister of Canadian Heritage has not even required receipts from the Lieutenant Governor and paid, year in and year out, $150,000 to the person whose every move reminds us of the uselessness of this role.

How can this government, which got elected by denouncing the improprieties of Liberal Party cronies—from David Dingwall to André Ouellet—tolerate a single minute of such laxism?

Lieutenant Governor of Quebec
Oral Questions

11:50 a.m.

Durham
Ontario

Conservative

Bev Oda Minister of Canadian Heritage and Status of Women

Mr. Speaker, under the former government, there was no accountability for any expenditure and the use of public funds.

As my colleague has indicated, we now have a reasonable and a fair allotment. We will be looking to ensure that every expense is accounted for and that we can deliver value for Canadian dollars.

Aboriginal Affairs
Oral Questions

11:50 a.m.

Liberal

Roger Valley Kenora, ON

Mr. Speaker, it has been over five months since the Northwestern Health Unit released a report detailing the deplorable health conditions with which the people of the Pikangikum First Nation are forced to live.

Chief Pascal and his council have worked tirelessly to bring attention to his people's suffering. When I visited the community last month, the message was very clear: to improve the health of the community, the power line must be completed.

The minister promised to rectify this situation, but the government has been stalling. When will the government recognize the suffering of the people of Pikangikum and make the completion of the power line a priority?

Aboriginal Affairs
Oral Questions

11:50 a.m.

York—Simcoe
Ontario

Conservative

Peter Van Loan Leader of the Government in the House of Commons and Minister for Democratic Reform

Mr. Speaker, I will be very happy to have the Minister of Indian Affairs get back to the member on that question.

Fisheries and Oceans
Oral Questions

11:50 a.m.

Conservative

Colin Mayes Okanagan—Shuswap, BC

Mr. Speaker, the member for Sackville—Eastern Shore clearly opposes the transparency, accountability and empowerment of stakeholders that would result from the modernizing of the Fisheries Act.

Will the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans bow to the NDP's crass political games or will he deliver what is right for Canadian fishermen? Will he ensure that these public resources are managed for and in collaboration with Canadians?

Fisheries and Oceans
Oral Questions

11:55 a.m.

St. John's South—Mount Pearl
Newfoundland & Labrador

Conservative

Loyola Hearn Minister of Fisheries and Oceans

Mr. Speaker, I am working with my willing colleagues on both sides of the House and with my provincial counterparts, industry, first nations and NGOs to ensure we do a good job on modernizing the act, protecting the fishery and fish resources, which are public, not private resources.

Most people are willing to work with us because they know the act should be modernized, except the NDP members who as usual are off track. I heard them brag earlier about winning a single seat in Ontario yesterday, while they were wiped out in three elections in Newfoundland, where the Progressive Conservatives had three landslide victories.

Agriculture
Oral Questions

11:55 a.m.

NDP

Alex Atamanenko British Columbia Southern Interior, BC

Mr. Speaker, the minister announced Wednesday that his government would pursue negotiations under GATT, article 28, to limit the importation of milk protein concentrates. He also announced that the CFIA would begin a regulatory process to address the compositional standards of cheese.

Will the minister confirm if he has sent notification to the WTO in regard to article 28 and if not, when he intends to do so? Could he please state when the CFIA will begin the process to address compositional standards for cheese?

Agriculture
Oral Questions

11:55 a.m.

Mégantic—L'Érable
Québec

Conservative

Christian Paradis Secretary of State (Agriculture)

Mr. Speaker, the minister was very clear on Wednesday, when he said that he would take action promptly, as my friend has described. We will gladly make a point of letting the hon. member know when action has been taken.

Canadian Wheat Board
Oral Questions

11:55 a.m.

NDP

Alex Atamanenko British Columbia Southern Interior, BC

Mr. Speaker, it would be nice to have a precise date when this will happen.

Another possible disaster is on the horizon for western farmers. If the Wheat Board is weakened or disappears, the Western Grains Research facility will need a new legislated mechanism for collecting research funds from farmers or risk having new variety research move into private hands.

What consideration has the Minister of Agriculture given to how changes to the CWB Act will affect the wheat and barley research check-off mechanism currently supported by over 90% of the farmers?

Canadian Wheat Board
Oral Questions

11:55 a.m.

Cypress Hills—Grasslands
Saskatchewan

Conservative

David Anderson Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for the Canadian Wheat Board

Mr. Speaker, that is a reasonable question. We will be continuing to fund research in grains in western Canada. However, I am interested in why the NDP is not asking issues that are directly of concern to farmers.

We have price signals in western Canada that show western Canadian farmers are receiving 85¢ to $1 a bushel less on their barley under the present system than they would on the open market. Yet the NDP continues to ask questions unrelated to that.

Why does he not ask questions that are directly related to the income of farmers and to change the system that farmers need changed so desperately.

Manitoba
Oral Questions

11:55 a.m.

Liberal

Anita Neville Winnipeg South Centre, MB

Mr. Speaker, last night, in response to my question on the Manitoba economy, the Conservative MP for Nepean—Carleton had the audacity to describe Winnipeg as a city where “streets are ruled by guns, gangs and thugs”. The people of Manitoba will be interested to know this is how their province is viewed by the Conservative government.

Is this view shared by the President of the Treasury Board? Is this view shared by his Manitoba Conservative colleagues? Indeed, is this the view of the Prime Minister? The people of Manitoba are watching and they want an apology.

Manitoba
Oral Questions

11:55 a.m.

Provencher
Manitoba

Conservative

Vic Toews President of the Treasury Board

Mr. Speaker, having lived in Winnipeg for some part of my life as well, I too am very concerned about the gangs, guns and drugs. I have spoken to the mayor of Winnipeg about this issue. I have spoken to the NDP government about this issue. They are concerned.

The person who should get onside is that member who has gutted our legislation in terms of getting tough on guns, gangs and drugs. She wants to see them continue on the streets. We are opposed. We want safe streets.

Justice
Oral Questions

11:55 a.m.

Conservative

David Sweet Ancaster—Dundas—Flamborough—Westdale, ON

Mr. Speaker, on a very similar note, week after week we see reports in the nightly news of another shooting in our major cities. Many of these gunmen are involved in organized crime, but what is most troubling is that some of them are actually out on bail awaiting trial on other gun related charges.

My question is for the justice minister. What is the government doing to stop criminals from committing gun crimes while out on bail and awaiting trial?

Justice
Oral Questions

Noon

Niagara Falls
Ontario

Conservative

Rob Nicholson Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada

Mr. Speaker, I commend my hon. colleague for that question.

We have been introducing legislation that will help reduce crime, increase people's confidence in the criminal justice system and make our communities safer.

That is why I am glad that next week we will be debating Bill C-35, which will provide a reverse onus for those individuals who are charged with serious gun crimes and who are seeking bail. This is the kind of legislation we need. It is supported by the premier of Ontario and the mayor of the city of Toronto. It should be supported by everyone in this House.

Homelessness
Oral Questions

Noon

NDP

Irene Mathyssen London—Fanshawe, ON

Mr. Speaker, At^Lohsa Native Family Healing Services Inc. was promised funding and a contract in November last year under SCPI. It has heard nothing since. It needs the money for crash beds at the shelter.

Instead of beds, young men are sleeping on the banks of the river in London. This is shameful. It is unacceptable. This is winter. Some nights it is minus 25°.

Will the minister tell me when the funding will actually get to At^Lohsa? There are less than eight weeks left and there are other organizations, such as Vancouver's Lu'ma Native Housing Society and Young Wolves Lodge.

Mr. Speaker, I am not--

Homelessness
Oral Questions

Noon

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

The hon. Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Human Resources.

Homelessness
Oral Questions

Noon

Blackstrap
Saskatchewan

Conservative

Lynne Yelich Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Human Resources and Social Development

Mr. Speaker, on December 19, 2006 we announced the new two year $259.6 million homelessness partnering strategy which will be in effect April 1, 2007.

All the necessary steps are being taken to ensure there is a smooth transition from the national homelessness initiative to the new homelessness partnering strategy. I am pleased to see that this will allow projects to be completed in the new fiscal year. This means that services to homeless persons will continue without disruption.

We care about the homeless.

The Environment
Oral Questions

Noon

Liberal

Ralph Goodale Wascana, SK

Mr. Speaker, the recent Munk Centre report on G-8 countries meeting their climate change commitments said, “Canada received the lowest score because of [the Conservative] government's change in policy and attitude towards the Kyoto protocol”. The Munk Centre said that it is directly attributable to the Conservative government.

Will the government move past denial and spin and produce an investment plan to use responsible climate change action as a driver of Canadian economic growth and productivity?

The Environment
Oral Questions

Noon

Langley
B.C.

Conservative

Mark Warawa Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of the Environment

Mr. Speaker, it is another indictment on the Liberal Party for 13 years of inaction on the climate problem. However, it is no surprise, because the leader of the Liberal Party said, “I will be part of Kyoto, but I will say to the world that I don't think I will make it”. The member for Ottawa South said, “When people see the cost of Kyoto, they are going to scream”.

The Liberals did not get it done. We will.

Oral Questions
Points of Order
Oral Questions

Noon

Liberal

Ralph Goodale Wascana, SK

Mr. Speaker, apropos the subject of tabling documents, during question period reference was made to certain quotations from the former vice-president of the United States, Mr. Al Gore. Mr. Gore was in fact misquoted by the government and the evidence clearly shows that.

I would be curious to know what quote exactly the environment minister was referring to when he made reference to Mr. Gore earlier this week. I would ask him to table that quote in the House, because in fact even Mr. Gore's staff cannot find it.

Oral Questions
Points of Order
Oral Questions

Noon

Langley
B.C.

Conservative

Mark Warawa Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of the Environment

Mr. Speaker, I will be glad to share the quote. Actually, it was on February 5, 2007, just a few days ago, and this is the quote:

My friends in Canada tell me that across party lines and in all regions there is very strong support for Canada, once again providing leadership in the world, fighting above its weight class and showing moral authority to the rest of the world. That's what Canada's known for.

This government is getting it done. Unfortunately, the member is quite upset about that because of his lack of action. I will table this.

Chief Electoral Officer
Routine Proceedings

12:05 p.m.

York—Simcoe
Ontario

Conservative

Peter Van Loan Leader of the Government in the House of Commons and Minister for Democratic Reform

Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to table, in both official languages, biographical notes of Mr. Marc Mayrand, who the government is proposing to be appointed as the Chief Electoral Officer.

Pursuant to Standing Order 111.1(1), this matter is to be referred to the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs.

Interparliamentary Delegations
Routine Proceedings

12:05 p.m.

South Surrey—White Rock—Cloverdale
B.C.

Conservative

Russ Hiebert Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of National Defence

Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 34, I have the honour to present to the House reports from the Canadian branch of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association concerning the 18th Commonwealth Parliamentary Seminar held in the Turks and Caicos from May 28 to June 3, 2006.

Procedure and House Affairs
Committees of the House
Routine Proceedings

12:05 p.m.

Conservative

Gary Goodyear Cambridge, ON

Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the 33rd report from the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs, which was submitted by the Subcommittee on Private Members' Business.

Pursuant to Standing Order 91.1(2), this report contains items added to the order of precedence under private members' business that should not be designated non-votable.

Procedure and House Affairs
Committees of the House
Routine Proceedings

12:05 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

Pursuant to Standing Order 91.1(2), the report is deemed adopted.

Human Resources, Social Development and the Status of Persons with Disabilities
Committees of the House
Routine Proceedings

12:05 p.m.

Conservative

Dean Allison Niagara West—Glanbrook, ON

Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the eighth report of the Standing Committee on Human Resources, Social Development and the Status of Persons with Disabilities.

Citizenship and Immigration
Committees of the House
Routine Proceedings

12:05 p.m.

Prince George—Peace River
B.C.

Conservative

Jay Hill Secretary of State and Chief Government Whip

Mr. Speaker, there have been discussions between all parties and I think you will find there is unanimous consent for the following motion. I move:

That, in relation to its study on refugee issues, twelve (12) members of the Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration be authorized to travel to Kingston, Ontario on February 11 and 12, 2007, and that the necessary staff do accompany the committee.

Citizenship and Immigration
Committees of the House
Routine Proceedings

12:05 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

Does the hon. chief government whip have the unanimous consent of the House to propose this motion?

Citizenship and Immigration
Committees of the House
Routine Proceedings

12:05 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Citizenship and Immigration
Committees of the House
Routine Proceedings

12:05 p.m.

Prince George—Peace River
B.C.

Conservative

Jay Hill Secretary of State and Chief Government Whip

(Motion agreed to)

Genetic Use Restriction Technologies
Petitions
Routine Proceedings

12:05 p.m.

NDP

Alex Atamanenko British Columbia Southern Interior, BC

Mr. Speaker, I have a petition with over 150 signatures of my constituents who are concerned about terminator genetic use restriction technologies. They are calling upon Parliament to enshrine in legislation a permanent national ban on terminator technologies to ensure that these are never planted, field tested, patented or commercialized in Canada.

Human Trafficking
Petitions
Routine Proceedings

12:05 p.m.

Conservative

Joy Smith Kildonan—St. Paul, MB

Mr. Speaker, I have a petition with close to 1,000 signatures. With the growing crime of human trafficking in Canada and worldwide, the petition goes as follows: “We, the undersigned citizens of Canada, draw the attention of the House to the following: That whereas the trafficking of women and children across--”

Human Trafficking
Petitions
Routine Proceedings

12:05 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

Order. The hon. member for Kildonan--St. Paul knows that she cannot read a petition to the House. She can give a brief summary and I would invite her to do that rather than read it. I would not want to get her in trouble in breaching the rules.

Human Trafficking
Petitions
Routine Proceedings

12:05 p.m.

Conservative

Joy Smith Kildonan—St. Paul, MB

Mr. Speaker, my apologies. In fact I was not aware I could not read it. However, in saying that, this is a very important petition regarding human trafficking. Close to 1,000 people have signed it to stop human trafficking. They call upon the government to continue its work to combat the trafficking of persons here in Canada and worldwide.

Questions on the Order Paper
Routine Proceedings

12:05 p.m.

Regina—Lumsden—Lake Centre
Saskatchewan

Conservative

Tom Lukiwski Parliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons and Minister for Democratic Reform

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

Questions on the Order Paper
Routine Proceedings

12:05 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

Is that agreed?

Questions on the Order Paper
Routine Proceedings

12:05 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

The House resumed consideration of the motion.

Anti-Terrorism Act
Orders of the Day

12:05 p.m.

Bloc

Serge Ménard Marc-Aurèle-Fortin, QC

Mr. Speaker, we are talking about two Criminal Code provisions introduced in the Anti-Terrorism Act. I would just like to say that nobody, not even me, is denying that the terrorist threat is real and that we must use appropriate measures to fight it.

At the outset, it must be understood that this vote addresses only two provisions of the Anti-Terrorism Act, namely, those pertaining to investigations and preventive arrests as provided for in sections 83.28, 83.29 and 83.3 of the Criminal Code, as amended by section 4 of the Anti-Terrorism Act. We agree with the committee's majority report with respect to investigative hearings. However, we do not agree with the majority report of the committee regarding the preventive arrests provided for in section 83.3 of the Criminal Code, as introduced by the Anti-Terrorism Act.

This is a delicate and important subject, and we are all seeking to strike a balance between fighting terrorism effectively and respecting rights. Some preliminary remarks are in order. Terrorism cannot be fought with legislation; it must be fought through the efforts of intelligence services combined with appropriate police action. There is no act of terrorism that is not already a criminal offence punishable by the most stringent penalties under the Criminal Code. This is obviously the case for premeditated, cold-blooded murders and also true of the destruction of major infrastructures.

Moreover, when judges exercise their discretion during sentencing, they will consider the terrorists’ motives as an aggravating factor. They will find that the potential for rehabilitation is very low, that the risk of recidivism is very high and that deterrence and denunciation are grounds for stiffer sentencing. This is what they have always done in the past and there is no reason to think they will do differently in the future.

We must also consider that, when it comes to terrorism, deterrence has limitations. First, it would be unrealistic to believe that it will deter someone considering a suicide bombing. Second, those who decide to join a terrorist group generally believe that they are taking part in an historic movement that will have a triumphant outcome in the near future and that will see them emerge as heroes. Nowadays, there are even some who believe that they will be rewarded in the afterlife. Therefore, one cannot expect that new legislation will provide the tools needed to effectively fight terrorism.

Legislation can, however, be amended if police do not seem to have the legal means needed to deal with the new threat of terrorism. Consequently, we must ensure that the proposed measure does not unduly disturb the fine balance that must exist between respect for the values of fairness, justice and respect for human rights, which are characteristic of our societies, while also ensuring better protection for Canadians, Quebeckers and the entire world community. Section 83.3, which provides for preventive arrests and the imposition of conditions, was advanced as such a measure when it was adopted. This measure has been painted as necessary to allow the police to act to prevent a terrorist act from being committed or to put an end to a terrorist activity. Now, this provision has gone unused. That is not surprising, given that police officers can use existing Criminal Code provisions to arrest someone who is about to commit an indictable offence.

Section 495 of the Criminal Code provides that a peace officer may arrest without warrant a person who, on reasonable grounds, he believes is about to commit an indictable offence. The arrested person must then be brought before a judge, who may impose the same conditions as those imposable under the Anti-terrorism Act. The judge may even refuse bail if he believes that the person’s release might jeopardize public safety.

If police officers believe that a person is about to commit an act of terrorism, then they have knowledge of a plot. They probably know, based on wiretap or surveillance information, that an indictable offence, a terrorist act, is about to be committed. Therefore, they have proof of a plot or attempt and need only lay a charge in order to arrest the person in question.

Do people think, for example, that under the current system, the police let thieves who are planning to rob a bank commit the robbery before they arrest them? No, they act in accordance with the legislation as it currently stands. They could do the same thing when faced with a terrorist act that is about to be committed.

However, the person who is arrested and charged will eventually go to trial, at which time that person will have the opportunity to make a full answer and defence. The person will be acquitted if the suspicions are not justified or if there is insufficient proof to support a conviction.

It seems obvious to us that the terrorist activity thus apprehended would have been disrupted just as easily as it would have been had new section 83.3 of the Criminal Code been used.

However, it is this provision that is most likely to give rise to abuse.

It may be used to brand someone a terrorist on grounds of proof that are not sufficient to condemn him but against which he will never be able to fully defend himself. This will prevent him from travelling by plane, crossing the border into the United States and probably entering many other countries. It is very likely that he will lose his job and be unable to find another.

One could compare this situation to that of Maher Arar upon his return from Syria, before he was exonerated by Justice O’Connor. In fact, it will probably be worse, because it was the suspicions passed on by the RCMP that harmed Mr. Arar.

If this new and temporary provision of the Criminal Code were used, it would be a judicial decision to impose conditions because of apprehended terrorist activity. The general public would see that person as almost certainly, if not definitely, a terrorist.

Terrorist movements often spring from and are nourished by profound feelings of injustice among a segment of the population. The fight against these injustices is often conducted in parallel by those who want to correct the injustices through democratic means and those who believe it is necessary to use terrorism.

The former have made a positive contribution to the transformation of the societies in which we live today. They are often the source of many of the rights that we enjoy.

It is inevitable that political activity will bring the first and second groups together. Very often, the former—those who rely on non-violent and democratic means—will not even be aware that the latter—those who plan terrorist activities—are involved in terrorism. The planning of terrorist activity is by its nature secret.

The ease with which a person who has neither the inclination nor the intention to commit terrorist acts can be labelled a terrorist is thus disconcerting.

In order to determine whether a person is part of a terrorist network, security officers make use of electronic surveillance, but, as we saw in the Arar case, they also monitor the contacts of someone who they know or believe is connected to a terrorist network.

Now, to be able to order incarceration and, subsequently, the imposition of conditions of release, it is sufficient that the judge be convinced, and I quote:

that the detention is necessary in order to maintain confidence in the administration of justice, having regard to all the circumstances, including the apparent strength of the peace officer’s grounds under subsection (2), and the gravity of any terrorist activity that may be carried out.

In other words, the apprehension of serious terrorist activity and grounds that appear founded will suffice. Proof that these grounds are well founded is not necessary. It should also be noted that the person arrested need not be the one that is thought likely to commit a terrorist act, but only and simply a person whose arrest “is necessary to prevent the carrying out of the terrorist activity”.

There is an important nuance there that is both astonishing and disturbing. It can include innocent people who are unaware of the reasons for which terrorists are soliciting their aid in a planned activity while concealing the real reasons they are asking for aid. Secrecy is the very essence of a terrorist activity.

Let us just say that innocent people can be suspected of a serious activity. These suspicions seem founded, but they are not. These people are innocent, and we can arrest them under these provisions. This is the type of abuse that can occur.

Some see in the reference to section 810 of the Criminal Code an indication that our criminal law already uses a procedure similar to that set out in section 83.3. While there is a similarity in the procedure followed in these two sections, there is a very big difference in the consequences of applying these two sections.

Section 810 states:

An information may be laid before a justice by or on behalf of any person who fears on reasonable grounds that another person will cause personal injury to him or her or to his or her spouse or common-law partner or child or will damage his or her property.

That other person is then summoned, and not arrested, before a judge, who can then order that person to enter into a recognizance to keep the peace and be of good behaviour for any period that does not exceed 12 months, and comply with such other reasonable conditions prescribed in the recognizance.

The judge cannot commit that person to a prison term unless the person refuses to sign the recognizance, after listening to all the parties and being satisfied by the evidence adduced that there are reasonable grounds for the fears.

If the person signs the recognizance and respects the conditions, he or she remains at liberty, will not be sentenced and will thus have no criminal record.

This section is often used in the case of apprehended domestic violence or when there is enmity between two people that one of them fears may turn violent. In my practice as a lawyer, I have often seen this section used successfully against rejected lovers, who repeatedly stalk the person they love who has abandoned them.

This provision of section 310 and section 83.3 that we are currently studying are very different in nature and have radically different consequences. There is also no comparison between the impact that the use of section 83.3 and section 810 would have on someone’s reputation.

When the decision is made to depart from the fundamental principles underlying our system of criminal law, there is always a risk that these measures will later be applied in a manner totally different from those foreseen. That was the case with the imposition of the War Measures Act in 1970, which saw the incarceration, among others, of a great poet, a pop singer, numerous relatives of people charged with terrorist activities and almost all the candidates of a municipal political party.

In light of this analysis, we feel that Parliament should not renew section 83.3, which was introduced into the Criminal Code by the Anti-terrorism Act, for two fundamental reasons: one, it is of little, if any, use in the fight against terrorism, and two, there is a very real danger of its being used against honest citizens.

A terrorist activity deemed dangerous can be disrupted just as effectively, and in fact more effectively, by the regular application of the Criminal Code.

As a result, we recommend the abolition of section 83.3 of the Criminal Code.

We concur with the majority on section 83.28, the other measure concerning investigative hearings.

We concur with the description of the specific historical context that led to the adoption of the Anti-terrorism Act. We also agree with most of the recommendations made in the majority report of the Committee, which aim to provide better guidelines for the investigation process. This exceptional measure should be used only in specific cases in which it is necessary to prohibit activities where there is imminent peril of serious damage, and not in the case of misdeeds already committed.

We, like other members of the Committee, are also of the opinion that another review of the provisions 10 years after their coming into force is needed and would make it possible to better assess whether the provisions should be extended or allowed to expire.

We would have preferred a three-year period; however, I note that the majority supported a longer period, as is now being proposed. However, we were willing to support the majority opinion in favour of a 10-year period from the introduction of the measure five years ago. That should be the maximum amount of time allowed to pass before a final review of these exceptional measures is completed.

I hope to make it clear that, just because we are against these provisions does not mean that we are for terrorism—that goes without saying. However, we see that they have not been used. And if they have not been used, it is because they are not useful. Indeed, other provisions of the Criminal Code are perfectly applicable.

In the case of the second provision, concerning preventive arrests, I urge caution. Of course, I do not expect the current government, in the next few years, to use it unduly, but there is always that possibility.

As for the risk of labelling, I would like to give you a concrete example. I had a wonderful political attaché. At one point, he decided to stand for election. During that time, his wife told him she wanted to separate and he was very disappointed. They had a very serious discussion at home. During that conversation, his wife said, “I was afraid that he would lose control”.

He did not lose control. He did not hit anything or break anything in the house, but his wife was afraid he was going to lose control. She therefore called the police, who enforced section 810, which I mentioned. He therefore agreed to sign an undertaking to not meet with his wife after their separation, and he was happy to comply because he had no intention of hurting her. However, this was interpreted as a conviction for spousal abuse and people were saying that a judge had imposed the conditions.

That labelling ruined his budding political career. Fortunately, his talents have since been put to good use as a senior civil servant. Imagine the same labelling of someone who has merely associated with terrorists. The grounds would thus appear founded. That is the type of danger that can be found in this bill and that must be avoided. That is why we are disrupting the balance; it is an pointless provision that is not being used to address any real danger.

Anti-Terrorism Act
Orders of the Day

12:25 p.m.

NDP

Joe Comartin Windsor—Tecumseh, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am particularly pleased to speak to the motion because, it would appear, because of a significant shift that I think we are now seeing in the Liberal Party, the motion will be defeated.

In the interests of civil liberties and human rights in this country, I see that as a significant victory.

The motion before us takes us back to 9/11 and to the response of the House and the federal government as to how we were going to deal with our concerns over terrorism. The response of the Liberal government at that time, supported by the Conservative Party, was Bill C-36, what became known as the Anti-terrorism Act.

Bill C-36 was a huge bill, encompassing amendments to a large number of pieces of legislation, the Criminal Code, the Evidence Act and financial acts. It was a very complex bill and very extensive in its reach. It was rushed through in a little less than two months with little debate. We heard this repeatedly from those witnesses who did appear in front of our committee in the review that is still ongoing.

It is a classic, in terms of this legislation, that when we are faced with a crisis that we repeat so often the errors of history by overreacting and panicking in passing legislation that strikes at our fundamental values, our fundamental principles and our fundamental rights. That is what we did with Bill C-36.

I am proud to say that the NDP at that time, led by the current Deputy Speaker, led the opposition to the use of this kind of draconian legislation and we voted against it. We have maintained our opposition to it throughout this entire period of time. We continue to do that today.

I have to say that the sections that gave us the greatest concern, as well as all civil libertarians and people concerned about justice, were the two that we are faced with extending today. Those sections involve investigative hearings, which is almost an academic terminology. It is really the compulsory attendance and giving of evidence. It is a compulsory breach of our fundamental right to remain silent but we breach that with that section.

The second one is again euphemistically referred to as a recognizance section but it really is about preventative detention, as much as the advocates in favour of it would want us to believe otherwise.

In a panic and gross overreaction and in undermining some of our long-standing values, principles and rights, we passed that bill in late 2001 and it came into effect in the year 2002.

Even those members of Parliament at that time who were supportive of the bill recognized how fundamentally flawed and how risky and dangerous it was to our rights so they put in a sunset clause. This was after great pressure from my party, from civil libertarians across the country and from a number of specific communities. I think of the labour movement, the Muslim community, a number of ethnocultural communities and first nations who were very concerned about it.

In response to the very well defined and well articulated fears, the government of the day put in provisions that those two particular clauses--and they are quite extensive clauses and we are not talking a paragraph or two, we are talking pages and pages--would be sunsetted after five years unless there was a vote in both Houses of Parliament, in the House of Commons and in the Senate, supporting an extension.

However, the motion cannot be amended. Even if one of the opposition parties wanted to move an amendment to the motion before us today, it would not be allowed by statutory compulsion.

The legislation also provided for a mandatory five year review. That review was given over to the justice committee in the last Parliament and a subcommittee, on which I sat, was appointed to deal with it. We did not complete that work before the last election but we have started it again in front of the public safety and national security committee, a separate and permanent standing committee of the House. A subcommittee of that committee has been appointed.

We came forward with a majority and a minority report. I want to acknowledge the very fine work done by the previous speaker, the Bloc member for Marc-Aurèle-Fortin, who, along with myself, wrote a minority report expressing grave concerns about the continuation of these two sections and advocating for their swift removal from our laws.

On the other hand, all the Liberals and Conservatives on the subcommittee and the full committee supported an extension of the sunset clauses to five years at which time there would be another review requiring another vote.

After listening to the speakers from the Liberal Party, I am happy to say that they have now decided not to hold that position. I understand from their statements that they will be voting against the motion. With a great deal of optimism and relief for a number of our communities, I believe the motion will be voted down at the end of the day.

The one final technical point I need to make is that the vote must take place by next Thursday, since votes are not held in the House on Fridays, because the deadline is next Friday, February 16. If the two resolutions from the two Houses have not been voted on affirmatively by that time, the motion would fail automatically.

I believe it is important for Parliament to speak in opposition to these types of draconian measures and, when we do speak against them, we do that formally by way of a vote in this House. I hope we will have the vote next week and that these sections will be struck from our law.

It is important to recognize the work that went on in committee, both in the previous Parliament and in the current Parliament. When Parliament resumed after the 2005-06 election, it was determined, although I am not sure I agreed to it, that we would not have any additional witnesses. We decided we would rely on all of the witnesses we had heard in the previous Parliament. That review had been going on for almost a full year. I did not count the number of witnesses we heard but I know we heard many.

The witnesses we heard from the government side, and I do not mean that in terms of partisanship but in terms of the people who worked within the government structure, whether it was the RCMP, CSIS, the Department of Justice or any of the other intelligence agencies, all of them supported the continuation of the legislation. I do not think I have ever experienced that in any other committee work that I have done. They agreed that the legislation was basically perfect and that, other than some changes in commas and punctuation, it really did not need any changes.

After receiving between 50 and 100 presentations from academics, civil liberty groups, ethnocultural groups, international witnesses and others, what was so striking was that, with only a few exceptions, the overwhelming evidence was that it was not needed in the first place. Almost everyone agreed that we should get rid of it because the existing criminal had the provisions needed to deal with every problem the legislation was attempting to address.

This is one of those times when we need to learn from our history, such as the abuse by government action toward the Japanese Canadians during the second world war. I often ask a rhetorical question in that regard. If we had asked average Canadians before 1939 whether they could see their government ever attacking an entire community because of their racial background or country of origin, even if they had been here for generations and generations, to then confiscate all their lands and, in effect, imprison them for an entire period of the war, we would have had an overwhelming and, I would suggest, an absolute answer of no.

Similarly, before the October crisis of 1970, if we had asked average Canadians if they could imagine that because of the conduct of a dozen to fifteen people in the province of Quebec that the War Measures Act would have been invoked against the entire population of Quebec based on a totally false assumption of an apprehended insurrection, I believe the answer again would have been an overwhelming no, that they could never imagine seeing that happen.

Similarly, we could have asked people before 9/11 whether this type of legislation would ever be passed. If we were to study the history of what happened after the War Measures Act was invoked and then repealing it and then moving into emergency legislation that was much more appropriate in terms of our Charter of Rights and Freedoms, bringing into play in that period of time the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, average Canadians would have said that they did not need the legislation, that they would never pass that kind of legislation and that they would not have preventative detention in this country, but we did.

On all three of those occasions, we have the same dynamics: a crisis, real or imagined, and then an overreaction in a time of panic. However, we are beyond that. We have a responsibility to look at the role that terrorism plays, not only in our country but internationally, respond to it in a manner that says that we absolutely will protect our citizens to the nth degree as much as we possibly can but that we will not give in to terrorism, we will not breach our fundamental values and we will not break the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

If we deal with it from that vantage point, if we ask what it takes to protect our people, which is our fundamental responsibility as members of Parliament and the responsibility every government has to its citizens, and to ensure their safety to the nth degree, then it is a pyrrhic victory if we say that we do that by passing this kind of legislation or as, in this case, a vote that is required here as we continue.

What it really means is that we have given in, out of fear and panic, and as for those people who would use violence to achieve their ends, they won. That is really what happened in 2001-02 when we passed this legislation. The terrorists won because we gave in to those fears.

Canadians and all members of Parliament have to show courage. We have to say yes, there are methodologies that we need to employ and additional resources that we need to put in to fighting terrorism or people who use acts of violence to achieve their ends, whether that is organized crime or people doing it for a political or an ideological motivation. When we do that, that is when we respond most effectively: when we put into place additional resources as required.

One of the things we saw clearly, not only in Canada but across the globe, was that our intelligence services were not well enough coordinated. I would have to say, from all the experience I have had in the last several years of investigating, that this continues to be a problem. We have resolved it to a great degree in Canada, but it is not finished. There is additional work to be done.

We learned, for instance, that we did not have enough members of our intelligence services who were fluent in enough languages, so the gathering of information and intelligence was diminished. Our ability to do it and the effectiveness of it were diminished because of that. Those are the kinds of programs we have to look at putting into place. We looked at increasing technology, but the reality was, after looking at the American experience in particular, that it was not the best way to go. What we really needed was more people on the street doing traditional intelligence gathering.

Those are the kinds of methodologies that we have to look at. Those are the kinds of resources that we need to deploy, but using this kind of legislation, quite frankly, is useless. Again, let us go back to the comments of my friend from the Bloc, and we all recognize this, who said that these sections have not been used. Attempts were made to use them on one occasion, but they have not been used and that is a reflection of the need, or lack of need, for them.

It is also a reflection, and I think this is the most accurate assessment, of the fact that we already have the tools. If we need to do investigations and we need to lay charges and we need to move to try to convict, those tools are already all there.

We heard from the witnesses over and over again that we do not need to be doing this, that it is better to spend our time, effort and resources in other areas because our criminal justice system is already functioning effectively to the degree that we want it to function against this kind of conduct.

I am going to end at this point. Again, going back to our responsibility, there is not a member of this House, no matter which party he or she belongs to, who for one second would say that we are going to do anything less than the absolute in what we need to do to protect our citizens. It is really about how best we do that. This legislation is not the way to do it.

In fact, in some respects, it is a false credibility that we give: that we have done everything. I think that was one of the reasons we reacted the way we did. We said that we had to do something, that we had to say to the electorate that we were doing something. The easiest way to do that is to pass legislation. Whether it works or not seems to be a secondary consideration, but it gives the electorate a false sense of confidence and a false sense of security.

If we really want to give that sense of security to them, to all of our citizens, to all the residents of Canada, then we do that by applying some of the methods I have talked about, not by passing useless pieces of legislation. I am going to be very proud when the NDP stands and votes against this motion next week because it is bad legislation. It strikes at the core of our values and it is time to get it off the books.

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Orders of the Day

12:45 p.m.

Liberal

Sue Barnes London West, ON

Mr. Speaker, I note that this member, together with the Bloc member, had a dissenting report in the committee, in the subcommittee report that I know they worked very hard on. In that report, there was a discussion of section 495 of the Criminal Code and the use it could have in being an alternative way, where “a peace officer may arrest without warrant”.

I wonder if he would expand on the arguments he made in that area. Specifically, this would be as contrasted to the provision for preventative arrest that currently exists. I know that he covered this in the interim report. I would like to hear more about this in the chamber.

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Orders of the Day

12:50 p.m.

NDP

Joe Comartin Windsor—Tecumseh, ON

Mr. Speaker, I want to give credit to the member for Marc-Aurèle-Fortin because he came up with the argument initially. Obviously I supported him on it.

What we are really saying there is that we have existing provisions within the Criminal Code to deal with that kind of investigation, including if the police officer has a reasonable basis on which to arrest. All of those provisions are there and they have worked well. They have worked well whether we are dealing with minor insignificant crimes, although I always hate using that term, all the way up to very serious crimes.

Those provisions in terms of the investigative tools are in section 495 and other sections of the code. This already gives our police agencies, including our intelligence agencies, all the authority they need.

As a sidebar, it was interesting when the Commissioner of the RCMP was in front of us at one point and I pressed him on this. I asked him to tell me where he used it, because he had given a sort of offhand comment that the RCMP had used some of the sections of the anti-terrorism legislation. I asked how many times, because he said the RCMP had used it a number of times, and I think he gave me the figure of 12 or 16 times.

I pressed him on that and I can say that I pursued that right up until the very end. I have never been given a clear answer as to how many times and in what format this was done. I even have a letter from the office of the former minister for public security assuring me that when we finished I would get that. I do not have it and I do not believe I am ever going to get it, because I do not believe it ever existed, that we used this at all, ever, even in the investigation process.

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Orders of the Day

12:50 p.m.

Conservative

Brian Fitzpatrick Prince Albert, SK

Mr. Speaker, I should know more about this legislation than I do. If he could, I would like the member to enlighten me as to what oversight mechanisms exist in the bill to make sure that we have a watchdog, somebody who could have a look at what is going on under this bill, a person Canadians can trust who can look at what is going on behind the scenes, who can lift the veil of secrecy, so to speak.

In some ways I would feel more comfortable if I knew there was a good system of checks and balances available in the anti-terrorism legislation. I would appreciate his comments.

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12:50 p.m.

An hon. member

There are none.

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12:50 p.m.

NDP

Joe Comartin Windsor—Tecumseh, ON

Mr. Speaker, I heard someone say from the other side that there were none, and that is not being fair.

I also want to say to the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada that I am sorry I referred to him earlier as the parliamentary secretary for public safety. I think that was actually a compliment to him, but I will leave it at this point.

In terms of judicial review of both sections that are purported to be renewed and extended at this time, the parliamentary secretary raised a number of provisions that were safeguards. In that regard, I want to say again that it was part of the fight we in the NDP had to try to build in as many safeguards as possible at that time in 2001 when we were trying to minimize the draconian aspects. We pressed to have them included.

However, the bottom line is this. We live in a country where the rule of law applies, and we can only rely, and I say this to members of Parliament, on our judges to the degree that we give them discretion. If we give them discretion to impose, and I am going to use the preventive detention areas as an example, there are provisions in there that give sweeping powers to our judges as to what conditions they can impose on an individual after they conduct the initial investigation and the initial hearings.

Those initial hearings, by the way, are going to be very limited in terms of what the person is going to be able to do to defend themselves, because he or she is not going to be told a lot about what the evidence is against them. That is a provision in the anti-terrorism legislation. The person is entitled to representation. We see this with the way our security certificates function. We have authorized our judges to be able to review this in a system that is totally contrary to our criminal justice system in many respects, and which has been criticized by those same judges, but we are in effect forcing them to function. That is what this legislation does.

Up to this point it has not been used, but if it ever is, what we are really doing is switching from saying that we as a Parliament, as legislators for this country, are saying that these are the standards we have to meet. We are lowering those standards and then saying to the judges that it is within these scopes and these parameters that they operate. That is really what we are doing.

That is what we have done with the security certificates. That is why it is so necessary to get rid of them.

This is what we are doing. We are replicating the same system in this act, we really are. It says that we are going to shuffle this off to the judges, but we are going say to the judges that this is the authority they now have, which they did not have before because our Charter of Rights and Freedoms would not let them do that before. We are now empowering them to do that.

As members may know from the number of times I have criticized the current government for its attack on the judiciary, I am a great supporter of our judiciary. I believe we have the best judiciary in the world, but they are not perfect. We can go back historically and point to any number of times when they have transgressed and have not protected the rights and freedoms of people in this country.

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Orders of the Day

12:55 p.m.

NDP

Wayne Marston Hamilton East—Stoney Creek, ON

Mr. Speaker, I know of many Canadians who felt betrayed when this act was proclaimed. In the climate of suspicion of the day, good neighbours became suspicious of other good neighbours. To some extent, I believe, when the act was proclaimed, the terrorists actually won a victory against freedoms in those days.

Does the member believe that the end of this act would actually be to the benefit of freedoms in Canada?

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Orders of the Day

12:55 p.m.

NDP

Joe Comartin Windsor—Tecumseh, ON

Mr. Speaker, let me make two comments. One is that I wish to again acknowledge the speech we heard from the member for Marc-Aurèle-Fortin with regard to the way this legislation could be used and, I have to say, at some time will be used, I would expect, to specifically target members of our community and communities as a whole. We can see the simple labelling of someone as a suspected terrorist, as we saw so clearly in the Arar case, and the kinds of consequences, unintended perhaps but maybe not, that flow from it.

To answer the basic question, there is no question about this. Whether one is part of the Muslim community in this country, which has been the primary target of this kind of legislation, and whether one is seen as the target by them, or whether someone is in the first nations, who have great fears of this legislation at some time being used against them, there is no question that when these sections go down, as I expect they will next week, there will be a big sigh of relief in those communities.

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12:55 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Royal Galipeau

The hon. member for Fundy Royal for a short question.

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Orders of the Day

12:55 p.m.

Fundy Royal
New Brunswick

Conservative

Rob Moore Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada

Mr. Speaker, I listened with interest to the hon. member's speech on this matter.

I would like to ask him what he says to Canadians, what he says to the police. He spoke highly of them, and I heard it also from members opposite on the Liberals side of the House. They speak highly of the police and their abilities, and yet they are one of the chief groups that are calling out, crying out, for us to put in place the safeguards that can prevent a terrorist attack.

The police are the first responders in a situation like this, something that has the potential to victimize hundreds, and in some cases we have seen even thousands, of innocent victims. This legislation is designed to prevent a terrorist attack. It is essential.

The fact that it has not been used, I would say that we are lucky that it has not--

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Orders of the Day

12:55 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Royal Galipeau

I had advised the hon. member for Fundy Royal that there was only time for a short question. We have now run out the clock, but I will allow the hon. member for Windsor--Tecumseh to give a short reply, but I do mean short.

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Orders of the Day

12:55 p.m.

NDP

Joe Comartin Windsor—Tecumseh, ON

Mr. Speaker, my answer to the police and to our intelligence agents is that we make the decisions. We hear their requests. We judge them. We assess them. It is the responsibility of the members of this House to make those decisions and I make those for all Canadians.

Anti-Terrorism Act
Orders of the Day

1 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Royal Galipeau

Before I recognize the Minister of Public Safety, I would just like to ask all members, as a courtesy to all other members, to check that all cellphones are turned off.

Resuming debate. The hon. Minister of Public Safety.

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Orders of the Day

1 p.m.

Okanagan—Coquihalla
B.C.

Conservative

Stockwell Day Minister of Public Safety

Mr. Speaker, I present my remarks today in the light of a fairly recent revelation for us. As I am hearing it and I could be wrong, and maybe in the question and answer time we can be corrected on this, but my understanding is that the Liberals are going to bail out on their own former legislation. I hope we hear some clarification on that but these are the early indications that we are receiving. I hope that is not true.

It has some precedent because in a similar regard, it was under the Liberal regime that our troops, our brave men and women in uniform, were committed to Afghanistan and then it was Liberals by the scores who bailed out on our troops and voted against us maintaining our commitment to the good people of Afghanistan who have asked us to be there. This would not be surprising to me, but I hope that is not true.

We need to look at the genesis of this legislation, which was of course what happened on 9/11, and then the follow-up by the United Nations asking democratic nations to do what they could to enhance their legislation, to minimize the chance that this type of horrific event could happen again.

Now it appears that the logic, or the illogic, that is being applied to not extending these provisions that are in here to protect Canadians, is that everything is fine now. Nobody has blown up any Twin Towers since then. There has not been any attack in Canada. Could there be any thought that maybe the legislation has actually served as a deterrent? Would that ever come into account? It appears not.

I would remind my colleagues that Canada is still on Osama bin Laden's list. He named several countries which he was directing his malevolent forces to attack whenever they had the opportunity. Canada is still on that list.

Since 9/11, since the United Nations requested that countries do what they could to come up with legislative provisions to protect themselves in a greater way, we have seen ongoing terrorist attacks. The obvious ones that we can remember were the horrific events that happened in Beslan where schoolchildren were slaughtered by terrorists, of course the London underground incident, four trains bombed in Madrid, the night club in Bali where three Canadians were killed--

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1 p.m.

Liberal

John McKay Scarborough—Guildwood, ON

Does this have any relevance to what we are talking about? Any?

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1 p.m.

Conservative

Stockwell Day Okanagan—Coquihalla, BC

--and July's bombings on Mumbai's suburban rail network that killed 209 people and injured thousands.

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Orders of the Day

1 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Royal Galipeau

Order, please. The hon. member for Scarborough--Guildwood will be recognized. He will have 20 minutes to express his views. Meanwhile, I have recognized the Minister for Public Safety and I would like to listen to him.

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Orders of the Day

1 p.m.

Conservative

Stockwell Day Okanagan—Coquihalla, BC

Mr. Speaker, I heard my hon. friend from the NDP speak about taking away these provisions. They are minor provisions and I will get into that in a minute.

However, if there was an incident, and God forbid there would not be on Canadian soil, we know who would be the first ones to blame the security agencies, the police and the government for allowing it to happen. It would be about a nanosecond of time before they would ask why the government did not foresee it, why we did not do something about it, and why we did not stop it. Let us keep that in mind too. Their record is very clear on how swiftly they move in judgment at those particular opportunities.

The events that have taken place, that continue to take place, related to terrorism are stark reminders that the threat of terrorism is still very much with us. It has touched the lives of Canadians abroad, and if we are not vigilant, it could touch our lives here on our own soil, as it did in the Air-India attack.

Up to the time of the Twin Towers tragedy, Canada had the record for Canadians killed in one incident by a terrorist attack. Some 329 people died on that fateful flight. Upwards of 290 of them were Canadians.

Often it is dismissed. Maybe it is because, tragically, of the name of the airline, I do not know, but for reasons we find hard to fathom, it is often dismissed. Yet, Canada suffered the greatest single attack in terms of deaths of citizens up until 9/11. It is a threat that we have to take seriously.

There is no greater duty than for a government to protect its citizens. It is the first responsibility of any government: the safety and security of its citizens. We are unwavering in our commitment to live up to that responsibility and to safeguard our national security. The safety of Canadians has to be our priority and the motion that is before us today is part of the government's ongoing commitment to protect Canadians from harm.

The motion today talks about leaving in place important provisions that were introduced by the Anti-terrorism Act that remains a vital link in the chain that helps ensure our security. We do that for another three years when it would be and should be evaluated again.

The act provides a measured approach. It enhances our ability to prosecute terrorists and to prevent them from carrying out their cowardly crimes, and it respects civil liberties. We are very aware of the balance between liberty and freedom. Any time a people want increased security, there will be, on the margins at least, some pressure on their freedom. If we want 100% security from anything wrong every happening to us, we could lock ourselves into our homes, bar the doors and close the windows. We will be just about 100% secure, but we will not be very free.

We understand and we appreciate this delicate balance, and the balance is achieved in the act. The three year extension of the provisions that we are looking at today will ensure that the act continues to be effective and at the same time respectful of fundamental human rights that are at the heart of our democratic system.

Canada's new government is taking action. We have been in this last year taking action on keeping Canadians safer.

Before we address the actual provisions, I would just like to remind all the members here that in budget 2006 we committed $1.4 billion to ensure the security of our country and the safety of our communities. We did that in very specific ways.

Our security forces, CSIS and the RCMP, have signed a new memorandum of understanding. They did that on September 12, 2006 to facilitate cooperation and information sharing between those two agencies and to protect Canadians from terrorism.

We have allocated in the next two years of our budget $160 million to stick with our commitment of seeing 1,000 more officers, 1,000 more personnel in the RCMP throughout the country, on our streets, on our roads and in our neighbourhoods.

We are moving to strengthen the border by arming our border officers and by eliminating situations where many border officers work alone. That has continued for years. They have asked for years that it be addressed. We have said that these are danger points and points of risk, and we are addressing that and correcting the problem.

We have allocated $303 million over the next two years to implement a border strategy to promote the movement of low risk trade and travellers within North America across the border while protecting Canadians from security threats.

To protect Canadians from terrorism and to safeguard our nation's security, we listed the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, the LTTE, and the Gulbuddin Hekmatyar's faction of the Hezb-e Islami. The Hezb-e Islami Gulbuddin, HIG, is now a terrorist entity. Our allies and our citizens have asked for years that we do this, that these groups be listed as terrorist entities to stop the fundraising and other support activities that happen in Canada.

The former Liberal regime just did not get it done. After years of being asked, it took a huge amount of pressure, almost international pressure, to get the Liberals to finally list Hezbollah a few years ago. They neglected these other areas, but the Conservatives moved to protect Canadians. If Liberals do not get the job done, we do. We will continue to enhance our national security infrastructure while working with our allies in the broader international fight against terrorism and that includes our mission in Afghanistan.

Thanks to the Anti-terrorism Act, terrorist groups have greater difficulty carrying out their operations, both within Canada and abroad. The Anti-terrorism Act rounds out these ambitious measures.

Terrorists are changing their methods, while the world recognizes the need to neutralize their hate-driven messages and acts. Terrorists pose a problem that increasingly affects the entire planet. More and more, they are capable of anything.

In the wake of what happened on September 11 the United Nations recognized the need for international cooperation and passed a resolution calling upon member states to intensify and accelerate their efforts to work together to counter terrorism. It called on states to make it more difficult for terrorists to operate.

Canada responded with the Anti-terrorism Act. It enabled Canada to implement international obligations in the fight against terrorism. That included ratifying and implementing international agreements such as the international convention for the suppression of the financing of terrorism. That is critical because while terrorism may be inspired by extreme hate and ideology, it is fuelled by dollars and cents. That is why Canada has given particular attention to cutting off funding sources for terrorist activities.

I am particularly grateful to the dedicated and committed Canadians at FINTRAC. That is Canada's financial intelligence agency which has a mandate to detect and deter money laundering and terrorist financing. FINTRAC receives, as required by law, reports from a variety of financial entities but most notably from the major banks.

FINTRAC's analysis then allows it to produce financial intelligence that could be used by investigators to understand the financial transactions associated with suspected money laundering terrorist activity and financing activity of other threats to the very security of Canada. Last year FINTRAC relayed intelligence on 34 cases to terrorist activity financing.

Canada is seen as a leader in the international community and we want to continue to provide that leadership and to detect and deter the use of Canada's financial system for illegal purposes. By creating a public list of terrorist groups the Criminal Code makes it more difficult for these groups to raise funds. This, in turn, reduces their ability to operate in Canada.

I would also note that the Anti-terrorism Act fights terrorist financing by protecting the integrity of charities. That way no organization that supports terrorism can obtain registered charitable status in our country. Now, when Canadians donate to charities they know and have that sense of confidence that their hard-earned dollars will not support terrorists or their causes.

The Anti-terrorism Act is working, it is making Canadians safer, and at the same time it is respecting their civil liberties. It also creates specific terrorism offences, provides preventive and investigative powers, and provides the checks and balances to ensure that these new powers are not abused. That is a very critical part of these provisions.

The record shows that police and prosecutors have used these new powers with great care and prudence. Some might ask why we would need these powers if they are used so infrequently. Canada has many laws on the books that are rarely used. Do we eliminate certain laws just because they are being effective in eliminating certain activity? I would think not. They are there for a reason. They are there to be used if the situation demands it and that is why the Anti-terrorism Act is so important. It is being proactive, it is being responsible, and that is why it is so critical that the House extends the sunsetting period for parts of this act.

This act provides police and prosecutors, if they need it, with valuable tools to investigate and even more importantly to prevent terrorism. Without an extension from Parliament, two key components of the act are going to cease to apply on or around March 1, 2007. I am talking about the provisions related to investigative hearings and, second, to something that is called recognizance with conditions. I will review these quickly.

Investigative hearings are used for two purposes: to track down terrorists immediately after an incident and to help prevent attacks from occurring. As part of the investigation of the terrorist attack, for example, a judge could order an individual to answer questions.

I want to stress that anyone who is ordered to testify in a case like that is doing so as a witness. That means that the individual has strong protections against self-incrimination and that he or she has access to legal counsel at all times. That protection will allow the individual to reveal critical information and to do it without fear. That information could lead police to evidence that strengthens their case and prevents or zeros in on those who have perpetrated a terrorist act. It could help prosecutors put dangerous criminals behind bars, or it could provide intelligence to decision makers that may help them to foil future attacks.

As I said, investigative hearings can be used to prevent terrorist acts and activities before they occur. Imagine if peace officers were aware of an individual who had information that could prevent an attack. An investigative hearing could take place, and the witness could be provided with strong protections against self-incrimination. As a result the witness could feel confident to provide vital information, information that could prevent a tragedy and save thousands of lives. Investigative hearings are obviously important tools both to investigate attacks and to prevent future incidents.

The other provision in the act deals with something that is called recognizance with conditions. This provides another tool to prevent a terrorist attack. Imagine if the police receive some late-breaking intelligence that an attack appears to be imminent. Innocent lives could be at stake and there is no time lose. These provisions would allow a peace officer to obtain a warrant to bring a person into custody. The warrant is granted only if the officer has reasonable grounds to believe that a terrorist crime will take place and reasonable grounds to suspect that bringing a certain person before a judge would prevent it. Should there be no time to seek the warrant, the peace officer may bring the person into custody.

Some critics have complained that that provision takes away civil liberties, but we need to look at it in its proper light. A person who would be subject to these provisions must be brought before a judge within 24 hours, and earlier if possible. That is 24 hours only. What a difference that one day could make in somebody being intercepted from possibly perpetrating a horror. It could save one life; it could save many.

In this instance the judge is not allowed to delay and must decide right away whether to impose conditions on the individual's release. That is what we are talking about: releasing the person, but with conditions. The judge for example could prohibit that person from possessing a firearm or from possessing ammunition. That is what we are talking about. That is the huge apparent travesty of liberties that the NDP and now apparently the Liberals are shrieking about.

Putting this into a global context, look what some of our allies have done. We have a 24 hour provision that we are suggesting here. In Australia its provisions allow for a person to be held up to 14 days; in the U.K. it is up to 28 days. That is their sovereign right to decide those things; however, we do not take ours quite that far.

These measures are key tools for our security professionals and go a long way to keeping Canadians more secure.

These provisions are used prudently. These measures are not secret tools of the state. Accountability and transparency are built in. Both I and my hon. colleague, the Minister of Justice, are required to report to this House on their use. Our provincial and territorial counterparts must also report annually.

Both of these conditions, investigative hearings and recognizance with conditions, provide police with the valuable tools should they need them to investigate or prevent terrorist attacks. I believe their use must be maintained. That is what we are talking about here today. In our effort to provide Canadians with safety and security, we must never jeopardize the values upon which our society is based. I believe these provisions strike the right balance between protecting Canadians from terrorist attacks and respecting their liberties. They effectively integrate the rights and freedoms that we hold dear as a country.

The Supreme Court of Canada has found that the investigative hearing process is constitutional. It is interesting that even though the Supreme Court of Canada has found this to be constitutional, there are members of the House who want to reject it and throw it out.

I welcome the debate. It reflects the values of democracy that all of us in the House hold dear. It is my wish that after careful examination of this motion all members will join in supporting the extension of these provisions.

Canadians understand that terrorism is a direct threat to their way of life. They know the values that we cherish depend on the security that we enjoy in our homes, in our communities and at our borders. They know their social and economic well-being depends on the freedom to raise their children, pursue their dreams and live their lives without fear. They rightly expect that their government will do everything possible within the bounds of our individual rights and freedoms to keep them safe from harm.

That is what this is doing. Unless we act now, two key components in our fight against terrorism will indeed fade into the sunset and I do not want the darkness to follow that. For the sake of our cities, towns and communities in Canada, we cannot let that happen.

We must remember that we are dealing with a particularly violent, insidious type of crime, a crime against humanity, a crime perpetrated by people with no sense of hesitation at all to blow up, to decimate children and men and women who are non-combatants, who are innocent people. They do it as horrifically and as graphically as they possibly can. We are talking about preventing the deliberate slaughter of innocent non-combatants. We are talking about preventing the destruction of innocent lives by people who do not hesitate to embark on that path of destruction.

These provisions were put in place by a Liberal government right after a particularly horrific incident in the United States. Those terrorist incidents have continued around the world. Canada is still at threat. We hope these things will never happen. We can make that hope a reality by extending these two provisions. As we supported the Liberals at that time, I would hope they would continue to support the principles that they one day felt were valid.

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Orders of the Day

1:15 p.m.

Liberal

John McKay Scarborough—Guildwood, ON

Mr. Speaker, the minister is one of the senior officers of the law in this country. I know that is frustrating to him, but nevertheless he is an officer of the law and he is bound to uphold the law. That is his obligation.

When he is proposing that the provisions not sunset but in fact be extended, he has to ask himself three questions. The first question would be, is the limitation of rights rationally connected to the threat? The second question would be, is this the least intrusive measure possible? The third question would be, is there a proportionate balance between the effects and the limitation of the rights? Those are the three questions that he as a senior officer in this country has to ask himself.

When his predecessor introduced the bill, those three questions were asked. That was the reason for the sunset provisions. There was not sufficient justification in the current context that would allow this to be permanently placed in the Criminal Code.

We have now had five years' worth of experience. What we have seen in the five years has been that these two provisions which were very controversial at the time have not been used. What we have seen, and this is in the public domain, has been a substantial abuse of Canadians' rights. The member's government had to apologize to Mr. Arar, and I commend the government for doing that. It paid compensation. Clearly, Mr. Arar's rights had been abused. There are others whose rights are alleged to have been abused.

What we have seen in the five years is no use for these particular provisions, an abuse of Canadians' rights and that the police have had all the tools they need to arrest terrorist suspects and charge them as incidents have arisen over those five years.

I ask my colleague these fundamental questions: Is the limitation of rights rationally connected to the threat? Is it the least intrusive measure possible? Is there a proportionate balance between the effects and the limitation of rights?

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Orders of the Day

1:20 p.m.

Conservative

Stockwell Day Okanagan—Coquihalla, BC

Mr. Speaker, there is a nuance here. I do not know if the member has realized what he said in pronouncing that it is my obligation as a senior officer of the law to ask these questions, but he has diminished the responsibility of every other member of Parliament. Every member of Parliament has to ask those questions. I have no greater tap on wisdom than do other members. I wish the member would not insult other members by saying that.

I asked those questions of myself and of my colleagues at the time, and I answered to each of those three questions the affirmative, yes.

I do not think the member voted against his government at the time when it put the legislation in place. He stood and supported it. He obviously went down the line and answered in the affirmative. He said, “yes, yes, yes”, and supported it and now he says we do not need it because nothing has happened.

Does he not realize that terrorist activities continue to go on around the world? Are the school children in Beslan not an indicator that they continue, in Madrid, in Bali, the people that were killed? He said that the test should be whether an incident has happened or not. By the way, there is an alleged incident that almost happened--I say alleged because it is going through the courts--in Toronto. People were arrested who allegedly were planning to blow up this building, to behead the Prime Minister and to destroy people in the Toronto area. Because an incident has not taken place? They continue to take place around the world.

The incident that promoted this legislation by the Liberals did not take place in Canada in the first place either. Is he saying it is only if Americans and Canadians are getting blown up that we should be protecting ourselves?

Hijacking has not happened in Canada, but we have laws against it. Should we throw away the laws on hijacking? There are entire communities in our country where arson has never taken place. Should we throw the laws out in those particular areas?

It is ridiculous. If these laws were good to protect Canadians a few years ago, they are good today.

Anti-Terrorism Act
Orders of the Day

1:25 p.m.

Bloc

Serge Ménard Marc-Aurèle-Fortin, QC

Mr. Speaker, the minister must easily recognize that it is not for us to judge those who defend civil rights in such cases as people who promote terrorism. In committee, no one has ever done that. This type of debate, which borders on demagoguery, does not get us anywhere.

I have a specific question to ask him. The minister gave an example of circumstances in which powers of preventive arrest should be used. My question is simple. Can the minister explain why, in the example given, the police officer could not have acted under section 495(1)(a) of the Criminal Code? Part of that section reads:

A peace officer may arrest without warrant (a) a person who, ... on reasonable grounds, he believes ... is about to commit an indictable offence.

I assume the officer's information would have constituted reasonable grounds. Why could he not have acted? Furthermore, as for the people who wanted to blow up Parliament, were those not reasonable enough grounds for the police officer to arrest them?

Anti-Terrorism Act
Orders of the Day

1:25 p.m.

Conservative

Stockwell Day Okanagan—Coquihalla, BC

Mr. Speaker, let me start by saying that it is interesting to hear my hon. colleague say that, in his opinion, if a member or a party takes a strong position on a matter or strongly supports an issue, that is demagoguery. There is no demagoguery in our believing that this is important. If intelligent arguments can be made against a given position, they should be made; one should not, however, attempt to make it disappear by calling it something that it is not.

Let us take the example of the police officer again. At present, someone who is not police officer can make an arrest, but does not have the ability provided here to take someone to court, before a judge. That is specific to terrorism-related situations, and only to such situations.

We are not looking to broaden powers in numerous other areas. This is only with respect to terrorism.

Anti-Terrorism Act
Orders of the Day

1:25 p.m.

NDP

David Christopherson Hamilton Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, like the previous questioner, I am a former solicitor general in Ontario as he was in Quebec. Although I was not the debate when the law was originally passed, I have some real trouble understanding the logic put forward by the minister.

As I understand it, at that time members of the House were seized of ensuring that all the laws, which could possibly be there in a democracy, were in place to prevent the kind of events about which he talked. At the time this was highly controversial. Within that bill, these were a couple of very controversial components. Why they are different from the other examples the minister uses is they can, in the wrong circumstances, take away and deny Canadians their civil rights. If anybody thinks that in this day and age this it is still just an argument, let us remember Maher Arar. It happens.

The sunset clause was put in through their wisdom at that time. Therefore, the question would be this. If the wisdom of the Parliament at the time was that this should be allowed to fall by the wayside if it was not being used after an X number of years or if it had been problematic, then why would we not follow with that logic, given that safety in this case errs on the side of the human rights of ordinary Canadians and given we have other legislation that would allow our police officers to do the job we mandate them to do?

Anti-Terrorism Act
Orders of the Day

1:25 p.m.

Conservative

Stockwell Day Okanagan—Coquihalla, BC

Mr. Speaker, many safeguards are in place. Only a judge of the Provincial Court or the Superior Court can hear a police officer's application in this regard.

I remind members that in June 2004, in a reference related to the Air-India prosecution, the Supreme Court of Canada upheld the constitutionality of this provision. We are not talking about something that is unconstitutional. The very fact that it has not been abused shows that the proper limitations have protected against that. Now we have another three years to evaluate it, and let us see if in the next three years it gets abused. I do not think it will be.

Oral Questions
Points of Order
Orders of the Day

1:30 p.m.

Langley
B.C.

Conservative

Mark Warawa Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of the Environment

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order on a matter arising out of question period earlier today. The Liberal member for Wascana doubted the veracity of a quote I attributed to former vice-president Al Gore, which praised Canada in its environmental work.

I am pleased to table a transcript of that quote, in both official languages, from Global TV, on February 5, at the approximate hour of 18:52. I trust this closes the—

Oral Questions
Points of Order
Orders of the Day

1:30 p.m.

An hon. member

What was the quote?

Oral Questions
Points of Order
Orders of the Day

1:30 p.m.

Conservative

Mark Warawa Langley, BC

The quote from Mr. Gore was:

My friends in Canada tell me that across party lines and in all regions there is very strong support for Canada, once again providing leadership in the world, fighting above its weight class and showing moral authority to the rest of the world. That's what Canada's known for.

Oral Questions
Points of Order
Orders of the Day

1:30 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Royal Galipeau

It being 1:30 p.m., the House will now proceed to the consideration of private members' business as listed on today's order paper.

When we return to the study of the motion we just discussed, the hon. member for Scarborough—Guildwood will be recognized for 20 minutes.

The House resumed from February 2 consideration of Bill C-288, An Act to ensure Canada meets its global climate change obligations under the Kyoto Protocol, as reported (with amendment) from the committee, and of the motions in Group No. 1.

Kyoto Protocol Implementation Act
Private Members' Business

1:30 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Royal Galipeau

When we last discussed this motion, there were two and a half minutes left to the hon. Parliamentary Secretary to the President of the Treasury Board.

The hon. parliamentary secretary.

Kyoto Protocol Implementation Act
Private Members' Business

1:30 p.m.

Nepean—Carleton
Ontario

Conservative

Pierre Poilievre Parliamentary Secretary to the President of the Treasury Board

Mr. Speaker, we are discussing the Liberal position on Kyoto. Yesterday the leading Liberal union leader, Buzz Hargrove, had this to say about meeting our Kyoto deadlines. This is the same Buzz Hargrove who stood on a stage and held the hand of the former Liberal prime minister in the air during the last election.

He said, “It would be devastating for the whole community. Anybody that signed on. It is not even a remote possibility. No prime minister in any one of the parties in the House of Commons is going to bring in any kind of regulation that says that we can do that. It would be suicidal for the economy”. He went on to say, “If somebody were to come out tomorrow and say you can reach the objective that was laid out initially immediately, you would almost have to shut down every major industry in the country from oil and gas to the airlines, to the auto industry and that just doesn't make sense.

Buzz Hargrove, the Liberal union leader, who supports the Liberal Party, is prominently held among Liberals as a paragon of wisdom.

That concurs with the statement made by the Liberal environment critic who said that if Canadians saw the real costs of Kyoto, the $40 billion a year costs, they would “scream”. Those were the remarks of the Liberal member for Ottawa South, the high priest of hypocrisy on the environment. This is the individual who said that it would cost $40 billion a year to implement Kyoto. That is the Liberal environment critic, who is voting now in favour of that price tag to our economy.

Thank goodness our economy is in safe hands. Thank goodness the Conservative Party will implement reductions in greenhouse gases and smog in a responsible manner that will protect the jobs and livelihoods of everyday Canadians. Thank goodness that Canadians chose wisely on January 23, 2006. Let us not go back.

Kyoto Protocol Implementation Act
Private Members' Business

1:30 p.m.

Bloc

Thierry St-Cyr Jeanne-Le Ber, QC

Mr. Speaker, I prepared a little introduction, but I feel compelled to respond to the previous intervention, which was pretty pathetic, to say the least. It is very sad to see that we have a government that claims it is looking after the economy but clearly does not care about the environment.

This is an issue that affects me personally. I myself am quite young and I have always been concerned about this issue. Moreover, my spouse is pregnant and I will be a new dad in a few months. I am very concerned about the future we are creating for my children and the children of all our fellow citizens. That is why I cannot understand how anyone can treat such a serious issue so lightly, as our honourable colleague just did.

Since they came to power, the Conservatives have said over and over that there is no way they can reach the targets. The Conservatives are admitting that they are incompetent and powerless. How is it that European countries, such as France, Germany and the United Kingdom, can reach the targets without destroying their economies? On the contrary, this has become a source of wealth for those countries and has given them more opportunities for economic development.

By failing to take advantage of the opportunity Kyoto presents to enrich our society and protect the environment, the government is showing to what extent it lacks a broad vision of the economy.

Kyoto could enrich our society because the new technology we would develop to reach the targets would create jobs here, especially in Quebec where businesses in the environmental sector are very dynamic. Furthermore, our oil dependence is costly because, in Quebec in particular, there is no oil production. That means that all of the money spent on energy is leaving our economy and is not creating jobs.

For businesses, the cost of burning oil to produce energy accounts for a large proportion of their expenses. If they could reduce those costs by developing new technologies that reduce consumption and increase energy efficiency, that would be a major advantage. It would also enable citizens to consume less energy.

Lastly, there is the carbon exchange. If we exceed our Kyoto targets, if we do our job well and get started now, without waiting to set targets, we can place a monetary value on those gains and even eventually sell credits to other countries. But in order to do that, we have to be on the market now. We cannot afford to wait and let the parade pass us by. When all the other industrialized countries in the world have carbon exchanges and technologies to sell and offer us, we cannot afford to still be watching our oil resources run out. We will have completely missed the boat.

The Conservatives' attitude is pathetic, and I am very concerned about the fate of my unborn child and all the children in Quebec.

The Bloc Québécois will support this bill, but I want to make it clear that we support the bill in principle only. The Bloc Québécois has always taken this attitude. When a bill is introduced, we do not ask ourselves whether it comes from the Tories, the Grits, the NDP or whomever. We judge each bill on its own merits.

We are going to support this bill, because we believe that Canada must implement the Kyoto protocol. Clearly, we are not supporting the Liberal Party, because the Liberal Party's record on the environment was rather dismal during the years it was in power. The Liberal government signed the Kyoto protocol, but did nothing tangible to implement it. Canada did not move forward, it moved backward. Canada's environmental record all those years was a disaster. Only at the very end of the Liberal reign, just before the election, did the current leader of the opposition—who was then the environment minister—hold a lovely little conference. Good for him, but it was rather late in the game to be taking action.

We must look beyond the disastrous record of the Liberals and the ideological stubbornness of the Conservatives and study the merits of this bill. The Kyoto protocol targets are the bare minimum to be achieved. Earlier today, we discussed a colleague's point of order pertaining to Al Gore's remarks.

I invite everyone to take a few moments to rent Al Gore's movie, An Inconvenient Truth, which is available in both English and French. I believe that this documentary is the best thing to have been produced in the United States in the last 10 years. It is a powerful depiction of humanity's self-destruction. It is madness not to take action. I can understand that there is always partisanship in this House and I can understand that we all have different objectives. However, we live on the same planet and we share the same environment.

In this regard, I find it shocking that some members in this House question the reality of global warming, and that some claim it is not due to human activity. Fortunately, there are fewer and fewer of these people, but several dozens of MPs still think that we are not in a position to meet the Kyoto protocol targets.

Considering that man went to the moon, that we are developing drugs to cure all sorts of conditions and that we are often dealing with new technological challenges, I cannot believe that some members of this House would think that we do not have the intellectual or financial resources to achieve such a critical objective.

The only resource that we are lacking to meet these targets is easily within reach: it is the will of this government. This is the only resource that we are missing right now. That is why we will have to support this legislation to force the government to make up for its lack of will. This is what is lacking. Whether in Quebec or in the rest of Canada, we have the human and financial resources to meet these targets.

It is clear that the Canadian situation is special. In the western provinces of Canada there are extraordinary energy resources that produce a lot of wealth there, it is true. When the Standing Committee on Finance, of which I am a member, travelled in western Canada, I noticed that an increasing number of Canadians from those provinces were concerned about their future. They feel that we should not burn up these oil resources in a few years, in one generation, and not leave anything for the next generations.

Quebec does not have these resources, but it has a lot of people who are concerned about developing our economy and our renewable energy. For a little while now, we have been faced with a government that refuses to seriously consider the possibility of no longer encouraging polluting energies and energies that emit greenhouse gases, and instead focus on renewable energy. The best example is the motion I tabled earlier this week in the Standing Committee on Finance, which simply asked that we address this issue.

Should we drop the incentives and tax benefits for oil companies and invest in renewable energy instead?

The committee adopted the motion. The only ones who opposed it were the Conservatives. I find it sad that they do not even want to vote on this issue. I am convinced that the Kyoto protocol is the right path to take. It is the very least the country can do. To aim lower than that, not to have the courage to see this through, would be a pathetic failure and infinitely sad for our children.

Kyoto Protocol Implementation Act
Private Members' Business

1:45 p.m.

NDP

Wayne Marston Hamilton East—Stoney Creek, ON

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to address Bill C-288. The summary of the bill reads:

The purpose of this enactment is to ensure that Canada meets its global climate change obligations under the Kyoto Protocol. It requires the Minister of the Environment to establish an annual Climate Change Plan and to make regulations respecting climate change. It also requires the National Round Table on the Environment and the Economy to advise the Minister—to the extent that it is within its purpose—on the effectiveness of the plans, and requires the Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development to submit to the Speaker of the House of Commons a report of the progress in the implementation of the plans.

I took the time to read out the summary for the House so as to be clear for the members present and the public viewing today about just what we have before us for debate. I want Canadians to understand this bill, because in essence it highlights very clearly the failure of the Liberals when they were in government and in particular of their current leader when he had control of the environment file and did not himself proceed with just the actions that are listed in this bill today.

When the Kyoto protocol was signed, I can recall very vividly my personal sense that finally there would be action on this most critical issue. One can imagine that as time wore on it became clear that the Liberal government of the day was only engaging in smoke and mirrors on the issue or, worse, did not grasp the significance to the peoples of Canada and the world that a failure to act--yes, a failure--would have and what would result.

In every sense of the word, the Liberals in control of the environment file failed Canadians by not ensuring that greenhouse gas emissions were brought under control and lowered. Now we know the degree of that failure. Greenhouse gas emissions soared by 26% by 2004.

Other countries such as Germany, which was required to lower its emissions by 8%, actually got them down to 17.2% by 2004. As for the United Kingdom, we all have seen the movies about the smokestacks of England and the horrendous record it is supposed to have. It was required to reduce by 8% and got it down by 14%. Russia, which had a zero requirement, came down by 32% by 2004. In contrast, the United States rose by 15.8% by 2004. The worst of the pack was Canada, which was up by 26.6% by 2004.

Day in and day out, while the Liberals went about their self-absorbed lives of entitlement, not only our environment but ordinary Canadians paid a heavy price. Our air and our water got dirtier. Smog days grew more frequent and worse.

Throughout the years since signing on to Kyoto, Canada has lost its opportunity to assume a leadership role on this file. Somewhat like Nero, as the Liberals fiddled our air quality worsened, our rivers were dirtied, and our weather began to change, with clear patterns of increasingly worse storms, with deluges and with winds of unprecedented violence.

The Liberal deathbed conversion symbolized in this bill may well be heartfelt, I will give them that, but the Liberal record on greenhouse gas emissions is what it is. This bill will not change those facts. As late as it is, Bill C-288, also known as the Kyoto protocol implementation act, is worthy of support and will have it from our party when it comes time for a vote in the House.

However, it is deeply troubling that it is the Liberals in opposition putting forward such strong Kyoto language when they could have done it all while they were in government.

Because of the lack of action to date, we now have the forests of western Canada being decimated by the pine beetle because it is now able to survive in our climate whereas it previously could not withstand the cold here. Our winter service ice roads are now unstable and melting much faster than usual, making it difficult to get food and supplies to our isolated communities in the north.

Let us look at the damage being done to our winter resorts, which have faced green grass far into the normal tourist season. The winter sports economy is but one example of the beginning of very serious economic problems that ordinary people are beginning to face today.

I can tell this House emphatically that the NDP has always been on record as demanding that our federal government do more to ensure that it meets and exceeds Kyoto targets.

Notwithstanding this bill, our leader, the member for Toronto—Danforth, introduced a private member's bill, Bill C-377, entitled “a climate change accountability act”, which would serve as an effective framework to achieve science-based greenhouse gas emission controls and reduce targets beyond Kyoto.

This member is proud of the fact that it was our party and our leader who broke the logjam to get something done on climate change and on pollution.

The climate change accountability act means that Canada will start to meet the challenges of climate change today, not in decades.

The core of the NDP's Bill C-377 is based on science-based benchmarks, not arbitrary ones as found in the clean air act.

Bill C-377 has short, medium and long term targets.

Bill C-377 will get the government moving immediately, because within six months of its passage the government must develop and publish a target for 2015, and regulations to meet the bill's targets must be in place no later than December 31, 2007.

Sometimes in this House it feels like we have to drag other parties to the altar, so to speak, with the Liberals' inaction over the many years of their mandate and now the Conservative clean air act, which is euphemistically called the hot air act in environmental circles.

Today, thanks to our Bill C-30, there is an opportunity for real action on climate change. I call upon all parties to stop the posturing, stop the obstruction and get to work with the NDP to get the job done.

People often ask why I ran to represent Hamilton East--Stoney Creek in this auspicious place. I ran for two reasons: the vision and the passion of the leader of the NDP and my anger over the abject failure of the Liberal Party over the last 13-plus years. Five surplus budgets and three majority governments and still too many Canadians go hungry, still too many Canadians sleep in the streets, and Canadians face an uncertain future because of the Dion gap of runaway greenhouse gas emissions.

I could have decided to stand outside of this place and rail against the government. Instead, I came in to work with the NDP caucus to ensure we all get the job done for ordinary Canadians. I call upon this House to work with the Bill C-30 committee, using Bill C-377, Bill C-288 and the best science available to change the clean air act to effective environmental legislation.

I am getting a little too emotional here and I have to pause. This is so critical and so important to our country. We must come together as parliamentarians and get this job done.

Kyoto Protocol Implementation Act
Private Members' Business

1:50 p.m.

Liberal

David McGuinty Ottawa South, ON

Mr. Speaker, It is my pleasure to rise in this House this afternoon and speak on Bill C-288, an act to ensure Canada meets its global climate change obligations under the Kyoto Protocol.

For Canadians who are watching, let me read that again: “an act to ensure Canada meets its global climate change obligations under the Kyoto Protocol”.

I would like to commend my colleague, the hon. member for Honoré-Mercier, who introduced the bill and it was passionately driven through the House of Commons.

The bill has captured the attention of Canadians from coast to coast to coast. In fact, even the National Post has half of its front page today dedicated to the merits of the bill.

Canadians are concerned about the Conservative government's disregard for climate change. If there is one thing that has become clear to me hearing the debate on the bill thus far it is this: On the most important issue of the early 21st century, the Conservatives have decided to surrender without even trying to fight.

Last week in this chamber the three opposition parties united behind a Liberal motion calling upon the government to use the existing means provided in the Canadian Environmental Protection Act to take necessary steps to meet our obligations under the Kyoto protocol. The vast majority of Canadians are with us but the government is lagging far behind.

The Conservative decision not to try is incredibly unfortunate. I hardly need to remind the House that, according to the best experts today, if the average temperature of the Earth's surface increases by 2° above what it was during the pre-industrial era, by the year 2080, hundreds of millions of people, our children's families, are likely to be confronted with flooding along coasts and widespread famines. Hundreds of millions of people risk coming down with malaria and billions of others may run short of fresh water.

It is necessary to recognize that the effects of climate change have already been felt, especially in the north, and that the situation will worsen if we do not take concrete action in Canada, as well as elsewhere in the world. This is, therefore, at its heart, a collective and global effort.

Climate change deniers and Kyoto resisters are fond of painting scenes of economic ruin to keep us from working together to improve our environment. The Prime Minister has called Kyoto “a socialist scheme”. I am only led to conclude, as a result of those comments, that he was not able to distinguish between Japan and China.

The Minister of the Environment, the former minister of energy in the province of Ontario, for three years led the province-wide campaign against the global response to climate change. In fact, he fundraised, along with the Prime Minister when the Prime Minister was the Leader of the Opposition, to lead the anti-Kyoto movement across Canada.

On his watch, the Minister of the Environment, while in Ontario, oversaw a 127% increase in the use of coal fired plants. On his watch, the Minister of the Environment oversaw a 124% increase in carbon dioxide emissions in the province of Ontario, 114% increase in emissions of sulphur dioxide and a 22% increase in the emissions of nitric oxide.

Canadians know the record. It is unfortunate that the Minister of Finance, the Minister of Health and the Minister of the Environment are not prepared to admit their roles when it comes to the undermining of a climate change response in one province, the province of Ontario, just as they are very anxious to run away from their record in their contributions, as Justice O'Connor reminded us, their direct contributions to the Walkerton crisis where seven Canadians died and 2,300 Canadians were seriously sickened. They do not want to tell this to Canadians. They do not want Canadians to know that they now form part of the new government led by the leader of climate change denying in Canada.

Whatever the case, for over one year, I and my colleagues and many other Canadians have been asking a simple question of the Prime Minister: “Tell us what your plan is. Please deliver a plan to us. Where are we going on climate change”. A plan is necessary to take meaningful action.

There is no evidence of any plan, only ad hoc announcements, a big green tie and photo ops in Paris. However, we do have evidence of where this government is going.

The only Conservative track record on the environment is one of drastic cuts. The list is a long one: cuts totalling close to $900 million affecting the EnerGuide program for house renovations and the initiative for low income households; cuts of close to $600 million in the wind power production incentive program and the renewable energy production incentive program; cuts of $2 billion to the climate change programs; cuts of $1 billion for the climate change fund and the list keeps getting longer all the time.

This government is putting an end to the funding of a program promoting the design and construction of new energy efficient buildings. This is a program with over 500 design and construction projects for buildings that are, on average, 35% more energy efficient than other new buildings. The financial support provided under this program has helped reduce greenhouse gas emissions by an average of 182 tonnes annually for each multiple unit residential building, and, in the case of commercial buildings, by almost 300 tonnes annually.

This government did not evaluate the effectiveness of these programs at all. It abolished them because they were Liberal initiatives and because it is a far-right government that is influenced by the Republican Party in the United States.

Yesterday in committee, the Minister of the Environment was asked repeatedly to give the Canadian people a single, solitary number. When he was ask how much the government spent on climate change in its first 12 months, he was unable to answer. He was asked the question six times, until we suggested that perhaps the Minister of Finance should come and do his job at committee.

It is flabbergasting that we have had to table legislation to call on the government to come up with a plan to fight climate change. Should we be surprised, given the Prime Minister, the Minister of the Environment , the Minister of Finance, the Minister of Health and even the Minister of Public Safety who described climate change as a joke on his website until he was caught in what has become known as a Flintstone's moment? The moment this was discovered, the Minister of Public Safety removed all reference to it from his website.

The Kyoto protocol is more than numbers and targets. It is not just a step in the right direction, it is the right direction that will lead to the right results. To go it alone with a so-called made in Canada plan, which, apparently, is somewhere in France, is to misunderstand the very basis of the challenges we face.

I am sorry that we had to legislate this but the government was unprepared to move with Canadians, unprepared to continue our fine work under the Liberal green plan to work with industry in the provinces and the territories. It cut funding to Ontario by $557 million to shut down coal plants. It cut funding to Quebec by $328 million for the Kyoto projects.

As a nation and as a people, we committed to lead the world in a global response to a global problem. The government refuses to accept that although there are over 180 nation states, there is only one atmosphere, and there must be a global response, which is why 168 countries joined Canada in signing the treaty. The government would like us to leave the treaty but will not tell Canadians the truth about it.

It is time for the government to hear Canadians, to act to implement the Kyoto protocol and to work toward saving our solitary atmosphere.

Kyoto Protocol Implementation Act
Private Members' Business

2 p.m.

Conservative

Jeff Watson Essex, ON

Mr. Speaker, it is clear that Canadians are very concerned about their environment and about climate change.

Accepting the science of climate change and the growing need for action after a decade of Liberal inaction, Canada's new Conservative government is taking real, effective action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to address these concerns.

Unlike the Liberal sponsor, we have carefully considered Bill C-288. Our conclusion is that Bill C-288 is seriously flawed and must be opposed. We need to draw some important distinctions between this flawed Bill C-288 and this government's clean air act.

First, Bill C-288 is far too little, far too late. It is a desperate Liberal attempt to unwisely force us to make their targets and timeline. What did the former environment commissioner say about these Kyoto timelines? She said that even if the Liberals were still in power they would not have made the Kyoto targets and timeline.

Opinion leaders across Canada agree that we cannot make the Kyoto targets and timeline. Even the new leader of the official opposition admits that he cannot make the Kyoto targets and timeline.

I know the sponsor of the bill supported the deputy leader of the Liberal Party and not the current leader at their recent convention. The Liberal deputy leader said that the Liberals did not get it done. Bill C-288 still does not get it done. Bill C-288 is also a recognition of the Liberals' 13 years of inaction on the environment.

Claude Villeneuve, from the University of Quebec, said this about Bill C-288, “This bill would have been excellent if it had been introduced in 1998”.

When Mark Jaccard testified before the environment committee he said, “I would say, no, it still doesn't give you enough timeframe”. It is too little, too late.

If the Liberals were serious about climate change and the Kyoto targets they signed us on to, why did they not act when they had a chance? They had 8 years, 10 budgets, 7 surplus budgets, 7 years of solid majority government, 5 years with the current tools under CEPA and they took no action. There is not excuse for Liberal inaction on climate change. The leader of the Liberal Party knows no shame on this issue.

Not only is Bill C-288 too little, too late, it is incomplete. Where is the medium term plan? What about the long term? Where are the costs?

The sponsor of the bill, the Liberal member for Honoré-Mercier, said at committee that he did not even care about a plan or the costs to implement Bill C-288. The Liberals do not care about having plans. They do not care about those things. We care about them.

How can they be taken seriously on climate change? How can Bill C-288 be seriously taken as a plan on climate change? Its focus is short term. In fact, there is only one short term timeline on the Liberal horizon now and that is the next election. It seems to be the only thing they care about any more. By contrast, we have one approach, reductions in GHGs and pollution in the short, medium and long term.

Kyoto was only a first step toward a serious approach to the problem. We have always been clear that Canada will work with other countries, including the major nations that are polluting but are not in Kyoto. The Liberals would not work with them. They left them out when they negotiated the agreement to advance a more transformative and long term approach to tackling climate change.

Our action at home is laying a foundation for cooperative international efforts to conquer climate change. Our commitment in the short term is GHG targets that will yield a better outcome than what was proposed by the Liberals in 2005. On air pollutants, we have proposed fixed emission caps at minimum as rigorous as jurisdictions that are leaders in environmental performance. This is a major step that no previous federal Liberal government has taken.

We are looking at the best way for industry to comply with these targets. We will ensure that we have a regulatory system that will allow industry to choose the most cost effective way to meet its emissions targets while meeting our environmental and health objectives.

We are also supporting the development of transformative technologies, especially for GHGs, technologies that will be needed to achieve the deep reductions required if we are to prevent irreversible climate change.

Not only is Bill C-288 too little, too late, not only is Bill C-288 not a real plan for climate change, but Bill C-288 has no penalties. How about that? Where is the enforcement? Clearly the Liberals do not believe that the polluter pays for damaging our health and our environment. Without enforcement, Bill C-288 is not much of a bill. It might as well have been a motion, or how about a preamble to a real bill on climate change.

Bill C-288 is therefore useless. I think the Liberals know a lot about being useless, but that is fine. I guess that makes Liberals feel better when they put their heads down on their pillows at night.

In order to protect Canadians' health and our environment, legislation must be strictly enforced or it will not be effective. We know the Liberals were not effective. Stiff enforcement acts as a deterrence to future damage to human health and the environment.

Enforcement means that parties subject to the requirements under environmental laws or regulations will comply with those requirements or pay real consequences.

Enforcement is a pivotal part of achieving this government's goals to clean up our environment and protect the health of Canadians. Enforcement of an act must be fair, predictable and consistent for government, industry, organized labour and individuals.

This government's clean air act, Bill C-30, builds on the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, among other things, by strengthening enforcement authorities to ensure compliance with all requirements of our bill; not so with Bill C-288 before us today. This is a neutered bill.

Our clean air act by contrast is a strong bill. Enforcement officers will carry out inspections to verify compliance with the law and direct corrective measures to be taken. Where there is danger to the environment, human life or health, the government would be able to act; not so with Bill C-288.

Under our clean air act, enforcement officers will be able to conduct investigations of suspected transportation violations by controlling the movement of cars, trucks, trains or other modes of transport. Officers can stop them or move them to locations suitable for inspection.

Enforcement officers have the power of peace officers as well. Maximum penalties can include fines of up to $1 million for each day an offence continues, imprisonment of up to three years, or both. That is a bill with real teeth, not like Bill C-288.

How about this? Where an offence continues for more than one day, the person may be convicted for a separate offence for each day the illegal activity lasts.

Canada's clean air act has real muscle. Bill C-288 sadly gets sand kicked in its face. Our Bill C-30 will strengthen this government's ability to establish tradable unit programs for air pollutants and GHGs by proposing amendments to CEPA's current penalty provisions to make them work better with emissions trading systems. There is no such improvement in Bill C-288.

Canada's clean air act also provides all fines for violations be paid into an environmental damages fund, a special account created to assist in managing financial compensation granted to Environment Canada for restoration of damages sustained by the environment. There is no such improvement in Bill C-288.

Where there is danger to the environment, human life or health, we will take action and we will have the tools to act. Bill C-288, sad to say, cannot be enforced and the Liberals know it and they do not care about that. That is a danger where the environment, human life or health is in jeopardy. Bill C-288 is not a plan for climate change; it is a recipe for the type of inaction the Liberals became infamous for.

Bill C-288 is too little, too late, no plan, no muscle, not worth supporting. Canadians deserve better. Canadians are demanding better than Bill C-288. I ask all colleagues in the House to vote against Bill C-288 and put their efforts instead into passing Canada's clean air act.

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Private Members' Business

2:10 p.m.

Liberal

Paul Szabo Mississauga South, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to participate in the debate on what I think is one of the most important bills that has been presented to the House. It has to do with whether or not Canada should respect its international obligations, particularly as they relate to the future. Let me quote the hon. member for Honoré-Mercier who said in his opening speech when he first presented the bill to the House:

This bill speaks primarily about the future. It is designed to make possible concrete acts today that will improve living conditions for generations of tomorrow. I have always believed that political action should be motivated by a strong desire to make a positive difference in the world around us, a strong desire to prepare a better future for the generations to come.

That is precisely what Bill C-288 is all about. It is a bill which basically calls on Canada to meet its global climate change obligations under the Kyoto protocol. That is the bill.

Members are well familiar with that. They will know some aspects of it but maybe not all of the aspects, or maybe they will remember selectively the things that they would like to remember. It is important to put on the record some of the facts related to Kyoto.

It was a very long process. Back in 1997 the Kyoto protocol was first negotiated. The process went on because once the protocol was developed, countries then had a chance to sign on to the deal, to make a commitment that if and when it came into force that they would be there for the future of the planet. Canada put its name on that as a commitment in 2002, but it was not until 2005 that the final signatories were obtained and the Kyoto protocol as ratified was in fact in force. That was 2005, just a couple of years ago. It was not until then that the Kyoto protocol was in force. One hundred and sixty-eight countries around the world decided that global warming and climate change issues were real, that the science was right and that we, this generation, had to take the first steps to ensure the safety, the security and the well-being of the planet for generations to come.

We have all seen the evidence, even today, the slow evidence of warming, the aberrant weather and other indications that something is different. It can be seen up in the Arctic when big portions of icebergs fall into the ocean. We see the changes in wildlife migration patterns. We see the impact on the polar bear population. We see the impact on so many different aspects of life. This is the genesis of something terrible.

This is what the science says. It is the genesis. We, today's Canadians and today's people of the globe, are the ones who are making the most significant contribution to the warming of our world, the creation of greenhouse gases. We are the ones.

We must be successful in delivering, in terms of meeting the targets under the Kyoto protocol. There is a combination of measures under that protocol. Some we will be able to do domestically and some we will not, but there are measures in there which countries can use so that they can respect and in fact satisfy the terms and conditions of membership, of being a party to the Kyoto protocol.

The current Minister of the Environment and the former minister of the environment said that we cannot make them. Are they talking about meeting the obligations under Kyoto, or are they talking about meeting everything by doing one part of it?

We could just say, here are our domestic solutions and let us just solve things. The Prime Minister himself told the media just within the past week that we cannot reduce our greenhouse gas emissions by some 30% in just two years. It takes time. How much time does it take? Maybe the Prime Minister should tell Canadians how much time it would take.

Maybe we do not even have to ask him. Why do we not just look at clean air act? The so-called clean air act was dead on arrival. It was so bad and so panned by virtually anybody who has any basic knowledge that people said that that bill was not worth the paper it was written on, and in fact it was trashed by the House.

Usually when we refer a bill to committee, it is after second reading, after approval in principle. That bill was so bad that there was no way it was going to get past second reading. It was going to die in the House. The government admitted it and it agreed to have this bill go to a special legislative committee before second reading.

In other words, a bill that goes to committee after second reading has approval in principle. A committee can look at it and massage it a little bit, but it cannot change the substantive provisions of the bill. However, when a bill is sent to committee before second reading, it is totally different. I have seen it before. Bills can go to committee and the committee can delete everything after the title, and then change the title. In other words, it can trash the bill.

I have a feeling that once the responsible parliamentarians and the expert witnesses are finished with that clean air act, we will clean out the act, and find out that we better change the name because it is going to be the act to implement and meet our Kyoto commitments and to make our contribution as a signatory to Kyoto and for the future generations of Canadians. Maybe it should be called the Pablo bill.

We have had a lot of discussion, but what concerns Canadians is that the Prime Minister wants to say that the Liberals did nothing in 13 years, but knowing that in fact Kyoto did not come into force until 2005. There was no agreement in force prior to that; however, once the Kyoto protocol came into force, programs were immediately developed and in fact had been developed and were put into place.

There was the Canada 2005 climate change plan, phase one of project green. We followed that with the climate fund, the partnership fund, the one tonne challenge, the wind power incentive and renewable power production incentive, and the sustainable energy science and technology strategy. I look at the cap and trade system, which we could have had domestically, where businesses could work together to ensure that we meet our obligations.

When we think about it, where is the reality check in the rhetoric that comes from the Prime Minister that the former government did nothing? These are facts. They actually happened, and as a matter of fact, they are real. I know they are real because the Conservatives cancelled them all. Then what did they do? They took some of them and they reintroduced them in a watered down form to make absolutely sure that they were not going to be effective at all.

Canadians have made it very clear that climate change, global warming, the science supporting them and Kyoto are priorities, not only just for Canada but for the globe. We are just a small part of the globe, but we are party to an international agreement. We respect our international agreements and the Liberals will do everything they possibly can to ensure that we meet our obligations under the Kyoto protocol.

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Private Members' Business

2:20 p.m.

Conservative

Maurice Vellacott Saskatoon—Wanuskewin, SK

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to speak to the bill and go on the record on some fairly important aspects on the issue of climate change.

Canadians told us loudly and clearly that they are concerned about the environment. During the last election, they told us that they were not satisfied with the action that the Liberals had taken, or had not taken, on a number of things, no less in this area as well, some subterfuge, some fakes they intended on this file.

In contrast, our government will be taking action, and is taking action, on both air pollution and climate change. We are committed to protecting the health of Canadians and also of our environment.

Unfortunately, Bill C-288, put forward by the member across the way, has no mechanisms for enforcement. It renders it toothless. Despite the political games of the opposition, we will not call an election over a private member's bill that has no substance and no plan. It is basically an empty motion.

The Speaker has ruled that the bill is not a money bill and, therefore, is not a matter of confidence. The bill does not require the expenditure of money and so, it accomplishes nothing.

The stated purpose in Bill C-288 is to ensure Canada takes action to meet its obligations under the Kyoto protocol. This very single focus on short term greenhouse gas emissions reduction targets is really not enough.

The clean air act, on the other hand, would provide a strong basis for taking integrated action on emissions of smog, acid rain pollutants and greenhouse gases as well, many of which come from the same industrial and transportation sources.

By tabling the clean air act, the government has clearly demonstrated that it is taking short, medium and long term action to protect the environment and human health.

Our approach is more than just a long term approach. With respect to industrial air emissions, the government has committed to determining its regulatory framework, including setting short term targets as well. Our notice of intent states that our targets will be consistent with leading environmental standards and at least as rigorous as those in the United States.

Targets for air pollutants will measurably reduce the impact on the health of Canadians. For greenhouse gases, the targets will yield a better outcome for the Canadian environment than under the plan proposed by the previous Liberal government.

Bill C-288 has a focus on the achievement of Canada's short term Kyoto target that is limited. Both its economic and environmental aspects need to be carefully examined.

Our approach needs to focus on the economic transformation needed for the Canadian economy that will lead to more significant and sustained reductions in pollutants. For example, we must, and we will, as a government encourage investment in improving Canadian energy and urban infrastructure.

The government wants to regulate greenhouse gas and air pollutant emissions for major industrial sectors in place as soon as possible. That being said, however, the reality is it will not be possible, in practical terms, to develop requirements for both greenhouse gases and air pollutants for all industrial sectors by 2008.

Prescribing this as a deadline in the legislation, as per Bill C-288, would almost certainly open the Crown and all stakeholders to very serious difficulties.

The bill's timeline strictly limits the ability of the Minister of the Environment or any other regulating minister to consider public comments and revise draft regulations accordingly. The way of doing things, as in Bill C-288, is not reasonable and shows disregard for a meaningful public consultation process, which results then require careful consideration by the government.

Yesterday, in front of the legislative committee for Bill C-30, the Minister of the Environment made a strong statement on this government's commitment to reduce greenhouse gases. He said:

In the coming months, we will announce ambitious...targets...coming into force starting in 2010. For the first time ever, the Federal Government will regulate air pollution for major industry sectors. For the first time ever, we will regulate the fuel efficiency of motor vehicles, beginning with the 2011 model year. We will regulate energy efficiency standards and labeling requirements for a broad range of consumer and commercial products. Together, these will address about 80 percent of the energy used in homes and almost 90 percent of the energy used in commercial settings.

The challenge of meeting our Kyoto target is illustrated by the simple fact that by 2004 domestic greenhouse gas emissions had increased 27% under the Liberal government, which is the exact opposite of what should have happened.

We will not spend billions of taxpayer dollars overseas to buy credits. Instead, we will spend Canadian tax dollars here at home to make real reductions in greenhouse emissions and air pollution.

Our government is taking a new approach by integrating action on air pollution and climate change at the same time in order to protect the health of Canadians and the environment. Emissions of smog and acid rain pollutants and greenhouse gases come from many of the same industrial and transportation sources and, to be most effective, action needs to be integrated.

Regulations that address climate change in isolation could effectively force industries to invest in technologies and processes that only address greenhouse gases while locking in capital stock that continues to emit air pollutants. For that reason, our government will establish short, medium and long term reduction targets, both for air pollutants and greenhouse gases.

By taking action on greenhouse gases and air pollutants, our government will allow industry to find ways to reduce air pollutants and greenhouse gases in a way that helps industry maintain its economic competitiveness while maximizing the benefits to Canadians. Our plan will achieve concrete, tangible results through mandatory, enforceable regulations with short, medium and long term targets.

To recap, our opposition to Bill C-288 is threefold. First, this bill has a short term focus. Second, it has a single issue focus on greenhouses gases. Third, massive costs would come with this short term focus.

In our view, it is important to approach the issue in a way that will ensure reductions both of air pollutants and greenhouse gases in the short term, but that also sets the foundation for continued and more significant reductions over the long term. It is even more important that these funds be spent on improving the Canadian economy here.

Countries with targets now under the Kyoto protocol account for less than 30% of global emissions. For future international cooperation on climate change to be effective, all major emitting countries need to do their part to reduce emissions.

By 2010, developing countries are expected to contribute 45% of total greenhouse gas emissions, and China and India together will experience greater growth in emissions than all OECD countries combined.

Effective action cannot be taken, in fact, by a relatively small group of countries alone. Proponents of the Kyoto protocol would not deny the fundamental point that key developing countries must eventually participate

. Kyoto is only a first step toward a serious approach to the problem. We have been clear that Canada will work with other countries to help advance a more transformative long term approach to tackling climate change. Our actions at home will be the basis for future international cooperative efforts to address the matter of climate change.

In conclusion, Canada's clean air act goes far beyond Bill C-288 to protect the health of Canadians and our environment. We encourage the Liberals to get on board and help us get it through for the sake of Canadians and our environment.

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Private Members' Business

2:25 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Royal Galipeau

It being 2:30 p.m., the time provided for this debate has now expired.

The question is on Motion No. 1. Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?

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Private Members' Business

2:25 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

No.

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Private Members' Business

2:25 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Royal Galipeau

All those in favour of the motion will please say yea.

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Private Members' Business

2:25 p.m.

Some hon. members

Yea.

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Private Members' Business

2:25 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Royal Galipeau

All those opposed will please say nay.

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Private Members' Business

2:25 p.m.

Some hon. members

Nay.

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Private Members' Business

2:25 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Royal Galipeau

In my opinion the yeas have it.

And five or more members having risen:

The recorded division on the motion stands deferred.

The next question is on Motion No. 2. Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?

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Private Members' Business

2:30 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

No.

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Private Members' Business

2:30 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Royal Galipeau

All those in favour will please say yea.

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Private Members' Business

2:30 p.m.

Some hon. members

Yea.

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Private Members' Business

2:30 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Royal Galipeau

All those opposed will please say nay.

Kyoto Protocol Implementation Act
Private Members' Business

2:30 p.m.

Some hon. members

Nay.

Kyoto Protocol Implementation Act
Private Members' Business

2:30 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Royal Galipeau

In my opinion the nays have it.

And five or more members having risen:

The recorded division on the motion stands deferred.

The next question is on Motion No. 3. Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?

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Private Members' Business

2:30 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

No.

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Private Members' Business

2:30 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Royal Galipeau

All those in favour of the motion will please say yea.

Kyoto Protocol Implementation Act
Private Members' Business

2:30 p.m.

Some hon. members

Yea.

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Private Members' Business

2:30 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Royal Galipeau

All those opposed will please say nay.

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2:30 p.m.

Some hon. members

Nay.

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Private Members' Business

2:30 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Royal Galipeau

In my opinion the nays have it.

And five or more members having risen:

The recorded division on the motion stands deferred.

Normally at this time the House would proceed to the taking of the deferred recorded divisions at the report stage of the bill. However, pursuant to Standing Order 98 the recorded divisions stand deffered until Wednesday, February 14, immediately before the time provided for private members' business.

It being 2:33 p.m., the House stands adjourned until Monday next at 11 a.m., pursuant to Standing Order 24(1).

(The House adjourned at 2:33 p.m.)